Showing posts with label Simple Saturday Sippers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Simple Saturday Sippers. Show all posts

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giada's Apple and Thyme Martinis--A "Simple Saturday Sipper" That's Perfect for Fall

It's apple season--time for apple pie, apple cider, apple crisp and even apple-centered cocktails like this Apple and Thyme Martini from Giada De Laurentiis. From "Giada's Kitchen." This is a simple drink that is the perfect Simple Saturday Sipper to celebrate fall.

Giada says, "In Seattle, where I first had a version of this drink, martinis come garnished with a sprig of Douglas fir. Thyme syrup contributes a similar herbaceous zing, and little balls of apple are a whimsical touch This is a great cocktail."

Apple and Thyme Martini
"Giada's Kitchen" by Giada de Laurentiis
(Makes 4 Servings)


10 oz vodka

6 oz apple juice

1/4 cup Thyme Simple Syrup (recipe follows)

1 large apple, peeled
4 fresh thyme sprigs

Chill 4 martini glasses in the freezer.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, apple juice, and thyme syrup and shake for about 10 seconds. Divide among the 4 chilled martini glasses.

Using a melon baller, scoop out small balls of apple. Place 3 balls of apple and 1 sprig of thyme in each glass for garnish. Serve immediately.

Thyme Simple Syrup

(Makes 1 Cup)
1 cup sugar

5 large fresh thyme sprigs

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, thyme, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and cool the syrup. Any extra cooled syrup can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Very tasty--potent, flavorful and not too sweet. The pairing of apple and thyme is delicious and perfect for fall. I used the lemon thyme from my herb garden because it grows more prolifically than my regular thyme. I used a Honeycrisp apple and fresh apple juice for the drink--which added a nice juicy tartness to it. I liked this cocktail a lot and will make it again.

Although I already linked a recipe for "Out of Italy" at I Heart Cooking Clubs (Giada's Asian Chicken Salad here) but I'm linking this Seattle-inspired cocktail one as an extra this week. You can check out what all the other IHCC participants made this week by going to the post here and following the links.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giada's Frothy Chocolate Espresso Shakes--A Chilly, Delicious Simple Saturday Sipper

OK, OK...technically the Chocolate Cravings theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs doesn't start until Monday, but since I am always craving chocolate anyway, I thought I would post mine early, as my Simple Saturday Sipper for this week.

My sister and brother-in-law are visiting and I thought that Giada's Frothy Chocolate Espresso Shakes would be a good drink/dessert to have on their first night here. I like that it uses fat-free frozen yogurt and non-fat milk for less of a guilt factor, and of course chocolate and espresso is always a winning combination.

You can find the recipe at Food Network here.

Frothy Chocolate Espresso Shakes
By Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes 4 Servings)

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup gourmet hot chocolate mix (recommended: Marie Belle)
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 cup fat free milk
1 pint reduced fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil over medium-low heat. Add the hot chocolate mix and espresso powder. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk.

Place the frozen yogurt and vanilla in a blender. Pour the chocolate mixture into the blender and blend until smooth and frothy.

Pour the shake into 4 (8-ounce) frosted glasses and serve immediately.

Notes/Results: Yum! Not quite as thick and creamy as a full-blown milkshake but really delicious. I made two versions, one sans espresso for my non-coffee drinking brother-in-law, and the full-octane coffee-fueled version for my sister and I. In place of espresso I used Starbucks Via Italian roast ready brew coffee--which is fast, easy and full of flavor. I used a European-style gourmet hot chocolate mix that had a nice, dark richness. One other note--I used more frozen yogurt than called for--probably about 12 ounces instead of the pint in the recipe--just to get it to the right consistency for us. My sister said it was better than a Frappuccino and I would agree. A decadent-tasting dessert drink but still a nice low-fat treat. I will make this again for sure.

