Thirsty Thursday: Strawberry Vodka Lemonade

So it’s no secret that I am a bit obsessed with Joy the Baker. Not in a creepy way. More in a she bakes really amazing things and takes really pretty pictures and really hilarious podcast kinda way. Totally normal. Well, because of Joy the Baker’s wonderful podcast I have also recently become acquainted with Shutterbean. Tracy also makes some really wonderful things. The first time I visited Shutterbean, I instantly knew I was on to a good thing based upon the fact that her most recent recipe at the time was for Strawberry Infused Vodka. Yep, definitely the start of a wonderful thing.

Fortunately for me I have recently become enamored with the idea of canning, so I had the prerequisite mason jar on hand. I also had a lot of fresh strawberries and vodka on hand, this obviously just had to happen as soon as possible. And happen it did.

I will admit I had a little sip of the vodka when it was done and I was definitely less than impressed, but being the intrepid sort, I decided to give it another go. I am quite happy that I did. The results were delicious. A little too delicious. This drink was the perfect answer to a hot and muggy afternoon. It definitely went down very easily. With all the berry action going on, there isn’t much of a vodka taste, which can be both a good and a bad thing.

Strawberry Vodka Lemonade

  • Strawberry infused vodka
  • Sparkling lemonade (I would suggest Trader Joe’s French Lemonade)
  • A couple chopped up strawberries
Combine vodka and lemonade over a couple ice cubes. Top with Strawberries. Serve and enjoy!

Berry, Gorgonzola and Pecan Salad

This past winter was the first actual winter we’ve had in Southern California in a long time. There was rain, it was cold, just awful stuff. But as a result of all the rain, this spring’s and summer’s produce have been off the chain (yes, you read that right). The berry crops in particular have been quite amazing.

Yesterday, I was in a hurry for a quick lunch fix and when I looked in the fridge, I found the 4 ingredients needed to make one of my favorite salads. Berries, gorg, pecans, lettuce, and my meal was planned for me. There’s jus something about the sweet, salty, crunchy, blue cheesiness of this salad that makes it amazing.

This salad is so easy to make and you can add in pretty much an fruit that strikes your fancy. It’s also pretty good with some pears or grapes thrown into the mix. You could also substitute the gorgonzola for something like feta, if blue cheese isn’t your thing. I just happen to like my cheese super blue and super stinky. I topped mine with a delicious French Vinaigrette that I actually made last week for another salad, but the recipe is pretty big, so I had tons of dressing left over.

Berry, Gorgonzola and Pecan Salad

  • Mixed Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • Gorgonzola (or feta)
  • Pecans (or almonds work well)
  • Mixed Greens
  • Salad dressing (I recommend some kind of vinaigrette)
Combine first 4 ingredients. Top with dressing and serve.

French Dressing

  • ½ pint sunflower oil
  • ½ pint olive oil
  • ½ pint red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Will keep in refrigerator for several weeks.  Shake well before serving.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Summer Cake

I’m not so secretly obsessed with Smitten Kitchen. I feel like I’m friends with Deb. We get along really well. We hang out in the kitchen. She always has an answer for any of my questions. She always lets me know what the perfect side dish or appetizer is. Of course she knows none of this, but it still happens on a fairly regular basis. (Hi, my name is Clare and I’m crazy… Yes, also true.)

I saw her recipe for a Strawberry Summer Cake the same day I had acquired 6.5 pounds of strawberries. Just as I was pondering ‘What exactly does one do with six and a half pounds of strawberries?’, Deb once again had an answer. Me and my strawberries were ready for some serious baking.

But before you get down to serious baking, everyone knows you require a serious apron. This one probably ranks number 2 in my current rotation of serious aprons. Number 1 being my amazingly awesome historic Hungarian mustache apron, but to be fair, nothing can compete historic Hungarian facial hair. It’s just a fact. I got my awesome hummus apron at Greenwich Market last year when I was back visiting London and it was definitely a very worthwhile investment.

One of the reasons I started this blog, was to take away the mystery of gluten-free cooking. I wanted to show that it is actually prett easy to adapt your favorite recipes to a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free baking however, still remains quite an adventure. The difference between ‘regular’ all-purpose wheat flour and  a gluten-free substitute is marginal when you only need to use a tablespoon here or there, but when substituting several cups, things can be a bit trickier. In my experience, gluten-free flour is much more temperamental when it comes to baking. Some flour combinations will bake a lot faster than their wheat-based counterparts, which generally results in some kind of burnt inedible blob or they bake much, much, m u c h slower. I swear there is no middle ground on this.

For this recipe I did a straight swap of 1.5 cups of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour. When I was mixing the dry and wet ingredients together, it seemed like it was taking a lot longer than mixing had taken me in the past when I was using wheat based flour. As a result the mixture was quite aerated and ‘fluffy’ by the time I was done. This also meant that when I put the cake in the oven, it puffed up an awful lot as it was baking. I was a bit concerned about it spilling over, but luckily it didn’t. When I took the cake out of the oven, it turned out the batter had puffed up over the strawberries and the sugar that I had sprinkled on top had made a nice little crust (like creme brulee style) on top of the cake. Definitely not intentional, but a very pleasant surprise. I served up the slices with a bit of whipped cream that had some brown sugar and vanilla mixed in for a little extra flavah (hence the funky looking color in the picture above).

I would definitely make this cake again, but I would be careful to not over beat the batter and I would also add a lot more strawberries. You could taste the strawberries in there, but they kind of got a little lost after a couple bites.

Gluten- Free Strawberry and Black Pepper Crisps a la The Year in Food.

So the other day I was perusing Saveur’s ‘50 More Food Blogs You Should Be Reading‘, I stumbled upon some new blogs that are definitely worth reading. I was particularly excited to discover The Year In Food! This blog is all about seasonal cooking and using the best of what is in season. All the recipes are beautifully photographed and definitely make me want to head out to farmers’ market as soon as possible.

 

The first recipe that really grabbed my attention was the Strawberry and Black Pepper Crisps. I love crisps. There is something about the oatmeal mixture that is so much more enjoyable that a pie crust or cake. I’m also obsessed with strawberries, well any fruit really, in balsamic. Obviously, I was instantly sold on this. I did a straight switch for the original recipe’s oats and flour for Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour and Gluten Free Rolled Oats. It turned out perfectly!

 

I served up this amazing dessert with a spoonful of vanilla frozen yogurt and it was definitely the perfect accompaniment to this tangy berry, oaty cup of goodness.