Category Archives: Sips and Slurps

The Aperol Spritz: Ciao Bella!

In case we missed the memo last week, summer has arrived, in all its sweaty glory. This does not bring out my A-Game, because I’m more St. Bernard than Whippet, more Clydesdale than Thoroughbred, more Thelma than Daphne. 

I also tend to gain weight in the summer, which—with all that necessarily exposed flesh—is just…plain…awesome. I’m ok with it, really, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear the peak heat and humidity of an eastern summer.

So what do we do? We get out of the kitchen and onto the patio. And we help each other by sharing our favorite patio fare. Stay tuned this week for some simple easy classics to have on hand that will help you stay cool in every way.   

Today’s feature: The Aperol Spritz. These first caught my eye on a recent trip to Europe, where every sidewalk café featured what appeared to be glasses of orange wine, complete with little floating orange slices. For a moment, I thought Europe was a few years late on the orange wine trend 2015, the one that never breached the NH border.  But then I remembered where I was: European sidewalk cafes don’t do trends. They do classics.

Rigorous research enlightened me to the Aperol Spritz. Aperol is an Italian aperitif (that’s fancy talk for dry not sweet) made of oranges, roots, herbs and—let’s be honest here—some serious food coloring.

All you need for a classic, refreshing, “I’m- for-sure-as-cool-as-any-of-you” summer drink is to fill a glass with ice and layer in three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part seltzer…in that order.  Toss in your little slice of orange and…Salute! Cin cin! Oooh baby!

For a no heat dinner, enjoy your spritz California style like Sister A and Cousin D did with this fine feast. Fully- loaded watermelon poke bowls? Alfresco dining? Avocados, pickled ginger, chopped peanuts? Check, check, check, check, check!

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Bring It Summer All Stars

Summer is here my friends. Just in time, the good people of the webhosting universe have fixed my site so subscribers will actually get posts. What a great idea? Thank you Bring It loyals for your patience. And now, on to the weekend!

Before you head out for the Memorial Day shop with the rest of humanity, I picked out some all star classics that will help you slay this weekend. With a little prep you can head into summer looking like the master entertainer you are at heart.

First and foremost…

Bring on The Slaw:
If you have never made Hero Slaw, just trust me on this. It will make you famous. Go ahead and claim it as your own if it helps. Prep it, bag it, put it in the fridge and you can take on any invite that comes your way. Or just enjoy it yourself for a few days. If nothing else, make up the dressing to have on hand and turn kale into something the family might actually eat.

Have Some Balls:
Buffalo chicken meatballs are back on my regular rotation (thank you Neely for reminding me!) until I master the perfect veggie balls. Stay tuned for that. Until then, make up a lot of these (ahead if needed) and know they will disappear fast.

Brush up on Your Bruschetta Fixin’s:
You will never be sorry to have a Funitella bruschetta stashed in the fridge. With the miracle that is petite diced canned tomatoes it take all of about 5 minutes. If you want to get more ideas, take a gander at bruschetta deconstructed, and the consider toppings like pickled fig, creamy cheese and crunchy nut crostini, strawberries and goat cheese, and Sicilian caponata.

Get Your Guac On:
You’ve got to have it, and it hardly requires a recipe. BUT if you want to go the extra distance this crazy one with apples and tequila is my new fave. Mango jicama guacamole is another solid contender. Both add crunch and assert that this is not your first guac fiesta.

Think (of drinking) Ahead:
You know you’re a pro when…You’ve got your Frosé and Sandy’s daquiris in the freezer, and fixins for some fancy lemonades. You bridge into genius status when you also have watermelon juice at the ready to whip up watermelonade, spicy watermelon margaritas and watermelon sangria.

Watermelon Sangria. Summer in a glass.

Watermelon Up:
While we’re on the topic of watermelon, cut up some watermelon and prep it for watermelon poke bowls and you are set for fresh weekend lunches for Vegans and non Vegans alike. If you double up on the feta you get for Funitella Bruschetta, and make summer perfection watermelon feta salad, I promise you won’t be sorry.

