A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Will and Dave Willis, brothers and owners of Bully Boy Distillery in Roxbury, at the launch party for their Boston Rum. We chatted about scheduling a time to do a piece for The Boys Club, but didn't get around to it until the other week. The Willis Brothers were generous enough to give me a private tour and sat down to chat with me a bit more about the creation of their very successful business.
I was watching Louis CK's 2011 comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theatre, the other night and was cracking up at his rant about how he believes humans are aliens because we are constantly complaining about how uncomfortable we are here on Earth. We use air conditioning and heating units and fans to make everything juuuuuuust right. Louis notes that it just doesn't make sense that we were meant to be on this planet. If we were, we would just be able to deal with the extreme highs and lows without freaking out. I'll admit that I'm one of those complainers. While I can handle winter weather alright, the heat and sweat and that stickiness that takes over from June to August is unbearable.
This weather we've been having recently, however, has been perfect... and I feel the need to say that out-loud to myself that at least once a day. "This is fantastic! It needs to stay like this forever. Ah, yes... seventy degrees and sunny with a slight breeze." I know it won't last long, but I'm taking as much of it in as I can before it gets warmer.
You may have noticed a lot of beverages on here recently and I've been enjoying playing around with some fun cocktail recipes for you (Hope you've been enjoying consuming some of them too!). Over the last few weeks, Eric and I have switched from whiskey drinks to gin and vodka and tequila. Just like food, our bodies crave different libations as the seasons change. So, here is a vodka "refresher" for you to all enjoy that utilizes some of Honest Tea's Honey Green Tea, which the company generously sent over for me to try. I was thrilled with the subtle sweetness of the tea, especially since I had planned on including a little simple syrup in the cocktail.
In addition, they're offering one lucky A Thought For Food reader a chance to win a month's supply of their tea (30 drinks)! Woo hoo!
See below for details on how to enter the giveaway:
A word from the folks at Honest Tea:
"Honest Tea would like to keep you refreshed for 30 days, on us. Brewed with organic tea leaves and half the calories and sugar of other bottled teas, we hope you’ll find it a sip in the right direction. "
To Enter the Honest Tea Givaway: Leave a comment here telling me what your favorite warm-weather beverage is (alcoholic or non-alcoholic).
Giveaway Disclaimer: No purchase necessary. Open to US residents only . Giveaway will end on May 27th 2013 at 12:00 pm EST. One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using random.org. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected. Samples of Honest Tea products and the giveaway items were provided to me by Honest Tea through the NoshOnIt Publisher Partner Program.
Honey Green Tea and Rosemary Refresher
Yields: 2 drinks
Glassware Highball glass
Ingredients 3 fl. oz. vodka, optional 1 fl. oz. rosemary simple syrup, see recipe below 2 tsp. lemon juice 1 16 fl. oz. bottle of Honest Tea's Honey Green Tea Ice Rosemary sprig, for garnish Lemon slice, for garnish
- In each glass, pour in 1.5 oz vodka, .5 oz rosemary simple syrup, and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Stir together with a spoon.
- Fill the glasses half way with ice and then top with the tea. Give another stir with a spoon.
- Garnish the rim with the lemon slice and insert the rosemary sprig into the glass.
Rosemary Simple Syrup
Yield: Approx. 1 cup
Tools A small pot Whisk
Ingredients 1 cup water 1 cup sugar 1 rosemary sprig
- Put water and sugar into the pot and bring to a simmer.
- Whisk until sugar dissolves.
- Add rosemary sprig
- Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Once it has cooled, it can be used in the cocktail.
- Store in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
News: Before we get into the actual post and recipe, I wanted to share that The Boys Club, the cocktail blog that I am the Managing Editor for, has been nominated in the Best Cocktail Blog category in the 2013 Saveur Food Blog Awards. We are so thrilled and proud of all of our incredibly talented contributors. Voting is taking place over on the Saveur site until midnight on Friday, April 19th.
