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Archive for Mother’s Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Gin Cocktails For Father’s Day

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A gimlet: gin, lime juice and sugar. Photo courtesy
Gallo.

 

How about a gin cocktail party for Father’s Day? You can serve your guests the five classic gin cocktails: Gimlet, Gin Fizz, Gin & Tonic, Gin Rickey and Martini. For a mocktail, a pitcher of limeade does nicely (a few dashes of bitters makes the limeade more cocktail-like).

We love the idea of a tasting of the classics; but if you’d rather have modern gin cocktails, here are recipes for a Gin Mojito, Red Snapper (Bloody Mary) and Watermelon Martini

You can have a bartender prepare the drinks to order, or make them in bulk in advance and serve them in pitchers (self-service). Provide shot glasses (plastic ones are fine) for tasting all, and full-size glasses for one’s favorite cocktail.

Recipes vary widely—it’s easy to change proportions, switch lemon juice for lime juice, switch the garnish, etc. There are several styles of gin. Most recipes use London Dry Gin, but if you have something else, use it. If you have a favorite recipe for any of the drinks below, by all means use it!

RECIPE: GIMLET COCKTAIL

A gimlet is a tool for drilling small holes; the name was also used figuratively to describe something as sharp or piercing. The word “gimlet” for a cocktail was first used around 1928—perhaps for its effects on the drinker.

 
According to Wikipedia, another theory is that the drink was named after British Royal Navy Surgeon Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette KCB (who served 1879 to 1913). Gimlette allegedly introduced the drink as a means of inducing his messmates to drink lime juice as an anti-scurvy medication.
 
Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 shots (or parts) gin
  • 3/4 shot fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 shot simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Garnish: cucumber wedge or lime wheel
  •  
    Preparation

    Shake all ingredients with ice until ice cold. Strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with lime peel.
     
    RECIPE: GIN FIZZ COCKTAIL

    A fizz is a variation of a sour, a family of cocktails that uses lemon or lime juice. The fizz adds carbonated water (soda water). The first printed reference to a “fiz” appears in the 1887 edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide. It became very popular starting at the turn of the 20th century.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 shots gin
  • 1/2 shot fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 shot simple syrup or 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Soda water
  • Lemon wedge for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    Shake with ice and strain first 3 ingredients into a highball glass. Top off with soda water and stir lightly. Garnish with lemon wedge.

     

    RECIPE: GIN & TONIC COCKTAIL

    The world’s favorite gin drink was born in colonial India, when the British troops took daily doses of quinine water (tonic water) to ward off malaria. Someone suggested mixing it with gin to make it more palatable, and the Gin and Tonic became the iconic drink of the British Empire.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 shots gin
  • Tonic water
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    Add the gin and ice to highball glass; top off with tonic water. Garnish with a lime wedge.
     
    RECIPE: GIN RICKEY COCKTAIL

    The rickey was created with bourbon in the 1880s, at Shoomaker’s bar in Washington, D.C. The story is that it was a collaboration between bartender George A. Williamson and a good customer, Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey.

     

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    A classic G&T with a (non-traditional) sprig of fresh thyme. Photo courtesy Q Tonic.

     

    In the bar for his morning glass of bourbon and Apollinaris sparkling mineral water, with lump ice, history was changed when one day, half a lime was squeezed into, then dropped into, the glass. The guess is that the lime was the bartender’s twist. Colonel Rickey may have preferred bourbon, but the cocktail became a worldwide sensation a decade later when gin was substituted to create the Gin Rickey. It’s similar to a Gin Fizz, but it uses London Dry Gin and lime juice, and less (or no) sugar.

    Ingredients

  • 1.25 shots gin
  • 1/2 fresh lime, juiced
  • Optional: splash of simple syrup
  • 1 ounce soda water
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    Fill a highball glass with ice. Squeeze the lime into the glass, getting as much juice out of it as you can. Add the gin, simple syrup and the lime shell. Top off with soda water.
     
    RECIPE: GIN MARTINI COCKTAIL

    Is there a drink with as many variations as a Martini? The original may have been made in San Francisco in 1850 by bar owner Jerry Thomas. A stronger claim comes from Here’s the scoop. The first reference to a vodka Martini in the U.S. occurs in 1951 in a cocktail recipe book, Bottoms Up, by Ted Saucier. The drink took off when James Bond ordered his vodka Martini “shaken, not stirred.”

    Ingredients

  • 3 shots gin
  • 1/4 shot dry vermouth (for a dry Martini)
  • 1-2 green olives, depending on size
  •  
    Preparation

    Shake the vodka and vermouth with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the olives.

