citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora

citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas

Lies, I’ll tell you! I’m looking outside my studio window at the peacefully falling snow. We were bracing ourselves here in Denver for well over a foot of snow, and all we received was a scant eight inches. I was actually looking forward to a serious dumping of the stuff. I want to be snowed in, denied from even getting into my car. I want a work-free day, complete with movies, cozy blankets, lots of baking, and no obligations. I suppose I still need the electricity and the water to work, so nothing too drastic.

I always associate ice-cold, salt-rimmed margaritas with balmy, summer days, but all of my citrus surplus has pushed my creativity to serious lengths. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve made orange marmalade, blood orange and bourbon cocktails, and even some Campari-spiked orange sherbet, so tangerine margaritas were only a natural progression.

citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora

You know how you just want to pour yourself a cocktail, shut out all of the busyness, and enjoy the peace around you? That is how I am feeling morning, except I can’t enjoy a wintry cocktail {or any  kind of cocktail, for that matter}. I am working this evening, and there are well over 500 reservations on the books; that’s about three times our normal count for a Sunday. So, I’ll be heavily hitting the coffee, instead. Sigh.

You see, each February, almost all of Denver’s restaurants host “Restaurant Week.” For the guests, it is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the cuisine of their favorite dining spots or restaurants they’ve always wanted to visit, at an incredibly discounted price. For the employees of the restaurants, however, the hours are longer, the workload is heavier, the tickets are decreased by about half the normal price, and the guest-count more than triples. It is exhausting.

So, instead of having one of these right now, I’ll most likely make one for myself later on this evening. And it will be delicious.

citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora

I absolutely love classic margaritas. Who doesn’t? They are the perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty, and citrus. I also love creating twists on the original recipe and mixing mine with different fruit juices and various liqueurs. This past week, I bought a large bag of organic tangerines, juiced them, and made the most refreshing citrus margaritas.

For a unique garnish, I made citrus salt for the rims of the cocktail glasses. I crushed up some navel oranges I had dehydrated several weeks ago and added some sea salt to the mix. I was super pleased with the results, and I plan doing the same thing with dehydrated limes and lemons. The best part about this added special touch is that it is so simple to make. You just need a few hours to dry the fruit.


how to make citrus salt


  1. Slice the oranges about 1/4 of an inch thick and remove their seeds.
  2. Arrange slices on the trays of a food dehydrator and set the temperature to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Allow the slices to dehydrate for 6-12 hours or until crisp and brittle.
  4. Store them in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight, until you’re ready to use them.
  5. For the citrus salt, coarsely grind the centers of the oranges, removing the tough rims. I used my Le Creuset mortar and pestle, one of my favorite and most-used kitchen splurges, but you could also pulse in a food processor. I saved the tough rims for a future salt scrub project!
  6. Add an equal amount of sea salt, or a little less, depending upon your taste.
  7. Store the citrus salt in an airtight container.

citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & floracitrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora


citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas


  1. Juice the tangerines and lime{s}. Don’t settle for the bland, bottled, pasteurized stuff.
  2. Sprinkle the citrus salt on a plate. Run a  lime wedge along the rim of the cocktail glass and carefully press the edge of the glass into the citrus salt.
  3. Carefully fill the cocktail glass with fresh ice.
  4. Fill a cocktail mixing glass with ice and add the tequila, blood orange liqueur, the juices, and, optionally, the agave nectar.
  5. Shake the mixture well, strain, and pour into the prepared glass.
  6. Garnish with a lime {or tangerine} wedge or wheel.
  • Always choose organic citrus and thoroughly scrub the exteriors, even if you are simply juicing the fruit. Again, take the time and “effort” to juice fresh fruit. The flavor is incomparable.
  • The Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur tastes delicious and gives this cocktail great balance; however, if you are unable to find this, feel free to substitute another orange liqueur.

citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora

Did you know that today is actually National Margarita Day? Well, go out and get some tangerines and limes and do some celebrating! ;-) It’s a great excuse to rebel against the chilly, snowy weather 0r celebrate the warm, sunny weather you are experiencing. And if you need any further inspiration, check out this beautiful blood orange margarita at Design Love Fest, this Meyer lemon margarita by White on Rice Couple, or this gorgeous French Kiss margarita over at Bakers Royale.

Cheers to us all enjoying a happy Sunday and to my surviving the night. Steve just came back from running errands {thank you!} and said the roads were terrible. Luckily, we live less than five minutes from work, so our commute will be painful but quick. I’m already anticipating coming home to a cozy house and settling in with a movie tonight. And maybe a margarita.

XO,

Jayme

citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora citrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & floracitrus salt-rimmed tangerine margaritas | holly & flora

bundt cake with thyme sprig

meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes | paired with anselmi’s “i capitelli” dessert wine

I recently read a very inspiring post on Darling magazine’s website about celebrating our small and large moments of victory, fanning the flames of our goals, and daring to actually live out those crazy dreams we have for our lives. I know I’ve been pretty wordy about goal-setting and intentions on my last few posts, but I have no apologies. We all need a little motivation; I’m seriously preaching to myself.

Lately, I’ve had a few setbacks with the goals I’ve written for myself. I dealt with a case of bronchitis, and I had to stop running for a few weeks. My work schedule has been a little unpredictable, and my finances have taken a toll. I have over-committed and have had some difficulty finding a sense of balance, in turn, hurting a couple of friends and family members as a result.

