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It seems like just yesterday I fell asleep anticipating December’s arrival. In a blink, I woke up and Christmas is only a day away! I’m not certain how the season arrived so quickly, but now begin the festivities as we say farewell to the year. The holidays are a special time for me, as I travel back home to be with close family & friends. There is no shortage of entertaining, and in our family that means a whole lot of cooking, baking, chopping—you name it!

With visitors in-and-out during the days to come, it’s nice to have a good repertoire of appetizers to serve. This year I wanted to create a winter recipe for hors d’oeuvres with a little holiday flare! With a bag of fresh cranberries in my stores, I wondered—what is something savory that might make for a holiday-suited app? Then I decided maybe cocktail meatballs, and who doesn’t appreciate a classic ball of meat now and again? By combining the cran with fresh rosemary and balsamic we achieve a tangy glaze fit for the holidays, and so we have Cranberry & Rosemary Meatballs. Time to enjoy great company and being home . . . Kenny Loggins and I sure think so—Celebrate Me Home.

For these I made a simple glaze on the stove with the cranberries, rosemary, balsamic and white wine. These are similar to one of my standard meatball recipes, but this time I’m also incorporating fresh & fragrant rosemary, dried mustard, garlic and shallot. I decided to brown them in a skillet and serve tossed in our glaze. This is perfectly portioned for a party starter, or even for a dinner if you make sides.

Cranberry & Rosemary Meatballs


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: about 15 (1.5 inch) meatballs

Cranberry & Rosemary Meatballs

Savory cocktail meatballs with a festive glaze of winter cranberries, rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Perfect for a holiday appetizer!

What to get...

    For the Pork Meatballs:
  • 1 lb ground pork (or pork sausage)
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs, seasoned
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T butter (for melting in skillet)
  • For the Glaze:
  • 12-oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1.25 cups dry white wine, (1/2 cup divided, I use Chardonnay)
  • 1.25 cup water (1/2 cup divided)
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated (and peeled)

What to do...

    Make Cranberry Glaze:
  1. In a medium-sized pot combine cranberries, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup white wine, sugar, sea salt, rosemary, and heat on medium-low to bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally throughout.
  2. Cook mix until cranberries begin to burst & sauce thickens & then reduces (about 15 minutes), using back of spoon pop any cranberries that haven't yet burst).
  3. Once sauce thickens add the lemon zest, grated ginger, balsamic and add the additional 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup of water, combining and continuing to simmer on low (sauce should be semi-thick).
  4. Make Meatballs:
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine ground pork, shallot, garlic, sea salt, pepper, ground mustard, rosemary, parsley, Worcestershire, bread crumbs, and egg, working mix weigh hands until well combined.
  6. Form smaller 1.5 inch, round meatballs with hands (my mix made 14 meatballs).
  7. In a large skillet melt 3 T of butter, and once pan is pre-heated, arrange meatballs about an inch apart and begin to cook/brown (you may need to do 2 batches if pan is small).
  8. Cook meatballs on medium heat, turn with tongs to brown on each side (~1-2 mins/side).
  9. Once meatballs are cooked through, in a large bowl toss them in desired amount of cranberry glaze, and serve warm.


These pork meatballs are an easy make ahead party appetizer, or make larger meatballs for a dinner portion and can be served with sides for a complete meal. The cranberry glaze if too thick, can be thinned out with a little additional white wine or water. The glaze and meatballs can be made a day ahead.


Cranberry Meatballs - 37I love meatballs with pretty much any sauce, but cranberry seems fitting for our winter holiday. What I like more, is this recipe can easily be made ahead—which means more quality time drinking eggnog at that ugly sweater party.

This Christmas, may you savor great moments, meals and memories with those you hold dear.

Happiest of Holidays to You & Yours!

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In just one day, again will be the night for a little Halloween fright! October 31st marks the perfect occasion to get unconventional in the kitchen. The past few years I’ve conjured-up some witch-worthy Halloween sweets, but this year I decided to keep it savory.

