Archive | drinks RSS feed for this section

Rye Thyme Cocktail ~*Recipe ReDux*~

22 Jul

IMG_1841

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is: “Fresh from the Garden: The season of bountiful produce has arrived. Whether your produce comes from the farmers’ market, a CSA share, or a plot of dirt out back, show how you are using fresh July fruits or veggies. And if you have gardening successes – or failures – please share!” 

It seems that every year I try to produce a mini urban windowsill “garden.” In years past, I’ve tried my hand at growing dill (didn’t make it past adolescence) and nasturtium (got one or two flowers), and replanting a basil plant from the grocery store (the leaves grew back teeny tiny and few and far between).

This year, my snap pea plant grew about 4 snap peas before the plant decided it had enough of this New York City heat and died on me last week. My peppermint is barely hanging on right now, and the tarragon is looking a tad limp.

IMG_1832

But, somehow the thyme is looking good. So, I will count my blessings and use it while it’s hot! Continue reading

Advertisements

Cherry Balsamic Shrub

14 Jul

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Have you ever tried a shrub? Not the woody plant shrub, but the “drinking vinegar” shrub?

A shrub is a drink made of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Some shrubs also contain alcohol. The sugar, acid, and optional alcohol preserve the fruit, which was one of the original purposes of a shrub. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was a means of preserving fruit long past its picking. Shrubs were popular in Colonial America, mixed with cool water to provide a pick-me-up on hot summer days (source: Serious Eats).

I first saw shrub on the menu at Astoria’s The Queens Kickshaw about a year ago, and I finally went back to taste one.

After an exciting bike ride from West Harlem through Randall’s Island and finally into Astoria, I took a pit stop at The Queens Kickshaw to scarf down a grilled cheese and a strawberry shrub (they also have golden raisin shrub available now). The shrub gets served with seltzer, and tastes like a homemade vinegary soda.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

To make a shrub, you need a hefty amount of sugar, but you also need a hefty amount of vinegar. The sugar is really there to preserve the fruit and mute the vinegar sting. If you are worried about the high sugar content, a small amount of shrub goes a long way in a drink, so you only need a little bit of concentrate to reap a lot of flavor.

To make a shrub at home: Combine fruit with sugar, let it sit, macerate, let it sit. Two days later, add some vinegar. Store at room temperature for about a week, shaking or stirring at least once a day. After a week, strain it, refrigerate it, drink it.

I now have Cherry Balsamic Shrub at the ready in my fridge for a sweltering summer day refreshment. This shrub has a strong balsamic flavor, so if you are not a big balsamic fan, use more cider vinegar in your ratio.

To drink a shrub, you can:

-Mix it with seltzer and ice. About 1 part shrub to 4-6 parts seltzer, depending how strong you want it.

-Make a shrub cocktail. I did cherry balsamic shrub + gin + seltzer. Bourbon and cherry would work, too.

-Cook with it. I added a tablespoon of cherry balsamic shrub to my clafoutis batter. Would go nice in a roast chicken, too. Or drizzled over ice cream or in oatmeal. 

 -Drink it straight up (super concentrated and strong that way). 

I am still new to the slightly fermented vinegar drink thing, but I am happy with my first batch. Of course, you can experiment with different fruits and different vinegars.  I recently tasted a cucumber serrano chile shrub at a bar that was both crisp and fiery.

Don’t forget your re-usable stainless steel straw!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Cherry Balsamic Shrub

recipe from Carey at Reclaiming Provincial 

makes about 1- 1 1/2 cups

1 cup cherries, halved and pitted

3/4 cup granulated sugar

5-10 black peppercorns

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Combine fruit, peppercorns, and sugar in a bowl or jar, stirring to evenly coat the fruit. Allow mixture to sit for about 1 hour, then macerate until everything is nice and broken up (I used my cocktail muddler). Cover and let sit for 24 hours. (At room temperature is fine, but feel free to stick it in the fridge too.)

