Baltimore Orange Crush

Baltimore Orange Crush at the Os game

This weekend I’m headed to Baltimore for an Oriole’s game and I’m quite sure I’ll have a Baltimore Orange Crush or two. My dear friend Kate lives in Baltimore, so I get down there time to time to enjoy the city and visit her. Last summer, she introduced me to the delicious Baltimore Orange Crush (or grapefruit crush if you like) and I’m headed back for more. The Baltimore Orange Crush is straightforward, easy to make, delicious and so refreshing on a hot summer night. Of course, because the concept is so simple, there are lots of variations on the Baltimore Orange Crush. It’s no secret that different bars make it different ways, but here’s a great place to start, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun and a famous Baltimore bar. But you should feel free to change it up and make it just how you like it. Sub regular vodka for the orange, use sprite and no triple sec, use triple sec and no sprite. Just don’t forget the fresh squeezed OJ and you’ll make the Baltimore Orange Crush your own. … Continue reading

Cedar Plank Salmon with Cherry Glaze

Cedar Plank Salmon with Cherry Glaze ready for grill

Cedar Plank Salmon with Cherry Glaze is quite straight forward, in terms of recipe; there’s just not much to it. Most of the drama and the flavor comes from the cedar planks themselves. That said, there is lots of drama and flavor, both of which make Cedar Plank Salmon with Cherry Glaze a perfect dish for parties all summer long. Be it the 4th of July, Midsommar’s or just a Saturday night with a few friends over you’re going to have fun preparing it to your guests amazement and only you will know how simple it is. You will have to plan ahead a bit to make sure you have appropriate cedar planks around as you probably can’t just grab them at your local grocery store, but other than that, my Cedar Plank Salmon with Cherry Glaze preparation is straight forward and really delicious. I first made Cedar Plank Salmon with Cherry Glaze for a Midsommar’s party as both salmon and cedar are very Scandinavian. The cherry glaze came about because I was in Door County for the solstice and since we were sipping on Door County Cherry Spritzers anyway… well, you see where I’m headed. But the flavor was so great … Continue reading

Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme New Fashioned

Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme New Fashioned on ice

I love Ranier cherries but I’ve had to wait a long “thyme” to finally enjoy this Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” cocktail. The idea for my Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” came to me sometime last fall. Oh the torture of having to wait for Rainier cherry season to get to finally make one. I have to say, this Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” was absolutely worth the wait. Considering it’s made with Scotch, it’s still a very light and refreshing cocktail. It’s woodsy and herbaceous without being overwhelming. It’s quite perfect for the early summer late spring season during which it’s easiest to find Rainier cherries. Hint, this is no coincidence. The scotch you select will have a big impact on the flavor of the drink. I recommend that first and foremost, pick one you like. It seems obvious, but sometimes when reading a recipe it’s easy to forget the most important part of cooking and eating: your taste buds rule! I chose a medium/light peatiness so as not to overwhelm the cherries. Thyme is strong though, and it holds its own with the peat in my Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” cocktail. … Continue reading

Swedish Almond Loaf Cake

Swedish Almond Loaf Cake

This very simple Swedish Almond Loaf Cake is one of my special pan exception recipes. I don’t really have another use for the wacky little pan (other than making half batch Bundt recipes I suppose). But I’m fine with it because it’s so good, so fast, and so beloved. In fact, this recipe (which is so old and reprinted on any Swedish pan you buy that I don’t know how to attribute it to a source) really makes two special pan exceptions, because the cake tray is pretty specific, too. But what’s the point of having rules if you don’t have good reason to break them? Swedish Almond Loaf Cake is lovely for brunch/coffee cake needs as well as for dessert. It’s great with a coffee or tea warm from the oven and without garnish, and it’s perfect with berries, crème fraîche, or ice cream. It’s also the cake I use as the base for my Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle, and it was absolutely perfect. So what I’m trying to say, is that this cake may cause you to break a “no special pan” rule of your own. Or, you’ll just double it and make it in a Bundt … Continue reading

