I have never craved sleep more in my entire life than these last few months with an almost-one-year-old. To say she’s an active baby would be an understatement. As soon as her legs touch the ground each morning, she’s off like the Tasmanian Devil. Come to think of it, she kinda sounds like him too. Or perhaps one of those robot vacuums would be a better analogy: slow, steady, and a whole lot of bumping into furniture. At the end of the day a good stiff cocktail is long overdue. Although, the last thing I can imagine is heading out to the bar. Sadly, I’m well on my way to having my “regular” certification at the Hotsy Totsy revoked!! Instead, I’ve been doing my best to stay creative with the cocktails at home. This week I mixed up some homemade tonic water. If you’re a gin and tonic lover, this is a MUST! Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of quality tonic waters on the market. But if you’d like a little, scratch that, a lot more bang for your buck, then homemade is the way to go. I found all my supplies at the local herbal remedy shop. It was fun learning about all the more unusual ingredients that go into making this historical (and medicinal) beverage.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience gnudi, aka velvety pillows of cheese heaven, then you should try making some for yourself. These light and fluffy ricotta dumplings take a little planning but require few ingredients that you probably already have at home. Think of gnudi as essentially ravioli filling without the pasta that is held together with just enough flour to bind it. You could make a simple tomato sauce to serve these with or make this incredible sweet corn and zucchini sauce. It’s light but thickened with the starchy corn milk and– with some fresh basil, the whole dish tastes like the essence of summer!
I’ve probably mentioned that prior to launching HonestlyYUM, I ran a beverage catering business. Creating custom signature cocktails and cocktail mixers for events was an important part of the job. Sure enough, I’ve been blending, juicing, muddling, and mixing together fresh, seasonal ingredients for nearly ten years. No matter what, I’ll forever have a fondness for a messy mountain of freshly squeezed citrus, or the sweet aroma of a berry syrup bubbling away on the stove. As you might expect, I was thrilled by the opportunity to partner with Hangar 1 Vodka to create a backyard DIY Cocktail Bar. It’s what I’ve been doing for years. It’s what I love!
As always with my recipes, I tried to highlight what is in season. I made two blends. The first, a combination of honeydew melon, mint syrup, sparkling water, and lime. The result is a light, refreshing cocktail, bursting with bright fruit. The second blend is a mix of a luscious blackberry syrup, lemon, and black tea. This cocktail starts with a mature sweetness, but is quickly balanced by the dry tannins in the tea. Hangar 1 Straight Vodka is perfect for both of these blends, as it allows the delicate ingredients to shine, but without disappearing in the process.
Having a self-serve bar for guests should be functional, first and foremost, but it’s also a good chance for you to bring some style to the party. For the bar itself we used a rustic potting bench, repurposed from an old sewing table. Reclaimed wood and glass is pretty much my all-time favorite combination, as you can tell from several of my other recipe posts on the blog. As for the serving containers, rather than using run-of-the-mill beverage dispensers, we used a mix of vintage and vintage-inspired spirit decanters. A few small details rounded out the bar, like an assortment of cocktail spoons/stirrers, a simple flower arrangement, some cocktail pins, garnishes, and of course Hangar 1 Vodka.
I love poke. Honestly, love. I crave it constantly – sometimes, even more than sushi. Perhaps it’s the nuttiness of toasted sesame oil. Or the sweetness of furikake. Nevertheless, it’s the perfect cool and healthy summertime meal and nothing beats making your own. You can control the heat, saltiness and sweetness to your liking. And if you have access to fresh, sushi grade fish like salmon or bluefin ahi tuna, whipping up your own batch of poke is a no brainer. I personally love enjoying it over black rice and with a heaping teaspoon of chopped macadamia nuts. And of course, serving it without avocado is a practically a sin.
I am one luuucky guy. Yesterday, I woke up early to get started editing photos from a shoot the night before. As I tiredly stumbled into the kitchen to make coffee, I found Audrey pulling this bubbling berry galette from the oven. She handed me a fresh cup of coffee and proceeded to start rolling out the dough for round two. I sat down at the table with our daughter Fiona, who was happily munching away on some blueberries, bananas, and cornflakes. Confused, I took a sip of coffee and snuck a few blueberries away from Fiona. “Why are you baking at 6:15 in the morning?” I asked. “Fiona wouldn’t sleep” she replied. “Plus, I thought you might want a snack while you work today.” Did I mention that I’m one lucky guy? This galette dough makes a regular appearance in our house. I thought I’d share it on the blog, even though it’s super simple. You can pretty much use any fruit that hold up well to baking. Pears are another particularly delicious option. The trio of berries was fun, however, as it was like eating three different pies in one!!
Today, I’ve teamed up with S.Pellegrino to share my tips on how to make the best antipasti spread. One of the things I love most about summers is al fresco dining. There’s truly nothing better than sitting around a table with some good friends eating, drinking and enjoying the setting sun together. In entertaining situations like these, I love putting together a grazing spread as an appetizer that can be left out and enjoyed over a couple hours. After all, I’d rather be outside sitting with my guests than cooking up a storm inside the kitchen! The key to making a good antipasti platter is providing a variety of textures and flavors so that people are encouraged to try all kinds of combinations. You’ll have to buy quite a variety of options at the market, but there is little prep work involved and the results are impressive and elegant!
This post is sponsored by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.