How To Make a Fernet Buck
Got any awesome plans (or cocktails) coming up?
If you remember from a post a few weeks ago, I tried a really awesome drink at the O Hotel's Bar+Kitchen in Downtown LA. The drink was so good, in fact, that I returned for one (but ended up having two. And french fries). Boy were those drinks pricey off the happy hour menu. So I decided to go home and try it out. If I do say so myself, I totally nailed it.
Fernet Branca was developed as a digestive aid in 1845 in Italy, and continues to be consumed in cocktails (the Italians sure seem to like medicinal inspired alcohols). Fernet is hard to describe, but is perhaps best done by Imbibe: " Most liqueurs are gentle, sweet and eager to please, like helpful Boy Scouts. Fernet Branca is no Boy Scout." It is reported to be a blend of around 40 herbs and spices, including things like myrrh, saffron, chamomile, but perhaps most noticeable are the aromas of menthol and eucalyptus. While made for sipping, I think Fernet Branca is much more pleasurable when mixed.
A true Fernet Buck is simply a mixture of the liqueur and ginger beer, but upon trying that, I found it lackluster in comparison to the cocktail that had inspired this foray into mixology. I remembered that the drink listing mentioned thyme, so I added the herb in syrup form to my round two attempt. Voila! That was what I had been looking for!
The thyme syrup is simple... simple syrup! Combine a half cup sugar and a half cup of water with 4 fresh thyme sprigs in a small saucepan over medium low heart. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture clouds, then clears. Bring off the heat and allow it to sit in the pot with the thyme until the mixture is room temperature. Then strain into a glass bottle, and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
I really like the nice golden hue that it comes out! I would come up with some other drinks to use it in, but for now I'm kinda stuck on the buck (hah).
How To Make a Fernet Buck
1 ounce Fernet Branca
5 ounces ginger beer (I used an alcoholic version, but you can use non-alcoholic as well)
2 teaspoons thyme syrup
Garnish: large lemon wedge
Add all ingredients to an iced filled glass a stir to mix, and squeeze that nice chunk of lemon on top!
I love the frothiness on this drink! If you prefer the ginger-y-ness of the beer to the herbal-y-ness of the Fernet Branca, add more beer. And don't forget the lemon and lots of ice, they're essential (this is not a good beverage to let sit... not as good at room temp)!
Happy Friday! And happy almost three day weekend!
Got any awesome plans (or cocktails) coming up?
Hola! Como estas?! I hope very well, since it is a holiday and all! While it may not be one you're getting off of work (bummer), I am all about celebrating whenever you get the chance. I'll be eating tacos and drinking margaritas with my family tonight, but today I'm talking about 2 easy, everyday "recipes" that I enjoy all the time: Cafe de Olla and chips with hot sauce! These are both things that I ate during my vacation to Puerto Vallarta and started making at home afterwards because they were simple, yummy, and made me think of my hotel room on the beach (and all the great food we ate).
Cafe de Olla
Cafe de Olla, or "coffee from the pot", is named for the traditional clay vessels that the beverage was originally made in. The coffee grounds are boiled with cinnamon and piloncillo, which makes it a great beverage to have while in Mexico, but also easy to make at home. Piloncillo is the rawest form of sugar cane; it comes in a little cone shape and can be found in Mexican food stores in the baking aisle. You can also use brown sugar, but piloncillo has a richer, earthier flavor that gives Cafe de Olla its trademark warmth and deliciousness.
To make 2 servings you will need:
Heat your water; once it is at a rolling boil, lower to a simmer and add coffee, piloncillo, and cinnamon. Let simmer, uncovered, for five minutes and then turn off the heat. Give it a few stirs and then cover the pot and allow it to sit for another five minutes. Pour through a cheesecloth or fine strainer to serve.
This recipe is easy to size up and make for a large group, so it's a great option to serve at brunch! I love to have this with scrambled eggs and chorizo (but what I'd really love to have it with is bread pudding).
Chips & Hot Sauce
In Mexico, it's expected that you'll find potato or corn chips sold with a packet of hot sauce in the convenience stores. While in Puerto Vallarta, I got in quite a habit of consuming a bag with a cold beer during our siesta back at the hotel. Now, it's my go-to after work snack; it's easy to throw together while I'm preparing my real meal (though I'll admit I've just eaten chips and hot sauce for dinner on an embarrassing amount of occasions. I won't attempt to quantify.)
At it's most basic, it's simply chips, citrus, and hot sauce, but there is a lot of room to get fancy and personalize your favorite combination. I like enough lime juice to make the chips soggy (is that weird?), Cholula hot sauce, and a sprinkling of garlic salt over corn chips. My mom prefers baked potato chips instead; if I'm out of limes I'll use lemons, and I have some Tapatio hot sauce on hand as well.
It may be basic, but there's a reason why it's so popular (hint: because it's great).
Is anyone else celebrating this evening with some festive food and drinks? What are you making?
For May Day, a holiday heralding in the fullness of spring, Creme Yvette has to be the most perfect liqueur since it is made from a distillation of berries, cassis, orange peel, vanilla, and most importantly, the petals of parma violets. Creme Yvette was first produced in Connecticut around 1890, and became very popular throughout the world. However, the popularity of cocktails dwindled during prohibition and subsequently many once popular drinks that used Creme Yvette, like The Aviation, fell out of fashion (and the recipe lost for a time). Several brands ultimately went defunct for reasons like this, with Creme Yvette among them in 1969.
However, in late 2009 the brand was purchased by the owner of St. Germaine and was reproduced using new vendors (since the original providers had long since gone out of business as well). The outcome was a delightful liqueur, welcomed warmly back into the cocktail community, despite its more reddish hue (hence why your Blue Moon doesn't seem very blue!).
After reading this history, I just had to try it. At forty dollars a bottle, it's not an everyday kind of beverage, but I would definitely say its worth the investment. Its similar enough that you could use it in place of Chambord in a sparkling wine, but Creme Yvette's flavor profile is much richer and more complex (not to mention, almost double the proof).
Here are two ways to enjoy Creme Yvette!
How to Make a Blue Moon
1 1/2 ounces Dry Gin (I only had Hendrick's, so I used that)
3/4 ounce Creme Yvette
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
Glass: cocktail or coupe
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain.
This Blue Moon recipe is a variation of the version that was printed on the Creme Yvette bottle in the 1940s. Imagine how pretty it was when it was a little bit blue! But whatever the color, it tastes delightful!
How to Make a Bitter Bike
This petite drink is a perfect digestif, a little something to serve after dinner or dessert. Something like port or brandy is more traditional, but no one can deny that a Bitter Bike is a fine way to end an evening.
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) St. Germaine
1/4 ounce (1/2 tablespoon) Creme Yvette
1/4 ounce (1/2 tablespoon) Angostura Bitters
For this cocktail, you will need a bent spoon so you can layer the alcohols. If you don't want to bend one of your good spoons, head to the local thrift shop and find a nice pliable one. A bent spoon is handy to have around for other drinks as well, like a black and tan!
Add the St. Germaine first, then add the layer of Creme Yvette by pouring it onto the spoon, which should be held just over the St. Germaine. The idea is that the liquid is gently added, so that it doesn't plop in and start mixing. Add the bitters the same way.
The elderflower sweetness of the St. Germaine is counterbalanced by the bold Angostura, while the Creme Yvette provides a floral, berry bite.
Let me know how you like these if you try them out. I think they're perfect for a special occasion...
(like, hmm, Mothers' Day perhaps? I think she's worth it!)
