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Archive for Gourmet Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Glam Your Homemade Lemonade

August 20th is National Lemonade Day (National Watermelon Day is August 3rd). If the only lemonade you drink comes from a bottle, you’ve never experienced real lemonade

(We give a waiver to Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a line of carbonated, flavored malt liquor drinks in a dozen or so flavors. It’s not lemonade per se, but we’re fans.)

Bottled lemonade drinks are not only pasteurized, which kills the fresh flavor; but typically use reconstituted lemon juice, which, of course, totally kills off the bright lemon flavor of fresh-squeezed juice.

Lemonade “made from concentrate” and sold in cartons like orange juice is the far better choice, as are cans of frozen lemonade concentrate.

But the best choice of all is to squeeze fresh lemons. It takes just five minutes to make a single glass, and you can adjust the sweetening to your own taste.

While plain fresh-squeezed lemonade is wonderful in of itself, it’s even more wonderful when you add a bit of glamour.
 
 
FOR A LEMONADE PARTY BAR

We leave our pitchers of lemonade unsweetened to accommodate every preference.

For a party, set up a bar where guests can add their own sweeteners—agave, honey, noncaloric sweetener, superfine sugar or simple syrup.

You can buy or easily make the latter two, which, unlike table sugar, dissolve easily in cold drinks.

  • Make superfine sugar by pulsing table sugar in a food processor or blender.
  • Make simple syrup by heating sugar in water until it dissolves (recipe).
  • For adults, bottles of gin, tequila or vodka expand the options.
  • Provide some of the flavors and garnishes that follow.
  •  
     
    LEMONADE RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS

    1. Make Fancy Ice

  • Freeze lemonade into ice cubes: Melting lemonade “ice” won’t dilute the drink.
  • Add a garnish to each ice cube compartment: a piece of citrus peel, a mint leaf, a cherry (dried, fresh or maraschino).
  • Crack the ice cubes into smaller pieces with an ice crusher. Some people own ice crushers or blenders that crush ice; we use a manual tool like this.
     
    Hold the ice cube in your hand and hit it with the crusher end. (NOTE: Smaller pieces of ice melt faster than whole cubes, so if your lemonade is at room temperature, you’ll want to keep the ice cubes whole.)
  •  
    2. Other “Formats”

  • Float: Add scoops of sorbet to a tall glass of watermelon lemonade. We couldn’t find watermelon sorbet, so we tried lemon, orange and raspberry. They all work.
  • Slushie: The same ingredients as a float plus ice cubes/cracked ice, lightly pulsed in a blender.
  • Fruit Soup: For a refreshing dessert or snack, dice or slice any fresh fruits and place them in a mound in the center of a soup bowl. Pour the lemonade (plain or flavored)around the fruit. Garnish with optional chopped mint or basil.
  •  
    3. Flavored Lemonade

    You can flavor the lemonade or set out a “flavor bar” so guests can add their own:

  • Fruit Juice: blueberry juice, cherry juice, lime juice, pomegranate juice.
  • Fruit Purée: berry purée, mango purée, peach purée.
  • Flavored sweeteners: Infuse simple syrup with fruit juice (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry), sliced chiles. ginger, organic lavender, etc.
  • Flavored spirits: Spirits: flavored rum, Limoncello or other fruit liqueur, saké, tequila, vodka.
  •  
    4. Sweeteners

  • For a zero-calorie drink, use non-caloric sweetener.
  • For a low-glycemic drink, use agave nectar.
  • Varying the garnishes makes the recipe “new” each time.
  •  
    5. Garnishes

  • Berry picks
  • Fresh herbs: basil, mint, rosemary, e.g.
  • Wheels or wedges: cucumber, lemon, lime, orange
  •  
    6. One Glass Or One Pitcher

  • If you don’t want to squeeze lemons every time you feel like lemonade, you can do a “bulk squeeze” and freeze the lemon juice in ice cube trays.
  • Or, do what our busy mom did and stir a heaping spoon of frozen lemonade concentrate into ice water.
  • Here’s what you need for a 64-ounce pitcher.
  •  
     
    RECIPES: FLAVORED & SPECIALTY LEMONADE

  • Frozen Lemonade Recipe
  • Lavender Lemonade Recipe
  • Peach Lemonade Recipe
  • Raspberry Lemonade Smoothie Recipe
  • Red, White & Blueberry Lemonade Recipe
  • Sparkling Melon Lemonade
  • Spicy Lemonade Recipe
  • Strawberry Basil Lemonade Recipe
  • Watermelon Mint Lemonade Recipe
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    ADULT LEMONADE RECIPES

  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail Recipe
  • Fizzy Sambuca Lemonade Recipe
  • Lemonade 485 Cocktail Recipe
  • Limoncello Lemonade Recipe
  • London Lemonade (Gin Cocktail)
  • Saké Lemonade Recipe
  • Tequila Lemonade Recipe
  •  

    Cucumber Lemonade
    [1] Add your favorite flavor counterpoints, from berries to cucumber. Muddle as desired (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen | Facebook).

