Pink Prosecco Margarita

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My friend Dan loves a good cocktail. So when he made a point to text me this recipe, I knew it would be good.

He found it online originally, and made a few adaptations, but because I don’t know the origin, I’ll just call it Dan’s recipe.

It’s basically the ingredients for a real margarita, plus pink lemonade and Prosecco.

However, I couldn’t find pink lemonade where I live. Maybe it was sold out? But I did find strawberry lemonade, which I never knew existed, so I thought I’d try that, mostly because I’m impulsive. Same cocktail, but subtly strawberry flavored. Still pink, in fact hot pink!

I imagine if you’re not having a girls’ party like a bridal shower or somesuch, you can use regular lemonade for this cocktail, but the thought of making and serving a pink drink was so compelling to me!

My girlfriend helped out with a perfect happy hour setting at her house to test out the cocktail. I mean, to help with the photography.

Dan’s Pink Prosecco Margarita

1 cup pink lemonade*
3/4 cup Patron tequila
½ cup Patron orange liqueur
2 ounces lime juice, about 3 small limes
1/2 – 1 cup Prosecco, well chilled
Lime and salt for rimming

Pour the lemonade in a serving pitcher, and add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. Chill in the refrigerator.


Right before serving, add the Prosecco.

Rim the glasses with lime juice and dip the rim with salt.


I also tried the margarita over ice, mostly because it was hot out and my girlfriend and I had been working so hard on this photo shoot (thanks Jil!) and that was also good. (not pictured.)

Overall, this is a lovely summer cocktail, but in fact, could be served at parties at various times of the year. I can see cranberries thrown in at a holiday party for example!

* Use one 12 ounce can thawed, frozen pink lemonade concentrate, or strawberry lemonade concentrate, and mix with two containers (24 ounces total) of water.

Roasted Goat Cheese with Lavender Honey

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For Christmas of 2017, a dear friend who lives in Texas sent me a fabulous gift pack. In it was a jar of lavender honey.

The gifts came from Los Poblanos Farm Foods in New Mexico. The honey is “derived from bees that pollinate a unique blend of regional plants, including our very own Grosso variety of lavender.”

As soon as you open the honey jar, you smell lavender. It is utterly fragrant and delightful.

So how better to showcase this floral honey than to top it on a roasted log of goat cheese?!!

Which is what I did to start off a special meal for my one and only.

Roasted Goat Cheese with Lavender Honey
Slightly adapted NYT Cooking recipe by Sara Dickerman

1 – 8-12 ounce log or slab of a firm goat cheese, chilled
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons lavender honey, or honey of choice
Bread, toasts, crackers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Select a small oven-to-table earthenware dish or a small ovenproof sauté pan lined with aluminum foil to help transfer the cheese to a plate after roasting.

Place the log in the dish and cover with the olive oil.

Bake until the cheese is soft and springy to the touch but not melted, about 8 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Heat the honey in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water until it is fluid enough to be spread with a pastry brush.

Paint the surface of the feta with it. Broil until the top of the cheese browns and just starts to bubble. (As you can tell I opted to dropper the warm honey onto the soft cheese.)

Serve immediately with breads, toasts, or crackers.

You can also include pickled or roasted vegetables, according to the recipe author.

Alternately, add fresh fruits like strawberries and peaches, or dried fruits like dates and figs.

I might do this in the future, but this time, just the crackers with the roasted goat cheese, and the sweetness of the floral honey were just a perfect combination, topped with edible flowers for some prettiness!

note: A pretty oven-to-table gratin dish would have been a better choice than messing with a piece of foil, which did not help with sliding/moving the molten log of goat cheese to the serving platter!

Chocolate Cashew Truffle Balls

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There is really no great name for these little treats, because they’re a cross between truffles and rum balls. So I call them truffle balls. I love to make up recipes for these bite-sized treats because just about everything works. Real chocolate truffles aren’t difficult to make, but they’re more delicate in nature. These “balls” are sturdier, with a cookie crumb base, mixed with chocolate and spices and sometimes rum or other liqueurs.

I posted on one such rum ball, namely ginger spice truffles, made with a base of gingersnap cookies, spiced with cinnamon and ginger. I created that recipe for a holiday charity event many years ago, because the ingredients are inexpensive, but the individual truffle balls are great for serving hundreds of people. But it’s really easy to only make a couple of dozen truffle balls, too.

For a dinner party, something like truffle balls are a generous treat with espresso or sherry, without being an overbearing dessert like a huge slice of cake that one feels obligated to eat.

At the bottom of this post is a guideline for creating your own truffle ball recipe. For now, here’s my most recent creation that I made for my cashew-loving husband.

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Chocolate Cashew Truffle Balls
makes about 2 dozen

8 ounces chocolate, I used semi-sweet
4 ounces or 1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup or 6 ounces cashew butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces, or approximately 6 graham cracker squares
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
2 heaping tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

In the top of a double boiler, place the broken up chocolate, butter, cashew butter, and vanilla extract. Slowly, over medium heat, let the water heat up and allow the chocolate and butter to begin melting. At a certain point, if you’re worried that the water is close to a boil, reduce the heat. The melting will continue.
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Using a spatula, stir occasionally. Remember, you’re not trying to cook these ingredients, simply melt them.
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At the point the ingredients have blended smoothly together, remove the pan from atop the pot and set aside for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, then place in a large bowl.


