Kerala Fried Chicken and Low Country Waffles with Spicy Maple Syrup

I love this new cookbook “My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India Into a Southern Kitchen” by Asha Gomez, winner of the Food 52 Piglet 2017 cookbook competition. I did not really follow this contest but took a look at the cookbooks which were nominated. I have already posted Asha’s  “Banana Beignets” recipe which I made even a little better with my maple syrup glaze.

Next on my list of recipes to make was this fried chicken. It just sounded super good and different combining the best of Asha’s two cuisines. Can you guess where the fried chicken came from or the waffles? Kerala or Atlanta?

As Asha stated in her introduction ” Its flavors and dishes are characterized and rooted in my deep affection for the resourcefulness and soulfulness of cooking in both by mother country India , in the far southern state of Kerala, and my chosen home in  America’s southern, culinary-savvy city of Atlanta, Georgia.”

Low Country, by the way, refers to both South and North Carolina. It is a low-lying region that is part of a southern state extending from the seacoast inland to the Fall Line, or the Sandhills. I guess I gave away where the waffles come from!

Linking these delicious recipes from two parts of the world to Angie at Fiesta Friday #192 and her co-hosts this week Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Kerala Fried Chicken and Low Country Waffles with Spicy Maple Syrup

Kerala Fried Chicken:

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 6 whole serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded if desired for less heat
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (1 cup)
  • 1 bunch fresh mint (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 lbs.) I used chicken breasts
  • canola oil, for frying
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted (optional for drizzling over fried chicken)
  • 2 stems fresh curry leaves for garnish

Combine the first five ingredients plus 2 tbsp. salt in a blender and puree until smooth. Place the chicken in a shallow container and pour the marinade over it. Toss the chicken to be sure it is coated well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 18 hours and as long as 24 hours.

You can also make the spicy syrup now since it infuses up to 24 hours as well.

Fill your cast iron skillet with about 1-inch of oil and heat until it reaches 350°F. Place a rack over a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Mix the flour and 1 tsp. of salt in a shallow dish and set aside.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and dab off the excess with paper towels. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour to coat.

Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F. Drain the chicken on the rack and drizzle with melted coconut oil if desired.

Dip the curry leaves in the hot oil until crisp – not very long, maybe 10 seconds or so; drain.

Recipe by


Low Country Rice Waffles

Low Country Rice Waffles:

  • 1-1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 6-8 green cardamom pods, crushed and seeds removed
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice, cooked (use your choice of rice)
  • nonstick spray

Whisk together the two flours (never realized there was more than one type of rice flour such as brown or red), brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom seeds and salt. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs. Add the buttermilk and melted butter and whisk to combine.

Slowly add the wet mixture into the dry ingredients; then  add the cooked rice and stir to combine. Cover and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Heat your waffle iron and spray lightly with Pam, or any non-stick spray. Cook each waffle until crisp and golden.

Makes 8 waffles

Recipe by


White rice flour on the left and AP on the right… Batter has risen and ready to make waffles…


Spicy Maple Syrup

Spicy Maple Syrup:

  • 2 tbsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed
  • 2 cups maple syrup

Coarsely grind the cumin and coriander seeds. In a small skillet toast the seeds and red pepper flakes about 1 minute. Add the spices to the syrup and allow to infuse for up to 24 hours at room temperature.

Assembly: Place the waffle on a plate, add a piece of fried chicken and top with fried curry leaves. Serve the syrup on the side. I removed the seeds from the syrup and set them aside to add as desired.

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Parmigiano Reggiano Cooking Class

Yes, a cooking class where the “star” ingredient was Parmigiano Reggiano.  When I received an email from Zingerman’s Bakehouse about this upcoming class I signed up right away. There are only 12 students per class so you have to respond quickly to get a spot.

Parmigiano Reggiano is my favorite cheese above all others and there is always a big supply in my refrigerator. I use this cheese a lot – it can be a main ingredient in one of my recipes or just shavings on top of a salad. No, this is not the Parmesan that you shake out of a container!

