In addition to my morning cup of Joe, I really like a mid-afternoon coffee. However, it is hard to fathom drinking a hot cup of coffee in the hottest part of the day during the summer in Florida. So, I usually prepare cold brew over the weekend to have for the upcoming week.
I found myself wanting coffee this Sunday afternoon, but I had no cold brew ready to consume. Although I was tempted to go get coffee from one of our many excellent local coffee shops, I really didn’t want to go anywhere. I decided to mix things up a little and make a coffee and tonic instead.
Coffee and Tonic may seem like an odd combination, but the result is light and refreshing. Perfect for a hot afternoon in late summer. It is also very easy to make:
Pack a pint glass full of ice. Pour 3 ounces of freshly brewed, hot coffee over the ice. For this recipe, I suggest a brighter coffee with citrus notes. Top off the coffee off with 4 ounces of tonic water. Add 2 or 3 dashes of bitters and stir with a spoon. I used orange bitters, but you can use whatever bitters you prefer.
Maybe because of Bastille Day or maybe because the days are so hot during the summer, but salade niçoise sounded like a perfect dinner tonight. Before heading to the grocery store, I thought I would jump online and find a standard recipe. What I found instead was little agreement on what constitutes Nicoise salad. I found vegan versions, vegetarian versions, version with salmon instead of tuna, etc. There are even purists who say that there should never be any cooked vegetables — only tomatoes, anchovies, and olive oil. I took these disagreements as license to make my own version. So, here it is:
1 small head of butter lettuce, washed, chopped, and patted dry with a towel
6 small Yukon gold potatoes
8 oz. trimmed green beans, preferably haricot verts
3 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small radishes, thinly sliced
3 small beets, cooked and quartered (I used Love Beets cooked beets with white wine and balsamic)
1/2 cup olives (Nicoise, Kalamata, or whatever type you like best)
1 can tuna in olive oil, excess oil drained off
Fill a large pot with water and add salt to make it very salty. Add potatoes to the pot and bring the water to a boil. Boil until you can easily stick a fork into the potatoes, about 15 minutes. Remove the potatoes and set them aside to cool. To the pot of boiling water, add the green beans and blanch for 3 minutes and move them to a bowl of ice water to quickly cool them down. While the potatoes and green beans cool, carefully place the eggs into the pot of boiling water. Turn the heat to medium and put a lid on the pot. Cook the eggs at a simmer for 11 minutes. I love that I can use the same pot of water for all of the cooked components. Remove the eggs and place them in a bowl of ice water to cool them down. Quarter the potatoes, drain the green beans and place them on a towel to dry, and peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them in half.
Place the lettuce in a large serving bowl. Compose the salad by grouping together the salad ingredients on top of the lettuce. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste.
1 small shallot, finely minced (about 1.5 oz.)
2 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
2.5 oz. red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp anchovy paste
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 oz. olive oil
In a jar, combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion. If needed, place a lid on the jar and shake prior to serving. I especially like the fresh thyme in this dressing; the flavor really comes out and enhances all of the salad components.
The salad can be served immediately with the cooked components still warm, or it can be made ahead and served cold. Top the salad with the dressing and enjoy.
I’ve recently noticed shrubs showing up on menus at coffee shops and bars. Shrub sodas, shrubs in cocktails, etc. I had no idea what a shrub was, so I did some research and found out that shrubs are vinegar-based syrups or “drinking vinegar.” My reaction was skepticism followed by curiosity. I decided I needed to try them.
There are two ways of making shrubs at home. A cold method and a heat method. I tried them both. Both are quite simple. The cold methods takes longer, but seems to have a fresher, smoother taste. However, the difference is very slight. Both make a syrup that is sweet and tart.
The first shrub I made was blackberry, using the cold method. I put 8 ounces of blackberries in a bowl, mixed in 6 ounces of sugar, and let the berries macerate for several hours. I then strained the syrupy juices from the blackberry pulp, mashing the berries to extract extra juice. To the blackberry syrup, I mixed in 6 ounces of apple cider vinegar.
