Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes

February 14, 2017

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February 14th….yup, you guessed it…It is Valentine’s Day. Does everyone know what amazing dish they’re making for their sweeties to celebrate the day? I tell you, I think I’ve got a real winner here with these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. The husband loves a good G&T. The two places which he ranks as making the best G&T’s out there are the Slippbarinn in the Marina Hotel in Reykjavik Iceland (kind of difficult to get there for us…) and Saison in good old Richmond Virginia (Dangerously close to us if you know what I mean!). Although each version of this classic cocktail has very different flavor profiles, they both share the use of grapefruit juice and garnish in their mix rather than the traditional lime. So that is what I did here. Bring on the grapefruit I say. Wow! These boozy little cupcakes are just perfect.

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So refreshing with bold citrus flavors and floral gin notes. And I should also mention that I frosted them with a pink grapefruit/gin swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Yeah, swiss meringue frosting rules. So fluffy, so light. It is everything you could ever want in a frosting.

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It is actually strange for me to say that recently I am really into grapefruit. I absolutely hated it as a kid and was at a loss as to why anyone would eat one. Can’t get enough of it now. I’m even sipping on a grapefruit flavored fizzy water as I write this. And G&T’s are also something I never cared for in the past. To me drinking any kind of gin was like licking a Christmas tree. But my opinion has definitely changed since I took a taste of the husband’s G&T at Saison. I couldn’t wait to order my own! Saison is our favorite restaurant in Richmond, which says a lot because Richmond is just chock full of fantastic eateries. A real foodie destination I tell you, but it is actually pretty difficult to tempt us away from Saison when we are in town. Not only has every morsel of food we have ever gotten there been delicious, but their cocktails are also simply superb – especially their G & T’s. One of the things that makes Saison’s G&T so remarkable is that it is a hopped G&T. They actually make their own hopped tonic. Now they used to sell little bottles of this magical tonic, but their G&T is such a popular cocktail for them, that they had trouble making enough tonic for both the bar and take out market. Here is where we totally lucked out. We happened to be there last week and the bartender had just made up a brand new batch of tonic. Not only were we able to enjoy it in a Hopped Gin and Tonic or two…we were also actually able to buy a little bit of the hopped tonic to take home with us. I used it in these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes. That’s right…the ones we are scarfing down here are actually Pink Grapefruit Hopped Gin & Tonic cupcakes! OMG! So delicious! The hopped tonic is slightly bitter but also citrusy which pairs so well with the sweet grapefruit notes. Now I know not everyone can get ahold of that amazing elixir. Like I said, we really lucked out. But you can use regular tonic water and the results will still be stellar!

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So I don’t know if your Valentine is anything like mine….he is not so much into chocolate, but loves fruit desserts. And he loves G&T’s, so these Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes are a Valentine’s Day dessert match made in heaven for him. I’d wager you’d love them too. And don’t forget, if you are ever in Richmond, you must grab a bite to eat as well as a Hopped G&T at Saison! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes

  • Servings: 15 -18 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: Globe Scoffers

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 180 grams unsalted butter
  • 180 grams caster (superfine) sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 large pink grapefruit
  • 180 grams self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 4 Tablespoons tonic water
  • 2 Tablespoons Gin (plus more for brushing over cupcakes)

For the Frosting:

  • 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 – 4 Tablespoons Gin
  • grapefruit zest for garnish

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line muffin tins with cupcakes papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest until light and fluffy.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Add the flour/baking powder and mix until it is just incorporated. Take care not to over mix.

Stir in the tonic water and gin, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide the mixture between the cupcake wells. I use an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes on a metal rack. While they are still warm, poke several holes in each cake with a skewer. Brush liberally with gin and let cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add the grapefruit juice and gin slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.

If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.

When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with grapefruit zest and wedges as you prefer.

Enjoy!

Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools and Ingredients for Pink Grapefruit Gin & Tonic Cupcakes:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop

King Arthur Self Rising Flour – You can also find this on Amazon, but have to purchase several bags of it.

India Tree Superfine Caster Baking Sugar

Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic Trio – I have never actually tried these, but if you are into the idea of artisan tonics these might be fun to experiment with. Just add soda water to these syrups for a unique flavor profile.

