Posts tagged #summer

Lekker: Charred Romaine & Shrimp Salad

Ey yo! Welcome back. First things first:


So now that I've properly explained why I've been a bit MIA, I have a recipe for you!

I made this Charred Romaine & Shrimp Salad yesterday for my Sunday evening dinner because up here in New York for the summer, Sunday ALWAYS mean grilling--and lucky for me the person I'm currently tongue kissing is also a BOMB grillmaster, so I'm making good use of his talents.

I guess you could do this all on the stove in a hot cast iron skillet if you don't have a grill, but by all means give it a shot outside if you can. Nothing says summer like throwing EVERYTHING YOU OWN onto the grill, basically.

If you haven't already been charring your Romaine lettuce now's the time to give it a try (I am sorry, I know I sound like a pretentious food snob when I say that but OMFG you must must try it), but what really adds depth to this summery salad is cutting that richness with a few leaves of the fresh raw stuff to give it some crunch.

Feel free to omit the tomatoes if you want; I just think it's sacrilege to not include them in a summer salad for all their juiciness and gorgeous colour when they're in season. Oh, and the extra brilliant part of this salad is that you don't even need up whip up a separate dressing: the olive oil and lemon juice takes care of that in beautiful simplicity. 

Here we go punks!

P.S. That drink's one of my clean summer faves: muddled fresh mint leaves and peeled cucumber chunks topped with ice, vodka, and Poland Spring lemon-lime seltzer. Refreshing, low-cal, and the perfectly clean accompaniment for a rich salad!

P.S. That drink's one of my clean summer faves: muddled fresh mint leaves and peeled cucumber chunks topped with ice, vodka, and Poland Spring lemon-lime seltzer. Refreshing, low-cal, and the perfectly clean accompaniment for a rich salad!

serves 2

3 whole small-to-medium sized Romaine hearts
24 small-to-medium sized cleaned raw shrimp, tails left on, threaded onto wooden skewers (I was able to find these at my supermarket already assembled for only $2 a skewer)
2 ears of corn, shucked and wiped of silk
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 large tomato, diced (optional, I GUESS)
6 slices bacon, more if you are a needlessly indulgent sod
2 fresh lemons
Olive oil for brushing
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Lightly oil the ears of corn and season with salt and pepper. Toss those two on the grill over the area of highest/most direct heat to get a good char on them. Now's the time to add your bacon strips directly onto the grill as well, to cook to your desired level of crispiness.

2. While that shit gets going gently brush your shrimp with olive oil on each side so they don't stick to the grill, and then squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over them and season with S & P. Grill for about 2 minutes a side or until light pink and cooked throughout.

3. While your shrimp are grilling, slice 2 of the 3 Romaine hearts in half lengthwise straight down the middle, making sure to keep the end bulb intact. Trim off any browned edges and gently dust off any visible dirt or grit. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and season with S & P. These we'll grill. If the tiny inner leaves are having trouble staying put use a toothpick to stab it all together, because when all else fails be violent in the kitchen. Wash and chop about 6 leaves of the third head--this will be your raw component.

4. Once your shrimp are removed from the grill, crank it up to high heat and add the Romaine lettuce heads cut side down. Grill over high heat for about 2-3 minutes or until you've got a nice char and the leaves have slightly wilted. Remove from heat.

4. Roughly chop the charred Romaine and toss with the raw chopped leaves, avocado, tomatoes, whole shrimp, diced bacon, and roasted corn kernels you've sheared from the cob. Squeeze the juice of the other lemon over the whole thing and call it a day--the olive oil you've used to grill half the ingredients will mingle with the lemon juice to create a simple dressing that lets the other seasonal ingredients shine. Buon appetito!

Follow us on Instagram at @tigrita_thelittletiger for more food pics and general frivolity, and on Twitter at @LekkerLiquor.

Posted on July 28, 2015 and filed under Lekker.

