Tag Archives: alcohol

We Interrupt The Previously Scheduled Recording…

.For this emergency broadcast.

Ok, fine, I might be getting a little melodramatic. But, now that I have your attention: my recaps from the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic will continue shortly. Bear with me in the meantime, this one is good. And, actually, came about directly as a result of the Indian Summer Picnic.

Remember the Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades I told you about last week? Well, although I have a closet filled with more beer than I know what to do with and bottle after bottle of wine lining the floor of my closet—mind you, I’m not complaining, here. In fact, I’m plotting my next event—the whole bottle of Concord Grape Vodka went quickly. So quickly, in fact, that after an hour or so, Abbey (of pig-vented apple pie fame) was diluting it with plain-old-vodka to keep the cocktails coming.

Luckily, since Concord grapes are still in season, and I’m determined to consume as many as I can while that’s the case, I had some frozen grapes on hand. Which meant that could make more. And, since I was making a trip to the liquor store to get more cheap vodka anyway it seemed like a good idea to get a handle, in order to continue on infusion making kick.

This time, I had my sights set on Limoncello, a logical progression following the lemonade making of the day prior. Naturally, as I was zesting this batch of lemons, it occurred to me that, had I planned this better, I could have started the process the day before, when I was making the first batch of lemonade. This is really a convoluted way of saying that Limoncello calls for the lemon zest only, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. lemon Bars or lemon curd are both good options. Or, you could make another batch of Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades.Personally, I’m going for the latter.

Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiss

10 lemons
750-ml or 3 cups of vodka (Cheap vodka is fine here)
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Makes 7 Cups


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A Perfect Day for Berry Picking

On another continent, my friend Ben is making pretentious raspberry currant jam.


I’m making downmarket raspberry sorbet.

Clearly, this is going to require some sort of explanation.

One of my favorite moments during my trip to Switzerland happened in France.

It occurs to me that I’m not helping to clarify anything.

Bear with me—as with most things, it’s about the journey.

Wherein our story begins. Really, it’s a case of a well placed road sign, and a pitiful knowledge of French on my part.

When I travel, I often find myself wishing I knew more of the local customs, knew the language better. In this case, though, I’m not sorry.

How could I be, when a simple question, “What are groseilles?” led to an impromptu stop in the fields of the Alsace region of France in order to pick raspberries and groseilles—red currants as it turns out. Kilos and kilos of them. My friends are nothing if not overachievers.

It was a brilliant end to a wonderful trip to Zürich and beyond (just wait to see my pictures from Lugano).

And, with my flight back rapidly approaching—the next morning, in fact, I found myself growing more and more nostalgic by the moment. For the week, yes, and for memories almost long forgotten.

Suddenly, I was thinking about summers long gone going to the U-pick fields of Long Island and wearing my sister’s strawberry stained shoes from berry picking the summer before. My mother may be the only person I know with the foresight to save stained shoes so as not to ruin a new pair. It’s a life skill, I think.

I was thinking, too, surrounded by dear friends, of how relationships evolve, yes, but the good ones remain, despite the oceans and the miles and the time differences or months of silence. And of how Ben and I had an idea for a blog, where we could still keep in touch through cooking, in kitchens and countries apart. We joked about starting it out this way—see, I told you I would explain that first sentence. We were kidding, of course, as we often are, and mocking bloggers who start posts with such ridiculous assertions as “while I was in Alsace” all the while knowing that we would likely be doing the same.

So what?

I’ll even take it one step further, by adding in a pretentious quote.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

And, now, to bring it back to the scene at hand.

Because after all of that musing, I stopped thinking of anything at all, instead just enjoying exactly where I was, which is to say, in a field, in the hot sun, with berry juice running through my fingers.

The berries were tart, and there were kilos of them.

Ben was planning on taking them home to make some currant raspberry jam. And, since I couldn’t fly with berries, I was going to have to settle for grocery store raspberries and no currants at all since I couldn’t find then anywhere.