One of the Zingerman partners returned recently from a trip to Italy visiting and tasting some Parmigiano Reggiano from different dairies. As a result of this trip they are now offering 5 different cheeses. Ari has written a lengthy description about each dairy as well as included remarks from a formal taster for the regular assessment of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

There are a total of 339 dairies in this one area of Northern Italy comprising Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and portions of Bologna and Mantua.  Only here are the conditions ideal to produce the only cheese in the world that can be called Parmigiano Reggiano.

Every cheese dairy is thoroughly inspected and every single cheese is checked by the Consorzio experts before it can be given the Parmigiano  Reggiano “firebrand” and have its side panels show off the famous “pin dots”. There are many cheeses that try to lay claim to be as good such as Grana Padano but Parmigiano Reggiano remains at the top.

All I can say is don’t buy the “imitation” cheese, buy the real Parmigiano Reggiano.  Maybe I will join the new Parmigiano Club so I can taste all these different Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses!

Now, back to the class! Our guest instructor was Evan Kleiman from Los Angeles who specializes in Italian cooking. She’s an author; “Cucina Fresca” is one of her cookbooks which was available for purchase. Evan is also a radio show host, former owner of an Italian caffe/pizzeria and in 2017 was named as a James Beard Who’s Who in Food in America member.

This is a list of what we made during a three hour class:

  • Gnocchetti di Ricotta (beet ricotta gnocchi with brown butter, sage, and Parmigiano Reggiano)

  • Cipolle alla Parmigiana (onions baked in salt, then scooped out and pureed with Parmigiano Reggiano and finished in the oven)

  • Insalata Forte made with mixed baby greens, fennel bulb, Belgian endive and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish dressed with a Garlic Parmesan Salad Dressing

Evan also demonstrated the following dishes which we got to sample:

  • Brodo di Reggiano (Parmesan Broth)
  • Spinach Leek Straciatella Soup with Parmigiano Reggiano broth
  • Ricotta “Carpaccio” with thinly sliced radishes, zucchini, carrots and shallots, drizzled with olive oil and crowned with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

I will make and post a few favorites later…

Linking to Fiesta Friday #191. Our co-hosts this week are Judi @ and Antonia @

Kitchen Gadgets – Tomato Slicers

I know this is late in “tomato season” like it is here in Michigan. Plan ahead for next year and buy yourself one of these tomato slicers. I have been using this gadget for a few years and I absolutely love it. I have always had trouble cutting a straight thin slice of tomato for a sandwich or just to eat with a little salt and pepper and a tomato slicer is my answer.

One of Gene’s pet peeves was evenly sliced tomatoes and for some reason I could not do this.   The tomato slice started out thin but by the time I got to the other side it was fatter.   He always cut up the tomatoes – that was his job.  Zyliss has good products and I thought this was definitely a gadget I needed, especially with all the tomatoes that are consumed every season!

It comes in two parts; place the tomato on the bottom half and slowly press down the serrated top half giving you perfectly sliced tomatoes.  Tomatoes need to be on the firmer side – soft ones get kind of mushed because of the skins. I always core the tomatoes first too!

I’m sharing this “must have gadget” for all you tomato lovers at Fiesta Friday.

DSC_0675 DSC_0691  

Tomatoes that have been peeled don’t keep as nice a shape but they are still delicious! I have a family member who loves tomatoes but does not like the peel on fresh tomatoes…

Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce (Hong You Chao Shou)

Wontons are the simplest Chinese dumplings to make if you buy the ready-made wrappers. I always do as there is a limit to how far I will take “homemade”. There are 100’s of versions which can be wrapped or stuffed and then steamed, baked, deep-fried, pan fried or boiled.

This is the first time I have boiled my wontons (that I can remember) as I usually bake or deep fry them. This is a simple recipe and perfect for the beginner or one who has never boiled wontons before. They are delicious and I really enjoyed the texture of boiled wontons especially with the chilli oil and aromatic soy sauce.


There are also many ways to form the dough; whether a simple triangle, flower bud, nurse’s cap, envelope and other shapes. Not being an expert in wrap forms I stayed simple with triangles and envelopes. Maybe some time I will take the time to spruce up my skills. Presentation is important of course!

