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Posts tagged ‘Cocktails’

Homemade Maraschino Cherries with Fresh (In Season) Sour Cherries

Fresh Sour Cherries from the Farmer's Market

Brilliant red, plump– ready to burst with sweet and tangy juices, the sour cherry is certainly a seasonal farmer’s market treasure. Only in season a few short weeks, while these delicious fruits can be used for all kinds of cooking, I wanted to be able to preserve them for later in the year. While pies, tarts, sauces, etc. are great now, come Fall, I can’t wait to savor these homemade Maraschino cherries in an ice cold Manhattan.

Homemade Maraschino cherries are incredibly easy to make, especially when you have a cherry pitter, like the one by OXO pictured here:

A cherry pitter can also be used for olives, and if you have room in your kitchen drawers for one, it really saves a lot of time compared to using a paper clip or pin to remove the pits. Make sure to wear an apron for this task though, sour cherries have a softer, thinner skin than the regular variety, and are extremely juicy– which can easily lead to quite a mess.

Once your cherries are pitted, simply warm Maraschino liqueur to a gentle simmer, and pour them over the cherries in a clean canning jar. Maraschino is made from Marasca cherries, and crushed cherry pits which lends an almond-like flavor to the liqueur. These cherries will be far from the sticky-sweet cherries from your Shirley Temple days, and if the boozy flavor is a bit too strong for your tastes, the liquor can be mixed with a bit of water and sugar to your taste.

Use these cherries to top any ice cream sundae this summer, or come cooler weather use this recipe for the perfect Manhattan cocktail:

2.25 oz Rye Whiskey
.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes bitters

In a rocks glass filled with ice, combine all ingredients, stir, and garnish with a cherry. Or, to serve up, stir all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, strain, and serve in a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.


Upcoming Events in NYC

There are a few really interesting foodie events coming up in New York City starting tomorrow, all featuring some really amazing local talents, and plenty of cocktails, beer, and meat.

Sunday, January 22nd:

Cochon 555
Only a select number of tickets ($125) remain for this event, but it sounds like a really great way to spend your Sunday. Five chefs (Bill Telepan, Peter Hoffman (Savoy), Brad Farmerie (Public), George Mendez (Aldea), and Sean Rembold (Marlow & Sons), will each prepare a different breed of heritage pig, and the winner will go on to the national tournament. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Brewery will be serving beer, Murray’s Cheese will also be there, and according to NYMag there will be wine, oysters, and caviar as well.

Tuesday, January 25th:

Good Spirits at Le Poisson Rouge
From 5-8pm Edible Magazine will host this seasonal cocktail pairing event where they have matched “mixology-minded chefs and food artisans” with “spectacular, storied spirits.” Tickets are $40 and available here.

Hidden Treasures from the Cellar, Vintage Beers from Brooklyn Brewery at Back Forty:
Back Forty(190 Ave B at 12th st) will be hosting Brooklyn Brewery for a special pairing event featuring some of their vintage unreleased brews. The menu is available on the restaurant’s website, and tickets are available here for $103 (including tax and tip).

Wednesday, January 26th

SLOW U: Good Meat with Author Deborah Krasner at Brooklyn Kitchen

Deborah Krasner author of “Good Meat” the “The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat” will talk about the good meat movement and how it impacts the environment, our diet, and the way we cook. Tom Mylan of the Meat Hook will do a beef sashimi tasting to demonstrate the qualities of different meat cuts. Proceeds of the event will benefit Slow Food NYC, and Krasner will be signing copies of her new book which features over 200 nose-to-tail recipes.

6:30 pm at Brooklyn Kitchen, 100 Frost St, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets $25, available online.

Great Food, Good Friends, and Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car

Last Friday I had the most amazing dinner with friends that absolutely needed to be written about. It’s easy to forget the truly fantastic time that can be had with the right group of people, good food, and of course, plenty of cocktails.

