Month: November 2017

Darling Don’t Refrain

In blogging, as in life, timing is everything.  And, as in life, mine usually sucks.  For instance, I’ll find a recipe for an April Flowers cake.  And I’ll look at the calendar and dammit, it’ll be the first of May!  But every once in a while the planets align.  As it is with this week’s post for a delicious cocktail called Darling Don’t Refrain. 

Now some of you will have immediately recognised why the timing of this is important.  Others will be pausing and thinking “Darling don’t refrain…doesn’t that…isn’t that…it’s from a song right?..Oh…that song….” And some of you, dare I say the younger readers, are staring blankly at the screen thinking “Shut your rambling and get on with  it”.

So to put the pausers and the starers out of their misery, “So, if you want to love me, then Darling don’t refrain” is a line from a Guns and Roses song called….. November Rain.  And hey, hey…it’s November.  And I’m posting the Darling Don’t Refrain!

Timing is everything….

Darling Don't Refrain3

I found the Darling Don’t Refrain…and for those of you that know the song…you know you can’t just say those words, you have to sing them…in a book of St Germain Cocktails called How to Drink French Fluently by Drew Lazor and Camille Ralph Vidal.

This is a great book, full of session style cocktails –  so mostly low alcohol so you can drink them over a period of time without getting too sozzled!   They had me at drinking French.  Never mind the St Germain, the ability to knock back a couple of these over brunch, the cocktail hour or dinner, and that the recipes featured in the book are from some of America’s best bartenders!

I love St Germain so this book was a super find for me.  It offers a great range of St Germain cocktails from the Classic cocktail which is St Germain, dry sparkling wine and soda water to innovative drinks like the intriguing sounding Smoked Tomato containing Santa Rosa plums, anise hyssop leaves and smoked tomato infused St Germain!

It is broken into 5 parts – Brunch, Daytime, Aperitif, Dinner and Nightcap so there is an appropriate cocktail for any time of the day you are contemplating drinking!

Darling Don't Refrain1
The photography in How To Drink French Fluently is gorgeous and the writing is as delicious as the cocktails:

Eiffel Tower (1)

The Darling Don’t Refrain comes from the Dinner section of How to Drink French Fluently – the idea is that as the meal unfolds, the St Germain ice cubes melt, developing the flavours of the drink.  The lighter alcohol content also means you don’t have to refrain – you can enjoy a few of these with your meal!

I have changed the original recipe by Micah Melton very slightly.  That recipe called for Manzanilla sherry.  I had Fino so I used that.  I later found out that they are basically the same thing…

Also, the original recipe called for 1/4 ounce of simple syrup. 

I mean really. 

Life’s too short to be making simple syrup so you can use 1/4 ounce of it.  I added 1/2 tsp of sugar into the shaker.  

Darling Don't Refrain
A delicious refreshing cocktail designed to be drunk with food. However, if you want one or more on it's own, then darling, don't refrain!
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For the Drink
  1. 1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin ( I used Bombay Sapphire)
  2. 1/2 oz manzanilla or fino sherry
  3. 1/2 oz lemon juice
  4. 1/2 oz Orange Curacao (I used Cointreau, the original recipe recommended BroVo)
  5. 3 drops orange flower water
  6. 1/2 tsp caster sugar
For The St Germain Ice Cubes
  1. 2 oz St Germain
  2. 1 ½ oz water
  3. ¾ oz lemon juice
For the Garnish
  1. A sprig of lemon thyme
For the St Germain Ice Cubes
  1. Combine all ingredients in a spouted jug.
  2. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze until solid.
  3. Makes 4 ice cubes
For The Drink
  1. Combine the gin, sherry, orange curacao, orange flower water and sugar into a shaker.
  2. Shake gently, then pour into a Collins glass filled with the St Germain ice cubes.
  3. Top with the soda water and garnish with the lemon thyme.
Adapted from very slightly from Micha Melton in How To Drink French Fluently
Adapted from very slightly from Micha Melton in How To Drink French Fluently
Retro Food For Modern Times

Darling Don't Refrain5Okay, now it’s time for some cocktail karaoke.  Because it’s not fair that it’s only me who has had this song stuck in their head for DAYS now….

