I love having a summer birthday (today is my birthday!). Los Angeles has been in a serious heat wave and I’m just loving all the sun, heat and frozen desserts. One of my favorites summer treats are fruit popsicles, but it is nearly impossible to find fruit popsicles that are pure, unadulterated and unsweetened. Honestly, just try it. If you read the label, there will almost always be added sugar, which is fine, but if you’re trying to avoid that, you don’t have a lot of options. So the extra effort to make your own popsicles is worth the effort– although there is minimal work involved in these. Watermelon has enough natural sugar that you don’t need to add extra sweetener, but of course you could. I combined the sweet watermelon with mint which makes this both sweet and refreshing. And to make these the ultimate birthday popsicles, I poured prosecco over them. Happy birthday to me!
Nothing is quite as satisfying as a delightful bottle of olive oil. So when Cobram Estate invited us to Australia to experience their 2016 olive harvest first hand, we jumped at the opportunity. Here is our globetrotting friend and occasional collaborator Orissa Stewart Rose with the rundown of her week down under:
For many of us, olive oil is part of everyday life – we eat it, cook with it and sometimes use it for body care. But how many of us really know what it means when the oil bottle says ‘Cold Pressed’ or understand the importance of the ‘Extra Virgin’ distinction? Despite my affection for olive oil, I am no expert, so jumped at the chance to visit a premier olive oil producer during harvest season. Part education intensive and part eating marathon, my week in Southern Australia with a crew of Cobram Estate growers and enthusiasts was one I won’t soon forget. A mix of passionate Aussies and fun loving Americans, Cobram Estate Olive Oil is an Australian heritage brand that is quickly making its mark on the American olive oil market through new products and groves in Northern California. To understand what it takes to make their internationally acclaimed EVOO, we visited Cobram’s nursery, groves and bottling facility . . . and now you can be an expert too!
Soooo, I’ve been on a serious margarita kick
lately this year. It’s hard for me to pass up that frosty lime and tequila combo, especially on a warm Friday evening. And still, every now and then I’m in the mood for something a bit more serious – something spiritous. This week was one of those times. As I sat on the couch watching the Warriors struggle to make a shot, I found myself craving a drink that packed a punch. I ventured out to my liquor cabinet (aka the garage) to check out the options. I returned a few minutes later, arms full of spirits and liqueurs. Each one vastly different, however, complimentary in flavor. You see, cocktails are all about balance. Similar to how a margarita is the perfect mix of sweet, sour, salty, and tequila-y (that’s a word I swear!), a spiritous cocktail should be balanced in its own right. For example, rather than counter the sweetness with sour notes, I used bitter and spicy flavors. The resulting cocktail is strong but smooth, and fabulously complex; truly greater than the sum of its parts, as any good cocktail should be.
Okay, I don’t have much to say about these apricot oat bars other than you HAVE TO MAKE THEM. They’re insanely good and the perfect combination of sweet/tart and crispy/chewy. You often find dried apricots in oat bars, but I used fresh apricots, which are so much better. This is the perfect sweet treat to enjoy in the morning with coffee!
I feel like I’m becoming more and more intentional about healthy eating these days. Having a child will do that to you, at least, that’s my excuse. Don’t get me wrong, I feel I’ve always done a good job with my diet. Of course, there’s the occasional baked good or cocktail (oh heyyy Negroni Week!!) however, you’ll find virtually no processed foods in our house. Still, it’s impossible for me not to obsess over passing along healthy eating habits to Fiona. No more week-long burrito binges. No more pizza for breakfast. The ritual of cooking and eating a family meal has become particularly significant. It’s amazing to see just how excited she gets when helping Audrey and I assemble dinner. She hasn’t quite earned her sous chef status, but she can sure work the line. Recently, we’ve been all about throwing together abundant, seasonal salads – preferably with some grains or proteins in the mix. This particular salad was inspired by a recent trip to sweetgreen here in Berkeley. I have always obsessed over watermelon salads, but I also like the idea that the watermelon doesn’t have to be showcased on its own. Why not add a bit of fresh, juicy watermelon into some fresh greens and such? Yeah, I’m hooked. Fiona is too.
I love brunch more than any other meal of the day. It’s a great reason to have friends over for an over the top meal of eggs, waffles and Bloody Marys. But, sometimes I crave something healthier and more casual and entertaining friends for a lighter brunch can still be just as impressive. Of course, no brunch would be complete without coffee and, for my brunch, I was inspired by Nespresso‘s two new lighter breakfast blends for their VertuoLine range, Giornio and Solelio, and made a lavender iced coffee. This iced coffee is so simple to make: you just make lavender syrup (which can be done the night before) and use the syrup to sweeten iced coffee and add half and half or milk. You can also easily turn this recipe into a hot lavender latte by using espresso capsules in the Nespresso’s Evoluo (the machine brews both coffee and espresso!) and the Aeroccino4, one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. The Aeroccino 4 is a milk frother that makes the thick and velvety foam in seconds and even works with nut milks. Making brunch healthy and easy with these lavender iced Nespresso coffees will make you see mornings in a new light!