Cocktail: Cucumber Cape Codder

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m not a cocktail maker. And I’m certainly not a cocktail drinker. When I do drink them, it gets sloppy fast if there is more than one. I’m the girl in the corner with the beer or wine—that’s typically a much better option for me.

Cucumber Cape Codder

Cucumber Cape Codder

Someone who does love her cocktails is Martha Stewart. And when I say Martha, I mean the corporate entity that is Martha (I’m not privy to Martha’s personal drinking habits, sorry). Martha will, on occasion, publish some very tasty cocktail suggestions. There’s one that Jennifer and I have actually named The Martha Stewart—it’s a tequila, ruby red grapefruit and lime juice concoction that’s too delicious. Then there was the coconut margarita from years back—way delicious.

Our latest Martha Stewart cocktail discovery is the Cucumber Cape Codder. Cucumber and cranberries—not a combination you’d see even on the Thanksgiving table, but it’s one that certainly works in a cocktail glass.

Cucumbers have that “refreshing” quality, hence why ladies put them on their eyelids while sipping cucumber water in spas. But let the cucumber simmer in a simple syrup and add ice and vodka — well, that’s real refreshment.

Let’s not ignore the fact that this cocktail is damned beautiful, too. Just look at it!

Cucumber Cape Codder

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups grated English cucumber, plus thick slices for garnish
9 oz. vodka, chilled (isn’t it always chilled?)
12 oz. non-sweetened cranberry juice
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
ice

-Bring sugar and water to a boil. Turn down to simmer and stir until sugar dissolves.
-Remove from heat and stir in the grated cucumber. Let it cool.
-Once cool, strain through a fine sieve into a bowl or container, and discard the solids.
-Combine the cucumber syrup, vodka, cranberry and lime in a 2-qt. pitcher.
-To serve, pour over ice and cock that cucumber slice on the glass for a touch of fanciness.

I’m thinking Fridays might become Martha Stewart Cocktail Day. That’ll definitely be a good thing.

What’s your favorite fun cocktail, Martha Stewart or otherwise? Leave me a note below.

Update on Dainty: Where’d June Go?

June 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

Hey, hi. Remember me?

Nope, haven’t forgotten about Dainty Dot. Truly have not. It’s been a bit of a busy month. And I’ve had other things on my mind. Dainty took a backseat for a bit.

A backseat to what, you ask? I’ll review in photos …

Boo kitten

Boo – she’s growing too fast. My iPhone can barely hold all the photos I take of her.

peony

June has so many Instagram opportunities. I can’t keep up. Pretty, huh?

I’ve been perfecting my pizza-making skills. And man, do I have mad skills with the dough.

Provincetown vacationProvincetown. Vacation. Roof deck. Water views. That really about says it.

Cucumber Cape CodderThanks, Martha Stewart, for the most-appropriate Ptown vacation drink—the Cucumber Cape Codder. I’ll post that recipe soon. Really, so good.

yoga matI’m slightly obsessed with yoga. Just slightly, but in a good way. Maybe I’ll talk to you about it someday. But for now, know that this mat has become a good friend of mine. And it’s fashionably orange.

potato flowerSo, I’m a potato farmer’s daughter. And an avid gardener. And for the first time this spring, it dawned on me: Why not grow some potatoes? And it shall be so. Technically once the flowers bloom, there should be potatoes under the ground. But I want them bigger than peas, so I’ll await awhile.

Powahouse Unit X viewOh, yeah, and by the way … we’re buying a brand-spankin’-new unit in a brand-spankin’-new building. New as in, this was a vacant lot last July. And it’s highly energy efficient and will have solar panels and is built like a German tank – and that’s with good reason. Obviously, more on this later.

JenniferAnd have I mentioned lately that I love this person? I do, and I’ll do it all again in a split second. (Ain’t she a cutie, too?)

homemade pizzaMore pizza. I might be slightly obsessed with pizza, too. Always in a good way.

But just because I haven’t been writing here doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I’ve been taking a spin at fiction. More of a poetry-short fiction hybrid type of writing. And the cool thing is it’s fiction inspired by photos. The images are all iPhone Instagram pics taken by a friend who has a knack for knowing there’s a story behind a scene. Take this one, for instance. Who left the phone? Why? Who was on the other end? I took a stab at it—and a bunch of other photos, too—and am publishing them at The Skinny Fedora. The one above is “Hope Asked.”

