Cantaloupe Basil Agua Fresca

Job got you down?  It’s summertime and I’m sure there are many places you’d rather be than sitting behind a desk, toiling away for the man, all while you could be downing a refreshing beverage on a beach somewhere.  Or a boat.  Or a park.  I’m sure an alleyway would suffice with this glorious Agua Fresca in your hand.  This recipe is virgin, because you know, the kids.  But I highly suggest throwing in some vodka, gin or tequila, because you know, the kids.


 1 cantaloupe, chopped into large chunks

3 cups water

Juice of 2 limes

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

10-15 basil leaves, chopped


In a blender add the cantaloupe, water, lime juice, honey and salt.  Puree until completely smooth.  Strain through some cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the pulp*.  Add the basil and let steep in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Serve this refreshing beverage over ice.  If you’re feeling frisky, you can make a cocktail out of it by just adding your favorite hooch.  Happy summer!

*Note: Save the pulp and chuck it in the freezer. Add it to your morning smoothie- waste not want not!

Creamy Avocado Milkshake

I have been craving ice cream and milkshakes lately.  Most likely because as a girl who grew up in the Midwest, June signifies the beginning of summer to me; warm weather, baseball games and the ice cream man.  I grew up in a small town called Waterford, just south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and fortunately the main ice cream parlor in town was at the end of my block.  Uncle Harry’s it was called and a homemade waffle cone full of Mint Oreo was always my go-to. It is still there and it’s exciting to see high school friends post pics of their kids on Facebook extolling the virtues of such an awesome old-school establishment.

On one of my recipe development missions for Kin Community, I needed to come up with some beverages and thought about this avocado shake I had in Singapore years back and how refreshing it was on a hot, sweaty day.  It was sweet, creamy, a lovely pale green and utterly delicious.  So, guided by the memory of Uncle Harry’s and my love of avocados, here’s what I came up with.  It’s a mighty fine shake that I suppose is somewhat healthy (if you’re into that sorta thing) and your friends and family will think it’s super cool.

Serves 4


2 ripe medium avocadoes

½ tin sweetened condensed milk

1 cup milk (whatever type you prefer- cow, goat, almond, soy, coconut)

2 cups ice


Put all the ingredients into the pitcher of a blender and process until smooth.

Simple Blueberry Cream Cheese Tart

This insanely easy tart is a perfect last-minute,HOLY CRAP-PEOPLE ARE COMING OVER-I NEED A DESSERT PRONTO-dessert! Do yourself a favor and keep a package of store-bought puff pastry in your freezer at all times.  It will come in handy for moments like this and when you’ve got a buttload of veggies that are about to go bad, you can make a quick pot pie with very little effort.  I learned to make puff pastry or as the French say, pâte feuilletée, at the former French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) and while there is no comparing delicious homemade puff with Pepperidge Farm, I don’t always have time to be wacking a solid pound of butter into flour and folding it a thousand times.  You can use any fruit you’d like on this tart, cook ’em or throw them on juicy and raw, it’s all good in the hood.  This would be pretty and delicious as part of a brunch buffet too.  If you’re gonna go that way, make one of my mimosa variations, My Darling Clementhyme for buzzy good times.

Serves 6


1 pkg puff pasty, thawed

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp sugar

1 pkg cream cheese, softened

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

2 pints blueberries

1 lemon, juice and zest


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a long rectangle, about 10×14.  Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Score a 1” border around the outside of the pastry being careful not to cut all the way through.  Brush the border with egg and sprinkle it with half of the sugar.  Bake until it puffs up and is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the blueberries, lemon juice and zest and the remaining sugar in a small pot.  Cook over medium heat just to break down the blueberries slightly and for the sugar to melt, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool.

While the blueberries and pastry are both cooking, mix together the cream cheese, heavy cream, vanilla.  Sift in the confectioner’s sugar and set aside.

When the puff pastry is done, remove from the oven and immediately rescore around the edge and lightly press down the inside of the pastry to flatten it.  Allow it to cool.

To assemble the pastry, spread the cream cheese onto the baked tart within the border and top with the blueberries. Dust with powdered sugar et voila!


