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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.

 

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

Smoked salmon and ricotta wraps

Smoked salmon and ricotta wraps

New Year’s Eve is my favorite food holiday, full stop. We don’t have to follow any specific food traditions, and instead we can make a number of small bites that follow whatever whims we may have in mind that particular year. In reality, the only rules that we do have around the holiday are simple:

  • No leaving the apartment, even to do this same thing at someone else’s house, because that never ends well.
  • Loungey clothes are necessary, if not required.
  • Games will be played
  • Wine, especially bubbly wines, will be consumed.

When our friend W asked what our plans were, I explained that we were pretty rigid on the not-leaving-the-apartment thing (seriously, the last time we tried to do this on New Year’s Eve, I ended up with a stomach virus) but that they were welcome to join us. As soon as she said that they would love to come, out came the cookbooks to brainstorm some ideas on what to make. I may have also put the El Bulli episode of No Reservations on while I browsed, and ultimately came up with more ideas for this dinner than I did for the dinners I was supposed to be planning for…because that’s how things tend to go.

Besides: a meal of this scale requires several days of brainstorming, and I ended up finding some fine meals to have on Sunday and Monday shortly thereafter. So there, husband. Read More

English Tomato Salad from Hawksmoor at Home (The Manhattan [food] Project)

English Tomato Salad from Hawksmoor at Home (The Manhattan [food] Project)

In my continuing campaign to prolong summer while it is still summer and protect us from Fall Creep, I humbly submit this salad as evidence that it’s far too soon to be wishing for pumpkin lattes and fucking sweaters. This salad is summer. It’s delicious and nourishing and it will not taste nearly as good at any other time of year as it does now, and therefore you should make it immediately. Incidentally, since today is the last Wednesday in August, it is officially La Tomatina: a festival in Buñol, Spain that is essentially a town-wide tomato fight. Most of us can’t be there in person to participate in the festivities, so why not use it instead as an excuse to splurge on some fantastic heirloom tomatoes?

Read More

Bresaola-Wrapped Arugula-Pecorino Salad

Bresaola-Wrapped Arugula-Pecorino Salad

I have all of these epic posts in progress right now, but I had to share this half-salad, half-appetizer with you right away as it’s quite possibly the platonic ideal of easy springtime/summer eating. This recipe comes from Polpo‘s cecchetti section as part of a selection of “wraps” that they offer as small plates, and it is absolutely fantastic as an alternative to a big salad when paired with a simple little meat dish. It’s also a great variation of the bresaola carpaccio I assembled a few years ago, albeit a little more substantial and a little more favorable on the meat to salad ratio.

That the meat in question is incredibly lean is merely one more reason to try this little dish; that it’s easy to eat and quite substantial are the primary reasons to do so. It’s not even really fair to call this a recipe, but the inspired presentation, to me at least, is more than enough reason to share it. Just say that you got it from a fabulous Venetian-style restaurant in London.

Bresaola-Wrapped Arugula-Pecorino Salad

adapted from Polpo

serves 2

  • 2 generous handfuls of baby arugula, washed well and spun dry
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup (max) of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (not fine, if possible–shards are good)
  • Up to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 6 slices bresaola
  • Kosher salt to taste (note that the beef is salty, so no heavy hand is needed)

First, dress the salad: take freshly-washed arugula and dress first with lemon juice, then salt, then olive oil, and finally with cheese right before serving. (Any sooner on the cheese and the lemon will break it down too much.) Take a slice of the bresaola, fill with approximately 1/6th of the salad and secure with a skewer. Repeat until you have used up all of the salad. Serve immediately.

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Pan-Fried Striped Bass with Pancetta and Parsley

A few months ago, right around Valentine’s Day, one of my coworkers asked me for some advice on making paella, and if I’d mind lending him a cookbook with a recipe in it. That night found me pulling my various Spanish cookbooks and reviewing the paella recipes contained therein; I wanted to give him one that was authentic but presented in an accessible way. I ended up bringing in my copies of The Barcelona Cookbook and Made in Spain for him to peruse, and between the two he was able to cobble together a recipe that would work for him.

My point of this story? When I went and pulled all of those cookbooks off the shelves, I realized I had upwards of at least fifteen dedicated to Spanish and//or Catalonian cooking. And that only counts the books we keep downstairs–the less-often used go upstairs in our loft “library.”

Common sense, recollection, and this blog’s archives tell me that I shouldn’t be so surprised by this, but I am all the same. Read More

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