Vesper Martini

On the seventh day of Christmas my bartender made for me, an (almost) authentic James Bond martini….

Both Mr.Surly and I are big James Bond fans. So when it came to Day 7, I immediately thought of agent 007. We have a bar book we bought that contains the authentic drink of James Bond, with directions straight from Ian Flemming’s Casino Royale.

The drink’s name is derived from Vesper Lynd, the double agent James falls in love with. Russian vodka is used to symbolize Vesper’s ties to the Russians. The orange twist is used to compliment the Lillet Blanc, which is made from oranges and a combination of french wines and is a substitute for vermouth. Our bar book said to garnish with an orange to compliment the Lillet blanc, even though Bond asked for a thin slice of lemon peel. (Click here to watch the scene from Casino Royale where Bond (Daniel Craig) orders the drink).

Bond prefers his martini served in a champagne coupe** but not having those, we opted for a martini glass. I love the look of the champagne coupes, I must add some to my stemware collection.

Mr.Surly claimed this drink; I had a sip and it was really, really good. But also very, very potent, so one drink and you’d be feelin’ real good.

We didn’t have Gordon’s dry gin, but we used Bombay Sapphire which is a dry London Gin, so at least it’s British, which I feel is appropriate.

For vermouth we used Martini and Rossi dry vermouth.

Vesper Martini
the (almost) authentic James Bond drink
Printer-friendly recipe
makes 1 martini

2 oz gin (Gordon’s to be authentic)
¼ oz vodka (Russian vodka to be authentic)
1/3 oz dry vermouth (Lillet Blanc to be authentic)

Shake with ice, strain into martini glass or, to be authentic, a champagne coupe. Garnish with a twist of orange (lemon to be authentic).

UPDATE: We have made this cocktail a lot since this post and I have modified the recipe as below (basically, I just took it straight out of the Casino Royale book by Ian Flemming. Below is the recipe I use for 1 drink.

Vesper Martini
3 oz Gordon’s Dry Gin
1 oz Smirnoff Vodka
1/4 oz Lillet

Put all ingredients in ice-filled cocktail and shake well. Strain into champagne coupe.

**Note** Mr.Surly was able to find Lillet blanc (which is a french after dinner wine) and bought some Gordon’s gin. My goodness what a difference it made to this drink. It’s so smooth you don’t even taste any alcohol. To keep it on the dry side, use just a splash of Lillet. To make it a bit sweeter add 2 splashes of Lillet. Ever since he brought these home he has had one as his cocktail ever evening.

**Update 2: I finally got my champagne coupes. See them here.

Source: Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide by Mittie Hellmich

Phoenix Rising

One the fourth day of Christmas my bartender made for me a phenomenal Phoenix Rising Cocktail…

This drink calls for using Angostura bitters. Not being a bartender, I had no idea what bitters were. According to Angostura’s website, bitters are “a unique blend of natural herbs and spices which is used to flavor a wide variety of food and drinks.”

We debated using it, not sure how easy it would be to find, but we found it at the liquor store for only $7. It was in the same aisle as grenadine, right above the vermouth. It’s a little bigger than a mini sized liquor bottle. There were about 4 different kinds of bitters. It was also in the wine/beer section of the grocery store. You only use a dash of it, so we had plenty left over. On the website they have recipes for food that call for a dash of the bitters; I’m curious about what it would taste like in food.

I really liked this drink, as you can see by the lower volume; it was kinda tropical tasting. I kept sipping it while my mother-in-law set up the props and it looks like I sipped a bit too much–oops.

Phoenix Rising
Printer-friendly recipe
Serves 1

2 oz vodka
1 oz pineapple juice
2 oz ginger ale
Dash of bitters
Lemon oil from 2 large lemon peel strips

Shake ingredients with lemon peels. Pour into ice filled rocks glass.