I'm early for Chocolate Cravings at IHCC so the actual post won't be up until Monday, but you'll be able to see what my fellow participants picked to fulfill their chocolate cravings and dreams after that. ;-)

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Apple Cider & Calvados Slushies--A Crisp, "Appley" Simple Saturday Sipper

Although I know that I am extremely lucky to live in a beautiful place than is mostly warm and sunny year-round, I do miss fall. I miss the crisp autumn air on a sunny day, I miss the glorious color change of the leaves, heck I even miss the sometimes cold and rainy days you get in the Pacific Northwest. When the fall magazines start coming in and I am drooling over all their autumn foods and heavier comfort food dishes, I miss the weather than goes along with it, rather than reading them in 88 degree humidity. OK, I know... you are thinking "Oh yeah, poor you!" right now... I get it, ;-) Yes, I wouldn't want fall weather all the time, but I would fully support a "Weather Exchange Program" where we could swap out a few days here and there.

Mark Bittman's Apple Cider Slushies are a good compromise recipe--the flavors of fall but in a cold slushy treat. I first made these last year (here) and loved them, then seeing my pal Kim make them last week (here), I got to thinking about them again. Last time I used Riesling, this time I decided to try something a little different and switched out the white wine for some calvados (apple brandy), making them Apple Cider & Calvados Shushies. Still delicious and an excellent way to enjoy a Simple Saturday Sipper with a little taste of fall.

Apple Cider and Calvados Slushy
adapted from "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express"
(Serves 2-3)

Note: Use any sweet white or sparkling wine you like--I used calvados

In a blender or food processor, combine a cup of apple cider, a half cup of Riesling, and about a quarter cup of sugar. Add ice and pulse; continue adding ice and processing until the desired thickness is reached (about 3 cups total). Serve immediately with a sprinkle of nutmeg or a cinnamon stick or an orange slice if you like.

Notes/Results: "Appley-goodness" with a little kick. I did actually need a bit more ice than I had--note to self: make sure you check the ice cube trays before making slushies! But the flavor was great. I ended up not adding any extra sugar as I don't like things too sweet. I liked the addition of the calvados (and it's a good way to work through a bottle). For sure I will be making this recipe again, with different wines and liqueurs, and not waiting a year to make it this time. ;-)

And something for the good news category, I was contacted by Wikio as they just published their food blog rankings and guess who moved up from #27 to #18? Yep, that would be me, or rather Kahakai Kitchen. ;-) Wikio is an information portal with a news search engine that searches press sites and blogs. Such incredible company to be in, in fact you can check out the full 100 rankings here--where I have some of my blogging buddies keeping me company.

Wikio Top Twenty Food Blogs:
Happy Saturday!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Week of Eating Local--Eat Local Challenge: Days 5 & 6--Featuring "Tropical Sunshine" a Sweetly Refreshing Juice & Simple Saturday Sipper

I seem to be perpetually behind this week and since it is not going to get any better in the next few days, I am combining my Eat Local Challenge: Days 5 & 6 recaps together, including my usual Simple Saturday Sipper made local.

I am calling my sipper a "Tropical Sunshine" because of its pretty orange hue from the combination of all local ingredients; cantaloupe, papaya, a touch of lime, a bit of honey and mint leaves from the garden. When blended with ice and a little water, it makes for a lightly sweet and refreshing drink.

Tropical Sunshine
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

1/2 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2 papaya, peeled, seeded and cubed
juice of one lime
5-6 mint leaves
1 Tbsp honey

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with chunks of fruit and mint leaves.

Notes/Results: Refreshing, and a great way to use up extra fruit before it gets too old. The lime added a nice tangy taste that enhanced the overall flavor. You could also add yogurt and make this a thicker, smoothie-like drink or a little vodka or rum to make it a cocktail.

And on to Day 5:
  • Breakfast: I had a big meeting and was a bit too nervous / excited to eat more than an apple banana. No picture. ;-)
  • Lunch: After the meeting, I ate the second half of yesterday's stir-fry with the last of my Maui ground beef. Part of eating local and in a sustainable way is not wasting food and using up what you have. Still good, but no picture--I was too busy shoveling food in my mouth. ;-)
  • Dinner: Ah, dinner... dinner was freakin' amazing. I had bought a small London Broil cut of Maui Beef and did a simple seasoning of mac nut oil and sea salt and then cooked in in my grill pan to about medium-rare. I served it with some local asparagus and tomatoes. But the pinnacle of dinner has to be the brightly-hued purple Gingery Mashed Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. I roasted the sweet potatoes (two) in the oven, then pressed them through my potato ricer before blending them with a little local butter and milk. They were creamy and sweet already, and since someone on the Eat Local Challenge website recommended adding ginger to them, I grated a two inch piece of the ginger and squeezed out the juice to get the flavor without the "stringy bits." Great call--the kick of ginger put them over the edge from great to fabulous. The entire dinner was filling and delicious.

