rosemary no. 3 – blood orange negroni

rosemary negroni cocktail
I traveled to Chicago late last fall with a few of my best-est girlfriends. It’s an annual trip, filled with drinks, shopping, drinks, eating and more shopping – fun, right?

This year, the most memorable dining and drinking experience for me (aside from a-mazing tacos and margeritas at Big Star) was at the restaurant Balena. The food is just the kind I’m always hungry for; simple, rustic Italian with a fresh, seasonal slant.

Seriously, everything on the menu is something you want to eat, which makes it hard to choose. I’m glad there were enough of us that we were able to order a table full of things to share. But let me back up a little.

rosemary blood orange negroni

Before we got down to enjoying delicious food, we had a short wait at the very crowded bar, where I had a drink I’ve been craving ever since. The entire cocktail selection has a flavor profile of Italian bitters; flavored with components like Campari and Amaro.

I ordered the Rosemary no.2 – Campari, Aperol, fresh sour mix, egg white and a flaming rosemary sprig for a garnish. It was a perfect combination of sweet-sour-bitter, and the lofty egg white foam on top was better than whipped cream.

I was in the mood to try to recreate the drink last weekend and did a little research. I found this video of Debbi Peek, the Mixologist who created the cocktail program at Balena, demoing the Rosemary no.2 along with a few other drinks, which gave me a good place to start. I got to work improvising, and came up with a pretty close approximation, which I thought appropriate to name the Rosemary no.3.

I made the drink a Negroni by adding some gin and vermouth, muddled the rosemary rather than set it on fire, and used fresh blood orange and lemon juice with some sugar to replace the fresh sour mix they use at the bar.

However, my egg white foam wasn’t nearly as impressive as the one topping my original drink; I think my mixologist muscles need a bit more work. I settled on whisking the egg white until thick and foamy before adding it to the shaker. I almost pulled out my cream whipper for the job, which would make more sense if I were making a batch of drinks for friends

rosemary blood orange negroni

For more on perfecting egg white cocktail foam, I liked this tutorial by Jamie Boudreau.

Also, Not Martha has a method to achieve a seriously beautiful egg white cocktail foam on a classic Ramos gin fizz..

rosemary no. 3 – blood orange negroni

Yield: one drink

Ingredients

1 egg white

1 sprig rosemary, plus more for garnish

1 thin slice blood orange or juice orange

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon superfine sugar

Juice of 1 blood orange or juice orange

2 ounces Aperol or Campari

2 ounces gin

1 ounce sweet vermouth

Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg white in a bowl until very it turns very foamy and opaque.
  2. Muddle the rosemary, blood orange, lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker to crush and release their fragrance.
  3. Add crushed ice to the shaker along with the egg white and the rest of the ingredients; cover and shake vigorously for up to 5 minutes – or as long as your arm can take.
  4. Strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a rosemary sprig.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/rosemary-no-3-blood-orange-negroni/

fresh ginger-lemon cake

Ginger-lemon cake
January seems to be the month people flip their internal switches from out-of-control, wild bingers of rich food and drink to wholesome souls sucking down juice meals, promising to spend each and every day at the gym sweating out their toxins.

Or so that’s what some major retailers want us to think, according to the huge display I saw at Whole Foods on January 2. It was a tower more than 15 feet high, precariously constructed out of crates of lemons, bottles of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and jugs of maple syrup; all the ingredients necessary for the Master of Cleanses.

lemon ginger sugar fresh ginger

Post-holiday detox probably isn’t a bad idea, considering the amount of wine corks that pile up around me, but I’ve never submitted to a juice fast, for 2 reasons:

1. I’m afraid I might perish from hunger and then get very, very cranky; which is what tends to happen when I don’t eat in regular 3 hour intervals.

2. I associate the word “cleanse” with “not clean”.  As in dirty. You can take it from there.

My approach is a little gentler and keeps the tremors at bay. I just stick to eating all the real, fresh food I usually do and drink lots of water. The sugars and alcohol get pushed back into careful moderation.

I believe moderation includes a slice of cake, and my very favorite kind of cake is plain and simple, one that I can toast for a snack with some really good apricot or raspberry jam.

This is the most basic of pound cakes,  hit with enough ginger and lemon to freshen your inner being. Way better than drinking juice, I think.

fresh ginger lemon cake

Fresh ginger-lemon cake

Serving Size: 10 - 12 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon plus 2 sticks butter at room temperature

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

4 eggs, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 325; butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 –inch loaf pan with 1 tablespoon butter.
  2. Put ¼ cup sugar in a pie dish or shallow bowl; add the lemon zest and ginger and massage the two together with your fingers. You can also use a small wooden spoon or a fork, but you will miss the aromatic therapy.
  3. Beat the 2 sticks butter in a heavy-duty standing mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Add the ginger-lemon sugar and beat for a few seconds before adding the remaining 1 cup sugar; beat 2 minutes, until lightened and fluffy.
  4. Lower the mixer speed and drizzle in the eggs and salt; beat on medium-high speed for 2 more minutes – the mixture might look curdled but don’t worry. Slow the mixer to stir, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half the flour; mix 15 seconds before adding the remaining flour. Mix just until there’s no more flour visible.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 1 hour; insert a toothpick or skewer into the middle of the cake. If wet crumbs cling to the skewer, bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack 15 minutes before carefully loosening the sides with a knife. Turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/01/fresh-ginger-lemon-cake/

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

It’s late fall again and the beginning of my favorite time of year for cooking. There’s such a great variety of produce piled up in the markets having their “it” moment right now it’s almost overwhelming. I want to gather everything up and devour it all before it’s gone.

I’m thinking of the fruits that were recently harvested – apples and pears that haven’t been in cold storage for months and months; the last of the late season figs, and the fleeting appearance of big, beautiful jeweled-red pomegranates.

Ever since I first made this recipe for Pomegranate Relish from chef Suzanne Goin’s cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques it’s been a favorite. I made it this time around with some dried cranberries to top some creamy ricotta-topped flatbread.

This month I’m sharing a few other favorite recipes and ideas for Thanksgiving entertaining at the Wisconsin Cheese blog - go check it out.

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries; roughly chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest strips

Pinch salt

1 oval pre-baked flatbread, such as naan or pocketless pita

8 ounces Bel Gioioso Ricotta con Latte

½ cup baby arugula

Instructions

  1. Combine pomegranate seeds, cranberries, shallot, oil, vinegar, honey, parsley, orange zest and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place flatbread on a preheated grill rack or baking stone in a 450-degree oven; toast until warm and edges are lightly toasted, 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Spoon ricotta over warm flatbread and spread lightly. Arrange arugula over ricotta; cut into serving pieces. Top each slice with salsa.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/ricotta-flatbread-with-pomegranate-salsa/