The second shrub I made was peach, using the heat method. I made a simple syrup by bringing 6 ounces of water and 6 ounces of sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolved. Keeping the heat on medium, I added 8 ounces of fresh, ripe peaches to the syrup and mashed them with a potato masher. I strained the liquid from the peach pulp and added 6 ounces of apple cider vinegar to the peach syrup.
Shrubs can be used to make a variety of different beverages. Whether used in a non-alcoholic soda or a cocktail, shrubs add complexity to a drink and make for a refreshing beverage to drink on a hot summer day.
Mixing 0.5 ounce of shrub with 6 fluid ounces of seltzer water or club soda makes a nice shrub soda.
Mix 0.5 to 0.75 ounce of shrub with 2 ounces of a spirit of your choice, strain over ice, top off with a splash of seltzer water, and garnish with a lime wedge. I highly recommend peach shrub with bourbon.
After a truly memorable dinner of tapas and wine at Cúrate in Asheville, I took a momement to briefly thumb through their cookbook on my way out of the restaurant. While I did not take enough time to really absorb the photos and recipes, one page stuck with me. Their recipe for Tomato Bread included a description of rubbing garlic and halved tomatoes directly on toasted bread. Beautifully simple and rustic.
A couple months later, I picked up the vegetables from our CSA one evening and I was handed a brown paper bag full of fresh tomatoes. My first thought was to make a red sauce for pasta, but then the recipe for Tomato Bread stirred in my mind. Not remembering the specifics, I searched the Internet for Pan con Tomate (tomato bread).
Here is my take on Pan con Tomate:
First, make a small cut in the bottom of the tomatoes. Then, grate the tomatoes into a bowl, discarding the skin. The small cut helps start the grating process, otherwise the tomatoes slides along the grater rather ineffectively. The skin generally remains intact and is easy to remove from the top of the grater. Season the tomatoes with salt and minced clove fresh garlic to taste. I used about a half teaspoon salt and one clove of garlic to about two cups of grated tomatoes.
Slice a baguette in half longwise horizontally, then slice each half into 2 inch wide rectangles. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and broil it until browned. Rub a clove of garlic over the crispy bread and spoon the tomatoes over it. Finish with a light sprinkle of salt and a light drizzle of olive oil.
Because Pan con Tomate is such a simple dish, the quality of the ingredients is very important. The tomatoes needs to be fresh and ripe. The olive oil should also be good quality. When done well, the dish should invoke feelings of eating at the beach or traveling the Iberian Peninsula.
Pan con Tomate makes a great tapa or a light dinner. It also goes well with a larger spread.
A few months ago, Jill and I hosted a prohibition themed party. Researching food and drinks for the party, we came across a cocktail named the Bee’s Knees. Once we came across this cocktail, we began to see it more and more often. The cocktail (or a variation of it) is a regular feature on the menus at Liberty Bar and Restaurant and Madison Social.
Here is my version of the cocktail. I use Beefeater London Dry Gin in this particular cocktail because of how well it pairs with lemon and orange peel. The lavender complements the honey well.
2 oz Beefeater London dry gin
1/2 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz Lavender and orange peel infused honey simple syrup (see below)
Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
To make the lavender and orange peel infused honey simple syrup you will need:
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Honey
1 teaspoon dried food-grade lavender
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Stir the lavender and orange peel into the water in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to simmer, add the honey and stir until completely dissolved. Once cool, strain out the lavender and orange peel. Store the syrup in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Here in the US, kale is primarily in season from January through April. With this window rapidly closing, we are trying to enjoy as much fresh, local kale as we can. So, when we got a beautiful bunch of Lacinato kale from our community supported agriculture (CSA) box, I decided to try something that, admittedly, sounds rather strange — massaged kale.
The inspiration for massaged kale came from a dish Jill ordered from Prato, a modern Italian restaurant that our friends in Winter Park, Florida took us to a while back. While their menu changes regularly, they often have a variation on the kale salad that does not disappoint.
