Salty Lime Soda from Summer Cocktails

Salty Lime Soda from Summer Cocktails

Summer is just around the corner and I can’t wait for all the delicious summer produce. I’m mostly looking forward to peaches, apricots, and corn. When summer arrives, I will have many summer cocktail recipes to try from the new book Summer Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sacasa. The book also has cocktail bites recipes like scallop ceviche, pickled shrimp, and peanut masala.

I love cocktails, but I always stick to some basic ones: bourbon side cars, gin & tonics, & anything with sparkling wine. I’m ready to explore new cocktails with new flavors. The recipe below, for Salty Lime Soda is perfect  for right now. It’s salty and smoky, and addicting. You can find curry and kafir lime leaves at ethnic grocery stores, sometimes they are in the frozen goods section in little plastic bags. I actually used dry curry leaves because I had some in the pantry. However, I do have a small kafir lime tree and I used fresh leaves from my tree. This was a bit too salty for my taste, and I used half the amount of salt called for in the recipe for my second batch which was just perfect.

I hope you try it and let me know what you think. What are some of your favorite summer cocktails?

Ingredients:

  • 6 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 kafir lime leaves, cut into thin ribbons
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces white rum (I used my favorite dark rum instead)
  • ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup club soda, chilled

Toast curry leaves in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and dry, shaking pan often, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a shaker. Add lime leaves, sugar, and salt and muddle. Add lime juice, rum, and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled glass and top with club soda. Serve.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of Summer Cocktails for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

Cherry Blossoms in DC

This past weekend was the peak blooming time for yoshino cherry blossoms in DC’s Tidal Basin. My friend Annie was in town, and we spent Saturday morning walking around the tidal basin and enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms. The weather was gorgeous: sunny and breezy.

Here are some photos from the cherry blossoms. If you haven’t been to DC during cherry blossom time, you definitely should add it to your bucket list.

Cherry Blossoms in the Tidal Basin and the Washington  monument

Cherry Blossoms in the Tidal Basin and the Washington monument

white cherry blossoms

pink cherry blossoms

Iced Triple Lemon Biscotti from Ciao Biscotti

Iced Triple Lemon Biscotti from Ciao Biscotti

Biscotti are versatile and fun cookies. Even though they are designed for dunking, they are still good on their own. I always include one type of biscotti in the Christmas cookie boxes that I make every year for friends and family. Biscotti travel well, and they remain fresh and crisp for at long time.

I was so happy when I found out that Domenica Marchetti was writing a book that focused solely on biscotti. There are recipes for classic flavors of biscotti, chocolate and spice, fruit, fantasy flavors, and savory flavors. There is even a chapter with other types of cookies such as nutella sandwich cookies and pistachio amaretti, among others.

The book is full of gorgeous photographs and fun designs. I’m in love with the recipes, and with the fun and colorful design . I want to meet the book’s designer and give her a hug. When you look at the pages, you feel uplifted, energized, and ready to make biscotti!

If you are not a baker, don’t feel intimidated. Domenica’s words will guide you step by step, until you are holding aromatic and crisp biscotti in your hands.

The first recipe that jumped out at me was this iced triple lemon biscotti. I’m not a big fan of chocolate, and I almost always prefer citrus flavored desserts over any other flavors. I’ve made these a few times, and they are always a huge hit. I’m completely obsessed with these. Okay, I do confess I’ve also made the Browned Butter and Toblerone biscotti, which are equally delicious.

Iced Triple Lemon Biscotti

Just a few recommendations: swap out the almonds for pistachios. I just love pistachios and lemon together. Also, make sure you use a good brand of lemon extract. You don’t want to use something that is cheaper of lesser quality that tastes synthetic.

Iced Triple Lemon Biscotti from Ciao Biscotti, (Copyright 2015), by Domenica Marchetti

Makes 24 to 26 biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • finely grated zest of 2 organic lemons plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed juice
  • 1 cup sliced toasted almonds (I substituted toasted pistachios)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • a few drops of half and half or milk as needed