      

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    RECIPE: Rocky Road Truffles

    Today is National Rocky Road Day. The original Rocky Road was an ice cream flavor invented in 1929 by William Dryer. He chose the name to describe the bumpy appearance of ice cream packed with chocolate, marshmallows and walnuts. Since the Great Depression began in October of that year, it was also a tongue-and-cheek reference.

    Pastry chef and cookbook author Emily Luchetti has taken Dryer’s original flavor profile and added her own twist, to make Rocky Road Truffles, developed for the California Walnut Board.

    Chocolate ganache surrounds walnuts and marshmallows, with a light dusting of cocoa powder. The truffles melt in your mouth.

    Make them for a family treat or for a special occasion like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day. The truffles can be made a week in advance. The better quality the chocolate, the tastier the truffles. (We used a Valrhona chocolate bar.)
     
    RECIPE: ROCKY ROAD TRUFFLES

    Ingredients For 30 One-Inch Truffles

     

    Here, the rocky road is welcome. Photo courtesy California Walnut Board.

  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup mini marshmallows cut in half (use scissors)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or chocolate bar chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until hot and bubbling around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Swirl the pan lightly so the chocolate is covered by the cream. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

    2. WHISK occasionally until the mixture is at room temperature. Then stir in the marshmallows, walnuts and milk chocolate chips. Spread the chocolate cream in a 9-inch pan or pie plate. Refrigerate until hard, at least 1 hour.

    3. PLACE a heaping teaspoon for each truffle in a single layer on a pan. Refrigerate until hard.

    4. PUT the cocoa powder on a plate or in a small bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. One at a time, place the chocolate balls in the cocoa powder. Dust your palms with cocoa powder and lightly roll the truffles between your palms until round. (The cocoa powder keeps them from sticking to your hands.) Finally, roll the round truffles in the the cocoa powder. (If at any point the chocolate gets too warm and the truffles become difficult to roll, refrigerate the chocolate for 30 minutes until it firms up.)

    5. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve. For gifting, you can wrap the truffles up in tissue paper and tie the bundle with a ribbon.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Berry Croissants

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    Berry croissants: a yummy idea. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     

    For Sunday brunch or afternoon tea*, here’s a fun alternative to a chocolate croissant that provides another reason to enjoy seasonal berries.

    RECIPE: BERRY CROISSANTS

    Ingredients

  • Croissants
  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or a mix
  • Mascarpone, fresh chèvre (goat cheese—look especially for the honey chèvre at Trader Joe’s), cream cheese or other spreadable cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPLIT the croissant and spread the bottom half with cheese.

    2. ADD the berries, whole or sliced, depending on size.

     
    Thanks to Castello USA for the idea (they used blue cheese).

     
    *Who has afternoon tea, you say? Well, THE NIBBLE is a far cry from Downtown Abbey, but we serve afternoon tea daily. Not everyone drinks tea, but it’s our chance to sample some of the many foods that arrive at our doorstep—baked goods, candy, jam, crackers, cheese, pâté and so forth—including coffee, tea and other beverages. If you want to serve a proper afternoon tea, here’s how.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Mother’s Day Martini

    Make a special Martini for Mom with this recipe from Grey Goose. It’s all in the garnish: microgreens and a caperberry instead of the usual olive or twist.

    Here, the conventional olive or lemon twist is replaced with with microgreens and a large, stemmed caper berry: arty and pretty.

    Use your favorite Martini recipe or this one:

    RECIPE: CLASSIC DRY VODKA MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2½ parts vodka
  • ½ part dry vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Garnishes: caper berry, amaranth and shiso microgreens
    (or substitutes)
  •  

    microgreen-martini-greygoose-230

    Make it pretty for Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy Gresy Goose.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Martini glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Cupcake Garnishes

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    Easy Mother’s Day cupcakes. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.

     

    If you still haven’t settled on a dessert for Mother’s Day, here’s the easy way out.

    You can make cupcakes like these, from SweetStreetDesserts.com, simply by purchasing plain cupcakes and topping them with a large piece of candy.

    Instead of sprinkles, the idea is to have one chocolate “centerpiece” to top the cupcake. Consider:

  • Baci
  • Bonbons
  • Chocolate-coverd cherries
  • Chocolate disks
  • Hershey Kisses (unwrapped)
  • Non-pareils
  • Toffee or brittle (large piece)
  •  

    Of course, you can bake your own cupcakes from scratch or a mix. But with this concept, the busiest dad or young child can “make cupcakes” for Mom.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Oysters & Pearls

    The great chef Thomas Keller, inventor of “Oysters and Pearls,” created a splendid first course with fresh-shucked oysters in a pearl tapioca sabayon, garnished with osetra caviar (today it’s domestic white sturgeon caviar, due to import restrictions).

