My Mother’s Day surprise included a new Ninja Blender today, so to break it in, I made my favorite smoothie.
This blender is amazing. We also made a smoothie with extra ice and it came out like gelato. The blades are so powerful that it can pulverize the ice without melting it, and basically make ice cream (or gelato, or sorbet) in one minute.
I also recently discovered White Cranberry-Peach juice, which is to-die-for. I can’t wait to try it with cocktails once summer gets underway. This sweet juice makes any additional sweetener totally unnecessary for the smoothie. You might also like my favorite peach smoothie.
At our house, we go through phases where we make smoothies every morning. When bananas start to turn brown, we throw them in the freezer, so we can use them in a smoothie later. We have an entire shelf in the freezer devoted to frozen fruit. There are the bananas we’ve rescued, bags of frozen fruit, and even bags of frozen spinach. There are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and… peaches.
Of all of the smoothies we make, this one is my favorite.
Peach Smoothie Serves One
1/2 container peach yogurt
1/2 10 oz bag of frozen peaches
1/2 cup orange juice
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
It was a rare sunny day yesterday in San Francisco and upstairs at Waterbar on the Embarcadero, several members of the food media and food blogging world gathered to enjoy an event hosted by the Cranberry Marketing Committee. Waterbar’s Executive Chef, Parke Ulrich, prepared an amazing array of cranberry-themed savory bites (recipes to come) and Waterbar’s Executive Pastry Chef, Emily Luchetti presented a beautiful assortment of cranberry sweets. But the highlight of the afternoon (and there were many, to be sure), may have been the drinks prepared by Waterbar mixologist, Jennifer Philpot. She was generous enough to provide the recipe for the lovely drink pictured above. Called The Velvet Rope, it is a tangy, sophisticated drink that complemented perfectly the Cranberry Cheesecake with Oatmeal Streusel Crust we were enjoying with it. Crisp and refreshing, it would serve equally well at brunch, an afternoon picnic, or an evening on the terrace.
The Velvet Rope Recipe courtesy of Jennifer Philpot, bartender at Waterbar
2 ounces Vodka
1 1/2 ounces 100% Cranberry Juice
1 ounce Orange juice (StreamingGourmet’s note: freshly squeeze if possible)
1 ounce Vanilla infused syrup (see below)
3 dashes Peach bitters
Top with a splash of Prosecco
Shake all ingredients but the Prosecco with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Serve with a splash of Prosecco on top. Garnish with a long orange twist or two skewered fresh cranberries.
How to make Vanilla-Infused Syrup
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
Heat the water in a medium saucepan over high heat until just boiling. Add sugar while stirring to dissolve completely and simmering, but not boiling rapidly. Reduce heat. Split vanilla bean down the middle to expose soft, flavorful interior. Add bean to the saucepan and allow to simmer very gently for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove bean and transfer liquid to a glass container. It should keep for a couple of months.
Today is the first in a series of Maryland (my homestate) oriented posts. Maryland summers are full of just-picked corn on the cob, Blue crab feasts, Thrasher’s French Fries, and pitchers of iced tea. My mother used to make 2 quarts of iced tea with a few Lipton’s tea bags, a cup of sugar, and a couple of lemons. She would let the tea and lemons steep for a really long time. Like most of the afternoon. It was awesome and there was never enough. I didn’t think I would taste tea that good again, but two things happened. I moved to California and my tastes changed a bit (a whole cup of white sugar? Ouch.) and my friend Paige brought over a batch of her iced tea. It’s iced tea heaven all over again.
There are three secrets that comprise the genius of this tea.
1) The black & Green combo
2)The honey and
3)The Meyer lemons.
In Marin County, where Paige and I live, it’s as if Meyer Lemons grow on trees. Well, not as if; they do. Lots of them. People are often trying to unload them because there are so many. We are so lucky. Eureka lemons are the bright yellow lemons you usually find in the grocery store. Meyer lemons are darker on the outside and are nearly orange on the inside. In fact, Meyer lemons aren’t truly lemons. They are believed to be a cross between lemons and either oranges or mandarins. They are less acidic than Eureka lemons and have earthy, herbal undertones. They are a great match for the Green Tea in this mixture. If you can’t find Meyer lemons (since they are usually only available in specialty stores from later winter to early Spring), you can substitute a mixture of two regular lemons and one small orange.
Meyer Lemon Black & Green Iced Tea Makes 2 quarts
4 Black Tea Bags (I like Earl Grey)
4 Green Tea Bags
1/4 cup honey or more to taste
2-3 Meyer Lemons, sliced thinly and seeded
Mint springs to garnish
For the Green Tea
Heat one quart of water to boiling in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Green Tea is best steeped at about 180˚F and remember, water boils at 212˚F. Add 4 Green Tea bags to the pot and allow it to steep for 1-3 minutes. Remove tea bags and allow Green Tea to continue to cool.
