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Twentieth Century

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Kenneth Branaugh has a new movie coming out in November. Actually it’s not a new movie, it’s a remake. But it’s a remake of a great film which was an adaptation of an even greater novel. It’s Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. I’ve always been a big fan of Christie’s and I especially love the movies that have been made from her wonderful novels. So, even though I’m not a big fan of remakes, I can’t wait to see Branaugh’s version. But I’m sure you’re wondering what a remake of a film has to do with a cocktail. Well, the film revolves around a murder on a stranded train, and today’s cocktail just happens to be named after a famous train.

Created in Britain in 1937 by C.A. Tuck, this cocktail was named after the Twentieth Century Limited which ran between Manhattan and Chicago from 1902 to 1967. The train was often called “the most famous train in the world” because it could make that run in 20 hours which was faster than any other train in the world. Much like the train in both versions of Murder, the Twentieth Century was a steam engine famous for its Art-Deco design and on-board luxuries, like a dining car complete with china, silver and crystal, and a barbershop. Boarding and exiting the train was especially sophisticated as crimson carpets adorned the loading area, and created the phrase “red carpet treatment.”

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While this cocktail has a unique flavor all its own, much like its namesake, it isn’t your typical gin drink as it has gin, lemon juice, lillet and creme de cacao. When I saw the ingredients I did a double take. What in the world was creme de cacao doing in a gin cocktail with lemon juice and lillet? I mean, when I think of gin and lemon juice I definitely don’t think of chocolate because those two flavors don’t really go together. But as I’ve discovered more and more with cocktails from the previous century, liquors I would never consider mixing together actually make a pretty terrific drink.

But liquors aren’t the only thing that make a drink. The portions are just as important. See, too much of a sweet liqueur or acidic juice could throw the whole cocktail off. That’s why these days, classics are often changed by modern bartenders and mixologists because today’s palates are a lot more sensitive than they used to be. This cocktail is a perfect example of that. Tuck’s original version was 2 parts gin to 1 part everything else, making for a drink that was a little too sweet. But Imbibe’s version cuts all the ingredients by at least a quarter ounce making for a cocktail that’s much easier to… well… imbibe. I’ve given you both versions today so you can taste for yourself and make your own decision. But if you want to pretend like you’re living in the lap of luxury and traveling in the utmost style, go with the new take.

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Twentieth Century (C.A. Tuck version)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce lillet blanc
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce creme de cacao

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously until chilled.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass, add a twist of lemon for the garnish and serve.

Twentieth Century (Imbibe version)

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce Lillet blanc
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce creme de cacao

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously until chilled.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass, add a twist of lemon for the garnish and serve.

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I’ve been doing a lot of grilling lately. I just love cooking outside over an open flame when it’s warm, and since I live by the ocean, feeling that cool ocean breeze while grilling… well nothing makes me happier. So, I’m out there as often as I can be. While I love grilling vegetables and fruit, I really love grilling proteins. It doesn’t matter if it’s chicken, beef, lamb or pork. It’s it’s a protein, I’m one hundred percent in! So, when I saw these grilled lamb chops from American Test Kitchen, I knew I had to try them.

While the chops aren’t marinated or covered in a spice rub, they’re still delicious. The lack of spices and sauces allows the protein’s natural flavor to shine through, and is then enhanced by the smokiness of the grill. But what makes this dish really special is the salad. See, I love salad as a side to any meal because it’s fresh and light and is always a nice option for a heavy protein. Sure, rice or a vegetable are great choices as well, but in the summertime a salad is fast and easy and almost always delicious. What makes this salad unusual, though is that it isn’t made with your standard lettuce or tomatoes. It’s made with herbs.

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But these aren’t boring herbs like curly parsley or thyme. These are fresh, leafy herbs that are full of flavor and surprisingly make for one heck of a great salad. I used Italian (or flat leaf) parsley which is really the only parsley you should ever use. It has way more flavor than that curly parsley. I also used fresh mint and basil. But it’s not just about which herbs you use. According to Fine Cooking (where I got this great recipe) you should use the smaller leaves because they’ll have better flavor than the larger leaves. I had no idea that the smaller the leaf the better the flavor, and the flavor of this salad was really amazing. As a matter of fact, after I ate this salad I wanted to make it again. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great lettuce and tomato salad but this herb salad is a nice change of pace.

