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.