It’s time we start perfecting our Porch Sit game.
A Porch Sit is a late-afternoon gathering of friends, neighbors, a dog or two, a guitar or harmonica (optional), overlapping conversations, and sweet cold cocktails.
A Porch Sit is vital to summer, happy relationships, and good health. They stretch on into the evening and usually coincide with snacks, some sort of pasta salad, and a small dose of half-whispered gossip.
Cocktails are only part of the equation. Part but essential.
It’s cocktail time.
Start with the freshness: limes, kiwi, crushed ice and lots of rum.
White or golden rum for this recipe. Wait, do they call it golden rum? I hope so and they should.
Fresh lime juice together with granulated sugar. Stir stir stir until the sugar is dissolved. This lime-based cocktail will be very tart so I like to add a good amount of sugar.
Fresh lime and fresh kiwi into the lime and sugar.
Up next? Something I like to call the smash-muddle. Using the back of a spoon of a muddler to press mint and kiwi flavor into the sweetened lime juice.
Glasses prepared with loads of crushed ice, a lime wedge or two, a few kiwi slices, and big fragrant mint sprigs for each glass.
The cocktail is stirred with ice and divided among the garnished glasses.
Add a splash of soda to fizzy the drink and dilute the sweet lime.
Consider serving with a heap of Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole and crisp tortilla chips. Maybe on one of those sunny days when you’re playing hooky from a responsibility or two. Not that you do that… but it wouldn’t be the worst thing.
- lots of crushed ice
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice plus lime wedges for garnish
- 3-4 tablespoons super fine granulated sugar, depending on your sweet tooth
- 1 handful fresh mint leaves, plus large sprigs of mint to garnish
- 3 ripe kiwi, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 cup rum
- splash of club soda for each glass
- In a large glass or cocktail shaker stir together lemon juice and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Add mint leaves and a few slices of kiwi and muddle until fruit and mint are crushed and fragrant.
- Add rum and a handful of crushed ice and stir until combined.
- Fill four small glasses with crushed ice. Add mint sprigs, kiwi slices and lime wedges to each glass.
- Divide the cocktail between the four glasses, top each glass with club soda. Add a straw and enjoy immediately.
These bourbon laden treats were inspired by two things: those still spring, but almost summer days that give you a hint at just how blazing hot this summer is going to be, and… this weekend’s Kentucky Derby.
Here’s what I know about Spring:
It’s green. Once we get past the Easter Bunny stage, it’s all about blooming flowers and May showers. Spring makes me feel like I’m in love with the world… probably because I am.
Here’s what I know about the Kentucky Derby:
Horses. Hats. Mint Juleps.
Here’s what I know about bourbon:
Dang, it’s good!
Here, for your Spring and Derby pleasure, are Mint Julep two ways.
The first is a classic Mint Julep cocktail. If you’re from the South and think that somehow this recipe is not a classic version, then please accept my humble apologies as a native Californian. This is the (ooooh so delicious) way I’ve had Mint Juleps foreva-eva-eva.
The second version is all of the Mint Julep fix-ins on watermelon cubes. Brilliant, right? So refreshing, so fun, and just the perfect way to get ready for the summer sun.
Mint Julep, the cocktail
makes 1 drink adapted from Chow
- 3 sprigs fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- 2 ounces bourbon
- club soda or filtered water
- sprinkle of powdered sugar
Muddle the leaves from two mint sprigs with teaspoons of water and sugar in a highball or collins glass.
Once the mint is bruised and the mixtures is super fragrant, fill the cup with ice cubes. Pour in bourbon, and top with club soda or water and garnish with the remaining mint sprig and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Mint Julep, the watermelon
adapted from Gourmet May 2005
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or blended whiskey
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint plus 2 tablespoons whole small fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 small, seedless watermelon (about 2 pounds of diced watermelon, I just used a small mixing bowl full of diced melon)
Stir together bourbon, chopped mint, and sugar in a small bowl. Let stand 20 minutes (to allow flavors to develop).
Meanwhile, trim, peel, and dice a watermelon. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Pour bourbon mixture through a sieve onto watermelon. If you leave the chopped mint in the mixture, pour it all over the watermelon, and don’t serve it immediately, they’ll eventually turn brown and icky. I learned the hard way. Add whole mint leaves and gently toss to combine. Place in the fridge to chill until serving.
