The Best Bloody Mary, Ever


Last week, Williams-Sonoma emailed to ask if I would post a Bloody Mary recipe on my blog. Those of you who read my Mango Raspberry Kombucha Mocktail post will know I don’t drink very often, but I was beyond flattered that one of my favourite kitchen stores reached out to me. Of course I was going to share a recipe for a Bloody Mary! I’ll be honest: up until today, I had never tried a Bloody Mary, and had no idea what the cocktail was supposed to taste like. I browsed through the Internet and consulted friends who are huge fans of the drink, and although preferences varied regarding how thick, spicy, or classic a Bloody Mary should be, I got a general idea of what the drink was supposed to taste like. My boyfriend’s mama described it as “spicy. Like peppery and salty and celery-ish. And a little Tabasco-ish.” Tasked with making the perfect Bloody Mary, I set off to the farmer’s market at Toronto’s famed St. Lawrence Market and bought the nicest, ripest heirloom tomatoes I could get my hands on. What I love about farmer’s markets is being able to talk to the people who dedicate their time to growing the food you are about to eat. There is a joy that comes with purchasing food that was lovingly and painstakingly grown, and didn’t have to travel very far to reach you. 

Heirloom TomatoesSince I had never tasted or made a Bloody Mary before, I decided to adapt a recipe so as to have the right ratios, and changed only the method recommended. Bon Appétit Magazine claims that their recipe is one for the best Bloody Mary, but I’m going to say with confidence that my updated version of their recipe is just a teensy bit better. Rather than bringing the tomatoes and the other ingredients to a boil, I decided to roast the tomatoes, carrots, and garlic in the oven for an hour with some salt and pepper to bring out the flavours of my gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I don’t have a juicer, but my cousin Sam generously lent me her Vitamix. I’m not a huge fan of store-bought anything if it can be made at home, and I wasn’t going to use store-prepared Bloody Mary mixture-  go fresh or go home! You can find a great selection of blenders and juicers in store or online at Williams-Sonoma, including the Vitamix I used.

Rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, celery saltAfter roasting and allowing the tomatoes and carrots to cool slightly, I blended the vegetables with the roast garlic cloves.  I then simmered the mixture with the other ingredients for another 30 to 45 minutes. Since the popular vote among my friends was for a thin Bloody Mary, I strained the tomato mixture through a mesh strainer afterwards to get rid of the pulp. I then refrigerated  the mix for six hours to allow all the flavours to intensify. If you don’t have a huge affinity for alcoholic beverages, feel free to skip on the vodka for a virgin Bloody Mary. It’s just as good!

Although my garnish was a simple stalk of celery and lemon wedge, feel free to go all out. My boyfriend suggested adding pancetta, and I have a feeling that using crispy pancetta or bacon as a swizzle stick would be delicious if you aren’t vegetarian like me. He also suggested adding basil to the tomato mixture and placing a mozzarella wedge on the side of the glass. On his recommendation, I added some aged balsamic vinegar for a tiny kick of sweetness. Other awesome variations on the Bloody Mary I found include an Asian inspired Bloody Mary made with wasabi and sriracha, a Blackberry infused Bloody Mary, or simply using jalapenos to spice things up. Horseradish is a part of the classic Bloody Mary, however, I could not find any and as a result left it out.
The Best Bloody Mary, Ever

The Best Bloody Mary, Ever
*yields 12 servings
1 1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
2 small-medium heirloom carrots
2 large garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar (Please don’t use the watery salad dressing most people have come to know as balsamic vinegar. Use the good stuff!)
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon tabasco
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seeds
3 cups vodka
12 lemon wedges
12 celery stalks
sea salt for the rim
coconut oil, for roasting.

