Happy Thanksgiving

Thinking of you, as I get ready for Thanksgiving …

ThanksgivingPilgrims

One of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving: Orange Carrot Soup.

OrangeCarrotSoup

… and another Bordeaux Cranberry Compote.

 

CranberryCompoteBordeaux

Don’t forget festive libations, including for designated drivers. This is my Black Tea Sangria, served over ice, with apple slices, mandarin orange slices, and frozen raspberries, then topped off with tonic water. I’m still looking for a good name for this mocktail. Have any suggestions?

BTSTonic3.jpg

Don’t forget to spend a little time in nature to get away from the hustle and bustle for preparing for the holdiays…

KonzaPrairieWarmWinterDay

May everyone travel safely…

WoodyStationWagonHeadlight

Warmest wishes to you for a most lovely holiday season!

Kumquat Gin & Tonic/Kumquat Tonic

KumquatG&T

Something I enjoy is creating cocktails and recently I made what I thought was a perfect Gin & Tonic … with kumquats! I won’t say that it is “the” perfect Gin & Tonic, because that all depends on what one is in the mood for and on one’s personal taste. (I, also happen to be a fan of Day Lily Gin Tonics for after working in the garden on a sticky hot early summer afternoon.)

Kumquats are very tart, as are limes, so they are a substitute for a squeeze of lime. But they are also sweet enough to eat, so one can consume them after finishing the drink.

Anyhow, here is what you need:

  • a good gin, one that you really like – I used Caorunn
  • chilled tonic water, one that actually has both fizz and flavor, e.g. Canada Dry in small glass bottles (a tart “soda”, e.g. San Pellegrino Limonata, can be substituted for those who like a slightly stronger sweet-tart cocktail)
  • several kumquats, sliced not too thin and not too thick
  • ice

Place the ice and the kumquat slice in a glass. Stir. Pour in gin to your desired strength (approximately a 1:3 gin to tonic ratio is my preference). Top with tonic. Enjoy! Share with friends over the upcoming holiday weekend! Cheers!

A quick note on tonics: if your tonic is flat or flavorless, it will ruin the drink, as will it if your tonic isn’t chilled because the ice cubes will melt too quickly.

When entertaining and serving cocktails, it is important to have fun alcohol-free beverages as well. For a pleasant mocktail, let’s call it a Kumquat Tonic, skip the gin, use the San Pellegrino Limonata (or something similar); don’t skimp on the kumquats … and use a lime slice for garnish. Very colorful and pleasant for hot weather! Again, cheers!

Either way … a delightful way to kick off summer! Best to you …

 

Bananaberry Smoothie

SmoothieBananaBerry

Bananaberry Smoothie

(serves 2)

1/3 c. light coconut milk

2 T. fresh orange juice

1 medium size frozen banana, peeled and cut into slices (about 3/4 c.)

1 c. mixed fresh berries (sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and/or blueberries)

fruit for garnish

Place coconut  milk, orange juice, banana and berries in blender and process until smooth. Pour into serving glasses and garnish with fruit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

• A mix of red berries and dark berries produces the best color.

• This recipe makes a smoothie that is thin enough to drink. For a thicker smoothie, use frozen berries.

Old Fashioned Christmas (Cocktail)

Inspired by classic bourbon cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, this cocktail has been spruced up for Christmas but still retains a pleasing balance between bitter, sweet, fruity and bourbon flavors. Cheers!

Old Fashioned Christmas

ChristmasCardinalBright2

Ingredients

2 oz. Woodford Reserve or other good bourbon whiskey

1 oz. Pallini Raspicello Liqueur

1 oz. Travis Hasse’s Apple Pie Liqueur

4 dashes Angostura Bitters

ice, for shaking

lemon peel, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add bourbon, liqueurs and bitters. Cover and shake well –  to mix ingredients, to chill the drink and to allow a little of the ice to melt. Strain into a decorative martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel and serve.

Happy Holidays!

Blueberry Mint Iced Tea

June is National Iced Tea Month … perfect timing for warm weather refreshment! Flavored iced teas are easy to make and a are a great way to add personal flair to this summertime beverage for entertaining.

