Crostada is the Italian name for a free-form pie. Crostada, or Galette, the French name for the same. A rustic, pie pan not necessary dessert that’s perfect for summer since it means less time in a hot kitchen when you don’t want to worry about forming a perfect pie crust.
It was late July, the cherries were organic, perfectly ripe–delicious and when I washed them under a little running water, they didn’t leave a slight transparent film on my hands. The lowest price on organic produce reaches us when fruits and vegetables are at their seasonal peak, which works out well since seasonally ripe fruit tastes the best.
Take Bing cherries, plump, cabernet-colored cherries, and soak them overnight with a cherry-infused liquor (Kirsch), vanilla, lemon, and a handful of unprocessed sugar. A summer pie that is nice to enjoy with a spoonful of organic whipped cream or your favorite non dairy topping.
Whole Spelt Crostada with Kirsch-Soaked Bing Cherries
A fruit tart with either a vegan or a half butter – half plant oil pie crust. If using butter, I like to cut back on quantities. Typically this means a slighty crispier, yet still flaky, texture.
2 1/2 Bing Cherries
1/3 cup sugar in the raw
1/4 cup Gin or Kirsch liquor
1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
Combine all the ingredients with the fruit and allow the fruit to soak up the flavors, letting it sit in your refrigerator while you assemble the pie crust. Reserve 1/2 the amount of liquid to include in your tart.
Will make one and a half the amount of dough…
1 1/2 cup Whole Spelt Flour
1 1/2 cup Unbleached Spelt Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 of a stick of butter
1/3 cup canola oil
10 tablespoons of ice water
I’m adding my favorite vegan pie crust recipe but make sure to make one and a half times the recipe for extra dough.
- 1/2 cup unbleached spelt
- 7tablespoons whole Spelt flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar in the raw
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons water
When making a Crostada, you need more dough than for a regular pie. This means one and a half times the recipe of pie dough! I find that it’s nice to have extra dough to work with, so you’re sure to have enough fold over your fruit without piercing the bottom.
For a good pie crust, make sure all your ingredients are chilled; cold butter and chilled oil, ice water … Combine all your ingredients in a bowl, adding the butter last. If making a vegan pie crust, chill the canola oil, adding it last.
Cut small cubes of butter into the flour. Once it’s incorporated and in a small ball, store and let rest in your refrigerator for at least a half hour. Roll out into about 14 inches, cover with plastic wrap and then store it in your refrigerator for another half hour. Take out and spoon your fruit in the center, fold over.
One friend’s decision to start to use the newly acquired, not to mention, enviable, high speed and pulverizing “Blentec” blender inspired this smoothie recipe. This reminded me that you don’t always need to buy expensive juices, but instead can add greens to smoothies at home for added nutrition. Coincidentally, another friend asked for a detoxifying drink recipe; this is one such recipe.
I mixed Grapefruit, Parsley, Spinach, Banana with Coconut water; these were the fruit and greens we had on hand. Blending together coconut water and green vegetables with a sweet fruit like a banana makes for a well balanced drink, not too much sugar from the fruit, and a light yet nutrient dense, mostly green drink. Perhaps most exciting for me is the realization that though I want my own specialty blender, really, any blender will do. (Just make sure to add enough liquid, so not to burn out your motor. )
Green Grapefruit Juice
1/4 or 1/2 a grapefruit, skin peeled off
- 5 sprigs of parsley with stems and leaves
5 sprigs of spinach with stem and leaves
1 1/2 cup coconut water
Add all ingredients to your blender. Blend on high, usually for a good 60 seconds or enough time that the small bits of greens are blended smoothly. If you don’t have a specialty blender, you may need to turn the blender on and off, resting between every thirty seconds till the greens are totally incorporated.
I have a favorite artichoke dip that I order religiously at “The Farm” on Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. It’s probably unfortunate that I like it so well, considering how very cheesy it is. However, the reason their artichoke dip is good isn’t so much because of the cheese surrounding the vegetable, but because of the multiple, generous, layers of artichoke hearts brightened by lemon and a jalapeno kick for a lingering burst of flavor and heat.
There’s a line that forms outside a pizzaria in the West Village with the name “Artichoke.” People will line up outside, patiently waiting, in the wee hours of the morning. Clearly seeing this pizza as a supreme cheese indulgence — it seems there must be a pound of cheese per slice to go along with a bit of artichoke — I carefully choose to stay away.
