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The Aviation Cocktail

It’s SPRING-time, SPRING-time! Finally, SPRING-time.

SPRING-time calls for pretty things, a flowers, and budding trees, and lovely purple cocktails!

The Aviation became a cult favorite in 1916 when it first appeared in “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”, by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at Times Square’s Hotel Wallick. Ensslin’s original formula called for the drink to include crème de violette, as I have here, which tints the drink this lovely color.

The Aviation also appears Harry Craddock’s “Savoy Cocktail Book” from 1930 where you find a version of the Aviation without the crème de violate – but what would be the point of that!?

I used an Amarena Cherry as garnish, but a maraschino cherry or a lemon twist would work just as well.

Try it, the doldrums of winter will slowly slough off and you’ll be doing a happy spring dance!

  • 2 ozs gin
  • 3/4 oz maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 oz creme de violette
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice.

Strain.

Garnish with a cherry or a lemon twist.

Pretty!

Watermelon Limeade #SundaySupper

It’s seems to be a winter that’s getting longer by the moment. As I sit here typing, on March 22, it’s SNOWING again! Just as my head is turning toward starting some seedlings for planting and planning out our garden. It’s SNOWING! AGAIN! I need something spring-like. Something summer-time cool to chase away the winter blasé mood.

It was a combination of events that led me to try this recipe … first, Sunday Supper’s theme of Citrus Recipes That Will Make Your Smile, hosted by Lisa at Jersey Girl Cooks AND walking through the supermarket and finding watermelon! I know, I know, it’s the wrong time of year. I don’t care. It looked fab and I needed a cocktail.

The original recipe did not call for gin. To me, it called for gin!

  • 6 cups 1-inch-pieces watermelon (from about 1/2 5-pound watermelon)
  • 1/2 cup cup fresh lime juice
  • 2–3 tablespoons light agave syrup (nectar) or honey
  • Lime wedges (for serving)
  • GIN

Purée watermelon, lime juice, and 2 Tbsp. agave syrup in a blender until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp. more agave, if desired. Strain into a large pitcher filled with ice and stir in 1/2 cup water. Serve over ice and garnish with lime wedges.

Sunday Supper Citrus Recipes That Will Make You Smile

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Peach Liqueur

peach-liqueur

As you learned from the Pear Liqueur post just a few days ago, the Dear one and I were married in October. It only took us 45 years to get there, but the important thing is we got there.

Yes, 45 years. We met in grammar school in the mid-1970s. Not a lot of spark, but we weren’t even teenagers then. Went to separate high schools, but ended up in the same high school. I remember the first day being in a new school and seeing him standing at the top of the stairs. My heart exploded and I was in love. We dated, didn’t, dated, didn’t, dated,he went to Antarctica for the first time and we lost touch. There was always a space there for the ONE who got away. Sigh …

We went to a teeny, tiny Catholic grammar school in Greenwich Village. The Sisters of (un)Charity, the order of nuns that ran our grammar school, which had closed right after graduation, allowed us to use the building for a reunion. This was to be – and was – a reunion of epic proportions. Alumni were invited from the very first class of students through to the last graduating class.

I was somehow (thank you, Sandra!) was dragged into planning and coordinating this event, though someone, whose name I will not mention, hogged all the credit – well, he shared it with someone who didn’t do a single thing. Part of what the Sisters sent us to use for the reunion were CDs filled with photos; some candids, some class photos.

As one does, I sat in front of the computer looking for photos of me, my sister, my friends. While scanning through the class photos, laughing the whole time at the outfits and hair – WAIT! There HE is wearing groovy Davy Jones-esque stripped pants, a hair cut from I don’t know where and a goofy smile only a tween-aged boy can have. My heart did a pitter-patter.

To make a very long story short, I emailed him. Three sentences and the photo. I wasn’t looking for anything, just to share a photo, check in.

He didn’t answer.

And he didn’t answer.

But then HE DID.

And here we are … finally. I feel as though all the pieces finally fit together, not a feeling ever experienced before in my life.