I can only pick up where I left off with those situations and do my best from this point on. I’ve slowly built my running mileage up to four miles a run, and I’ve tightened up my budget. As far as the fragile relationships go, I’m making room for quality time and making sure I am giving my full attention to the person I’m spending time with.


We have to reach for our goals but, more than that, we have to hold on and live them, until they’re the only truths we believe in.”

- Megan Magers


Sometimes, it is tough holding onto our goals. When we are met with setbacks. When we’re the only ones who see any progress. When we supposedly “fail.” When no validation comes our way. It’s at those points where it is so important to stay strong and remind ourselves WHY we made our choices and commitments in the first place.

So, I’ve gotten back on my feet and am trying to make something beautiful from my mistakes. This brings me to my recent marmalade mishap: I botched a batch and couldn’t get the marmalade to set. I wanted to toss out the six jars I canned. I was livid with the results.

At first.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

I could’ve thrown that batch away, and I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to expand my creativity. I’ve used that runny, but oh-so-vibrantly-tasty batch of marmalade in more ways than I would have, had it been “perfect.”  It has found its way into a ginger-soy stir-fry sauce, as a dipping sauce for gyoza, over toast, in a gin cocktail, over granola, and drizzled over these Meyer lemon bundt cakes {recipe loosely adapted from this recipe on Food Network}. I think the bundt cake glaze is my most favorite incorporation of the sweet, citrus-y jam.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


meyer lemon + thyme olive oil cakes


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, in solid form
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring bundt pans
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or skyr
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease the lining of the bundt pans with the coconut oil and lightly dust with flour.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the sugar and lemon zest until integrated.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, again, pulsing until integrated.
  5. Add the olive oil and yogurt and pulse for about 30 seconds, until all of the ingredients are blended.
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and fresh thyme.
  7. Pour the flour mixture, in three separate passes, into the olive oil mixture, pulsing just until combined.
  8. Pour the final mixture into the greased and floured bundt pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack. If the cakes don’t want to release easily, use a knife to separate the cake from the edges of the pan.
  • I tested this recipe using a 6-piece mini-bundt pan. If you choose to use a 12-piece mini-bundt pan, decrease the baking time, checking on the cakes after 22 or so minutes.
  • Remember to grease the middle part of the bundt pan molds! I forgot to do this, and each cake didn’t want to release easily, since that middle portion was stuck.

marmalade glaze


  • 3 tablespoons marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In a saucepan, combine the marmalade and the coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. As soon as the mixture reaches a slow, bubbly boil, quickly reduce to a low simmer.
  3. Whisk in powdered sugar.
  4. Reduce for about five minutes or to desired thickness.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand for 20-30 minutes to thicken further, as it cools.
  6. Drizzle over lemon olive oil cakes.
  • If you don’t have any marmalade, you may substitute 3 tablespoons lemon juice and simply mix all ingredients without heating on the stove.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

And now, let’s take this dessert to another level.

How so? Dessert wine. After a meal, I am always excited to pair a dessert wine with my sweet baked goods or even some cheese. The citrus notes in this particular recipe pair perfectly with Sauternes, a dessert wine from the Bordeaux region of France, made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. I didn’t have a Sauternes on hand, but I did have a Sauternes-like dessert wine from Italy, Anselmi’s “I Capitelli”, Passito Blanco.

I hadn’t tried it before, and I was completely blown away. This nectar-like, sweet wine is complex and balanced with vibrant acidity and provided ample notes of honey, dried apricot, brûléed peaches. I would also enjoy this dessert wine simply by itself, alongside fresh fruit, or with a salted caramel crème brûlée.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora


Anselmi “I Capitelli” Passito Blanco, Italy, 2011


  • Off the vine – 100% Garganega {the primary grape used to produce Soave}
  • On the eyes  –  golden honey-hued.
  • On the nose  –  rich, concentrated aromas of white peach, sweet apricot, honey, and caramel.
  • On the palate  –  full-bodied and viscous with notes of honey, maple, and ripe peaches.
  • On the table  –  excellent alongside fresh fruit, lemon cake, light pastries, and even with steamed lobster. It can definitely stand up and complement a funky bleu cheese.
  • On the shelf  –  around $40 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I think I’ve listened to Royksopp‘s latest, and supposedly final, album, The Inevitable End {November 2014}, at least once a day for the last three weeks. Right now, my favorite track is “Skulls.” I may have danced around the kitchen with this one blasting. I’m comfortably listening to this album right now on headphones, so there won’t be any neighborly casualties. ;-) The video to this track is definitely worth checking out, especially if you have major beard crushes, like I do.

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & floraI also want to add that it is so important to celebrate our accomplishments, the large breakthroughs and the little victories, and not just focus on the hiccups, roadblocks, or setbacks. Even though each of our victories leads us closer to our goals, we have to remember that life happens along the way, in the mix. We have to take time to revel in those small, happy moments.

Let me know if you end up making this recipe, this decadent product of an originally perceived failure. They were absolutely delicious and had the best texture, almost like a sour cream cake doughnut. I ended up eating two of these mini-bundt cakes the night I baked them. And I didn’t feel any guilt about it! It was a victorious celebration, after all, right?

Happy weekend! I’ll be tucked away inside my house for a couple of days. The forecast is calling for well over a foot of snow. We’ll see how well that prediction holds. I’m betting on maybe five inches!

