Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

July 4, 2011

Celebrate the 4th with a Red, White & Blue Sangria

Deep down I’m a patriotic guy. I sing along with the national anthem, I take my hat off at when it’s played and I make sure that my Independence Day cocktails are Red, White & Blue. To celebrate the holiday this year is a drink as multicultural as our nation; a Red, White & Blue Sangria.

White Sangria is the forgotten cousin of the more well known Red Sangria, made with white wine rather than red. While I tend to prefer a traditional red sangria, the white sangria offers both a refreshing dryness and supports the beautiful palette that summer brings. This drink was initially going to be centered around the red tart explosions of flavor I had received in my CSA from Driftless. Unfortunately they were so good that they barely lasted the night and a replacement was needed. Luckily I found the rich, tart strawberries from local growers Silkey Gardens.

My attempt to find local blueberries at the farmer’s market was a bust and there was nothing to consider “white” other than the sangria so I reached beyond what I would normally consider local, from Minnesota or bordering regions of neighboring states, and went national. This was for Independence Day after all so why not pull from the bounty of our nation. This led to blueberries from New Jersey and white nectarines from California.

red, White & Blue Fruit
This colorful explosion can be made immediately before serving or up to 12 hours in advance.

Red, White & Blue Sangria

A refreshing alternative to a red sangria made especially for the 4th of July

1 bottle white wine; Riesling, Pinot Grigio or Vinho Verde

1/2 bottle club soda

1 white nectarine, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup strawberries, quartered

Pour wine and soda into large pitcher, add fruit. Refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Red, White & Blue Sangria in pitcher

Enjoy in a Collins glass over ice, garnish with fruit from the sangria.

Red, White & Blue Sangria in a glass


Call it a Blue, White & Red Sangria and serve for Bastille Day

June 15, 2011

Radish Gin for Box #1

The first box of the season came in last Thursday and was I excited. This is my fourth year getting a box from Driftless Organics and each year it’s like Christmas in springtime. After months of over wintered squash and South American imports the promise of fresh, local produce is intoxicating. As always, the journey from box to belly begins by picking up the box. There really is nothing like going to a strangers house to pick up a box of vegetables from “your farm”.

Next of course is the fun of opening it up.

This week’s box:

Broccoli – Raab
Collard Greens
Green Garlic
Pea Vine
Spring-dug Parsnips
Yellow Potatoes

Opened CSA box

Looking at the parsnips and potatoes I felt less than inspired, unless of course I decide to go into vodka production. The greens have some serious potential, especially the pea vine and raab, but the ingredients that sang to me were the radishes, green garlic, thyme and asparagus. And since we’re here to explore cocktail supported agriculture, the song they were singing was of the Bloody Mary. While technically any time of day is fine for a Bloody Mary they somehow always seems to be perfect for a lazy weekend morning. I know the asparagus and garlic will make great garnishes, and the thyme is on reserve for a martini I will be trying later in the week so I was left with the radishes. My preferred take on the Bloody Mary is a variation known as the Ruddy Mary, made with gin instead of vodka so a gin infusion was the obvious choice.
This is the first time I’ve ever made a vegetable infused anything, so the exact amounts and times were an experiment.
Radish Infused Gin
Slice 4 radishes
Place in pint jar and top with gin
Let sit for at least 1 week, shake or stir jar once  a day
*I tried my radish gin after 4 days and the radish flavor was still quite perceptible. Time will make the flavor stronger.
Cut Radishes
2 oz. radish infused gin
5 oz. tomato juice
4-8 splashes Worcestershire sauce
4-8 splashes hot sauce
1 teaspoon brine
1 spear asparagus, blanched
1 pickled ramp
pinch black pepper
pinch smoked salt
Place all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a Collins glass with ice.
Garnish with asparagus, ramp, salt and pepper.
For this recipe I used a chipotle hot sauce and the brine from pickled ramps.
Ruddy Mary
June 7, 2011

Plan B

The original plan has already been scrapped. Unfortunately my dried herbs had gone stale and the fresh herbs have just started to come into their own due to a wet, rainy spring. The whole point of this blog is to explore cocktails through local food, so buying prepackaged herbs from afar didn’t seem the right way to go. Luckily a few local treasures have begun to reveal their bounty, rampsrhubarb and a few local herbs from Rock Spring Farm.

Each of these ingredients brings their own unique qualities to the cocktail. Ramps, if you’ve never tried them are a type of wild leek with a unique taste reminiscent of garlic and smoke. They are only available for a brief time in every spring and are worth the sometimes fanatical devotion they receive. I was fortunate to receive a gift of pickled ramps and am very excited to see what flavors these will impart in the next few weeks. Rhubarb is one of the Midwest’s great misunderstood vegetables. The tart  stalk is eaten while the large elephant ear leaves, which are mildly poisonous, are discarded. I reduced the rhubarb to a simple syrup, the tart yet sweet concoction has been a boon for wine spritzers. Finally I purchased some of Rock Spring Farms local  rosemary. The fresh and pungent herb sitting in a mason jar of vodka makes me think of moonshine from the Olive Garden.

May 3, 2011

Pre Game

This has been an unseasonably cool and wet spring in Minnesota which has resulted in a growing season roughly 2 weeks behind normal. While normally this would be bad news, today it is welcomed with a certain amount of happiness. Why, you ask? More time for the preparation.

Leaping into the world of radish cocktails and spinach/gin concoctions is a major undertaking and one which needs to be prepared for. To that end the infusions must begin. This is a work in progress and I am excited to see where these end up.

The first batch of planned infusions:

    Rosemary Vodka
    Sage Vodka
    Pine Needle Tequila

This should give me a nice mix to start with, the savoriness of rosemary, the astringency of sage and the sweetness of pine needles. These three flavor profiles should help balance what will probably be a bland first few boxes as the overwintered veggies are spread around.