Image

Blueberry Mint Iced Tea

8 c. cold water

6 bags of good black tea (decaf. ok)

3/4 c. loosely packed fresh mint leaves, washed

3/4 c. raw sugar

7 cups ice cubes

3 c. fresh blueberries (or mixture of blueberries and blackberries), washed and stemmed

Frozen blueberries and ice cubes for serving

Lemon slices for serving

Fresh mint for garnish

 

Directions

1. Bring water to boil in a 4-quart pot. Add tea bags, mint leaves and sugar. Cover pot and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Stir to make sure that sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Place 7 c. ice cubes into a 1-gallon pitcher. Strain tea into pitcher.

3. Place berries in a food processor and pulse until puréed. Press puree through sieve into tea. Stir until ice is completely dissolved and  purée is incorporated into the tea.

4. To serve, fill glasses with ice cubes, frozen blueberries and lemon slices. Pour tea over ice. Garnish with mint.

Enjoy!

More iced tea recipes …

Black Tea “Sangria recipe.

Iced Minted Orange Juice recipe.

Mint Simple Syrup recipe for adding to iced tea.

Beautiful Blood Orange Margarita

Image

Happy National Margarita Day (February 22nd)! To commemorate the occasion, here is the recipe for a beautiful and delicious Blood Orange Margarita.  Salud!

Blood Orange Margarita

2 oz. anejo tequila

1 oz. orange liqueur

juice from 1 blood orange

juice from 1 lime

lime slice for garnish

edible flower for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add tequila, orange liqueur, blood orange juice and lime juice. Shake well to chill and to mix ingredients.

2. Strain into a margarita glass. Garnish with lime and flower.

Enjoy, but please don’t drink and drive!

The Four-Citrus Limoncello Experiment, Part II

A few days ago, I posted Part I of the Four-Citrus Limoncello Experiment. As I had hoped, the method that I used – using both finely zested peels and fresh squeezed juices – allowed me create a delicious liqueur in less time than the traditional method of making Limoncello. The addition of other flavors other than lemon – grapefruit, orange, and lime – was just for fun. The recipe, posted at the bottom, makes a liqueur which is both sweet and tart, like a traditional Limoncello; and like a traditional Limoncello is slightly viscous. The flavor, however, is a bit mellower, making it very easy to sip. I was in a hurry to produce this batch because I want to use it to make a Limoncello Sorbet to serve between courses at Christmas dinner. Oh, yum, I can hardly wait!

Limoncello2

Since I used finely grated zests, rather than large pieces of peels, and also included juices from the citrus fruits, I wasn’t sure for how long I was going to have to let the liqueur infuse. When I tasted it this morning, which was 3.5 days after starting the batch, I was very happy with the results. I tried to strain it through a coffee filter, but was barely able to get enough liqueur to fill the glass that I wanted to use for photos; so I resorted to straining it several times through a very fine mesh strainer which seemed to work well.

Limoncello3

Four-Citrus Limoncello

(Makes about 1.75 quarts)

(1) Wash and dry: 

• 6 lg. lemons,

• 2 lg. oranges,

• 2 lg. limes, and

• 1/2 lg. grapefruit.

(2) Zest the fruits, removing just the colored portion of the skin, leaving the white pith behind. (Use a microplane grater to zest lemons, oranges and limes. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the zest from the grapefruit, then chop the grapefruit zest.) Combine and measure the zest from the fruits. You should have about 3/4 c. of zest, packed down.

(3) Juice the fruits and strain out the pulp out before measuring. You should have about 2 1/2 c. of juice remaining.

(4) Combine the zest and juice with:

• 2 c. granulated white sugar.

(5) Divide juice mixture evenly between two 1-quart mason jars. Top off jars with:

• 3 3/4 c. 80-proof vodka ( 1 3/4 c. + 2 T. per jar).

(6) Shake well. Place jars in a freezer. Shake jars every day and taste a spoonful of the liqueur to determine when you have achieved the desired flavor. This should be about 3 – 4 days. Strain Limoncello through a very fine strainer into clean glass container(s). Store in the freezer until serving. Salute!

Several people  kindly sent Limoncello links to me after the first post.

Giadia di Laurentiis’ recipe, which also requires just a few days.

Nostrana’s recipe, which involves suspending whole lemons above the alcohol to be infused.

Happy Holidays!