Cheers!

Jayme

meyer lemon thyme olive oil cake | holly & flora

 

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora

a little hanky panky | gin + blood orange + fernet-branca cocktail

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is upon us. My boyfriend and I don’t really celebrate the holiday. We figure it’s one of those made-up holidays to make you spend money, feel guilty if you don’t participate, and think something’s wrong with you, if you don’t get anything. Plus, I usually have to work at the restaurant on the 14th, so it never feels really romantic anyway.

My mom, however, is my biggest Valentine to date. On Valentine’s Day, when I was growing up, she would always wake me with pretty hearts filled with chocolates, occasionally with bouquets of flowers, and always with a big hug and a warm smile. Back in high school, I actually never received a Valentine’s Day gift from a guy, so I kind of took a bitter stance on the holiday, despite the generosity of my sweet mom.

I figured I’d make a bittersweet cocktail to celebrate. Something that has a bright, slightly sweet finish, with a feisty, little bite, provided by a dash or two of Fernet-Branca. This is a perfect mid-winter cocktail, appealing to Manhattan-lovers and those with a penchant for all things savory. And celebrating with a cocktail is something we can all agree upon.

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora

I have a limited, on-again-off-again relationship with Fernet-Branca. A little goes a long way, and if I overdo it, I’ll hide the bottle for a month or so. It eventually makes its way back into my life. This bitter Italian amaro is not for the faint at heart. Its aroma is laced with minty overtones; a hefty dose of bitter, herbal notes; and deep, rich spices. It has quite the strong personality.

I first learned of Fernet-Branca, when I worked behind the bar in a small Italian restaurant several years ago. The waitstaff would take a shot of the stuff together at the end of a shift, whether it was good or bad. I’d quickly down my small portion, and I’d end up making the most hideous face. Let’s just say that Fernet and I didn’t really start out on the right foot.

It was only when I visited Italy that I gave Fernet another chance at being delicious. One morning, after a rather intense evening of wine-tasting, I wandered down the cobbled streets in Alba to a small coffee shop. I must have looked kind of tired {hungover?} because the gentleman behind the bar raised his brows and asked me, “Caffè corretto con Fernet?” My friend assured me that “yes” was the right answer. I was handed an espresso with a shot of Fernet, I took a small sip, and I immediately felt a little better.

Fernet was growing on me.

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora

Fernet, in fact, is categorized as a digestivo, a bitter, stomach-settling liqueur consumed at the end of a meal. I had many a caffè corretto on that trip, and since then, I’ve enjoyed Fernet after many a heavy meal. If the intensity is too much for you on its own, try adding a little into an espresso or a dash of it into a cocktail, like this one.

One of my favorite cocktails that incorporates Fernet-Branca is a classic cocktail, the Hanky-Panky, invented by famed female bartender, Ada Coleman, in the early 20th century. Her original recipe calls for 1 1/2 ounces of dry gin, 1 1/2 ounces of sweet vermouth, and one bar spoon of Fernet. I put a little twist on this bitter-sweet martini by adding seasonally available blood oranges and a touch of orange bitters.

I’m pretty partial to my rendition.


the $10 greeting card | a twist on the hanky-panky


  1. Juice the blood orange{s}.
  2. In a cocktail mixing glass filled with ice, add the gin, sweet vermouth, blood orange juice, Fernet-Branca, and orange bitters.
  3. Stir for about one minute.
  4. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange peel.

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & floraBack to the topic of bitterness, I’m pretty bitter that I didn’t even get to take a sip of these drinks, when I photographed them. Along with committing to running a half-marathon in May, I also gave up alcohol and refined sugar until my birthday in mid-March. It makes my job rather tricky with the whole wine-tasting thing and all. I just might have to sneak a little bubbles tonight. We have almost 600 {as. in. people.} reservations this evening. I am thinking I’ll need a nightcap.

Or two.

Well, happy Valentine’s Day to its lovers and its haters! I’m curious – do you have a favorite cocktail that incorporates Fernet-Branca? What are you planning on sipping this evening? I am a lot of talk, but I’ll most likely behave and have some sparkling water with a splash of one of the shrubs I’ve been making – probably the blood orange shrub. More on that project later!

Cheers!

Jayme

PS – Mad props to Andy of Liquorary for scouting out the amazing vintage Libby coupes I used in these photos! I have been coupe-less for several years, and they arrived just in time for this shoot. Check out his Etsy shop, as its barware contents change all the time. He also makes some pretty neat cocktails every Friday over at Oh So Beautiful Paper.

For now, yay for new glassware!!

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora

marmalade on cutting board

mixed citrus marmalade + thoughts on goals

My sister and I have an eight-hour record for one phone conversation. I know. It is a little extreme. I don’t even know how that was possible, and it was so long ago that I don’t quite remember the topics discussed. A couple of nights ago, we held another lengthy phone conversation, which turned into a Skype conversation. No new records were set, but we covered a lot of territory.

Over the course of about two and a half hours, we caught up on our daily happenings, shared a few tough stories, and even held a meet-and-greet for our cats. I’m so glad that we can be so open and silly with each other. Heather and I even completed some chores while chatting. She finished folding her laundry, and I managed to make some preserved lemons and Meyer lemon curd.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

- Chinese Proverb

Lately, both of us have felt compelled to do more of what we want to do, cultivate more confidence, and stop procrastinating the procrastination cycle. Together, we made lists of positive habits we desire in our lives, along with the action plans to accomplish them. One of our goals is a shared one: running a half-marathon this spring.