My friend John had been telling me about his great finds at the Hayground School Farmer’s Market in Bridgehampton every Friday afternoon. Since I am stuck in the city until Friday night, John suggested we have a dinner party at his house, with our lovely friends Vanessa and Connor, and he would be in charge of the menu. I on the other hand would be in charge of the cocktails.

Since Connor and Vee live close to John, I stopped over their house first. Vee took me for a tour of her garden where she chopped a good helping of beautiful Rainbow Swiss Chard to bring over. She had already prepared a salad of greens she had grown (Mesclun, baby arugula, Beet Greens), topped with baby Summer Squash, Zuccini, and Shallots, all from the garden. She also made her own dressing, rich with herbs from her separate herb garden, (lots and lots of fresh tangy dill), and a buttermilk base.

We walked over to John’s one-story ranch house which happens to sit on one of the most fabulous pieces of land on Shelter Island. Right on the water, near the South Ferry, Sag Harbor across the way, and the Historic Garr Estate (used to be) to the right.

The interior of the house had a cool-modern feeling with lots of clean corners, and open space. Lots of windows, and glass doors allowed for light and a cool breeze to be brought inside. Special details like the washed wood-plank walls in the guest room, not to mention the beautiful long counter top in the kitchen, and the recently added bar, made it an absolutely perfect place to make and enjoy dinner on a summer evening.

We sat out on the porch enjoying my carefully thought out cocktail inspired from one I had recently at Death and Company. John is a gin drinker like myself, so I of course decided to do a gin cocktail. View the recipe at the end of post. Believe me, it’s worth trying.

After a cocktail (or two) John began cooking, and selecting wines (For Reds there were Rhone – France– Xavier 2007 Vacqueyras, and a Masion Bovachon 2006 Gigondas, For Whites we had a Warwick 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, and Campo Vernino 2007 Vermentino- Maremma Toscana). He had coated fresh tuna from Montauk that he purchased at the farmer’s market with some crushed black pepper, and seared it briefly in olive oil. He also prepared some shiitake and oyster mushrooms, grown in Bridgehampton, also purchased at the market. He simply cooked them in a little butter, and plenty of fresh local garlic. He also sautéed Vee’s Rainbow Chard, and arranged all of this over some Fregola (Sardinian Cous Cous) .

The power of fresh ingredients really is communicated through a meal like this. Nothing but salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, oil, and butter were added. No fancy sauces, no glazes, no expensive gourmet ingredients, just really good, really fresh food. The fresh garlic made such a difference, a good bite would really pop with the intense flavor mixed with a bit of course salt. The Sauvignon Blanc added a wonderful crispness that enhanced the flavors even more. The Tuna was unbelievable, cooked just right, and the mushrooms, THE MUSHROOMS, they were, beyond delicious, beyond perfection. They really reached the threshold of all that food can be, just these light, chewy (but not rubbery) gorgeous fungi that had such intense woody, earthy, flavor, ah! It was just simply AMAZING.

After several glasses of wine between us, and some local berries, our many conversations and discussions switched to song (and some dance). Connor and John broke out there guitars right around the small dinner table, and before jamming a bit, Vee and I requested– what is undoubtably one of the greatest songs of all time–Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. After listening to it once, and singing along to it another time, Connor picked up the tune and we were happy to hear it again. The boys played on their own for quite some time when we realized it was much too early for so much wine to have been drunk and we slowly made the walk home to Vee’s in the dark. Filled with warm summer flavors, and the red wine making its way through our veins, the level of contentedness was unparalleled. Never underestimate the joy one may find in the company of good friends, and good food.

Thanks John, Vanessa, and Connor for the great night! Let’s do it again soon!

for the cocktail:

Makes 8 (you may want to make more)

3 large cucumbers, peeled, and cut to remove seeds
Juice of 2 lemons
4 tsp homemade grenindine (pomegranate Juice, Sugar, simmered on low heat)
Fresh Basil
St. Germaine
Hendrick’s Gin

To prepare base, puree cucumbers in food processor until smooth. Strain through wire strainer, to remove any chunks. Add lemon juice, and Homemade Grenindine. Stir or shake well.

