Tag Archives: mixed drinks

The Reset Diet

Fran's Reset Diet

A diet that helps you think about more than just your weight.

Truth be told, I’m not a good “diet” person. I’m no good at constantly saying “no” to something I want to eat.  Who is? What I mean by “diet” is any kind of program that’s designed specifically to help you lose weight.  Most of them are fads that doctors and nutritionists tell me don’t do any good anyway because they usually involve completely removing items from your daily intake and never allowing them back – even on “cheat days”.  And, then when you try to do that you eventually quit the “diet” and regain everything you might have lost by abstinence.  But, there are useful ideas that are not necessarily “dieting” but are just good ideas that can help your overall health.

For instance, drinking plenty of plain water is always a good idea, especially on hot days.  This is a tough one for me (I’m not a good water drinker) but it’s important to put effort into this one. Eating lots of fruits is also a good idea, and they taste good. I work out, I stay active, and I eat reasonably healthy (and balanced) full meals with a few “slips” now and then – it’s moderation for me and it’s always worked reasonably well.

Now and then though, it’s good to reassess what you’re actually putting in your body. For instance, a girlfriend of mine has a “diet” that she calls her “reset.” It’s something that she does once per year for one month – only 30 days – sometimes it’s just before the holidays (like now) and sometimes it’s just after all those holiday parties. It’s not a lot to do, I’ve tried it, and it really works. The best part is that it’s a diet that I think everyone can get into.

The whole concept is based on moderation – so lose the idea of some strict schedule where you live like a monk for a month (remember, this is me we’re talking about). Think of this as an opportunity to ‘detox’ away from some bad habits that have formed over the year. You know how it gets – too much of this or that, and you feel fat and tired! Through the moderation of the “Reset Diet,” I think we regain understanding what moderation actually means. My testimony is the big gain I got in the end: a big difference in my energy levels, clearer skin, and I lost that bloat I always complain about.

Rule One for the Reset Diet is banishing all alcoholic drinks for five days of every week for a full month. If I know that I have something planned that I want to have a glass of wine or drink at then that is one of my two “free” days. And since this diet is all about moderation, your ‘no alcohol’ days do not have to be consecutive. But I recommend that you try to put several days in a row together – it just has a better effect if you can.

Rule Two is to put yourself into a mindset of questioning everything that you eat. Do your best to ask yourself if whatever the meal you are planning is your healthiest choice. For instance, instead of trying to fill myself for every meal, I go for ‘leaner’ meals. Don’t starve, but don’t stuff yourself either. During this diet, I also cut back on snacks – especially stuff that comes out of a bag or a box. Fresh fruits are good, though. Always.

Rule Three may be the easiest of all. Take a short walk after every meal, or one longer walk after lunch or dinner. If you’re already doing the 10,000 steps per day thing, good. Just keep with the program. If not, maybe this is the time to start with 2,000 steps? Just sayin.

We can all do something for one month! The goal is to reset our bodies, not change everything about us. It’s a “diet” that may actually change other parts of your life, but the best part is that you get two “free” days per week.  I can do anything if I know that I only have to do it for 5 days out of 7 and it’s my choice which 5!  It’s an easy “reset” before or after the holidays.  I’m on it!

The simplest Vodka cocktail that isn’t really a cocktail.

NIKOLAI-vodka-taste_sm

Another way to enjoy your favorite vodka: a Nikoli for your party.

I love to host parties of all sizes.  Sometimes it’s a small group of 6, and sometimes it feels like I sent out a mailing addressed to “current occupant”!  Almost no weekend goes by that I’m not hosting some activity, somewhere.

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a “tasting” – a party where various dishes or types of food or beverage all focused around one theme are shared.  This one was focused on caviar (I served four types) and vodka (two types) – two incredible flavors that are a classic pairing.  I added a couple of types of smoked fish and, of course, champagne.  It had a very Russian feel to it.

A close friend of mine (part of the group around the table) used to manage a vodka bar and shared a very special cocktail that her Russian clients would regularly order.  She said that this drink has quite a few different names: Russian Cocaine, Russian Rocket, Nicolaski, but the one she remembered was most asked for, and the name I’ll use from now on is “Nikoli.” It’s really quite ingenious and very delicious.

This is a very simple drink and even if you don’t normally drink vodka – this may win you over!  Use only a very smooth vodka.  For me, it’s always a potato vodka and one of two labels (I drink both). When I’m out on the town with friends, my vodka of choice is always Chopin.  If the restaurant has Luksusowa, a classic Polish vodka, I’ll order that for a change.  I keep both in my freezer at home, so I’m ready at a moment’s notice.  Both are distilled from potatoes and are very smooth and rich especially when stored in the freezer, so they stay chilled properly.

Just an aside, that’s the big secret to making vodka taste great – keep it cold enough.  People have been dropping their bottles of vodka in the snow, letting the bottles stay out in subfreezing weather for a day or so for hundreds of years. We’ve got it a whole lot easier –  just put the bottle in the freezer!

Remember that vodka will not freeze (of course, because it’s alcohol), but it will thicken up a little, and the taste will change quite a bit. At “near freezing” temperatures, the proper drinking temperature for good vodka, it releases fewer volatiles, the compound in the alcohol that quickly vaporizes. That’s why when a spirit like vodka is warm, the smell of pure alcohol can be overwhelming.

By sipping a vodka that’s properly chilled (near freezing), a balance is created between the natural volatiles and the taste of the things that you are eating with the vodka. Which brings me back to a “Nikoli.”