There’s something rather permanent, when you put a goal in writing. It is no longer just an idea. It is one step closer to a reality. So, we signed up for our races and made a pact to cheer each other on and hold each other accountable. To make it public, and seal the deal even further, I drafted a post on Facebook, cringed, and finally pressed “post.” It was out there. It was no longer a thought in my mind that could be rationalized away by fear or lethargy.

marmalade with citrus peels on cutting board

You might be asking, “What does this even have to do with marmalade!?

Marmalade is something I’ve always enjoyed and have wanted to master. I have messed up my last two batches of marmalade, and I seriously wanted to conquer this preserve. I needed redemption. Getting marmalade to set can be a challenge. Those last two batches were incredibly tasty but lacked a thicker consistency. They didn’t go unused, however. I used the thin marmalade as a glaze, an ice cream topping, an addition to yogurt and granola, and even a base for a cocktail.

I broke my losing streak and finally nailed a batch. Classic marmalade recipes call for Seville oranges, an acidic and bitter variety. Their seeds and pith provide a lot of pectin, which facilitates the setting of the marmalade. I can’t ever seem to find them, so I have always swapped the Sevilles for varieties that are less bitter and pithy, but I never made up for the lack of pectin. It finally made sense to me, and this time, I made the proper amendments. The resulting marmalade was delicious!

close-up of marmalade toast with tea and marmalade plate of toast with marmalade and tea tea with orange slices stack of toast with jar of marmalade

According to Marisa McClellan of the website, Food in Jars, there are three styles of marmalade: whole fruit, cut rind, and citrus jam. The method that I describe below is a cut rind method. This method requires removing the citrus pith by supreming and segmenting the citrus. Since removing these components decreases the amount of thickening pectin, it is important to make up for that loss by either adding purchased pectin or simply reserving the pith and seeds and infusing them, while cooking the marmalade.


mixed citrus marmalade


  • 4 pounds of oranges, any combination of blood orange or navel {depending up the size of the oranges, 7 or 8}
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice {about 2 large lemons}
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  1. Bring a large canning pot to a boil and sterilize your canning jars. For more detailed steps on the canning process, read this post by Kaela at Local Kitchen Blog. Also, place a small plate into your freezer. You’ll use this to test for proper setting later on.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peels of the oranges {kind of like zesting – you’re wanting just the orange part} in long ribbons. Stack several of the ribbons of peel and cut them width-wise to your desired thickness. I cut mine into 1/8″ strips. Set aside.
  3. Using a sharp knife, remove the outer white skins of the oranges and segment the oranges. Do this over a bowl to catch any juice that may drizzle out, and reserve the membranes, along with any pith or seeds. I found this video extremely enlightening.
  4. Take the orange segments, along with the peels, and place them in a large, wide preserving pan. I use my trusty Le Creuset 7 1/4 quart Dutch oven {it’s “red flame”, in case your curious!}.
  5. Strain the collected juice in your bowl into a large measuring cup and add enough water to bring the liquid to 3 cups. Pour this into the pot.
  6. Cut the tops and bottoms off the 2 lemons and slice them in half, lengthwise. Slice each of those halves width-wise. Place the lemon pieces, peel-side down, on a cutting board and slice into 1/4″ strips, leaving the flesh attached. It is okay if they aren’t perfectly sized. Toss all of the lemon pieces, along with any juice, into the preserving pot.
  7. Now is the time to put all of those reserved membranes, pith, and seeds to good use. Here is where your pectin comes into play. Take all of these bits and wrap them in 2 layers of cheesecloth. I firmly secured the makeshift bag but didn’t pack the pith and seeds too tightly. You want to give the pith and seeds a chance to infuse the marmalade mixture. Place this bag into the preservation pot.
  8. Bring the juice and zest {along with the cheesecloth bag} to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, taking a spoon and squeezing the cheesecloth bag a few times along the way.
  9. Turn off the heat. Once the bag is cool to the touch, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the bag and compost the remaining pith, membranes, and seeds.
  10. Over high heat, bring the citrus juice to a boil again and add the sugar. Stir along the way and bring the temperature up to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit. My mixture never reached this temperature, but it DID pass the “freezer test.” Remember that plate you placed in the freezer? Place a small amount of the mixture on your chilled plate, return it to the freezer for 1 minute, and check if it wrinkles when you touch it with a spoon.
  11. Ladle the marmalade, once it gels properly, into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace at the top. Wipe the rims with a damp cloth and seal the jars gently, just until closed, not too tightly.
  12. Place the jars into the boiling water bath, bring to a boil, and process for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove the jars from the canner and set on a heat-proof, flat surface. Do not disturb for at least 12 hours. Make sure that the cans have sealed. If they haven’t, just place the unsealed ones in the refrigerator and use them now. Store the properly sealed jars and use within a year for optimal flavor.

