Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Herb Julep

When Maker's Mark approached us to do a new spin on the classic Mint Julep, we couldn't refuse because we never say no to bourbon. And Maker's Mark? It is the good stuff.

The first time I made a Mint Julep - way back when in my fledgling mixology days - I did NOT use the good stuff. I used some cheap bottle of bourbon that was kicking around in the back of my liquor cabinet. The resulting drink was rubbish, and I unwisely deduced that I did not like Juleps. How silly of me! Once I schooled myself in bourbon I realized the error of my ways. 

Around this time of year, Sarah and I are always wildly eager to head to our kitchens with fresh, local produce, but Colorado can be a little slow to yield results. However, herbs are always reliably sprouting and thriving, even with our April snow. Our backyards yielded the herbal trifecta for our julep: mint (of course!), lemon balm, and thyme. Lemon balm is a close cousin of mint, but has a strong lemon aroma which adds a bright citrus note to this drink.

In the picture above, L-R, lemon balm, thyme, and mint.

Crushed ice is essential for this drink, and we crushed ours by hand using our wooden muddler. We placed cubed ice into a large shaker, and gave it quite a few good thwacks until it looked the way we wanted it.

Spring Herb Julep

Makes 1 cocktail
  • fresh mint, 5-6 leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
  • fresh lemon balm, 5-6 leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
  • fresh thyme, 1 long sprig, plus a sprig for garnish
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 TB water
  • 2 oz Maker's Mark bourbon (or other good bourbon)
  • crushed ice 
special equipment:
  • muddler
  • julep cup (not completely essential, but alway delightful)

1. In your julep cup, add 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Stir for a minute to let sugar fully dissolve.

2. Place the  herb sprigs into the julep cup, and muddle into the sugar water. Do it enough to release the herbal flavor, but not enough to completely brutalize the leaves.

2. Stir in the 2 ounces of Maker's Mark. Add crushed ice to fill the cup to the top. Garnish with remaining herb sprigs.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Watermelon Punch with Fresh Mint and Lime

Dulcie and I continue to be smitten with Erin's new cookbook, Yummy Supper. We've got one more recipe for you before the end of our giveaway. This one is for a refreshing end of summer drink made with watermelon, lime, and muddled mint. A little bit mojito, a little bit fresca!

Don't Forget:

Enter to win our Yummy Supper cookbook giveaway hereJust leave a comment on the post. Ends Friday August 29th, 2014.
Muddled Mint

This recipe is incredibly easy to whip up with a blender. Did you know you can just blend fresh watermelon into a slushy drink? You really don't need to add anything else - it's kind of amazing! And very tasty.

But this recipe takes watermelon juice to the next level by amping it up with a big squeeze of fresh lime. Then mint leaves are muddled with a bit of sugar and gently stirred in to the drink.

Watermelon Punch with fresh lime and mint

The result is a vibrant red slushy drink flecked with pretty little dots of green. Garnish with mint and serve at your end of summer cookouts and celebrations!

Watermelon Punch with Fresh Mint and Lime

Simple Syrup
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water

Watermelon Punch
1 medium watermelon
2 or 3 large juicy limes
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 tsp sugar

First, make your simple syrup by combining the 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water and heating in a saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Pop in fridge to let cool. Alternately, you could skip the simple syrup and use honey or agave to sweeten (which is what we did).
Next, cut off the green watermelon rind and cut the pink flesh into chunks. Puree in the blender thoroughly. You should have about 4 cups of watermelon juice.  You can strain this juice if you'd like, but we all like it with the pulp included! Put the juice into the fridge to keep cool.

Juice the limes; you'll need about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of juice. Coarsely chop the mint, then crush it with the 2 teaspoons of sugar. We used a mortar and pestle for this step, but Erin says you can also use a mixing bowl and big wooden spoon. Stir together the resulting mint paste and lime juice.