What delicious—and visually unappealing—dinner should the evening offer? I debated squirmy pastas or ghoulish goulash, but then one dark dish came to mind. I grew up with black bean soup and though I love the flavor, a bowl of bubbling blackness never looked too appealing—this will be perfect! Keeping things festive, I decided we’d also serve our brew in an edible, ghostly gourd.

I consumed southern black bean soup as a youngster, and always loved it. My Mom would put a big pot on the stove some Sundays, letting the soup simmer throughout the afternoon. I remember her soaking the beans the night before, or if she was pressed for time, just a quick soak the day of. This brought some questions to mind, what if I DIDN’T soak these black beauties? What if I threw them into a chicken stock abyss and let them fend for themselves? I happened to come across an article recently, which touched on this very dried dilemma: Soak Black Beans?

Well, the curious chemistry-loving cook in me took the author and foodie, Kenji’s advice—and I didn’t soak my beans. Well, for the first batch. That’s right, I tried both un-soaked & quick-soaked on different occasions, just to see for myself! The result? Virtually the same texture with what seemed like a long cook time to achieve the tenderness I was seeking . . . I guess you were right all along Florence.

Time to put the cauldron on:


Black Bean Soup


Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Yield: large pot of soup

one bowl at a time

Black Bean Soup

Slow cook black bean soup is a great Halloween meal, or any meal for a cool Autumn night!

What to get...

  • 1 lb (bag) dried black beans
  • 1 large sweet white onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 4 cups water (for initially quick-soaking dried beans)
  • 7-10 cups chicken stock (depending on cook time & bean texture)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (like a dry Chardonnay)
  • 2 T butter, for sautéing vegetables
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (more to taste)
  • dash ground cumin
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • sour cream, for garnish (optional)
  • green onion or chives, chopped for garnish (optional)
  • edible pumpkin, or squash (I used Carnival squash), to serve soup in (optional)

What to do...

    (Prep ahead) - Quick Soak Dried Beans:
  1. Rinse dried beans in a colander with cool water, sorting out any debris, drain.
  2. In a large pot, add beans and cover with ~4 cups warm water (or enough to cover by ~2 inches).
  3. Bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes on stove (stir to ensure beans don't stick to pot bottom).
  4. Cover pot & remove from heat, letting beans soak untouched for 1.5 hrs (begin to prep other ingredients during this time, see steps below).
  5. Drain soaked beans & rinse with cool water, set aside.
  6. Make Soup:
  7. While beans are soaking for the 1.5 hrs (see steps above), finely chop carrot & celery in a food processor, then followed by the onion & garlic (to a fine texture).
  8. In large soup pot (or Dutch oven), fry the 4 slices of bacon until brown & crisp (can add a little butter here if bacon will sticks to your pot bottom), set slices aside.
  9. To pot with bacon grease, add 2T butter, chopped vegetable mix, dried thyme, pinch of salt & pepper and sauté on medium for ~8 mins.
  10. Add 1/4 cup chicken stock & continue to sauté mix until tender (~10 more mins) stirring often, set mix aside and turn off heat.
  11. When beans are rinsed, reheat pot with sautéed vegetable mix and add: 6 cups chicken stock, beans, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp black pepper—bringing mix to a boil.
  12. Let pot simmer on medium heat, partially covered for 1.5 hours (stir & check liquid levels occasionally, pot should be bubbling/almost gently boiling & beans should be covered with enough fluid, add more during if needed).
  13. After 1.5 hours check beans & liquid level, adding 2-4 cups additional chicken stock (as needed) and one strip of the cooked bacon, continue to cook (partially covered) for another 1.5 hours until soup is thickened.
  14. After 3 hours of cooking, again check tenderness of beans & liquid level (add more fluid & continue to cook as needed, to let fluid absorb & evaporate to desired consistency).
  15. Add additional 1/2 tsp sea salt if necessary (though the bacon strip will add some saltiness also).
  16. When beans are tender enough add 1/2 white wine, dash cumin & splash of red wine vinegar, simmer for 15-20 mins (removing bacon slice & 2 bay leaves, add additional S&P as desired), soup should be thick.
  17. Serve bowl of soup warm, with dollop of sour cream and chopped green onion, and crumbled bacon on top as desired.


