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Six New Recipes in Two Other Places

22 Aug

Things have been buzzing along steadily at Indie Fixx and Portland Farmers Market, the two other places where I write and develop recipes.  Throughout the summer I have been focusing on seasonal recipes for both places, and the results have been delicious.

Starting off with Indie Fixx, where I write a regular column called Melting Pot, there have been reflections on my undying love of sour cherries,

Sour Cherry and Ginger Galette 

a trio of ideas concerning what one might choose to do with a fresh batch of homemade mango lemonade,

Mango Lemonade Three Ways 

and an admission that, lately, I just can’t stop making pizza

Broccoli Rabe and Soft Baked Egg Pizza 

At the Portland Farmers Market website, where I write a regular column about making delicious farmers market meals for only $10, I have spent mornings waxing breathless about bread pudding (to illustrate my point about how much I loved this meal, it bears mentioning that this is the second time I have talked about this bread pudding here),

Rhubarb Bread Pudding, and Spinach & Potato Frittata 

afternoons spreading the joys of Southern grits,

Grits with Sauteed Chard, and Potato & Pickled Vegetable Salad in a Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette  

and summer days trying to convince everybody to grill everything, all the time,

Tomato, Basil, & Corn Salad, Grilled Peaches with Basil Sauce 


Special Tea

11 Aug

My husband is not a coffee drinker.  Believe me, he wants to be a coffee drinker, but the properties of coffee and the metabolic rate at which he processes those properties are not at all compatible.  Whereas I can drink two cups of coffee and feel fine, though ever-so-slightly more excitable than I might normally be, my ever suffering husband will have half a cup of coffee, then immediately start to sweat like a marathon runner being chased by a hungry tiger.  After the sweating, we then have insatiable mouth dryness.  After the mouth dryness, we have stomach gurgling.  After the stomach gurgling, we stop sharing information.

Tea, thankfully, does not cause my husband to suffer any ill effects.  The only beef he has with tea, in fact, is that, though it makes him feel much, much better than a cup of coffee ever could, it just doesn’t taste as satisfying as a cup of coffee.  As a huge, unapologetic fan of coffee, I greatly sympathize with this sentiment.  However, when we were in San Francisco, we came across a tiny little tea shop in Chinatown that offered dozens of different types of loose leaf teas, all of which were available for sampling, and all of which made a very compelling argument concerning the deliciousness of tea vs. the deliciousness of coffee.

The selection of teas on display at Blist Tea is phenomenal.  We were tempted by several varieties of earthy, dark oolong tea, but when presented with the heavenly scent of this Jade Black tea, I could tell my husband had made his decision.  With its fantastic aroma of lychee, peach, and jasmine, it was difficult to abandon the idea of this tea once we were acquainted with it.

We ended up leaving with a 2-ounce bag of Jade Black tea.  Though 2 ounces of tea does not sound like a large haul, it bears mentioning that, being a collection of dried leaves and flowers, a few large scoops of tea will weigh considerably less than one might think.  Additionally, we were pleased to discover that Blest Tea encourages a very short brewing of their tea, followed by multiple uses.  This means that a single teaspoon of their tea, brewed for a mere 30 seconds, can be set aside and subsequently used for at least three more single cup brewings.  We definitely feel as though the cost of this tea constituted a splurge on our part, but, when considering how many cups of tea one gets out of an initial $18 investment, the sting of the cost subsides rather quickly.

Plus, to state the obvious, this tea is absolutely wonderful.  It is smooth, complex, and decidedly lacking in acidity.  Though still caffeinated, this tea somehow manages to make one feel calmer while drinking it, rather than slightly jittery and sharp.  It’s an entirely new experience in tea drinking in this house, and an inspiring one at that.

Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour

20 May

While I would not classify myself as a collector of cookbooks, it cannot be denied that at least one of our dining room bookshelves has been noted to contain more cookbooks than books of a non-recipe variety.  Most of these cookbooks have been procured during the years that my husband and I have been married, with a few notable exceptions.  I brought into our marriage a half dozen or so vegetarian cookbooks and a couple of copies of Joy of Cooking, and my husband entered our union with this:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that, were there points awarded for most useful and interesting books brought into a dual partnership agreement, the tally of points at the end of the inaugural round would look something like this:

Me: 15 points

Husband: 1,000,000 points

This book is, in short, fantastic.  In addition to containing nearly 800 classic cocktail recipes, the book also contains a hefty 100 or so pages dedicated to the history, lore, and usage of different liquors, wines, beers, and accompaniments, and how those different items can be used to complement one another (totally useful). There is also an added hors d’oeuvres chapter, which includes separate sections on both caviar and foie gras (slightly less useful, but still appreciated).

Best of all, this book, written by Playboy’s longtime food and drink editor and culled from previously published articles dating back as far as 1955 (the book’s original publication date is 1971), reads like an instruction manual for those looking for tips on how to be a consummately urbane gentleman of the world—five decades ago.  You enjoy vodka and clear turtle consommé.  You serve daiquiris on your cabin cruiser, and precise and masterly cocktails at your June bachelor dinner.  You are a man of all seasons.  Not a conspicuous fusspot, the book clarifies, but a man of refined tastes.

Admittedly, not everyone will enjoy this book as much as I do, especially if one is offended by references to Canadian whiskeys having a strong appeal for the distaff side (it’s sweet and soft, you know, for the ladies), or is annoyed by a drink being classified as perfect “for unwinding after 18 holes on the fairway.”  While it’s true that those statements are mildly obnoxious, I have no problem reading past them.  Then again, any book that cautions a fellow against drinking for quantity rather than quality, and also takes the time to distinguish a drink as being a “postprandial” fit, is always going to be a winner by me.

Earlier this week, when the temperature hit 70 degrees for only the fourth time this year, I, fortified with knowledge about the mature American drinking man, and in possession of some dashing and petite Meyer lemons, decided to unearth the cocktail shaker and take my first step towards entering the “method school for the modern man at his drinking cabinet.”

Not surprisingly, my education started with me completely blowing the recipe apart.  Not having blended whiskey or the required number of lemons, I improvised a bit.  When I found a nearly empty bag of frozen sour cherries in the freezer, there was no way I couldn’t include them.  The more ridiculous things I did to the standard cocktail, the more delicious it looked.  And, in the end, it was a delicious drink, though not exactly what I think Mr. Thomas Mario had in mind.

Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour

Inspired by Playboy’s Host and Bar Book

I am not a huge fan of sweet drinks, so my version of this drink is on the tart side.  If you wish to make a sweeter drink, increase the amount of sugar as directed.  Alternately, I’ll bet that if you used all Meyer lemon juice, as opposed to the half-lemon-half-lime combination that I used, you’d end up with a drink that is much less tart (Meyer lemons are not nearly as sour as their standard lemon counterparts).  If you do this, dial back the sugar initially and see if your all Meyer lemon juice drink is sweet enough.  If it’s lacking the sweetness you desire, go ahead and add a bit more sugar, ¼ teaspoon at a time, then re-shake and re-taste until you find the drink acceptable.

1 large or 2 small Meyer lemons

1 lime

½ to 1 teaspoon sugar

3 sour cherries, fresh or frozen

2 ounces whiskey

ice

Juice your Meyer lemons and lime until you have a combination of ¾ ounces of freshly squeezed juice.  Combine juice, one half of an already squeezed Meyer lemon, your desired amount of sugar, and 2 sour cherries in a cocktail shaker.  Using the handle of a wooden spoon, muddle the citrus, sugar, and cherry mixture for roughly 10 seconds, until the sugar has been pulverized into the other ingredients.  Add whiskey and a handful of ice to the shaker, cover, and shake vigorously.  Taste to adjust sweetness.  For a less tart drink, add more sugar, re-shake, and taste again.

Strain into a short glass filled with ice.  Garnish with 1 sour cherry.

Makes 1 drink.

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