Garden Cocktails For Your Weekend

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For this edition of Cookin’ Sisters (that’s not what it’s called) we thought nothing would be more fitting for the middle of summer and the sometimes oppressive heat than some delicious cocktails. I encouraged Addie to come up with some drinks that were good and boozy but also a little innovative. AND! I wanted to use local spirits because there are *so many* in Minnesota. By the way, we (me, Addie and Alan) all tested these out and can vouch for their fortitude. We have two for July and we’ll have two more in August!


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Chamomile Basil Lemonade

I wanted to make a fresh herb cocktail that was a little less obvious than some cocktails can be, but one where I knew the flavor combinations would be spot on. I have fresh chamomile growing in my garden and I had the idea to use chamomile simple syrup to elevate a simple lemonade cocktail to be a bit more floral and fresh. It pairs really well with the basil, which is subtle enough because you’re only using it to shake the drink and then garnish. This is a drink that I originally wanted to make without the alcohol, but the addition of vodka was a no-brainer. Feel free to omit the booze for an n/a summer drink you can enjoy anytime.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces chamomile simple syrup
1 ounce vodka
Juice of one lemon
5 fresh basil leaves (3 for muddling, 2 for garnish)
Soda water
Lemon wedge (for garnish)

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Method

For the simple syrup: Heat equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove. Add your fresh chamomile (dried if you don’t have fresh, preferably loose-leaf). For this recipe I used 1/2 a cup each of water and sugar to about 1/4 cup of the chamomile flowers. Steep for 15 minutes and strain. Let cool.

Using a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 to 4 basil leaves in the bottom of the cup. Add simple syrup, vodka, lemon juice, and ice cubes. Cover and shake for about 15 seconds. Pour into a lowball glass filled with a few ice cubes. Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. Finely chiffonade the remaining basil for garnish.

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Blueberry mojito

I have a soft spot in my heart for rum. I went to college in small town Wisconsin, so I cut my teeth on cheap rum and cokes. While white rum doesn’t quite have the same warmth as a darker, spiced rum, it’s perfect for fresh garden cocktails. Upping the ante by adding blueberries to the ubiquitous mint mojito makes it feel even more summery and adds a little more depth (Ed. note: July is also National Blueberry Month!). If you grow your own mint, you’ll have it coming out your ears by the time July rolls around when the fresh local blueberries start arriving. Which will be the perfect time to make this drink over and over.

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Recipe

1/4 cup blueberries (half for muddling, half for slicing)
1 ounce white rum
1 small bunch mint (about 10 leaves or so)
1 teaspoon white sugar (more if you prefer it sweeter)
Juice from one lime
Soda water

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Method

In the bottom of a lowball glass, muddle 6 or 7 mint leaves with the sugar and lime juice. Add half of the blueberries and mash into the mint with your muddler. Add the rum, sparkling water, the other half of the blueberries sliced in half, and the rest of the mint leaves. If you prefer to mix separately and strain before adding the soda and garnishes, it will be much cleaner, but I prefer the look and taste of it without straining. That being said, you may wish to use a cocktail straw in that case.BLUEBERRYMOJITO-11

Radish Toasts

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Another in the recipe and food photography series my sister Addie and I are collaborating on. This one is basically foolproof and I recommend it for breakfast or snacks or lunch! It’s really delightful. I’ll let Addie take it away:

 

Radish Toasts

Prep: 5 min | Total: 5 min

This is barely a recipe, but I started making these the first summer that I subscribed to a CSA and I had all these radishes that I wasn’t sure what to do with. I always had leftover bread from work (ed note: she used to work at a bakery/cafe. She does now, but she used to, too!), so I decided to make some spring radish toasts. RADISHTOASTS-2RADISHTOASTS-3Pea shoots are my favorite garnish, but I used chive blossoms here as well, which lends a great onion flavor. Using whole-milk ricotta really makes a difference, but feel free to use skim milk ricotta if you’d prefer. RADISHTOASTS-9The squeeze of lemon at the end definitely changes the whole flavor of the toast, so don’t skip that step! (This same recipe works really well with english cucumbers in place of the radishes).

