sunday eve delight: cocopolitan

it just occured to me that i have not had a recipe with coconut water for quite a while … so here is my weekend leisure twist on a cosmopolitan (even though i shall still remain quite partial to SATC, particularly as i seem to have the same dry wit as miranda – unfortunately not her paycheck though!):

cocopolitan

cocopolitan

the mix is similar to a cosmopolitan, substituting cranberry juice with coconut water. as usual there are many ways of measurements, mine go like this (1 part is about 1 cl): 10 parts coconut water, 5 parts vodka (you might want to use citrus flavoured vodka or even strawberry flavoured vodka – best of course is to make your own flavoured vodka, by adding lime or lemon peel to a bottle of vodka and letting it macerate for two weeks), 3 parts triple sec or grand marnier, 2 parts of lime juice, one frozen (or chilled) strawberry and ice. shake ait all together in a cocktail shaker and strain into a martini glass … add another frozen strawberry so the eye will be pleased as well!

even though you shake it with a strawberry, it does not taste of strawberry … the strawberry (while shaking) is solely for adding some colour, hence the cocktail will be pretty in light pink! actually you can use a frozen (or chilled) raspberry as well … but then you should add a frozen raspberry when serving it too. easy, innit?

be adventurous. be creative with your drinks (and food!). enjoy and drink responsibly!

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vegan strawberry ice cream

as industrial ice cream usually is high in added sugar, i ventured into making my own today. three ingredients. simple and absolutely divine in its fruityness:

vegan strawberry ice cream

vegan strawberry ice cream

even though the recipe is pure and simple, you need to decide a day before (unless you always keep a frozen banana in your freezer … which i don’t!). for one portion (or if you only want a small dessert, it might feed two) you only need one frozen banana (best frozen overnight), a handfull of frozen strawberries (or any other frozen fruits you desire) and a dash of lime juice. cut the banana into pieces and put it together with the halved strawberries and a bit of lemon juice in a blender and blend until you have a nice smooth sorbet. do not overblend as it will turn too liquidy after a while.

serve immediately – don’t prepare in advance (you can put the sorbet back in the freezer for a maximum of 15 mins … not longer, otherwise ice crystals will form). eat with pleasure!

should you want it less tangy, you can use other juice than lime (i.e. orange) or a dash of coconut milk. the tiny amount of liquid is needed as otherwise the frozen fruits will not easily be blended and end up chopped. you could also use fresh strawberries but you need to put them in the fridge before using so they are cold. if you use fresh fruits (apart from the banana, that needs to be frozen through and through) then there is no extra liquid needed!

actually, while thinking about it, from now on i shall always store a banana in the freezer, in order to whip up some feel-good 100% fruit ice cream 🙂

a hearty flower from the oven and one for the ears: baked cauliflower and jacques offenbach

cauliflower is a wildly underrated vegetable … i think it is due to the fact that often it is served cooked too long and hence becoming very soft and mushy. i prefer my cauliflower with a crisp bite, and even shredded and raw it is great for a salad (plus you can shallow fry it with a bit of oil and herbs when shredded, which is delicious!). recently i went for the baked variety:

baked cauliflower

baked cauliflower

it is a dish with only a few ingredients: a cauliflower, a clove of garlic, a handfull of cherry tomatoes, a dollop of basil pesto, mozzarella and fresh basil. obviously you can swap the mozzarella for vegan cheese if desired.

to prepare the cauliflower one needs to cut out the hard stem in the middle but leave the rest of the vegetable intact. then you need to steam the whole cauliflower for just a couple of minutes to slightly precook it. afterwards cut up the cerry tomatoes and line a baking dish (preferably one that has a cover) with them and drizzle with a bit of oil, some fleur de sel and some ground white pepper. put the cauliflower on top and push the sliced garlic into the cauliflower. add a dash of water or white whine and some fleur de sel. cover the baking dish and put it in the oven at a moderate heat too cook the cauliflower (i think it should take about 30 minutes but you better check every ten minutes so the cauliflower stays firm and does’t get too soft). it depends how you like it, as i prefer it still very crunchy!

then lift off the lid and put a dollop of pesto on top of the cauliflower (smear it around a bit!) and cover with grated cheese. back under the grill until the cheese is slightly browned (the non-covered bits of the cauliflower will brown as well, which gives them a nice roasty hint!). serve with torn fresh basil and some chili flakes.

perfect meal for two to be eaten directly out of the dish (with a nice green herby salad on the side and a glass of white wine)!

the meal will become much more fun if you listen to the following while eating:

MONSIEUR CHOUFLEURI RESTERA CHEZ LUI LE… 

offenbach

http://www.amazon.de/dp/B001QIJ5WO/ref=dm_cd_album_lnk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5eeWryZM_4

‘monsieur choufleuri restera chez lui…’ is a comic operetta (operette-bouffe) in one  act by jacques offenbach (who was born in cologne!), and hilariously funny! give it a listen and fall off the chair with laughter – or giggle through your cauliflower meal! the connection is (for les non-francaises…) that choufleuri in french is cauliflower. go on, you know you want to!

my name is vesper … vesper bond!

strictly a vesper today is not what monsieur james bond would have had at the time when the books were written … simply because the recipe of one of the ingredients has changed over the years (as probably tastes have changed too)!