IMG_96401. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line your baking tray with foil, and grease with coconut oil.
2. Place the tomatoes and the garlic on the baking tray. Season with sea salt and pepper, and roast for an hour, flipping occasionally. Once the tomatoes are blistering and soft, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for ten minutes.
3. Once the tomatoes have cooled, blend the tomatoes, carrots, and garlic in a food processor or blender.
4. Pour the tomato mixture into a pot, and add six cups of water. Add the chopped fennel bulb,  the bay leaves, and the rosemary sprigs.  Bring to a boil, before reducing the heat to medium.
5. Simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat, and pour the mixture through a strainer into a large pitcher or container. If the mixture measures to less than eight cups, add enough water until it measures eight cups. Allow the mixture to cool for ten minutes.
7. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, add the sea salt and lemon juice.
8. Refrigerate the mixture for at least six hours or overnight.
9. Once the mixture has completely chilled, add the celery seeds, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and vodka.
10. Wet the rim of each glass with a lemon wedge. Fill a bowl with sea salt, and dip and turn the glass to rim it with sea salt.
11. Garnish each glass with a celery stalk or with your garnish of choice.

Sip and enjoy!

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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Vibrant Summer Slaw

Before I begin, I just want to say that I am officially obsessed with Boom Clap by Charli XCX. I think you all should listen to the song while you read this post. It’s on the soundtrack for The Fault in Our Stars, and though I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I love the video because it’s shot in Amsterdam. Most of tthe video is even shot on the Prinsengracht, the canal of the houseboat I stayed on last summer! Amsterdam is one of my favourite places in the world, and the video makes me miss it so much.

This week has been amazing: blue skies, sunshine, and one of my best friends is engaged! When she asked to Skype earlier this week, I had a feeling that she had something special to tell me. Maybe it’s because we’re telepathic like that. The news put the biggest smile on my face, and I know for a fact that if she had told me in person, we would have jumped up and down together squealing like little girls. And we did, but on Skype. I know that most engaged couples around my age (early twenties) are on the receiving end of questioning looks from others, and I, for one, can’t imagine myself getting married so young. But everyone is different. Some of us don’t know what we want or who we want to be with for the rest of our lives, but those who do should not be judged for their decisions- especially if it’s what makes them happy. I have, in the past, been guilty of questioning the decision of those who decide to marry young. Seeing my friend so happy, however, made me realize that those judgements are silly. I have never questioned her decisions, and I am not about to question her decision now. No one knows the inside of a relationship better than the people in them, and I am confident that her and her fiancé will have a lifetime of happiness (+ some really cute kids) ahead of them. I am so excited and happy for her that I’m already planning what to buy as a wedding present (kitchen equipment, obviously) and hoping that I get to go wedding dress shopping with her! Congratulations, gorgeous. You deserve all the happiness in the world!

Onto today’s recipe… Summer is in full swing, and it is barbecue season. Barbecue season also means coleslaw season, which is unfortunate for me, because I have never really liked coleslaw. I find nothing appealing about eating soggy cabbage that is swimming in mayonnaise, but maybe it’s because I’ve never had really good coleslaw. The coleslaw I remember from my childhood came in little tubs alongside the KFC takeout my mom would take home. Yep, that’s right. There was a time when my mom would occasionally bring home a KFC family bucket, and I loved it. I’m happy to say that I have since moved on from that phase in my life. This summer slaw is by no means an attempt to recreate classic coleslaw. There’s no creamy dressing used, and the flavours are very different. If I’m being perfectly honest, I really just wanted to make something colourful for dinner. Red cabbage, maroon carrots, pan-grilled red pearl onions, shiitake mushrooms, and mung bean sprouts dressed in a soy tahini dressing make for a vibrant slaw that is crisp and savoury, and perfect for summer nights. I chose to dress the slaw in a soy tahini dressing, but lemon and extra virgin olive oil would be delicious, too.

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Vibrant Summer Slaw
*yields four servings
4-5 cups red cabbage
3 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 regular orange carrots, thinly sliced
5 small maroon carrots, thinly sliced
10 red pearl onions
1 cup mung bean sprouts
sesame oil/cooking oil of choice
tamari soy sauce

1. Using a sharp knife, shred the red cabbage. Place the red cabbage in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Peel the red pearl onions and cut them in half.
3. Heat the sesame oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the red pearl onions face down, and cook until they are tender and the bottoms are browned. Once finished, add the red onions to the red cabbage.

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4. Add the onions to the red cabbage. Set aside.
6. Add a tablespoon of sesame oil and a teaspoon of tamari to the frying pan. Sautée the mushrooms until they are soft.
7. Once the mushrooms are done, pour the mushrooms, sliced carrots, and mung bean sprouts into the mixing bowl with the red cabbage and grilled onions.
8. Prepare the dressing.

