05 May


Strawberry Salad with

Balsamic-Yogurt Dressing

May: National Strawberry Month

We have attended both the Poteet and Pasadena strawberry festivals—the only two of their kind in Texas. Poteet (outside of San Antonio) holds theirs in April while Pasadena’s (in the Houston area) event is this month. We enjoy experiencing the energy in the carnival-like atmosphere, seeing cute strawberry mascots and royalty (scholarship winners) wearing red walking around the festival grounds and tasting everything made with strawberries (shortcakes, ice cream, jams and jellies, drink mixes and more)!

It is also getting warmer (hot!) in Texas so we like to cool down with something light featuring this month’s fruit: strawberry salad with balsamic-yogurt dressing. Strawberries are abundant now at our local grocery stores and we buy them in bulk there, if not at the festivals. For National Strawberry Month, mix some fruit with vegetables and make a strawberry salad with balsamic-yogurt dressing.

Recipe

For the balsamic-yogurt dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil, extra virgin
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ tablespoons plain yogurt

Directions

In a bowl, combine the olive oil with the balsamic vinegar. Stir in the minced garlic. Add the maple syrup or honey.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the yogurt. Mix until the salad dressing is creamy.

For the strawberry salad

  • 2 cups mixed greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3-4 strawberries, sliced
  • toasted almonds (to sprinkle)

Directions

In a salad bowl, place the mixed greens. Sprinkle feta cheese and bacon. Arrange the sliced strawberries on top. Pour about 3+ tablespoons the salad dressing. Sprinkle the toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

 

Notes

  • This is a colorful and complementary salad. The greens are balanced by the red strawberries (like on the color wheel) and the bitterness of the vegetables is tempered by the sweetness of the fruit.
  • Search our blog for more strawberry recipes.

 

Slow Cooker Brisket

May 28: National Brisket Day

We have eaten our fair share of beef brisket as Texas residents. Whether barbecued, braised, baked, smoked or slow cooked, brisket is delicious shredded as a sandwich or taco filling or sliced and served with BBQ sauce, potatoes and sweet baked beans.

Brisket is a primal cut from the portion of beef breast or lower chest and can be a little tough and stringy. So the meat must be cooked slowly with some liquid to keep it moist and tender.

For a Tex-Mex touch, we slow cooked our brisket with beer/cerveza for a tender and tasty meat filling in soft or crispy tacos. Leftovers could be eaten with BBQ sauce between burger buns for a hearty sandwich. Whether for tacos or sandwiches, try this slow cooker brisket recipe for National Brisket Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Muy Bueno Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 2-4 pounds beef brisket
  • 2 ounces liquid smoke (recommended 2 ounces per pound of brisket)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 ounces beer
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Line the crockpot container with slow cooker bags for easier cleanup. Place the beef brisket in the container, fat side up. Pour in the liquid smoke. Add the bay leaves.

Pour in the beer. Cover the crockpot with a lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8 hours. Remove the brisket from the crockpot and transfer to a cutting board. Shred the brisket, discarding the fat, and place in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

  • This slow cooker brisket is similar to our kalua pig (Hawaiian pulled pork) recipe.
  • Learn more about beef brisket from the Better Homes & Gardens website.
  • Smokin’ hot! We once attended Rodeo Houston’s World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest as guests of Highlander’s company’s associate sponsors. There were lots of tents/booths and barbecuing activities going on at the grounds of NRG Stadium. Coincidentally, the tent/booth to which we were invited won the contest in the best brisket division! However, unlike our brisket, they did not use a crockpot–just the Texas-sized grills!

Char Siu

May 16: National Barbecue Day

Many people think that barbecues involve a grill. This recipe for char siu involves an oven.

Char siu, Chinese-style barbecue pork, is one of Islander’s comfort foods. After church on some Sundays, her family would go to Chinatown in Honolulu and buy a piece of red pork meat hanging by the Peking ducks in the windows of Asian grocery stores. Sunday dinner was simple: char siu, sticky white rice and a vegetable side dish (see Notes). Char siu is also chopped up as a filling in manapua (Hawaiian word for char siu bao—Chinese buns) or sliced as a garnish for saimin and fried egg noodles.

