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Singapore Sling

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labeled singapore

As you all know I love my cocktails. But what you may not know is that when it comes to drinking, I like to follow the seasons. In the fall and winter I like to drink apple based or warm cocktails. But in the spring and summer I like to drink cold, fruity drinks like the Margarita or Bellini. While both those drinks use fresh fruits, there’s one other thing that screams summer cocktail to me: club soda.

I don’t know what it is about club soda, but those bubbles just seem more fitting in the spring and summer than they do in the fall and winter. The bubbles are fun, they’re fizzy, they tickle your nose. There’s nothing like a cocktail made with club soda which is why they’re all I drink once the weather gets warm. It’s also why I’ve been waiting to post the Singapore Sling.

See, the Sling isn’t a drink for the fall or winter, so there was no way I was going to post it between September and March. I mean, the Sling has cherry brandy and club soda in it. As you know, cherries are one of those wonderful summer stone fruits I love so much and club soda… well, you already know how I feel about club soda. Those two ingredients (along with all the others) make it the perfect summer cocktail. Why’s it so perfect? Well, it was created in Singapore – a place known for it’s warm climate – so you know its creator had cooling off the imbiber in mind.

While the cocktail was created in Singapore, it wasn’t always called the Singapore Sling. It was originally referred to as the Raffles Gin Sling because it was supposedly created by Raffles Hotel bartender Ngiam Tong Boom in 1915. But references to the Sling can be found as far back as 1897, a good 18 years before the Raffles version. The original version mixed 1 part gin, 1 part dry cherry brandy and 1 part Benedictine together. It was then poured into a highball glass filled with ice and topped off with soda. Charles H. Baker called the concoction “a delicious, slow-acting, insidious thing” and believed no other bar could top the Raffles version (though plenty tried). Some places used ginger ale or ginger beer instead of club soda, and today you’ll find lemon juice and bitters mixed in as well. But no matter how you choose to create this classic, one thing’s for sure: it’s still delicious. Slow-acting and insidious, but delicious.

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Singapore Sling

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
  • 1/2 oz. cherry brandy
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • club soda

Directions:

  1. Combine the gin, Benedictine, brandy, lemon juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice.
  2. Top with club soda. Add a twist of lime and serve immediately.

 

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One of my favorite things to cook on the grill is steak. I love marinating it for hours in a variety of spices, salts and vinegars. I love listening to it sizzle as I lay it on the hot grates. I love watching it sear and then trying to patiently wait before I cut into it. My absolute favorite thing though is finally getting to taste that juicy, salty piece of meat that’s been grilled to a perfect medium-rare. But steak all by itself can be kind of boring. That’s why people tend to serve it with a yummy béarnaise sauce or a delectable twice-baked potato. All those savory options are naturals to go with steak. But what if we changed things up and did something unexpected? What if we went sweet instead of savory?

cut up steak

Figs are just starting to show up at my farmer’s market. While most people (including me) tend to use the plump fruit for a dessert or appetizer, I like to change things up every now and then. Recently I found a recipe online that used the fig as a base for a sweet salsa. When mixed with some scallions and rice vinegar, the fig turns into a delicious topping for steak. And since it can get quite hot during the summer, this salsa also makes a nice cool alternative to the standard peppercorn or bearnaise sauces. But the best thing about the fig salsa was that it provided a delicious complement to the savory steak and gave me a scrumptious dinner the whole family enjoyed… even my sons.

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Now figs don’t have to be relegated to the beginning or the end of the meal. Now they can be incorporated into the main course. That makes me super happy. It makes me so happy in fact, I think this may becomes quite the fig-filled summer.

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Rosemary Flank Steak with Fig Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 (1-1/2 pound) flank steak
  • 3 cups chopped fresh figs
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 oz. Gorgonzola cheese

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Rub onto the steak and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
  2. Preheat the grill to 400°F and take the steak out of the fridge. Let sit at room temperature while the grill heats up.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the figs, scallion, and parsley, together with the vinegar and remaining olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  4. Grill the steak for about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
  5. Slice the steak across the grain into thin strips. Transfer to a serving platter. Spoon the fig salsa over the steak. Sprinkle with the Gorgonzola and serve.

Raspberry Citrus Clafoutis

Posted by Jenn. Comment (1).

labeled clafoutis

I love desserts. As you can see from this blog, if there’s one thing I love more than anything, it’s desserts. It doesn’t matter if it’s cookies, brownies, cakes or popsicles, if it’s sweet, I’m in. But more than desserts, I love simple desserts. Those are the ones that I know by heart and take less than an hour to make. (That includes cooking time). This clafoutis is one such dessert.

I made this clafoutis after I tasted it at Melissa’s a couple weeks ago. Amy Riolo came to visit and discuss her new book, The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. While all the dishes made from the book were delicious, what I liked most about the cookbook was the science behind it.

salmon

See, the Mediterranean Diet is all about eating fresh, healthy food with family and friends while maintaining an active lifestyle. I’m all about that. I know, it may seem like I prefer rich, heavy foods, but most of the time I like to cook meals that use fresh ingredients and then eat them with my family. As a matter of fact we have a rule here at the Kitchy household: every night we sit down at 6 o’clock and eat dinner together. As a family. We enjoy our food while we talk about what we all did during the day. It’s nice. Not only do we get a delicious meal, but we get to unwind and reconnect with each other after a busy day of school or work.

quinioa fig salad

Hubs and I decided to do the 6 o’clock dinner thing because that’s what our families did when we were growing up, and their families did when they were growing up. As a matter of fact it’s what most families did all through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. While families ate things made with butter, cream and what seem like less-than-healthy ingredients, they were much thinner and healthier than we are today. But that wasn’t the case just in this country. It was and still is the case in most of the countries along the Mediterranean sea. To me that says something. It says that all those processed boxed dinners may not be the best way to enjoy a meal at the end of the day. It says that cooking with fresh, delectable ingredients is a much better way to go.

cookbook

Now, I know that a dessert like the clafoutis may not seem like a healthy choice, but this dessert is made with some of the most basic ingredients. It’s actually what makes it part of the Mediterranean diet and the perfect choice for any time of year. All you need is a little cream, a couple eggs, some flour, a little sugar and your favorite fruit. Yes, it’s that easy and why, according to Riolo, French housewives having been “whip(ping) it up” for decades. I whipped it up in about 40 minutes. It was so yummy, I can’t wait to whip it up again.

