Cucumber-Lime Rickey

I’ve been going on different beverage kicks this summer. I’ve cut soda pretty much entirely out except when I’m feeling sick or there’s no other good alternative.  I’ve been trying to drink that recommended amount of water every day, but sometimes, well, a body craves something else.  My fall back beverage, and laziest, is just to pick up a carton of juice from the store and dilute at about a 3:7 ratio with bubbly water. It’s like making my own Izze sodas.  I made batches of lemonade for a while during July, and moved on to pitchers of sweet tea. I made a batch of cherry shrub that lasted a couple weeks, and then ginger syrup for homemade ginger ale. I had a little bottle left of ginger syrup when I was invited out to KTV. Not content to attend and drink either the stomach-clenching-fake alcohol that would be available or the plentiful but cheap, warm, and generally displeasing Snow beer, I decided to bring my own cocktail.

I muddled the ginger syrup with mint, lime juice, and cut up cucumber, added ice, a generous amount of Hendrick’s gin, and filled up the rest of the bottle with soda water. Cucumber Ginger-Lime Rickey: slightly more complex than your run of the mill Lime Rickey, bright and entirely refreshing.

The pleased reactions of those who shared a few sips of the cocktail inspired me to also start making this non-alcoholic for after work. I precut cucumber slices and lime wedges on Monday and popped in the fridge. After work, no hard task to chuck that with a few leaves from the mint plant I’ve been coaxing along, a dash of syrup, and to add ice and bubbly water to the pitcher. It’s a nice alternative to iced tea in the evenings, while still a little bit of flavor.

 

Curry Chicken Sandwich with Eggplant Chutney

I’ve been remiss. I’ve written about 7 posts and haven’t finished any of them. But I’ve been cooking up a storm.

It was an interesting weekend. Ended a very stressful Friday with happy hour wine at Enoterra with a few friends on their patio. It was lovely, except for the part where my boss called me at 7 and I had to pull out my computer and try to do work for twenty minutes. I had to work Saturday, as well, and I didn’t exactly wake up early as I had planned to be as productive as I would have liked.

So Sunday I went to April Gourmet and Sanyuanli and bought several bike-baskets-full of food. ALSO, most importantly, I discovered Tavalin Bagels and Andy’s Craft Sausage, which both deliver. Delivery orders of actually authentic, tasty, delicious bagels with surprisingly affordable tubs of flavored cream cheese. Delivery orders of small-batch, expertly made sausages, bacon, and other cured meats. I’m…so happy. I ordered 3 kilos of sausage (Italian, Bratwurst, and Maple) but due to some timing conflicts, they couldn’t deliver when I was home. So I picked them up from Tavalin, just on the northwest side of Yashou, and led me to discover their tasty, tasty bagels. I bought three to try with a tub of salmon cream cheese, and..I admit this with a bit of shame, ate them all Sunday. And then ordered another half dozen on their website…I may have a problem.

But now, my freezer is gloriously full of things. I used one pack of sausage to make lasagna and stuff shells. I spent about seven hours cooking Sunday evening. I made a big vat of tomato sauce, a tub of ricotta cheese, three kinds of empanada fillings, empanadas, ravioli, and eggplant chutney.

One of the empanada fillings was curry-spiced chicken with potato. I was going to make the chicken based on a skewer sandwich recipe I came across, and decided to expand and make three chicken breasts worth of the marinade to give some variety to the empanadas (honeyed chicken with cranberries, and beef, pepper and onions with mozzarella). It’s not precisely curry, but a middle Eastern flavor profile. Also, very garlicky. But, if you don’t like garlic, we probably shouldn’t ever talk to each other. Stop reading this site.

Marinade Ingredients:
Olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic put through a press
Salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest
Turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, in equal amounts, about 1/2 tsp each. Sprinkle of chili powder, dependent on your spice tolerance.

2-3 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch chunks.

Mix the marinade together and toss the chicken around. Let it sit for at least half an hour.
In the meantime, in some olive oil, saute 1/2 onion, sliced, with a  pinch of salt, until translucent. Add a dash more oil, and add in 2-3 baby eggplant, skinned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Add 2 crushed cloves garlic. After about 5-6 minutes, add in 2 plum tomatoes cut into pieces. Let it cook down on low until its all sort of squishy and caramelized and delicious. Add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a pan on medium. Place chicken chunks in the oil and let sear–don’t crowd the pan. Give each side about 4 minutes until the chicken is just cooked through–not much more than that, or you get dry, unfortunate chicken. Which is just the worst, really, I can’t stand dry meat. Remove from the pan.

Assembly time! Get yourself some pita bread, or flat bread or whatever carbohydrate vehicle pleases your taste buds. If you’re well prepared, you’ll have hummus and or yogurt or maybe even some tzaziki on hand. But, if you don’t, don’t fret. Open a can of chickpeas. Drain. Pour about half a cup of chickpeas into a bowl with a pinch of salt, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and black pepper with a little bit of oil. Lightly smash with the back of a fork, and mix the seasonings up well. Spread this on the pit, then stuff the pita with a mix of the chicken and eggplant. Maybe some cut up cucumber and dollop of yogurt would really bring this to higher planes, but it’s pretty good on its own. And very simple to assemble–I brought in two small tupperware containers holding the chicken and eggplant chutney and chickpea smash, and bought the pita at lunch, and assembled in the office kitchen, then popped in the microwave.

IMG_0480A really tasty, healthy filling lunch.

And since I made so much: I kept one portion aside, shredded into smaller bits and mixed with cubed roasted potatoes as empanada filling. I put the rest into a tupperware container. It was about four sandwiches worth, so I separated the servings into layers with wax paper for easy removal later on. Also, threw in a tub of eggplant chutney in the freezer, and will be able to pull these out any day, bring to work, and thaw in the microwave.