Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ooh, Honey!!

I am worried that the summer will get away from me; after all, it's already mid-August. Considering the fact that the whole west coast got off to a late start this season I've had to really plan out my specials in order to be able to use all of the ingredients that I want to, or fate them to a year of solitude.

With watermelon at it's peak this season I wanted to incorporate it into a salad, but I really wanted to make it unique by cutting it into wedges and grilling them. By covering my grill for a half hour before I was able to get it super hot, allowing me to mark the melon without cooking it too much. The resulting ingredient was so amazingly complex and intriguing. The flavor goes well beyond what you would expect from the humble watermelon.

To match this bitter/sweet duality I wanted to first utilize a couple of my favorite bitter greens that are available here locally: beautiful baby arugula and some fantastic dandelion greens. While wonderful, they have to be used appropriately by balancing their varying bitterness. In the past I've paired a honey vinaigrette with dandelion greens, so I created an updated version of that by blending garlic, shallots, honey and apple cider vinegar with enough fruity extra virgin olive oil to balance it all out.

Since I already knew that prosciutto and melon together was a no-brainer, why not bulk up the salad with some finely shaved pieces of it? And for crunch I went with a classic garnish of croutons that I made by finely dicing a loaf of Macrina's sourdough and tossing the cubes in butter that I had steeped in fresh garlic, thyme and oregano before toasting them in the oven.

Even now, summer reminds me of when I was a kid. The bright sun in my eyes, the warm air on my skin, the sweet smells in the air; it all reminds me of a time of innocence, where I'm free from school and allowed to roam and explore the world around me.

One of my most fondest memories as a child is the discovery of the addictively sweet taste of the honeysuckle. At one point or another I had learned that if you pluck the flower of a honeysuckle bush and pull the stamen through the bottom you will scrape out it's nectar that has a wonderful honey-like flavor from which it gets its name. Like pistachios I could never get enough, until I grew tired of picking and pulling, picking and pulling.

Now, as an adult, I wanted to recreate that experience, but with liquor, of course!!!

Since I knew that an idea like this had already been thought of, I turned to the Internet, and wouldn't you know it? Our friends at Absolut already had a simple recipe posted on their website.

You take four parts of aged rum - I used Cruzan - two parts of honey syrup made by combining equal parts honey and warm water and one part of lime juice, shaken with my little touch of egg white powder to top the cocktail with a frothy foam that tastes like sweet clouds!

With Love,