    Here’s a video, here’s the recipe).

    Keller’s inspiration was a box on tapioca pearls he noticed on a shelf. He turned the tapioca into something savory instead of the conventional sweet pudding, thinking “Where do pearls come from? Oysters.”

    The iconic dish came together just like that.

    While we can’t get enough of Oysters and Pearls, here’s an easier take on the dish that you can make for Mother’s Day or other special occasion.

     

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    An easy version of “Oysters and Pearls.” Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.

     
    You can serve as many oysters on a plate as you like: a minimum three, up to a dozen oysters on the half shell if your guests are like Diamond Jim Brady.

    Serve this course with a dry white wine or saké.
     
    RECIPE: OYSTERS & PEARLS

    Ingredients

  • Oysters on the half shell
  • Seaweed or microgreens
  • Salmon caviar (vegan option finger lime pearls)
  • Yuzu or rice wine vinaigrette
  • Optional: halved cherry or grape tomatoes, lime wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRESS the seaweed with some yuzu or rice wine vinaigrette so it can be eaten as a salad.

    2. CREATE a seaweed bed on each serving plate, topped with the oysters.

    3. TOP each oyster with pearls of caviar. Decorate the plate with the cherry tomatoes and lime wedge.

      

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    GIFT: Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Cheesecake

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    Delicious cheesecake, sugar-free and gluten-free. Photo courtesy Cinderella Cheesecake.

     

    For a cheesecake-loving mother who has given up sugar, here’s a find: sugarless cheesecake from Cinderella Cheesecake Company.

    It’s sweetened with maltitol, the finest-quality sugar substitute, and has a gluten-free cinnamon cracker crust.

    The classic-style cheesecake recipe also includes cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, natural vanilla flavoring. It tastes just as it should: rich, creamy, wonderful. Sugar-free observers, rejoice!

    Cinderella Cheesecake Company is a family-owned business founded in Riverside, New Jersey in 1965 with a broader product line. But by the early 1980s, the cheesecake business was so rocking that founder Alfred Rezende decided to drop the other baked goods to focus on expanding the cheesecake operation.

    The company sells cheesecakes to distributors, restaurants and non-profit groups for fundraisers, as well as direct to consumers online.

     
    In addition to the No Sugar Added cheesecake, the company makes conventional cheesecakes in Almond Amaretto, Egg Nog, Mango, Pineapple, Plain, Pumpkin, Sampler (two slices of each flavor), Southern Pecan, Washington Cherry and White Chocolate Peanut Butter.

    All cheesecakes are eleven inches in diameter and precut into 16 slices. A four-pound cheesecake is $38.00. It freezes nicely.

    Get yours at CinderellaCheesecakeCoInc.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Layer Cake

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    You can make this at home, topped with Callebaut Crispearls. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.

     

    Nothing says love like a homemade cake: for birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, graduation or or other special occasion. Whether you use a cake mix or measure from scratch, it’s fun to bake a cake.

    And it’s very much appreciated by the honoree. Our friend Beth’s children, ages 7 and 10, know enough to appreciate mom’s homemade birthday cakes to store-bought options.

    Over the years, many people have asked our opinion on cake mixes. Here it is:

    Essentially, a cake mix saves you the time and mess of measuring the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, etc. It also includes the flavorings—vanilla, orange, whatever. People who don’t like measuring should reach for the box.

    What we personally don’t like is using oil instead of butter. Others may not notice; but if it doesn’t taste buttery, we don’t want to spend our cake and cookie calories.

     
    And of course, a from-scratch recipe that’s enhanced with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, fresh citrus juice or zest, and so on will be better tasting.

    CAKE MIX YES, CANNED FROSTNG NO!

    We totally avoid the canned frostings most people buy to go along with a cake mix. To borrow a line from Snapple, most canned frosting is not made from “the best stuff on Earth.” Here are the ingredients to Betty Crocker’s Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting:

    Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Water, Wheat Starch, High Maltose Corn Syrup, Contain 1% or Less of Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Colored with Artificial Color, Yellows 5 & 6, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Nonfat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Potassium Sorbate

    Why eat cottonseed oil and corn syrup, when in 10 minutes you can make real buttercream, which tastes great?

    All you need is a stick of butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 ounces chocolate or 1 teaspoon instant coffee. Just blend them together and ice away. The toughest part is waiting for the butter to soften!