This soup is not difficult, but takes time on the stove, so I like to make it on weekends or when I'm able to be home at the end of the day! Liquid levels depend on the tenderness of the beans. We quick soak the dried beans so part of the cook time is the 1.5 hours of soaking. You can continue to cook soup after 3 hours, adding more fluid until beans are tender enough to serve. This soup should be thick, but you can add stock so this reaches desired consistency. Depending on quality of dried beans, I've had batches take a really long time, and some that cook in 3 hours. I have also used un-soaked and soaked beans, and the cook time is only marginally longer (~40 min) when un-soaked. Add salt during cooking as desired!


Both bean-laden batches tasted delicious! Though, I realized my bean bags were a little hauntingly ancient. Seems fitting for All Hallow’s Eve, but not so much for testing my hungry impatience. In the end, I decided that the quick soaking did allow me to use less cooking stock and a bit of time; therefore, I declare this method the winner, but not by much (I guess Mom’s do know best).  black bean soup - 063

The bacon gives us a smokey flavor, and I oven-roasted a carnival squash to serve the soup in, which gives us a hint of sweet. This recipe is pretty flexible—I added fluid (and seasoning) until the beans were to my fancy. Basically we’re soaking dried beans (or not if you’re following Kenji’s method), sautéing veggies, then slow-cooking to develop flavor & tenderness. In the end we add white wine & red wine vinegar—both acids—to give this the necessary pop! We add these last and not when beans are initially cooking, because acidity will inhibit them from drawing in fluid, making their skins tougher. Then it will take even longer, and I’d rather be Trick-or-Treating (or in my case begging my niece or nephews for a Twix). This one tastes even better the next day, so it’s a great soup to make ahead for the week.

Here’s to wishing you a night of devilish dishes, and hopefully you get a little candy—or someone else’s—Happy Haunting!

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Psssst . . . pssssssst. Hey you, over there!
Yes YOU! The one looking super sharp in the kitchen.
I have news . . . delicious news! (Why are we whispering?)
Guess what?
Nooo. YOU guess what!
Never mind, I have something good to share:
It. Is. Officially . . . FALL!


Pumpkin candle burning, boot & scarf wearing, candy corn eating! I just may combust into flames of leaf-changing joy! Wait . . . I’m in Southern CA, and it’s still hot-as-sin, with no discernible foliage.

That’s alright because Bath & Body Works & William Sonoma have used their seasonal trickery to transform my kitchen from a SoCal sauna, to a harvest-haven. Yes my friends, it’s time to COOK again!

I decided to commemorate our recent equinox with a rustic pasta dish. I’m a huge fan of mushrooms, in many of their delectable varieties (well, not the poisonous death-inducing ones). We’re going to use several types to add flavor & texture. Ultimately we end up with a comforting, creamy Wild Mushroom Pasta Sauce over fresh paparadelle. Where have you been all my summer?!

Crimini, shitake, white button, alien-looking oyster mushrooms—will all join forces with mascarpone cheese, wine, sage & parsley.  It’s simple, yet ever-so satisfying. Want a bowl? Here you go:

Creamy Mushroom Pasta Sauce with Pappardelle


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: ~4 side servings or a few larger dinner portions.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta Sauce with Pappardelle

This is a rustic and rich fresh mushroom sauce, perfect over fresh pasta, easily made in one skillet.

What to get...

  • 1.5 cups Shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup White Button mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup Oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups Crimini mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 1 shallot, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped finely
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 3 sage leaves, small, fresh, chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme leaves, fresh, chopped
  • 3T butter, unsalted (for sautéing shallot & garlic)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1.5T flour, all-purpose (for roux)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 9 oz fresh pappardelle pasta (or dried if not fresh)
  • *parmesan cheese to top as desired.
  • *fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)

What to do...

