Brazilian Lemonade

It’s not summer yet, but you’ll be glad to have this in your arsenal when those long hot days finally roll around. The Minion and I discovered this amazing beverage while we were tooling around Salt Lake City and ended up having dinner at a Brazilian grill. The funniest part about it is that it contains no lemons whatsoever. But that is what it’s called.

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The traditional method follows the rule of threes: 3 limes, 3 cups water, 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, and 3 tablespoons sugar, but you can play with it as much as you like to come up with something that suits. I like it with a hint of mint added, myself.

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Take your 3 limes, washed and scrubbed, and slice off the stem and leaf bits at the top and bottom, then quarter them. If you have a really good blender, traditionalists will chuck the limes in whole, but my blender is not that great, so I quarter them. I found wedges were better than cutting rings, as the rings tended to get stuck around the blade at the bottom.

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Fill your blender with 3 cups water and chuck those limes in.

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Next, add in 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. I thought at first I could leave out the sugar but it’s necessary. The milk is just not sweet enough. Feel free to use any sugar substitute you like, of course.

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Now this looks way less appetizing, I’m sure. If you want to add some mint, tip in some fresh leaves at this point.

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Blend for about thirty seconds, until you have this frothy goodness.

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Strain out all the solids and compost those. Your compost bin will smell amazing.

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What you’re left with is a pale green milky liquid and a bit of froth.

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Serve over a glassful of ice and enjoy how refreshing it is.

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Want a dairy-free version? Not a problem. Tip a can of coconut milk into the blender and top it up with water to equal three cups. You will need to double the sugar to six tablespoons to compensate. The result is a slightly creamier version, and I can’t decide which I like more.

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In terms of longevity, this beverage is meant to be served immediately (possibly with some white rum mixed in), but I couldn’t drink both batches by myself that quickly so I tossed them in the fridge. The one of the left is the one I made with coconut milk, and you can see that over time it separates quite a bit. That said, a quick stir and it’s back to emulsified goodness, with no alteration in flavour.

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Quick Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars 4I picked these lemon bars from the Barefoot Contessa because they didn’t involve making lemon curd ahead of time and also because they froze well. Next time I think I’d make them a little less sweet. I like my lemon squares to kind of punch you in the face and these didn’t quite do the trick. Lemon Bars 6

Start with a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Butter it and line it with parchment (otherwise you will never get the bars out alive). Then juice and zest about 4 lemons, until you get about 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 1 cup lemon juice.

Lemon Bars 5In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 1 cup room temperature butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Lemon Bars 1

Bit by bit, add in 2 cups all-purpose flour and mix until just combined.

Lemon Bars 2Form the dough into a ball and press it firmly into the base of the baking dish. Lemon Bars 3

Chill that for about 10 minutes, then bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, until a light golden. Leave the oven on.

Lemon Bars 8In a bowl, whisk together 6 room temperature eggs, 3 cups granulated sugar (I would use probably half this amount next time), the lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 cup flour (this flour seemed a little out of place to me and made for a very solid lemon bar. Next time I’d either halve it or leave it out altogether). Lemon Bars 7

Pour the filling onto your still-warm crust and bake for a further 30 minutes, until the filling is set.

Lemon Bars 9Let that cool before cutting into triangles or bars and eating. You can also dust the tops with icing sugar prior to serving for extra pizzazz. Lemon Bars 10

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Not *quite* what I was going for, but still good.

SideBar: the Side Car

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I really should wait for Trav when I want to make fancy drinks. He has all the hardware and the appropriate and pretty glasses. But sometimes I get impatient (you’re all going, duh, REALLY?), and I wing it. This one is pretty easy, so there wasn’t a lot of room for error. Start by grabbing a pretty cocktail glass (or in my case a heavy tumbler) and rubbing the rim with lemon juice. Then dip it in granulated sugar.

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Grab yourself a cocktail shaker and dump in some ice. I do not own a cocktail shaker, so I made do with a Captain America glass and a sundae spoon. Sorry, Steve.

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Feel free to play with the following proportions to suit your taste. In the shaker, pour 1 oz lemon juice, 1 oz Cointreau, and 2 oz Cognac. Shake vigorously (or stir with enthusiasm) and strain into your cocktail glass (tumbler).

