Calendula Officinalis Martini-us Deliciousness


I’ve been experimenting with my edible flowers in our garden.  So far they’ve been regularly a part of our salads and an occasional garnish for cream based pastas, but tonight I thought my martini needed a little summer flare.  My standard martini mixture is as follows:

99% vodka (we use Kettle One)

1% vermouth (Dolin is the best)

equals 100% deliciousness

Pour the above into a shaker full of ice and shake gently so as not to break up too much ice and dilute the beverage.  Stream into your favorite vessel and add a sprinkle of edible flowers such as calendula/marigold, johny jump-ups, pyrethrum, bachelor buttons, lavender, lawn daisy, roses and pansies to name a few.  Many of the flowers are said to have medicinal properties so, in a way, a martini is a health drink.  Cheers to that.

 A terrific resource for herbs and flowers 

It’s the journey…

I have to say overall I don’t travel well…or smart.  I’m definitely not one of those people that seem to stay mysteriously fresh looking throughout their travel experience.  I really envy those who dress smart and look perky and seem to know where their gate is via some internal GPS system.  I, on there hand, look like a train wreck, feel half dead, normally lost, drink way too much caffeine followed by beer, wine, champagne, followed by way more caffeine while I manage to food crawl through hours of layover.  I need to learn how to spend down time more productively no doubt.

On the brighter side, the 12 weeks at Ballymaloe Cooking School has ended and some students have found employment!  Well done for them.  Others have accumulated some valuable culinary knowledge that they will impart in one form or another throughout their lives.  I’m looking forward to seeing how much information from this experience will stay in my noodle and for how long.  The most enjoyable part of my time abroad was meeting so many fantastic people and working with them (and playing with them) in a very unique and intense environment.  I’ve made some new friends and that in itself was worth the journey.  Please stay in touch and look for posts from the green isle and other places in the near future.  Cheers!

Medicinal Whiskey

My apologies for my absence.  Our school has transformed into what seems to be an infirmary.  I’ve been down for the count for about 3 weeks suffering from this and that, as have so many other students.  I may have stumbled on the cure for all things habadeejabadee stewing around the Green Isle.  My new found irish shaman, otherwise known as Mary from the Ballymaloe Gift Shop, has given me the secret weapon beverage that many subscribe to here.  This could not come at a better time now that winter has really laid down.  Snow has blanketed much of the island!

Medicinal Whiskey

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 shot whiskey, or more to taste

lemon wedge studded with approximately five cloves

I know some may think using an American whiskey in Ireland is near blasphemous, and I could tell you it was a nod to my Jack Daniels swilling, loving family.  The truth, however, is that it was on sale at the market – only €6 for a 700ml bottle!  Who would pass that up?!

In a mug mix the water and brown sugar until dissolved.  Pour in whiskey and swirl with studded lemon wedge.  Consume frequently.

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Whew at Ballymaloe!

It has been a whirl wind lately.  I finally made it to Ballymaloe Cooking School in Ireland!  Last time I tried to make it over for their 3 month course a volcano erupted in Iceland – that little devil Eyjafjallajökull – yes, it is now a curse word in many parts of the world.  I made a pact with myself that I would faithfully update my blog and emails daily, but have failed miserably. Unfortunately there’s no internet in my cottage and we’ve been going flat out at the school.  We have survived the first hectic week which has been packed with information from short pastry making to fire safety.  I hope to get a little more organized and include some of the amazingly delicious recipes soon, but for now a very brief glimpse of arriving, learning and cooking:

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Jungle’s Edge

on the 'edge' of going native

The refreshments are so good at Jungle’s Edge some clamber the counter to get their favorite as quickly as possible.  We’ve been to many coffee houses where the interior seems to be used to mask their mostly average beverages, but this establishment is small and sparse, letting it’s coffee and other libations speak for themselves.  This little place is located in the King’s Shops along the Kohala coast.

With normally one barista/cashier/hostess on duty, your aloha needs to be tapped if there is any line.

Squirt a little honey from a hula girl honey bottle or add a dash of Hawaiian pure cane sugar.  We give the dense foam on top two ‘shakas’.  Enjoy!

Summer Splash Limoncello – the ‘Quick’ Version

So delightfully fresh, so deceptively strong - Salute!

‘Limoncello-ians’ all have their special spin on how to make the best concoction, but this particular version is comparatively quick and straight forward – still very buonissimo!

(this lemon liqueur takes time to ferment; you’ll need 2 weeks of down time)

Pour eight cups of good vodka into a 16 cup capacity container with tight fitting lid.  Peel the rind from approximately 6 lemons, taking care not to include the white ‘pithy’ part of the fruit (pith is very bitter) – a vegetable peeler may work best.  Once you have peeled 1 cup of rind, plop them into your container of vodka.  Give the container a swirl or two and place the lid on the top.  Keep this mixture out of direct light and in a cool place (basement like – not fridge like).  Do not open the lid during the 2 weeks so the fermentation is faster and more consistent.

Once your 2 weeks are up, remove all the rind and loose bits from the container using a long fork or pigtail (or strain through a cheesecloth).  Make a simple syrup using a 1:1 ratio for a sweet mix or a 1:2 mix for less sweet (our preference).  For a 1:2 mix, pour 3 cups of white granulated sugar into a pot and and add 6 cups of water.  On medium heat dissolve the sugar completely.  Let cool and add the sugar water to your vodka mix.  Stir to combine and chill in the freezer for about an hour.  Serve in small chilled glasses.  Delizioso!

A friendly word of caution: You can quickly go from sipping judiciously while chatting politely to singing ‘That’s Amore’ at the top of your lungs while your hosts drag you to the door.

The Bloody! Bloody Mary Experiment

I thought bacon was cure for all ails…and I’m sure at some point in my adult life I’ve heard that a Bloody Mary is also a cure for what ails ya.  So one would be safe to assume combining bacon with a Bloody Mary could be the magical cure all.  The best Blood Mary has alluded me for some time now.  Anyway, here’s what NOT to do:

serves 2

3 strips of thick sliced bacon, 2 for garnish 1 for snacking

5 beefsteak tomatoes, halved and seeded

1 jalapeno

2  1/4″inch slices of sweet yellow onion

4″ piece of cucumber, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 12ounce can of tomato juice

Do not bother to preheat your oven to 400° or mess with the rest of this process, BUT you may be able to prevent making the same mistakes.

Lay bacon on sheet pan and bake in oven for about 12 minutes or until crisp.  Meanwhile chop the peeled and seeded cucumber and place it in a pitcher or blender with the lemon juice.  If using a pitcher, use a hand mixer to macerate the cucumber into a fine pulp.

Remove cooked bacon and drain on paper towels.  Place the tomato halves, jalapeno and onion on the sheet pan with bacon drippings.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove cooked vegetables and let cool.  Remove the tomato skins and discard.  Place the tomatoes, onion, and 1 tablespoon of the jalapeno in the pitcher or blender and mix until no more mixing can be done.  Add 12 ounces of tomato juice and blend well.  Cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Serve in chilled, iced glasses.  Garnish with a lemon wedge and bacon.

The sad part was this wasn’t much more interesting than a spicy V8 mix.  It was a little more complex in flavors, but unfortunately not different enough to really justify the time and mess. We vote thumbs down on this one  –  SO, if anyone has a really great Bloody Mary recipe (even w/o bacon 😉  )  please let us know!!