Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watermelon Agua Fresca

The forecast for the rest of the week here is in the 100s..... that's a little toasty for my taste.  I find the difference between 100 here in the midwest and 100 in the Northeast (if it ever gets that warm) is that while in the Northeast the sun bakes you from above and you can easily take refuge in the shade of a tree.  The sun and the heat of the Midwest has more of a convection oven heat.  You can hide in the shade but it isn't going to do you any good... assuming you can find a tree big enough to even provide shade that is.

The best you can do is stay in your a/c and attempt to stay hydrated.  If you are like the husband you get sick of water and staying hydrated can be a problem as you can't acheive this with black coffee... sorry husband but you can't.  Here is a sneaky way to use up the leftovers from the giant melons that seemed like a great idea when you were in the store, and to sneak in some hydration for your coffee loving husband.

First... it is Agua Fresca... not Aqua Fresca as I have been calling it for years.... ahhh hindsight embarassment my favorite.  It is my understanding that Agua Fresca means water refreshment and can be basically made from anything, although some areas make them out of things like rice and cereals which does not sound very refreshing to me but I've never tried it.  I made this one from what I had in the refridgerator and it was great.  I will most likely be making it again with the cantelopes that were on sale for $1 a piece at the store yesterday, I have a shopping problem and it carries over to all areas.  I don't know why I thought I would need 10 cantelopes but I probably don't... or maybe it was a sixth sense that the heat was coming and I would need them for drinks, yeah that sounds good, let's go with that.  Enjoy.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
From Eileen's Little Pea Brain
Adapted loosely from Gourmet


1 (4-pound) melon (I think I had about a 2 pound but I went with it anyway
1 1/2 cups water
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I used 2 of lemon)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional, I skipped this because I used tonic water)
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 quart chilled club soda or seltzer (I used leftover tonic from gin and tonics)
Purée melon in batches with water in a blender or food processor.  Beware, I filled our food processor too full and once it liquified the melon it spilled over the top and all over the counter and floor as the tops are apparently not leak proof.

Transfer to a colander lined with cheesecloth... I had no cheesecloth so I used a wet paper towel.  Not the best solution but it was just us and it was an experiment.  I will put cheesecloth on my grocery list right now.  Drain for an hour or until it looks like you can get no more liquid.  Use the paper towel to hold the solids while you squeeze and remaining liquid from the pulpy part of the watermelon.  Discard solids. Stir in remaining ingredients and chill for an hour or serve over ice.

I read that you can made the base without the tonic or club soda ahead and just add the bubbly stuff right before serving.  I will do that next time as it made a lot and we could not drink it all in one sitting.  If you store it be sure to give it a good stir before serving as it separates after about an hour.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer and Strawberries

It is safe to say between pregnancies, newborns, internships, classes, and extreme stress this is the first year I feel like I have had a Summer (at home, it always feels like Summer when we stay on the lake visiting VT) and we're just getting going. 

I finished my classes a week ago, and have spent all the time since playing catch up.  Catch up at work, catch up on sleep, catch up on house work, but I have taken a few moments here and there to just enjoy the time that I now have to be with my family.  We started our weekend early last week by going to a concert in the park.

It was fabulous.  I ran home and packed up a picnic of Korean BBQ beef, edamame, sliced peppers, hummus, tabouli, pita chips and lemonade.

We listened to jazz and I caught up with a friend from Yoga I hadn't seen since we both had babies.  We walked home in the hot Summer evening and walked into a cool house and it was fabulous, but even more fun was Strawberry picking for Father's Day.  Little did I know that my husband had never in his life tasted a fresh strawberry.  Never been strawberry picking, nada.  If I had known we woudl have gone sooner.  Everyone had a blast.

The only one who complained at all about the heat was little Miss here.

After an hour or so we had our loot

and away we went

Home again home again jiggity jig....

