I've been enjoying New Columbia's fall/winter seasonal "ginavit" quite a bit the past few weeks. They're having a cocktail contest, so I figured I would throw out this easy yet complex cocktail as my entry. It's adapted from the "Complement Cocktail" served in Copenhagen. I chose to flip the ratios to accentuate the ginavit over the straight gin. The sweetness of the maraschino helps to counter all the savory sensations from the caraway, dill and star anise.
1 1/2 ounces Ginavit
3/4 ounce Green Hat gin
2 dashes maraschino liqueur
1 star anise or sprig of dill
Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full with ice. Add the gin, aquavit and liqueur; shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with star anise or dill and serve.
John got it right after a few guesses, and my brother got it right on his first guess: homemade yogurt! We bought milk at the farmers market on Saturday specifically for this purpose. It was pretty simple really, you heat the milk without scalding it, throw in some store bought yogurt, then put the jar in the warm car outside (110 degrees or so) for a few hours. It really does end up tasting just as good as the store bought stuff. It only saves a couple bucks, but every little bit helps, and it's fun too.
Better yet was when we were at Whole Foods picking up a few things and found local cherries on sale for $2/pound. We picked up 3 pounds, and Lisa made the best cherry pie from scratch. It was freaky how much it looked like a store bought pie, the filling looked like it was from a can, but everything she used was fresh ingredients. Just way too good to be good for my waistline.
Luckily, I've still been riding my bike, and this is the first week I've been doing the one hundred pushup challenge. I did day 2 this morning, and I'm having trouble imagining myself 5 weeks from now doing two sets of 27 pushups separated by 30 seconds of rest. But I'll keep trying and post my progress.
Hint: it's not mayo. Send me an email with your guess.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post devoted nearly their entire Food section to pizza. Frozen pizza taste tests, carryout recommendations (Church Street NY-style for the win!), and so on (pizza flavored beer?). But I was most intrigued by the article on grilling pizza. It was the second article on grilling pizza I had read in a week, so I had to give it a try.
Last night, we invited our neighbor over for a sanity-saving dinner (her husband is out of town, so she's going bonkers with two kids all to herself). We had grilled pizza and leftover mojitos from our BBQ Monday. Lisa made the dough in advance, giving it plenty of time to rise and such. While she was off at the chiropractor, I got the toppings ready, grilling some asparagus, slicing some fresh mozzarella, and mincing garlic. Then it was time to test it out.
Despite my worries about the dough falling through the grill slats, it actually worked almost as advertised. I got better about holding the dough at "10 and 2" as I cooked more pizzas (five total), but the first couple of pizzas were more rectangular than round. Luckily the kids and parents didn't care about style points, more about taste. The crust was nicely crisp, and the pizza was delicious. We had one pepperoni, two margherita, and two asparagus, prosciutto and fresh mozz (one had garlic too).
If you're looking for a way to liven up your boring steak/burger/chicken grilling routine, definitely click some of the links above to find out more. It's a fun experience for the whole family. Just don't let the kids get too close to the grill!
Yesterday, we took a trip up to South Mountain Creamery to see where our milk for this summer will be coming from. Lisa and Ellie had been there before, but this was my first trip there. They were having a big open house event, and the overcast weather didn't dampen their spirits much. We had fun riding in the tractor around the farm (pretty much a view of grass, since they're grass-fed cows), seeing the baby cows, baby goats, baby chicks, baby ducks, and baby bunnies! Lots of babies. They had some good barbecue for lunch too, and plenty of dairy products. We left with 2 dozen eggs, a bunch of asparagus, and our first half-gallon of milk. We took the eggs and made a frittata with some leftover ham from Easter, some good gruyere cheese, and the asparagus. Lisa has made it before, but this one seemed to taste a lot better. Even the picky eater Ellie ate all of hers. I guess that's what happens when you use good ingredients. Thankfully, the farmers market starts this week, so we'll be getting better ingredients more frequently. Plus, our CSA starts two weeks from tomorrow, and we'll have way more fresh ingredients than we'll know what to do with.
Let's just call "Sweet Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits" what they really are: scones. Like I said before, there are definite trends in the cookbook, and one is scones/biscuits. Not that it's a bad thing, but it just feels repetitive sometimes. But I like blueberries, so I liked these too. A tad on the dry side, but otherwise tasty with some morning coffee.
Next up is butter. Mmm... Butter.
Maybe not everyone is into bananas, I dunno. For whatever reason though, the Banana Layer Cake just wasn't as popular as I expected. We brought it to the curling club, and had some leftovers, so I brought it to work the next day too. And even after that, I still had one piece left (that I enjoyed myself). I liked it anyway. The basic recipe was two layers of banana flavored cake, and chocolate icing. The twist was that there were slices of banana layered in with the icing between the two layers. Maybe it was just too hard to eat at work. Oh well, moving on, next up is blueberry, which my daughter has been gleefully throwing around the house this morning.
Lisa's on a roll, making "Brown Sugar-Apricot Bars" last night. They're a fruity, non-chocolate alternative to brownies. Nice and moist, with small amounts of walnuts and coconuts to balance the flavor. Troy at work now wants this recipe in addition to the vanilla bean cream cake. I just can't get the Rolling Stones song out of my head. "Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?"
Next up should be bananas, which got glossed over last time when Lisa made apricot scones immediately followed by banana-chocolate chip scones.
Round 2 of the Cooking Experiment began this weekend with a new almond recipe: "Sweet Almond and Chocolate Chip Drop Biscuits." I've already noticed that there's a bit of a repeating theme to the recipes, as there have been a couple of very similar drop biscuit/scone type recipes. They're very similar in texture and taste, just using the different core ingredient. That doesn't make them bad, in fact, these little things were actually very good. I definitely liked them more than the first almond recipe (Lisa liked making these ones more than that first one too!), and they were popular with the curling bonspiel crowd as well. They weren't as dry as previous scones, and the little bits of almonds gave it an interesting texture too.
Next up is apricot again.
The final ingredient of Baking by Flavor was Vanilla. Lisa picked "Vanilla Bean Cream Cake." Vanilla gets a bad rap for being plain, the anti-chocolate. It also loses some panache when the only vanilla you've tasted is vanilla extract. But take actual vanilla beans as an ingredient, and it's actually very flavorful. My co-workers are burning through the cake now, and each one is commenting on how surprised they are, and each one is enjoying it (many have come back for seconds, and it's only noon). The cake reminded me of something when I first took a bite, but it's escaping me right now. Looks like I'll have to have some more to jog my memory!
So now Lisa's run through each ingredient of the book at least once. But have no fear, she's starting over at the beginning all over again!
Update: I've now gotten two (TWO!) confirmations, from Tony and Troy, that this was their favorite recipe so far. Wow!