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Posts Tagged ‘cocktails’

Cocktails and Kale

June 9, 2012 3 comments

Three Cocktails + Kale Chips = Friday Night

Cocktails and Kale…Today’s odd sounding post is courtesy of  a lazy Friday evening spent at home on our patio. We bought some delicious fresh kale from Tune Farm at the Greene Street Market on Thursday night and we still had strawberries from Dennison’s Farm so it seemed like a natural fit. Well, not strawberries and kale together (but it might not be the worst combination). Instead, we had strawberry cocktails served with oven baked crispy kale chips. In the last post, I shared several recipes for simple syrup. Those recipes will come in handy in the strawberry cocktails. The drinks feature strawberries because they are still so plentiful, fresh, and delicious. However, the drinks would also be good with blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries. These recipes also make wonderful non-alcoholic spritzers.

The drink recipes call for a muddler  and muddling. So, what is a muddler? It is a bartender’s tool, similar to a pestle, used to mash things (muddling). If you do not have a muddler, you can use a fork, the back of a spoon, or even a potato masher (though it probably won’t fit in a glass). I’ve used my lemon reamer and the pestle from our chinois conical strainer to muddle the ingredients. I’ve also thought about using my porridge spurtle. Yes, we have a porridge spurtle. What is a porridge spurtle? A wooden tool of Scottish origin used to stir porridge. We bought a hand-carved spurtle several years ago at the Monte Sano Art Show. We have yet to use it to stir porridge :).

Note: Each recipe makes two drinks. You can muddle and make the drinks in individual glasses, in a cocktail shaker, or even in a large pitcher if you are multiplying the recipe. The directions are for making two drinks directly in the glasses; however, feel free to change if you are using a cocktail shaker or making a pitcher.

Back to the drinks and snacks…these cocktails are light and refreshing, perfect for this early summer-like weather. The crispy kale chips are a crunchy, earthy, and salty balance to the drinks. Enjoy and have a happy weekend…

Strawberry Basil Refresher

Strawberry Basil Refresher

8 strawberries, hulled and sliced (or mashed)

2 tablespoons simple syrup (plain, strawberry, basil, or citrus)

8 fresh basil leaves, torn

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 ounces rum (I prefer white rum for this drink)

Crushed ice

Club soda

Garnish: 2 whole strawberries, 2 lemon wedges (or slices), and 2 sprigs of fresh basil

Serves: 2

Equally divide the strawberries, simple syrup, basil, and lemon juice between the two glasses. Use a muddler to mash everything together. Add rum and crushed ice. Stir. Then fill the glass with soda water. Stir again. Garnish with a strawberry, lemon wedge (I forgot the lemon wedge in the photo!), and basil.

Strawberry Mojito

Strawberry Mojito

8 strawberries, hulled and sliced (or mashed)

4 tablespoons mint simple syrup (or plain or berry simple syrup)

2 tablespoons lime juice

6 fresh mint leaves, torn

2 ounces rum (I prefer white rum for this drink)

Club soda

Crushed ice

Garnish: 2 whole strawberries, 2 limes wedges, and 2 sprigs of fresh mint

Serves: 2

Equally divide the strawberries, simple syrup, lime juice, and mint between the two glasses. Use a muddler to mash everything together. Add rum and crushed ice. Stir. Then fill the glass with soda water. Stir again. Garnish with a lime wedge, strawberry, and/or mint leaf.

Non-alcoholic version: Just omit the rum. You can add a few extra berries and lime if you want to intensify the flavor. Also, feel free to omit the syrup if you are watching your sugar intake.

Strawberry Mule

Strawberry Mule

This is one of my favorite summer beverages. I especially like how they make it at Amendment XXI; however, it is just as tasty when made at home. It might even be better! You will want to use a strong ginger brew if you can find it. I like Reed’s Ginger Brew. In Huntsville, you can buy Reed’s at Garden Cove, Earth Fare, Foods for Life, and The Fresh Market (I believe they carry it). If you can’t find Reed’s or you think it is too gingery, then regular ginger ale would be fine. 

8 strawberries, hulled and sliced (or mashed)

2 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (lime or lemon juice)

2 tablespoons simple syrup (plain, berry, ginger, whatever you prefer)

2 ounces vodka (plain or citrus)

Crushed ice

2-6 ounces ginger brew (or ginger ale)

Garnish: 2 whole strawberries and 2 lemon or lime wedges

Serves: 2

Equally divide the strawberries, citrus juice, and simple syrup between the two glasses. Use a muddler to mash everything together. Add vodka and crushed ice. Stir. Then fill the glass with ginger brew. Stir again. Garnish with a strawberry and a citrus wedge.