Whatever the form you use make sure that each wonton is sealed completely so you do not lose any of the yummy mixture; especially if you are deep frying them. You also need to remove the air bubbles especially in the triangles.

Below are some baked crab rangoons using the flower bud and nurse’s cap forms.

With the leftover wonton wrappers I made Cheesy Chile Wontons with just two ingredients; cheese and green chilies from a can. Some of the cheese mixture leaked out but it’s still on the pan so you get to enjoy the crispy cheese.

You can also use a number of fillings to suit your taste should you be a vegetarian or have special diet needs. You could use beef, chicken, lamb or all veggies in these wontons. Just make them with the ingredients you like – remember you only need about 1 tsp. mixture per wonton.

I feel the most important ingredients are the homemade chili oil and aromatic soy sauce (see recipes below). This was absolutely the highlight of these wontons – spicy that made my lips tingle – just how I like it 🙂


Linking to Fiesta Friday #190.

I have adapted this recipe from “Every Grain of Rice” by Fuchsia Dunlop.

For this recipe I do recommend gathering up a team of friends or family to help make these delightful treats. There are about 20 wontons that can be served as appetizers or even a main meal.

Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce, Adapted

  • 1/2 oz. piece of ginger, unpeeled
  • 5 oz. ground pork (beef, chicken or lamb, even all veggies)
  • 1/2 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • salt and ground white pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp. chicken stock
  • green onions, finely sliced plus more to garnish
  • wonton wrappers (you will need about 20)
  • flour, to dust
  • 4 tbsp. sweet aromatic soy sauce (see recipe below) or use light soy sauce with 1-1/2-2 tsp. sugar
  • 5-1/2 tbsp. chilli oil (see recipe below)
  • 4 small crushed garlic cloves (in the pictures below I did chop up the garlic but crushed garlic would be fine)

Crush the ginger and put it in a bowl with just enough cold water to cover for about 15 minutes. Place the pork, egg, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil in a bowl with 1-1/2 tsp. of the ginger water. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Mix in the stock 1 tbsp. at a time, then add the green onions.

Fill a small bowl with water. With a wonton in your hand press around 1 tsp. of the pork mixture into the center. Dip a finger in the water and run it around all four edges of the wrapper and fold diagonally in half. Press the edges together and fold into desired shape; you do not want any leakage. Place on a lightly floured plate as you continue to make more.

While you bring a large pot of water to boil prepare your serving bowls. In each bowl (4), place 1 tbsp. sweet aromatic soy sauce, 1-1/2 tbsp. chilli oil and 1 small  crushed garlic.

Drop the wontons in the boiling water and stir to make sure they do not stick together. When the water returns to a rolling boil, pour in a small cup of cold water to calm it down. This does keep the wontons intact instead of falling apart. Repeat this a few times for about 5 minutes of cooking time. Remove, drain well and divide between the prepared serving bowls. Garnish with some sliced green onions.

Recipe by

Sweet Aromatic Soy Sauce, Adapted

  • 1/2 cup light or tamari soy sauce
  • 1/3 cinnamon stick or a piece of cassia bark
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp. Sichuan pepper
  • 1/3 oz. piece of ginger, unpeeled and crushed slightly
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar

I toasted the fennel seeds, star anise and Sichuan pepper until aromatic. Put the soy sauce in a pan with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Add the spices and ginger, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. You should have about 1/2 cup.

Recipe by

Chili Oil, Adapted

  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp. cooking oil – peanut or canola
  • 4 oz. Sichuanese ground chilies (see comment below)
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • small piece of ginger, unpeeled and crushed

Heat the oil to about 400°F, then allow to cool for for 10 minutes until the oil reaches 275°F.

Add the ground chilies, sesame seeds and ginger to a heatproof bowl. When the oil reaches 275°F pour a little oil over the chilies. When the oil has cooled place in a container and store in a dark place. It will keep indefinitely. I chose not to include the sediment but please do if you would like a little more heat and texture to your oil.

