Grilled Shrimp and Watermelon Greek Salad

It’s starting to get really hot over here in Los Angeles. Well in all honesty it’s been hot for a while now, but I’m just barely starting to notice it. The last thing anyone should be doing during this time of year is cooking in a hot kitchen for hours and hours. That sounds like torture. So to make things a little bit easier for us, I’m throwing this refreshing summer salad right at your face. Minus the standing over a hot grill/grill pan part, this is actually a quick and easy recipe that you can have ready in no time at all. The kind of recipe we need during the week. Sure, I have you grilling a few things along the way, so okay maybe we’re not avoiding the heat like I mentioned earlier BUT in my defense, the grilling part is super quick and the flavor you get from it is incredible, so it’s totally worth it. We can suffer for a few minutes all for the sake of food, right? Right. 

Have you ever had watermelon, mint and feta together? The combination is out of this world delicious. The kind of thing that upon first hearing about, you’re skeptical, because it sounds super suspicious so you eat it with caution, but three bites in and you’re hooked. It’ll be the best thing you’ll taste all summer trust me. When you throw grilled shrimp into the mix, all bets are off. Go home because this salad has just won at life. It was inspired by a salad I just recently tried at a restaurant. I won’t mention the name of it because it’s the type of establishment you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve eaten at. We don’t need to dwell on that piece of information though, let’s move on. Anyhow, the salad had mixed baby greens, watermelon, feta and a mint honey vinaigrette and it was everything I never knew I wanted. The watermelon was really refreshing because it was super cold and added a great texture to the salad, along with the salty bits of feta throughout. I know I’m going on and on about this salad (we get it Jonathan), but I was pleasantly surprised. So I decided to go home and give it a go and try to make it myself like the restaurant’s version, but completely different and nothing like the original.

Changing topics now, Julian and I are going to an event at La Brea Bakery tomorrow at their flagship store here in Los Angeles, which is La Brea Bakery’s hometown and it just so happens to be Julian and I’s hometown so it’s kind of meant to be. In honor of their Breaking Bread Tour (a bread truck going across country handing out free bread to people, dreams people dreams) which launches on Wednesday at the store, and in honor of summer I thought it would be the best idea I’ve ever had to come up with a recipe that goes well with grilled bread. Plus something about bread and salad together just makes me really happy. I can’t do fully healthy because then I feel like I’m not living my life to it’s fullest so I find myself getting a salad with a side of fries or salad with lots of croutons. That kind of thing because it just feels like the perfect balance. In this case, I’m using their organic wheat loaf which is the bee’s knees, if bees had knees. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, I just really happen to love La Brea Bakery. I didn’t think it was possible but Julian probably loves it even more than I do, so I guess it’s a match made in heaven. The two of us around all of that bread, getting to learn about all of the behind the scenes and history of the Bakery, sounds pretty dangerous. We’ll probably clean out the place, watch out. To find out more about the Breaking Bread Tour and to follow the truck around to see if it’ll reach your city, check the site out here. (Again, not a sponsorship, just love bread. Can you blame me?!)

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Watermelon Texas Margarita

I’m a sucker for a beer cocktail. I’ll never say no to any cocktail, let’s be honest, but for the sake of this post, I’m a sucker for beer cocktails in particular. I’m also a sucker for watermelon flavored anything. It’s my favorite fruit, so when they’re in season I find ways to incorporate it into everything. Sometimes it works out and other times, not so much. I’m still trying desperately to make watermelon doughnuts work because if those two of my favorite things come together I’ll probably die from the excitement. Die. I wouldn’t make it past one doughnut. Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t come up with a good recipe yet. Either way, I know that it’ll happen and when it does it’ll be the greatest day of my life. It’ll be magical. 

My all time favorite beer is from 21st Amendment Brewery in San Fransisco. They have a seasonal watermelon beer and it’s only available for a short few months out of the year. They serve it with a fresh watermelon slice. Talk about genius. It’s out of this world. Like summer in a glass, but a million times better. Like trips to the beach on a perfectly warm day, but not even close. If you’re not a fan of beer at all, that Hell or High Watermelon Wheat beer in particular would make you change your mind. It would make you a beer believer. You know what’s even better though? This cocktail will make you change your mind as well, and you don’t even have to travel to San Fransisco to get it. You can make and drink it in the comfort of your own home. Drink in your pajamas if you want. Who’s going to know? That sounds tempting, right? Probably don’t drink in your pajamas though because someone might see you through your window and think you’re crazy or weird and you wouldn’t want that.

The watermelon beer from 21st Amendment isn’t in season at the moment so I couldn’t get a hold of any, but if I did, it would’ve definitely gone into this cocktail making it even better than it already is. Instead, I had to settle for fresh watermelon juice spiked with vodka and orange liqueur and then topped off with Pabst Blue Ribbon. I like this beer for this cocktail because it isn’t heavy or strong in flavor. It pairs well with the other ingredients, allowing the fresh watermelon juice to really shine. I had to garnish it with a watermelon wedge as well because that’s what you do. Get the weekend started with a big batch of these and don’t forget about the snacks! Mushroom and Chorizo Queso Fundido is the perfect companion (hint hint). 