Once, after a long night of working, I bought a slice and, wouldn’t you know it, the cheesy sauce was so ooey and gooey that it dripped down and landed on my shoe. I have to admit; it was good. But the vegetable was lost and didn’t need such a heavy handed portion of cheese.
This pizza is one I brought to the park to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The best of both worlds – all the flavor of the dip I love with less (dairy) fat, yet still using some organic, sharp white Cheddar and Parmesan Reggiano. Substituting olive oil, a vegetable fat, for the dairy fat above, and then artichoke hearts combined with lemon zest and jalapeno gave it a full flavor. Lastly, adding baby spinach greens over the top.
- 1 large jalapeño
- 1 9-ounce boxe frozen artichokes—thawed, drained and chopped length wise
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco
- 1/4 cup freshly grated organic sharp white cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 500°. Roast the jalapeño directly over a gas flame, turning, until charred all over. Let cool, then peel and seed the jalapeño and cut it into 1/4-inch dice.
In a large bowl, mix the artichokes with the jalapeño, Parmigiano, organic sharp cheddar, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and Tabasco. This mixture makes enough for one generous artichoke pie, or divide equally and use on a second pizza.
Stretch out your pizza dough on to a large cookie sheet or pizza stone. Lightly drizzle the dough with olive oil and then coat the dough with your hands so the olive oil is evenly distributed.
Dot and decorate the artichoke mixture onto your pizza.
Dress the spinach by very lightly spraying or coating the spinach with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle of sea salt. Toss together and then add as the last layer on your pizza.
Bake on a pizza stone or cookie sheet at 500 depgrees until golden brown.
I’ll own up to the contradiction; enjoying nut milks and other milk alternatives while still consuming dairy. Cheese on pizza, a dotted covering of fresh, smoked, mozzarella is particularly nice. Just as likely, every now and again, I’ll walk out of my way for an under sweetened, organic cream strawberry ice-cream cone. Another delight? A light, creamy, freshly made almond milk is (though perhaps in a different way) as good as any cheese or ice cream.
Fresh almond milk has an aftertaste almost of cold cherries, pronounced nuttiness through the liquid smooth milk. The combination of filtered water and raw, soaked, almonds is blended smooth, then strained. There are a wide variety of delicious ingredients that may be added to create a wonderfully rich and flavorful drink.
I like to use glass milk jars and have acquired a few from New York State’s Ronnybrook Farms. Once made, the nutmilk is stored in my refrigerator till it’s almost ice cold. The creamy liquid looks charming in ‘of another time’ containers and though it may look like dairy milk, it has its own sweet distinct taste, great just because or as an alternative.
This recipe adds a splash of vanilla and the caramel sweetness of the “kind of dates”, the medjool date. It adds so much flavor and goodness to morning coffee, smoothies and desserts that it doesn’t occur to me to care about the process of making it, which generally takes about 15- 20 minutes.
Very Creamy Almond Milk (first strain)
Mix all ingredients in a blender. Take out a cheese cloth or sprouted nut bag; pour the blended nut milk through the mesh cloth as it sits on top of a container. I like to use a large, glass container with a spout, such as a four cup/1 quart measuring cup. This way I can easily pour the milk into any container or just put directly into the refrigerator.
- 1 cup soaked almonds (overnight) or blanched almonds
- 3 cups water
- 1 medjool date
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pinch sea salt
Low Fat Almond Milk (second strain)
Add the pulp from the first straining add back to blender. Add another three cups of water to the pulp and re-blend and then restrain, you’re second batch of almond milk.
- 3 cups of water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch sea salt
Nuts will go rancid and stale quickly. Best to keep in an air tight container away from light. Buy fresh, unsalted, raw almonds for your use.
You will get the best results if you soak the nuts (overnight) in filtered water, let sit in a bowl soaking for 8 hours. In the morning, pour out the water in the bowl and rinse the pre “soaked” almonds. Peel off the brown outer layer. Blanching nuts will give you similar results as soaking. Leaving the brown skin on the nut will make the milk slightly bitter, so recommended to take the time to peel it off.
Peeling off the almond skins takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Your almonds are now ready to blend with your desired ingredients.
Reuse the almond pulp from after the first batch of almond milk, with another three cups of water, this will make ‘full fat and low fat’ almond milk saving money and time and ensuring milk for the week to come! Enclosed the jars with parchment paper and fasten it with a rubber band. Fresh nut milk will turn after about four to five days.