Comment: I used Tien Tsin Chili peppers to make my chili oil. Cut the chilies in halves or sections and discard the seeds if desired. Stir-fry them in a dry skillet/wok until they are fragrant and crisp. Be careful as they can burn quickly. Add a small amount of oil and continue to stir until they are glossy and slightly darker.

Allow to cool. I always grind them in a electric grinder and don’t use a mortar and pestle.

Recipe by

Ingredients for the filling – oops – I forgot to include the pork!


For more wonton recipe see Wontons With Six Dipping Sauces and Crab Rangoons

Third Generation of Swallowtail Caterpillars

What? I am so excited but sad at the same time. I thought the swallowtail butterfly had only TWO generations but lo and behold, I have a THIRD. This late in the year – he/she will not have enough time to go from a very tiny caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. I wish I could bring it indoors – they do sell “houses” to hatch your own butterflies.

I’m sharing this beautiful young caterpillar who has plenty of parsley to eat to grow bigger and maybe??? This is September 18, 2017 – unheard of at least by me. Do they overwinter???

Heck, I am an Advanced Organic Smart Master Gardener so I should be able to figure this out!!!

Since I have shared other posts about my swallowtail adventures – here is the final one for the year. Linking to Fiesta Friday

Today is September 20th (Sept. 21st I was able to get the picture below) and my friend has a buddy – there are two of them 🙂 They are growing and I am hopeful they will make it to chrysalis and overwintering. The temps here are unusually warm and I am sure this is helping.

September 18th

July 23rd…

August 8th…

My female swallowtail butterfly on August 16th

Beer Biscuits With Provolone and Beemster Paradiso

Did “Beemster Paradiso” get your attention? I do enjoy shopping for food, especially for certain ingredients like cheese. There are so many varieties that it is sometimes overwhelming – you need to take the time to read about them and select the best one(s) for your recipe. Cheese is a big factor in how these biscuits look and taste, not only with the flavor but whether you grate or add pieces of cheese.

This one small store I frequently shop at features new cheeses and they provide a detailed description on what the cheese is. Beemster Paradiso is a premium Dutch cheese that is creamy and smooth. It has tangy, savory and zesty notes similar to Parmesan. Well, that description sold me – a perfect match for the provolone and my beer biscuits.

The second batch with a few changes and most of them rose perfectly…

Only a few of the biscuits in the first batch rose nicely and I should have brushed on an egg wash

Choices: what cheeses to use, what beer to use and whether to add a jalapeno…

My choice for the first batch of biscuits I used the ale and 1/2 a jalapeno. The second batch I used the same cheeses, Miller Lite (instead of the ale) and no jalapeno. The first batch of biscuits did not rise quite like I wanted; see Breakfast Biscuits, Ina’s Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits, White Lily Southern Style Biscuits, Caramelized Onion Sourdough Biscuits for other biscuits I have made.

This recipe was inspired by another blogger, Antonia. For her recipe with detailed directions and pictures please go to


Only a few biscuits rose nicely as many of them were on the flatter side. Pretty though and I loved the jalapeno (I added this) – an egg wash brushed on top of the biscuits prior to baking would have been nice.


So I decided to make them again with a few differences in the ingredients. Instead of 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder I used 1 tbsp. (sometimes it’s just better to use self-rising flour) and instead of 8 oz. of beer I used 6 oz. I also cut the temperature back to 425°F and brushed on an egg wash prior to baking them. I did not have another jalapeno so I did not add this but I sure missed it.

I also changed the directions – Antonia left some pieces of cheese in the dough and they looked so yummy and cheesy. I decided to finely grate all of the cheese and was able to eliminate a few of her steps in preparing the dough. You could barely tell there was cheese in my biscuits but once you took a bite it was obvious. Next time I will shred the cheese. I also made the dough closer to 1/2-inch thick not 1/4-inch and thus made fewer biscuits.

I’m sharing these beautiful and tasty biscuits with Fiesta Friday #189.

