Desperately Seeking Sun [Ginger-Cilantro Margaritas]

I’m not usually so bitter towards winter. 

We live in a city that inevitably gets 200cm (78”) or more of snowfall each season but come March, when we tend to get a day or two of teasing above zero weather, anger and frustration starts to set in after that warmth is quickly gusted away by yet another city-entombing snowfall. The boots, the shoveling, the digging and pushing and digging and pushing of a stuck car,  the dirty, snowy dog paws, and the stirring restlessness that happens after months of dusty heater-breezes where crisp, sun-drenched breezes used to hang. 

I want the sun badly. I want to feel my cheeks flush and toasty under it’s rays. I want to spend the weekend on the balcony, catching up on reading, my toes glowing in the late afternoon sun that only manages to hit one corner of the tiny wooden box. I want to muddle Farmer’s Market berries and herbs, drown them in soda water and gin, and invite friends over to gab late into the night, our conversation tangled with the sound of crickets and the swooping sounds of the bats we get in late summer. I want it all, but all there is is more snow. More ice. Heavy coats and sweaty toque-hair. 

I made these Thai-inspired margarita’s last week after feeling particularly run down by winter. They have a bright, spicy & aromatic flavour that muddles the spicy Thai ingredients that I’ve become so familiar with in the long winter months, with the
 bright, icy cold tartness I miss so dearly from the summer. If you’re missing summer, or heck, even if you’re in the midst of it (which I say with only the slightest bit of disdain), I hope you’ll enjoy one of these. Close your eyes and try to remember that it’s just around the corner; all that sun, the informal outdoor parties, bike rides and patios. 

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Ginger-Cilantro Margaritas
serves 4 

I love cilantro in this margarita, but if you’re not one for cilantro (which is an absurd thought for me) you can use Thai basil (preferably) or regular basil. As well, I use a generous amount of ginger both in the syrup and the cocktail itself here. If you want it a touch less kicky, forgo adding the grated ginger into the cocktail. 

Ginger Simple Syrup
1/4 cup fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds
1/4 cup sugar, less if you prefer it tart
1 cup water

In a small sauce pot, add the three ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into heatproof jar and cool. 

6 sprigs cilantro plus extra leaves for garnish
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated fine
juice from 3 whole limes
4 oz white tequila
2 oz triple sec, optional
1 1/2 oz ginger syrup
2 cups still or sparkling water
ice cubes

In a cocktail shaker, add the cilantro and ginger and muddle a bit to bruise the cilantro leaves. Add the lime juice, tequila, triple sec (if using) 6 ice cubes and water. Taste and adjust any ingredients if needed (more syrup if it’s too tart, more lime if it’s too sweet) Shake and divide into glasses filled with ice and garnished with cilantro leaves. 

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A Thyme Tequila [Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer for Taste of Home]



Oh man! It’s Friday! 

You know what that means, right? Time to roll up your sleeves, crush up some ice, and end your busy week with something icy cold and brightly flavoured!

Taste of Home asked if I might be interested in submitting a cocktail recipe for their “Cocktail Friday” feature on the blog. Clearly, we have yet to become too acquainted or they would have know that I would jump at the mere mention of the word cocktail. I am a lady who believes a day is not complete without indulging in a beverage of the alcoholic varaiety. Yes, I have ousted myself as a lush, but I’m sure this isn’t news to you. Avert your judging eyes! 

I spent yesterday working on a Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer that is as refreshing as it is soothing. Bright and citrus-packed with an herbal punch of flavour that first hits your nose and then delicately tickles your taste-buds. 

Follow the link for the recipe and you’ll be thanking me come 6pm tonight when you’re happily sipping on the perfect summer libation! 


 
[ps: bonus points to anyone who gets where I was going with the title of this post. I bet you clever chickadees got it right away!] 

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Dear Santa [Chocolate-Bourbon Eggnog and Felix & Norton Cookie Dough Review]



Can you believe we’re less than a week away from Christmas? Can someone tell me how on earth this happened? 2012 is less than two weeks away, too. Doesn’t it seem like we were just welcoming 2011 a month or two ago? 

I’m really not sure when November left us, but here we are, panicked and anxious, counting down the days until Santa squeezes his plump little body down your chimneys and crams a few billions cookies and 38495438932859023 liters of milk down his gob. How that guy avoids lactose-intolerance and heart-disease is totally beyond me. I do, however, agree with his present-giving policies. 



