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Old Pal

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We’ve all heard of the Old Fashioned. It’s a classic that’s constantly ordered in bars all over the world. But what about it’s cousin the Old Pal? Never heard of it, right? Well that’s because this particular cocktail isn’t nearly as famous. But just because it’s not as popular doesn’t mean it’s not worth a sip… or two.

Unlike the Old Fashioned which is made with bourbon, the Old Pal is made with rye and Campari making it a more herbal and so slightly more bitter cocktail. Some might compare this drink to that other popular classic Campari concoction the Boulevardier, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The only similarity the Old Fashioned and the Old Pal have is that they both have “old” in their titles. But both the Old Pal and the Boulevardier have Campari and vermouth. However the Boulevardier uses sweet vermouth and the Old Pal uses dry, making it the less sweeter of the two.

If you’re a fan of the drier cocktail and like the strong herbal notes of Campari then you’ll appreciate this drink which was first published by Harry McElhone in the 20′s during the prohibition. McElhone supposedly named the cocktail after William “Sparrow” Robinson, a sports writer for the New York Herald Tribune’s Paris office who used to refer to everyone as “old pal”. Robinson evidently told McElhone to mix up a cocktail that was 1/3 Campari, 1/3 whiskey and 1/3 Vermouth. While the original cocktail called for equal parts, McElhone did the smart thing and made the rye the lead liquor with a 2:1:1 ratio. Placing the Campari in second position rounds out the cocktail and makes it much more palatable.

While this cocktail, like its Boulevardier counterpart, still has an acquired taste, it’s definitely the drier of the two. So if you’re a fan of both Campari and drier cocktails, give the Old Pal a try. I’m sure you’ll be great friends after just a sip or two.

Old Pal

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. rye
  • 3/4 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. Campari

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients with ice and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Rabe Risotto

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I love Italian food. Spaghetti, gnocchi, chicken parmigiana, they’re all delicious. But my absolute favorite Italian dish has got to be risotto. I love the creaminess, the rich flavor, and if you add a protein like chicken or meat balls you have a completely delicious dinner. There’s only one problem with risotto; it’s rare that you find any vegetables in them and I like to have vegetables with my dinner.

While certain vegetables like carrots, broccoli and sweet potato are delicious dinner sides, making them means adding an extra step to the dinner making process. An extra step means it could take longer to get dinner on the table, and when you have two little boys running around working up an appetite, the last thing you want to do is have a late dinner. Trust me. So when I find a risotto recipe that includes a vegetable, I make sure to test it out. Adding veggies to risotto means I still get that rich, cheesy flavor I adore while getting a nice helping of vegetables at the same time. But the best news about a veggie risotto is that my sons get their vegetables without realizing they’re eating them, and those recipes are worth their weight in gold.

While it’s true that risotto requires a lot of standing and stirring, it’s totally worth the effort. See, the longer you stir, the creamier the dish. The creamier the dish, the more likely your little ones will lap it up without inspection. And my sons inspect everything. So, while it’s true this dish is bright green thanks to the broccoli rabe, your children shouldn’t mind. After all in my house cheese and butter definitely trump vegetables.

 Broccoli Rabe Risotto (adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound broccoli rabe, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Blanch the broccoli rabe in a large pot of salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock and 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Add one cup of the vegetable stock and cook, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Repeat one cup at a time with the rest of the stock, stirring, until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir the broccoli rabe puree into the risotto along with the grated Parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, stirring, until the risotto is creamy and heated through, about 3 minutes. Season the risotto with salt and pepper. Spoon into shallow bowls and serve.

Rhubarb Chutney

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My father is not a rhubarb fan. As a matter of fact, he hates it. So you can imagine how excited he was every time rhubarb season came and my mother (who is a fan) would stock up and make her rhubarb/strawberry sauce for me and my sister to snack on.  My father would smile, then politely pass whenever we helped ourselves to a bowl. I never understood how someone could detest that sweet, tart flavor that comes from rhubarb.  But evidently my father is not alone. I recently met someone else who is not a fan of rhubarb.

I don’t know why I’m surprised, I mean there are plenty of people out there that hate a fruit or vegetable that someone else adores.  But that’s what makes cooking and baking so much fun. I love taking something that I (or someone I know) doesn’t like and turning it into something they can’t stop eating.

I think I’ve done just that with this rhubarb chutney from Fine Cooking. See, there’s no sugar in this recipe. Not one teaspoon. Instead you have spices like cinnamon and mustard seed with just a touch of honey. And it’s those spices that bring out a completely different side to the rhubarb. Instead of turning the red stalk into something tart and sweet reminiscent of a Sour Patch Kid, you get a savory dish perfect for a cheese plate, spread onto a nice crusty baguette or (if you’re anything like me) eaten all by itself with a big spoon.

But don’t take my word for it, this delectable chutney has already converted one rhubarb hater. Will you be next? Will my father? Guess you’ll just have to try it and find out.