The kitchen. It’s where I do a majority of my… standing.
Standing and staring.
Standing and staring and spreading cream cheese onto Wheat Thins.
Standing and staring and eating cream cheese and Wheat Thins until I come up with a recipe and post idea.
If you were a fly on my kitchen wall… well, I wouldn’t like that very much… but you would probably think that a) I have very few brain cells firing with all of the standing and staring I do and b) I have an unhealthy relationship with cream cheese.
You might be right about the brain cells… I won’t argue that the standing and staring is a strange process. But the cream cheese? Yea… I’ll admit I have a bit of a problem with cream cheese and crackers. I’m trying to break the habit with chick peas and olive oil and mint and parsley. I think it’s working. I really think it’s working.
Delicious. Delicious. Crazy delicious. This spread is hummus meets pesto meets lemon meets delicious.
Ooh… and it’s totally healthy too. Dang!
This spread is creamy without the cream, a little tart, a little herby and all sorts of satisfying. On warm spelt tortillas… it’s my new favorite thing. For serious.
Chickpea, Mint, and Parsley Spread
Martha Stewart Living, May 2007
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 small garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
fresh ground black pepper
warm pitas, bread or crackers
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rinsed and drained chickpeas and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Put the chopped mint and parsley into the bowl of a food processor. Add salt, pepper and lemon. Add the chickpea mixture. I have a smaller food processor and did this in two batches, dividing all of the ingredients in half and blending it twice.
With the machine running, blend all of the ingredients and add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in a slow and steady steam, allowing it to emulsify. Spread can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or transferred to a serving dish, drizzled with olive oil and served with warm pita or warm spelt tortillas (pictured).
Let’s throw the best Kentucky Derby Party around! This… coming from a California girl curiously living in the Deep South.
In my mind, throwing the best Derby Party has everything to do with buying all of the mint and all of the bourbon. With those two staples… everything else will fall into place. This… coming from the California girl (who really likes bourbon).
A big hat is important. A television that plays the races is pretty essential. Red roses are a nice touch. Fried chicken will keep the masses contented. A Derby Pie (totally in our near future) is above and beyond, and totally major.
All of the bourbon, though. First we’re really going to need all of the bourbon.
Adorning our bourbon is also pretty important.
Horse racing cocktail spears found here!
With all the bourbon and all the mint, here we are… OFF TO THE RACES!
(I had to.)
Ice becomes a major part of Mint Juleps because the cocktail has so few ingredients: mint simple syrup, bourbon, and ice.
Crushed ice all the way. I’ll be crushing ice all summer thanks to this ice crushing dream machine. Count on it!
A bit of mint simple syrup in the bottom of each tumbler.
Lots of crushed ice.
I had no idea how fast ice melts in the South. Lightening speeds. Seriously.
Bourbon on top of the ice, on top of the mint simple syrup.
My Julep bourbons of choice: Bulleit, Jack Daniels (which isn’t bourbon, but whiskey), Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, and Knob Creek. I also think a rye might be nice! Select what makes you happy.
More ice, forever and ever.
A paper straw. A horse racing accessory. A sprig of mint as giant as your hat or as dapper as your bow tie. Even this California girl knows this much to be true.
Classic Mint Juleps
recipe from epicurious
For the Mint Syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 big handful fresh mint leaves and stems
For the Cocktail:
1 scant ounce mint syrup
about 2 cups crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon
fresh mint sprigs for garnish
To make the mint syrup, in a medium saucepan combine sugar, water, and mint over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stir, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mint to steep for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the mint leaves, place syrup in a small jar and refrigerate until chilled through. Mint syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance.
To make a cocktail, add mint syrup to the bottom of a glass. Top with about 1 cup of crushed ice. Add bourbon and stir. Top with more ice, filling the glass. Add a mint sprig and straw and stir just before serving.
Let’s get out there!
There’s a whole lotta living to be done out in this gorgeous world.
When there’s lots of living to be done outdoors… that typically means that kitchen time is at a minimum. Sunshine, sandals and cocktails is the zone. Next to the stove… not ideal unless your stove is outdoors next to the sandal and cocktail people.
Incidentally… you might want to perfect your summer cough now. I’m not suggesting that you call in sick on a Friday and make your very own three day weekend. That would be totally irresponsible. But, well… those summer coughs can get nasty and I’m pretty sure the only cure is picnicking and wave rushing.
