Saturday, April 4, 2015

Grillades And Fresh Veggie "Spaghetti"

The good folks at Tuttorosso Tomatoes (who sent a lovely variety of products to my door) are featuring lightened recipes for spring on their website...of course using their very fine products.

Coincidentally, I recently came upon a recipe I'd never heard of before...grillades (pronounced GREE-yads) and grits. After checking out a number of recipes, I decided it sounded a lot like the Swiss steak I've made for many years only with a decidedly Cajun/Creole twist. This was something that needed to be made...and Tuttorosso tomatoes would be perfect for the recreation of a southern classic.

While the recipe I developed didn't use the dark roux used in versions I read (gluten-free issue, you know), I think my recipe is a little lighter, features more healthy trinity veggies - peppers, onion and celery - and even includes my favorite southern veggie staple....okra! (You know how I LOVE okra!) The bonus of adding okra is that it helps to thicken the sauce and adds lots of flavor at the same time.

Since the Tuttorosso promotion, Inspiralize the Spring, lightens recipes by using spiralized veggies in place of pasta, I did the same in place of cheese grits. You CAN use cheese grits instead, of course, but I found the raw zucchini and red peppers I used made for a very bright base for the tomato and beef Grillades. Hot grillades over raw spiralized veggies cooked the veggies just enough to keep them crisp, yet still brought out all the wonderful veggie flavor.

The online Tuttorosso promotion features recipes by Ali Maffucci like Parsnip Spaghetti All' Amatriciana, Pasta Arrabiata with Carrot Noodles, and Spiralized Turnip Mushroom and Tomato Risotto. Obviously, Ali is a Spiralizer master! 

Check out those and other recipes at Inspiralize Spring and while you're there, enter to win aprons, Ali's cookbook, "Inspiralized," an Inspiralizer or the Grand Prize of all of the above PLUS more kitchen gadgets packed into a picnic basket. What are you waiting for? When you're done entering the contest, come on back and make a nice pot of Grillades and Fresh Veggie Spaghetti!

Grillades and Fresh Veggie "Spaghetti"

  • 2 1/2 pounds round steak, pounded thin and cut into approximately 4" X 4" pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 C flour (gluten-free in my case)
  • 2 T Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning, divided
  • canola oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 large onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and dixed
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 C beef stock, salt free or low sodium
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  •  28 oz. can of Tuttorosso diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz. frozen okra

  • 2 zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 red pepper, julienned (didn't spiralize well, what the heck...julienning worked just as well)

Combine the flour and 2 T Paul Prudhomme's in a plastic bag. Set aside.

Salt and pepper both sides of the round steak pieces, then shake them in the flour mixture until well coated.

Heat enough canola oil in the bottom of an skillet (or a slow cooker than browns - I use an Instant Pot that browns...LOVE it!!!!!) and brown the meat well on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Add a touch of butter to the bottom of the skillet, browning slow cooker (or Instant Pot) and saute the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic until soft. 

If you don't have a browning slow cooker, transfer the meat to a slow cooker. Then pour all the veggies over the top, add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, and okra over all and then gently combine all.

Cover and set your slow cooker (or Instant Pot) to high and let 'er rip for 4 hours. At the end of the time, uncover and taste, then adjust seasonings - I added another teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of Paul Prudhomme's, another tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons of Frank's hot sauce.

To serve, pile the spiralized zucchini and red pepper on a plate and spoon the Grillades over top. Unless, of course, you decide to use traditional grits! Go for it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beer Braised Pork Chops With Cabbage, Apples And Caraway

Frigid weather and Eastern European flavors were built for one another. Hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare is just what the doctor ordered when outside temps seem more suited to the frozen tundra of the far, far (FAR) north than to Western Pennsylvania.

Morning temps of -10, -8, -4 demand substantial fuel for our bodies to warm us up and get us through the workday until we're once again home...preferably snuggled under an afghan next to a roaring fire. (Can't you just picture a golden lab sleeping peacefully in front of the fireplace while you cradle a mug of steaming cider between your slowly thawing hands?)

What might such a dinner consist of? Pork. And bacon. Cabbage and beer! Here's a dish that's sure to warm you from the inside out.....

