Happy Hour: Cherry Ginger

Tonight my darlings is something nice and quiet for us.  After last week both my babydoll and I had plenty of treats.  I personally also had enough alcohol and will be going non-alcoholic until New Year’s eve (well minus the glass of Christmas Eggnog). This week, we are setting down with something that always feels special.  I know I have mentioned this before but we often pick up a bottle of Sour Cherry Syrup

While it is a familiar ingredient, I wanted to mention it again as you prepare for your own personal holiday gatherings.  The Sour Cherry is a big hit in our house because it can be used as a mixer for a wide variety of drinks, some alcoholic some not.  It is one of those mixers that when hosting a gathering it is great to have on hand.

When I want a nonalcoholic drink that looks spectacular, I add the syrup to Ginger ale. To make it alcoholic I will mix it with a spirit called the King’s Ginger. It also works well with vodka. I am partial to the citrus based vodkas with it as the tang of citrus works really well with it. Pairing it with Mandarin Absolute is quite a refreshing treat. It works well with gin because the bright botanicals really help lift the heavy sweetness of the syrup.

As I said, the Sour Cherry is a big hit at our house, but if there is one easy hosting tip I can give you for the creating drinks for a wide array of people, it is look into a good quality fruit based syrup. They tend to be able to blend with with everything from plain seltzer water to spirits. They can make a soft drink feel like an indulgent treat and you can make some super easy cocktails with them without having to have a huge array of mixers on hand.

This drink here is a teaspoon of sour cherry syrup in the bottom of the glass topped with ginger ale. The syrup will eventually break up into the ginger ale and you will lose the variegated color, but when first poured it looks stunning. While it will look pretty cool in just about any glass I have a weakness for pretty glassware and couldn’t resist. This is a stemless champagne glass (Rachel Zoe Collection). I picked up a set of them at TJ Maxx for not a lot of money and everyone I have poured a drink into with them, whether sparkling water with lemon or a multi ingredient cocktail, enjoys them.

Tonight is a quiet night for me and my baby, but even with my feet clad in fuzzy socks and propped up on a footstool, I will still enjoy my Friday night treat. In fact I think I’ll enjoy it more after spending so much time rushing around last week. I love getting together with friends, but sometimes, it’s nice to just stay home.

TWE Generic Christmas 2020

Happy Hour: Salami and Sour Cherries

Once again the week has ended and the office clothes have been exchanged for comfortable pajama pants and comfortably worn t-shirts.  And today, I had no real control over our happy hour.  It was all my babydoll’s doing. 

He has been brewing again as he wanted to get several batches put up before the summer sun started affecting his brewing work space.  So he brewed more in one sitting than usual.  As a result he needed more bottles.  Usually he orders his brewing supplies on-line, but the need for bottles was kind of immediate, so he went in search of a homebrew supply locale.  He found one and secured his bottles.  Tonight he will be a bottling fiend and I am banished from the kitchen while he does so.

However when he found the homebrew store he found out there is an Eastern European Deli in the same shopping complex. 

He went a little bananas.

And so tonight for Happy Hour we are having a Hungarian Salami sliced into thin rounds and accompanied by a pickles from the same company and some pepperoncini’s.  It is a really good mix.  The salami is spiced but not hotly spiced and it has a good fat content for the sausage.  This salty fatty spicy meat pairs really well with the slightly sweet and sour pickled flavor of the Hungarian gherkins.  They have a fairly mild flavor.  Personally I prefer them room temperature rather than fridge cold so that more of the flavor comes out of them.  They also seem to be less astringent when they are room temperature. The Pepperoncini’s are  both astringent and provide the element of heat to the offerings.  They have a slight sweetness too which matches well with the pickles.

 They are not an overpoweringly hot pepper.  They are however full of pickling liquid.  It is why we have them in a bowl instead of laid out neatly on a plate.  When we eat them, we pull out the stem.  I like the heat so I tend to leave the seeds.  You can take them out if you want them milder.  But either way you have to squeeze them over the bowl so you don’t dripple and squirt the peppers all over everything.  It always amazes me how much liquid they can gather inside them.

As for drinks, to be honest I wasn’t feeling like alcohol tonight.  Luckily my baby picked up a bottle of Sour Cherry Syrup while at the deli.  The sourness helps balance the sickly sweet almost cough syrup like taste that regular cherry syrup can have. 

I added a measure to a glass of carbonated water (courtesy of my Soda Stream) and then added just a drop of lemon juice to the mix.  There you have a super simple non-alcoholic beverage to sip along side the platter, or just sitting on the back porch as the heat of the day fades.  It is easy enough to make this alcoholic if you want, I would suggest sticking to your clear liquors though.  Citrus flavored vodkas are especially nice with this. 

The only issue is that it is a big bottle of Sour Cherry Syrup and once opened it needs to be refrigerated. I suspect that because it is kind of taking up prime real estate in the fridge we will be using it often in the next few weeks.  I will have some of my non-alcoholic versions throughout the week and possibly be using it in some of my upcoming cocktail recipes. 