Need other drinks that use bitters? Try these:
Blarney Stone
Champagne Cocktails
Death in the Gulf Stream Cocktail
Paddy Wagon
Sufferin’ Bastard

Crème Brulée Martini

On the third day of Christmas, my bartender made for me, a classic crème brulée martini…

I know there seems to be a martini theme going on with my cocktails, but I promise there are some drinks served in punch cups and rocks glasses. In fact, I think tomorrow is my first non-martini.

I found this drink too sweet for my liking, but my MIL(mother-in-law) and SIL(sister-in-law) loved it. I was never a big fan of Frangelico because I don’t like the taste of hazelnuts.

I don’t think any of the men got to try this drink because my MIL and SIL kept taking turns sipping it down. It didn’t last long.

We did a rim of festive green holiday sugar, but a cinnamon sugar combo rim would also be delicious.

Crème Brulée Martini
Printer friendly version
serves 1

2 ½ oz Smirnoff vanilla vodka
1 ½ oz butterscotch liqueur
1 ½ oz Frangelico liqueur
1 ½ oz Caramel Bailey’s
Cinnamon, for garnish

Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass. Add a dash of cinnamon if desired.

Note: A cinnamon sugared rim can be substituted instead of the dash of cinnamon.

English Pear Martini

One the first day of Christmas, my bartender made for me, an Absolut perfect pear martini…

I have found a new favorite vodka–Absolut Pear. Any cocktail my sister-in-law used this alcohol in was delicious. This martini is like drinking a ripe pear with a hint of pineapple (oh, how I love pineapple). Too bad pears are out of season; a fresh pear slice or even a big chunk of pineapple that had been soaked in vodka would make a great garnish. Also, a light sprinkle of cinnamon to finish it off as well. This is definitely a drink I’m going to bookmark and enjoy over and over.

Pear Martini
Printer-friendly version
makes 1 (8 oz) martini

2 oz Absolut Pear vodka
1 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 oz pineapple juice
¼ oz lime juice
½ oz simple syrup*

Shake ingredients together in cocktail shaker, strain into chilled glass. Garnish with a lime twist (or even better a pear or pineapple slice), if desired.

*to make simple syrup, mix equal parts sugar and water and heat until sugar is dissolved. We used a couple Tbls of each and microwaved in 30 second intervals, stirring each time; just because we didn’t want to bother with the stove.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake

I should call this cake death by chocolate it’s so rich. The first time I had this recipe was 2 years ago, when I was gluten free. It was love at first bite. I like that this flourless cake doesn’t have a lot of butter in it. A lot of flourless chocolate cake recipes call for 2 sticks of butter–no thank you, my stomach would be in knots for days.

This recipe is perfect. The cake is so dense,moist, and delicious. It’s wonderful served with whipped cream and raspberries. A note about the cake; it rises when it bakes and falls when it cools, resulting in a crackled top. But don’t worry, the cake will be gone before anyone notices a cracked top.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake
Printer-friendly version
6 tablespoons butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate or (1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips)
1 Tbl instant espresso powder
1 Tbl vanilla (I used TJ’s bourbon vanilla)
6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
½ cup sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 275 degrees; with rack in center. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Place butter and chocolate in a large bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until melted; cool slightly. Stir in vanilla and espresso powder Whisk in yolks.

In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar; beat until stiff and glossy. Whisk 1/4 of whites into chocolate mixture; gently fold mixture into remaining whites.

Pour into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and is just set in center, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream.

source: slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

The 12 Cocktails of Christmas

I have been waiting to post about this for weeks. But, since it relates to Christmas (and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet), I forced myself to wait until November to share this with all of you. That way, if you want to participate, you have a month to come up with some drinks.

I came up with the idea of doing a 12 cocktails of Christmas, where each day, Dec 1-12, I’d feature a new holiday cocktail. I’ve been brainstorming different flavor combonations and drinks, along with the help of my sister-in-law (an NYC bartender). So many people do 12 treats or desserts of Christmas that I thought it would be fun and different to feature cocktails instead.

I’m extending an open invitation to any blogger who wants to join in. You drinks can be virgin, spiked, old posts, new posts; there really are no rules except it has to be a beverage. You can join me in posting every day or once, twice, as many times as you want, I’m pretty easy going.