    Jalapeno Lemonade
    [2] Some like it hot: They can add some jalapeño slices or other hot and spicy ingredients (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

    Lemonade With Zest Rim
    [3] Add a tart-and-sweet rim: lemon or lime zest, plain or mixed with sugar (photo courtesy Saint Marc Pub-Café).

    Rosemary Lemonade
    [4] Garnish with your favorite herbs. We like the counterpoint of basil, mint or rosemary (photo courtesy Fig & Olive).

    Strawberry Lemonade
    [5] Toss berries and herbs into the pitcher (photo courtesy Cocina De Color Lila).

    Blackberry Lemonade

    [6] Summer’s fresh blackberries or huckleberries are another great lemonade pairing (photo courtesy Izakaya Den | Denver).

     

    Watermelon Lemon Cockatil

    [7] Citron vodka substitutes for most of the lemon juice—but we’re not complaining (photo courtesy Haru Sushi).

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON LEMONADE COCKTAIL

    This recipe from Haru uses more citron vodka than lemon juice, but the combination of ingredients is a winner.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 5 fresh watermelon cubes
  • 1½ oz. citron-infused vodka
  • ½ ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (also great in sparkling wines)
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce thyme-infused simple syrup (recipe below)
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: thyme and lemon peel
  •  
    For The Thyme Simple Syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the thyme simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the thyme sprigs. Let steep for 10 minutes; then cool to room temperature before using.

    2. MUDDLE the watermelon cubes in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients ice and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds.

    e. POUR into an ice-filled glass. Garnish and serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Things To Do With Blueberries

    Got blueberries? There at an excellent price right now.

    When October brings half pints of blueberries for $5 and more, you’ll be sorry you didn’t enjoy more of these during peak blueberry season.

    So enjoy all the blueberry and mixed fruit salads, cocktails and pies. But also try the little blue orbs in:

    BEVERAGES

  • Blueberry Lavender Water
  • Blueberry Lemonade
  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail
  • Blueberry Mango Chile Smoothie
  • Blueberry Pom Smoothie
  • Coffee Shake With Blueberries
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    BREAKFAST

  • Baked Oatmeal With Blueberries & Almonds
  • Blueberry Breakfast Salad
  • Blueberry Yogurt Granola Parfait
  • Fresh Blueberry Muffins
  • On cottage cheese, French toast, oatmeal, waffles and
    plain, blueberry and vanilla yogurt
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    MAINS, SAUCES & SIDES

  • Blueberry Gastrique For Grilled Meat, Poultry & Fish
  • Green Salad With Blueberries & Blue Cheese
  • Rack Of Lamb With Homemade Blueberry Jam
  • Scattered blueberries as a plate garnish
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    DESSERTS

  • Blueberry Cobbler
  • Topping for angel cake, cheesecake, pound cake
  • Blueberry Sorbet
  • Lemon Blueberry and White Chocolate Cream Cake
  • No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake
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    THE HISTORY OF BLUEBERRIES

    Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are one of the few fruit species native* to North America and unknown in Europe: perennial flowering plants with indigo-colored berries. Also included in the Vaccinium genus are cranberries, bilberries and grouseberries.

    Vaccinum is a member of the Ericaceae family, which also includes the huckleberry (the most common in the U.S. is the black huckleberry, Gaylussacia baccata) and popular non-edibles including azalea, rhododendron and various common heaths and heathers.

    Blueberries are called by different names, including bilberry, cowberry, farkleberry and sparkleberry.

    Wild blueberries were gathered by Native Americans to eat as fresh fruit during the season, andused dried fruit thereafter.