But before all of that, the buckets needed to be weighed and we needed to drive a little further to Ville d’eguisheim where we had dinner plans and where a vintner would take a break from his foosball game to allow us to sample wines that his family had been making for three generations.

I lead a charmed life.

Fine, fine. I’m being glib, but, really I mean that.

Downmarket Raspberry Sorbet

1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup raspberry, pureed
1 TBS kirsch

Make a simple syrup by boiling water and sugar, until the sugar melts completely. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Once the simple syrup is cooled, combine it with the raspberries and blend until the mixture is completely pureed.

If you don’t like seeds, strain the raspberry puree at this point, using a cheesecloth placed over a strainer.

Add the kirsch to the raspberry puree and stir to combine.

Chill in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

Makes 1 scant pint

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Coming Attractions

I’m back! And, very, very jet lagged.

In other words, there are still piles of clothing to be put away, gifts to be handed out, emails to be attended to. All of the demands of regular life beckon. A little too loudly.

Did I mention that I was jet lagged?

I’m also aching to share some of the sights of Zurich, Lugano and Alsace with you (and, embarassingly several recipes from the days before I left for vacation.) So, there will be more to come. With recipes and stories that are both charming and more smartly articulated than I can promise at the moment.

Consider this a small preview for the time being. Or, better, yet, an apéritif.

Appropriate enough, given that I’m leaving you with a recipe for my new favorite drink—an Aperol Spritz.

Before we go on, let’s get this out of th eway: Aperol is, in fact, an Italian bitter.

I read about a few months back, on Orangette. At the time, it felt too cold for something that seemed, to me at least, so summery both in color and flavor profile. So, the craving was filed away for summer. And then, it was summer. And, I arrived in Switzerland and saw it on offer throughout the cafés of Zürich and, later in the week, just a hopskipandajump away from Italy, in Lugano.

As for the drink: It’s quintessentially Swiss. Or, maybe not, but the friends who I visited told me so, and that’s good enough for me.

Think Campari but without the rough, bitter edge. Instead, it’s just got a slight bitterness rounded with the floral notes of rhubarb that keeps it from veering into the “drinks I drank when I was seventeen” range. And, when mixed with prosecco or seltzer, it is a vibrant shade of orange.

It’s positively celebratory, if you ask me.

Just the right kind of drink to enjoy on your vacation. Or, perhaps, the rest of your summer.

Aperol Spritz
Recipe courtesy of Aperol

2 ounces Aperol
3 ounces Prosecco
Splash of Seltzer
Orange Slices, to garnish

In a wine or highball glass, add ice and pour in Aperol. Top off with prosecco and seltzer, and then garnish with a thin slice of orange.

Makes One

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Summertime and the livin’ is easy

A few days back, I told you about my Memorial Day Weekend adventures, if such a word is correct.

Mostly, it was a weekend marked by lazing about, enjoying good food and relaxed drinks overlooking the water.

Indeed, while not strictly necessary, it helps to have access to a deck and a lake before you begin making white Sangria for no other reason than that the drink screams of summer. It has just the right bit of sweet with a lightness, brought out by the carbonation, that makes the humid days seem more than bearable. That might also have something to do with the generous pour of cognac.

It also helps to have time on your hands when you make this Sangria. The preparation isn’t involved—really, it amounts to a nothing more than some cutting—but the Sangria is something that improves with time, allowing the flavors to muddle together, so the sum becomes better than its parts. You’ll also want to give the drink plenty of time to chill. I like to use ice sparingly here, so the fruit juices don’t get too diluted, but, in a pinch, extra ice works just fine.

The weekend is not quite over, and Sunday is supposed to be lovely. This Sangria is just the thing to kick it off.

White Sangria

1 bottle light to medium bodied white wine (Chardonnay works well here)
1 cup cognac
1/2-3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup cherries, pits removed
2 nectarines, diced
juice of 1 orange
Fresca and/or club soda

Combine blueberries, raspberries, cherries, nectaries, and the juice of 1 orange in the bottom of a large pitcher, muddling slightly. Add the sugar and stir. Note that, if your fruit is ripe, you should only need 1/2 cup. Allow the fruit to sit for approximately 30 minutes, allowing the juice to run out of the fruit.

