Food Hero

Basil Peach Sangria by appetista
July 18, 2009, 4:02 am
Filed under: Appetista, cocktails, quick fix

basil peach sangria

It was Robert Frost who said that good fences make good neighbors. I always assumed that this meant you should have clearly delineated boundaries and not drag your neighbors into the family feuds, nor the other way around. But, then I read the rest of the poem, and it is the retelling of how Mr. Frost and his neighbor spend one day together each year repairing the fence between their lands. And I think perhaps the line refers to the fact that it is good to join with your neighbor, and undertake a task with mutual benefit that would be too large for either of you alone.

Last weekend I undertook such a task with my neighbor (the lovely Katy K) and we hosted a party for our coworkers. (Because Katy and I are friends, and neighbors, and coworkers all at the same time – there are precious few people in the world who can put up with that much of me, bless her soul.) Anyway, we decided to have a party in our shared backyard, and we decided to be lazy and make everyone else bring the food. All we supplied was sangria (and artichoke dip and two gallons of peach ice cream, just for kicks.) So three different sangria recipes were scouted, and three different bottles of wine were purchased, and three different sangrias were made – classic, berry, and basil peach. And by far, the best of these three was the basil peach.  And so many people liked it and asked for the recipe that I thought I would put it here, so the regular Food Hero readers could see the results and a few new people could discover Food Hero.

The sangria was so good I made it again for a boat trip when the divine Rachelle came back for a visit from Denmark. And this time I was running late and made it in 10 minutes (no kidding). So from personal experience I can swear that the whole part about cooling for an hour afterwards is purely optional – just add more ice to the glass. And without further ado, basil peach sangria.

Basil Peach Sangria

(from Gourmet July 2005)

1c loosely packed fresh basil leaves plus 8-10 sprigs.

¾ c sugar

¼ c fresh lemon juice – about one big lemon

2 cans peach nectar

1 bottle chilled dry white wine

1 large peach, peeled if desired, diced.

Put 1 cup basil leaves, sugar, and lemon juice into a small saucepan and bruise leaves by mashing with a wooden spoon. Add 1 can nectar and bring just to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, then pour through a sieve into a pitcher. Discard basil leaves. Stir in wine, peach, remaining can nectar, a basil sprigs. Chill at least 1 hour. Serve over ice.

A few notes on the recipe. I bought one of the big tubs from the store and that was enough for two pitchers. I think the little flat tubs would not quite be enough, so either buy a big tub or two little tubs and plan for a few leftovers. I find peach nectar in the fruit juice aisle of the store, although sometimes it’s in with Mexican food. I really would pick a drier white wine for this – the peach nectar and the sugar give it plenty of sweetness and a sweet wine would just send it over the top. We used chardonnay.


Happy Hour – Blood and Sand by Katy K
June 19, 2009, 5:00 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags: , , , ,

photo-2I tried this tasty retro drink a few months ago when I was out and about on the town in Vancouver B.C. with an old friend.  After skimming the Georgia Straight she chose a hip new Belgian restaurant, Chambar, for us to try. This cocktail, they called “Sang et Sable”, caught my eye because of it’s name (I’m a fan of the vampire genre) and because it is a whiskey cocktail (I’m a fan of whiskey cocktails).  

photoI was quite pleased to find that Chambar’s drink menu was full of variations of vintage cocktails which are very much in vogue at the moment. This delicious trend seems to be presided over in the Pacific Northwest by Jamie Boudreau, a bartender from Vancouver who now practices his art in Seattle (and happens to have a blog on I am personally grateful for such an agreeable diversion as fashionable cocktail-making.

photo-1I really enjoyed the Sang et Sable (as well as the Hughes’s Libation, and a selection of delicious edibles from the food menu) and wanted to try to make it myself.  Upon returning to Seattle and discussing this drink with a bartender at Cantinetta, I found out that “Blood and Sand” is a classic cocktail named for an old movie (Blood and Sand, a 1922 silent movie, about a toreador, starring Rudolph Valentino, as it turns out).  I then consulted one of my most prized possessions, the Esquire Drink Book (1956).  There it was on page 275 – Equal parts of: Scotch, Cherry brandy, Orange juice, Sweet vermouth. I tried this mixture with a Rainier Cherry-flavored vodka (44oNorth) but the cherry flavour was too, perhaps, medicinal…yet interesting in a certain way… but I decided to experiment with the ingredients listed  on the Chambar menu.  I settled on the ingredients and proportions listed below.

The Blood and Sand cocktail is refreshing, with a cool round juicy note imparted by the sherry. For a whiskey cocktail the flavour is surprising – yet just right.  It’s a welcome addition to my repertoire. 

 Per Drink

1     oz  fresh-squeezed orange juice (or tangelo, or minneola…)
1     oz  whiskey (a lighter Canadian-style rye like Seagram’s 7 is good)
1     oz  sweet vermouth
1/2  oz  sherry (I’ve been using Manzanilla, La Gitana, Hidalgo) 

Pour ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake, shake.  Strain into a cocktail glass and, for dramatic effect, garnish by floating a blood orange chip on the surface. To make the chips, slice a blood orange as thinly as possible and dry on a rack in a F 150 oven for many hours (6 or more). After drying the slices I’ve stored them in the freezer until needed.

