When your birthday falls on a Saturday, what better way to celebrate than a good old fashioned house party with friends, music and a drink created just for the occasion.
The 57. A Watermelon Martini:
Juice from half a lime
1 mint leaf
1/2 oz. of Monin Watermelon Syrup
1-2 oz Hangar 1 Vodka
1-2 oz seltzer water
Mint leaf for garnish
Muddle the lime juice, mint leaf and watermelon syrup in the bottom of a shaker. Add ice cubes, vodka and seltzer water. Gently shake, then strain into Martini glass. Garnish with mint leaf.
I came across a recipe for “brown butter” that was to be drizzled over mashed potatoes. Directions for the butter were simple; slowly heat butter in a pan, the butter will melt, then separate, creating a white “foam” on top. The white foam will gradually fade and brown bits will appear at the bottom of the pan.
Once you see the brown bits, remove the pan from heat. The butter will have a hint of caramel to it’s scent as well as it’s taste.
This carmelized butter makes everything extra special. I use in the making of omelettes, on pancakes, veggies, pasta, meat, fish, etc. It makes me feel as though I’ve learned the secret to gourmet cooking.
Something I started this year is substituting mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes. I steam the cauliflower in chicken broth (beef broth or vegetable broth). Once tender, I mash it and add bits of sautéed garlic. For those who don’t mind the extra fat, I recommend adding a little cream. This tastes great with the caramelized butter drizzled on top.
A few articles ago, I wrote about slow roasting tomatoes. I’ve experimented a bit more with the grape tomatoes by roasting them in an oven set at 200F degrees for 5 hours. The tomatoes will shrivel up looking like red raisins.
After removing them from the oven, the tomatoes can be salted, or sprinkled with parmesan cheese. They are filled with a burst tomato flavor and a the sweet tartness of sun dried tomatoes.
The batch of tomatoes shown in the photo are topped with garlic that was quickly fried in olive oil. This process, gives the garlic a chewy candy-like texture. The olive oil, flavored from the garlic, is poured over the tomatoes and refrigerated. I serve them cold or hot, tossed in pasta or in scrambled eggs or in a sandwich of tomatoes and cheddar cheese on sourdough. Yum!
In the wee small hours of the morning I found myself watching a Jacques Pepin cooking show. He shared a memory of eating toast with homemade butter in his grandmother’s kitchen. Jacques’ own granddaughter, Shorey was on this particular episode helping him in the kitchen. He gave the granddaughter a small jelly jar filled halfway with cream. He put a lid on the jar and told her to shake it continuously. He then went on to show his television audience how to make butter using a food processor.
While demonstrating and giving culinary words of wisdom, he’d check on Shorey to make sure she was still shaking her jar. After about ten minutes, he asked the girl to remove the lid and show us her cream that had now become a small clump of butter sitting in a pool of buttermilk!
I made butter! I have a food processor, but I chose the jelly jar method, and it worked. It took about the same amount of time it takes to prepare a pot of tea. I spread some of my homemade butter on a couple of pieces toast and topped it with marmalade. It was delicious! I look forward to sharing this process with my grandniece and nephew the next time they visit.
My dad used to drink buttermilk and as a little girl I’d turn up my nose watching him drink the stuff. I remembered it as tasting sour and yucky, but the by-product of this homemade butter (that I made) was slightly sweet and enjoyable. Who’d da thunk?
• Fill a small jar about half full of cream. Put a lid on it and shake continuously 10-15 minutes or until the contents separate.
• Pour the “buttermilk” into a small glass and drink it, or use it for buttermilk pancakes.
• Place the ball of butter on a cheese cloth, or paper towel and blot out the excess liquid.
• Add salt if desired. Refrigerate.
Slow roast cherry tomatoes with garlic cloves in an oven of 200 degrees 3 to 5 hours.
I’ll toss the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, a pinch or two of brown sugar and some balsamic vinegar. Spread them evenly on a roasting pan and place in the oven. Check occasionally, turning them over, gently, so not to burst them. I might sprinkle dried herbs at the beginning of this process, or add basil leaves at the end when I’m ready to store them in a jar and refrigerate. I add a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper when I store them in a tightly sealed mason jar.
Roasted tomatoes and garlic make a great addition to a salad, or as an appetizer with fresh mozzarella. I’ve used it as a spread on toasted french bread. I once impressed a friend when I took a jar out of the fridge and tossed it in a pan of fried (diced) bacon. I tossed in cooked pasta and sprinkled on some parmesan…. she thinks I’m a gourmet cook!
Something I like to have readily available in the fridge is a simple syrup made with the juice of freshly squeezed lemons.
Squeeze the juice from several lemons and strain the pulp and seeds. Place equal parts juice and sugar (raw works very well) in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Once boiled, reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally, so not to burn, for 5-10 minutes. Liquid should reduce and thicken slightly.
When life gives you lots of lemons… make syrup!
I like using this in tea, a variety of cocktails, as well as combining with seltzer water for a sparkling lemonade.
Often I’ll toss in strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. I will let it cook a bit longer in order to get as much of the color and flavor of the added fruit. Again strain the pulp to keep the liquid clear. Store in a jar or bottle, keep refrigerated.