While this salad is great all on its own, it pairs really well with the grilled lamb chops. Because the salad is made up of various fresh, flavorful herbs, and the chops only use a sprinkling of salt and pepper, the flavor profiles aren’t in competition. Instead they both shine independently, working together to make a delicious summer dinner.

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Grilled Lamb Chops and Herb Salad

Ingredients:

  • 8 lamb loin chops
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 4 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to 350° F. Season the chops with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes, parsley, mint and basil and set aside.
  3. Grill the lamb chops until charred and cooked to your liking about 12 minutes for medium rare. Remove the chops from the heat and let rest.
  4. Toss the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate the salad and the lamb chops together and serve.

Queen’s Park Swizzle

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Ever heard of a swizzle? Neither had I.  But that’s one of the great things about researching classic cocktails: I get to discover vintage drinks all the time. Drinks like the swizzle which is a tall, frosty cocktail that’s perfect for summer. If you’re afraid it sounds like a lot of other summer cocktails you’d be right. But what makes this one different is its ingredients.

The swizzle is made with Demerara rum, lime juice, simple syrup, mint and Angostura bitters. It’s kinda like a mojito, but instead of light rum, Demerara is used. What makes this drink all its own, though are the bitters. Demerara is sweet and smokey but when you add bitters, you add a spice and depth lacking in the mojito. You’ll only get that spice and depth if you stir the bitters into the drink, though. A lot of people add the bitters to the top because it looks cool, but according to rum aficionado, Martin Cate, it’s better to have it swizzled in. That way you’ll get the spice and depth we talked about through the whole drink instead of at the end.

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Worried you may not have Demerara rum? I was, too. There are lots of different kinds of rum out there and unless you want to turn your home into a rum specialty bar, it’s hard to know what to buy and when. Demerara is a type of rum from Guyana in South America. It’s similar to Jamaican rum, but has a smoky flavor that can add depth and complexity to cocktails. The most common Demerara out there is El Dorado, but there are several other brands as well. I don’t actually own any Demerara rums (I checked) but of the 8 I do have, several are Jamaican and so will do the trick in a pinch. While I won’t get into all the different brands I have, what it really comes down to is what you like. There are those that swear by Bacardi, but I’m a Cruzan girl myself. For this cocktail, though I chose the Angostura 7 year for its color and rich flavor. If you’re unsure which rum(s) to get, simply taste a few and if you want a very good guide (one that I’ve read over and over) go out and get Cate’s Smuggler’s Cove cookbook. It’s full of awesome recipes as well as a thorough rum guide.

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Although not quite a tiki drink in that it doesn’t have any of those tropical fruit juices often associated with tikidom, this cocktail should be on your tiki list just the same. That classic, sweet, smokey rum coupled with mint and lime juice definitely reminds of balmy summer nights in a swanky bar on some far off coast, which is quite fitting considering that’s exactly what the Queen’s Park Hotel was.

Created in the 1920’s, this Swizzle became the hotel bar’s signature cocktail. Trader Vic (one of the original tiki men) often touted it as being “the most delightful form of anesthesia given out today.” Located on the coast of Spain, Trinidad was the destination for eating, drinking and dancing the night away, and the Queen’s Park Hotel was its star where anyone who was anybody stayed. So it’s fitting that they created a cocktail to match. Although the hotel no longer exists, the drink lives on in all its boozy glory; specifically so those of us unlucky enough to have missed out on a visit to the original Queen’s Park can imagine balmy nights on the Atlantic, a jazz trio playing in the background and flappers dancing the night away.

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Queen’s Park Swizzle

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces Demerara rum
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 8 – 10 mint leaves, torn
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

Directions:

  1. Muddle the mint leaves, lime juice and simple syrup together in a highball glass.
  2. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add the rum and bitters. Insert a swizzle stick (or bar spoon) and twirl it back and forth by rubbing the handle between your palms. This mixes and chills the ingredients at the same time. (Plus it looks really cool.)
  3. Add more crushed ice, garnish with mint and a straw and serve.

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If there’s one thing I love this time of year, it’s grilled corn, especially white corn. I eat it straight off the cob but I also frequently shear off the kernels and turn them into a salad. It’s super easy and a nice way to still have the same great vegetable without getting butter and salt all over your hands. While I’ve added the corn to cob and taco salads, there’s one thing I’d never thought of doing: adding fruit to the corn for a delicious side.