But for now it is a very low key home happy hour and a non- alcoholic beverage to go with it as my baby and I sit back and unwind from the week.  I hope whatever you do to unwind lets you relax and let all the stress of the work week go.  Because you deserve it.

SodaStream USA, inc

Happy Hour: Prophecy Rose 2018 and Sweet and Spicy Shrimp

I’ll be honest, I am much more of a red wine person than a rose. For me Rose is a hot weather wine, served very chilled.  And in hot weather I am much more likely to go for a Gin and Tonic than I am a Rose.  On occasion I do like a good rose and we have been looking for a decent, inexpensive summer wine.

I was aiming for a somewhat more expensive Chardonnay to try, however I saw the label and thought it looked interesting so I thought I’d give this a go. 

I am a sucker for label art. I really do like the design work that has gone into most of them.  And I am not limited in scope either.  I like the old fashioned and classy to the wacky and sassy labels.  I think that many of them have just fantastic labels. 

I have bought many a bottle for art’s sake.

Sometimes this has led me to great finds, sometimes the label is the only good thing about the bottle.

This Prophecy Rose was neither.  It is not a stellar wine I would seek out and it is not a wine I would avoid.  For me it falls very middle of the road as far as Rose’s go.  It is not very acidic and it has hints of fruitiness.  I would say the fruit leans more towards strawberry and kiwi notes than anything else. It has that sweet with a slightly tart back note to it that I would associate more with kiwi than strawberry. It is a very drinkable wine as well as an affordable one.  It is priced at $14 which I would say is a fair value. 

It isn’t a terribly memorable wine, but I think it would go well on a hot summer evening when grilling shrimp.  I would give the shrimp a spicy glaze and finish the shrimp skewers off with a hit of lime before serving as I think this wine really does call out to be served with something like that.  It is a wine that would mingle well with smoke and heat and not be offended by the lime citrus.  The wine isn’t overly sweet but what sweetness it has would pair well with the sweetness that you get in shrimp. 

Tonight’s shrimp alas are not being grilled in the great outdoors.  I am merely brushing them with the bottled sweet chili sauce you can get at almost any grocery store and tossing them in the wok until they are cooked, then onto the plate they go with a squeeze of lime just before eating.  It is fewer recipes than a simple nibble.  But it does go really well with the wine.


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Happy Hour: Hummus and Truly Hard Seltzer

Hummus served with cucumber slices

Welcome to the end of the week my darlings. We finally made it. Shuck those work clothes, put on something comfy and prop your feet up.

Today I was feeling the need for something light and summery. Both in food and drink. So I went with a homemade hummus and cucumber slices and a Strawberry lemonade Hard Seltzer from Truly Hard Seltzer.

Now I have a confession. This was my first hard seltzer. I know the shockwaves are felt around the world. The truth is that when I look for alcoholic drinks I go for wine, gin or tequila. It never even occurs to me to look at the hard seltzer. There was something about the strawberry lemonade that just appealed to me so I decided to try it.

According to the label it has 5% alcohol by volume, 100 calories, 1 g of sugar and 3 g of carbs. As almost every muscle in my body is sore from the new workout regime this week, low cal, and low sugar sounded kind of ideal. And I do love strawberry lemonade. I make big pitchers of the non alcoholic variety to keep in my fridge all summer long. while I make the lemonade in the regular way, I leave out the sugar and then make a strawberry simple syrup to sweeten it. Using the simple syrup gets the pulp and seeds out while keeping the flavor and sweetness. You can always choose to add alcohol later if you want but in a tall glass filled with ice it is fabulous on it;s own.

But how did this Truly hard seltzer version taste?

Not bad. It is like a flavored water, the scent being stronger than the taste. In fact if there was no alcohol in it I would consider it a really nicely flavored seltzer water. There is however alcohol in it. Which you need to remember and not drink it like water. For me, putting it in the nice glass helped because I sipped it. I tend to drink liquids fast when i drink them in the can. (sodas, water, V8, if I drink from the can I just drink faster so glasses slow me down). I think it would be a really bad idea to drink this fast.

I don’t know how many of you are new to Hard seltzer, but I recommend sipping. It is easy to forget it isn’t flavored water.

The one issue I had with this is that it made my tongue feel dry. I know that sounds a little strange, but it is true. My tongue could feel the alcohol more than taste it and so my tongue felt dry. It wasn’t a bad thing, just a strange one that I wasn’t expecting.

Luckily, I had something on hand to make me feel a little less dry. And that was tonight’s happy hour snack, homemade hummus served with freshly sliced cucumbers. It is one of the easiest things to make. The trick is to make it the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight so the flavors can mellow. I made mine a little more lemon forward because I like the lemon flavor with the cucumber slices. If serving with crackers I tend to take out a Tablespoon of the lemon juice. When you first make this you will be tempted to try it right away and then you might feel like adjusting the seasoning. Let it sit overnight and then the next day adjust if you feel it needs more salt. To make this, you will need a food processor. if you have one, it is super easy. Ready?

