Just in time….

We’re expecting our first heat wave of the summer this week so it seems like a good time to share one of those iced treat recipes I promised (warned about) a few weeks back. We hosted a bbq last weekend and one of the guests graciously brought us a huge bag of sweet limes from their tree. So I thought It’d be a good time to make some Lime Paletas or Ice Pops/Popsicles but with a Southeast Asian spin using lemongrass, mint and ginger. The easiest way to get all those flavors in there is by making an infused simple syrup.

I peeled and juiced all the limes and I was able to yield about a 1 1/2 cups of sweet lime juice. Simple syrup is pretty easy to make, its just equal parts sugar and water and heated until the sugar is dissolved then cooled down to room temperature or chilled depending on how you’re going to use it.  In this case I added a hefty chunk of smashed ginger and about 2 TBS of crushed lemongrass to give it that Southeast Asian vibe. I let the syrup cool to room temperature then strained it and let it cool further in the fridge. This will help the ice pops to freeze faster.

Once the lemongrass and ginger simple syrup was chilled, I got out the trusty ol’ blender and blended 1 1/2 cups of lime juice with 2 cups of the lemongrass ginger simple syrup, Then I tossed in 1/2 cup of fresh mint and blended until the mint was finely chopped. I poured the mixture into silicone molds then left to freeze for at least 5 hours.

I didn’t have good luck with the silicone molds and found that the ice pops get stuck even after running a little warm water on the outside of the mold. My suggestion is to use the zip top style ice pop bags, I got the ones I used on Amazon. If you don’t have molds or these fancy little bags, just freeze them mixture in ice cube trays. Hmm, if you pour a little rum over them you’d have an amazing little mojito…just sayin’

That’s it, I hope this helps you beat the summer heat…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sweet lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 3 TBS crushed ginger
  • 2 TBS crushed lemongrass
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

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.

 

 

 

Cedar-Planked Chipotle Chili and Lime Salmon

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Summer is finally here and we’re taking advantage of having access to a charcoal grill. We’re also taking advantage of the vegetables and herbs that we planted earleir in the Spring.  Our tomatoes are nice and ripen and the yellow bell peppers are finally changing from green to yellow.

We’ve been conducting a bit of an experiment this week trying to eat seafood as our primary protein.  Last night we had Shrimp cocktail with home-made cocktail sauce. Earlier in the week, we had seared swordfish with zucchini noodles, feta, herbs and frsh corn.  Tonight  we opted for cedar-planked Chipotle Lime Salmon. Cooking fish on a cedar plank, is an easy way to keep fish moist while grilling. The planks need to be soaked in water for at least an hour before using. So a little bit of planning and preparation is needed.

Perhaps, its because I’m a food nerd through and through, but I really enjoy checkimg out what vegetables and herbs are ready to harvest,  This morning’s survey yielded a handful of cherry tomatoes  a yellow bell pepper and cayenne pepper. I augmented the haul with fresh corn, zucchini, onion, a Hungarian wax pepper and a poblano. I julienned all the veggies earlier in the morning and marinaded them with salt, pepper, lime juice, olive oil, and chipotle chili powder. If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, you can use a small piece of canned chipotle and use the remainder for the salmon marinade.

Marinade the salmon fillets for a couple of hours, then place on the cedar planks on a medium hot grill. You should be able to hold your hand over the grill for about 5 seconds, if any less, then the grill is too hot.  Depending on thickness of your filets, the salmon should cook in 12-15 minutes.

Salmon Marinade

¼ Tbsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 clove of garlic, smashed

1 chili pepper such as serrano or jalapeño

the juice from 1 orange and 1 lime

¼ cup of olive oil

½ of a chipotle chili

Blend all together in a food processor or blender you can add which ever herbs you like. Cilantro and oregano go nicely with the chili and lime. Pour the mixture into a zip top bag and place the salmon in the back skin side up.  We set some of the marinade aside, and used that to dress the greens we had with our salmon.

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