Beer Biscuits With Provolone and Beemster Paradiso

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
  • 6-7 oz. beer of your choice – I did use an Amber Ale in the first recipe and Miller Lite when I made these biscuits the second time (it does seem to affect the color as the ale is darker)
  • 2 oz. provolone cheese, grated (shredded is better)
  • 3 oz. Beemster Paradiso, grated (shredded is better)
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, minced (optional as some in my family would not care for this addition)
  • an herb or two would be a good addition
  • egg wash – 1 egg plus 1 tbsp. milk or water whisked – this does make your biscuits look good

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and add to the flour mixture with a pastry blender.

Add the room temperature beer and allow it to foam before stirring until the liquid is absorbed. As with any baked product it is important not to overmix the dough.

Add all of the grated cheese and minced jalapeno (optional) and mix until incorporated.

Drop the dough out onto a well floured surface; sprinkle with flour and work it gently until it is no longer sticky. Flatten to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out your biscuits. You should have around 16. Bake for 12-14  minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe by


Three Cheese Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole

This is really “twice-baked cauliflower” – like in twice baked potatoes with all the goodies. This is a healthier version of a summer favorite. You can substitute lower fat cheeses and even the sour cream without affecting the taste. If you want to use turkey bacon you will not get the fat needed to roast the cauliflower, but of course you can use oil instead.

Served with a filet, lots of fresh tomatoes  and a glass of Merlot – you can’t ask for a better Saturday night meal as summer is winding down.

This idea comes from the Food Network and I have adapted their recipe; you can do that too…

Three Cheese Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole

  • bacon fried, drained and torn into pieces; reserve 2 tbsp. of the drippings (to taste 6-8 slices)
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (salt is not needed because of the bacon and cheese)
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (I added this)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • chives (I had lots growing so added this)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray, add the cauliflower and toss with the 2 tbsp. bacon drippings and pepper. Roast until the florets are soft and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.

Mix the cream cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar, Parmesan and sour cream with a mixer in a bowl until combined. Spread this mixture over the cauliflower, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup Cheddar and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5-7 minutes more.

Scatter bacon bits, green onions and chives over the cauliflower casserole and serve.

Recipe by

Sharing this cheesy cauliflower dish with Fiesta Friday #188.

Mafaldine Pasta With Potatoes, Green Beans and Pesto

Does this recipe say summer, or what! This is a favorite Italian pasta dish loved by many and Marcella Hazan said no single dish is more delicious in the entire Italian pasta repertory. I certainly can see why and you will too if you make it.

This recipe uses a method of preparing pasta with cubes of potato and pieces of green beans, all cooked together in one pot. After this has cooked and drained, the pesto is added which finishes the dish off beautifully. Make your pesto fresh and do not use bottled pesto – there is a big difference in the quality of this recipe.

I discovered a new pasta called MafaldineMafalde or Reginette (Italian for little queens). It is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta that is flat, about 1/2-inch wide, with the smallest wavy edges on both sides. It reminds me of “baby lasagna”. It was perfect to soak up the pesto sauce.

I have mentioned that I recently moved to a “foodies paradise” where just about any food item is at my fingertips. This Italian market I go to has rows and rows of different kinds of pasta. I had so much fun looking at all the different shapes and wondering what I could make with each. I never dreamed there was so much to choose from! For me, this is part of what makes cooking so exciting  – shopping for ingredients.

Mafaldine Pasta With Potatoes, Green Beans and Pesto

  • 1 lb. pasta such as mafaldine (also called mafalde or Reginette), trenette or you can use linguine
  • your favorite pesto recipe (see below) my recipe makes a lot but what you don’t use place in a ice cube tray and freeze for later use
  • 8 oz. peeled, small potatoes, cut into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes
  • 4 oz. haricots verts green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths on a bias
  • Parmesan, grated for serving

Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 1-2 tbsp. salt and the potatoes.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until they are starting to soften a bit. Add the green beans and cook another 5 minutes.

Add your choice of pasta and stir. I make my pesto while the pasta is cooking  for about 7-9 minutes. I gradually add some of the pasta water to the pesto to get a thinner sauce.  I like to do this to avoid adding too much oil.