Love and cheers! Rachel
I spent Saturday and Sunday of this past weekend in the Los Angeles area with two friends from college. We were visiting different artists' studios over the course of the two days, so we decided to stay downtown and make a weekend of it. Even though I live in Long Beach and work in Beverly Hills, I've never spent a whole lot of time in Downtown or Silver Lake, which were two areas we ended up frequenting. It was really fun to adventure around, and we also ate some amazing food, which is what I'm sharing today!
bar +& Kitchen
@The O Hotel, Downtown
We walked from our (budget) hotel to the very nice O Hotel at the pre-dinner hour for some reviving drinks and noms. It's a pretty simple menu, but everything we had was delicious, and the drinks were phenomenal. I tried a Fernet Branca with thyme, and now I have to learn how to make them!
Instead of doing one of the more expensive entrees, I went ahead and did two side orders. Mostly because I wanted French Fries, which if you didn't know, are one of my great loves. Note: fries were quite good, but the dipping sauce really stole the show. The tomato soup was nice and creamy, and they have great croutons (I broke FODMAP and ate them, couldn't help myself)!
When in L.A. for the weekend, one is required to do brunch. It's basically a city ordinance. And preferably, it should involve bottomless mimosas. And if your bottomless mimosas are $5, then you've basically hit the jackpot. Enter: Barbrix.
As you might expect, $5 mimosas in Silver Lake are a popular thing, so it may behoove you to roll out of bed a little early and get down here. There's a tiny valet lot, but you can find neighborhood parking if you're willing to walk. It's totally worth it, given that the mimosas are made with some stellar tasting orange juice, and the brunch menu made my heart pound.
That's crab hash with poached eggs and tomatillo sauce. Swoon. And since potato hash wasn't enough, I chose French fries instead of salad. I think I have a problem. Though really, the French fries pale in comparison to the sweet, sweet guilt of cinnamon sugar donuts smothered in gelato and rum caramel sauce. Yes, yes we did go there.
Tip: don't say no the dessert menu. The Barbrix also gets a huge thumbs up from me because my champagne flute was only empty once!
Since I can't go more than two days without eating Mexican food, we hit Malo before heading out of town for drinks and grub.
I ordered a cocktail called Senorita Angelina instead of a margarita, and if I do say so myself, it was an inspired choice. Tequila, hibiscus, and lime served in a glass with a chili salt rim. Spicy, sour, sweet, and perfectly hot pink!
I decided on going with two sides again, because I couldn't choose just one thing! Malo isn't the most authentic Mexican food restaurant you can find in the area, but you're never going to convince me that bacon refried beans are a bad idea. Because they're just not.
Anyone living/working in the area have some other great restaurant suggestions? I'm thinking I'm going to make some more food dedicated trips in the future!
One of the most frustrating things about having a food intolerance is that moment when you're standing in the grocery store, fastidiously scrutinizing nutrition labels, repeating what is now basically a mantra: I cannot eat this. I cannot eat this. I cannot eat this. It's pretty lame.
My most recent struggle has been with juices. I wasn't a huge juice drinker even before I developed fructose malabsorption, but I loved to have a Naked smoothie or a cold pressed juice now and again. Unfortunately, most juices have a base of either apple or pear juice, which are both no-nos for me; not only will I never be commencing a juice cleanse (not that I ever would have, sounds grumpy-inducing), but I can't even have a snack. Those fun cayenne pepper lemonades were out of my league too, since they usually contain things like maple syrup or stevia (also no-nos. Commence mantra).
So, I decided to make my own lemonade, especially when I heard about the benefits of cayenne pepper. The spicy ingredient helps detox your body, and of particular interest to me, can aid in digestive issues such as IBS (of which fructose malabsorption is a derivative).
The recipe for this delicious beverage is quite simple, so it's easy to whip up even on busy days!
Easy enough! Slice up 2-3 strawberries in the bottom of your glass, and then follow the above recipe. If your strawberries are not super ripe, this is a great one to make the night before and let steep.