 

 

 

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Cranberry Bannocks

January 24, 2017

img_5401I’mmmmmm back! Just like last year, and I think every year before that, I have great intentions of keeping up with this blog. Then…wham! The holidays run me right over and don’t post one word. You’d think I’d figure it out and just sign off to everyone right around Thanksgiving. I’m always back at it by January 25th, which is tomorrow, so I’m right on time. And what is the significance on January 25th? It is the birthday of Robert Burns. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. On January 25th folks throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, will be remembering him with a Burns Night Supper. And I’ve got a great traditional Scottish recipe to share with you, just perfect for the day…Cranberrry Bannocks!img_5389Bannocks, sometimes called griddle scones, are a quick bread which are cooked on top of the stove rather than baked in the oven. They are very similar to scones otherwise. Indeed in Scotland the words “bannock” and “scone” are often used interchangeably. Before the 19th Century bannocks were cooked on a “bannock stane” which was a slab of sandstone which was placed on top of a fire. Traditionally they were made with an oatmeal or barley flour and they could be either savory or sweet. One of the most famous types of bannocks is the Selkirk Bannock with is very similar to a fruitcake, chock full of raisins. They can be found in most supermarkets in the UK. Last year I shared a delicious recipe for Scottish Pancakes, or Drop Scones:IMG_3583

The year before was Steak Auld Reekie over Crispy Tatties & Neeps:

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The one prior to that was Dundee Cake with Hot Whiskey Marmalade:

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Then there was that fabulous Scotch Egg Pie:

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And I can’t forget that  Cock-a-leekie Soup:

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Which I always serve up with fresh toasted Struan:

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And I don’t want to forget those mouth-wateringly delicious Scotch Eggs:

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which I have also done Deviled.

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So there you have it! That is quite a few Scottish recipes which would be very welcome at any Burn’s Night festivities. This years darling little Cranberry Bannocks would perhaps be best suited for a Burn’s Breakfast. They are soft and tender and delicious warm off the griddle, especially slathered with butter!

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Now I will say, these Bannocks are not sweet on their own and derive all their sweetness from the cranberries or whatever jam you might spread on top. If you prefer a sweeter bread, you might want to add a Tablespoon or two of sugar to the mix. I thought they were just perfect as they were. And I’m sure The Bard himself would approve. He actually mentioned Bannocks in his Epistle to James Tennant of Glenconner.

An’ Lord, remember singing Sannock,

Wi’ hale breeks, saxpence, an’ a bannock!

So tomorrow you should get busy, griddle some bannocks and don’t forget to raise a glass and drink a wee dram or two to Rabbie Burns!

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Cranberry Bannocks

  • Servings: 8 bannocks
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Vagabond Baker

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams dried cranberries, chopped
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for rolling out
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons oil (vegetable or coconut oil)
  • 150 grams buttermilk

Directions:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the chopped cranberries.

Add the oil to the buttermilk and stir.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture  and pour 2/3 of the buttermilk mixture into it. Gently begin to mix together with your hands, adding more buttermilk as needed until you have a soft dough.

Lightly flour a surface and turn the dough out onto it. Give it a couple more kneads, but take care not to overwork the dough or the bannocks will be tough.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. Flatten the balls and roll them out into a circle, about 1/2″ tall.

Cut each circle into quarters.

Place an ungreased frying pan over low to medium heat. Once it is hot add one of bannock circles (4 pieces) to the pan. Cook the bannocks for a 5 – 8 minutes on each side. They should rise to double their thickness while cooking.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with lashings of butter, jam and clotted cream if you wish!

Enjoy!

Cranberry Bannocks brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Firewater anyone?

June 17, 2010

Sooo….I’m sure most of our friends would assume that Jay and I are referring to some sort of incredibly strong alcohol filled beverage when I mention “firewater”. Believe me, I wish that were the case. However I am actually going to discuss what could happen, and indeed has happened, to many people’s drinking water. No. This isn’t a good thing, like turning on your tap and having say vodka gush out (or Bombay Sapphire-if you happen to be Jay). No. This is like turning on your tap and having flames shooting out of your faucet! Do I have your attention now? Perhaps you should take a look at this video and if your concerned, then you can read on.

