English Cucumbers, same refreshing veg with less seeds
While I love all cucumber varieties, I am partial to English cucumbers because of their sweetness, excellent texture, and low seed count. These beauties are so full of crunch, texture, and sweetness that I often center dishes around them, rather than use them as a garnish. English cucumbers can be de-skinned (carefully and with a sharp knife) and used as wrappers for sushi and summer rolls. English cucumber tzatziki is great as a dip, but it also makes a gourmet, elevated replacement for mayo on sandwiches and burgers, and it’s absolutely beautiful on top of grilled salmon in place of rich hollandaise. English cucumbers also hold up very well grilled or stir fried, almost like zucchini, and the delicious cucumber flavor concentrates as the moisture evaporates. My favorite variation of this is Szechuan stir-fried English cucumber with chilies and peanuts. Lastly, English cucumbers are a an interesting addition to cocktails. Throw a bunch of cucumber into a blender or food processor, push them through a sieve, and collect the “cucumber water” for cucumber gin gimlets, and refreshing cucumber and mint mojitos.
Cucumber, mint, and basil refresher
This cocktail is Springtime in a glass. Fresh, alive, and just the thing to take the thaw away from your cold, winter bones. Extra cucumber water and simple syrup can be stored in the freezer in ice cube trays for future cocktail parties!
1 English cucumber, cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
½ cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 shot gin (I prefer Hendricks for this cocktail)
½ shot elderflower liqueur
½ lime, juiced
club soda, to taste
Combine the sugar and water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the mint and basil and simmer for a few minutes. Pour the mix into a bowl and store in the refrigerator until cold. Once cold, remove the herbs.
Put the English cucumber chunks into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Strain the processed cucumber through a fine mesh strainer to remove the pulp and just use the juice. You can also use cheesecloth to get an even more finely-filtered cucumber water. Set aside.
Make the cocktail: Combine gin, elderflower liqueur, 1 shot cucumber water, and lime juice in a shaker. Add ½ shot simple syrup with a bit of ice. Shake well and taste. Adjust for desired sweetness. Strain over tall rocks glass filled with ice. Top with club soda