Some of you will remember the bonkers video for November Rain.  If not, or probably more relevantly if you do, click here to read a very funny takedown of it by the peeps at Teamrock.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the team at Ten Speed Press for the ARC of How to Drink French Fluently.

Have a great week!
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Smore’s Brownies & Sweet Revenge Book Review

The old saying tells us that revenge is a dish best served cold.   A new baking book will also have you believing that revenge is a dish best served sweet.  Sweet Revenge: Passive-Aggressive Desserts for Your Exes & Enemies by Heather Kim, due to be released in January 2018 is a super fun read and contains over 50 sweet treats to help you weather the storm when life gets tough. 

Because you know what?  Sometimes when a girl has had gee, I dunno, a week of totally mixed messages and is feeling hurt betrayed and just downright shitty, she just needs a little something something to get her through the day.   And by something something I mean a shit ton of booze cake. Or pudding. Or some  totally amazing S’mores brownies aka…

S'mores Brownies Those of you who are regular readers will know that I adore a pun so the names of the recipes in this book were pure gold for me.

In additions to the Everyday I Regret You S’more Brownies you can also find:

  • Shut Your Stupid Cake Hole – a coconut mochi cake with sesame coconut pecan icing
  • Stop Texting Me You Crepe – a crepe cake with Oreos
  • You’re A Piece of Sheet Cake – a cinco leches cake with malted milk whipped cream and salted dulce de leche drizzle (OMG…yes!!!!!)
  • Go Fudge Yourself – Macinac Island chocolate fudge with white chocolate candied ramen
  • I Ain’t Puddin’ Up With You – Butterscotch puddin’ pots with chocolate sauce

Smores Brownies8

I was beside myself with joy at some of these.  Truly. And not just for the names. I mean cinco leches cake with malted milk whipped cream and salted dulce de leche drizzle sounds like heaven.  Who even knew there were that many leches?  But now I want all cinco of them baked in a cake.  With a   dulce de leche drizzle…

As for the S’mores Brownies, let’s start with the base which a dark, glossy, fudgy brownie which was ridiculously easy to make. 

Smores Brownies2Kim provides the recipe for home-made marshmallows to top this.  Being lazy, and in a hurry, I chose to buy some marshmallows.  Which all went wonderfully until….2 pink marshmallows short!!!!!

If you put these on the Brownies whilst they are still warm, they melt a little and fill some of the gaps between…sadly, not all of them!

Never mind, because we are about to cover it all with a Graham Cracker Streusel. And sprinkles!  And then, you get to blowtorch the hell out of it all.  Which is another great way to get out some frustration!

Smores Brownies7

Sweet Revenge not only has some great recipes like the ones above but also handy tips, gorgeous photos and cute drawings.  The downside of Sweet Revenge was that some of the flavour combinations were a little too out there for me vis a vis:

But you know what?  There are always going to be recipes that I don’t  fancy in any book. And it might be better to be edgy than boring! And I know I am making a judgement on a sample size of one but this seems like a pretty solid book – the brownies were amazing!

Here’s the recipe.  This is straight from the book so you can get a feel for the style:

Smores Brownies9


Here are some wise words from Heather on why you should bake for your enemies and exes:

And more wise words on revenge from Old Blue Eyes himself…

Get out there and be successful!  And bake these brownies! 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Capstone / Switch Press for the ARC. 

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Recipe Revamp – SS’s Stuffed Onions


The story for these Stuffed Onions starts WAAAAAAYYYY back to my first Pieathalon in 2015.  My pie was a Belgian Onion Pie chosen for me by the wonderful S.S. from A Book Of Cookrye.  If you are ever in need of a chuckle, giggle or even a downright belly laugh, you must check this blog out.  S.S. has a wit drier than the Sahara.  You know, I try really hard to be funny.  I feel with S.S. that it is just effortless.  A Book of Cookrye is always just so, so good! 

