ONE OF THE JOY’S OF SUMMER #CANTALOUPE AND MINT SALAD

As summer makes its merry and torrid way out, I thought I would pay homage in my way. And, what better way to do so than with one of summer’s favorite melons, cantaloupe. This musky-flavored fruit generally ripens close to the beginning of April and peaks in August. I was happy to secure one that was on sale for $2.50. Frankly, I knew the price could have been better; but, I went with it.

Based on studies, cantaloupes are rich in vitamins (A, K, B-6), calcium, magnesium,  potassium, beta-carotene, a great abundance of antioxidants and other nutrients that are excellent for the body.

Most times, I make smoothies with my cantaloupe; however, I decided to make my melon baller do the ‘talking’.

Melon baller used to scoop cantaloupe
Melon baller used to scoop cantaloupe

I decided to make a cantaloupe and mint salad along with thinly sliced ginger root. Melon was scooped in bowl. Then, thinly sliced ginger root pieces were added. A simple syrup was created consisting of a piece of crushed ginger root and a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of honey. After cooling, a squeeze of lime juice was added; then drizzled over scooped cantaloupe and ginger root.

Finely chopped fresh mint was then added and gently folded in. Fruit salad was then chilled in refrigerator and served.

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LIGHT BITES #CANNED WHITE TUNA/GRAPES

I confess; I’m not a huge lover of tuna fish. However, because of  to the hurricane season, I stored a few in my pantry. I’m so glad I did. Decided to pair same with some refreshing chopped green grapes. I also added diced onions, a splash of vinegar, a fresh squeeze of  lime, and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.

I couldn’t pass up on nature’s butter (avocado). With a few  pieces of cheddar cheese and some crispy whole-wheat crackers my light lunch was complete.

VINE-RIPE TOMATOES AND TARRAGON SALAD

The marketplace is still loaded with one of summer’s favorites, vine ripe tomatoes. As a result, I took advantage of the influx by purchasing a few. Based on studies, tomatoes are best stored outside the refrigerator at room temperature so as allow all the flavors to mature.  Thus, I practice same and use these sweet and juicy specimens in my dishes.

One way that I like to use them is to make a refreshing tomato salad. However, I took it up to a notch by adding the distinctive taste of the bitter/sweet tarragon. Brought home a bunch a few days ago and so far, I’ve used it in fish and chicken dishes. I was very satisfied with the results.

Tarragon is also excellent with tomatoes. Thus, I didn’t hesitate to pair the two. I roughly chopped tomatoes and added a pinch of salt and black pepper, splash of red wine vinegar, drizzle of olive oil, a touch of honey and of course, finely chopped tarragon. This herb brought my tomatoes to another beautiful level. I was over the moon.

TARRAGON HAPPY ##CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS IN TARRAGON SAUCE

I wanted to perk up and enhance my chicken drumsticks in a huge way without incorporating too many ingredients. Moreover, time was against me and I desired a dish that would tantalize my taste buds, but yet easy and quick.  I didn’t have to venture far. All roads led me to my herb of choice which happened to be tarragon.

It had been sometime since I’ve infused tarragon in my dishes.The beauty about this herb is that its very accessible and quite inexpensive. The taste is bittersweet and provides a distinctive taste to stews, chicken, fish and tomato dishes. Love the herb in a fish dish and incorporated same with a whole snapper meal the past week-end.

Thus, I was super-excited to continue ‘rocking’ this bold and tasty herb. I marinated chicken drumsticks with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic and a dish of balsamic vinegar for approximately four hours. I was still on a rustic route so I grabbed hold of my cast iron skillet.

In hot cast iron skillet, a drizzle of canola oil was added. Chicken was brought to room temperature, garlic removed and chicken dried with paper towel. This was seared on medium to high heat on both sides with tarragon and thyme added for flavoring of oil.

A splash of water was added along with a few slices of lemon. Then, skillet was placed in a heated 375 degree oven for roasting for approximately 45 to 50 minutes turning once.

