berry aperitif

The weather last Saturday in San Francisco was perfection. It was 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky, and we really only get three days a year just like it. We’d planned to have some friends over for dinner and so Jordan and I devised a summery feast to match the lovely weather, including this delightful cocktail. However, this feasting could only happen after some quality beach time with the Willow Pillow. Right here, photographic proof that our dog has adapted smoothly to the California lifestyle—she will even fall asleep in the sand, surrounded by enthusiastic (albeit pale) beach-goers.

Like I said, perfection.

This recipe is adapted from David Tanis’ book The Heart of the Artichoke. It is actually an Italian digestif, typically made with grappa and served along with your check in restaurants. We decided to make it with gin, having no familiarity with grappa, and served it before the meal.

Berry Aperitif, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
1 cup mixed berries (We used blackberries and raspberries)
2 T sugar
2 cups gin

Put the berries in a large measuring cup. Sprinkle them with sugar and mush them sightly with your hands. Add the gin. Let refrigerate for several hours. Serve cold in small glasses, making sure to get a spoonful of berries in each glass.  I also think this would be great mixed into other cocktails or topped off with club soda.

Happy Spring!



lemon blackberry muffins

I was very much in a muffin mood this Saturday morning—sometimes it just feels good to make muffins! (I think this might make me weird/a grandma, but I’m going to roll with it). It does help that both Jordan and Robin very much enjoy when I am in a muffin mood and generously offer to help me eat the muffins produced.

These muffins are adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Deb is just so good at making recipes that I absolutely must try. I definitely have a cook-crush on her, no question about it.

Blackberry-Topped Lemon Muffins, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/8 cup sugar, divided
2 lemons, zested
2 cups flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 t vanilla extract
1 container blackberries (in my case) or raspberries (per Deb’s recommendation)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners or grease and flour them. In a small bowl, mash 1/8 cup of sugar with the lemon zest. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar. Add the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and lemon sugar. Mix in the flour just to combine.

Spoon the lemon muffin batter into the cups. Top each muffin with several berries, pressing the berries into the batter slightly. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are just golden.

When we first tried these muffins, Jordan thought that the berries weren’t really necessary.  They sure looked pretty, but didn’t add much in the way of flavor. I kind of had to agree. The lemon muffin was great without them. But the second morning that I enjoyed the muffins, I changed my mind. The berries add a great tartness to the muffins and have a nice texture to boot. If I make these again, I will most certainly keep the berries.