Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Food Blog Cookie Swap 2012 is upon us! Lindsay over at Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen created this fine program, and I’ve taken advantage of the fun two years in a row now. Here’s how it works:
1) Join Cookie Swap and donate $4 to Cookies for Kids with Cancer
2) Bake 3 dozen cookies
3) Mail 1 dozen cookies each to three food bloggers who you’re matched with
4) Get 3 dozen cookies in the mail! What’s not to love?
Like last year, I decided to bake a cookie with a savory twist. I chose Spicy Molasses Cookies because I love a chewy cookie and I love the depth of flavor molasses has. I looked at lots of molasses cookie recipes but chose this one by Wendy Rusch on www.justapinch.com. The recipe was straightforward, the combination of spices – ginger, cinnamon, allspice and black pepper – appealed to me, plus the recipe got great reviews at Just A Pinch. If you’re not familiar, Just A Pinch is a recipe and coupon social network, and you should totally check it out. Oh, and I work there.
The cookies come together easily. You mix the wet ingredients together, then you add in the dry ones and gently mix.
I rolled them into balls, rolled the balls in sparkling sugar, then baked them. Ten minutes later they’re done! After that amount of time they’re just barely set and will fall as they cool, but I think that makes them chewy.
They’re divine with a tall glass of milk. I really like that spicy kick – the black pepper especially adds just the right amount of heat.
For my matches, I stacked them up on top of one another, their sparkling sugars twinkling in the sunlight, bagged them in craft bags and tied them with a festive ribbon.
I tied on little luggage tags stamped with a “To:, From:” tag and addressed them. Then I shipped them off to my matches, Jennifer @ Mother Thyme, Jessica @ Kettler Cuisine and Dea at The Baking Robot! I love going to the post office around Christmas time. It feels old-fashioned and festive.
What fun. Thanks so much to Lindsay and Julie for organizing this! I’ll post the cookies I got when they arrive. I can’t wait!
Spicy Molasses Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
These spicy little numbers are addictive! The addition of black pepper to the molasses gives them just a hint of heat.
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
get recipes @ goboldwithbutter.com
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about 10 turns on mine)
Sparkling sugars or turbinado (raw) sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with oil; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix together shortening, butter, sugars, egg and molasses with a hand mixer until creamy.
In a medium bowl mix dry ingredients with a fork. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Roll into 1-1/2" balls, roll in sparking sugar, and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes.
**For smaller cookies, roll 3/4-inch balls and bake for just 7 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Wendy Rusch at www.justapinch.com.
Monday, December 3, 2012
That’s right. I woke up on Sunday morning, wanted biscuits, and made them. Ha! Do you know how easy biscuits are to make? I’ll tell you.
You combine flour, baking powder and sea salt. Then add extra cold butter grated into other ingredients, which will help make the biscuits flaky. Then pour in milk or buttermilk and bake. Voila!
The dough is a really satisfying texture. It’s not too wet or too dry, but perfectly mixed and easily pliable. Make sure you don’t overmix it though. If you do, the gluten protein will become overactivated and thus tough. You want to knead bread dough a lot to get those gluten proteins working together so you have a chewy dough, but you don’t want this when you’re making biscuits.
Then you roll out the dough to a 1/2-inch thick and cut out biscuits with a glass. I used a 1/2 pint jar but you could really use anything. Just make sure they’re even. Then bake for 8 minutes or so in a very hot oven and you’ve got biscuits!!
Are these lovely or what?! I ate them with strawberry jam and an egg from my chicken, Ruby. She’s the red head on the right!
I highly suggest you make biscuits the next time you have an extra 20 minutes in the morning. It was totally satisfied and completely easy!
Meme's Biscuits by Virginia WIlls
Yield: 8-10 biscuits
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Such simple, delicious biscuits! The recipe is from a gorgeous cookbook filled with Southern recipes from the author's childhood called "Bon Appetit, Y'all" by Virginia Willis.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix with a fork until combined.
