Watermelon Shrugroni

You may ask yourself, what is a shrugroni? Well obviously, it’s a Negroni made with a shrub. In this case a watermelon shrub. I’ve been seeing shrubs all over the menus of hip cocktail bars around town; they always seem so mysterious. They often have fruit flavors like blackberry or rhubarb and apparently are not woody plants the way I usually think of shrubs, but what are they?? I bought a cookbook to find out – Michael Dietsch’s Shrubs: An old-fashioned drink for modern times. It turns out, shrubs are just vinegar and fruit (or vegetables). Meaning if you can juice it, you can probably shrub it. Which opens a whole world of cocktail possibilities…

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Loaded Baked “Frittato”

This is a combo between a loaded baked potato and a frittata. Get it? GET IT? For whatever reason, adding the eggs converted this from a slightly guilty starch + bacon + cheese + sour cream to a totally acceptable dinner. Go figure. Fortunately, it tasted so amazing that it doesn’t really matter either way.

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Breakfast Deviled Eggs

Potlucks are great because you get to try a whole bunch of different foods while only making one dish. I frequently organize them with my work colleagues, and our most recent potluck was “heritage” themed. Everyone was encouraged to bring a dish that they associated with their family, upbringing, and/or culture – ideally they would be dishes that were a bit outside the mainstream. We had a fabulous time and I ate a bunch of food I’d never even heard of, let alone tried. My contribution was my family’s “secret recipe” peanut butter deviled eggs (sorry but I can’t share the recipe on pain of death). Being me, I also brought two additional types of deviled eggs – traditional, and these breakfast deviled eggs that I invented spur of the moment. I guess my heritage is WASP/Midwest United States?

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Sauerkraut and Apple Grilled Cheese

Stop me if I’ve already told you this, but I hate sandwiches. Given that they were invented to be the perfect food, in the hundreds of years since their inception sandwiches have fallen so so far. I’m not saying that there aren’t good sandwiches out there, but the median sandwich (I’m looking at you, Subway and Panera) is so limp, soggy (thanks to inexplicably wet lettuce), and imbalanced that it’s made me shy of sandwiches as a group. Except, that is, the subcategory of pressed sandwiches. Pressing and cooking a sandwich seems to elevate it from mediocrity to a real dish. Whether we’re talking grilled cheese, paninis, or cubans, cooking serves to fight sogginess and add a much needed textural crunch, and seems to ward away the dreaded lettuce leaf. Sometimes, as with my Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, even I need a sandwich to dip. This is a good one for just such an occasion.

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato soup is as American as apple pie. For me, it is winter days after playing in the snow; a quick lunch on the weekend; the first sign that I was getting over the flu; 30 minutes with my mom in the kitchen, sharing a can on a busy day. As I get older, the canned stuff has started to taste *really* weird to me, but my nostalgia for tomato soup has not changed. Enter: this roasted tomato soup. Bright red with a strong tomato and basil flavor and all the warmth of long roasting in a hot oven. It tastes like what it is, nothing more, and that is plenty.

P.S. Looking for a grilled cheese to go with your soup? Check back on Wednesday!

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