Fun with Cucumbers

Hot Off the Press: a new magazine start-up called Our Green Plate—focused on farm to table and food culture in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. #ourgreenplate

I had the opportunity to do some recipe photography for the magazine. It was so much fun to work with the art director Brian Donahue at BeDesign Inc. and Karla Spies the amazing food stylist and set design collaborator.  cucumberMartini_heroThe recipes are delicious and perfect for the bounty of cucumbers harvested from the garden.

 

Cucumber Martini

1 serving

7 1⁄2 tablespoons or a scant 1⁄2 cup vodka, preferably organic

1 1⁄2 teaspoons cucumber simple syrup*

1 cucumber 1 lime

lemon bitters (optional)

Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Cut the lime into eighths. Place 4 cucumber slices in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and add the simple syrup. Squeeze in one of the lime pieces and muddle them together.

Fill the shaker with ice, add vodka, cover and shake for about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Add 2 or 3 drops of lemon bitters and garnish with thin slices of cucumber.

*For cucumber simple syrup, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water together in a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 5–8 minutes. Remove from heat, add 6 or so cucumber slices. Pour in glass jar and store in the refrigerator up to a week.

 

Tzatziki Dip

This is a very flexible recipe; you can make it with or without the herbs, and omit any herb you don’t like or don’t have. If you just have parsley, that’s delicious too. If you like it extra garlicky, add another clove. Bottom line: it’s basically impossible to mess this recipe up!

4 servings

1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt

  • 1⁄2  cucumber, English preferred
  • 1⁄2  tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste or put through a garlic press olive oil

Peel and grate the cucumber on the large holes of a grater. Place in a small sieve and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then squeeze out all the excess water. Mix the cucumber in a small mixing bowl with the Greek yogurt, garlic, chopped herbs, and lemon juice. Allow to rest in refrigerator for an hour or more before serving to develop flavors. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve on a plate or in a bowl with a little olive oil drizzled on top (optional).

tzatziki_93

Our_Green_PlatecoverOur_Green_Plate_p8-9Our_Green_Plate_p6-7

Lemon Lime Shrub

lemonlime_Shrub_drink

This Lemon lime shrub is a refreshing beverage to sip on as the temps and humidity keeps rising.  The discovery of shrubs continues for me,.  I found this recipe and many more in this book by Michael Dietsch, this is a great resource for process and recipes.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 7.53.13 AM

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-orourke/cookbook-review-shrubs-by-michael-dietsch_b_7336720.html

I mix this lemon lime shrub with sparkly water and either vodka or gin for a simple cocktail. With shrubs I suggest using a milder vinegar like a champagne or white wine and start by adding the vinegar in small quantities and continue to taste till you like the flavor.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lemons (yields one cup of juice)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3/4 cup champagne vinegar

Process

  1. remove the yellow part of the lemon peel. Juice the lemons.
  2. add the lemon and lime juice to vinegar and the oleo-saccharum. Blend to combine. put in jar and shake to blend. allow 3 to 4 days for flavors to meld.

In addition you do a process called oleo-saccharum with the peels of the lemons to add some more in-depth flavor to the sugar with blending the oils of the lemon peels and the sugar.

  1. With a vegetable  peeler remove the rind of the the lemon, careful to remove the white pith. And use the remaining zest.
  2. place zest in bowl with sugar. Muddle the zest with sugar with a wooden spoon.
  3. cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour or longer. After remove the peels and discard save the oily sugar to use in the shrub.

the sugar will add some zesty flavor to your shrub.

cheers

 

Rhubarb Ginger Maple Pie

 

maplerhubardpie

The rhubarb patch in the garden is ready for harvest and one of my favorite things to make is pie.  This recipe is sweet and tart, what I like is there is only natural sugar in the pie. It’s made with maple syrup, lemon and ginger.  Very simple ingredients and easy to make. Unknown-1Unknownrhubarcrust_MG_3490

Ingredients:

  • rhubarb
  • ginger
  • lemon
  • cinnamon
  • maple syrup
  • butter
  • cornstarch
  • pie dough

 

recipe

Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub

StarwberryShrub_144

I discovery a shrub at a farmers market in Madison Wisconsin, a lady was selling kombucha and this syrup called a shrub.

The fascination still continues as I read about the history and google recipes online. As most things usually go once you discover something then you start to notice it..  My friend Karla and I did some research and made a few shrubs at home. There are a lot of techniques for making shrubs we use the cold process.

