fresh whiskey sours

i do believe we are heading toward longer days. we’ve gotten over the darkest nights of winter and are heading closer now to evenings still graced with that last little bit of daylight. happy hours, indeed.


whiskey sours are perhaps not the most refined of cocktail hour drinks, but they do the trick. ream a few lemon and lime halves and stir the fresh juice around with some sugar syrup and caramel-colored whiskey, and you’ve got yourself something refreshing and sweet and strong, with smoky vanilla undertones. all-around delicious – even if you don’t happen to be a whiskey kind of girl (which i’m not, it turns out).

have one to smooth out the rough ends of the day, or share a pitcherful around a table of friends before hitting the town – the night’ll be a good one.


Fresh Whiskey Sours
adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Makes 4 cocktails

½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 Meyer lemons, more if you are using regular lemons)
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 5 limes)
ice cubes
about 1 cup whiskey (I used Maker’s Mark bourbon)

  1. Make simple syrup: bring sugar and water to a boil, and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool before using.
  2. Make sour mix: combine the lemon juice, lime juice, and 2/3 cup simple syrup.
  3. Fill each glass halfway with ice. Pour in about 2 parts whiskey and 3 parts sour mix (or to taste). Swirl and drink.

herb-roasted onions

i like onions. i didn’t always; in fact, when i was a kid, i’d gingerly pick them out of everything from sandwiches to my mom’s fried rice. but now i love them in all sorts of ways: caramelized and strewn over pizza, sliced thin and added to salads or stacked in burgers, pickled and tossed in with potato salad.

here, the onions are the star of the show. they are cut into thick wedges and coated in a lemony garlic and thyme dressing and then sent off to the oven for the kind of roasting that produces browned edges and a house that smells surely of dinnertime. they are the ideal side dish for a fall meal of chicken and potatoes and something warm to drink.

yeah, fall. i was pretty sure i didn’t want it to come – not quite yet. but yesterday, the sky clouded over and autumn seemed to come down all at once. the windows let in pale gray light all day and the air outside is cool and still. and, surprising myself even, i have been loving it.

already, i’ve spent an afternoon sitting in a warm, quiet café with a friend, carving into a cup of peppermint ice cream and half-reading a book. today, i pulled on my softest sweatshirt and indulged in a chick flick or two. and walking out into the backyard in the near-middle of the night to find the lightest of mists falling – i couldn’t help but smile.

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Herb-Roasted Onions
adapted (barely) from a recipe by Ina Garten
Serves 3 to 4

2 red onions
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup good olive oil
handful or two of cherry tomatoes, halved

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.
  3. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.
  4. With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Using tongs, flip the onion wedges over once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Toss with tomatoes, and serve warm or at room temperature.

mustard-roasted fish

this recipe is a triple threat: easy, fast, and good. and on these late summer days, that is exactly what i want: less time in the kitchen, more time to be out in the backyard lingering and lunching under the patio table umbrella, for as long as the shade will stay.

the hardest thing about preparing this dish is chopping the shallots. everything else gets spooned out and stirred together and poured over slender fillets of fresh white fish.

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slide the pan into the oven, check your watch every ten minutes or so, and pretty soon you have something elegant and effortless: tender fish, cloaked in a creamy sauce, browned just around the edges of the pan, little kicks of salt in the capers, and just simply delicious.


Mustard-Roasted Fish
recipe by Ina Garten
Serves 4 to 6

4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper {I used mahi-mahi the first time – though I had the best results with a type of fish called swai, which was not only inexpensive but also had a faintly sweet taste that i liked}
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces crème fraîche
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the crème fraîche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it’s barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it’s done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

cheddar-dill scones

my little grocery basket yesterday evening grew heavy with an unprecedented number of dairy products: neapolitan ice cream to combat this summer heat, a can of condensed milk for my morning tea, a pack of string cheese for my inner child, and a half-pint of cream and some cheddar cheese for these scones.

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i saw ina garten make them on her show barefoot contessa, and – along with that house in the hamptons of hers – they just seemed beautiful. delicate, fresh dill flecked through dough that had pockets of melted cheese, they would be a perfect counterpart to something light and simple, like a bowl of sweet tomato soup. to be eaten perhaps at a weathered picnic table on a breezy day. maybe atop a grassy hill, with a view of the sea – gray and calm.

one can dream.

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Cheddar-Dill Scones
a hybrid of two recipes: one by Ina Garten and another (originally for lemon-glazed blueberry scones) by Tyler Florence
Makes 16 scones

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt {I would reduce this just a smidge next time – maybe to 1 ½ tsp.}
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, small-diced
1 cup minced fresh dill {2 1-ounce packs}
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk, for egg wash

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Using a pastry blender or two knives in a criss-crossing motion, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Use a fork to lightly combine, until just blended. Toss together the Cheddar, dill, and 1 tablespoon of flour and add them to the dough. Mix until they are mostly incorporated; some flour will be visible. Take care not to overmix.
  3. Using a standard (6-ounce) ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of each mound with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.