Monthly Archives: April 2010

Spiced Cocktail Nuts

We had some out-of-town friends over recently for a pre-dinner cocktail.  We wanted to have an accompanying light snack before our lovely meal out at Fatty Crab, one of our not-so-new favorites.  Cheese, as much as we love it, was out of the question.  So, we settled on something we have made time and time again.  Sometimes tried and true is the way to go.

Spiced Cocktail Nuts

Although the recipe I have included has some pretty exact measurements, feel free, as I do, to make it your own.  I always increase the cashews and almonds in favor of a reduction in peanuts, for example.  And, I find that a 2 inch sprig of rosemary and three sprigs of thyme is hardly enough.

The resulting spicy mixed nuts have many notable qualities.  They are easy to prepare, can be made a week in advance and have an unusual herby spicy flavor that is unforgettable and perfect with an early spring beverage.

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Appetizers

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

I’ve seen an episode or three of The Hills and was always amazed by LC and the gang’s infatuation with Pinkberry. I dismissed it as silly, just like I did most of the show (although it remains a wonderful guilty pleasure).  If only there were more hours in the day.  Then, before Pinkberry opened its doors on the east coast, I heard of the treat being flown across the country for a child’s bat mitzvah.  Really?

It has now been in New York for some time and last weekend I finally paid a visit to the Pinkberry.  And, as much as I hate to admit, it does indeed live up to the hype.  They even have a motto and a catchy little rap song.  The motto goes like this…”frozen yogurt reinvented to create an experience that indulges the senses.”  I’ll say.  They are indeed on to something.  I had a mini combo with mango and plain yogurt, no toppings and it was remarkable.  I left rapping P-I-N-K-B-E-RRY, Pinkberry.

I then decided to go home and see if I could recreate the magic.  And, I modestly say that I think I did.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Since strawberries are in season, that seemed like an easy choice.  This recipe is so easy AND it even has vodka in it.  Tart, tangy and delicious.

Here is the recipe….

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Filed under Desserts, Frozen

Rickshaw

Spring is finally here on the east coast and there’s nothing that goes better with it than a light, refreshing early evening beverage.  And with that, I present the Rickshaw, a tangy gin and lime based concoction sure to put a smile on your face.  The secret smile-inducing ingredient that takes this drink to another level is basil-infused simple syrup.

Rickshaw

You must make the syrup first because it needs time to steep.  To do so, add 1/2 cup of sugar to 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar has melted.  Add 1/4 cup of fresh loosely packed basil leaves and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 8 hours.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve and there you have the basil-infused simple syrup.

To make the cocktail, add gin, fresh squeezed lime juice and basil syrup to a cocktail shaker full of ice.  Shake and strain into a cocktail glass filled with crushed ice.  You should use a leaf or two of basil for garnish.  However, if like me, you used it all, a sprig of mint will do just fine.

Although this drink was lovely in spring, I am going to certainly make a case for it in the summer, and perhaps all year round.  Cheers!

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Alcoholic, Beverages

Homemade Graham Crackers

That M.

Sometimes, he comes up with the oddest requests in terms of what cookie he would like next.  The latest was homemade graham crackers.  Graham crackers, really?  I haven’t had them in some time.  I remember them from childhood, have had a s’more by the campfire on the rare occasion that I have been near a campfire, and think that those teddy grahams sure are cute.  Other than that, graham crackers don’t really cross my mind.

Homemade Graham Crackers

All the more reason to accept the challenge and make them from scratch.  Where would I find the recipe?   Martha, of course.  She sure knows how to turn out a cookie.

This one is a little tricky.  The dough itself is easy enough to make.  It’s the rolling and trimming part that takes patience and a certain degree of exactitude.  The dough must be rolled into a rectangle between two sheets of flour dusted parchment paper.  And yes, the flour is necessary as the dough tends to stick to the parchment.  Once a rectangle of sorts has been achieved, you are good to go.

This is where the fun begins.  Dust off that fluted pastry wheel (you knew it would come in handy someday, right?) and use it to trim the excess, thereby achieving the perfect rectangle.  Then, separate each rectangle into three smaller rectangles.  Separate each of those rectangles into even smaller rectangles but don’t cut all the way through with this pass.  This makes little marks so that each sheet of grahams can be separated into four smaller rectangles. just like those from the box.

The final verdict for me on these? Forget everything you know about the boxed version and give these a try.  M agrees.

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Cookies

Le Cake Aux Olives Et Au Reblochon

One day, when M and I ride off into the sunset, we would like to try our hand at running a country inn somewhere. We have our minds set on upstate New York or Maine but have not ruled out other much more glamorous locations.  Like France, for example.

Which is why we were both so excited when A Table in the Tarn was published last year.  The book chronicles the story of Orlando Murrin, an English food writer and journalist who up and left his life in London to open a guest house with his partner in a remote part of rural France.

The book contains stories about finding and renovating Le Manoir de Raynaudes, an 1860s farmhouse an hour outside of Toulouse.  The bonus is that it also contains 80 recipes for the dishes served at Le Manoir.

This particular recipe is for Le Cake Aux Olives Et Au Reblochon, a savory treat that Murrin served his guests with an aperitif.  Olives, pancetta, Reblochon, herbs and oh yes, please.

Le Cake Aux Olives Et Au Reblochon

This thing is crazy good.  The recipe makes one full size loaf or three mini loaves.  I made the mini loaves and the best thing about that decision is that there are now two loaves in the freezer for a date in the not too distant future. This “cake” is good with just about any cocktail but especially so with a glass of champagne or prosecco.

Update:  I just did a search for Le Manoir de Raynaudes and it seems that it is for sale.  And now I need to go.  I have some bags to pack.

Here is the recipe….

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Filed under Appetizers, Breads, Savory

Homemade Whole Wheat Newtons

Ah, the Fig Newton.  They are so soft, chewy and as far as packaged, preserved cookies go, somewhat on the healthy-ish side.  This homemade version is all that and more, due to the fresh ingredients and lack of preservatives.  The filling is made with fresh dates instead of figs so I guess these are really Date Newtons.  The recipe is a bit challenging but totally worth it.  

Whole Wheat Date Newtons

 

To make the ooey, gooey, rich and chewy filling, you simply steep dates in apple cider until a jam-like consistency is reached. (Apple juice works fine here if you are not able to find cider.)  The golden, flaky, tender, cakey outside is made with whole wheat and all-purpose flours, wheat bran, and dark brown sugar.  The addition of unsweetened applesauce adds to the yummy softness of this cookie.  And, if you do not want to buy a large jar of applesauce, a small jar of pureed apple baby food is an excellent substitute.  

The rolling, filling and dough fold over part is somewhat difficult but do persevere because these cookies will have you doing the (Date) Newton in no time.  

Here is the recipe….

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Filed under Cookies