marmalade with slices of citrus


a few tips for better marmalade


  • Always purchase organic oranges. Pesticide residue is only measured by the amounts in the flesh of the fruit; the pesticide levels are not measured on the skins. Play it safe by always buying organic fruit and thoroughly scrubbing the skins.
  • Read this post on getting marmalade to set and always save your seeds. Like I mentioned earlier, I have seriously battled getting my marmalade to set. Don’t let that deter you from trying a recipe. I can’t remember where I saw this tip, but always save your citrus seeds whenever you’re juicing in the kitchen. Simply collect them in a bag and store them in the freezer to use in your next marmalade-making session.
  • Process your jars for the correct amount of time. If you are at a higher altitude, like I am, the processing time might be a little longer. Use this calculator to make sure you process for the correct amount of time. I processed mine for 15 minutes, since I live at 5,280 feet above sea level.
  • Juice your citrus at room temperature. It is much easier to do, and obtain more juice this way.
  • Read up on your canning and marmalade basics, before you begin. Here are a few resources that I have referenced, myself:

 


some recipes to pin for later


marmalade with wooden spoon

I’m curious about your thoughts on jam- and marmalade-making. What are your current challenges? Do you have any tips to share? Do you have a favorite recipe or resource?

And back to what I was talking about earlier, it is never too late to start something you’ve always wanted to try or learn something new. I seriously wonder why it takes a breakup, a diagnosis of a disease, or the loss of a job to spring us into action. Why can’t we just jump out, go after what we want, and make that change? Is it any less noble to start something new simply because we want to?

So, go make that marmalade, run that race, start that business, climb that mountain {literally or figuratively}, learn how to sail, or tell that person you love them. And wish me luck on that upcoming half-marathon!

Cheers to a beautiful and inspired week!

Jayme

three books on preserving stacked in a row

two bowls of sherbet on a cutting board

blood orange + campari sherbet {vegan}

I’ve been in a seasonal slump lately. It’s definitely a product of the cold weather and shorter days. I’m doing all the usual advice, like getting up earlier, going outside for some Vitamin D, lighting candles at night, and listening to cheery music. I’ve also been filling up my kitchen with bowls of lemons, oranges, and limes. I will say that their pungent aromas and punchy colors do pick me up quite a bit. The fact that citrus season falls in mid-winter is kind of like a love letter from nature, letting me know that longer days, warmer weather, and summer are on their way.

My citrus obsession has led to a lot of fun experimenting with different recipes and means of preserving these prime winter fruits. I’ve dabbled with lemon curd, preserved  lemons, and a few versions of citrus salads. I even managed to make a tangy orange marmalade, despite the fact that I let the preserving pot boil over. Cleanup was not fun. Not too proud about that moment. And then I came across a recipe for orange sherbet, via the Brown-Eyed Baker.

Right then, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my last basketful of blood oranges.

And if I accidentally type the word, sherbert, instead of sherbet, please don’t scold. Does anyone else feel the need to add the “r” to the word? I don’t know if it is a southern thing or just an accidental pronunciation that caught on, but I still slip up and add the “r.” I suppose worse things could happen, right?

overhead view of blood orange sherbet with orange slices blood orange sherbet with orange slicesNo, I am not 100% vegan, yet. I do, however, consume copious amount of veggies and eschew products that promote animal cruelty. I have slowly been reducing the amount of dairy in my recipes and meals. Giving up cheese has proven to be a futile effort, since the likes of Manchego, the Drunken Goat, and anything Haystack Mountain permanently reside in my refrigerator. It is always tougher to avoid your favorite foods, if your housemate isn’t on board with you. I blame Steve.

Dirty confession? I have wound up on the floor of my kitchen, at some ungodly hour of the night, either shoveling cheese and crackers into my mouth or cutting to the chase and eating a slab of the stuff, like you would a chocolate bar. It’s my vice, my current addiction. It will be the last animal product to go, if/when I do commit to the vegan lifestyle.

Vegan or not, I swear you’ll go crazy for this sherbet. It has just the right about of creamy texture, fruity sweetness, and tart-y punch. The best part about this recipe? You don’t even need an ice cream maker. David Lebovitz told me so.

close-up of spoonful of sherbet overhead view of sherbet and flowered towel


blood orange + campari sherbet {vegan}


  • 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups blood orange juice {about 5 oranges}
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons Campari
  • 2/3 cup coconut cream {see notes}

one bowl of blood orange sherbet with flowered towel

  1. Wash and zest your blood oranges, until you have a firmly packed tablespoon of zest. I used my new Microplane zester that my mom sent me. It is amazing.
  2. In a food processor, combine zest with sugar and salt. Pulse until the zest is well-distributed and mixture is slightly damp.
  3. In a juicer, juice five or six oranges, until you have 2 cups of liquid. If you don’t have a juicer, you can peel and purée the oranges in a blender and run them through a sieve, if you’d like.
  4. Add the blood orange juice, lemon juice {I used a hand-squeezer for this small amount}, vanilla extract, and Campari to the sugar mix. Process for about a minute or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. In a blender, whip the coconut cream until light and airy. How do you make the coconut cream? This is the best tutorial I’ve found.
  6. Add the coconut cream to the mixture and pulse until incorporated. See bullet below on how to obtain coconut milk needed for the coconut cream.
  7. Pour mixture into a deep baking dish or a large plastic container. I used a Tupperware-like rectangular pan, and it worked out perfectly. Place this in the freezer and set the timer for 45 minutes.
  8. Take the pan out of the freezer and stir or whisk the mixture vigorously or use a stick blender, breaking up any clumps. Place it back in the freezer. Repeat this step every 30 minutes, until the sherbet is frozen. The sherbet will be ready within 3 hours.
  • Freeze it right. Okay. Want to know what I did? Yes, this recipe incorporates David Lebovitz’s suggestions, but I actually didn’t stir the sherbet, after I placed it in the freezer. I wanted to see if it was even necessary. I have found that the texture is improved, when you whisk or blend the sherbet every 3o minutes; however, if this seems a little much for you, feel free to skip it. It still makes a great sherbet anyway!
  • Buy only organic. Always use organic citrus fruits, especially when incorporating zests.
  • Keep the zest! I apply a great tip from Local Kitchen on zesting. Anytime you have to juice or squeeze citrus, always zest your fruit before cutting it. Use any leftover zest and combine it with sea salt to make citrus-infused salts for seasoning. Here is the recipe.
  • Find the right coconut milk. Look for the cans of unprocessed and unsweetened coconut milk. Place a can in the refrigerator overnight, making sure to not disturb it. The next day, invert the can and open the top. The coconut cream will have separated from the water, and you can spoon it straight from the can! The Kitchn has a great breakdown of differences among canned coconut milk, coconut cream, boxed coconut milk, and coconut water.