Soy Tahini Dressing
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 teaspoons tamari soy sauce
juice of half a lemon
sea salt, to taste

1. In a bowl, whisk the ingredients together.
2. Season with salt, to taste.
3. Pour the dressing into the mixing bowl and toss to mix well.

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Serve and enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen.

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Recipe Redux: Mango Raspberry Kombucha Mocktail

I normally don’t post two days in a row, but today is Recipe Redux day! This month’s theme is A Spirited Redux:

From plain Jane vanilla extract to fancy-pants elderflower liqueur, we like to keep a little liquor in the kitchen. Show us how you like to cook, bake or mix-it-up with spirits, extracts and other alcohols. A splash of vodka makes summer sauces shine – and liqueurs brighten desserts: What’s your healthy recipe with spirit?

There was a time in high school when I found bars, clubs, and alcoholic beverages very exciting. As silly as it sounds, the prospect of being able to drink made sixteen year old me feel like I could be one of the classy ladies I saw on television- you know, Carrie from Sex and the City, or the glamorous teenagers on Gossip Girl. My very first experiences with alcohol weren’t very great, and a night where I had a drink rarely ended well. Drinking makes me feel very hot and flushed, my heart beat extremely rapidly, and my body feels physically uncomfortable. For some reason, I thought everyone experienced the same thing when they had alcohol, but I was wrong: only those with Asian flush do! I always thought the terms ‘Asian glow’ or ‘Asian flush’ were used to describe the intense blush I got when I consumed alcohol. Recently, however, I found out that Asian flush is a phenomenon that effects not just the glow of my skin, but occurs on a much deeper level within my body. As it turns out, numerous individuals of Asian descent are unable to process alcohol, as we lack a liver enzyme (ALDH2) necessary to do so.

Within the human body, alcohol is processed by two enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). ADH helps to convert alcohol to the carcinogenic substance acetaldehyde, which is then converted by ALDH into acetate. ALDH2 is a mutated form of ALDH, making it difficult for me, and everyone else who has Asian flush, to convert the acetaldehyde into acetate. The result? A flushed face, racing heartbeat, and nausea. As I mentioned above, acetaldehyde is carcinogenic. This, unfortunately, means that those who drink often despite lacking the enzyme to do so are at an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. I will occasionally indulge in a very small serving of wine or beer, but it takes me an astonishingly long time (an hour, maybe an hour and a half) to finish 1/3 of a pint without experiencing the effects of Asian flush.

Since I seldom drink, I decided not to invest in an entire bottle of alcohol for this month’s theme. In keeping with the spirit of the theme, I came up with a mocktail recipe involving one of my favourite beverages: kombucha! What better time to enjoy a mocktail than during the summer? This recipe is lazy and easy, and perfect for a sunny summer afternoon.

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Why drink kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been around for 2000 years. It is slightly sweet, a little bit sour, and is carbonated. It is made by adding SCOBY, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, to sweetened tea. Due to its fermented nature, kombucha has significant levels of healthy bacteria. Lauren from The Holy Kale writes, “Much like yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut, it [kombucha] contains live strains of good cultures that help to re-populate the intestine. This is important because it is the good bacteria in the digestive system that protects you from the bad guys that lead to illness. These bacteria work the same way that probiotics do, which are key to a healthy immune system. This is where kombucha and other fermented foods are so important and effect.” Kombucha is also high in B vitamins and organic acids that promote immune system and help the liver detox. For a more detailed discussion of kombucha’s health benefits, check out my sources below.

IMG_9554This is not a product placement post. I just love kombucha from Synergy! 

Mango Raspberry Kombucha Mocktail
*yields one serving
1 cup Synergy Mystic Mango kombucha
1 cup coconut water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup mango chunks or mango purée
1/2 cup raspberry chunks or raspberry purée
maple syrup or agave to sweeten, if desired

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1. Pour the kombucha, coconut water, and lemon juice into a large glass.
2. Chop the fruit into chunks, or purée in a food processor.
3. Add the fruit to the liquid.
4. I didn’t feel the need to sweeten my drink, but if you prefer a sweeter beverage, add some maple syrup or agave.

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,
Gen

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

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