While flipping through the latest Bon Appetit I was struck by a page filled with simple, single-line recipes utilizing asparagus. These dishes, the ones that require little fuss but magically transform into beautiful, rustic plates, are why I fell in love with cooking. This recipe for steamed asparagus topped with a fried egg and shaved parmesan (modified here by switching it out with pecorino) stood out and I immediately marked it. I sat down and treated this as a light lunch, paired with a glass of wine (nothing wrong with a little lunchtime vino). Even though we've had some fickle weather, a meal like this reminds me of how much I look forward to summer afternoons. The way this year has been flying by, I expect them to be here before I know it.
Steamed Asparagus with Fried Egg and Pecorino
Asparagus, washed, trimmed and steamed
Pecorino cheese, shaved
Salt and Black Pepper
Drizzle steamed asparagus with olive oil. Top with a sunny-side-up egg and shaved Pecorino; season with salt and pepper.
A few weeks ago, food stylist Molly Shuster and I spent an afternoon together working on a test shoot. We had a blast, playing around with a variety of burgers and sandwiches. Watching Molly build these dishes, I was struck by how much thought went into each one. It then occurred to me that it'd be fun to have Molly talk a bit about what it's like to be a food stylist and give us a little insight into the craft.
These two burgers obviously have a very different feel. What was your goal in creating these two different looks?
I think at it's best, what we do is inspire people to cook and get in the kitchen. I always love getting people to think about food and their relationship to it. So whenever I work on something I always think, what makes this beautiful? What about this is delicious? Sometimes you go into a shot and have a clear idea in your head of what something will be or what it will look like. Other times it's something that has to be found...sometimes that's easier than others!
As for the different feel of each burger, sometimes it's nice for things to be clean and structured and classic, other times it's nice to be loose and messy and a bit more familiar. And this often depends on the type of shoot you're doing...whether it be editorial, ad or commercial- they'll be certain objectives for each shoot and that often dictates the direction the food takes.
What is your working relationship like with photographers? Do you find it to be a collaborative process or does it vary from project to project?
Yes, absolutely, it's always a collaboration. Of course, that's one of the interesting things about this job- the team is never the same! You're always working with different photographers, crews and clients, and everyone has their own style and method. So it definitely varies shoot to shoot.
But that's also one of the great things about this job. You meet so many lovely, talented and creative people.
Any other fun tips/tricks/suggestions you want to throw out to food bloggers or aspiring stylists?
I'd say keep at it! Keep cooking. Keep writing. Follow your favorite food magazines and cookbook authors. Always seek out new foods and flavors. Cook the food that inspires you. Always be willing to try something new.
And if you're interested in styling- assist! There is no better way to gain experience than working for established stylists. I have learned so much and have a huge amount of respect for all of the women I've worked for. They've all taught me a tremendous amount and I feel hugely indebted to them.
There have been lots of things happening here on my end, but none of it is remotely related to these recipes. So, I've been a little late in sharing. The big news of the moment is that I'm an uncle... again. Bryn Scarlett arrived on the first day of spring, though it was a snowy one and not very spring-like. Hopefully her arrival means that warmer and sunnier days are on their way. What it definitely means is that I will have another little child to run around with, to tickle and hug, to feed junk food, and to teach how to cook. I can't wait to snuggle with her and soothe her when she cries. I'll sing to her as she falls asleep in my arms. And when she poops, I will pass her off to her mother or father. Oh, I just love being an uncle!
And now on to the collards. Yeah... I'm not sure where to go with this. There's not really a good way to transition. This came out of desperation... we were either going to cook with them or they were just going to wilt away in our produce bin. Collard greens often get neglected in our house. I don't know what it is about them, but I've never really been a fan. I do know what the problem is actually... I haven't cooked them properly. In the past, I've thrown them into dishes without much thought. They come out tough and tasteless. But I went in wanting to give my all.
Here's a great example of how when you put a little thought and care in how you treat an ingredient, you can come out with a pretty stellar dish. The mixture of garlic and spice make for a lively side. And, hey, I've learned that if you blanch the greens, they come out tender. Sadly, I'm just figuring that out now. After all this time. Better late than never, right?
Garlicky Collard Greens
3 bunches collard greens, washed, stems removed, and cut into 1 inch strips
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes, optional
2 cups cooked rice, optional
1. Bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil in a pot. Add the collard greens and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain greens in a colander.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, making sure to stir it continuously.