  • The dried berries were used in soups and stews and as a rub for meats. They were mixed with dried meat and cornmeal into pemican, a nutritious, easily portable food carried by hunters and travelers.
  • Blueberry juice was used as a dye for bloth and baskets and to make cough syrup.
  • The leaves of the plant were made into a tea to “fortify the blood.”
  • With the introduction of honeybees by Europeans, the berries were mixed with cornmeal, honey and water to make a pudding called sautauthig.
  •  
    The blueberry was considered a sacred food by Native Americans, because the blossom-end of the berry is shaped like a five-pointed star. American Indians believed that the berries were sent by the Great Spirit during a great famine to relieve the hunger of their children [source].

    The Blueberries The Pilgrims Ate

    Dried blueberries also sustained the Pilgrims. When they arrived at Cape Cod in November 1620, blown off course from their Virginia† destination, it was far too late to plant crops.

    The settlers nearly starved to death until the Wampanoag people shared food and taught them to grow native plants such as corn and squash. The settlers of Plymouth learned which foods to gather and dry (blueberries, cranberries) to sustain them through the winter.

    The blueberries used by the Indians were the wild, or low bush variety, which are the state fruit of Maine, where they are a major crop.

    Most blueberries that are cultivated today are the high bush variety, domesticated in the early 20th century. The plants have been improved over the years to increase the size and color of the berry and the yield of the bush. Cultivation of the high bush blueberry has has been so successful that America now grows over 90% of the blueberries in the world.

    However, while Maine’s low bush blueberries are significantly smaller, they are more flavorful.

     

    Blueberry Breakfast Salad
    [1] Blueberry breakfast salad: combine any fruits atop greens (photo courtesy Blueberry Council).

    Blueberry Yogurt Parfait
    [2] Blueberry-yogurt-granola parfait (photo courtesy Fruits From Chile).

    Blueberry Vinaigrette
    [3] Blueberry vinaigrette for salads and broiled proteins (photo courtesy Wild Blueberries).

    Salad With Blueberries
    [4] Blueberries into a grilled chicken or salmon salad (photo courtesy CFAA).

    Salmon With Blueberry Sauce

    [5] Salmon with blueberry sauce (photo courtesy Munchery).

     
    Some 20 years ago, blueberries were anointed a “superfood” after studies of the benefits of antioxidants became part of healty eating in the U.S. Blueberries are one of foods highest in antioxidants.

    Blueberries are easily preserved by freezing, canning and drying. They can also be juiced or made into jam or preserves. The surge in the popularity of blueberries has caused home gardeners to plant these shrubs in nearly every growing area of America.

    ________________
    *Blueberries and cranberries, along with other indigenous fruits such as mayhaws and papwpaws, were unknown in the Old World. North America has its own native species such as cherries, grapes, plums, persimmons, raspberries and other species of which were well-known in the Old World. Here’s the list of fruits native to North America.

    †At the time, Virginia included the region as far north as the Hudson River in the modern State of New York. The Hudson River was their originally intended destination.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Icebox Cakes & Homemade Chocolate Wafers Recipes

    Icebox Cake Refrigerator Roll
    [1] The original ice box cake was made by Nabisco. Wafers and whipped cream were assembled and then frozen, to make cutting easy. After the taller cake became popular, the original version was named Refrigerator Roll (photo courtesy Nabisco).

    Original Icebox Cake
    [2] The cake evolved into the classic Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Ice Box Cake, a tall affair that was impressive to look at, but not so neat to cut (here’s the recipe from The Very Kitchen).

    Chocolate Ice Box Cake
    [3] In recent decades, cooks got creative, substituting chocolate whipped cream, strawberry whipped cream and other fruit flavors, and adding layers of fruit on top of the wafers (photo courtesy The King’s Cupboard).

    Strawberry Ice Box Cake
    [4] In the last decade or two, fruit crept into the recipe, exemplified by this Strawberry Ice Box Cake from Cabot Co-op (recipe).

    Lemon Ice Box Cake

    [5] Home cooks got even more creative with the ingredients, as in this Lemon Blueberry Ice Box Cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

     

    Ice Box Cake has long been popular on a hot summer day: No hot oven required.

    Instead, wafer cookies—the thin, flat kind—are layered with whipped cream and refrigerated for 4 hours or more. Moisture from the whipped cream softens the cookies, turning them into with individual refrigerator cakes.

    Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies date to the 1930s: very thin, crispy chocolate cookies that were used for icebox cakes and chocolate crumb crusts.

    The Ice Box Cake was created by Nabisco home economists and printed on the wrapper—as so many iconic American recipes were—to sell more product!