  1. Rinse and chop mushrooms roughly (I left some smaller mushrooms sliced only, for texture).
  2. In a large, rimmed skillet or pot, melt 2T butter and sauté the shallots, garlic with pinch of salt & pepper, until tender (~5 mins).
  3. Add the mushrooms, thyme & 1/4 cup wine, and continue to sauté on medium-low, letting fluids evaporate some (~10-15 mins).
  4. Make roux to thicken sauce by adding 1T butter to pan, then sprinkling ~1.5T flour over mix to begin roux, stirring to incorporate flour into mix.
  5. Simultaneously, add ~1/4 cup wine to sauce gradually, stirring continuously until absorbed (sauce should be thickened & smooth, add more wine or water if needed).
  6. Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer, adding the fresh sage, salt & pepper (to taste), stir occasionally.
  7. While sauce is simmering, boil pasta noodles in a large pot of salted water, drain but reserve ~1T starchy pasta water and add back into sauce and stir).
  8. Fresh pasta will cook mush faster, so only make a few minutes before serving.
  9. Serve fresh pappardelle noodles with mushroom sauce on top, and finish with freshly grated parmesan & little chopped parsley.


If you can make or buy fresh pasta for this, it is better, but any noodle would work! I prefer the wide egg noodles, such as pappardelle for this type of creamy sauce. This would also go well over rice, chicken or a protein. You can add different mushroom varieties if you have them available!


Considering my Southern roots, I’ve been a devoted casserole eater most of my life. Many of those creative bakes involved canned, cream of mushroom soup. I’ve always loved the rich constancy it gave, but wondered how I could achieve the same with fresh, healthier ingredients. Sorry Campbell’s, but it’s time to make my own mushroom magic. Not to mention there are so many varieties to work with—the more, the better! I chose mascarpone cheese as our creamy element, due to it’s thick, yet neutral flavor—it’s  basically Italian cream cheese. I was craving a richer sauce, but without having to use a ton of flour & cream. The white wine brings the necessary acidity and wine makes everything better.

Good news (if you like mushrooms)! This can be cooked in one skillet on your stovetop. This sauce doesn’t stop at pasta, but maybe over rice, chicken . . . both? Maybe we should double-up the batch then! I like paring fresh mushrooms with sage, just seems to work with the earthiness. When we combine our sauce with fresh pasta noodles, well . . . I need a minute to collect myself. It’s just that good. You won’t even miss the meat here!

I recommend this dish for a great weeknight dinner as the days get cooler, or really anytime. Here’s to welcoming the change of season, with arms wide open!  creamy mushroom pasta sauce - 62

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Around here, we like it fresh, especially when it comes to freshly-caught fish—just like the salmon of Capistrano!

Wait, no. That can’t be right. I’m confusing Dumb & Dumber quotes with reality again. Though, some of the best salmon on the planet has been in season, so it’s the perfect occasion for a fish dish. The school calendar may say summer’s over, but the warm weather is hanging around.

I enjoy fresh seafood on hot days, especially if it’s wild-caught. Besides halibut, one of my favorite types of seafood is salmon—healthy, hearty—and should it be Sockeye, even better! Recently, my local market offered wild sockeye for a hot minute, so I grabbed some fresh fillets for dinner. I usually grill with a little citrus & herb marinade, but I decided to try a crust idea I’ve had in mind. This time I chose roasted almonds & bread crumbs, serving the fish with a light herb & lemon quinoa (since that’s one grain I’ve been neglecting).

Almond Crusted Salmon, Herb Quinoa, Spinach


Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 lb of fresh salmon = ~5 servings

Almond Crusted Salmon, Herb Quinoa, Spinach

Nothing beats fresh, wild sockeye salmon, except when we almond crust it! Pair it with some lemon & herb quinoa, and we have a great summer meal.

What to get...