Drain the pasta mixture (save 1 cup of pasta water just in case) and place in a heated bowl if possible. Add the pesto to taste and to coat the ingredients. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Recipe by


  • 4 to 5 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (use the good stuff)
  • 4 large cloves of garlic or to taste, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup pine nuts or walnuts or a combination of the two, toasted  (see comment below)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. parsley, minced (optional)  because basil often darkens in pesto you can brighten its color by adding a little parsley – If you are interested see Cooking Tidbits – Keeping Pesto Green
  • olive oil (add slowly to get a nice consistency for the recipe you are making) for this recipe I only used about 7 tbsp. of oil and then added hot pasta water to get the thickness I wanted

Combine the first six ingredients; slowly add enough olive oil to get the consistency you want. I often like to add some hot pasta water to it so I don’t use so much oil as I did with this pasta recipe.

I like to toast my pine nuts in a dry skillet until they become fragrant. Combine all of the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  I have an 11 cup food processor and it is perfect for this recipe.  Drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running.  If you want a thicker pesto, do not add so much oil; thinner pesto add more oil.

Recipe by

I’m sharing this must try end-of-season pasta with Fiesta Friday #188.

Toasted pine nuts and most of the ingredients…

Making the pesto…

Growing basil in containers…

Shrubs and Drinking Vinegars

These beverages are popping up all over since I had my first shrub back in July at a restaurant in Philadelphia.  I’m hearing about them on the news, in magazines and  saw them offered at a local restaurant. Shrubs appear to be very popular right now as mixologists add liquor to their own versions of this classic American drink.

In 2011 American restaurants and bars started to serve these vinegar-based shrub drinks. The acidity of the shrub makes it well suited as an aperitif or used as an alternative to bitters. They are also a fresh alternative to sodas.


Then there are the drinking vinegars – beverages to benefit your digestive system.  Recently on GMA (Good Morning America) they talked about apple cider vinegar and if it is good for you. In moderation, yes but due to its acidity it would not be good to consume too much – a tsp. in a glass of water.

I don’t recommend “drinking vinegars” that I found at Whole Foods. As soon as I put my mouth to the glass I was immediately turned off and barely sipped it.  The ingredients were extremely strong and not very appealing at all.

For example the strawberry balsamic contains water, strawberry, apple cider vinegar, lime, balsamic vinegar, coconut nectar, vegan probiotics and stevia. I don’t care how good it is for my gut and that it contains 4 billion CFUs of Vegan Probiotics per 13.5 oz. bottle! Needless to say these drinking vinegars are not for me. Just thought I would give them a try…

I know, the first thing that may come to your mind when you hear the word “shrubs” are small to medium sized bushes that have multiple woody stems above the ground and are shorter than trees. However, there is another definition of this word and that is it was a popular beverage first during Colonial times.

So, I am mainly referring to the shrubs which were consumed in early American history. Originally, a raspberry shrub was a syrup of citrus and sugar blended with either brandy or rum and served aboard trading ships and naval vessels to help prevent scurvy. Vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices.

A raspberry vinegar is a fruited, non-alcoholic vinegar beverage that was used to quench one’s thirst.

By the mid-1800’s the word shrub was used to describe both beverages.

Raspberry vinegar is made differently than raspberry shrub syrups. I followed the cold process to make one syrup where you first add the sugar to the raspberries.

The second recipe I tried from 1900 (see recipe below) is made by adding the vinegar first to the raspberries, strain  and add sugar. Then it is cooked for about 15 minutes – this is delicious!!!

I had my first shrub at The City Tavern in Philadelphia during an evening reunion with 19 family members. It was a very refreshing and non-alcoholic drink that was served with “first plates” or what we call  appetizers today.  Shrubs are known to stimulate the appetite which was evident as we devoured a number of these delicious offerings. This beverage can also cure a “tummy ache” which some of us felt after eating so much good food

This was my first attempt at making a shrub to use in a vinaigrette. See Raspberry Shrub Vinaigrette 

I also used the shrub syrup to make a refreshing cocktail.

