I am always on the lookout for a special cocktail or two to serve over the holidays. Garnish and Gather, based in Atlanta, shared this recipe on their blog earlier this year and said it was perfect for a hot summer day. And I don't disagree. But I held onto the recipe for the holidays. I gave it a test run to see if we liked it, and it was lovely. I think the flavors of the gin and the honey are well-suited for a chilly evening, as is the sprig of rosemary.
As they say, this cocktail is the bee's knees! It was also a great excuse to buy two gorgeous coupe glasses. This recipe makes 2 cocktails.
Rosemary's The Bee's Knees
INSTRUCTIONS:MAKE ROSEMARY HONEY SYRUP
PREP GARNISH & MAKE COCKTAIL
When given the choice, I prefer wine. But sometimes I'd like a cocktail. My default is usually a Gin and Tonic or a Gin Martini which are both good, but I'd like more variety. So when I see an interesting cocktail recipe I'll give it a try.
Last month in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution there was an article by M. Carrie Allan from the Washington Post entitled, “Ranch Water a cool, popular Texas drink.” Well, I had never heard of it, and the main ingredient is Topo Chico (which I love) so I thought I’d give it a go. Please let me know if you've had this, decide to try it, or love it. I want to know!
· 1 1/2 ounces tequila, preferably silver
· 1 ounce fresh lime juice
· 1/2 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur (optional)
· 1/2 ounce agave syrup (optional)
· 2 to 3 ounces chilled Topo Chico mineral water
· Fresh lime slices, for serving (optional)
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, Cointreau and agave syrup, if using, and stir to chill and combine. Top with the mineral water, gently stir again, and serve garnished with lime slices, if using.
I am old school in a lot of ways. For example, I still love magazines and I prefer the printed page over a digital page. And one of the things I enjoy are cooking magazines. I’m sure that’s a shocker. One of my favorites is allrecipes, and the April/May 2021 issue is filled with some great recipes - including the green gazpacho I plan to make next weekend. But the prettiest one was for Sweet Nectar Cake, using Nordic Ware’s 10-cup Honeycomb Pull-Apart Pan. The pictures were gorgeous – I knew I had to try it in the Delaney Test Kitchen. And I am not a big chocolate person, or really a dessert person in the first place, so this was perfect for me – a lemony, fruity cake that is also gorgeous to look at. In fact the pictures in the issue included some gorgeous edible flowers, which is what inspired me to plant some of my own in my Aero Garden.
Sweet Nectar Cake recipe from allrecipes:
· 1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
· ⅓ cup honey or white sugar (I used honey from my favorite, The Savannah Bee Company)
· ½ cup vegetable oil
· 1 cup peach or apricot nectar (I used peach. I am in Georgia, y’all.)
· 4 eggs
· 1 cup confectioners' sugar (optional)
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Combine cake mix with honey (or sugar), cooking oil, and peach (or apricot) nectar. Beat for two minutes with mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Pour batter into pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a plate.
In a small bowl, mix lemon juice with confectioners' sugar until you reach desired consistency. Drizzle glaze over sides of warm cake.
The recipe calls for using a box of lemon cake mix. But if you have more time, I would suggest making it from scratch. Here is the recipe suggested from Nordic Ware. To make it fit more with the Sweet Nectar recipe above, I’d replace the sour cream with 1 cup of peach or apricot nectar.
Honey Lemon Pull Aparts, recipe from Nordic Ware
· 3 cups cake flour
· 1 1/ 2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· 1/ 4 teaspoon salt
· 1 cup butter, softened
· 1 1/ 2 cups sugar
· 4 eggs
· 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
· 1 cup sour cream
· 3 tablespoons honey
· 1/ 2 cup powdered sugar
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
I am sure we all recall the controversy from a few years ago where an American woman was demonstrating how to make the perfect cup of tea in a microwave. As far as I am concerned, this method is for emergency purposes only since the water heats unevenly and won’t steep the tea properly. In my mind there are two situations in which to make tea, so there are two different processes:
Version 1 is for company or enjoying the ritual and serving from a teapot. In this scenario you’ll boil the water either in a stovetop kettle or an electric kettle, but you’ll be serving from a ceramic (most likely) teapot.
Version 2 is in the office or in between video calls for WFH, for one person.
Version 1 - With a classic Teapot:
1. Boil the Water:
You can do this with a kettle on the stovetop or with an electric kettle. Some electric kettles will even let you control the temperature of the water so that you can be precise for certain types of teas (e.g. 208°F for black tea). I use a simple electric kettle that was a gift from my mother in law, and I love it.
I also suggest using filtered water whenever possible so that you don’t end up with any odd flavors mixed in with your tea.
2. Warm the Teapot:
Always boil more water than you think you need so that you can use some of it to warm the teapot. You’ll want to fill at least ¼ of the teapot, swirl it around and then pour it out. Why do we do this? The water temperature won’t drop too much when you add the hot water for the tea if the teapot has been warmed.
