beverages Archive

Kaffir Lime Infused Gin & Tonic

When it comes to cocktails, I’m a gin & tonic kind of gal. The G&T has been my standard drink order for years, and I never seem to tire of it. The gin & tonic is, in my opinion, the perfect cocktail. (And then there was that one time I made gin & tonic Jell-o shots…)

And for the longest time, I didn’t think there was any way to improve upon the gin and tonic. It is the perfect cocktail, after all. And then I added a handful of Kaffir lime leaves to a cheap bottle of gin, and I fell in love with a whole new kind of gin and tonic.

There’s no need to complicate matters by writing a real recipe for this cocktail. All you need is a few Kaffir lime leaves (which you can find in Asian supermarkets or New Seasons Markets in Portland) and a cheap(ish) bottle of gin. I placed a handful (5 or 6) lime leaves into a mason jar and poured the gin over the leaves, and let sit in a cool, dark place for a few days. Once the gin has a slight green hue and smells of Kaffir lime (4 or 5 days), then you know it’s ready.

When it comes time to consume the infused gin, simply mix it with your favorite tonic water and garnish the beverage with a lime wedge. (I’m personally a fan of Fentiman’s or Q Tonic Water.)

It’s really as simple as that.

Strawberry Rhubarb Smash

Apparently, I’m into roasting strawberries these days. First, I made a roasted strawberry vinaigrette. I liked it so much that I decided to concoct a roasted strawberry cocktail.

If you’d like to see my latest roast strawberry creation, head over to the Plate & Pitchfork blog to see my recipe for a Strawberry Rhubarb Smash.

This is officially my new favorite cocktail.

Cucumber Rhubarb Cooler

Today, a friend told me that I’m going through a “rhubarb phase”, which she likened to my infamous “beet phase”. (If you don’t remember my beet phase, let me refresh your memory: there were the boozy beet popsicles. There was that delicious champagne & beet cocktail. Lest we forget, there was a beet and feta salad, a beet grilled cheese, and beet and quinoa pancakes. I even made beet pesto.)

However, I hardly think that two rhubarb posts in a row constitutes a rhubarb phase.

Granted, my friend knew that I had a bunch of rhubarb puree. She also knew that I’ve been putting that puree on/in everything. I’ll give her that.

You see, when I made my vanilla bean rhubarb bars last week, I was a little overzealous with the rhubarb and I ended up with a lot of extra rhubarb puree. Thankfully, the puree is phenomenal and I was eager to find other ways to use it. Naturally, my first inclination was to make cocktails.

It’s been sunny and perfect in Portland all week, and thus this particular cocktail was born: it’s summery, crisp, refreshing, and lovely. I’m going to enjoy this fake summer as long as I can, and enjoy a couple of cucumber rhubarb cocktails along the way. (Because, let’s face it, Portland: it’s probably going to start raining next week.)

Photo: I enjoyed this cocktail in the backyard with a big bowl of spicy Korean noodle salad. I’ll post that recipe next week. :)

Makes 2 cocktails
(Note: I had the hardest time figuring out what to call this drink. I’m unabashedly against anything that adds “tini” to the end of a drink title – unless, of course, it’s an actual martini. Cucumber Rhubarb-tini? Thank you, no.)

4 oz gin
2 tbs rhubarb puree
2 tabs fresh squeezed lime juice
Dash of Angostura bitters
3 – 4 pieces of cucumber, peeled (about 1/5 of a cucumber), plus thin slices of cucumber to garnish.

Place the cucumber pieces in the bottom of a martini shaker. Pour just a dash of gin over the cucumber. Muddle the cucumber and gin, until cucumber is mushy. Pour in the rest of the gin, the lime juice, and rhubarb puree. Top off the shaker with a handful of ice. Place the cap on the shaker and shake for a few seconds, or until the mixture is chilled. Strain into 2 martini (or other cocktail) glasses. Top off with a dash of bitters and a slice of cucumber.

Gin & Tonic Jellies: A Vintage Recipe Swap (and a Tribute to Mad Men)

Today is a big day.

It’s April Fool’s Day. Game of Thrones (Season 2) premiers tonight. A new recipe swap goes up today.

And there’s a new episode of Mad Men on tonight.