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Last week I was at Melissa’s Produce and got to meet Patricia Greenberg who came up with this fabulous idea. Known as the Fitness Gourmet, Greenberg is a working wife and mother who has 30 years of experience as a Nutritionist, Chef, and Wellness educator. In other words, she knows a thing or two about health and nutrition. She’s very big on healthy, foods and healthy snacks for everyone from children to adults. But just because her meals are healthy doesn’t mean they’re flavorless.

Patricia

Greenberg and her daughter, Gabriella Grunfeld, have been making delicious meals for some time and they finally decided to put all their recipes into a book for the masses. Some of them are as simple wheat bread with peanut butter and bananas while others are a little more complex like the Mediterranean Frittata Sandwich. But they’re all delicious and not one is over 550 calories.

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Since I’m such a big corn and blueberry fan I knew I had to try the salad they created. Greenberg’s version uses canned corn, but since we’re right in the middle of corn season, I wanted to grab a few ears and grill them up. The canned corn makes this a delicious side dish year ’round, but grilling fresh corn means you can make it right now. Plus grilling gives the corn a nice smokey flavor that adds depth to the overall dish and doesn’t add one calorie. But the best thing about this salad is the flavor. The sweet corn combined with the sweet blueberries feels very summery and tastes amazing. It’s fresh, and light and goes perfectly with everything from steak to fish.

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So, before corn season ends in the fall, grab a few ears of corn and a pint or two of blueberries and mix up this salad. And if you like this dish as much as I do, go out and grab Greenburg and Grunfeld’s Scrumptious Sandwiches Salads and Snacks. This salad is just a taste of all the wonderful recipes inside this awesome cookbook.

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Grilled Corn & Blueberry Salad (adapted from Scrumptious Sandwiches Salads and Snacks)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to 300°F. Grill the corn until lightly charred on the outside, about 6 or 7 minutes. Let cool until you can handle the corn. Peel the husks off and cut off the kernels into a bowl.
  2. Add the blueberries and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving add the basil and toss again. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s Produce provided me with the cookbook for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.

Bramble on the Bay

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During the summer I love icy, cold cocktails that have some fizz. One of my favorites is the mojito. It’s light and refreshing and that fizz makes it a perfect summer drink. While I enjoy the classic which is just lime juice and mint, I love it when there’s extra fruit muddled in. I’ve made both in the past and used them as inspiration for today’s cocktail.

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Like all the other drinks on Kitchy, this one uses fresh fruit, real herbs and great liquor because I believe the best cocktails come from the best ingredients. Sure, it’s easier to buy a mixer and take out all that extra work, but I’ve never been able to find a mixer that tastes good. They’re all too sweet thanks to the abundant amounts of sugar or have weird, fake aftertastes because of the artificial flavoring from ingredients I’ve never heard of. So, I put in the extra time and get great tasting cocktails as a benefit. But a couple months ago I discovered a new mixer that’s delicious, and even better, makes a really good drink. The company behind this mystery mixer? Fittingly it’s called Be Mixed.

Be Mixed is a company that believes in substance rather than flash. They have a margarita mix, a ginger lime and my favorite: their cucumber mint. It’s cool, refreshing and makes a really great cocktail, which is why I’ve used it several times and even created the Easy Street with it. See, this cucumber mixer not only has subtle cucumber notes, it also has a nice minty aftertaste which immediately made me think of a mojito. So, that’s what I made. But instead of your classic mint and lime juice, I went with mint and blackberries.

Be Mixed cocktail

I chose blackberries because they’re a super sweet berry that pairs well with mint and adds a natural sweetness to the drink. See, Be Mixed doesn’t use any sugar in their mixers. They’re naturally sweetened with monkfruit, a vine-ripened fruit from Asia that’s full of antioxidants and vitamins and a little stevia extract. So, the mixers aren’t too sweet, but they’re full of flavor. I added the berry to enhance those flavors while making the drink slightly sweeter at the same time. The combination of the two makes a delightful mojito that’s sweet but not sicky sweet since there’s no sugar or simple syrup. And since blackberry season is just getting underway, this is one cocktail I’ll be sipping for awhile. I can take it with me to the beach, the pool or even my own backyard, and I plan on doing just that.

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Bramble on the Bay

Ingredients:

  • 8 mint leaves, torn
  • 4-5 blackberries
  • 2 ounces Be Mixed Cucumber Mint
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 1/2 ounce club soda

Directions:

  1. Place the blackberries and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add the Be Mixed mixer and muddle all together. Add the rum and ice and shake vigorously until chilled, about 20 seconds.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Add the club soda, garnish with a sprig of mint and a blackberry and serve.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Be Mixed provided me with the mixers for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.