Sunday, April 7

all kinds of happy.

Just so we're all clear:
Today is a recipe day. So if that terrifies you, by all means click on that back arrow.

Here's what's in store:
1. Grapefruit Cocktails
2. Batter Bread

1. It's a fine Saturday here in the Old Pueblo. Eighty-six, sunny, and just breezy enough to keep it from feeling like eighty-six. Tomorrow I'll do my taxes*, but today I'm sitting on the East Porch sipping a cold drink and listening to the Pet Shop Boys, Aerosmith, and UB40.

So the drink I'm drinking is exciting because I accidentally made it up, and it came out great, which rarely happens when I make up a drink.  It began life as a Ginger Grapefruit Spritzer. After an uneventful childhood and the usual angst-ridden young adulthood, it hooked up with a Lemon Drop Martini and found its own true self.

Okay. What really happened is:
I had already grated the ginger and juiced the grapefruit when I realized I had no club soda. Can't have a spritzer without the spritzer. That's just dumb. So I glanced through a Lemon Drop recipe I'd found and decided to exchange the lemon juice for grapefruit juice and add the grated ginger and see where it got me. And then I added some mint because the mint's having a serious party on the patio right now.

And damned if it didn't get me to all kinds of happy.

Also, today (Sunday) (I know. So many different todays to keep track of) I went out with a friend for a little daydrinking, and the friend ordered something I had never heard of called a Greyhound. A Greyhound, if you don't know, is a big, narrow, adorable racing dog. It's also apparently a cocktail comprised of one part vodka, two parts grapefruit juice. And it is fantastically refreshing. It might even be this summer's beverage**. So, you know, coincidence.

Anyway, the recipe I created accidentally is below. I have two ideas for the name. What do you think? Picture yourself in a heels and a slinky cocktail dress ordering it at some swanky bar with mirrored walls and chandeliers and orchids. This will work if you're a guy, too. Does the first name work? I kind of think it works. But I kind of think the second one sounds classier.

Hybrid Frankenstein-Greyhound Ginger Mint Grapefruit Drop
The Dalton (as a tribute to the most awesome and only greyhound I have ever known)
2 oz grapefruit juice
a sprig of mint (10-12 leaves)
About a teaspoon or so of very finely grated ginger***
2 teaspoons sugar
½ oz Triple Sec or other orange flavored liquer
1.5 to 2 oz vodka 
A bunch of ice cubes

Put the grapefruit juice, mint, ginger, and sugar in a cocktail shaker and use the end of a wooden spoon or whatever muddler you have on hand to crush the mint really well. Add the Triple Sec, vodka, and ice cubes and shake. Hard. Make it frosty on the outside. And then shake more. You want to mix the sugar up into the liquid really well. Strain. Drink. (Actually, I didn't strain; I just poured it all into a glass because I wanted the ice anyway.)

2. I've been hiding the best quick batter-bread recipe from you for a long time. This is a no-knead yeast bread that takes about twenty minutes of "on"-time to put together. Betty Crocker says it takes fifteen minutes, but I've made it at least eight times, and it's definitely closer to twenty.  Still. For fresh bread? Sign me up!

(I'm imitating your voice when I say that. You're the one who should be saying "sign me up!" Right after you say "I'll have a Dalton, please. And  a Pimm's Cup for my friend.")

I've used oat bran instead of wheat germ and replaced a cup of the all-purpose flour with wheat flour and it came out fine. According to Betty, you could also increase the wheat flour to 2 cups and leave out the wheat germ and oats and stir in 1 cup of raisins during step 4.

Four-Grain Batter Bread
4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 packages regular or quick active dry yeast (1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ (or oat bran)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1. Grease 2 loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches) with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal.

2. Mix 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, the sugar, salt, baking soda, and yeast in a large bowl. Heat milk and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very warm (120 to 130 degrees). Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixture on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

3. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

4. Stir in whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, and enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a stiff batter (I usually add in a whole cup - until you're just kind of moving a ball of dough around the bowl). Divide batter evenly between pans and round tops of loaves by patting with floured hands. (It will be very sticky.)  Sprinkle with cornmeal.Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes or until batter reaches about 1 inch tops of pans. (Mine always rise above the pans because I forget to check.)

5. Bake about 25 minutes (I don't know where Betty gets this - I bake mine between 16 and 18 minutes - just watch) or until tops of loaves are light brown. Remove from pans to wire rack and cool.

* I started this post yesterday with good intentions. But the truth is, I didn't do my taxes today at all. I drank Greyhounds and made a salad.

**2010-2012 - Dropped the ball. No official Summer Beverage.
2009 - Basil Vodka Gimlet 
2008 - Official Summer Beverage never took.
2007 - Vodka Lime Freeze 
2006 - Mojito

***The solution to all your ginger-grating issues is here! Keep fresh ginger in the freezer. With your vodka. 

("I have ice cream and peas. What's in your freezer?" 

"Why, ginger and vodka. Of course.")

When you need ginger, take it out and peel some of the skin off. Don't let it thaw too long. Just enough to use a fine grater on it. It'll grate like a charm. When you go to pick it up, use the edge of a knife instead of your fingers. Your fingers will melt it and it will stick like crazy. You'll smell fantastic, but you'll be super-annoyed and covered in tiny pieces of ginger.

Greyhounds. Not the dog.

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