I know what you’re thinking . . . “What the heck is Todd doing making food?!! Isn’t he the drink guy? Does he even own an oven?” Yes, I confess, I’m more adept at handling a penguin shaker than a chef’s knife. However, spending so much time with Karen and Erica has its perks. In addition to expanding my social life, I’ve started to learn my way around the kitchen a bit. Also, as I’ve mentioned, my wife is a serious baker. In a dream life, we’d move to a small California coastal town and open a bakery together. I’ll drip coffee in the front, and she’ll bake cakes, cookies and fresh pastries in the back. I’ll toss flour all over myself to feel productive, sip cup after cup of coffee, and chat with customers. Every once in a while I’ll grab a blueberry muffin or two and sneak down to the ocean to catch a few waves. Sounds like a plan . . .
I Instagrammed a photo of these a while back and everyone seemed to love them. And as it turned out, these were the tastiest blueberry muffins EVER, as they have whole fresh blueberries and a thick blueberry sauce mixed into the center. The recipe is adapted from the one and only, A Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, which is kind of amazing to say the least.
Can you believe it’s already August?!! I feel like this summer is in fast forward. I guess that’s what happens when you eat this much ice cream. Speaking of sweets, check out this exquisite berries and cream cake by Carey Nershi. Carey took a mini-break from her site Reclaiming Provincial for a few months, but is now back in full force, cake and all! I’m such a fan of Carey’s work, and I know you will be too. Oh, and if you give this cake a try this weekend, save some of those blueberries – I have more berry goodness coming your way soon! In the meantime, here’s what I’m loving this week . . .
It’s been a while since I made us a classic cocktail. I know, completely unacceptable! Thankfully I received a bottle of Caorunn gin (hooray for booze mail!) and immediately thought of the Aviation. This delightfully sophisticated cocktail is just too pretty (and tasty) to overlook. In fact, there may even be an embarrassing old video of me making an Aviation floating somewhere around the internet, but no need to discuss that at the moment! Please enjoy . . .
I decided to garnish with a couple edible violets because, well, edible flowers duh!
I don’t like dried fruit. I don’t even really like most all store bought fruit leathers. But lavashak? Addicted is the only way to describe the way I feel about this Persian version of fruit leather. It’s the inherent tart and sour qualities that I love so much – not too sweet, super fragrant and deliciously chewy. I was first introduced to lavashak by my friend’s mother, who makes sheets of it with fruit from her orchard, summer after summer. The traditional method is to pick lots of fresh stone fruit, like plums, pluots, sour cherries, apricots or peaches, cook them down into a thick sauce, spread them over ceramic plates and allow them to dry naturally in the sun over a period of days. It’s a great way to preserve summer’s best fruit. And kids love it too!
Stone fruit will really give you that wonderful tart quality that I personally like. But you can use just about any fruit here. I intentionally omit sugar – as long as you’re using ripe fruit, it doesn’t need it! Sour cherries, plums and pluots will make for tart and tangy lavashak. Peaches, nectarines and apricots will obviously be sweeter. For this recipe, I’m using two varieties of pluots: Flavor Kings and Dapple Jacks.
I like making people happy. It’s pretty much the best thing about being a bartender. Well, that and the tequila. And let me tell you, there aren’t many things that make people happier than punch – not to the face, but rather, in a bowl. Preferably with pretty ice and a few fists full of booze. This Philadephia Fish House Punch is certainly no exception. Taken directly from the pages of the one and only Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s new, and aptly named, “The Bar Book”, my favorite part of this punch (and future punches no doubt) was making the vacuum-sealed oleo saccharum. There’s something eerily satisfying about mechanically sucking all the air out of a plastic bag until it’s hard enough to use as a frisbee. Trust me, you’ll want one of these. And all things considered they aren’t that pricey. Personally, I can’t wait to start using it for marinades. In the meantime, let’s keep the party going this week with a big (gl)ass bowl of punch!!
This recipe requires some prep a day in advance, so be sure to read the directions carefully.
Summer has been a little crazy ’round these parts. Let’s just say that it’s truly a season of celebration. I’ll explain more later, but for now you’ll have to trust me. Regardless, we thought it would be the perfect time to revist our ricotta crostini party – this time, spicing things up with an assortment of cheeses and more of our favorite seasonal toppings. Sadly, my nacho cheese and pickled jalapeno crostini didn’t make the cut! I guess I better stick to the cocktails. Hopefully our little summer crostini party inspires your inner party animal and gives you some creative ideas for your next gathering. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some eating to do . . .