Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lychees! No, not leeches!

Don't panic, I don't have leeches.  I bought lychees!   It's Summertime and I have been eating my share of fruit.  It's incredibly refreshing, hydrating, and tasty on a hot 100 degree day like today!  On my trip to the Asian market, I bought a big bag of fresh lychees.  Yes, again, this another delicious fruit that I had in Thailand, but also ate a lot of growing up.  My Mom always used the fruit in Thai desserts and yum, it's soooo good!  Trust me.

Just in case you've never heard of it...

(According to Webster's Dictionary)  
Lycheeli·tchi also li·chee \ˈlē-(ˌ)chē, ˈlī-\  1 : the oval fruit of a Chinese tree (Litchi chinensis) of the soapberry family having a hard scaly reddish outer covering and sweet whitish edible flesh that surrounds a single large seed—called also lychee nut

Most people that have tried the lychee may have tried it in a martini at a Thai or sushi restaurant or sometimes you'll see it as a sorbet.  Lychee martinis seem to be a trendy thing right now.  A lot of times restaurants use the canned version for their popular libation.  While I won't pass up a lychee martini if its presented to me, the fresh, real-deal is the best!  They have a sweet, almost floral, tropical flavor with a grape-like texture.  It truly has a unique taste of its own.  I say a lychee tastes like...lychee.  
Lychees are low in calories - only 63 in 10 average-sized fresh ones, which also provide about 69 milligrams of vitamin C, more than you would get in a small orange or half a grapefruit.  Awesome, right?
I have also seen the fresh lychees at Whole Foods Market, and sometimes you can see them at your fancier grocery stores from time to time.  If you come across them don't be afraid to try it! 

So this is how it's done.  (please excuse my photos - they were taken with my iphone)

 Rinse the lychees under cool running water

Peel about a quarter off of the thin leathery skin at the top. Squeeze the bottom and pop the fruit into your mouth, being careful not to eat the seed in the middle.

The seed, or lychee nut.  Looks kinda like a kalamata olive, huh?

Here's a little spread I made for the hubby.  I like to have fresh fruit ready for him as a snack when he comes home from work.  It keeps him from snacking too much before its time for dinner. I stuck with a red theme: red cherries, dragon-fruit, and lychees!

 Yay, he loved it! 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of ... Dragon-fruit?

Happy 4th of July

Penn's Landing

So, yesterday, Allan and I went to Penn's Landing to watch the amazing fireworks display that were over the Delaware River.  We packed our bikes in the back of our car and parked at his work, allowing us to just ride around the area and avoid all of the messy traffic.  It was a great idea.  We were able to maneuver around herds of people and look at things in the area.  Allan showed me lots of ships and boats in the area and told me a little about each of them.  He is becoming quite the mariner.  ;)  We had a fabulous time; the night, water and fireworks were gorgeous - and it was very romantic!  :)
Beforehand, I made Allan stop by the Asian Market to get some things.  We saw that there were lots of fun exotic fruits that Allan had not tried (that I love) and had to get! I purchased a few other things, including these seaweed snacks that I'm ridiculously addicted to, roasted black sesame seeds (so I can make more of that yummy cabbage salad), and some candied ginger (great for a sore-throat or nausea).  Random, but fun nonetheless.

seaweed snacks/chips: another not-so-normal (but great for you!) addiction of mine (Thanks, Nancy!)

I bought some, well "a" dragon-fruit, which obviously isn't local (we payed $7.00 for one piece of fruit!).  I joked with the lady at the register that we must have been paying for the shipping, but I don't think she understood me.  Then I felt old saying that - ugh, it sounded like something embarrassing my Mom would say!  The dragon-fruit doesn't fall far from the tree...haha!
Anyways, I try to buy local and seasonal things as much as possible, but Allan really wanted to try it, so we got it.  I think I've told him a couple of dozen times about how it was one of my favorite types of fruit that I had in Thailand.  It may just because of the name.  Dragon-fruit. exotic.
When you go to the Asian market, there are just some things that you can't get anywhere else and you just have to try it.

So this is the Dragon fruit.  Gnarly looking fella, huh?  The outside is a pretty red with wavy tendrils, that sort of resembles a dragon's beard.  Well, at least all of the dragons I've seen.  ;)

Cut it in half, then scoop out the soft, white flesh with a spoon. Notice the black seeds in the middle - it's similar to the seeds in kiwi.

I like to dice it up and put back in the halves for a pretty presentation.  I used little bamboo knotted toothpicks for easy pickin's.

The flavor has been compared to a strawberry and pear mix, also melon and kiwi.  It really has its own distinct thing going.  For a fruit that looks so fantastically exotic from the outside, it is actually quite... bland.  Not bad by any means, just simple and delicate. I think it tastes best chilled.  It mixes really well with other fruit to make a beautiful fruit salad.  I think it would be awesome mixed with freshly cut pineapple, mango and papaya for a tropical feel. Shock your friends by adding this to your fruit salad!

Dragon fruit is extremely high in anti-oxidants and are a rich source of Vitamin C.  Its also low in calories and high in fiber, while the seeds are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids.  They  are great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure as well as excreting heavy metal toxins from the, I'm not talking Metallica or Iron Maiden here.  This fruit is great for you, try it if you ever get the chance!



Friday, July 2, 2010

Orange Sesame Cabbage Salad

Try this yummy Orange Sesame Cabbage Salad in place of your boring old cole-slaw this summer.  I give it two thumbs up!  It's super tasty, simple, and healthy (no fatty mayo).  Its great to take along on a picnic or use it to top a salmon burger - like I did! (I used the combo orange-pineapple juice carton and toasted white sesame seeds because that was all I had, and it came out great!)
A zesty summer salad recipe from the Gaiam Café Kitchen.
Serves 6 to 8
Salad ingredients:
1 head Napa cabbage, chopped
1 head red cabbage, chopped
1 red pepper, cut julienne
1 scallion, chopped
½ pound bean pods, cut in halves or thirds
1 cup slivered toasted almonds
2 T black sesame seeds
Dressing ingredients:
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 nub of ginger, thumb size
1 orange (to zest)
1 lime (to zest)
4 T sesame oil
1 cup vegetable oil
Combine all prepared salad ingredients into a large bowl and set aside. Once dressing is prepared, mix it in thoroughly with salad. Best served chilled.
Dressing preparation:
Zest nub of ginger into the blender. Add rest of the ingredients to blender, excluding the oils. Blend for 2 minutes. Slowly add sesame oil, then the vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper.