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Navy Grog

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If you were following my Instagram feed last week, you know I was in Hawaii. To me Hawaii means warm climates, warm water, beautiful sandy beaches and tiki statues. It also means awesome tropical cocktails. I don’t know if you knew this but more often than not, these same tropical cocktails tend to go by another term: tiki cocktails. It makes sense if you think about it since so many of the Hawaiian islands and resorts are covered in tiki statues. So… since we were in the land of the tiki, I thought I’d share a classic tiki concoction this week: the Navy Grog.

This drink, like most tiki concoctions, is all rum which means it packs quite the wallop; again, just like most classic tiki drinks. But unlike a lot of the tiki cocktails, the Grog doesn’t use just one rum and a variety of tropical fruit juices. This cocktails actually uses 3 different kinds of rum… and a variety of tropical fruit juices. It’s actually those three different rums, culminating in a small batch, that sets this drink apart and usually why it has a limit of 2 on most tiki menus. At its core the Navy Grog is rum, citrus juices and honey. After that people get creative by adding passion fruit, a spiced rum or even a cinnamon or allspice syrup. If that sounds like too much trouble or too complicated, sticking with the original formula makes for a very tasty cocktail.

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Legend goes that the original formula was created by Don the Beachcomber around 1941. Unfortunately you won’t find the original formula anywhere (including on this blog) because Don decided shorty after he came up with the cocktail to keep its formula a secret. See, rum wasn’t a popular drink originally. It was considered the poor man’s alcohol. But once Don started adding fruit juices and specialty rums from around the globe to his drinks, all that changed. The tiki cocktails became quite popular, so of course other bars all over the states started adding Don’s cocktails to their menus. And if they were going to add Don’s cocktails, they wanted to make sure they made them correctly. This meant poaching his best bartenders. Of course all his bartenders knew the recipes, so they made Don’s cocktails elsewhere which quickly made Don’s special tiki drinks commonplace and uninteresting. After a year or so of this, Don hired new bartenders but refused to share his recipes, thereby making them unique again since there were only a handful of bartenders who knew how to make the perfect Zombie, Mai Tai or Navy Grog.

It could be argued though, that Don is not the original creator of the Navy Grog, but rather the Royal Navy. See, they were actually the first ones to mix rum with fruit and water way back in 1756. Since the water was stored for long periods of time, it would turn kinda slimy and gross. To make it more appealing, the sailors would add cinnamon, rum and lemon juice. The rum would help the water keep longer and the citrus juice added vitamin C which would help fight off scurvy and other diseases common among sea folk at the time. So, while Don created his own recipe for this delicious drink, he clearly took his idea (and maybe some pointers) from the Royal Navy.

So, while this may not be Don’s actual Navy Grog, it’s pretty close. If that bothers you, don’t worry. After two of these you really won’t care (or remember) where it came from. All you’ll know is that you’re enjoying a very good, albeit very strong cocktail.

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Navy Grog

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. light rum (like Bacardi Silver)
  • 1 oz. dark rum (like Myers Dark)
  • 1 oz. Demerara rum (or a small batch)
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 oz. honey
  • 1 oz. club soda

Directions:

  1. Warm the honey in a small sauce pan over a low flame.
  2. Pour the honey, the rums and the fruit juices into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into a collins glass or tiki mug filled with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with fruit, a flower or a little umbrella and serve.

Raspberry and Fig Cake

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Two of my favorite fruits are figs and raspberries and lucky for me they’re both in season right now. They may be totally different fruits with completely different flavors, but both are equally delicious. The firm little red berries are sweet with a tart burst of flavor while the figs, no matter which variety you enjoy, are fleshy and range from super sweet to mild. Because these two fruits go so well together Food & Wine decided to use them both to make a cake and the result is pure summer joy.

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But better than the flavor of the cake, is how easy it is to make. See, it’s really just your basic cake recipe. But once you put these two wonderful fruits into it, that’s when it turns into something really special. Just spoon the batter into the cake pan, then press the raspberries and figs into the batter. Bake the cake and enjoy the deliciousness. Like I said, simple.

It’s so simple in fact, that this dessert is a nice treat for the family during the week, but is pretty enough to make for a special occasion. No matter what you choose to make it for, you won’t be disappointed. Make it soon, though because raspberries and figs won’t be around for long.

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Raspberry and Fig Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • zest of 3 limes
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 4 figs (any variety), sliced into quarters
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
  2. Beat together the sugar and eggs until fluffy. Add the butter and 2/3 of the zest and continue beating until combined.
  3. Alternately beat in the flour and lime juice until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Add the raspberries and figs by gently pressing them into the batter. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 45 – 55 minutes or until a toothpick, when pricked in the middle, comes out clean.
  4. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and release the springform pan. Dust the cake with the remaining zest and powdered sugar. Slice and serve.

Chocolate Chile Popsicles

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It’s finally here. Hatch Chile Season. It’s that wonderful time of year when Hatch Chiles start showing up at your local farmers markets and certain grocery stores.  I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but when I tell you the Hatch season is only about 6 weeks long, you can understand why I’m so excited about it.

I’ve been enjoying Hatch Chiles ever since Melissa’s Produce introduced them to me two years ago. This came as a huge surprise to me because I am not a fan of spice. I don’t know why, but I can’t stand spicy foods. Seriously, whenever I see chile listed in anything I shy away. So, you can understand why I was a little nervous when I first heard about the Hatch. But Melissa’s made me a fan. See, unlike most chiles out there, the Hatch come in three different temperatures: mild, medium and hot. I was thrilled when I made this discovery because I love the chile flavor, I just don’t want the super spiciness that usually accompanies it. While the hot, is waaaaaay to spicy for me, the mild is perfect and even the medium is tolerable… in small doses.

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What’s all this Hatch Chile talk got to do with fudgesicles? Well, although I’m not a huge fan of spice, there is one place I like to add a little bite: chocolate.  If you follow this blog regularly, you know my go to chocolate spice is cinnamon. I add it to almost everything from my morning mocha to brownies. But it’s been blistering hot here in So. Cal, so my sons and I have been filling up on popsicles. We’ve been having everything from your basic juice popsicle to yogurt pops. But last week I was craving chocolate, and I knew fudgesicles would scratch that itch. But who wants a plain, ordinary fudgesicle? Not me! I want a spicy fudgesicle. Thankfully I had plenty of cinnamon and Hatch Chile powder on hand. Next thing you know I’ve got some spicy dark chocolate fudgesicles chilling in the freezer. The Hatch Chile powder made making these icy treats super easy, and the result absolutely quelled my chocolate craving.

While it’s true that the Hatch Chile powder I used to make these fudgesicles is available year round, the fresh Hatch chiles are great for many other recipes and are absolutely not to be missed.  The good news is there’s still time to get some. While you can get plain or roasted chiles, the benefit with roasted is that you can freeze those chiles to use long after the season has ended.  Don’t know where to get fresh, roasted chiles? Don’t fret. The folks at Melissa’s were nice enough to list all the stores in the country that are hosting roasts.  There’s probably one near you, so take advantage. Like I said, you only have a few weeks before the fresh chiles disappear, and trust me, you don’t want to miss out. Speaking from experience, it sucks waiting a whole year for fresh Hatch Chiles.

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Chocolate Chile Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 teaspoons Mild Hatch Chile powder

Directions:

  1. Whisk together heavy cream, milk and cocoa in a large sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue whisking until cocoa dissolves.
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the milk mixture over the chocolate chips. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Mix in the cinnamon and chile powder until combined.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture into popsicle molds. Place in freezer and freeze until solid enough to add popsicle sticks. Add the sticks and continue freezing for another 3-4 hours or until solid. When ready to eat, remove popsicle from mold and enjoy.

Ramos Gin Fizz

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We’re in the middle of August and here in California it’s hot and getting hotter. So, I’m all about cool drinks. But better than icy, cool drinks are cool, fizzy drinks. Yup, I’m continuing my obsession of fizzy cocktails which are cocktails made with club soda. So today’s club soda cocktail is the Ramos Gin Fizz.

I first learned about the Ramos Fizz four years ago while I was visiting New Orleans. I watched as a bartender at Tujague’s shook up the cocktail and strained this beautiful, fizzy, foaming drink into an old fashioned glass, and I knew immediately I wanted one. I’ve had several since that night and I love them just as much now as I did then.

While they’re great any time of the year, the Fizz is ideal for summer. It’s the lime and lemon juices that give it that summertime zing; after all lemonade is the summertime drink of choice. The citrus doesn’t just give it that spring and summer feel, though, it actually makes the Ramos a little safer to imbibe. Why? Well, evidently there’s something about the acid in citrus juices that helps kill the salmonella bacteria usually found in eggs. That’s right, a raw egg white is used to make a Ramos Fizz.

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Now I know that the raw egg might scare off some people, but it’s really okay as long as you use the right eggs.  You want to use the freshest eggs possible when making these drinks. You also want to keep them cold because if the temperature fluctuates, the eggs will go bad and trust me, you definitely don’t want to use bad eggs. Bad eggs equal horrible sickness. If the eggs are cold and fresh, there’s only a 1% chance of getting salmonella from it, even less if you use only the white and even less if you use citrus juices.  If that isn’t enough for you though, and you’re still nervous about using raw eggs in your cocktail, you can always use pasteurized eggs. Those are eggs that while raw have been heated enough to kill all the bacteria inside.

I can’t tell you why the raw egg was such a popular choice in certain classic cocktails, other than to say the foam at the top of the glass looks pretty cool and adds a special little something to an otherwise ordinary drink. While it’s true that most cocktails created today don’t use the raw egg as an ingredient, back at the turn of the century it was quite popular; and that’s right around the time this Fizz was created. Okay… it was actually created in 1888, but that’s only 12 years before 1900. Henrico C. Ramos arrived in New Orleans that year and bought the Imperial Cabinet Saloon. He wanted a cocktail that you could only get at his bar, and so, the Ramos Gin Fizz was born. He kept the recipe a secret until Prohibition when the bar closed. Henrico’s brother didn’t want the cocktail to die along with so many other classics that were created before the “dry” era, so he shared the recipe with the world. That’s why you can still walk into Tujague’s, or any other bar in New Orleans or the United States today, order a Ramos Gin Fizz and have the exact same drink that men and women were enjoying over 100 years ago. And if a drink has lasted that long, I’d say it’s definitely worth a taste.

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Ramos Gin Fizz

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. gin
  • juice of half a lime
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 dashes orange flower water
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon super fine sugar
  • club soda

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients except the club soda into a cold cocktail shaker. Give a dry shake (without ice) for at least a minute. Add ice and shake for another minute.
  2. Strain into an old fashioned glass with ice. Top off with club soda. Add a lime wedge for garnish and serve.

The Shandy

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Last weekend Kitchy took to the beach with some friends we hadn’t seen in awhile. We used to get together every 4th of July and I’d always make my fried chicken, so I promised to make it again. We also always had a cocktail. Most of the time it was margaritas. But truth be told I’ve never really believed that margaritas go with fried chicken. So, this time around, I thought I’d try something new. Unfortunately, the only drink I could come up with that goes with fried chicken is beer. There’s only one problem: beer isn’t a cocktail.

So there’s the rub, is there an alcoholic drink that pairs well with fried chicken that isn’t just a plain old bottle of beer? Could there maybe be a classic that uses beer? Well, believe it or not there is. There are actually several. I’ve already posted the Black and Tan, but turns out there are quite a few others. While the Black and Tan is a very good drink, it’s also very heavy. (It is made with Guinness after all.) No one wants heavy during the summer, especially at the beach. We want light, fruity, fizzy drinks. I found just the thing: it’s called a Shandygaff.

Turns out the Shandy (the name it goes by today) is not a new drink the beer companies have created to satisfy our love of citrus. It’s actually been around for centuries. While the recipe has changed, the idea of combining beer with something else, has been around forever. As with most of these older drinks we don’t know the exact origins of the cocktail. We do know where it originated, though. Like most of these beer cocktails it was first consumed in England, we just don’t know when. Some believe it was Henry VIII who came up with the Shandy. Others believe it came from the 18th century novel, Tristam Shandy. Wherever it came from, one thing is certain, it gained popularity back then (and probably today) because it was a way of enjoying a beer (or two) without having the effects.

The original Shandy, and the one I’m sharing, was made with equal parts beer and ginger beer. Today that ginger beer has been replaced with lemonade or citrus sodas. I’ve tried it both ways and both are lip-smacking good. I know lemonade is considered the classic summer drink, and so may be the more popular choice. But the ginger beer adds a nice spicy kick that the lemonade just doesn’t have. No matter which you choose, this cocktail is the ideal choice for summer whether you’re at the beach, having a picnic on a mountaintop, or hosting a few friends in your backyard for a barbecue. And guess what? It goes well with fried chicken, too.

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The Shandy

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. beer (a pilsner or ale are best)
  • 6 oz. ginger beer

Directions:

  1. Pour the beer into a pilsner glass. Top with ginger beer and serve immediately.