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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

Welp, that was quick and embarrassing.

Longtime readers will remember me following along with the 2010 World Cup and Spain’s march to victory, and it was a thrilling thing to behold. La Furia Roja has played well since then, taking another Euro title in 2012 and just falling short to Brazil in the Confederations Cup last year. To suggest that expectations were high for the team would be an understatement, but I don’t know if anyone was really expecting them to take a second world title, as awesome as it would be.

Marca says it all. (via theworldsgame tumblr, link in image)

Sadly, a pair of horrible losses have put to rest any hopes of that happening, as following a perfunctory match with Australia the team will be headed back to Spain. Listen: I’m not foreign to the concept of losing. Being from the Philadelphia area, it’s a universal truth that any Philadelphia sports team* with any semblance of momentum will more likely choke instead of sealing the deal. There are a few exceptions to this, of course, but when books like this exist and your baseball team is the first to log 10,000 losses in its lifetime…well, I think you can catch my drift. What was so heartbreaking about these particular losses was the complete and utter self-destruction witnessed on the pitch; if watching the 2010 Spain squad was like observing a fine-tuned Ferrari engine at work, this was more akin to watching a Ford Pinto explode.

The final twist of the knife was watching David Villa (oh, just Spain’s highest goal-scorer for the national team but had yet to make an appearance until this match) make his final appearance for the side in the match against Australia that was meaningless other than for pride…but at least he managed a goal before he was summarily subbed off.

What a goal. (Source linked in image.)

It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks/months and then if they can get it together in time for Euro 2016, but in the meantime I’ll be over here watching 2010 WC videos on YouTube. (OK, so I’ll still be watching this World Cup too, if only to cheer on Leo Messi and some of my other FC Barcelona boys still in contention as well as the US as they face Portugal and Germany.)

At least I can comfort myself with some good food while I watch and wallow, right? Read More

Fried Padrón peppers, i.e. the goal dish of the pepper experiment.

Fried Padrón peppers, i.e. the goal dish of the pepper experiment.

When we first moved to New York, Michael mentioned the possibility of taking some planters and setting them up in an empty air-conditioning caddy as a way to grow some plants given how much sun that part of the building got. I never took him up on his offer, and in retrospect it was probably for the best: not only was I woefully inexperienced in growing things and keeping them alive (oh, the failed experiment of my New Haven garden still stings) but given that we were on the first floor, I feel like the temptation for some college kid to knock them off would have been too great and one day I would wake up and see terracotta and dirt all over the sidewalk.

Since our relocation back to Connecticut, I’ve embraced the container garden because our balcony is surprisingly well-suited for one: despite not getting as much sun as I figured would be necessary, the herbs I’ve grown over the last three years have thrived fairly well, and last year’s garden was in particular quite successful. I had a pot of oregano that yielded several batches of oregano pesto in the fall, and a bountiful amount of jalapeño and serrano peppers to throw into various recipes, and lots and lots of sage leaves to fry up in butter and serve with cutlets. The miserable winter killed off everything, sadly, as we don’t have a good indoor place to keep things, so once again I started afresh at my favorite herb nursery. Read More

Ramp Butter and Pancetta Crostinis from Franny's

Ramp Butter and Pancetta Crostinis from Franny’s

Back in December when I was going through my stash of new cookbooks and flagging recipes to make, one of the first that spoke to me immediately was for Franny’s ramp butter and pancetta crostini. After I rued the fact that it was December and that ramp season was still months away, I turned the page and lo and behold the good folks at Franny’s realize that one cannot live on ramp butter alone. An assortment of seasonal compound butters were listed,  including a divine chili butter that is also quite easy to make and an excellent foil for pancetta, even if you are using butter straight out of the freezer.*

After I got my hands on some ramps a few weeks ago, though, I was determined to make the ramp butter. Not only did I want to make the crostinis, but Michael suggested putting pats of it on some butterflied trout and veal porterhouse steaks we had purchased at Stew’s in the place of making a sauce. Kept frozen, the butter would be able to sit for a few months in the freezer, so unlike most of our ramp preparations we’d be able to enjoy it long after the season had ended…provided it lasted that long. Read More

Prosecco cocktail with poached orange peel.

Prosecco cocktail with poached orange peel.

Two weeks ago we finally decided on where we’d go on vacation this year (our first trip together since New Orleans last spring), and while I’m really excited about that, I am determined to not wish away the late spring and summer months because that will only lead to massive seasonal affective disorder/depression come November.* (For this reason I’m not going to say where we are going until the date gets closer .) Instead, I have resolved to savor everything I can from now until then: short trips to the local beaches, wearing short sleeveless caftans around the house, making delicious sangria and other cocktails, welcoming visitors, and heading into the city for various escapades.

I don’t want to feel that it’s going to be a good summer: I’m determined to make it so. Read More

Chilean sea bass tiradito

Chilean sea bass tiradito

[Ed: I’m trying to write some shorter posts to get me in the habit of writing much more regularly. So we’ll see how this goes.]

Chilean sea bass is not a fish that comes to our kitchen often, mainly because it’s both expensive and generally believed to be horribly overfished. The latter point might not be as troublesome as I had previously thought, though, because apparently measures have been taken to atone for overfishing and there are now viable options that are considered good choices. So I now feel slightly less guilty over succumbing to the temptation of buying Chilean sea bass (that was on sale!) last weekend in order to make this tiradito from The Family Meal.

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Obligatory beauty shot of  ramps.

Obligatory beauty shot of ramps.

A few months ago when we were in the throes of absolutely miserable weather, I had this feeling that ramp season would be embraced even more fervently than before, if only because it was definitive proof that spring was finally here and the long tyranny of this winter had come to an end. There had been some backlash against the ramp’s trendiness over the last few years, with some sniffing that while good, the hype surrounding them had ballooned out of control. Even by the time I had first gotten my hands on a few bunches back in 2010 the eye-rolling had already begun, but thankfully that hasn’t stopped the influx of ramps into the Union Square Greenmarket. As J. Kenji López-Alt rightly pointed out in 2011, part of what makes the ramp special is that we do have to wait for them to come every year and when they are available we have to make the most of them—in our increasingly on-demand society, it’s kind of refreshing to exercise some patience when it comes to food.

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