The shrub is a fruit, sugar and vinegar syrup that can be mixed with soda, booze or both. A shrub is both tart and sweet; the acidic trace enhances the fruit and smooths out the sweetness of the sugar.  In colonial America shrub syrup was a method to preserve fruit before we had refrigeration. And a thirst quencher on hot days.

As I mentioned there are several methods to making a shrub, I use the simple cold process.

shrubs_120

 

       Recipe

Ingredients are all equal parts

1cup fruit diced up into pieces

1 cup sugar

1 cup vinegar {cider, champagne or balsamic}

Place fruit in bowl. Cover with sugar and stir.

Cover and store in refrigerator until juice exudes from fruit and starts to combine with sugar to form syrup. This may need a couple of days. Don’t worry how long the fruit sits in the frig it will not harm the syrup.

Strain syrup from fruit. I use a cheese cloth and squish lightly on the fruit to express any remaining juice. Add any remaining sugar into syrup.

Add vinegar and stir to combine.

Pour into clean bottle. Store in refrigerator.

Check to see if all the sugar has dissolved.

I’ve read that you can keep the shrub in the frig for up to a year.

         Cocktail Mixture

2 parts spirit {gin,vodka,rum ect}

½ part shrub

2 dashes of bitters {lemon,orange ect.}

other options are to add:

1 part flavored liqueur

combine ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker poor over ice in glass and add a splash of sparkly water.

images styled with Karla Spies

Melting Ice Cream

Ice Cream season is right around the corner. You might say it never goes out of season. But the hot sun is coming and soon melting ice cream will be running down fingers and arms. Some people like their ice cream hard you break your plastic spoon. Some people like it soft and scoopable. Others need a straw for their ice cream soup. I like to watch it melt.

MeltingShake

icecreamshakehero

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookie Bar

SltdCrmlChocChipCkie_34

I had to share this salted Caramel chocolate chip bar with you.  It is so sick, we were making them in the studio and I could not stop snacking on them till I felt sick. But it is worth it. This bar is a chocolate cookie salty sweet gooey goodness.  And easy to make with the quick Caramel microwave instructions.

CCrecipe

 

this recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker

photo stylist Barb Standal

mmmmmm enjoy

 

Maple Pecan Pie

pecan_piespecan_pies_120pecans_196pecanpierecipe

recipe from Wild Country Maple Syrup     http://www.wildcountrymaple.com

Recently I had the opportunity to do some photography with Wild Country Maple Syrup  working on their new web site which required all kinds of photography. Shooting on site at their maple tree farm and maple syrup facilities in Lutsen MN was a lot of fun.  The beautiful rustic log cabin buildings set in the north woods off of lake superior is inspirational.  The maple syrup is the finest quality.

http://www.wildcountrymaple.com

 

 

 

Boost your immunity with Apple Cider Vinegar

cidervingar5127recipe

There are a lot of claims for apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon a day will keep the colds away. Last winter I got on the cider band wagon and I did stay pretty healthy. I found this recipe on health& fit point.

“Whenever people have problems with some infection, they immediately turn to pharmaceutical products to get rid of it as soon as possible. Remember that infections in the body should not be always treated with antibiotics. So, why don’t you look for a natural solution instead? We have the right recipe for you. Besides from being very effective, it is very healthy. Its preparation couldn’t be simpler and revitalizes you body, giving it back its proper function. You know that strong immune system means healthy body. Therefore, this remedy will boost your immune system and you can forget about infections and bacteria.”

It sounds like a good idea to me, so I  decided to take it up a notch this season by infusing my cider, not sure how it’s going to taste but all the ingredients look to be healthy.
Heres to a healthy, happy winter season.

Red Hot Cinnamon Infused Whiskey

Adobe Photoshop PDFimg_2539cinnaminsticks

whiskeyrecipe

If you like fireball this is even better.  I found this recipe published by Matt Allyn and have made it a few times. This is a nice fall whiskey for sipping round the fire pit while the leaves turn colors.

I have made the mistake of letting it infuse for too long and the cinnamon will over power the flavor.  I suggest trying a sip after four days and check the flavor until you find it just right. Another treat we enjoy is a hot apple cider with some cinnamon whiskey.

enjoy

Gazpacho

gazpacho_2_MG_2274My favorite thing about Gazpacho soup is you can really put whatever vegetables you want and blend it up.  A trip to the garden or farmers market and pick up the ingredients. I use this recipe as a rough guide for my chopping and blending.  I always add a jalopeno or some hot pepper into the blend. And usually whatever tomato juice, V8 or bloody mary mix I have in the refrigerator.  Of course the garnish is also fun, be as creative as you want.  Best served cold.