Pink Peppercorn Paloma

pink-palomas

Mezcal, pretty pink peppercorns, and an aromatic vanilla bean salted rim join in happy union with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice over ice. I’ve been on a cocktail kick lately with sundress and sandal weather on my mind and am desperate for spring to actually grace us with her presence. Although there are daffodils, hyacinth and tulips galore in New York City, old man winter is having the final word with gusty cold winds and threats of spring snow.

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Hillstone makes their paloma with pink peppercorns and the combination really is fantastic. Citrus spiced pink peppercorns pop in the paloma; their flavor adds gentle heat. Smoky mezcal with grapefruit and pink peppercorns make for a delicious paloma with a vanilla bean salt rim that brings it up a notch.

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Mezcal is tequila’s smoky brother, but keep in mind that just like tequilas not all mezcals are made equal. For this paloma I used a light mezcal  with a subtle smoky nose. The sommelier from my restaurant brought me this bottle back from Mexico and I couldn’t resist putting it to good use. Up next I’m thinking pineapple-thyme Mexican 75s with mezcal instead of gin and passion fruit jalapeno combinations too.

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Pink Peppercorn Paloma

  • 2.0 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1.5 oz mezcal or tequila or even vodka
  • Squeeze of lime
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup

Paloma Garnish

  • Lemon twist
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean scraped

To make simple syrup blend one part water to one part sugar and heat on the stovetop or in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved. Scrape half of a vanilla bean and mix with sea salt. Run a lime wedge over the rim of the glass and dip in the vanilla salt to coat the rim for the paloma. Freshly squeeze your grapefruits. As a proud Floridian I urge you to actually squeeze your fruit, store-bought is never ever ever the same as fresh.

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Use 8-10 whole pink peppercorns per cocktail. Pour your ingredients into a shaker over ice and shake well. In a vanilla salted glass, pour over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon twist. This would also be great served up in a chilled martini or coup glass. Cheers!

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Guava Margaritas with a Smoky Salt Rim

up-close-and-smoky

My guava love saga continues with tequila, grand marnier, and a smoky salted rim. The brief appearance of spring in New York City has lifted my spirits and instantaneously put a skip in my step. Spring is that magical time of year when the city comes back to life and the parks and rooftops are brimming with pale New Yorkers. As the bodegas fill up with tulips and daffodils, I feel inspired wear espadrilles and to sip spirits in the sun. Guava margaritas will have you celebrating spring and cure your winter blues in one smoky sip.

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Tequila reminds me of Miami and bright beach days with dirty coronas and late nights. In these guava margaritas, the sweetness of the guava is offset by the smoked paprika and the hot cayenne in the salted rim. I topped this spring cocktail with grapefruit soda, but prosecco or champagne would be killer. Apparently it is set to snow this Sunday, so I’ll enjoy this sunny spring preview with smoky guava margaritas and homemade Cuban food.

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Guava Margaritas with Smoked Salt Rim

Makes 2

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce grand marnier
  • 2 teaspoons guava marmelade or guava sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Top with grapefruit soda, prosecco, or champagne

Smoked Salt Rim

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix the salt rim ingredients on a flat plate. Run a lime over the rim of the glass and salt the rim. In a shaker over ice add the tequila, grand marnier, guava marmelade, and lime juice. Shake well and pour over fresh ice in the salted highballs. Top with a floater of grapefruit soda (I used San Pellegrino Pommelo) but prosecco or champagne would work well. Garnish the guava margaritas with a lime wheel and cheers to spring!

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Note: Mezcal would be amazing in these guava margaritas, but I had silver tequila on hand. I bet this could also be batched as a signature cocktail for a spring or summer party using both grapefruit soda and prosecco to make plenty for a crowd.

picture-perfect

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Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Guava Sauce

guava-obsession

My love affair with guava continues this week. In pastries, cocktails, cheesecakes, bars, and baked with brie- guava is my jam. Guava and goat cheese panna cotta are like little pastelitos de guayaba con queso without the puff pastry and a little extra ‘je ne sais quoi‘. The goat cheese adds a richer, creamy texture without overpowering the palate, and the bright guava flavor cuts through the tang and shines in your mouth.

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Panna cotta is an easy and practically fool-proof dessert that can be made ahead of time, which is great especially if you’re entertaining. Cream, sugar, and gelatin is all you need to make this classic Italian dessert although my variation uses goat cheese, vanilla bean, and tropical guava. In less than 20 minutes I had six adorable individual desserts ready to pop into the fridge and become silky satin.

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Like Cuban flan, panna cotta is versatile, simple, and it just so happens to be gluten-free (if that matters to you).  Panna cotta’s simplicity allows you to add flavors and get creative with ingredients like coffee, almonds, rosewater, fresh berries, liqueurs, and pretty much any combination you can think of.

panna-cotta-perfection

Guava and Goat Cheese Panna Cotta

  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups half and half (1 pint container)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 4 oz softened goat cheese
  • 1 vanilla bean

Guava Sauce

  • 2 cans guava nectar (or juice) mine were 9 oz each
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • Juice of a lemon wedge

Allow the goat cheese to soften at room temperature. Mix the packet of unflavored gelatin with ¼ cup cold water and allow the gelatin to soften for around 5 minutes or so. Heat the sugar and half and half in a sauce pan over medium heat making sure to stir occasionally. While the milk is steaming, scrape the vanilla bean. I scraped mine on top of the softening gelatin just because I didn’t want to wash another dish. When the milk is steaming and all of the sugar has dissolved turn off the heat and whisk in the softened goat cheese until smooth. Add in the gelatin and vanilla bean. My gelatin turned into a small puck in the ramekin yet quickly dissolved into the goat cheese panna cotta.

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I had enough of the goat cheese panna cotta mixture to fill six individual cups. I allowed them to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing them in my fridge (mainly because my fridge is too tiny and it would have heated up its contents too quickly). If you are blessed with a large fridge pop those suckers in when they’re done and cover them with plastic wrap around an hour later.

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While the goat cheese panna cotta are cooling down and setting start the guava sauce. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with around ¼ cup of guava nectar and whisked until smooth and set aside. Heat the remaining guava nectar with 2 tablespoons of sugar until it was just simmering. Add the cornstarch guava mix and simmer 5 minutes or so longer until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat and squeeze in the juice of a fresh lemon wedge.

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This made around 2 cups of the guava sauce, although you likely only need a ½ cup or so for this recipe. Pour the guava sauce into smaller individual ramekins to cool and set faster. Once the goat cheese panna cotta has set pour the guava sauce on top. You can allow the guava sauce to set on top or garnish before serving.

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**The guava sauce tasted just like Conchita Guava Marmelade. If you want to take a short cut just spoon this marmalade on top of your goat cheese panna cotta.

 

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