Procedure:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Lightly coat an 11 by 17 inch rimmed baking sheet with the oil.
  2. Combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the lemon zest and almonds and mix briefly on low to combine. Add the butter in pieces and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks like damp sand. Pour in the eggs, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of the lemon extract and mix on medium speed until a soft, slightly sticky dough has formed.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a disk. Divide it in half. Lightly moisten your hands with water and gently roll one portion of dough into a rough oval. Place it lengthwise on one half of the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to stretch and pat the dough into a log about 2 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Shape the second piece of dough in the same way, moistening your hands as necessary. Press down on the logs to flatten them out a bit and make the tops even.
  4. Bake the logs for 25 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and just set—they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under each log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325F.
  5. Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut them on the diagonal into 3/4 inch thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut-side up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary) and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes, until they are crisp. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely.
  6. Place the rack over a rimmed baking sheet or a sheet of wax paper. Arrange the slices upright on the rack. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar with the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract until the icing is smooth and opaque, but still thin enough to fall from the tip of the whisk in a ribbon. If necessary, dribble in a few drops of half-and-half to loosen the icing.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Ciao Biscotti for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

Naan

A stack of naan

A stack of naan

This post feels a little bit like cheating because I have posted this recipe previously. However, the original photo doesn’t do it justice, and the original post is not even about the bread.

Naan is easy to make, and it keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer. I love to have with with curry because it’s great for soaking up all the delicious liquid. I first learned how to make naan in college. One of my friends would make it in an electric skillet because there were no ovens in the dorms. I recently made cauliflower and butternut squash curry with coconut milk and I’m not quite sure if I decided to make the curry for the naan or the naan for the curry.

Now that I own a Baking Steel, I use that to bake the naan. A pizza stone works equally well. You can also just bake it on a cookie sheet under the broiler.

Naan
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
2. Add water, melted butter, and yogurt into the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. You can sprinkle a little bit more flour if the dough is too sticky.
4. Put dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
5. If you have a baking steel or a pizza stone, pre-heat it one hour before you plan on baking the bread.
6. Once the dough has doubled in volume, knead dough for five minutes and divide into 6 pieces, approximately about three ounces each.
7. Roll out each piece into a five inch round.
8. Bake naan for two minutes, then flip, and bake for another two minutes. Make sure to flour your peel so that the naan does not stick to the peel. Alternatively,you can bake the bread on a cookie sheet under the broiler. If not using immediately, let the breads cool, place in a zip top bag, and refrigerate.

Pumpkin Spice Madeleines

Pumpkin Spice Madeleines

Pumpkin Spice Madeleines

I know, I’m writing about Pumpkin Spice Madeleines in early spring. It’s not exactly pumpkin season. We are towards the tail end of citrus season, and most of the fresh local fruit is still weeks away. I always have a forgotten can of pumpkin puree in the pantry. Remember that one time that there was a shortage of canned pumpkin? Ever since them, I stock up on it. Long story short, I had a can in my pantry that was taking up space and needed to be used up.

Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share

Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share

Enter the great little book Madeleines Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share by Barbara Feldman Morse, from Quirk Books. This little book beautifully photographed book is full of delicious and fun madeleine recipes. There is even a recipe for lox, cream cheese, and red onion madeleines.

Here is the recipe for the delicious pumpkin spice madeleines that I made. Take a look inside your pantry, and if you have a can of pumpkin puree, make sure to try this recipe. These madeleines are tender, flavorful, not too sweet and perfect with a cup of coffee. If you like sweeter madeleines, I would recommend that you add an additional 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar to step 4.

Pumpkin Spice Madeleines (Slightly adapted from Madeleines by Barbara Feldman Morse)
Makes 16-18 madeleines

cooking spray or 4 tablespoons butter for pans
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (I used dark brown, but you can use either dark or light brown)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped or 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Note: You can substitute 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg

1. Prepare the molds. Spray them with cooking spray. Alternatively, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, and use a pastry brush to coat each mold, making sure to coat the interior of each shell mold.
2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
4. Place 6 tablespoons of the butter, and brown sugar in a 2 quart microwavable glass bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on low power for 1 to 2 minutes and then stir mixture with a whisk until smooth. If butter is not melted, microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth.
5. Let mixture cool for about 3 to 4 minutes and then add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition until completely blended. Whisk in pumpkin until thoroughly blended.
6. Stir in flour mixture until incorporated. The batter should be smooth. Add walnuts or chocolate chips, if using (this will yield 2 or 3 more madeleines).
7. Using a 1 1/2 inch-diameter scoop or a teaspoon, fill shell molds with batter until almost full. Gently press batter to distribute it evenly. I like to place the mixture into a piping bag, and just pipe the filling into each shell mold.
8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until madeleines puff up and spring back when lightly pressed.
9. Remove pan from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 minutes, then invert and tap madeleines onto the rack. You may also use a small offset spatula to remove each one individually.