A votre sante!

Happy Hour – Mint Daiquiri by Katy K
April 7, 2009, 5:22 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags: , ,

mint-daiquiri-iphotoI found this recipe in one of this year’s Christmas gifts, a cookbook called Cesar, Recipes from a Tapas Bar. It’s written by some people from the hip Tapas restaurant in Berkeley, California. I’ve been reading this cookbook from the beginning, like it’s a novel.  I’m still in the cocktail section at the moment and I’ve been lingering over this drink. It’s delightful and fun. I served a couple of these babies outside last Saturday which made the day seem summery – even though reclining on lawn furniture in my duffel coat was making it a little hard to sip from a cocktail glass. Now I see why you need highball glasses and straws, poolside.  This Mint Daiquiri is like a more expedient Mojito – there’s no club soda getting in the way. It has the essential nature of the Mojito without all that distracting ice and fizz. This recipe has some Cointreau which is not usual in either a Daiquiri or Mojito. I’ve also tweaked the recipe little to make it a smidge sweeter than my usual concoctions. Now that I’ve done the research and testing – why don’t you pick up some mint at the farmer’s market this weekend and enjoy this refreshing drink to help you usher in the summer sun!

Per drink

2     tsp   superfine sugar
1/2          a lime (cut into quarters)
3             sprigs of mint (a total of about 30 leaves of various sizes) or a handful
1/2   oz   Cointreau
2      oz    rum , 10 Cane is nice 

Put the 2 teaspoons of sugar into the bottom of a cocktail shaker glass, drop the lime pieces on top of the sugar, and crush with a muddler to release the juices and incorporate the sugar. Wash and pull the leaves off of at least 3 sprigs of mint and toss into the shaker.  Add ice and pour the Cointreau and rum over it. Close the cocktail shaker and shake until chilly. The mint gets bruised and releases its flavour during the shaking. Strain into a martini glass and serve with a mint garnish. For the picture above I strained the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. But if you strain the daiquiri through the usual larger-holed strainer that is part of the cocktail shaker, the result is a drink sprinkled with a confetti of little mint pieces, which is kind of festive and maybe even a little more delicious…

Happy Hour – Lemon Drop by Katy K
February 11, 2009, 3:19 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags: , ,

photoI had my first Lemon Drop at the same establishment that served me my first Cosmopolitan – the once funky, and now defunct, Seattle Catch Bistro in Fremont. This restaurant had a nice atmosphere, it was fun to sit at the bar, and they had a delicious linguine with clams and white wine that they made with a roux and served in the saucepan at the table.  I asked our cute and charming waitress for some suggestions because I wasn’t in the mood for a Manhattan, or a gin and tonic, or a Margarita. She suggested a Cosmopolitan, which was awesome, and then she brought me a Lemon Drop, which was too sweet.  I commenced my years-long affair with the Cosmpolitan that night. More recently I have had some delicious, not too sweet, Lemon Drops out and about on the town, and so I have been trying to make them at home.  I was using lemon-flavoured vodka but they tasted awful! Last Friday night I had a conversation with my new favourite bartender at the fun and delicious brand-new restaurant in my neighbourhood, Cantinetta.  As a result of this consultation I made some good Lemon Drops this weekend. No flavoured vodka was involved. He told me how to infuse my own lemon vodka if I really wanted flavoured vodka. He said to slice lemons, spread them on a baking sheet, put them in the oven to heat them up, and then cover them with vodka and allow to cool. Pour the vodka off the lemon slices, and you have your lemon-infused vodka.  He said that heat was the key but I would have believed anything he said, he has the the most distracting dimple…I’ll try infusing vodka some day, but until then, the recipe I came up with this weekend is delicious…

Ingredients per drink

1                    tsp  sugar (superfine)
1/4 to 1/2       a lemon (depending on the size of the lemon)
1  1/2             oz   vodka (Ketel One)
1/2                 oz   Cointreau 

This is like a Cosmopolitan with lemon instead of lime (I guess that’s why I like it). Put a teaspoon of superfine sugar into a glass, put pieces of lemon into glass and crush with a muddler. Add ice and pour the vodka and Cointreau over it. Invert a cocktail shaker into the glass and shake, shake, shake. Strain the Lemon Drop into a cocktail glass rimmed with superfine sugar. Lately I’ve been straining my Cosmos, and now Lemon Drops, through a tea strainer – it results in a more…refined…sip of vodka.

Happy Hour – Whiskey Sour by Katy K
December 6, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags:


Maker's Mark Whiskey Sour

Maker's Mark Whiskey Sour

Tom Chiarella wrote a piece for Esquire entitled “The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master“. It’s fun read.  A friend at work asked me why I was reading such an article and, though I think one should not have to defend oneself for reading, I said that I need to know these things so I can be my own man and not have to depend on a man to be one for me…and maybe I can judge whether he is man enough for me…but I digress… 
Among all the skills one should master, #17 is “Make one drink, in large batches, very well”. That’s good advice – don’t you think?
Mr. Chiarella’s drink is the Whiskey Sour and you can find the large batch recipe in his article.  Now, I love a good Whiskey Sour, and I had been trying to work out the proportions for myself by trial-and-error. Since I read the article I have found this recipe to be quite reliable. 