Sweet Endings:
Oh where do we begin on these? Well, summery Lemon Beach Pie, a whole mess of Rubble or Loosey Brucey Rhubarb crisp are a good place to start. As Bruce would say, nobody ever complained about to many good recipe ideas.

New recipes next time, but of now let’s go with what we know and get this summer party started.

Must…eat…more…pie. Sweet, salty, sweet, salty, and oh yeah—creamy, crunchy, cool and tart.

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Cinco de Derby

With this in your house, how can your weekend go wrong?

 

 

 

 

What we have here, my friends, is a dream Double Header. Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby, on successive non-school nights. If there was ever a time to have a cool, refreshing  drink in your hand (and a snazzy hat on your head) this is it.

In honor of creative cocktails and mocktails, below are two infused simple syrups that will give your drinks a fresh twist appropriate for the upcoming occasions. And what the hell—keep scrolling for a few cocktail concoctions as well, though they are only a starting point. Don’t be afraid of using the jalapeno syrup in your mint julep (or even subbing cilantro for the mint) for some south of the border cha-cha.

Have fun and if you’re placing bets, good luck!

Jalapeño Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and halved lengthwise (or not seeded if you are brave)

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine 1 cup water, sugar, and jalapeños. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer to three to four minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let steep 20 minutes.

Strain syrup, discard jalapeños (or chop up the now mild pepper and use as desired), and cool syrup. (Simple syrup can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to 6 months. It keeps even better if you add a capful of vodka.)

Cilantro Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large handful cilantro leaves

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan, and bring it to a slow boil while stirring continuously until all the sugar has dissolved. Just as the mixture begins to boil, add 1 cup of fresh cilantro. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and let cool (this syrup will keep in your fridge for about a month. More if you add a capful of vodka).

Now how do we use them? Below are two ideas, but this is no time to follow directions. Use these in whatever cocktail or mocktail could use some salsa sass.

Each makes two drinks:

Cilantro coolers: wayyyy better than a kale smoothie on a fine spring night

Cucumber Cilantro Cooler

Cool. Hot. Fresh. This one has it all. slightly adapted from organic authority

To a cocktail shaker add:

  • 1 cup chopped cucumber (seeds removed) and a large handful of cilantro leaves (cilantro haters use mint instead, and maybe extra vodka to get over the cilantro glut)

Muddle well with a muddler or a heftier pestle. Then add:

  • 4 ounces vodka
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 1/2 ounce jalapeno simple syrup
  • ICE! Don’t be shy here.

Shake well for twenty seconds and then strain* into a lowball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a wheel of cucumber and a sprig of cilantro.

*brave multi taskers, fans of zero waste, and those desperate for a meal idea because they spent so much time prepping cocktails will love this: fully drain the remaining cucumber and cilantro shrapnel and mix it in with Chinese noodles, a few more veggies and soy dressing for a summery salad.

 Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita

To a shaker add:

  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 ounce cilantro syrup
  • 1 ounce Blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce Reposado tequila and 6-8 slices of jalapeno (seeds removed).

Shake it like you mean it, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lime, a slice of jalapeno and a sprig of cilantro.

And finally, if making margs for a bigger crew…

Spicy Margaritas by the Pitcher

  • 2 cups of tequila
  • 1 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of orange liqueur
  • 1/2 cup of jalapeno simple syrup

Stir together with ice in a large pitcher and pour into 8 glasses.

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Slippery Slope Ginger Beer Margaritas

cranberry-ice

       Just add ice…and cranberries. ‘Tis the season to winterize your drinks. I’m here to help.

Watch your step. Holiday season snuck right up on us again. Just as we stood up from prying the squirrel-nibbled pumpkins off the patio, the holidays were staring us straight in the face. From here on it’s a slippery slope of parties, visitors, events and hastily concocted reasons to gather right through January 2. Are you ready? Do you need a drink? This could help.