… I’m just sayin’.
Let’s make it easy.
Fresh, chilled watermelon is sliced and diced. A big chunk of fresh feta cheese is crumbled. Fresh mint is chopped. And sesame seeds are sprinkled.
Have you ever combined watermelon and feta cheese? It’s totally the thing to do. Sweet and juicy watermelon is wonderfully complimented by salty feta cheese. Mint is an awesome herbal element, and sesame seeds are the addition of my artist friend, Fay. This salad makes my mouth thirsty and quenches my thirst all at the same time. Totally weird and true.
Watermelon Feta & Mint Salad
serves many or few
Dice as much watermelon as you’re in the mood to eat or share. Sprinkle the watermelon generously with sheep’s milk feta cheese. Coarsely chop fresh mint leaves and sprinkle on top. I also love a good sprinkling of black sesame seeds. For a super sweet watermelon treat, add a drizzle of honey.
Enjoy at the beach, in the sun, preferably wearing sunscreen.
My dad used to make my sister and I cold cereal for breakfast most mornings. He’d spoon some brown sugar into a small bowl, add Life Cereal (remember that goodness!?), and top the cereal with milk. My sister and I would sit in the breakfast nook watching I Love Lucy (or The Andy Griffith Show on a bad day) and enjoy our cereal. Easy and regular and somehow super special.
I’d try to rush my way through the cereal before it got too soggy. Always a race against time. The best part of cereal was always the final spoonfuls of milk steeped with the brown sugar that lived at the bottom of the bowl. I loved finding those sweet pockets of brown sugar.
I think I’m looking for those sweet pockets all through life. They’re not really that hard to find…. especially when you put way too much minty chocolate syrup at the bottom of your chocolate milk glass. See what I did there? Sweet pockets.
For a hot version of Chocolate Milk, see: Cinnamon Infused Hot Chocolate.
Chocolate milk is about more than just mixing cocoa powder with milk. Oooh no. We need to fancy it up a bit.
Cocoa powder is combined with brown sugar and granulated sugar. Water to make it all a syrup. Salt to balance the sweetness. Pure vanilla extract for depth, and a dash of mint extract because it’s winter and peppermint is extra pretty in chocolate.
I used two different types of cocoa powder because it’s what I had on hand. I used natural cocoa powder and a black onyx cocoa powder. Use whatever you have that makes you happy.
The mixture is whisked and boiled for about 10 minutes. The chocolate becomes deep, dark, and bubbly hot. Not exactly what you might think when you picture cold chocolate milk, but we’ll get there!
Once the syrup is boiled and thickened, it’s rested and cooled. It’s sort of like making hot fudge for milk. I mean… just imagine how good that is. Ps. REALLY GOOD, in case your imagination fails you.
A heaping spoonful of chocolate syrup is stirred together with milk. The result is creamy chocolate milk with just a tiny hint of mint. So satisfying. Add a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we’ll be best friends forever and ever.
My very favorite part is the collected chocolate at the bottom of the glass. Life is sweet.
In other news… can you believe that I executed this entire blog post without the use of a single paper straw. Food blog miracle.
Hint of Mint Chocolate Milk
adapted from With Style and Grace
makes about 1 1/2 cups chocolate sauce
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used natural cocoa powder and black onyx cocoa powder)
pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
whole or reduced fat cow’s milk, soy milk, or almond milk
In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugars, cocoa powder, and salt. Place saucepan over low heat and add water. Whisk until thoroughly combined and no lumps remain.
Bring the chocolate mixture to a low boil, whisking frequently. Whisk for 8 to 10 minutes, until mixture is thickened.
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and peppermint extracts. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Transfer to an airtight jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make chocolate milk, stir together 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup per one cup of cold milk. Stir and enjoy!
Can we all just stop pretending like it’s easy to take pictures of ice cream? It’s not. It’s melty. It’s madness. Can we just let it be what it is? Geez! We’re not superheros!
I remember the days when I just ate ice cream… and didn’t take picture of ice cream and then eat mostly melted ice cream. Those were the days when we just… you know… ate food. WEIRD!
Nowadays (I love that word, it makes me feel old), I always have my camera with me in the kitchen. It’s caked in an almost embarrassing amount of flour. It’s ridiculous and wonderful and I’m glad you’re here to see the results.