close-up of sherbet two bowls of sherbet two bowls of blood orange sherbet with thyme sprigI have been researching wines for an upcoming series at the Kitchn on dessert wines, so I had a bottle of Moscato already open in the fridge. What a coincidence! It just so happens that sorbet and sherbet pair perfectly with this sweet, bubbly, low alcohol wine. And it’s absolutely perfect for brunch, since the alcohol sits comfortably around 8%. Steve and I have a tradition of starting a vacation off {a day off?} with a bottle of Moscato d’Asti, usually Michele Chiarlo’s “Nivole”. So, every time I open a bottle of this peachy nectar, I am reminded of vacations and taking it easy.

{Big thanks to my helpful wine colleagues, Sam Folsom, Bridget Witzell, and Steve Mason, for always keeping me in the loop, suggesting Mondavi, and keeping me stocked up!}

robert mondavi moscato d'oro


Robert Mondavi, Moscato d’Oro, Napa Valley, 2013


  • On the eyes  –  This lightly sparkling wine is a pale, golden straw color.
  • On the nose  –  You’ll immediately notice bright floral notes, with aromas of ripe peaches, and orange blossom. This wine will transport you to summer in an instant.
  • On the palate  –  It showcases notes of honeyed peach, lychee, and a serious mouthful of orange blossom. The acidity is medium in intensity and provides a refreshing contrast to the sweet style of this wine. Its gentle bubbles also pair well with the sweetness of the Moscato di Canelli grape.
  • On the table  –  I’d pair it with this blood orange sherbet, of course! The Moscato d’Oro would also go perfectly alongside a citrus semifreddo, a fruit tart topped with lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, a lemon olive oil cake, or a bowl of summer berries.
  • On the shelf  –  This bottle sits around $25 for a 375 mL {half-bottle} size.
  • On the ears  –  Of course, I paired it with some music. This album has been out since 2013, but I have recently gotten into it. And by “into it”, I mean playing the album on repeat a few times through. The Stroke’s Comedown Machine has gotten me out of a winter funk on a couple of occasions this year. I would definitely say the personality of this wine and dessert exemplifies the track, “One Way Trigger.”

If you are ever out in Napa Valley, visiting the Robert Mondavi Winery is an absolute must. It is a rite of passage for any wine lover. Mr. Mondavi revolutionized the wine industry in California and brought Napa Valley to worldwide acclaim. Plus, the facilities and property are just plain gorgeous. The barrel room is one of the most pristine examples I’ve seen. And the winery is more than happy to schedule a tasting and tour.

blood orange sherbet with moscato

For a decadent and easy treat, pour moscato over the blood orange sherbet.

I have to share some of the gems I’ve found from the internets on preserving and preparing blood oranges. At least pinning these recipes and dreaming about them has brightened up my week:

empty bowl of sherbet with spoonsI’ll close with a few Instagrams from the past week. One of my New Year’s goals was to start seriously studying calligraphy and hand-lettering. My foray into calligraphy has proven to be a challenging, yet incredibly fun, process with a very steep learning curve. Learning to ebb and flow with the pressure-release action of a calligrapher’s pen is not a task one perfects within a few months’ time. I have a great respect for letterers, who have mastered this graceful technique.

My original goal was to practice daily throughout the month of January, but I’ll continue to practice an hour a day, since I’ve basically established the habit. I am already seeing progress and have a better feel for the pen. I’ve also been dabbling with the medium of a digital pen to produce some fun hand-lettering pieces. The one below was prompted by a hand-lettering challenge, hosted by Miranti, of the blog and company, Pen and Peplum. Her work rocks, and her once-a-week challenge keeps me focused on my practicing.

What resolutions or intentions have been sticking for you?

Have you used the no-ice-cream-machine method for making sorbet, ice cream, or sherbet?

Do you have a recommendation for a machine?

And please send me a link to whatever citrus projects and recipes that have been inspiring you. As if I needed another excuse to go out and buy a bag of citrus!

Cheers!

Jayme

hand-lettered winter words

spilled nasturtium ice cubes

edible flower ice-cubes + taking stock | 01

I’m just going to waltz along and perpetuate the “I’m in need of some summer cheer!” trend I’ve been setting in this space!  First it was muddled lime caipirinhas, today it is nasturtium ice-cubes, and tomorrow I’ll be starting some marmalade to can over the weekend. These ice-cubes kind of count for a winter treat. They are frozen, after all, right?