  • Snacks: No time for snacks. ;-)

Day 6:

  • Breakfast: Yep, my ability to eat breakfast this week was compromised with another meeting across the island, so I drank a papaya-banana smoothie in the car on the way. Running out the door so no photo.

  • Lunch: I rocked lunch with an all-local Thai-Inspired Beef Salad, made with the leftover Maui beef from dinner; Manoa lettuce, Thai basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and slices of yesterdays mystery produce item that I will reveal at the end of this post. The dressing was lime, mac nut oil, sea salt and a little dash of chili-flavored macadamia nut oil. Good texture, full of flavor and very satisfying.

  • Dinner: A computer meltdown (actually it would be more accurate to say I melted down), had me at the Apple store having the Genius Bar gods replacing the track pad. While I waited, I hung out and watched my friend's son compete in a Chopped-style Cook Local Challenge at Whole Foods where they had to use everything local, both the pantry items and in their mystery basket. Fun to watch! Tate didn't win, but they all did well and impressed the judges. Not in the mood to cook, I took advantage of another company with an Eat Local dish on their menu, The Counter--a build your own gourmet burger place, offering a local Ahi Burger--I got mine as a Burger-in-A-Bowl), without the bun and on top of local lettuce with carrot, daikon and a wasabi dressing. Not completely local, but delicious and a good effort, and nice paired with my Tropical Sunshine.

  • Dessert: A Watermelon-Hibiscus OnoPop. (local ice pop)
  • Snacks: No time or desire for snacks today.

Notes/Results: Another two great days eating local. The challenge is harder the busier I get and while eating outside the house, but I managed to do pretty well overall and got to eat lots of delicious, colorful and mostly healthy food.

Just one more day of the challenge left! Tune in tomorrow for the Day 7 recap including a little "good-bye soup" for our last week cooking with Mark Bittman at I Heart Cooking Clubs--made local of course!

*****Yesterday's Mystery Produce******

Jicama seemed to be the popular guess and it is similar to Jicama, but the mystery item was... (drumroll please...) ... Yacon! A plant from the Andes in Peru, aka Peruvian Ground Apple and sometimes confused with jicama, although it has a sweeter flavor. Yacon is a relative of the sunflower and the Jerusalem artichoke and it is grown now in tropical climates throughout the world. It is full of antioxidants and the syrup made from Yacon is becoming more popular as a healthier sugar alternative as it contains inulin which is supposed to pass through the body as it is not digestible, making it good for diabetics. It's pretty tasty--nice crunch and good combination of fresh and sweet. Fun, right?

Happy weekend!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Honeydew Melon, Opal Basil & Mint Frappé: A Mostly Local Simple Saturday Sipper (Plus I Start the "Eat Local Challenge" Next Week!)

This week's Simple Saturday Sipper, a Honeydew Melon, Opal Basil & Mint Frappé, comes from the need to use up a soccer-ball size honeydew melon from a local farm on Oahu. Last week I did a recipe demo of fresh fruit smoothies for a group from the Kidney Foundation of Hawaii after a tour of Aloun Farms in Kapolei. Part of our tour was a visit to their melon patch where the group got to pick their own honeydews. One of our guides handed me a ginormous melon, which I drug home and between my visiting mom and I, we only managed to eat half of it so far. It is a sweet and flavorful melon but there is a lot of it, so I am finding different ways to use it up.

In this case, I threw together a frozen cocktail--we'll call it a frappé for lack of a better word, using the melon, opal basil, mint and a few stevia leaves from my herb garden, local limes, ice and a slug of Island 808 Vodka made from Hawaii-grown pineapples. It's cool, refreshing, nicely flavored with the herbs, sweetened with the stevia and really nice for the slightly humid weather we are having.