Limoncello1

The Four-Citrus Limoncello Experiment, Part I

I’ve been wanting to make Limoncello for a few weeks now, and finally made a point of doing it today. I decided to make a four citrus variation, which I have never made before. Here is the backstory. One year I decided to make a mixed-citrus marmalade for my maternal grandmother for Christmas. I purchased all of the fruits, sliced them oh so thinly and then cooked the marmalade, only to have the sugar burn just before the marmalade gelled. So, I tried it again the next day, with the same results. This was so disappointing because I had used all of that fruit and it smelled so incredibly good on the stove. So, I went to the library and did some research. I looked up every marmalade recipe I could find and it turned out that the recipe I was using – one that I had gotten out of a magazine – called for way too much water. By that point, I totally lost my interest in making marmalade for that year. But ever since, I have loved this combination of fruits and think about my grandmother whenever I use it. Hence, I decided to experiment with this combination for a limoncello variation.

Image

Most limoncello recipes direct one to add zest to alcohol, allow to macerate, strain, mix with simple syrup and then continue to age the product. I have recently come across several, however, which call for adding sugar and fruit juice at the beginning, and omitting the simple syrup at the end. Out of curiosity, I am giving this a try and am hopeful that it shall work fine.  However, I decided to hold off on sharing the recipe until I know the timing and the results for certain. I wouldn’t want you to have the experience with this limoncello that I had with the marmalade. I have read that adding juice to the recipe can make the limoncello sour – that one just wants the essential oils from the lemon peel; but so far my concotion tastes wonderful and it hasn’t even been infusing for any length of time yet. Maybe the trick will be to serve it sooner. Be patient and keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

……………..

Have you made limoncello? Do you have a favorite recipe, variation, method or story to share?

 

Little Apple Manhattan Cocktails

We had fun entertaining over Thanksgiving. One of the cocktails that we served was a Little Apple Manhattan. Since several people asked for the recipe*, I decided to share it. Happy Holidays!

Image

Little Apple Manhattan*

2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon

3/4 oz Travis Hasse’s Apple Pie Liqueur

1/2 oz. Vya Sweet Vermouth

dash Angostura Bitters

apple slices

maraschino cherry

Place a few cubes of ice in an old-fashioned glass. Add bourbon, liqueurs and bitters. Stir well. Garnish with apple slices and a cherry. Cheers!

* This is based on Travis Hasse’s The Big Apple; but since Manhattan, Kansas is known as The Little Apple, I couldn’t resist changing the name.

Chocolat Chaud (French-style Bittersweet Hot Chocolate)

ChocolatChaud

The other day I was reading J. A. Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste and his discussion of chocolate gave me the greatest craving for a rich cup of chocolat chaud. As we have been experiencing cool weather here in Manhattan, Kansas the past few days, the timing was perfect; but, of course, being Kansas, the weather is supposed back up into the 80’s by mid-week. That’s how it goes here. I hope that you are having a lovely autumn! Enjoy the recipe!

Chocolat Chaud

6 oz. best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 c. boiling water

about 2 c. warm milk

cinnamon sticks for garnish

optional other ingredients & garnishes: brown sugar, Chantilly Cream, cinnamon sugar, chocolate curls

Directions:

1. Place chocolate in a 2-qt. sauce pan over low heat. Pour boiling water over chocolate. Stir until smooth.

2. Gradually stir in 2 c. of the warm milk. Taste. If the flavor is too strong for you, stir in more milk to taste. If desired, stir in a bit of brown sugar.

3. Once you have reached the desired flavor, continue stirring until smooth and hot – but not boiling.

4. If you have an immersion blender, whip the hot chocolate until frothy. Ladle into warmed serving cups. Garnish each with a cinnamon stick. If desired, top with Chantilly cream, cinnamon sugar and/or chocolate curls. Bon appétit!

Note: As with just about anything you make, the are a number of ways to make chocolat chaud. Some recipes omit the hot water. You can use more or less milk if you desire. (About 2 cups of milk is the minimum that I like to use without having to sweeten the beverage.) If you have the patience to wait, after you have warmed the hot chocolate mixture and balanced the flavors, remove it from the heat, transfer to a glass container and allow it to sit for several hours in order to thicken. Return chocolate to clean saucepan, then gently warm mixture and continue with step 4.