Spanish-style gintonic

Don’t let the passing of Labor Day fool you: summer is most definitely still in session through most of September and we’re about to experience the warmest temperatures we’ve had all season this week, so I have no problem promoting a refreshing, summertime beverage despite it being past the acceptable date to wear white. Besides, in just over a week we’re going to Spain, and specifically going back to Barcelona and Caldetas/Caldes d’Estrac, and while I am naturally planning many ways to eat our faces off I’m also really looking forward to indulging in a few gintonics while we’re there too. Unlike here where at most places a G&T is simply some gin, tonic water from a beverage gun and maybe a wedge or wheel of lime, but in Spain it is most definitely a cocktail

Typically served in wine goblets instead of highballs, they also tend to be made with the little single-serving bottles of tonic water rather than stuff from the aforementioned beverage gun, and good, bottled tonic water is something special. As Danny Castellano noted in the episode “The Desert” of The Mindy Project, “tonic water’s tonic water, okay? It’s refreshing, it’s crisp. It’s the tiniest bit sweet.” A good gintonic lets that part of tonic water shine, and the addition of juniper berries and wheels of lemon and lime just make the tonic all the more flavorful.

If you need further proof that the Spanish gintonic surpasses all other versions of the drink, just see the delightful standoff that took place some time ago between Mario Batali and José Andrés on Twitter:

I think José Andrés won the gintonic-off.

This is a recipe for a very simple but highly flavorful version of the G&T, and it’s worth finding a container of juniper berries in addition to a little four-pack of good tonic water (Fever Tree is delicious) to while away the remaining weeks of summer, and to embrace those rare and overly-warm autumn days. As it always does, winter is coming–let’s all take a step back to enjoy the warmth.

Gintonic, Spanish-style

makes 1 cocktail, adapted slightly from Made in Spain by José Andrés

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 200 mL bottle Fever Tree tonic water, either Indian or Mediterranean style (Michael prefers Indian-style, while I love the  Mediterranean)
  • 1-2 leaves lemon verbena (optional but awesome)
  • 3-4 juniper berries, slightly crushed
  • 1 lemon wheel
  • 1 lime wheel

In a large goblet or wine glass, combine gin with tonic water and ice and add garnishes as desired. Serve immediately.

For added effect, aerate the tonic water by pouring down the spiraled handle of a bar spoon or from a great height.

Momofuku’s ginger scallion noodles with pickled cucumbers, cabbage, and shiitake mushrooms with fresh scallions and a slow-poached egg

Remember how I mentioned that August had been a difficult month? Apparently the month wasn’t finished with us at that point, because last week came more less-than-pleasant news, albeit news that could prove to be good in the long run. What was honestly the most difficult about all of this was having to grapple with it alone as Michael was away all week for business, and what was going to be a week filled with some interesting new salads I wanted to try ended up being one in which I didn’t want to eat much of anything. Ricotta dumplings, a two-cheese omelette, and leftover pasta from the weekend made for a somewhat pathetic sabor de soledad, but comfort food was definitely the thing I needed just to make it to Friday. (I apologize for being a bit oblique, but it’s for the best.)

By sheer coincidence we had planned to go to Momofuku Noodle Bar as part of a delayed celebration for Michael’s birthday (a departure from our usual trip to Keen’s, but one he requested) and it ended up being just what the two of us needed. We were there right as it opened, got two stools right away, and proceeded to demolish our bowls of ginger scallion  noodles (me) and Momofuku ramen (him). I can’t honestly say what took us so long to finally come to this restaurant given how much we rely on the Momofuku cookbook for interesting meals at home, but nothing proved the adage “better late than never” like our lunch on Saturday. Read More

Tomato-Peach-Basil Salad with Burrata

Despite it being his birthday month, Michael hates the month of August. He’s also not that much of a fan of his birthday, come to think of it—the last few years we’ve gone down to Keen’s in Midtown so he could avail himself of a giant steak, but even that isn’t appealing to his senses this year. I have plans to take him to Momofuku this year, as we’ve never been but we are completely obsessed with Momofuku. I want to make sure it’s fully in the spirit of Treat Yo Self Day and we spend the day frequenting as many of his favorite places as possible.

It needs to be a good one, too, as this particular August had an..interesting beginning but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bright spots here and there. We were able to celebrate a friend’s milestone birthday down at his new home in Maryland and had a mini-reunion of sorts with so many of our friends from the New Haven years which was a real treat. I also haven’t been south of Delaware for years, so it was a lot of fun to see places like Baltimore for the first time in so long—the last reason that brought me to that particular area was when I was scoping out colleges and Loyola was on my shortlist.