Stuffed Onions2Below the recipe for the Belgian Onion Pie that S.S sent me there was a picture of some little balls of delight (STOP IT. NOW! ) which I mistakenly took for a picture of the finished Belgian Onion Pies.  I assumed that the recipe was going to be some wacky Belgian reverso situation where the onion was the “pastry” and the filling was…I have no idea…crumbly pastry?

Belgian-Onion-Pie-Filling-Recipe (2)Sadly this was not the case.  But I hold out hope for the Belgians  They invented Smurfs, they can invent a reverso onion pie if they really put their mind to it…maybe after Brexit is over they’ll have some time on their hands for pie shenanigans. 

Anyhow, after probably eye-rolling and face-palming at my inability to understand the difference between a PIE and a STUFFED VEGETABLE, S.S then v kindly sent me the recipe for the stuffed onions.  Which I promptly printed and lost.  Then about six months later I found it again and made them.  They were….flawed but had potential.  I started thinking about how to improve the recipe.  After a while I made them again.  And again.  Then, earlier this year I was getting ready to post the improved version when my laptop died and I lost all my photos and my improvement notes.

However, cursed as this recipe may be, it was also like a ghost haunting me.  So, recently, despite history indicating that the Stuffed Onions post would never see the light o’ day, I made them  again. With what I could remember of the improvements. 

And they were fabby!  So tasty!

Stuffed onions3

I am still waiting for the world to implode when I post this though…

Let’s have a look at the original recipe and then have a chat about how I changed it.

Stuffed Onions recipe

  • Sausage meat is almost invariably going to have a high fat content.  Adding cream to something that is already fatty made the mixture far too greasy.  Believe me, your mouth will be coated in it and it almost feels like your whole face is smothered in a layer of grease. Mrs Dan Sartor may have been a  fan of the feeling like she had been dragged backwards through a pork chop but I do not.  So the cream is gone. As is the butter.
  • The wine does not have to be white.  I used a beef sausage and felt a red was a better match for the robust onion and beef flavours. 
  • Next…I don’t really understand inches but Google tells me that a 1/4 inch is 6mm which I feel is too much onion.  I took mine back to 2- 3 layers of onion. Which is more than enough. 
  • Depending on what kind of sausages you have you can also  add in flavourings like chilli, garlic, a teaspoon of tomato paste, or even a couple of finely chopped mushrooms (Sorry Jenny) to  the mix. 
  • Finally save some of those breadcrumbs for a little sprinkle of the top to add a little bit of crunch.  If you happen to have some dukkah to add to that sprinkle so much the better!
  • I served mine on a toasted piece of baguette.  The main ingredients – sausage, onion, bread are reminiscent of a hot dog so you could use whatever you like on your hot dogs.  I had some aioli and rocket but swap in whatever condiments you like!  Or replace the aioli with a slice of cheese.  Maybe if you are using a spicy sausage like a chorizo add some guacamole.  And throw some black beans into your sausage mix….
  • You could pretty much style this baby up into anything you wanted just by changing the type of sausage and the condiments / veggies. 

Stuffed Onions4Here’s the updated recipe.