Add the white white and cognac and chill at least an hour.

Once the sangria has chilled, add in the Fresca/Club Soda so that the liquid reaches the top of your pitcher. Add ice to chill, if necessary, and serve.

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These are a few of my favorite things (Macarons, Take #3)

Slowly but surely, I’m on my way to perfecting my Macaron making technique. Make no mistake, I still have a ways to go&amp&#!51we’ll say nothing of the tray of cookies that shattered, or meringue that never quite stiffened enough as to do so would be impolite. I will mention that I’ve had no kitchen fires, yet. Or rather not because due to a tray of Macarons (good enough in my book).

And, each mishap has led me a little closer to the ideal and to some interesting discoveries, as reflected in the updated recipe below.

As with most things, it turns out that little things do make a big difference, like microwaving the egg whites for a short time before beating them and grounding the nut/confectioner’s sugar mixture in a food processor before incorporating it into the ggs. Not necessary steps by any means, but worth it, I’d say.

Anyway, I’m not quite there yet. But I’m close enough to getting the technique that I’m ready to experiment with flavors.

For me, could only mean one thing. It was time to try out another one of my favorite flavor combinations: pistachio, cardamom, and rosewater.

At the outset, I found myself a bit stymied. Not from the technique or original recipe, but rather because of an ingredient.

I first learned of Dumante, a pistachio liqueur, a little over a year ago, when I had been gifted a bottle.

Sadly, that bottle came and went as bottles of liqueur frequently do. When I went to replace it, I discovered that not a single liquor store in Manhattan sold it. Or, at least not a single store that I visited had it. And I visited plenty. (Don’t cry for me quite yet—I was able to stock up on another favorite thing so all wasn’t lost.)

I’m sure that almond extract would make a fine substitution. But, I’m a purist, and, I have high hopes that it will warm up soon so that I can make this ice cream again.

Ultimately, I resorted to the internet. Worth it, I think. But, if that’s not your thing, as noted above, almond extract should do the trick.

That said, mine were delicious, if a little imperfect.

Pistachio Cardamom Macarons with Rosewater Icing

Before you get started, note that this variation of Macarons, even more than most, tastes much better the next day. The rosewater icing blends with the cookies, losing a little of its perfume-like punch, and instead providing a delicate floral note at the end of your bite.

To make the macarons:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 finely ground pistachios
3 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS Dumante
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Food coloring (optional)
Rosewater frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a food processor, blend the ground pistachio and confectioners’ sugar together, about 2 minutes, until the mixture is well blended and well combined. Sift it, adding in the ground cardamom and set aside.

Heat your egg whites in a microwave for 15 seconds. Then, using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they’re foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, still whisking, until the whites reach medium soft peaks. Add the food coloring, if you’re using it, and whisk until well incorporated. Also whisk in the Dumante.

Sprinkle half of the pistachio mixture over the beaten egg whites and fold until just incorporated. Then add the rest, folding until everything is combined. Tap the bottom of your mixing bowl against the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag and pipe the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Each cookie should be 1.5″ in diameter and at least 1/2″ apart.

Allow the cookies to rest for at least 30 minutes, until they are no longer tacky when touched.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until macarons are slightly firm to the touch and can be lifted from the parchment, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the baking sheets and allow to cool completely.

To make the Rosewater icing:
1 egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp rosewater
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 drop red food coloring (optional)

In a heatproof bowl set over simmer water, combine the egg whites, rosewater, red food coloring, if you’re using it, and the granulated sugar. Cook, whisking constantly with a handheld electric mixer, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Remove the egg-white mixture from the heat and beat it on high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Then, continue beating until the mixture has cooled and is fluffy, about 6 minutes.

At this point, add in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing to combine.

To assemble to macarons:
Once the cookies have cooled, spread approximately 2 teaspoons of icing on the flatsides of half of the cookies. Sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down.

Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies


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