Tag Archives: lime

Tamarind Margarita

I get so annoyed with Whole Foods. That whole forced neighborhood grocery thing is just ridiculous. Please admit that you are a big-box grocery that many people love (myself included), so you can go ahead and widen the aisles and stock a little food that normal people buy, in addition to random organic foods for the rest of us. This brings me to tamarind.What’s with stocking the tamarind root, but not tamarind paste (used frequently in Thai cooking)? I have no idea what to do with the actual root, which is why I need things like that pre-processed.

A certain less-ornery person visited a local Asian grocery to pick up some tamarind paste for a signature cocktail sure to blow my socks off.

I heard on The Food Network today that margaritas are the No. 1 mixed drink in the United States. So it’s safe to say most of us like a good margarita – fresh lime, a little orange sweetness, clear tequila and a dab of salt. Adding tamarind gives it that savory touch that salt can’t. It is subtle, but special.

I recommend making this before the summer slips away (I’m looking at you, Northwesterners!)…

Monolith Tamarind Margaritas

Ingredients (makes one cocktail, so multiply like crazy!)

1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 ounce triple sec (Cointreau)
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
0.4 ounces orange juice
0.4 ounces simple syrup (1 c. water simmered with 1 c. sugar)
0.2 ounces tamarind paste

Shake tamarind paste with tequila and triple sec until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients. Shake well and pour into a salt-rimmed glass over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo


Rhubarb Mojito

I have this very stylish and sophisticated friend. She almost always wears silk or some other luxe fabric. She has an insanely white carpet that seems to never collect dust or dirt. She can pull off ridiculously large earrings and tunics of every color and pattern.

And she can think of a way to turn almost anything into a mojito.

So, in honor of my dear Krissy, I give you Rhubarb Challenge #3: Rhubarb mojitos!

Krissy suggested this after I explained my challenge to her one night over ginger-beer cocktails at Tate’s.

But of course, I thought, I can boil the rhubarb down into a sugary syrup, strain it and then add it to a classic mojito with rum, fresh mint, lime and club soda.

These were quite yummy and incredibly refreshing. I think the secret is in the rum, not the rhubarb. Get good rum, people, and you won’t feel like you’re drinking something out of your boyfriend’s dorm room freshman year.

The rhubarb adds a nice tart sweetness that matches the minty bubbles of the drink. I recommend enjoying it on someone’s back porch on a warm afternoon, with a little Frank or Ella playing in the background.

WriteGal’s Rhubarb Mojitos

Makes roughly 10 drinks


  • 12 oz. rhubarb, fresh or frozen, cut into chunks
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. fresh lime juice
  • GOOD white rum
  • Club soda
  • fresh mint, as much as you can cut from your garden

Add rhubarb, sugar and water to saucepan and boil until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Strain into a container and press.

In a tall glass, add five or six mint leaves and muddle with a spoon.

Add one shot of rum, one shot of lime and one shot of rhubarb syrup. Fill the glass with ice and finish with club soda. Stir to combine and taste to see if you need more rhubarb syrup or lime juice. The drinks will be a light pink flavor, so wear a little pink to match. : )

And yes, we matched our drinks…and the napkins and plates. (Note: I normally wear mismatched socks) Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Jalapeno-garlic shrimp with mango salsa

I eat shrimp fairly often, yet I haven’t posted about this seafood in a while. Shrimp are the answer to my favorite spring/summer culinary question: What can I make that is fresh and quick? I recently applied this answer to a Martha Stewart recipe that includes a light marinade for shrimp perfect with rice, tacos or over a simple salad.

I paired this mildly spicy shrimp with soy-sesame seared green onions, rice and mango salsa (easy enough to make, but I let Whole Foods do the work for me). I love the combination of shrimp and tropical fruit.

Jalapeno-garlic shrimp

Serves 4


  • 1 lb. shrimp, 15 count, peeled and deveined
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely shopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice (1 lime)
  • 3 T EVOO
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • Chopped cilantro

Toss together shrimp, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice, 1 T EVOO. Season with salt and pepper. Marinade in fridge for 45 min., or while you are getting the rice started.

(Meanwhile, for the seared onions, heat nonstick skillet over medium-high, add 1 tsp EVOO, then 3-4 green onions, searing until caramelized. Off the heat, add 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil…done!)

Heat 2 T oil in large skillet over medium-high (I just wiped out the green-onion pan). Pour shrimp mixture into skillet and cook through, about 4 min. total. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

To serve, spoon rice on plate, then add shrimp, salsa and finish with green onion ribbons. Leftovers are great the next night!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Buttermilk spice cake with pear compote

A man once told me, “There is no word quite as lovely as buttermilk … it conjures up such warm and lovely feelings.”

As many of us discovered at an early age, buttermilk’s taste does not live up to that soft and sweet name. Instead, it tastes quite sour and will always remind me of the assisted-living home I worked at in high school (the residents ordered it with pepper sprinkled on top!).

This cake is not sour in the least. Instead, I believe the buttermilk adds a moisture and slight tang to balance the sweetness.

Adding lime zest, allspice, ginger, black pepper and ground star anise (which you’ll have to grind yourself) makes it just delightful, especially paired with a simple pear compote made with Boscs, sugar and lime juice.

