spring loaded gin + lemon tonic cocktail with pink peppercorns + hibiscus salt

spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
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Just like most people, I look forward to spring .... probably more than most seasons. After months of cold, short, gray days, I cannot wait to have more hours of sunlight and higher degrees of temperature. I look forward to the markets being filled with green vegetables once again, and I look forward to things like spring onions, ramps, and artichokes. Spring comes in slowly here in NYC, so sometimes it can feel like a fleeting moment before summer is here and in full swing, so I like to do all that I can to embrace those spring feelings (and vegetables). 

One of my favorite things about spring is that people start to come out of the woodwork. I start to see more of my friends than I did when I was hiding inside watching netflix every single night while making soup and braising things. All of a sudden my social calendar start to fill up with lunches, dinners, and parties. I feel recharged and ready to take on that fuller schedule after my winter hibernation. I get excited to call up friends for spontaneous get togethers, when we finally have those first few warm days to celebrate by sitting outside and sipping fun cocktails and nibbling on some bits. 

Whenever we do host a get together, I love to start with a specialty cocktail, and in the spring and summer it is often some sort of variation of a gin and tonic. It's one of the most refreshing of the classic cocktails, and it's easy to add things like lemon and cucumber to up that freshness. One of my favorite gins is The Botanist, because of it's smooth, herbal flavor, but also because it is a small batch gin that is made with a combination of 22 botanicals that are hand-foraged, locally, by their distiller’s scientists. How's that for some fun party facts to throw around! Also, the bottle is gorgeous and minimal, and looks really nice when you have a little cocktail station set up. I was so excited when The Botanist asked to partner on this spring cocktail, because it is the perfect way to welcome spring, and it's the perfect excuse to call up your friends and have a cocktail party to celebrate. 

 

*This post is sponsored by The Botanist. All thoughts are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support what's cooking good looking! 

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spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking

The Botanist Gin + lemon tonic with pink peppercorns + hibiscus salt 

MAKES
1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS 

2oz of The Botanist Gin
1/2oz of simple syrup
4oz of bitter lemon tonic (or regular tonic, and a squeeze of lime juice and a drop of bitters)

to garnish:
a couple of pink peppercorns
a pinch of hibiscus salt (or himalayan pink sea salt)

GLASSWARE:
a tall collins glass
 

METHOD

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the gin and syrup. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Fill the glass with ice and pour the cocktail over the ice. Top off with the lemon tonic, and garnish with the pink peppercorns and the salt and serve. 

hibiscus vanilla thai-styled ice tea

hibiscus vanilla thai-styled iced tea | what's cooking good looking
hibiscus vanilla thai-styled iced tea | what's cooking good looking

I have a super vivid memory of the first time I tried thai iced tea. I was in college, eating at a traditional, no-frills Thai restaurant with some friends. I was not someone who grew up eating ethnic foods outside of my own background, which is Italian and Polish. The extent of my ethnic eating when I was younger was general tso's chicken and po po platters, and it wasn't until college that I tried sushi, indian, and thai food for the first time, all of which are favorites of mine now. Because I got such a late start with these foods, my memories of the first time I tried them are still there, still very vivid. When I ordered my first thai iced tea, I remember who was there and exactly what it tasted like. It was sweet, creamy and sooo delicious. Kinda like what I would imagine shooting stars, rainbows, and summer, all mixed together, to taste like. 

Fast forward to today, I haven't had many thai iced teas since that first one because I don't often see them on menus, and I also remember thinking this tastes too good to not have a million calories and grams of sugar. Then, sometime last week, that memory made it's way back into my head. The taste, the look, the shooting stars, and I decided that I needed to make my own version. A version that I can drink and not feel terrible because of the dairy and amount of sugar. I did some research and it turns out that coconut milk is a more than acceptable milk to sub for the half and half, and in fact, I think it adds a little something to the flavor and texture. 

