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Brown Derby

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Since we’re right smack dab in the middle of Bourbon Heritage Month, I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce you to another bourbon cocktail for your Friday Happy Hour. So, today I present the Brown Derby.

Yes, this cocktail was named after that famed Los Angeles restaurant, The Brown Derby. But funny story, this cocktail was not created at the restaurant. The cocktail was originally called the De Rigueur and could be found in Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. Sometime after Craddock’s book made the rounds another famous Los Angeles restaurant of the time, the Vendome, decided to rename the popular beverage. They titled it the Brown Derby, maybe as a tip of their hat to their friendly competitor. Since The Brown Derby restaurant was such a hot spot (there were three of them in their heyday) the name stuck.

Like the restaurant, this cocktail is also a classic. Similar to a whiskey sour, it’s mixed with citrus juice and a sweetener. In this case the citrus is grapefruit and the sweetener is a honey syrup. The combination makes for a delightful cocktail that’s both sweet and sour at the same time. Plus the sweetness of the bourbon pairs nicely with the honey. And here’s the real kicker, since there are so many bourbons and so many different honeys, each cocktail will have a slightly different flavor. So, if you have a favorite bourbon (mine’s Woodford) and a favorite honey, go ahead and mix up a Brown Derby using those. But give another bourbon a try too because you never know, you just might like the alternative Derby better than the first. Hmmm… now that sounds like a challenge even I can get behind.

The Brown Derby

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. honey syrup (1:1 honey to water)

Directions:

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for at least one minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

Sweet Corn Risotto

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I’m so over the heat. It’s been hot and sticky here in Southern California for weeks now. While I’ve never been a fan of hot weather, I especially hate humidity. But evidently Mother Nature forgot that we don’t live on the east coast and has graced us with some serious humidity. It’s been awful. So awful in fact that the idea of cooking has been an absolute turn off. I know. Me having no desire to cook means the universe is seriously out of alignment. Unfortunately I and the rest of my family still have to eat which means I have to cook.

But just because I have to get dinner on the table doesn’t mean it has to be made on a stove or in an oven. As a matter of fact, there are tons of options that don’t involve turning those little dials. There’s the grill, which I adore because it gets me outside. There are salads which just involve chopping fresh fruits or vegetables. Or if you really want to cook, there’s the slow cooker.

Have I told you how much I love my slow cooker? It makes cooking so much easier. Just chop up the ingredients, put them all inside, turn on the pot, set the timer and voilà, you’re done. It’s cooking without standing over a hot stove. There’s no stirring, no waiting for the butter to melt, no standing over a hot stove… I know I already said that. But in this heat, that’s a huge plus. The kind of plus that puts a big ol’ smile on my face. I’m pretty sure it’ll put one on yours too.

Sweet Corn Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 4-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, like Chardonnay
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 ears of white corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain the bacon and reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in skillet. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
  2. Add the onion to the reserved fat in the skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the wine to the skillet and simmer for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the rice and transfer the mixture to your slow cooker. Stir in the broth, corn and salt. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 90 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the butter until melted.
  4. Spoon the risotto into four bowls, top with the crumbled bacon and serve.

Ravioli with Peaches

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That’s right, peaches and ravioli. Weird combo, right? Not something you’d ever think of putting together on the same dish, right? Well, you’re not alone. When I saw this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens that’s exactly the first thought that went through my mind.

Could this actually be good? I mean, of course I’d had alfredo, bolognese, marinara and pesto over a variety of pastas. But fruit? Who puts fruit on pasta? Yes, I know that tomatoes are a fruit, but that’s different. Tomato sauce is a tradition as old as time. (Okay, maybe not quite that old.) The point is I’ve never, ever heard of sautéing sweet stone fruits and ladling them over cheese ravioli. But being the adventurous person that I am (and the fact that I love peaches) I figured I’d give it a try.

It actually works. I don’t know why I’m surprised though, because I’ve always been a big fan of sweet fruits and jellies spread over salty cheeses. You know, that whole sweet and salty thing. While I’m not sure the sautéed peaches would go well with a meat-filled pasta, they were wonderful with the 4-cheese ravioli I picked.

The best thing about this recipe? Since I used pre-made ravioli, it only took about 20 minutes to prepare and plate. If that doesn’t have week-night family dinner written all over it, I don’t know what does.