After 24 hours, macerate the mixture again, crushing the fruit as much as possible. At this point, you can add the vinegars immediately, or let it sit for another 24 hours. (Carey recommends giving it the additional 24 hours, as she think this extra fermentation time does nice things for the final flavor. I agree!)

When ready, add the vinegars and stir well. Store at room temperature for 7–9 days, giving it a good stir (or light shake if using a jar) each day. When finished, pour the mixture through a fine sieve (you can use cheesecloth but I didn’t have any so I just used the sieve) then transfer to a clean jar or container. Store syrup in the fridge.

To mix: Add 1 part syrup to 4-6 parts seltzer. 1 part gin or bourbon optional.

Drink Up! Green Smoothie

2 Jul

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Well I finally gave green smoothies a whirl at home, and…they’re great!

I first started adding just a small handful of baby spinach into a smoothie, but now I’ve expanded to kale and purslane.

A few weeks ago, I got a deal at the farmer’s market: two huge bundles of greens for $5. I bought collards and kale. I cooked the collards, and used some of the kale for salads.  I washed, de-stemmed and tore the remaining kale leaves into pieces and stuck them in a ziplock bag in my freezer (my friend Brianna gave me that genius tip!). Now I have a cold green leafy veggie in my freezer for when the smoothie pangs hit (I would imagine that frozen kale is easy to toss into a soup or pasta recipe, too).

Having frozen smoothie ingredients on hand  (i.e. chopped kale, chopped banana, frozen fruit) is key to keeping things cold. Sometimes I add ice at the very end to get the smoothie extra cold, but it is not always necessary.

If you are wary of the greens, don’t worry because you can’t taste them, especially if you use strong fruits like banana or mango and a nut butter like peanut or almond. The greens just make the smoothie turn, well, green.

Tip: blend the greens with the liquid first. Get it really nice and blended before adding in the remaining fruits and accouterment. This helps decrease the leafiness of the greens. I just use a regular blender.

A half portion of this smoothie fills me up in the morning when I drink it with coffee. I also make the full serving for a light lunch before a workout. Experiment with different greens and fruits and add-ins like chia seeds. Have fun, stay cool, and drink up!

Drink Up! Green Smoothie

Makes 1 large portion, or 2 small snack-size portions

1 cup of greens (I used 3/4 cup frozen kale and 1/4 cup fresh purslane)

1 cup liquid (I used 3/4 cup low-fat milk and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt)

1 heaping cup of fruit (I used about 1 cup frozen banana pieces and 1 poached fig)

1 heaping tablespoon nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter, but almond butter is great in smoothies, too)

optional: Ice

optional: a sprinkle of chia seeds (I didn’t use any in this smoothie because purslane is high in omega-3 fatty acids)

Blend the greens and the liquid in the blender. Get it nice and blended, may take 1-2 minutes. Next, add in the fruit and the nut/seed butter and the chia seeds (if using). Blend again to incorporate. If you want the smoothie extra cold, add in a few ice cubes and blend again. You can top the smoothie with extra chia seeds if you like.

 NOTE: The full recipe, if you use nut butter, could add up to 350-400 calories, making this smoothie more of a mini meal than a snack. 

Kitchen Madness: Maple Bourbon Cider, Beef Stroganoff made Healthy, Pumpkin Millet Bread, and Sausage Pesto Ravioli

13 Dec

I’ve been feeling the back-and-forth bounce. I’ve been trying to cook comfort foods but with a healthy twist. Sometimes it totally works (millet pumpkin bread=phenomenal), sometimes it totally flops (made a coconut kale salad but added way to much large flake unsweetened coconut). And sometimes it just makes you crave a cocktail.

Maple Bourbon Cider. Got this recipe from Shutterbean and it is absolutely perfect. She also has a recipe for homemade amaretto which I look forward to making soon!