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I should probably have served this with twist of orange or lemon but again I didn’t have any so a young sprig of rosemary did the job. Tada!

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Introducing the SideBar! and Bourbon Slush

I am positively chuffed to announce the addition of a bar to the Ali Does It DIY repository. The delightful Trav, a budding home bartender, has caved to my peer pressure kindly volunteered to show us the ropes with a few of the fun and fantastical alcoholic beverages you can mix up these days. Enjoy this one as a last taste of summer on your long weekend! – Ali

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Bourbon Slush Punch

So, food is tasty, and cooking is interesting, but we all know the truth: eating is just a thing we do so we can stay alive long enough get to the good part, which is drinking.

With that healthy, well-balanced guiding principle in mind, I give you the first SideBar offering: a bourbon punch from Smitten Kitchen that’s strong enough to make you dizzy, but delicious enough that you won’t notice until you stand up.

This one’s easy, and it disappears quickly. That’s why we quadrupled the recipe.

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First, you’ll need to make a strong black tea. I’m not a tea drinker, but Ali picked out an Assam tea that worked very well. Let it steep until it cools, and toss the leaves. You’ll need 4 cups of tea.

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Next is lemon juice. Don’t use juice from a bottle, though, you monster. Squeeze 1 1/2 cups of juice from some fresh lemons.

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Finally, you’re going to need 1 cup of granulated sugar, 6 cups of orange juice, and a decent bottle of bourbon. You can juice some oranges, but a good bottled orange juice tends to be much better than bottled lemon (or lime). For the bourbon, we used Wild Turkey 81, and I’d also suggest Four Roses Yellow Label as a similarly cheap option. You can use a pricier bourbon if you want, like Bulleit or Woodford Reserve, but some of that flavour is likely going to be overwhelmed by the citrus.

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Pour all the liquids into a fairly large mixing bowl, including the whole bottle of bourbon. Since you’re going to want a glass or three while you’re making the punch, you should probably buy another bottle just in case.

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Stir in the sugar.

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This is the base for your punch. You could probably shake this with some ice and drink it by itself, but we’re not done yet. Keep this refrigerated until you serve it.

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When it’s time to serve the punch (which was, in our case, immediately), put equal parts ice and punch base in the blender. Half a cup of each should make one serving, and 5 cups of each makes about two litres.

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Blend them together until slushy, then pour the punch into glasses and garnish with a lemon slice, lemon peel, or mint leaves. Mint in particular is always good with bourbon and orange. If the mixture isn’t slushy enough, blend some more ice in. If the flavour isn’t strong enough, add more punch base. We definitely had to do a bit of experimenting to find the exact ratio for small servings. A lot of experimenting.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember how many I had.

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Staying Hydrated in Style

I wasn’t going to post about this, because I do it so often and it’s so simple that I never even think about it.  But the Pie suggested it might be a good idea to let you in on the deal.

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Gren also gets hot in the summer.

I get dehydrated really easily in hot weather and summer in Ottawa is very, very HOT.  Hot and long, temperatures often going up as high as 50°C (122°F) on humid days.  And when I get dehydrated I tend to faint and that is super embarrassing.  Therefore, I drink a TON of water.  But water gets so boring after a while, so I dress it up a little and then I can pretend I’m at some fancy spa.

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We have to keep the curtains shut to keep out the afternoon sun. It makes the shadows very interesting.

I have a pretty glass bottle that I keep in the fridge full of water, and it’s a simple thing to just add a bit of natural flavouring to it.  My go-to refresher is lemon water.  I just cut the ends off a lemon, and slice the rest of it small enough to fit in the mouth of the bottle.  Then you just leave it for a few hours and BOOM.  FLAVOURED WATER.

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Another good refreshing option is adding a sprig or two of fresh mint from my mini garden to a handful of fresh raspberries.

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For something more subtle, try cutting up half a cucumber and sliding that into the water.

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And the extra fancy option is a few sliced strawberries and some fresh basil leaves.  I think this one is actually my favourite now.

