Mean green three course cuisine
Submitted by Flakbait
Sorry if this is a little wordy, but I'M a little wordy. As everyone knows, summer can be hot. Especially hot when you have to cook inside! So, my meal has a minimum of time on the stove and zero time in the oven. All ingredients either require no actual cooking whatsoever, or are done on a grill safely outside where it is already hot.
Summary: we're going to start you off today with a cocktail and some nice appetizers. We'll move on to the main course, a cold soup and salad, and then on to some nice cool dessert. However, note that production order is distinctly different. In fact, I started making the dessert, prepping for the cocktails, and preparing some components of the salad a day in advance. I'll tell you why when it becomes important. Anyway.
Cocktail- Honeydew Margarita:
- Cutting board
- Stirring/scooping Spoon
- Liquid and dry measuring cups
- food processor
And the Ingredients are:
- 4 cups cubed honeydew (~one 3-lb honeydew melon)
- 3/4 cup white tequila
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar
This first part is best done the night before to give the freezer time to work its heat-pump magic. Bisect the melon and scrape out those seeds and pulp, then slice it up and cut the honeydew's meat away from the rind. Cut up the pieces into little chunks that your blender or food processor will be able to slice up no problem. Then, take those peices and bag them or put them in tupperware. Those go in the freezer overnight to make sure they're good and solid when you need them to be. Should probably look something like THIS
Okay, it's the next day. An hour or two before you're ready to serve these things, take a few glasses and put them in the freezer to chill. Unfortunately I HAVE no tequila glasses so I'm using the next-classiest glass I have.
Ready to serve? Then time to put it all together. Don't be decieved by the fuel-like proof of the tequila, this isn't rocket science. Everything,your cubed frozen honeydew, tequila, lime juice, and sugar goes right in the food processor.
Hit the pulse button until the chunks are gone (since your honeydew is really solid this may take a bit) and pour into the now-icy glasses.
Garnish with a slice of lime on the edge of the glass. Some people salt the rims of their glasses, as salt helps to bring the full taste of the melon margarita (or any margarita), but I'm not doing that. Why? One, better to let the guests sprinkle in their own salt to preference. Two, the appetizer.
Appetizer- Honeydew and Ham
- cutting board
- Scooping Spoon
- Serving platter
- 3-pound honeydew
- 1/3 pound virginia ham
- lime slices (garnish)
Simplest appetizer ever. As before, start out with the melon. Cut it in half and scrape out those seeds again. I'm not showing tihs again for obvious reasons. Now, bisect the halves so you have fourths.
Without de-rinding the melon (makes it more managable), slice each fourth into six equally-sized (roughly) pieces. Protip: Don't cut through the rind when doing this. Then you can de-rind them all at once instead of having to pick up each individual bit. See?
If your guests have butterfingers you may want to spear all of these guys with toothpicks to keep them together. Refrigerate until it's ready. However, the longer you wait, the more tasteless the melon will be. So make this at least the day of, if not the hour before, your dinner. It'll taste much fresher and your guests will love you for it.
Okay, after all that tequila, better move onto the main course so we don't get smashed before we can enjoy the rest of my cooking. In fact, you may be feeling a little warm already. I know I am, because I'm a lightweight. Cool down again with the main course-- chilled honeydew and cucumber soup, with a hearty but healthy melon and chicken salad.
Main Course, Part the First- Honeydew and Cucumber Soup
- Cutting board
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- food processor
- sieve or collander. Preferably sieve.
- Big bowl or soup tureen
- 2 cups chopped honeydew (about half a 3-pound honeydew)
- 2 large chopped cucumbers
- 8 ounces plain non-fat yogurt (not appearing in this picture because I cocked up while taking photos)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about half a lime-- use other half in sorbet)
- Freshly ground white pepper
This one is nearly as simple as the appetizer. After de-seeding, de-rinding, and chopping half a melon into little chunks, throw it in the food processor.
Wash and slice up your cucumbers, and they follow their fellow into the gaping maw of the processor.
Fire 'er up. You may have to add portions gradually instead of all at once unless you have some kind of super-food processor.
After your fruits and veggies are in the soup, in goes the yogurt.
Cut open your lime, and squeeze out its juicy goodness.
Cap the processor, hit "on," and puree the hell out of your mix again. After it's nice and smooth, pour it into your serving or storage container through a large mesh sieve to get out chunks of cucumber skin and seed that may have survived the cuisinart's fury.
You can also do this by stirring, albeit not as well-- the stirring action brings larger bits to the surface and edges, allowing you to pick them out and discard (or eat) 'em.
Taste the soup, and season with salt and white pepper (black would also work I suppose) as necessary.
Recall as above, the longer the melon sits cut, the more of its aromatic compounds leak out and cause a loss of melon flavor. So no leftovers here. It's highly recommended that you use or freeze (preferably use) the soup while it's fresh or else it may taste... rather bland.
Main Course, part the second- Melon and Chicken Salad
- cutting board
- fluid and dry measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- big bowl
- plate or two
- aluminum foil
- Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
- Dash cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 chicken breasts
- more salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup almonds
- 8 cups of lettuce and greens of varying varieties (in my case 2 cups romaine, 4 cups butter, 2 cups spinach)
- 2 cups cubed watermelon (works best if seedless)
- 2 cups cubed pieces cantaloupe
Squeeze your limes into a big mixing bowl. This should net you about four fluid ounces of the stuff.