Pour the chocolate mixture into the graham crackers and begin to stir.
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Make sure the chocolate and graham crackers are uniformly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When you’re ready to make the balls, sift together the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
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Scoop out the “dough” using a teaspoon or cookie scoop.

Roll them into similarly-sized balls, and then place them in the cocoa-confectioners’ sugar mixture. After you’ve made 4 or 5, toss them in the coating, then place them in a serving bowl, or a plastic bag. If you’re not serving immediately, they store very well in a sealable bag. In fact, they freeze well this way.

Right before serving, take them out of the freezer or refrigerator and let warm slightly. They are not as sensitive to melting as real truffles, but I wouldn’t put these out hours before a party, either. The texture should be firm, yet melt in your mouth.

I’m very pleased with this recipe. The cashew flavor is mild, so I’m glad I didn’t include a liqueur.

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Because of the cashew butter, there is a slight grainy texture to these truffle balls, which I don’t mind. If you prefer, simply use chopped cashews in the chocolate and butter mixture. There are so many choices.

If you want to create your own recipe for truffle balls, here are some guidelines:

1. Pick a cookie, either a flavored cookie (like gingersnaps) or a plain one (like shortbread). Make it seasonal!

2. Pick a chocolate – the sweetness of the chocolate depends on the other ingredients.

3. Pick a liqueur. Because these truffle balls are not cooked, don’t go overboard.

4. Butter is a must because it helps firm up the balls and add richness.

5. Extraneous ingredients can include nuts, crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, broken candies, dried fruits, or in this case, cashew butter. Plus, there’s coffee or orange juice concentrate. Even rosewater.

6. Seasoning, if desired, can be cinnamon, nutmeg, espresso powder, etc.

7. Pick a coating. Truffle balls need something to fancy them up a little, which can be melted chocolate into which they’re dipped, or a combination of cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar, like I used. Adjust the ratio depending on how sweet you want the coating; just cocoa, or even cocoa mix will work just as well. I prefer my truffle balls not cloyingly sweet.

Coeur à la Crème

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First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you who celebrate it! May you all be with your loved ones today and share a special meal and bottle of wine or two!

I usually don’t go in for cheesiness in the kitchen, pardon the pun. It’s probably because I’m not creative enough to think of cheesy things to do. (Although I have been known to put on quite a children’s Halloween party in the old days!) But it’s just not like me to make everything heart-shaped just because it’s February.

This is my one exception, however, because it’s already heart-shaped! So I can make and serve this, blaming it all on the white porcelain ramekin in the shape of a heart. After all, Coeur à la Crème means heart of cream – this is roughly translated. So it’s really meant to be heart-shaped.

And, it’s really good. There are many different ways to make this dessert, using marscapone or cream cheese, farmers’ cheese, ricotta, or cottage cheese, and even yogurt. Here is my delicious version:

Coeur à la Crème

1 – 17.6 ounce carton Fage 2% Greek yogurt*
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Empty the carton of yogurt into a colander lined with cheesecloth or paper towels. Let it sit for 4 – 6 hours. You will notice that a significant amount of liquid has strained from the yogurt. That’s why this step is important before you begin with the recipe.

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When the yogurt has strained, place it in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients.

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Slowly at first, using an electric mixer, mix up the cheese until smooth. Scrape down the bowl once and keep mixing. It should take about 5 minutes. Taste the cheese and make sure you like the flavor. I like it a bit off-sweet. If you prefer it sweeter, add a little more powdered sugar.

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Wet about a 20″ square piece of muslin or cheesecloth and wring it out very well. Then lay it over the ramekin and form it into the heart shape. Gently place the cheese into the ramekin.

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Smooth it out on top, and tap it a few times to make it settle.

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Wrap up the ramekin with the overflowing cheesecloth, then set the ramekin on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover the ramekin with a paper towel, and then put everything in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

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When you are close to being ready to serve, unfold the cheesecloth from the ramekin, then turn the Coeur upside down on a serving plate, and finish removing the cheesecloth.

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If you like, smooth out the cheese with a knife. Personally, I like the texture the cheesecloth makes on the cheese. Let the cheese warm a little before serving with your sauce of choice, whether it be fruit-based, or chocolate.

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If you’re interested, my sauce is made from strawberries and apricots. I made it last year to layer in individual breakfast yogurt parfaits I made for my friend, for people staying at her house. It was made simply by cooking strawberries and apricots together with a little sugar and lemon juice. It was not sweet like a jam, but sweetened nonetheless. I had a frozen jar left over, so I thawed it, pureed and strained the sauce, and served it with the Coeur à la crème. It was perfect, and I love the color!

* If you wanted to be really decadent, use goat’s milk yogurt – but it will require more time straining.

note: Besides vanilla extract, there are many choices for flavoring. Citrus zest can be used, different extracts, as well as liqueurs such as Chambord or Grand Marnier. It’s all a matter of taste, and what you’re serving your Coeur à la Crème with, sauce-wise!