There’s apple cider, maple syrup, lemon juice, and bourbon. Lately I’ve been diggin’ Bulleit Bourbon. Good stuff. Oh, and I do not have a cocktail shaker, so I used my water bottle. Worked like a gem AND its portable 😉

This was a pre- (and post!) dinner cocktail. Yes, I made it twice in the same night, but don’t worry, I shared. Dinner was Mustard Green Beans with Beef Stroganoff made with 0% Greek yogurt instead of 21302983% sour cream. Definitely not as rich and creamy as the traditional, but still tasted great and saved on calories and fat (I needed the cals for my second cocktail). Thanks, Ellie!

And the smell of simmering mushrooms and onions with wine and beef broth is so Cozy. Winter. Night.

As if all of this cooking and eating wasn’t enough, I made Pumpkin Bread with millet, whole wheat pastry flour, coconut oil (no saturated fat), and honey instead of sugar. A moist cake with some crunch from the millet (adds fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium). I got the recipe from Cookie+Kate. Y to the UM. With an extra drizzle of honey on top.

It has been fun trying out your recipes, Tracy, Ellie, and Kate.

All of this experimenting in the kitchen makes a girl want to kick off her shoes and wake up with someone else cooking a meal for her. And this girl got exactly that. Ravioli, spinach, sausage, pesto, cream, black pepper. Ah, now this is bliss.

Happy Eating, everyone!

Cinnamon “Toast” Biscotti

1 Feb


Before I get to biscotti, I have two important drinks to discuss:


1. Kombucha. After about 5 or so bouts of trying this mushroom-bacteria-fermented drink, I still cannot get myself to enjoy it. I liked the snazzy beer-looking bottle and I was intrigued by the idea of the pineapple ginger combo; however the taste was just a no-can-do. One sip was all it took to make me cringe. I apologize, but I just don’t think I can become a Kombucha drinker, something about floating cultures in my beverage irks me.


2. Milk. I can definitely dig milk. Lately I can drink a LOT of milk. I especially like to put a tablespoon of chocolate sorbet in my milk and stir until dissolved. The result? A glass of refreshing chocolate milk. These days I’m also into dunking cinnamon “toast” biscotti in my milk. Moo.

These biscotti taste like cinnamon toast but in cookie-form. Crunchy cookie form that turns into sweet, milk-absorbing (also tea/coffee/hot chocolate-absorbing) cookie form. Cinnamon sugar heaven.

Oh, and if you are on a biscotti kick, these lemon cornmeal biscotti with cranberries and walnuts really hit the spot, too.

Cinnamon “Toast” Biscotti

from Joy the Baker, my hero
recipe found on epicuriuos.com
makes about 24 cookies

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

For Topping:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 beaten egg (for brushing biscotti before baking)

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Also whisk together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the down and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed.

Divide the dough in two on the two making sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1 1/2-inch wide log. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle very generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Let biscotti cool until able to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices. Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Some Odds n’ Ends From Amsterdam

30 Jul


Amsterdam in June feels like February in California–COLD. Thus, after an afternoon of meandering throughout town, a tall glass of hot chocolate was in order.


My buddy Sam and poked our heads into the closest cafe to grab a glass of the good stuff and a warm safe-haven from the chilly weather.

Sam modeling with the hot chocolate

Since I was only in Amsterdam for one day, I did not have a chance to taste all of the typical Amsterdam dishes such as: raw herring, Dutch pancakes (similar to a French crepe), poffertjes (much smaller than Dutch pancakes, and they are puffed and served with butter and powdered sugar) and licorice. I did, however, taste stroopwafels. Oh stroopwafels, how I love thee.


Two buttery thin waffle cookies sandwiched together with a layer of thick syrupy honey molasses. Oh man, so freaking yummy. Very dense though, upon eating more than one stroopwafel, you can definitely feel your belly get heavy.

I also went to the Heineken Brewery, where I got at least 3 beers to sample. I participated in a beer tasting where the “expert” taught me a bit about foam and presentation of the beer. Also, I learned that the beer is actually 95% water and the rest is a combination of hops, barely, and yeast. I got to go into a room that simulated the experience of a beer being bottled–the room shook and we got splashed a bit. Silly, kitschy, fun.

