A Summer Refresher

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I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am a terrible bartender. Even when I follow cocktail recipes, they turn out horrible. My husband says it’s only because I pick out terrible recipes, but I’m not completely sure that’s the problem. But I have given up on trying to make drinks containing herbaceous liqueurs, like Saint Germain, Pernod, Chartreuse, and Galliano. I guess I’m not hip enough to enjoy those flavors!

During the summer months, I make a lot of sangria, and I’m actually pretty good at sangria. Or, at least I think I am. When my older daughter is at my house, she always needs to “fix” it. And she always makes it better. Must be something about that summer she lived in Spain…


Because I don’t love strong alcohol flavor, I don’t ever use brandy in sangria, which is traditional. I like to use sweet wines instead.

I’ve mentioned Quady Vineyards in a post before, because they make fabulous moscatos. I am aware that sweet wines are not terribly popular. In fact, they’re probably drunk by white Zinfandel fans. But their moscatos are superb!

I used an orange moscato, called Electra, in my Strawberry Tiramisu recently, and for the sangria I made today, shown above, I used Quady’s Red Electra. (The sangria turned out fabulous!)

On the Quady Winery website, they write that Red Electra was “first released in 1993, is garnet red, tastes of succulent cherry, berry, and peach, and has a slight sparkle. Try it with all kinds of desserts and cheeses including chocolate bon-bons, truffles, spiced holiday cookies, vanilla, and fruit. Red Electra is made by combining Orange and Black Muscat grapes, and fermenting them very slowly at a low temperature so they keep their delicious flavors. That’s why Red Electra tastes like a bowl full of cherries.

Just to make sure it would work well in the sangria, my husband and I taste-tested the Red Electra. It was like nectar of the gods.
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Then I had an idea. I poured some Red Electra in a bigger glass and added some Fresca, which I had on hand because I always use it in sangria. Typically I don’t create cocktails, and it’s not surprising that my alcoholic “invention” consists of only two ingredients. But it got me thinking. Besides Fresca, what would Red Electra be like paired with Champagne, or Prosecco? I had some experimentation ahead of me!!!

So here’s my offering for a refreshing summer drink. I suggest three varieties depending if you like sweeter, less sweet, or unsweet. You could even add sparkling or soda water for two more varieties. I’m just so creative!!!

Red Electra Sparkler

3 ounces Quady Red Electra, chilled
4 ounces Prosecco, chilled, or
4 ounces Champagne, chilled, or
4 ounces Fresca, chilled

On the day this cocktail was “created” daughter happened to be visiting, and we did the taste test together. We began with 3 ounces of Red Electra, and added equal amounts of Prosecco, Fresca, and Champagne.


The drinks were on the sweet side with this ratio.

So that’s when we came up with the ratio of 3 ounces of Red Electra to 4 ounces of mixer. Plus, we added ice. Even though all of the above ingredients were fully chilled, the drinks needed ice for them to stay cold and refreshing.
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We both picked our favorite combination, and it was the Prosecco version. The Fresca version was good, but it was “sweet” and still tasted like Fresca. The Champagne variety was good, but the Champagne seemed to disappear in the drink.

The Prosecco and Red Electra was a perfect match!


It was also the most refreshing – even without ice!

We made this cocktail on the first day of summer, and it topped out at 99 degrees that day!
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I’m stocking up on Red Electra. It is quite versatile!

Festive Pork Loin

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This pork loin isn’t festive in that it’s holiday-oriented, it’s just festive because it’s a perfect dish for a celebration. The more correct name would be Moscato-Braised Pork Loin with Prosciutto and Gruyère.

The recipe came from the book Rotis, by Stephane Reynaud. I had previously purchased his cookbook Barbecue & Grill, and enjoyed it, so I decided to try another one of his books. He’s quite the prolific cookbook writer if you check him out on Amazon. He has one book called Tripe. I might pass on that one…
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In any case, I’ve bookmarked many recipes from Rotis, and decided to make this pork loin first. It’s prepared quite simply – browned and braised along with white port. I couldn’t find white port, so I substituted a syrupy moscato I’ve used in sangrias, called Electra, by Quady Vineyards.

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I also really liked the addition of bacon and Comté in this roast, but American bacon isn’t the same as the European bacon, so I substituted Prosciutto. Canadian bacon would probably be a more exact substitution. Furthermore, I used Gruyère in place of the Comté.

The presentation is very pretty. It would be a good dish for company if you use an in-the-oven temperature probe. Then there’s just a melting of the cheese and you’re ready to serve.

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Moscato-Braised Pork Loin with Prosciutto and Gruyere
adapted from Rotis by Stephane Reynaud

4 tablespoons bacon fat, divided
2 purple onions, thinly sliced into rings
Pork loin, approximately 2 pounds 10 ounces
Salt, pepper
7 ounces Moscato, or any dessert wine
6 slices Prosciutto
12 ounces Gruyère, sliced into 6 pieces
Thyme, fresh or dried

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

First, sauté the onion rings in 2 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium heat in a large skillet until they’re caramelized. Set them aside.

Next, have your pork loin close to room temperature. Trim a little of the fat if necessary. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in a roasting pan over high heat. Have your ventilation on. Roast the pork loin on one side. Then turn over and sear the other side until well browned.

I also brown the “sides.” After all the browning is complete, pour in the Moscato.

Place the roasting pan in the oven. Use an oven probe if you have one, and set it for 145 degrees. This took about an hour, but I would use a thermometer to prevent overcooking.

About 4 times during this hour I basted the pork with the ever-reducing Moscato jus.
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At the point where the thermometer registers 145 degrees, remove the pork from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Have your slices of cheese and Prosciutto handy.
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Using a sharp knife, cut into the pork in 6 evenly-spaced crosswise slices, about 2/3 down.

Stuff the prosciutto into the openings.
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Then stuff the sliced cheese, and top everything with the caramelized onion rings.
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Return to the oven until the cheese melts, which took about 15 minutes.
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Remove from the oven, place the pork on a cutting board, and drizzle on any remaining jus from the roasting pan.

Let the pork rest for at least ten minutes, and then cut the 7 slices of pork loin for serving.


Because of the more involved recipe of this pork loin, I served it simply with steamed Brussels sprouts.
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Make sure the serving of pork includes some Prosciutto, Gruyère, and onions. Sprinkle the servings with fresh or dried thyme, and add a little more black pepper.

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note: The above doesn’t show the pork quite like it was when I first prepared the serving on the plate, because I had to keep microwaving the cheese to get it to re-melt for the photos! It was a cold evening, and I guess I just wasn’t fast enough with the camera. Plus it had already gotten dark outside; lesson learned. But if you don’t allow pork to cook beyond 155 degrees, it will be moist, and slightly pink.