A dark crumb, defiantly rich chocolate cake together with its white frosting is made with a list of plant based ingredients, a vegan cake. If a cake can be a political statement, this might be: a tasty political statement smothered with white frosting.
The whole non-dairy issue aside, the main ingredients are pomegranate juice, coffee, finely ground whole wheat flour, and sugar in the raw… there’s cocoa powder too, so what’s not to love?
A chocolate indulgence that reminds me of my childhood favorite, a store bought Pepperidge Farm German chocolate cake. A cake fondly requested for almost every birthday throughout my youth. While there were the homemade cakes, the rare and wonderful Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes, the deli isle grocery cake with more sickly sweet icing than is good for a child — usually a blinding bright blue contrasting a stark white frosting — my favorite was that German chocolate particular. When my parents bought one of those cakes, whether it was for my birthday or for that of one of my siblings, after the celebration I would sneak more than my share, carefully slicing one small slice after another, hoping no one would notice.
This cake is similar to the ‘German chocolate cake’ by the combination of chocolate sponge and frosting. The frosting has a hint of coconut taste through the addition of coconut oil. Perhaps there is an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract, just to make sure you know you’re having frosting, similar to buttercream. Whole wheat pastry flour works well in this cake. It’s whole wheat flour finely ground, milled with the added health benefits of the whole wheat berry, which is perfect for baked goods. Now, that cake– a distant memory as I make this one better at home.
This recipe was adapted from Moosewood’s cookbook and recipe, six minute Vegan Chocolate Cake. While you could put it together quickly I found that in order to do the cake justice it takes longer, perhaps a half hour to assemble. This is a rather forgiving cake recipe since you can interchange the liquid in the recipe for water, coffee, or pomegranate juice as I do here. I chose pomegranate juice with coffee because I wanted to impart a rich flavor and though it tastes entirely of chocolate it reminds me of a black forest variant.
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2/3 cup quality dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup sugar in the raw (I’ll explain why this is a wet ingredient)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (perfectly fine to skip this and add raw sugar)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cup coffee or water
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice or water
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Using canola oil or an equivalent vegetable oil, grease an 11 inch Bundt pan, or two 10 inch round cake pans, then coat with flour, and shake off the excess.
Sift all dry ingredients together: flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. I usually do this at least two times to ensure that the cocoa powder is distributed with the flour and other dry ingredients. * Make sure to use whole wheat pastry flour, so not to weigh cake down.
Start with the sugar in the raw in the bowl and add the hot coffee, the hot liquid will melt the sugar. Whisk all wet ingredients together: pomegranate juice, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, vegetable oil, along with the hot coffee and/or water.
Combining dry and wet ingredients together, gently fold until the batter just comes together, just enough that there are no large pockets of flour. To ensure a moist and fluffy, high rising cake, make sure to not over work the batter.
Pour into the prepared 11 inch Bundt pan or two 10 inch cake rounds.
Bake in an oven preheated at 375 degrees for about 45-50 minutes.
White frosting (all plant-based ingredients)
- 1/2 cup butter version Earth Balance
- 2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
With your paddle attachment on a Kitchen Aid or other mixer, cream the Earth Balance smooth. Next add vanilla extract, coconut oil, and powdered sugar. Mix ingredients until incorporated and has a light, whipped consistency, approximately 5minutes.
Two winter storms have come and gone, leaving only the wind. Despite every last button fastened, the January cold finds us while the wind brushes the ice off the tall banks of accumulated snow. On almost any late morning in winter, we might see the same sky: translucent and dimly lit, dirty and grey.
I spoon another copious bite of baked Oatmeal from my bowl: familiar food in new form. Have you ever eaten something both because you like the way it tastes, but crave it because of its texture? Baked oatmeal feels dry, yet chewy, and when you put your spoon through the center, the hearty oats break apart through the mantle of almonds and goo as you mine for pieces of fruit and nuts in between the rolled oats. I come up with a red cranberry, sour like a cherry, bitingly tart unlike other berries. It’s a c-r-a-n-berry, a berry that only makes you salivate if it’s paired with a little sweetness. Bake them with oatmeal in a small size muffin pan and they’re like small cakes, easy to re-heat , a warm comforting morning meal.