Non-alcoholic version: Just omit the vodka. You can add a few extra berries and citrus if you want to intensify the flavor. Also, feel free to omit the syrup if you are watching your sugar intake. If this is the case, then you can use sugar-free ginger ale. You can even substitute club soda for the ginger ale and add some freshly grated ginger if you prefer.

Kale Chips

Oven Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch of fresh kale

Olive oil

Salt*

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Wash and drain the kale. Remove tough stems. Chop or tear into medium-sized semi-uniform pieces. I like a few “extra crispy” small chips so uniform is a relative term. Dry the kale – I roll the washed and chopped leaves in a clean kitchen towel. The drier the leaves, the crisper the chips.

Place the dry kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. If you have an olive oil sprayer or mister that would be great (I need to replace our broken one). Toss so the kale is coated evenly. Spread the kale into a single layer on the pan(s).

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan(s) from oven. Don’t worry if the kale has shrunk and looks funny. It will be delicious! Stir. Rearrange in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt. If you used two baking sheets, now would be a good time to rotate the sheets (especially if your oven is as uneven as our oven). Bake another 10 to 15 minutes until crispy (not burned). Sprinkle with a little more salt it you want. If they look a little greasy, you can drain them on a paper towel or a clean brown paper bag. Otherwise, you can cool them on a rack. I skip this cooling step, because I prefer them right out of the oven. As they age, they can get a bit soggy so please store in an airtight container.

*Note: I wait until half-way through to sprinkle with salt. If you add it too early, it can bring out water in the kale while it bakes. Actually, this could make it steam.

Variations:  sprinkle with cayenne pepper, cracked black pepper, finely grated Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon pepper, Greek seasoning, etc.

The End of a Nice Evening

 

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Simple Syrups

June 3, 2012 2 comments

Simple syrups are great to keep on hand, particularly in the summer. They are perfect for iced beverages – tea, coffee, lemonade, cocktails, non-alcoholic punches, etc. You can also use simple syrups to moisten a dry cake, add a bit of sweetness to a fruit salad, or use to sweeten a frozen fruit granita, etc. There are many uses for simple syrups. They also make nice, simple gifts when you put them in a mason jar and tie them with ribbon or raffia.

The basic simple syrup recipe is one part water and one part sugar. You simmer it for about a minute on medium-high heat, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat. Let it cool at room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for up to one month.

The flavor possibilities are endless – mint, citrus, cinnamon, basil, ginger, clove, coffee, vanilla, lemon verbena, rosemary, rose petal, blueberry, lavender, strawberry, cardamom, peach, star anise, mango, pink peppercorn, nutmeg, habanero…See what I mean? There are tons of flavor combinations!

You can also make simple syrups without sugar – I’ve included recipes that use honey, agave, maple syrup, raw sugar, brown sugar, and a sugar-free Splenda version. I haven’t actually made and tried the Splenda simple syrup; but given the chemical properties of Splenda, it should work.

Coming soon to The Flaming Pot Holder:  what you can do with simple syrups. But for now, here are some simple syrup recipes to get you started…

Simple Syrup – Basic Recipe

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Honey Simple Syrup

1 cup honey

1 cup water

Combine water and honey in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Agave Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup agave

Combine water and agave in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Maple Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup maple syrup

Combine water and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Raw Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup Turbinado raw sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)

1 cup water

Combine water and raw sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup dark or light brown sugar

1 cup water

Combine water and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month. Interesting note (at least I thought it was an interesting ah-ha moment): when you make a dark brown sugar simple syrup, it is like molasses. This makes sense because brown sugar has molasses in it. This simple syrup would be great in fall and winter cocktails. It would also be good on oatmeal or on grapefruit (as a child, I liked brown sugar on grapefruit). If you are out of molasses, this syrup would be a good substitute in a recipe.

Sugar-free Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup Splenda

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add Splenda. Stir until dissolved. Cool. Refrigerate.


 

 Herb Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

¼ to 1 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, lavender, basil, mint etc.) loosely packed*

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about one minute or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the herbs. Let it sit for 25 minutes. Strain the syrup. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.
*In general, use about ¼ cup of rosemary or lavender, ½ cup basil, or 1 cup of mint. This is just a basic rule of thumb, since some herbs are stronger and you need less. But feel free to use as much as you like.


 

Berry or Fruit Simple Syrup

1 cups sugar

1 cup water

½ to 1 cup of chopped fruit or berries 

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Add fruit. Stir. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Strain out the fruit (add to a smoothie or serve over yogurt). Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.


 

Other Simple Syrup Variations:

Vanilla Simple Syrup: Add a split vanilla bean to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container. Keep the vanilla bean in the bottle to intensify the flavor. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Citrus Simple Syrup: Add citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine, Meyer lemon, or a combination) to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Coffee Simple Syrup: Add 5-15 coffee beans to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let cool at room temperature. I leave the coffee beans in the syrup, but feel free to remove them if you prefer. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.