Perhaps it’s a bit like that old sermon about the fellow who gets to heaven questioning why God didn’t save him. God’s reply, I sent you a log, a boat and a helicopter …

This was more like I put you two in each other’s paths in grammar school, high school and now. Well, this time I got the message LOUD AND CLEAR and I grabbed on and won’t ever let go.

peaches

But we’re here for peaches!

Lovely, sweet peaches. Look, there are a few in the trees! Wait, here’s more. O.M.G. look at all of these peaches! Now what will I do!?

I’ll tell you what I will do – I will make peach liqueur (look at how well the pear experiment worked!), and peach salsa, and peach jam, and freeze some just sliced, and eat many, oh, wait Sangria. Peaches were easier. The very nice thing about this recipe is the no fuss, no muss, no cooking side to it.

  • 3 peaches (about 10 ounces)
  • 5 ounces sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 500 ml vodka

NOTE: Again, do to the number of peaches I had I quadrupled this recipe.

Rinse the peaches well and pat them dry.

lemons

Remove the peel from the lemon and cut into thick slices.

ready-to-sit

Place all the ingredients in an air tight jar and leave to infuse for 6 – 8 weeks, shaking every few days to dissolve the sugar.

2-weeks

NOTE: After about two weeks the liquid turns a lovely pink color.

After 6 – 8 weeks, strain the liquid through cheesecloth or coffee filter lined sieve. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

 

Pear Liqueur

pear-liquor

I’ve just returned to Maine after having spent Christmas and New Year’s in New York with  my family and friends. The Dear One – whose name I may now change to Dear Husband, we were married in October – was away in Antarctica working. It was wonderful being able to spend so much time with my family and friends, and also wonderful to return home to Maine. At times it feels as though I don’t feel quite settled in either place.

One of the questions I am constantly asked is “Do you miss New York?”

This is a question I have asked myself many, many times. I have no solid answer. I have more of a pro and con list for both New York City and Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor is a car culture. I find myself at work going through my cabinets and fridge and freezer to figure out what I need at home. Once home, it’s 6 miles to the nearest store. In NYC, you can find anything you need or want at any time of the day or night – and within walking distance. I walked  more in NYC over my three week visit than I have in Bar Harbor in three months.

New York City wins HANDS DOWN restaurants, supermarkets, ability to find unusual ingredients – well, anything a foodie may need or desire. Bar Harbor is a barren foodie land. There are very few restaurants open here during the off season and those pickings are slim and not necessarily diverse. As for ingredients? OH PUH-LEASE! Thank goodness for Amazon!

Bar Harbor is beautiful and quiet. We hear no sirens or honking of horns. As you drive down roads there is one beautiful view after another. Breathtaking at times. Don’t get me wrong, there are views in NYC that are unforgettable, but they’re only enjoyed with the 300 or 400 people swarming around you.

The sidewalks are not as crowded in Bar Harbor. Not crowded from October to May and increasingly crowded May to October with tourists. But, no one is walking down the street with their heads down staring at an illuminated screen missing the world going on around them. Or a phone in one hand and a cup of Starbucks in the other behaving as though no one else is walking down the street.

People here say please and thank you regularly. I’m greeted by name in the bank and post office and supermarket. There’s a friendly spirit amongst the residents of this bucolic town.

I would say that the major disadvantage between NYC and BH is my family and friends. They’re all in NYC. I miss my family and friends desperately. That sense of community, of belonging, of loyalty, being a member of and a part of a family – whomever that is made up by – has not yet been found here. We all have those people – friends and family that call when you’re alone or not feeling well, that like to spend time together, gravitate toward each other; the phone that rings at just the perfect moment when you’re wandering around a big house all alone with a voice inviting you to dinner or a movie or a walk or just a chat. People who are truly intertwined in each other’s lives with more than just ‘saying’ they are. Perhaps it’s being the new person, or not being ‘from’ here. Quite frankly, I have met a small handful of people who actually are ‘from’ here. Everyone was new at one time or another.

Boy, oh, boy do I miss that. I’m not sure how to find that here or if it even exists. I’m still looking. I’m open to it actually happening, but after 3 years, I’m not sure if it will happen.

Wish me luck! Fingers crossed.

pear

After reading all of that, we’re finally at the foodie portion of this blog post.

