Posts Tagged ‘Drinks and Cocktails’

Twas the night before Christmas, and my husband and I were enjoying the glorious peace and quiet of a holiday alone.  I made a lovely Italian-themed dinner, but before that, we had our own cocktail party.  On the menu, roasted olives and fennel, blue cheese cookies (cut in the shape of stars, to be festive), and negronis.

Roasted Olives and Fennel

I am a huge olive fan.  Love them.  But, there is only one thing better than olives, and that is warm olives.  To make them, I rinsed off a mix of olives from the olive bar at the store.  I then zested an orange and lemon, removing the zest in big chunks, then juiced each of them.  Toss the olives in the juice.  Then, take a fennel bulb (or part of one, depending on how big and how much you like fennel), cut it in strips, and toss that in.  Add a bay leaf and a few cloves of garlic smashed up.  Toss it all together with a drizzle of olive oil.  Preheat the oven and stick them in.  This is not an exact science, so if your oven is already on for something else, that’s fine.  In general, I’d say a good 12-15 minutes or so at 375 or so ought to do the trick.  You want to heat them up, and cook the rawness out of the fennel.  And voila, warm yummy olives.


Now on to the drinkies.  I am not a huge cocktail person.  Wine is my vice.  But, I make an exception for these.  They are just lovely.  The Campari is bitter, but it’s cut nicely by the vermouth. Not too sweet, not too harsh, just right. To make one, put one ounce each of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a shaker with some ice, shake it up, and serve with an orange wedge.  Cheers!




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Frozen Bloody Marys

I’m several weeks behind in my blog posts because I’ve been traveling and running around busy with other things.  But, we are still getting tons of gorgeous tomatoes around here, so I figured I should get this up before they are gone.  For a while, I was having crazy bloody mary cravings.  I’m not sure why, though I suspect it was due to a particularly fabulous one I had for brunch one morning at Gather.  A recent Food and Wine had a recipe for frozen ones, so I thought I’d give it a try.

They recommended yellow tomatoes, but I could only find orange.  I also skipped the basil because in my haste to finally quench my Bloody Mary thirst, I forgot it.  They were so delicious though.  I will say that the leftovers were better the next morning after they had thawed out in the fridge.  The texture was thick and icy, but a little easier to drink.  My recipe also made way more tomato ice cubes than they said it would, so I just keep them in my freezer along side some vodka with a jalapeno in it, ready to go for my next breakfast emergency.

Frozen Bloody Marys
Recipe by Food and Wine

4 jalapeños, sliced
1 cup vodka
2 pounds yellow (or orange or red) tomatoes, cored and halved
16 Thai basil leaves (optional)
Yellow cherry tomatoes, halved, and basil flowers, for garnish (optional, as my boring glasses below indicate)

In a jar, cover the jalapeños with the vodka. Let stand for 3 hours, then strain.

In a food processor, puree the tomatoes. Pass the puree through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup; you should have 2 cups of juice. Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.

In a blender, combine the jalapeño vodka, tomato ice cubes and basil. Blend until smooth and season with salt; if the drink is very thick, add a little water and blend again. Pour into rocks glasses, garnish with cherry tomato halves and basil flowers and serve.

If I had to do one think differently, I would put salt on the rims of the glasses.  Otherwise, they were perfect.

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For my local dinner this week, I went for something simple – breakfast.  It really must be one of the easiest meals to do locally – eggs and bread really form the basis of most good breakfasts.  Eggs, butter, and cream from farms in Sonoma, baked with leeks and thyme from the farmer’s market, served with toasted Acme bread and bacon from Fatted Calf.  To wash it all down, a Bloody Mary made from Happy Girl Kitchen‘s Spicy Tomato Juice and Hangar One vodka from Alameda’s St. George’s Spirits.

The inspiration for the eggs comes from The Wednesday Chef, who blogged about this egg recipe which comes from Camino Restaurant, in Oakland (even my recipe is local this week!).  I tweaked it a little to avoid having leftover leeks and because I wanted two eggs, so I’m putting my variation here.  It was really, really good.  This might be my new favorite way to cook eggs.