So, give The Skinny Fedora a quick read and let me and the other skinny girl know what you think. Leave comments here or at www.theskinnyfedora.com.

Homemade Oreos: Even better than the original

February 1, 2012 § 6 Comments

“Dainty, where have you been?”

Well, I um … I’ve been around.

“Around? I haven’t heard from you in ages. What’s up? I mean, is something wrong? We’ve been kinda worried. Is it us? Did we do something? Or not do something?”

What? No! No no no. I’ve just been … well, remember when I said I wanted to read more? I’ve been reading. Every morning for an hour. And that was usually the time I hung around here.

“Oh. Well, what about switching it up to some other time?”

Yeah, about that … I’ve also gotten really into yoga. Like, every day or as much as I can. It’s exactly the thing I’ve been missing in my life and I love it. Time’s tight …

“No kidding. Well, what about that – yoga. Good for you. So … you’re here again … ”

I am. Absolutely. Here again. With some changes in the works over the next month or so. I know … I know, I teased y’all about that before. “Major stuff in the works!” But this time the ball is rolling – actually rolling – and there will definitely be bigger and better Dainty stuff to interest everyone in the coming weeks.

I promise.

Meanwhile, let’s talk homemade oreo cookies. It could be the most awesome childhood-memory-inducing cookie ever. That’s to Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery in Boston … literally at the end of my block … adults now have a decadent deep-chocolately lustful version to dream about. Seriously good stuff.

Now, with food blogging, printed cookbook recipes are shared all the time. And I really don’t like publicly posting recipes from bakeries in my neighborhood or who I kinda/sorta have a connection with. They gotta make money, right? How can they do that if their recipes are out in Googlespace?

BUT … I’ve made Flour’s version of oreos—and with several different additions—for several events now and I keep getting requests for the recipe. I owe it to my peeps to share. So, Joanne, please do forgive me for what I’m about to reveal.

A note before I get started: I make a Christmas version of these with 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract in the cream filling. And for my most recent batch—whose cream filling was made in an ice bucket in a hotel room in Louisville (no kidding)—I omitted the milk and added a full shot of bourbon. And believe me, the chocolate pairs really well with bourbon.

bourbon oreos

A shot of bourbon in the cream filling pairs really well with the chocolate.

So, with full credit going to Joanne and her sheer brilliant baking skills, here’s the recipe.

Homemade Oreos ala Flour Bakery

Chocolate Cookie Ingredients and Recipe

  • 1 cup (2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 200 g semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled a bit
  • 1 egg
  • 210 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 90 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt (kosher)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend butter and sugar with the whisk attachment. Add in the vanilla and chocolate, then the egg, and mix until thoroughly combined.

2. In a different bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. With the stand mixer on slow, carefully add the mixed dry ingredients. Turn up to low-medium for a bit until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined. Let the mixture sit at room temp for about an hour so it firms.

3. This is the tricky part so pay attention. Where going to take this dough and make it into long logs. And from these logs  you’ll slice off individual rounds that’ll bake up into the chocolate cookies. Got it?

First, let me say that Joanne makes these logs with a diameter of about 2.5 inches. That’s a pretty big cookie—and a fine cookie size, actually. But when I bake these, I am typically taking them to a party or something, and I find that smaller bite-sized cookies are better suited for partytime. That said … once the dough is firm, I split the dough into three or four equal piles. Place one pile onto a half-sheet-sized piece of parchment paper or waxed paper. With your hands, shape it into a log of about 1 or 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll the paper around the log a bit and roll it along the counter to make it a bit smoother, trying to get the air bubbles out (you can see them through the paper). Repeat with the remaining piles of dough, and then place the rolled dough into the refrigerator for 2 hours. You might find it helpful to reroll the logs a few times during the 2 hours so keep that log shape.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 and position a rack smack-dab in the middle. Prepare a couple of half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Remove a log from the fridge and unwrap. You might want to trim off both ends of the log so they are flat. Then slice the log into 1/4-inch thick rounds. With a 1 or 1.5 inch log, you’ll end up with about 30-35 slices. Place the slices onto the parchment paper about an inch apart. I can fit one whole log’s worth of cookies onto one sheet.

5. Pop them in the oven. For Joanne’s 2.5 inch cookies, they bake about 20-25 minutes. These smaller cookies will be done in 18 minutes. They’ll just be firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then put them onto cooling racks. Chocolate cookies: Done.