Ingredients

Hearty multigrain bread (I used a multigrain bread from Rustica)
French breakfast radishes (one full sized french breakfast radish usually covers a small piece of toast, so 3-4 for three slices of toast will suffice)
Whole milk ricotta
Fresh lemon

For garnish
Pea shoots, chive blossoms, microgreens, sunflower sprouts, or fresh herbsRADISHTOASTS-6RADISHTOASTS-5RADISHTOASTS-8

Method

Slice bread into about 3/4” thick slices and toast (if you’re making a really large quantity of these, toast them in the oven on a sheet tray at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until they’re looking crispy and brown). Meanwhile, slice your radishes into small coins, thick enough that they still retain their crunch. Spread a thick layer of ricotta on the bread once it’s fresh out of the toaster and arrange the radishes on the toast, and give a generous spritz of lemon over each toast. Salt and pepper, and top with garnish.RADISHTOASTS-12RADISHTOASTS-14

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

RHUBARBCOBB-24RHUBARBCOBB-8My sister Addie and I present our *first official* collaboration which incorporates her knowledge on local cultivation and my desire for an art direction/photography project. Addie keeps a large garden out at the Royce family farm, which she and my dad tend to. We’ll be dedicating a post in the future to the farm and its beauty. For now I let Addie take it away:

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

PREP: 20 min | TOTAL: 55 min

This cobbler recipe is so simple and fast, and so customizable. The recipe originally calls for blueberries, but since it’s not quite that season yet, I decided to go with strawberries and rhubarb which are both really abundant right now in Minnesota, and I had a ton of strawberries from my garden. RHUBARBCOBB-1RHUBARBCOBB-12.jpgRHUBARBCOBB-11

You could make this same recipe all summer long and switch out the fruit depending on whats in season and you’d have a different dessert every time. One tip would be to adjust the amount of sugar and lemon in the fruit filling depending on how sweet/tart the fruit you’re using is. People typically think of crisp or pie when they think “strawberry rhubarb” but a cobbler is just as easy and feels reminiscent of strawberry shortcake. RHUBARBCOBB-16RHUBARBCOBB-19RHUBARBCOBB-21I already had buttermilk on hand which is really the only ingredient you will probably have to go out of your way to buy. The biscuit topping only calls for 1/3 of a cup, so use the leftover buttermilk in salad dressings, smoothies, pancakes, homemade ice cream, etc.

Ingredients

Filling
6 cups fruit (I used about equal parts of strawberries and rhubarb)
1/2 cup sugar (you may want closer to 3/4 cup sugar to mellow out the rhubarb)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (more or less depending on how soft and juicy your fruit is)
A pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon Juice from half a lemon

Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Milk to brush on top of the biscuits
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Method

Pre-heat the oven to 375.
For the filling:
In a large bowl, mix together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add fruit and mix. Add lemon zest and juice and mix. Once everything is evenly coated, pour into a 9×13 pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the filling is getting bubbly around the edges. This may take longer for starchier fruits.

For the topping:
While fruit filling is baking, combine flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into small cubes and work into the dough with your hands. Shortly before the filling is ready, add the buttermilk and the vanilla and stir to combine. Turn the dough out onto a board and form it into a rectangle. Cut 6-8 even pieces and shape them into biscuits.

Pull fruit mixture from the oven and increase the oven to 425. Arrange the biscuits on top of the bubbling mixture. Brush the tops of the biscuits with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Return the pan to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops of the biscuits are golden brown.RHUBARBCOBB-26RHUBARBCOBB-28

Cool the cobbler for a few minutes and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

(Recipe adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen)

A simple summer dessert

PEACHMINT-19Recently I found myself in a rut. I’m happy being a stay-at-home mom at this point in my life. Truly! It took a long time to come to peace with it (part of it has to do with my baby having an actual personality now, and the weather being nice). I miss working and getting paid to be creative. But I will work again. I’m confident of that. What I really wanted was some sort of outlet in the meantime. I remember being totally beside myself one night before bed, crying to Alan that I felt like I had lost a part of myself.