Let’s ease into this transition by taking a summer standby and winterizing it. Meet the ginger beer margarita. I stumbled across this while going down the Internet rabbit hole in pursuit of butternut squash tacos. Did I mention the slippery slope? After some exhaustive testing of ginger beers, following the comments on Minimalist Baker, I can definitely recommend the lighter ones like Fever Tree. It IS a margarita after all.

These are the easiest drinks in the world to make. You can get fancy and line the rim with lime juice and salt, or you can a just make the darned drinks. You can stir the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain, as directed, or you can just stir them up up in a pitcher, and pour over ice in each glass giving each drink another good stir. Just save yourself the anxiety and the outfit change and DO NOT shake them in a cocktail shaker. Remember the volcano experiment in 2nd grade? Yep.

A quick brush up on simple syrup: Combine equal parts sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar, heat to boiling, and let cool. Keep some stored in your fridge at all times, in case of emergency.

The best part about this drink, from a social perspective, is that you can easily bring the parts and assemble on site, AND the ginger beer makes a festive non-alcoholic drink as well (see top picture). For more ideas you can always revisit these fine drinks from last year.

The contenders. It wasn't really exhaustive, but it was a Wednesday

        The contenders. OK,  it wasn’t really exhaustive, but it was a Wednesday evening. Points for that.

Ginger Beer Margaritas

From Minimalist Baker, and adapted for high volume

Ingredients

Single serving version

  • 1.5 ounces (3 Tablespoons) 100% agave tequila
  • 1 ounce (2 Tbsp) fresh lime juice
  • 3 ounces (6 Tbsp) ginger beer (Fever Tree regular or light are awesome)
  • .5 ounce (1 Tbsp) simple syrup
  • Coarse salt for lining rim (also optional and fancy)

Team player version, for four

  • ¾ cup tequila
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ cups ginger beer
  • 4 Tbsp simple syrup
  • coarse salt

Method

  1. If you’re feeling fancy, Line a small serving glass with fresh lime juice and dip in coarse salt
  2. Add tequila, simple syrup, ginger beer and lime juice to a large glass (single serve) or cocktail shaker (let’s not drink alone) with lots of ice and stir vigorously. Don’t shake with a lid on!
  3. Pour liquid (reserving ice) into serving glass with a few ice cubes Garnish with a lime wedge and serve immediately. Repeat for more drinks, or double/triple the amounts for more people.

What to do with your leftover ginger beer, once you have settled in on “the one.” Here’s an idea. Pour it over these cranberry rosemary ice cubes that you made for Cran-rosemary prosecco punch, which is basically equal parts prosecco and white cranberry juice, a splash of bitters and these fancy ice cubes.  The fancy ice cubes also winterize the flavored seltzer you can’t help from buying on every trip to the store. Did I mention it’s a slippery slope?

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Frosé and Frosecco: Summer’s Coolest Celebs

 

You say frosé, I say "Be right over!"

You say frosé, I say “Be right over!”

It’s been called the summer of Frosé, the “it” drink of summer, even the “God of summer.” Suffice to say, Frosé is a thing. At first I resisted jumping on the Frosé bicyclette. We are, after all, no stranger to the slushy drink rodeo. Plus, I learned the hard way that there is significant recovery involved after an entire summer quenching one’s thirst with things like watermelon sangria. All that said, I also have obligations to the Bring It devoted, so at my cousin D’s urging I took the plunge into trying, tweaking and bringing Frosé. While I was at it, I decided to try the same method with the beverage mascot of brunch, Prosecco, subbing peaches for strawberries to get the Bellini effect.

I’m happy to say the experiment was a grand success and I can bring you not one but two fun, fabulous, delicious summer drinks that can be made and transported in large quantities with little effort. Cue the late summer victory dance here.