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Watermelon Basil Lime Iced Tea

I’ve always had this fantasy of living in a large home, maybe somewhere in the South—one of the Carolinas for sure, I’m thinking North—with a big patio or wrap around porch. In my fantasy, I’m drinking iced tea on said porch or patio, on a hot summer’s day. Heavy on the iced part because I don’t do well in the heat. I’m lounging on a chair and just drinking my tea enjoying the passing days. Waving at a few neighbors that walk on by. I may or may not speak with a Southern drawl in my fantasy, I haven’t decided yet (but you better believe I’ve been practicing it). This is where I’d plot all my villainous schemes. I’d invite my enemies over for some iced tea, all the while planning out ways on how to backstab them….wait, that’s not my fantasy. I think I’ve been watching way too much House of Cards lately. I get confused. Kevin Spacey is teaching me all the wrong ways of life, you can’t blame me. 

Now try not to judge me too much, but this is actually the first time I’ve ever made iced tea before. Like ever in my life. I can’t really say I’m an iced tea expert per say. I’m far from a tea pro so I had to do a little research (and by a little, I of course mean a lot). My google searches were something like, “How to make basic iced tea?” “How long do I steep tea bags in iced tea?” and “Fool proof iced tea recipes to win contests and major prizes.” That last one didn’t bring me any hits, but you can’t blame a guy for trying. I had to come up with my own recipe. 

Iced tea is one of those things that I always drink at other people’s homes or at restaurants, but have never really thought about making it myself. I don’t know why, I guess I always just assumed it was too difficult to make. Something about boiling water and making tea, scared me. I have a phobia of boiling water. I don’t have a phobia of boiling water, it’s a joke (someone please laugh). I was wrong though. It’s actually really easy to make iced tea. The best part is that you can add all kinds of awesome flavorings to it, and make it so much better than just plain boring iced tea. Don’t get me wrong, plain and boring iced tea is still a favorite of mine, but plain and boring doesn’t win any contests and I want to win contests for sure. So I learned a valuable lesson through all of the recipe testing I did, over the last couple of days. The lesson being that watermelon and iced tea are long lost friends. Destined to be together forever. That forever being in a pitcher in my fridge for my drinking pleasure. 

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Gazpacho: Two Ways

I don’t have the best memory. Okay that’s putting it mildly. If I’m being honest, I have the worst memory ever. Like on the planet. In the history of memory having, I’m at the very bottom. I envy my sister who can seriously remember things from inside the womb. It’s scary how much she can recall from when she was tiny and itty bitty. We’ll be talking about something in particular and then all of a sudden she’ll bust out a memory and include when, where, what she was wearing, what she had said and what she was doing on a specific date. She’ll say something like, “Remember when I was born, I came home from the hospital wearing that yellow bunny onesie and played in my crib?!” Okay I exaggerate. I on the other hand, can’t even remember what I ate yesterday. This is not an exaggeration. I have very little recollections of my childhood. I mean sure I remember a few things here and there and bits and pieces of certain moments when I was young, but for the most part my mind’s a blank. My sisters will gladly tell you that I was oblivious as a kid. Always wandering off and in my own world, never paying attention. I guess this is what happens when you’re the only boy and the youngest in the family. There are certain things however that I do remember. Like the traditional putting up of the christmas tree. Putting the tinsel one strand at a time, we weren’t allowed to throw clumps of shiny tinsel all at once. The fact that my mother would only make soup on the hottest days of the year. How I couldn’t sit still for the life of me and was constantly moving around, jumping, grabbing, or pushing buttons as a kid. The way my mother would hide our halloween candy (in her closet up above the shelf) giving us only one piece a day. Talk about torture. It took about 2o minutes for my sister and I to find it, climb up and sneak a few (okay like 10) pieces of candy a day. Sorry mom. I also recall the constant watching of a certain movie. This movie in particular probably defines my entire existence. Not only because it was released the year I was born but because we’d watch it all the time to this day. It is by far the fondest memory I have. Now that I’m older it’s definitely one of my favorite films.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a foreign film from Spain by Pedro Almodóvar —hands down his best work of all time. I learned two things from watching this movie so often throughout my entire life. One, that no one is as badass as Pepa Marcos and two, gazpacho can solve all of your problems in more ways than one. This dish will forever be synonymous with that movie for me until the end of time. Whenever I hear someone mention gazpacho or if I see it on a menu somewhere this movie and the spiked gazpacho with 25 or 30 sleeping pills will come to mind. So here we are today making not one, but two gazpacho recipes. There’s a scene towards the end of the film when the police are asking the main character what exactly is inside the gazpacho. I remember wanting to make it (minus the drugs of course) as she listed off the ingredients in it. “Tomate, pepino, pimiento, cebolla, una puntita de ajo, aceite, sal, vinagre, pan duro y agua. El secreto está en mezclarlo bien.” The secret is in mixing it well she claimed, and she’s right. I also remember thinking what in the world is gazpacho. It looked like plain ol’ tomato juice to me. It’s cold soup friends. Wonderfully delicious cold soup. So I’m giving you two gazpacho recipes. My take on this classic Spanish dish. Perfect for the summer weather. The first is a chunky watermelon gazpacho served with grilled shrimp and the second is a traditional smooth gazpacho, just like in the film.

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