3. Tea in the Teapot and Steeping:
Next you’ll want to add the tea to the teapot, then add the hot water. Here you have two options – loose tea or tea bags. Loose teas are more flavorful, but it’s your choice.
If you use loose tea, you’ll want to use an infuser that is large enough for the teapot. If you have a tea cozy, you’ll want to use it to cover the teapot to keep it warm while you let it steep. Every type of tea has a different recommendation for how long to steep, but its also your personal preference. But you do not want to steep for more than 5 minutes or it will get bitter.
Pour the tea into the teacups and leave some room for your guests to add lemon, sugar, or milk. The infuser will keep the leavers from getting into the cups.
If you do not use all of the water in the teapot, make sure that the infuser is not sitting in water. Over-steeping will make the tea very bitter.
5. A Second Pot of Tea:
If you want to have another teapot of tea, you can re-use the tea you already have in the infuser. You’ll want to add more hot water and let it sit and steep again. This time you’ll need to add 2 more minutes this time for the second steep.
Version 2 – The Single Cup of Tea at Work or WFH:
When I am working from home, I use tea bags instead of loose tea.
I still use my electric kettle, and a mug. The bigger the better to save trips back to the kitchen.
Sometimes, if I have a few more minutes between calls, I will use loose tea and an infuser for my tea at home. I have quite a collection of them. One of my favorite infusers is my “mana-tea” but the one that works the best is the classic stainless steel one the has a hinge, like this one from Amazon.
So if you are making tea for yourself, here are my suggested instructions:
1. Boil the Water:
Again, you can use a stove top kettle or an electric kettle, and use filtered water if you can.
2. Put the tea in the mug:
Place the tea bag or infuser into the mug before adding the hot water.
Be sure to leave enough room to add milk, honey, lemon juice or whatever you plan to add later on.
3. Add the Hot Water and Steep:
Steep until the tea is a good color for you – usually 4-5 minutes for black teas, 3-4 for green teas.
I am not British nor Irish. I only get to claim that heritage by marriage. However, I feel a great connection when I am there. London feels a bit like New York (home) to me. But that’s not it. It’s my love of tea. My favorite souvenir is a teapot and some new tea to try when I get home.
In order to brew the perfect cup, or “cuppa,” for you or your mom, there are a few things that you need. Here, in Part I of my series, is the focus on the most important ingredient: Great Tea.
Tea can be black, oolong, green, herbal, or any variety in between. I suggest trying a lot of varieties to find your favorites. I have a few favorites that I’ll share here with you. You'll see that I lean more towards the black teas (e.g. Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling and Yunnan) than to the Green Teas (e.g. Green, Sencha, Matcha) or the herbals (e.g. Hibiscus, Chamomile).
My favorite British Teas are from Fortnum and Mason. While I enjoy many of their teas, my two go-to blends are their classic Royal Blend, and the Jubilee Tea. Both are smooth, black teas. I leave plenty of space in my suitcase when I go to England so that I can bring back as many boxes as I can.
Another tea I really enjoy is Harrod’s No. 30 Assam Tea from India. This is a bold black tea and I really enjoy the strong flavor, especially on chilly mornings. I tend to drink this one more in the winter than any other time of year.
And if you travel to York (which is one of my favorite destinations with so much history), please do visit one of my favorites: the Hebden Tea Shop on the Shambles. I bought so much tea the last time I was there, and I even let the kids pick out some weaker teas for themselves to try. The shop smells fabulous and was a great little experience. And my favorite was their Assam.
Yes – you read that right – French Tea. Another of my favorite tea shops is Kusmi Tea, of Russian descent and now made in Normandy, France. Originally founded by Pavel Kousmichoff in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1867, the brand moved to Paris at the onset of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and opened an outlet at 75 Avenue Niel, Paris that still exists today. While they do have other locations in Paris, this one is my favorite.
(As an aside, they have two locations in New York - you can find them at the Plaza Food Hall on 59th, or in the Westfield Center at the World Trade Center. And if you are in London, they have a location at 15 Marylebone High St.)
My favorite teas from Kusmi are: Russian Morning No. 24, Jasmine Green Tea and Anastasia (organic Earl Grey), and White Anastasia.
I was on a business trip to Portland, Oregon and the hotel I was staying in was showcasing local brands. The tea that they served was Smith’s Tea. As you might image I travel with my own tea, but I decided to give Smith’s a try and I am SO glad I did. My favorites from them are: Kandy, Big Hibiscus, and Lord Bergamot and Jasmine Silver Tip. It turns out that Steven Smith, who founded the company in 2009, had previously started Tazo Tea which he then later sold to Starbucks. Anyone who knows me knows that I usually have a few of Tazo’s Awake tea bags in my bag at any time so I was not surprised that I liked the Smith tea so much.
Stay Tuned for Part 2: Hot Water and Steeping.