Surf and Turf Kabobs with Spicy Sesame Butter

Let’s pretend it’s 1965, you’re wearing a fabulous muumuu poolside and a man who eerily looks like Don Draper is making Mai Tais.  Your friends are coming over, you probably have Don Ho playing in the background and you need something to nosh on at this fabulous make-believe party.  I’m thinking Ramake, Crab Rangoon, a pineapple carved out like a boat and filled with fresh fruit and these delicious, sorta fancy Surf and Turf Kabobs.  You can mix up the seafood to your liking; prawns, scallops, firm fish such as mahi or halibut work well and colorful veg like bell peppers or onions won’t disappoint.  The real kicker with this recipe is the spicy sesame compound butter so don’t be stingy with it.  I’m pretty sure I’d eat a dirty sock if it was covered in that fatty goodness.

Serves 4


For the Skewers:

2 lobsters (1 ½ – 2 lbs.)

3 cloves garlic

2 inch piece of ginger, grated

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 lbs top sirloin or filet, cut into ¾ -1 inch cubes

For the Butter:

½ lb. cold butter, cubed

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp Asian hot sauce, such as Sriracha

Zest of 1 lime

Salt, to taste

1 tbsp black sesame seeds


½ bunch cilantro, chopped for garnish



Bring a large pot of water to a boil and par-cook the lobster for 4 minutes.  Plunge it into an ice bath to cool and prevent from further cooking.

In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

By now the lobster is cool and you can remove the meat from the shell.  Crack the claws with the back of a knife and twist from the body.  Carefully remove the meat and put it in a bowl.  Cut the underside of the tail using either a knife or kitchen shears and remove the tail meat.  The small tentacles are of no use for the skewers, but are certainly tasty to snack on while you’re cooking.  Discard the shells and chop the lobster meat into 1-2 inch pieces.

Either using bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water or metal skewers, begin to assemble the surf and turf, alternating between the steak and the lobster.  Place the skewers in a baking dish, cover with the marinade chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to high heat.

To make the compound butter, in the bowl of a food processor add the butter, sesame oil, hot sauce, lime zest and salt.  Process until it is smooth.  Scrape the butter into a bowl and stir in the sesame seeds.  At this point, you can also roll the butter into a tube using plastic wrap and then it is very easy to cut a piece off whenever you want to use it.

Grill the skewers over high heat for 2 minutes per side for medium rare.  To serve the surf and turf skewers, serve them on a bed of butter lettuce and top with the spicy sesame butter and cilantro.


Strawberry Rhubarb Fool

People from cold climes have many reasons to be jacked up over Springtime; no more long johns, baby birds, mud pies and our tart friend rhubarb.  Growing up in Wisco, it grew wild outside our farmhouse and so we would end up with loads of rhubarb jam for the rest of the year.  I don’t really remember my mom cutting it with strawberries, rather I think she just added a butt load of sugar to sweeten it up.  Here’s my take on the English dessert, fool, which uses cooked fruit or jam as a base to be layered with custard or whipped cream.  It’s so easy Mr. T be yellin’ “I pity the fool that doesn’t make this fool!”

Serves 4


½ lb rhubarb

½ lb strawberries, hulled and quartered

½ cup sugar

Pinch salt

1 small vanilla bean, scraped

Juice of 1 orange

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp sugar


Wash the rhubarb and trim away the tough ends.  Cut in half, put in a bowl filled with cold water and soak for 20 minutes.  This will help to retain its color while cooking.

After the rhubarb has soaked, slice it into ½ inch pieces and put into a medium saucepan.  Add the strawberries, sugar, salt, vanilla and orange juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the rhubarb is tender, about 7-10 minutes.  Only stir a few times so that you do not break up the rhubarb.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour or until it is thoroughly cool.  This can also be done 1 day ahead of time as well.

Either using a stand mixer or by hand with a whisk, whip the heavy cream and 1 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form.

To assemble the fools, start by first layering the strawberry rhubarb mixture into the bottom of a glass.  Top with the whipped cream, then another layer of the strawberry rhubarb mix and then a final layer of whipped cream.

"Nice job on the fool, fool!"

“Nice job on the fool, fool!”



