Monday, August 18, 2008

Cool as Cucumber - Various wonderful and delicious Cucumber recipes

DELICIOUS CUCUMBERS
Cold Salads

Cucumber Salad with Spicy Wasabi Dressing
Cucumber Salad

Serves 4
Rice wine vinegar is milder than most Western vinegars. If unavailable, mix 2 parts distilled white vinegar with 1 part water.



1 1/2 teaspoons dry wasabi (or to taste)
2 cucumbers
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 green onion or 2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbs black or toasted white sesame seeds

Mix the wasabi with 1/2 teaspoon warm water in the bottom of a mixing bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes. Peel the cucumbers, cut each one in half lengthwise, and use a melon baller or spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cut the cucumbers widthwise into 1/4-inch crescents. Add the vinegar and sugar to the wasabi and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, add the cucumbers, green onion, and sesame seeds to the dressing and mix well.

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad
Ingredients:

1/4 c distilled white vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cucumbers, peeled, halved and seeded
salt
8 cups seeded and cubed watermelon
1/4 red onion sliced thinly
Combine vinegar, sugar and pepper in saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute, remove from heat and cool. Slice cucumbers and toss with 1 tsp of salt. Let sit in colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry. Just before serving toss watermelon with salt in a large bowl. Add cucumbers, red onions, and pepper syrup and toss.

Peanut Cucumber Salad
Ingredients:

2 medium and tender cucumbers, peeled, seeded, cut into small pieces and drained.
2 (or less) green chilies, minced
Juice of one large lime
1/2 cup finely chopped white or red onions
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves [Cilantro]
1/2 cup peeled and cubed *raw* mangoes
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 cup coarsely chopped spinach [optional]
Mix everything but the peanuts together. Add half the peanuts and mix well. Add the remaining when you are ready to serve, by sprinkling on top.

Cucumber Pineapple Salad

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup peeled, cored fresh pineapple cut into 1/3 inch pieces
1 cucumber, peeled, sliced thinly
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups torn salad greens
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Bring sugar, rice wine vinegar and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly until reduced to about 1/2 cup - about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and place into refrigerator. When chilled, add pineapple pieces. Cover and return to refrigerator for one hour.

Add cucumber, carrot and red onion to the pineapple mixture. Mix well. Place salad greens onto plates. Top with pineapple mixture. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve.

Yield: 4 servings


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Appetizers and Side Dishes

Cucumber Granita

Ingredients

4 large cucumbers
1/4 c sugar
3 T chopped fresh dill
1/4 t salt
Peel the cucumbers, slice them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Roughly chop the cucumbers and place them in a food processor with the sugar, dill, and salt. Process until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl as necessary. Refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Stir the chilled mixture, then freeze in 1 or 2 batches in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. When finished, the granita will be soft and have the consistency of sorbet. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze to harden. To serve, scrape the top of the granita with a heavy ice cream spade or scoop, creating shaved ice crystals. Serve in small, chilled dishes.

Alternately, pour the cucumber mixture into ice cube trays, filling only half way, and freeze until firm. Before serving, process the cucumber ice cubes in a food processor until chopped and slushy. Serve immediately.

Try this light, refreshing, and unusual ice as a summer lunch opener served in a hollowed-out tomato. Or, drizzle with a little buttermilk for a very interesting summer "soup."


Variations

Cracked Cucumber Granita: Substitute 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns for the dill. Proceed with the recipe as directed.

Cucumber Basil Granita: Omit the dill. Add 8 fresh basil leaves to the food processor along with the cucumber. Proceed with the recipe as directed.

Cucumber Mint Granita: Omit the dill. Add 1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves to the food processor along with the cucumber. Proceed with the recipe as directed. Optional: add 1 tablespoon green creme de menthe before freezing.

Cucumber Thyme Granita: Substitute 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves for the dill. Proceed with the recipe as directed.


Salmon-Cucumber Pate
Salmon-Cucumber Pate
Cucumber Layer:

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1 t salt
6 to 8 drops liquid red pepper seasoning
1 medium-sized cucumber, pared, seeded, and shredded
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 T snipped fresh dill

Salmon Layer:

1 can (16 oz) salmon, drained and skin and bones removed
3/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c onion, finely chopped
2 T lemon juice
2 T horseradish
2 T parsley, chopped
1 t salt
1/2 t paprika
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 c cold water
1 c heavy cream, whipped
Prepare the cucumber layer: Beat the cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl until softened and smooth. Beat in the sour cream, salt, and red pepper seasoning. Stir in the cucumber, onion, and dill. Set aside.

Prepare the salmon layer: Flake or mash the salmon with a fork in a large bowl. Combine the mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, horseradish, parsley, salt, and paprika. Set aside.

Sprinkle the gelatin over cold water in a 1-cup glass measure, let soften for 5 minutes. Set the cup in simmering water, stir to dissolve the gelatin. Remove from the heat.

Stir 3 T of the gelatin liquid into the cucumber mixture. Wet a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan, or 7 to 8 cup mold, with cool water, and pour the cucumber mixture in. Chill while finishing salmon layer.

