Tag Archives: infused simple syrup

Knives down, hands up

Top Chef has begun!  Season 5 brings the culinary contestants to New York City, which should make for some awesome challenges.  The first episode starts with 17 contestants, so I can hardly remember who’s who.  I know there’s a group of three two that call themselves “Team Rainbow.”  I think I’ll start calling the German and Italian dudes “Team Europe;” its clear they’ve bonded pretty well.  Then, there’s a faceboy I’ve named “Mr. Hair.”  And, other than our Washington, DC gal, I think everyone else is pretty much from New York or California.

The Quick Fire Challenge has the contestants peeling apples, chopping apples, and cooking with apples.  And then, just like that, we’re down to 16.  Lauren-with-the-overbearing-personality has to hop right back on the boat and head home.  Now, its time for the Elimination Challenge.  The remaining 16 go head-to-head and chose one of eight New York City ethnic neighborhoods to find inspiration for their next dish.  The neighborhoods include:

  • Astoria (Greek)
  • Brighton Beach (Russian)
  • Chinatown
  • Little Italy
  • Little India
  • Long Island City (Middle Eastern)
  • Queens (Jamaican)
  • Ozone Park (Latin)

stefan_dish2Stefan of “Team Europe” wins with his classic Middle Eastern fare, and Patrick of “Team Rainbow” loses with his clichéd Chinese dish.  Stefan served up a lamb chop with tabouli and beef skewers with caramelized onions and hummus.  Guest judge, Jean George Vongerichten, kept commenting on the great lemon flavor found in the dish.  While I would likely be drinking red wine with this meal, here’s a cocktail that may complement nicely.  Given that I love Lillet and lemon these days, and thyme being a natural accompaniment, I think it would pair well, or at least serve as a pretty good aperitif.

This drink is a Shoes & Cocktails exclusive!

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Gin
  • 1 part Lillet blanc
  • 1 part Lemon Juice
  • 1 part Thyme-Infused Simple Syrup

Directions:
For the simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, and a teaspoon of thyme in a saucepan.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Strain spices from syrup.  Combine all ingredients and shake well.  Serve over ice.   Garnish with lemon twist and sprig of fresh thyme.

Happy valley

S&C went tailgating over the weekend.  Headed to State College, PA,  to see friends JD and Bob, and see Penn State take on clobber Michigan.  It was super-fun being in a college town, and one that is crazy about football.  Tailgating is, of course, awesome.  S&C really likes hanging out with friends during the day, eating, and drinking.  Not to mention, the fall foliage was gorgeous up there.

To celebrate the festivities, we prepared an autumnal punch, recipe courtesy of Ms. RB, our friend out of Texas.  This punch is very mellow, so it is definitely appropriate for an afternoon of drinking.  If you’re planning a Halloween party, or attending some other fall-related shindig, serve this punch.  It is a winner.

Autumn Spiced Punch
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 12 cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 4 cups cold apple juice
  • 1 12 oz can apricot nectar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 bottles white wine, preferably Sauvignon Blanc

Directions:
In a saucepan combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Bring to boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Cover and chill for 12-24 hours.  Strain spices from syrup.  Combine syrup with fruit juices.  Pour into punch bowl (or plastic pitcher, if you’re tailgating) and add wine.

And, in case you’re interested, our tailgating menu included: chicken wings, pork barbeque, coleslaw, and baked beans.  Perfect for the back of a pick-up truck.

After the game, we headed to The Tavern Restaurant, a town favorite, and famous for a drink called the “Original Sin.”  The Original Sin recipe is top-secret, but apparently is 50% alcohol (including brandy), mixed with club soda, a secret fruity mixture (definitely includes maraschino in some form), and topped off with champagne.  It reminds you of a spiked punch you may have had in high school.  If you’re there, you have to try it.

Thanks for the great weekend State College friends!  Reserve a tailgating spot for us next year – we’ll be there, ready to party Nittany Lions style.