Beer Braised Pork Chops 
With Cabbage, Apples And Caraway

  • 4 slices thick sliced peppered bacon, cut across into 1/2" lardons 
  • 4  1" thick bone-in center cut loin pork chops 
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 T. Butter
  • 1 small head of cabbage, cut into quarters, core removed and sliced across into 1/2" slices - about 12 C, more or less
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • 3 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 t caraway seeds (optional, but it really makes a difference!)
  • 12 oz. bottle of beer (I used gluten free beer to make this GF)

In a large electric skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove to a plate, leaving the bacon fat in the skillet. Add 1 T butter to the skillet, melt it with the bacon fat.

Season the chops on both sides with salt & pepper and brown them on both sides in the skillet. Remove to a plate.

Add 1 T butter to skillet again and melt. Add the cabbage, apple and onion. Stir and let it soften. Add brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, 1 1/2 t kosher salt, caraway seeds and the reserved bacon. Stir everything together well. 

Add the pork chops back into the skillet, nestling them into the cabbage mixture. Spoon some of the mixture over the pork chops. 

Pour the bottle of beer over all, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about an hour until the pork chops are tender, but the cabbage mixture is still moist. (Add a little water, if necessary.)

Just add a salad or a veggie of some type...and definitely a nice dark pumpernickel to complete the meal!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Eggs In Purgatory With Sweet Italian Sausage

Without fail. Every time I see Eggs In Purgatory on a brunch menu, that is exactly what I order. Every. Single. Time. 

There it is on the menu of Meat & Potatoes (Downtown Pittsburgh)

And here it is smack dab in front of me!

Why? Undoubtedly it's the zip of spicy, peppery tomato against lush, smooth, creamy and cheesy polenta topped with perfectly poached eggs that create such richness that it sets my pulse to racing. Brunch paradise, I tell you!

Stagioni's (Southside Pittsburgh) simple and classic take on Eggs in Purgatory

Redpack tomatoes recently sent me a kit of products to try out in conjunction with their Carnevale promotion. The moment I opened the box and saw the goodies, I knew just what I'd be making with the variety of tomato products inside.  

Could I make Eggs In Purgatory in my very own kitchen? Would it compare to the restaurant versions? Could it be simple enough to make whenever I got the urge? The answers: yes, yes and YES! Not only that, you can do it easily too!

I started with a spicy arrabbiata sauce that came together in just minutes...this would be a quick sauce for weeknights, too! While the sauce simmered, the polenta cooked and all that was left was to poach the eggs and plate the dish. And yes, it was everything I'd hoped it could be!

Want to check out some more recipes and enter to win a kit from Redpack just like I got in the mail? Head on over to for the scoop on how to enter and to get recipes for Tuscan Tomato Bruschetta, Antipasto Salad, Authentic Italian Gravy, Pizza Stromboli, Baked Ziti (you KNOW how we Pittsburghers love our ziti!) and Chicken Parmesan. 

Now here's my own recipe for my very favorite brunch. Ever!

Eggs In Purgatory With Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how much heat you can's purgatory, remember)
  • 6 oz. can Redpack tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 T minced fresh basil
  • 28 oz. can Redpack diced tomatoes
  • 2 t Kosher salt
  • 3 links sweet Italian sausage, broken into medium large chunks, browned and drained
  • cooked parmesan polenta (see recipe below)
  • poached eggs
  • freshly shaved parmesan

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add crushed red pepper flakes and stir a few seconds before adding the minced garlic - stir a few seconds again, then stir in the tomato paste. Let the mixture cook a couple of minutes to caramelize the sugars in the tomato paste and the garlic. Add salt, basil - stir together well, then add the can of diced tomatoes. Stir until well combined, add the cooked sausage, combine into the sauce and that's it! Set aside.

Poach as many eggs as you need to serve as many people as you are serving. Then begin assembly.

Spoon warm polenta into individual serving dishes, make a nice well to snuggle the eggs into. Spoon Arrabbiata sauce around the polenta, place the eggs into the well you made in the polenta, shave fresh parm over all and serve! 