BROWNED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS WITH TARRAGON AND LEMON SLICES FOR ROASTING
BROWNED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS WITH TARRAGON, THYME, AND LEMON SLICES FOR ROASTING

The lemon, garlic and tarragon married very well leaving a very succulent and mouth-watering sauce. I served drumsticks with vine-ripe tomatoes and finely chopped tarragon leaves along with a splash of red wine vinegar, pinch of sugar, salt, and black pepper.

VINE RIPE TOMATOES AND TARRAGON SALAD
VINE RIPE TOMATOES AND TARRAGON SALAD

  A serving of left-over creamy polenta became part of the meal.

PLATED DISH OF TARRAGON CHICKEN ON TOP OF CREAMY POLENTA AND TOMATO/TARRAGON SALAD
PLATED DISH OF TARRAGON CHICKEN ON TOP OF CREAMY POLENTA AND TOMATO/TARRAGON SALAD

I was in heaven.

A RUSTIC MOOD #GRILLED WHOLE SNAPPER AND VEGGIES

Though the temperatures are flirting in the triple digits, it’s evident that summer is disappearing before my eyes. I guess the dwindling days have placed me in a grilling frame of mind.I couldn’t help myself. Didn’t have the craving for nothing else so I fired up my indoor grill pan. I was on a mission. I intended to grill everything in sight. My poor scotch bonnet pepper wasn’t going escape the cooking process.

Had me a whole snapper fish for roasting; however, that plan was quickly altered. With glee I scored my fish and seasoned with a sprinkle of black pepper, salt and crushed garlic. I made sure to season inside the head (love me the head) and cavity.

When it was time to grill I removed garlic and drizzled with olive oil inside and out and stuffed fresh tarragon and thyme within for more intense flavors. I also chopped an onion, wedges of  different color bell peppers and okra.

PREPPING SNAPPER AND VEGGIES FOR GRILLING
PREPPING SNAPPER AND VEGGIES FOR GRILLING

I made sure to do a quick one minute pre-cook of the hearty okra before I brushed same and other veggies with a warm tarragon and thyme oil. First, I started with the veggies.

VEGGIES ON GRILL
VEGGIES ON GRILL

I removed the okra and onions and sprinkled a very light layer of whole-wheat flour to prevent fish from sticking.

SNAPPER FISH AND VEGGIES ON GRILL
SNAPPER FISH AND VEGGIES ON GRILL

I smiled as I also added scotch bonnet pepper in on the action. My snapper needed a few minutes internal cooking But first, I removed the other veggies. Then, I placed it in the oven for another five minutes at 360 degrees with the squeeze of fresh lime.

My fish came out  a little crusty on the outside and quite flaky within. Each bite was full of amazing flavors that were spicy and lemony. The tarragon and the thyme gave the snapper an even more flavorful and aromatic taste. As for the veggies, the grilling brought out all the natural sugars that reminded me of summer. On the side, a creamy/cheesy polenta (turned cornmeal) was served.

TRYING TO KEEP THE DOCS AWAY!! ##CRISPY APPLE FRITTERS

You know what they say, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” Well, generally, I try my utmost best to incorporate a few of them in my weekly dietary intake. I store the fiber-filled fruits on my counter top or in eye-sight so that I can grab and go. I can’t say that I’m always overjoyed with all the buys that I garner.

I generally go for Gala types because of their heartiness. However, lately, I’ve been testing other types. For instance, at my last shopping trip I purchased some green delicious. They too are crispy and tartier than their Gala counterparts.

GREEN DELICIOUS APPLES
GREEN DELICIOUS APPLES

I guess that was why I decided to shred a couple and make apple fritters for breakfast. The other ingredients were:

  • Cinnamon (generous sprinkle)
  • Flour (1/2 cup) {whole-wheat/all-purpose]
  • Vanilla (splash)
  • Sour cream (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Salt (pinch)
  • Dark sugar (2 table-spoon)
  • Beaten egg
  • Squeeze of lime/lemon (to prevent browning) and for added flavor
  • Water (1/3 cup)
  • Oil for frying

Method:

  1. Apples were thoroughly rinsed and then shredded on box grater.
  2. Wet and dry ingredients were combined and made into a batter.Then, shredded apples were added and folded in batter.
  3. In hot skillet, a drizzle of canola oil was added.
  4. Fritters were fried until they were cooked on the internal and brown/crispy on the exterior.

