I’ve had martinis on my mind lately, which explains this Dirty Lemon Martini. I’ve found a new podcast that I absolutely love called Martinis and Murder. The best part is that every episode starts with a martini recipe, which I guess makes the fact that the rest of the podcast is all about true crime a little easier to swallow. The hosts, Daryn Carp and John Thrasher, are very funny and very engaging. It helps, too, that their producer Matt is a shadowy figure in the background, making up martinis and making the occasional snarky remark that only the hosts can hear. I don’t usually read or watch true crime stories, which is strange, given that my preferred reading genre is mysteries. It’s one thing for it to be made up, I suppose, then for it to be something that happened in real life. This podcast is the exception for me, as it reminds me quite a bit of the podcast, Serial.
But enough about true crime podcasts. Back to the Dirty Lemon Martini. I love a good dirty martini. I’ve been known to make them with any olive brine I have on hand, including that from kalamata olives. There’s something so lovely about the brininess of the olives and the sharpness of the vodka and Vermouth. My favorite variation on this theme is a dirty martini with the brine of preserved lemons. Oh my goodness – this is the perfect way to end out a week. Preserved lemons infuse the brine with a hint of lemon. I use juniper berries and peppercorns in my preserved lemons, so there’s a hint of these spices as well.
This martini is so easy to make – all it takes is some good vodka, a dry Vermouth, and the brine from some preserved lemons. This is yet another good reason to have salt preserved citrus on hand, because when Friday comes around, who wouldn’t want to curl up with Netflix and a Dirty Lemon Martini?
- 3 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce Dry Vermouth
- 1/2 - 1 ounce brine from preserved lemons
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
- Serves 1
Here we are, finally, at the end of 2016 and it’s time for a Limoncello Kiss. I can’t say that this year has been that bad for us. I am sorry, though, for the general unrest in the rest of the world. I always face the beginning of a new year with a little anticipation and a bit of trepidation, as well. With good reason, I suspect that this year will bring about some major changes in our lives. We are facing a potential move again, so we’ll see. I’ve used the last few days of 2016 tidying up around the house. This has included cleaning out the garage and generally evaluating what’s worth moving and what’s not.
I’ve also had a great week cooking. If there is any constant in the new year, I very much hope it involves cooking and blogging. I’m also hopeful to be able to continue to be close to fresh and local foods, as these past nearly seven years of living in the PNW have transformed how I’ve cooked – we really do eat very seasonally and I enjoy the ebb and flow of the seasons for that reason.
The Limoncello Kiss is my farewell to 2016 – I thought this year needed a sweet kiss to finish it out. If you are in the mood to make your own limoncello, Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe on Food Network is both quick and yummy. Plus, with the leftover lemons, you’ll have a great excuse to make a lemon meringue pie or lemon bars. The Limoncello Kiss is a nod to one of my favorite cocktails at Pastini’s which is a lovely pasta chain in Portland.
Wishing you all the happiest 2017!
I’ve been a little slow to get on the Moscow Mule train, but here I am finally, posting a recipe for a Mandarin Orange Mule. I’ll confess that I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about, nor was I convinced that I needed a copper mug just for one particular drink. Then I had a Moscow Mule at the Old Spaghetti Factory. I was completely sold, even going so far as to track down a copper mug at World Market.
While I’m sure I’ll be making a traditional Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice) at some point soon, I thought I’d start with a variation on the theme. I’m in full out citrus mode right now – tracking down all manners of citrus-y treats, including seedless mandarin oranges. I decided a Mandarin Orange Mule would be a festive drink this time of year, to sip while listening to Pink Martini’s holiday album and admiring the Christmas tree.
On a side note, we’ve managed to make it to December 9 without Christmas tree catastrophe, which is amazing given that the cats have been chewing on it (it’s a fake tree – not sure what the appeal is) and Daisy has been wagging her tail every time she gets near it. Maybe I just need a Mandarin Orange Mule to soothe my nerves this time of year as I wait for Christmas tree catastrophe to occur.