Let’s make puffs now.
We’ve approached pate a choux dough before. Remember the Strawberry Cream Puffs with Milk Chocolate Sauce? Yea… so delicious and much less melty than ice cream.
I said it then and I’ll say it now… pate a choux dough is waaaay easier than your brain would have you think!
It all starts very simply with butter, water, flour, salt, and eggs. It’s seems like a fairly straight forward pastry dough…
… until you realize you have to cook the dough on the stovetop.
This might seem a little strange, and surely you’ll feel like you’ve ruined this dough (and everything ever) for at least 15 of the 447 seconds it takes to boil the water and stir in the flour. I did. I understand you.
The cooked dough is beaten with eggs. You’ll feel like you’ve made an insurmountable error for about 18 of the 334 seconds in takes to beat the eggs into the dough.
You’ll wonder why you ever started taking pictures of food to begin with. You’ll wonder why you didn’t just adopt three cats, quit your job, and eat Twizzlers every day all day while you had the chance… UM.
Don’t worry. The dough will come together and you’ll feel compelled to pick up your camera and take pictures of your glossy success. I did. I understand you.
Warm pastry dough is piped onto a parchment covered baking sheet and you’ll wonder how these humble little coins will ever be light and fluffy. It just doesn’t make sense.
But it does make sense because look at this! It’s really amazing how these puffs transform into light, hollow, and airy pastry. We have the eggs to thank. Eggs do all the heavy lifting (literally) in these little pastry bites. Enough space in created for each pastry to be halved and filled with ice cream.
Now would be a good time to find some napkins and a washcloth. It’s about to get messy. Flour on the camera is one thing… melted ice cream on the camera is far less endearing.
It’s called the Scoop and Shoot… and it has to happen very quickly.
Would now be a good time to tell you that I ate nearly the entire pint of ice cream while shooting these puffs. It was a very tense and melty situation. It had to go somewhere!
Because enough is rarely ever enough, I think we should add warm, dark chocolate.
I’m ok with this melty situation. It simple means that you have to pop one of these profiterols in your mouth very quickly. One bite. Teeth freeze . Brain freeze. You’ll feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake (and maybe you have) but you can chew through it… and you can’t chew through most mistakes. Also, most mistakes don’t taste like mint chocolate chip ice cream and warm chocolate sauce… so maybe this isn’t a mistake after all.
You better try another just to be sure.
All images captured on the Canon RebelT5i.
Mint Chocolate Chip Profiteroles
makes 18-22 profiteroles
adapted from epicurious
1 quart mint chocolate chip ice cream
For the Profiteroles:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
For the Chocolate Sauce:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon bourbon (or pure vanilla extract)
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, add butter, water, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Once butter is melted, add flour and stir to combine. For about 15 seconds you’ll think you’ve made a terrible and lumpy mistake. Keep stirring. After about 30 seconds, the mixture will pull away from the sides and form a ball. Cook for 1 minute more.
Remove dough from the pan and place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, just to release some of the heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute in between each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl after each egg addition. Mixture will be glossy and smooth, thick but still just pourable.
Transfer mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch found tip.
Pipe mounds onto prepared baking sheets. Mounds should be about 1 1/4-inch wide and 1-inch tall.
Place in the oven and allow to bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed, cooked through and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheets.
While the profiteroles cool, make the chocolate sauce.
Place sugar in an even layer across the bottom of a medium saucepan. Cook sugar (yes… just the sugar) over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt and become golden brown. Don’t stir the sugar, just swirl it to ensure even cooking.
When the sugar has melted to a deep amber color, remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. The mixture will bubble and sizzle, and some of the melted sugar may seize. That’s ok. Return to low heat and stir until any seized sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in salt, chocolate chunks, and bourbon. Stir until chocolate is melted. Set aside but keep warm.
To assemble the dessert, slice each profiterole in half. Top one half with a small scoop of ice cream. Place the lid over the ice cream, drizzle with warm chocolate sauce and serve immediately.
The plain profiteroles can we stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If they get soft, place them in a warm oven for a few moments to dry them out.
I got lost in a Google search time-suck. I really did have the best intentions. I was very fervently doing research for a Boston Cream Pie recipe when I stumbled upon the words ‘Salted’ and ‘Lassi’. Hm. Usually I find the word ‘Lassi’ paired with the word ‘Mango’, and I’m made to think of the too-thick-for-my-taste yogurt drink served at Indian restaurants. A Salted Lassi is totally a new addition to my culinary mind.