2-Day Refrigerator Dill Pickles

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and I’m sitting at LAX waiting to board my delayed flight to NYC.  While I’m not happy about getting into the city at 1am, I’m okay with some extra time for pre-flight beer drinking.  Golden Road Point The Way IPA is going down nicely, I’m feeling productive and I figured I should post a recipe featuring something green.  How about some pickles!  These are crazy easy and they require no fancy equipment, boiling jars or the overall BS that comes with canning.  Though hipsters across the globe have tried to convince you that pickles are something you should pay $10 a jar for, you my friends, are better than that.  Make your own damn pickles and all of your refrigerator-less, preserving ancestors will be cheering from above.  Sláinte!

2 Day Refrigerator Dill Pickles


8 cups water

2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cup rice vinegar

¼ cup sea salt

2 whole dried chili

4 bay leaves

1 tbsp black peppercorns

1 tbsp whole coriander

1 tbsp mustard seed

1 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp whole allspice

10 small cucumbers, such as Persian or Kirby

1 bunch dill

8 cloves garlic


Start by making the brine.  Put the water, vinegars and salt in a medium pot and heat until the salt has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cucumbers, dill and garlic.  Allow this mixture to cool completely.

Meanwhile, slice the cucumbers into spears.  Alternatively, you can slice the cucumbers into rounds of varying thickness.  The thinner the slice, the quicker the cucumber will pickle.

Place the cucumbers into a non-reactive (glass or plastic – no metal) container that has a tight fitting lid.  Add the dill and garlic and pour the brine with all the seasonings over the top.  If you put the cucumbers into more than one vessel, make sure to divide the dill, garlic and seasonings evenly.  Cover tightly and put in the refrigerator.

Allow the cucumbers to pickle for 2 days (1/2 day for super thin slices).  They will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.




Chocolate Stout Float with Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I took my ice cream maker to the Goodwill last week and on second thought, I shouldn’t have.  That’s because the damn thing only once produced ice cream worth eating.  Honestly whoever buys/bought it should not have to go through the same torture of failed ice cream attempts as I did for the 10 years I owned it.

The one and only time it worked produced this killer recipe for peanut butter ice cream.  It doesn’t require making a custard so pretty much a monkey could do it.  Of course, plopped into a beer, this ice cream is even more awesome.  You can use any stout you want here, but I usually go with Rogue Chocolate Stout because they are a kick-ass brewery and my friend Sebbie is the cover girl for the bottle.  Here is one of the first videos I did for Kin Community, check it out!

Serves 4


For the Ice Cream:

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

For the Pretzels:

Pretzel Rods

12 oz. dark chocolate

1 cup salted peanuts, chopped


40 oz. chocolate stout, such as Rogue Chocolate Stout or Young’s Double Chocolate Stout



Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker.  This usually takes a full day in the freezer to ensure that it is cold enough for making ice cream.

Combine the peanut butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add in the milk and beat for another 2-3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.  Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl so that all the peanut butter and sugar is fully incorporated with the milk.  Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix just to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.

Pour the ice cream base into the frozen ice cream maker bowl.  Process until the ice cream has thickened, about 20 minutes.  Pour into a freezer safe vessel and freeze for a minimum of 2 hours.

For the pretzels, heat the chocolate either in the microwave or over a double boiler until it is melted.  Do not stir until melted or the chocolate will be grainy.  Dip the pretzel rod into the chocolate and then into the peanuts and place on a wax paper-lined sheet pan.  Continue until all the pretzels are coated.  Let the pretzels set for at least 30 minutes.

To make the float, place a few scoops of ice cream in a glass.  Pour the beer into the glass, making sure to hold the glass at an angle so the beer doesn’t foam up.  Garnish with a chocolate peanut pretzel and enjoy!


Orzo with Spring Green Veggies, Feta and Almonds

I really love super simple pasta dishes that come together quickly but are full of flavor.  Let’s face it, we all need to eat more vegetables and recipes like this make it exciting.  There’s a bit of white wine in here, so make sure you use something that you want to drink.  I mean after all, there will be 3/4 of a bottle leftover and you wouldn’t want that to go to waste.  I love a light Albariño but you can also use beer in the recipe and as a great pairing.  Try a Saison, something like Brooklyn Sorachi Ace would rock.  But hell, if all you’ve got is a crusty High Life in the back of the fridge, I’m cool with that ‘cuz I know you’re eating your vegetables.


Serves 6


½ pound orzo

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup spring onions, thinly sliced

2-3 cups of fresh spring vegetables; such as English peas and asparagus; cleaned and shelled

½ cup white wine

1 cup of arugula

1 lemon, zest and juice

4 oz. feta, crumbled

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

¼ cup of mixed chopped herbs; such as basil, parsley, mint or chervil

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste



Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add the orzo and stir to make sure it does not stick together.  Cook the orzo for ten minutes, or until it’s al dente.