“Wow” huh? You can find many other videos like this from different areas of the country where hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is going on. Hydraulic Fracturing is a technique which was pioneered by none other than Halliburton (is this company like a bad penny or what!!) “Fracking” as it is known in the industry is a method used to access natural-gas reservoirs miles below the earth’s surface. Certain types of rock, like shale, have natural-gas embedded within it. By injecting millions of gallons of water, along with sand or ceramic, and a proprietary mix of chemicals under a tremendous amount of pressure into the rock, tiny fractures are created thereby allowing the gas to escape. Fracking accounts for 15-20% of  U.S. natural-gas production. In light of the recent BP disaster in the Gulf, many people now are expressing a real desire to not only decrease our dependence on foreign oil but to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels all together. (“Drill Baby Drill” not such a good idea after all…) Natural Gas emits less carbon dioxide than oil or coal. So that’s a plus. Furthermore, if the natural-gas industry is allowed to continue with their all out “fracking party”, (currently there are thousands of sites and the industry is hoping to soon have hundreds of thousands of sites), this country could be self-sufficient in natural gas by 2030. Sounds great huh? Not to mention, fracking allows the natural-gas industry to significantly increase production, which keeps the prices low for us. We love that, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that there is increasing evidence that fracking is contaminating our water supplies. The fact that people’s tap water is flaming demonstrates that contrary to the natural-gas industry’s claims,  gas is indeed finding its way out of the drilling sites. Natural-gas laden water is definitely not a desirable thing-just ask the couple in Ohio whose house exploded after their basement filled with gas from their water well. However, it is the proprietary chemicals cocktail which is being used in fracking that is a big concern to environmentalists as well. The industry is not required to disclose what exactly they are injecting into the ground. People around the country near drill sites are reporting various illnesses, skin rashes etc. Sounds like a job for the Environmental Protection Agency to me. Except, rats!…in 2005 the EPA exempted fracking from the Safe Water Drinking Act, so the individual States not the Feds are responsible for regulation. The good news is that the EPA has recently launched an environmental study of drinking water impacts. Hurrah! The bad news is that it is the study will not be done for two years. Boo! Can we really afford to wait? In the meantime, two fracking accidents happened in early June. There was the blow-out of a well in Pennsylvania which spewed 35,000 gallons of water along with the mystery proprietary chemicals into the environment and the explosion of a well in West Virginia which burned seven workers and sent a flare of burning gas 50 feet into the air. As the BP disaster in the Gulf continues to unfold,  many people seem very motivated to change the regulation of our oil industry. Do we need a fracking disaster of that caliber before we act?


DC Renovation 2 Electric Boogaloo

April 18, 2010

**Disclaimer:Jay solely responsible for this blog title-you’ll have to ask him**

The end of March and most of April has been taken up doing yet another renovation. I assure you we were not very happy to hear this needed to be done. To remind everyone, back in August we had just started a MAJOR renovation on the top floor apartment in our Capitol Hill building when our friend John sold his condo, which was great, but it rendered him homeless. We had been wanting to re-do our basement bedroom and bathroom, which were at the time decorated in a stunning “under a bridge” them, complete with spray paint, only missing a troll. The reality that John needed a place to stay spurred us into action and we took on that renovation project- on an accelerated schedule nonetheless!. It was pretty grueling, not only in the financial sense but as anyone who has ever had their house wrecked in the process of the improvement and had to manage various contractors and vendors, knows how mentally and emotionally draining it can be. Even though we are now six months down the road, I was in NO WAY ready to do another reno project. However, as it often works out, we had no choice. Our wonderful tenant who had lived in the basement apartment for six years was moving out. The basement apartment was the first renovation I had done after I bought the house in 2004. I was able to improve it quite a bit from what it was at the time, but being limited in money and experience, I did not do a great job. Sooo…..off we went… again!

All that being said, this renovation went very smoothly. Our friend Brian Stansberry was kind enough to take a look at the place and advise us on how to proceed with the renovation. Brian owns Capitol Hill Stay and has had LOTS of experience with renovating these units. All of his advice was stellar. We are truly indebted to him. We worked with an awesome contractor, Jhonny Claure. Jhonny was the contractor who did the fabulous work at our friend John’s house on Arkansas Ave.

Jhonny's gorgeous tile work at Arkansas Ave.

I would not hesitate to recommend him whole-heartedly to anyone looking to have work done. He focused on quality and did everything right the first time- never took shortcuts or “cheaped out”. He was really a pleasure to work with. The folks at Panda Kitchens were great as well. They installed that whole kitchen in one day. There were some glitches along the way-if you look under carpet and see 9×9 tiles-YIKES-its asbestos! In came the guys in the space suits and I am happy to report we are 100% asbestos free. The apartment is now complete and we are very pleased with the results. Now we’ve just got to get it rented! Wish us luck. Check out the apartment’s website for more pictures and a virtual tour! Here are a couple before and after pics.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Washer/Dryer Pantry Before

Washer/Dryer Pantry After

Kitchen Sink Before

Kitchen Sink After

Living Room Before

Living Room After


Did you say SNOW?!

