Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer treats

This summer has been one of the coldest on record in California. Still, there were a few hot days, and there surely will be a few to come in our "Indian summer."

Hot days mean that I usually have no desire to cook. There are a lot of easy recipes that don't require slaving over a hot stove all day. Instead, I usually opt to make some of my favorite summer treats: lemonade, ice cream, guacamole, and sushi.

Sushi is not hard once you figure out how to roll the seaweed tightly and get a sharp knife for cutting. But one way to avoid all the trouble is inari. Inari are seasoned tofu pockets that you can easily buy in the store. Fill them with rice and a filling of your choice and you have a cool, (but spicy!) summery meal.

Spicy Shrimp Inari

  • 2 cups rice, cooked
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • mayonnaise (about 1/3 cup)
  • sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 diced green onion

1. Dissolve sugar in the vinegar. Add to the cooked rice, fanning it and letting it cool.
2. Boil the tofu pockets or prepare according to instructions.
3. Boil the shrimp but do not overcook. Slice into 3/4 inch cubes. Set aside the shrimp to cool.
4. Mix the mayonnaise and sriracha to taste. In a bowl, add enough of the mayonnaise mixture to the shrimp to coat.
5. To assemble, open a tofu pocket and stuff it about halfway with rice. Fill the rest with the shrimp mixture. Top with chopped green onions.

Lemonade is one of my favorite beverages. (You could probably guess that from my blog title.) You can always make the standard lemonade, adding lemon juice, water, and honey to taste. I like to spice up my lemonade with two twists- Lemon ai-yu and strawberry lemonade.

Lemon Ai-Yu is basic lemonade, with cubes of ai-yu cut up into it. It's a Taiwanese beverage that is probably popular throughout Asia. Ai-yu can be purchased at Asian grocery stores, and it basically tastes like sweet, mostly flavorless gelatin. It gives the drink some texture and it tastes refreshing when cold.

I make pink lemonade with strawberry puree added to plain lemonade. I have been experimenting with different amounts of the strawberry puree, but it never seems to have a huge impact on the flavor. I like the color it lends the lemonade, though. I have learned to strain out most of the strawberry seeds before adding it to the lemonade.

Drinking lemonade brings me back to summer days when I had nothing to do but hang out with friends, laugh, and enjoy life. I miss those days! Growing up is hard to do.