Your final step is to mix the cooled watermelon juice with the mint-lime-sugar mixture. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of the simple syrup (or honey) at this point to bring the drink to your desired level of sweetness. We found that we didn't need much at all!
Serve in pretty glasses & garnish with mint.
Watermelon juice with fresh mint and lime

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta

We get a surprising number of emails to sample different products and food services, and generally the answer is a resounding, "no thanks." But when Nocciolata asked if we wanted to sample a jar of their chocolate hazelnut spread... well, this amazing panna cotta is the result.

(Pssst: Don't forget to enter our Yummy Supper cookbook giveaway! Go over to this post and leave a comment to be considered! Then come back and get hungry for panna cotta.)

I have long been a fan of Nutella, but I have never been a fan of their list of ingredients. I have tried to make a suitable hazelnut chocolate spread at home, but it will never have that silky smooth texture which is part of the spread's allure. Nocciolata wooed us with ingredients such as dark chocolate from the Antillean Islands, Italian hazelnuts, brown sugar, and bourbon vanilla extract. Oh, and it is organic! We did a side by side tasting of the two and found Nutella to have a more hazelnut-forward flavor with the Nocciolata being more chocolatey.

This was the first time that I had made a panna cotta, and I had been under the false impression that it was difficult to make. It is so, so easy to make! It is not a last minute dessert because it needs a few hours in the fridge to firm up, but the hands on time is only a matter of minutes.

Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta

adapted from this Food Network recipe

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 7 oz of chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 1 pouch Knox gelatin
  • chopped hazelnuts for garnish, optional
1.  Combine heavy cream and chocolate hazelnut spread in a sauce pan and heat until just boiling. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin, stirring until dissolved.

2. Pour mixture into small bowls or ramekins, and place in the fridge to firm up overnight, or at least 4 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Peach and Rose Water Lassi

This lassi is a sweet, refreshing summer drink that's a little different from the usual. We love how it combines sweet ripe peaches and yogurt with a bit of rosewater, then is topped with a sprinkling of salty pistachios. We also love the blogger who created this recipe - it's Erin, from Yummy Supper! We were lucky enough to get our hands on an early copy of her brand new cookbook, which is where we found this jewel of a recipe.

Would you like to win a copy of the new Yummy Supper cookbook? We think you'd love it! Just leave a comment on this post and we'll randomly choose a winner on Friday August 29th. Open to US only.

Peach and Rose Water Lassi

A few words about the cookbook. It happens to be a gluten free cookbook, but to be honest I didn't  even notice that at first. It is filled with exactly the types of recipes we love to make. Fresh and interesting vegetable based dishes, really great drink ideas (many of which can be morphed into cocktails), and so many flavorful and simple main dishes. If you like cooking great tasting dishes using real food ingredients - you should definitely be checking this cookbook out.

Now back to this recipe. It's right in the middle of peach season here in Colorado, and we are a state that happens to produce truly delicious peaches. They're grown on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, in picturesque little towns like Paonia and Palisade. The small batch food scene around here turns those peaches into some jaw-droppingly great things. Like this stuff. So of course, this recipe was a must try for us!

Peach and Rose Water Lassi
In addition to tasting great, I love the colors of this recipe. The soft pinky peach topped with vibrant pistachios is so lovely.

We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. And if you'd like to enter to win a copy of Yummy Supper, don't forget to leave a comment. Winner will be chosen on Friday, August 29th.

 Peach and Rose Water Lassi

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peaches, cut into chunks (1 large or 2 small peaches)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1/2-1 tsp rose water
  • 2-3 Tbs honey
  • pinch of Maldon sea salt or any good sea salt
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 2 Tbs coursely chopped roasted salted pistachios
In a standing blender, combine the peaches, yogurt, milk, rose water, honey, and salt. Blend until everything is smooth and silky, then taste for sweetness.
Add additional honey if you'd like it and even a little extra splash of rose water, if it pleases you.
Finally, add the ice cubes. Blend again, and serve topped with the pistachios.

Rose Water & Pistachios

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