Archive for the ‘cucumber’ Category

Thai Summer Salad

We were blessed, this weekend, with extraordinarily good weather on our portage trip. Which meant a clear, deep, warm blue sky bereft of clouds, temperatures perfect for swimming and lounging on rocks like lizards and no need to ever use the gas burners to cook our food on. All meals were prepared over an open wood fire from start to sweet, gooey, smorsey end. Now, usually after 4 or so days in the bush eating what you managed to drag with you leaves one craving some or other comfort food from home, not to mention ones own mattress and a hot soapy bath. On this trip, however, the wonder-woman in charge managed to organise meals of such fabulous diversity and succulence that ne’er a soul hankered after anything for their belly that wasn’t somehow already there. No dehydrated-rehydrated pea passed the lips. No thirst went without quenching by beer or wine or cold, fresh water. And, thanks to our (rather belated) discovery of a little thing called the Thermarest, no ache graced a bone in my back through the nights. All said and done, it was a trip which bordered on the sublime and trembled dangerously near perfection.

And after a long, long weekend of, in one team member’s words, Ghetto Gourmet, what better way to get back on the bright side of health and digestion than a salad made from the sweetest, most succulent of Summer’s wares? After a trip to the farmer’s market on our return, I picked up a selection of crisp, freshly picked goods for a dinner filled with all the flavours of a gorgeous season. Due to the abundance of things like garlic, Shitake mushrooms and Cilantro (coriander leaf) I opted for a somewhat Thai inspired arrangement.


summer bounty

Thai Summer Salad with Sweet Corn and Watermelon Beetroot

for the topping
¼ cup pine-nuts, toasted

1Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil (or other veg oil)
1 onion, thickly sliced
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
about 1 cup Shitake mushrooms, sliced

for the saladwatermelon beetroot
small bunch of lettuce, torn
1 big handful fresh basil leaves, torn
1 big bunch Cilantro leaves, torn
a dozen or so golden cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels removed
2 new carrots, julienned
2 watermelon beetroot, scrubbed and thinly sliced
⅓ garden cucumber, peeled and julienned
2 spring onions, thickly sliced

for the dressinglettuce
1½ Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small chili, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime

– combine all dressing ingredients and leave to infuse.
This dressing is particularly good made a day ahead.

– keep toasted pine-nuts to one side

– in a skillet, heat oils. saute onions until they just start to brown slightly. Add mushrooms and cook on a medium heat until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat.

– when cool, add pine-nuts and mix. Set aside.

– combine all salad ingredients, top with mushroom pine-nut mix and dress only when ready to serve.

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Cucumber soup

It’s been hot and muggy in Toronto. A thick, heated, soggy air permeates the city, getting into every nook, cranny and corridor. Something cool and refreshing was in order for dinner, and when I pulled out what was in the fridge it was obvious there was only one thing to make. Chilled cucumber soup. About a year ago, when we first moved to Toronto, Mr P and I had dinner at a fellow expat’s house and she served cucumber soup. New to the idea, I was eager to try a bit and ended up going back for seconds and having to restrain myself, for the manners’ sake, from having thirds and fourths and ruining my appetite for the main meal, a cedar barbequed salmon which smelled divine. Needless to say I was in raptures over the soup, making a mental note to find a recipe and remembering always how it cooled all our temperaments on that hot and sticky Saturday evening.

This one I made using fresh mint and fennel with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cucumber Soupfennel.jpg

1 English Cucumber
½ cup soy milk (or regular if you prefer)
½ cup plain yoghurt
juice of ½ lemon
few sprigs fresh fennel
few sprigs fresh mint
salt and pepper
2 ice cubes

– in a blender, blend cucumber, milk, yoghurt and lemon.
Season gently with salt and pepper.

– when smooth, add herbs and blend for a few seconds.
With motor running, add ice cubes one at a time.

-serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready. Garnish with a tablespoon of yoghurt.


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