Rhubarb Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Coleman’s dry mustard
  • 2/3 cup mild honey
  • 3/4 pound rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Combine the vinegar, bay leaves, fennel seeds, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  2. While the vinegar combination sets, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and mustard and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the shallot mixture and the honey into the vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
  5. Stir in the rhubarb and raisins until combined. Cover and simmer, without stirring, for another 10 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and cool to room temperature before serving. (Can also be served cold, straight from the fridge. The chutney will keep covered and refrigerated for at least 3 weeks.)

 

Saturday my husband went fishing with some friends. He’s been wanting to go for awhile now, but always had a conflict. Well this time he was free. So he got up at the crack of dawn and joined his friends for what turned out to be an awesome day on the water. They were out there for hours and were lucky enough to catch several Link Cod and Rock Fish. Even the guy who organized the fishing trip couldn’t believe how fruitful they all were.  Needless to say when my man returned home, he brought with him more fish than either of us knew what to do with.

I don’t remember the last time I ate fish that I, or someone I knew, caught with their own two hands. Hubs said he’d had a blast catching the fish and knew I would have just as much fun figuring out how to prepare it.  While I would’ve enjoyed catching the fish, since it was a guys only trip, I had to settle for creating a delicious dinner. But creating tasty dinners is fun for me so I was okay with missing the trip… this time. While most of the fish went in the freezer for numerous dinners later, I prepared a couple of the beautiful filets the very next night. I’ve never had cod, so I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. But thankfully the internet and Melissa’s Produce came to the rescue.

See, Melissa’s had just sent me some packages of they’re delicious baby beets to try. While several of them went toward my daily juice routine, I still had plenty left over to use in salads and this delicious glaze I saw on Bird + Cleaver. While that blog used the glaze for their salmon, I thought it would be just as tasty on the cod, especially when combined with a light bok choy salad. My theories were correct and the fish and salad were the perfect end to a lovely weekend. Best of all both were super easy to make.

Beet Glazed Cod and Beet, Blood Orange, Baby Bok Choy Salad (adapted from Bird + Cleaver)

Ingredients:

For the Cod

  • 2 Cod fillets
  • 2 baby beets, diced
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the Salad

  • 2 blood oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 baby beets, sliced
  • 2 bunches of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.  Place the fish on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine orange juice, lemon juice, sugar and diced beets.  Cook over medium heat until mixture starts to thicken, about 5 to minutes.  Strain liquid into small bowl.  Reserve the beets for the salad.  Brush the cod with the glaze and roast in oven for 15 minutes.  Cod’s ready to eat when it’s firm and flakes off easily with a fork. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. While the fish cooks, combine the oranges, bok choy and all the beets in a medium bowl.
  4. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and sesame oil in a small bowl. Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Serve the salad with the fish and enjoy.

Spinach and Kale Pancakes

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Monday is St. Patrick’s Day. As you know the holiday is all about being Irish, wearing as much green as possible and, for some, getting as drunk as possible. Of course the fact that the holiday is on a Monday this year, makes the getting drunk part a little more difficult, but I’m sure people will find a way.

While I won’t be drowning in alcohol on Monday, I will be wearing green. I’ll also be eating green things, like my morning juice which is usually made of kale, spinach, celery and lime juice. But since neither of my boys are big on my healthy breakfast juice, I need to figure out more creative ways for them to get their veg. Usually I’ll sneak it into dinner with tasty dishes like my Kale Pesto Mac & Cheese. But then I saw a recipe for Spinach Pancakes over on Chocolate & Carrots and thought since my boys both love pancakes, this would be a great way for them to have some vegetables for breakfast too.

While the spinach is a nice veggie touch to pancakes, my sons are both big on eating things that look like something a monster would eat… things like green juice or bright green pancakes. But I didn’t want to add food coloring, so I just added a couple leaves of kale to the batter and presto! Bright, St. Patrick’s Day green pancakes. Although these aren’t the sweetest cakes out there, a little maple syrup makes this the perfect St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

Don’t have time to make pancakes before your kids head off to school? Don’t fret. You can whip these up the day (or night) before and freeze them. Then when you’re ready to serve, simply warm the pancakes up in the microwave for about 20 seconds for a delicious, healthy breakfast that will have the leprechauns pounding on your door.

Spinach and Kale Pancakes (adapted from Chocolate and Carrots)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 or 3 leaves of kale
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

  1. Place the yogurt, milk, spinach and kale in a blender and blend until a bright green liquid. Add the eggs one a time, then pour in the honey.
  2. Gradually add the flour until completely combined.
  3. Stir in the baking powder and soda.
  4. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Pour a quarter cup of the batter into the skillet and wait until bubbles form, about 1 minute. Flip the cakes, cook for another minute or two and transfer to a warm plate. Repeat the process until all the batter is used up. Serve with your favorite syrup.