Cucumber Spears +& Mint
For this green dream, crush five or six washed mint leaves at the bottom of your glass. Fill with several cucumber spears (they have a greater surface area than rounds, and thus help the flavor more). Continue with the above recipe. The cayenne pepper and mint blend for a really great combo!
Grapefruit Juice & Rosemary
This recipe uses less lemon juice, so fill your glass about 1/6- 1/5 full (instead of a 1/4). Add fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, until the glass is about a 1/3 full, then add water. Depending on the sweetness of your grapefruit, you may want to omit the simple syrup. Wash your rosemary sprig and wrap in a paper towel; using the handle of a knife/can-opener/peeler/whatever, lightly crush the leaves to release some of the oils. Unwrap and place in glass (you may want to trim to a more manageable size, so you don't have the sprig in your face while trying to drink!)
Hope you enjoy these combos as much as we did! My mom voted the cucumber mint one as the best, because you also get a snack (and admittedly, the ice cold minty cucumber spears were pretty good to munch on!).
Stay fresh my friends!
After using orange blossom water for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I have become utterly enamored with the product. It's subtly floral but not sweet, and provides a very refreshing flavor for water, and as I've discovered, cocktails (like the Ramos Gin Fizz I made last Friday).
I started browsing around, looking for more recipes that included orange blossom loveliness, but didn't come across anything I was particularly enthused by... so I decided to try some mixology myself. The outcome? Mermiad gin!
Clear, effervescent, and fragrant with the smell of blossoms it reminded me so much of the Mermaid perfume I've been dying to get my hands on; it also seemed like the choice of drink that the delightfully naughty mermaids in Peter Pan might be caught sipping on.
How To Make a Mermaid Gin
1 ounce Gin
(I used Hendrick's, and loved the rose and cucumber notes it added, though a more citrus-y London dry like Bombay Sapphire would work nicely as well)
1 splash orange blossom water
(available at specialty food stores, Middle Eastern markets, or online)
1 splash simple syrup
1 ounce soda
A few dashes orange bitters
Float of champagne (optional)
Pour gin, orange blossom water, and simple syrup over and few ice cubes in the bottom of a shaker. Stir until mixed and add soda. Strain and pour into glass. Float champagne on top and add dashes of bitters.
Mermaid gin is like an adult Seven-up, light and easy to sip (almost dangerously so, considering that this drink is mostly gin!). It is best enjoyed cold, so serve in small glasses and refresh as needed.
Have a lovely Easter weekend!
Saturday is National Garlic Day (yes, there's an official website for the holiday), and since I'm a big lover of garlic (much to my boyfriend's distress) I had to make something to celebrate this illustrious day! I hazarded a look into aioli recipes, discovering that it is actually remarkably easy to make. Aioli is garlic mayo-type spread often seen on trendy burgers at trendy restaurants, but has a long tradition of being whipped up (literally). Not only is aioli great on burgers and sandwiches, it also makes a great dip for one of my all time fave foods, French fries. French fries are gluten free, dairy free, allergen free, all the FREE, and still delicious; which makes them basically the perfect creation for those with food intolerances (and really just all people everywhere). Baked "fries" are a little healthier and easier to make at home, and when you load them up with Romano cheese and rosemary, there's no denying they're pretty dang good.
First off, start with some potatoes and an oven preheated to 450 degrees. Some nice Russets are great for making long skinny fries.
For this snack, I prepared one potato per person. Wash and scrub the skin to make sure it's clean (since I left the skins for baking). Using the point of the knife, remove eyes or dark spots. Quarter the potato and cut into desired size.
Some recipes recommend that you give your fries an ice bath to prevent the outsides from getting tough while cooking; my potatoes weren't very starchy so I omitted that step and they turned out fine.
