A Special Request

One of my sweetest customers ever asked if I'd make her son a King George III costume for Halloween...as in the King George III costume from the musical, "Hamilton". I had no idea what that would look like, but she sent a picture.


Due to time constraints, I don't always (or can't always) say yes to custom order requests, but this time I did. What a delight to make this for her son!


So, if King George III shows up on your doorstep this Halloween, give him some candy...and a copy of the Declaration of Independence! ;-)

Terrine

This summer, I've been making terrines...of the sorbetto and gelato variety.


Super simple directions:

- Line a loaf pan very neatly with parchment paper.

- Soften one flavor of sorbetto, gelato, or ice cream until spreadable. Spread into the bottom of the loaf pan. Top with a sheet of parchment paper, pressing it to adhere. Freeze until solid.

- Repeat process with two more layers.

- When fully frozen, wrap tightly in plastic wrap until ready to serve.

- Will keep for weeks in the freezer. Slice into single serving slices.



They are super easy! What I love most about them, is that you can do them FAR in advance of guests arriving, or a special occasion, and slice them the day of. All the work is done, giving you more time to enjoy your company.

The one pictured is (from top to bottom): raspberry sorbetto, coconut gelato, and mango sorbetto. It's one of our favorites!

We've also made it substituting lemon sorbetto for the coconut gelato for a completely dairy free version.

And we've tried it with three different flavors of chocolate gelato. Oddly enough, as much as we are chocolate fans around here (which is HUGE!), it definitely wasn't our favorite. We prefer the one pictured...so refreshing on a hot summer day!


How to Make British Cordials


This summer, I set about trying to figure out what all those slightly fizzy, deliciously fruity beverages were that we saw when we were in England last year. After much searching, I discovered that they were what the British call "cordials".

And for a little etymology lesson:

- Yes, cordial does mean "warm and friendly", but that's not what we're talking about here.

- In North America, we define a cordial as a "liqueur" and it's alcoholic.

- In England, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a cordial is "a sweet drink made from fruit, to which water is usually added." It is NOT alcoholic.

Stated as simply as possible, a British cordial is a homemade fruit syrup to which you add sparkling water.

I searched and searched for recipes, and finally combined the ideas from several and came up with a "basic" recipe which you can use with any fruit.

British Cordial

1 lb. of fruit
3 c. water
2 1/2 c. sugar

Rinse fruit and chop, if necessary. (Berries can be used whole. I did cut strawberries in half. Other fruits, you may want to chop.) Place fruit and water in a medium-sized saucepan.

Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.

Strain the fruit and liquid through a jelly bag, or through cheesecloth, until it is completely done dripping. Do NOT squeeze the bag or press the fruit, or your cordial will be cloudy. 

Meanwhile, sterilize a jar by washing in hot, soapy water and placing in a 200 degree oven until ready to use, OR by running it through the sanitize setting on your dishwasher. I also sanitized the ring and band for the jar. (I used a canning jar.)

Return just the strained juice to the pan. Add the sugar. Heat gently until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. Skim the foam off the top, as necessary. Boil for 10 mins. (slightly less if using just strawberries).

Pour into sterilized jar. Allow to cool, seal, and refrigerate. 

Will keep for 3 months.

Makes about 1 pint. 

How to Use:

When ready to serve, add about 1-2 T. to an 8-12 oz. glass, along with several ice cubes.


Top with sparkling water. I use San Pellegrino. Add a bit of fresh fruit, if you'd like.


Additional Tips and Flavor Combos:

- This recipe makes about 1 pint of fruit syrup. But you need very little to add to each glass. To pack along for a picnic, I found these handy small jars at Target (click here, not sponsored...just want you to be able to find them), which can hold quite a bit of cordial, and yet take up minimal space in your picnic cooler. Just don't forget to bring along a tall bottle of San Pellegrino too!



- Our favorite way to pack them along for a picnic, is to use some of Jenny Steffens Hobick's Clear Cups and Lids (click here...also not sponsored...just want you to know where to get them). They hold just the right amount, fit easily into a car cup holder, and allow you to see the pretty cordial!


- All the cute, patriotic, paper straws were found in the dollar bin at Target around the 4th of July. Check back there next year!

- Our favorite flavor combo was a strawberry cordial with lemon-flavored San Pellegrino (see photo above).

