May 31, 2013
Let’s talk about some of my favorite things: food, drink, and books.
I wanted to share a few of the recipes that were a big hit at the book club meeting I hosted last weekend. Unfortunately, Jill was out of town, so the photographs are mine and thus not really up to par; you’ll have to take my word for it all tasted much better than it looks!
The hits of the day were a carrot-avocado salad, pickled shrimp, & strawberry-ginger punch. I also served my trusty deviled eggs and tried this yogurt panna cotta (it tasted great, but I think I badly measured my gelatin, as the texture was off.) Since a few of our book club members are gluten-free, so I ordered a dozen GF cupcakes from a local baker and put together a cheese plate with GF crackers & olives; had I not ordered the cupcakes, I would have made these almond orange tea cakes—my friend and blog reader Christie shared with me that they easily adapt to be GF.
Now onto books—there are few things I love more than an overly ambitious summer reading list! I just put together mine for this year, and I can’t wait to get started. Side note: almost all of these were recommended by friends or students. I’ve divided them into categories and linked to their Amazon listings. For more book ideas, I recently updated my Reading Lists for adults & young adults!
Classics I Ought To Have Read By Now:
Just for Fun:
Professional Development (as teacher & mom):
Young Adult Novels:
Beautiful Creatures (Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl)
The Future of Us (Jay Asher & Caroline Mackler)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making (Catherynne M. Valente)
Winger (Andrew Smith)
Zoe’s Tale (John Scalzi)
What’s on your reading list this summer? Please share in the comments!
I’d had my eye on this recipe for a while, because the ingredients are mostly ones we keep on hand, but with a very different method than I usually use. Also, we have recently become converted to cooking carrots on the grill, so I figured that roasting them would also be delicious—and it was.
In an attempt to keep this fairly simple (as opposed to running out for lots of extra ingredients), I made a few adjustment to the original recipe: swapping the citrus, using grapefruit & lime instead of orange & lemon, and leaving out the crème fraîche. The resulting salad got raves anyway, but I can see how including the crème fraîche would add a restaurant-level lushness to the dish.
2 lb carrots (if small, just peel, but if large, peel, quarter, & cut into 3-inch pieces)
2 cloves garlic
1 T fresh thyme
1 T sugar
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sprouts
¼ cup cilantro, torn
1 avocado, cut into wedges
2 T toasted sunflower seeds
2 tsp. sesame seeds
While the oven is preheating, place the carrots in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Salt the water, turn the stove to high heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce to medium and continue to simmer until carrots are tender, 5-8 minutes.
As the carrots cook, cut the grapefruit & lime in half, juicing one half of each and reserving the other halves. Reserve half of the fresh juice for later, and combine the other half with the garlic, cumin, thyme, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and 2 T olive oil; process in the blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Once the carrots have cooked, drain them and toss them in the marinade. Spread the carrots and unjuiced citrus halves on a baking sheet and roast until the carrots are reduced in size and with a few brown spots, approximately 20 minutes. Allow the carrots to cool to room temperature.
While the carrots are cool, make the salad dressing. Squeeze the juice from the roasted citrus halves and combine that juice with the reserved fresh juice. Whisk together with sugar, remaining olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Combine the carrots and avocado slices on a platter. Top with the sprouts, and sprinkle with the seeds. Drizzle the dressing over the whole thing and serve immediately.
slightly adapted from Saveur
If you’ve never had pickled shrimp before, you are in for a treat! These were so easy and so good that I’m planning to make them again this weekend as a pre-dinner appetizer (re-using some of the original brining liquid). I’ll admit, 12 bay leaves seemed a little excessive to me, but they did not at all dominate the flavor, so don’t be frightened by the quantity!
~1 lb. medium shrimp (26-30 count), peeled & deveined
2 T Old Bay
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more if needed)
12 dried bay leaves
half of a yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T kosher salt
½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
½ tsp. celery seeds
¼ tsp. ground allspice
First, prepare a bowl of ice water and place a colander in the sink. Bring eight cups of water to a boil along with the Old Bay. Add the shrimp, turn heat to low, and cook until the shrimp are pink, just about two minutes. Drain the shrimp and cool in the ice water, then drain again.
In a 1-quart glass jar, layer the shrimp, onions, and bay leaves. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl with a pour spout or Pyrex measuring cup, and pour into the jar, adding more oil if necessary to submerge the shrimp. Cover with the lid, and chill at least overnight before serving. Will keep for up to a week as long as the shrimp are completely covered with oil.
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
The original recipe called for brandy, which I did not have on hand, so I subbed in vodka; I also think this recipe would work nicely with gin and/or St. Germain in a kind of a play on a Pimm’s Cup.
I recommend making the simple syrup ahead of time (up to a week) for easy assembly on the day you are planning to serve the punch.
for the simple syrup:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
½ cup hulled & quartered strawberries
¼ cup peeled & sliced fresh ginger
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer until the berries have softened. Remove from heat and let cool before straining into a jar.
for the punch:
24-oz. club soda (keep cold)
2 ½ cups strawberries, hulled & quartered, divided
1 ½ cups vodka or other spirit of your choice
½ cup basil leaves, divided
¼ cup peeled & sliced fresh ginger
¼ cup fresh lime juice
At least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours before you plan to serve the punch, muddle 2 cups strawberries, ¼ cup basil, and ginger in a large jar or pitcher. Add vodka, lime juice, & simple syrup, and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Strain the muddled mixture into a punch bowl or glass jar, pressing down on the fruit & herbs to release all the flavor. Add the club soda and reserved strawberries and basil—I also threw in a few wheels of fresh lime so it would look even prettier.
Pour and enjoy!