Baked Oatmeal with Cranberries and Almonds
- 1 cup organic thick cut rolled oats
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup sugar in the raw
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 sea or kosher salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup melted butter or canola oil
Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine all wet ingredients together and whisk. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Prepare a six muffin pan with oil (I used an olive oil spray), then fill each individual muffin well with the prepared oat mixture until it’s almost, but not quite, overflowing. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown, approximately 40 mins. If your goal is to have perfectly formed cake mounds, allow the oatmeal to rest in the muffin tins for about an hour before serving. This is step is not necessary if you use eggs, add 2 eggs if using. I’ve made this recipe with and without eggs. I decided to leave them out of the recipe since I didn’t feel that it was necessary for a good result. Serve plain, or with your favorite yogurt.
Flavoring plain yogurt with fresh fruit juice, such as a lemon with zest, in combination with honey or maple syrup is surprising in it’s simplicity and delicious.
Plain Yogurt with Drizzled Honey and Lemon Zest
- 1/2 cup Face or your favorite organic yogurt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a breakfast bowl. Top the yogurt with the Baked Oatmeal. Drizzle the dish with honey, molasses or maple syrup.
Who knew you could catch a cold through text messaging, yet that’s precisely what happened. At least, that’s what I told my friend after I came down with the same cold he was fighting. And so last Tuesday when I was at home and slightly under the weather, and decisions about the Thanksgiving holiday menu long on my mind, it seemed like the only thing to do was to bake a pie. I’m not sure that this pie could nurse myself or others back to health, but after four days of testing, eating, delighting in both vegan and “some dairy” renditions of traditional pumpkin pie, I believe I came close to a cure: Pumpkin pie made with the energizing scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, the piquant, fibrous, freshly grated ginger root, and the sumptuous sweetness of honey. Three large pies and a few little vegan tartlets later, not only do I feel much better, I’m still not tired of smelling the squash mixture as it bakes and bubbles, resting on my counter, warm out of the oven.
The vegan pumpkin pie tasted lovely. If there’s a difference between the two pies, it was in the consistency. The dairy-ed version, two eggs with a touch of cream, made the filling- ever so slightly- fluffier, the eggs congealing the mixture while baking. The vegan pie needing to set after baking, overnight in the refrigerator. Both tasted similar, divine as you would expect from the layered ingredients. I noticed that the cream rounded the spice and while I did think that the eggs were useful, if serving immediately, I’m not so keen on adding the cream. Next time I would leave the cream out of the filling mixture, instead, a small dollap of fresh, whipped cream to top. Either you could proudly serve at your gathering.
A dusting of grated organic nutmeg top the pumpkin tartlet.
This pie crust is excellent. Canola oil is used in place of butter, and it rolls out easily, never sticking to the surface. The crust bakes light and crisp.
Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times
- 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 7tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar in the raw
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons water
- 2 cups organic canned pumpkin
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream-if using
- 3 eggs -if using
- 1/2 cup sugar in the raw
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon packed of freshly grated ginger- or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
For the crust, sift all dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients, combine with a fork. Mash together into a ball and let sit, covered in the refrigerator for at least one hour, longer if it holds back when rolling out. Roll out on a lightly floured surface, form to your pie plate with a 1/2 an inch of the dough hanging over the pie plate.
For the filling, freshly grated the ginger root after peeling (a micro plane works well), combine both the pumpkin filling and spice mix in a bowl and stir until incorporated. I used my kitchen aid stand mixer with the wisk attachment.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.
* Vegan Pie– make sure to let it set in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Chef Mario Batali’s new food mecca and grocery store in Manhattan has a man stationed at the head of the produce section whose sole job is to wash, peel, cut, sculpt, and generally help us wayward shoppers in selecting the finest produce. A plate before him is covered with imported olive oil and sea salt. We talk while I taste sweet, baby tomatoes, first the tomato itself, then dipped in the oil and salt—a reminder that an in-season tomato needs little, if nothing–no extravagant dressing to be enjoyed. What might have been an overwhelming shopping experience—before me, throngs of people stream through aisle after aisle of Italian goods—is wonderfully simplified.
The French call dressing fruits and vegetables with olive oil (or butter) and sea salt Croque-au-sel. And what a joy it is to eat. Too rarely we taste a simple, well produced tomato, firm and heavy with juice, and think, Yes, a tomato really is a fruit.
