May 13, 2012

Sonoma County may be a culinary destination for other reasons, but in my family we are most grateful for the abundance of fantastic taquerias.  Within walking distance of our house there are many places to enjoy a tasty taco, crunchy tostada or a big @#* burrito. Our kids share our love of Mexican food (which is a family requirement along with love of pizza).  They generally gravitate towards a simple bean and cheese burrito with a Horchata to wash it down.  My husband and I recently discussed that we need to branch out a bit, or our children will think that every restaurant features the cuisine of Mexico!

Horchata is a sweetened rice drink infused with just enough cinnamon to make it interesting.  It is served cold, over ice, and is the perfect balance to a hot and spicy meal.  Given that we often make our own Mexican-inspired food at home, we decided it was time to make horchata as well.  After researching several recipes, I settled on one adapted by David Lebovitz.  It is so incredibly simple that I have happily made it many times already.  Long grain white rice is ground into a powder and soaked with cinnamon over night.  The bits are then strained out and the liquid sweetened and mixed with milk. Done.  I love that by making it at home, I can control the amount of sugar that is in the drink.  Our kids love it and so do we.  According to myth, this drink is also quite the hangover cure, though I can not personally confirm that.  Horchata is a  refreshing drink for any spring or summer day.

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Satsuma Triple Sec

March 9, 2012

The last few weeks we found ourselves floundering through the happy predicament of what to do with ALL THESE SATSUMAS!  Our little tree really put them out this year.  We baked them, tossed them in salads, made not one, but two batches of failed marmalade :(   We ate a ton (I averaged 2-3 per day) and gave even more away.  Still there were more.  So being that it is the end of the “winter that wasn’t” here in Northern California and the warm evenings are already drawing us outside, it was logical to peel them, juice them, and steep them in alcohol!

Satsuma Triple Sec is a pleasant surprise.  Never before had I paid any attention to triple sec, but this is so true to the essence of the satsuma, yet with a delightful kick.  I am only beginning to dream up all delicious drinks we will enjoy all summer long.  My favorite so far involves muddling a sprig of mint, dousing it with sparkling water, a shot of triple sec and topping with a hardy splash of whisky.  Is it Spring Break yet? You had better make two of these dandies.  You will want to share.

Thanks to Cathy Barrow at Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen for the inspiration for this liquor.  The recipe is barely adapted from her recipe for Cara Cara triple sec.  Her site is full of inspiration for canning, charcuterie, and more.  Check it out!

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Fresh Lime Margaritas

February 19, 2012

I do not have a lime tree, or a lemon for that matter, but that does not stop me from loving margaritas!  We recently had the sort of gathering that necessitated a jug of margaritas.  I dutifully headed for the market and loaded up a thousand limes for the effort (actually it was 86, yes, 86 exactly).  The funny thing was, the clerk did not even blink?  How long do you have to work as a grocery checker before it is completely unremarkable when a woman comes through picking up nothing, but a lug of limes?  I wanted to make her a drink.

Margaritas truly are the cocktail of the winter.  What you say?  You tend towards this cold citrusy drink in the summertime or at your annual Cinco de Mayo extravaganza?  Well sure, margaritas are great year round, but winter is the time of year when local citrus is most fresh and abundant.  Plus, there is something about the tart zing of a lime in February that is sure to chase the winter blues away.  The tequila does not hurt either.

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Cranberry Daiquiri

December 30, 2011

It is time to toast the end of another year.  If your year was like mine it was full of a myriad of experiences and emotions.  Looking back on 2011, I would like to accept the challenges I faced and hope to gain strength from them, celebrate the happiest of moments that my family and I shared, and give thanks to all my friends and family that share my life.  I raise my glass to all of you and wish you a 2012 full of health, happiness, and prosperity!

Cranberry Daiquiris are a festive way to toast the new year.  Cranberry and lime juices are balanced with a cranberry infused simple syrup and a shot of rum.  Not to sweet, not too strong, you will want to make these by the pitcher full.   For an unexpected touch, float a couple of slices of jalapeno in each glass.   Happy New Year!

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