Lunch with Ginger
It all started when my friend Ditte Lokon gave me a bottle of Canton ginger-infused French cognac from Domaine for my birthday.
I didn’t drink it at the time but decided to invite a few friends over for an Asian-inspired lunch to launch the liqueur.
After much thought (one of the fun aspects of planning a lunch for guests is pondering the recipes) I decided to serve ginger mojitos.
I particularly liked the recipe because it didn’t use simple syrup. The mojito recipe basically was Canton, rum, muddled mint, lemons, and ice cubes. We added sparkling water which proved to be an apt touch as the mojitos were very strong and it was extremely hot that day. Cocktails and 100-degrees heat just don’t mix well for me.
My friends are all foodies so I felt compelled to create my heart out.
Ditte Lokon is an amazing cook. She’s invited me to dinner a few times and is so accomplished in the kitchen. I’m not in her league.
Edie Jarolim is a foodie and restaurant critic and the contributing dining editor for Tucson Guide. She knows food.
Carol Mitchell’s (fellow greyhound adopter) culinary tastes were a wild card. We’ve been out for gourmet burgers and Greek food before but she also appreciated the popping flavors presented at lunch with ginger.
Here’s the menu:
- Ginger mojitos
- Sweet potato and snap pea chips
- Watermelon-papaya soup with lemon coriander cream (and ginger)
- Shrimp boats
- Szechwan pasta salad
- Edamame salad (and ginger)
- Mochi ice cream
My CSA (community supported agriculture) provided a watermelon which was the inspiration for this soup. All I needed to buy was Mexican papaya, coconut water, limes, and sour cream. I already had the other ingredients. In my rush of trying to do too many things, I mistakenly added McCormick’s roasted ground ginger instead of McCormick’s roasted ground coriander to the cream. What the heck? I added the coriander too which gave the cream a pungent zip. Who knew that watermelon and coriander were a new taste trend?
Shrimp boats were easy-peasy. From the Trader Joe’s Companion, you mix chopped up shrimp, Trader Joe’s fire-roasted mango-papaya salsa, Belgium endive (hence the boat), cilantro, and cilantro dressing. I forgot to drizzle the dressing. Nobody missed it.
Szechwan pasta salad is a transition salad from City, the cookbook from the former City Restaurant in Los Angeles started by the Too Hot Tamales, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken. It is my most favorite recipe from that cookbook but I alter it by adding a few ingredients like peas and diced peppers and change the pasta. They recommend soba noodles but I used fusili. The sauce is a redolent spicy mix of soy sauce, hot chili oil, sesame oil, and tahini.
The edamame salad is my own so I can share. Take a package of frozen edamame and cook according to directions. Rinse and drain. Add 1 cup frozen corn (no need to cook). Add 1 can of garbanzo beans, rinse and drain. Easy so far, right? Take ½ cup of a good balsamic viniagrette or italian dressing, squeeze the juice of ½ orange, 1 tsp orange zest, and 1 tsp freshly grated ginger. Mix. Combine with bean/corn mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.
Some people hate cucumbers and most on the market are mealy and tasteless. I suggest using English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers if you can find them. This is the easiest dish in the whole world which always gets raves. Simply peel the cukes (I’m too lazy to remove the seeds.) Then douse generously with brown rice vinegar. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Serve at room temperature.
Zolo Torrontes 2008 white wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina provided more sipping pleasure. This wine was also a birthday gift in 2009 from Ditte. I was waiting for a special occasion to drink it.
For dessert, Edie brought two flavors of mochi ice cream balls from Trader Joe’s…a perfect ending to a lunch punctuated with talk of shared secrets, political trash, local gossip, and joyful laughter.