Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cucumbers and milk... and other strange bedfellows

Hot weather is here with a vengeance in Tidewater Virginia, and you know what that leads to... the search for cool dishes that are appealing in the heat and humidity. Of course, anything on the grill can be a centerpiece whether it is fish, chicken, steak or hamburgers, but what can you make to go along that won't heat up your kitchen. Well , here are two ideas that you might not think of. Why? because they seem like very weird pairings. Cucumbers and milk is a deceptive name because this dish has no milk, it just looks like milk and that is what we called it as children. My mom made this for almost every picnic or cookout because everyone loved it. My second recipe comes from an old cookbook of mine, The Blue Strawberry Cookbook by James Haller. James Haller's book and restaurant was based on the concept of no recipes, just putting foods together in unique and delicious ways. His unusual (and successful) pairing put together watermelon, beer and orange juice (I know it sounds disgusting, but please try it-I swear it will be a hit alongside spicy ribs, or barbecue chicken) If you are making this and kids are eating, try it with good quality non-alcoholic beer. The melon tastes almost carbonated when you eat it!

Part of playing with food is not being afraid to try something just because it sounds a little weird - so go ahead, be adventurous, you won't be sorry!

Cucumbers in Milk

2 medium cucumbers (regular or seedless/English) peeled and sliced thin

1 medium onion thinly sliced and separated into rings

1/2 cup mayonnaise (light is fine here too!)

1/2 cup vinegar (apple cider is best)

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh or 1/4 tsp dried dill

Mix mayo, vinegar, water , salt and dill together, stirring or shaking until mixture looks like milk. Put cucumbers and onions in liquid and chill for at least 4 hours. Light and crisp counterpoint to heavier or spicier summer foods.

Watermelon in Beer and Orange Juice

1/2 seedless watermelon cut into chunks or into melon balls

1/2 small can of frozen orange juice concentrate

1 can or bottle of beer (non alcoholic would work too)

Mix beer and orange juice concentrate together. Put melon into liquid and let stand in fridge for at least 4 hours. Don't tell people what is in this- they will love it and will be horrified when you tell them how you did it!


Kristen said...

These are definitely odd combos. I admire your sense of adventure!

Deborah Dowd said...

Kristen- I would have never combined the watermelon and beer (I don't even like beer!) but it is great!

Freya and Paul said...

The cucumber drink/soup seems very Turkish in origin but the watermelon and beer seems very out there! I would love to try it!

Christine said...

My husband loves good beer, so the watermelon recipe is one I will definitely try. And I won't tell him the secret ingredient - promise!
The Cucumbers and Milk sounds very intriguing. I make a cold cucumber-yogurt soup in the summertime that I love.
PS - I liked your recent blogging comments post. I feel much the same as you. I do find that all too often I'm hard pressed to find the time to respond and find myself reading and answering comments late into the night. I don't like coming across and disengenuine with my comments and will think about each one before writing them. This takes time and I sometimes fail.

Ilva said...

Both recipes are very interesting, I'll have to try them!

Anonymous said...

The cucumber in milk is something I do often, but with a twist. My mother and grandmother always made it with sour cream and no vinegar. It is great! May I suggest using green onions next time it is also a wonderful variation.
- KCatGu

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

We have eaten cucumbers like this for years~ I've never thought about it looking like milk.

The watermelon looks just strange enough that I may have to give it a try. I bet it would be refreshing on a hot Alabama day.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Watermelon and beer? I wouldn't have dreamed of that combination in a lifetime of cooking. I like the sound of the cool, crisp cucumber salad. Sounds perfect for a hot day.

Chicken Fried Gourmet said...

watermelon and beer ? I think I found a new favorite recipe :)

Deborah Dowd said...

Freya and Paul- The cucumbers are more a salad, and the watermelon and beer... you have got to try it!

Christine- I guarantee that it will be a hit! And thanks for your kind words. I know that we all enjoy hearing a thoughtful perspective on our blogs!

Ilva- You won't be disappointed!

Anonymous-Thanks for the suggestion of using green onions,and sour cream- I'll bet this would be a more delicate version!

Sandi- I have heard from ohers that they make a version of the cucumber dish, and the watermelon- you are so right. When I see a really weird combination, I usually think it must have been good to have survived!

Lynn- Me neither! For more interesting combinations,check out The Blue Strawberry Cookbook by James Haller

CFG- I know you will love this so the next time the temp is 90 degrees with 100 percent humidity, give it a try!

Erin S. said...

Can't wait to try the watermelon and beer. We all need to brainstorm a catchy name for the dish to entice people--Hoppy Melon? Boozy Melon (though that sounds like a vodka spiked melon)? Fizzy Melon Balls?

Susan said...

Whew! Thank goodness the "milk" isn't milk. I was nervous there for a minute, but now, I'm ready for a bowl! ;) This is a great side dish for a BBQ.

Rebecca said...

Not being a mayonnaise lover I would have to make a version of this cucumber salad with yogurt or sour cream, but I do love cucumber salads in the summer. I make one with vinegar and sugar that's very refreshing. Like others, I'm intrigued by the watermelon and beer; I'd like to try the non-alcoholic version if it still works, chemically.

Rebecca said...

p.s. I agree with your comments about blogging, and I, too, always try to respond to questions and comments on our blog, as well as try to leave comments on blogs I read that seem to be a little lonely. We all love feedback!

Deborah Dowd said...

Erin- I love fizzy melon balls - it sounds like something from Willie Wonka!

Susan- What's in a name? A lot if you really added milk to cucmbers and vinegar I suspect!

Rebecca - I have not tried the non alcoholic version, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work- The beer primarily adds the fizz!

Glenna said...

We do something similar to the cudumbers only using sour cream and V-8 juice, the recipe I have is called Cascadilla, but the watermelon thing is very different and oh so cool. I'm going to have to do it just to see the looks on people's faces when you finally tell themw hat it is.

Deborah Dowd said...

Glenna- Your sour cream and V-8 cucumber dish sounds interesting. Is that all there is to it or have you published the recipe? I would love to try it!

Julie said...

I have tasted Mrs. Dowd's Cucumbers & Milk receipe before- it is wonderful!

We will try the Watermelon recipe tonight!

Deborah Dowd said...

Julie- Julie! We miss you guys so much! I wish you were here and I would make a big batch of watermelon and beer (and a pitcher of sangria for the Wart!)

cathie said...

Hi I new at this,but as a kid my mom would make a dish for any holiday that had cucumbers,a little milk,sliced onion and vinegar and possibly salt and pepper. It was really good.