    We’re not talking general recipes: Oatmeal cookies existed long before Quaker Oats printed a recipe on its label. We’re talking inventions:

  • Chex Party Mix from Chex Cereal
  • Cream Cheese Frosting from Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
  • Green Bean Bake from Campbell’s Mushroom Soup
  • Green Bean Casserole from French’s Crispy Fried Onions
  • Key Lime Pie from Borden’s Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Magic Bars from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • Marshmallow Treats from Rice Krispies*
  • Onion Dip from Lipton Onion Soup
  • Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Dole Canned Pineapple Rings
  • Toll House Cookies from Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  •  
    There are hundreds of examples, and a number of cookbooks that feature these recipes from boxes, bottles, cans and jars. They were typically developed by home economists at the manufacturing company, but others came from home cooks (German Chocolate Cake, Marshmallow Treats and Toll House Cookies are some examples).
    ________________

    *Created by Mildred Day, a Campfire Girls counselor and Kellogg’s employee, who created the recipe to help her Campfire Girls raise money.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF NABISCO FAMOUS CHOCOLATE WAFER COOKIES

    Dating to the 18th century, wafer cookies were made by home cooks and later by bake shops. By the 20th century, they were popular enough to make their way into commercial manufacture.

    The first manufactured chocolate wafers—Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers—debuted in 1924. The company sold a tin of three flavors: chocolate, ginger and sugar wafers.

    When Nabisco transitioned to cardboard packaging around 1930, the other flavors were dropped and the Famous Chocolate Wafer boxes were printed with the recipe for Icebox Cake. In the first iteration (photo #1), a log of chocolate wafers separated with whipped cream, that was then frozen.

    From that moment, Chocolate Ice Box Cake was a hit. It could be made equally well by experienced cooks as well as housewives who rarely entered the kitchen (or if they did, were not known for their culinary gifts).

    Delicious any time, it was a godsend in summer months, when, before the dawn of widespread air conditioning, no one had the desire to turn on the oven. The recipe was enlarged to a “layer cake” format (photo #2).

    Separately, the wafers were crushed and used as crusts for pies and cheesecakes, and as dessert garnishes.

    While ice box cake is an American invention, is a descendant of the charlottes and trifles that date to 17th-century Europe.

    Here’s the longer history of ice box cakes, charlottes and trifles.
     
    MODERN ICE BOX CAKE IDEAS

    With today’s ice box cakes, anything goes, with:

  • Overall cake flavors: lemon, matcha, mocha—create your favorite flavors with choices of whipped cream and fruit.
  • Fruit: Add berries or sliced stone fruits (cherries, nectarines, peaches, etc.).
  • Whipped cream flavors: Whip up some flavored whipped cream—bourbon, citrus, lavender, mint, peppermint, spice, etc.
  • Cookie types: Graham crackers have become popular; and you can bring back the ginger wafers with Anna’s Swedish Ginger Thins, lemon thins, etc.

    But do keep the cookies thin. The thinner the cookie, the more likely it is to dissolve into a soft, cakey texture. That Toll House or oatmeal cookie doesn’t work: Save them for ice cream sandwiches.

  • Garnishes: chocolate shavings or chips, cinnamon, cocoa powder, coconut, candied ginger, etc.
  •  
    You can turn the garnishes into food fun: a “decorate your own” approach. Provide bowls of:

  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Chopped nuts
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Sprinkles or confetti
  • Sugar dragées, glitter, pearls (white or Callebaut Crispearls— chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate)
  • Other garnishes of choice (Gummi bears, anyone?)
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    BAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE WAFERS & MAKE INDIVIDUAL STACK ICE BOX CAKES

    These days, with all the competition on the supermarket shelf, it can be hard to find Nestle’s Famous Chocolate Wafers. Thank goodness for online shopping.

    But how about making your own? They’ll taste even better.

    Here’s a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Prep time is 30-50 minutes, bake time is 20-22 minutes.

    Whether you bake them or buy them, you can make individual refrigerator cakes by making single stack of wafers and cream instead of a larger cake. You need to refrigerate them at least 4 hours before serving, or overnight.

    This recipe makes 3½ dozen, 2½-inch cookies.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE WAFERS FOR ICE BOX CAKE

    Ingredients For 8 Individual Stack Cakes Or 1 Large Cake

    For The Wafers

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup black cocoa†
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy/whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ________________
    †Black cocoa is a super-dark Dutch-process cocoa from King Arthur Flour. It is used sparingly for an intense, dark color and unsweetened-chocolate highlights. This rich cocoa will make the darkest chocolate cake or cookies, but you can use the cocoa you have.

