• The Farm At The Beach

    Breathe. Relax. Read a book.

    Well, we are back. Or at least settled. We are now at our “home-away-from-home” on the east end of Long Island. One of our favorite places in the world. I guess you can call it a “home” because we have plenty of friends and family here, and we pretty much know where everything is. That may seem simplistic, but part of being comfortable is familiarity. We cooked in three different kitchens in the last thee days but pretty much knew where everything was. Other people’s kitchens are a tough place to cook, but we know our way around. We can get back to business. But before we cooked, the first business was meeting the two newest members of our extended family. Beautiful babies and happy, if somewhat tired, parents. We can almost field a football team with all the cousins- which is very, very cool. We are so blessed and lucky, and the babies give us a reminder of just how good life is. And they are cute, too.

    Radishes are in season here, and very tasty.

    And we did get back to cooking. In many of our posts, we mention that certain dishes and drinks are good for a crowd. Well, we put a few to the test already. Most meals over the weekend fed groups of 15-20. So far, so good- but we do have a few notes and revisions. And, happily, mostly to the good. As for the actual food, we tend to have simply prepared fish and shellfish as our main courses. Seared ahi tuna, roasted striped bass, sea scallops and steamed clams made it to the table over the weekend, and will be part of almost every dinner this week. Most were caught within the last day or so. The fish is so fresh you don’t need to do much (just don’t screw them up), so we focused on sides that highlight the seafood or feature the local produce.

    The coconut rice goes well with the local fish. A big hit- we will make this throughout the trip.

    Firstly, we had fresh local radishes and served them with butter and salt. Always easy, always good. (My Dad also makes kick-ass guacamole every day, but that is another post). The biggest hit so far is the coconut rice. The rice went very well with the seared, rare ahi tuna (steaks almost 2 inches thick and sooo good). Served with a dash of soy and some cilantro chutney (working on that recipe), it was a perfect fit. A table of 16 were all very happy. One note here, we made the coconut rice with “Light” coconut milk, as the store was out of regular coconut milk. If anything, the light coconut milk gave the dish plenty of flavor, but perhaps a slightly lighter texture. Good to know that we can make a lower-calorie version of the original.

    We added fresh corn kernels to the Red Cat zucchini- it was great.

    Another surprise was how well the coconut rice went with the Red Cat zucchini. The dish comes from here, so everyone enjoyed it (the zucchini was right from the CSA), but as the dish is more Mediterranean, we are surprised how well the flavors meshed. Another note here- we added some fresh corn kernels to the zucchini and they added lovely texture and sweetness. If you have corn, give this a try. The next day we took the leftover coconut rice and combined it with the zucchini and corn. It made a delightful cold summer salad.

    As for the cocktails, we made fresh Tommy’s-style margaritas every day (2 oz. blanco tequila, 1 oz. gave nectar, 1 oz. lime juice). But the big hit was the Lani Honi. As predicted, everyone thought of it as a lemony summer punch with a little extra depth. We served a pitcher alongside the margaritas and the Lani Honi held its own. We had requests for more the next day. Very good.

    As expected, a perfect drink to make for a crowd.

    Lastly we made a punch-sized batch of the Nouvelle Fleur. The drink was a success, but did need some tweaking. In the original recipe we used ruby-red grapefruit and the flavors meshed very well. Out here, we used white grapefruit and the drink was way too sour. Happily, a little extra St. Germain and some agave nectar did the trick and the Nouvelle Fleur was a success, particularly with grapefruit fans. But a quick reminder that it pays to taste your drinks and adjust as necessary.

    A great punch, but we needed to adjust for more sour white greapefruit.

    Today we are off to the CSA garden and then looking for corn and stone fruits. And just wait until we start talking about the pies…oh my. We have new photos and recipes coming all week! It’s good to be back.

    Advertisements
  • Weekly Cocktail #22: The Margaret Rose

    The Margaret Rose. A good intro to “Daisy” cocktails.

    This week’s cocktail takes us back to the classics. The Margaret Rose is a well-balanced cocktail made of gin, Calvados (or Applejack, in a pinch), Cointreau, lemon juice and grenadine. The Margaret Rose is smooth, with clear apple flavor and a very tasty sweet / tart combination from the lemon and the Cointreau. The gin adds some depth and complexity. The grenadine adds more sweetness and the rosy color. This drink is easy to make, works well in any season and is a good introduction to a class of cocktails known as “Daisies”. More on that in a bit.

    This recipe first appears in print in “The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book“, a 1937 book that came out a year or so after the more famous Savoy Cocktail Book. In a nutshell, the Savoy book was written by an American Harry Craddock, working in the UK. The UK Bartenders Guild thought that the Savoy book was perhaps a bit too “American” and came out with their own cocktail guide, The Cafe Royal. Both are good cocktail books and each has some unique recipes. For whatever reason, the Savoy is a more popular modern reference. Maybe it’s the illustrations.

    We found this recipe and notes on the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book from Cocktail Virgin Slut, one of the better cocktail blogs. We tried the Margaret Rose and liked it (Carolyn gave it a nod, and she is normally not a lover of brandy) and decided to do some more research. The Margaret Rose is from a class of cocktails known as “daisies”. Daisies are one of the oldest types of cocktails and were common in the 19th century. Definitions vary, but a daisy usually combines brandy, citrus juice (normally lemon) and a sweet liqueur like Cointreau or Chartreuse. Other spirits like whisky, gin or rum may be part of the recipe. A good combination, and a clear precursor to “Sours” like the Sidecar and, much later, the Cosmopolitan.

    As for the ingredients, the only somewhat “rarefied” ingredient is the Calvados. Calvados is simply apple brandy from the Lower Normandy region of France. Most Calvados is dry, but features clear apple notes and a touch of heat from the alcohol (depending on the quality of the Calvados). American apple brandy, known as Applejack, tends to run a touch sweeter and more tangy than Calvados. Applejack will work well in this recipe, but the drink will be a bit different. Regardless, there are literally hundreds of cocktails (mostly 19th and early 20th century) that feature apple brandy, so Calvados or Applejack are a worthwhile addition to your bar.

    In the end, the Margaret Rose is a good drink to try. It is a good excuse to get some apple brandy, try a “daisy’ cocktail and even get a copy of a cool (if somewhat obscure) cocktail book. Nothing like a bit of history. Or you can ignore the history and just make the drink and enjoy it. That also works pretty well.

    The Margaret Rose:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 oz. dry gin
    • 1 oz. Calvados (or Applejack)
    • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
    • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
    • 2 dashes grenadine

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, coupé or flute. No garnish. Serve.
    Related articles