Summer Refresher Ice Cubes

As the temperatures rise, our need to rehydrate rises as well. Especially for those of us in areas of the country where air conditioning does not come standard in apartments or homes, icy cool drinks are one of the few ways to legitimately cool down as it begins to heat up.

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Hydration is key to improve memory, function, and overall wellness. And for many, plain water is a big turn off and it’s hard to get the recommended 8 glasses a day in your regiment.

Thus, many of us turn to sugary coffee drinks, flavored waters, and sodas to quench our thirst. The problem is, these things can dehydrate us even more.

So to combat the basic water blahs, I decided to make some flavored ice cubes! All natural, pack a potent punch, and can be used in water or iced tea.

For the summer refresher ice cubes, I took some fresh mint from my garden (this is a great way to use up end of the season herbs if you have them) and chopped the mint finely. Then, I took one whole lemon, and cut it into slices. Then I cut a small incision into the skin and opened the circle slice so that tiny little quarter slices popped out. These were perfectly sized for my ice cube trays.

Simply drop a few lemon slices and chopped mint in each tray, fill with water and voila! After they are frozen drop them in some purified water or a nice ice tea and enjoy the refreshing flavor. The mint and lemon combination really cleanses the palette and is a great way to cool down with the high heats.

Pleadings & Pasta Tip – switch out the lemons for limes, and make mojito ice cubes! When you are serving the popular rum drink, you can use the mojito ice cubes to enhance the flavor of the beverage.

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Eat (and drink) with all of your heart,

G

Baked Garlic and Herb Lobster Tail

photo-1One of my favorite indulgences is lobster. When I’m celebrating a big event, it’s always my go to dish of choice. There’s something about it that just feels celebratory and grand.

Fresh lobster is by far the best for cooking, and makes for a delicacy when served. Unless you live near the ocean, very fresh lobster is hard to come by. When you do find it, it’s usually very expensive. So I was on a mission to find a way to prepare frozen lobster in a way that would make it taste as divine as fresh lobster.

Since embarking on my mission, I’ve discovered several new ways to cook my lobster beyond the bland steaming method, and I think you’ll enjoy the fruits of my experiment. On deck today, we have the Baked Garlic and Herb Lobster Tail. If you have never tried baked lobster, you’re in for a treat.

Baked Garlic and Herb Lobster Tail

by Pleadings & Pasta © 2013

*Note, the recipe below is for one lobster tail. Multiply accordingly based on the number of lobster tails you have.

Ingredients

1 frozen lobster tail, defrosted

2-3 tablespoons of butter at room temperature, (amount depending on preference)

4 basil leaves

2 cloves of roasted garlic*

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Take the defrosted lobster out of the fridge and with a set of kitchen scissors (not regular scissors) cut through the shell upward. You will want to start at the base (away from the tail) and cut upward toward the tail in a straight line. Right before you reach the end of where the meat meets the tail, stop.

2. Pull back the shell and pull the lobster meat up and on top of the shell. Now take a knife and cut an incision in the lobster meat down the center. The same way (vertical) that you cut the shell. Congrats, you just completed butterflying a lobster!

3. Take the garlic* (see recipe for roasting below) and mix together with chopped basil leaves. I was thrilled to use some of the fresh basil from my garden. Press the two together in the bowl to allow the flavors to combine. If you have a mortar and pestle, this will be a great time to use it. Add the paste to the room temperature butter and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Place the lobster tail meat side up on a cookie sheet covered in foil. Stuff the lobster (where you made the incision) with the garlic herb butter. Some people really love butter on their lobster so if this isn’t enough whip up more of the mix and stuff the tail until it’s overflowing.

5. Place the lobster tail in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Lobster tail will be done when it is a bright red color. Take out, and serve immediately with a side of choice! I recommend a hearty potato dish and a salad as a nice compliment.

Now if you want to be able to cut into your lobster with a fork and knife, I recommend removing as much of the shell as possible during the butterflying stage, as opposed to just pushing the meat up and over the shell. Pushing the meat over the shell provides a more artistic presentation, but removing most of the shell is more practical for eating purposes.

Either way, once you bite into this lobster, it will be hard to justify paying market price at the local seafood restaurant when you can make this delicacy in the comforts of your own home.

Roasted Garlic Recipe

Such an easy recipe! Roasted garlic adds depth to so many dishes and this recipe can be used in some of your favorite recipes that call for garlic.

Ingredients

1 head of garlic

Olive oil, salt, and pepper

1. Cut the top of the head of garlic off exposing the cloves. Peel off any unnecessary skin on the garlic.

2. Place head of garlic on aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper. Close up the clove in the aluminum foil (wrap it up like a ball) and place on a cooking sheet.

3. Preheat oven to 275 and let the garlic slowly roast for 45 minutes to an hour.

4. Remove, let cool. Then peel garlic. You can save the garlic in a jar of olive oil in the fridge for a few days for use in other recipes!

Quick Gardner’s tip: Before you cook the garlic, if you take one of the stray cloves and plant it in the ground, you will be able to grow your own bulb of garlic! It’s so easy to grow, and you can even use the snapes (top of the garlic) to cook with as well.

Eat with all of your heart,

G

The right ingredients

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Much like having the right facts and laws in prepartion for filing a brief, you need to start with the right ingredients in preparation for making a carefully constructed dish if you want a stellar final product.

Perhaps my view is a bit skewed, and I should divulge my biases up front. For me, food is one of the best ways to spend your hard earned money. If you get a few key ingredients such as a good extra virgin olive oil and quality spices, and always have the essentials on hand (i.e. garlic, onions, etc.) then you can whip up a decent meal any night of the week depending on what you’re in the mood for. Plus, with a strong home base of ingredients it gives you enough security to venture out slowly into uncharted territories or types of cuisine, without falling too flatly on your face. I will explain this theory in my Pad Thai post when I first had to use “tamarin” and let me tell you that was an adventure.

Also, it’s very important to cook with what’s fresh and in season. I learned this when I studied abroad in Italy, although I didn’t realize it until I got back to the states. You see when I was abroad I would go to the market everyday and cook whatever was fresh and on special.

My dishes were always bursting with flavor, and the leaving it up to fate of picking up what was in season helped push my creative limits as a cook.

For the average professional, shopping for groceries everyday is unrealistic. I know, I feel you. But if you make smart choices in your grocery selections, several ingredients can last you all week! Yes, it’s doable.

Best of all, if you live somewhere that will allow you to grow plants of your own, you can even grow your own ingredients. No pesticides, all natural!

Now I know what you’re thinking. G, I am a busy person, I don’t have time to grow my own ingredients! And you know what? You may be right. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to at least grow one thing to get yourself started. Herbs are an excellent place to start. When you’re only cooking for 1 or 2, sometimes buying a ton of parsley or basil at the market is just a waste of money because it ends up wilted in your fridge after a few days. Spend the same amount of money on a basil plant at say, Trader Joe’s, put it in a pot and water it, and you’ll have basil all summer.

I recently ventured into growing my own ingredients, and I have to admit, I’ve become quite addicted to it. You’ll see on this post some cherry tomatoes, basil, sierra lettuce, and shallots.

No matter where you get your ingredients, start with the right ones. The old saying goes, “only get drunk on good wine” and although it’s actual meaning has to do with mate selection, I think it applies here as well. If you’re going to get full, get full on good food! And good dishes require good ingredients.

Eat with all of your heart,

G