     

    Preparation

    1. GREASE lightly (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, or more if you have them; you’ll make 3 to 4 baking sheets’ worth of cookies.

    2. BEAT together in a medium-sized bowl the sugar, butter, salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then the flour and cocoa. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.

    3. ROLL the dough about 1/8″ thick. Use cocoa instead of flour to dust your rolling board and the dough. Cut into 2 ½”-round cookies. A biscuit cutter is handy for this.

    4. BAKE the cookies for 10 minutes. Watch them closely at the end of the baking time, and if you start to smell chocolate before 10 minutes has gone by, take them out. When they’re done, remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the filling: Whisk together the heavy cream and other ingredients. When blended, whip until the cream holds a soft peak.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place one cookie on a small plate. Put about a tablespoon of whipped cream on top; our teaspoon cookie scoop, heaped up, works well here.
    Top with a second cookie, using it to compress the whipped cream to about a ¼”-thick layer. Repeat with 4 more cookies, finishing with a layer of whipped cream. Refrigerate from 4 to 24 hours before serving.

    Flavored Whipped Cream Variations

    To flavor 1 cup of cream, add one of the following combinations 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar + 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. To play around with other flavors, use these guidelines:

  • Coconut: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon coconut flavor
  • Mocha: 1 tablespoon granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon Dutch processed cocoa + 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Peppermint: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  •  
    These are just some of the many variations that will delight you, your friends and family.

    Put on your toque and your apron and get out your artist’s palette.

     

    Nestle Famous Chocolate Wafers
    [6] Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (photo courtesy Nabisco).

    Homemade Chocolate Wafers
    [7] An individual-portion ice box cake. Just stack the wafers and whipped cream vertically (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Individual Ice Box Cakes

    [8] Another mini ice box cake—with a cherry on top! Here’s the recipe from If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Home Cocktail Tips From Professional Bartenders

    Drink Like A Bartender

    [1] Make better cocktails at home, and order better at bars. Get the book at Amazon.com.

    Bourbon Flip
    [2] A Bourbon Flip, made with the contents of Nana’s Fridge. Here’s a recipe from Epicurious.

    Hawthorne Strainer
    [3] Hawthorne strainer: You’ve seen it, now you know its name (available at Golden Age Bartending).

    Channel Knife

    [4] A channel knife makes peel and twist garnishes (available from Barconic).

     

    Our Tip Of The Day is from Thea Engst and Lauren Vigdor, authors of Drink Like A Bartender: Secrets From The Other Side Of The Bar. While there is much great information on how to order in a bar, here are their tips for home mixologists:

    Let’s just get this right out in the open: we love booze. We love creating new drinks and trying new flavors. Mixing a cocktail is an art form these days, so much so that it’s hard to imagine that cocktails were first invented as a way to mask the taste of low-quality liquor.

    Today we have the luxury of mixing bitters, fresh juices, and well-crafted liqueurs and spirits to make balanced beauties we can be proud of. We’ve come a long way from shutting our eyes and chugging moonshine for a buzz—our forefathers would be proud.

    STOCKING YOUR HOME BAR: EXPERIMENT!

    A few years ago, Thea visited her Nana’s house for Christmas. Like a lady, she arrived with nothing but a bottle of bourbon. Her Nana was downsizing and trying to clean out her fridge, so she told Thea to make whatever she wanted with whatever she could find. Thea accepted Nana’s challenge.

    She found, among other things, a bottle of crème de menthe, heavy cream, and a few eggs. Along with the bourbon brought from home, Thea mixed the heavy cream, an entire egg, and a touch of the crème de menthe (warning: it’s a potent taste!) to make minty bourbon flips for her family (photo #2).

    To be fair, they were all hesitant as they watched her throw an entire egg in the shaker, but they were happy with the result.

    What’s the moral of this story? Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you’ve got! Nana’s liquor cabinet was limited, but she had a few essentials: eggs and cream. You don’t need a citrus or fancy mixers to make a delicious drink.