Remove butter from fridge and grate over the largest side of a box cutter into the dry ingredients. Mix butter shavings into dry ingredients. Add milk.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly using the heel of your hand to compress and push the dough away from you then fold it back over yourself. Turn the dough each pass and repeat 8ish times. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out to roughly 1/2-inch thick. Cut biscuits out with a glass or pastry cutter evenly (I used a 1/2 pint jar).
Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet making sure they're not touching (they'll be crispy if they're further apart).
Bake 8-10 minutes until tops are beginning to brown. Serve warm!
Recipe adapted from Meme's Biscuits in "Bon Appetit, Y'all" by Virginia Willis.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite times of year. Celebrating a delicious meal with people you care for while giving thanks is, I think, an easy concept to get behind.
Several years ago my girlfriends and I started a tradition of preparing a Thanksgiving meal for our group of friends before we all went our separate ways for the actual holiday. The first year we decided to do this, to accommodate schedules, we held our feast in October. Because of this timing, we began calling this event Fakesgiving. The name stuck, and we’ve carried on this tradition ever since.
The first year of Fakesgiving, in our small apartment, we pushed our couch to the wall and lined up our only proper table, an end table and a card table, then surrounded our creation with a smattering of mismatched chairs, stools, benches and even a box to create seating for about 15 people. We decorated with gourds, candles and mismatched placemats, and we all prepared our favorite Thanksgiving dishes from our family feasts. Over dinner (and a healthy dose of red wine!) we shared stories and caught up. It wasn’t fancy, but those friendly dinners are some of my favorite memories to date and I think embody just what Thanksgiving is supposed to be.
I’ve shared one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes below for porcini mushroom gravy. It’s vegetarian, but I guarantee your carnivorous friends and family won’t know the difference. It’s rich and savory, and while I love a good old-fashioned gravy made from pan juices, this is one to try. Plus, since it doesn’t require the drippings from the bird, you can make it the day before and reheat it.
My delectable porcini mushroom gravy.
Thanksgiving food is so delicious – think of those pies, mashed potatoes, the turkey – why not have it more than once a year?! Keep in mind Fakesgiving can be celebrated any time, not just in the weeks around the fourth Thursday in November. Enjoy your holiday tomorrow, and just remember, if you get a craving for gravy come June, don’t forget Fakesgiving!
Porcini Mushroom Gravy
Yield: 6 servings
This recipe is adapted from a Viking Cooking School recipe. Find dried porcinis in the produce section of nicer grocery stores (Publix carries them in Nashville).
5 cups vegetarian broth
¾ oz dried porcini mushrooms
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white white
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Bring dried mushrooms and broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and let steep 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, coarsely chop mushrooms, then add back to broth. Reserve mushroom/broth mixture.
2. In a small non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter with flour until a paste forms. Set aside.
3. In a medium skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add garlic, parsley, thyme and rosemary, and saute until fragrant. Add in mushroom/broth mixture and wine, and simmer for 30 minutes. Whisk in flour/butter mixture. Boil until reduced to 4 cups. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Every fall, I get crazed for baked goods. Like no other time of year, dishes like baked apples, bread pudding, homemade muffins, and pies – glorious pies – scream my name. To me, a warm scone or bar on a crisp fall morning with a steaming cup of coffee sounds like pure heaven.
Ironically though, I rarely bake. I love cooking and do it almost every day, but baking is another story. I like to improvise when I cook, tossing in a little of this and a little of that. And if something doesn’t turn out, I can usually guess why. Baking isn’t like that. It’s a science – a formula is required, and I always hated chemistry.
Luckily for me, there’s a truly amazing bakery a few blocks from my house in East Nashville. Sweet 16th, A Bakery, is quite a treat. On a recent morning I stopped by on my way to work and indulged in a super-moist, heavenly-scented Autumn Pumpkin Muffin and a cup of Drew’s Brews coffee. I also grabbed a square of Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake for a mid-morning snack. Other items for sale that day were Coconut Macaroons, Pear Almond Coffee Cake, Cherry Cranraisin Walnut Coffee Cake, Sweet Irish Coconut Cakes, Blackberry Oat Squares, several kinds of scones including Toasted Coconut Lemon Scones, Classic Chocolate Chip Brownies, an assortment of cookies and more. And that was just one display case. On the other side they almost always have several kinds of cupcakes, a Yazoo Stout Bread Pudding (to die for), and savory items like quiche, lasagna and mac and cheese to go. They also serve soup, salads and the Dos Papas (two potatoes) Burrito – a must try. Everything they make is fresh, flavorful and vegetarian.