Once you've sliced up your potatoes, toss them in a light drizzle of oil. If they're too soggy they won't get very crispy, so start with a small amount and add more if you feel they aren't properly coated. I chose olive oil to complement the toppings and garlic aioli, but if you want a more neutral you could use canola. Lay your fries out flat on a wax paper covered baking tray (you could also coat the tray with a baking oil spray, but wax paper makes clean up a cinch). Place in the oven for 35 minutes; check before your timer is up to see how your fries are browning up. If some are already done you can remove them first, or you might want to rotate your pan since most ovens don't heat evenly.
Wash and remove the rosemary leaves from the woodier stem, and fine chop. Give some Romano cheese a fine grate; it has a creamier consistency than Parmesan, allowing it melt nicely on the warm fries.
Once your fries are out of the oven and all are cooked, top them with your rosemary, cheese, and some salt.
Plate 'em up...
And boom! Delicious. But wait, it gets better. Let's get to the honoree of this National Garlic Day, the aioli. You can put this together while the fries are in the oven, and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
Aioli recipes have very little variation, but I found this one on Epicurious.
If your aioli comes out tasting too sour or lemony, it is easily fixed by adding a little more salt and some sugar, to taste. It will vary depending on the acidity of your lemon(s), but it is not recommended to reduce the amount since the recipe does include an egg yolk.
So, this weekend whip together a batch of fries and some aioli for dunking to impress your friends. They'll think you're quite the gourmet (and if you don't tell them how easy it was, I won't!).
A note for any readers with fructose malabsorption/on the FODMAP diet, garlic can be problematic for some. I find that I tolerate it well, but if you're avoiding it, try making your own mayo to go with fries instead. While it may sound odd, homemade mayo is nothing like the your usual Best Foods variety and is remarkably tasty. In Europe, fries are commonly served this way, which initially I found appalling but grew to love.
With love and garlic breath,
The Ramos Gin Fizz was first dreamed up in 1888, originally called the New Orleans Fizz, by Henry C. Ramos. Working in the New Orleans (now long gone) Imperial Cabinet Saloon, Ramos was said to have a staff of 12 to 20 bartenders on hand to help craft these. Why, you may ask? Because the original instructions stated that the drink should be shaken for at least 10 minutes, if not all of 12. The drink retained its popularity post prohibition, most notably when in 1935, New Orleans governor Huey P. Long sent a bartender from the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans to its New York counterpart. He had the New Orleans bartender teach the Manhattan-ites the subtleties of this fine drink, so that he might be able to acquire a perfect Ramos Gin Fizz during his trips to New York.
These days, it would be difficult to find this iconic drink anywhere outside of New Orleans, and only a handful of bars at that. The long prep time combined with the unusual ingredient list makes it something of notoriety, a drink that lends itself to dreaming of a long gone era.
I hope that description has you intrigued enough, because you're going to think I'm bonkers once I tell you what's in this thing.
How to Make A Ramos Gin FIzz
2 ounces London Dry gin
1 ounce heavy cream, half and half, or milk
1 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 egg white
(if you're squeamish about the idea of using egg whites, you can used powdered instead. However, the chance of getting salmonella is very low when using fresh, cold eggs)
2-3 dashes orange blossom water
(I purchased mine very inexpensively from a middle eastern market, but it can also sometimes be found at specialty grocery stores such as Trader Joe's or Bristol Farms. It can also be ordered online if no stores in your area carry it.)
1 drop vanilla extract (optional)
Garnish: Straw (optional)
Combine all of your ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds sans ice. This "dry shake" jump starts the emulsification of the egg white (the sugar "cooks" the egg white, causing it to stiffen some).
Add several small ice cubes and continue to shake with enthusiasm and vigor. Most recipes no longer call for the extensive 10-12 minutes of shaking; often it's recommended to shake until you can no longer hear the ice, or about 2-3 minutes. I shook mine longer than that, and was happy with the outcome.
Pour the frothy contents into a chilled Collins glass and slowly top with soda to rise the head. This creates a reaction much like a root beer float, but with a much thicker foam. So thick, that your straw should be able to stand upright in it.
