Thursday, May 24, 2012

the joy of juniper

“I really need a gin and tonic.” --Camilla Parker Bowles

A few days ago I did something I've never done: I attended a gin tasting event. It was fantastic. The Co-Founder and Director of Broker's Gin, Andy Dawson, facilitated the evening's events in College Station, TX (I even walked away with an autographed bottle of Broker's Gin). We sipped, we smelled, we swirled, we laughed, and we learned all about gin--with only one caveat: "Do NOT drink all of the gin in front of you." That was good advice, since we each were sipping from five different glasses of gin.

As the daughter of a good Brit, I'm a huge gin fan. Huge. In fact, it's my favorite spirit (and boy, do I enjoy some spirits). For an alcohol beverage to be classified as gin, it need only meet three criteria: (1) It starts from a liquid base mash/spirit (e.g., corn, wheat, barley); (2) it contains various botanicals/aromatics (the types and numbers vary, based on the brand of gin ... I learned that my gin preferences lean towards those gins with fewer botanicals); and (3) it's steeped with juniper berries. That's it!

Anyway, I loved every minute of it. And I intend to hold my own "gin tasting evening" at my house sometime in the near future. Good, good times.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

pan-seared scallops

Scallops? Oh, yes. YES. Along with a glass of white wine, I'm not sure dinner (or lunch) gets much better. Light & satisfying, what I love most about this particular recipe (from Use Real Butter) is its simplicity. When pan-searing scallops, it's important, however, to heed two vital rules: (a) Dry the scallops as much as possible prior to cooking, and (b) do not overcook.

Now go get yourself some large bay scallops and get after it. 

Pan-seared Scallops
4 large, dried scallops (I did 6)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup white wine
Pat the scallops dry with a towel or paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the scallops (both sides). 

Heat olive oil in a frying pan (don’t use non-stick) over high heat. When oil is hot, place the scallops in the pan with at least one or two inches between them (so they don’t crowd and steam one another).

 Flip the scallops and cook for another minute or until base is browned. After two minutes, the base should be browned nicely. 

Remove scallops from heat and set on serving dish(es). While still on high heat, drop a pat of butter into the pan. Move the pat around the pan until melted completely. Pour in the wine and use a whisk or spoon to scrape the pan and stir it into the liquid. Leave the heat on high and let the sauce boil until it reduces to desired consistency.

Immediately remove from heat and serve with scallops.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

sexy white wine sangria

There's certainly no shortage of sangria recipes floating around out there in the recipesphere; but on a hot, casual Saturday afternoon, I'm usually wanting white wine, rather than red. The club soda in this particular version really does it for me by skimming off the overly sweet and leaving behind a thirst-quenching crispness.

Alone or with your best sangria drinkin' guys & gals, this super refreshing and very simple (chances are good you already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen) winey goodness does the trick.

Sexy White Wine Sangria
  • 1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc 
  • 1/2 litre of club soda (or ginger ale if you like it really sweet ... I personally do not) 
  • 2 kiwis 
  • 1/2 cup of raspberries 
  • 2 limes 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar 
Cut the kiwi and the lime into wedges. Pour the wine into a large, preferably glass, pitcher. Add all the fruit and the sugar then mix well. Cover and let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour. When you’re ready to drink, add the club soda and about two handfuls of ice. Mix again and serve immediately.
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