29.6.10

Two Non-Recipes and a View

One of the nice things about the really warm weather, is that we've been having dinner on our cool, north-west facing balcony every night.

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No I'm not freakishly tall. Well, I am tall, actually, but not that freakishly. I took this picture from our upstairs balcony.

On the table is doctored up Thai red curry with shrimp, based on a little packet from Asian Home Gourmet. I love their stuff (and wrote about them before, see here).


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But the thing I enjoyed most about this dinner was the old fashioned cucumber salad we had as a side. In the summer, there is almost always a cucumber in my fridge - it gets chopped up and added to salads, or is shredded for tzaziki-style dips. But for some reason, I almost never prepare it the way my mother used to, and the way I ate it dozens, hundreds of times as a kid: grated and mixed with salt, vinegar, sugar and pepper. Making the dressing for this was one of the first jobs I was allowed to do in the kitchen, and I loved it, because there was no recipe and it was all about tasting - adding the various ingredients until it tasted right.

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Because the cucumber is coarsely grated, the vinegary dressing really permeates it, and you get something like an instant pickle. After you've eaten the salad you're left with a lot of liquid, which you can discard, or you can drink it like I love to do - it tastes like an all-cucumber gazpacho, and is extremely refreshing.

So, here's the non-recipe for this old fashioned cucumber salad:
Coarsely grate cucumber. You can peel it or not peel it, whatever you like. Add vinegar (the cheap white stuff, nothing fancy!), salt, a bit of sugar, and pepper. Ideally, freshly ground white pepper, but I used black this time because it was all I had. Taste, adjust seasonings, and add more vinegar if you think it needs it. Keep tasting until you think it's right!

On a hot day, chill until ready to serve.

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The other non-recipe is for this delicious nectarine ice cream. I can't give the recipe because it was very much an "oh let's add a little bit of this and maybe a little bit of that" kind of affair. There was 250 ml of cream, an equal amount of buttermilk, 4 ripe juicy nectarines, a tablespoon of strong chestnut honey, 5 tablespoons of sugar (maybe more, maybe less), some lemon juice, a glug of bourbon, 3 or 4 or 5 tablespoons of Pineau de Charentes. See? I would never tell you to go make something as weird as that. But if you love making ice cream and like to play around with flavors, the nectarine/honey/Pineau combo is definitely something worth experimenting with.

4 comments:

Monique said...

Dat verhaal over de dressing voor de komkommer maken...klinkt zo bekend ! Ook het opdrinken van het restje..ik voel de azijn bijna weer branden..hahahaha..grappig dat zo'n herinnering dan weer terugkomt.

racheld said...

We had your perfect cucumber salad this past weekend, and I have three pints of bread and butter pickles curing in the fridge.

And your nectarine ice cream---I cannot think of better. We always had lots of peach trees on the farm, and I'd make a light creme Anglaise on Saturday afternoon, to chill overnight.

On Sunday after noon dinner, we'd gather on the lawn, pour the custard into the old crank-type freezer, and simply TEAR in about a dozen very ripe, dripping peaches, just rinsed and dried, but not peeled.

Oh, for the memories!

tertia said...

Ohhhh ik dacht dat ik de enige overblijf-komkommerdressing-drinker was, maar er zijn er meer. Pfiew, voel me op eens een stuk minder gek :-)

MEM said...

Sorry I missed your ice cream, I'd had all that stuff on my mind.