Arrabbiata sauce, sweet Italian sausage and Redpack tomato products.

Did you know that "arrabbiata" means angry in Italian? Reportedly the sauce is angry because of the hot peppers. Or could it be because it's often found in Purgatory? Hmmmmmm......

Parmesan Polenta

  • 8 C chicken stock - I used unsalted
  • 2 t. salt - use less if your stock is already salted
  • 2 C polenta
  • 3 T. butter
  • 2/3 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the stock and salt to a boil. Sloooooowwwwly pour in the polenta while stirring constantly. Continue stirring for a minute or two until you're sure the mixture is smooth. Stir frequently for another 20-25 minutes until the polenta is thick and smooth and creamy. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan completely. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sunday Supper One Pan Roasted Chicken N Ribs

Time for a kitchen quickie! Here's one that's almost dinner in a dish. With only four ingredients to the marinade for the chicken, ribs and veggies that all roast together, it's a true one dish wonder. And, it makes more than enough to have leftovers for a second quick and simple weekday meal. Sunday supper can hardly be easier than this one.....

Sunday Supper One Pan Roasted Chicken N Ribs

  • 4 skin on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 skin on, bone-in chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise
  • 1/2 rack of lean babyback pork ribs, cut into individual ribs - I get mine at Costco...the meatiest ribs anywhere!
  • 3 baking potatoes, scrubbed, skin left on, cut lengthwise into wedges
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into large pieces
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots

  • 1/3 C olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 lemons, juice 1 for the seasoning mixture, save the other to squeeze over the chicken & ribs before roasting
  • 1 T Slap Yo Mama Cajun seasoning, or other BBQ seasoning rub - plus extra for seasoning the chicken & ribs before roasting
  • 1 T Jane's Krazy Chunky Mixed-Up Garlic Seasoning, or other garlic seasoning salt

Just 4 ingredients to the marinade...and here they are!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large ziptop plastic bag, combine olive oil through garlic seasoning salt. Close the top securely, then mix/shake the ingredients well. Add all the veggies to the bag, zip it securely again and shake and turn until all the veggies are well coated. Set aside.

In the center of a large roasting pan, arrange the chicken and ribs skin side up leaving space around the edges of the pan for the veggies. Season the chicken and ribs very liberally with more Slap Yo Mama. Shake up the veggies again and arrange them around the chicken and ribs evenly.

Meats piled in the center, veggies all around the edges and ready for roasting.

Drizzle the chicken & ribs with more olive oil, then squeeze the juice of the 2nd lemon over the meat/poultry, as well.

Roast at 400 degrees for an hour, raise the oven temp to 450 degrees and roast until the chicken is browned and the veggies are tender and slightly crispy/browned.

Note: Next time, I'm definitely throwing in some cherry or grape tomatoes for a pop of color and a sweet/tart contrast to the rest of the veggies. Mmmmmmm......

There you go, a one dish Sunday supper! And an easy weekday dinner to boot.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Superbowl Sweet, Nutty & Crunchy Turtle Corn

Thinking about what "snacky" things to make for Sunday's Superbowl had me reminiscing a bit. As I considered making a big batch of Turtle Corn (among the regular wings and guac and such), it harkened me back to the days when the girls were in college. 

Care packages with tins of this crisp, crunchy and chewy, caramel, chocolate and toasted pecan confection would be either mailed to one of the girls as a surprise or sometimes tucked into the backseat for an extra special bonus during a visit from mom and dad as a sweet reminder of home. It's been a long time since I made it for the girls (it's been a long time since they were in college!), but I did pull the old recipe out again recently.

Just a couple of weekends ago, I held a special brunch for a special bunch of friends. You guessed it, Turtle Corn made the cut for the menu and held a special spot on the dessert buffet. 

Turtle Corn in a treasured Fisher's Popcorn tin from Ocean City last year. (Also pictured, Hot Curried Cashews, Gingerbread Figgy Pudding Dark Rum Trifle, Blacktop Marble Cheesecake)

Even though I did just make it for a crowd, it's the perfect casual Superbowl snack...and any leftovers are always appreciated at work! Thinking of what to serve your guests for your own big Superbowl party? Turtle Corn might be just what you're looking for!

