Libation Celebration: Ambrosia…

For the final installment of Libation Celebration, we turn our focus to New Years Eve.  Once again, I turned to our resident mixologist Ronaldo of the Ivy Room for guidance.  I asked Ronaldo for a drink that was a bit lux.  I don’t know why but New Year parties just feel like they should be fancy – suits, long dresses, plated appetizers….you know the stuff of “adults”.  However, me being me, I wanted lux but not stuffy – like wearing Armani but with sneakers…mind you they are fancy sneakers but sneakers nonetheless.  With that in mind, Ronaldo thought it would be fun to play homage to the American dessert that we all knew as children, ambrosia.  In my household it was an odd concoction of whipped cream, jello and frozen fruit cocktail.  Lets just say that it was made every year and every year it always found itself at the bottom of the trash can come the end of the night.

If ambrosia was what the mythical gods of yore ate, then this would have probably been the perfect elixir to wash down their heavenly snack…..

Ambrosia Drink

Believe me when I say  that no one will be declining this Ambrosia at your party!  Forget the jello — this Ambrosia is a heady mix of bourbon, strawberries and vanilla liquor.  The addition of the whipped cream and the unexpected crunch of the sesame seeds elevate this drink to the perfect mixture of fancy and fun…..exactly what you want for a New Years Party!

Ambrosia Drink Recipe

To see the entire Libation Celebration series, visit here, here & here.

[photo credit: photo by adza//food styling: courtney lake//recipe: ronaldo colli ]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

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Libation Celebration: The Roxy …

I am adventurous in many aspects of my life (or so I like to think).  For example, I have no problem buying produce at the grocery simply because it looked “interesting” and then figuring out how to cook it later.  However, when it comes to cocktails, buying liquors, spirits and mixers that I am not familiar with scares the bejeezus out of me.  Left to my own devices, every party would have dirty martinis or greyhounds made from vodka. Fortunately, I have some great friends and colleagues who know their way around a bar and are determined to get me out of my “vodka rut”….

TheRoxy_CourtneyOutLoudDrinks

So we are back with another installment of Libation Celebration with master mixologist Ronaldo Colli, owner of the acclaimed bar Ivy Room, who is determined to open up my mind (and taste buds).  I am always a willing guinea pig but when Ronaldo suggested we use a liquor that was previously banned in this week’s drink, I was a little hesitant.  The central ingredient in this drink is bacanora, an agave-derived liquor made in the Mexican state of Sonora.  And did I mention it was illegal until 1992 for reasons that are not 100% clear, but I would venture to say it was because this stuff is “lethal” in the best way possible.  Bacanora is in the mescal family of spirits and counts tequila and mezcal as it’s cousins.  But that is pretty much where the familial bonds end.  Bacanora is deceptively smooth with a slightly smoky note thanks to the distillation process.  Mixed with the cloves and pomegranate the cocktail, it is perfectly balanced and totally unexpected….something you would expect from a drink named The Roxy…..

Roxy_DrinkRecipe

Be sure to check out the other installments of Libation Celebration here and here….

[photo credit: photo by adza//food styling: courtney lake//recipe: ronaldo colli ]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Libation Celebration: The Glitzy …

If you are basically anywhere but Florida at the moment you are probably bundled up and staying indoors thanks to what seems to be a coast-to-coast cold front.  This blast of wintery frost had everyone in the office thinking of warmer weather so when it came time for this week’s cocktail selection, everyone in the office instantly gravitated towards The Glitzy….

Glitzy Cocktail for CourtneyOutLoud

It’s not surprising why we all loved The Glitzy.  For starters, the drink was created by the acclaimed mixologist, Ronaldo Colli, owner of the awesome bar, Ivy Room, in Albany, CA.  Originally from the Yucatan province of Mexico, Colli cocktail recipes can be found at many of the premier bar and restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have been featured in SOMA Magazine; A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites, by Joanne Weir; Don Julio’s Luxury Drop Tequila Cocktail book; and Dimmi Italian liquor Book. He has also been a judge at Tales of the Cocktail, a national competition in New Orleans. Ronaldo regularly participates in mixology competitions both locally and nationally, and is the winner of Cointreau’s “Master of Margarita.”  So in other words, Ronaldo has major street cred and knows how to make a mean cocktail.

With The Glitzy, Ronaldo pared the tart and tangy with warmth to create a drink that instantly had us scheming on how to spend our Christmas on the Mexican Riviera.

The Glitzy by Ronaldo Colli

The Glitzy is the perfect drink for a casual weekend gathering of friends for the holidays when you want to up the ante.  Quick and easy to make, it will definitely be finding its rightful place in our bar rotation.  Be sure to check out our other drinks in the Libation Celebration series …..

[photo credit: photo by adza//food styling: courtney lake//recipe: ronaldo colli ]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Libation Celebration: The Pink Crane …

I love a signature cocktail at parties.  It’s a great way to minimize expense and remove one more thing from the shoulders of the host.  So I asked an experienced and a budding mixologist to create a set of drinks that they think could put anyone into the holiday spirit.  Up first is my friend Hector and his “Pink Crane” …..

Pink Crane Cocktail 2

Hector works in the wine industry and has become quite the budding mixologist in his off time.  Given the instructions to create a drink that was light, refreshing and easy on the wallet, Hector spent a weekend working (aka drinking…) to come up with this delicious holiday libation.  The unexpected note of vanilla/almond is what makes this cocktail so unique – it’s the perfect up note to take the drink to a new level.  It’s also the reason why called it the Pink Crane….light, refreshing and definitely a drink that will bring your guests good luck in the coming new year!