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Raspberry Citrus Clafoutis

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F and butter an 8-inch baking dish (either a circle or square one will work).
  2. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the raspberries, turning to coat and set the dish aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and the remaining sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running, add the flour, cream, vanilla, orange zest, orange blossom water and salt until combined, another couple minutes.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish over the raspberries. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the top is golden and the custard is set. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

American Beauty

Posted by Jenn. Comment (0).

labeled beauty

As you all know I love my cocktails.  All those liquors mixing together to make some unbelievably delicious elixir, they’re just too much fun. But sometimes I prefer a nice glass of wine to a cocktail. Yes, it’s true. Recently though I discovered that wine and hard liquors don’t have to remain segregated in the bar, they can actually be combined to make some really delicious drinks. The American Beauty is just such a cocktail; and because of its red hue and name, I thought it would be perfect to serve this holiday weekend.

Now, you may believe that this cocktail is a recent creation named after that Oscar-winning movie from 1999. But as you know, I don’t post new cocktails. I post classics. So then, how did the cocktail get its name? Well, if you’re a flower fan, you probably know that the American Beauty is a rose that’s been around for over a century. It’s a beautiful deep red rose that’s often given as a sign of love. In fact, it was so popular, that from 1888 to 1920 it was the number one seller at flower shops everywhere. Just like the flower, this cocktail is also a deep red thanks to both the grenadine and port which are used to create this sweet drink.

Although we don’t know who created the cocktail, we do know that the color reminded the mysterious mixologist of this popular flower and so named it as such. And while we don’t know exactly when the cocktail was created, it can be found in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book which was first published in 1930. Since the flower was at its height of popularity from 1888 to 1920, I think it’s safe to say that the cocktail was created sometime at the beginning of the 20th century.

But what makes the American Beauty the perfect choice for the 4th isn’t just its name and color. It’s also a great drink for novice drink enthusiasts. See, it’s not too harsh like so many of those straight up or on the rocks options. But it’s not too sweet either. It actually has a nice balance and it pairs wonderfully with grilled steaks or chicken.  Since grilling is such a big part of the holiday weekend, why not serve this delightful cocktail to your guests. They’ll be thrilled and you’ll be able to celebrate the birth of our nation in style.

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American Beauty

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz. brandy
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 1 oz. Port

Directions:

  1. Pour the brandy, dry vermouth, orange juice and grenadine in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  2. Add the port and serve immediately.

 

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Want to know what I love about summer? I finally get to hang out on the beach. I cook most meals outside on the grill. But more than anything else, all my favorite fruits are finally available. Sure, I’m a big fan of apples and citrus, but they’re nothing compared to the sweet, juicy tang of blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, apricots or plums. They’re delicious afternoon snacks, and they make some of the best desserts. I mean, is there anything better than enjoying a slice of peach pie or a cherry popsicle on the beach in the middle of July? Of course not! And while pie and popsicles are delicious, there’s one dessert that’s perfect for both these fruits and this time of year – the pavlova.

The Pavlova is a light meringue dessert that was created in the 20’s after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova did a tour in either Australia or New Zealand. (There’s a lot of debate as to where she was and which country came up with the dessert first.) But no matter where it came from, it’s a light sweet treat that has summer written all over it.

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See, unlike the fall and winter months which are filled with heavy, chocolate and pumpkin desserts, the spring and summer months are all about light, airy sweets. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but those mousses and cakes that are so popular in the winter are so dang heavy. I don’t know about you, but when it’s 90 degrees and humid outside, the last thing I want to ingest is something super rich. I’d much rather sink my teeth into something tart and light; and that’s the pavlova.

The traditional pavlova is usually a larger dessert that needs to be sliced to be enjoyed. But there’s no rule that says it can’t be turned into several single-serving minis. It’s also usually filled with whipped cream and fruit. But since I’d just received several containers of sweet, red raspberries from Melissa’s Produce and I love mascarpone, I thought I’d make a sweet raspberry cream as my filling. I then topped that with more raspberries and fresh plump blueberries. The end result wasn’t just light and delicious, the color scheme makes it perfect for the 4th of July.

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Red, White and Blue Mini Pavlovas

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1-1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 (8 oz.) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1 (6 oz.) basket fresh raspberries, divided
  • 1 cup blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a pen, trace the perimeter of a glass 5 times on each sheet of parchment. Turn the papers upside-down. You should still be able to see the outline on the clean side of the paper.
  3. Place the egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, the vanilla, cream of tartar and corn starch into a mixing bowl and beat, using an electric mixer, until thick and the egg whites form stiff peaks.
  4. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the 10 circles on the parchment paper. Then using the back of the spoon, hollow out the tops of the pavlovas turning each one into a nest.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until dry and crisp. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue nests in the oven to cool for at least an hour or overnight. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.
  6. While the meringues are cooling, beat together the mascarpone, remaining sugar and 1 cup of raspberries in a bowl until well combined.
  7. Spoon the mascarpone mixture into each of the cooled meringue nests, top with the blueberries and remaining raspberries and serve immediately.