Then the next morning, I was sitting at my computer and Alex was taking a characteristically long nap, and I had the idea to do this post on stationeryHonestly, that post was not really about the stationery. It was a impromptu mini art direction opportunity. I got to utilize some amazing natural light in my office, take photos of beautiful paper products, and use props! I was in heaven. And editing the photos afterwards is always one of my favorite parts. I emailed Alan, telling him how elating and therapeutic the little project had been.PEACHMINT-3Sometime later I was perusing the blog Cashew Kitchen, whose cozy and moody food photography just gets me, and it hit me that I should take that up as a hobby!  I would be able to check off a lot of boxes, including playing around with my camera, getting more comfortable with editing, art direction, and styling. AND, Art Directing a Cookbook is on my Life List even, so this gets me a little closer to that goal.

I have plans to collaborate with my younger sister Addie, who is passionate about food, cooking, cultivation and who has wanted to start a food blog that emphasizes cooking with local, seasonal produce. Synergy ✨

So, here it is! I’m starting off with something super simple, and it’s so easy, a whole blog about it is totally unnecessary.PEACHMINT-17I tossed this dessert together the other night after putting Alex to bed. I’d been frustrated with my diet choices lately; the last two weeks basically we’d been “dining out” every single night which is not only a super bad habit, it’s expensive. On top of that, my incredibly awesome and badass sister-in-law sent me a literal box of ice cream for Mother’s Day, and well, since it was there, I had to eat it, you know?

When I finally had the energy and time to go to the grocery store, I made sure to get some fruit for snacking on. And yogurt for Alex. And a bunch of herbs, because herbs are the essence of good food.

Anyway. I had just put Alex to bed. I was buzzing off having cooked a good honest dinner, and Alan was off helping my sister and her family unload boxes into their new house. I sliced up a little peach, tossed some sugar in a pan and began to caramelize to top some greek yogurt. Then I thought … How could I ramp this up a bit?

And then I thought… I should really take some photos of this.

PEACHMINT-5Summer has never been at the top of my list when it comes to Best Seasons, but there are certain things I love about it. Warm golden evenings. Cooking light, vibrant dishes, long-lasting light… And all these smells! Fresh mint is such a fine and refreshing smell.PEACHMINT-18And these flavors blend together seamlessly. It would be such a perfect way to top off a beautiful day spent outside.

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Insanely Easy Pasta Recipe

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I come to you today humbly with a recipe I really think you should try out. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s *insanely* good. I devised this pasta recipe one night recently after we’d gotten out of a matinee on a hot Sunday and it was about dinner time. Should we go out, which would require little energy, or make something? I did a mental inventory of what we had in the cupboards and decided I could throw together some sort of Cacio e pepe  bastardization (I’ve never made cacio e pepe!). I knew we had cream, bucatini, a lemon, parsley, butter and parmesan cheese. All terrific ingredients for a fast pasta dish.

By the way, I absolutely love pasta, and the many forms it can take. Basically any night we’re drawing a blank on dinner I offer to “make some sort of pasta”. I also really believe that people should stock their pantries well with ingredients complementary to a good pasta dish. Get a few cans of fire roasted tomatoes, have some garlic on hand, some basil, some cheese, lemon… The PASTA-bilities are endless (hahahahahhahaaa).

This recipe is also nice because it requires very little prep, and uses one pan (I can’t overemphasize how much I love one-pan dinners). Do note though, that because of the butter and cheese and cream, this isn’t exactly a super healthy dish. However I’m confident you could take out the cream, and it would still be delicious.

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Easy Cheesy Lemony Pasta | Prep: 5 min Cook: 15 min
• Bucatini
• Juice of one lemon (also optional: zest of that same lemon, for extra lemony-ness)
• 1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
• 1 c. heavy cream
• 2 tbsp butter
• Bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
• Optional: panko bread crumbs

Start by bring a skillet of salted water to a boil. Cook the bucatini al dente. Reserve a half cup of pasta water. Drain and rinse.
In the same pan, melt the butter on medium heat. Gradually add the cream, cheese and lemon juice (+zest), stirring constantly (don’t want to burn that cream!), until combined. Add pasta, stirring an coating. Do this for about 5 minutes while the sauce thickens. If you wish to thin the sauce out a little, use the reserve pasta water.
Optional: At this point, in a separate pan, heat up a little olive oil and toast some panko bread crumbs with fresh salt and pepper (we have some in the cupboard from times when we’ve recreated a Blue Apron meal… They come in big containers!), until browned and toasty-smelling.

Divide between two bowls, top with bread crumbs and parsley. Then enjoy the hell out of that thing. THAT’S IT!PASTARECIPE-3

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