Pink Crane Cocktail

[photo credit: photo by adza//food styling: courtney lake//recipe: hector maldonado ]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Recipe: Best Roast Chicken ….

Did I ever tell you about that one time in college that I forgot to dethaw the turkey for Thanksgiving?  Well I didn’t forget per say but I didn’t take into account that it would take more than 6 hours to dethaw an 18 pound bird.  Needless to say, we had a hearty meal of sides and hot dogs that year.

Whether it because of poor planning (me), a need to serve a small number of guests or you simply don’t like turkey (I know a few peeps like that), then may I suggest an alternative…. roast chicken.  That Sunday dinner standard has the potential to really shine at your Thanksgiving table.  Think about it — it’s flavors can be dialed up or down depending on your guests tastes.  It pairs beautifully with all the traditional Thanksgiving sides.  And it is WAY less work than a turkey.  Added bonus that you aren’t stuck trying to figure out how to fit a turkey carcass into your fridge at the end of dinner.

This recipe is super simple but results in some of the best roast chicken I have EVER had.  So may I introduce to you to the ……

Best Roast Chicken ……

Best Roast Chicken

…that you will ever have on Thanksgiving!

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 stalks of rosemary
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • Olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Check inside the chicken and remove giblets and neck. Thoroughly rinse the chicken inside and out. Check the body for any leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the rosemary lemon, garlic and onion. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken from oven and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes.

Notes:

– I like to use a cookie sheet with a baking rack to roast my chicken. Using a roasting pan I find that the skin doesn’t get as crisp. With this method, the chicken roasts on all sides and doesn’t steam.

– Feel free to mix it up with your spices. Sprinkle smoked paprika over the onions to give the chicken a wonderful smokey flavor. Or substitute an orange in lieu of the lemon. The options are endless!

[photo credit: photo by adza//recipe & food styling: courtney lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Recipe: Quick Cranberry Sauce

There are three things I can’t stand:  racism, homophobia and canned cranberry sauce.  Something about the fact that it takes the shape of the can weirds me out.  Bleh!  As a kid, I would pile my plate full with everything else at Thanksgiving in the hopes of avoiding the dreaded sauce, yet my Grandma always found a way to wedge a quivering sliver of it on my plate.  I would build a green bean moat around it and go about my way enjoying the rest of my meal knowing that it would be meeting a quick deal under my napkin and eventually the trash can.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was introduced to the whole concept of fresh cranberry sauce.  It totally blew my mind – BOOM!  Tangy, sweet and fresh tasting this quick cranberry sauce is the perfect palette awakener during a meal that can be bogged down in heavy foods.  Even better is that after the meal it done, try the sauce on a turkey sandwich in lieu of sandwich spread.  Totally delish and since it’s made from fresh fruit, I like to think it counteracts the two slices of pie I will most likely have on Thanksgiving……

Quick Cranberry SauceQuick Cranberry Sauce – makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Zest from half an orange

Directions

Wash and pick over cranberries. In a saucepan bring to a boil water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.

Stir in orange zest and remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and refrigerate.*

* Don’t worry if the sauce looks runny. It will thicken as it cools.

For more quick and easy dishes, check out my Recipe section…..

[photo credit:  photo by adza//recipe & food styling: courtney lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Recipe: Green Bean Saute ….

We are going to take a bit of a break from Motivational Mondays as we enter the holiday season.  I figured why serve you up some inspirational sayings about the holidays and keeping calm when I can show you how to do it!

I stress out about many things; work, relationships, global warming, will Olivia on Scandal ever find true love….you know, those important things in life.  However, one thing I don’t stress out about is holiday meals.  Maybe it’s because I spent years planning corporate events or my brief stint in culinary school but I created some “rules” to insure I don’t end up in some corner clutching a turkey crying.  I mentioned last week that I was lucky enough to share those rules with the ladies at Joyus.com in a video segment on how to host the perfect party.

One of the questions during the show was about how to handle ensuring that food comes out at the same time and is still warm.  Unless you have a commercial size kitchen, it can be difficult to time it perfectly to ensure that all your food comes out precisely 5 minutes before dinner begins.  I recommend you invest in a good quality chaffing dish and think about what items can be served at room temperature.  I love making side dishes that can be served hot or at “cold” for a meal.

I recently perfected my recipe for green beans with mushrooms and roasted red peppers and couldn’t be happier with it.  Fancy enough to serve during the holidays yet super quick to put together.  However, the best part is that it tastes even better at room temperature or out of a fridge for a late night ‘nosh fest……

Green Bean Saute #2

Ingredients

  • 1 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Portobello mushroom caps, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 of a cup jarred roasted red pepper slices*

Directions

Blanche green beans in salted boiling water for approximately 4 minutes. Drain green beans and place in sauté pan on moderate heat. Add oil and butter to the pan. Add garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Saute mushrooms 3 to 5 minutes and add green beans back to the pan.

Add sherry and simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer green beans to serving bowl and add roasted red pepper slices. Lightly toss and finish with salt and pepper.

*Feel free to substitute home-made roasted red peppers but be sure to add 1 additional tablespoon of olive oil.

[photo credit: photo by adza //recipe & styling: courtney lake]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.