In a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and onions.  Cook until the onions just start to soften, about 5-7 minutes, paying attention not to brown them.  Add the peas, asparagus and white wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the orzo is cooked, strain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Add the orzo and pasta water to the saute pan of veggies and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the arugula, lemon juice and zest, feta, almonds and herbs.  Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper

This dish can be served immediately warm or is just as delicious at room temperature.






Bathtub Gin Cocktail

I like to take baths and I like gin.  I also like the notion of Prohibition-era people making their own hooch in the largest vessel in their apartment, the bathtub.  I also love Dorothy Parker and though she may think this drink is a tad girly, I’m hoping that she’s looking down from her Round Table in the sky in approval.  So without further ado, I present to you the ever springy and refreshing, Bathtub Gin Cocktail.

Thanks to Kin Community for featuring my drink!  If you live in the greater New York City area and can get your hands on a bottle of the Dorothy Parker Gin from New York Distilling Company, then you best use it.  Support an awesome company in my old neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn!


1 bottle gin

1 tbsp dried English lavender

Fresh lemonade

Fresh lavender



Pour about 2 cups of the gin into a saucepan and add the lavender.  Over low heat, bring the mixture to a boil, watching it very carefully.  Alcohol boils at 175 degrees Fahrenheit, so it will boil in much less time than water.  Once the gin has boiled, remove it from the heat and let cool.  Strain the infused gin through a funnel lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth back into the bottle.

To make the drink, fill a glass with ice and add 2 oz. of the lavender gin to the glass.  Top with the lemonade and garnish with a sprig of fresh lavender and a slice of lemon.


Allspice Braised Chicken Thighs with Golden Raisins and Pearl Onions

Every so often I force myself to dig through my spice cabinet and reorganize, which is a game of Tetris considering this is what it looks like. That space measures a mere 12″x 18″, which I don’t think is even big enough to fit my cat Vinny.

Messy Spice CabinetWhile I’m deep in the bowels of Madras curry, garlic powder or Ryan’s “Man Spice” (which could be any number of store-bought spice blends like Emeril’s Essence), I’m usually scheming on how to use up the old to make way for more.  As we all know, spices go quickly and before you know it that canister of ground cumin starts to taste like dirt.  Mmmm.

A while back while on this mission, I pulled out the allspice and was thinking about what to do with this fragrant gem that could be savory, quick and easy.  At the same time, Kin Community was requesting some simple dishes for weeknight dinners.  This is what I came up with and if I do say so myself, it’s pretty damn good.

Serve this with any number of starches; rice, pasta, potatoes, grits, polenta or a big toasty piece of bread to soak up all that delicious gravy.  You can even bulk it up by adding some greens like spinach or kale near the end of cooking to get your veggie nutrients.

Serves 4


4 bone-in chicken thighs

½-1 tsp allspice

Sea salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

¼ cup AP flour

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

¼ bottle white wine

2 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

5 cloves garlic, minced

¾ lb pearl onions

½ cup golden raisins

2 sprigs thyme, tied with twine

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp heavy cream

¼ bunch parsley, chopped


Wash the chicken thighs and pat very dry.  Season both sides of the chicken with allspice, salt and pepper.  Place the flour in a bowl and dredge each chicken thigh through it to coat very well.  Shake off any excess flour and set aside.

Heat a deep skillet over high heat.  When the pan is smoking, add the olive oil.  Starting skin side down, sear the chicken until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Turn over each piece of chicken and sear the other side another 5 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the white wine, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  This step is imperative, since those morsels are what will give the braise its deep flavor.  Add the chicken stock, vinegar, honey, garlic, onions, raisins, thyme, bay leaves and seared chicken.  Season again with salt and pepper and bring back to a boil.

Turn down the heat to medium low and cover.  Cook until the bone becomes slightly loose and the chicken is cooked, approximately 15-20 minutes.

When the chicken is done, remove the thyme and bay leaves and discard.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop the chicken, onions and raisins onto a platter and tent with foil.  Turn the heat back up to high to reduce the cooking liquid by half.  Remove from the heat and add the cream.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.