Paraphrasing my ole’ buddy Cole Porter, It’s Too Damn HOT!
I was chatting with a gal in the produce section of Trader Joe’s the other day, and we were talking about Persian (cocktail) cucumbers – namely about how delicious they are and how nice it is not to have to peel them. But, it’s also widely know that those temperamental bastards won’t last more than a couple of days in your fridge before they get moldy spots and you’re throwing them into the compost bin.
Sure, they are delightful in salads (especially with a little feta and some melon or tomatoes this time of year). If you think they are getting borderline funky, you can slow down the decay trajectory by making a quick refrigerator pickle: slice or sliver your cukes, then add some chopped scallions and about 2 teaspoons vinegar—I like rice wine vinegar or white balsamic—per cucumber ratio; toss to combine and refrigerate. Add a bit of red or black pepper before serving and a pinch of sea salt.
I also like pulling out a couple to make cocktails, a few of which I’ve talked about here before.
You’ve probably seen the studies quoted that hot foods actually make you feel cooler and have natural antimicrobial qualities. Hence, spicy food preferences in cultures living in warmer climates. Right now, Utah’s about as hot as I can take it—and this from a gal who lived in muggy Memphis and the ‘dry’ heat of Arizona for years. I made this spicy-cool version of a gimlet to at least give me a modicum of gracious respite last night. It’s cool and bracing at the same time. I like using vodka instead of gin for this gimlet recipe; it makes the jalapeño taste cleaner and brighter in contrast. It’s fabulous with half of the martini glass rim coated in a fragrant smoked sea salt.
1 Persian (small cocktail) cucumber, sliced
½ jalapeño, seeded
2 oz. vodka
1 Tbs. agave nectar
Juice of 1 lime
Smoked sea salt
Throw the cucumber and jalapeño in a cocktail shaker and muddle the bejesus out of them with a pestle or wooden spoon. Meanwhile, rub ½ of the rim of a martini glass with half of a cut lime, then dip in smoked sea salt (I used a Durango smoked salt for this, but it’s also great with a black Salish smoked salt). Add the vodka, agave, and lime juice to the shaker with a few cubes of ice. Shake like crazy. Add a few cubes of fresh ice to your pretty cocktail glass, then strain your cocktail over the rocks. Garnish with cucumber and jalapeño.
For the rest of September, I’ll be featuring Bourbon cocktails and recipes for National Bourbon Heritage Month! Email, Facebook (“A Bourbon Gal”), or Instagram (abourbongal) me your requests for the next bourbon-based H.O.A.G.Y. (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) You can also find abourbongal on Twitter, but I suck at it. #sorrykinda