Liquor: Rosemary Gin Rickey

Two cocktails in a row, woot woot! Yeeeaaaaaah buddy, I've been breaking out of my wine-only rut and am back to experimenting with the cocktail shaker. I think I got stuck in between ginger flavours and tequila for awhile, so I'm excited to have something new to present to you: a Rosemary Gin Rickey, from photographer Elizabeth Morrow. You can find the original recipe here.

Rosemary is a tricky ingredient, for me. It can be overwhelming at times, a strange combination of woody and floral fragrance and taste. I was intrigued to give this a try, and let me tell you, I am a full-on fan. The rosemary simple syrup is just subtle enough to that you only get a TASTE of rosemary, and the garnish of fresh rosemary provides the perfect whiff as you sip. As I noted before with the Pimm's Cup, in many cases, a cocktail garnish is NOT optional!!! A garnish serves the very important purpose of stimulating your sense of smell, which is of course closely tied to your sense of taste and part of the whole experience of a cocktail. A garnish is a complement to the drink. USE IT. 

Serve like so for effect, but of course, drop that baby tree into your drink before taking your first sip. I can't believe I actually have to tell people that, but there you go.

First, you must make the Rosemary Simple Syrup.

What You Need
makes 1 cup of simple syrup; scale as necessary

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

What You Do
1. Making any simple syrup has the same (simple, hah) process: combine 1 part filtered water to 1 part sugar (usually white granulated) plus your flavouirng agent. You may recall we've used one before with before with the smashing Lemon Ginger Martini, with the original recipe being explained in the Carlos O'Brien. So all you do here is combine the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to make sure the sugar doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Let it boil for 1 minute such that the sugar is completely dissolved, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for 30 minutes, drain out the rosemary sprigs, and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

I absolutely adored the light, baby-spring-green colour the simple syrup wound up having (not evident in the photo above, unfortunately). You also eat with your eyes, after all! Onwards we go.

Rosemary Gin Rickey
makes 1 drink

What You Need
1 ounce rosemary simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1.5 ounces gin
club soda (I always prefer tonic water) to top off
spring of rosemary + white granulated sugar for garnish

What You Do
1. In a cocktail shaker over lots of ice, combine the first three ingredients. Shake for 30 seconds until the shaker is frosty. Pour into a highball glass over ice and top off with bubbles to your desired strength. Moisten a sprig of rosemary with water and roll around in some white sugar to give it that pretty, frosted look.

Oh, and hint hint--this would be a fantastically complementary pre-dinner cocktail for that Short Rib Ragu.
Posted on March 21, 2014 .

Lekker: Shrimp & Avocado Salad

I try to be pretty picky about the kinds of recipes I put up on the blog--I cook a LOT, and they aren't all winners. That's why everything I put up here is something I would make again and share with others, but this...this I could eat every day for a month and never complain.

As with most things in life, sometimes the best things are the SIMPLEST things! This Shrimp & Avocado salad is totally brainless, but so refreshing, so light, so delicious, and so applicable. I've eaten shamelessly devoured it by itself, on toasted baguette as an appetizer, on top of crunchy romaine lettuce as an even fuller salad, and even sprinkled with Parmesan in a grilled sandwich. ALL GOOD THINGS. And since I've decided that I am 17 shades of DONE with winter and forcibly moving ahead to summer (if my "bikini body" could get the memo that'd be great), it's extra perfect.

Maybe not the most pristine, photogenic salad in the world, but who cares.

Shrimp & Avocado Salad
usually serves 2 if tossed on top of some chopped romaine lettuce

What You Need
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail-off and cooked (These particular ones I found at Trader Joe's and all I had to do was run them under some cold water to thaw for 5 minutes and they were DELICIOUS.)
1 avocado, diced
1 large tomato-on-the-vine, or 2 Roma tomatoes, or a large handful of cherry tomatoes, or whatever, diced
1/2 cup peeled and diced cucumber (this wound up being about 1/3 of a large English cucumber)
1 green spring onion, chopped

~2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (no stems)
~1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
~1/2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (or bottled I guess, but use sparingly since it's often stronger)
2-3 dashes chili powder
S & P, to taste

What You Do
1. Um...toss everything together? Stir really well to combine (the avocado will break down a bit and create a lovely creamy dressing with the EVOO and the lemon juice, but add more if you want to) and let it hang out in the fridge for about 10 minutes so the flavours marry, and...enjoy!
Posted on February 20, 2014 .

