On Saturday night, we had friends over for dinner. The farmers market is just incredible right now, with all the wonderful summer produce everywhere, so I had a lot of fun planning out this meal. Since I tried several new recipes, I’m going to make three posts over the course of this week. Today, drinks and appetizers.
We aren’t really cocktail people, but I thought it would be fun to try making one. I found this recipe in Food and Wine, created by Todd Thrasher. When we lived in DC, we were lucky enough to enjoy his drinks at the wonderful speakeasy-style bar, PX, and as his other home, the absolutely incredible Restaurant Eve. His drinks were always fantastic, so I knew this drink would be good.
10 basil leaves, plus 1 basil leaf for garnish
3 ounces Lillet blanc
1/2 ounce gin
1 ounce Simple Syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled until the sugar dissolves, and cooled)
In a cocktail shaker, lightly muddle the 10 basil leaves. Add ice and the Lillet, gin and Simple Syrup and shake well. Strain well, using cheese cloth, into a chilled glass and garnish with the remaining basil leaf.
The drink was amazing. My only complaint is that this drink was very sweet. I prefer less sweet cocktails, and if you do, I suggest reducing the simple sugar and the Lillet and increasing the gin by equal amounts to get to a balance that works for you.
To accompany it, I wanted something mild tasting that wouldn’t taste weird with the basil drink. I made a simple white bean puree and some pickled crudite.
White Bean Puree
I’ve made this dip a number of times, and each time it turns out differently. Basically, I throw a can of white beans into the food processor and add whatever is around – herbs, spices, onions, garlic, whatever. This time, I used 12 scallions, a clove of garlic, juice of half a lemon, and a splash of olive oil. Add some salt and you are good to go.
Salt and Sugar Pickles
Back in February, I wrote about the easiest appetizers ever. I take that back. These are the easiest appetizers ever. I got the recipe from the June 2007 Food and Wine. Mix equal parts sea salt and sugar and sprinkle on cut vegetables. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes and the mixture quickly brines the vegetables. Serve immediately, because the vegetables get watery and soggy after about an hour.
Food and Wine recommends radishes, daikons, cucumbers, and watermelon. I used radishes and lemon cucumbers, both of which were great. The salt and sugar mixture is very subtle, but cuts the raw taste of the vegetable just enough, so you feel like you are eating a yummy snack and not just a pile of bland vegetables. I really think this might become an entertaining staple.
Later this week, I’ll blog about the sides and the main course.