Tag Archives: sage

The Beach, Cape May: Day 1 and deciding on the Holiday Happy Hour Cocktail (with recipe!)

So, it is officially Summer and yesterday, we packed the car to the gills and headed to what appears to be our annual trip to the beach at Cape May, New Jersey.

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The first look at the beach for my kids and their best friend Marie-Lyse!

The traffic was pretty brutal, so what was supposed to be a 3 hour drive turned into 5. This would have been awful except for the fact that my daughter and I decided to use her iPod to make videos of ourselves singing along to whatever was playing on the radio. Yes, it had definite goof-ball qualities but I am pretty sure that it is done on long road trips more than travelers are willing to admit!

Day 1

Day 1

We were meeting our friends who drove from Quebec to meet us at the same house they rented last year. The kids had not seen each other since Christmas when they came to stay at our house for the holiday, and were beside themselves when we arrived. It was so odd, I was a year older and felt every bit of it, and they had grown inches taller and looked fabulous.

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Ide & Marie-Lyse

Instantly they hugged and laughed and then sort of stood back and looked,  feeling sort of shy staring back at their friend who had morphed into a different person, older looking… was that eye make-up?  It was an interesting moment to watch, and then I remembered I was a tired and frustrated woman in dire need of a drink: just to calm the nerves.

Beach finds

Beach finds

Our friend Kelley stood in the kitchen and pointed to the counter and said, “I’ve been to the wine store, what should we open?” I told him that wine was great but that this time I was going to introduce him to a new drink, a cocktail that perhaps we could make a staple of our happy hour for the week. There were no objections.

green rocks

Green rocks

The day before I had killed myself cleaning the house, planning possible menus and packing for our trip, and by evening felt the urge to go to a bar and have a shot of whiskey. What I mean is…have you ever watched one of those movies where the protagonist has gone through some major crisis and the next shot is of him (or her) bellied up to their local bar and nodding to the bartender? Of course you have. Then the bartender would pour the required drink and it would be downed in a single head throw-back. This is how I felt, only I wanted to act as my own barkeep.

Marie-Lyse and Green Rocks

Marie-Lyse and Green Rocks

As Kelley went for the wine opener I asked if there was ice? When he nodded I told him we were going to have something a little stronger. “Like what?”, he said. “Like Vodka”, I replied. He said he hadn’t had anything but beer or wine in “God knows how long”, but he felt my urgency and pointed to the freezer.

The Beach

The Beach

I told him about my crazy day of trip preparations and the need for a drink, and the discovery of having nothing alcoholic in the house, followed by the trip to my sister-in-law next door where we were supplied with what they had: vodka, and then my inventing this drink, which was derived from pure desperation: lemonade from my daughter’s Lemonade Stand and the vodka from next door.

The cocktail

The cocktail

The drink that was created satisfied me to no end and this is what I wanted to reinvent for Kelley, (after all when drinking one needs a partner!). I paired vodka with homemade lemonade over ice. I wasn’t quiet satisfied as I wanted it to be something special and more unique. It is hard to serve up a simple vodka and lemonade in this day and age with all of those mixologists out there grinding herbs and infusing fruits into drinks that should be photographed and not libated! So, I added a sage leaf that I had brought from my garden and served it to Kelley who said, “Why would you put a leaf into a perfectly good drink?”

Well, he drank it! And, the next day we had another, and another. He seems to be fine with the “leaf ” now.

The drink with a leaf in it!

The drink with a leaf in it!

Anyway, we have 6 more days here in Cape May and the only thing missing is Celine, Kelley’s lovely wife and my good friend who could not make it this time around. This week of our adventures of sun, beach, food and cocktails is dedicated to her so she feels a little like she is here with us.

Recipe for Vodka with Lemonade and Sage

1 shot (1/4 cup) of chilled vodka

2/3 cup lemonade (the most natural you can find)

1 slice lemon

1 sage leaf

Method:

Fill glass with ice. Pour vodka with lemonade into glass. Add a slice of lemon and sage leaf. Feel free to bruise sage before adding to release flavor. Drink!

More to come

More to come

Pork Scallopini with Prosciutto & Sage (serve lots as appetizer or 6 as part of main course)

 How is it possible that a little pork with prosciutto and sage, cooked in butter and oil, can taste like you are committing at least four of the seven deadly sins all at once?

Italian Dinner Table

This dish is most definitely fiddlely…from the annoying job of trying to separate the paper-thin prosciutto slices, to the pounding of each piece of pork until it resembles a piece of gauzy material. The thing is, and this is a very important announcement; it is worth it!

Pork Scallopini - Yum

This was part and parcel of a very elaborate dinner I prepared before myself and the whole family left for Italy, and I wanted to celebrate in a big way (read the blog titled Italian Dinner to read more on the subject). 