- I made a "berries & cherries" combo using cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

- Another tasty combo is "blackberry & vanilla", made by adding a vanilla bean (whole, do NOT split the bean or scrape the seeds out) when you return the juice to the pan and add the sugar. Discard the bean before bottling.

Happy sipping!

Fun with Family After the Wedding

Four days after the wedding, our friends departed from our own personal B&B, and my family moved in. Here's a glimpse at the fun we had with them...

We toured the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum in Boston, which is a fascinating survey of his life and presidency. I loved seeing some of Jacqueline Kennedy's clothing on display!



The following day, while I spent some time with my Mom and Dad, everyone else went to the lake for a day of fun! Felicity and Walter were able to go too. And photo credits to Walter for capturing these great moments.





Then everyone convened back at our house for a cookout in the fire pit that evening. At least that was the plan. But then, about 10 minutes before the spit-roasted pork tenderloin was completely cooked, the rain began.


Monday brought us another day at the lake...paddleboarding, kayaking, and picnicking.



Living in history-rich New England means that there is no shortage of fabulous historical sites to explore when guests come to visit. I always love visiting Plimoth Plantation...New England where it all began! And being descendants of the Allertons makes it just that much more special.





And we stopped at Ziggy's for ice cream on this very hot and humid day. Ice cream makes everything better!


The next two days were spent exploring Boston. SO many fond memories, it's hard to choose just the highlights...bits of the Freedom Trail, lots of chocolate, the Boston Public Library's grandeur, an abundance of art, and just enough craziness to make it super memorable.




Things are getting weird here, and a couple of people are about to burst into song! Nuts!





I hope you are all having a splendid summer too...making happy memories with your family!

Chicken Shawarma Salad


Knowing that, after the wedding, we would be having a lot of family and friends staying with us and touring about, I tried to come up with some healthy lunch alternatives to packing sandwiches on the go. I thought about those salads in jars. Never had one. And how DOES one really eat it? Apparently, you do still have to dump them out onto a plate, which was fine. But it seemed like a simpler solution could be found. And what sort of salad(s) did I want to make?

First, I quickly ditched the jar idea. Then my mind hopped to packing them in Chinese take-out boxes, but my local source didn't have any of a reasonable size for an entree-size salad. Then I found these great, leak-proof, cardboard boxes (available from Amazon here...not getting paid for this, just want you to be able to find them, if you want them). They were PERFECT! Just the right size. And I used Jell-O shot cups with lids (sourced locally) to contain the dressing. Now that all the necessary storage pieces were decided upon, it was time to brainstorm salad recipes and try some out.

Hands-down my FAVORITE is Chicken Shawarma Salad. The inspiration for it, and the chicken portion of the recipe came from here. But I didn't want a wrap, I wanted a salad, so I deconstructed it and altered things quite a bit. Simple. Fresh. Delicious. Enjoy!


CHICKEN SHAWARMA SALAD

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Marinade:
1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. plain yogurt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 t. cumin
1 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. turmeric

Couscous:
1 c. pearl couscous
1 1/2 c. water
2 T. olive oil
1 T. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

salad greens (field greens, OR red and green leaf)
chopped cucumber
jar of roasted red bell pepper strips
shredded carrot (I just peel mine in big ribbons with a vegetable peeler)
heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
red onion, thinly sliced
feta cheese crumbles
roasted red pepper hummus
lemon wedges
a creamy, bottled, Greek salad dressing (I used the Food Network Kitchen's Feta Herb Dressing)

Rinse chicken breasts and place in a Ziploc bag. Mix all marinade ingredients. Pour over chicken breasts, seal bag, and let marinate several hours or overnight. 
Grill chicken. Cool slightly. Cube chicken. (Can be frozen ahead and thawed for salad assembly, if you so desire.)

For couscous:
Bring water to a boil. Add couscous, reduce heat to simmer. Cover with lid and simmer 8-10 mins. When all water is evaporated, turn off heat and allow to cool. Dress with olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to assemble salads, giving a good stir when ready.

Assemble all salads by placing several big handfuls of salad greens on a plate or in a to-go box, and top with all the other ingredients. Serve with a wedge of lemon and dressing. (Don't forget the lemon, as it just brightens up the whole salad without adding any lemon taste!)

Makes about 6 salads.

Note: If you pack this in the cardboard take-out boxes, as we did for a crowd, they will take up quite a bit of space in a cooler. We got around the necessity of taking a huge color, by simply taking three small coolers when we packed lunch for 13 people.
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