Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Cape Codder Cocktail

Cape Codder Cocktail

This summer cooler is a breeze to make

July is here, and North America is set to celebrate. Today (July 1st) is Canada Day. And this Saturday, July 4, is Independence Day in the US.

So this is a busy week, full of cookouts and picnics. And to beat the summer heat, we’re all looking for something cool to quench our thirst.

Enter the Cape Codder. Its bright, slightly tart flavor is perfect for those long, hot summer days. And its gorgeous red hue lights up any party. You can even make a nonalcoholic version for those who prefer not to imbibe.

So choose your celebration, and raise a glass.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hungarian-Style Cold Cherry Soup

Hungarian-Style Cold Cherry Soup

Red wine livens up this summer starter

Chilled fruit soups are popular in Central and Eastern Europe. One of the best known is Hungarian meggyleves (Cold Sour Cherry Soup). It’s traditionally made from sour cherries, cream, and sweet white wine (in Hungary, that often means Tokaji).

Here in the US, it can be hard to find fresh sour cherries. But sweet Bing cherries are in season now—and abundantly available. So we use them instead of sour cherries in our recipe. And to avoid making the soup too sweet, we replace Tokaji with a drier red wine.

The result? A refreshing summer starter with outstanding flavor. And one that can provide a fun change of pace at your next dinner party—especially since this is a dish that many people are not familiar with.

Your guests are sure to be impressed. So start practicing a modest bow. You’ll want to be prepared for their accolades.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

El Presidente Cocktail

El Presidente Cocktail

An aromatic Prohibition-era favorite

El Presidente was named in honor of an early 20th-century president of Cuba. Or maybe two different presidents (more about that in the Notes).

No need to worry about the name, though. What’s important to know is that this cocktail has a wonderful “nose,” with a slightly sweet flavor. It’s crisp and refreshing, a wonderful accompaniment to the savory appetizers you’ll be serving at warm-weather festivities.

And speaking of festivities, this Sunday is Father’s Day here in the US. Families will be gathering to toast the leader of the clan. So what could be more appropriate than a round of El Presidente Cocktails? Hail to the chief.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Pea Soup with Mint

Summer Pea Soup with Mint in bowl with sour cream and mint garnish

This warm-weather starter is great hot or cold

It’s summertime where we live, and that means garden-fresh produce. We’re starting to harvest from our own backyard, and the stalls at our local farmers’ markets are overflowing.

This time of year, one of our favorites is sweet peas. When freshly harvested, they barely need cooking. And this is one veggie you want to eat as soon as possible after it’s picked. Wait too long and the flavor starts to fade.

But even if you don’t have fresh peas available (likely, because their season is far too short), you’re still in luck—they freeze extremely well. What you buy in the frozen-food aisle can often be as good as (sometimes even better than) what you find in the produce section.

Fresh or frozen, sweet peas taste great in this minty soup. So what the heck, go ahead and use frozen. Your guests will think you slaved away in the kitchen, shelling mounds of fresh pea pods. We won’t tell.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Bijou Cocktail

The Bijou Cocktail in cocktail glass with maraschino cherry and lemon twist garnish

Bijou means “jewel” in French, and this drink is a true gem

The Bijou is a classic from the 1890s. Its name refers to the ingredient colors, which represent three different jewels: Clear dry gin for diamonds. Red sweet vermouth for rubies. And green Chartreuse for emeralds.

When you mix those ingredients together, the result is an amber hue—and of course amber can be used as a jewel, too.

Best of all, the flavors combine to create a polished, multi-faceted cocktail that’s perfect before dinner. We’re betting you’ll declare it a crown jewel.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Golden Dawn Cocktail

Golden Dawn Cocktail

Wake up to a party in a glass

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer in the US. Here at Kitchen Riffs, it also marks the beginning of our Summer Sippin’ and Snarfin’ Series. More on that in the Notes.

This is the season for celebratory brunches, too: Graduations, weddings, Father’s Day, whatever. And you need something for your thirsty guests to drink—something that can stand up to the robust flavors of brunch dishes.

May we suggest the Golden Dawn Cocktail? It contains orange juice, so it shouts “brunch.” It’s also a tad sweet, which means it will pair well with spicy breakfast sausages, savory omelets, and just about any other brunch food.

Plus, it’s a great looking drink. So you know it will be the life of the party.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pepper Coleslaw with Garlic Vinaigrette

Pepper Coleslaw with Garlic Vinaigrette

Perk up your cookouts with this colorful, tangy slaw

Here in the US, summer cookout season officially starts on Memorial Day. It arrives early this year—next Monday, to be precise (with the weekend before as warmup).

So you’re probably looking for outdoor-friendly food. Especially side dishes with enough flavor to match the burgers, barbecue, and grilled goodies we’ll be preparing. And preferably something you can make ahead of time—so you can enjoy the festivities with your guests, rather than slaving in the kitchen.

How about a colorful coleslaw that features the sweet taste of bell peppers? Add a garlic vinaigrette and maybe a touch of jalapeño, and you’ve got a dish that’s sure to please. Your guests will think you spent hours putting it together. No need to tell them how easy it is.