Now what to do with them?  We had about 6 pounds of strawberries because it was the end of the season and they were pretty  much picked over and the remaining ones were small, but that is okay I am a fan of the little ones.  I prepped and froze about 1.5 pounds, prepped another pound to be inhaled by the husband and son while playing in the baby pool in the back yard, gave some to the daughter, have some held over for strawberry shortcake tonight, and then made this super simple, and ridiculously delicious dessert last night.  These are suppose to be served with whipped cream but since I cannot have dairy, we are on a mission to lose baby weight, and it was such a relaxing day I didn't want to deal with leaving the house we ate them as is... .minus the frozen waffle that was busted out at the last minute to suck up the sauce.... oh the sauce... I wish I had taken a photo of my son after he licked his plate clean.  Here's the trick... do not tell your kids what is in the sauce, they don't need to know.  Bla, bla... honestly and all that... they don't need to know.  If they grow up and need therapy because you didn't tell them there was vinegar in their dessert, you come send them to me. I will be happy to tell them to get over it.  PS... if you're spouse is picking... don't tell him either.

Start with your slightly sad looking strawberries

Clean and hull them (which just means cutting off the stem, is it necessary to have an entire word for that process I mean really).

Add 2 tablespoons sugar (avoid getting any onto your computer... the draw back of using your computer as a travelling cook book)

Add 2 tablespoon red wine vingar (it's good just do it).  Now let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The first time I made this I used balsamic vinegar, but this one is based on Raffy's Strawberries in Vinegar from Giada, not sure if it's better because I can't remember I just remember it works, and it's yummy, yummy, yummy.  Now you can make whipped cream here or serve as is.

That is what they look like... I have no photo program on the new computer yet.  That is just a plain ol' photo.  Looks good doesn't it?  It is... promise.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Marinated Skirt Steak

Western Magazine Photo

So the husband and I watch a lot of Food Network. We used to watch it and then recreate recipes, but typically now we just watch it and drool and then order bad pizza because no one has time to cook in our house. Well that time my friend has come to an end. I am happy to announce that I have completed the course work for my Master degree and to celebrate I marinated a coveted skirt steak. I called it coveted because every time I have ever gone to the store looking for skirt steak here in Lincoln, they have never had it, and I have been told you can substitute flank steak and that it is the same thing. I have been LIED to. The two steaks are not even the same animal... okay well technically they are exactly the same animal but you get what I'm saying.

I would also like to mention that even if I did not have any time we could still make this (minus the million hours it took me cut off all the fat and connective tissue), it took about 10 minutes to make the marinade and it another 10 to cook it. It took about 5 minutes for it to disappear off the plate.... no joke we never even broke out the forks. The husband cut it up into thin strips and the two of us plus a friend just ate it with our fingers. Sounds a bit barbaric but it had such as nice char that it was like a mini meat appetizer of sorts...totally finger food worthy. That and it was 10pm and we were starving.

Why were we eating steak at 10pm you may ask... well for the same reason there are no photos of the actual steak... the husband had a flight that came into Omaha at 6:30 which is about an hour and 15 minutes away. I loaded up the kids and went out to meet his plane that was about 15 minutes late... which wouldn't have been a big deal but I had this in the car for a solid HOUR AND A HALF

We tried to pull over and walk around Whole Foods to see if it improved her mood, and it did... a true sign that she is a child of my heart, but as soon as we put her back in the car the tears and screaming started up again. I suspect it was her disappointment in not being able to take anything away from the cheese island due to her Milk Protein Soy Intolerance, but it might have been the lack of quail eggs that sent her over the edge, and unlike Mamma she could not console herself with a great bottle of Bordeaux, picked up on sale.

Now.... grab yourself some Tabouleh salad, and a great bottle of red and make this finger food... I mean steak that you will eat like a civilized human being with a fork.

Marinated Skirt Steak
The New American Steakhouse Cookbook

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup corn oil or other neutral oil such as grapeseed or canola
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 pounds skirt steak, cleaned of all exterior fat and connective tissue


Put all ingredients except the steak in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour the marinade over the skirt steak in a nonreactive pan.

Marinate, refrigerated, for 3 to 4 hours before grilling, but no more than 10 hours.
When ready to cook the steaks, prepare your grill for grilling.

Remove the skirt steak from the marinade and clean away any excess marinade with the back of a knife.
Grill the steak over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side to serve it rare to medium-rare.
When cooked, slice the steak thinly against the grain, starting at one corner and cutting on the bias. Serve either hot or at room temperature.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My FINAL final

I'm still alive... sort of.... see you after exams.