I haven’t been as on-the-ball as previous years so my offerings to Santa this year come thanks to Monsieur Félix and Mr. Norton cookies! When they offered to send me some samples to test out, I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Not only did it mean getting to eat cookies, it meant some of my Christmas baking would be done FOR ME. How awesome is that? It’s really awesome. 

I’m pretty sure I had the Styrofoam cooler in my hands and ripped open before the delivery guy even had a chance to say ‘sign here, please’. It was an exciting day, which might not say all that much about my social life, but I’m comfortable with who I am, cookie-obsessed and all. 



Now, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a cookie-connoisseur. Probably something more along the lines of “Will eat any cookie, any day” style. I’m not picky. I don’t like cookies ‘this way’ or ‘that way’. I just like them. Period. Most, if not all, of them. And Felix and Norton make great cookies. I’ve been lucky enough to try them at the Old Port in Montreal, where they sell from their Mobile Bakery, but when I found out they were selling pre-portioned frozen cookie dough, I was floored to say the least. Could it really be true that I could have one of their gooey, bursting-with-Belgium-chocolate, crisp around the edge cookies any time of the day (or..ahem…night)? There really is a Santa! And he must have gotten my wish-list. 



Felix & Norton are bringing the happiness of fresh cookies into your homes, to make at your will. Sure, it’s a little dangerous to have them at the ready 24/7, but we all need to practice self-control at some point, right? Right. I think.

The inviting smell of the warm, freshly baked cookies is enough to send me over the edge. I brought out 2 of of each flavour (Milk Chocolate Chunk, Ménage-à-trois, & Ebony & Ivory) for Mr. GL and I to sample last week and as we bit into the Ménage-à-trois variety, we were both whisked away into a euphoric state by the melty, buttery, warm cookies packed with white, milk and dark chocolate chunks. They were a little on the thin side, but personally, I’m a pretty big fan of a thin lacy cookie that’s soft through the middle. Each variety was perfect in it’s own right. The Ebony & Ivory was extra rich and satisfying, boasting a dark chocolate cookie filled with white chocolate chunks, and the Milk Chocolate Chunk was just as you’d imagine it to be, the quintessential chocolate-chip cookie. If, like me, the idea of having cookies at the ready any time of day appeals to you, Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton cookie dough is available in the freezer section of select Foodland and Sobeys in Ontario and IGA on the Quebec side. They’re awesome for last-minute cookie-cravings when you don’t have time to plan, or anytime you want a tasty little treat. 



Because I’m hoping Santa will be extra generous when he visits my apartment, I thought it wise to be extra generous to him in return. Not only will I be leaving him a plate of Felix and Norton Cookies, I’ll also be jazzing up some eggnog for him to wash the delicious cookies down with. 

Those that know me well, know that I’m not much for Eggnog. It’s just one of those things I can’t get into, despite so badly wanting to love it. But rather than write it off completely, I thought I would dress it up a touch in hopes that I might fall madly in love as I’ve always hoped.

Mission accomplished! Success! HUZZAH, I say! If I knew all I needed was a little bourbon and melted Swiss dark chocolate, I would have been doing this ages ago. No longer will I stand on the sidelines of holiday parties, left-out and ashamed, as everyone chugs back their boozy eggnog. NO LONGER, I SAY! 

 

Chocolate Bourbon Eggnog and M. Felix & Mr. Norton Cookies
adapted from a recipe given to me by Claire, the wine blogger from foodiePrints 

Granted, I boozed the eggnog up just a little too much, but I’ve adjusted the amounts so that Santa doesn’t get a DUI after visiting your house. We wouldn’t want that. 

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulate sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup Bourbon
1 tbsp dark rum
Cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, for garnish (optional)

In a blender or with a hand-mixer, beat the eggs on high for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat again for 3-5 minutes, until very pale yellow. 



Pour the cream, chocolate, cocoa powder, bourbon and rum into a large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Do not let it boil. Whisk often until chocolate is melted and mixed in with the cream. 



Pour the egg mixture into a large bowl and whisking constantly, add 1 tbsp at a time of the warm cream mixture to temper the eggs. If you add it all at ones, you’ll make a big bowl of boozy scrambled eggs. BLECH! Once you’ve added 4-5 tbsp of the warm cream, you can pour the rest in slowly while whisking. 



Ladle into mugs and top with a pinch of cayenne pepper nutmeg and cinnamon. 

And don’t forget to leave Santa some of your tasty Felix and Norton Cookies! 