    You too can be like Thea and Lauren. Here are some tools to keep on hand for when it’s your moment to impress your friends and family:

  • Boston Shaker (photo #6) Those tins you see us mixing drinks in.
  • Bar Spoon: Those long spoons you see us stirring with.
  • Jigger: Measuring device for fluid ounces. Again, choose the style you want—they come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Muddler: A muddler is a wooden (but sometimes metal) tool you’ll see behind the bar nowadays. It is used to help you crush ingredients (like mint leaves) to release the flavors.
  • Channel Knife (photo #4): Similar to a vegetable peeler, but this has a smaller blade to make a twist versus a peel, which is a larger swath of fruit peel.
  • > Twist: When you use a channel knife to peel a narrow spiral of fruit skin. A twist is actually twisted citrus peel, or, a long narrow rope of the peel only that is twisted into a corkscrew shape.
    > Peel or swath: A much wider piece of citrus peel than a twist. A swath is just the zest (or colored part) of the citrus peel with ideally no pith or meat of the fruit at all.
    > Wedge: A slice of the fruit that is often shaped like a wedge or half-moon. This does involve the meat of the fruit. You can squeeze further citrus into your drink if you’d like, as with the lime wedge on a Gin and Tonic, for example.

  • Strainer: Once you shake or stir the cocktail, if you don’t want to use dirty ice, you need to strain without your fingers, so invest in one or all of these:
  • > Hawthorne Strainer (photo #3): The strainer with the coils. It essentially looks like it has a slinky on it. This is a pretty universal strainer, so you can’t really go wrong with it.
    > Julep Strainer (photo #5) The strainer that looks like a big spoon with a small handle and big holes in it. It’s more commonly used for stirred cocktails, as there won’t be huge ice chunks to strain out of a stirred cocktail.
    > Tea Strainer: A cone-shaped mesh strainer very often used to double-strain egg white drinks or shaken drinks as well.

    Some people want to get the ice chunks out of a shaken drink and will use the Hawthorne strainer as well as the tea strainer. That’s about preference. This is a good tool to get mint bits out of a drink, too!

    Pro Tips:

  • If your cocktail has juice in it, you shake it. That’s the rule. Don’t think twice about it.
  • If it’s straight spirit, stir. That’s the rule. Don’t think twice about it.
  •  
    THE GOOD STUFF

    Just like Ocean’s Eleven, when it comes to drink making, you have key characters doing things that are apparently important. We got the explosive expert, the tech person, the driver, and the dude who gets everyone together and somehow gets all the credit.

    Your home bar components are just like this. You need to have:

  • Simple syrup: Don’t you dare buy this! You can make it at home in a few easy steps. It’s equal parts hot water and sugar, stirred until the sugar dissolves. So, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup hot water, stir and stir (photo #7). You can even add more sugar for a richer syrup. Just like sugar, simple doesn’t expire.
  • Sweet and/or dry vermouth: Thea’s Nana raised her to always be able to make her guests a Martini or Manhattan. Sweet vermouth goes in a Manhattan, dry vermouth in a Martini.
  • Campari: An amaro (herbal liqueur) with strong orange notes. Campari is good to have in your bar because you can make anything from a low-alcohol, stomach-calming highball (Campari & soda), or classics like a Negroni for your gin-drinking guests and a Boulevardier for your whiskey-drinking guests.
  • Citrus: lime and/or lemon. There’s not much that can top a daiquiri (photo #8) with fresh lime juice, and ifyou have lemon juice, gin, and soda water, you have a Tom Collins. Voilà!
  •  

    MECHANICS

    Let’s talk about the birds and the bees of bartending: shaking and stirring. You are building a cocktail—let’s say it’s a Daiquiri.

    The rum, simple syrup, and lime go in the little guy shaker (the smaller half of your shaker). Then you take a scoop of ice with the big boy shaker (the bigger half of your shaker), throw the ice into the little shaker, and lock the big shaker into the little shaker.

    Remember that you don’t want them to be directly up and down. The two sides won’t seal effectively that way. Make them crooked: The rim of the big half should be touching the side of the little half in one spot.

    Then smack the top with the heel of your hand until it locks. You are going to be throwing this bad boy around a little, after all. A poorly sealed shaker will split during the shaking process and that’s a good way to get yourself sticky.

    Now to unlock the shaker: hold the locked shakers in one hand so that your palm lines up with where the two halves meet. Take the heel of your other hand and hit the opposite side of the sealed shakers. It should unlock with one to three steady hits. Done!

    Shaken Or Stirred?

    When you shake a cocktail, you incorporate a lot of air and small chips of ice into the drink. The shaking motion whips the cocktail (think of stirring a cup of cream versus making whipped cream) and breaks the ice down by knocking it into the sides of the shaker.

    When you stir a cocktail, the ice spins around in the center of your mixing glass as one continuous piece. It slowly melts into the drink to dilute it slightly, which softens and expands the flavors, and very little air is added.