Hawksmoor at Home’s simple tomato-cucumber salad

The other bright spot, as silly as it sounds, has been the fact that heirloom tomatoes have been on sale at Fairway all month. Organic heirloom tomatoes, I should add. Every week I’ve ventured over to the organic section to pick up a few for weekend salads, and every purchase has yielded delicious results. Whether it’s the tomato-cucumber salad from Hawksmoor at Home or a lunchtime arrangement with peaches, basil, and burrata, I haven’ had to fret much over eating enough lycopene. Taking a cue from Ina Garten I also made a fresh pasta sauce by marinating some chopped heirloom tomatoes in olive oil, mint, and garlic and then stirred it into fedelini with some fresh mozzarella. The leftovers I had the following week were excellent, as each day it smelled like a margherita pizza was cooking in the work microwave.

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Blackberry-Rosé Sangria

If you’re a wise person, you have declared this summer as the season of rosé (and hopefully caftan) season, much like myself, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to switch things up…and that’s when you introduce rosé sangria into your life. The idea for this came about when Boqueria  (a fabulous tapas mini-chain in New York and elsewhere) posted a recipe for a blackberry-centric sangria, and while I loved the ingredient list the actual recipe seemedd a bit…involved. So I borrowed some ingredients from their recipe and put my simpler spin on it and Michael has declared this to be the best sangria he’s had all summer.

Naturally, I need to share this with you. You should make it immediately, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

Blackberry-Rosé Sangria

Blackberry-Rosé Sangria

makes 4-5 glasses of sangria (approximately)

  • 1 bottle rosé
  • 6 oz blackberries, rinsed
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cachaça
  • 3-4 sprigs mint
  • Splash of St. Germain
  • 1 TBSP of lemon verbena simple syrup (recipe here)

Take about half of the blackberries (especially any that may be softer) and muddle them in the bottom of a pitcher. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the pitcher, stir well to combine, and chill for at least two hours prior to serving.

Shrimp and Orange Salad with Arugula and Fennel

It’s not even August and apparently stores are stocking their shelves for Hallow-freaking-ween. I’m very much aware that holiday creep is a huge thing in retail (back-to-school seems to go back on the shelves around the Fourth) but especially after the winter so many of us had to endure this year, well, cheering on the arrival of the season of inevitable misery seems abominably cruel. It’s not like this summer has been particularly arduous here in the Northeast—we’ve had some periods of hot and/or humid weather, but we’ve been pretty lucky so far: a day or two of intense humidity have beckoned a cold front blowing through almost immediately thereafter, and otherwise we’ve had pretty pleasant weather. There have been many a weekend afternoon spent on the local beaches, and even an evening or two listening to the rain while we sit on our balcony.

In short, I’m doing everything I can to appreciate the summer while it’s here, and I will be loath to give it up because gauzy clothes and cool drinks are superior to wooly socks, fun-size candies and hot toddies, no matter what anyone says. Read More

Chocolate mousse via a whipped cream siphon.

It appears that I’ve “broken” my husband. Broken him of what, you may ask? Well, I’ve broken him from his ambivalence on dessert—usually he’ll eat it if it’s offered to him, but he’s not one to usually request it. That has changed, however, thanks to the introduction of the iSi Whip into our kitchen: not only does he request yogurt cream foam for dessert from time to time these days, but a few weekends can’t go by without him asking for chocolate mousse for dessert.

Honestly, it’s kind of weird, but I guess I have no one but myself and Alton Brown to blame. You see I had it in my head one Saturday to look for some more iSi recipes and had the intention to adapt an interesting-enough mousse recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis (yes, I know) into an iSi-friendly version. Instead, I stumbled upon a mousse recipe specifically designed for a cream siphon, and when I clicked on it in sheer bewilderment (since when would the Food Network allow for such high-level chicanery?) I realized that it was from one of the final episodes of Good Eats; one, I should mention, we never watched once when we had the back half of the series streaming on Prime. But the video demonstrating how to make it was still on Food Network’s website, so I sat down and watched it. Then I played it a second time and made Michael watch it, and wouldn’t you know, we made a batch for ourselves that very night.

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Argentinian Ribeye Skewers with Chimichurri

Argentinian Ribeye Skewers with Chimichurri

I can’t believe I’m writing this on the day of the World Cup final—it definitely has flown by even faster than it did four years ago, and what a tournament of surprises: who would have thought that the US Men’s National Team would not only make it out of the Group of Death but that Tim Howard would make a record 16 saves during the match against Belgium? (I’m pretty salty that he isn’t on the best goaltending award shortlist, by the way.) Moreover, who would have expected the epic meltdown that was the Germany-Brazil semifinal, especially considering that Brazil had the ultimate home pitch advantage? Read More

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