Sunday, April 19, 2015

Minty Cardinal Punch #SundaySupper

A cool refreshing beverage for summer time and outdoor picnics, this cocktail is full of mint and juice with the added touch of orange bitters. Leave out the vodka and add more ginger ale for a kid friendly version. 

If you’ve been reading along here for a while, you know that most Fridays will find us out in our Drascombe Longboat sailing around the channels and little islands offshore Abu Dhabi. We pack a picnic lunch that almost invariably includes sticky wings and snorkers in Thermoses. (Thermi?) In addition to the beer, cider and soft drinks in the cooler, occasionally we bring along a jug of rum punch, essential on Trafalgar Day, or Bloody Marys or Pimm’s. But mint has completely taken over my flowerbeds, so last weekend, I mixed up a batch of this cardinal punch.

There are a thousand recipes for cardinal punch on the interwebs, some calling for red wine, others for cranberry juice but I used this one from as my jumping off point. I couldn’t find anything cranberry but drink in my nearby supermarket so I ended up substituting fresh, unsweetened pomegranate juice instead, for a very refreshing cocktail to sip on the beach.

Lots of mint - put more or less as your supply moves you
1 lemon
1 orange
2 cups or 480ml pomegranate or cranberry juice (not drink!)
1 cup or 240ml orange juice
1 oz or 30ml fresh lemon juice
2 cups or 480ml vodka
2 cups or 480ml ginger ale
Orange bitters

Give your mint a good wash and spin to dry then pick the leaves off of the thick stems. It's so dusty here in Dubai that this step is essential.

Cut the lemon and orange into thin slices.

Mix your juices together in a big jug with the vodka.  Add the mint, some ice and the orange and lemon slices.

Finally, add in the ginger ale, a few generous shakes of the orange bitters and stir.

If you are transporting the drink to a picnic spot, pack the sliced citrus slices in an airtight container and put all the other ingredients into a clean bottle, except the ice, and pack some plastic cups. Mine fit into one 1.5 liter water bottle plus a little 330ml water bottle. Not sure why the orange bitters were still in the picture because I had already shaken quite a bit of that good stuff into the drink.

Keep the bottle in a cooler with ice and serve the drink glass by glass, adding ice and a slice each of orange and lemon then pouring in the punch. Make sure each glass gets some mint as well.


Many thanks to T.R. of Gluten Free Crumbley for hosting this week’s Sunday Supper where we are having a huge virtual picnic!

Check out all the great picnic fare!

Main Dishes:
Soups and Salads:
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Our favorite picnic spot on a little island we call HMS Log. That's Abu Dhabi city in the background.

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Garlicky Lobster Crab Scampi #NationalGarlicDay

Lots of garlic, butter and olive oil make this rich lobster and crab dish perfect for serving on a special occasion. Or when you just want to treat yourself. No lobster? Substitute shrimp or prawns!

The summer I was eight years old, we moved from Trinidad to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, a distance not far as the crow flies, the commercial flight taking only one hour and 20 minutes, but it was a dizzying transfer from a cozy oil field camp on a relatively provincial island to a quick paced city of high rise buildings and busy downtown streets where folks spoke a foreign tongue. And you had to know that language to read the signs, packaging in stores and to order safely from a menu. While our house was being readied for move-in, we stayed first in a high-rise hotel and then in a serviced apartment just a few blocks from an Italian restaurant called Da Pippo’s. We ate there several times a week. Funny how memories can be elusive, but I don’t really remember what I used to order. Perhaps it was something normal like pizza or spaghetti, so unremarkable that it escaped recording in my long-term brain cells, but my older sister was consistent.

She got the shrimp scampi every single time. It was loaded with garlic and butter and oil, shelled pink shrimp drowning in that nectar of delight. I don’t recall if she ever shared a shrimp, but sometimes she’d let me dip a piece of the complimentary bread in there. Heaven. Now you are probably asking yourself why I didn’t just order my own shrimp scampi and I wish I had a good answer for you. I do wonder that myself. But the good memories made sure that I have recreated that dish more than a few times over the intervening years. A little research corrected my misheld assumption that scampi was merely the Italian word for shrimp. It can also mean a dish prepared with garlic butter so occasionally, I vary the seafood, using lobster or crab alone or in combination with the shrimp. But there’s always plenty of garlic and butter and olive oil.

You might remember that last year about this time, I was celebrating National Garlic Day with my friend, Heather from girlichef, and 13 more garlic loving food bloggers. I made a slow roasted lamb shoulder with 40 cloves of garlic that just fell off the bones, it was so tender! Well, we are at it again! And I couldn’t think of a better recipe to share than one I created with Da Pippo's shrimp scampi in mind. Feel free to substitute shrimp for the lobster and/or the crab. And make sure you scroll down to see all the great garlicky recipes my friends have made for you today.