Another vivid memory I have, totally separate from my first thai iced tea experience, is my grandmother brewing tea outside in the hot summer sun. Apparently, it has a name .... it's called sun tea, and it's totally a thing. I remember her large glass pitcher with bright yellow flowers sitting on a small table in the middle of the backyard all by it's lonesome. It would sit there for hours using the heat of the sun to heat and brew the tea until it turned a dark amber color. That pitcher sitting in the sun was summer to me, that tea tasted like summer, and I have this urge to bring back that hippy chic, energy saving, tea making technique this summer ...... starting with this vanilla hibiscus brew right here. 

Now, you don't have to brew this in the sun, unless you really want to. But you can brew this ahead of time, and even double the batch, so you can sip on it with friends all weekend long. Coconut milk is also optional, but it's the ingredient that makes this thai-inspired brew come to life. It is possibly one of the most refreshing and delicious beverages, making it a perfect poolside, or lunchtime drink. 

hibiscus vanilla thai-styled iced tea | what's cooking good looking
hibiscus vanilla thai-styled iced tea | what's cooking good looking
hibiscus vanilla thai-styled iced tea | what's cooking good looking
hibiscus vanilla thai-styled iced tea | what's cooking good looking
hibiscus vanilla thai-styled iced tea | what's cooking good looking

hibiscus vanilla thai-styled ice tea 

If you cannot find hibiscus tea bags, you can use regular black tea bags. It will not have those floral undertones, but it will still be very delicious. As mentioned above, the tea can be made/brewed ahead of time, several days or more, and kept in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy ..... with or without the coconut milk (although I highly recommend with). 

MAKES
4 servings

INGREDIENTS

4 cups of water
3 hibiscus tea bags (or black tea bags)
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped (pod reserved)
1 star anise
2 whole cloves

approx 1 cup of full fat or light (canned) coconut milk

a sprig of mint for garnish (optional)

METHOD

Brew the tea + chill:

  • Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and stir in the sugar and remove from the heat. Add the tea bags, vanilla (seeds + pod), star anise, and cloves. Allow the tea to sit and cool for about 15 minutes, and then transfer to the fridge for 1 hour. After about an hour, remove the tea bags and strain. You can place the tea back into the refrigerator until you're ready to serve, or serve immediately. 

To serve:

  • Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour the tea over the ice, about 3/4 way up the glass. Top off with the coconut milk, and stick a sprig of mint in the glass for garnish. Enjoy immediately.


 

carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie

carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie | what's cooking good looking
carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie | what's cooking good looking

I know the tone of my last post was a little anti-detox, so it's kind  of funny that I am following that with a very detox-ish recipe for you. But I have a little secret to tell you ..... when I got back from my mini new years vaca, I was wiped out (in the best way possible). I was feeling all out of whack, and I needed some extra love. Every time I go away, I always try extra hard to not get sick when I get home. Airplanes, and eating out a lot is a recipe for a cold (at least for me it is), so I like to give myself extra love when I get home. I was playing around with different smoothie combinations, to find the biggest bang in nutrients for the taste, and here we are. 

Soooooooo ...... this smoothie is not so much about dextoxing, it's (once again) about keeping the balance. Not only the balance from the lesser healthy foods, and the overworked, overplayed days, but also from the colors. I find that I sometimes get into such a habit of drinking and eating SO MANY greens that I neglect the other colors. And this time of year it is even more important to get  those bright orange colors ...... because if you're not seeing sunshine outside, why not make the sunshine happen in other ways. Orange is the new green? Maybe. At least for these next few chilly months. 

Every single ingredient in this smoothie has super benefits from vitamins + minerals (yeah, carrots + bananas + cashews!) and anti-inflammation (hello, turmeric + ginger) ..... it's amazing how well these ingredients play together to boost your immune system during these colder months, but the real harmony comes in how it tastes. I've been making this smoothie all week long because I am seriously addicted to it. It is SOOOO  tasty, refreshing and satisfying .... and that color alone  just makes me so happy. Isn't happy-looking food (and smoothies!), the best food?