Liquor: Thug Kitchen's "Endless Summer Gin & Tonic"

This isn't a real post and it certainly isn't my recipe. Today I'm sending you over to the awesomeness that is Thug Kitchen. If you're not easily offended, this dude writes hilarious, easy-to-follow non-pretentious vegan recipes for food that actually tastes good. I've made a couple of his things and while I'm not a vegan and don't stick to any sort of strict diet (life's waaaaay too short for that and you will have to pry my Brie cheese from my dead, cold hands) he's really got some GREAT stuff.

I hopped on there yesterday just to see what's new and saw this entry for an "Endless Summer Gin & Tonic." A couple of weeks ago I was panicking that fall was here and summer was finally over, but no! False alarm. It's been 93 degrees every day for the past 4 days and I'm reveling in my bonus days of summer.

This Blueberry Basil G&T really hit the spot last night when I decided to drink my dinner, and I happened to already have everything on hand. My blueberries were frozen (because I can't keep those bastards fresh and without mold for more than about 32 seconds) so they sank to the bottom of the glass, but I think fresh ones float. Don't matter--this was so fizzy, sweet and sour with a gorgeous refreshing colour that just made me smile.

 I don't have a picture of the finished drink. Well, I do, but it sucks. His photo is better, so go look at it if you want. Or, you could just make the thing yourself.

Bottoms up!
Posted on September 12, 2013 .

Lekker: Summer Shrimp & Corn Salad

Dear. God. Blogger was giving me such shit last night. I meant to write this yesterday evening whilst I was leisurely enjoying a glass of good-for-me red wine (to celebrate some good news I received about my health, lulz) but no, Google was not having it. Damn you Google and your salad sabotaging ways!

Anyhoodles, the salad I'm blogging about today is hands down my very very favourite salad for summer time. I think I've eaten it about a dozen times since June and each time I make it there's like 4 servings in it, so...yeah. It has never photographed prettily so this is the best I could do, but there is so much yumminess in this bad boy there's no one who will say no. AND I CAN ALREADY SEE YOU BOYS GOING TO X OUT OF THIS BLOG BECAUSE IT'S ABOUT A SALAD. You can just calm right down because I have fed this to meat-eating cavemen multiple times and they all loved it (hello, it includes bacon) despite the lack of bloody steak.

I'm going to write this recipe the easy way, the way I do it on weeknights. There is a blurb at the bottom about how to complicate your life, if you're into that kind of thing.

All dah pretty colors. Plus there's a ton of green all underneath that.

Summer Shrimp & Corn Salad
makes 3-4 good sized servings; I am a pig and keep this whole thing to myself and get four bowls worth' out of it. It'll keep for one night and one night only in the fridge if you DO NOT dress it.

What You Need
1 bag of chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 a large cucumber (I like the English ones, not because I'm a racist against the other cukes but these are just...better...) peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
1 large tomato (I prefer on-the-vine but you could even use cherry tomatoes chopped in half or Roma or whatever, just get a nice big ol' handful of tomato in there)
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled (less if you like less, or leave it out if you don't like cheese, whatever)
6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (if you really want to make your life simple, buy the precooked bacon and just zap it in the micro for 30 seconds to bring it to room temp)
1/2 a pound of shrimp (Note: I always buy the frozen, peeled, deveined & de-tailed shrimp because I am lazy. I'm writing the recipe as if you're doing that too. But if you are even lazier than me, buy the already-cooked shrimp or whatever the deli/fish section of your grocery store has prepared to save yourself a step)
1 cup of frozen corn kernels, thawed

What You Do
1. In a large bowl, throw in your lettuce, cucumber, tomato, avocado and feta cheese which you have all already lovingly washed and diced up into salad sized pieces. Cook your bacon in the microwave (if you didn't buy the precooked stuff) until it's to your desired crispiness, blot off the grease really really well with a paper towel, chop that up and throw it in.