Disclaimer: Felix and Norton did not compensate me beyond providing the cookie dough. The reviews and opinions are mine and mine alone. 

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A Simple Sipper & A Birthday [Prosecco & Campari Aperitif]



There are things happening outside. Right now. Have you stopped to have a look? 

A week or two ago, I was saying to Amanda, my best friend, that I was afraid if I didn’t stop to take a deep breath, and a long hard look at Spring, it would be August in a blink. For the first time in years, I’m really trying my best to take all of Spring in. Every earthy, wet smell, every blooming bud, every puddle, every cloud. Every day.



We’ve been lucky enough to have balconies in my past two apartments, the last being much more spacious than the current. I always knew that having a balcony would be valuble as far as apartments go, but I never anticipated how much time I would spend on a 4x6 hunk of wood. It’s my kitchen, my living room, my dining room and my reading room for 5 months of the year. Last Friday, as we sat and felt the sun beat hard on our faces for the first time in 5 months, we rang in the first official balcony meet of the season, the sound of our glasses clinking acting as a starting gun for the race that is summer in Ottawa. A short lived, incredibly hot and humid 4 months that passes just as soon as it shows up.



While food plays a large part in the gatherings we have on our tiny balcony, drinks play a much larger role. It’s where Amanda and I gather on Fridays, pour the drink of choice into a chilly, waiting glass, and recount the weeks frusterations and victories. The place where Sarp, Amanda’s boyfriend, knows he can show up any time and find us, giggling like school girls about the most recent gossip and goings on of our lives, and where Mr GL can come home, crack open a beer and put his feet up knowing I haven’t been sitting, tapping my watch in wait for him to come home. Yes, balcony days are here. And I welcome them with open arms, a deep relieved sigh, and a sip of something ice cold.



In celebration of balcony season, which I do hope you’re all celebrating, I wanted to showcase a classic apertif/cocktail, to sip while you soak in the sun…. or clouds, or wind, or snow, or whatever. So long as it’s enjoyed.

A Spritz, which is typically Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine), Aperol (an orangey bitter liquer), and a squeeze or garnish of citrus, is the perfect cocktail for those of you, like myself, who can’t take the sickeningly sweet cocktails that are ever so popular these days. Sometimes it feels like your mouth has been washed out with Kool Aid. Not that I have anything against Kool-Aid. I am a big fan, believe you me. But not for my cocktails. I like something refreshing, and light. The bitters, however, are new to me.

I wasn’t able to find Aperol at my liquor store, so I settled on Campari, which is also known to be used in a Spritz. It’s a orangey herbal bitter and is a flavour I was not expecting. The red colour of it lead me to believe it would be fruity and sweet, so when I decided to take a sip of it straight, to see what it tasted like by itself, I experienced the strong, bitter flavour that it’s so well known for. A definite shock that became less intense by the sip. When I had a sip of the Prosecco on it’s own, I felt like it was missing something. As I sit here now, sipping on my second, I’m increasingly surprised at how much I like the bitterness of the Campari mingled with the sweet Prosecco. The squeeze of orange is more of an after thought, but hard to ignore. It seems to bind it all together.



If you’re looking for something new, or want to re-live a classic, mix yourself up a Spritz on the next sunny day. And don’t forget to experience it all fully, be it on a balcony with your best friends, a stoop on your own, or a kitchen table with your family. Whatever your happy place may be, I’d love to hear how you enjoyed your aperitif.

Prosecco & Campari (Spritz)
makes 2 drinks

If you can’t find Prosecco, a dry white wine or any sparkling wine will work well.

If you can find Aperol at your liquor store, try that before the Campari. It’s apparently slightly sweeter.

2 ounces Campari
4 ounces Prosecco
2-4 slices of orange or grapefruit
Ice cubes

Add Campari to a lowball/martini glass (I used a martini for me and a lowball for Mr. GL…because martini glasses are sort of effeminate apparently!) and top with Prosecco and a slice or two of orange. Add an ice cube or two.

Enjoy with good friends and family. And maybe a pair of sunglasses.

Before I bid you adieu, I should also mention that my best friend Amanda’s birthday is tomorrow. And because I love her dear, I wanted to wish her the most specialest of birthdays to the world (or at least to the few who read my rambles). She is a hero through and through in my life and one who lets me be whoever I want to be on any given week and she deserves the world over and over. So hi! Amanda! I love you! Happy Birthday!


(this is the only photo of us I can find that we are decent[ish], not yelling and not …. under the influence! I love you!)

Happy weekend to you all!


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