Per drink:

2    oz  whiskey
1/2 oz  fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz  simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal volume of water)

photo4Just stir, serve on the rocks, and enjoy.  Maker’s Mark is in my photo and it is a nice American whiskey that I bought for the Thanksgiving Manhattans last week. It makes a delicious Whiskey Sour but I think I prefer Canadian-style “rye” like Seagram’s VO or Seagram’s 7.  I’ve heard that Canadian rye is not real rye but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.  I find that many Canadian whiskeys are milder-tasting than the American whiskeys I’ve tried.  With a lighter whiskey, the taste of the lemon in the Sour is more forward, which I like, but your choice of whiskey depends on what you’re in the mood for. Now that it is winter, the Maker’s Mark is satisfying, but in the summer, on the deck of my friend’s boat on Lake Union, Whiskey Sours made with Canadian rye are just the ticket.

Happy Hour – Papa Doble by Katy K
November 17, 2008, 4:27 pm
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K

papa-doble-iv6The Papa Doble is a variation of the Lime Daiquiri and “Papa” in the name refers to Ernest Hemingway. I found this recipe in a cookbook that was a gift from a great friend who always gives me Canadian books (novels or cookbooks) for Christmas every year. This cookbook is from Lumiere, a famous Vancouver restaurant.  Lumiere Light is a beautiful book and full of cocktail recipes. The food recipes are very complicated so I’m working on the cocktail recipes first. I heard that the bartender from Lumiere is now in charge of the bar at Vessel in Seattle (named a “best bar” by Esquire Magazine). I’ve been there once and had a couple of delicious drinks from a very exciting menu of cocktails.  

I really enjoy the Papa Doble.  This drink has both grapefruit and lime juices (great sources of Vitamin C) and no sweeteners other than a dash of maraschino liqueur.  The generous measure of rum and the bitter tang of the grapefruit results in a cocktail that is both delicious and … bracing.

with a pink star ice cube

with a pink star ice cube

For one cocktail…

 3   oz white rum (I use 10 Cane – it’s not white but I like it)
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice 
3/4 oz fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice 
1/4 oz maraschino liqueur 

Mix all ingredient together over ice in a cocktail shaker, shake vimfully,as one always should with a cocktail shaker, and strain into a cocktail glass (the one they serve martinis in). Enjoy!


Happy Hour – Sparkling Campari Cocktail by Katy K
October 17, 2008, 4:47 am
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K

Campari is the bright red aperitif drink from Italy. Supposedly its ingredients are a secret so all I can say, from experience, is that Campari has an unusual taste that is really quite bitter. I’ve had other cocktails made with Campari that highlight its bitterness (a Negroni, for example) but these can be an acquired taste.  I found this recipe in a cute magazine called CHOW (Volume 1, Number 4, November/December 2005) which may be just a website now. This cocktail mixes Campari and a simple syrup made with fresh grapefruit and I think it puts the Campari taste in a familiar context that makes it more accessible.  The similarly bitter grapefruit flavor complements the Campari perfectly. To complete the picture (pitcher?) this strong concoction is spangled with light, sweet, sparkling wine.  I’ve made this drink for New Year’s Eve, for Sunday brunch and, this week, for Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s interesting, pretty, and delicious – what more could you want at a party?

Sparkling Campari Cocktail

Sparkling Campari Cocktail


1             grapefruit
1/2  Cup  sugar
1/2  Cup  water 
1     Cup  vodka
1     Cup  Campari
3/4  Cup  sweet vermouth
1 bottle    sparkling moscato

Cut the grapefruit in half, juice one half and reserve the fresh-squeezed juice. Cut the other half of the grapefruit, including the rind, into wedges. Prepare grapefruit syrup by heating the water and sugar in a saucepan on medium until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a couple of minutes until the syrup thickens slightly, then add the grapefruit wedges and simmer for about 5 minutes until all the juices are released. Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.  To the cooled syrup, add the vodka, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Mix thoroughly and store in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 1 hour). To serve, pour strained cocktail mix over ice in a glass, add a splash of the reserved fresh grapefruit juice, and top off with 3 ounces of moscato.


...sparkling in the sun.

...sparkling in the sun.

I have made this drink a few times so I took some measurements and the ratio of cocktail mix to sparkling wine seems to be 1:1. After having a conversation with a woman who works in my local wine store regarding exactly what was meant by sparkling moscato in the magazine, she advised me to buy an inexpensive sweet sparkling asti spumante from the grocery store.  It wasn’t a great wine but she thought it was exactly what this recipe called for and it was delicious the first time I made it. The last time I made this I sprang for a more expensive Moscato d’Asti.  I noted that this wine had a regular cork when it was being opened and I felt that the resulting cocktail lacked its usual zing.  So my advice is to choose a sweet sparkling wine that requires a champagne cork.  I think that this will guarantee enough sparkle in your glass…enjoy!