I adore Mad Men. I think the writing is fantastic, the sets and wardrobes are stunning, and I have a soft spot in my heart for Don Draper.

So I think that it’s entirely fitting that I’m giving my recipe swap post a Mad Men twist.

If you’re unfamiliar, I’m part of a Recipe Swap group that re-interprets vintage recipes. Christianna from Burwell General Store selects a recipe from an old cookbook and emails it to the group. We then create our own interpretations of the recipe, and we all post on the first Sunday of the month.

This month’s recipe was bizarre, to say the least. Christianna selected “Ham Snails“, in honor of the post going up on April Fool’s Day.

I read through the recipe a few times and to be honest, I was somewhat repulsed. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the recipe. Nothing about it sounded appealing to me. (And, I’m still in the middle of Lent, so I knew that I couldn’t actually make something with ham.) But for whatever reason, I kept coming back to the “jelly roll” part of the recipe. I wasn’t about to make a ham snail, but I could work with a jelly roll.

And somewhere along the way, a jelly roll turned into a jello shot.

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I’m happy that it did. I was researching classic cocktails to make for this evening, as we’re having a few friends over to watch Mad Men and Game of Thrones. And I cam across a recipe for Gin & Tonic Jellies. Done and done.

You see, the gin and tonic is my all time favorite cocktail. It is simple, crisp, refreshing, and perfect. I was giddy at the prospect of turning my favorite cocktail into jello. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone: these gin & tonic jellies are my ode to both ham snails and Mad Men.

Sure, it might be a stretch. But it’s a delicious (and boozy) stretch.

So happy recipe swap, everyone! (And happy April Fools! And Mad Men! And Game of Thrones!)

(Adapted from The Food Network)

10 ounces tonic water (I use Q Tonic Water)
6 ounces gin
4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 limes, hollowed and flesh/pulp removed (See note below)
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
Lime zest, for garnish

Note: If you would like to make jello shot lime wedges, first cut two limes in half lengthwise. Using a spoon or small paring knife, remove the lime flesh and pulp, leaving the “shell” in tact. Once all the flesh is scraped out, set aside until ready to use.

Pour half of the tonic water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the tonic (do not stir) and allow to set until the gelatin blooms (5 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the tonic water and the lime juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring the tonic to a low simmer and then whisk the hot tonic into the gelatin mixture. Whisk in the gin. Pour the mixture into shot glasses or hollowed lime halves and place in the refrigerator for 2+ hours (or until set). Garnish with lime zest. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Ringing in the New Year: The French 77

Let me start off by saying this: 2011 was a great year.

*I turned 30.

*I got the best bunny in the entire world, Little Omar.

*I traveled to Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

*My niece, Jubalee, was born in July (and she’s perfect and beautiful and the best little chunk of a baby).

*I finally got to dine at a Thomas Keller establishment (Bouchon in Las Vegas).

*I dyed my hair ‘ombre’.

*I planted my first real garden (thanks to the raised garden beds my husband built for me). I grew: squash (delicata, spaghetti, zucchini), chioggia beets, tomatoes, shallots, carrots, chives, arugula, kale, chard, peppers, and cucumbers.

*I was asked to join the board of the Montavilla Farmer’s Market. (And I accepted, of course).

*I finally got on the Harry Potter bandwagon. I read all the books and watched all of the movies this year, and I’m seriously kicking myself for not reading them sooner.

*In June, I celebrated 2 years of marriage to my best friend.

This is us, looking celebratory (!):

So, yeah, I’d say it’s been a fantastic year.

As for 2012? I’ve got a whole lot to look forward to…

*Hosting the PDX Food Swap (The next one will be in March, 2012!).

*Working with the Montavilla Farmer’s Market, specifically working to help reduce food insecurity through the Everybody Eats program.

*Eating at DOC in Portland – it’s been on my list for ages, and somehow I’ve not had a chance to eat there.

*Taking on new freelance writing gigs, in addition to expanding my wedding coordinating and events business. I have some exciting things in the works!

*Traveling to Europe with my love (The plans are still tenative, but if I write it here, that means we have to go!).

*Planting & growing an even more successful garden!

*Disneyland! (We’re going in January. I’m a total sucker for Disneyland.)

*Vegas in March with a couple of my favorite ladies.

*Trying new things, cooking new things, and learning new things.