The premise is simple: frozen rosé or prosecco, emboldened with fresh fruit-infused syrup then sweetness-balanced with fresh lemon juice. Some versions add more complicated mixers or liqueurs and even fresh herbs. I’m all for experimentation, but there’s not a thing wrong (and a whole lot right) with the basic version.

I started with this one in Bon Appetit, added a splash of vodka to keep it loose, and then slackerized it by eliminating pretty much every step beyond dumping it in the container. This is because summer entertaining at the beach, the lake or even the patio is ideally a “no host” experience. As in no host needed to get yourself a damn drink.

This is very easily scaled up, based on the size of your container. My two vintage yard sale gallon-plus Tupperware beverage containers hold 5 bottles of wine so I used 4 bottles in each to make room for the other ingredients and freezing expansion. When finished they pop right into a cooler, doing double duty as ice packs, and are ready for action at your destination.

Use the leftover fruit in smoothies, over yogurt and ice cream, or stirred with cubed watermelon and fresh mint into a batch of limeade for the world’s easiest aqua fresca. Kids and your wiser, sober friends, will worship you for this.

Here, my pretties, is your date for hot the summer nights ahead:

Frosé and Frosecco

Servings: Makes 4–6

Ingredients:

  • 1 750 ml bottle hearty, bold rosé (such as a Pinot Noir or Merlot rosé) or Prosecco
  • ¼ cup vodka (optional but helps keep it a little looser and sassier)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces strawberries, hulled, quartered (or peaches, raspberries, based on flavor and color preference)
  • 2½ ounces fresh lemon juice

Note: Here are at Bring It central, we’re pretty much done after Step 2. There is no blender involved. The cooled syrup goes right into the semi frozen Rosé or Prosecco and into the freezer. Extra points if you stir it and scrape it with a big spoon every few hours while it is freezing.

Preparation

  • Pour rosé into a 13×9″ pan (or, a transportable Tupperware/beverage container of choice) and freeze until almost solid (it won’t completely solidify due to the alcohol), at least 6 hours. Allow longer if working with multiple bottles.
  • Meanwhile, bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes to infuse syrup with strawberry flavor. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl (do not press on solids); cover and chill until cold, about 30 minutes. (Reserve still-delicious berries for another use.)
  • Scrape rosé into a blender. Add lemon juice, 3½ ounces strawberry syrup, and 1 cup crushed ice and purée until smooth. Transfer blender jar to freezer and freeze until frosé is thickened (aim for milkshake consistency), 25–35 minutes.
  • Blend again until frosé is slushy. Divide among glasses.

Bringing It:

Transport the entire container in a cooler, using it to cool your other offerings.  At your destination, pull out the container, stir or scrape frosé/frosecco to a uniform consistency and pour into glasses. You might need a spoon at first, but a hot summer day will soon take care of that!

 

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Watermelon: Summer’s Cheap Sweet Thrill

watermelon-sorbet-glass

Call it sorbet, or granita, or just pure refreshment.

The big blockbuster summer weekend is creeping up on you like a kid with a loaded super soaker. Be ready! When agonizing over what to bring to any summer occasion you just can’t go wrong with watermelon. Whoever had too many of these, especially when they can be eaten at any meal, stored at room temperature and, when really unnecessary for nutrition, greased up and used for water games?

So here’s what you do. Get a watermelon every time you go by the bin at the grocery store and then figure out what to do with them. I suggest saddling up to a big cutting board for some watermelon prep, because one melon can really go a long way and satisfy many cravings. Here are some options:

Instant gratification: Cube it and eat it. If you have a crowd or just a couple of teenage boys it will disappear and everyone will have a dose of fruit and fiber.

Instant gratification, fiesta style: Sprinkle your cubes or wedges with chili powder. It’ll take you right back to that first trip to Tijuana. Or maybe this will spare you that trip to Tijuana.

Gourmet Move 1: Cut it into rounds then quarter rounds and make a shmancy arugula/feta/pepitas (or whatev) salad on top, using the watermelon as a plate. Here’s one from Simply Scratch for inspiration.