Eggs Baked in Cream
Adapted from Camino
serves 2

1 tablespoon butter
1 really large leek or two smaller ones, sliced, light green and white parts only
2 sprigs thyme, leaves roughly chopped
4 large farm-fresh eggs
About 2 tablespoons half-and-half
Salt Coarsely ground black pepper

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter over medium heat and add the leek, a splash of water ,and a pinch of salt.  Cook until the leeks are soft, about 2 minutes.   Add the herbs and divide the mixture evenly between two 1 cup ramekins.

Crack 2 eggs into each ramekin on top of the leeks.  Add half-and-half to each so it just covers the egg.  Sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground pepper.

Cook until the white is set, 10 to 14 minutes.   Be careful because it won’t look cooked because of the cream on top.  But, at about 14 minutes, the yolks were just about 75% cooked through.  So, go a little less if you like your yolks yolky.

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Liqueur for the impatient

Limoncello is one of my favorite drinks.  It is tart and lemony and a little bit herbal tasting.  Love it.  Apparently it’s possible to make your own, except all the recipes I’ve seen involve 40 days of infusing.  I’m not that patient.

Thankfully, there are other drinks to be made that do not take quite as long to infuse.  A vendor at the farmers market had bunches of lemon verbena for sale recently, so I grabbed some and set to work making Lemon Verbena Elixir from Joanne Weir’s Weir Cooking cookbook.  If you’ve never tried lemon verbena, run out and find some now.  It is one of the most amazing smelling plants.  It smells almost like a lemon tea, but brighter. 


This recipe makes a lot.  I thought about halving it, but now that I’m enjoying the finished product, I have to say, I’m glad I made the full amount.  It’s delicious and I am probably going to tear right through it.

 Lemon Verbena Elixir

 3 cups packed lemon verbena leaves
2 750 milliliter bottles of vodka
3 cups of sugar

Place the lemon verbena leaves in a large container with one bottle of vodka and place it in a dark spot for 5 days.

verbena jar

After 5 days have passed, bring 4 cups of water to boil and add the sugar.  Dissolve the sugar and let cool.  I was worried that this would be too sweet, so I initially halved the amount of simple syrup, but later found I really did need all of it.  I don’t really like sugary drinks, but this definitely needs all of it.

Add the other bottle of vodka and the cooled simple syrup to the infusing vodka.  Return to the dark spot and let it sit for another five days.  Transfer it to bottles.  You can store the extra bottles wherever you keep your liquor, but you definitely want to be drinking this straight from the freezer.   Don’t be fooled by the ugly brown color, it’s really delicious and especially refreshing when it’s icy cold.


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Since I probably won’t be doing much food photography while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I thought I’d just share my menu.

My husband and I are hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner – just his mom and a family friend. On the menu:

Cheese, crackers, and sliced persimmon from our farm share

Brined Turkey
A friend of ours made this for us last year and it was incredible. The recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse of the Food Network. We’ve never brined a turkey before, so this ought to be interesting.

New England Sausage, Apple, and Dried Cranberry Stuffing
From Epicurious. We’ve made this a few times now for Thanksgiving. It’s wonderful.

Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips
Another item served up to us by friends. They made it with 3 potatoes and 6 parsnips, plus butter and a bit of half and half.

Green Beans
We’ll keep those simple.

Candied Cranberry Sauce
It’s from Food and Wine. The cranberries get cooked in a skillet with minimal water, so they stay whole. I’ve never made it, but it sounds good.

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust, whipped cream, and candied pepitas
The pumpkin pie and pepitas come courtesy of Martha Stewart. The gingersnap crust idea came from the blog Martha Stewart Baking at Home. I love anything ginger, and the pepitas just look like a fun addition.

To drink, I’ll be serving up some of these cocktails from Martha Stewart, made with rose cava and bay-infused simple syrup. We’ll probably pop open a nice bottle of white from one of our recent trips to Napa.

And that’s dinner. Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

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