Ravioli with Peaches

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz. package of cheese ravioli
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 large peaches, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain, return to the pot and cover to keep warm.
  2. While the ravioli is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned.
  3. Add the peaches, parsley, Parmesan, and lemon zest to the skillet and cook until heated through. Once the ravioli is finished cooking, add it to the skillet and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The Commodore No. 2

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Did you know that September is Bourbon Heritage Month? That means you’re going to be seeing a lot of bourbon recipes and cocktails over the next few weeks from a variety of sources. As a big bourbon fan myself, I was thrilled to make this discovery because now I have a reason to post numerous bourbon cocktails and food recipes. (Not that I really needed a reason.) And since I adore bourbon, you can imagine how excited I am to celebrate.

So, to kick off the party I’m mixing up a Commodore No. 2. (A Number 1 is made with blended whiskey and orange bitters so that post won’t show up on the blog until sometime in October… after Bourbon Heritage month.) Some compare the Commodore to a Whiskey Sour because of the bourbon and lemon juice. But unlike the sour, this cocktail also includes Créme de Cacao and grenadine making it a much sweeter drink, and one some might label as “girly”. But just because it’s red and sweet doesn’t mean it’s just for the ladies. This cocktail (like a lot on this blog) dates back to before pre-Prohibition days when, according to Esquire‘s Wondrich, “bars were strictly men only”.

Since this cocktail hails from the late teens, and a lot of the alcohol from that era was less than palatable, it’s easy to see why the drink might have needed a little sweetening. I mean, we all want to enjoy the cocktail we’re drinking, don’t we? So, whether you’re a man or a woman, the next time you’re in a bar and want a bourbon drink that’s on the sweeter side, sidle on up, hold your head high and order a Commodore No. 2. And if anyone gives you any guff, smile, take a sip and tell them just how tasty this classic really is.

The Commodore No. 2

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. créme de cacao
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • a dash of grenadine

Directions:

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.

Dark N Stormy

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I know we’re getting toward the end of summer, but I thought I could sneak in at least one last fun summer cocktail before fall and school are back in full swing. While I love the flavors of this drink, what really excites me about it is how unbelievably easy it is to make. This classic has only two ingredients. Two! I know, I can’t believe it either. I don’t know the last time I made a cocktail that had only two ingredients.  Most of them have at least three if not four or five. And a cocktail with two ingredients means it’s not only ideal for happy hour, it’s the perfect choice for an end of the summer barbecue.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a girl who likes spice. Hot chiles and lots of pepper just aren’t for me. But when it comes to ginger and horseradish, I can’t get enough. So while I turn my nose up at those jalapeño cocktails that seem to be so popular, I can’t seem to get enough of the ones that use ginger beer as their mixer. I don’t know what it is about ginger but I just love it. The bite and tongue tingling sensation that comes from this awesome root always makes me smile. So if there’s a cocktail that calls for ginger beer, especially in the summer time, I’m having it. And, as you may have guessed, this cocktail just happens to use that tingling elixir as one of its only two ingredients.

The other ingredient is rum. It’s the rum that makes this cocktail an obvious choice when it comes to summer and lounging on a beautiful sandy beach somewhere. While I’m mainly a bourbon or vodka fan, if I’m laying on a beach or hanging at a friend’s pool, I’m usually holding a rum beverage in my hand. I don’t know why, rum and summer just go well together. But I digress.

The Dark ‘N’ Stormy was supposedly created in the late 19th century by the Royal Navy. At that time the sailors were only allowed 2 ounces of dark rum per day. Since two ounces is barely enough to do anything with, the Navy purchased a ginger beer plant in Bermuda around the turn of the century. A naval officer mixed the two liquids together and the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was born. But here’s where it gets interesting: the drink became such a hit that Gosling Brothers, who created their own supply of dark rums, decided to trademark the cocktail. So now, just like the Bacardi Cocktail, if you order a Dark ‘n’ Stormy it must be made with Gosling’s dark rum. While it’s true you could make a Dark ‘n’ Stormy with any dark rum you wanted and get a very similar drink, you won’t ever be able to order it in a bar unless they’re using Gosling. And that’s why these days when you go into a bar and see a Dark ‘N’ Stormy on the cocktail menu you may notice that the “N” has been replaced with either an “&” or the word “and”. See, it’s totally okay to use whatever favorite dark rum you want… as long as you make sure to use the appropriate preposition.

But whether you use Gosling, Bacardi or Myers’s, the Dark ‘N’ Stormy is one of those drinks that’s both a little spicy and a little sweet. And I can’t think of two better flavors with which to end summer.

Dark N Stormy

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
  • 3-4 oz. Ginger beer
  • wedge of lime (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pour the rum into a tall collins glass filled with ice. Top with the ginger beer, garnish with a wedge of lime and serve.