May 21st, 2013 § § permalink
When I was a wee little toddler I remember drinking this refreshing, cool-green smoothie in the heat of Saigon. Last year, when I was at the Civic Center’s Farmer’s Market here in SF, I saw pennyworth for the first time outside of my native country but I’ve just now come around to creating my own pennyworth smoothie at home. It smells and tastes like grass and is the most refreshing and healthy drink I could possibly imagine. Think of it as super wheat grass.
Have you heard of Centella asiatica? Otherwise known as Asiatic Pennyworth, the plant is a kind of magical herb with plenty of accompanying lore. It grows in the tropical swamps of Asian countries where its revered for its medicinal properties. Some people believe it contains a mysterious youth vitamin “X”. It’s known to be antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory… it’s also used to treat open sores, anxiety, and a number of other ailments.
The plant loves water so I toss mine in a bowl of water as soon as I get home. To make a smoothie, I remove the leaves from the stems and blend it with crushed ice in a strong blender. The Vietnamese herb farmer I spoke to suggested 1 cup of leaves to 1/2 c. of finely crushed ice. Serve it sweetened with honey or simple syrup. If you don’t like iced drinks, you can blend the leaves with cold water and serve the drink over ice cubes. I prefer the thicker version.
Optional: For a smoother version, start with half of the water and pass the blend through a fine mesh strainer. Use the large discards to blend with half of the remaining water. Repeat. This will give you less leafy bits in your smoothie. Serve over ice.
Pennyworth is also used in traditional Indian cuisines – sometimes deep fried as pakoras. I think I need to make some don’t you?
April 12th, 2013 § § permalink
The cocktail scene in San Francisco makes me so fatigued – perhaps it is my ADD that keeps me from wanting to wait in long lines for a decent drink. That or I’m in the last year of my twenties and I love having a drink in quiet conversations with friends and not strangers. No offense to strangers present and future.
So that’s how I started with endless infusions. I now have vodka with pears, vodka with lemon and thyme… maybe a gin with rosemary or lemongrass in the making this evening.
I found this gem on Saveur – but it is hardly a recipe. It’s just a bottle of gin infused with 1.5lbs of sliced Kumquats and a bit of salt.
One of my favorite part about this cocktail is the lack of sweeteners. If you have ripe kumquats, they are naturally sweet. No sugar or honey or any of those things that I associate with poor mixing and bad hangovers. Once you’ve gotten your gin infused for at least a day, it’s just 2 pt gin and 1 pt Lillet Rose and that’s it! Simplest cocktail ever – except for my lemon thyme vodka martini…
Get the recipe @Saveur
November 23rd, 2012 § § permalink
Are you feeling overstuffed yet? Do your stomach a favor and try a digestif. I’ve already mentioned my favorite – the ginger-Fernet Elixer. This drink is a more Christmas colored digestif with a very different flavor palate and a syrupy sweetness. This is a simply fabulous drink to serve just for its bright red colors. It’s very close to a Manhattan but has lovely rosemary and cinnamon flavors. When you bring the drink to your nose, be sure to take a moment to smell the nice cinnamon aroma.
I would suggest using frozen cranberries and pomegranate seeds for garnish. In my taste-testing, most people thought it was too syrupy, so I’ve decreased the sugar to my liking – you should do the same. It also tastes great with a splash of bitters.
I took the photo above by shooting through my fingers. I’ve been wanting to try it and the light colors bending around my fingers give it all a rosy effect. Exactly how I felt after imbibing in all of my cocktails.
Get the recipe here. Be sure to try it with less sugar in the syrup. I used about 2/3 of the recommended sugar.
November 22nd, 2012 § § permalink
Thanksgiving is the one time of year when it’s acceptable to overeat, because most hosts/hostesses consider it rude to not eat at least two plates of food. I’m full from testing recipes for a week, so I was really excited to get to try out some digestives I found online. This is my first of two.
There was a time when I was unconvinced that digestives were capable of working magic on distended bellies, but they really do. I tested this out by eating two full meals and drinking one ginger-Fernet midnight reviver. It worked wonders. There’s a nice warming sensation from the ginger’s heat and if you are like most San Franciscans, you love Fernet.
This is no child’s drinks – there’s an adequate amount of gin and the first sip is like stepping into a really cold shower or taking a full swallow of alka seltzer. As the ice melts and the ginger settles your indigestion, the drink mellows out and you’ll want a second it’s so remedial.
Get the recipe* here.
*You can tweak this to have less ginger if you juice it yourself… mine was very strong and adjusting the recipe for more sugar and gin, and lime made it more cocktail-like.