Since St. Patrick’s Day is just over a week away I decided to bring you a cocktail that is neither green nor has Irish in the name. You’re probably thinking “wait, what?! How can there be a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail that is neither green nor Irish?” Easy, it has Clover in the title, and as you all know clovers are also big during St. Patrick’s Day. But as I said this clover is neither green nor four-leaved. It is instead pale pink and seriously packs a punch.
The Clover Club was named for a group of Philadelphia journalists who met regularly from 1882 into the 1920′s at the Bellevue Hotel. Although the group was mainly made up of journalists, plenty of celebrities were invited to the party… pretty much to be heckled. But much like the Algonquin Circle, if you could get into the Clover Club, even if it was for just one drink, you were thought to be able to get in anywhere.
While the club started in 1882, the cocktail for which it was named was created around the turn of the century at the Bellevue. Although it’s pink in color, Jack Townsend, the president of the Bartender’s Union, was quoted in 1951 as saying “the Clover Club drinker is traditionally a gentleman of the pre-Prohibition school,” a “distinguished patron of the oak-paneled lounge.” In other words he’s a man’s man.
So on this Irish holiday men can feel confident drinking the Clover Club because it packs a gin-based punch while women can enjoy the cocktail because it’s pretty in pink. And if anyone asks why in the world you’d be drinking a pink cocktail on a holiday that’s all about being green, just quote the men from the Clover Club: “While we live, we live in clover; When we die, we die all over!” Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.
- 2 oz. dry gin
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 oz. raspberry syrup
- Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake vigorously for a minute, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve. Note: Incidentally, if you add a sprig of mint for garnish, you’ll have yourself a Clover Leaf Cocktail.
Rhubarb is back in season! And I couldn’t be happier. I used to have it all the time when I was growing up, thanks to my mom. She’d cook it up on the stove with some strawberries and we’d eat it by the bowlful. I always loved the tart flavor of the rhubarb, but when combined with the strawberries it made for one of my favorite after-school-snacks. And it still is.
There are few things I wait for when it comes to produce: heirloom tomatoes, blood oranges, apricots, peaches and rhubarb. Once those items show up at the farmer’s market I buy them every week until they disappear. Sure, I can probably get most of these things at the grocery store, but nothing compares to fresh produce. It tastes better, it looks better and it usually cooks better.
While rhubarb season officially starts in April, some farmers are starting to see their crops produce now thanks to the chilly weather. This of course makes me a very happy Kitchy Cooker. It means I get one of my favorite vegetables early. That’s right, it’s a vegetable which was originally used in China for medicinal purposes. These days though, most people use it for pies or cobblers which is why it’s affectionately referred to as the “pie plant”. Since there are plenty of rhubarb pie recipes out there, I opted for something a little different, but just as tasty: the parfait.
The great thing about parfaits is that each one is its own entity. I don’t know about you, but I’m always concerned if I’ll have enough pie for everyone, so I end up cutting slivers just to make sure all my guests get a taste. But with parfaits, each person has their own cup. It’s also not nearly as sweet as a pie. I mean there’s only a third of a cup of sugar in here, so it’s a pretty healthy treat. But the best thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. While it is a light spring dessert, you don’t have to wait until after dinner to enjoy it. If you use plain or vanilla yogurt instead of whipped cream, this parfait turns into a delicious breakfast or brunch treat.
But why should you be forced to choose when to partake? Since rhubarb is usually around until at least July, there’s plenty of time to indulge in these parfaits for both breakfast and dessert. You could even have them twice in one day. Hey, I won’t tell if you won’t.
- 1 pound rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 2 cups your favorite granola
- 1 cup whipping cream or vanilla yogurt
- Place chopped rhubarb, water and sugar in a large saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until rhubarb is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the strawberries and let cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- To make the parfaits: Spoon about a quarter cup of the strawberry/rhubarb mixture into 4 clear glasses. Layer a quarter cup of granola on top of the rhubarb. Repeat the layering once more with both the rhubarb mixture and the granola. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt on top and serve.
I have a confession to make. My husband and I are big Disney fans. Huge. I’ve loved most of their cartoons ever since I was a little girl, I even own several of the classics. Then when I moved to Los Angeles, I made a point of going to Disneyland as often as I could which was only once or twice a year. Hey, that place is expensive. But after we had kids, the hubs and I decided to get passes. We knew there was no way we’d be able to get to the park when it opened and stay until closing. Not with two little ones. So once we had passes, we were going all the time. These days I’m there at least once a month. Sure, some might say I’m obsessed or addicted, but those are such negative terms. I prefer to consider myself an avid fan.
You’re probably wondering what Disneyland has to do with cocktails. Well, this past weekend was the semi-annual Dapper Day event at Disneyland. Started in the spring of 2011, DAPPER DAY is a fashionable gathering at the Disney Resorts in LA, Orlando, and Paris. Disney fans like myself come to the park from far and wide all decked out in stylish fashions from yesteryear. It’s become such a huge event, the organizers have even set up a salon in the Disney hotel so men and women can get their hair styled in the fashion from the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s. This event has me written all over it, right? So, in honor of the mashing of two of my favorite things, I thought I’d bring you the Fine and Dandy cocktail.
