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!
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 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!