Monday, January 19, 2015

Grapefruit Blush Cocktail

In the depths of winter I find I will sometimes go a couple weeks without eating an orange or a grapefruit, and then suddenly the citrus craving will hit hard. Over the past couple days I've binged on clementines and cut up some grapefruit to slip into a salad, and today I decided to extend the citrus trend to late afternoon tipples, too. The same friend who gifted me with maple bitters last year recently gave me an awesome bottle of hibiscus-orange blossom-ginger simple syrup from the Bang Candy Co, and I found it paired quite well with the grapefruit juice I'd just squeezed. A little Cointreau and club soda later, and I was sipping this very easy and tasty cocktail.  It's sweet, tart, juicy, effervescent, and most importantly, makes you briefly forget the dull grey chill awaiting you outdoors. Looking forward to seeing where my current citrus obsession takes me next.

Grapefruit Blush Cocktail
Makes one drink

*4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
*1 oz hibiscus-orange flower-ginger syrup (ginger simple syrup will work well as a sub)
*2 oz Cointreau
*Club soda
*Sugar & grapefruit zest, for rimming the glass

Mix some sugar and zest together on a plate and run a wedge of grapefruit around the rim of a short tumbler, then place it rim-side down in the sugar. Chill the glass.

Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a shaker filled with ice, then strain into your chilled glass and top with a little club soda.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Some traditional Italian pasta dishes have fabulously evocative names; like spaghetti alla carbonara, this pasta dish also paints a vivid picture of its supposed originators. Puttanesca derives from puttana, a prostitute, and the name connotes an easy, cheap, and deeply savory meal a working girl might hasten to throw together between, ahem, clients. Whatever its real origins, I love the name. Slattern spaghett'.

Those familiar with the basic ingredients of puttanesca might note that cured olives go conspicuously missing in mine. As I've mentioned a few times before, I just can't but, I do love tapenade! The tapenade I use is actually a sundried tomato version which I absolutely adore and think adds a lot to the flavor of the sauce, so if you opt for a 1/4 cup of cured olives instead of tapenade, maybe chop up a few sundried tomatoes too! Puttanesca, much like its namesakes of yore, is very accommodating.  

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Makes 3 servings

Adapted from A Food Obsession

*1/2 lb high quality spaghetti (De Cecco! I never use anything else.)
*3 large cloves of garlic, minced
*6 anchovies, chopped
*1 tablespoon chopped capers
*Pinch red pepper flakes
*1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
*Pinch sugar
*Pinch oregano
*Freshly ground black pepper
*1 "big spoonful" tapenade, about 2-3 tablespoons (or, cured olives)
*3-4 leaves basil, torn

Heat a puddle of evoo in a pot over medium and melt the anchovies into the oil for a bit before adding the garlic, capers, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. After a minute or so, pour in the tomatoes and stir in the tapenade with a pinch of sugar and oregano. Tear in the basil leaves and grind some pepper into the mix, too.

Let the sauce cook over medium-low, stirring frequently, as you put the pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Salt the water well and boil the spaghetti until al dente, then drain and toss with the sauce. Reserve a smidge of the pasta water in case the dish is a little dry.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Eggnog...and Eggnog Ice Cream

Talk about having your cake and eating it too - over the holidays I had a mind to make homemade eggnog AND David Lebovitz's eggnog ice cream...and found I could do both at the same time. When I was reading Lebovitz's recipe from The Perfect Scoop it struck me that the ice cream's custard base was so extremely similar to most recipes for (cooked) eggnog I'd seen, that if I made a big enough batch, I could have both nog concoctions! 2 cups of the base went into chilled glasses and the other 2, into the ice cream maker: perfectly unctuous, rich eggnoggy deliciousness in both liquid & solid form. I prefer eggnog with black spiced rum but feel free to sub in your alcohol of choice - Lebovitz recommended bourbon & brandy. Sip your nog and eat it too!

Eggnog/Eggnog Ice Cream
Makes a quart of the base

Adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

*1 cup whole milk
*2 cups heavy cream, divided
*Good pinch salt
*2/3 cup sugar
*1/4 cup black-spiced rum (I use Kraken)
*1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
*Pinch cinnamon
*Pinch allspice
*6 organic eggs, divided
*1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine the milk, sugar, salt and one cup cream in a saucepan over medium and keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the milk begins to steam. Put the other cup of cream into a bowl and chill well. 

Whisk the egg yolks until the yolks are glossy. Temper the yolks by slowly adding hot milk mix to them, whisking until fully incorporated. Pour the eggy liquid back into the pan and cook, stirring all the while, until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon – just don't bring to a boil. Pour the mix through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl of chilled cream and add the spices, rum and vanilla. Stir well, then put in the fridge to chill overnight.

When you're ready to churn, use as much of the eggnog base as you would like, reserving any extra for immediate sippin'. To pump up those sipping servings, take about a tablespoon of egg white and a heavy pinch of sugar per serving and whisk together until peaks form, then gently fold the egg whites into the servings. Garnish both liquid and solid servings with freshly grated nutmeg and allspice.