The recipe recommended a dollop of creme fraiche on top, but I think it is fine without it. My only real complaint is that I don’t have a 1/8 tsp measure, so I don’t think I added enough of the spices and they were overwhelmed by the vanilla beans. Still quite tasty, I just recommend not skimping on the spices.

This recipe comes to you from Bon Appetit…

Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote


For pear compote —

  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 3 Bosc pears, peeled, quartered and cut into cubes


Mix sugar, lime and salt in heavy saucepan. Add pears and toss to coat. Cover and cook over medium-low until pears are just tender, 10-12 min. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

For spice cake —

  • 1 c. plus 1 T flour
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground whole star anise (or anise seeds)
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 three-inch piece of vanilla bean, split
  • 1/4 tsp grated lime zest
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 9-inch cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

Sift first nine ingredients into medium bowl. Set aside. In large bowl or Kitchenaid, beat butter until fluffy, then add sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add lime peel. Beat to blend. Beat in flourĀ  mixture alternately with buttermilk, in four additions. Scrape down bowl and mix thoroughly. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until browned on top and a tester comes out clean, approx. 30 min. Cool completely on wire rack.

Slide knife around edges to loosen, then invert on rack, peel parchment off and invert onto serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar.

To serve, slice a big piece of the moist cake and spoon pears on the side. Top with creme fraiche, although I think I prefer it without.

Num. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Penang curry

Make-you-own Thai takeout

My favorite place to find new cookbooks is the Barnes & Noble discount section. There, I find all sorts of beautifully photographed books for all cuisines. Recently, I picked up “The Big Book of Thai Curries” by Vatcharin Bhumichitr. It is food porn for Thai lovers.

I used this new book to make a Valentine’s Day dinner for my sweetie, who happens to love penang curry with tofu. The cookbook is authentic enough to have recipes for making the curry from scratch – but I don’t have a mortar and pestle, and I’m lazy. So I just bought some red curry from Whole Foods. I also picked up a box of firm tofu, a can of coconut milk, basil and fresh kaffir lime leaves (fun fact: the book tells me that kaffir limes have very little juice and they look like really bumpy limes).

I could not believe how yummy this dish turned out, and so close to what I’ve been ordering at Thai restaurants. Maybe most Thai restaurants use store-bought curries, too? (Another fun fact: the biggest difference between Thai and Indian curries is that Thai curries are “wet” or fresh, and Indian curries are dried)

I’ve rewritten the recipe to our liking and availability of ingredients…please try this if you don’t have any aversion to coconut milk (it can upset some people’s tummies)!

Chicken-tofu penang curry


  • 1 can coconut milk (not low-fat)
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 1/2 T red curry paste (I used Thai kitchen)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced thin
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves, depending on size
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 20 basil leaves, chopped or torn (about one large bunch)
  • Cooked white or brown rice (start this first because the meal cooks quickly)

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 4 T canola oil and add tofu, browning on all sides. Beware of splatter! When done, set aside.

In a small saucepan, gently heat coconut milk until steaming and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T oil. Add curry paste and stir-fry 2 min. Add chicken and stir-fry until lightly cooked, about 5 min. Stir in tofu, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar. Mix for 2 min. Add lime leaves, chilies and basil. Stir until basil is wilted and the flavors are combined, 5 min. Taste to see if it needs more sugar.

To serve, spoon rice on a plate or bowl and top with the curry. Garnish with extra basil leaves. (And do not eat the lime leaves). This serves 4-5.

I hope this book helps me get over my fear of Asian cooking – I already have a pork recipe picked out for later this week, so stay tuned!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Key lime cheesecake

The perfect bite.

How you know a cheesecake is good in one bite:

  1. The flavor is so pungent that your mouth starts salivating uncontrollably.
  2. The creaminess melts in your mouth like ice cream.
  3. It is so rich that you become full way too soon.

This dessert was one of the first things I learned to cook in college, and now it occurs to me that it’s kind of a weird recipe. Is cornstarch a normal ingredient for cheesecake? I don’t know, but it’s still delicious. I love tart citrus flavors mixed with the rich sweetness of cream cheese. And the gingernap crust is a natural compliment of flavors.

I made this for our Superbowl supper, but it’s probably more appropriate in summertime, when you can find real key limes. I, of course, just used fresh limes. Please don’t use bottled lime juice!

Key Lime Cheesecake


  • 1 1/2 c. ginger snap crumbs or graham cracker crumbs, or a combination of both (grind in food processor)
  • 6 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 24 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T grated lime zest (one lime)
  • 2/3 c. lime juice (about 6 limes)

Heat oven to 350.

Combine cookie crumbs and butter, press into bottom of springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then set aside. Cover bottom of pan with tin foil and place in roasting pan or large baking dish (for the water bath).

Lower oven to 300.

In a large bowl, beat with electric mixer the cream cheese, sugar, lime peel and cornstarch until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, until just smooth. Add key lime juice with mixer on low, finish mixing by hand. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Pour hot water around the cheesecake, coming halfway up the sides. Place the whole thing in the oven and bake for 60-65 minutes, until just set (still a little jiggly in the middle). Turn off the oven, open it a crack and leave cheesecake in for another 30 min. This will prevent it from cracking…

Look, ma, no cracking!

Remove to the fridge to chill overnight. Slice with a warmed knife and serve!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

p.s. Stay tuned for more Superbowl treats!