Rosé Sangria

Some of my favorite summer foods are fruits – and the sweet and juicy berries and peaches that I’ve been finding in Virginia are almost enough to make me not miss Indian mangoes. But a few weeks ago, I finally gave in and decided to buy some mangoes, knowing full well that it would not measure up to the mangoes I was used to. And while that was true, it did help me fulfill my craving, and I barely missed their usual lack of juiciness when mixed in with some sangria. And speaking of favorites, sangria is one of my favorite summer drinks – it’s not only delicious, but also incredibly easy to throw together. When making sangria, do not bother using fancy wine – any mediocre bottle of wine will do. The only trick is to let the fruits rest in the wine for at least a few hours so that the wine can acquire some of the sweetness and acidity from the fruits. I use a combination of blackberries, raspberries and mangoes in this recipe, but feel free to substitute peaches, blueberries and nectarines.

For this sangria, I decided to go with some rosé wine. I am usually not a huge fan of rosé – they can sometimes be a little too dry for me and I usually prefer sweeter and floral whites. But lately, in tasting several wines for our wedding, I’m hooked to the 2014 Norton Rosé from Keswick Vineyards and so I feel underwhelmed by most other rosés. And fortunately, we always have the option to make sangria with underwhelming wines!

Rosé Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dry rosé wine
  • 1/3 cup triple sec
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (if desired)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 large mango, diced into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups seltzer water (I used peach-flavored seltzer water)

Directions

  1. Pour the Rosé into a pitcher. Stir in the triple sec and lemon juice.  Add the fruits.
  2. Chill for a few hours (preferably at least 3-4 hours). Taste, and add sugar if desired.
  3. Right before serving, add the seltzer water to the pitcher, then pour the sangria into glasses.
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Aperol Spritz

A semester of living in Charlottesville is complete and I am looking forward to slowing down from dissertation mode and sitting back and relaxing a bit. I am also thankful to Nora Benedict for introducing me to Aperol, an Italian orange-red liquor often used as an aperitif – it is slightly bitter and has a citrusy flavor.

Though this Aperol Spritz (a spritz is technically a wine-based cocktail made with bitter liquor and a splash of soda) is more of a summer drink, the bright color is perfect for perking up a chilly fall or winter evening as well. It also includes my favorite, Prosecco, which gives it a nice kick of acidity. And for those who prefer more traditional holiday drinks, check out this Eggnog!

Aperol Spritz

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces Prosecco
  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • Orange slice
  • Ice cubes

Directions

  • Fill a glass with ice cubes
  • Add Prosecco, followed by Aperol and club soda. Stir.
  • Serve garnished with an orange slice.

Strawberry Basil Margarita

Having just moved to Virginia a while back, I’m lucky enough to still be experiencing some lovely summer weather instead of getting ready for a chilly fall and winter like in the north-east. The farmer’s markets are still selling the last of the summer produce with some plump, bright, juicy berries, yellow peaches, and some large and sweet tomatoes. So for my housewarming party, I decided to use some of my favorite summer ingredients in our drinks – strawberry and basil. This is a lovely make-ahead drink (it definitely needs to be made-ahead to let the drink soak up the flavors), and is really quick to throw together as well. The sweetness of the strawberries really complements the citric notes in triple sec and the limeade, and the basil adds a lovely aroma. You can throw in a little less or more water depending on your taste.

Strawberry Basil Margarita

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 3/4 can (12 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate
  • 10 – 12 strawberries
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups tequila
  • 1/2 cup triple sec

Directions

  1. Empty the limeade concentrate into a pitcher. Add 3 and 1/2 cups of water along with the tequila and triple sec in the pitcher.
  2. Hull the strawberries, slice lengthwise, and add to the pitcher. Crumple the basil a little in your hands (this will help the basil flavor release into the drink) and add it to the pitcher, too. Place the pitcher in the and refrigerate it for at least four hours.
  3. When you remove the pitcher from the fridge, your margaritas will be a lovely pale pink color.

Enjoy!

To 3 Years of Blogging – French Martini

As I was browsing one of my favorite food blogs, The Kitchn, today, I came across this post 3 Things Cooking Has Taught Me. Reading through it, I just realized this blog just turned 3 years old today, and I am surprised and thankful that it has survived three years of graduate school! I started taking an interest in cooking and especially, baking, at a time when I was not particularly happy with my life. Over time, it really has become my favorite activity to destress, both in cooking with someone, and particularly so by myself. The smell of warm bread in the oven filling your kitchen, the berries with their sweet and tart flavors infusing pies and breads, the melted chocolate chips that ooze out of a warm cookie fresh from the oven, the taste of fresh basil with some great, ripe summer tomatoes in focaccia – these are just some of the few sensations that I have grown to love as I have continued baking over the last few years. But enough about baking, to celebrate the three year birthday of the blog, below is one of my favorite drinks – a french martini. With the fresh and cool pineapple juice combining with the taste and smell of raspberry liquer, this is perfect for both a quiet night or an evening of entertaining.

french martini_opt

 

Ingredients

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz chambord (raspberry liquer)
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Place all 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously
  2. Strain the mixture into a martini glass and serve

Eggnog

My favorite thing about making food resolutions is that those are actually things that I end up completing/accomplishing (as opposed to any ahem, fitness-related resolutions). My last year’s food resolutions was learning how to make a souffle and a creme brulee and my new year’s food resolution recipes include learning how to flambé (yay bananas foster!), how to make paella (but without the shrimp because I really dislike shrimp), and finally, making my own infused liquors. I also got a tart pan over Christmas, so I guess I’ll be making more tarts this year as well – the one tart I’ve been dying to try out is a lemon curd tart. Of course I’d love to have really amazing chopping skills as well, but I don’t really envision myself spending hours perfecting those! What are some of your food /cooking/baking resolutions for this year?

In the meanwhile, here’s a recipe for eggnog in case you still have a little bit of holiday spirit left in you, or are procrastinating on your fitness-related resolutions, haha. This recipe is on the stronger side, so if you want to dilute the strong flavor, I’d recommend putting in a little less of the bourbon or a little more of the cream and milk. We made it over Christmas and it makes 8-10 servings. Definitely try this out because it takes 5-7 minutes to whip this up and it tastes much, much better than the store-bought version.

eggnog

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cream
  • 1 pint whole milk (if you only have low-fat milk, then use a little bit more of the cream)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 oz rum
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • grated nutmeg

Directions

  • Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
  • Beat the yolks separately and then mix 1/2 cup sugar into them.
  • Beat the whites separately and mix 1/4 cup sugar into this whipped whites. The whites should be whipped until they achieve soft to medium peaks. (What does it mean for egg whites to have soft peaks?)
  • Mix the whites mixture and the yolks mixture together.
  • Stir in the other ingredients except for the nutmeg.
  • Sprinkle the nutmeg on the top and serve cold.

Eggnog

Finally, I read one resolution in Huffington Post that is absolutely fitting for me – Cook at least one recipe from all the cookbooks we “collect” and never use. Seems like a great resolution for me, especially after collecting books from Anne Burrell, Ina Garten and Aaron Sanchez (yes, I’m a huge Food Network Fan!). What’s the point of collecting cookbooks by such great chefs if you never try their recipes? Happy new year, everyone!