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

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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.

 

Gin Infused Cucumber Mango

GinMangoCucumberjarGinMangoCucumberI’m feeling optimistic that sunshine, cocktails and patios are in my near future. Last summer a friend gave me some of his Gin Infused Cucumber Mango to try. I brought it out one evening mixed it with some tonic and a twist of lime, very smooth and refreshing.  I have always claimed that I am not a fan of Gin, but as I become more adventurous with my mixology there are a lot of tasty cocktails to mix with gin.  I have to be honest I had a bottle of Gin sitting in my cupboard since my house-warming party-eight years ago.  That bottle of Gin has made it out to the table several times, and no one ever touches it.  I thought about donating it the guy with the sign at the corner, but came up with a better idea.  I’ll get an infusion going of my own, it only takes like one week of the Gin and cucumber mango sitting in your refrigerator to infuse with flavor.   Then my friend gave me a good tip, take the fruit out and squeeze it through a potato ricer back into the gin and it’s ready to enjoy.

Cheers Robin

Infused Cucumber Lemon Grass Vodka

This past summer I picked some cucumbers and lemon grass out of my vegetable garden and infused it with some vodka.  The first drink that came to mind was a Bloody Mary.

I am a Bloody Mary fan and normally I go for the spicy meaty bloody mary with the beef stick garnish. The cucumber lemon grass vodka gave the Bloody Mary a new refreshing right out of the garden flavor.  I have since been keeping my eyes out for cucumber vodka cocktail ideas and as usually once you are looking for something it seems to keep popping up all over.  In magazines and drink menus all over town.

“Invented by bartender Fernand Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s, the bloody mary began as a simple blend of vodka and tomato juice. Petiot brought it with him when he returned to the States, added the drink’s signature spiciness, and since then it has soared in popularity, spawning numerous variations.”

Of course one of the best things about the bloody mary is all the many garnish ideas one can come up with.  Makes for a meal of it’s own.

If you are in a pinch the best bloody mary mix is Zing Zang.

Here is another drink recipe idea:

RIPSAW…. muddled mint–cucumber lemon grass vodka–fresh lime juice–and soda on                                       the rocks

Enjoy in moderation:)