Cream Filling Ingredients and Recipe

Peppermint oreos

Slightly overfill the oreo so the filling oozes out a bit, then roll in crushed candy canes. People won't stop calling you Martha.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 230 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • suggested additions: 1/2 tsp peppermint extract for Mint Oreos; a shot of bourbon for Derby Oreos (omit milk)

This is awesome and easy to do while your cookies are hangin’ out and cooling.

1. Remember that stand mixer? Wash out the bowl, give it a dry, attach the paddle to the mixer and then beat the butter on low for about 30 seconds. You want it to be smooth.

2. Carefully add the confectioner’s sugar (you don’t want to make a cloud of it!) and the vanilla and beat until it’s perfectly smooth. Add the milk and salt and beat yet again until smooth. At some point the concoction will go from a butter yellow color to a whitish, and it’ll be stiff. You’re done!

Note about adding bourbon: I made two batches with bourbon. The first I included the milk and the filling was too soft. The second batch sans milk was much better. You need about a shot’s worth of liquor in order for the flavor to be apparent.

3. Now the fun part: filling. What I do is pair lay out the cookies – top side down – and match them up in pairs, hopefully getting them partnered with someone about their same size. I then put the filling into a Ziploc bag, seal it up, and push the filling down into one corner, creating a makeshift piping bag. Cut the corner, and carefully pipe out however much filling you want – about 2 tsp should do for a small cookie – onto one cookie in the pair. Top with the other and there you have it—an actually homemade oreo cookie.

Use a great-quality chocolate chip, vanilla and other flavorings and these can be orgasmic. I’ve had nothing but raves. These are truly a spectacular cookie. Thanks, Joanne!

Given the realm of possibilities here, what flavorings would you add to make these cookies your own? Leave a comment and let Dainty know.

The Fenway Martini

April 13, 2011 § 4 Comments

I thought that perhaps Jennifer and I being at last night’s Red Sox game might  have turned the team’s luck around. Apparently not.

Regardless of win or loss, we still had a good time. We go to maybe six to eight games a year—next one this Saturday, actually. And every time we go we do two things: We grab a blueberry beer at Boston Beer Works before the game—LOVE that beer, by the way—and we have a Fenway Martini in our seats.

Wait, what? Martini? They haven’t started serving hard alcohol at Fenway yet. Not out in the park at least. They’ll start serving cocktails soon now that the city has approved the measure. But, still … what’s this about enjoy martinis at Fenway?

Oh, my friends, my friends … I’m sharing with you something that only a handful of people know about. And, I promise you, it’ll change your life the next time your at the park. Shhh … here’s what I’m talking about.

The Fenway Martini

  • Take one crappy-tasting, overpriced beer. Bud or Bud Light will do.
  • Yell to the peanut guy who’s 20 rows down, “Yo!” Hold up your hand, and catch his center field-worthy throw. Pass your money down the row.
  • Open said bag of peanuts. Eat a handful. Good, uh?
  • Take three peanuts (five if it’s a light beer)—the whole shell and all—and put them in the beer. Let ’em sit there a few minutes.
  • Now, take a sip. Mmmmm, good, right? It’s the salt that perks up the otherwise inferior taste. You’ve heard of people add a bit of salt to beer—it’s the same thing delivered in peanut form. Good to the very last drop.
Fenway Martini

The Fenway Martini - the only drink worthy of Red Sox Nation

Oh no no no, my friend! You’re not done yet! You still have perfectly good peanuts at the bottom of your plastic cup. Tip that cup and let one roll into your mouth. Shell and all. Go ahead and chew. That’s right, the whole thing. Don’t worry, the beer has softened up the shell a bit, and the peanut is still good and crunchy. You needed a little fiber in your diet anyway, after eating that sausage.

Now, I can take no credit whatsoever for the creation of the Fenway Martini. It’s Jennifer’s concoction—born out of the need to drink barely palatable beer at the game. It’s genius.

Vodka and olives while sitting in the stands? No, thank you. Beer and peanuts is the only drink worthy of Red Sox Nation.

Dainty Rates Sel de la Terre

January 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Half off bar menu tonight at Sel de la Terre.”

That tweet convinced me get out of my sweats and into some real clothes after a snow day that shut down the City of Boston. I love the French-inspired menu – absolutely. But put a deal on it like 50% off and I’ll push old ladies over to … well, yeah, I guess I’m a bit of a frugal person.

Boots on, Jennifer and I trudged through the gloppy banks of slush in the South End to SDLT’s Back Bay location.

