Summer Salads

I am very very picky about salads and have been experimenting lately with finding ones I like. Maybe they aren’t the healthiest on earth, but they’re not a caesar salad or involve ranch dressing (shout out to my suburban childhood) and are fresh and simple, so that’s what matters most to me. Here are two we’ve been really loving lately. If you notice a peach theme lately it’s because it’s my favorite fruit on earth and SUMMER I LOVE YOU and your peaches.

Goat Cheese Peach Salad
Greens – I prefer mache, but it’s hard to find, so a spring mix or arugula work fine instead
Soft goat cheese – plain or herbed
2-3 peaches, sliced – any kind will do. I’ve also made this salad with plums and apples instead and it was great
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix the goat cheese with lemon juice. The amount isn’t exact – you want to make a dressing that is somewhat thick and tastes good to you – everyone has a different love of the tartness of lemons. Once you get it to a consistency and taste you like, pour/scoop a little onto your greens and toss to coat – adding more as needed. Add your peaches and gently mix.

Boom, done. SO GOOD.

Peach, Cucumber and Thyme Salad
adapted from a recipe found in the July issue of Real Simple
2 peaches, sliced
2 small cucumbers, peeled and sliced (I used about 4 Persian cucumbers)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
a splash of olive oil
A few dashes of salt and pepper

Put your peaches, cucumbers and shallot in a medium bowl, then your other ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Add the liquid to the medium bowl to taste and toss. I made it while cooking dinner (so good with grilled salmon!) and put it in the fridge, which cooled everything nicely.

Ok, let’s hear your favorites lately!

Summer Drinks

Just in the nick of time for my American friends celebrating Independence Day tomorrow, some boozy delights for entertaining.

This first one is a syrup that you can decide the quantities of depending on how much you need.

Blackberry Peach Sage Syrup

Start with simple syrup – 50% sugar, 50% water – boil water, add the sugar and once it dissolve throw in a handful of fresh sage leaves, blackberries, and peeled/pitted/chopped peaches, simmered it until the syrup is nice and fragrant of sage. Roughly 30 minutes. Then remove the sage leaves, put the whole thing in a blender and puree it. Strain through a fine mesh sieve (to remove the blackberry seeds) into a jar. Now you’re left with a delicious thick syrup that you can add to drinks – here are some ideas:

  • Put 2 oz of syrup and 2 oz gin or Art in the Age Sage* in a glass, top with seltzer and stir. (pictured below) You can also make a pitcher of this to serve easily.
  • Add a splash to champagne or prosecco for a fancy Bellini
  • 1/2 oz of syrup + 1/2 oz of lemon juice + 2 oz of bourbon, shake with ice and strain over one big ice cube
  • 1 cup of ice + 2 oz of syrup + 2oz booze (vodka, gin, bourbon would all be great) in a blender for an alcoholic slushy
  • Add a splash to seltzer, lemonade, or iced tea (or half lemonade half iced tea!) for non-alcoholic drinks

The Perfect Margarita
I learned this at Camp from the good dudes at Proprietors. (I still need to tell you about camp, I know.) It may be a no-brainer for some but I’d never made one this way before – I always buy triple sec and have a giant bottle that never seems to end and lends to a too-sweet drink sometimes.

1/2 oz agave syrup
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz silver tequila (my very favorite is Milagro)

Place ingredients in a shaker, then fill with ice. Shake and strain into a glass with a large ice cube.

Bottoms up! Side note: I highly recommend getting an ice cube tray for large ice cubes as it dilutes your drink slower and makes for a really easy nice presentation. I love the look of the big round ones, but they’re a pain in the butt to make and get out of the trays, so I like the big square or rectangle ones better, like these.

*I had the pleasure of trying this recently and highly recommend it, especially for gin lovers as it is reminiscent of a more herbal-y gin-like spirit. Art In The Age wins again!

Recipe: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Cookies

A few weeks ago my pal Katie told me about how she was attempting to make a friend an ice cream cake with his favorite ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. I thought that sounded ambitious and delicious, I am a faithful Ben & Jerry’s addict ever since Will made me share a pint with him our first week of dating, destroying my veganism with 16 ounces of dairy heaven. But Katie decided the whole cake thing was not her jam, so being the cookie master she is (I’ve eaten many of her delicious creations) she figured out a way to turn it into a cookie recipe.

I didn’t try one of hers, but after she posted the recipe on her blog, I decided to be the hero at a friend’s birthday in Joshua Tree over the weekend. I don’t really know these friends well, and winning people over with baked goods is my go-to move. Once people were well liquored up, sunstroked and full of desert magic happiness (real thing that happens) – I busted the cookies out of the fridge to the cheers and tears of my fellow party goers (ok maybe not that dramatic but people were pretty excited). They were a hit, but I only got to eat one of them, so naturally I had to make them again this week for a care package I’m sending to a friend. And save half for us, duh. Guys, these cookies are a flippin’ revelation. I would dare to say they rival the most popular blog post I’ve ever posted recipe, and they are so much easier. BUT! They are not for the faint of heart – they are very sweet, and if you don’t like toffee, keep on movin’ (literally, we can’t be friends,this is awkward.)

Let’s do this thing. But before you start I must give you a few tips: cook them nice and big (I put 9 on a pan), and store them in the fridge because they are 100x more delicious out of the fridge.

Espresso Toffee Crunch Cookies by Katie Wilson
(adapted from Ambitious Kitchen’s brown butter cookies, which are life changing)
you’ll need…
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 T instant espresso powder (you can add slightly more at the end for a heavier coffee flavor)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (this is adjusted, as I always have salted butter on hand. If you use unsalted, up to 1/2 tsp)
2 sticks butter, browned and cooled (see instructions below)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg plus 1 yolk
1 T greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup toffee pieces (you want these)
First, brown your butter: heat slowly in a pan over medium heat. Whisk as you go and watch carefully. After a few minutes, the butter will foam and then recede, turning a carmel brown color. It will smell sort of nutty. Don’t let it burn, but be sure it’s actually browned (not just melted) – when you pour it out of the pan and into a bowl to cool, it should be a rich, burnt sienna color. Let the butter fully cool before you start – 20 minutes on the counter should do it.
Meanwhile, mix together all your dry ingredients (flour, espresso powder, baking soda and salt). In a separate bowl, combine your brown butter and sugars thoroughly. Add the egg, yolk, yogurt, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Gradually mix in your dry ingredients about 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the toffee bits and chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Taste liberally. Add more espresso powder if you’re into that sort of thing, but be sure to mix well.
Stick the whole shebang in the fridge for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 375. Roll loosely rounded balls of dough (make sure you get all those chocolate chips in there – sometimes I’ll dot the tops with a few extra) and drop 2-3 inches apart on your pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should look slightly undercooked in the middle, but they will set up within a few minutes of removing from the oven.