Hot weather cooking

Marinated lamb chops with grilled onions, zucchini and orange bell peppers

I mentioned a few posts back that its been fairly hot here. Now I know that’s relative, here along the coast, it doesn’t get into the high 80s or 90s very often and we usually can count on an ocean breeze to keep it cool, so the fact we don’t have central A/C isn’t usually an issue.

Our kitchen gets crazy ridiculous hot when the temperature gets above 85 and. It does not make for a hospitable cooking environment. I try to combat this by doing my prep early in the day, when its still cool. Then do my cooking on the grill.

When its hot like this I crave lighter fare and Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. I found some lamb chops on sale the other day so I’m going to grill those up along with some leg of lamb, zucchini, onions and peppers. We’ll have the lamb chops this evening. I think of lamb chops as special occasion kinda food. We’re celebrating our 9th Wedding Anniversary so seems like a perfect excuse. The leg of lamb and veggies we’ll eat with a salad of romaine lettuce, red onion, pepperoncini, feta and olives through the week.

The lamb is marinaded with a combination of yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, fresh mint, parsley and basil and dried oregano, dried sage and salt and pepper. I use the food processor to grind up the herbs, garlic, spices and salt and pepper.

herbs, spices, lemon juice and garlic waiting for a spin in the food processor.

Then I mix that with the yogurt and olive oil.The yogurt helps to tenderize the lamb and helps the marinade to stay on the meat even during grilling.

Yogurt and olive oil added to the ground up herbs and spices

Then I place the lamb chops into a zip top freezer bag along with about 2 TBS of marinade.

place about 2TBS of yogurt mixture into a zip top bag and add the lamb chops. Massage the lamb chops so that they are completely coated with the marinade.

You can marinade the meat over night or for as little as 2 hours. Just let it chill in the refrigerator.

Butterflied de-boned leg of lamb with marinade applied.

The same applies for the boneless butterflied leg of lamb. I buy mine already de-boned and butterflied.  They’re easy to find Easter through Summer, this one came from my local Sprouts. 3-5lbs leg of lamb can easily feed 8 people.  I removed the mesh pouch that its packed with, opened it up and made a few more cuts to make sure the lamb was a uniform thickness. Then coated it with about 3 or 4 TBS of the marinade, placed into a 2 gallon zip top bag and let it chill in the fridge along side the lamb chops. An hour before I start the grill I’ll take the lamb out of the fridge and let the temperature come up.  I grill over direct heat turning once after about10 minutes. Then cook for another 10 minutes for medium rare.

Once I pull the leg of lamb off the grill I’ll let it rest for 10-15 minutes.  While the leg of lamb rests, I’ll grill the lamb chops. They take about 3-5 minutes per side.

Marinade Recipe:

3 cloves of garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp crushed dried oregano

1 tsp rubbed sage

salt and pepper

4 TBS each of  torn fresh Mint, Parsley, and Basil leaves

1 TBS fresh rosemary leaves

zest of 1 lemon

4 TBS yogurt

2 TBS olive oil

Place, lemon juice and zest, garlic, herbs and salt and pepper into a food processor bowl and pulse until a paste forms. Scrap into a clean bowl and add yogurt and olive oil and mix until well combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

This same marinade also works well for chicken. We made Chicken Kabobs when my in-laws were in town a few weeks back. The chicken thighs stayed moist and were well seasoned even though they were marinaded for only an hour. You can also take this same butterflied and de-boned leg of lamb, and cut it into 1 inch cubes for Lamb Kabobs.

And here is the finished roast after grilling and resting.

Grilled leg of lamb sliced and ready for some pita

And here’s the lamb on pita with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, Yogurt Dill Sauce and grilled onions.

lamb on pita with tomatoes, lettuce, dill sauce and pickles.




Coconut Matcha Ice Cream

Coconut Matcha Ice Cream with fresh plums and blueberries

Its been fairly hot and humid (I know that’s relative) the past few days here in Southern California. So there’s been a lot of ice cream making going on. This time around I made Coconut Matcha Ice Cream and played with combining matcha and another one of my favorite flavors, ube. This is pretty straight forward, I used 1 can of full fat coconut milk, ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk, a teaspoon of vanilla extract for the base and added 2 heaping tablespoons of finely ground matcha powder. I whisked it all together until the matcha powder was incorporated and most of the larger clumps had been worked out. Then I chilled the base for a couple of hours before I churned in the machine for 25 minutes. Yield 1 pt/16oz of ice cream

Now for me the real fun came with different ideas for how to serve the ice cream. So I decided to make ice cream sandwiches. I’ve been on an ube (a vibrantly purple Filipino sweet potato that’s all the rage in these parts) kick for a while. So I hit up my local Red Ribbon (a Filipino bakery chain) and picked up some ube mamon, which is a Chinese style sponge cake. I sliced the ube mamon in half, then I formed 2 scoops of the coconut matcha ice cream into a disk and coated the sides with crushed Froot Loops and coated the sides of the ice cream disk and placed the disk onto the one of the slices of ube mamon and then topped that with the other slice. This is what the final one looked like (there were a few fails which are up on my Instagram)

Spongy ube mamon from Red Ribbon Bakeshop is paired with coconut matcha ice cream that’s been coated with crushed Froot Loops.