The possible ingredients:

sweetener: superfine, demeeara, granulated or brown sugar, maple syrup, honey

vinegar: white, red wine, apple cider, balsamic, rice, champagne or any number of flavored vinegar

fruit/vegetables: just about anything can be used – overripe fruits are the best as the concentration of sugar is the highest – get the best quality

alcohol: rum, brandy, Prosecco

How to Make Superfine Sugar:

This type of sugar is often hard to find but there is a quick and easy way to make your own using granulated sugar.  Add the sugar you need in a recipe plus a couple of tablespoons more just in case to a food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar feels like sand. You can barely see the difference in the picture below.


The more I started to research shrubs and vinegars the more information I found. I am not an expert on the subject by any means. There are a number of great resources; cookbooks, magazines and of course the internet if you want to pursue the history of this beverage and even make your own. There are lots of recipes to choose from and I highly recommend making your own!


This very simple recipe appeared in The Times in an article titled “Women Here and There – Their Frills and Fancies.” It was posted by reporter Amanda Hesser (founder of Food 52) on July 28, 2010. It also appears in The New York Times Cookbook by Amanda. I have slightly adapted the 1900 raspberry vinegar recipe. Regardless, the following is the recipe to make a very refreshing base for a delicious beverage that is definitely a thirst quencher.

Raspberry Vinegar

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 quarts raspberries (about 6 cups)
  • I made a superfine sugar (for every cup of juice add 1-1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar)
  • fresh raspberries and fresh mint sprigs to garnish (I added)

Combine the vinegar and raspberries. Cover and let macerate for 3 days.

Mash the raspberries, then strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Add 1-1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar to every cup of juice.

Combine the juice and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool; then refrigerate for up to 3 months. It becomes thick and syrupy and smells wonderful! I have also seen recipes that say 6 months – just taste and look at the syrup and decide.

Add the shrub syrup depending on the size of your glass and to your taste. Below is a 12 oz. tumbler and I added 3-4 tsp. of this thick syrup on top of lots of ice and finished with club soda; stir well. You could also add water, sparkling water, Prosecco, rum or brandy.

This beverage is indeed refreshing and I can see why Amanda enjoyed this drink so much.

Recipe by

Linking to Fiesta Friday #187.

The superfine sugar, juice and vinegar boiling down to make a delicious shrub syrup! This recipe is a keeper.


The syrup is thick after cooking…

Mujadara with Crispy Onions

I do love my cookbooks and I especially enjoy ones by authors who live in the state of Michigan. Just like I support the local farmers and buy their produce at the market I also support other “made in Michigan” products  from my Great Lake State.

Rosewater and Orange Blossom cookbook certainly has a special attraction not just with the title but the author, Maureen Abood who grew up as a Lebanese -American in Michigan. Who doesn’t love rosewater or orange blossom in “sweets” especially!

When I get a new cookbook I sit down in my comfortable recliner and maybe listen to TV and read through it writing down all of the recipes I might like to try. This time the weather was beautiful and warm and I sat out on my deck leafing through all the interesting recipes.

I just happened to pick this vegetarian recipe with three favorite ingredients; lentils, rice and caramelized onions.  I knew it would become a favorite so how could I go wrong making this.

Mujadara with Crispy Onions

  • 1 cup green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 cups onions, diced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup long-grain rice or bulgur (I used rice)
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • drizzle with oil to serve
  • serve with labneh (thick yogurt) and flatbread

Fried Onion Garnish:

  • canola oil for frying
  • onion cut in very thin rings or pieces (shallots would work good too) – make lots of them!

Place the lentils in a small saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are al dente, about 12 minutes. They will finish cooking in a later step. Remove from the heat and set them aside in the cooking liquid.

In a large saute pan (use 12-14-inch) heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they are a dark brown, about 40 minutes or so. While they are cooking sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt. You must stir frequently to keep the onions from burning, especially towards the last 15 minutes of the cooking time.   Adjust the heat if you need to.

Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of water; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir in  the rice and the lentils with their liquid. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes; stir occasionally. Taste the rice and lentils and adjust the seasonings.

Serve warm or room temperature and  drizzle with oil (optional).

Fry thin slices of onions to use as a garnish. Make lots! Top with a dollop of labneh (thick yogurt) and some fried onions. Serve with flatbread and maybe a green salad.

Recipe by

Linking to Fiesta Friday #187.

The onions in the beginning and in the end…