Breakfast is a big deal in our house. It didn’t always used to be this way. Most days, Audrey and I could both probably survive on coffee alone. But ever since little Ms. Fiona popped out, breakfast has become yet another formal sit-down family affair. She’s definitely the hungriest in the morning, and her appetite seems to taper off throughout the day. I have no idea if this is typical 2-year-old behavior, but it seems to be working for her. Consequently, I’ve expanded my breakfast playbook. This is a girl that just this morning ate her own half-stack of pancakes! Anyway, ever since I first laid eyes on Lily’s Jalapeño Cheddar Waffle Rancheros, I knew I’d be making them one day (channeling my inner Wayne, “It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.“). And so, they finally made their appearance earlier this week, complete with fried egg and all. Of course, I topped it all off with our Cheeseboard Papi Chulo Sauce, because well, no explanation needed . . .
While Karen and Erica are currently sipping piña coladas and mai tais on the beach in Maui, I’m stuck here in the middle of another foggy Berkeley summer. But before you feel sorry for me, just know that I’m sipping on my own tropical cocktail, while on the living room floor cooking “doodles” (noodles) and “mynies” (brownies) in an empty cast iron skillet, with Fiona. I couldn’t be happier. Truth be told, this cocktail was inspired by my own trip to Hawaii this past May. Audrey and I are HUGE shave ice fans. In fact, I may or may not have just purchased a commercial grade shave ice machine (more on that later). My favorite shave ice flavor from my trip was a lemongrass shave ice from Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa, Kauai. To up the ante, it was topped with a syrupy blackberry condensed milk. Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about that perfectly fluffy bite ever since…it was heavenly! So, while this cocktail doesn’t call for pillowy shaved ice, or even condensed milk, the flavors are spot on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some imaginary cooking to do.
I had never heard of eating salted peanuts with Coke until I was perusing the latest Saveur and saw a recipe for a Peanut, Pepsi and Bourbon float. I discovered that dropping salted peanuts in a bottle of Coke or Pepsi is a traditional Southern snack. I did a little research on it, but there’s not much about where it came from or when the custom started– it’s simply a quintessential Southern snack. As odd as it may sound to drink salted peanut Coke and eat Coke soaked peanuts, the flavors made total sense and I just loved the idea of it in a float form. Float aside, this is probably one of my favorite ice creams I’ve made. I don’t know why more brands don’t make peanut ice cream! The ice cream alone is worth making this!
This mezze platter has all the flavor profiles I love: bright, sour, herby and savory. This one features two of my favorite dips: muhammara, a Syrian red pepper and walnut dip and baba ganoush, a roasted smoky eggplant and tahini dip. Both are full of intense but balanced flavors and summer is a great season to make these since prepping these dips involves charing and roasting the bell peppers and eggplants. Using an outdoor grill makes things a lot easier. Hummus and baba ganoush are pretty typical in mezze spreads but you’ve probably never heard of muhammara. I’m addicted to the flavor of muhamarra, even though I’m not a huge fan of bell peppers, and pretty much will eat it with anything. The ingredients are simple (roasted red peppers, walnuts, garlic and pomegranate molasses) but they come together to make such a bold, earthy and flavorful dip.
If I learned anything after making this gorgeous sandwich, inspired by one that I recently fell in love with at my local haunt Southie and literally ordered 3 days in row, it’s that I should really make sandwiches a bigger part of my weekly lunchtime repertoire. Especially when it involves layers of all of my favorite ingredients. The combination of herby ricotta, crunchy zucchini, peppery watercress, creamy avocado and zesty sun-dried tomato into a single sando is summer epitomized. It’s so simple but oh, so tasty. Plus, it keeps well which makes it a great picnic option! There’s really nothing else to say except that it’s honestly YUM.
Oh Cynar, how you’re misunderstood. No one can pronounce your name (chee-nar), people hardly even know you, and when they do, they assume you taste like artichokes. Not surprising, I suppose. It might be time for an outfit change . . . just a thought. ICYMI, Cynar is yet another lovely Italian amaro. Yes, artichoke is one of the many flavoring ingredients, but certainly not pronounced, if even noticeable. It is, IMHO (okay, that’s enough with the acronyms) a quintessential amaro. Bright, bold Italian label? Check. Bitter, sweet, and herbal all at the same time? Check. Although Cynar definitely leans more bitter than sweet, which I appreciate. That being said, today we’re making a dessert drink – our first since the Spanish Coffee, if I remember correctly. I first heard about Cynar flips from the one and only Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who in turn credits his friend Ben Sandrof for his discovery. What I loved so much about that cocktail was that it combined both Cynar and the flip, both under appreciated, into one magical libation. It’s luscious, it’s creamy, and dare I say . . . it’s sophisticated? I decided to take it one step further into full dessert mode by substituting the sugar for a homemade chocolate syrup. My friends, you no longer need be afraid of Cynar, nor flips for that matter. Chocolate Cynar Flips FTW!! Wait, I said no more acro—oh whatever. Cheers!