Posts Tagged champagne

Happy New Year: La Luna Rosa Cocktail

Here’s to a new year, to new adventures and new beginnings. My resolutions are simple this year: I want to read more. I want to spend more time outdoors. I resolve to make my bed, every single day. I want to be a better listener, a better wife, a better friend. I resolve to compliment more and criticize less.

I created a cocktail for New Year’s Eve and thought I would share it with you all. New Year’s Eve has come and gone, but I’m an advocate of drinking bubbles year round. I call this drink La Luna Rosa (The Pink Moon). It’s refreshing, unique, and delicious. Simply mix together equal parts Tequila (Anejo or Reposado), sparkling wine, and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Top with a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. Serve up. It’s as simple as that.

Happy new year, friends. May this be the best year yet.


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!

Recipe Swap: Strawberry Champagne Jam and Thumbprints

It’s recipe swap time again!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, this recipe swap is the brain child of Christianna at Burwell General Store. Every month, she selects one recipe from a vintage cookbook and sends it out to a group of food bloggers from all over the world. We’re each asked to reinterpret the recipe however we see fit, and then we all post our recreations on the same day.

For this swap, CM picked the old time recipe of Jelly Cake.

As I’ve said before a million (billion) times, I’m not a big sweets person. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a savory application for Jelly Cake. My thoughts drifted to summer berries, jams, preserves, and syrups. CM specifically told us she picked this recipe in hopes that we’d be inspired by summer preserves, and she was spot on. I was THRILLED to have an excuse to make jam!

So when I saw that strawberries were still very much in season here in Oregon, I promptly bought a flat of strawberries from my farmer’s market and invited myself over to my mom’s house for a day of canning. I grew up making jam with my Grandma, and I must admit that my Grandma’s strawberry freezer jam is one of the best things I have ever, ever tasted.

But, for whatever reason, this time I didn’t set out to make my Grandmother’s jam. I think I was too afraid of messing up her recipe. I was scared it wouldn’t taste like the jam I remember so fondly from my childhood! So, then, I decided put my own spin on my childhood favorite: I made Strawberry Champagne Jam with Thyme.

I wasn’t sure how the alcohol would work with the jam, but I decided to give it a shot. I’d seen a few recipes online (so I knew it was possible), and it just sounded like such a wonderful combination. I worried and fretted as I made the jam, hoping that the champagne wouldn’t keep the jam from setting up properly. I stared at the jars of jam as they cooled, willing them to set up properly. When I opened up a jar the next day, I was pleased to see the jam had set up nicely. I was even more pleased to discover that the jam tasted fantastic. However, I was totally and completely taken aback by the fact that his jam somehow tasted exactly like my Grandma’s strawberry jam. Let it be known that my Grandma does not put champagne or thyme in her jam. I have no idea how my jam ended up tasting so much like hers! There isn’t a lot of thyme or champagne in the jam, so I think these flavors paled in comparison to the natural fruity flavors of the strawberries. Try as I might to make my own version, I still ended up with a jam that was a lot like my Grandmas. I couldn’t be happier!

So, then, what do you do when you have 11 jars of delicious strawberry jam? First, you spread some on a piece of toast and happily devour it. Then, you make another piece of toast and devour that piece as well. Then, you give away a couple of jars to your friends and family.

Then…you make jam thumbprints!

I love thumbprint cookies, and this seemed like the perfect way to feature the jam. In addition, this cookie is such a classic old recipe, and it really seemed to fit well within the realm of jelly cake. The cookies were bright, fun, flavorful, and captured so many of my favorite flavors of summer.

As always, I had a great time participating in the recipe swap. I am thankful to Christianna for giving me the excuse to make my first jam of the summer (there will be many more to come, I hope!). Make sure you stop by the Recipe Swap page at Burwell General store, and be sure to visit all the other fantastic blogs to see what they came up with for the swap!

Strawberry Champagne Jam with Thyme
(Adapted from Recipe Circus)

(Note: The champagne and thyme flavors are very subtle in this jam. Feel free to experiment with the measurements to reach your desired flavor profile. Also, this jam is a bit runny. If you want a firm jam that sets up completely, I would suggest omitting the champagne.)

4-1/2 to 5 cups strawberries
1 pkg. (3 Tablespoons) pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup dry champagne
6 cups sugar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

In a large pot or stock pot, combine berries, pectin, lemon juice, thyme and champagne. Cook on medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. (Note: the mixture will bubble and foam and will triple in size. If you’re afraid it will boil over, feel free to scrape off some of the foam).

Once boiling, add sugar and stir constantly until mixture comes to a rolling boil again. Boil, while stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately ladle into clean, hot jars.

Invert jars after applying lids and let set for a few hours before processing for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. (The original instructions call for this step, but I was in a hurry so I skipped the inverting part and went straight to the hot water bath).

