a boozy basil cocktail.

in my life B.T. (before twins), entertaining and having people over was something i really loved doing. for starters, if you have people coming over to your house regularly, it’s a great excuse to keep things neat ‘n tidy. it’s also a great excuse to try new cocktails and recipes. but now that i have toddler twins, my sanity is not the only thing that has gone the way of the days of yore. having people over for dinner is something i rarely do anymore, and i really miss it. my hope is that as nash and zeke get a bit older and more self-sufficient that i can resume some of my hospitality strengths and be a better friend to the people who have been amazing friends to me.

my friendships have severely suffered over the past year or so. in an attempt at making excuses, i’ve had a lot going on… i got engaged, i got a new full-time job, we got married, we bought a house… oh yes, and i have 20 month old twins, have i mentioned this? sometimes i wish that my life were different, in that i had more time to play with other kids and talk with other moms, to catch up with friends, to cook, to “nest”, or just plain old BE with nash and zeke more. but my life is what it is right now, and sometimes that means that in order to keep up with my friends, i just have to put in an extra effort.

anyway, where were we? oh yes. last night! i invited my good friend sarah over for dinner in an attempt to put in that extra effort (which, as it turns out, really isn’t so hard). sarah is a good enough friend that i don’t panic if there are kids’ toys strewn about my living room, remnants of their dinner on the dining room floor (fried rice + toddlers with spoons = bad idea), or crying babies waddling about in nothing but a diaper. plus, if you offer someone enough booze, they tend to forget how dirty your house is.

while john and i were on our two week road trip to vermont and back, my basil plants went a little crazy… meaning, i now have a village’s worth of basil to use up. i thought about making walnut-basil pesto, but sarah told me that she had a slight aversion to nuts. so there went my dreams of walnut-pesto grandeur, as well as my walnut-pecan-hot-dish idea. also, add into the equation that it’s so hot in minnesota right now, you think that you are either living on the sun or have been supplanted in hell (if hell actually exists). this means that i am boycotting both the use of my oven and standing over a stove for any length of time.

so i decided on making stovetop bruschetta, a cool, summer salad and lots of peachy booze!

first up, the booze.

recipe: salted peach and basil cocktail

you will need:
2 ripe peaches, sliced off the pit

8-10 leaves of basil
1 cup simple syrup (basically, you boil sugar and water in a ratio of 1:2 until the sugar dissolves. cool and save in your fridge for up to one week.)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
crushed ice
sea salt

blend the hell out of the peaches, basil, syrup and lemon juice in your blender. srrsly. you almost want this to the point of juice. then, into a shaker (or, in my case, a mason jar) add some crushed ice, 1 part vodka and 2 parts of the peace-basil puree. shake. serve in a sea-salt rimmed glass. if you want to be fancy, you can slice a peach, float it in the top of the glass and do a sprinkle of sea salt on the peach. you won’t be sorry. in fact, you’ll be the opposite of sorry. you’ll be oh so very un-sorry as you un-apologetically pour yourself a 2nd round. and if it’s a saturday morning, maybe even a 3rd.

recipe: stovetop bruschetta

i dub this ‘stovetop bruschetta’ because most bruschetta recipes ask you to toast the baguette slices in the oven or, heaven help us in this heat, the broiler. but not this recipe.

you will need:
1 baguette, or ciabatta bread, or equally fabulous crusty-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside bread
3 cups of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn asunder
2 cloves of garlic, or 1 large clove, finely diced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin, extra delicious and meaty olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

first up, let’s deal with the tomato situation. it’s tough to find a good tomato these days, so go heirloom if you can, go organic and locally grown otherwise. juicy, fresh tomatoes are what will make this the most delicious bruschetta you’ve ever had, with that sultry, oozy bliss that only a good tomato can deliver. you can use whatever tomatoes you want (grape, cherry, whole) - i used grape tomatoes because it’s what i had in the fridge. but please note: if you use regular, whole tomatoes, here’s what you’re gonna do. cut the tomato into quarters, and scoop out the pulp and seeds. use only the meat of the tomato. otherwise, your bruschetta will be tomato soup. and that’s not what we’re making here...

throw your diced tomatoes into a bowl, add the garlic and basil. drizzle the olive oil over the mess and toss. at this point, you can taste the mixture to see how much salt and pepper you think it needs. i tend to use quite a bit of salt, as a chef friend of mine once told me that salt is the key to everything. literally. it brings out the flavors of any food, even sweet ones (see aforementioned recipe involving sea salt and peaches. you’re welcome.).

once you’ve got it seasoned to your liking, set aside. on the counter is fine, as the more it sits, the more the flavors are going to macerate and combine into that oozy, snappy goodness.

slice your baguette. brush both sides of each slice with that delicious olive oil of yours (or, spray with olive oil spray. i picked up one of these a few months ago, and it has changed my life. i’m serious. things that used to call for a spray of vegetable oil, be ye gone! away from me! i now spray the hell out of pretty much everything in my kitchen with olive oil. i’m not sure if this fits into my weight loss plan, but at least i know what’s in my cooking spray now.) get out your favorite sauté pan and set it over medium heat. once the pan is hot, lay the baguette slices down. sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on the tops of the slices, and toast. once lightly browned, flip over to toast the side you sprinkled with the salt.

get out a big plate, or a serving platter if you've shaved your legs and you're feeling fancy, and lay the baguette slices out, salted side down. your tongue will thank you if you do this in this fashion. next up, while the toasts are still hot, spoon your tomato mixture over the toasts.

and that’s it. done. i love how the saltiness of the baguette toast hits your tongue on the first bite, combined with the warmth of the bread and the coolness of the tomato mixture. perfect on a summer evening.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely friend. Lovely. Glad to hear about these tasty treats! Life can sure get out of hand, especially with kids, but taking some time to remember who you are and what you love it vital for sanity! Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!


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