The Cocktail Diaries: My Favorite Cocktail, the Sazerac

I may have had a favorite cocktail in the past (Manhattan? Or I do love a caipirinha…) It’s hard to choose, but since I’ve become a regular whiskey drinker, I am obsessed with the sazerac.

This drink is more famously from a specific place than most cocktails. It’s a New Orleans cocktail and NOLA seems to have the reputation for making the best sazeracs still. I haven’t been there yet, but when I go, I’ll do my best to find out if it’s true. It will probably require extensive research.

Cocktail Diaries: The Sazerac | PDXfoodlove
An absinthe rinse is one of two defining features of this cocktail. You can also use Pernod or Herbsaint for the rincse. I held off on this cocktail for a long time because I was turned off by the price of absinthe. Pernod and Herbsaint are cheaper, but I found a less expensive absinthe and ended up going with that one. I am so far from being an absinthe expert: the only reason I bought it was so I could make this cocktail. I’m sure I”ll figure out some other ways to use it in the future.

The other non-negotiable is the Peychaud’s bitters, which were created in New Orleans. To me, on its own, Peychaud’s smells a little more medicinal than say, an Angostura bitters. But something about the cherry-ish flavor of the bitters combines with the absinthe to make an absolutely addicting aroma. It’s hard to explain. Cherry, lemon, whiskey and anise. Somehow it works.

This cocktail is one of the best examples of the perfect portrait the right combination of very nuanced ingredients can become. I would not drink either these bitters or the absinthe on its own (obviously the whiskey is a different story). But all together (and especially with the lemon) they make an amazing blend of flavors.


Tomato Strawberry Bruschetta

Get ready for the easiest, springiest appetizer you’ve ever laid eyes on.

Strawberry Bruschetta | PDXfoodlove

This tomato strawberry bruschetta makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Good tomatoes are so delightfully sweet. Strawberry and basil go so well together. Why should all three not get together for a little party to welcome spring?

Now, I know that tomatoes are not really in season in Oregon yet. But it is getting to be around the time where you can find decent ones from California in the store. And honestly, I couldn’t resist. It has been months since I had a decent fresh tomato.

This just makes me more anxious for my own tomatoes to grow. We’re on one of our last jars of homemade arrabbiata sauce, which is my favorite pizza/pasta sauce ever now. It will be August before we have fruit, but… a girl can dream.

Yeah. I dream of homegrown tomatoes. What of it? :)


Homemade Mascarpone

I’ve been talking up my homemade mascarpone for over a week, teasing you all with a Strawberry and Mascarpone Tart, and this Grapefruit Arugula Toast. Well, the wait is over. I’m finally writing about the cheese itself!

I can’t believe how easy this was, and how much better the homemade version tastes. Or how inexpensive it was to make! Basically, this is a win all around.

Homemade Mascarpone | PDXfoodlove

Do keep in mind, though, this stuff will need to drain overnight. So plan ahead! I did not, so I ended up making my mascarpone and having to wait a few days before I could use it, because I made it the night before I had to travel for work. Never again.

Supply-wise, you’ll need some cheesecloth, a thermometer and a fine mesh strainer
that will sit on top of a largeish bowl.


Grapefruit, Arugula & Mascarpone Toast

Well, the recipe is basically in the title! Sometimes the best foods are the simple ones.

This is a quick dinner I made for myself while Dave is out for a work event. I had gone out for a run when I got home from work, and afterward made plans to work on a few blog recipes while finishing up a great bottle of wine. I actually made two recipes – the other was a delicious smashed avocado and poached egg toast. They were both great, but I have to admit, this one was better! I love grapefruit. I have no idea why I don’t eat more of it. But if you aren’t a grapefruit person, I bet this would be delicious with a tangerine as well.

Grapefruit, Mascarpone and Arugula Toast | PDXfoodloveGrapefruit, Mascarpone and Arugula Toast | PDXfoodlove

And, PS, I made this mascarpone! Don’t worry, the post is coming. I’ve been trying to use it on as many things as possible. It was SO easy. I’m never buying it again. Well, unless I’m in a pinch, of course. But the homemade stuff is definitely the best I’ve had.

Size-wise, I would say that two big slabs of toast would be part (maybe half?) of a dinner. You could supplement with a nice, big green salad or a piece of grilled chicken or fish. Or, you could break it down and put the same ingredient combination onto baguette slices for an appetizer.


Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

What a nice day it has been! In Portland today it was somewhere in the mid-high 60s, and it was glorious.

On my way home I stopped by the new World Foods, which is from the folks who own one of my very favorite places, Barbur World Foods, so it had been on my list to check out. Shocker: I completely loved it. The prices were great, the products were fun and widely arrayed, and the dessert counter/wine bar in the back certainly doesn’t hurt. I was in such a good mood shopping there that I bought flowers on the way out. It was a good day. And not just because I bought groceries, I swear.

