Ms. S&C hasn’t blogged a lot recently, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had some notable experiences to share — especially on the cocktail front. Here’s a little glimpse of what she’s been up to.
13 — Points scored in a blind beer-tasting game
Friends, who host an excellent Halloween bash each year, led guests in a blind tasting of eight beers at their most recent party. Points were awarded for correctly guessing the beer style, brand and country of origin. Ms. S&C had a respectable third place finish.
2 — Punches made in a one-week period
Ms. S&C made a punch for her friends’ Halloween party. Ingredients included: cinnamon-infused simple syrup, lemon juice, apple cider, apple brandy, sparkling wine.
Ms. S&C made a second mocktail punch for a co-worker’s baby shower, using many of the same ingredients: cinnamon-infused simple syrup, apple cider, cran-apple juice, ginger ale. Please note the lovely garnishes of fresh apple slices and cinnamon sticks.
2 — Parties hosted in a three-day stretch
The two cocktails Ms. S&C created for her bookclub and a post-dinner party deserve their own dedicated posts. The Clover Club Cocktail was tres apropos for discussing “The Group.” And the pear margarita (secret ingredient: pear-infused simple syrup) was an inspired choice for post Mexican dinner imbibing.
7 — Football games left in the regular season
One recent game day beverage was a Red Eye (or Michelda). A simple combo of lager and tomato juice (but feel free to add lime and spices), is a great treat for those days when you want something more than just beer.
posted by Ms. S&C
For all of us Eric Ripert fans out there, the last episode of Top Chef DC was nothing to celebrate. The dreamboat French chef/semi-regular judge did not make a cameo. Still, this week’s show offered a few interesting twists, turns and snippets of drama.
- It seems that the confidence level for this particular group of chefs is off the charts. I hope they take the advice of guest judge Sam Kass, White House assistant chef, to “leave your egos at the door and just get to work.”
- Is anyone else already getting a bit tired of Padma’s DC puns? This week’s Quickfire, for example, is the Bipartisandwich. It is a silly name for a silly challenge, which ties two chefs together in one apron and gives them use of one hand each to create an exemplary sandwich. This week we see another win for Angelo who, partnered with Tracy, created a flounder sandwich with an herby salad.
- The elimination challenge is very au current: create a school lunch with $130 for 50 kids, working in teams of four. The goal here is to bring awareness to the First Lady’s initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.
- Fun fact: Tom Collichio comes by his love for food honestly – his mom ran a school lunch program for 20 years!
- In an episode twist, the losers get called into judges’ table first. I think everyone’s relieved to see that Angelo is on the bottom rung – but given his immunity, he’s safe from elimination. His team gets no love for their lack of veggies, while the other lowest scoring team garners criticism for a blah chicken breast with sherry jus and a sugar-full pudding. But the criticism isn’t coming just from the judges: The teams start slamming each other on the judges’ floor – bad form! Ultimately, Jacqueline – who was in the bottom two last week – loses for her unhealthy and grainy banana pudding with strawberries.
- Kelly wins for her pork carnitas tacos, made all the healthier by homemade oatmeal tortillas. Her teammates helped her out with a black bean cake with crispy sweet potatoes; roasted corn salad, and caramelized sweet potatoes with chocolate sherbet. The judges loved the colorful plate and the creative use of veggies, not to mention the tasty tacos.
Kelly’s winning dish of Braised Pork Carnitas Tacos
with Pickled Onions & Cilantro
Considering the target audience for this particular challenge, I’m looking toward some alcohol-free options for our Top Chef Drink Pairing. And with this week’s Mexican inspired dish, I think some Agua Fresca is in order. AKA “fresh water” in Spanish, agua fresca is essentially water infused with a smooth fruit puree. Easy, refreshing and perfect for a summer day. Just puree any soft fruit — melon or mango are some good options — and push through a sieve until super-smooth. Mix with water (1.5 cups puree to 3 cups water), some lime juice and a smidge of agave nectar. Yum!
Posted by Miss Mojito.
Ms. S&C has a dear co-worker/friend who recently delivered what-looks-to-be (because I haven’t met him yet!) a precious baby boy. I recall when shopping for a baby gift, I struggled a bit. I wanted something that matched his mom’s impeccable style. From the day we met, I knew we would be fast friends — we were wearing the same Nine West paisley peep-toe pumps! She’s been a constant fashion inspiration since.
I finally settled on Converse All Star’s — because even little ones could use a pair of Chuck Taylor’s. I found them over at Nordstrom at a reasonable price (not sure why baby shoes tend to be so pricey).
Shoes for baby, because even little ones need their own Chucks.
Before the little guy arrived, our office hosted a baby shower and Ms. S&C happily served on the punch-making committee. I found this work-and-pregnant-lady-friendly recipe at Allrecipes.com. It’s called chilled Christmas punch, but it can be enjoyed year-round. New S&C name is:
Spiced Mocktail Punch
(serves a dozen or more)
• 2 cups water
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 (46 ounce) can pineapple juice, chilled
• 4 cups cranberry-apple juice, chilled
• 1 liter ginger ale, chilled
In a saucepan, bring the water, sugar and cinnamon to a boil; stir until sugar is dissolved. Chill (preferably overnight). Just before serving, combine the syrup mixture, juices and ginger ale in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Serve over ice, or use an ice block to chill.
posted by Ms. S&C
Miss Mojito has a confession to make: she has found herself a new favorite drink, and it is NOT a cocktail. The occasion: a baby shower for my sister-in-law (and soon-to-be-born niece). The drink: a fruity mocktail.
Jason Wilson provided the inspiration in his April 5 Washington Post article, “Taking Mocktails Seriously.” The audience for the mocktail is a sizeable one, not limited solely to mothers-to-be. Imbibers on a budget might find themselves attracted to the mocktail’s relative affordability. Those on a diet might enjoy the favorable calorie count of the liquor-free libation. And others, like Miss Mojito, might just like the drink’s inherent refreshing tastiness!
We took our cues from Mr. Wilson and looked to his “Folic Fizz,” which he adapted from Natalie Bovis-Nelsen’s 2008 book, Preggatinis. We made a few alterations ourselves, and changed the name from the vitaminal-sounding “Folic Fizz” to “Cantaloupe Fizz.” We reduced the sweetness, added a mint garnish and made a big batch for a crowd. The end result is beyond refreshing, with an in-your-face cantaloupe flavor that’s enhanced by the tangy lime and fresh mint. And, for those so inclined, it would transition well to a true cocktail with a shot of gin!
- 3 cantaloupes
- 3 teaspoons superfine sugar
- 8 ounces fresh lime juice
- 6-7 strawberries
- 15 ounces lime-flavored sparkling soda water
Cut cantaloupe into chunks and puree in food processor. Strain puree through a fine mesh sieve to extract cantaloupe juice (reserve the “pulp” for another use or discard). Mix cantaloupe juice, lime juice and sugar in a large pitcher. Thinly slice strawberries and add to mixture. Top with sparkling soda water. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint garnish.
Posted by Miss Mojito.