Honeydew Melon, Opal Basil & Mint Frappé
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Servings)

1 1/2 cups honeydew melon, cubed
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp opal basil leaves (or Thai or sweet basil will work)
1 Tbsp mint leaves
3 fresh stevia leaves (or 1 Tbsp simple syrup or other sweetener)
6-8 ice cubes
2 ounces vodka

Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse a few times to break up ice and then blend until smooth and frothy. Enjoy.

Notes/Results: Pretty to look at, hydrating and a good combination of sweet from the honeydew and stevia and lightly tangy from the lime juice with nice herbal notes. I used a couple of the little purple flowers of my opal basil to garnish the drink but you could just use a few basil or mint leaves. I would make this drink again.

Since all of the herbs including the stevia are home-grown from my container garden, and I was there when the melon was plucked from the vine and handed to me ;-) I am going to send this to the Grow Your Own #45 Event being hosted this month by my pal girlichef.

Speaking of local foods and ingredients, next week may be a little strange around Kahakai Kitchen as I have pledged to take the Kanu Hawaii Eat Local Challenge from Sunday, Sept. 26 through Saturday, Oct. 2. Starting on Monday, I'll be blogging about cooking and eating pretty much exclusively with ingredients sourced from Hawaii. I am "lucky to live Hawaii" and in such a place of beauty, but the cold hard facts are that more than 85% of the food here is imported, and that our food supply is extremely vulnerable. If there were an event, natural disaster, or for any reason the shipping and air freight to Hawaii was interrupted, our food supply would only last about 12-14 days. Pretty scary right?! The Eat Local Challenge is to bring awareness to the importance of eating and buying local food and building a more sustainable and secure food supply for the Hawaiian Islands.

I have my farmers market and store lists ready for shopping this weekend, and I am fortunate to be able to pretty easily get some of the basics--salt, butter, eggs, milk, mac nut oil, herbs, fish, beef, maybe some veal, and of course lots of fruits & veggies but I will be lacking in the grains (read: bread, rice, pasta, etc.) area next week. ;-) In any case it ought to be pretty interesting. There are a few restaurants serving local dishes, stores featuring local items and some local food events going on all week, so it should be a fun challenge. On Monday, I'll start briefly recapping what I ate each day with a few photos of the most interesting food. (Don't worry, I won't bore you with pictures of every bite that goes into my mouth!) I am still planning on participating in events like I Heart Cooking Clubs, Food-n-Flix, next week's Souper Sunday (this week's soup is already made), etc., working all local Hawaii ingredients into the recipes So wish me luck!

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rosemary Lemonade: A Simple Saturday Sipper for Remembrance

It is hard to believe that today marks nine years since 9/11. I had moved to Hawaii just five months before the attacks and when I woke up to the news and the terrible images on the television screen, I have never felt so far away from my loved ones as I did that morning. I remember visiting the Twin Towers once on a college trip to New York City, and the thought of those enormous solid structures crumbling down, and the many lives that were lost that day was overwhelming.

Nine years later it is still overwhelming and so today is a time for remembrance. To that end, today's Simple Saturday Sipper is a Rosemary Lemonade. Since ancient times, Rosemary has stood as a symbol of memory or remembrance, immortalizing those we have lost.

Rosemary Lemonade
by Deb,
Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes About 6 Cups)

1 cup water
1/2 cup agave syrup or 1 cup sugar
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons worth)
3 1/2 cups cold, filtered water
extra lemon slices and rosemary sprigs for garnish

Heat 1 cup of water, agave, rosemary sprigs and vanilla in a small pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 2 hours.

Add the honey, lemon juice and water (plus additional water to taste). Remove the rosemary sprigs and strain the lemonade into a pitcher. Chill
thoroughly and serve garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs and lemon slices.

Notes/Results: Flavorful and delicious. The rosemary's "piney" and slightly pungent taste pairs well with bright, tangy lemon, a bit of vanilla and honey soften the taste, and along with the agave, make it lightly sweet. The rosemary is from my herb garden where it is growing strong and proud and this lemonade is another great way to use it. The rosemary syrup would also be delicious in a cocktail. I will make this drink again.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Honeydew-Mint Agua Fresca: A Gorgeous Green and Refreshing Simple Saturday Sipper

The OnoPops ice pops I have become addicted to lately and buy at the farmers market most every week come in a huge variety of exotic flavors that I am working my way through, but I find myself always going back to the Honeydew-Mint. Made with the melon and fresh mint, it is a refreshing blend of flavors and the inspiration for this week's Simple Saturday Sipper. I thought the combination would also make an excellent Honeydew-Mint Agua Fresca (fresh water), and the perfect drink to enjoy in the humidity.

