Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer girl's night

The menu:


Trader Joe's limeade, a touch of mint simple syrup, rum, and mint leaves to top it off - it's pretty sweet, so dilute with club soda as necessary.

Spring roll salad (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
I know it looks complicated, and yes, it does take time, but it is worth it.  

3/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms (or other mushrooms)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shoyu (=soy sauce)
4 ounces (4 cups loosely packed) fettucine-style rice noodles (Trader Joe's sells these)
2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks (1 cup; I actually shaved using a vegetable peeler, much quicker than doing a fine julienne, and the texture is nice.  I also used shaved cucumbers, yum)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
(I also added all my CSA greens for the week; these aren't included in the original recipe, but I think tipping the balance toward vegetables makes it an even better summery salad)
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped in food processor

--Roasted Shallot Peanut Sauce
3 medium shallots, unpeeled
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon shoyu
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Tamarind dipping sauce (or in my case, dipping sauce, for I still can't find tamarind concentrate.  Oh well, it's still good)
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced (I used CSA garlic scapes)
1 teaspoon finely slivered seeded red serrano or Thai bird chile (I have a jar of Thai chile paste that saves me here, Thai chiles are hot and apparently physically painful to cut.  Thank goodness for the World Aisle at Shaw's)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Cut the stems off the shiitakes and discard them (or save them for stock). Thinly slice the caps; you should have 5 cups. Toss the shiitakes in a bowl with the olive oil and shoyu. Then spread them out on a parchment-covered baking sheet and transfer it to the oven.  Also, place the shallots in a baking pan.  Roast both the mushrooms and shallots in the oven, stirring the mushrooms twice, until the mushrooms are shrunken, browned, and fairly crisp and the shallots are a bit oozy (about 40 minutes).

Place the mushrooms in a small bowl and set it aside.  Let the shallots cool, and squeeze into the bowl of a food processor.  Add additional ingredients in the peanut sauce and puree until smooth (makes about 2 cups, keeps well in the fridge).

To make the dipping sauce, combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and warm over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add lime juice, tamarind, and shoyu.  Let cool, and stir in cilantro, garlic and chile paste (makes about 1/2 cups, does not keep as long as the peanut sauce, but will keep a couple days).

Cook noodles as directed, and drain, rinsing with cold water. Enjoy the salad buffet style.

Rhubarb ice cream (adapted from Not Without Salt)

3 to 3 1/2 cups rhubarb chopped in half inch chunks
1/2 stick butter
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, not packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
7-10 drops cherry blossom extract or rose water (optional)

Combine the rhubarb, butter, vanilla bean and seeds, vanilla extract, sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan.  Cover and braise over medium-low heat until rhubarb is soft (this takes about fifteen minutes).  Take off heat, break up any obvious chunks, and let cool for about twenty minutes.  In a medium bowl combine the cream and milk then add the cooled rhubarb mixture. Add the extracts at this point, and let chill completely before churning.

Watermelon sorbet (adapted from Tartlette; this works with any kind of melon, oh yes)

4 cups watermelon, seeded and diced
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Splash to 1/4 cup liquor (vodka, elderflower liquor, pick something delicious; keep in mind that the more alcohol you add, the lower the freezing point dips---which can make for smoother sorbets, but it can also make them loose the frozen texture that some people really love)

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. (or in my case, put in my largest stockpot and puree using an immersion blender.  Much easier, less mess).   If the graininess bothers you, strain it.  If not, let cool completely and churn.  

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