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Posts tagged ‘cocktails’

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Holiday Toasts

from Jamie

Since we had so much fun with last year’s tropical fruit tasting following our Christmas brunch, I decided to keep the explorer spirit alive this year with a hot cocoa bar. First, I purchased as many hot chocolate flavors as I could find (in an ideal world I would have made these from scratch — there are a bunch of unique recipes online!) Then I provided lots of different toppings, including whipped cream, sprinkles, silver/red/green sugar, marshmallows and Pocky sticks in chocolate, strawberry and cappucino flavors (a biscuit dessert from Japan available online and in select stores).

Another cool find: miniature cups made out of chocolate! I found mine at a local foodie destination called Jungle Jim’s International Market but others are available online. The adults had Kahlua in theirs while the kiddies stuck with cold milk.

To add a tropical flair to juice glasses, we lined them with a slice of starfruit.

There was also no shortage of elderflower beverages on hand! I first discovered the St. Germain liqueur a year ago when a friend gave me a small sample. Having a real sweet tooth when it comes to cocktails, I immediately fell in love with it (this must be what nectar tastes like!) The flavor is unlike anything else and is derived from elderflower blossoms. Recently, we were excited to find elderflower concentrate and juice boxes at IKEA, which means two things: 1) I can have an elderflower beverage at any hour of the day and 2) my daughter can participate in the elderflower craze as well! (The concentrate goes quite nicely with tonic water or seltzer.)

Here’s to tasty toasting in the new year!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Bottoms up.

from Jamie

Thanks to Live Swim Drink for including our Halloween jello shots on their harvest party inspiration board (image #5)! If you missed last year’s post about these you can check it out here: Take your Best Shot.


Friday, August 26th, 2011

Cookbook Travels: Fig Heaven, Part 1

from Kate

It’s been a banner year for figs at the Blackman homestead. In the past, the small amount of fruit our tree produced tended to be gobbled up by our wild friends with just a few bites spared for my husband and I. This year, however, not even the squirrels can keep up with our happy tree. Given the abundance, I thought it only right to turn to David Tanis and his wonderful cookbook, A Platter of Figs, for this week’s cooking adventure. David is the head chef — i.e. Chief-Man-Behind-The-Scenes — at Alice Waters’ world famous restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

David’s recipes are an invitation to experience the simple extravagance of truly choice ingredients. As he writes, “Do you really need a recipe for a platter of figs? No. Is that the point? Yes… You wait all year for the best figs to arrive. The reward is heavy, juicy fruit with oozing centers — sweet figs to swoon over.” This week we will be curating rather than cooking. See page 99, Melon and Figs with Prosciutto and Mint, as reprinted below:

This easy first course depends entirely on the expertise of growers at farm stands or farmers’ markets. Look for truly ripe, firm, locally grown melons like cantaloupe, honeydew, Charentais, or Crenshaw. Search out figs — Black Mission, Adriatic, or Kadota — that are soft to the touch, promising fruit that is juicy and sweet. A firm unripe fig will be neither.

2 or 3 ripe melons
24 ripe figs
12 slices prosciutto
A few mint springs

Halve the melons and remove the seeds. Slice into thin wedges, then remove the skin with a paring knife. Lay the melon slices in the center of a large platter. Cut the figs in half and arrange them over the melons. Surround with the prosciutto. Just before serving, cut the mint leaves in ribbons and scatter the mint over the platter.

For the melon, I headed to the Weiser Family Farms stand at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market for peak varieties, including Sugar Cube, Sugar Queen, and French Orange.

For the prosciutto, I made a visit to Guidi Marcello, an Italian importer and wholesaler in Santa Monica. My Italian friends swear by the selection and I was not disappointed. Among other treats, I walked away with two variations of the cured delicacy: Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto di Modena.

With our platter of carefully-chosen ingredients assembled, we gathered outside on a lovely summer eve to enjoy the flavors with a bottle of wine and the company of friends — all ingredients not directly listed in David’s recipe, but certainly implied. Buona sera.

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Vitamin C — With A Twist

from Kate

Winter in California is citrus season. Yards are full of all kinds of fruit trees — lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange — just begging to be picked. People have so much extra, they give you all you can carry. This morning I opened the door to a large bag of lemons, but I’ll leave that for another post…

This is my neighbor’s tree. Even though these beauties look like grapefruit, they are really oranges. Very delicious and great for juicing. I am apt to reserve fresh-squeezed orange juice for a breakfast treat, but with the Oscars coming up I’m in the mood for a creative cocktail.

There are many, many libations that feature orange juice as an ingredient from classic to innovative concoctions. Looking through my favorite cocktail books (The Savoy Cocktail Book by The Savoy Hotel, Killer Cocktails: An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking by David Wondrich and Zero-Proof Cocktails: Alcohol-Free Beverages for Every Occasion by Liz Scott), I’m intrigued by a drink called the “Olympic.” There are certainly more adventurous recipes (like the classic Trader Vics Scorpion Bowl), but I’m going with the Olympic because it’s a sister to the Sidecar and invented at Paris’s Ritz Bar made famous by Hemingway and his contemporaries.

Here’s the recipe reprinted from Killer Cocktails:
2 ounces VSOP Cognac
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce orange juice
To finish: 2 drops Peychaud’s Bitters (optional)
Shake and strain into a chilled glass. Tip a couple drops of bitters on top, if you desire.

Though it is not called for, I’m going to garnish this baby with a twist of orange peel. Can’t let any of this beautiful fruit — or season — go to waste!

P.S. Fresh citrus is easy to order online from places like Harpos Organics.