Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Best Mocktails

blueberry-ginger mocktail recipe

I've been on a simple syrup kick lately -- I like to have some plain and some flavored around at all times. It comes in handy for so many projects and recipes: homemade bubble tea, unique cocktails for our home bar, and as this title suggests, mocktails.

On a recent elimination diet, my mother decided she wanted to come up with a fun, delicious alternative to alcohol that she could enjoy in the evenings. We chose to make our own mocktails using a base of fruity simple syrup, lemon or lime juice, and soda water.

blueberry-ginger mocktail recipe
blueberry-ginger mocktail recipe

Simple syrups based only off of fruit are fine, but you can really take them to the next level by adding in a little something extra. Below are three of our favorite recipes to use -- try them out and experiment! You won't regret it.

blueberry-ginger mocktail recipe

Blueberry-Ginger Simple Syrup (pictured)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Strawberry-Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed, drained, and cut in half
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh or dried rosemary

Raspberry-Lemon Simple Syrup
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon (you can slice thin slices of zest off with a paring knife, rather than getting out a rasp)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.

When the mixture boils, take it off the heat and allow to cool slightly (between 10 and 30 min).

Pour through a strainer to remove the fruit and flavorings. Press the fruit with a spoon to get as much moisture out as possible -- leaving the strainer to drain for a couple of hours will also do the trick.

Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container. Syrup can last up to a month. The leftover fruit makes an excellent topping/flavoring for yogurt and ice cream.

For Mocktails:
Combine 1/4 cup simple syrup with juice of half a lemon or a whole lime in a goblet and top off with club soda and/or ice cubes for a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage. (Though I'm confident a shot of vodka wouldn't go amiss.) 

blueberry-ginger mocktail recipe

Monday, June 22, 2015

Russell House

russell house tavern review
russell house tavern review
russell house tavern review
russell house tavern review

One last recommendation for Cambridge: Russell House Tavern.

You're looking at tuna tartare, chick pea sandwiches, fresh oysters, and more -- all wonderfully balanced, beautifully presented, utterly delicious, and perfectly complemented with the draughts and cocktail menu.

Our brunch there was excellent, and I can't recommend it enough. Even if it's a little chilly, it's safe to sit outside (as we did) thanks to infrared lighting and high walls on three sides, but the restaurant  occupies extensive indoor space, as well. Smart to reserve during peak times, and to come hungry.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Settling In

Settling in with swordfish bruschetta
Settling in with moscow mules
Settling in with swordfish bruschetta

What happened to May? I lost it in a whirlwind of Ikea bed set construction, kitchen organizing, and spreadsheeting. It's a transition -- we have moved to our new little town, and I started my new job a couple weeks ago. We're settling in piece by piece. It's great so far, and I expect that trend to continue.

I have a fair amount of backlog to share, but in the meantime, some shots from dinner last Friday night. We made swordfish bruschetta and moscow mules, lit the candles, and laid out the table linens for me to spill a bunch of diced grape tomatoes on. Pure magic, I tell you!

Life is a little complicated and a lot busy right now, so I'm still figuring out how to juggle this space with all the other things I want to do, but I'll be back for good soon!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Big Moves

Blue Morning Glory

Remember that job I told you about?

I accepted it!

For the first time in the last year, I'm really starting to feel like myself again, although a somewhat different version.

This Myself is moving in with her boyfriend, touring apartments, buying immersion blenders, making healthy decisions, and learning about the many phone calls associated with adulthood. Apart from letting my state tax filing get down to the wire, it's pretty neat! (Hopefully) I work my last shift in retail tonight!

I hope to sporadically update over the next month (I have some fun stuff to share!), but it will be a little difficult, what with the rush of matching shower curtains to bath towel sets and inspecting IKEA's bedroom furniture. There will also be roadtrips, multiple doctors appointments, a haircut (it's getting out of hand), and of course, a move. Not a cross-country move as was floated at one point, but a move nonetheless.

Anyway, here's to a bright new future -- one where I get to make use of my degree, expand my horizons every day, and make a difference in the world. I can't wait.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Peasantry

James knows that the way to my heart is through my stomach, so when we take a trip somewhere, we almost always make a stop at what is (or should be) a destination for food lovers. Like any big city, Chicago has a lot to offer in that respect, so we narrowed our search with the following criteria: must have beer for James; must have interesting food and cocktails for Geneva; must be within walking distance of our AirBnB.

I toyed briefly with North Pond (the Michelin Star is hard to resist), but we ended up at The Peasantry, and I can't find the words to express how wonderful that experience was. From the very first sip of my very first cocktail, I regretted not bringing along my DSLR, but I want everyone to know about this place, so you'll have to put up with grainy iPhone photos.

I suppose I should start with the service. The owner himself handled our table and gave us the inside scoop on his favorite cocktails, beers, and menu items. Even on the rare occasions when we went against his recommendations, we were seriously impressed.

Old Fashioned and Bourbon Beer

We had spent the evening before at the Signature Lounge, where the cocktails were fine, but nothing spectacular. The cocktails at the Peasantry were a revelation. I started with the French Orchard, which was perfectly balanced and fruity without falling into the trap of being too sweet. It was easily one of the best cocktails I have ever had, but I went ahead and branched out to a smooth, mellow Old Fashioned for the next round. Meanwhile, James enjoyed a selection of draft beers and sampled his first Barley Wine.

Beet Salad at the Peasantry
Rabbit at the Peasantry

James chose to order two small plates for his dinner -- the beet salad and the rabbit. I tried a bite of each, for the sake of journalism. ;) I didn't care much for the salad, but that is due entirely to my hereditary aversion to beets. The rabbit was sublime -- crispy on the outside, gamey and flavorful on the inside, on a bed of perfectly cooked risotto.

Steak Frites at the Peasantry

I ordered the steak frites, and I'm still in raptures about it. The triple truffle fries (that's truffle butter, truffle oil, and truffle salt) are also available as a side order, and I insist that you get them even if you don't get the steak. You will not have leftovers; you may have to cross knives over the last one. They are that good. The steak is also worth fighting over -- a wonderful char on the outside, served with a brandy peppercorn sauce. It is the platonic ideal of steak. Fortunately, James doesn't like red meat as much as I do, and I wasn't compelled to share more than a bite or two.

PB&J at the Peasantry
Mayan Chocolate at the Peasantry

Moving on to dessert: above you can see the PB&J -- a sort of deconstructed desserty version of the childhood favorite, with peanut butter mousse, a grape gelee, and a kind of sweet tahini crisp in place of the bread. It came with whole grapes, peanuts lightly spiced with cayenne, and a pistachio puree. We were glad we ordered it, if only for the novelty, but we preferred the Mayan Chocolate (mousse, I guess, although that isn't how they put it on the menu, and it isn't on the website). The chocolate was enhanced by the subtle heat underneath, cut by the refreshingly tart raspberry coulis and the candied pistachios on top. It may not look like much, but it was certainly an A+, especially when paired with the Chenet.

I have thought about this meal at least once a day since we left Chicago, and I'm telling everyone I know to pay the Peasantry a visit. I can't wait to go back myself and give their award-winning Affogato a try! Next time you're in town, make sure you stop by for dinner during the week or brunch on Saturday and Sunday (they have a deal on mimosas!).