Roast Eggplant Dip

I spent most of my kitchen-time last week testing ice cream recipes, none of which were successful. I had high hopes for a ripe market cantaloupe and buttermilk ice cream, but the results were consistently too icy. I moved on to a doughnut peach base, swirled with rivulets of deeply purple blackberry quick jam. But the flavor was always too muted; doughnut peaches might be better for eating juicily, messily over the kitchen sink than stirred into ice cream.

Now I have three new ice cream recipe ideas burning a hole in my pocket (did I mention I really love ice cream?), but I needed a break–ice cream can be finicky to make, it’s time consuming to test, and it makes me grumpy-pants when I get it wrong. And August is not a month for finicky, time-consuming recipes.

Instead, I went in the opposite direction: a (relatively) quick, savory dip, starring a deep-summer vegetable. Read more »

Pear-Vanilla Bourbon Warmer

pear-vanilla bourbon cocktail header

Since the holidays are fast approaching, I wanted to fashion a weather-appropriate drink with enough versatility to please a crowd. I think I’ve succeeded. (At any rate, I think it’s pretty delicious.)

The result of blending pears with nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla is a warming, satisfying cocktail that takes a hint of freshness from Meyer lemons. As a bonus, whipping up the syrup will make your house smell insanely great.

The pear-vanilla syrup recipe yields about 1/2 cup. If you don’t use it all for cocktails (or mocktails for the kids), warm it and pour it over: yogurt, ice cream, fruit, hot cereal. Stir it into tea, or a hot toddy. It can be brushed onto cake or pastry as a glaze. Read more »

How to Make and Use Fruit Syrups

grape syrup header

The Frenchman and I recently fled the city to visit a friend who is finishing her PhD on Long Island. For the year, she is renting an impossibly charming cottage with overgrown woods to its back. A crescent stone wall encloses a slate patio, bursting at the seams with fanning dandelion greens. There is space enough to enjoy the working fire pit.

To the front, a covered, wrap around porch gives way to a flagged path, gives way to a gravel drive, gives way to a bay strewn with boats. At low tide, they cant like children napping in the car. The air smells of wet piles, of salt-licked weeds, of secret bivalves buried in the silt.

The house is small, but windowed on all sides, so that even on the rainy day we visited, gossamer light followed us from room to room. Read more »

Pan-Fried Shishito Peppers

shishito peppers, above, 2

Welcome to The Roaming Kitchen’s brand new, very first, Friday mini-post! I’ve decided to share my kitchen exploits with you, lovely readers, more than once a week.

These installations will fall somewhere between actual recipes and photographic inspiration; they are meant to be very simple, and manageable for even the most reluctant cook. Some ingredients will reflect the season, but more often than not, this column will show you how to coax new life into a leftover slice of bread, a nub of cheese, or a vegetable wilting in the crisper.

So, without further ado, Shishito peppers: Read more »

Gazpacho with Peaches and Jalapeño

To all my friends who say, “Cristina, I enjoy looking at your recipes, but I would never attempt one,” please let me tell you upfront: this is one you can (and should) make. It’s really, super-duper simple. It requires few dishes. The instructions boil down to: chop vegetables, mix vegetables.

It also happens to be really delicious. The ingredients are a riot of summer–a balance of sweetness and acidity, with just a gentle nudge in the direction of spicy. Those Spaniards are really on to something, because gazpacho is an ideal hot weather dish.

Here’s where some readers will groan, but please bear with me: Read more »

Watermelon Ginger Cooler

It’s summertime, which of course means it’s time to whip up some refreshing drafts. Here’s how I approach my cocktailage:

1. Use ingredients that that are, themselves, inherently restorative under wilting conditions.*
2. Keep it simple. Try to keep your concoctions to five ingredients or less.
3. Locate your fine self a cabana/pool/palm-draped hammock.** Relax. Imbibe. Read more »

Black Bean, Avocado and Pineapple Salsa

What is one to do when a fragrant pineapple and a tender avocado present themselves? Salsa seemed like a good option to me. I am a fan of this recipe for various reasons—first, I think it tastes pretty great. It is also breezy to pull together, helpful in the summer when there are far more pleasant occupations than loitering in a hot kitchen. It is also full of protein, fiber and antioxidants. So far, I have served it with halibut, swordfish and tuna, but I suspect chicken and pork would also marry happily. It tastes better after the ingredients have spent some time together, so feel free to bring it along to a BBQ, a picnic or camping. Read more »

Blood Orange and Ginger Summer Punch

This summer has been hot. Really, really hot. To conquer the heat, punch happens to be tremendously thirst quenching—especially when imbibed outside in the shade, preferably with a group of friends. And while I currently live in a one-bedroom city apartment instead of say, a charming cottage with a sprawling, verdant veranda….no matter. I built a cocktail around two of my new favorite beverages—Italian blood orange juice and Fresh Ginger’s Original Ginger Ale. The orange juice hails from Sicily, where at the base of Mt. Etna volcanic soil aids the growth of the fruit. It is sourer than regular orange juice, and vibrantly colored. The ginger ale is made with real ginger, so it has a satisfying, almost spicy bite. These two ingredients are paired with lime and, for the adult version, liquor. For mine, I used ginger vodka, but you could use another kind vodka or rum, if you prefer. Read more »