Like everyone else, I have spent this week poring over citrus-centric recipes, preserves, cocktails, and colors. I’m also fixated on wintry, citrus-y salads. And my baking addiction has been out of control, and I need to tone down the amount of brownies, crumbles, and cookies that have been occupying my counter top. It doesn’t help that my boyfriend is an excellent baker and gifts me tasty treats from time to time, most recently, a pear-shortbread streusel.

It’s been an up-and-down week here in Denver, as far as weather is concerned. I think it’s almost always the case here. As I walked in from work last night, snow was gently falling, leaving about three inches of sparkling white in our yard. The crazy thing is that I’ll most likely be donning my flops over the weekend.

Fine by me!

I didn’t actually make these edible flower ice cubes recently. In fact, I made them back in late October, when I was still harvesting vegetables and herbs from the garden. I came across a bag of them in the freezer this past week and was reminded how fun and easy it was to make these eye-catching drink decorations. I toss them into green tea, sparkling water, and cocktails. They turn a drab g+t into a work of art.

nasturtiums


edible flower ice-cubes


  • ice-cube tray of your choice
  • distilled water
  • a handful of edible flowers, herbs, or fruit

I had never made edible flower ice-cubes, so I kind of winged it my first attempt. I like to call the way I made my cubes the “abstract and loose” method. It doesn’t require much thought or freezing time. Simply take washed, pesticide-free, edible flowers {here’s a great list of different flowers to consider} and place them in an ice-cube tray. Press them down, as much as you can.

Next, cover with purified water. Press down any petals that want to pop up. If you’d rather not see any air bubbles in the ice-cubes and want a perfectly clear rendition, use distilled water. I was a little lazy and forewent distilling my water. I actually like the pops of white and bubbly lines that resulted. Freeze. Wait. Et voilà!

nasturtiums

Since making these, I found that there are serious techniques for making the most symmetrical and clear ice-cube, graced with a perfectly centered, suspended flower in the center. I call this the “perfectionist” method. It yields a beautiful result, but it takes a little more time and patience. I didn’t have those traits the day I made mine. Do I ever have those traits??

No extra ingredients are needed, but placement and timing are key. This post on Gardenista lays it out well. Simply fill an ice-cube tray 1/3 full with water. Freeze. Next, place a flower on the frozen surface and add more water, until the tray is 2/3 full. Freeze. Finally, add the final layer of water and fill to the top. Freeze. This method yields exactly the scenario I described in the previous paragraph. I’ll have to do this next time because their suspended rose ice-cubes are absolutely beautiful.

nasturtiumsnasturtiumsBe creative with your ice-cube additives and use organic herbs, like mint, and toss into mojitos, tea, or lemonade. I’ve also made ice-cubes with fresh or frozen fruit . As the cubes melt, the fruit adds flavor and provides a frozen treat to enjoy, as the drink warms up. Makes me want to take my time sipping.

Need some more inspiration?

nasturtiumsWhat versions of ice-cubes have you made? I know I want to bring back that retro punch ring. Are you also planning any citrus-inspired recipes or have a link to share? I’ll definitely attempt a few recipes this weekend, specifically, some marmalade riffs. I am closing with a piece inspired by one of my favorite bloggers and fellow Floridian, Keira Lennox. She is a florist with an inspiring Instagram account and routinely posts at A Pretty Penny. Every once in a while, she writes a “Taking Stock” post. A kind of “checking in” of sorts, where she describes what’s going on in her life.

I plan on checking in and “Taking Stock” in the middle of each month, so feel free to play along. Happy weekending!


taking stock | 01


Making  |  good use of my library card for new music and audiobooks!
Cooking  |  actually re-heating canned and frozen soups from the summer, serving alongside this bread.
Drinking Ruby Trust Cellars’ Gunslinger, Syrah blend. Yes, Colorado makes good wine!
Reading  |  Charlie Trotter’s Lessons in Wine Service, Winter Cocktails, by María Del Mar Sacasa, and, of course, the Botanical Interests’ seed catalog.
Wanting  |  to start waking up on time and a little earlier. I’m striving for 8:00.
Looking  |  unabashedly forward to the return of Merlot.
Playing  |  lots of scales and chord progressions on the piano. #newyearsresolutions
Wasting  |  my time, worrying what people will think. Stop. This. Now.
Drawing  |  triangles in my sketchbook and calligraphy each evening.
Wishing  |  to feel well-rested.
Enjoying  |  all the possibilities of the citrus season. I am beyond excited to make marmalade and syrups with all of the oranges and lemons.
Waiting  |  for Guffman. Sorry! That’s what first came to mind {…but I covet that ‘stache!}. Seriously, waiting to hear some news. I am hoping that it’s of the good variety!
Liking  |  the way my foam roller makes me enjoy the pain in my IT bands.
Wondering  |  what my cats are thinking.
Loving  |  how seriously my boyfriend takes his beer and beer pairings.
Hoping  |  I can get finally get to the point, where I treat myself how I treat my best friend.
Marveling  |  at my ability to devour 81 square inches of brownies in less than 36 hours. My sister can vouch. She made a batch with me, via phone and over the internets, in Florida.
Needing  |  another glass of wine. Even more so, to just go to bed.
Smelling  |  all of the citrus I bought this week. I still need to do something with it and not just dream up recipes and stalk Pinterest friends.
Wearing  |  a red bandana, black Nike shorts, yellow flats with rosettes, and a turquoise LS athletic shirt, layered over a navy blue Nike tank. There’s a reason I’m not writing a fashion blog.
Following  |  Pen and Peplum’s #52handlettered prompts over the next 52 weeks.
Noticing  |  how I love my cats to a serious fault.
Pinning  |  lots of citrus drinks.
Thinking  |  I should take my Advanced Sommelier test and then re-thinking if it even matters or would even make a difference in my life.
Feeling  |  happy that my uncle has a clean bill of health at 87 and grateful that I have my aunt as a friend, resource, and secret-keeper.
Listening  |  to Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder”. I am secretly in love with some pop. Please, don’t judge. On a more serious note, I am listening to Jo Robinson’s audiobook, Eating on the Wild Side.
Learning  |  how to master Copperplate Calligraphy.
Giggling  |  with my boyfriend about how hilarious Captain Murphy was on Sealab 2021.
Feeling  |  tired from one glass of wine but excited to meet my friend, Aimee, for coffee and calligraphy-talk in the morning.