Ingredients for two very generous servings
1/4 cup or 60g butter
1/4 cup or 60ml olive oil
15 cloves or 60g garlic
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup or 120ml dry white wine
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne (depending on your taste)
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
12 1/3 oz or 350g lobster tail meat
1/2 cup or 110g fresh crabmeat
Sea salt to taste.

To serve: spinach fettuccine pasta, cooked to manufacturer’s instructions or some crusty bread, sliced, heaping your scampi on.

To garnish: Few sprigs cilantro or flat leaf parsley

Melt the butter along with the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Mince your garlic and add it to the pan or push it through a garlic press directly into the melted butter and olive oil. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Be very careful not to let the garlic burn or it will turn bitter.

Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, whole grain mustard and white wine. Simmer for about five minutes.

Slice your lobster tail.

And add it to the sauce. Cook it just long enough for the meat to turn white, mere minutes.

Add in the crabmeat and cook until it is just warmed through.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and give everything a gentle stir.

Add salt to taste then serve over spinach pasta for extra color. Or alongside some fresh crusty bread.

Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro or flat leaf parsley.


Welcome to National Garlic Day 2015, hosted by Heather from girlichef. April 19th is a day for garlic lovers far and wide to come together and celebrate the wonder of "the stinking rose." Whether it's the ability to ward off vampires (and bugs), its numerous health benefits, or the way it lends flavor to a dish, there are so many reasons for singing the praises of garlic.

To help you get in the mood, check out these garlicky good recipes from this year's National Garlic Day bloggers:

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Van Halen Bundt #BundtBakers

If you are a fan of Van Halen, you’ve probably discerned that my contribution for this month’s Bundt Bakers is a pound cake, so I'll elaborate further to say it's flavored with lemon and stuffed with blueberries. There’s also cream cheese and blueberry jam right up in there.

It’s not “an old time, long lost recipe” but one I adapted off of my friend Jenni’s blog, Pastry Chef Online, who in turn adapted it from an original recipe by a certain Miss Patsy. And while I don’t know Miss Patsy, I’m going to hazard a guess from her name that she is “home grown and down home, “ so the renaming of her pound cake is maybe appropriate, if you don’t think too hard about the rest of the Van Halen lyrics. As Jenni has proven myriad times, this recipe is easily adaptable and a great jumping off place for buttery rich pound cakes of various flavors.
This month our theme for Bundt Bakers is Hidden Surprises so, even after adding all the lemon, I couldn’t leave Miss Patsy’s recipe well enough alone; I had to try and put something inside. I chose blueberries and cream cheese, which sounded like a great idea, until the filling sunk. And that is when I added a glaze to the instructions because I had to hide it again. If you don’t mind the look of a blueberry upside down Bundt, leave off the glaze because it was delicious. Rather ugly actually, but definitely delicious. On the other hand, a lemony cream cheese glaze is never a bad thing. Your call.

2 1/4 cups or 285g flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups or 450g sugar
1 1/8 cup or 255g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup or 60ml whole milk
1/4 cup or 60ml cream
1/4 cup or 60ml fresh lemon juice

For the filling:
2 1/2 oz or 70g cream cheese, cold
1 3/4 oz or 50g fresh blueberries, plus a few extra for decorating, if desired
1/4 cup or 80g blueberry jam

Optional lemon glaze:
1/2 cup or 60g icing sugar
1 1/4 oz or 35g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2-3 teaspoons milk

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 10-cup Bundt pan by greasing and flouring it or using the non-stick spray that has flour already in it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

Measure your milk, cream and lemon juice together in a measuring cup and stir well. It's going to kind of thicken and get all sour creamy/buttermilky and that's a good thing.

In the bowl of your stand mixer or with electric beaters, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add in the vanilla and then the first egg.

Beat well until combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula and add the other two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add in half your flour and beat well, followed by half your liquid mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl well and continue beating, adding the balance of the flour and then the balance of the liquids, along with the lemon zest. Beat well.

Spoon two-thirds of your batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Use a spoon to make a very shallow channel in the batter.

For the filling, cut the cream cheese up into small chunks and mix lightly with the jam and fresh blueberries.

Spoon your filling into the channel.

Then top it with the balance of the batter and smooth it out.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes or until the top is nicely golden and the Bundt begins to just pull away from the sides.

Let the Bundt cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This is not a thing of beauty

The filling will probably sink to the bottom of the pan, which becomes the top of the cake, making an upside down blueberry cream cheese topping. Which, as I mentioned, while delicious, is not particularly attractive. At least in my opinion. If you’d like to hide it with a glaze, whisk all the glaze ingredients together, adding just enough milk to get it to the consistency you'd like, and then drizzle it (or use a piping bag) to decorate the top of the Bundt.

If you've added the glaze, top with a few blueberries, if desired.


Many thanks to our host this month, Anshie of Spice Roots for a great, if somewhat vexing, theme and for all the work it takes to host. Have a look at how the rest of our group handled the Hidden Surprises challenge:

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

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