Friday, July 20, 2012

Cucumber Mint Gimlet and Bacon Leek Tart

I realize that I have mostly been posting recipes on this little blog.  I didn't intend for it to become a food blog, but honestly, cooking is the main thing that we do for entertainment around here.  It works out nicely since I like to cook, we love food, and most of the restaurants around here suck.  So without further apologies, here is your Friday happy hour post.

This week has been a long one, friends.  It's one of those weeks where you start wishing that tomorrow was Friday on Tuesday.  I don't really know what my problem is, I don't even have a job.  Seriously, I am about one quarter of the amount of busy that I was when I lived Portland.  But I still really look forward to weekends because it means I get to spend more time with K, and also this summer Stats class has really amped it up, so not having to do 4-5 hours of homework a night on the weekend is pretty awesome.

Anyway, to help take the sting out of the fact that it was only Wednesday, I decided to throw us a mid week happy hour.  Since I still have a bunch some gin lying around from the Lavender Collins, I have been looking for some other gin cocktails to try.  We also had a few ingredients from our CSA that I wanted to use up, so I came up with HH menu of a Bacon, Leek and Gruyere Tart and Cucumber Mint Gimlets.
App Happy
I was excited to use our cucumbers, and a cucumber drink just sounded so refreshing.  I thought it would make it EVEN MORE refreshing if I incorporated mint into it somehow.  I am really loving the idea of making flavored simple syrups since I discovered how easy it is, so I decided to make a mint syrup for this drink.  Don't worry, this one is even easier than the lavender syrup from last week.

Mint Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup of fresh mint, torn into large pieces

Place all ingredients in a small pot, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Take off the heat and let it steep for about 20 minutes.  Strain to remove mint.  Makes about 1 cup.

Simmering syrup

Cucumber Mint Gimlet

3 oz Gin
1.5 oz mint simple syrup
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup diced cucumber 

Once you have the syrup made, these come together pretty quickly.  Peel, seed and dice 1/2 of a small cucumber (or all of it if you plan on having a few of these).  Place the cucumber into your shaker with your lime juice and muddle.  Add your gin, mint syrup and ice.  Shake to combine and strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a sprig of mint or a slice of cucumber if you want to get fancy.

Beautiful but Deadly:  these guys are sneakily strong

Bacon, Leek and Gruyere Tart

I wanted to use puff pastry as the crust for this, but for some reason I couldn't find it whenever I was at the store.  I saw some phyllo dough, and figured it was pretty much the same.  It's not.  Also, I now sort of hate phyllo dough, it's a huge pain in the ass to work with.  So, if I make this again, I'm going to try it with puff pastry.  But the phyllo did end up giving this a super crispy crust, which was nice.


2 small leeks, diced
2-3 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
2-3 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
6 sheets of phyllo dough
2 tablespoons butter, melted

I would recommend having everything prepped and ready to go before working with your phyllo, as I said it is a pain in the ass and I totally burnt my bacon while I was trying to multi-task.  To prepare your leeks, cut off the root and and the tops where the leafy green part starts.  Slice into small rings, and put them in a bowl of water and swish them around to clean and separate some of the rings.  It also might help to slice the whole thing lengthwise first, which I didn't do, but would have made cleaning them easier.

Start by placing one sheet of phyllo dough on a cookie sheet lines with parchment paper, brush with butter, and top with another sheet of phyllo.  Repeat until you have about 6 layers.  Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese,  then top with the leeks and bacon, followed by the rest of the cheese.  Place into a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes.  Watch carefully, this cooks fast.  Remove when the edges are golden brown.

This was a nice mid week happy hour, and pretty easy to throw together.  But now it's the real weekend, so go enjoy it!
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