One of the best things about living in Bar Harbor are our lovely gardens. Flowers and herbs and veggies and fruit trees. We have cherry trees and apple and peach and pears. Some years there are bumper crops of each and some years not a one. We were blessed with a bumper crop of pears.

The first time the trees had pears! We have three. Two were here when I  moved in and one we planted. The two that were here were very strange. They were alive, they had leaves, but never a flower. Early the first spring I spoke to them and mentioned that if they didn’t flower, they would be cut down and replaced. One tree flowered, one didn’t. The next spring, I spoke to the unflowering one and nicely asked it to catch up to the other and at least flower – or else. We planted the third tree. That spring two flowered, but not the new tree. The third spring, I was very adamant about them ALL flowering and having at least ONE pear EACH! And KA-BOOOOOOOM!

Pears! Our pears had pears! The question is, what do you do with PEARS? Bushels of pears. They don’t have a long shelf life. You cannot do a lot with them. I made pear butter, pear sorbet, many blue cheese, walnut and pear tarts … now what?

Pear liqueur here we come! It’s easy to put together. Most of the time preparing this comes during the waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be finished. But the jar is sitting in the dark just getting ready to bring you great joy.

The liqueur is sweet and fragrant, warmly infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, just a hint of citrus from the orange peel. We served this ice cold from the freezer in small glasses – you really cannot drink a lot of this (well, one person drank an entire jar – the last jar!)

I used a good, inexpensive vodka. Please don’t spend oodles of money on a top shelf vodka. The vodka here is really just a vehicle for the pears and spices.

If you have an abundance of pears or can get your hands on some beautiful, fresh pears, give this a whirl. I’ve also done the same with peaches and made a peach liqueur, so keep an eye out!

pears

1 large pear
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 nutmeg broken into small pieces
2 strips of dried orange peel
6 cloves
500ml vodka
150g (5 oz) caster sugar

NOTE: I quadrupled this recipe.

Make sure you have a ripe yet unblemished pear. Rinse and pat dry.

Pierce the pear all over with a fine skewer Place the pear in a sterilized glass jar that it fits quite snugly in. Make sure it’s large enough to hold the 500ml vodka. Add the spices and orange peel.

NOTE: To make the dried orange peel, use a potato peeler to peel strips of skin off an orange, making sure you just take the skin and not the bitter white pith. Leave this on a radiator or in an airing cupboard overnight, or warm in a very low oven till completely dried. I used the oven method for quickness. This intensifies the wonderful orange flavor.

adding-vodka

Fill the jar with vodka and close the lid.

ready-to-age

Set on a sunny windowsill for 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks open the jar and add the sugar. Shake well and set aside in a cool dark cupboard for a further 6 weeks. Shake every day or so that the sugar to completely dissolves.

After 6 weeks, remove pear and spices from the jar and strain the liquid through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin. Do this part twice to get a really clear liqueur.

NOTE: I used a sieve with a coffee filter set inside.

Decant the liquid into a sterilized bottle and enjoy! It’s best served ice cold, so keep the jar in your fridge or freezer.

Strawberry Limeade

Done

I must first apologize for my absence. It’s been a long summer! There’s been WAY too much work and WAY too many things going on in the garden and greenhouse! We planted 58 – that’s not a typo – 58 tomato plants! There will be many, many tomato based recipes coming your way! And beans … and peppers … and cucumbers … yikes …

But …

One fine spring morning, the Dear One wakes up and looks at me, a twinkle in his eye … what do you want to do today? I don’t know. WHat do you want to do today? We should do something. (It’s like an often repeated scene from the film Marty!) I should have known he was waiting for this opening, this tiny bit of indecision on my part.

Well, I have an idea! Those five little words always bring a tiny bit of terror to my soul.

Let’s go pick strawberries! Ummm, okay. And off we go, girls in tow, to pick the strawberries that grow in a row. (Huh, huh, how’s that for a rhyme?!)

Here I’m thinking strawberries. The Dear One was thinking STRAWBERRIES. I think we picked fifteen quarts of strawberries. Some were greedily eaten, some went into smoothies, some into an incredible ice cream you’ll see next, and bags and bags and bags went into the freezer.

And some were lucky enough to make their way into this strawberry limeade.