When I got home, I poured myself a glass of wine and got started cooking these easy, super tasty asparagus.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus  | PDXfoodlove

Which leads me to a very important question.

What the heck is the plural form here? Asparaguses? Asparagi? I like asparagi. I’m going with it.

Maybe these are supposed to be eaten with a fork, but asparagi are a little awkward when not precut yet served accompanied by a fork. I picked these up by the end and just ate them out of my fingers. They were so good.

The Cocktail Diaries: French 75s

I think waiting until 10 p.m. on Sunday night to write my blog posts might be a mistake. But I had things to do for most of the rest of my weekend, I swear.

This weekend we interviewed new board members for the Montavilla Farmers Market. I worked with a friend and her mom doing some designs for their premium beef brand. Dave and I made so many good recipes from my beloved Jerusalem: A Cookbook. And we went to yoga. My favorite part was when the teacher was leading us through the warrior poses, and a song in a different language came on. She said “You hear this song? It’s an Indian song. It means ‘This is going to hurt!’” HA HA HA SO FUNNY my quads are still crying… and then we finished off the weekend with a wonderful dinner with friends. It flew by, but it sure was fun.

Oh, and we had this lovely cocktail, the French 75, while we made a nice dinner.

French 75 Cocktail | PDXfoodlove

I am at a crossroads in my cocktail making. I have the basics for making some solid classic cocktails. But if I’m going to continue doing these posts, I’ll need to start figuring out what direction I want to go in, and what I actually want a full bottle of in my house.

The Cocktail Diaries: Classic Champagne Cocktail

Last week I did an original cocktail recipe, and this week I’m doing one of the very classic classics. There’s an entire world of champagne-based cocktails out there, and most of them are delicious. I am one of those people who enjoys a good glass of (DRY) sparkling wine any old day of the week, so to have it incorporated into a cocktail is just a bonus.

I hope you all have enjoyed these cocktail posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them, and of course drinking them. It’s been really fun to do something a little outside my normal repertoire.

Classic Champagne Cocktail | PDXfoodlove

The classic champagne cocktail is a lesson in simplicity. There are four ingredients, including the garnish. Five if you want to add a second bitters like I did below. It’s also a celebration of bitters. So often they are in the background of cocktails, but this recipe uses more than double what you might normally put in a drink, and the bitters become the main flavor. It makes me want to try it with other types of bitters – can you imagine how good this would be with say, rhubarb bitters?

A note on the “champagne” – I am a firm believer that you don’t need to have capital-C “Champagne” to enjoy a good glass of sparkling wine, and you don’t necessarily even need to stick to something made with méthode champenoise if you are just drinking it as wine. But for this cocktail, stay the heck away from sweet sparklings. Moscato and cava will not do. Get the driest méthode champenoise bottle you can find. After all, you are putting a teaspoon of sugar into it.


Speaking of the sugar: traditionally the recipe calls for a sugar cube. I looked into buying these at the store and the only box I could find had 200 sugar cubes that would probably be sitting in my cupboard for over a year. Not happening. So instead, I used a teaspoon of sugar. It turned out just fine. If anyone has a source on buying a small package of sugar cubes (besides stealing them from a diner), tell me in the comments. :)


The Cocktail Diaries: A Manhattan Primer

This post is unintentionally well-timed, because I think a lot of Portlanders have been making their way through their whiskey and bourbon the past few days. We are SNOWED. IN, and we have been for days. By my measurements we have at least 8 inches of snow. But when the freezing rain began on Saturday, I quit measuring. Everything was sporadically shutting down for the first two days, but when the freezing rain started, everything closed down. Even public transit – the overhead lines that the MAX uses were covered in ice and on Saturday night the trains just stopped.

Today we saw the beginning of the end. Things were already starting to thaw as we walked the 3/4 mile to the grocery store around lunchtime. Our driveway is now clear and dry, and the main roads were starting to look slushy but bearable on our walk earlier. It has been hard to stay in for so long! I’ve seen a lot of Instagrams of cocktails. Tomorrow will be another snow day for local schools, so for those of you who are going stir-crazy at home, can I suggest digging into one of the most classic drinks of all time?

Classic Manhattans: A Primer | PDXfoodlove

Why do I say that? One big reason, besides the obvious ubiquity: Manhattans predate Prohibition. Before the dark times, cocktails and bitters flourished. But not everything survived. The Prohibition movement is responsible for untold lost recipes of cocktails, bitters and more. When you drink a Manhattan, you are truly tasting early American cocktail culture.

Homemade Bitters | PDXfoodlove

And bitters are a big part of that. I’m proud to say that I just finished two batches of my own – they involve a LOT of citrus, some 100 proof vodka, and some unusual herbs, spices and barks.