Speaking of silly, kitschy, and fun…I went on a “booze cruise” with my traveling group and yes, it is what you think it is. A lovely little cruise along the canals of Amsterdam complete with endless wine and beer. To kick off the cruise, we were given little bottles of Flugel.


According to this website, “Flugel combines vodka with the taste of black currant and the energy boost of guarana, B vitamins, and caffeine. This “healthy” vodka is currently available in The Netherlands, Belgium, and France. It is targeted to youth partygoers. The tiny 20ml bottle is actually the size of your palm, and could be easily concealed inside a pocket. The Flugel contains 10 percent alcohol by volume.”

Oh, and we also got to munch on these yummy little pastry snacks while sipping on our wine, beer, and Flugel…

A captured moment: the blonde bombshells with their drinks and pastry snacks 

For dinner, we ate at a floating Chinese restaurant, the Sea Palace. Honestly, I was quite disappointed. Ok, the decor was nice but I was not impressed with the food at all. It just did not get me excited and it tasted sub-par. The rice was super buttery, too, which I do not usually expect from a Chinese style rice, even for fried rice. I guess I am just spoiled with good Chinese food back in the U.S.? Oh well, it was an experience nonetheless.



Stepping outside of Amsterdam for a morning, we visited the quaint village of Edam. We visited a cheese and clog shop, two very significant symbols for this town and for the Netherlands in general.

First, this adorable woman gave us an overview of how they make their cheese…(we got to taste like 10 different cheeses, too!).

And boy oh boy did it smell strongly of cheese in there!


Then, this studly man demonstrated the skillful art of clog-making. He makes it look so easy.


Stylish, eh?
There were clogs everywhere used for everything including cigarette ashtrays!
The town of Edam was small but lovely. Cheese n’ clogs aside, I had a spectacular day riding “granny bikes” around the village.





A Quick Glimpse of Roma

29 Jul

Roma. Rome. Italy. I saw pretty much all of the touristy sites of Rome in just about 12 hours. 12 hours of non-stop walking, photo-snapping, historical site-seeing Italian craziness.

Ok so I was in Roma for more than 12 hours. I was there for about a day and a half, which really is not much. The first night I did a quick walking tour where I saw the Spanish steps, the Fontana di Trevi, the Pantheon, and some swanky chic shops amongst other famous Roman hallmarks. Oh yes, and there were people roasting chestnuts on the streets!


The next day began with a tour of the fascinating and huuuugeee Vatican City complete with St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and quite possibly my favorite part…a statue of this lady, a woman of great fertility as symbolized by her many supple breasts:


With a full day still ahead of us, we stopped for a quick bite of lunch before moving on to more sites. A quick bite of cheap, good pizza to-go. I can’t even remember the name of the place. You choose your flavor, and you pay by the weight. The Vatican took a lot out of me and I was super hungry so I ate 5 fairly large squares. I was full for hours and hours afterward.

Cheese with Prosciutto and Wilted Greens

Roasted Eggplant with Herbs 

After lunch, it was off to the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Catacombs…Then, we browsed around one favorite places: the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, otherwise known as the “wedding cake.” I think the reason I like it so much is because it is called the “wedding cake,” and fittingly so, it really does look like a cake:


After a full day in the sweltering sun, it suddenly started to pour rain. Luckily my traveling companions and I ducked in to a quaint little restaurant at just the right time. We were seated outside under a covered awning, which was quite nice because we were sitting and we were dry and we could watch the rain trickle down all around us.

Bring on the drinks! Bright red Campari and Italian Prosecco took the edge off our sore bodies and set the mood for a lovely dinner.


I ordered a simple pasta dish–tonarelli shaped pasta with (mostly butter) black pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Yeahhh baby!
One of my dining companions ordered another simple pasta dish…spaghetti pomodoro with fresh basil and a fried noodle on top. In case you haven’t got the message yet, simple is the name of the game here.

So there you have it, a quick glimpse of Roma. Ciao tutti!