I’m exciting to grow and change this year. I’m excited for whatever life throws at me. I’m thankful for all that I’ve been given, and I look forward to the new year with a sense of hope and excitement. God is good.

Lastly, I thought I’d share a festive cocktail recipe that is perfect for ringing in the new year. It also happens to be my favorite cocktail of all time: The French 77.

The French 77 is a variation on the classic cocktail, The French 75. The French 75 was created in 1915 at a bar in Paris and the drink was originally made with gin, champagne, simple syrup, and a lemon twist. The name hails from the fact that the cocktail was rumored to “have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun”.

The 77 doesn’t differ much from the 75, but the one slight change makes all the difference (in my humble opinion). The 77 uses Elderflower Liqueur (St. Germain) in place of the simple syrup. The St. Germain adds a sweetness that isn’t too sweet. It’s slightly floral, without being too overpowering. It’s perfect. The cocktail is smooth, balanced, and goes down ridiculously easily. And yes, it certainly has the kick of a French field rifle. This cocktail packs a punch (in the best way).

So, Happy New Year to you and yours! I plan on celebrating with a French 77. Maybe you’ll join me?

The French 77
Note: The drink is often served in a champagne flute, but I like to serve it in a smaller classic cocktail glass.

2 oz Gin
1/2 oz St. Germain (Elderflower liqueur)
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces Champagne (or sparkling wine)
1 small strip lemon zest

Shake together gin, lemon juice, and St. Germain with ice. Strain, and pour into a cocktail glass. Pour champagne float over the top, garnish with lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Makes one cocktail.

Happy New Year, y’all!

Crema di Limoncello

I went to the grocery store over the weekend, and while I was there my husband texted and asked me to pick up a can of red hair spray for his Halloween Costume (he dressed up as Ron Weasley). I went to the Halloween section, which just days before had been full of costumes, candy, and Halloween decor. But now, just 3 days before Halloween, the section was reduced to a measly and picked over half-aisle. I wandered down the aisles to see if there were any other Halloween supplies, but only found aisle after aisle of Christmas merchandise. It was red and green as far as the eye could see.

It’s all a little bit ridiculous, isn’t it? Christmas seems to come earlier every year. I’m just not ready for it — for all the holiday crowds and obnoxious renditions of Jingle Bells playing on repeat in department stores (does a non-obnoxious version of Jingle Bells exist?).

And yet, here I am posting about Christmas on Halloween. I’m just as bad as the grocery store, apparently.

But, the actual recipe has nothing to do with Christmas. The recipe is for Crema Di Limoncello, which is a creamy lemon liqueur that can be enjoyed year-round. I made a batch of limoncello a couple of weeks ago, with the idea of getting a head start on my Christmas presents this year. You see, I make most of my Christmas gifts by hand and so I figured that if I got started on gifts in October, then I’d be less stressed in December.

This idea was good in theory, until my husband and I consumed all the limoncello (OK, we didn’t consume all of it…I did swap some of it at the last PDX Food Swap). Oops. This stuff is dangerously delicious. I suppose this is one gift I’ll have to wait and make in December, as it simply won’t last long at our house. It is too good!

That being said, maybe I shouldn’t recommend that you make limoncello for Christmas gifts. Maybe you should just make a batch and drink it with friends and loved ones. However, if you’re one of my friends or loved ones, you probably shouldn’t make any as I will most likely be giving you a bottle for Christmas. ;)

Anyway…Happy Halloween (and Happy Reformation Day)! I’m going to celebrate with a big bowl of pumpkin curry, and I might just drink the last few drops of limoncello that I have left. Be warm, safe, and happy tonight.

Crema di Limoncello
Adapted from Vanilla Garlic

(**Note the original recipe makes twice this amount. My recipe starts with a pint of Everclear, as opposed to a full 750ml bottle. In addition, the ratio of milk to alcohol is 2 to 1, and yet this limoncello still packs a punch. I was dubious about the 4 cups of milk to 2 cups of Everclear, but it works, trust me.)

5 lemons
2 cups Everclear (You could substitute another brand of vodka in this recipe, but Everclear has a higher alcohol content than other vodkas. If you use another vodka, reduce the amount of milk used)
4 cups of whole milk
1.5 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (or half a a vanilla bean)
Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer

Zest the lemons (using a grater, or by peeling strips off with a knife/peeler). Place Everclear and lemon zest into a jar and seal. Store in a cool, dry place for one week (or more. I let mine steep for two weeks). Strain using cheesecloth or strainer to remove zest.