If you’re interested, leave a comment or email me (surlykitchen@gmail_dot_com). That way I can remind you as the time comes closer to December 1st. I’m setting up a code for the picture above, which will serve as a button in your blog’s side bar, if you want to add it.

I’m actually really excited about this because it involves no cooking! I’m still adjusting to my new doses of medications, and have no energy and no desire to cook. But I promise as soon as I feel better I will post all kinds of deliciousness.

Fall Harvest Soup

Poor Mr.Surly, I haven’t made a full dinner in months. I’m not sure how much longer he can get by on my spartan dinners. I’ve been busy with hospital tests and doctor appointments and when I get home the last thing on my mind is food. All I want to do is to crawl onto the couch with my beloved heating pad and relax. Finally, all my medical appointments are winding down; my last 2 appointments are next week. By Wednesday I should know whether it’s a bad kidney or a bad pancreas that is causing my abdominal pain. Not sure at this point which option would be better. At least by knowing I can stop worrying about it and the doctors can start treating it properly. Then I can get back into cooking and baking. Sorry, about my medical rant; I’m just frustrated about it.

On a happier, seasonal note, I love the flavors of fall: pumpkin, apples, and especially acorn squash; warm, spiced comfort food. Lacking inspiration and feeling lazy, I decided to take some of my favorite fall foods and add them all together in a soup. It turned out creamy, dreamy, and delicious. Most importantly, for me, this was easy to make, yummy to eat, and caused minimal abdominal pain and bloating. Yay.

The soup is sweet from the apples and apple juice and gets a nice kick from the cayenne pepper. It is creamy enough that you don’t need to add the cream. I only added it because I need the extra fat and calories, since I’m still trying to gain weight.

Fall Harvest Soup
Printer-friendly recipe

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 sugar pumpkin, halved and seeded (or 1 can pumpkin puree)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large, or 2 small, apple(s), cored, peeled and diced (I used Gala)
2 Tbl butter
brown sugar, to taste
cinnamon, to taste
pumkin pie spice, to taste
cardamom, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
thyme, to taste
~2 c water
apple juice (I used a kid’s juice box that was 6.75 fl oz)
½ c cream (opt)

Preheat oven to 400 F

First, roast the veggies:
Place squash inside side up on a baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle some kosher salt on the halves and drizzle with olive oil.

Place the pumpkin halves, inside side down, on a foil lined baking sheet.

Place sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and lightly salt (I also drizzled some agave over them).

Roast the veggies until tender, either separately or all together, in oven. The squash and pumpkin took about 30-45 minutes; they are done when the shell is easily pierced with a knife. The sweet potato cubes took about 20-30 minutes; they are done when tender.

Allow squash and pumpkin to cool, then scrap out the insides into a bowl with a spoon or melon baller. Add the sweet potatoes.

Make the soup:
In a dutch oven or large pot, melt the butter. Add apples and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and cardamom. Sauté apples to caramelize, about five minutes. Add the apple juice and veggies along with 1 cup of water. Add a ½ to 1 tsp thyme and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and a pinch of sea salt. Simmer about 10 minutes or so to allow flavors to meld together.

Using an immersion blender puree the soup; at this point I needed to add another cup of water. If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a blender. Taste to adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Stir in cream, if using, and remove from heat. Serve and enjoy.

Spicy Hot Bloody Mary

While on vacation in August, for some reason, someone in Mr.Surly’s family got a craving for a Bloody Mary. No one really knew how to make a bloody mary, so Mr.Surly’s sister, an aspiring NYC bartender, took charge of the task. The result was delicious; so good, in fact, that once home Mr.Surly requested a bloody mary one Saturday afternoon. I had to text Surly-SIL (sister-in-law) for the recipe. She gave me the ingredient list but I had to play around with the ratio’s to get it to Mr.Surly’s liking (it took a couple of attempts).

Warning about these; they are hot and spicy. If that isn’t your thing, just use regular V8 and maybe omit the creole seasonings.