Turtle Corn

  • 4 quarts popped popcorn, checked well for unpopped or partially popped kernels and toss those only want those big, beautiful, fully popped and fluffy pieces! (I use mushroom popcorn these days because they're bigger and fuller like the premium popcorn places use. Amazon, of course, carries it.)

  • 3 C sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C light unsulphered molasses
  • 6 T butter
  • 4 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda

  • 1 pound pecan halves, toasted in the oven at 300 degrees until warmed and fragrant - watch carefully so they don't burn
  • 6 oz chocolate chips, melted

Prepare to put this together quickly as the caramel mixture will harden in a hurry. Put the popcorn and toasted pecans into a very large container - I use a canning kettle or a crab pot - before you start the caramel. Also prepare 2 large rimmed cookie sheets by buttering them lightly. 

In a large, deep, heavy bottomed pot, combine water, molasses, butter, vinegar and salt. Cook over medium high heat until your candy thermometer reaches 260 degrees (hard ball stage). 

Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Mixture will bubble up and then turn "creamy." (This is why you use such a large pot, you don't want to risk having this boil over on your stove or on YOU!) Once the bubbling subsides and the mixture well combined, immediately pour it over the waiting popcorn and pecans. Using a long wooden or metal spoon - not plastic, stir and mix until the popcorn is completely covered. Be careful not to touch the caramel, it will be one nasty burn, I assure you.

Remember those buttered, rimmed cookie sheets? Immediately turn the caramel corn onto the two cookie sheets, dividing equally. Use your spoon to spread the mixture on the cookie sheets. Let the caramel corn cool completely. 

Once cooled, break into pieces and drizzle with half the melted chocolate. Let the chocolate set, turn the pieces over and drizzle with the remaining chocolate. Let set and dry completely before storing in an airtight container or large ziptop bags.

This is the "mushroom" popcorn I used from Amazon. "Mushroom" refers to the shape of the popcorn.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christmas Vacation, Edible Souveniers and Gypsy Kielbasa Unstuffed Cabbage

After a refreshing break, I'm back in gear once again and ready to go grab the New Year for all it's worth. (Ciao 2014, glad to see YOU in the rearview mirror!) 

This post might just as well be titled "What I Did On My Winter Vacation" and it's complete with lots of photos. Be grateful there isn't a slide show ala the 50's and 60's! (At least I would have served up some decent party foods and more than a few cocktails to make for an interesting evening.)

Where did I go? Baltimore. Yes, once again. It's so close and there is SO much going on all over! We visited old favorite spots and checked out new (to us, anyway) restaurants and we felt so comfortable in, we went back the next night! (Yes, I'm talking about YOU, Rye!)

Come on! Let's go on a guided tour. I just wish you could be feeling the warm sun and 60 degree weather we had IN DECEMBER(!) nearly the entire time we were there. Once we're done, there will be a new recipe for an easy, comfort food kinda dinner for the fam or company. Ready? Let's go!

No, it didn't take long to hit our favorite all know by now it's Bad Decisions. Let it be known that we DID check in to the Admiral Fell Inn first and even had a quick bite across the street before entering.

Really. There was food involved too...Ale Mary's is KNOWN for their tots! We enjoyed the Reuben tots....YUM!

Okay, I digress...back to Bad Decisions. AND Ostrowski's Home Made Sausage! John Reusing, owner of Bad Decisions, bought the sausage factory next door recently. Along with the famous Ostrowski family recipes, one massive smoker came along with the deal. What a find for the bar famous for Beer and Bacon nights! 

Kimber and I, and our dear friends Marti and Meredith, were favored with a private tour of the historic shop along with some excellent sampling. We left with containers of Sriracha sauerkaut, gypsy kielbassa (LOTS of black pepper!) and good spicy and smoky andouille.

Ostrowski's by night. (Photo credit: John Reusing)

On to the next stop!

Rye (see above, we stopped here BOTH nights in town!) is sexy as hell, if you're a cocktail afficianado. We are. Don't miss one of Doug and Dan's classic or original creations. Obviously, with a visit both Friday and Saturday nights, Kimber and I are fans. BIG fans! 

