March 27, 2011

Last night we threw one of my best friends, Brooke, a surprise 30th birthday party. There was champagne and party hats. We set up a makeshift photo booth with cheap junk from the 99 cent store. It was the best night.
Before I begin, I can’t make this post without bringing up the issue of gelatin. In general I shy away from it, not because it’s a animal byproduct, but because I hate the texture. I blame this on my appendix surgery in first grade, when I remember eating nothing but lemon jello and chicken broth while in the hospital. Gross. Anyway, the vegan alternative is agar agar powder, which I hear is available in fancy grocery stores like Whole Foods.
I decided to make “adult” jello shots – as in not some gross vodka and cherry jello in a dixi cup. Since our theme was champagne, I made jello versions of the classic French 75 cocktail: Champagne, gin, lemon juice and sugar. They were a hit.


The French 75 (via Jelly Shot Test Kitchen)

Recommended Pan:  Standard Loaf Pan (I used mini muffin tins)

1/3 cup lemonade concentrate (strained to remove solids) 1/3 cup water2 envelopes Knox gelatin 2/3 cup gin 2/3 cup flat champagne granulated sugar Lemon zest garnish, (optional)

Combine lemonade concentrate and water in saucepan (and sugar if using).  Sprinkle with gelatin and allow to soak for a minute or two.  Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved (approximately 5 minutes).  Remove from heat, and stir in the gin and champagne.  Pour into pan and chill until fully set, several hours or overnight.  To serve, cut into desired shapes.  Garnish with lemon zest.  Makes 18 to 24 shots. (I rolled them in sugar to balance the tartness of the lemon.)
 Some selections from the party…

Last night was one of those nights that reminded me of how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends.

May 31, 2010

Chicago was upwards of 88 degrees yesterday, and after spending several hours on Lake Michigan (new love of my life) we hit up the Lincoln Park Whole Foods (second new love of my life) and went to work on creating our deep dish pizza dinner.  We needed some snacks and cocktails to keep us going during the 3 hour pizza prep, and this is what we came up with.  I’ve made this brushcetta before, and since avocados were on sale, it seemed time to give it another go. 

Avocado Chimichurri Brushcetta (via  Couture Au Chocolat)
2 ripe avocados 1/4 cup chopped parsley (I didn’t use parsley) 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (if not using cilantro, compensate with parsley) 1/2 shallot finely diced 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar 1 tbsp. honey Olive oil enough to bring everything together Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of thick Italian bread (or baguette) Olive oil to brush on slices of bread 1 garlic, peeled and cut in half
Cut the avocados in half, take out the pit, and cut avocado into cubes.
Combine avocados, parsley, cilantro, shallots, red wine vinegar, honey and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Brush olive oil on slices of bread and grill on each side for a couple of minutes, or toast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 min.
Rub the cut side of a raw garlic on grilled or toasted bread slices. Spread avocado mixture on bread and serve.
(I didn’t do a good job of following the recipe here, so I was lacking in the amount of cilantro… still was delicious.)Ever since I made the mash of blueberry, basil and lemon to my Dutch Babies, I’ve wanted to incorporate it into a  drink.  Melissa loves a good cocktail, so I knew she’d be on board.  She mixed up the concoction while I worked on the brushcetta.  My intuition was right – the mash tasted great in a gin drink. Perfect for the hot weather!

Blueberry Basil Gin Swizzle 1/2 cup blueberries1 lemon (just the juice!)1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil1 tbls powdered sugardash of simple syrup2 ounces of ginclub soda
Mash the blueberries, lemon and basil and mix in sugar.  Add a few tbls to the bottom of a glass, add in remaining ingredients.  Use a swizzle to mix the ingredients together.  We recommend a straw for maximum enjoyment.