Holiday Madness: Pomegranate-cranberry sauce

Editor’s note: Sorry about posting this late. As you can see, this was written BEFORE Thanksgiving :).

The holiday potlucks are well under way, what with Thanksgiving only a few days away.

My work potluck is tomorrow and I said I’d bring the cranberry sauce.

I found a recipe for pomegranate cranberry sauce on Pinterest that looked yummy and since pomegranates are supposed to be chock full of antioxidants, I figured that was the way to go.

I’ve never opened a pomegranate, so I searched the interwebs for a how to. This one worked well.

The actual cooking/prep part only takes 15-20 minutes, but factor in 2 hours of cooling off.

It came out super scrumptious. If you enjoy your cranberry more tart than sweet, cut down the sugar by half. I happen to love sweet, so I kept the full two cups of sugar. I hope there is still some cranberry sauce left over for tomorrow’s potluck—it’s so good!

While you’re cooking the cranberries, make a drink with the leftovers:

Pomegranate Holiday Mimosa

  • ¾ c Pom Pomegranate juice
  • ¼ c champagne
  • Handful of cranberries

Mix in a pretty glass over ice and enjoy.

photo(21)

Cool As Ice

Cool As Ice

If you’ve never made your own flavored ice, you’re in for a real treat. Whether you’re looking to spice up your next tequila-based drink or just looking for some more refreshing water, this will take your drinks to the next level! It’s also a very easy way to make an impression if you’re hosting guests.

Here we were working on some easy paloma recipes and we wanted to infuse a little cilantro, lime and jalapenos. Not to mention, we had all of those things in abundance and didn’t want it to go bad.

The process is as simple as you’d think: just slice, cut and dice to fit into the ice tray, add water and freeze.

After we made these for the tequila and gin drinks, I couldn’t stop using the flavored ice for my water, either. While this was made during the summer, there are a lot of ideas for winter drinks as well.

Here are some ideas to try:

  • Cranberries and orange slices
  • Pomegranates
  • Green Apples
  • Frozen berries
  • Pears

There are apparently now a lot of apparatuses for making clear ice, because, you know… you don’t want to have imperfect ice, do you? We haven’t gone that far yet, but it is fun to experiment. I’ve also frozen coffee for when I want iced coffee and don’t want it watered down. Pinterest has also been showing frozen almond milk to use in smoothies. So many options!

Let us know how you use flavored ice!

 

A Sunday Walk Through East Austin

A Sunday Walk Through East Austin

Recently, Cuvee coffee had an open invite for free coffee as part of the POP Austin International Art Show 2014. I invited my friend Grace along since we tend to hang out on Sunday mornings. After we stopped by for a can of coffee (yes, drinking coffee out of a can does feel a little weird) and checked out the Black & Blue Pop Mural, which you can see being made here, we decided to take a tour around the area to see the great sights of East Austin.

DSC_4086This is Grace.

DSC_4088This is me.

DSC_4082This is Cuvee.

DSC_4093This is a mural.

DSC_4092This says who made the mural.

If you didn’t know, the City of Austin has added bike rentals in a few spots downtown. We weren’t planning on going very far, so we didn’t try it out this time around, but it could be useful, especially during SXSW! Find bike locations.

DSC_4096

DSC_4097Next we stopped by the Pop International Show, but the cost, at $30, was a bit steep for a last-minute idea, so we took some pics of the entrance and moved along.

DSC_4099

DSC_4105

DSC_4101The Pop International Art Show was across the street from the Pine Street Station, which used to house the farmers market.  DSC_4107

 

 

DSC_4108It’s got cute murals on the side of the building.

Then we headed over to the HOPE Farmers Market at Plaza Saltillo to smell teas, listen to music and check out the wares.

And on the way back to my car, I couldn’t help but take pics of everything along the way. Like Grace pointing out to what made the plant below a boy… You can probably figure that one out yourself…

Thanks for going on this tour with me!

Hendricks, The Unusual

Hendricks, The Unusual

Note: As usual (or unusual in this case), we like to be up front about our posts. This was a free party with free drinks, sponsored by Hendrick’s.

Hendrick’s Gin once again wowed its visitors at its annual party of the unusual. Last year’s party was pretty legit, which you can read about here. Then, we met with the ambassador and found out a little bit about what made Hendrick’s different from some of the other gin’s of the world. Generally, it’s because of its botanical taste, but he gets much more technical in his description for those of you who truly enjoy the ins and outs of your beverages. I won’t repeat all of our learnings here, but instead will give you a recap of the night.

This year, Hendrick’s may have outdid itself. We really enjoyed the set up, which was transformed from a big, open setting to having a private entrance, wherein your party gathered and entered through a hidden bookshelf into a botanical greenhouse complete with mist and intrigue.