Sometime later that same week, I visit a gated community garden in Brooklyn that covers one quarter of a New York City block, and find baby tomatoes, growing best from August through October, so ripe they almost fall off the vine. The dried out leaves don’t mean a thing; the plant is strong and growing. One can imagine its delicate roots weaving below the packed soil, soaking up nutrients, a labyrinth as large as the garden.
Start out with a nice, ripe fruit, such as the tomatoes I found in the community garden, and use a high quality olive oil. You’ll taste the difference, perhaps the subtle peppery undertones of the olive oil, maybe citrus…? Like wine, the character of the oil depends on where the olive tree was grown and care in production. I used a light grey sea salt. Sea salt is unprocessed and contains trace minerals; also it has a pleasant, briny taste. It will clump together, so use dry fingers to take a full pinch, lightly sprinkle, high, over the tomotoes. Uncomplicated, simple ingredients.
Sweet Baby Tomatoes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt
- Handful perfectly ripe tomatoes
- Drizzle of olive oil
- A pinch of sea salt
September 21st 2010, the last day of summer. Tomorrow, a day of transition and of the autumn equinox. The cold weather is officially invited in, reminding us of the passage of time and of the predictability of the next season’s deep slumber that regenerates all of nature.
I find my way to a cup of tea in the morning, lured by the humming of the kettle. A black tea blended with citrus orange and the ephemeral scent of dried rose. A shop girl — an expert in tea witchery — helped me pick out this unusual blend she adeptly named…Queen of Summer. If flavor can remind one of time and place, then this tea can be an homage to this moment, to saying goodbye to the past summer and preparing for the oncoming bite of fall… and so, Queen of the end of Summer.
Queen of Summer Tea Blend
- 1/4 pound black vanilla tea
- 2 tablespoons dried rose petals
- 2 tablespoons dried orange rind
One pot tea
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla black tea
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rose petals
- 1/2 teaspoon dried orange rind
Mix all ingredients together. Put in your tin or jar and label with instructions if giving as a gift.
Use 1 teaspoon per cup of boiling water and steep 4 to 5 minutes. Garnish with orange peel. A delightfully fresh and spicy tea.
This past Christmas Eve–amidst sugarcoated squash, smelly cheeses, jellied figs, and rows and rows of dulces–sat an unassuming ambrosia salad, or a salad of the gods. Cool whipped creamy, canned fruit magnificence. When I asked the guest who brought this surprising addition to our Christmas table, he unabashedly answered that his mother had made this salad for nearly every occasion.
Growing up in the South, I saw this dish at nearly every neighborhood barbeque and block party. I grew to love it, to seek it out, always hoping it would make an appearance. Along with my mother’s potato salad, it reminded me of freely running barefoot across hot concrete with my friends and siblings all through the long summers, usually only stopping long enough to stick our toes into the melted tar that divided our suburban streets. We did a lot of nothing, getting into the type of trouble I wish I could find myself in today—four wheeling and BB gun accidents notwithstanding.
Here’s a new and improved tribute to those lazy Southern summers with plenty of in season, ripe fruit, heaping cups of freshly grated coconut, and a hearty crust of chopped raw macadamia nuts and almonds. Should you decide to use the coconut cream in place of the fresh whipped cream, then this would be a totally “raw” salad.
An ambrosia salad is a typical Southern side dish, commonly made with Cool Whip, marshmallows, and Jell-O. This updated recipe calls for less than the usual amount of whipped topping, organic freshly whipped cream just to accent the fruit salad. If you’re looking for a non-dairy substitute, I’ve used coconut cream, a combination of young coconut meat and juice, with good results. The large shreds of mature coconut and nuts is what adds the richness to this dish.
- 2 cups fresh cut pineapple
- 1 1/2 cup fresh cut mango
- 1 cup fresh navel orange or Clementine wedges
- 1 pint of fresh blueberries
- 2 sliced bananas
- 1/2 cup fresh organic whipped cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup young coconut meat
- 1/4 cup young coconut juice
- 2 cups freshly grated mature coconut meat
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
In a large bowl, combine chopped fruit: fresh navel oranges, pineapple, bananas, blueberries, and mangos.
To make the coconut cream, combine the coconut meat with juice in a blender, and puree until blended. The consistency will be thick and syrupy. Fold in either the whipped cream or coconut cream.
Garnish with chopped almonds, macadamia nuts and fresh grated (mature) coconut meat. Chill for 1 hour or overnight.