Crispy apple fritters were served warm with a garnish of thinly sliced apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sprig of fresh mint.

A WILD SUMMER CATCH #GRILLED WILD SALMON WITH CAPERS IN LEMON/BUTTER SAUCE

Summer is here in peak performance. And nothing screams  summer than smelling the different aromas of grilling. So, I couldn’t wait to put my indoor pan grill to use. A couple of days ago, I purchased a piece of fillet wild salmon. I did a quick marinade of same with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, black pepper, and crushed garlic. I had this sit for approximately half an hour.

I heated my grill pan on low to medium heat. I removed garlic from salmon and placed fish on grill skin side down first.Salmon was cooked for approximately four to five minutes per side.  I also got a couple small summer squash in on the action. I sliced these length-wise, brushed with oil, and seasoned with a pinch of salt and black.

GRILLED WILD SALMON AND SUMMER SQUASH
GRILLED WILD SALMON AND SUMMER SQUASH

Grilled wild salmon was served with wedges of roasted sweet potatoes along with nature’s butter (avocado). Of course, because seafood loves acid, I made a lemon/orange/butter sauce with capers. This was used to top fish. I garnished with finely chopped parsley.

It was a summer feast.

A LEFT-OVER RENEWAL #CURRIED CHICKEN

When precious time is against me and I feel like tearing my weave out, it’s always great to know that I have one less thing to worry about. Yes guys, I’m talking about my culinary needs; we all have them. It’s such a delight to return to the nest after a day of laboring and breath a sense of relieve knowing that something delicious is awaiting.

And, that’s what happened the previous evening. Like always, I like to cook a little extra (well, that’s what my mother used to say, “cook an extra dumpling!”). A few days ago, I made a mad chop of some skinless (bone-in) legs and thighs. I seasoned them with salt, black pepper, cumin, curry powder, crushed ginger, pimento (all spice), thyme, onion, crushed garlic. These were marinated overnight.

In a sturdy skillet I added a couple teaspoons of coconut oil. Curried chicken  was cooked under low to medium heat until the flesh fell from the bone and still kept its integrity. I served same with  steamed Jasmine rice and a medley of steamed veggies. Left-overs of chicken and rice were cooled and placed in the freezer.

Fast forward to my left-overs. I’m so elated that I had them stored away. These were defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. All I did on serving my mouth-watering curried chicken was to reheat in microwave oven. With a quick sautéed of baby kale and spinach, my curried chicken meal was resurrected.

The fresh greens gave it a brand new appearance and made it look entirely new and inviting. My chicken stood the test of time and didn’t get disintegrated in the succulent gravy. It tasted even more delicious. Moreover, the addition of the contrasting sweet fried plantain gave the dish a beautiful balance.

Yay for left-overs!!

JOYFUL BERRIES GALORE!! ##BLUEBERRIES

I’m in blueberry heaven! Finally, the price of blueberries is at a reasonable low (well, could be lower), but, I’ll take it and run. You see, a few months ago, these super, tiny blue/black specimens were more than double the present price. They are available year round; however, thanks to the seemingly glut on the market here in South Florida, prices are competitive. Reports are that there’s a bumper crop this year.

I was ‘over the moon’ with my fine. It was a “BOGO”(buy one, get one) free in my neck of the woods. For $4.00, I was able to get two containers. Generally, I would have to dole out more dollars for a similar container.

In the scientific community, blueberries are considered part of the ‘super’ foods category due to the presence of flavonoids. As a result, they are said to have anticancer properties and will protect again free-radical damage within the body. I’m no scientist, but, I can attest that these berries are beneficial to my digestive system due to the high fiber content.

Therefore, while the going is good, I like to take advantage of their goodness by buying extra. I make sure to freeze and reserve for ‘rainy’ days when they are not in abundance and prices sky-rocket.

In my culinary mind, I see:

  • refreshing smoothies consisting of the sweet purple flesh of blueberries and the pairing of ripe bananas and other berries
  • baked goods like pies, muffins, breads, and tarts
  • fluffy crepes and pancakes with blueberry syrup slathered all over
  • a cool and healthy snack

I’m super-happy!