3. Add the collard greens, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until the greens have wilted.
4. Transfer to a platter and season with red pepper flakes. Serve with rice.
Snow falls outside as I type. As much as I dread this weather, I'm also grateful for it. We're forced to take a break from running around and slow things down a bit. On these days, Eric and I sit in front of our coffee table, reading the paper and nibbling on scones. I like to use this time to get some cleaning done, but after a few hours, we hunker down for a midday nap. These last few months (that is, since November) have been a bit hectic. Any open days have been packed with trips, parties, and family visits (which I love, but---you know---once in a while it's nice to have a little alone time). As miserable as it may be to trudge through three feet of snow, it's some much needed relaxation.
As you may have noticed, I'm a scone fan. Some folks are into brownies. Some are pie fanatics. Some folks deep-fry everything they see. Me? I'm into scones. Kind of strange, I know. So, if you're getting tired of seeing scone recipes on here... well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not even close to being done with playing around with different kinds. You're going to have to put up with them for a while longer.
This is the first time I've branched outside of my typical butter/milk/heavy cream combo and have included Greek yogurt (we had a few large tubs of plain Chobani in the fridge). The tang it provides is something I should have expected, but for whatever reason it never occurred to me and I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into them. They're a little less flakey than my previous incarnations (most likely due to the moisture for the yogurt), but, nevertheless, I'm sold on these and I've already made them a number of times.
Rosemary, Lemon and Greek Yogurt Scones
makes 8-10 scones
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
5 tbsps chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps honey
All-purpose flour, for the work surface
1. Place rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the first five ingredients. Add the butter to the bowl and, using two knives or a pastry blender (you can even just give it a couple pulses in the food processor), cut into the dry ingredients until the butter has mixed in, but there should still be a few pea-sized pieces of butter still in there.
3. Stir in the yogurt and mix until it is fully incorporated.
4. Slowly add the milk to the mixture, stirring to make sure it is fully incorporated. If the dough looks like it is moist enough, you can leave out a little of the liquid.
5. Stir in the rosemary and lemon zest.
6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead a couple of times. Flatten the dough out until it is about 1 1/2 inches thick (should be about 8 or so inches wide). Cut into 8 to 10 triangles and transfer the wedges to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
7. In a bowl, whisk together the honey and lemon juice. Brush the top of each scone with the lemon-honey mixture.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. If they don't brown, you can place them under the broiler for a minute, but be sure to keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.
9. Let cool on wire rack and enjoy!
I used to be really big into Valentine's Day. Giving gifts, chocolates, flowers, cards (yeah... not just one but two, maybe three). I'd make dinner reservations at expensive restaurants and plan out a night of activities. Over the years, though, I've toned it down a bit. Eric and I don't exchange cards. We don't buy each other presents or flowers. There are no chocolate-covered strawberries. Instead we stay at home, eat lobster and drink champagne, followed by a decadent dessert (like these raspberry bars that we're obsessed with... which contain three sticks of butter). We spend the rest of the evening curled up on the couch with Maki, the three of us wrapped up in blankets. It may seem boring to some, but I want nothing more than a little quiet time with the man that I love.
Raspberry Crumb Bars
(very minimally adapted from Joanne Chang's Flour)
makes 9 large bars, or 16 small bars
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups raspberry jam (with seeds)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically.
2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and beat at medium speed for another 2 minutes.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Beat to incorporate.
5. Wrap 1/4 of the dough in parchment paper and the remaining dough in a separate piece of parchment paper. With the larger piece of dough, gently press it into an 8-inch round disk. Place the smaller piece of dough in the freezer for 2 hours (or until hard) and the larger one in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
6. Once the dough is ready, set a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Cut two large pieces of parchment paper and lightly flour each side of the disk. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough between the two sheets of parchment paper until it is 13 by 9 inches.
8. Transfer the dough to a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Even out the dough across the pan by pressing down gently with your fingers.
9. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the shortbread is light brown. At this point, remove from the oven and let cool.
10. Once it has cooled, spread the raspberry jam evenly over the shortbread.
11. Remove the dough from the freezer and shred the dough using a grater. Sprinkle the grated dough over the raspberry jam. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.
12. Remove the baking pan and let cool completely.
13. Once they have cooled, sift the confectioners' sugar over the top. Cut into 9 bars (or smaller if preferred).