Tots seemed to be the noshing theme of the night. On the way back to the hotel, we made a stop at a new-to-us spot on South Broadway. 

Look at the size of the crab lumps in these Crabby Tots at Alexanders's Tavern! And for me, they have an extensive gluten-free menu. Apparently that's what happens when both the owner AND chef are celiac. 

Back to the hotel for a good rest....LOTS to do tomorrow!

Good morning, Fells Point! You're beautiful! (The view from our windows...not too shabby, eh?)

Starting the day at Slainte (where soccer is religion!)...and yes, a substantial breakfast followed. The housemade corned beef hash was particularly incredible! (Note to self...more effort must be made on photographing food, not just cocktails.) 

And now, our morning walk.

Dragon boats at the Inner Harbor. Notice the National Aquarium in the background?

Um...the Chesapeake. Duh.

From there, we stopped at shops galore and walked along the water the entire way back to Fells Point. Such a walkable area! Along the way, we noticed Brian Voltaggio's Family Meal nestled into the Power Plant by the other side of the aquarium. Temporary signs were in place and it looked as if it were ready to open at any time. After we got home, I saw that was their opening day. Missed opportunity! (The Frederick, MD Family Meal is a favorite spot of Kimber's and mine to stop on the way back to Pittsburgh.) 

Of course, our walk included a pause at The Horse You Came In On...complete with a wee sample of the Jack Daniels vanilla infusion. Happy moment WITH live music during the day!

Once back at the hotel, it was time for a nap before heading out once more. On the way to dinner at Lobo, there were a few dalliances at familiar watering stations along the way; Riptide By The Bay ("where the locals lounge"), the Waterfront Hotel (if you watched Homicide any time during its long run, this is the bar the cops bought). 

With the sun starting to lower in the sky, it was a cool, crisp walk to Canton on the far side of the harbor. And absolutely lovely.

And there was this "sailing" down Aliceanna Street heading for Canton. Captain James Landing is quite the landmark!

At last, we arrived at our destination for our evening's repast. Lobo is a new and thoroughly delightful restaurant on the scene in the Fells Point/Canton area of Baltimore. It came highly recommended by John Reusing, the owner of both Bad Decisions and Ostrowski's. He was SO right!

One gorgeous charcuterie board at Lobo! (BTW, Lobo = the Spanish word for Wolf...and the restaurant is on  the corner of Aliceanna and WOLF Streets!)

Crab fingers in the dead of winter and luscious shrimp cocktail. Oh, and a kickass cocktail to boot!

A slow walk back to the hotel, another stop at Bad Decisions (a GOOD decision), and nitey nite.

Good morning, Baltimore! (Cue song from Hairspray). No beautiful sunrise this morning. It was dreary. Who cares, we'd experienced warm 60 degree weather the entire trip and rain on the way home would be no big deal. And from here on we'd be driving to our destinations anyway. We had reservations for brunch at the esteemed Woodberry Kitchen in Hampden awaiting!

Nope, that's not Woodberry Kitchen. It IS the kitschy and delightful Cafe Hon in Hampden, home of Honfest. We were running early and stopped for a cuppa Joe.

Look who was waiting for us inside! Who knew Elvis was an ugly Christmas sweater fan?!

Finally at Woodberry Kitchen with a brunch cocktail. We HAD to, it was Doctor's Orders! (Name of the cocktail, really! It included carrot shrub, so you KNOW it was good for you.)

Well, look at that...I remembered to take a pic of our food. Cheese grits on the right, and on the main plate, housemade maple sausage and their own bacon. The toast was the most wonderful gluten-free bread I've ever had. Owner/chef Spike Gjerde's wife is celiac so they KNOW their GF!

Once full and happy, we headed for one last stop before hitting the road. We always peruse the aisles of the local spirits stores looking for the new and unusual.

What an extensive collection of wines, spirits, beers, bitters, charcuterie...everything you'd ever need for your very own party extrordinaire!