 

** SOME FUN ANNOUNCEMENTS!

Friends! I have a number of events, workshops and a retreat in ITALY(!) coming up in 2016. If you want to be informed of when events and workshops are taking place, please sign up for the event + workshop email which you can find  in the sidebar ----->
or if you're having trouble signing up, you can also email me directly at jodi@whatscookinggoodlooking.com and I will make sure you're on the list. THANKS + I hope to see/meet you this year! xoxo

 

carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie | what's cooking good looking
carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie | what's cooking good looking
carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie | what's cooking good looking
carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie | what's cooking good looking

carrot + orange + turmeric (immune boosting!) smoothie

MAKES
2 smothies

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup cashews
2 cups of filtered water

1 carrot
1 ripe banana
1/2 of an orange (the insides - pulp)
a thumbnail size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
about two pinches of turmeric

METHOD
 

  • Place the cashews and water into the blender and let it sit and soak for a minimum of 30 minutes, or overnight (I like to do this in the blender to save from washing an extra bowl). 
  • After the cashews have been soaking, run the blender on high for about a minute, until the cashews are liquified. 
  • Add the rest of the ingredients for the smoothie: carrot, banana, orange, ginger, coconut oil, and turmeric. Blend on high until smooth. Add a couple of ice cubes if you like, and blend again until smooth. Serve immediately, or you can store any extra for 1-2 days in an air-tight container in the fridge (mason jars work well for storing smoothies). 

concord grape + coconut water smash

concord grape + coconut water smash | what's cooking good looking
concord grape + coconut water smash | what's cooking good looking

Where I live, Halloween, for those adult years after college and before you have kids, is all about dressing up in something cute, sexy,  scary, or something cleverly related to pop culture, and having some cocktails. In my neighborhood in NYC, it's more about the adults than the kids. Greenwich Village hosts a huge walking parade that marches down 6th avenue, and if you don't mind huge crowds of people dressed up in crazy costumes, then this parade is for you. It's tons of fun, but after having participating in my share of parades over the years, I now pretty much avoid it all together. It's not that I won't be dressed up or drinking cocktails, it's just that nowadays I will be doing it in a (slightly) more civilized environment with less people and fancier cocktails. In fact, this year we are starting the party at our place, and I am in charge of the "fancy" cocktails ....... and this cocktail here will definitely be served. 

I partnered with ZICO to mix up this drink, and I was so excited to do so because, besides being a huge fan of coconut water, when I do have coconut water I like to make sure it is organic, fair trade,  and not from concentrate. ZICO's new certified organic, fair trade coconut water checks all of those boxes. Not only is it great to drink on it's own .... but it's also makes really delicious cocktails such as this grape smash cocktail (or mocktail, if that's how you roll). The best part about adding coconut water to your drinks, since it is super-hydrating, is that it gives you a little leg up on that next day. Some added electrolytes and hydration while you are imbibing are always a good idea!

**This post is sponsored by ZICO's new organic line of coconut water! I only work with companies whose products I believe in and would use myself. All opinions are my own. 

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concord grape + coconut water smash | what's cooking good looking
concord grape + coconut water smash | what's cooking good looking
concord grape + coconut water smash | what's cooking good looking
concord grape + coconut water smash | what's cooking good looking

concord grape + coconut water smash 

*If you would like to make this drink alcohol free, just omit the vodka, and add a splash more of coconut or regular (filtered) water. 

MAKES 1 drink

INGREDIENTS

7-8 concord grapes
4-5 mint leaves
2 lime wedges
1 cup of ZICO organic coconut water
2 ounces of vodka
ice

YOU'll ALSO NEED: a cocktail shaker and a pestle (or something with a long handle to smash the ingredients)

METHOD

  • Place the grapes, mint, lime wedges, and 1/2 cup of the coconut water into a cocktail shakes and smash really well with the pestle to release the juices and flavors from the ingredients. 
  • Add the vodka, the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut water, and a cup full of ice, and shake!
  • Fill around an 8oz glass with ice, and strain + pour the cocktail over the ice. Enjoy!