Dan and Ellen Einstein own the place, and are really lovely people. They baked cookies for my wedding and have helped me out on many occasions with special orders for events. As I got to thinking about baking, I decided to call up Dan and ask him for some tips, thinking this cook might just try her hand at baking sometime soon. Here’s what he offered:
- Good ingredients matter, especially with flour, butter and chocolate. If you skimp, you’ll taste it
- Practice makes perfect – learn from feel and those around you who have baking experience. [The holidays are coming - make a date with Grandma!]
- Don’t get frustrated if something doesn’t work. Not every recipe he and Ellen prepares makes it to the display cases. Even recipes seasoned bakers have made dozens of times can fail.
Keeping his advice in mind, I decided to bake up some oatmeal raisin cookies on a recent Sunday. They were delish! When they were finished, I enjoyed them with a tall glass of milk on my patio as I watched the leaves fall – craving satisfied. Granted they may not have baked out just right – they’re a little bit tall – but they tasted great. The addition of banana in the batter made them super moist and gave just a hint of banana flavor. Will I bake more this season? Probably. But it’s good to know I’ve got Sweet 16th right down the street as a backup, just in case.
This post also appeared in the Tennessean.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish faith. Yom Kippur is marked by a 25-hour fast which began at sundown yesterday. Today is traditionally spent at home with family in self reflection, quietly atoning for the sins of the year. The fast is broken by a feast at sundown tonight.
I’m not Jewish, but I’ve just married a Jewish man (last Saturday, in fact!). In an effort to connect with his family, I’ve begun learning about and practicing the food traditions he grew up with. I’ve always found it fascinating to learn about a new culture through food. And in Judaism, there are some fascinating – and delicious – food traditions!
At Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, apples and honey are traditionally served, along with other sweet dishes with the hope of a sweet New Year. During Passover, leavening is avoided so traditionally matzo ball soup is served which is made from matzo meal, or unleavened bread. I’m told this is because when the Jews were leaving Egypt, there was no time to make their normal bread, so they made what they could without the yeast. A seder plate is also prepared which typically contains parsley, horseradish, an apple/honey mixture called haroset, a roasted lamb shank and a boiled egg, all of which are loaded with symbolism. Hanukkah is celebrated with fried foods to symbolize the shortage of oil for the lamp to light the temple that should have lasted for only one day but miraculously lasted for eight.
I’m no expert in these traditions, but I’m an enthusiastic student. So far I’ve ventured into beef brisket and latke territory for Hanukkah. Latke’s consist of shredded potatoes mixed with seasonings and egg, shaped into flat little pancakes and fried in oil. They’re traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream. I tried my hand at matzah ball soup last Passover. Matzo balls are fluffy, doughy balls traditionally served in a chicken soup with parsley and carrots. My matzah balls weren’t as fluffy as they should have been, but practice makes perfect!As a wedding gift, my mother-in-law wrote down several of the well-known and -loved family recipes for me, one of my very favorite gifts of all. One of the recipes was for kreplach, a dumpling typically filled with ground meat or potatoes, fried, and served in chicken soup. Both of my husband’s parents challenged me to master the kreplach as it’s one of the family’s favorites, but rather involved.There was also a cookie recipe from my husband’s grandmother. Charlotte’s Split Second Cookies are a family favorite for sure – they’re simple butter cookies with a layer of jam down the center, and they bring back lots of memories for him. I’ve had these cookies many times at my in-laws, and I absolutely love them with a glass of milk. You could enjoy them any time of year, but they might also be served as a snack to break the fast today on Yom Kippur, as I’ve learned it’s traditional to have something sweet right away as your blood sugar is low after the 25-hour fast.My husband tells me his grandmother Charlotte would often have these ready for him and his sister when they came for visits. They’re easy to throw together at the last minute and the recipe calls for mostly staple pantry ingredients. They also freeze well. This winter I intend to make dozens of these in advance of the holiday cookie season and unfreeze them as I need for guests, holiday gifts, etc.