Stuffed Onions
A modern take on a vintage stuffed onion recipe!
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  1. 8 medium onions
  2. 2 tbsp olive oil
  3. 2 sausages, your choice of flavour,
  4. 2 tbsp plus more for sprinkling over the top, breadcrumbs
  5. 1 handful of chopped parsley
  6. 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  7. 1 cup beef or chicken or vegetable stock
  8. 1/2 cup dry white or red wine (your preference)
  9. 1 tbsp dukkah to garnish (optional)
  10. 8 small sprigs of thyme to ganish (optional)
Serving Suggestion
  1. 8 slices of baguette
  2. Aioli
  3. Rocket Leaves
  1. Peel the onions and cut the top and bottom off so they sit flat.
  2. Scoop out the insides so 2/3 layers of onion are left.
  3. Finely chop half of the scooped out onion. (Save the rest for another recipe).
  4. Blanch the cases for 5 minutes then leave to dry.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a skillet then add the chopped onions. Allow them to soften and colour slightly - about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the sausage meat from the skins and crumble into the onion mix. Cook for around 5 minutes.
  7. Drain off the excess fat and add half of the wine and the breadcrumbs..
  8. Cook for a few minutes then add the herbs, salt and pepper.
  9. Fill the shells with the stuffing mix.
  10. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and the dukkah if using.
  11. Garnish with a ting sprig of thyme.
  12. Arrange the onions in serving dish. Pour in the stock and the remaining wine.
  13. Bake in a 180C / 350F oven for 45 minutes, basting occasionally.
  14. Meantime, toast the baguette slices.
  15. Spread with the aioli and the rocket.
  16. Top with the cooked onions.
  1. Stuffing ingredients and serving suggestions can be modified based on the type of sausages you use and your favourite condiments.
Adapted from The Cotton Country Collection from 1972
Adapted from The Cotton Country Collection from 1972
Retro Food For Modern Times
A huge thanks to S.S for the recipe!  Sorry it has taken so long!  Thanks also to Mrs Dan Sartor for the original recipe.  And thanks also to my sadly deceased stepfather who, when ever anyone mentioned anything stuffed vis a vis “Hey I  made stuffed onions today”  would respond by saying something along the lines of “Oh…I”m sure they weren’t that bad” or “What’s important is that you tried”.  Those jokes were running rampant through my head for entire length of this post! 

Dad  jokes are the worst! 

Until you don’t have them anymore…

Huh…Way to finish on a downer.

Ummm….looks around frantically for something to lighten the tone….

Okay, here are some rather unappetizing vintage ideas for stuffed onions!

Here’s a thrifty way to “Satisfy your Inner Man”

Vintage Stuffed Onions2I’m not sure.  I feel like my inner man would prefer a steak…

And as for this next one all I’m going to say is creamed diced carrots. 

You can fill in the blanks on that one….

Vintage Stuffed Onions1Have a great week!

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Thirsty Thursday – Airmail Cocktail

Gentlemen, don your fedoras and your double-breasted suits.  Ladies, it’s time to channel classic Chanel or Greta Garbo or Joan Crawford.  Because today we are stepping back into the glamour days of the 1930’s.  More specifically Cuba in the 1930’s so you might also want to put your mambo shoes on….because by the end of this post and after a few Airmails –  you might be doing your own little dance of joy. I certainly was.

I have added to the glamour by using a glass pilfered from her Maj herself!  Or bought at the Buckingham Palace gift shop…you can decide which of those

a) makes a better story

b) is actually the truth

and believe accordingly.

But first…let’s take some rum, of course, we’re in Cuba after all.  Then add a little honey for sweetness, lime for a sour note and to add that touch of glamour…what else but some bubbles….and voila…you have an Airmail.  The Airmail was created in Cuba to celebrate the height of technological sophistication (and social correctness) that was airmail.  You know, we may snigger these days but no one’s celebrating What’s App or FB Messenger with a cocktail.  Are they?  (Quickly googles…to ensure veracity of last statement).  No they are not!  Nor is anyone touting their social correctness either. 

But let’s set the scene..this is Cuba…around the time of the birth of the Airmail and a few more happy snaps of the objêt itself. 

Airmail3 Airmail4 Fun times!

For your own fun time, here’s the recipe!

Airmail recipeAnd for a semi related link, here is some brilliant dancing, much of it from the era of the Airmail, mixed to Bruno Mars.  This is my favourite youtube at the moment – I must have watched it about 100 times…and that’s just this week.  We do this song in my dance class and I only wish we were busting some of the moves featured here…

Why not pour yourself an Airmail and watch.  Hell, have two and join in!

Finally – if you love the thought of the rum, honey and lime but hate sparkling wine? 

Leave it out. 

Instead of an Airmail you now have a Honeysuckle. 

I hope you all enjoyed this post.  Ha…you didn’t honestly think I was going to let that golden opportunity for a pun pass with out comment did you?.  I just hope it got your stamp of approval.  I thought it was first class but if you feel that  failed to address the issue, or that my delivery lacked some punch feel free to express your opinion in the comments below.  Dont be a-freight….

Aaaaaaand, I’m done. 

Consider this post signed, sealed and delivered.

Have a wonderful week!

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