    Stirring cocktails is what gives your Martinis and Manhattans that silky smooth mouthfeel, whereas shaking is what makes your margarita so dang frothy. We’ll get more into when to shake and when to stir later.

    Dry Shake Or Wet Shake?

    A dry shake is when you put all your ingredients into the shaker and shake them without ice. A wet shake is the opposite— it’s when all your ingredients are shaken with ice.

    So when do you use a dry shake and when do you use a wet shake? We’re glad you asked!

    You should use a dry shake when you are making a drink that is served over crushed ice.

    Do you remember what we said about dilution earlier—how shaking with ice dilutes the drink ever so slightly? Using a dry shake here helps from diluting a drink further (pouring it over crushed ice dilutes it as well).

    When you’re still getting a feel for how long to dry shake, it’s super-helpful to add just one cube to the shaker. When you can’t hear the cube shaking around anymore, it’s time to add more ice.

    What about stirring?

    You don’t have to worry so much about over-stirring cocktails. Unlike shaking, the ice isn’t chipping and melting quickly in the process. Still, you don’t want to overstir. A good number of stirs to aim for is 40–50 turns.

    Pro Tip: Mixers

  • Don’t buy expensive bottled cocktail mixers that are full of chemicals and sugar. You know the ones we’re talking about. They come in plastic bottles and are sometimes created by chain restaurants.
  • Instead, take a stroll over to the frozen food aisle of your grocery store. It’s just as easy to throw some frozen fruit or a purée—maybe a can of coconut milk?—into a blender. Your cocktail will taste so much fresher than it would if you had used the bottled chemicals.
  •  
    Editor’s Note: There are more than a few artisan cocktail mixer lines that are 100% natural—no chemicals: Just read the ingredients label. There are even organic lines. All we’ve tried have been fresh-tasting and good enough to drink by themselves, as a mocktail.
     
     
    Thea and Lauren also sent us recipes for some must-try cocktails.

    Alas, we don’t have the room to print them today. You’ll just have to read the book!

     

    Julep Strainer
    [5] Julep strainer, available from Bar Products.

    Boston Shaker
    [6] Boston shaker available at Williams-Sonoma.

    Simple Syrup
    [7] Simple syrup is easy to make at home. Here’s the recipe from Liquor.com.

    Daiquiri Cocktail

    [8] A classic Daiquiri, invented by American engineers in Cuba. Here’s the scoop (photo courtesy Bacardi). Also: Yuzu Daiquiri recipe and Grapefruit Daiquiri, both delicious.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Shandy Party

    Shandy Beer Drink
    [1] A shandy made with spicy ale (photo courtesy Whole Foods Market).

    Ginger Beer
    [2] A ginger beer shandy leaves out most of the alcohol (it’s less than .5% ABV) and adds the flavor of ginger. Here’s the recipe from Homemade Hooplah.

    Passionfruit Shandy
    [3] This Island Shandy from Tommy Bahama uses passion fruit juice instead of lemonade.

    Mexican Shandy

    [4] How about a Mexican shandy? This recipe from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen, with Corona beer, lemonade and mango juice.

     

    Like beer? Mix it with a juice drink like lemonade or fruit soda to create a shandy.

    You can buy shandy in a bottle (photo #1)—artisan beer companies make it—but you can make your own, varying the beers, mixers, proportions and garnishes.

    In fact, “make your own” is an idea for a summer weekend get-together. Tips for how to set up a shandy bar at your next gathering are below.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SHANDY

    Shandy is short for shandygaff. It’s beer diluted with a non-alcoholic beverage. It’s a traditional British pub drink that mixes lager with lemon soda, ginger ale or ginger beer. Carbonated lemonade, cider or other citrus-flavored soda can be used.

    Whatever you use—you can even use ginger beer—you’ll find that shandy is a refreshing summertime drink. The shandy tradition dates back to the 17th century. Today, English publicans blend an English ale or beer with various lemon and lime beverages.

    No one knows the origin of the word, but the first known print reference is from 1853. The tradition no doubt began earlier.

    Shandy is a surname in the U.K.; and in Ireland, the name is a variant of Shaun (John). Gaff is an old term for a fishing hook or spear.

    Perhaps the drink was first mixed up by a steward named Shandy, to hook in customers? Or in honor of the master of an estate, for whom the drink was first served?

    Maybe, like the Cold Duck, it was an ad hoc thing: There wasn’t only half as much wine or champagne needed for guests, so some clever person thought to mix them together.