Once you walked inside, there were several watering stations, where you could try out several spectacular gin drinks.

Here are a few to try:

Unusual Negroni (Tiffany’s personal favorite)
Ingredients:
1 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
1 grapefruit peel

Method: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass, ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into either an iced rocks glass or a cold cocktail glass. Garnish with a peel of a pink grapefruit and enjoy.

Emporium of the Unusual Punch (Fairly sweet)
Ingredients:
1.5 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
2 oz. Tazo Cinnamon Spice Tea (Hot or Chilled)
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Sparkling Water
1 Lemon wheel
3 dashes Angosura Bitters
1 Cucumber wheel

Method: Combine ingredients and give a good stir. Serve in punch bowl, with ice if chilled.

Benevolent Bog (A great fall/holiday drink)
Ingredients:
1.5 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
0.75 oz. Spiced Cranberry Compote
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.33 oz. Ancho Reyes
1 Lemon Wheel (garnish)
2 Fresh Cranberries (garnish)

Method:
Combine ingredients, add ice and shake. Strain into an iced rocks glass. Garnish and serve.

After grabbing a drink, we tried our best to get chosen to go under the dress of what must have been the tallest woman in the world (See the picture for that statement to make any sense at all). We’re still not sure what’s under her skirt. Or how you’re chosen to go under there for that matter. But what we do know is that that was one of the talks of the night—while people seemed to be going in and out of the big tent skirt, no one really knew who you had to know to get there.

There was also a writer who would type out a limerick for the ladies. He mostly flirted with the women in line, but at the end of the wait, you’d end up with a silly poem to take home. No clue where that little slip of paper went to, although you can see it in the photos below.

If I haven’t convinced you that you should attend next year’s soiree, just look through the photos and let them speak for themselves. The party is as unusual as the taste of gin itself.

What makes Hendrick’s unique?

  • The distinctive flavor of Hendrick’s Gin is a result of the eleven different botanicals used in its creation.
  • Then rose and cucumber are infused into the spirit one batch at a time.
  • Hendrick’s is the only gin made in a combination of Carter-Head and copper pot stills.
  • Hendrick’s is made in small batches of 99 Gallons versus the typical small batch of 220 gallons, allowing more control over the production.

Cheers!

Tomato Sammiches

Tomato Sammiches

It’s a little bit late in the season for this post, but I took the photos in early summer and it got me craving one of my favoritest, easiest lunches.

Anyone else love tomato sandwiches?

All you need is the juiciest, freshest tomatoes you can find. Two slices of white bread smothered in mayo. Slice the tomatoes into thick pieces and lay on top of the smothered bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper and, if preferred, add a few fresh basil leaves. That’s it! Enjoy! So yummy and tasty and an easy way to use all those fresh tomatoes from your (or someone you know’s) garden.

tomatoes

No Bake Pastries

No Bake Pastries

I got this idea from a Rachel Ray magazine that focused on breakfast and it was so simple, I’m going to share it with you.

Directions:

Toast English muffins.

Use a cookie cutter to form a shape in one side of each muffin.

Coat the muffin without the cutout with cream cheese and a jam or jelly.

Top it with the cutout piece.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Drizzle with a syrup made of powdered sugar and water or lemon/lime juice.

Enjoy

Warning: Only make as many as you need as these do NOT refrigerate DSC_3946  well.

The Balvenie: A Rare Whisky Tasting

The Balvenie: A Rare Whisky Tasting

Setting it’s whisky apart from other tastings, the Balvenie (Bal-vaynee) created a unique event in cities across the U.S., bringing together rare pieces of craftsmanship to remind its guests of the craftsmanship offered in its whisky.

Items on display at Austin’s 2014 Rare Craft Collection were hand selected by Dario Franchitti, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. Housed in the Brazos Hall, these rare finds were made mostly of wood, complimenting the old dance hall feel of the place. Not jam-packed like many downtown soirees, there were clumps of people milling about.

At the tasting, I was shocked to see so many hands raised when ambassador Jonathan Wingo asked who all had done a tasting with the Balvenie before, and then again how many people had been to Scotland as well.

Clearly I was sitting among some serious whiskey drinkers.

We were given three tastes to start with, beginning with a 12-year-old single barrel, followed by a DoubleWood* aged 17 years and finally a PortWood**, aged 21 years.

The 12-year-old single barrel was much lighter in color than the others, as well as to a certain extent lighter in taste. It has a floral, sweet taste and smell to it. Drown in water—the alcohol content is a whopping 47%.

My personal favorite was the Portwood aged 17 years—the flavor overwhelmed the senses, leaving a nice aftertaste.

As a treat, the tasting ended with a whisky aged in a sherry cask. Each taster got to dip a metal flask, for lack of a better word, into a cask and draw out their own swig, much like people used to use for stealing whisky (Watch how it was done here).

