Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lemon Caper Marinated Shrimp

By special request. This one is for you Loek!

3lbs. large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 white onions, sliced
1- 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
1-cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 -cup drained capers
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon sugar

1. Cook shrimp in boiling water for 2 minutes. Rinse with cold water until chilled. Drain.
2. Combine shrimp, lemon juice and onions in a large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over shrimp mixture.
3. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

Serve either on a bed of lettuce as a salad or serve with cocktail picks as an appetizer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Passion for Mojitos

A traditional mojito has long been considered a classic drink in its native country of Cuba. A concoction of white rum, lime, fresh mint and sugar. A perfect mojito is fresh, minty, never heavy, never too sweet-just perfect.
Every spring with the arrival of warm weather, the craving for the perfect mojito begins. In a performed ritual, my husband pulls the mint from our backyard that will be muddled (smashed with a back of a wooden spoon or a muddle) together with sliced limes. The addition of simple syrup is prepared by infusing the syrup with grated orange rind to add just a hint of orange flavor, as there will be plenty of mojitos, and other cocktails made throughout the summer that will require this luscious syrup. So, if your lips are already smacking together in lust for your own mojito, and the photo of the first prepared mojito of the season is nothing less than inviting, kick back and enjoy the recipe below.

Orange Infused Simple Syrup Recipe:

2-cups water
2-cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange

Place water, sugar and orange zest in a saucepan. Cook until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely. Pour into a clean glass jar. Store in the refrigerator.

Fred's Mojito Cocktail Recipe: ( serves 1)

1-lime thinly sliced
3-4 large fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup orange infused simple syrup
1/8 cup club soda
2/3 cup good quality white rum ( suggestion: Flora de Cana Extra Dry White Rum)

Place thinly sliced limes and mint in a tall clear glass. Muddle or smash the limes and mint until the juice has been extracted from the lime. Add simple syrup, club soda and white rum. Fill glass with ice and stir. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Friends, Food and Drink

This past weekend was a blast from the past, a reconnection with an old friend from childhood, the developing of new friendships and reconfirmation of old friendships. All shared with healthy doses of laughter, food, wine and Pomegranate Margaritas made by my cocktail shaking husband.

Pomegranate Margarita: Serves 2

4 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
4 oz. Good quality Tequila
2 oz. Triple Sec
Fresh juice of 1 lime
Splash of simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar; cook in a saucepan until dissolved. Let cool).
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Give it a few over the shoulder hard shakes. Strain into martini glasses. Enjoy!

Lots of people reconnect with old friends. My story is not particularly interesting. What is interesting is that we did not spend lots of time reminiscing of days past because we do not have much of a past together. We were friends in elementary school, vaguely aware of each other in middle school, and high school. What we do have is a connection to a place and time in our lives and a genuine natural comfort level with each other that was most likely evident back in 6th grade too. Thanks to the internet and social web sites like facebook, here we are thirty-five years later, sitting on the patio talking and sometimes crying with laughter with our families. All this was accompanied by keeping it simple and taking the time to enjoy our food and drink in a setting that requires you to relax. Did I say that the weather was almost perfect too?

A lot was gained this weekend besides weight. We have new friends, friends that we will visit, friends that we will find new things to laugh about on our journey to continue to not take ourselves so seriously.

So next time, you are thinking about reconnecting with friends, remember to share the grace of a good meal, and more importantly that one never breaks bread alone, but always with friends and family.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Virtues of Tomatoes

I have been on a tomato love fest these last couple of months fueled by my desire to eat locally. I understand that anything that is grown with care, attention and close to its source can't be anything but delicious.
My recent tomato journey began with reading an article in Gourmet Magazine, 
 (Politics of the Plate), The Price of Tomatoes, March 2009, where the author Barry Estabrook describes the conditions for thousands of migrant workers who work our fields harvesting our vegetables and fruit crops. This particular article focused on tomatoes grown in Immokalee, Florida, which produces 90% of our nation's tomatoes during the months from December to May. The condition in which these migrant workers live and work is appalling. According to the article, "Immokalee has another claim to fame" it is "ground zero for modern slavery" said Douglas Malloy, the chief assistant U.S. attorney in Fort Myers. Since 1997, over 1,000 men and women have been freed by law enforcement and these were only the cases that led to conviction. How many other countless cases went unnoticed? Reading this, leaves me without my breath....In this modern day, who does this? Big growers do behind the cloak of the crew bosses who hire and oversee migrant workers for what exactly? Tasteless supermarket and fast-food restaurant tomatoes! Right away, I make a promise to myself, I will not purchase tomatoes that are not grown and harvested ethically. I will enjoy the bounty of tomatoes from the garden of my friends, and maybe even if I am lucky, my own garden.

My journey evolves into a love story with tomatoes. I am now on a mission, growing my own tomatoes, a more avid consumer of farmer's market. I have this opportunity every Saturday morning at Market Square where Farmer Herman and Louise bring their early morning, just-picked seasonal fruit and vegetables. Farmer Herman also shares a love of tomatoes heirloom tomatoes. The true definition of heirloom has been debated. Some say the seeds need to be 100 years old, some say 50 years old and other say 1945, which marked the end of WWII and the beginning of the use of the hybrid seed which is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Vegetable and fruit hybrids, which often leave you with less flavor, are bred to improve the appearance and were developed to sustain the booming U.S. agricultural industry after WWII.
For the first time, I have joined the ranks of the backyard heirloom tomato growers, and have planted with serious consideration the following heirloom varieties:
  • Farmer Herman's Little Yeller-prolific and delicious
  • Brown Berry Cherry- Lil' cherries with a purple hue
  • Silvery Fir winner of the 2005 taste test- A great medium size tomato ideal for containers. 
I will keep everyone posted on my progress!