2. If you didn't buy the pre-cooked shrimp, now's the time to sauté off your thawed shrimp in a pan on the stove. I use a cast iron skillet and a teensy bit of butter over medium-high heat until the shrimp are pink throughout. Season with pepper to taste. When they're done, you can cut each shrimp in half if you want (I usually do that to get them more interspersed throughout the salad but forgot in the photo above) and add those to your salad.

3. In the same pan that's still hot with a bit of grease left in it from the shrimp, toss in the corn and crank up the heat to high, stirring often to toast it. You don't haaaaaaaave to do this step but I find it brings out a little bit more of the ....corn?...flavour. Throw that in the salad bowl and you're done!

Oh, right, dressing. So, don't dress this salad if you're not going to finish it that night because it gets all soggy and gross in the fridge. But, the dressing I always make is a very simple vinaigrette with about 1/3 cup of olive oil and 2 T lemon juice with salt and pepper added to taste. Whisk it up with a fork, taste it, and adjust as necessary. 

A CAVEAT TO ALL OF THE ABOVE: I rarely use measurements when I cook. In fact, I just about made up every single measurement you see above from memory and from what I usually use. This is a salad, I don't give a flying fart in space if you want to use 8 slices of bacon instead of 6 or if you want to use the whole cucumber; just do what you like! It's your life! It's just dinner! I just put what *I* usually do because these are the proportions that *I* like.

So, that's how I usually make that salad. There *IS* a way to elevate this to supreme baller status, and it is excellent, but more work. Namely, you can grill the shrimp (instead of just pan frying them) which adds the most gorgeous colour, flavour and "summeryness". You can also grill fresh corn on the cob, OR, dry roast some fresh raw kernels in a cast iron skillet on the stove over high heat, stirring often, until they blacken and brown in spots. That's amazing too. I just can't be bothered to go tracking down fresh corn on the cob on a Tuesday night to do all that, and I can't grill for shit so that's out too. 

I suggest you enjoy this with one of the aforementioned boneheaded meat lovers so you can crow gleefully once they admit how yummy this salad actually is. A nice white wine (I like Monkey Bay's Sauvignon Blanc) pairs well for crowing, I find.

Posted on September 11, 2013 .

Lekker: Tomato Bacon Summer Sandwich

This isn't a real post. It's just a sandwich. But the Roma tomatoes in my garden are going nuts and I'm putting them on EVERYTHING. This is my very favourite summer sandwich, so chock full of bursting freshness I could eat it every day.

Tomato Bacon Summer Sandwich
makes 2 sammies

What You Need
4 pieces of your sandwich bread of choice; I love the fresh Tuscan something-or-other from Trader Joe's but you can use any fresh bread with a nice crust and soft insides
1 avocado, mashed and seasoned with S&P to your liking
a few Roma or heirloom tomatoes, sliced into thin lengths
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked to desired crispness
handful of pea shoots (I suppose you could use any sort of sprout here, but the pea shoots have this delicious, sweet-pea taste to them with the most amazing deep green color and fresh crunch; I can only find them at Trader Joe's)
South African Smoke seasoning from TJ's (I swear they should be paying me for how often I cite them; if you can't find this or don't have a Trader Joes near you, you can try experimenting with other smoke seasonings but to me this is the key ingredient--I've made it without, and it's just not the same)

What You Do
Toast the bread slightly, just to give it a bit of crunch. Smear the avocado on each slice; please do not insult this sandwich by putting mayonnaise or butter on it. Avocado is nature's butter, bitches! Use it. It's full of healthy fats and antioxidants, and it's in season. No excuses. Next, layer the tomatoes on top of the avo and add the smoke seasoning and more S&P if you want it. On the other slice, pile on the bacon and the pea shoots on top of it. Snap a photo and Instagram it like a true food hipster and make everyone around you roll their eyes (I don't care; tag me @southafricanbokkie in it) and then dig in.


 Because really, I want one too.
Posted on August 17, 2013 .