Gourmet Move 2: Make this watermelon and goat cheese salad that won the watermelon contest at Food52. If you don’t happen to have a crop of lemon verbena out your window use some lemon zest instead.

Drink Your Dinner: Watermelon Gazpacho involves some chopping, but otherwise this refreshing soup is about as easy as it gets. Plus it travels well and enjoys paper cups. Hello picnic!

Just Drink: Scoop watermelon into your food processor or blender, then strain it for watermelon juice. The juice can be used in things like watermelonade (basically watermelon juice and lemonade) or in the ever wonderful watermelon sangria.

As you can see this is not our first watermelon rodeo. For the 2016 edition though my focus is on the simple straight watermelon, cubed, pureed and frozen into a sorbet. It is known across the internet as “one-ingredient watermelon sorbet.” The thing with one-ingredient miracle recipes is that they are all a little better with, say, two or even three ingredients. This is the case here. Frozen pureed watermelon is pretty dang good, but it’s even better when you stir in some mint simple syrup and a splash of lime juice. A fourth ingredient, should you be inspired, could most certainly involve your liquor cabinet. You be the judge there.

1 ish Ingredient Watermelon Sorbet

Notes: Texturally this is more granita than sorbet. Save yourself the anxiety of expecting it to make pretty scoops, and just serve it in a cup with a spoon.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mint simple syrup* (optional)
  • Hootch of choice (optional)

Directions:

1. Arrange the watermelon cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and freeze until the watermelon is solid, about 2 hours.

2. Working in batches, transfer the watermelon cubes to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (My processor fits about half the cubes at a time)

3. Divide the puree among two loaf pans (or put it all in one deep baking dish), packing it down as you add more on top.

watermelon sorbets

Straight up watermelon on left; with lime syrup and mint on right

4. Transfer the pans to the freezer. Freeze until the sorbet is scoopable, 1 to 2 hours more. You can also scrape it with a fork. If it freezes too firm let it sit out for a few minutes.

5. To serve, scoop (or scrape) the sorbet into dishes or cups and eat immediately. Or top with hootch and drink immediately.

*Simple syrup 101:  Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. For a minted version, add a bunch of chopped or torn fresh mint. Heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes or so. Strain into container and chill.

 

Sneak Preview of late summer watermelon edition:

As a half Yankee by blood (thanks Mom) I am cursed with the urge to use every scrap of any ingredient. This leads me to watermelon rind pickles, a thing in the south, and watermelon rind jam. I’ve made one version of the pickles and do like them, though my tastes admittedly tweak towards science experiments—guests be warned. I am just now making the jam, which I suspect will have wider appeal. Either way, this is making something edible out of something that was going straight into the compost pile. If it all ends up in the compost pile, at least you tried.

The many forms of watermelon, including pickled science experiments.

The many forms of watermelon, including pickled science experiments.

 

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Lemonpalooza

On-pillows-light

California Dreamin’ on Such a Winter’s Day

Lemonpalooza: n. a celebration of all that is warm, bright and tangy; hope in the home stretch of winter; antidote to a common addiction amongst native Californians and Floridians; yum.

As I was packing a shoe box of Meyer lemons in to my checked baggage, my sister suggested: “You need lemon rehab.” A day earlier I had packed a flat rate priority mail box with lemons and had just returned from the home tree with another batch. Earlier she had bottled a batch of lemon syrup for me, and the lemon possets for dessert were cooling in the fridge. Gnawing on the peel of a juiced half lemon (dentists everywhere are recoiling) I nodded. “You might be right.”

But there is no kicking this addiction. As I boarded my plane back to NH I could not help but have a pang for every Meyer lemon left unpicked in the family tree and in the entire Bay Area megalopolis. I take solace in knowing I did my best.