Homemade Marshmallows for Smores

Homemade Marshmallows for Smores

I definitely didn’t recreate the wheel when it came time to learn how to make Homemade Marshmallows for Smores, rather I looked to David Lebovitz, for a recipe, and it turned out that he went with a know entity as well, so my citation should also note that The Great Book of Chocolate was his original source. That said, I’m glad I started with David Lebovitz’ recipe, because it came out perfectly on the very first try. I was thrilled with both the vanilla and almond Homemade Marshmallows for Smores that I made, but going forward, I liked the almond so much that I’ll always make them with the hint of almond extract. One fun part of making Homemade Marshmallows for Smores is that you can control the texture of the marshmallows a little bit. Mine were soft and pillowy and light as clouds, but if you like them more firm, then a slightly hotter syrup will yield those results. Aside from the awesome marshmallows, of course, my friend Susan is way too smart to only buy standard hershey’s chocolate bars and instead bought the mini hershey’s candy assortment bag, so we had twix, snickers, peanut butter cups, milky ways, and of course plain hershey’s. … Continue reading

Door County Cherry Spritzer

Door County Cherry Spritzer

If you happen to live somewhere where Door County Cherry Juice is available, you probably already make a version of this Door County Cherry Spritzer. It’s a no brainer to make for summer parties since it’s delicious and an easy sipper that you can adjust to suit your individual sweetness, booziness, and sparkliness preferences. It also makes a great Door County Cherry Spritzer cocktail for teetotalers and kids alike. I keep this one on the tame side and let guests amp it up if they like because it goes down easy and I try to help friends stay out of trouble, but you don’t have to be so kind. I also have a few modifications for you if you can’t find sweetened Cherry juice, etc. Everyone agreed that my Door County Cherry Spritzer was a great way to get our Midsommar’s Eve Party started, even the staunch beer drinkers. And that’s saying something when there’s plenty of New Glarus Spotted Cow around to tempt people. It goes well with salty hors d’oeuvres in particular because of the sweet and tart elements, so don’t be afraid to pair this Door County Cherry Spritzer with all sorts of cheese, pretzels, and even things like smoked fish dips.  … Continue reading

Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus on the grill

Even a little drizzle couldn’t keep us from celebrating Midsommar’s in style with fresh from the Wisconsin garden Grilled Asparagus. So tender, so tasty, so easy, and so perfect with the Cedar Plank Salmon, and Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche). My friends Dave and Katie were on grill duty with me and we put on extra hoodies and grabbed a few extra Spotted Cow beers and were good to grill. I like to keep things really simple when grilling vegetables. I simply rub them in a little olive oil and course sea salt- there’s something about the course stuff that really ramps up the flavor on the grill- and just give them a few minutes. I still like them quite crisp with a hint of char from the grill. They’re so good and full of the local, slow-spring, slow-grow flavor that’s so special in Northern climates. Then we piled the Grilled Asparagus on a beautiful blue and gold plate worthy of the tender stalks and served them at room temperature when our entire Midsommar’s Feast was ready for consumption. Needless to say, there weren’t any leftover Grilled Asparagus for breakfast, but if you have some, then count on a delicious omelet.  … Continue reading

Daisy Crowns for Midsommars

Daisy Crowns for Midsommars Eve

Growing up in a Scandinavian community, especially a Northern one that can relate to the Scandinavian obsession with light and sun, you learn about the importance of Midsommar’s Eve. With the special night comes essential Daisy Crowns for Midsommar’s. While of course you can make your crowns with any flowers, my dad cut us a giant bucket full of daisies, which I thought were perfect for the occasion. Their sunny centers decorated our drizzly night and the sturdy but pliable stalks made for easy braiding for first time wreathe makers. I have always carried with me that the wreathes are important to wear throughout the party, late into the night, until it’s time to dance and sing around the fire. We always burned the wreathes just before we put the fire out and headed to bed to keep the witches away. As I researched this tradition before I wrote this post, I discovered that perhaps this particular purpose (fear of witches) was specific to my family and friends. I definitely found lots of evidence that they are traditionally burned late at night, but nothing about the witches. Perhaps a reader will have further insight into the origin of burning the wreathes? Whatever the purpose, the … Continue reading