You need four things for a Nikoli – aforementioned near-freezing vodka, thinly sliced lemon (I use Meyer lemons – they’re sweeter), a small dish of regular white sugar, and another small dish of freshly ground coffee (the finer the ground, the darker the bean, the better).

  • Prep the Meyer lemons by pressing one side of each slice into the little dish of sugar and the other side of the lemon slice into the dish of ground coffee.
  • Then pour about one to two ounces of chilled vodka into either shot glasses or aperitif glasses.
  • Pick up one lemon slice by the rind and fold it between your fingers (like a taco) with the coffee side inside and the sugar side on the outside.
  • Bite the flesh of the lemon clean from the rind, take the shot and then chew the lemon and swallow it all together.

Absolutely delicious!

One more little recommendation: chill your glasses. Chill your shot glasses in the freezer with the vodka, but place aperitif glasses in the regular refrigerator.  I like to use my antique aperitif glasses, they’re pretty, and they make the table look more festive, but I’d never put them in the freezer – they’re way too delicate.

Try a Nikoli – it’s a great way to get a party started!!

Sparkling Tarragon Gin Lemonade

tarragon-gin-lemonade

Time to Spice Up Your Lemonade

Many of my best party food memories are from Sunday BBQs when the kids were growing up so when the weather changes and it begins to get hot outside I start thinking about those BBQs and fun get-togethers. Then I try to figure out what would be a good adult-beverage for an afternoon outside with my friends and family now that everyone’s grown up. This adult lemonade will fit the bill perfectly this summer. It’s easy to make, isn’t too sweet (even with the St. Germain) and has bubbles which automatically make anything fun. Muddling is a bar technique used to release the essential oils from herbs and fruits to deliver the maximum impact on the drink. It’s basically gently crushing (with what amounts to a wooden pestle) the items against the glass – press and give a ½ turn of your wrist. This was created by Alison Roman and published in bon appétit June 2013. This recipe serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 10 large sprigs tarragon
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup gin
  • 3/4 cup St-Germain (elderflower liqueur)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • (1) 12-ounce can club soda

Directions

Muddle tarragon sprigs, lemon slices, and sugar in a large pitcher. Add gin, St-Germain, lemon juice, and club soda. Add ice and stir to combine. Serve over ice.

Pitcher of Convenience and Style

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 8.41.19 PMThere’s a reason why it’s easier to serve wine at a party rather than staying in your bar and mixing individual drinks – you get to refill glasses by just carrying a bottle around the room so you can be with your guests and have fun, too!  Well, if you don’t want wine with your appetizers, I suggest you make pitchers of your favorite cocktail. You can make whole batches of straight-spirit cocktails (margaritas, Manhattans, etc.) in bulk, keep them in your refrigerator (maybe in that empty wine bottle or a glass pitcher). Re-stir them with ice in a mixing glass before serving to make sure they’re properly chilled and VOILÁ – You look like a pro! More fun, right? And the very picture of convenience and style.

The 3 Essentials for Any Home Bar

Party at home? Better get equipped.

I always love to learn simple tricks and I got lucky today!! I spoke with a good friend (a guy I’ve known for several years) about dating who told me a secret. He asked me if I knew what the 3 essential items every woman’s bar should have. My first guess was a good red wine. He said that it is assumed all women will have decent wine in the house-one strike. So, I said no I have no clue. He prefaced his comments with the following – When you are on a date with someone you like, pay close attention to what they order to drink. If they routinely order scotch, ask if they have a favorite or if they were just ordering what the restaurant had. If they mention a favorite ask what there is about it that they like- single barrel, a particular age, etc.

Now on to the important data – The 3 essentials:

  1. Have a really good Scotch in your bar. If this is their beverage of choice make sure you have the one they like.
  2. Have a really good Tequila on hand. Same rule if this is the favorite beverage.
  3. Have a really good Vodka in your freezer. Same rule as above.

These three items are apparently crucial. Have all three in your bar, just make sure that whichever one they like to drink is included. I would think you might need a good Gin too but I guess that’s only if it’s your favorite or theirs-otherwise just these. He also said that you should always have a chilled beer glass and good cold beer if you’re not sure what the beverage of choice is. Then he said that everybody LOVES the really big ice cubes that some restaurants use in their alcoholic beverages because they keep the drink cold but melt very slowly so they don’t dilute the alcohol. But, there is nothing worse than stale ice. It will ruin your drink. Be sure to throw away the ice cubes once a month.

I happen to have a couple of silicone VERY large ice cube trays that I bought at Crate and Barrel. They are just 6 cubes to a tray so the tray isn’t big just the ice cubes. They fit about one ice cube in a double old fashion glass-you know those short fat glasses. I guess I need to actually fill them with water and put them in the freezer and not just have them on the shelf! My friend said everyone thinks those are really cool. This is apparently (per my friend) the quickest way to seriously impress someone you’re interested in. Just sharing!!!!

 

3 Glasses You Need in Your Bar

a row of cocktail classes

There are only three types of glasses that you absolutely need in your bar at home:

The old-fashioned short, squatty, wide base glass, that typically holds about 6-10 ounce drinks.

Then there’s the highball glass (often referred to as a tumbler) that will serve a an 8-12oz drink. These are taller than the old fashioned glass squat ones.

And the Martini glass – think James Bond here). An inverted cone bowl with a slender stem and wide flat base. This one can be anywhere from 6oz to the HUGE Margherita glasses you find at your neighborhood Mexican restaurant with a busy Happy Hour.

Drink up!