This yogurt-based drink is paired with fresh mint and cumin. Yea! Cumin! Get excited… this is actually really cool.
The mixture is blended until herby and smooth and them topped with a bit of sparkling water for serving. This drink is super fresh, easy to drink, and majorly refreshing. Paired with a super spicy chicken dish… seriously!? This was delicious enough to make me forget about Boston Cream Pie.
Ps. I like that we try new things together.
Pps. Maybe this Salted Lassi isn’t new to you… in which case, what other treats do you have up your sleeve!?
This savory lassi starts with simple and humble ingredients. I pulled together whole-milk yogurt, a big handful of fresh mint, whole cumin seeds, and a grey sea salt. We’re going to make these drinkable!
We use whole cumin seeds because we want to get the most flavor out of the spice as possible. Whole cumin is toasted in a dry skillet then crushed in a small spice grinder. I use this coffee grinder as a spice grinding situation and it works like a gem!
The fresh mint and yogurt combination makes this drink super tart and incredibly refreshing.
What is it about fresh mint that feels like a power herb?
Glasses are filled with ice and in goes the minty yogurt mixture. I filled the glasses halfway with lassi then topped them off with sparkling water and a sprinkling of salt.
In essence, what we’re talking about is a savory yogurt-based soda.
Are you giving me the raised eyebrow?
Allow me to suggest you grab a super spicy chicken kabob, pair it with this mega-refreshing soda, and call me in the morning.
These Salted Lassis are surprising and refreshing. The yogurt adds a creamy and tart element. The mint is bright refreshment. The cumin lends a grounding element to the bright and tart flavors. The salt makes things all around enticing. It really is delicious!
Oh! If you’re wondering, I found these glasses at a place called H.D. Buttercup here in Los Angeles… though I couldn’t find a direct link to the glasses.
Mint and Cumin Salted Lassi
makes 4 small or 2 large drinks
adapted from Susan Feniger’s Street Food
2 cups whole milk plain yogurt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Coarse sea salt
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Place whole cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast for one minute until fragrant and just slightly golden brown. Remove from skillet and grind cumin seeds in a spice grinder until powdered. If you don’t have a dedicated spice grinder, you can simply clean out your coffee grinder and go for it.
In a blender combine yogurt, water, fresh mint leaves, ground cumin, and salt. Blend until min is smooth, about 1 minute.
To serve, fill glasses with ice cubes. Fill the glass half full with blended yogurt mixture. Top with sparkling water, a sprinkling of salt, and fresh mint leaves. Serve.
Can we talk about lemonade?
Actually. Proper question: can we talk about lemonade again and probably again and again after that?
Last week we experienced Beet Lemonade, all bright pink and sweet and totally showing off. Today it’s Blueberry Mint Lemonade, all deep and purple and tart… and totally showing off.
This lemonade comes together with exactly those fresh berries languishing in the back of your refrigerator. They’re getting wrinkly. You know the ones. Throw those little darlings in a blender with fresh mint, stems and all… and here we are, on the fantastic side of refreshment.
This recipe is again inspired by The Lemonade Cookbook because it’s lovely and I’m thirsty.
I used fresh blueberries for this lemonade. Frozen blueberries also work well, but there’s something kinda wonderful about using fresh berries when the season calls for it. I’ve found that this recipe works exceedingly well with fresh blueberries that are just past their prime, headed straight towards sad, wasted blueberries. Make ’em juice!
Super fresh lemon juice. There are no substitutes. I’ve checked.
Into the blender we go with lemon juice, blueberries, fresh mint (and them stems never hurt anyone!), and sugar. Blend it up like the most tart smoothie ever to exist.
The blueberry lemon mint mixture is pressed through a fine mesh strainer (which will then be really annoying to clean but that’s ok), and the deep purple liquid is poured into a pitcher to join filtered water and be the best lemonade ever!
Well… it’s the best lemonade until I find another bonkers awesome lemonade combination! I’m thinking Cantaloupe Honey Lemonade might be up next!
Deep purple, perfectly sweet, and exactly tart! This lemonade is gulp-able. Just don’t spill it on your shirt. Pro tip.