Rosemary Lemon-Ginger Vodka Spritzers

A beachside refresher

Our vacation got off to a tremulous start – what with the 5.2 earthquake and all – but we managed to get everyone safely in the car and on the road to Rosemary Beach, our almost impossibly lovely destination on the Florida Panhandle.

This place is one of those scarily-proportioned planned “towns” that seem to spring up out of the swamp land as if by magic. What I mean by scary is just the absolute perfectness about it all; it’s so self-contained and pristinely designed that it just doesn’t seem real.

And, in keeping with the Mediterranean theme of the architecture, there are rosemary bushes springing up everywhere. I don’t think that rosemary would grow here as a native plant, but it does seem to thrive in this climate, because the plants seem to grow into large hedgerows.

Rosemary might just be my favorite herb and every spring I put out numerous small plants in my garden. I always hope that one or two of them will make it through the winter, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Seeing them casually growing here to the size of happy Great Danes kind of overwhelms me. I’m starting to feel like cooking something. Or maybe I’m just thirsty.

We came up with this refreshing cocktail recipe while lounging on the beach yesterday. It’s pretty good. Might be just about time for another!


Rosemary Lemon-Ginger Vodka Spritzers

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup peeled, chopped fresh ginger
2 large springs rosemary, plus more to garnish
Pinch of fine sea salt (seems weird, but it really makes the syrup pop with flavor)
Fresh lemons, halved
Ice cold vodka
Chilled sparkling water

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the ginger, rosemary and salt; remove from the heat and let steep for about 10 minutes. Strain the syrup and chill.

To make a drink, squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste into a glass filled with ice. Pour in 2 ounces vodka and about 1 tablespoon syrup. Top off with the sparkling water. Take a sip, and add more syrup if you like. Add a rosemary spring for garnish. Cheers!

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Crunchy Shrimp with Ginger Orange Sauce

photo from myrecipes.com

I know, I have been MIA for a while.

Briefly, I give the following as explanation:

1. My camera got lost.
2. I’ve been up to my eyeballs with work stuff, everyday stuff, and other stuff. Sometimes I feel that being a “good” blogger can be soooo very challenging.
3. My camera got lost.
4. We’re piling everyone into the car for a road trip to Florida tomorrow.
5. Woo-hoo!

I know it’s lame, and I apologize, but without a juicy photo to share (have you seen my camera, by the way?) I’m posting one of my contest winners from a few years ago and borrowing a picture from myrecipes.com. I won the $10,000 grand prize in Cooking Light’s Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest for creating this recipe and it continues to be a favorite with friends and family.
Enjoy, and I’ll check in again soon.

Crunchy Shrimp with Toasted Couscous
and Ginger Orange Sauce

For Ginger Orange Sauce:
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons chicken broth
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
For Couscous:
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup sliced scallions
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
For Shrimp:
20 jumbo shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 – 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups trimmed watercress

1. To prepare sauce, place orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl to cool. Add remaining sauce ingredients to the cooled orange juice and whisk until smooth.

2. Place couscous in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and cook 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring constantly. Add the broth, orange juice and salt to pan and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork. Stir in butter, scallions and almonds. Cover to keep warm.

3. Place shrimp in a large bowl; add egg whites and toss to coat. Combine panko, ginger, cilantro, salt and pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp; seal bag and shake to coat evenly with panko mixture. Heat the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add coated shrimp in one layer. Cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes; turn shrimp and cook until second side is golden brown.

4. To serve, spoon couscous onto a large platter. Arrange watercress over and around couscous; top with shrimp. Drizzle sauce over shrimp.
Serves 4. (serving size: 1 cup couscous, 5 shrimp and 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

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