Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mexican Ice Pops

I just went to a conference in Austin Texas. Let me just say, Austin was awesome! They have this phrase, "keep Austin weird", but I think the words "cool" or "unique" would be a better fit. I had these ideas of what Austin would be.... cowboys, big trucks, Tex-Mex food, and republicans. Fortunately, that was the minority. Most of Austin is progressive, hip, and locals are doing their own things, and they aren't driven by revenue necessarily, but by their own dreams and visions of creating things that are great and unique. That is just down right cool!

I ate my way across Austin, as any good food blogger should. I had some of the best mini donuts ever at Little Lucy's pink food truck. I ate the legendary Franklin Street BBQ, which my husband waited 3 hours in line for (don't worry, he said the waiting in line part was as fun as tailgating, and if you know my husband, he met everyone in line). The brisket puts to shame any other brisket I had eaten previously, and makes me want to study up on my BBQ! At Bangers we indulged in some of the best tasting sausages, handmade in quirky combos like the duck, bacon and fig sausage, or a vegan roasted eggplant and red pepper sausage that is tempura battered and served with caramelized tamari. Whew! We had excellent pizza at Home Slice, fantastic fried chicken at Ms. P's Electric Cock, and Curra's Mexican restaurant was hands down the best Mexican food I have ever eaten, serving up ridiculous breakfasts of eggs with carne guisada, tamales, and chilaquiles or tortilla strips fried with green and chipotle chilies, goat cheese, onions, cilantro, and eggs. The food scene was incredible!

If there is one thing Austin has besides an awesome food scene, it's heat. Good ol' hot and steamy weather. This northern Minnesota girl was toast. That is until I discovered the Paleta, or Mexican ice pops. Fruity and refreshing, you can easily whip these ups in a couple of minutes, and have the best popsicles to ever invade your freezer. Your children and friends will thank you.

Mexican Ice Pops

1 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, then cool)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pints fresh berries

Puree the above ingredients until smooth. Strain through a fine- mesh sieve into a large pourable container. Pour the puree into ice- pop molds, insert popsicle sticks, and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours.  Yields 8 ice pops.

To spike these ice pops, add up to 1/3 cup alcohol to a batch. Try gin with fresh blackberries or vodka with fresh raspberries.

Fresh herbs would be a great add in as well. Think strawberries and fresh basil, or blueberries and lemon thyme.

Refresh. Enjoy. Belly up!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thai Cucumber Salad

This weekend I laid on the warm beach rocks along the shore. As the cool lake breeze blew, I was secretly thinking that this is what summers are made of. Every summer season I try to get as much of this as I can. Even if it's only 10 minutes here and there, it helps heal my mind and soul from the winter season. Things are growing! Grand Marais is alive! Summer is here!

Time to put away the pot roast recipes, and time to freshen up the way I eat. When it's growing season, I am trying to fit in as much seasonal produce as possible. This week I'll share a Thai Cucumber Salad recipe that we've been making at the Co-op. Full of fresh flavors, this salad is screaming summer!

Thai Cucumber Salad

2 1/2 pounds cucumbers, seeded and sliced into crescents 3/8" thick
1 jalapeno pepper, raw, seeded and chopped fine
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, washed and chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1/2 cup peanuts

3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 to 2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder

Slice the cucumbers lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the seeds.

Combine the cucumbers, jalapeno, green onion, parsley, cilantro, and peanuts. Mix together.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, garlic, salt, and curry powder. Add the dressing to the salad and mix well. Belly up!!