    What about an Arnold Palmer? It arrived centuries later. Here’s the difference between an Arnold Palmer and shandy.
     
     
    DIY SHANDY: CREATE A SHANDY BAR

    It you’re looking for a Labor Day activity, how about a make-your-own shandy bar? Just assemble the ingredients, print out brief “instructions” and put them in a frame next to the beer.

    Instructions can include: (1) Shandy is half beer, half non-alcoholic drink.(2) Create your own signature shandy with the soft drink and proportions of your choice. (3) Be neat and clean up your spills!

    Supermarket shelves are awash with citrus soda: orange, Fresca, Seven-Up (lemon lime). Our favorites are:

  • Pellegrino Limonata, Aranciata and Aranciata Rosso
  • Dry Soda blood orange
  • GuS Meyer Lemon, Sparkling Grapefruit, Valencia Orange
  •  
    So take stock of the options, then stock up.

    Shandy Bar Ingredients

  • Lager beer (plus wheat beer, IPA or nonalcoholic beer, if you’d like to present different options—check out the different types of beer)
  • Ginger beer* as a non-alcoholic option
  • Citrus soda, sparkling lemonade, sparkling soda
  • Ginger ale
  • Lemonade: plain, sparkling, Mike’s Hard Lemonade
  • Berry lemonade: blueberry, strawberry, raspberry (muddle the berries and mix with regular lemonade)
  • Sparkling cider
  • Optional: Bitters
  •  
    Shandy Garnishes

  • Lemon wedges
  • Lime wedges
  • Berries
  •  
    Glass Rimmers

  • Citrus Zest
  • Coarse salt
  • Flavored salt
  •  
    Plus

  • Glasses (start with small-to-medium size)
  • Swizzle sticks to stir
  • Paper towels for spills
  • Napkins
  •  
    A COMPARATIVE SHANDY TASTING

    If you don’t want a DIY shandy bar, gather whatever shandy brands you can find and have a tasting.

    Samuel Adams makes Porch Rocker, if you can still find it (the distribution period is through July). Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top Lemon Shandy is available through August. Also look for Harp Lemon Shandy, Labatt Shandy and Saranac Shandy Lager and Lemonade.

    Fentiman’s brews two soft drink shandy styles, non-alcoholic shandy and a low alcoholic version brewed to .5 ABV ABV (1 proof), which allows it to be sold as a soft drink.

    An Arnold Palmer is not related to a shandy, except that they both use lemonade. Here are the differences.

    We like to use shot glasses or juice glasses for this type a from-the-bottle beer tasting. It lets everyone try a small amount of each brand, and return to their favorite with a larger glass.

    WHAT’S GINGER BEER?

    Ginger beer is like ginger ale with a buzz. The big difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is that ginger beer is brewed (fermented). Most ginger ale is just carbonated water that’s been flavored with ginger, although some artisan brands brew their ginger ale.

    Since ginger beers are naturally fermented, they have less carbonation and often develop a beer-like head when poured into a glass. Some ginger beers are sold unfiltered and appear cloudy, so gently invert the before drinking or pouring, to re-incorporate any separation.

    Plus, the ginger flavor is more intense—much more intense.

    Today’s brewed ginger beers are categorized as non-alcoholic drinks because their alcohol content is less than .5% (1 proof), which meets FDA requirements.
     
     
    RECIPE: IPA SHANDY

    Like IPA (India Pale Ale)? It’s the most trending style of beer in the U.S.

    This shandy update from Whole Foods Market combines “a hoppy craft IPA and a throat-tickling ginger beer.”

    Shandys are generally made with lagers and wheat beers. If you’re not a hops fan, use one of those instead.

    You’ll also notice that the ingredients are beer and ginger beer. Play around with substituting lemon-lime carbonated drinks for the ginger beer, to see what you like best.
     
    Ingredients Per Tall Drink

  • 1 bottle (12-ounces) IPA, chilled
  • 1/4 cup ginger beer, chilled
  • Optional but recommended: 3 dashes orange or ginger bitters†
  • Garnish: orange slice (studded with cloves, if you like)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ale, ginger beer and bitters in a tall beer glass and stir lightly to blend (but not hard enough to break the bubbles).

    2. GARNISH and serve.
    ________________
    †The original Angostura bitters have a ginger undertone. They have recently released Angostura orange, in the $8.00 to $9.00 range. Connoisseurs may wish to spring for the fine artisan orange bitters from Bitter Truth in the $29.00 to $30.00 range.
     
      

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