Besides being refreshing, this is a healthy drink, with just a few ingredients--in fact, I managed to make it with all local ingredients. The honeydew and limes are locally grown and from the farmers market, and the mint is from my lanai container herb garden. I even used a pinch of local Hawaiian sea salt to bring out the flavors.

Honeydew-Mint Agua Fresca
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 8 cups)

1 honeydew melon, halved, seeded, peel removed and chopped (about 7 cups)
1 small handful of fresh mint
juice of 3 limes (about 1/3 cup)
3 cups water
1 pinch sea salt

Put the melon and mint into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour puree through a mesh sieve over a large pitcher, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to get the juice out, and then discard the solids. Add the lime juice, water and a pinch of salt to the melon-mint mixture. Chill for an hour or two in the fridge and serve cold over plenty of ice. Enjoy!

I love the little flecks of mint in the drink---so pretty!

Notes/Results: Really delicious!
The melon, mint and lime all blend nicely together with no one ingredient overpowering the others. You could sweeten it if you wanted to, but I found the melon to be just sweet enough that I didn't need any additional sweetener. I saved about half of the mixture and poured it into my ice pop molds for my own paletas or popsicles. You could also blend it with ice and a bit of vodka for a refreshing frozen cocktail. I will make this again.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thai-Flavored Mojito: A Crisp & Coconutty Simple Saturday Sipper

Lacking any desire or ability to plan this week, I found myself sitting on the lanai in deep contemplation about what to make for this week's Simple Saturday Sipper. Looking to my herbs for inspiration, I noticed that the Thai basil needed some harvesting and the mint could use a little snipping too. Since I had purchased several little local limes that needed to be used, it quickly became apparent that a Thai-Flavored Mojito was the way to go.

I just mixed a little bit of everything in my fridge and bar together--the herbs, coconut water, limes, ginger syrup, coconut rum and a little soda water and of course, ice. ;-)

Thai-Flavored Mojito
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Recipe for 1 cocktail)

5-6 Thai basil leaves
5-6 mint leaves
3 lime wedges
1 Tbsp agave syrup
1 Tbsp ginger syrup
2 oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
3 oz coconut rum (or rum of choice)
3 oz coconut water
3 oz tonic water

In the bottom of a tall glass, combine the mint, Thai basil, lime wedges and agave and muddle until mixed together and fragrant. Add ginger syrup, lime juice, coconut rum, coconut water and ice, then top off with the soda water. Stir gently to combine ingredients. Garnish with a lime slice and a couple of extra herbs. Enjoy! (Preferably outside on a warm evening.)

Notes/Results: Ahhh... perfectly refreshing, tangy and good. The Thai basil and mint combine nicely with the coconut, ginger and lime. I used agave syrup which gave it a touch of sweetness, but it is more tangy than sweet. You could do this without the coconut rum and coconut water, but it adds a nice touch. I will make these again.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lemongrass-Ginger Tea: A Simple Saturday Sipper from Mark Bittman

This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "Can I Have a Sip?"--so all about beverages, so perfect for my regular Simple Saturday Sippers post. I was going to make one of Bittman's smoothies or a cocktail, but a tour through the fridge made me realize I had a lot of lemongrass and ginger to use, and I found this Lemongrass-Ginger Tea from Southeast Asia and from Bittman's "The Best Recipes in the World." I love the pairing of spicy ginger and clean, floral lemongrass and have used it before in drinks and herbal tisanes. In this recipe, it is added to black tea --although I used an oolong tea instead, as I thought the slightly lighter, sweeter, less oxidized tea would work well.

Bittman says, "Health claims aside, this is delicious, hot or iced, sweetened or not. You can make another interesting tea by omitting the lemongrass and serving the brew with ilk instead of lime juice."

