Tuesday, July 19, 2011

maybe cucumber coolers with agave simple syrup?

it is cucumber week at summerfest and i cannot wait to see all the recipes from the participating bloggers.  i love cucumbers, but i must confess that i forget about them sometimes.  i use them on sandwiches...have a favorite spicy cucumber salad that i shared last year...add them to my greek quinoa salad (a crucial ingredient for regular greek salads too)....and, of course, they are a staple in my summer gazpacho.  my friend rachelle made delicious cucumber tea sandwiches for book club last week and that recipe is definitely being added to my list of cucumber ideas.  but then i start to lose steam.  what else can i do with this cold, crunchy, refreshing vegetable?

cucumbers contain mostly water and are a good source of vitamin C, silica, potassium and magnesium. their peel is full of beneficial fiber so i almost always use them peel on.  i did some research regarding their other health benefits and was thrilled to find this review from the world's healthiest foods site:

"The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating, a must for glowing skin . Cucumbers are also used topically for various types of skin problems, including swelling under the eyes and sunburn. Two compounds in cucumbers, ascorbic acid and caffeic acid, prevent water retention, which may explain why cucumbers applied topically are often helpful for swollen eyes, burns and dermatitis. "

they had me at "a must for glowing skin".  the article also reminded me of my cucumber cooler drink....perfect for the hot days of summer.  i keep the cucumber in the refrigerator until the last minute and ensure the other ingredients are prepped and ready to go.  then i peel and chop the cucumber and quickly throw everything in the blender, process and serve immediately so that it is ice cold when i serve.  this recipe makes 2 drinks but is easily doubled or quadrupled.  perfect for a party...(and it is pretty tasty turned into a cocktail too)  note...this drink is one of the few times i peel cucumbers in recipes...the little bits of peel aren't especially nice in the drink ....but, if i am making it just for me and want all the health benefits possible, i skip the peeling step and call it a smoothie.

i also make an agave simple syrup to sweeten the drink.  most simple syrups are equal parts water and sugar cooked until the sugar dissolves.  i am trying to avoid white sugar whenever possible and decided to experiment with agave.  since agave is already a liquid, it is not absolutely necessary to combine with the water, but i find that the reduced sweetness and thinner consistency works better in drinks.  try the simple syrup if you have the time...if not, just add regular organic raw agave nectar...either way is delicious...

let me know what you think....and please share your favorite cucumber recipes in the comments section below.
cucumber cooler with agave simple syrup
agave simple syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup organic agave nectar
combine water and agave nectar in small saucepan.  heat over low heat just until simmering.  turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.

1 organic english cucumber (or 2 garden cucumbers)
1/4 cup water
juice from 1 small lime
2 tbsp chopped mint
1/4 cup agave simple syrup (refrigerate the rest for another use)
4 ice cubes
mint leaves for garnish

peel cucumber.  cut a few thin slices and reserve for garnish.  cut the remaining cucumber into large pieces.
add all ingredients except garnishes to blender.  pulse until liquefied, thick and frothy.  serve immediately garnished with the mint and cucumber slices.
**note...this drink becomes a delicious cocktail by adding vodka, gin or tequila!

now it is your turn to participate in summer fest. simply leave your cucumber tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below, and then go visit food network and do the same same.  be sure to check out all the other participating bloggers.  their recipes sound amazing!

Pinch My Salt: Chilled Cucumber, Kefir and Avocado Soup
What’s Gaby Cooking: Cucumber-Basil Gimlet
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Radish-Cucumber Crostini
Big Girl Small Kitchen: Spicy Cucumber Salad with Shallot, Ginger and Mint
Grecian Kitchen: Summer Cucumber Salad
And Love It Too: Cucumber, Mint and Watermelon Salad
Cooking With My Kid: Cucumber Limeade
FN Dish: Summer Fest: Cucumber Recipes
Healthy Eats: Cool Cucumber Soup
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Cucumber Cherry Salsa
Cooking With Elise: Green Tea Cucumber Pops
Glory Foods: Cucumber and Shrimp Boat
Virtually Vegan Mama: Fire-Roasted Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho
Food2: When Life Gives You Cucumbers, Make a Cucumber Cocktail
Cooking Channel: Cucumbers Stuffed with Crab-Mango Salad
Recipe Girl: Bread and Butter Pickles
Taste With the Eyes: Spicy Pickled Cucumbers with Wakame and Garlic Blossoms
Virtually Homemade: Cold Thai Cucumber-Mint Soup
Add a Pinch: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
The Cultural Dish: Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Sauce and Salad
Daily*Dishin: Cool n’ Zesty Cukes: 7 Minute Summer in a Jar
Daydreamer Desserts: Cubanita Margarita
Purple Cook: Cucumber Gazpacho with Indian Flavored Shrimp Relish
Indian Simmer: Cucumber at its Best with Chaat Masala
Big Apple Nosh: Quick and Easy Homemade Pickles
Sweet Life Bake: Agua de Pepino
The Sensitive Epicure: Tzatziki with Grilled Gluten-Free Pitas and Fresh Cucumbers and Peppers
A Way to Garden: Cucumber-Growing Q&A and the Best Pickles
Cooking with Books: Summer Fest: Cucumbers


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style™ "

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Nicole said...

This sounds so refreshing! I have some extra cucumbers in the fridge so I might make myself a cucumber cooler this afternoon!

Vijitha said...

Refreshing drink for the summer. I have half a bottle of Tres agave nectar left. I am going to use it to make this non-alcoholic drink.

PS: I am having a giveaway on Tres Agave nectar, if you are interested please hop over to comment.

Elise Johnson said...

Feel like I'm in such great company with the FN Summer Fest bloggers. I can hardly wait to try your Cucumber Coolers! I love agave nectar as well and used it in my Green Tea Cucumber Pops!

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks nicole,
your cucumber/avocado soup sounds delicious. i have extra cucumbers from this week’s post prep…and a couple of avocados! sounds like your soup is on my menu tonight…thanks,

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks vs...enjoy your drink. i will try to win the agave!!

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

i am so glad you commented. i was just reading your green tea cucumber pops post. how good do they sound? am adding this to my weekend menu... perfect for pool parties.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great information on cucumbers. I love that stuff.

In honor of cucumber week, I'll add this idea: Chicken with Pickle Sauce


Best, Charity

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

charity..first of all, i love your blog...thanks for introducing it to me. second...how odd, yet how good does your recipe sound? pickle sauce? will definitely give this a try...

Brenda said...

The temperature was 98 degrees today (it felt like 105) so I made your cooler. It was so good, cold and refreshing. I cheated and just used agave from the bottle. Thanks, Brenda

carolinaheartstrings said...

That looks so refreshing. I cannot wait to try it out. Great pictures.

Dental hygienist said...

I used have dry skin. I started drinking cucumber juice and also applied cucumber mask and I realised that my skin was becoming much better. It was totally. hydrated. Now, I make it a point to include cucumber in my juice, food, facial mask, lotion. Thanks for the other cucumber suggestions in this post. It is really useful for me.

Zoe said...

thanks vs...enjoy your drink. i will try to win the agave!!

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