Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Simulacra

Friends, at long last, summer has found us. We have been flirting with 90 degrees for about a week, and there has also been some icky humidity--not Deep South muggy or anything, but uncomfortable nonetheless. I, for one, am extremely happy that it held off until my short break between the last summer session and the beginning of fall semester. And as long as there's enough heat to ripen my tomatoes and peppers, it's all good. However, as the temperatures rise, we're often less inclined to spend time in the kitchen in front of the hot stove. So I've been eating a lot of entree salads for dinner, and of course, drinking different sorts of refreshing frozen beverages. In fact, I have two recipes to share with you to help you endure the dog days of summer, as late as they may have been in coming.

First off, I simply must tell you about my new favorite salad with which I have become more than a bit obsessed! Awhile back, I was reading The Pioneer Woman's blog, as I am wont to do, and she was documenting her trip to the annual Blogher conference in Chicago. While visiting the Windy City, P-Dub enjoyed a lovely meal at a well-known restaurant called Bandera, and she was particularly effusive about a salad that she had called the "Macho Salad." I did a quick internet search and found a copycat recipe from a sister restaurant to Bandera in the same group called the Cherry Creek Grill. So I made the salad one night, and have had it at least three more times since then! I love this salad--it's creamy and sweet and tangy and crunchy and altogether DELISH! However, I refuse to reprint a precise salad recipe, as I believe you should use as much or as little of an ingredient as you prefer, and you may wish to add or omit or substitute an item. It's YOUR salad...make it the way YOU want! But here's the general blueprint:

Cherry Creek Grill/Bandera's "Macho" Salad
Malisa's Food Blog)

fresh greens
diced chicken or turkey (I cheated and shredded up some breast from a deli roaster)
chopped tomatoes (I will add these when mine are finally ripe)
chopped dates (this is the key ingredient--I love the sweetness they add!)
diced avocado
crumbled goat cheese
sliced, toasted almonds
cornbread croutons (I've substituted focaccia croutons and in a pinch, used a handful of seasoned cornbread stuffing cubes)
freshly-ground black pepper

Dressing (this is easily enough for 4 to 6 entree salads):
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced (I doubled this, as is my way!)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh)
1 1/4 cup olive oil (I used half olive and half canola oil)

After you have your nice, healthy salad for din-din, you're allowed to have a special treat for dessert. One of my all-time favorite summer splurges is the Orange Slammer from Friendly's. It's SO yummy, and really cools you off on a hot day. Buit what is NOT cool is the price! It costs $4.60 or thereabouts--as much as some sort of fancy coffee beverage at Starbucks! Ridiculous! So I usually only enjoy a couple of them each summer. But the last time I was in there, I lucked out and got to watch and learn as a new employee was trained on the Orange Slammer methodology.

You add four or five good scoops (about a pint) of orange sherbet into your blender and add a cup and a quarter to a cup and a half of a fizzy beverage. Which fizzy beverage? Well, IF you can find a good-quality, flavorful sherbet (like Friendly's!), then all you need is seltzer (for my North Country peeps, Stewart's even sells a mandarin orange flavor under their house label). The problem is finding a decent orange sherbet! As far as I can tell, none of the higher-quality ice cream brands has a plain orange sherbet (though many of them have an orange and vanila swirl variety). So you may well end up having to buy house brands of sherbet. If your sherbet is of a lesser quality, you might want to add a little more zing with some lemon-lime soda, or if the sherbet really needs a flavor boost, use orange soda (and I prefer to use diet sodas myself). Whichever carbonated beverage you choose, add a half teaspoon of vanilla before you blend it up. Serve your frosty, citrusy beverage with a whimsical straw, and enjoy it along with the last burst of summertime!


Just the Right Size said...

You had me at avacados and goat cheese!

That sherbert drinkie sounds good too...not too many calories either if you use a good mineral water or even diet lemon/lime soda. YUM!

Unknown said...

I used to work at an ice cream counter and I would mix a scoop of orange sherbert and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and them some seltzer, then blend. These are called Freezes. Similar to shakes except the seltzer vs. milk and of course sherbert vs. ice cream...kinda like the 50-50 bars.

Randi said...

Wegmans makes some good house brand sherberts/ice creams.