We’ve taken you to Glenfiddich’s tasting before. The Balvenie, opened in 1892, is it’s sister distillery. Both were opened by William Grant, are housed in Dufftown, Scotland, and are still owned by the Grant family.

The event continues this evening. Details at https://us.thebalvenie.com/collection.

*DoubleWood means it was aged in two barrels.

**PortWood means it was aged in a port cask.

 

Second Annual Balvenie Rare Craft Collection

Tomorrow, the second annual Balvenie Rare Craft Collection, a gallery-style exhibition featuring original works from some of America’s finest craftspeople, is coming to Austin.

Curated by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and native Scotsman Dario Franchitti, who will make an appearance on the 16th between 5:30–6:30 p.m., each of the 20 pieces in The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection stands as an expression of craftsmanship. From a hand-woven, hand-dyed merino wool hat and ornate bagpipe to a shuffleboard table constructed from ex-Bourbon barrels and a Baxendale Harwood guitar, this collection represents rare crafts from every corner of America, including Texas represented by western wear maker M. L. Leddy’s that has been fitting presidents, royalty and rock stars for leather boots and saddles for the past four generations.

The event will be co-hosted by Texas native Jonathan Wingo, The Balvenie Brand Ambassador. Wingo was recognized in 2012 by Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” in the Food and Wine category for his dedication to curating a collection of craft and obscure whiskies distilled from all over the world at a boutique liquor store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, called The Whiskey Shop.

The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection is Sept. 16 & 17 from 5:30–9 p.m. at Brazos Hall, 204 E. 4th St.  The gallery-style exhibit is free to the public (21+) and includes complimentary tastings of the world’s most hand-crafted single malt Scotch whisky, The Balvenie and light hors d’oeuvre. RSVP is a must: www.thebalvenie.com/collection.

I’m planning on being there Wednesday, so I hope to see you there!

Chocolat: Means making a lot of chocolate!

Chocolat: Means making a lot of chocolate!

Having been reading “Chocolat”* for about a week now, I knew it was time to actually make some to eat while reading. You can only read about someone opening a chocolate shop for so long before you’re going to get a craving.

*Yes—Like the movie!

I happened to have a stash of chocolate flavored bark coating* (you know, for emergencies), so I decided to make a chocolate bark. I had pistachios and dried cranberries on hand, but you could use plenty of other things in this, such as peanuts, raisins, walnuts, seasonings, orange or lemon rind, crushed peppermint—get crazy!

*I definitely plan to use solid chocolate next time, but this is what I had on hand.

Chocolat Cranberry-Pistachio Bark

8 oz. chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dried cranberries1/4 cup dried pistachios
Kosher salt

Melt 8 ounces chocolate in a double boiler*. Add butter and melt to thin out the chocolate if needed (never water). Pour into a small baking dish, lightly coated with Pam and cover with parchment, cut to fit. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup whole or crushed pistachios and about 1/4 cup dried cranberries. Sprinkle with Kosher salt. Cool in fridge or freezer until solid. Use the tip of a knife to pry the chocolate from the baking sheet and peel off parchment if it’s stuck. Break into pieces with your hands.

Takes about 15 minutes, plus about 30 minutes to harden.

Tips:

I used my finger to push the pistachios and cranberries into the chocolate a bit so it won’t fall off as much when you are breaking it apart. Use the biggest salt crystals you have on hand for the prettiest look (Which is why I didn’t use sea salt. My sea salt is fine instead of big.)

*I have never owned a double boiler, so the method I’ve always used is to place a pot inside a slightly larger pot. Add a couple inches of water to the bigger pan and bring to a light boil, place smaller pot inside. If the water tries to boil over the side just bring the smaller pot up until the water settles down and turn down the heat. Stir frequently. The double boiler (and self-made double boiler) keeps the chocolate from burning. You could melt in the microwave if you need to, but make sure to only melt for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time to avoid burning the chocolate.

Now it’s time to curl up with my book and chocolate!

Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

If you love cooking or eating, then the movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is for you.

Set in France, an Indian family embarks from London to France in search of tasty vegetables. Not knowing where they might settle in France, fate decides for them when their car crashes in a small town with wonderfully grown tomatoes and mushrooms. The family finds a restaurant for purchase, but it happens to be right across the street from a Michelin-starred restaurant.

The father, who has a bit of a stubborn side, does not listen to his children’s protests and purchases the restaurant. The French woman who owns the restaurant across the street tries to sabotage the new restaurant, but when someone goes beyond competition and tries to hurt the family out of bigotry, the woman shows a caring act that begins to thaw the two sides.

Meanwhile, one of the Indian sons has an unusual gift for cooking and is determined to impress the very particular French restaurant owner by perfecting French dishes, in addition to the cultural dishes he brings to France with him.

See the trailer here.