vesper

vesper

basically, a vesper is like a good martini … only more potent. most recipes tell you to mix 6 parts gin, 5 parts vodka and one part lillet blanc plus a bit of lemon zest, shaken with ice and strained (always shaken, not stirred!). personally i prefer a mix with a bit more of lillet blanc and a dash of orange bitters (i.e. 6 parts gin, 5 parts vodka, 3 parts lillet blanc), but that is a personal preference. i just find that the slightly heady aroma of the lillet really adds to the cocktail if used more enthusiastically 🙂

i said that a vesper nowadays is not what mr bond would have had, due to the fact that the recipe of lillet has changed. the original lillet was supposed to be much less flowry and fragrant in taste with a bigger part of bitterness than the one we can get nowadays. but nonetheless, a vesper is grand! a slight warning though – one is more than enough, as otherwise one might end in a delirium quickly. do i need to add that a good quality gin and good quality vodka go a long way to uplift a simple drink (i used danzka vodka and bombay sapphire gin) 🙂

spanish orange and almond cake – no lactose, no gluten!

as it is sunday, it was one of those rare cake days. obviously high in carbs, but free from gluten and lactose. needless to say that it is delicious as well!

spanish orange and almond cake

spanish orange and almond cake

as one needs to follow recipes more closely for cakes than for cooking, i prefer sharing where it comes from, explained step by step:

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/2758/spanish-orange-and-almond-cake.aspx

what makes this so moist and yummy (with no added fat, neither butter nor oil of any sort) is the amount of ground almonds and the two whole oranges (yes, whole! peel and flesh and all. extremely important to use unwaxed organic oranges!!!). in the recipe it asks for a tablespoon of water, but i used grand marnier (orange liqueur), just because i felt like 🙂

as there are no grains in the cake, it is very light and fluffy and will make you eat slice after slice…

american dreams retro – lenya and a cocktail

time for music and a cocktail. both with an american twist. and a cake thrown in … for vegan, glutenfree and lactosefree measure 🙂

let’s start with the drink. i believe this is an italian invention but with an american name: americano

americano

very simple and a great aperitif! it only consists of campari (or a similar bitter liqueur … i usually use one that has a bit more of a rubarb twist than usual campari) and vermouth rosso (martini rosso works well), mixed in equal measures and shaken with ice! add a couple of orange slices and more ice – it is bitter and sweet and tastes quite moreish. for a lighter version, one can stretch it in a long drink glass with soda or mineral water, then it becomes a spritz!

let’s stay american with the music, or rather ‘viennamerican’: LOTTE LENYA

lenya

http://www.last.fm/music/Lotte+Lenya/Lotte+Lenya:+American+Theater+Songs

http://www.last.fm/music/Lotte+Lenya?setlang=en

lotte lenya was not a singer per se, with that rather gravely voice of her later years (similar to marianne faithfull nowadays), but god could she interpret rings around singers with a more pleasant voice. she became a champion of her husband’s oeuvre (she was married to kurt weill … i think twice!), both of his berlin works, as later, after emigration to america, of his american stage works. her accent is charming and she just gives everything her own special charm and tough personality. there are many gems on this cd of american theatre songs, the heartbreak of  ‘it never was you’, the melancholy of ‘september song’, the offbeat erotocism of ‘speak low’ or the irony of ‘saga of jenny’ … to name only a few.

there are many bonus songs on the cd, ranging from her contribution to the original broadway run of ‘cabaret’ (she was fräulein schneider of course) to a duet of ‘mack the knife’ with louis armstrong … boy could that lady swing too!!! the don’t do them like this anymore nowadays it seems … what a pity! listen, discover and be totally drawn into the world of lenya, weill and their likes. music like this will never ever age or become dated!!!

summer food part II – red & juicy

red and juicy. no, not strawberries. tomatoes! when i was a kid, i used to dislike fresh tomatoes as their pips had this jello juice around … but nowadays i find a fresh and ripe tomatoe quite irresitible!

when it is hot in summer, one does not crave hot food but rather something full of flavour and light. i am partial to the italian classic of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, but i like it with a twist:

grilled tomatoes with basil and buffalo mozzarella

grilled tomatoes with basil and mozzarella

now as this is the finished product, one can hardly see the tomatoes underneath, hence here is a photo before the topping:

grilled tomatoes

the jist is to cut up the tomatoes, drizzle them with some pepper, fleur de sel and a good quality olive oil and put them under the grill (in an ovenproof dish) and grill them on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes. they don’t need to brown much (as they might go bitter when too black on top) but then should dry slightly and get a much richer taste that way.

once out of the oven (i added some pine nuts for the last couple of minutes under the grill to have them slightly toasted too), let it cool slightly so the tomatoes are warm rather than piping hot before adding the hand torn buffalo mozzarella (you really need the buffalo variety here as it is more tangy than the usual mozzarella), hand torn basil leaves and a couple of fresh tomatoe dices. add some chili flakes (for looks!!!) and drizzle some more good quality olive oil on top (if you are adventurous use truffle oil for an extra kick) and serve immediately. it is a great starter or a light main course. and it is yummy!

a word on the olive oil: while usually i prefer greek olive oil (as it is usually less sharp in taste, with a more mellow flavour), for this dish i find a nice and strong italian olive oil works wonders and lifts it on cloud 9 for tastebuds. i used this variety (obviously extra vergine and cold pressed), even though i normally go organic:

italian olive oil