Well, look at that. Right in the heart of one of the hippest areas of Baltimore, we found a little bit of Pittsburgh. Hello, Wigle!

So cool finding a bit of the 'Burgh in the heart of Baltimore. And now, since I brought back a bit of Baltimore to the 'Burgh, the promised recipe using our treasured Sriracha sauerkraut and Gypsy sausage from Ostrowski's. Don't you just love delicious, edible souvenirs?!    

Gypsy Kielbasa Unstuffed Cabbage

  • 1/2 head of cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 of a large onion, diced
  • 1 LARGE potato, scrubbed, peel left on and sliced thinly

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 T minced onion
  • 1 T Crazy Salt
  • 3 T jalapeno ketchup (Heinz makes it and we can't live without it!)
  • 1 1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 lb Ostrowski's Sriracha sauerkraut, drained - RESERVE JUICE* - optional, regular sauerkraut or add Sriracha to a pound of fresh sauerkraut to taste (or wait for John to get online ordering up and running for Ostrowski's!)
  • 1 lb fresh, Ostrowski's unsmoked gypsy kielbassa, fried until browned on the outside and sliced into rounds - again, use regular unsmoked or wait for online ordering at Ostrowski's!
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First, mix together the filling ingredients: ground beef through Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.

In a lasagna or other casserole dish, layer the diced cabbage, diced onion and sliced potatoes. Dollop beef mixture on top. 

Dollops of filling while the dish is in progress.

Cover with sauerkraut, tomatoes & rounds of kielbassa. Cover dish securely with foil and bake for 2 1/2 hours. Uncover and bake another 20 minutes. Check to be sure the potatoes and cabbage are cooked thoroughly and give it another half hour if not soft and tender. Let sit 15 minutes before serving. 

Makes great leftovers!

*Why reserve the sauerkraut juice? For picklebacks, of course! What's a pickleback? A shot of Jameson IMMEDIATELY followed by a shot of picklejuice, or in this case, sriracha sauerkraut juice. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Have A Figgy Old Fashioned Christmas!

'Tis the season for all things figgy. Figgy puddings, trifles, cookies and such just seem to fill the Christmas bill.

It's also the time for cocktails redolent with the spices and deep, rich flavors we associate with the season. In the spice vein, that might include cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and allspice, while in the classic holiday fruits category, raisins, figs, dates, oranges, cranberries and the like would qualify. Which brings me to this year's Dinner Plan-it holiday cocktail, the Figgy Old Fashioned.

Made with a Black Mission fig, warm spice simple syrup, bourbon (or rum perhaps for yet another, sweeter twist) and kissed with a touch of orange bitters, it's a cocktail that will have you remembering Christmases of old by a crackling fire with those you love. Cheers, friends...lots of Christmas cheer to all of you!

Figgy Old Fashioned

  • 1/2 oz fig simple syrup* 
  • 2 dashes Regan's orange bitters
  • 2 oz good bourbon - I used Bulleit or a good spiced rum like Pittsburgh's own Maggie's Farm for a sweeter cocktail
  • 2 Amarena Fabri or Luxardo cherries - reserve one for garnish
  • 2 strips fresh orange peel - reserve one for garnish
  • 1 or 2 whole cloves for garnish

In a cocktail mixing glass, muddle one cherry and the simple syrup together. Add spiced rum and stir well. Strain into Old Fashioned glass (what else would you use?!) over a large ice cube and stir well, add the bitters, twist the peel over the surface of the drink and lightly swipe the orange side of the peel around the rim of the glass. Garnish with another cherry and a clove studded orange peel.


* Fig Simple Syrup: 1 C sugar, 1 C water, 1/2 C dried Black Mission figs - cut in halves or quarters, 3 green cardamom pods - cracked lightly, 1 cinnamon stock - 4" long, 4 whole cloves. 

In a small pot, bring sugar and water to a boil and all the rest of the ingredients. Immediately reduce heat to bring the contents down to a simmer and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Let cool in pot, then strain the liquid into a small bottle. You're all ready to make cocktails now!

NOTE: Try using big, plump Medjool dates (be sure to remove the big pits in the center before adding to the pot) instead of figs if you wish...equally fabulous!