Spicy Hot Bloody Mary
Printer-friendly recipe
Serving: 1 glass

ice cubes
1 shot (2 oz) vodka
1 tsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
1 tsp Claussen pickle juice (from kosher dills)
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
Spicy Hot V8 juice (I used the Spicy Hot low sodium V8)
celery, for garnish

spices, to taste:
Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere’s)
sea salt
black pepper
tabasco sauce
garlic powder

Fill your glass half full of ice cubes. Then add the vodka, lemon juice, pickle juice, and worchestershire sauce. Pour in V8 juice until glass is 3/4 full.

Sprinkle with seasonings, adjusting any (or all) ingredients to taste. Then kick back, relax, and enjoy.

White Chocolate Macadamia Biscotti

I’m finally getting around to posting some recipes. I have just been so exhausted and lethargic the past week or two, all I felt like doing was sleep. But this week I’m trying to get caught up in posting. I wish I had an assistant to help me take and edit the photos, as well as type out the recipes and posts.
I love to have some kind of treat with my morning cappuccino. Biscotti is a favorite, so are cookies, date bars, etc. I had some macadamias, and decided to make a biscotti version of the best cookie ever. It took me a few attempts to get the right ratio of dry to wet ingredients, but all the disasters were still delicious, even if they were too crumbly.

These went fast, I had them with my morning coffee and again in the afternoon with some chai tea. Next time I’m going to make two loaves, as even Mr.Surly was a fan.

White Chocolate Macadamia Biscotti
Printer-friendly recipe
makes 1 small loaf, serves about 4

½ c sugar
4 Tbl butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 ¼ c flour
2/3 c quick oats
1 Tbl ground flaxseed meal (0pt)
½ tsp baking powder
generous pinch salt
¼ c white chocolate chips
1.5 oz (generous ¼ c) chopped macadamia nuts

In a bowl, stir together flour, oats, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, along with the chips and nuts, and stir with a rubber spatula (or wooden spoon) until just combined. Cover dough and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes minimum.

When ready to bake, remove dough from fridge and preheat oven to 350F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. With wet hands, take the dough and form it into a rectangular loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut loaf into desired portion size. Bake the pieces for about 6 minutes on each side, until golden and toasted.

If desired, drizzle melted chocolate over pieces. Allow to cool completely, before storing in an airtight container.

Totally Touchable Tresses

I love beauty products (of all kinds), always have ever since I was a little girl. Back then, I used to sit at my grandma’s vanity and play with her makeup. I loved it and could not wait for the day when I’d be old enough to have makeup of my own.

Same thing applies for hair products. I have very baby fine, thin hair. It’s hard for me to find hair products to use that don’t weigh my hair down and make it look greasy. I’m constantly trying new things. Since I color my hair and take a lot of medications, my hair is dry at the ends and prone to breakage. I was searching for a hair product to restore my hair back to its original silky, shiny, smoothness.

I bought this hair treatment from Kerastase:

It’s a hair masque for fine hair. But the smell of it is too purfumey and strong for me. It works great, but I don’t like the way my hair smells afterwards. I use it once every few months. I’m happy with it, but then I found this damage remedy product from Aveda (pictured at top of post)

I’ve tried products from Aveda before. I’ve used their pure abundance shampoo/conditioner for fine hair. It has clay in it that is supposed to help your scalp from looking greasy. My hair is so thin and fine I have to wash it every day, otherwise it’s greasy. With them, I was able to wash my hair every other day. I liked them, but I not blown away so I only buy them occasionally, not regularly.

Recently, I saw this dry remedy leave in conditioner/detangler. Intrigued, I purchased it, and I’m so glad I did. I noticed a difference after one application. My hair was noticeably softer. And now, with regular use, the shine is finally back in my hair and my flyaway’s have been tamed. The best part is that it doesn’t weigh my hair down (I apply it to the ends, not the roots of my hair).

I love this stuff so much I just couldn’t keep it to myself, I had to share it with others.

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Note: not a paid advertisement; just my opinion and experience with the above products