It was the dish that I had to hide from my son so as everyone would get a piece or two. It was so very good, and I encourage you to make it if you want to spend a lazy day with your kids, pounding meat with a mallet, and blanketing it in sage and Italian cured meat!

Makes for fun family time, and you get the reward of a great dinner.

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You will need: 2 lbs pork tenderloin (buy 1 lb tenderloin), thickly sliced, big bunch of sage leaves (about 50), 1/2 lb prosciutto, 2 tbs unsalted butter, 4 to 6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil. Roll of wax paper cut into 4 x 4 ” squares (no need to be exact), wooden toothpicks.

1 – Lay a piece of wax paper on a chopping board and put a slice of tenderloin in the center. Cover with another piece of wax paper.

Cut pork tenderloin into slices

2 – Take the smooth side of a wooden mallet and pound the pork until it is very thin. Transfer it to a plate (in the wax paper), and continue until all the meat is pounded, and piled high on the plate.

place between wax paper and flatten with a wooden mallet

3 – Time to assemble; take a piece of pork from the wax paper and lay a sage leaf in the middle, followed by a piece prosciutto smaller than the piece of pork. Fold in half so as the prosciutto is on the outside, and close pieces together with a toothpick (like you are stitching a piece of material). Set on a plate, and continue until the whole pile is done.

Assemble pork

4 –  Put saute pan on medium/high heat and add 2 tbs of oil and 1 tbs of butter. When it is hot, add an evenly spaced, single layer of the pork on the pan, and cook on both sides for about 2 minutes each.

Fry scallopini

5 – Continue to cook until all the meat is done, adding more oil and butter as needed.

Ready to serve

I served this dish with a larger meal (type Italian Dinner in search box), but, this would go with rice, pasta, salad, or stand on its own as a knockout appetizer.

Superb Lamb Stew with Herbs, & Winter-y Veggies (serves 6)

They say that self-praise is no-praise, but I have to pat myself on the back for this gem of a dish (pat, pat)!

Superb Lamb Stew

I wanted to make something splendid. My friend Bird was in from New York, and each day had to be full of fun adventures, and fabulous food each evening.

Sage, Bay leaves & Pearl onion skins (evidence of good food to come)

I took this dinner to my friend Tom’s house, and it became part of an even larger affair, with 4 different kinds of pizzas, cheese plates, and other side dishes too numerous to mention.

I thought after about 2 months of doing this blog, the food would run out. Now I find I cannot keep up with the amount of dishes to be documented and talked about. I will have to leave the pizza for another day, and give it the spot in this diary that it deserves.

Suffice is to say, I waddled home very contentedly.

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You will need: 5 or so tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 1/2 lbs stewing lamb, cut into large chunks (you can also buy it pre-cut), 2 tbs freshly chopped sage leaves, 1 large sprig sage (about 10 leaves), 2 tbs freshly chopped tarragon, 2 fresh bay leaves, 1 tsp sea-salt, 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 5 cloves garlic, sliced, 1 lb whole white mushrooms, 2 cups pearl onions, (red, white or yellow), 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks, 2 cups baby carrots, 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks, 2 tbs all-purpose flour, 1 good quality bouillon cube ( veggie or chicken), 1 cup red wine, 3 cups water, 3 tbs soy sauce, 4 tbs mirin, 1 tbs sugar

Preheat 450*

1 – Put pot of water on high heat and when it comes to a boil, add the onions. cover and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, and, when cool enough to handle, remove the skins. You do this by cutting the end where it grew from and then squeezing until the onion pops out of the skin.

2 – Put meat into a big bowl and add the salt, pepper, herbs and garlic. Stir together and let sit for 10 minutes, (you can also leave in the fridge for up to 6 hours)

add seasonings to meat

3 – Put big saute pan or heavy casserole on high heat and add half of the oil. When it is slightly smoking, add the meat and sear on both sides until brown. You will need to do this in batches and add more oil as you go. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

sear meat

4 – Turn heat down to medium and add more oil if necessary. Add the mushrooms and onions to the pan and saute for 10 minutes. Add the crumbled bouillon, sage sprig, and flour, and mix into the vegetables. Add the red wine and water and turn heat up. Stir until liquid reaches a simmer and then add the lamb back to the pan.

saute pearl onions and mushrooms

5 – Cover pan and place in preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours. Take out of oven and test meat by piercing with a knife. If it goes through very easily,the meat is cooked.

* while dish is cooking, put the remaining veggies (parsnips, sweet potatoes, & carrots) into a pot with the soy, mirin, sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently (with lid) until vegetables are just soft. Drain and set aside until you are ready to add to the finished dish*

add liquids

6 – The moment you take the dish out of the oven, remove the lid and add the cooked root vegetables. Cover and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to let the veggies warm up.

remove from oven and add cooked wintry veggies

Serve as is, or with mash, rice, pasta, bread or a salad. All I can say is, be prepared to fight over the last scraps in the pan!

Can be serves alone, or, with whatever else you fancy