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 and a half Tablespoons tahini

2 garlic cloves peeled

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper.

  • Put everything into the food processor.
  • blend until a smooth paste forms
  • Spoon into a bowl.
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate over night
  • taste and adjust seasonings and serve with cucumber slices or pita chips.

Seriously, that’s it. It is light and summery. The lemon pairs well with the cucumber slices and with the Strawberry Lemonade Hard Seltzer chosen as tonight’s beverage. My favorite thing about this dip is that i almost always have all of the ingredients in the pantry and fridge so i can easily make this in a hurry without adding a lot to the grocery list. It also works as a great base. You can play around with spices to give it some heat. You can blend roasted red peppers into it. It is excellent on it’s own but it is also easy to play around with. I actually like to use it in sandwiches actually. I’ll spread a layer on my bread and then layer cucumbers radish slices and mung beans on it for an excellent lunch time treat. the veggies give you a nice crisp bite to the sandwich. Sometimes I’ll even quick pickle the cucumbers. I’ll put the cucumber slices in a bowl with a Tablespoon of grated ginger, and then add equal parts mirin and rice wine vinegar. shake them up a bit so the slices are covered. leave them in the fridge for half an hour and then add them to your sandwich. It is fabulously fresh and delicious. It will probably also be tomorrow’s sandwich at my house, providing any of the hummus lasts through the evening. No matter how big a bach I make, it always disappears fast.



Happy Hour: Blanketed Pigs and Cold Martinis

Some days the home happy hour is all about compromise.  My baby doll wasn’t feeling like anything fancy and inexplicably had a craving for pigs in a  blanket.  He opened a beer and I made a dirty martini. 

I know a dirty martini is always my fall back when I am not trying a new recipe.  While everyone has their own particular version my mix is:

One part Vermouth (Noily Pratt if possible, I have yet to find anything else that is a suitable replacement)

Two parts gin (my current preference is Plymouth Gin)

Dash of olive juice

A quick stir and add a large ice cube to chill it down. (I tend to keep my gin in the freezer)

Pour and serve with an olive.

It has the alcohol zing, the herbaceous notes from the gin, smoothed out by the vermouth, tempered with cold and perked up with the sharp brine of olive. What more could one ask for?

The glass I use is a small martini glass, circa 1950s I believe.  I use it one, because while I like my Friday Night cocktail I don’t need buckets of gin and two because of temperature.  I generally find that if I use one of the really large martini glasses the martini is warm by the time I get half way through it.  With the smaller glass I can not only have a second if it has been a rather long week without going over the top, but because it is a smaller glass I can have the perfect temperature of drink all the way from the first wipe to the last. 

While size often matters, sometimes bigger isn’t necessarily better and that can easily be seen in the martini.

I would love to get some new martini glasses with a bit of a more modern design as the etched fruit isn’t exactly my taste, but it is always the size that stops me. I just can’t find a modern martini glass that is the appropriate size.  I mentioned this to a friend and she suggested instead of going newer, I go older and try for a 1920s set.  The size would be right and I tend to favor the simple lines and geometrics.  Perhaps I will start looking into those.

Surprisingly the martini went well with the pigs in a blanket. The recipe is quite simple. 

1 sheet of Puff pastry

Grated cheddar cheese

Your favorite hot dogs or sausages

Your measurements will depend on how many little piggies you want. I have to say this is one of those times though that I again love my Hamilton Beach Food Processor.  It has a grating attachment so I stick the cheese in the freezer for about five minutes to firm it up and then send it through the grating attachment.  Voila! Grated cheese in an instant.

The assembly is just as simple as the listed ingredients.

Cut the puff pastry into a size that is the length of your hot dog and can wrap around it about one and a half times.

Lay out the squares of pastry and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.  Place the hot dog on the pastry and roll it up.

Flatten the seams so it doesn’t come undone.

Cut the pastry wrapped hot dog into inch long segments and transfer to a baking sheet.  I like to line my sheet with parchment paper so any cheese spillage is contained.

Bake at 350 until golden brown (10 to 15 minutes). Serve hot with dipping sauce if desired. 

We serve it with spicy mustard or barbeque sauce. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle mustard powder on the cheese for an extra tang and my baby doll likes adding in a bit of our home grown and roasted paprika.  Either way the fatty richness really compliments the sharpness of the martini as well as the hops notes in my baby doll’s beer.  It may sound like a strange combination, but it really does work.

So that is our happy hour this week.  It’s nice that allergies have been tamed and health wise all is well.  This week the world went a little wonky and it is nice to sit down with my baby doll, my feet clad in fuzzy socks sipping a martini and eating a few homemade delectable treats.  Tonight, we have the Vincent Price version of The Wax Museum for our viewing pleasure and maple glazed salmon, rice and asparagus for dinner following our happy hour relaxation.  I think it is going to be a pretty good night.


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