While it may be simple to buy it ready-made at the store, it is quite easy to make char siu at home. Meat is marinated in an auspiciously red sauce (which freaked out Highlander the first time he saw it in our refrigerator looking like something from a horror movie/insane asylum). It is then baked in the oven (which makes this seem more of a roast than a barbecue). Islander especially loves the char in char siu—the blackened parts of the juicy pork from being caramelized!

Try this baked BBQ recipe for Chinese barbecue pork as something different on National Barbecue Day. Char siu is also appropriate throughout National Barbecue Month in May.

Recipe

(Adapted from Foodland and Serious Eats)

Ingredients

  • 3-5 pound pork (loin, shoulder, ribs, butt or belly)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sherry or rice cooking wine
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • few drops of red food coloring (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce and sherry or rice cooking wine.

Stir in the sesame oil, Chinese five spice powder and red food coloring. Mix well. Cut up the pork and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for a few hours (overnight is best).

Remove pork from the marinade and let the sauce drip back in the bowl. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet (easier for cleanup). Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for around 45 minutes or until the pork is cooked through (adjust cooking time for different pork parts). Remove from the oven and let the pork rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve.

Notes

 

Crepes Suzy

May 6: National Crepes Suzette Day

Highlander had to undergo fire safety training for his job in the oil and gas industry. Even with his background and reassurance (plus the fire extinguishers he put around the house), Islander is frightened about flambéing her fruity foods (Crepes Suzette, Cherries Jubilee, Bananas Foster, etc.). So she found a simplified and shortcut Crepes Suzette recipe, which uses store-bought crepes and marmalade for the “Suzy Sauce”. The orange-flavored liqueur is still included as an ingredient but it does not have to be ignited. The alcohol cooks off in the heat and the sauce is still sweet for this delicious dish. For a fast French food without the flame, make Crepes Suzy for National Crepes Suzette Day. Bon appétit!

Recipe

(Adapted from About.com Desserts/Baking)

Ingredients

  • 12 ready-made/store-bought crepes
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter (we used French butter)
  • 12-15 ounce jar orange marmalade (we used one that has champagne in it)
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Curaçao or Triple Sec)
  • 2 tablespoon brandy (we used Cognac)
  • orange, thinly sliced (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. Stir in the orange liqueur and brandy. Simmer on low for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.

Mix in the orange marmalade and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat. Add a crepe to the sauce and quickly fold it in half, being careful not to let it soak or it will get soggy. Fold in half again and transfer to a plate. Continue folding the rest of the crepes one by one in the sauce. Arrange crepes on a plate, layering a few on top of each other. Garnish with orange slices. Spoon some more Suzy sauce on top of the crepes and orange slices.

Notes

 

Bantha Milk

May 4: Star Wars Day

Want something super simple to drink as a last-minute observance of Star Wars Day? Then prepare Bantha Milk—that (in)famous blue beverage first seen in “Episode IV: A New Hope” where Luke’s aunt Beru served it to him for supper as a nutritious drink. Wookieepedia lists other appearances of Bantha Milk in movies and books within the Star Wars universe. There are also boozy Bantha Milk cocktails, Blue Milk shakes and various versions of this recipe. But we wanted to post a quick and easy drink recipe that is sure to be a total “blue milk run” to celebrate Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you!

Recipe

  • Milk (cow, goat, sheep, almond, coconut, cashews, etc.)
  • Blue food coloring

Directions

In a clear pitcher, pour the milk. Add a few drops of blue food coloring. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to drink. Pour into glasses or cups and serve cold.

Notes

  • The “lightsaber straws” are actually plastic spoons that came in a cereal box a long, long time ago and a galaxy far, far away.
  • Serve Bantha Milk with Wookieee Cookies.
  • See our Theme Menus and scroll down to the Star Wars section to see a list of recipe ideas.