Beyond their tastiness and convenience, what’s most important about these cookies is the tradition of them. I loved hearing about my husband’s memories of his grandmother’s kitchen, and eating these cookies with her. And I look forward to making these cookies – and lots of other traditional foods – for our family in the years to come.
This article also appeared in the Tennessean.
Charlotte's Split Second Cookies
Yield: About 2 dozen, depending on how you slice them
These cookies are addictive!! I made mine with raspberry and blueberry jam. Apricot is also delicious.
3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raspberry jam (or any flavor jam)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well, until a soft dough forms.
Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each into a 12-inch x ¾-inch log. Place 4 inches apart on two greased baking sheets. Make ½-inch depressions down center of logs. Fill with jam.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, till lightly browned. Cool in pan for 2 minutes. Cut diagonally into ¾-inch slices. Put on wire racks to cool.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Sometime last year, I read an article in Cooks’ Illustrated about browning mushrooms. I wish I’d kept it! I love mushrooms and find myself cooking them quite a bit, and the tips they provided were good ones. So here’s a mushroom primer from what I remember about that article.
- Slice mushrooms yourself. The pre-sliced ones may be more convenient, but they’ll just taste fresher if you do it yourself, right before you’re ready to cook them. The more surface area exposed, the more they’ll dry out.
- Once you purchase mushrooms, store them in a brown paper bag in the fridge. The styrofoam and plastic you get them in from the grocer keeps them from drying out, but it keeps them from breathing too, and if you’re not careful they’ll get mushy!
- Don’t use water to wash them. The excess left on them will cause them to steam when you cook them instead of brown them. Use a veggie brush or a paper towel to brush off any dirt of debris on them.
- When sautéing, toss sliced mushrooms into a preheated nonstick skillet dry, stirring often. The water in the mushrooms will start to bead on top of them. Once they really get going, add a bit of oil to keep them from burning. See the before and after shots below.
No oil has been used yet.
At this point, I’d add just a bit of oil to make sure they don’t brown too much. I’d also salt them now.
Do you have any mushroom cooking tips?
Saturday, September 1, 2012
I’ve often talked about how much I love Nashville, especially in this post about my love for East Nashville establishments. I’ve gotten wind of a few neat things food-related happenings ’round these parts, so thought I’d share a little round up.
Lisa Shively’s ‘Farm To Plate’ Initiative
Local food advocate and publisher of The Local Table, Lisa Shively has launched a GoFundMe campaign to create “an online local food sourcing network that will connect Tennessee farmers directly to chefs, schools, hospitals and other institutions…The logistics for sourcing local food can be cumbersome and difficult for both farmers and chefs and this website will make the process simpler for each to connect with the other.” Watch the video below to learn more and check out her GoFundMe campaign here.
Perl Catering Kickstarter Campaign
I found Perl Catering at Food Blog Forum Nashville last year. They’re a husband-wife team committed to local eating and delicious food. We’ve hired them for our upcoming wedding and I couldn’t be more excited to serve our guests local meats, cheeses, fruits and veggies cooked with love. Earlier this year they launched a KickStarter campaign to raise funds for a brick and mortar location and recently announced they’ve signed a lease to open a location in Bellevue. Per a recent e-newsletter, “This spot will be the perfect place to house our cafe, retail deli and market and provide a space for evening events, dinners and catering functions. Our projected opening date is mid-October so that we can be up and running for the holiday season.” Yay!