For the Black Tea
Heat one quart of water to boiling in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 4 black teabags to the saucepan and allow it to steep for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and allow black to continue to cool.
While both teas are still a bit warm, pour them into a glass pitcher. Add honey and stir to dissolve and mix. Add half of the lemon slices, reserving the other lemon slices for garnish.
Fill glasses with ice, add the tea and garnish with lemon slices and mint sprigs (optional).
Day 9 of 14 days of apple and nothing gets me in the mood for a holiday party more than the smell of hot mulled cider brewing on the stove. It’s super easy to make and can also be made in a crock-pot, for that intoxicating, all-day smell. Yum. Purchase high quality apple cider if you can find it. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make this from scratch, Martinelli’s has cider spices in a tea bag that you can purchase. I won’t tell.
Hot Mulled Cider
1 half-gallon of apple cider
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole allspice berries
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 of 1 orange (with skin)
4 whole cloves
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
Cinnamon sticks for garnish
1. Insert whole cloves into the skin of the orange. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, for at least 10 minutes. If you have time, allow to simmer at the lowest possible setting for an hour or more (making sure that the liquid is not evaporating very much). It will make your house smell divine.
2. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve before serving. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Day 5 of 14 Days of Apple brings us to the latte. Mmmm. The Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte was such a success last month, I thought I’d try to replicate the fall fun with apple. While you could just buy various syrups to accomplish the result below, I like to make things from scratch, so I’ve created an apple syrup here with ingredients you probably have on hand. Simply make the syrup, steam some milk and add it all to espresso.
I am no espresso expert, but I recently discovered an espresso maker while cleaning out a basement closet, so I’ve started experimenting. I can’t get the milk steamer to work, though, so for this recipe, I make warmed, frothed milk on the stove top. If anyone has any advice, please pass it along. Basically, when I try to work the steamer, there is a clicking noise instead of steam. My other great discovery since finding the machine were these Illy espresso “pods” that take the guess work out of making the perfect cup of espresso. Just pop the pod in and press “go.” They’re available at Amazon:
Apple Pie Spiced Latte Makes 1 latte
1 cup apple juice
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup whole milk
1 shot of espresso
1-2 Tbsp whipped cream (optional)
1. In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring the apple juice to a boil and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring back to a boil and allow to reduce further and thicken. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to blend. When syrup clings to the back of a spoon and there are about 2 Tbsp of liquid left, remove from heat and pour into a Pyrex measuring cup to cool. Remember, boiling sugar is extremely hot, so be careful. I put my syrup into the freezer to cool faster, but that may not be necessary. Just bring it to room temperature at your own pace.
2. Now, make the espresso in an espresso machine (or strong coffee with a French press would be good too). If you’re lucky enough to have an espresso machine as well as a milk steamer, you can use that to steam the milk, but I can’t get my milk steamer to work, so here’s how I do it: Heat the milk very gently in a medium saucepan. When it is getting warm, add the cooled syrup (both tablespoons of it), and whisk it in rapidly. While you are whisking, you’ll be adding enough air to the milk mixture to make it frothy. Once everything is warm, mixed and frothy, pour it over the espresso in a tall cup and enjoy. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle on a bit more cinnamon for that special touch.
Day 7 of 31 days of pumpkin brings us into the drinks category. I have a confession. Before today, I had never had a latte. But people go nuts over the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I knew that I would be including a pumpkin latte recipe in my 31 days of pumpkin extravaganza. I’m so glad I did. This drink was dreamy and I plan to make it again and again and again.
There are other Pumpkin Spice lattes out there on the internet, like the one from TheKitchn, but my version jacks up the pumpkin content and is generous with the sugar too. Also, technically, one might not be able to call the drink I’ve made a latte, because in place of espresso, I’ve used a generous shot of strongly brewed, French pressed coffee. The flavor is so perfectly to my liking that I hesitate to monkey with it at all.
Inspired by the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, I make it at home.
Recipe type: Drink
2 cups whole milk
5 Tbsp canned pure pumpkin
5 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 shot of strong coffee
½ cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
Start boiling water to make the French press coffee. Meanwhile, gently heat the milk in a small saucepan. Be careful not to scald the milk or bring it to a boil. Whisk in pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Stir in sugar and blend until dissolved. Add spices and blend. Add vanilla and stir. Keep milk on the heat as long as it is not starting to boil or scald.
Make the coffee in the French press, stronger than usual.
Use a hand-held egg beater (or an immersion blender if you have one) to froth up the warm milk mixture.
Use a whisk, or an egg beater, or a hand held mixer to whip the cream.
Pour about ¼ cup of coffee into a tall mug. Pour the milk mixture on top until the cup is nearly full. Add a large dollop of whipped cream and grate a little bit of nutmeg on top. This recipe makes two tall cups.