Lemongrass-Ginger Tea
Adapted from: "The Best Recipes in the World"
(Makes 4 Servings)

1 Tbsp black tea, optional (I used an oolong tea and about 2 heaping Tbsp)
10 nickel-sized slices fresh ginger (don't bother to peel)
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and roughly chopped
sugar to taste, optional (I used about 2 tsp local honey)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste

In a small pot with a lid, combine 1 quart water with the tea if you're using it, the ginger, and the lemongrass. Turn the heat to medium and heat until steam rises from the surface. Turn off the heat and cover; steep for 5 minutes.

Strain, then return to the pan and reheat gently. Add sugar, then lime juice to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold.

Notes/Results: Good! A nice simple, refreshing and flavorful tea. The lemongrass, ginger and lime flavors come through nicely and the oolong tea I used had a light sweetness of its own that worked well. It actually didn't need much/any sweetener, but I added just a bit of local honey. It was good hot, but I prefer it iced (of course that could be the weather!). I would make this tea again and experiment with green tea or black tea in it too.

You can see what the other IHCC participants are sipping this week by going to the post (here) and following the links.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Watermelon Slushies: A Frozen Cocktail & Simple Saturday Sipper for Adults

Trying to use up extra watermelon? Try freezing it and using the frozen chunks in these pretty in pink Watermelon Slushies from the Vegetarian Times: Farmers' Market Cookbook magazine edition. They are made with vodka, so they are a Simple Saturday Sipper for adults only, and are refreshing on a warm, humid afternoon or evening. It's also nice to have a cocktail that gets you a couple of servings of fruit in a glass. ;-) Plus watermelon is full of vitamins A & C, and antioxidants like lycopene which is thought to prevent inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis. So drink up! (Responsibly of course!)

Vegetarian Times says, "The next time you buy a big watermelon. cut half into chunks and freeze so you can whip up these cocktails on demand."

Watermelon Slushies
Vegetarian Times
(Serves 4)

1 small seedless watermelon, cubed (4 cups)
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Place watermelon cubes in a shallow baking dish. Freeze 4 hours, or until solid. Transfer frozen cubes to a resealable plastic bag if making ahead.

Blend frozen watermelon cubes, vodka, lime juice, and sugar in blender until smooth. Pour into 4 glasses, and serve immediately.

Per 1/2-cup serving: 143 calories, 1g protein, -1g total fat, (0g sat. fat), 20g carb, 0mg chol, 2mg sod, 1g fiber, 17g sugars.

Notes/Results: Refreshing, lightly sweet, a little tangy and pretty darn delicious. The watermelon and lime are a nice combination, and freezing the watermelon makes this "adult" slushy very thick while keeping the flavor. Since my watermelon was pretty sweet, and I am trying to limit my processed sugar, I used about 2 Tbsp of honey in place of the powdered sugar called for in the recipe. The key to using honey or agave in an iced drink like this is to blend it up along with the lime juice and vodka in the blender before adding the frozen watermelon chunks so it doesn't clump up. Works just fine, but of course the powdered sugar or a simple syrup would work well too.

With local watermelon, limes and honey, I thought it would be fun to try Island 808 Vodka, which is distilled from pineapple. Although it comes in different flavors like Mango, Lychee, Coconut, Pineapple and POG (passion-orange-guava), I bought the unflavored Pure Vodka which is triple distilled, and tastes crisp and smooth. I think it is actually bottled in California rather than Hawaii even though it says "Hawaii Product" on the label, but it was fun to try regardless. The garnish is a bit of chocolate mint from my container herb garden--so all-in-all, a pretty local drink and one I will make again.

Just a few more days to enter my giveaway. I am giving away 2 autographed copies of the fun Hawaii foodie mystery: "Captain Cooked"--along with a few local ingredients to help you cook some of the fabulous recipes in the book. Get the details on how to enter here.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lemon Herb Tisane with an Elderflower "Kick"--A Restorative Simple Saturday Sipper

You know those crazy weeks where you feel like you barely have a moment to breathe? Those are the kind of weeks that need to end with a drink that is delicious, calming, and restorative to the body and the spirit. Spending a few minutes outside I could smell the lemon as the breeze blew through my container herb garden on the lanai. I decided to harvest a few of my lemony herbs (lemon thyme, lemon verbena and lemon balm) and make a tisane--basically an infusion of herbs and spices that is consumed like tea but does not contain actual tea leaves.