 

Ceviche de Camarones y Mango

Ceviche Shrimp y Mango

May 5: Cinco de Mayo

San Antonio, Texas, is famous for its fiestas. When we lived there for six super happy years, we celebrated by eating many Mexican dishes with our familia and friends, including ceviche, a dish that contains raw seafood “cooked” in citrus, usually limes or lemons, and tossed with tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers and cilantro. Since Islander is not too fond of fish, she found a ceviche recipe that contains shrimp cocktail. Mango is added to the mix for a vibrant color and a slightly sweet surprise. Ceviche de camarones y mango reminds us of the confetti inside the cascarones (eggs that we liked to smash especially on unsuspecting people’s heads!). This appetizer can be eaten alone or served with tortilla chips. On Cinco de Mayo, serve ceviche with shrimp and mango for a fun and flavorful fiesta.

Recipe

(Adapted from Whole Foods)

Ingredients

  • 25-30 medium-sized shrimp, raw, thawed, deveined and shelled (we used cooked cocktail shrimp; see Notes)
  • 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-1 ½ cups tomato, diced
  • 1 semi-ripe firm mango, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3-4 limes, juiced
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

Rinse the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels and discard the tails. Cut into ½ inch pieces, reserving a few shrimp to garnish (optional). Chop the onion. Dice the tomatoes. Chop the mango (one cup) and jalapeño pepper.

Ceviche Shrimp y Mango

Place the chopped ingredients in a big bowl. Pour the lime juice over the mixture and combine well. Sprinkle with cilantro and salt and mix again. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to develop and the citrus from the lime juice acid to “cook” the shrimp. Serve chilled in a margarita glass, garnished with shrimp. Or place in a small dish/bowl surrounded with tortilla chips.

Ceviche Shrimp y Mango

Notes

  • If raw seafood is a concern, replace with ready-to-eat cocktail shrimp.
  • Further the fiesta fun and serve ceviche de camarones y mango on National Shrimp Day on May 10.
  • Search our blog for other Mexican recipes. ¡Viva Fiesta!

Räksmörgås

(Swedish Shrimp Sandwich)

Swedish Shrimp Sandwich

May 10: National Shrimp Day

Islander used to work in a building across the street from an Ikea in Illinois. What a distraction it was to go to that Swedish furniture store (we bought a sofa sleeper, end tables, cabinets and shelving, benches and stools and a mirror from Ikea)!

Sometimes, Islander would take her lunch breaks at the Ikea cafeteria to sample some Swedish food, such as räksmörgås, an open-faced shrimp sandwich. It was light and refreshingly delicious.

Now that we currently live in South Texas, the closest Ikea is nearly three hours’ drive away—not too convenient to visit for browsing at furniture or eating at the café. So we make räksmörgås at home. These Swedish shrimp sandwiches are simple to make for a light lunch and in observance of National Shrimp Day. Smaklig måltid (bon appétit in Swedish)!

Recipe

(Adapted from Ikea)

Ingredients

  • Toasted bread (one per person)
  • Butter
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Boiled egg, shelled and sliced
  • Small frozen shrimps, thawed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • lemon slices (optional garnish)
  • tomato wedges (optional garnish)

Directions

Toast the bread. Spread butter on one side. Place a lettuce leaf on top. Slice the eggs and layer it on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle the shrimps over the eggs.

Swedish Shrimp Sandwich

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Stir in the chopped dill. Carefully spread the mixture over the shrimp. Finish with dill on top. Garnish with lemon slices, tomato wedges and a sprig of dill (optional). Serve immediately.

Swedish Shrimp Sandwich

Notes

  • Variations of räksmörgås include adding mustard, thinly-sliced cucumbers, chopped chives, lemon garnish, tomato wedges and caviar.
  • Heavier breads, such as rye or pumpernickel, are recommended over the softer white varieties to be able to hold up the ingredients.
  • Search our site for other Swedish-inspired or shrimp recipes.

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