Just A Pinch Recipes
Full disclosure: I work for Just A Pinch as I shared with you all in this post. We’ve just launched a very exciting new enhancement on the site called “Pinch It!” that allows you to save recipes to your virtual recipe box on justapinch.com from anywhere on the web! So, not only can you upload family favorite recipes of your own but you can now also save your other favorites from anywhere on the Internet. We’re the only major recipe site to do this and we couldn’t be more pumped!
What food news do you have?
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I remember the first time I had Thai food. It was at a little place in Chicago called Cozy Noodle that was right around the corner from my first apartment there. I’d gone to lunch with my new roommate Leah – a girl I’d never met before we moved in together – in an effort to get to know one another better.
While Leah has become one of my very best friends over the last seven years, I remember very little about the getting-to-know-you conversation we had. I remember the Pad Thai exquisitely.
I’d grown up in a small town where the most exotic thing one could eat was Americanized Chinese food. I went to college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and while that sweet small town has a lot to offer, while I was there, it was lacking in the ethnic eats department.
That first bite of Pad Thai at Cozy Noodle really blew my mind, with its sweet and savory sauce made with tamarind paste, fish sauce and sugar. Its crisp bean sprouts, fried egg and chewy noodles, all topped with a sprinkling of peanuts, a feathery mound of cilantro and a zesty squeeze of lime, really took my breath away. And it wasn’t just the flavors, it was the textures all working together, too. Each bite was a flavor/texture explosion to this Midwestern girl.
I’ve since branched out from my Pad Thai obsession and now love most any Thai dish. Tom Ka Gai soup, with its sweet and sour coconut broth, crispy fried fish cakes, delectable ginger-garlic salad dressings (though not sure how authentic these are) and any combination of noodles or rice with veggies, meat, seafood or tofu. Basically give me anything with Thai flavors in it and I’ll gobble it up with gratitude.
As much as I love Thai food, and as much as I love to cook, I surprisingly haven’t done much experimenting in the kitchen with authentic Thai ingredients. However, I recently whipped up a Thai-inspired grain salad, and I’ve been craving it ever since. I included elements of Thai cuisine in the salad – cilantro, peanuts, nam plah (fish sauce), Thai chili sauce, scallions, rice – though I wouldn’t claim this was any sort of authentic dish. It was the flavor and texture of Thai cuisine I tried to emulate in this inspired salad. I included black rice, too – a nutty, grainy rice with more bite and flavor that regular jasmine or brown rice in my opinion. Enjoy!
Thai-Inspired Black Rice Salad
Yield: 4 servings
Add shrimp or tofu to make this more of a main dish salad.
1 cup black rice, uncooked
2 cups arugula
2 cups broccoli slaw mix
½ peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
handful of cilantro leaves and stems, ends trimmed, roughly chopped
3 scallions, green and light green parts only, chopped
1 red pepper, julienned
½ cup raisins
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
½ cucumber, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot chile sauce, such as Sriracha
1 tablespoon nam plah (fish sauce)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Cook rice according to package directions. Once rice is cooked, remove pot from heat and place a clean dish towel over the pot and under the lid. This will allow the rice to fluff without the steam condensing on the top of the lid and dripping back in. Let stand for 5 minutes then flush with a fork. Let cool slightly before mixing with salad.
Mix next eight ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and add cooled rice. Toss to combine. Combine dressing ingredients in a pint-size mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to emulsify. Pour dressing around perimeter of bowl. Toss salad with tongs, moving the bowl the opposite direction you’re moving the tongs, to coat salad evenly. Serve with lime wedges.
This post also appeared in the Tennessean.
Friday, August 17, 2012
I love chickpeas. I mix them in my garbage salads, serve them heated with spices as a side to fish, add them to tuna salad, and sometimes eat them right out of the can. I love their nutty flavor and grainy texture. Plus, rich in fiber and protein, they’re good for you!
I was pretty excited when I saw this post from One Particular Kitchen blog. I’d heard of people roasting chickpeas like this, but had never tried it myself. In her post, Erin seasoned them with salt and cinnamon. I took a more savory approach and used cumin, chile powder and salt. They were delish! I munched on them as a snack, and also tossed a few into a salad for some extra crunch. This would be a great snack for parties too. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40-45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Nutty, crunchy roasted chickpeas rule! The first time I made them I mixed in the spices before roasting. The flavor is much more pronounced if you do it right after they come out of the oven.