Stay tuned, figs are coming into season and our trees have tons of fruit….

Ube love


Ube Ice Cream with Mango Coulis and garnished with Fruity Pebbles cereal, whipped cream and lychee, mango and coconut flavored jellies.

What the heck is ube? Well, ube is an extremely bright purple sweet potato that’s widely used in Filipino cuisine, it’s an extremely popular flavor for desserts. It’s often confused for taro but they are in fact entirely different. I love it, not only for its sweet taste, but also the intense vibrancy of the color makes for really colorful and striking photos. Today was National Ice Cream Day (I’m not sure who got to decide that) in the States. To celebrate, I made Ube Ice cream (I also made Coconut Matcha Ice cream which I’ll post another time). Here’s the recipe:

Ube Ice Cream

4 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup ube jam such as ube halaya

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp ube extract*

Whisk all the ingredients together until they ube jam and sweetened condensed milk are thoroughly incorporated then chill the mixture for at least 2 hours. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions. Then place ice cream into freezer safe container and freeze. I usually try to let this freeze over night. Then serve.


*Ube extract is both ube flavoring as well as food coloring. I get mine from my local Filipino grocery store (shout out to Island Pacific in Bixby Knolls). You can order it online through Amazon.

Here’s a bonus video showing what happens to the ice cream base when I add the ube extract.

Summer Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers make for a refreshing Summer salad.

We just picked our first batch of tomatoes for the summer and I have some dill and a bunch of Persian Cucumbers in the fridge. With it being so hot seems like its a perfect time for a refreshing tomato cucumber salad. This is quick and super easy.


4 ripe tomatoes

4 Persian Cucumbers

1/2 medium red onion

Juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

2 TBS olive oil or grape seed oil

1 TBS fresh dill

Cut the tomatoes into slices, quarters, 8ths or cubes, it doesn’t really matter and the same goes for the cucumbers. Slice the onion into thin slices and  place  the tomatoes, onions and cucumbers into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt n pepper to taste, dill, oil and lightly toss. Done…yes it really is that easy.

We had this with grilled steak but its so light that it will go well with any protein.

Getting pickled

We get weekly produce deliveries from imperfectproduce sometimes I forget to customize my order and we wind up with types of produce that I normally wouldn’t have picked. Or, we wind up with a larger quantity of something than what the 2 of us can use in a week. This has been the case with both cucumbers, carrots and radishes recently.

Since the whole idea behind us getting produce from imperfect produce is to reduce waste it seems silly to throw the unwanted or unused produce away. So I made a couple of quick pickles. One a fairly Americanized quick cucumber and onion pickle and the other an Asian style pickled carrot and radish similar to what you may see on a Bahn mi. You don’t really need any fancy equipment for this, These can be eaten same day and held in the fridge for about a week.

First up,

Quick Cucumber Pickles

1 large English cucumber or 4 or 5 smaller Persian cucumbers sliced into ¼”. thick slices

½ medium onion peeled quartered and sliced thinly

⅓ cup white or apple cider vinegar

2 TBS salt

⅓ cup sugar

1 cup water

1 sliced green onion

1 sprig of dill (optional)

10 peppercorns

Slice onion, green onion and cucumbers and place into a large mouth sanitized canning jar. In a small sauce pan, bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Turn off heat and set to the side. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour liquid over cucumber and onion making sure to leave a little space at the top of the jar. Top with a sanitized lid and place in the fridge. These can be eaten immediately and stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Pickled Carrots and Radish

Sealed jar of pickled carrots and radishes cooling off. Once they’ve cooled down they’ can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Traditionally, these are made with daikons rather than radishes. But since the whole idea was to use up some excess produce I used the radishes I had on hand. I used my food processor to grade the carrots and radish, but a box grater can also be used. I strained out some of the excess liquid so I had something that looks like this:


1 bunch carrots washed. peeled and grated

1 bunch radish tops removed, peeled and grated

½ cup sugar

2 TBS salt

⅓ cup each rice wine vinegar and white vinegar

1 clove star. anise

2 cloves

1 tsp peeled and crushed ginger

4 cups warm water

Mix the warm water, sugar, salt and vinegars until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Place  star anise, cloves and ginger into the bottom of clean 1 qt canning jar then add carrots and radishes. Cover the vegetables with the brine mixture until completely covered. Top with a sanitized lid. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.