Here’s a small sampling of how those lemons will be worshiped this week:

The first recipe comes from “The Lemon Cookbook” (of lemon cauliflower couscous fame) which I gave to my sister. The book’s chicken and toasted bread salad has been among their family’s Bring-It staples ever since. It’s sturdy, hearty, delicately and boldly flavored (can that be? Yes, oh yes!) with co-roasted lemons and shallots. And here’s the real kicker—it’s even better the next day.

The ease of rotisserie chicken notwithstanding, reading and re reading all the steps makes the entire recipe a pain in the butt to make the first time. That said, virtually all the labor (and flavor) is in the dressing. So we’re going to take just that element on now, and it will make for many happy salads with or without chicken and toasted bread. 

The other recipes are ridiculously easy: Meyer lemon simple syrup is a juice-intensive staple to brighten tea, seltzer, pancakes, vodka, etc; and lemon posset is a sweet, tart, creamy, perfectly textured pudding/custard with no eggs or special techniques involved.

As good as these recipes are, they are merely a gateway to all the transformational possibilities of Meyer lemons in winter. Roast them, juice them, preserve them (Pickled lemon chutney? I’m looking at you next!), and let them bring a little sunshine in to your life.

Roasted Lemon-Shallot VinaigretteLemon-salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, halved and seeded with the tip of a sharp knife
  • 8 oz shallots peeled and halved if large
  • 3 large cloves garlic unpeeled
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • juice of one lemon

Method:

Preheat oven to 400. Toss lemon, shallots, garlic and 2 sprigs thyme in 1/4 cup oil and 1 tsp salt. Spread in baking dish in one layer, with cut sides of lemon down. Cover with foil and bake 45-55 minutes or so, until shallots are caramelized and lemons are totally soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

When cool, remove lemon pulp from peel and put it (minus peel and any remaining seeds) into the blender. Add shallots, garlic insides (squeezed from skin), lemon juice, and any accumulated liquid to the blender. Process until smooth. Add remaining oil in a stream. Stir in thyme leaves from remaining sprigs and salt to taste.

Say tuned for a pro version of the chicken and toasted bread salad, pictured above, which is leftover roasted chicken tossed with arugula, plumped currants, rustic bread—torn, tossed with oil and oven-toasted— and this dressing.

This next recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated, so even though it is super simple of course it has some crazy essential step. In this case it is measuring the hot liquid until it is the proper volume. They have a workaround which is even more complicated, so let’s just stick to Plan A. It’s no big.

Lemon Possetposset

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 6 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
  • Fresh blueberries or raspberries

Combine cream, sugar and zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Heat, stirring as mixture boils. Boil, stirring frequently, for 8-12 minutes, until reduced to 2 cups (pour it off into pyrex measuring cup to check when it’s there). Remove from heat, stir in juice and let cool 20 minutes. Strain into bowl or directly into six individual ramekins/posset containers (see at right. who knew?). Discard strained zest, or eat it when nobody is looking. Chill possets uncovered until set, at least 3 hours. Wrap and store in refrigerator for up to two days. To serve, unwrap and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes. Garnish with berries.

 

Meyer Lemon Simple SyrupSyrup-tree

2 cups strained fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar
zest of 3 Meyer lemons

Wash and gently scrub lemons. Using a zester or vegetable peeler, remove strips of zest from fruit, being careful to remove only the yellow zest, none of the bitter white pith.

Combine sugar, zest and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Heat until simmering over medium heat, stirring to completely dissolve sugar. Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Cover and set aside to steep 10 minutes. Strain into glass containers. Discard zest, or, you know what I’d do.

Makes 3 cups. The syrup will keep 1 week in the refrigerator, 6 months in the freezer.

granite-lemons

Southern Comfort in the Granite State

 

 

 

 

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Watermelon 911

 watermelon1

We’ve all been there. It’s the height of summer and you get a watermelon every time you go by the big bin of them in the store because it just seems like the right thing to do. You can get ambitious and whirl it into watermelon gazpacho or mix up some watermelon sangria or just cut it in cubes for snacks. Inevitably you reach the point where a watermelon hangs around a tad too long so you give it precious fridge space. And then by some crazy plot twist you end up with another watermelon. You’ve got yourself a watermelon emergency. What do you do?