XO,

Jayme

PS – “Taking Stock” inspired by Keira, who was inspired by Sydney, who was inspired inspired by Pip.

nasturtiumsnasturtiums nasturtiums nasturtiums PicTapGo-Image tabby cat ash nasturtiums


Self-love has very little to do with how you feel about your outer self.

It’s about accepting all of yourself.”

- Tyra Banks


 

two glasses filled with caipirinha cocktail

caipirinhas + new year’s intentions

Happy 2015!!

As I write my first blog post of the new year, I am compelled to revisit and thank this past year for what it gave me. 2014 was a spectacular year, filled with new friends, amazing writing opportunities, much dreaming of the future, breathtaking travel, lots of hard work, necessary goodbyes, and painful growth. I pushed myself to reach new goals, sometimes a little too hard, but I am grateful for the lessons I have learned along the way.

I took some time over the past few days to meditate on what it means to truly learn from both our successes, as well as our perceived failures. It’s a challenge to look at our failures eye-to-eye. But the fear of failing dissipates, when we realize that failure is almost always a prerequisite to success.

I am also learning that there is no such thing as an “overnight success.” Everything that I choose to do is propelling me toward the next goal. I am building upon what I’ve already done, and I am learning from my mistakes. As J. K. Rowling once said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” Pause and let that sink in.

I also recently read the book, Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon. His philosophy of putting yourself out there, failures and inchoate stages and all, really works. People are drawn to someone, who embraces an amateur-like stance, always learning something new and maintaining a teachable attitude. People love to see the actual process and behind-the-scenes photos or documentation of artists, makers, or business owners, for example.

So, I chose three words to conceptualize my goals for 2015. My friend, Kristy Gardner, wrote a post on compiling such a collection of words. I wanted to choose words that were measurable, positive, and conveyed action. I wanted them to resonate with my personal life, creative life, spiritual life, professional life, and physical life. What are my three words?

  • Create. I want to delve into projects that feed me on all levels and to try new techniques and applications.
  • Release. I tend to put a perfectionist slant on almost anything that I do. That’s a plus but also a crippling negative, at times. I want to live freer and write fluidly and even draw or paint or cook with a looser hand.
  • Share. Back to Austin Kleon’s book, I want to openly share my progression. That is VERY challenging to me, for I only want to submit or post the final and best piece. But we lose the opportunity for connection and lose that in-the-moment, on-the-floor feel and liveliness of our work.

What are your three words for 2015?


“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”

- Robin Sharma


Alright. On to that refreshing, mid-winter cocktail I mentioned a few paragraphs back! I’m sure we have all had our fill of bourbon cocktails or ciders or hot toddies. Maybe some of us are still enjoying them. I needed a break. Something that reminded me of summer and let me know that spring is on its way. Enter the caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil.

Cachaça is the base spirit for this drink. It is a Brazilian rum made from fermented sugar cane juice that is distilled. The cachaça is muddled with fresh, quartered limes and raw sugar, yielding a tart and sweet cocktail. It’s simple to make and superbly refreshing. Let’s get our muddling on!


caipirinha cocktail


  • 1 lime, quartered
  • about 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 2 ounces cachaça
  1. In a pint glass or mixing tin, muddle the quartered lime with raw sugar until pulverized. {I just love that word!}
  2. Add cachaça and ice. I used about 8 ice cubes, but I’ve seen some caipirinha recipes use crushed ice.
  3. Stir to integrate.
  4. Pour contents into a double old-fashioned glass or “bucket”, and if you have a sugar cane handy, use it as a garnish!
  • If you are unable to find cachaça at your spirits shop, you may substitute rum. I use 10 Cane Rum, when I don’t have any cachaça on hand.
  • What are my favorite cachaças? Boca Loca, Leblon, and Beija.
  • Not a fan of cachaça or rum? Try making a caipiroska, which is a caipirinha made with vodka.


“In the midst of winter I finally learned

that there was in me an invincible summer.”

- Albert Camus


Cheers to a creatively inspired 2015! How are you making your resolutions stick? What is your mantra or three defining words? I’m super excited for all that this upcoming year has for each of us. It’s all about how we plan, react, and hit the ground running, despite the detour of a fall.

XO,

Jayme