I’ve made this a number of times, and used the frozen strawberries in my freezer, once the fresh ran out. Frozen strawberries quarter very easily. Lime juice, strawberries and sugar. Doesn’t get easier than that. The sugar is adjusted to your liking. We’re not an awfully sweet group here, so I always make it a bit on the tart side.

  • 1 1/2 C quartered fresh strawberries
  • 1 C fresh lime juice
  • 5 C cold water
  • 3/4 to 1 C granulated sugar (depending on how sweet the strawberries are)
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime slices-for serving, if desired

Ingredients

 

Blend strawberries and lime juice in blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour strawberry and lime mixture into a large pitcher. Add cold water and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Pitcher

 Add in ice cubes and pour into individual glasses. Garnish with lime, if desired.

Glass

 Pour over ice cubes in tall glasses; garnish each with strawberry or lime wedge, if desired.

 

 

Salty Dawg

Drink

It’s spring!

Yeah, right!

Spring is what they say … it’s what the calendar says … it’s what all the cute clothes and shoes are saying in the stores … but raining and snowing and sleeting and yucking is what it has been doing in Maine.

The weather in the last two weeks must be Mother Nature’s way of making sure we all know who is really in charge around these parts.

So while (again) waiting for the Dear One to finally make it home after delayed, missed and cancelled flights, a new cocktail seemed in order.

This recipe was tested, many times, by Lisa and I so that it would be perfected by the time the Dear One finally arrived.

While squeezing the last of our fabulous ruby red grapefruit from K-Y Farms in Texas, I made some ruby red grapefruit ice cubes to plunk in this drink. Thank you Paul and Susan for the fabulous grapefruit! Just as an aside, if you haven’t had ruby red grapefruit from Texas, you don’t know what you’re missing! I thought they were all alike … until I tried these!

It’s a great drink to make by the pitcherful, just sprinkle the Maldon salt on each drink as you pour. The salt doesn’t really make the drink salty, it just brightens the flavors of the citrus while giving it just a wee bit of brininess.

So, while it’s not spring-like outside, this drink makes you think and feel as though spring has truly arrived!

  • 1 1/2 ounces of gin
  • 3 ounces fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Pinch Maldon salt

NOTE: I used Tanqueray gin. Use any sort of grapefruit you prefer. I think the red or pink is better than the white … and it’s pretty!

Add gin and grapefruit juice to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into ice-filled glass, add salt on top and serve.

salting

NOTE: To make a pitcher, just multiply the ingredients by the number of cocktails you’d like. I mixed it all in the pitcher and stuck it in the fridge so it was good and cold and poured it over the grapefruit ice cubes when serving.

Cloverleaf Rolls

Done

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

Ever wake up in the morning and just NEED to bake something? Just.must.have.hands.in.dough. This was me … May have been being home alone on New Year’s Ever, or those I love being so far away, or wanting to take my angst out by beating oops, kneading dough a bit. Whatever it was, these Cloverleaf Rolls from the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book did just the trick. Careful not to overwork the dough or they will be a bit tough.

  • 1 C milk
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 t instant yeast
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2 3/4 C (14 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, well beaten (for egg wash)

Melt butter

Combine the milk, butter and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over low just until the butter melts. Set aside and cool to 105-115 F.

Yeast Salt

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, salt and flour. Mix briefly to combine. Once the milk mixture cools sufficiently, turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the liquid down the side of the mixing bowl and beat until a rough dough forms. Continue to knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4-5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky you can add a little bit of flour, and if it seems dry (like mine did) add a bit more milk.

Ready to Rise

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the dough, turning to coat, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Ready to roll

Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal portions. Divide each of those portions into thirds. Roll each of the 3 pieces into small balls (they don’t have to be perfect) and place them in one of the wells of the muffin pan in a triangle shape. Repeat with the other portions of dough. Cover the muffin pan with a kitchen towel and let the rolls rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Ready to Bake

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F. Brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the rolls are puffed and golden and the sides are crisp. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and remove the rolls from the pan immediately. The rolls are best when served warm, but if you make them ahead of time you can re-warm them before you serve – wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and pop in a 350 F oven for about 15 minutes.

NOTE: I sprinkled the tops with caraway seeds and sea salt before baking.