Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Drink of the Week: Tarragon Vodka with Oro Blanco Grapefruit Juice

Mmm. Deep summertime bliss.

When life hands you grapefruit, make a greyhound! (That's a grapefruit-vodka cocktail...)

Isn’t that the expression? No, it isn’t. But it sure is a nice thing to do!

While on a casual visit other day, my dear friend The Hostess could not get over how abundant my herb garden (of delights) has become. I do admit, it seems as if I have six kinds (in varying states of verdant health) of everything.

Except tarragon. I just have the one. Classic French.

And I have a lot of it. A gang-load. A whole passle. The fragrant fronds are taking over. (Pop by any time if you need a sprig!) Which of course got us talking about all of the things a clever kid can do with an assertive herb such as tarragon. Herbed chicken, tarragon-lemon sorbet, and this being us, well, the talk led to infused vodka. (Refreshing!)

So we hatched this cocktail recipe not only so we could use up some tarragon, but also as an excuse to throw a dash of Fee’s Brothers Grapefruit bitters in to the mix. (What with having a bottle on hand, it seemed like a quality idea.)

It did take a week to infuse the vodka, but if you want to cut right to the chase, there is tarragon infused vodka on the market, you just need to suss it out.

Now…we made this with locally grown (and locally “developed.”) Oro Blanco grapefruits, which happen to be amazingly sweet. If you don’t have them around, I suggest either using a sweetened juice or adding a touch of simple syrup, to taste. It shouldn’t be cloying. This is a grown-up drink afterall.

When it was done, we sat in the shade of a tree, and quietly contemplated the perfection of the drink. A sweet-tart concoction that had us smiling all day long.

Now try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

(This should be enough ingredients to create two drinks. More grapefruits would equal more drinks.)

1 (750ml) bottle, tarragon infused vodka
1 large Oro Blanco grapefruit, juiced
1 each passionfruit, juiced
Fee's brothers grapefruit bitters (or any bitters you may have)
Soda water
A few sprigs of tarragon for garnish

In a large glass, combine 1 1/2 ounces (a shot) of vodka, 4 ounces grapefruit juice and 1 teaspoon passionfruit juice, a dash or two of bitters. Stir. Top with soda water. Pour in to a tall glass with ice. Garnish with tarragon sprigs.

© 2009 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2009 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" If you are not reading this at the aforementioned URL or in your RSS feed, the site you are looking at are violating my copyright. And that's rude.

The Oro Blanco grapefruit was developed by the University of California in Riverside, California.

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The grapefruit is a subtropical citrus tree grown for its bitter fruit, an 18th-century hybrid first bred in Jamaica. When found in Barbados it was named the "forbidden fruit";it is also called the "shaddock", after its creator. - Wiki


Friday, July 17, 2009


Schav (Or, Cold Sorrel Soup)

For you, my peaches, we have a photo and recipe for a summery sorrel soup that has always been much maligned due to it’s fantastically unsavory color.

(So sad!)

It is a dish with a color that exists somewhere between not-so-plucky army green and decidedly cringe-worthy, cement grey.

Something one associates with World War 2 era British school dinners and/or prison food. (Or, as Sam called it, "Sludge taken from Shrek's swamp.") So…in other words…it lacks a certain visual appeal.

But that color, what-ever-it-is, is a deceptive little shade of…um…not-so-pretty, because the soup itself is really extra terrific. It packs a bit of pow in that drab dress coat. It is bright and sour and creamy and cold and unexpectedly divine.

And not only is it a wee bit hard on the eyes, and oh so very easy on the palate, but it is also a very humble Russian peasant soup (when called schav) and at the same time, a very upscale French delicacy known as soupe a l’oseille. Go figure. One soup, two ends of the culinary spectrum.

But names and looks aside, it really is one of the best things you can eat on a hot day. Simple to make, and simple to eat. You will thank me for this recipe and I promise, after the first sip, you will have a whole new opinion of that old maxim that we eat with our eyes.

Now try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

2 T olive oil
3 pounds sorrel leaves (I used a mix of French sorrel and red sorrel from my garden)
2 quarts water
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
1 T lemon juice
3 eggs , beaten
1 cucumber, sliced (for garnish)
Dill sprigs (also for garnish)

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot, over medium heat. Add the potato and cook (stirring often) 5 minutes. Add sorrel and water and bring to a boil. Let cook about 30 minutes.

Whisk together three egg yolks, temper with the hot soup, and whisk it all into soup. Return to the stove and cook for 3 more minutes. (Do not boil, or the eggs will scramble.)

Working in batches, carefully puree the soup in a blender.

Taste, adjust seasoning and add lemon juice as needed. Chill. Garnish with cucumber slices and dill sprigs and serve.

(Some people like this with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, too.)

© 2009 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2009 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" If you are not reading this at the aforementioned URL or in your RSS feed, the site you are looking at are violating my copyright. And that's rude.

Story and recipe for schav from The Jew and the Carrot

What is it about the Tamra Davis Cooking Show that has me coming back for more?

The common sorrel, or spinach dock, is a perennial herb, which grows abundantly in meadows in most parts of Europe and is cultivated as a leaf vegetable. Because of the mildly acidic taste, it quenches thirst, and may be helpful in boosting the appetite. Wiki

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Sultan's Golden Crescent Beans, Dill and Mozzarella

When you garden and you get your little hands on a seed catalog…well…lemme tell ya, it's pretty hard to pick what to get first.

Most people (well, maybe just me, but I like to think its most people too) go a bit mad and order enough seeds to fill a few acres of land, instead of the small plot they most likely have.

(Again, maybe just me…)

And it’s so hard to pick what to get, too. With new varieties there is no way to know what will thrive, what you will really love and so on.

I remember my first-ever glance at the amazing, terrific, words-cannot-describe, Seed Savers Exchange catalog. Every glossy page had my eyes wide and my mind reeling for days. Peaches, you have no idea. I wanted it ALL.

Beans and tomatoes and chiles, oh MY.

Luckily, I am a girl who has a pretty good grasp on my own little (gardening skill) limitations, (after catching my breath) so I just stuck with a few things, including these beautiful Sultan’s Golden Crescent beans. (Which I let curl up the corn stalks. Pretty glam, eh?) I mean…this is from their catalog:

"Rarely offered and almost extinct. SSE is pleased to reintroduce this variety. Very distinct curly yellow snap bean, stringless, prolific and very good taste.”

Rare, with good taste. Naturally, I had to give them a go.

And go they did! Go-go-pole-beans! Up-up and away.

Then it came time to eat them. Mmm. Mmm. So delicious.

Now you may not have them (I can't imagine you do…) but Im betting you can get yourself some regular string-less pole beans, and those will work just dandy. Uh-huh. Dandy indeed.

And in an effort to highlight the wonder that is these darlings, you may want to do something simple and fresh. Just like this.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

1 pound string beans, trimmed
2 T mayonnaise
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 T minced dill
1 T minced shallot
A few leaves of basil, torn
¼ cup fresh mozzarella (I got mine from the Hollywood Farmers market...mmm.)
Salt and pepper

Plunge the beans in to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Let cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. (Except the cheese.) Season to taste. Add the cheese and let it marinate for up to a day.

Add the beans, season again and serve.

Serves four as a side dish.

© 2009 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2009 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" If you are not reading this at the aforementioned URL or in your RSS feed, the site you are looking at are violating my copyright. And that's rude.

String beans are green beans with "strings" that are tough to eat and should be removed.

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Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from meat. So add some fruit salsa to your grilled steak or burger.

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