In a rocks glass, muddle a few sprigs of basil. Add Ice. Pour a 2 count (approx 2 oz’s or 1/8 of the glass) with St. Germain. Add a 4 count of Hendrick’s (or until the glass is about half full). Top the rest with the cucumber mixture, and shake. Top with sprig of basil, or lemon wedge for garnish. Should be sweet, slippery, smooth, and refreshing. It should also be very strong.

A Refreshing Summer Cocktail…

Haven’t named this one yet, but I recommend trying it out. Using some of my Farmer’s Market finds, and plenty of ice, it was a delicious and refreshing drink, that made my friends and I not focus on the fact my apartment is currently without air conditioners, and it’s been close to 90 degrees all week.

This cocktail gets it’s sweetness from the Joe’s Summer Blend Juice with is a mix of apple and lemon juices, but contains no added sugar. Absolute Boston is a blend of Black Tea and Elderflower flavors, and the basil adds another subtle hint of flavor. I’m sure it would also be very delicious with mint.

If you have any ideas for a name… please leave a comment. Thanks!

Absolute Boston Vodka
Red Jacket Orchard’s “Joe’s Summer Blend” Juice
Unsweetened Iced Tea (Preferably Black Tea)
Fresh Basil
Lemon Wedge (for garnish)


Muddle basil leaves in a tumbler glass, add ice, add two parts Absolute Boston, one part iced tea, one part juice, and shake! Garnish with lemon wedge and enjoy.

For The Picky Bloody Mary Enthusiast, Pick McClure’s Pickle’s Mix

McClure's Bloody Mary Mix

Nothing says Sunday morning like the perfectly chilled bloody mary. Spicy, tangy, smoky, salty, and the essential balance of vitamins and liquor to bite the dog, bloody marys have always been my go-to drink at brunch, far ahead the orange and pink spectrum of mimosas and bellinis.

For years I have been revising my own bloody mary recipe, and ordering them at every brunch spot I visit to try out different variations, but rarely do I rely on a mix.

This past weekend while visiting the Brooklyn Flea Market I stopped at McClure’s Pickle’s stand, and sampled their Spicy Pickles, a crunchy, sour pickle combined with the intense flavors of cayenne and habanero peppers. After asking a few questions about the Detroit and Brooklyn based company founded by a pair of brothers, a pickling jar filled with a vibrant red liquid, wrapped in McClure’s signature vintage-inspired label caught my eye.

In the jar was their Spicy Bloody Mary Mix ($8 for 32oz), a mixture of their spicy pickle brine, combined with tomato paste, fresh pressed cucumber juice, and other fresh ingredients like garlic, chopped peppers, dill seeds and black pepper swirling in the bottom.

The McClure’s started pickling in 2006, using their great grandmother’s recipe, and use as much local produce as they can while it’s in season. They hand pack every jar, hand slice every cucumber, and even their labels are created with soy and plant-based inks with wind powered electricity.

Their careful attention to their product has certainly paid off. Their bloody mary mix is not for the weak-palate, it’s flavor is extremely bold, and reaches far beyond the classic recipe. For those who enjoy a little olive juice in their bloody mary, or extra celery salt, this mix is a must try. It may be too salty for some, but the strong taste of vinegar and spices is balanced a bit with the addition of cucumber juice. I tried it with my own Cucumber Infused Vodka (Easy Recipe Below), which can also be used in other refreshing summer cocktails.

Visit the McClure’s website for information on where their products can be found, recipes, and more about this fabulous local company.

McClure's Pickles

Cucumber Infused Vodka

McClure's Bloody Mary mix and Cucumber Infused Vodka

1 organic cucumber (in season at local farmer’s markets)
1 liter vodka

Slice cucumbers and place in a large glass container, or anything suitable for liquids, and cover with vodka. Save bottle, as you can return the finished product to it after straining for easier pouring and storage. Store sealed in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Because cucumber is such a mild flavor it takes a bit longer. After this time, strain or pour infused vodka into it’s original container and enjoy. More recipes and ideas to come.