Well you start drinking of course. And you drink watermelon juice. In the name of research I watched nearly all of a six minute video on making watermelon juice until I realized it was just an excuse for people to watch a hot yoga instructor with expressive hands talk breathily about her “watermelon secret.” I felt so violated. There is no secret here—just throw watermelon chunks in a blender and press the button. I should have used my time to watch this video, inspired by a facebook find from Sister B:

 

 

In honor of Sister A, I wanted to put my watermelon juice to good use by making a big batch of cocktails, but the week was young. Soooo, with inspiration from Sandy’s freezer dacquiris I froze the whole batch in my brilliant rectangular Tupperware pitcher. Now, my fridge has been freed, I’m still stone sober, and I’m ready for a weekend expedition without needing to find ice packs for the cooler. Boom!

A few details, as ever. This drink, inspired by Food52’s  Boozy Watermelon Lemonade, relies on rosemary simple syrup for sweetness. It’s well worth your time to make up batches of simple syrup, with various flavorings (mint, rosemary, citrus, peppercorns, etc, etc) and have them on hand to fancy up everything from iced tea and plain old seltzer to your firewater of choice. Inspired by my favorite Aveda shampoo, I added some mint to my rosemary syrup as it steeped because, why not?

This is an excellent non-alcoholic drink as well, but don’t freeze it without the booze or you’ll have one huge ice cube. I made this drink with gin because it has that little edge to it. But feel free to use vodka or whatever feels right to you. And finally, this recipe is easily scaled up or down, so if you’re on a date just change cups to ounces.

Now let’s get mixing. The weekend’s a comin’ and you need to free up that fridge for bacon and burrata!

Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade

Serves lots

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups watermelon juice *
  • I ½ cups rosemary simple syrup **
  • 1 ½ cup lemon juice, lime juice or any combo of the two, fresh squeezed (or use that frozen minute maid juice I won’t tell!)
  • 1 ½ cups seltzer
  • 3 cups gin

 Method:

Combine first four ingredients and stir well. Pour the mixture into a large pitcher. Add gin if using. Stir to combine. Serve over ice in jars garnished with a rosemary sprig or fresh mint or both. If freezing this for later, do not add seltzer and allow to freeze at least 8 hours and up to a day. Remove from freezer and stir/scrape it into Slurpee form. As it thaws it will get easier to pour. If there are leftovers just refreeze them. 

*To make Watermelon Juice (no thanks to Yoga woman)

Chunk up a watermelon and puree it in a blender in batches. Pour juice through strainer (if desired, and definitely if freezing) and into a wide bowl. Save yourself sticky anguish and do this over the sink. Transfer to a pourable container if not using it right away.

** To make Rosemary Simple Syrup (thanks to the Kitch’n)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs

Method:

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a cruet or airtight container, discarding rosemary sprigs. Cover and chill 4 hours. Garnish, if desired. Syrup may be stored in refrigerator up to 1 month.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Banana Berry Smoothie

Banana Berry SmoothieThis recipe is really cool – both temperature cool and hipster cool. And just in time for the start of summer which is only a couple days away!  It is simply frozen bananas and berries in a blender with a touch of almond milk (or whatever milk you have on hand).  Yes, that’s right – bananas, berries, milk, blender. That’s it!  It’s smooth and frosty, light and healthy.  Not to mention good for all ages and can be served any time – breakfast, lunch, snack, or dessert.  What are you waiting for-  get that fruit in the freezer asap so you can make this smoothie soon.

