Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail: Celebration Food #SundaySupper

shrimp cocktail, shrimp, appetizer

I know we’re getting into the time of year of bridal showers and baby showers and such- but it’s also coming on GRADUATION time-as it turns out- MY graduation!

I am delighted to announce that I have officially completed my Masters degree coursework, and my thesis has been accepted and approved!  I am now able to proudly place the letters, MS, after my name. Earlier this week, when I received the confirmation, I was immediately hit with wild, teary emotion. I was washed over with such a powerful feeling of relief and satisfaction. I had set a long range goal, and now, after imagining this moment for so long- it is finally here. 

So dear friends, if you have nothing else to raise a glass for, you are welcome to join me in my happy dance as your excuse to eat, drink, and be merry!  (there really should be dancing)

For those who don’t know, I’ve been working on my degree is in Nutrition and Applied Physiology at Columbia University. It was a long 7 years ago when I made the decision to rearrange my life and head back to school. It was terrifying at first. I had been a fairly confident and successful business woman, but what if I failed at this? After all, it had been 20+ years since I sat in a classroom. I was dedicating myself to a long ranged commitment, and I wasn’t exactly clear of the direction that I wanted to go- just a positive feeling that I had to point my bow forward and keep plodding toward it.  

And you know what happens when you follow a passion- it brings you to places you never imagined, which are wholly more fantastic. That hazy first step turned into a steady stream of many. Though I had many moments of feeling overwhelmed, or questioned the risks and investments I was making- in the end it has left me stronger, and frankly, amazed.

The work and struggle have not all been my own.  Sacrifice and patience has been demanded of several people in my life, especially my beautiful fiancée Pam.

For the past two years I’ve been living in NYC while she has been renovating and tending to our home in Louisiana. There has been a lot of back and forth, and hours upon hours of FaceTime, which frankly has just worn us out. In a few weeks we will attend my convocation. Shortly after I doff my mortar board and gown, Pam and I will pack up my apartment and head home- at last- together. Then my life will begin- again.

duethradish

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Sunset Cocktails: The Art of the Shrub

Oh how I love the sound of ice tinkling in a cocktail glass at the end of a long summer day. As the sunlight casts longer shadows and the heat of the day shimmers the last of its intensity, who could resist a cold glass of sweet elixir that perks up the tongue and mellows the soul.

I was first intrigued by shrubs, or drinking vinegars, after reading an article about Pok Pok Wing. Alan Ricker of Portland, OR fame, opened a small shop in Brooklyn serving his delicious Thai food, and also sells shrubs by the name Som. The description of a “refreshing drink with a nice tartness coming from the vinegar and concentrated flavors of fruit, vegetable and aromatics” got me intrigued immediately. I am a huge fan of aromatics such as bitters and how they can turn a languid sweet drink into a snappy upstart of a cocktail. Just a dash to add bright top notes to the tongue, and an invitation to the nose.

Shrubs have a long history and show up in recipe books before the time of Ben Franklin. The sugar, alcohol and vinegar act as a preservative thereby allowing one to make and store a shrub to then offer a drink at any moment, “…’Tis a pretty wine and cordial. For each tot of rum add a double tot of shrub. At the end of the evening everyone was cordial!” {from The Innkeeper and Butler’s Guide, published in 1808} Shrubs can be a compound of many different fruits, herbs and flowers, and the process couldn’t be simpler.

Strawberry Rose
Shrubs have a terrific shelf life and make a fantastic hostess gift as you head to the beach or to a friend’s home this season. Who wouldn’t love you for bearing nectar? A slug of shrub mixed into basic cocktail ingredients can turn the ordinary vodka tonic into something wildly special- or for those abstaining- it can add perk to that glass of Perrier making one feel like a part of the party without the booze.
There is a cold and a hot method of extracting the flavors from your aromatics. I chose the former, which is far easier and much more conducive to summer life. It takes absolutely no effort at all to mash up some fruit with sugar and then allow it to macerate on the counter overnight. The sugar draws the juice and flavor out of the fruit resulting in a thick sweet syrup that takes absolutely no effort to make. Because the fruit needed to make the syrup need not be the best of the bunch, this is a great way to use some of those too many peaches or berries you couldn’t resist buying but couldn’t eat fast enough. The next afternoon a quick strain, a balancing of vinegar, and then straight into the bottle.
Blueberry Mint
My head is spinning with all sorts of combinations, but I became enamored with the thought of blushy pink drinks. Something pretty and soothing that would be wonderful at a wedding, or bridal shower, or just a soft pink to compliment the fading summer sky. Strawberries and blueberries were my fruit of choice, but the recipe can be adapted to any fruits you have around.
For those not as intrigued as I am by the thought of vinegar in a drink, I also made a beautifully refreshing watermelon cocktail. I truly love watermelon juice in my cocktails, though because this is not a shrub, it must be consumed within a day or two.
watermelon
Fruit Shrub Recipe
 
Combine equal weights of crushed fruit with white sugar in a bowl and leave on the counter for at least 24 hrs to macerate.
 
You may add herbs or other aromatics to your shrub at this point.
 
Strain the solids from the juice through a sieve, pressing out all the juice, and discard the solids.
 
Measure the volume of the syrup and stir in half that volume of cider or balsamic vinegar- or to taste.
 
My versions:
 
Strawberry and rose water: I added 2T of rose water to each cup of shrub
 
Blueberry Mint: fresh blueberries were crushed with whole sprigs of mint
Strawberry Rose Cocktail
serves one
 
Over ice, pour 3T of Gin
2T of strawberry rose shrub
1T of simple syrup
 
Stir together, then top off with sparkling water
 
 
Blueberry Mint Cocktail
serves one
 
Over ice, pour 3T vodka
2T blueberry mint shrub
1T simple syrup
 
Stir together, then top off with sparkling water
 
 
Watermelon Cooler
serves one
 
To make watermelon juice, put chunks of melon into blender and puree. Personally I don’t like mealy watermelon juice so I strain mine through a fine strainer. I find watermelon juice not sweet enough on it’s own, so I add in 1T of agave or simple syrup to each cup of juice.
 
Over ice
 
3T of vodka
2T cointreau
4oz sweetened watermelon juice
splash of sparkling water
 
 
Simple Syrup
makes 1.5c
 
combine 1 c of sugar with 1c water in saucepan.
 
Over medium high heat bring to boil, then turn off heat.
 
Allow to cool. Store in refrigerator.
 
 
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Thank you for coming by and reading my recipes.
I would love to hear how you are sharing with your friends.
If you have any questions or just want to say Hi, Please feel free to send me a note.
 
astackofdishes@gmail.com