I hope that everyone had a delightful Fourth of July weekend! I am still in recovery mode following a whirlwind couple of days in New York City, and coming home to old friends, new friends, boat rides and barbecues. We have had a ridiculous amount of rain in Upstate NY this year and given the relatively dry weekend we had, coupled with all of the festivities, it actually felt like Summer for the first time!
A portion of the last few days for me, was also spent making shrubs. I feel as if shrubs had a “moment” on the cocktail scene last Fall, but as far as I am concerned, I hope they stick around – in both cocktails and mocktails – for good. If you are new to the world of shrubs, the term refers to a sweetened vinegar-based syrup, commonly made with fresh fruit juice and or herbs/spices – sometimes called “drinking vinegar”. The process for making them dates back to the colonial era, but shrubs have experienced a resurgence as of late, with versions popping up on drink menus, and being sold in bottled varieties at gourmet markets, alike. While I have tried a few brands that I love and would definitely purchase again, shrubs are incredibly easy to make at home, so why not try that too? They also provide a means to use any wilting, past-its-prime, fruit you have on hand (Me, always, after a trip to the Farmers’ Market!).
You can really go anywhere you like with this so long as you keep the essential ingredients (sugar, vinegar, fruit) in mind. In terms of a ratio, a good place to start is 1:1:1, but I prefer my shrubs more tart than sweet, so you’ll see that I used less sugar, more vinegar, and a lot of fruit (What you decide to use will invariably depend on how sweet your fruit is to begin with.). I added pink peppercorns here for some spice, but those are not necessary either – nice, but again, certainly not necessary. I have been going wild testing out new combinations, pairing them with club soda, and mixing them into fancier libations, as well. I totally love this concept, and I hope you do too!
Sweet, sweet, summertime! The weather is warm, the flowers are blooming, and life feels more carefree, if even for a month or two. When I consider the “essence” of the season all of those things come to mind, as do many images that are related to food; naturally. I think about my childhood and helping my grandparents pick tomatoes straight from their garden, or the countless hours I spent sitting on the front porch with my sister, sharing ripe peaches, chatting and laughing – with both of us usually in our pajamas. Later on – after college – I moved to New York, where I would spend 3 sweltering summers, filling my apartment with bodega flowers and attempting to grow basil plants in my tiny windowsill, hoping to bring any freshness at all, in. Now that I am older and love to entertain, I am carrying on traditions that my parents started by holding neighborhood barbecues, and spending evenings outside with my favorite people, sipping wine and passing big platters of delicious treats.
I thought about all of that when I created this recipe because I essentially wanted it to be a mash-up of all of the best things and ingredients that this time of year has to offer. When making this pizza you can go as crazy, or keep it as simple as you want. I like to prepare batches of the peach barbecue sauce and marinara sauce, on the weekend to keep on hand or in the freezer – but you can feel free to use a quality store bought brand for either. You can use a nectarine (or even a plum) instead of a peach, or swap the basil out for cilantro if you prefer. The only non-negotiable here is in using Sargento® 100% real, natural cheese slices (I used Provolone, although, if you wanted to kick it up a notch, Pepper Jack would work too!) I am not sure why I never used slices when making pizza before, but they are a total time-saving game changer! And, when you arrange the provolone so that it hangs over the edge of the crust, it develops a phenomenal crunchy effect as it bakes; so good.
I recommend inviting a group of your friends and family over to make this recipe together. After all, that is one of the best parts of summer right? Creating memories with the people we love, and getting to enjoy a beautiful meal, made from natural ingredients, in the process.
I love food that has a somewhat fancy pants appearance, but is in reality super simple to prepare – and this shell pea and whipped ricotta salad fits the bill! It uses the best of this season’s ingredients, and can be made from start to finish, in under ten minutes!
Truth be told I look forward to shucking peas every year. Strange? Maybe, but I find it oddly cathartic pulling the pods back to reveal what’s inside. This week, my Farmer’s Market was doling out some pretty unreal offerings (I mean that literally as the peas looked too perfect to even be real!), and I knew I had to create something that capitalized on that. Peas and ricotta are a typical combination so I decided to gild the lily by whipping the cheese (If you have never tried whipped ricotta, do it! It’s so easy to make, and so good!), adding some microgreens and shoots – although you can go anywhere you like with this as arugula, butter lettuce or any type of sprouts would be great alternatives – and a garlic/lemon/mint dressing. I think I did the little green guys justice! : )
When cherry season rolls around, I tend to overdo it at the Farmer’s Market. One box turns into three, and while I have the best intentions of eating them all, that rarely happens. So, when I was looking for a way to use some of this year’s excess, I stumbled upon this homemade syrup recipe from The Kitchn. As the title says, the best part about it is that there is no pitting required! Save for removing the stems, you can throw your cherries in whole with some sugar, and after a few minutes and a pass through a strainer, you’ll have a beautiful deep, dark liquid to use in a number of ways. I tweaked the ingredient list here by adding a drop of almond extract, and by swapping coconut sugar in for white to give the syrup a richer flavor.