To make my interpretation of the salad, you need:
1 Bunch of fresh Lacinato kale
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Eggs, hard-boiled (see notes below), cut in half
4 Small sweet pepper (or a medium yellow or orange bell pepper) thinly sliced
4 Strips of crispy bacon, broken into small bits
2 Carrots, peeled and shredded
2 Radishes, thinly sliced
4 to 5 Fresh stawberries, sliced
Grated Parmesan, to taste
Remove the tough stems from the Kale and thinly slice the leaves. Toss the kale in a mixing bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Massage the kale vigorously with your fingertips for 2 minutes. The kale will soften and wilt slightly. Top the kale with the remaining ingredients to make a fresh, healthy salad. The lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper used to massage the kale creates a nice coating, so additional salad dressing is not necessary. Makes 2 dinner-sized salads.
To make the perfect hard-boiled egg: Put the eggs in a saucepan that is large enough to cover them with 1 inch of cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, put a lid on the pan and remove it from the heat. Wait 11 minutes, then drain the pot and place the eggs under cool running water for a minute. Carefully crack and peel the eggs.
Over the past year or so, Artie and I attended a couple dozen potluck events – Supper Clubs, work events, parties, etc. And pretty much every single time, I brought Rice Krispie Treats. It is my go-to potluck item. Easy to prepare, easy to transport, sort-of homemade, relatively low-cost, enjoyed by all. All the wins.
Recently I was wondering how I became the Rice Krispie Treat lady at every function, and I remembered that while I was writing my dissertation, I had to make a dessert for a fundraiser bake-off at work. What could be easier than Rice Krispies? Nothing. And so the obsession began dessert niche was formed.
Given how many Rice Krispies I’ve made, I’ve taken to experimenting with flavors and mix-ins. Some were winners (sprinkles!) while others were not so good (candy corn). But one recipe that consistently receives rave reviews is Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats. So by popular request, I give you the recipe (it is so easy, I almost hesitate to call it a recipe!).
Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats – adapted from the recipe on the Rice Krispies cereal box + many Pinterest finds
Stick of unsalted butter
Large box of Rice Krispies (generic cereal works just fine)
10-ounce bag of marshmallows (Publix brand are my favorite)
2/3 bag of caramel candies (I prefer the Kraft caramels pictured below)
Salt (sea salt or fancy salt is great, but regular salt works, too)
Rice Krispie Treats come together quickly, so start by getting all the ingredients and dishes prepped.
Remove the caramel candies from the bag and their individual wrappers. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the candies into quarters. Do NOT put these in a bowl – they will end up stuck together (#learnedthehardway). Instead, lay the chopped up candies on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper.
Use one tablespoon of butter to grease a 9×13 baking dish. Hold onto the rest of that little pat of butter for later.
In a large pot, melt 7 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat.
When the butter is melted, add the entire bag of marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows are completely melted.
Add about 10 cups of Rice Krispies cereal and a pinch of salt.
Stir until everything is combined.
Pour about half the mixture into the 9×13 pan, pushing into an even layer with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped caramel candies. Top with the remaining Rice Krispies mixture.
Use the little pat of butter left over from earlier to grease a sheet of wax paper. With the greased side down, use the wax paper to gently press the Rice Krispies into the pan.
Sprinkle the top with just a little bit of salt. Press down to make sure the salt adheres.
Then comes the hardest part- allow the mixture to cool for at least an hour. The Rice Krispies will be much easier to cut if you let them sit for a while, but let’s be clear that I usually dig in right away.
Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Enjoy!
This “recipe” is pretty flexible – you can experiment with less or more butter, marshmallows, or cereal to get the flavor and texture you like best. You can also experiment with other mix-ins like chocolate chips, crushed cookies, sprinkles, etc.
I have found these will keep in an airtight container on the counter for a few days (if they last that long!). I’ve also been known to freeze individually wrapped leftovers for a sweet weeknight treat. Enjoy!