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The Dish

After a thoroughly busy week at work, I decided that I should try a new drink recipe tonight. Fortunately, with a little digging, I found a fairly simple recipe for white sangria that seemed promising. I had the citrus, basil (thanks, mom’s herb garden!), white wine, and orange juice on hand, and all I needed to procure was a bit of brandy. Even luckier for me, it turns out that my mom unknowingly had a dusty bottle of brandy hidden away in the very back corner of her liquor cabinet. Tonight’s end of the week treat was practically free! Well… sort of…

SANGRIAWhat really drew me to this recipe was the white wine base (I’m slowly warming up to reds), the citrus and herbal notes, and the lack of chunky, floating fruit pieces. Sliced fruit may give sangria some lovely flavor, but I’m not a fan of spending a bunch of money and time on fruit just to soak it in perfectly good wine. Also, trying to drink my booze through fruit salad isn’t really my jam.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy adult drink for a day by the pool or an afternoon on the beach, this recipe is perfection. Just be sure to have everything chilled and plenty of ice on hand to stave off the heat!

Here’s the link to the recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/thai-basil-sangria

Earlier this week I had a kind of revelation. A little over a year ago, I happened upon a “healthier” pumpkin pancake recipe online that I figured I would be crazy about. The only catch was that it used chickpea flour instead of regular AP flour in order to boost the protein content. Chickpeas are one of my favorite foods (I’ll eat them straight out of the can any time), and I wait all year until it’s autumn and I can start savoring pumpkin-y goodness in all forms; therefore I figured this would be a new favorite.

Of course, I did a major no-no and made these pancakes for the very first time for a guest. My best friend had moved states away months before, but was back in town visiting briefly, and I promised her a fantastic pumpkin pancake feast before her flight home. To my horror, what I ended up serving her can only be described as “bean pancakes.” They were awful, but she never even hinted at the fact that they tasted as if I had literally mixed garbanzo beans and pumpkin, plopped them on the griddle, and served them to her with maple syrup. (This is one of the reasons why she is an incredible friend!) We laughed about it eventually, but I have had this sorry bag of leftover chick pea flour lingering in my pantry for over a year now. Until…

FullSizeRender-2The other night I had a serious craving for pizza, but no tomato sauce, yeast for dough, or mozzarella on hand. Rather than ordering out, I decided to try my hand at making a yeast-less pizza dough. After I found a decent-looking recipe, I figured I’d attempt to hide a bit of my useless chick pea flour in the dough by substituting it for about 1/3 of the AP flour that was called for. It was absolutely delicious!

Instead of the usual tomato-based pizza formula, I used some leftover pesto for sauce, and for toppings, I added some sliced garlic cloves, plenty of red pepper flakes, a couple of chopped kalamata olives, feta crumbles, and some grated Romano cheese. For an entirely experimental snack, this flatbread turned out surprisingly well. I can’t wait to try it again when I have real sauces and toppings available!

Do you have any cooking experiments that ended up being complete duds? What about unexpected hits?

That’s all for The Dish this week. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Ginger Breeze

Once again, summer is just around the corner. Around this time each year, as the temperatures hover in the upper 80s, I begin to regret cursing the mild and intermittent chills that we Floridians call ‘winter’. In no time at all, it will be impossible to set foot outside for even a moment without breaking into a violent sweat.

There's nothing like perfecting recipes mid-move!

There’s nothing like perfecting recipes mid-move!

Thankfully, I just completed my big move before the dog days of the season. However, it was still sweltering and unpleasant enough to prompt me to try out a new concoction meant to help ward off the oppressive summer heat. Allow me to introduce the ginger breeze. Once I’m all unpacked, I want to do nothing else but lay on the beach sipping one of these until I start my new job in two weeks.

This drink uses ginger-infused vodka and thyme simple syrup to spruce up a tried and true iced tea and lemonade beverage. Some of you may know the nonalcoholic version as an Arnold Palmer or half and half. As refreshing as the original is, however, I feel that a summery beverage definitely calls for an extra kick. Although it may sound fancy, it’s actually quite easy to make.

The original Arnold Palmer beverage is, of course, named after the renowned golfer. With 92 overall victories, 4 Masters, two PGA Player of the Year Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and many more accolades, Palmer’s legacy is far greater than a refreshing clubhouse mocktail.1 In that golf history vein, an alcoholic version of this citrusy tea drink may also be referred to as a John Daly. Another prominent golfer with a less pristine past, Daly has admitted to struggling with alcohol and gambling issues.2 The ginger breeze certainly is tasty, but hopefully it doesn’t cause anyone to start binge drinking or wearing obnoxiously loud golf pants.

I apologize for the shorter entry this week, but I am still mostly living out of boxes and without internet! If you try this recipe, I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me:

Ginger Breeze

       Ginger-infused vodka

  • ½ cup fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 1.75 liter bottle of good vodka

       Thyme rich simple syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tea bags (black tea)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice

For the ginger-infused vodka, pour entire bottle into a pitcher with a lid. Add the chopped fresh ginger and store in a cool, dark place. Allow the mixture to infuse for at least three days, and stir or shake it a few times per day. Once the vodka is done, strain out the ginger pieces.

To make the rich simple syrup, combine two cups of sugar and one cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and add the sprigs of thyme. Let the syrup and herbs infuse for 10-15 minutes. Remove the thyme and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Brew three cups of tea to your desired strength and let it cool. (I used Lipton original black tea*.) Combine the tea, lemon juice, 1½ cups of simple syrup, and two cups of vodka in a pitcher and serve chilled with a sprig of thyme or a slice of candied ginger.

*Note: I’m not really a tea person (aka a coffee addict) and actually over-steeped my tea and it was incredibly strong. To counteract the bitterness, I diluted my tea with water and used three cups of this mixture in the final recipe. Try not to steep your tea too long, but if you do, just try this simple fix.

Sources
  1. Arnold Palmer. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.arnoldpalmer.com/allarnie/index.aspx
  2. Murray, E. (2014, April 7). John Daly: I was young and dumb back in the 90s but I had a lot of fun. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/apr/07/john-daly-masters-golf-young-dumb-90s
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