At this time of year, if I want to use Cilantro in a recipe I can’t just go to the garden and pick what I need. Usually when I buy a package of fresh Cilantro from the store, there is a lot more than the recipe calls for in the bunch. In the past, if I have time I have pulled the leaves off the extra Cilantro and frozen it. Cilantro is best used fresh, but frozen is better than dried (I’ve tried that too). I have heard of preserving fresh basil, another herb that is just not the same when not fresh, in olive oil and freezing it in ice cube trays. I decided to try that with today’s leftover Cilantro.
I’m making a recipe for Valentine’s Day today from a book that Tom and I were sent as a wedding gift from an anonymous giver – Tequila Chicken from “Barefoot Contessa Family Style” by Ina Garten. I had to juice enough limes, lemons and oranges to make a cup and a half of juice and I have a lot of pulp left. Citrus and Cilantro taste great together – what would happen if I pulverized the leftover Cilantro with the leftover pulp and froze it in ice cube trays to flavor future recipes? I’m already going to have to wash half my kitchen implements today – colander, salad spinner, garlic press, juicer, salad dressing emulsifier, George Foreman grill, mortar and pestle, etc. so what is one or two more?
Oh yeah that works, and it’s a lot less time-consuming than stripping all the leaves off the stems. I added 1 TBSP of grapeseed oil to help it stick together. I even have a fun little citrus wedge ice tray to freeze the mixture in! In the future I’m going to have a lot of fun adding these little wedges to soups, dressings, marinades, stir-frys, pilafs, sauces and who knows what else. I guess I just made Cilantro pesto, which is probably already a thing.
Last fall Tom and I had our first party at our house. It’s a shame that my photo of the drinks table didn’t turn out because I served some cranberry orange tea punch in Tom’s amazing mid-century modern punch bowl with molded decorative ice floating on top. I froze cranberry juice to make the ice and as a garnish I included fresh cranberries and orange slices. I had some fruit left over so I froze the remnants. I knew I’d think of something to do with them eventually.
As Valentine’s Day approached, I decided to make something in my Mom’s vintage heart copper mold. Tom likes gelatin (I’m not using Jello brand, there is nothing wrong with it but I shopped at Aldi, so I guess it’s proper to say “gelatin” and not “Jello”) and fruity flavors seemed to be something that would complement the chicken. I cooked the leftover orange slices and cranberries to make an infusion to use as the water in the gelatin recipe. That should pump up the flavor! I froze it until ready to use and then made the gelatin with it.
After filling the heart mold I put some of the leftover gelatin in the glass footed cups below. I remember my Mom getting a whole set of dishes in this style in the 1970s from Liberty supermarket. As I recall there were parts of the set that you could get each week if you spent a certain amount. Mom got tumblers in two sizes and plates in two sizes too. How do you like my space age retro hand mixer? It belonged to my Grandma and Grandpa Hasenfratz. It’s a little beat up looking but it works and I love it! I appreciate being able to incorporate retro items handed down from family members in my cooking. It wouldn’t be as meaningful or as much fun without them!
Cranberry/white cheddar cheese with sliced pears dusted with Fruit Fresh, cinnamon and stevia, with a glass of Italian spumante malt beverage
Salad greens with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette (also from the Barefoot Contessa book)
Tequila Lime Chicken
Strawberry/Cranberry/Orange Jello with fresh raspberries and whipped topping
That was fun to make and even more fun to eat! Looking forward to taking care of those leftovers…