Vasterbottenpaj Swedish Quiche

Vasterbottenpaj Swedish Quiche sliced

It feels a little ominous to post my Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche) the day before the US v. Sweden Women’s World Cup game. While I love celebrating my Swedish heritage, I have to admit that when it comes to sports, I’m USA all the way. That said, it’s time to start gearing up for my Midsommar Menu, and first up is this Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche). I based my Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche) on a couple of Swedish recipes (One and Two), so I left in the metric amounts so you can see the conversions, because I think it’s fun. That said, I also provided the standard amounts as well. You’ll notice they’re not quite your typical amounts. The good news is, this Vasterbottenpaj (Swedish Quiche) isn’t the type of recipe that requires extreme precision. Also, don’t let the foreign cheese intimidate you. It’s very hard to find these days, so check out the note at the bottom on how to get a good substitute for the flavor and texture. I think one of the best lessons to be learned from these recipes is the addition of crème fraîche into the filling. It provides a richness and tang that I absolutely love and … Continue reading

Lemongrass Ginger Iced Tea

Lemongrass Ginger Iced Tea with lemons

  My friend Luke makes this really delicious Lemongrass Ginger Iced Tea that I have been meaning to share with you for some time. My English Polo Picnic Menu finally seemed like just the occasion for the Lemongrass Ginger Iced Tea since it goes perfectly with the rest of the menu. The lemongrass and ginger make for a spicy, citrus-y edge to an iced tea that ends up very refreshing and full of flavor. While any black tea will work, I selected Lady Grey, which has a subtle citrus note to it, which I thought enhanced the lemongrass flavors perfectly. This Lemongrass Ginger Iced Tea is so special, that it’s worthy of pulling out the sterling silver iced tea spoons and setting a fancy tea tray. But it tastes just as delicious straight out of a mason jar that you can pack up and take with you on picnics and down the shore all Summer long. I love special recipes from friends and family, because at least for me, they trigger all the lovely memories of great meals and good times whenever you create them. I think of Luke and our many fun cooking projects every time I make this … Continue reading

Veuve Clicquot Polo Pictures

Veuve Clicquot Polo Pictures

I’ve been wanting to go to the Veuve Clicquot Polo Match for an entire year. Some good friends live in Jersey City, right on the Hudson near Liberty Park and last year they went running the day of the polo match and had to turn back since the entire park was closed off for the day. When Adam told me about it, of course, I knew I had to go. A polo match, with lots and lots of champagne? That’s my kind of event to be sure. So we went and we conquered. The day was absolutely gorgeous and it was a good thing we had hats because the sun was blazing. We picnicked and sipped sparkling rosé and then we finagled an awesome place to stand at one of the goals. It was very exciting to be so close to the ponies as the riders came crashing in towards us to score. Black Watch beat Veuve Clicquot soundly, be we were the real victors since we enjoyed a gorgeous day outdoors drinking lovely champagne. Here’s our motley crew. See Marc stomping the divots? He did a great job representing our group in this important polo tradition. Adam was in … Continue reading

Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle

Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle for picnic

In keeping with our Colonial English, Polo Picnic theme, we arrive at this Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle for dessert. The saffron, cardamom, almond and apricot flavors all nod to the Persian and Indian origins of polo. The flavors blend and meld and enhance each other. Each flavor is subtle but distinctive with lots of earthy, savory, floral and sweet notes to delight your pallet. Even though there’s a plenty of Eastern flavors present throughout the dessert, a classic English trifle? Well, it doesn’t get much more English than that. I know what you’re thinking, “A trifle, at a picnic?” I’ll admit that hauling the glass trifle bowl out on a picnic is a bit of a chore, but it’s go gorgeous, I deemed it “worth it,” and you might too. That said, I had a small band of merry helpers; if you aren’t up for all that, a large clear plastic bowl with a lid works rather well in a pinch. Just keep the Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle on the drink ice until you’re almost ready to serve. The delicate spongey cake, creamy custard, and brandy laced fruit make this Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle the perfect cool down … Continue reading