Back when Matt and I lived in Brooklyn (a.k.a. before we moved to Beacon, went insane and thought it would be wise for two freelancers to try and buy a house), we occasionally went to a lovely little restaurant called Buttermilk Channel. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because they inspired our Spiced Pickled Grapes recipe (and I talk about the place constantly to anyone who will listen). It’s not a “fancy” restaurant, but everything is prepared with care and with an eye towards seasonality, including their cocktails. It was through their inventive menu that I began to expand my cocktail palate beyond gin and tonics and margaritas (though I still love both, of course. I’m not a monster).
For me, cocktail perfection is all about balance. I like a little sweetness, but not so much that I feel like I’m sipping dessert. (Matt, an unapologetic prom-drinker, doesn’t always agree with me on that). [Camera swish pans around to reveal Matt drinking Baileys straight from the bottle, a milky dribble glistening on his chin. “You knew what I was when you married me”, he says quietly.]
I want to taste a little kick of alcohol but I don’t want to shake my head a like a teenager chugging Southern Comfort out of a paper bag after every sip.
After extensive (ahem…) research, I have come to believe that fresh grapefruit juice is the best mixer of all time.
Is it just me or has this been a weird summer? It has, right? I feel like it took me until late June to even dig through my closet to find a pair of sandals. Then it got really hot for maybe twenty minutes, and now it’s chilly again.
Matt and I were sitting on the deck last night, the sun was setting through the trees, making the leaves shimmer and glow as though lit from inside. Soon the white wood boards on the side of the house turned a deep golden pink. It was incredibly lovely. I was tempted to grab my camera but I decided just to enjoy the moment. Just experience it, you know? So we sat there, drinking a glass of rosé, a sleepy pup* at our feet, just enjoying the quiet. Matt looked at me and I looked at him.
“I’m freezing”, I said.
“Bloody hell, me too. Let’s go inside”, he said.
So we made dinner and watched an episode of “Utopia“, season 2 (highly recommended).
(*Here’s a picture of Arya looking longingly at a hot dog).
An easy and elegant appetizer of roasted figs stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in Serrano ham. Finished with fresh thyme, a drizzle of honey, and a few toasted almonds.
I know, I know, you’re thinking,”Emily, when did you become a member of the Royal Family cos, gurl, you fancy!” (I apologize for making you sound like a 1970’s sit-com character, but it was required for comedy purposes. You should see the wig I’m imagining on you).
Yes, it’s true that these beauties would be perfect alongside a glass of Champagne at an elegant cocktail party. But, truth be told, they’d be equally delightful with a (not terribly expensive) glass of rosé while sitting on the back deck. Guess which way we had them? (If you guessed “directly off the baking tray, standing in the kitchen with a dog and two cats staring at us”, you would be correct).
As fancy as they look, these are incredibly easy to make. On the preparing-for-a-party difficulty scale, they fall slightly above “pour potato chips into bowl” and well below “make homemade dip”. The hardest part is finding fresh figs, which isn’t very hard when they’re in season. If your figs are very ripe, you don’t even really need to roast them (but I find the combination of a warm, jammy fig, oozy sharp cheese, and salty ham to be irresistible).
If you’re making them for a party. you could prep them up to a day ahead and just roast them a few minutes before you want to serve them.
Our recipe for chocolate chip cookies comes with a bit of history, a Cookie Monster / Tom Waits mashup, and our usual nerdy tips for the tastiest cookies.
Cookies! Who DOESN’T love them? The churlish people, that’s who, you know the ones I mean. Those sour, pinch-lipped joykills with hearts of black, black stone. People who, for whatever reason, just don’t have a sweet tooth. People whose doctors have advised them to maintain a cookie-free lifestyle. People with gluten intolerance. Er. Look, I’ll come in again.
Cookies! Who DOES love them?
While you’re enjoying that, have a little bit of history of chocolate chip cookies. No extra charge.
It’s not always possible to identify the exact time and place a recipe was invented, or with whom it originated, but with the chocolate chip cookie, we can. Not only do we know exactly who invented it, when, and where, but we also know that, somewhat bizarrely, it was invented before the chocolate chip.
In 1938 Ruth Wakefield, proprietor of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, MA, made a small change in the recipe for her butterscotch cookies, substituting a chopped-up chocolate bar. And that’s how chocolate chip cookies were born. It became so popular and renowned that Nestlé not only permanently added the name of her restaurant to their baking chocolate bars, but also began to sell packets of ready-made chips specifically to be added to this recipe.
Sadly, the inn burned down in 1985, and now the Toll House sign at the Inn’s original location only welcomes you to a Walgreen’s parking lot.
A simple orzo salad with tasty colorful summer produce of zucchini and tomatoes, tossed with olives and feta cheese. Delicious and healthy!
Happy July 4th! Of course, this blog post is pre-recorded, so you’re probably reading this on July 6th, (or August 23rd if you’ve just got around to cleaning out your spam folder. Not judging!), but as we write this, it is a wonderfully sunny and warm July 4th, and we’re all sitting in the garden, grilling burgers and drinking beers – the sound of laughter and ball games percolates across the neighborhood, fireworks are starting down by the Hudson River and … Okay, I can’t keep this up, it’s pissing down, it’s been storming heavily for two days straight, the garden is basically flooded, and the only people enjoying a ball game are the German World Cup team. We’re sitting in our living room eating dry crackers and watching a Star Trek: Next Generation marathon (in between World Cup matches, of course). We downloaded a firework app on our iPad. Wheeeee. Look, that one’s in the shape of a hot dog. Happy now? Are you? Are you happy? *Sobs*