Lekker: Crispity Crunchity Cuke Salad

This isn't a "real" recipe. This is just one of my favourite salads of all time, one I grew up with and learned at my Mom's elbow and was inspired to eat for dinner last night as a way to get more of my delicious homemade feta cheese into my mouth (recipe coming soon).

I was looking forward to this salad all day; it's so crunchy and refreshing and light and just what I wanted after a cathartic run. Also I'm single and busy, so make no mistake I'm not making full fancy meals for myself every night. I grabbed an English cucumber from Trader's Joes and my currently-preferred olive oil (100% cold pressed, 100% organic from Spain and only $5.99 at TJ's) on my way home from work, thinking I'd use the gorgeous vine-ripened tomatoes I'd pick up from the store only a couple of days ago. WRONG! They were, already, a rotten soggy mouldy mess. I don't deal with disappointment well, so I had a beer. Then, PING! I thought to check out in the garden. My housemate TB had told me that our current tomato cycle was over, but I wandered out there anyway and I found more than enough gorgeous, bright red, PERFECT Roma tomatoes waiting to go into my salad.

I know I'm lucky. Not everyone has these luxuries and I'm well aware of my fortune in TB.

Crispity Crunchity Cuke Salad
makes 1 large salad for a really hungry chick

What You Need
1 English cucumber, peeled (it's the long slim one in the plastic wrap in the grocery store; I like it because I think it's crunchier than the traditional cucumbers, but obviously use whatever you like, this is not Nazi Cucumber)
a handful of Roma tomatoes or any other kind you like, in proportion to the amount of cucumber
feta cheese, same in proportion
olive oil
lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled, whatever you have)

What You Do
It's a salad with like 3 ingredients, how complicated do you think this is? Dice up the cucumber and tomatoes into cute little bite sized pieces. Toss it with enough crumbled feta cheese until you're satisfied. Dress it lightly with equal parts olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and stick it in the fridge to marinate for 15 minutes while you drink another beer and pat yourself on the back for making a salad. Nom.

Sometimes, GOOD doesn't have to mean complicated.

You can see I added some diced kalamata olives here because I wanted more salinity since my cheese was much milder than I'm used to. If you're using store-bought feta cheese I would leave the olives out, because that's a LOT of salt, and bloat works for no one.

Liquor: Grapefruit Crush

I really don't know WTF is going on right now, it's 90 degrees outside and football is on. Something is not right. I'm gonna go ahead and assume that it's still summer though because I'm not ready to pack away my wedges and white denim shorts yet, and THIS was the drink of my summer: a Grapefruit Crush. I discovered it on a girl's trip with my chickadees Tiny Bird and Lilypad to Annapolis, Maryland at O'Brien's Steakhouse. The bartender there was a barred lawyer, mixing drinks because it paid better than being an attorney, which caused no small amount of anxiety about my budding legal career...but the vodka fixed that.

O'Brien's original recipe calls for Finlandia grapefruit vodka shaken with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and topped off with Sprite. *I* could never find Finlandia and I forgot about the Sprite until just now, so this is my drink:

Grapefruit Crush
makes 1 refreshing drink

What You Need
Absolute Ruby Red Vodka (I keep mine in the freezer so it's always nice and cold)
1 fresh squeezed pink or red grapefruit, whatever you can find

What You Do
Throw some ice into a glass (crushed is cool if you've got it). Pour in some vodka, how much you want is probably in direct relation to how your day was. I usually use two shots' worth because I like my drinks strong. Squeeze the hell out of a grapefruit into the glass. Scrape the fruit against the side of the glass and get all that pulpy goodness in there. Don't worry about the seeds, they're just little baby thin white seeds and they won't bother you. You can fish them out I guess but don't make this weird, if you're so tightly wound that you have to do that then you DEFINITELY need this drink. Mix it all up with a long spoon and drink up, preferably giggling with girlfriends or at a pool somewhere. I like this drink because it's so simple you can still make more even if you're kinda drunk already. If you wanna get crazy you can add that Sprite for sweetness or fizz or whatever. I'm sure I'll try it that way next time if I can remember.

Posted on August 13, 2013 .