Whatever the reason, this is well worth making. These would be lovely at a holiday party or maybe served on the side of a date night meal.
- 2 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces ginger beer
- Juice from 3 mandarin oranges
- Mandarin orange slice to garnish
- Mix all the ingredients in a copper mug. Add ice and garnish with slices of a mandarin orange. Enjoy!
- Serves 1
This Muddy Russian is a rich blend of Kahlua, vodka and eggnog, perfect for the first happy hour of December. Since we are at the beginning of December, I’m so ready to start baking and cooking for Christmas. I have the tree and all the lights up already – our tradition is to do all of this the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. The tree has already had multiple kitty cat incursions – a lot of nudging, rubbing up against, and rattling the jingle bells, just because they can. The bigger threat, as it turns out, seems to be Daisy’s tail. If she gets too close to the tree and wags, all the ornaments sway. It’s a bit unnerving, but pretty funny as well.
I made a Muddy Russian the night we put up the outdoor lights and stood outside after dusk, drink in hand, enjoying the sights and tastes of the season. I can only imagine that this would be a lovely cocktail to enjoy in front of a fireplace, maybe after a day on the slopes. For now, I’ll settle on drinking a Muddy Russian with Daisy sitting on my feet, Pink Martini’s Holiday channel on Pandora, and the PNW rain battering the windows.
I’m a fan of a good martini on a Friday night after a long week at work, so decided to experiment with the tomolives that I have in the fridge and make a Tomolive Martini. But first things first – you might be asking “what’s a tomolive?” Tomolives are a lovely way to repurpose green grape tomatoes at the end of the season and give them a shelf life into December (if you can resist eating them all before that). I had a bumper crop of green tomatoes at the end of the season (in fact, I still have quite a few on one tomato bush that just refuses to give in to the cooler weather, so will probably be harvesting them this weekend). Here’s my favorite recipe for Tomolives, from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen.
However, if you don’t have green tomatoes left in your garden or just don’t want to bother, you can also buy tomolives from Amazon and from World Market (and I’m sure from other places that sell specialty pickles as well). Tomolives taste like, well, like a cross between a tomato and an olive. In addition to making a great garnish for a martini, they would work well garnishing a Bloody Mary, as well as are a tasty accompaniment for hard-boiled eggs or as a substitute for olives on a cheese plate. Plus, they look a bit like a science experiment, so make a good prop for a Halloween-themed cocktail photo shoot!
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce vermouth
1/2 tomolive brine
3 tomolives to garnish
Combine the vodka, vermouth and brine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with tomolives. Enjoy!
This kumquat Meyer lemon martini is perfect for the holidays. Christmas is hands down my favorite time of year. All the sparkly lights and all the wonderful foods. It’s also usually the time of year when I have an extended period of time off of work and plenty of time to experiment with new recipes and food stuffs. It’s also a great time of year for a sparkly cocktail. That and all the lovely citrus starts showing up in the grocery stores here in the PNW. This little cocktail has a bit of it all: some sparkle, two types of citrus, and a photogenic presence.
I’m especially fond of kumquats this time of year. These bitty citrus look like an elongated mini-orange (and we know how I feel about mini everything!). Kumquats are pretty versatile – they can be eaten as a snack whole, peel and all, as well as salt-preserved (these were the first citrus I ever preserved using the salt technique), candied, and infused in a simple syrup for cocktails, like this one. The kumquats add a nice sweetness to the otherwise sweet/sour of the Meyer lemons.
Kumquat Meyer Lemon Martini
For the Kumquat Meyer Lemon Martini
- Combine the vodka, lemon juice, and kumquat syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Combine the sugar and zest of the Meyer lemon in a shallow dish. Dampen the rim of your martini glass with a bit of water and then dip the rim in the sugar/lemon mixture. Pour the martini into the prepared glass and garnish with the sliced kumquats.
For the kumquat simple syrup
- Combine the kumquats, sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir occasionally and cook for five or so minutes, pushing on the kumquat slices to release juice. Pour syrup (kumquats included) into a small jar and cool. Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days.