I looked on the internet for inspiration and found a recipe for a Lemon Verbena Tisane at a site that is always full of good ideas
The Kitchn by Apartment Therapy. The best idea yet--make the tisane and add a touch of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur to it. Beings as I bought a bottle a few months ago and said bottle is very large, I am always looking for ways to use it. Instead of just verbena, I used all three herbs for my version: a Lemon Herb Tisane with an Elderflower "Kick" which turned out to be the perfect Simple Saturday Sipper.

In addition to tasting great when added into all kinds of sweet and savory dishes, all three herbs have been used for centuries as medicinal cures:

Lemon Thyme: used to relieve muscle spasms, support the immune system, ease digestion, relieve asthma, ease a tight chest and relieve coughing, promotes relaxation. It is said to soothe laryngitis and gastritis and contain anti-aging properties.

Lemon Verbena: used to treat fever, congestion, asthma, ease intestinal problems, reduce stress and insomnia, and depression. It is said to aid digestion, help with metabolism and have a mild, calming effect on the nerves.

Lemon Balm: used to treat colds and flu, lower blood pressure, relieve spasms in the digestive tract, reduce depression and calm anxiety. Fresh leaves are used to soothe insect bites and heal wounds. Thought to have antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Lemon Herb Tisane
adapted from Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn

To make a tisane:

Pick 1-2 handfuls leaves of a single herb or a mixture. I used lemon thyme, lemon verbena, and lemon balm lemon balm leaves. You can include the stems, too. Wash leaves gently and place them in a teapot or tea press.

Heat water to nearly boiling. (Boiling water will over-steep and cook the delicate leaves and give a grassy taste.) The water should be about the same temperature as you would use for French press coffee, or for green tea.

Let steep for 5-7 minutes before drinking, but leave the herbs in. They will make it stronger as they sit, but not unpleasantly so.

Drink as-is or for a special treat "or fancier nightcap" as The Kitchn says, add an ounce of St, Germain Elderflower Liqueur. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Perfectly lemony and herbal with the elderflower liqueur adding a light floral taste to the mix that is very pleasing. The tisane is also good on its own but the liqueur really enhanced the flavor. Although I enjoyed it warm after dinner, I think it would also be quite delicious iced. I will definitely make this again. You could see the light yellow-green tisane better in a clear cup but sometimes a girl needs to feel special and a little dainty and needs to use the cute little teacups she bought at a little eco-friendly boutique. ;-)

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Raspberry Sake Sparkler: An Easy & Elegant Simple Saturday Sipper

I have a penchant for buying many cute little bottles of sparkling sake at the Japanese market. They are fun, the perfect size for a couple of cocktails, and it gives me a chance to try out different kinds without making a commitment to a large bottle. This pretty pink one is called "Hana-Awaka" which according to the label means "Sparkling Flower." The label describes is as "Gently sweet with balanced tartness, complements sweet dishes or desserts."

It is quite delicious on its own, but sometimes a girl needs a pretty sparkling cocktail to help her relax after a crazy week. The pink bottle and some organic raspberries in my fridge made me think of the bottle of raspberry framboise sitting in my bar and thus the Raspberry Sake Sparkler was born. It is lightly sweet, bubbly and an elegant Simple Saturday Sipper.

Raspberry Sake Sparkler
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

raspberry liqueur (I used framboise)
sparkling sake (or a sparkling wine or champagne)
fresh raspberries to garnish

In a champagne flute, place 2 Tbsp of raspberry liqueur. Top with sparkling sake and serve, garnished with fresh raspberries.

Notes/Results: Very good--bubbly, sweet, but not too sweet, and with a nice raspberry flavor. Quick and simple, this is a perfect cocktail for a warm summer's afternoon or evening. If you can't find sparkling sake, any slightly sweet sparkling wine or champagne would work. I will make this again.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $75.00 electronic gift certificate to spend on unique artisanal goods at the Novica website. Find the details here.

Happy Saturday!