Classic Manhattans: A Primer | PDXfoodlove

The classic Manhattan will contain whiskey, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. I like a little spin on that – I like to use two kinds in my Manhattan – my house orange bitters, and of course, Angostura.

Classic Manhattans: A Primer | PDXfoodlove

Another quick note – I’ve been using bourbon in mine. Bourbon is not required. Traditionally, an American whiskey is used.

Classic Manhattans: A Primer | PDXfoodlove

My favorite thing about this particular recipe is the zing from the orange bitters, and from rubbing the orange peel around the rim of the glass before adding it to the drink.

Here’s what you need:
2 oz. whiskey or bourbon
1 oz. sweet vermouth
dash of Angostura bitters
dash of orange bitters
orange peel (or, for funsies, a blood orange peel, which I’ve used here)
maraschino cherry

Classic Manhattans: A Primer | PDXfoodlove

In a mixing glass filled with ice (this can be a traditional one, or a wide-mouth mason jar, or a pint glass), pour the spirits and bitters in over the ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a highball glass with ice, or into a coupe if you’d like it served up.

Take the outside of your orange peel and rub it around the rim of the glass, then drop the peel and the cherry into the drink. Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheese Frittata

This is what we ate for dinner tonight. Normally I don’t turn around and post stuff this quickly. But I’m posting it now because I’m so happy with how it worked out – and also my photo is quite pretty today and I’m proud of it. Bam:

Broccoli Cheese Frittata | PDXfoodlove

When I was heading home, I was thinking we would make this delicious broccoli cheese rice bowl that is always a favorite. But… we’ve had a lot of rice this week. It was delicious fried rice – one of the best “what’s in the fridge” fried rices that I can remember, actually. And I also threw the leftovers in an excellent soup that we’ll talk about later this week. But we probably shouldn’t be eating rice every day, I suppose. Also we have no chicken or water chestnuts. So I thought about a frittata instead.

I’m convinced that eggs are nature’s perfect food. They’re packed with protein, they can be a meal totally on their own and they can turn into some of the most delicious things we eat, from being deviled to becoming a custard. They can deliver sugar… or they can hold cups upon cups of high-fiber, gorgeous veggies. This particular dish is so full of good things that I didn’t feel a darned bit of guilt when I ate two Toasted Coconut Lime Bars for dessert, either.

Here’s what you need:

Olive oil
4 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Red pepper flakes
8 eggs
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/2 cup pungent cheese, such as freshly grated Parmesan (NO GREEN CAN)

Fresh basil
Hot sauce

For this recipe, you will need an oven-safe nonstick skillet. I recommend Scanpans if you don’t already have one!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in your skillet. Cook the broccoli, onion and garlic together until they are slightly softened. While they are cooking, crack all of the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together.

When the veggies are softened, pull them off of the heat and allow them to cool for about five minutes. Then, while stirring, pour the veggies into the egg bowl and continue stirring to mix evenly. Add red pepper flakes, a heavy pinch of salt and some black pepper.

Pour another tablespoon of oil into the skillet and tilt the pan to coat with a thin layer. Pour the egg and veggie mixture back in the pan, and then cook for about 3-4 minutes over low heat (still on the stovetop) until the edges of the mixture show signs of setting up.

Broccoli Cheese Frittata | PDXfoodlove

Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the center is just set.

Broccoli Cheese Frittata | PDXfoodlove

Top with fresh basil and/or hot sauce! Makes about four servings, depending on how hungry you are.

Mango Dark and Stormy

I’m starting the week off with an easy recipe. We had a very fun and productive weekend, but I think I’m still suffering from a little bit of jet lag. Every night, 8:30 or 9 p.m. rolls around and I’m falling asleep in my chair. Right now I am drinking Tazo’s “Awake” English Breakfast Tea. It is 7:54 p.m.

Maybe I can attribute it just a little bit to our busy weekend. Yesterday Dave and I worked for hours reorganizing our kitchen, getting rid of unneeded donation items and throwing out all of the boxes in our basement. They tend to pile up after a while, but boy does our storage area look nice now! I mean really, it’s so organized and clean. Things are in permanent plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes. And all of the cardboard boxes are safely at the recycling center. We even were able to recycle the packing peanuts and bubble wrap we found down there! Did you know that Postal Annex takes old packing material to reuse? Well, now you do. Well done, Postal Annex.

Mango Dark and Stormy | PDXfoodlove

We finished up our big day of organization yesterday with a pretty amazing dinner. My parents bought Dave a copy of Ted Allen’s “In My Kitchen,” which is a fabulous cookbook, and we used it to inspire our dinner from last night. We also had a little remaining ginger beer from Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Seattle, and Dave suggested we do an easy riff on a Dark and Stormy. It turned out to be a perfect cocktail for us to enjoy while we worked on the other delicious elements of our dinner.


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