Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Hour

Here is a crisp and citrusy change of pace for you cocktail lovers out there; a Lemon Drop. It is simple to make and very easy to go down so be careful! It is good to have some simple syrup made and in the refrigerator when you go to make these. Simple syrup is just 1 part water to 1 part sugar, boiled for a minute or so until the sugar dissolves. It can then be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
I have had these in restaurants with a sugar coated rim but instead, I bashed up some Lemonhead candies into a fine mess and dipped my lemon juice coated rim of the glass into them for a lemon sugar treat!

Lemon Drop Cocktail

2 oz. citrus vodka
1 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sugar for the rim of the glass (optional)
Lemon rind twist (optional)

Put 8-10 ice cubes into a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka, syrup and lemon juice into the shaker and shake well for 50-60 shakes. Strain into prepared glass and enjoy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I posted about custard not long ago and discussed how I was looking for recipes to use all the fresh farm eggs I have on hand. Since custard uses more yolks than whites, I decided to make some little bite size meringue cookies with the leftover whites. These are so simple to make and best of all, low in cholesterol (to make up for the rich custard!!)

These can be simply spooned onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet or as I did, pipe them decoratively onto the sheet. I learned by watching Martha Stewart that the easiest way to fill a big pastry bag is to put it into a large glass and fill it up. This keeps the bag stable and there isn't filling all over the place. It's a great tip.Another good thing to do with meringue is to pipe it into the shape of a round hollowed out shell and when done, fill the shell with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream. This is an elegant, yet easy dessert too.
Meringue Cookies

4 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup superfine granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 deg F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on high speed until frothy. Add 2/3 cup of sugar and continue beating on high speed until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully, by hand, fold the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar into the meringue. With a large star-shaped pastry tip, pipe approximately 2 inch cookies onto prepared cookie sheet.Bake for 2 hours or until the meringues are dry and crisp but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for 4 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Strawberry Season

It's strawberry season in Oregon! This is always a wonderful time of year for the lucky folks who live in the Willamette Valley. This fertile ground around us produces such perfect berries of all sorts, but nothing beats the sweet, juicy, plump strawberries that are available for such a short window of time. Today jam was in the making; the easy kind. I have attempted over the years to make the stand-over-the-stove, stir forever, sterilize the jars kind of jam and I have always found it a miserable experience. I'm not a patient person and carefully filling all those little jars drives me crazy. So today I opted for a simple jam that must be consumed within 10-12 days but that shouldn't be a problem!

From start to finish, this process took me 20 minutes and the end product is just lovely. The recipe called for a quart of strawberries that are chopped via a food processor first. I chose not to get out the food processor for this task and instead, just roughly chopped the berries by hand. The recipe also said to boil for 9-10 minutes. I let mine go a total of 15 minutes as I thought it was just too runny after 10 minutes. I can't wait to put a dollop or two on some toast for breakfast tomorrow.

Refrigerator Strawberry Jam

1 quart fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Put all of the ingredients into a skillet on medium high heat. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Put into a bowl and let cool at room temperature then store in refrigerator for 10-12 days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Homemade Salad Dressing

When we are in the mood for a "big salad" dinner, I always try to make it special with the freshest produce I can find, some wonderful freshly made french bread and best of all, homemade bleu cheese salad dressing. In a matter of minutes, this dressing can be mixed together and put in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavors marry and voila, the tastiest bleu cheese dressing you've ever had.

Mind you, I have tasted a couple of bottled/jarred bleu cheese dressings that aren't bad, but they all tend to have such strong vinegar taste - probably for preservative sake. This recipe makes a rich dressing (a little goes a long way) with big chunks of cheese and the flavors of the garlic and a slight undertone of acid from the lemon. It lasts about a week in the refrigerator. Leftovers are also good as a dip for veggies such as celery and carrot sticks.

Bleu Cheese Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 medium garlic clove, minced very fine
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
3-4 oz. crumbled bleu cheese
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together until well combined. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours so flavors are well combined. Serve with green salad or as a dip for crudities.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Vacation from the Kitchen

The Husband and I took a 3 day weekend and went to Crescent City, California for a reunion with friends, so no cooking for me. We also took some side trips while we were there to visit the magnificent, awe-inspiring Redwoods. Though I have been there several times, they never fail to thrill me. This trip into the forest was particularly beautiful as the fog had rolled in and the light was very interesting. I will share with you a couple of photos, though they cannot possibly do justice to the scenary.