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I find that I can keep topping up the bottle for a couple of days before the vegetable matter in it starts to get squishy and needs to be composted, and the water starts to lose the flavour.

What’s your favourite combination?

 

Mum’s Birthday Swirl Pound Cake

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It was my mother’s birthday yesterday, and so for the occasion I decided to try something a bit different.  I wanted to add a bit of fancy to a traditional sour cream pound cake, but with a different twist than the version I did last year for the Pie’s birthday.   I want to swirl it up.  So I’m going to make two cakes of two different flavours and mix it all up into one.  Here goes.

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Start by defrosting about 1 cup frozen berries, any kind.  This is one of those field berry combos from Costco.

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You’ll also want to zest and juice 2 lemons.

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I strain my juice, not to get rid of the pulp, but because those darned seeds are always sneaking their way out of the juicer.

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Purée the berries once they’re soft enough, too.

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Now, preheat your oven to 325°F and butter and flour a Bundt pan.

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Whisk together 3 cups cake/pastry flour (or replace 2 tablespoons per cup regular flour with 2 tablespoons cornstarch) and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.  Set that aside.

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In another bowl, a largish one, beat together 1 cup butter and 2 cups granulated sugar.

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Add in 6 eggs, one at a time, beating the whole time and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

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Add in half your flour and stir until combined.

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Dump in 1 cup sour cream and mix that in as well, before adding in the second half of the flour and fully combining that too.

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Now, divide your batter in half (you can re-use the flour bowl) and tip the berry sauce into one bowl and the lemon juice and zest into the other.

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Mix that around until the colours are uniform.  This has made the previously thick batter much more liquidy.

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Place a line of one of the batters in the bottom of your prepared Bundt pan.  Add a line of the other batter on top, so it forces the stuff on the bottom to spread out.  Keep going, alternating your batters, until the whole thing is layered.

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Mine came out all lovely and swirly.

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Bake for about an hour, until the cake tests clean when stabbed viciously with a toothpick.

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Allow it to cool completely before tipping out onto a plate.

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While the cake is cooling, you can make your cream cheese frosting (is there any other kind? Nope). Beat together 1 cup room temperature butter and 1 250g package plain cream cheese, also room temperature.

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I added in a dollop of purple gel paste food colouring, just for fun.

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Start mixing in about 2-3 cups icing sugar.  I find it makes the icing a little more fluid if you add a few tablespoons cream as well.

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All smooth and ready to go.

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I also used one of the fancy zesters to get some nice long strings of lemon peel for garnish.

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Then I slathered the cooled cake in icing and sprinkled the tops with lemon peel.  It looks luscious!

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Here is what it looks like on the inside.  I took a slice out before icing it and slid it back in with enough icing to cover the cut lines …

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Cake Redux: Gluten-Free LEMON COCONUT Snacking Cake

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Okay let’s try this again.  If you were visiting last week you’ll know I made a neat little gluten-free cake I found in Canadian Living but I wasn’t totally happy with how it came out.  So today I totally changed the two main ingredients (and two less main ingredients, and the cooking time) and we’re doing this for a second time.  If you notice that the text reads pretty much identically to what I wrote last week, well, it’s because it IS what I wrote last week.  I mostly copy-pasted that stuff, but I bolded all the differences.  Deal with it.

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Preheat your oven to 325°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.

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In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons COCONUT EXTRACT2 teaspoons grated LEMON zest, and a pinch of NUTMEG.

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You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.

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You need 2 cups COCONUT FLOUR for this, and 2 tablespoons LEMON juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time.  I just juiced the lemon I took the zest from. Fold the coconut flour and lemon juice into the yolk mixture.

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I totally forgot that coconut flour tends to suck up moisture.  If you do this, maybe just add 1 1/2 cups coconut flour.

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So I added in an additional 1/2 cup of MILK.

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Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.

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Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the flour/yolk mix.  This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.

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Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the flour/yolk mixture until fully combined.  Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all. Plop the batter into your prepared pan (or press it in this case) and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes.

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This cake did not fluff up like the previous one.  Let it cool on a rack before popping it out of the springform pan.

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Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).  A nice lemon glaze (try the juice of one lemon heated to boiling with 4 tablespoons sugar) would also work I think.

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