It was a long walk home on a hot, humid day, down the hill, struggling between the cracks of an uneven sidewalk in a Brooklyn neighborhood, for 15 blocks with a 10-pound organic watermelon. The street was quiet, the air so thick that it restricted speech, and possibly, clear thought. Why else would anyone lug such a heavy thing home on a stifling day?
15 blocks back while in the grocery store, after spotting a favorite summertime fruit, I’d had the idea of making an herbal iced tea to drink in the high summertime heat. Rooibos is an herb, an African red bush plant. I steeped this herb in water, under the hot July sun, then cooled it down with a tray of ice and a good portion of cold, pureed, sweet watermelon. Late that afternoon, sometime after drinking the sun-sweetened tea while enjoying the view from my fire escape, I decided that it was well worth the effort.
Rooibos tea, slightly sweet and nutty. A naturally decaffeineted herbal tea.
Two etched Moroccan tea glasses filled with fresh mint
Iced Rooibos Tea with Watermelon
To steep, pour water into a large glass jar and add the tea packet. I opted for a cheesecloth tied with twine instead of a tight lid, which allowed the air to circulate while keeping insects out.
- 7cups water
- 3tablespoons Rooibos Tea
- Cheese cloth
After steeping, add the following ingredients: pureed watermelon, tray of ice, and lastly, if using agave or honey to sweeten further, take the time to make a simple syrup out of agave and water and some watermelon puree. Pour the sweet syrup into a ice tray and freeze into ice cubes. Use either the tray of ice or the ice cubes made with the combination simple syrup and watermelon puree. Using both ice trays would dilute the iced tea. Let the iced tea sit overnight, refrigerated, it will taste even better the next day after the flavors have had time to develop.
- 2cups watermelon puree
- 1 tray of ice
- agave to taste
- fresh mint to taste
I hadn’t seen N. in years. This time we reconnected in another state, California. I was happy to see her. I couldn’t help but notice the blooming lavender in her backyard as the purple bushels stood to our shoulders. Standing on the porch, we eyed the landscaped backyard. Two oversized rosemary bushes were placed at the front of the pebbled pathway. Citrus trees lined the fence and everywhere we looked, white roses. Her worn in, long haired cat, Rex, was casually hanging around, eagerly awaiting our attention. Rex was missing most of both ears; all that was left, two small stubs – causalities from what could only have been fights down dark alleys.
Aside from the lavender, she also had a grapefruit tree that was ripe and giving; not the steroid-sized grapefruit you see in most grocery stores, but grapefruits about the size of a conventionally grown orange.
The day relaxing with N. was drawing to a close. She loaded up the car with grapefruits from her tree and the lavender, which she suggested I use to make martinis for my traveling companions C. and L.
Back at the arts and craft house in Eaglerock were I was staying, we mixed two different style martinis. C. added one full sprig of lavender to the mixer with grapefruit pulp and juice. A few strong shakes later; I found it to be the perfect martini: no sugar. The bitter taste of the grapefruit made my mouth pucker, I stood rooted in place spending the next few moments in a refreshed stupor from the gin. The lavender accented the drink with a floral note off setting the fruit, the taste reminiscent of mint. L. and C. preferred the less fragrant scent and added only the small, narrow, thistle-like leaf from the lavender sprig with two parts gin, enjoying their drink with a hint of just-enough grapefruit, perhaps less then mine to properly enjoy the spirits.
Lavender is strong herb and best to add to the drink as you go, tasting after each addition or it can be too much of a good thing.
Lavender and Grapefruit Martini
- 1 part fresh Grapefruit juice
- 2parts gin (Hendricks is my favorite)
- 1 small sprig of lavender
- a dusting of dried grapefruit zest for the rim of the glass
Take the zest from one grapefruit and layout on a lined oven sheet. Place in the oven on low heat for approximately 5 minutes in a toaster oven is fine, about 350 Degrees. The oils from the fruit come to the surface and are highly aromatic. Zest should be just dried, not toasted, and then rubbed together into a fine powder.
Prepare your glasses with the dried grapefruit zest.
Fill your martini shakers with ice and pour two parts gin to one part grapefruit juice. I prefer to not add sugar but if you do, a touch of agave would be nice.
Add the lavender, perhaps just a few flower buds at first to the martini shaker, fresh pulp and one part grapefruit juice.
Shake vigorously. Enjoy with friends. Walk home.