In My Glass:

Fig Manhattan

Sel de la Terre's Fig Manhattan

Fig Manhattan: fig-infused bourbon and sweet vermouth. I’m a big Manhattan fan but drink them sparingly (can’t have as much of the hard stuff as I used to …). I made an exception for this savory-sweet version of the classic leather-chairs-and-wood-paneled cocktail.

First Up:

A half-dozen moon shoal oysters served with a garnish of red onion and … couldn’t really tell you. Maybe some champagne vinegar in there? Jennifer thought the oysters were terrific. Me? “Meh,” I think is the latest fashionable grunt for “not that impressed.” Maybe the tiny bits of oyster shell left in my mouth had something to do with it. I could have used another accompaniment option.

On Our Plates:

Grilled flatbread pizza with smoked chicken, feta, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and sage. That’s A LOT to put on a pizza that’s about 5 inches in diameter—and that’s only okay when the result is as AWESOME as this. One of the best flatbread restaurant pizzas we’ve had in quite some time. Was it lightly touched with balsamic vinegar? There was a sweet tang to the flavor that went nicely with the feta. Mmmmm feta …. love it on pizza. Big thumbs up on this plate.

Panko crusted yellowfin tuna with citrus salad, honey and chili sauce. If you order this, bypass the chili sauce: 1) it’s way too hot and 2) it covers the natural flavor of a wonderful hunk of tuna and the nice touch of the somewhat spicy panko covering. Tuna was cooked perfectly – meaning barely at all. Panko played the perfect second fiddle. And the citrus salad – there were a couple of tiny hunks of red grapefruit I think but the real stars were the spattering of dried fruits. Love dried fruit in my salad. Lightly dressed with something – not sure what – again, it let the flavors of the salad and fruit come out big rather than weigh it down with oiliness.

Bread basket and butter: An assortment of breads – all done well – came with a sweetened butter. Was that honey? There were little flecks of something in there – not sure what. If you know, please give me a shout out in the comments section and let me know. To me, sweetened butter belongs with brunch. On pancakes.

Just realized, I need to eat breakfast …

Dainty Rates Sel de la Terre: 4 Dots

(Dainty Rates perfect score is 5 dots)

Hello, ‘cello

January 5, 2011 § 5 Comments

Sunshine in a bottle.

'cellos give any gathering a citrusy kickoff

That pretty much describes the essence of lemoncello and orangecello (and limecello and … ), that quintessential citrus aperitif  of Italy. (Did I just say “quintessential”? Who am I?)

In Dainty-speak, these ‘cellos rock it. For a bunch of reasons:

  • They give alcohol a tasty, refreshingly clean kick in the pants.
  • They bring back memories of an awesome tour through the Amalfi Coast. (Never been? It’s a must.)
  • And, best yet, they can be made at home – no distillery needed. That’s brilliant!

Not that I’ve made ‘cellos, of course. But they’ve been given to me, as recently as this past holiday. It was a double gift – lemoncello and a blog post in the making. I like that.

During our New Year’s festivities in Provincetown, where 11 compadres destroyed convened on our friends’ home, Karen gave out a bottle of the liquor – made in her very own kitchen – to everyone in the crowd, with a spare to give New Year’s Eve a celebratory kick start.

The goods:

  • 12 decorative bottles purchased at The Christmas Tree Shops (i.e. inexpensive and cute!)
  • 100% proof good-quality vodka, enough to fill said bottles
  • oranges and lemons (how many? she didn’t tell me), zested separately

The low-down:

  • Soak the zests (one batch orange, one batch lemon) in the alcohol for four to five days
  • Strain out zest and discard
  • Add simple syrup* to infused alcohol
  • Bottle and insert cork!

You’re wondering, “Yo, dude, what’s the ratio of alcohol to simple syrup?” I had the same question. Here’s a direct quote from the ‘cello maker herself:

“The mixture of alcohol and simple syrup is a matter of taste and courage … the more you mix, the sweeter and lower alcohol content you have. The less you mix, the more lethal it becomes!”

Gift-giving tip

Karen made both lemoncello and orangecello. Which bottles contained what? The ribbed bottles were filled with one flavor, the bumpy bottles had another flavor.

*A simple simple syrup recipe: Boil together 1 cup water and 1 cup white sugar until sugar is dissolved. Cool. You’re done. Make more or less depending on how much you need. Keeps for a few days in the fridge.

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