Me with Burt from "Mary Poppins" at Dapper Day
This cocktail comes from that classic of all cocktail books the Savoy which was published in 1930. Although I don’t have an exact date when the cocktail was created, the name evokes a bygone era when men rarely left their houses without a hat or a shiny set of cufflinks. These men were often referred to as Dandys or a man devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance. That pretty much sums up most of the men attending Dapper Day. While it’s true you don’t need to dress up to enjoy this cocktail, it’s definitely the perfect finishing touch.
Fine and Dandy
- 2 oz. gin
- 1 oz. triple sec
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- a dash of orange bitters
- Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for at least a minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.
Last weekend I attended a Havdalah service at my temple. Havdalah is the ritual you perform to signal the end Shabbat. My family and I attend this fun event once a month. It’s not only a chance to celebrate the end of the weekly ceremony, it also gives my boys the opportunity to get together with their friends, draw pictures, sing songs and eat dinner.
The dinner portion of the evening is always potluck. There’s usually pizza or pasta, a salad, wine and something sweet for dessert. I always bring something to share and this past weekend was no different. However, this time around I was asked to bring a salad, as the pizza and sweets were already covered. Of course I didn’t have any lettuce and since I didn’t have a car at my disposal, I was forced to be creative. While I don’t mind coming up with a recipe out of thin air, being creative with a time limit doesn’t suit me. And this is why you will never, ever see me on an episode of The Taste, Top Chef or any other cooking competition show.
I opened up my fridge and discovered the only things in my my hydrator were bok choy, purple carrots, ginger, tomatoes and kale. I like my kale cooked or juiced, which meant the only leafy green I had for salad was bok choy. I love bok choy and better yet, so does my son. It’s great sautéed and served as a warm side dish, but it’s also delicious raw. Crunchy and sweet, it kind of tastes like celery. I had several bunches of the bok choy so I decided that would be my salad. (The fact that there were several bok choy salads on Google made me feel better about my decision. But most of those Google salads were complicated and used several ingredients.) I lacked a lot of ingredients, so I wanted to keep the salad simple. I decided carrots and sesame seeds would be enough for the base and the dressing would really make this salad shine.
Unlike other salad dressings where I use olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar, this time I’d keep with the Asian theme and use rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. The combination worked and I ended up with a delicious simple salad that was a snap to mix up. Even better was the fact that the leftovers were still crunchy and delicious 24 hours later. Guess this just goes to show I can actually come up with something when the pressure’s on and I only have a few ingredients to choose from. Top Chef here I come. Just kidding.
Bok Choy Salad (adapted from Running to the Kitchen)
- 6 baby bok choy, washed and roughly chopped
- 2 purple carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sweet soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Combine the bok choy and carrots in a medium salad bowl.
- Whisk together the olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the vegetables. Toss with salad tongs until everything is coated with the dressing. Serve.
I love fruit! Berries, apples, citrus… if it has seeds, I’m in. The only problem is that most fresh fruit is only available in the spring and summer. Most fruit that is, except citrus. This is the height of citrus season and one of my favorite citrus fruits is the blood orange. I patiently wait all year for them to come back in season and when they finally do I stock up.
While I usually use the oranges to make juice, every so often I’ll make desserts or dinners with them instead. The sweet tang is delicious in cakes and cookies but also adds a bright freshness to your favorite proteins. Since I’m a dessert lover first though, I of course prefer to use the citrus in sweet things and am constantly on the lookout for recipes where these fruits can be spotlit.
Fine Cooking is one magazine I enjoy perusing for recipes such as these, and they recently had an article on upside-down cakes. Included in the article was a recipe for an orange upside-down cake. So I grabbed a few blood oranges from my arsenal and created this stunning dessert.
I’ve only ever seen pineapple upside-down cakes, and since I’m allergic to pineapple I’ve never tasted one. So when my favorite cooking magazine included this recipe for an orange version, my heart leapt. I’d finally be able to taste that luscious caramel-infused fruit and cake that so many people have enjoyed over the decades. And my taste buds were not disappointed.
I couldn’t stop licking my fingers both during the cooking process and when the cake was finally ready to eat. The oranges give the caramel a tangy flavor that pairs wonderfully with the toasted almonds both on top of and ground up in the cake itself. And if you’re thinking this is solely an after dinner treat, stop thinking that way! I made this cake for my morning Mommy & Me class. That’s right, it also makes a delectable brunch or breakfast option, especially when served with coffee or tea.
There was one disappointing aspect to this cake, though. There weren’t any pieces left for me to nibble on after class. Guess I’ll just have to make two next time.
Blood Orange Almond Upside-Down Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 blood oranges
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 2/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup pastry flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
Make the Topping
- Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that as well.
- Grate 2 teaspoons of zest from one orange and set aside. Juice the same orange and set aside.
- Trim the ends off the second orange. Quarter and slice it into 1/8-inch thick slices and set aside.
- Combine the butter and sugar in a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is a dark brown color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the reserved orange juice until combined. Immediately pour the caramel into the cake pan and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Decoratively arrange as many of the orange slices as you can fit on the caramel. Sprinkle the almonds between the orange slices and set aside.
Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Let cool. Pulse in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and combine with the flours, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the reserved orange zest and almond extract until just combined.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Gradually mix in the flours and sour cream, alternating between the two so that you begin and end with the flours.
- Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan without disturbing the topping. Smooth the surface and tap it once or twice on the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center of the cake, comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake. Invert the cake onto a serving plate, remove the pan and rearrange any of the fruit or nuts that have stuck to the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.