Monday, September 28, 2009

Ginger - Vodka Spritzer

Well, another weekend gone by and another cocktail has been tried, tested and filed under, AWESOME. I came up with this on a whim and was pleasantly surprised with the end result. The goal, other than the obvious, was to make use of the all the ginger in our fridge (left over from my homemade ginger ale experiment) - and what better way than to turn it into some sort of alcoholic elixir? Since I am in a simple-syrup craze recently, I am discovering that by taking the time, (all of 5 minutes, plus cooling time), to make a flavored syrup opens the door to stand out, unique cocktails. The only problem that I ran into was that I didn't have enough ginger to yield the amount of syrup I had hoped for. (Meaning, we only had enough for a few drinks, *sniff, sniff*). The 3 oz that I had only amounted to about 1/2 cup of syrup. It's best to use about 12 oz and you will yield about a cup and a half to have on hand. It will last a few weeks, covered tightly in the fridge.

Ginger Syrup
Yields about 1 1/2 cup of syrup

12 oz. fresh ginger, sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

In a small sauce pan, bring water, sugar and ginger to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Pour syrup through a fine mesh stainer, discard ginger. Cool syrup completely before using.

Ginger - Vodka Spritzer
Makes about 2 cocktails

8-12 fresh mint leaves, plus a few for garnish
4 oz. ginger simple syrup
4 oz vodka
juice of 1-2 limes (1 - 2 oz)
4 oz of club soda

In a shaker, muddle mint and add vodka, lime juice and ginger syrup. Add a few ice cubes and shake vigorously. Pour over 2 cups with ice, or martini glasses, without ice and finish off with club soda.
*Note - I'm thinking that candied ginger would be a fun garnish, as well. Try it!

Friday, September 25, 2009


I have never bought chicken wings, breasts and thighs, yes. But, wings? Ick, Never! All of this changed the other day, when at the market, I noticed a pack of Organic chicken wings, (2 lbs), for $1.98... Stunned at the low price, and thinking, "is that even possible??", I grabbed them, brought them home and began my recipe research. I honed in on this outright amazing recipe from Bon Appetit, it appealed to me because it's not the typical hot and spicy song and dance. These wings marinate in yogurt and curry spices over night and then bake for an hour. And although I was still skeptical of these underrated chicken parts, I was extremely determined. After-all, I'm only in for 2 bucks!

The end result is superb, tender, juicy, infused meat. Absolutely delicious. And very messy. Not recommended for a romantic, first-date kind of scenario. In fact, my husband and I ate them over the kitchen sink, without talking, completely immersed in our own chicken-winged world. It was great!

Chicken Wings with Yogurt Curry Glaze
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2000.

1 1/2 cups plain full fat yogurt
1 cup finely diced onion
4 tsp cumin
4 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
4 TBLS finely chopped fresh ginger
2 lbs Organic chicken wings

In a large bowl, mix first 7 ingredients. Set aside about 1/2 of marinade for dipping sauce. Add chicken and thoroughly combine. Allow to marinate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, season wings with salt and bake for about an hour, turning once. Serve with reserved yogurt curry sauce.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Many parts of the country are bidding farewell to summer as it becomes a fading memory. In Southern California, however, Santa Ana winds are driving through the canyons and temperatures will still be blazing for a few more weeks. Making this Indian Summer all the more manageable, are the ample mint and limes in my fridge and the alluring bottle of rum in my liquor cabinet. I have to thank my lovely friend, Sara, who helped me kick off a weekend bender of mojito magic - I can now say that this has emerged as my fave drink for the summer, crisp, refreshing and slightly sweet. Take time to juice your limes in advance and make a simple syrup, (equal parts water and sugar, simmer until dissolved, cool).

Classic Mojito
Makes 1 cocktail

8 mint leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 TBLS simple syrup
1 -2 oz light rum
2 oz fresh lime juice
club soda
powdered sugar

Place mint in the bottom of a tall glass, with a wooden spoon, muddle the mint gently. Add ice cubes and simple syrup, lime juice and rum. Stir well.
Top each drink with a little club soda and garnish with a sprig of mint and dust top of glass with powdered sugar.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wild Rice and Apple Salad

One of my all time favorite salads! It usually begins with left over rice from the night before, (If I'm being smart, I will make extra rice for this very reason.). Since I always have apples in the fridge and an assortment of raw nuts in the pantry, this salad comes together easily. Throw whatever happens to be in the fridge, (parsley, dried cranberries, pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese this time), and you'll have a healthy and filling meal in mere minutes.
I have found that making wild rice with chicken or vegetable stock and a pat or two of butter really makes a world of difference. This salad can be made with any grain, try it with quinoa, brown rice, farro, etc. There are no rules for this salad - here's your chance to get creative and clean out that fridge all at the same time. Enjoy!

Wild Rice and Apple Salad

2 cups cooked rice
1 apple - I like Gala or Fuji
1/2 cup nuts, I like pine nuts or walnuts
1 TBLS (or more) chopped fresh herb such as parsley, mint, basil.
Handful of dried cranberries
Crumbled goat cheese, or feta - to you liking
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Lemon juice

Combine everything in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil (or walnut oil) and fresh lemon juice - adjust to your liking. Serve over a bed of mixed baby greens.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Home Made Pizza Dough

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my love for making pizza at home, and in that posting, I shamefully admitted to being a lazy-cheating-good-for-nothing pizza dough buyer. Just writing that down made me feel kind of dirty. It's that low down feeling that prompted me to buy some yeast and make my own damn dough. I can now say that I am no longer a pizza dough buyer, but rather, a pizza-dough-maker. A notable distinction - mind you! Being the type of cook who likes simple recipes with big pay-off, I must say, this is exactly what making pizza dough is: simple yet totally rewarding. All you need to do is plan a few hours in advance to allow the dough to rise and then just a little more time to let it rest. From this moment on, you will never see me with store-bought dough again! After all, to admit you have a problem is always half of the battle!

Easy Pizza Dough
from smittenkitchen

1 1/2 cup flour (you can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (you may need 1 to 2 TBLS more)
1 TBLS olive oil

Stir dry ingredients together, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil. Stir mixture into as close as a ball as you can. Dump everything onto a floured surface and knead until you have a homogeneous ball. If this is difficult, take the now empty bowl and place over ball and step away for a few minutes.
Knead for a minute or two and place it into a lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough over so that all sides are lightly coated with oil and cover with plastic wrap for and hour or two. It should double in size.
Dump it back onto a floured surface and gently press air out of the dough with the palm of your hand. Fold it back into a ball and place it under plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle pizza stone or baking sheet, with corm meal and set oven to its highest temp.
Roll out dough and place toppings on, erring on the side of skimpy, so not to weigh down pizza.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until just blistered.