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Too hot to cook? Summer Garden Salad

Summer Garden Salad Recipe
Cool down with this refreshing salad for lunch.

I love summer but one of the last things I want to do when it’s 90F with 90% relative humidity outside is stand in front of a hot grill or stove.

This salad is the perfect lunch or dinner side dish.  It captures all the flavors of summer in one bowl.

Who says salads need to have lettuce?

This is our second year in our new home and the first summer since we’ve set up our little garden in the city.  Our tiny lemon tree that was gifted to us last year has begun to bear fruit and the veggies we planted in January are ripe and ready for the first harvest of the year.

We challenged ourselves to make a dish using only vegetables grown from our garden.  The only store-bought ingredients we used in this salad is a bottle of olive oil, black peppercorns, and grey sea salt.  Short of harvesting our own sea salt and pressing our own olive oil, this salad is as local and seasonal as you’re going to get in Hong Kong.

While tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers thrive under summer sun, lettuce plants bolt and turn bitter.  Not a problem!  The best parts of any salad are always the toppings anyways.

You’ll notice that all the vegetables in this recipe are crunchy and full of juicy goodness.  This dish is not only full of flavor, but it’s the perfect way to hydrate and re-energize after a hot summer afternoon.

With all the flavorful ingredients, there’s no need for any additional dressing.  Keep the recipe simple with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper or dress it up with your favorite herbs.

Oregano, thyme, and basil work well and add just that bit of something to the dish.  Turn this salad into a salsa with a sprinkle of cumin and fresh cilantro.  An endless combination of spices and flavors makes this one of my favorite recipes to turn to during the summer.

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Summer Garden Salad
A refreshing flavor packed salad that’s easy to make and perfect when it’s too hot to cook.
Ingredients
  • Cucumber1 cup, sliced
  • Tomatoes1 cup, sliced
  • Sweet Bell Pepper1 cup, sliced
  • Olive OilDrizzle, about 1 tablespoon
  • Lemon Juice1 wedge
  • Salt and PepperTo taste
  • Herbs (Basil, Oregano, Thyme)To taste
Instructions

  1. Slice all the vegetables thinly and place in a large bowl. We want to release their flavors and coat them thoroughly in spices and dressing.
  2. Drizzle your vegetables with the lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, and spices to season your salad.
  3. Gently toss your salad. Make sure the juices and oil is mixed evenly and all the vegetables are seasoned well.
Details

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 bowl

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Recipes

Eggless Eggnog

Fusion Sweets Eggless Eggnog Recipe

Nothing says “it’s the holidays” to me more than eggnog. What’s better than this rich creamy ambrosia?

I just love how the flavors of sweet cream and nutmeg meld together and the mixture coats the back of your throat. And add a dash of rum… gah!

This is the one holiday food I’d look forward to every year so you can imagine how I freaked out when I developed an allergic reaction to eggs two years ago.

After a sad nogless Christmas last year I’ve decided enough is enough. This is my version of an egg free eggnog that approximates the creamy mouth feel and flavor of the real thing.

 

Eggnog recipe nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice

To get the thickness and gel like mouth feel of eggs I used a mix of cornstarch and gelatin. Lecithin granules provide the richness and creaminess of egg yolks. You can find regular lecithin granules at Whole Foods or online.

Egg free Eggnog with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Allspice

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Eggless Eggnog
A rich and creamy egg-free holiday Eggnog for those of us with egg allergies. Cream, gelatin, cornstarch, and lecithin imitate the mouth-feel of egg yolks.Possible toppings: grated nutmeg, cinnamon, toasted coconut, caramel sauce, orange zest, sliced almonds.

Ingredients
  • Cornstarch – 1.5 Tbsp (12 g)
  • Powdered gelatin – 1.5 tsp (6 g)
  • Lecithin granules – 1 T (8 g)
  • Salt – 1/4 (7 g) tsp
  • Nutmeg – 1/4 tsp grated
  • Cinnamon – 1/4 tsp grated
  • Allspice – 1/8 tsp ground
  • Vanilla bean, scraped – 1/2 bean
  • Granulated sugar – 6 Tbsp (80 g)
  • Whole milk – 1 cup (240mL)
  • Heavy cream – 1 cup (240 mL)
Instructions
  • In a medium saucepan dissolve and mix the lecithin, cornstarch and gelatin in 1 cup of cold milk. Use an immersion blender to break up the lecithin granules. Once all the clumps have been dissolved, add sugar, cream, spices, vanilla, and salt.

 

  • Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir the entire time or you will get a clumpy mess on the bottom of your pot.

 

  • After about 5 minutes you will see bubbles form on the surface. The mixture will start to thicken. Turn off the heat after 5 more minutes.

 

  • Let the eggnog cool to room temperature and store in the fridge. Best if chilled in the refrigerator for a couple days.

 

Details

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 2 large mugs

Categories
Recipes

Banana Caramel Panna Cotta With Toasted Coconut

Banana Caramel Vanilla Panna Cotta With Toasted Coconut

Here is one of my favorite recipes for a light dessert. Panna cotta is such an easy dessert that even a 10 year old with a microwave could make this.

The panna cotta is barely sweetened to allow the flavors of the cream and vanilla to really shine through. Sweetness in this dish comes mostly from the ripe bananas and caramel sauce. Freshly toasted coconut shavings provide crunchy contrast to the silky smooth panna cotta.

Panna Cotta Ingredients - Banana, Vanilla Infused Sugar, Toasted Coconut

The one step where you will want to be careful is when you prepare the gelatin. Unlike making jello, we are not using a large amount of water so the gelatin powder can stick together in large clumps if you are not careful. The trick is to slowly sprinkle the gelatin in a light layer over cold water.

Once the gelatin has soaked up all the water on the surface and formed a film you’ll want to swish the water around or use a spoon to expose more fresh water before you add any more gelatin. You’ll want to let the gelatin bloom for 5 minutes before adding hot liquid so make this before you heat up your cream.

Sprinkle Gelatin Slowly For Even Bloom
Sprinkle your gelatin in gently like this!

This is a lesson I learned in making many many pans of marshmallows for Fusion Sweets. In any case, you’ll want to avoid dumping in the gelatin too quickly, like in the picture below.

This is the biggest cause of hard lumpy gelatin.

In this case the easiest fix is to spend a couple minutes gently heating the mixture and smashing the clump of hardened gelatin with a spoon to get rid of any chunks in your panna cotta.

Do not let the mixture boil. This will weaken the gelatin. And absolutely do not proceed with the recipe until all the gelatin chunks are gone!

Clumpy Gelatin - Don't Do This!
Not like this!

Since the ingredients in this recipe are so simple, the flavors of each will really shine through. Quality definitely matters.

Many supermarket brands of gelatin have an overwhelming porcine odor, especially Knox. My favorite brand of powdered gelatin is this unflavored Kosher beef gelatin by Great Lakes.

Knox not only blooms easily but it also gives a stronger gel per gram of powder and is absolutely odorless when used at normal amounts in recipes. We have used Great Lakes gelatin in Fusion Sweets marshmallows since 2010 and we have noticed an improvement in texture and mouth feel since changing gelatin brands.