In a small pot or saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat. Add in the sugar and the vanilla, and cook (stirring frequently) until the sugar has dissolved. Remove milk mixture from heat and allow to cool.

Once cool, mix milk and infused Everclear together in a large bowl or pitcher. Funnel into bottles, jars, or other tightly sealed containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. Serve chilled.

Note: Limoncello is usually served as an after dinner cocktail. I like to serve it in small glasses, poured straight out of the freezer. The colder the better!

On Tame Rabbits and Drinking Your Vegetables: Recipe Swap

Hi all!

Another month has gone by, and another recipe swap is upon us. Christianna (at Burwell General Store) selects a recipe from a funny old vintage cookbook every month and sends it out to a group of bloggers from all over the world, and then asks us to reinterpret the recipe however we see fit.

This month, Christianna selected Wild Rabbit with Vegetables.

I’ve been part of the recipe swap for quite some time now, but this recipe really caught my eye. We call this a vintage recipe swap (as the recipes are from a vintage cookbook) and this recipe seemed vintage in every sense of the word. I was excited to get my hands dirty and try this old world recipe! But then, I got to thinking about the recipe and I found myself encountering a few major problems with it. Let me explain…

First: It is hot as hell outside right now. While this recipe sounds delicious, it also sounds like the epitome of warm, comforting winter food. The last thing on earth I want to do is turn on my oven, so a braised meat dish just wasn’t going to happen.

Second: I am up to my ears in house projects this weekend and have no time or energy for cooking. We decided to use our Labor Day weekend to sand and paint our deck. Thrilling, right? On top of that, I re-painted our kitchen cabinets and Nich is building us a picnic table for the backyard. So many projects…and so little time to whip up a proper meal.

Last (but certainly not least): I could not, for the life of me, muster up the courage to cook rabbit. I will admit, I’ve eaten – and enjoyed – rabbit on occasion. But I happen to own a teeny tiny bunny rabbit named Lil Omar (yes, he is named after The Wire) and he is like a son to me. He is adorable, he is fearless, and he is the best bunny in the entire world. He’s even potty trained, for crying out loud. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself:

I told you he’s adorable! And while this might sound silly, I just couldn’t stomach the thought of cooking one of Lil Omar’s long lost relatives. So, then, I did what any sensible person in my situation would do: I somehow turned a Wild Rabbit with Vegetables recipe into a cocktail.

Rather than cook rabbit with vegetables, I snuggled with my rabbit and drank some vegetables. Overall, I feel that it was a great decision. No ovens were turned on. No bunnies were harmed. And I made a delicious (and spicy!) bloody mary with heirloom tomatoes from my garden. It was a win-win situation.

I highly encourage you to visit the Recipe Swap page so see what wonderful creations the other swappers whipped up this month!

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary with Wasabi
(Adapted from Cookie and Kale)

Note: I garnished the Bloody Mary with these spicy pickled carrots and threw a couple frozen cherry tomatoes in as ice cubes. Also note, I did not share any of the Bloody Mary with Lil Omar.

Ingredients for one cocktail:
2 ounces vodka
1/2 cup organic tomato juice
1 heirloom tomato, cut into wedges and frozen for one hour
A couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
Sriracha (or other brand) hot sauce, to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
freshly ground pepper

For Wasabi salt rim:
Wasabi powder
Kosher salt
A few grinds fresh black pepper

Freeze heirloom tomato wedges for an hour, or until tomato pieces are frozen solid.

Prepare the glass: Pour one Tablespoon of kosher salt into the bottom of a small shallow bowl or plate – so that the salt covers the base of the bowl or plate. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of wasabi powder and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Stir gently to combine. Wet the rim of a rocks glass with a wedge of melon or lime. Invert the glass and dip into the wasabi salt, to create a salt rim. Set glass aside until needed.

Combine all elements in a blender or food processor, and blend until it reaches a smooth, slushy consistency. Once the mixture is blended, pour into the prepared glass. Garnish with whatever you please, I used spicy pickled carrots and a few frozen cherry tomatoes as ice cubes.