Strawberry Jam Thumbprints
(Makes 2 dozen cookies)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground (toasted) almonds
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
The zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
pinch of salt
2/3 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter with sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (5 mins). In a food processor or blender, grind almonds, thyme and lemon zest together until the almonds mixture is finely ground.

In a separate small bowl, Whisk together flour, ground almonds, and salt. Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Refrigerate dough for 20-30 minutes before shaping.

Using a teaspoon (or your hands), form small balls and place on cookies sheets, evenly spaced apart. Using your thumb, make indentations in the cookies, creating a well for the jam. Fill each cookie well with strawberry jam.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just barely browned around the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack. The cookies should be crumbly, buttery (and fabulous)!

For the love of beets.

I apologize for the sudden outpouring of beet recipes on my blog. I don’t quite know what’s gotten into me.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I did not like beets until somewhat recently. Not one bit. I don’t know what finally persuaded me, but suddenly I can’t get enough of them! They are just so darn beautiful (and tasty! And good for you!) So many great things rolled up into one pretty little package.

My theory behind the sudden outpouring of beet recipes is that I’m making up for lost time. All those years I spent hating beets…I had no idea what I was missing. So now that I’ve fallen in love with this ruby red root vegetable, I’m going a little beet crazy. To all you beet haters out there: I apologize. I know that my blog is quite beety at the moment. So, I promise that this will be the last of the beet recipes for awhile, OK? Besides, I have spring vegetables to concentrate on now. Bring on the asparagus, radishes, strawberries, snap peas, and more!

However, I will say one more thing to the beet haters out there. If you could find it in your heart to give beets another chance, you might be pleasantly surprised. Beets – when done right – are nothing like their soggy, ghoulish canned counterparts (don’t even get me started on canned beets: ICK!). With that being said, I’ll leave you with a few of the recipes that have helped me learn to love beets.

Beet Quinoa Pancakes
Boozy Beet and Apple Popsicles
BLBs – Bacon, Lettuce, and Beet Sandwiches

And now, for all you beet lovers…you’re in for a real treat. I have not one, but two beet recipes for you. I served both of these at my Cheese, Wine and Swine dinner party (However, I did not serve them together, as I thought that might be overdoing it a touch). The Babushka (beet cocktail) was paired with the melon and duck proscuitto appetizer, and the Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad was served as the second course (paired with a lovely French Rosé).

I’ll leave you all with this thought: this weekend, I planted 3 rows of chioggia beets in my garden. So when I harvest those little beauties, I can promise you I’ll go on a beet craze again. For now, I’ll leave you with these two recipes and lay off the beets for awhile. :)

The Babushka
(Makes 1 cocktail)
3 oz beet vokda (Click here for the recipe)
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup (*or ginger simple syrup, recipe here)
1 oz of Prosecco (or other sparkling wine)

In pitcher or measuring cup, gently stir together beet vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup. Pour into a chilled martini glass. Gently pour prosecco over the top. Garnish with lemon wedge. Serve immediately.

Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio Vinaigrette
(Serves 4)
4 large beets
1 fennel bulb
1/2 cup good quality goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1/8 tsp nutmeg
The juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roast beets: Wash the beets and remove greens (set aside for another use). Do not peel the beets. Wrap each beet in a piece of tinfoil and place directly on rack in preheated oven. Roast 45 minutes to an hour, or until beets are tender when pricked with a fork or knife. Allow beets to cool. Once cooled, the skin should peel or rub off easily. Remove skin and slice beets into 1/4 or 1/2 cubes.

Roast fennel: Remove tops (fronds) of the fennel, set aside for later. Slice fennel bulb thinly (like you would an onion), toss with olive oil to coat. Spread fennel in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven, or until tender.

Make pistachio vinaigrette:
Chop pistachios or pulse quickly in a food processor. Pour olive oil over the pistachios, stir to combine Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cider vinegar. The mixture will be thick.

Whip the goat cheese: using a whisk, blender, or hand mixer, whip goat cheese and creme fraiche together until goat cheese is whipped and fluffy. Add extra creme fraiche if needed. Season goat cheese mixture with nutmeg and a dash of black pepper.

Combine cooled beets and fennel in a mixing bowl. Toss with liberal amount of the pistachio dressing. Take reserved fennel fronds & chop finely – until you have 2 teaspoons worth. Sprinkle finely chopped fennel fronds over the salad, stir just to combine. Serve beet salad in small bowls and top with a healthy dollop of whipped goat cheese. Sprinkle extra pistachios atop the goat cheese. Serve at room temperature.

Note: For those of you who asked about recipes from the Cheese, Wine, and Swine dinner party: I hope you were pleased with what I’ve posted. This will be the last of them! My husband was responsible for making the duck prosciutto, and I’m still waiting on him to write up that post. :) And I’ll admit – the duck proscuitto was really tasty, but we’re definitely still beginners at the fine art of charcuterie. For a full tutorial on how to make your own duck proscuitto, go here.