A jar of this will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, so feel free to go crazy adding it to everything…cocktails, ice cream, breakfast fare (French toast, pancakes and waffles would all be good choices!). I decided to make an egg cream with it, ala my Great Uncle Stanley from Brooklyn – who was infamous for whipping these up! Egg creams are traditionally made with milk (I used almond, but regular milk, cashew, coconut, soy, etc. will all work.), seltzer and either chocolate or vanilla syrup, but when you have a cherry version hanging around, why use anything else!?!
I feel as if I could write at least 100 food posts that start the same way: “When I was in Charleston…”, because I ate so many delicious and interesting dishes there, that left me feeling inspired. This recipe stems from a special I had at Monza after a day of walking all over the city. I was tired – in that happy fatigued kind of way – hot, and famished so I would have eaten anything the waitress set in front of me and probably loved it, but this salad was so above and beyond. At its core it had pigeon peas, local greens, ripe peaches, and a spicy dressing. I know there were other ingredients too, but I am not entirely sure what they were to be honest with you, and now that I have made this version at home, I am not sure that they matter either.
This would make for a light yet satisfying dinner on a warm night, or be the perfect alternative to a traditional bean salad at your next barbecue. The salad will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator, so feel free to make it in advance. You can also go as crazy as you like with the arugula, basil and peaches (or nectarines), especially considering how sweet and juicy the latter are right now (I would go really crazy if I were you! : )).
My Mom is an expert when it comes to cooking and entertaining, and amongst the things she is “known for” within her group of friends is her simple and delicious homemade salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. She is a wizard when it comes to whipping pantry ingredients into delightful concoctions, and the glaze on these ribs is no exception.
Fig jam is the real star here as it has a syrupy consistency that bubbles up perfectly in the last thirty minutes of cooking, while the Sriracha provides the teeniest, tiniest, bit of background heat, once you bite into the meat. The best part about this recipe however, is that it could not be any simpler! The glaze consists of four ingredients (Honey and Vinegar round out the other two.) and the ribs cook entirely in the oven until they are fall apart tender. These are a Summertime staple at our family barbecues because everyone loves them, even self-professed rib haters like myself. I typically find them to be too dry, or chewy – or just too much of something – but these seem to turn out just right every time. I am so glad that my Mom was willing to share this easy recipe today and I am guessing that many of her acquaintances are too! ; )
I hadn’t intended to create a series around an “Inspired Idea” notion when I wrote about this Red Salad, but the more I find little hacks or concepts that are simple to execute yet feel sort of special, the more I want to share them with you. This one seemed to be an ideal “II” too, so perhaps this is the second post in a long line of them? We’ll see. : )
The inspiration for this actually comes from one of my neighbors. We live in a relatively rural area and have an abundance of chives growing around our yards. When she told me that you could cut the blossoms and use them to flavor vinegar or olive oil, I had to try it for myself. The result is a really flavorful concoction that replaces anything you could buy at a fancy filtering shop (Although, I do love those shops and tend to go crazy in them!). The vinegar is great as the basis for a salad dressing or chimichurri sauce, and I think would be a nice alternative to a mignonette sauce with oysters, since the onion flavor that typically comes from shallots is already built in. You can use apple cider or white vinegar to do this, but I prefer the punch of the former. The white however, will eventually turn a pretty shade of pink from the blossoms – which is reason enough for me to give it a go! I hope you will too!
As the story goes, the Negroni dates back to 1919 when Count Camillo Negroni saddled up to the bar at Caffè Casoni in Florence, Italy. There, the Count ordered an Americano – made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda – but asked for the soda to be replaced with gin to strengthen it. Thus a legendary cocktail (Or a legend and a cocktail, depending on which way you want to look at it, I suppose!) was born.
Since then, the Negroni has typically been served as an apertif meant to whet ones appetite with its bitter, herbal and sweet notes. As of late, however, the cocktail has gone mainstream and even has a whole week dedicated to it (Happening now!) thanks to the likes of Imbibe Magazine, Campari and charitable bars across the country. In that spirit, I decided to share this classic recipe as well as one with a twist.
The “sbagliato” – meaning imperfect/messed up – version originated when a bartender at the famed Bar Basso in Milan accidentally grabbed a bottle of prosecco instead of gin and served the concoction to a customer before he could catch his mistake. The customer liked the drink, and the bartender kept on serving it up, so all’s well that ends well in this case.
I would happily sip on either of these, preferably seaside, with a big sun hat, awaiting a bowl of fresh pasta (Linguine with Clam Sauce, please!). : ) Until I can make that happen I’ll be mixing these up at home. For the classic I am sticking with a London dry gin, and a dry prosecco for the sbagliato. Campari is a given in both, and where the sweet vermouth is concerned I love La Quintinye Rouge, for its beautiful bottle as much as its taste. Like Campari, this blend has a secret recipe, making these ingredients seemingly as storied as the Negroni itself!