Stir the remaining gelatin liquid into the salmon mixture. Fold in the whipped cream. Carefully spoon salmon mixture over the cucumber layer in pan. Cover pan and chill 6 hours or overnight.

To serve, run the tip of a thin-bladed knife around the top edge of the mold. Dip the mold quickly in and out of hot water. Cover with a chilled serving platter, invert, shake gently to remove. Garnish with caviar, cucumber slices, lemon, and dill. Serve with party rye bread and crackers.

From: The Best of Family Circle Cookbook


Cucumber-Seafood Appetizers
Cucumber-Seafood Appetizers

Ingredients:

cucumbers (I prefer the english ones)
mild salsa
sour cream
shredded shrimp or crab
tiny shrimp and dill for garnish
Cut cucumbers into 1/2 to 3/4 inch rounds. With a melon baller scoop out the middle without going all the way through, so you have a small cucumber dish. Fill with a mixture of mild salsa, sour cream, and shredded shrimp or crab. Place a dab in each cucumber dish. Top with one tiny shrimp and a sprig of dill. Get imaginative.... experiment with other toppings.



Tapenade in Cucumber


Ingredients:

250 g pitted black olives
100 g garlic
100 g anchovy in olive oil
80 g drained capers
60 - 70 ml olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
cucumber
Ritz crackers (or similar circular, salty crackers)
First, prepare the tapenade. Puree the olives, garlic, anchovy and capers in a food processor until you have a smooth paste of an appetizing colour. Add the olive oil, continue processing for a short while, and the tapenade is ready.

Cut off one end of the cucumber and remove the seeds using a narrow knife. Fill the hollowed cucumber with tapenade.

Press a cracker against the cucumber end, cut off a slice of the cucumber and catch the slice on the cracker. Repeat the procedure until you have enough crackers, each covered with a tapenade-filled cucumber slice.

Any tapenade that is left will keep for at least a week in the fridge and can be used as a spread.


Cucumber and Asparagus Boats


Ingredients:

125g cream cheese at room temp.
1 Tbs lemon juice
6 spears cooked asparagus chopped (tinned may be used)
1/4 tsp mild curry powder
1 Tbs poppy seeds
2 med. cucumbers, peeled, quartered and seeded
Blend together cream cheese, lemon juice, asparagus and curry powder in a small bowl. Carefully spoon into cavity of the prepared cucumbers. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Chill thoroughly. When required, slice into 2.5cm pieces. Insert a tooth pick in the centre of each piece to serve. Makes about 30.

Cucumber Mousse
Cucumber Mousse

Ingredients:

1 T plain gelatin
3 T cold water
2 T vinegar, or lemon or lime juice
1 t grated onion
3/4 t salt
1/4 t paprika
1 cup cucumber, pared, seeded, and chopped
1/2 whipping cream
Soak gelatin in water. Dissolve in a saucepan over heat. Add vinegar or juice, onion, salt, and paprika. Chill this mixture until almost set.

Drain cucumbers well. Whip cream until stiff. Beat the gelatin mixture gradually into the cream. Fold in cucumbers. Fill a wet mold with mixture and chill thoroughly. When set, invert onto a platter and garnish.

From: The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer and Becker


Cucumber Aspic

Ingredients:

4 cups cucumbers, pared, seeded and grated
2 T plain gelatin
1/2 c cold water or chicken stock
3/4 c boiling water or chicken stock
6 T lemon juice
2 t grated onion
1 t sugar
1/4 t paprika
salt and pepper
sliced tomatoes, watercress, marinated shrimp, mayonnaise (optional)
Soak gelatin in cold water or stock. Dissolve gelatin mixture into boiling water or stock. Add lemon juice and onion. Add gelatin mixture to cucumber pulp with sugar, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Strain mixture and fill a wet ring mold or other small mold. Refrigerate until firm.

When jelly is firm, invert onto a serving platter. Fill the center with shrimp, garnish the edges with tomatoes and watercress, and serve with mayonnaise if desired.

From: The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer and Becker
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Hot Dishes

Trevally and Cucumber in Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients:

8 large outside cabbage leaves (any variety, ie white, savory or chinese)
600g trevally fillets (skinned and boned) (or any mild white fish)
200g cucumber (peeled and sliced)
4 gherkins (sliced thinly)
100g butter
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Sea salt
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns (if you don't have them don't fret)
Blanch the cabbage leaves for 1 minute in boiling water, then plunge into cold water and drain. In 100g butter softly cook the trevally fillets until half done, then remove.

Lay the cabbage leaves flat. Put some trevally, cucumber and gherkin slices onto each leaf, then sprinkle with spices and drizzle with butter from the pan. Roll up into tight parcels.

To finish cooking use either a steamer, or pan with 1/2 cm of water and a lid, over moderate heat.

Serve with a fresh tomato sauce. Makes 4 servings. You can substitute sea bass or any mild, flaky fish for the trevally.



Baked Cucumbers

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber
butter
mixed herbs
Wash then cut a medium cucumber in half, remove ends, slice each half lengthwise into six [6] wedges and place them in a casserole dish. Cover with knobs of butter and fresh herbs of your choice, add lid and microwave for three [3] minutes.

Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Sauce (Tod Mun)

Fish Cakes:

1/2 lb firm white fish fillet
3 oz fresh string beans, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, very finely sliced
1 T cilantro, finely chopped
1 or 2 finely minced asian bird chiles or serranos
1-2 T fish sauce
1 egg
2 T cornstarch
1/4 t sugar
oil for frying

Cucumber Sauce:

1 cucumber
5 tbsp sugar
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
3-5 asian bird peppers or 2-3 serranos, pref. red, finely chopped
3 shallots, finely chopped
Prepare sauce: Thinly slice cucumber, arrange in bowl; peeling is optional. Dissolve sugar in the boiling water. Stir in vinegar and salt. Pour this sauce over cucumber. Sprinkle with the chopped chiles and shallots. Chill. Mince the fish. Combine it with the string beans, onion, lemon grass, cilantro, chiles, fish sauce, slightly beaten egg, cornstarch and sugar. Blend well.

Shape fish mixture into patties 2" in diameter, 1/2" thick. Preheat oil to 350 degrees F. Fry just a few at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Serve fish patties warm, with cucumber sauce. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro, if you like it, right before serving


Indonesian Fried Tofu with Cucumbers and Sprouts

Ingredients:

2 c mung bean sprouts
3 cakes tofu, pressed and patted dry
vegetable oil
4-5 servings cooked rice
1-2 small cucumbers, cut in half, seeded and sliced
peanuts, toasted and chopped

Sauce:

2/3 c light soy sauce
3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 T minced onion, shallot, or scallions
1-2 small chiles, minced (deseeded for less spicy)
1/4 c fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 to 1 t sugar
In a small bowl, mix together sauce ingredients and taste to get a pleasing balance of hot, salty, and sour. Sweeten with sugar if you like. Everything else in this dish is bland, so the sauce should be intense.

Blanch the mung sprouts by placing them in a strainer and pouring boiling water over them. Immediately plunge them into a bowl of very cold water. When the sprouts are cold, drain thoroughly.

Cut each cake of tofu horizontally into thirds, and then cut each piece diagonally both ways to form triangles. Pat the tofu dry again. Heat about one inch of oil in a wok ar 1/2 inch in a shallow frying pan and, when it is hot, fry the tofu, a few pieces at a time, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. The advantage of a wok is that you can use less oil, but you will fight to keep the pieces from sticking to one another. In a skillet you use more oil, but the tofu pieces won't stick together. If they stick to the bottom, just scrape them up with a thin metal spatula.

On a platter or individual plates, place first some rice and then the fried tofu with a drizzle of the sauce. Add the cucumber and mung sprouts and pour on some more of the sauce. Reserve some sauce to pass at the table. When you are ready to serve the dish, garnish it with a sprinkling of peanuts.


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Cucumber as a Garnish
Cucumber as a Garnish



Cucumber-Carrot Pinwheels



whole cucumbers, unpeeled
whole carrots, peeled
Cut cucumber in 3" lengths. Hollow out seeded middle section. Push a carrot into the hollowed out center of the cucumber. Slice the cucumber/carrot wheels into 1/2-inch slices. You end up with a cucumber slice with a carrot center. Looks very attractive as a garnish and is fat free and tasty!!

Editor's note: Try scoring the cucumber skin before using them in this recipe: run a fork lengthwise down the cucumber skin all around the cucumber. Actually, this method makes pretty cucumber slices with or without skin.


Cucumber Fans

whole cucumbers, peeled or unpeeled
Slice cucumber in half lengthwise. Cut grooves in the skin with a citrus zester/groove tool. Cut four thin slices at a 45' angle, but held together in one corner. The fan is mooshed on to the plate to make an ornamental fan. If you have a very sharp knife and a steady hand, it's really quite easy.


Cucumber Lily

Ingredients:

cucumbers, unpeeled
carrot sticks
Slice unpeeled cucumber thinly. Gently fold one cucumber slice around the base of the carrot stick. Fold a second slice around the stick from the other side. These form the lily petals, with the carrot stamen in the center. Fasten with a pick, being careful to watch all four lapped edges of the cucumber as well as piercing the carrot stick.

Wrap flowers lightly in a moistened paper towel and refrigerate until ready to use as a garnish
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Cucumber Drinks

Cucumber Cocktail


1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
2 c diced cucumber
1/4 c water
1 T lemon juice
dash salt
1 c ice; finely chopped
Mix in blender until smooth.


Cucumber-Lemon Spritzer

3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 cups diced peeled cucumber
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cups sparkling water, chilled
1 small cucumber, cut lengthwise into 4 spears
1. Combine 3/4 cup water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool.

2. Place sugar mixture, diced cucumber, lemon juice, and ginger in a blender; process until smooth. Cover and chill.

3. Combine cucumber mixture and sparkling water in a pitcher; stir gently with a whisk until blended. Serve over ice; garnish each glass with a cucumber spear, if desired. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup).

Cucumber Lemonade (Agua de Pepino)

1 cucumber, peeled and cubed
1 lemon
5 c water
Sugar to taste
Add cucumber and water to a blender and puree. Strain. Add juice of lemon and sugar to taste. Serve over ice.