    Here’s the full recipe.

     

    IT’S EASY TO DECORATE

    A special occasion deserves a festive garnish. You can turn a homemade or store-bought layer cake into something special with a simple sprinkle of edible cake decorations.

    In addition to chocolate chips (or other flavors), homemade chocolate curls (scrape a chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler), coconut and candies, there are:

  • Bright-colored or pastel confetti
  • Callebaut Crispirls, chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate
  • Dragées in single colors, multicolor “Harlequin,” gold and silver
  • Gold glitter stars
  • Sugar pearls, in white, pastels, multicolor and metallics
  • White pearl shimmers
  •  
    If you live near a baking supplies store, go browsing. Otherwise, browse online until you find your ideal decorations.

     

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    Sprinkle festive decorations atop your cake. Photo courtesy Wilton.

     

    Here’s an article about the different types of cake decorations.

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Drink Pink

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    Chandon California Rosé is a sparkling rosé wine that’s less than half the price ($24) of a French rosé Champagne. The company also makes Sparkling Red from Zinfandel ($30), Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé ($35) and Etoile Rosé ($50). Photo courtesy Chandon.

     

    Heading out to the liquor store to pick up a bottle for Valentine’s Day? Here are some tips:

    Don’t purchase a vintage year Champagne. Vintage champagnes typically need to be laid down for 10 or 15 years to reveal their glorious nuances. Knowledgeable people who buy them don’t plan to drink them anytime soon. Instead, you’ll save money and have a better taste experience with nonvintage Champagne.

    Do look for rosé Champagne, as “real” pink-hued Champagne is called. Fuller in body with a deeper flavor, it’s our personal favorite. (It’s also pricier due to the extra steps required to extract the pink color. Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé is a beauty, with the greater roundness that rosé Champagnes have. It’s priced in between the nonvintage and vintage Taittingers, around $65.00.

    Don’t buy anything called “Pink Champagne.” It is not French but inexpensive wine, carbonated and colored pink. Authentic rosé Champagne (and other natural rosé wines) get their color by extracting it from the grape skins into the white juice.

    Do look for non-Champagne rose sparklers. Two of our favorites: [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy. Both are not much more than $10 a bottle, but don’t let the price fool you. They’re delicious! Another favorite, Chandon Rosé, from California is about $22.00.

     
    If you want Champagne with dessert, look for a sec- or demi-sec Champagne*. These are vinified for sweeter foods (i.e., extra dosage is added for sweetness). Brut Champagnes are not vinified to pair with desserts, and will seem too astringent if you drink them with sweeter foods. Sec Champagnes also go well with foods that typically pair with sweeter wines, such as foie gras, lobster and double-creme/triple creme cheeses (our idea of a perfect meal).

    If you don’t want sparkling wine, buy rosé, a pink still wine.

    MORE VALENTINE WINE IDEAS

    Here are some of our favorite Valentine wines.

    More of our favorite rosé Champagnes.

    Whatever is in your glass, have a delicious Valentine’s Day.

     
    *While sec means “dry” in French and demi-sec means “half dry,” as the terms refer to Champagne, they indicates sweetness.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Red Velvet Pancakes

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    Red velvet pancakes: use seasonal garnish
    for July 4th, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or
    Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy Taste Of
    Home.

     

    For a special Valentine’s Day breakfast, brunch or lunch, Taste Of Home magazine suggests these red velvet pancakes.

    Red food works for July 4th and Christmas, of course. Just vary the garnish:

  • Christmas: mint leaf or sliced kiwi (or make green whipped cream!)
  • Valentine’s Day: red berries
  • July 4th: whipped cream, crème fraîche or mascarpone; plus blueberries
  •  
    Note that the recipe below is for a party-size batch of pancakes—five batches of 16 pancakes per batch.

    However, the mixed dry ingredients can be divided into five batches, which can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. You can use the recipe as a guide to make smaller amounts.

    Or, make the five-batch lot, and give the four extra batches as Valentine gifts—tied with a red ribbon.

     
    RECIPE: RED VELVET PANCAKES

    Prep time is: 30 minutes, cooking time is 15 minutes per batch.

    Ingredients For 5 Batches (10 Cups Mix Total)

  • 10 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 6 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  •  
    Additional Ingredients (For Each Batch)

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • Butter and maple syrup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Place 2 cups in each of five resealable plastic bags or containers.

    2. PREPARE pancakes: Pour the mix into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs and food coloring. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.

    3. POUR the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until the second side is golden brown.

    4. SERVE with butter and syrup.

      

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