    For the Nut Crusted Salmon:
  • 1 lb fresh, salmon fillet (wild caught, seasonal Sockeye is variety I prefer)
  • 2 tsp Best Food’s mayonnaise
  • 1 cup honey roasted almonds (finely blended in food processor)
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • ½ tsp dried mustard
  • fresh baby spinach (approx. 1 cup/serving)
  • For the Lemon & Herb Quinoa:
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (organic variety), rinsed
  • ¾ cup chicken stock (I use organic, low-sodium)
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • For Lemon Herb Butter Sauce (for Quinoa & spooning over fish):
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp fresh parsley chopped
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch black ground pepper
  • pinch sea salt

What to do...

    Make Quinoa on Stove:
  1. Rinse dry quinoa with cold water in a fine mesh strainer.
  2. In a medium saucepan combine quinoa, chicken stock, lemon juice, white wine, stir & bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot with lid, and cook quinoa for ~15 mins, remove from heat.
  4. Fluff grains with fork, set aside (You will need to warm before serving).
  5. Prep & Cook Salmon Fillets & Sauce:
  6. In a food processor, grind almonds into a uniform fine crumb mix.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine honey almond crumbs, panko crumbs, minced garlic, parsley, salt, pepper & the EVOO, combining with a fork.
  8. Layout salmon fillets on board or wax paper & check for bones (usually a ridge along collar), using cooking tweezers to remove any.
  9. Smear flesh side of salmon with a little mayo, (a thin even layer to coat entire top).
  10. Press generous layer of nut crust mix down onto the top of salmon (coated with mayo), so it sticks to top of fillets.
  11. Bake in a 325 degree, pre-heated oven on foil lined pan (with crust side up, skin side down).
  12. Bake until crust toasts & browns somewhat, and pink flesh of salmon is flakey when tested with fork (mine took ~8 mins).
  13. Remove from oven & cool on pan or rack (bottom skin should peel off easily, discard skin).
  14. While salmon’s in oven, in a skillet on stove, make the lemon herb butter sauce by melting butter with the ingredients, then pour ¾ of butter sauce into a separate bowl to set aside, reserving remainder in skillet.
  15. To skillet add the fresh spinach leaves, and stir to coat in remaining bit of butter, heat spinach for a few minutes on low until wilted, remove from heat, set aside.
  16. Reheat quinoa on low in pan, adding a teaspoon of the melted herb butter sauce, stir to combine.
  17. Serve dish by first plating a serving of warm quinoa, then top with some sautéed spinach, and a serving of fish, drizzle additional lemon herb butter on top of fish, as desired.


Remove fresh salmon fillets from refrigerator ~15-20 mins before cooking. Cooking time of salmon will depend on thickness of fillets (mine were very thin), If your fillets have the skin still on bottom, it is easily removed after cooking in pan.


My filets had some thin bones in the collar, so this took a little prep to tweeze them out. Aside from deboning, this one bakes quickly.

Alas, the meal turned out swimmingly! (well, maybe not from the salmon’s perspective.) Our golden crust was the perfect compliment for the flakey texture, and the herb-lemon butter worked wonders with both the salmon & quinoa. As for some veggies, I love to incorporate fresh spinach when possible, so I tossed some into a little of our sauce. I also added yellow squash I had, simply cooking stovetop with some balsamic. We ended up with a layered dish of healthy components, large on vibrant flavors and pleasing to thy palate! This simple crust isn’t reserved solely for salmon, but for other fish you may fancy. You can substitute the almonds for cashews or macadamia nuts for a different flavor profile, though I liked the crunch the honey almonds lent. If you’re staying away from gluten, you could easily skip the bread crumbs—just add more of the ground nuts. Next time, I plan to change things-up, serving this over jasmine rice or parmesan risotto. Too many tasty variations, too little time. . . .

If you come across fresh Sockeye salmon, grab some while there’s still time! I will be using this crust recipe regularly, and am looking forward to the next catch!

almond crusted salmon - 08

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The sun is beaming, in all of summer’s glory. A coastal breeze blows, as I feel the warm sand beneath my feet, and a cold drink in my hand. Isn’t Hawaii absolutely amazing?