Here's me shaking shaking shaking. It was quite the arm workout! Once I was done and the drink was poured, I was immediately struck with immense trepidation at the thought of actually consuming the beverage. I was thinking that was 2 ounces of very fine gin I just poured into cream and citrus juice and EGGS. So, I made my mom take the first sip.
She took one slightly timid sip through the straw and then looked at me. "Oh, that's good."
Since she had cleared the path, I eagerly tried it myself, and there's not much to say besides the fact that this is indeed a very good drink. While the ingredients may seem like an arbitrary grocery list or a joke, Henry C. Ramos clearly knew something I didn't when he mixed that up. The creamy, citrus, and floral notes combine so nicely with the gin, that you kinda forget there's alcohol even in this thing. I used heavy cream, which is the standard recipe, but in the future I might try half and half. While I loved the creaminess, it was also incredibly rich. This definitely isn't a drink for just any party (I wouldn't shake anything for 10-12 minutes for just anyone, you know), but it's a sophisticated element to add to your repertoire. And it's pretty impressive.
Bonus Material: If you're interested in more gin cocktails, I recommend you watch this series of GIFs about making Gin n' Juice. Not because it's informative, but because it's so remarkably awkward.
It's Friday! Enjoy it, and your whole weekend!
With sips and smiles, Rachel
Last weekend I threw my very first (little, quite little) event in the Little Den! It was a brunch for my cousin's birthday; even though it was just 3 of us, I was admittedly a little concerned about pulling it off. I mean, once all the leaves are folded out on my table, there's barely enough room between a chair and the mini fridge.
But, I'm very happy to report that it was a success, and wanted to share some tips for pulling off an easy brunch (even in a small space). I don't have many photos (we were too busy having fun!), but I'm going to share those too.
A Few Tips & Tricks:
The weekend is almost here! Happy Brunching!
Overnight oats have been a thing for a while now, probably because they're delicious and remarkably easy to prepare. It's a glorious combination for any meal, but particularly for breakfasts that have to happen in the short amount of time between doing your hair and finding your keys (if not actually being consumed in the car). For these very reasons, I was all about jumping on the overnight oats bandwagon. Until I started reading the recipes... none of which I could actually eat.
One of the hardest things about living with fructose malabsorption is the fact that I really can't eat sugar, and I definitely can't eat any sugar substitutes. So, while the idea of pecans and maple syrup sounded delightful, the idea of being sick at work was decidedly less delightful. Brown sugar and raisins? Both are no-gos. Toasty coconut? Totally out. Cue me being totally bummed.
So I embarked on a culinary journey to put together a recipe that would be both good to eat, and tasty to eat. And I found it!
FODMAP Diet Friendly Overnight Oats
So here's what you're going to put in these bad boys:
Put everything in your container of choice (you can get cute and put it in a mason jar, but I put mine in a microwave safe tupperware so I can heat it up when I get to work), put the lid on and give it a good shake. Once everything is mixed up, put them in the fridge, you guessed it, overnight!
(This post comes with a bonus tour of the mini fridge I live out of. As you might notice, the space is dominated by cottage cheese and beer, which is kind of embarrassing. But look, fruits and veggies too! And just because it's a mini fridge doesn't mean I haven't figured out a way to keep a bottle of champagne on hand. You know, for emergencies...)
When you wake up in the morning and check your fridge you will find that....
Ta-Da! You have oatmeal!
Great, right? Even if you're not on the FODMAP diet, these oats are a great recipe for anyone who wants to cut back on their sugar intake. I make a new bowl every evening when I come home from work, since these don't work well when made farther in advance.
Anyone else a fan of overnight oats? I'm thinking as an every-once-in-awhile treat, it would be really delicious to put this peanut butter caramel sauce on top... What's your favorite thing to put in them?
Happy breakfasting everyone! XO, Rachel