1 can chickpeas
Drizzle of olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
Rinse and drain chickpeas. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While oven heats, lay chickpeas out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Using a second layer of paper towels, gently press down and roll chickpeas around to further remove moisture.
When oven is hot, remove paper towels and drizzle chickpeas with olive oil.
Roast 30-40 minutes until crispy and golden brown, being careful not to burn. Remove from oven and top with spices. Roll around with a spatula or your hand until they're well coated. Enjoy!
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen (http://steamykitchen.com/10725-crispy-roasted-chickpeas-garbanzo-beans.html) as seen in One Particular Kitchen.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
My mother doesn’t always like to mix sweet and savory. While we are alike in many ways, I am the opposite in this regard. I literally dream about salted caramel ice cream, for example, but I understand how the idea of salt in your ice cream to some could be a definite turn off.
Beyond just sweet and savory desserts, I have a real affinity for all kinds of sweet and savory flavors together. I love turkey burgers with mango chutney, salmon marinated in pineapple juice and cinnamon, pork tenderloin with peach preserves, and simple combinations like fruit and cheese. There is just something about salty and sweet that works for me.
One ingredient I love in savory applications is sweet, juicy watermelon. I spent some time in Mexico a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with the chili-lime watermelon sold by street vendors. It was so simple – a plastic cup filled with cubed watermelon, sprinkled with salt and chili powder, with a squeeze of lime juice on top. An amazingly refreshing and tasty snack! You could also buy mixed fruit cups with mango, melon and jicama with the same seasonings. I found it a perfect nosh in the later afternoon.
A few weeks ago I had dinner at Rumours East Wine Bar. I had a watermelon salad with big bright chunks of heirloom tomatoes and briny feta in a light vinaigrette. I wasn’t sure how tomatoes and watermelon would be together, but it worked wonderfully. The acidity in the tomatoes didn’t overpower the sweet, subtle watermelon, but rather complemented it. The salad was so appropriate for summer, and a really refreshing start to our meal.
That salad reminded me of a recipe I’d made a few years before. It was a watermelon salad with mint and a vinaigrette made with sriracha chili sauce. I made it for dinner with friends one night and everyone raved about it! It worked in part because the, well, watery watermelon helped quench the spice in each bite. The sweetness worked in tandem with the heat, instead of competing with it. After the salad at Rumours, I decided to try out the watermelon salad with tomatoes to see how it worked.
The results were top notch! Acidic tomatoes and sweet watermelon remains a great combination, and the punched up kick of sriracha with rice vinegar totally works. A bit of honey helped further balance the heat. I didn’t have any feta on hand, but I bet that would have been a tasty addition. I also tossed in some basil from the garden with the mint. The flavors literally explode in your mouth with each bite. It’s a fun dish to make for parties because at first glance no one is expecting a watermelon salad to be spicy! (Though be careful it’s marked well for kids.)
That’s one of the things I like best about about sweet and savory ingredients together – the flavor pop is such a surprise to your taste buds. Now if I could just get my mother on board.
Hot Watermelon & Tomato Salad
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
1/8-1/4 cup hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1/4 cup rice vinegar*
1 1/4 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes seedless watermelon
2 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
chopped fresh mint and basil
Combine chili sauce, rice vinegar and honey in the base of a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk together until emulsified. Add in watermelon and tomatoes and sprinkle with herbs. Toss to combine.
If making ahead, mix dressing up in a mason jar and cube watermelon and tomatoes. Drain any liquid from the watermelon and tomatoes. Mix together right before serving and sprinkle with herbs. The longer salad sits the soupier it will become.
*Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice or rice wine. It may sometimes be called “rice wine vinegar” but since rice wine is made from fermented rice they are essentially the same thing. Seasoned rice vinegar means sake, sugar and salt have been added for flavor.
This recipe also appeared in the Tennessean.