Well, I’m sure it is. Unfortunately, I’m not on the Big Island (insert sad mainland face), but I DO have legitimate island envy. In the spirit of Friday, the hot weather—and being overdue for a drink recipe—there’s no better time than the present! What epitomizes the tropics better than a Mai Tai? There’s something about this rum & citrus libation that has me wanting some R&R, not to mention it’s delicious. In fact, wait . . . here’s a little Jimmy Buffett inspiration to get us in the mood—It’s 5:00 Somewhere.

There are as many variations of this tiki-themed drink, as days of summer. Well, which recipe is the best? That, my sun-worshiping friends is up to you! Since this post is up to me, I created a version that might not be the original, but still incorporates many Mai Tai elements I love—rum, and some other rum.

This was easy to make with just a shaker & fresh fruit juices. Time to fill our glasses, shall we? 

the dinnvervine Mai Tai


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 8 minutes

Yield: one 5.5 oz cocktail

the dinnvervine Mai Tai

Cool off this summer with our take on a classic tropical drink, the Mai Tai!

What to get...

  • 1 oz light rum (I use Bacardi)
  • 1 oz med dark, spiced rum (I use Captain Morgan)
  • 1/2 oz darker rum, as floater (I use a dark variety by Captain Morgan called “Tattoo”)
  • 1 oz juice of an orange (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 oz juice of pineapple, (freshly juiced, or from a can)
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/4 oz Amaretto liqueur (I used in place of orgeat syrup)
  • *small splash of grenadine, for color, optional
  • *pineapple chunk for garnish, optional
  • *umbrella for garnish, optional
  • *sprig of fresh mint for garnish, optional

What to do...

  1. Squeeze/juice fruits as needed.
  2. Fill an old fashioned glass (chilled glass optional), fill ~1/2 way with crushed or shaved ice.
  3. In a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, combine all main ingredients, EXCEPT the darker rum for floater & grenadine (if using).
  4. Shake well for ~ 1 min, use strainer & pour directly into old fashioned glass with crushed ice.
  5. Pour 1/2 oz darker rum floater on top, and splash of grenadine (if desired), don’t stir.
  6. Add a cocktail umbrella with pineapple chunks, or a skewer & a sprig of fresh mint.
  7. Imbibe.


I prefer freshly squeezed orange, lime & pineapple, versus pre-made or concentrate juices, but you can use pre-made also. For the rum floater, I tried a newer variety of dark rum called “Tattoo” by Captain Morgan. It is a dark variety with a slight hint of orange & cherry, though it wasn’t sweet or too noticeable, but worked well with the citrus in this. Also, you can use Tripe Sec in lieu of the Cointreau, if you don’t have any. Double recipe as needed.


Many folks debate the origin of this polynesian pour, but its roots have been widely accepted to be from California . . . I had no idea? There are two rumored pioneers, Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber—both restauranteurs in the Golden Sate. I wasn’t around in the 1940’s to compare them, but these guys were doing something right. Mai Tai’s have evolved into a timeless cocktail, loved by vacationers everywhere! I’ve tried many variations, some with pineapple juice, some grapefruit, and you know what? I’ve never met one I didn’t fancy. I don’t like mine too sweet, but I do prefer a splash of fresh pineapple juice, freshly squeezed orange, lime, and a few types of rum. Many varieties call for simple syrup and/or orgeat syrup, which is almond based. I don’t keep orgeat around, so I decided to substitute with a splash of Amaretto, which gave us a little of the smooth almond flavor. I skipped the simple syrup altogether, since the fruit was just enough. As for the rum, I used a light variety, and a dark spiced one (since I had some already). I topped off our creation with a traditional dark rum floater, which no Mai Tai should go without! The little umbrella . . . well, that’s optional, but it never hurts to be festive.

I thoroughly enjoyed sipping this to welcome the weekend. Sometimes you just need a moment of vacation . . . maybe next time, Hawaii.

 Hali pau to you!

mai tai - 17

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