Mezcal and Lime Chicken with Watermelon and Cotija Salad

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Mezcal and Lime Chicken with Watermelon and Cotija Salad - 10th Kitchen

Hey, Tequila Chicken… Yo. I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but here’s the thing.  I see how hard you’ve worked, but we’re pals, and I have to tell you something because no one else will: you need to retire. 

Remember Mezcal… Yeah, your smoky cousin from Oaxaca? That crazy one who’s always carrying a worm in a jar and keeps getting kicked out of Dunkin’ Donuts? Uh huh, that one. Don’t shoot the messenger, but he makes much better chicken.

I know, I KNOW–this has been your “thing” for a long time, but maybe you can do this gracefully. Become top dog at KFC or something. Okbyenow.

Mezcal and Lime Chicken with Watermelon and Cotija Salad - 10th Kitchen

…That right there was the roughest conversation I’ve had in a while, you guys. I still smell tequila tears on my shoulder, but it was worth it, because I meant every word.

You’re probably not familiar with mezcal unless you are a Drinker with a capital D. I’d still recommend you give it a go–it’s smoky, strange, and completely delicious. If you hate it, you can make this dish for lunch and dinner for, oh, I dunno… Two weeks.

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Cantaloupe and Greek Yogurt Tart with Mint Sugar

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Cantaloupe and Greek Yogurt Tart with Mint Sugar - 10th Kitchen

There’s a joke I’ve been meaning to tell you. Well… I tried to before, on Facebook, but no one bit–no one wants to be the “Who’s there?” person. I completely understand. So:

Q: Why do melons have big weddings?
A: Because they cantaloupe!

I’ll give you a minute to collect yourself before we move on to talking about this tart.

Cantaloupe and Greek Yogurt Tart with Mint Sugar - 10th Kitchen

…Okay.

The tart: it’s a good one! There’s some butter in the crust, but you could certainly use something that’s supposed to be better for you, like coconut oil. Otherwise, it’s all granola, creamy tart yogurt, honey, and fresh cantaloupe.

Or freshelope, am I right?

(I’m very much not right.)

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Chilled Honeydew and Avocado Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

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Chilled Honeydew and Avocado Soup with Crispy Prosciutto // 10th Kitchen

I ain’t mad about it, but this is a thing that happens every year. I wake up on September 1st to a social media feed full of pumpkin spice lattes and nostalgic “last of the summer” lunches, and I have to look outside. Sun? Check. Hot? My word, check. Now, I could drive to the nearest market to see what’s going on there, but I’m fairly sure it’s still all melons, corn, and the last of the stone fruit. Last still counts!

It’s like Groundhog Day with fewer furry animals and way too many orange cans. A pumpkin spice latte probably can’t be afraid of its own shadow, but… Maybe we could fling one off the roof of a tall building and see which way the cup lands? 

Chilled Honeydew and Avocado Soup with Crispy Prosciutto // 10th Kitchen

In short, “Hold up, you guys” is the name of my September game. I made soup that embodies this, and I’m giving myself double points for melon and basil, and one point for keeping it cool.

Another thing I need to tell you: I’m really, really pleased with how it came out. It would most certainly make it into my Summer ’14 Top Five list–and I’ve eaten a lot. 

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Raspberry Lambic Cake with Candied Pistachios

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Raspberry Lambic Layer Cake with Candied Pistachios - 10th Kitchen

Today, let’s discuss cake and beer!

Lambic is a style of Belgian beer that uses spontaneous fermentation and wild yeasts, as opposed to carefully cultivated varieties. It’s a feral monster, and usually quite tart. What most people are familiar with, if they’re familiar with lambic at all, is the fruity stuff I’m using here. It comes in varieties like cherry, apple, peach, and (jazz hands) raspberry. Flavored or unflavored, Belgian sours have my heart always and forever.

Raspberry Lambic Layer Cake with Candied Pistachios - 10th Kitchen

Fruity beer won’t endear you to the neighborhood beer snob, but this stuff is undoubtedly pleasant to drink. What you get with raspberry lambic is tart, crisp, pure fruit flavors.

So what can you do with an entire 750-ml bottle?

1. Get fancy-drunk by yourself or fancy-tipsy with a friend. Flute glasses are optional.

2. Make some unbelievable brunch drinks. Pineapple juice + peach lambic! Cherry lambic + limeade! Pear nectar and apple lambic, with a sprig of mint perhaps? If I were smarter, I’d flesh each of these out to a post BUT HEY. My natural gifts are pretty much limited to being able to help old people get stuff from the top shelf at Rite Aid. I’m working with what I got here.

3. Put it–all of it–into a cake. A delightful, not too sweet, lightly fruity, raspberry-studded (if you want) cake.

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Garbanzo, Dill, and Lemon Dip

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Garbanzo, Dill, and Lemon Dip - 10th Kitchen

This little appetizer came together in a flash after an unsuccessful cashew/padron pepper experiment. It was put on Earth to teach me a lesson, or at least remind me: simpler, cheaper, and faster is often better.

Not just marginally better, either–I’m talking “1994 Smashing Pumpkins compared to 2014 Smashing Pumpkins” better. (If you’re familiar with both–it’s ok if you’re not–and I have to tell you which is superior…. I’m melancholy and infinitely sad about it, but we have to break up. I’m sorry.)

Garbanzo, Dill, and Lemon Dip - 10th Kitchen

…It turns out that when I realize the story I’m telling isn’t terribly exciting, I resort to “heyyyy guys, remember that band? That band was good. I liked that band.”

My apologies–but I’ll tell you the rest of this harrowing tale anyway. Hours before a little gathering to which I said I’d bring dip, I buried the cashew goop in the back of my fridge and started from scratch anew. I was gonna rise again like a snack-conjuring phoenix, you know? It’s easy to be so emboldened when there’s always plan C (store-bought hummus).

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Hungarian Squash Soup

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 Hungarian Squash Soup -- 10th Kitchen

I finally figured out why I’m so into making soup lately. Besides the obvious–the obvious being that it tastes awesome and is good for your meat suit (meat suit = fun way to refer to your body). 

See, the big added bonus here is that soup is just boatloads of fun to decorate. Give me a plain cake or a bowl of soup, a crisper drawer full of random produce, and something creamy, and I’ll occupy myself for days (or until I get hungry–even food that is art isn’t safe around me).

Hungarian Squash Soup -- 10th Kitchen

Maybe I’ll just keep going on this path until all I’m posting here are soup-inspired cocktails served in bowls of cake. (I can imagine my elevator pitch right now: “Think bread bowls, but with cake and alcohol!”)

(I can also imagine being banned from elevators forever.)

Oddly, it wasn’t even very long ago that I didn’t care much for pureed soups. I’ve come to appreciate the purity and beauty of a simple, smooth blended mixture. It’s especially appropriate when it comes to chilled, summery versions–like this one. Cool, fresh, and full of the season’s produce. Just like us, right?

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