And, wait, there is a bonus, you can add in anything like.  The frozen bananas are merely a vehicle for anything else that floats your smoothie boat.  You can add coconut, chocolate, cherries, strawberries, ginger, nuts, sprinkles, cinnamon, mint, cacao powder, vanilla, almond, Nutella, caramel, sprinkles, whipped cream, blueberries, carob, and oh gosh, I almost forgot – peanut butter (how could I almost forget peanut butter – shame on me!). The list goes on…  

And so, here you go, the recipe (although you don’t really need one -just throw the stuff in the blender, it practically makes itself!).

Rah, Rah Summer!

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 cup berries (I used a mixture of raspberries and blueberries)
1/4 cup almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk or any milk of your liking (more as needed)

Method

Place bananas and berries in freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Take bananas and berries out of freezer and let thaw for approximately 45 minutes to an hour (they need to soften a bit before you put them in the food processor but you still want them to be somewhat frozen – you may have to experiment a bit to get the right consistency).

Place bananas, berries and almond milk in food processor and pulse until desired consistency. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides intermittently. Add more milk as needed.

Stir in any add ins such as chocolate chips or nuts, OR blend in any add ins such as peanut butter or vanilla extract.

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A Hopeful Toast to the Triple Crown

 

Get ready to giddyup! Silky trousers will help.

Get ready to giddyup! Silky trousers will help.

Tonight may be the night that we have a Triple Crown winner for the first time since 1978. (To put that in context, we took a break from Happy Days, the $6 Million Man and a whole lot of Bee Gees music to watch that particular Derby). We came agonizingly close last year with California Chrome, and got a fine drink out of the deal, but no real satisfaction. This could be it people—don’t be caught without a proper cocktail, mocktail or working television for the occasion.

Shockingly (to some of us) the Belmont does not have an official cocktail. The Kentucky Derby of course has the Mint Julep, the Preakness the Black-eyed Susan, a recipe that has been altered but whose name has remained the same. The current version (now that Finlandia is a sponsor) involves vodka, St. Germain liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Why no Belmont drink? It’s not for lack of trying. In 1975 race the marketing crew made a run at an official drink with the Big Apple—some combo of fruit juice, an apple liqueur and rum. That was supplanted by the overly fussy White Carnation—a combination of vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, soda water and cream, named after the blanket of carnations in which the winning Belmont Stakes horse is draped.

In 1997 the Belmont Breeze made the scene, but one look at the ingredient list bangs the gong: bourbon or rye whiskey, sherry, lemon juice, orange juice, pimento bitters, fresh mint and orange zest. Really? Pimento bitters? Sherry? Headache anyone?

In 2011 the breeze was replaced with the Belmont Jewel a “more fan friendly ” combination of bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice over ice. Sounds easy enough. I’m game for that.

Here’s the recipe for the Jewel. I have to say I appreciate its simplicity:

Belmont Jewel

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces of bourbon (the race track recommends Knob Creek, but use what you like)
  • 2 ounces of lemonade
  • 1 ounce of pomegranate juice

Method:

Combine ingredients and shake that all together with ice. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a cherry or lemon.

Pictured above is another fine drink, which is fully appropriate for this occasion. The Whiskey Peach Smash has elements of drinks associated with all three races: Mint in honor of the Derby; yellowness to honor Preakness’s Black-eyed Susan; peach to acknowledge the Belmont’s White Carnation; lemon for a taste of both the Belmont Breeze and the Belmont Jewel; and of course Bourbon to honor the fact that it’s a horse race after all.

Whiskey Peach Smash

Note: a barspoon is an inexact measurement, often equated to a teaspoon.

Serves 1 (as if you are alone tonight!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon
  • 1 heaping barspoon peach jam
  • 1 barspoon honey
  • 1 fat lemon wedge
  • 4 to 6 mint leaves

Method:

Muddle the herbs and lemon wedge, then add the jam, honey, and spirit and stir.

Add ice and shake hard for 5 to 10 seconds, depending on the size of your ice. Strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice. Garnish with more mint.

With booze or without, put on a fancy hat and mix yourself a fun fruity drink to cheer on American Pharoah.

 

 

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