Pare off the skin of the ginger, wash it, and mince. That goes in too.
Ditto with the sugar and a dash of the cayenne, also salt to taste and good black pepper.
Slowly add that olive oil, whisking the mix constantly.
This is your dressing, and it can be made up to about a day ahead of time. So can the chicken and almonds:
First, preheat your grill to about a medium flame. I'm borrowing a gas grill so I have it easy. If you don't just make sure to watch your chicken and such. After getting the grill going, get your two chicken breasts. Spread them out nice and open, and wash them in water.
Get about a teaspoon and a half of salt (or as desired) and the same of pepper and rub it over the two breasts (heh) to season them.
Wash your hands and grab your almonds and some aluminum foil. Normally one would toast these almonds in the oven, but that would heat up the inside of the house, and heat is bad. Spread those nuts on the aluminum foil such that they're only about one or two deep, then fold the whole thing over into a little packet. That goes on the grill with the chicken.
Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes, then flip it. Grill for about another 10. At this point you should pull off your almond packet. Those nuts are nice and roasted. Set them aside.
Keep cooking the chicken until it's done-- shouldn't be more than another 10 minutes, if that. My chicken was actually done at the same time as the almonds.
Pull the chicken off the grill and let it cool for a bit so you don't burn your hands, then cut it into small, bite-sized pieces.
If you wanted this hot for some bizzare reason, you could cook this right before serving the meal, but I do the intelligent thing and place it in some tupperware. Into the 'fridge it goes to chill for a bit.
Again, all of the above can and probably should be done in advance (unless you want hot chicken on a cold salad). The rest of this, for previously stated reasons and good sense when working with fresh veggies and fruits, should be done day of if not right before you're serving it.
Wash and tear up, and dry your greens and toss that in another big bowl, big enough that you can toss eat freaking cups of lettuce and all the other stuff you see above on the ingredients list in there (I had to use two bowls, as you can see). In goes that chicken, dressing, and almonds. You should know the drill by now on the melons-- halve, de-seed/pulp, quarter, eighth, derind, cube, done. I spent a little extra to get a seedless watermelon so that I wouldn't have to spit seeds while eating my salad, and I would recommend that you do the same.
Toss the ingredients you just put in the bowl and get them well-mixed. Bam.
And finally, the dessert. This actually gets started the day before, for reasons that should become clear when I relate the recipe. It takes forver waiting for this stuff to freeze. Note that the time would be significantly shortened with an ice cream maker, but I don't have one of those.
Dessert- Honeydew Sorbet
- Cutting board
- Liquid and dry measuring cups
- Sauce pan
- Stirring spoon
- Food processor
- Mixing bowl
- Container with airtight lid
Ingredients in order of use:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 4 cups pureed honeydew (that's about one 3-lb honeydew. Should be the size of a basketball or soccer/metric football ball)
- 2 Tbs fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 of a normal lime)
- 2 Tbs vodka (other distilled spirits will also work, but don't pick something that would clash *with or overpower the taste of the melon)
Measure out the water into the sauce pan and set the range to medium-high heat.
Slowly pour the sugar in no more than a few tablespoons at a time and stir the mixture clear.
Once all of the sugar is in, continue stirring and heating the mixture. It should come to a boil. Boil it for thirty to forty-five seconds, then stop stirring. Set it aside (off burner) to cool for ten minutes
This gives us just enough time to de-seed and de-rind the melon and cut it into chunks your food processor can handle and toss it in there.
Make sure to puree it fine, as chunks of melon will do you no good in a sorbet. Half a melon should be approximately two cups when completely pureed, so the entire three-pound melon will work nicely to make 4 cups. Pour that into your mixing bowl.
slice and juice the lime. Juicers are nice. If you don't have one (say, if you're me), just halve the fruit and squeeze mightily with your manly fingers. You can just squeeze into a bowl and measure out from there, or you can do what I did and squeeze into a measuring cup. Two tablespoons = 1 fluid ounce. Well, in she goes.
By now 10 minutes should have elapsed. Dump the 2 Tbs vodka and all of the sugar syrup into the mixing bowl with the melon puree.
Mix like your life depended on it. This is also a good time to pick out any larger chunks of honeydew you may have missed. Give it a good stirring until you feel confident that it's all together.
Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid (to prevent spills). You could use a ziploc bag or, in my case, the mixing bowl (which conveniently has a lid). This mix goes into the freezer until it's frozen-- not solid, but as a thick, high-viscosity fluid (sorry, I'm an engineer).
This will take several hours, depending upon your freezer. It might freeze slightly more quickly if uncovered, but I didn't consider the thermal capacitance of the vessel to be significant and felt the risk of a spill more than outweighed the extra wait time. This was more than justified about twenty minutes after I put the thing in, as one of my hapless roommates traipsed in, threw open the door to the freezer, and yanked out the entire ice tray, sending everything in the freezer tumbling to the left.
Now comes the waiting. By the time seven to eight hours rolls around, you should have a fairly slushy gellato. Is it ready now? I wish. break up the ice chunks with a fork, mix it arond, and back in the freezer it goes for ANOTHER few hours.
Frozen nearly solid? Great. Break it into chunks and that goes in a blender or the food processor again. Puree until smooth as silk.
And then it goes? You guessed it. Back in the freezer. It is now ready to serve, and is best if you use it in three days. Okay. Now that it's frozen, we're ready to go. And there you have it. Dinner.