February 14, 2010

Gimlet is concerned

Poor Gimlet! He is definitely OVER the snow. He hasn’t been for a walk in what seems like one million years to him. When he does get to go outside to do “his business” he is limited to a tiny spot of real estate which has been dug out for especially for this purpose. How disgusting! And now they are saying there might be more snow tomorrow. Really?!  Actually, it doesn’t seem like the forecasters have any real idea what is going to happen tomorrow. (Surprizing huh?)  I’ve heard that the DC area won’t get any appreciable snow and I’ve also heard we could get up to 6 inches. At this point, I’m afraid that one flake could be the flake that broke the camel’s back. Gimlet isn’t the only one who has had it.  On the brighter side, we have had quite a bit of melting. Today was the first time I could actually see the pavement on Kern’s Road. I am a bit concerned with these insane icicles though. They could pull the gutters right off of the house!

Icicles on steroids!

Not much has been happening here since the storm ended. We, along with everyone else, continued to dig out. Jay and John, along with 3 other good samaritans helped push the mail truck out when it got stuck.

The mail must get through!

The outdoor critters continue to visit our feeders.

Nom nom nom!

Yum...seed!

Hungry woodpecker

More snow you say?!

I don’t think anyone here is ready for more snow. I’m headed out for work in an actual dental office tomorrow-that is if the patients don’t all cancel in one big communal snow panic attack. There is a snow charm I’ve heard of where you wear your pajamas inside out the night before you want it to snow. Does anyone know any anti-snow maneuvers? If not, I guess keepin your fingers crossed will have to do…..


Snowtorious B.I.G.

February 11, 2010

Arctic Grackle

We woke this morning to find that it was NOT snowing. Yay! Blue skies and the sun “splittin the stones”! Still a bit windy, but a big improvement over the conditions I woke to yesterday. Our wonderful snow shoveling crew rang the doorbell at 8AM, rarin to go. Neighbours are snowblowing and shoveling like fiends. Most folks don’t have to work today, schools and the Federal Government are closed again, so everyone’s mission is to get themselves dug out. We would like to send out a big “Thank You!” to our good friends Brian and Phil. They live on Capitol Hill and own Capitol Hill Stay, which offers short term luxury furnished apartment accommodation in the Nation’s Capitol. Even though they have many properties to take care of, they headed over to our apartment on the Hill to make sure it was shoveled while they were out doing their snow maintenance. We really, really appreciate it! With our driveways shoveled, we just have to dig out the cars. Jay and I have it a whole lot easier today than poor old John. We had freed Lopez from his snow cocoon after the last storm because we knew we actually needed to drive him. John has not had to go into work since the first round of storms and his car has not had any of the snow removed from it as of yet. (See pic below) Although our deck is still buried, we have uncovered the hot tub. While it is very tempting to get out there for a soak, I couldn’t help but notice the huge amount of snow on the roof right above the tub. The vision of us relaxing in the 102 degree tub popped into my head. I saw all of the heat from the tub rising up and melting that big, ledge of overhanging snow and icicles. We could potentially be impaled and then buried! Hmmm….maybe we’ll wait on that soak. The birds and squirrels are back at the feeder sans the grackles. They seemed to have moved on to another party spot today. (See photos of critters below)

Overall these Blizzards have been a lot of fun. We had some awesome meals-(and they are still happening….Jay is making his fabulous homemade pizza for dinner tonight…YUM) drank copious amounts of cocktails/wine, watched some movies, hot-tubbed, “played” in the snow, etc. Really memorable, good times. As much as I generally enjoy snow though, I think I may have had my fill at this point. I don’t know if any more snow is coming this way, I guess only Snowstradamos would know that (heeheehee-been waiting to use that one) but I’m not sure my waistline or my liver could take it!

Here are some pics from this last storm:

The Red and the Black

Gaggle of Grackles

Snow Jay

Mr. Cardinal

Madame Cardinal

Snowy Squirrel

Grackles Galore

Clear Driveway

Anyone seen John's car?

Post-Blizzard Sun

Drifts as far as the eye can see

John's Bistro Set.

Stairway up to deck

Hot Tub of Peril!

Avalanche waitin to happen! (Above Danger Tub)

Wall of Snow

Mega-cicle

Is it over yet?

Is it over yet?

Is it over yet?

Snow long for now!


Snowtopia

February 10, 2010

8PM-Wednesday

Its BAAACK! I thought we were all done….but nope. Flakes are falling again. Not flurries either…a moderate amount of wind driven snow whacked me in the face as soon as I stepped out the door. This must be one of those snow bands they were talking about.

Veuve-8PM-Wednesday

When it looked like Snowmaggedon Part Deux was fini earlier, people had actually ventured out to shovel (not us) and use their snowblowers (not us….yet….just wait til next year!)

Snowblower in Action

I took the opportunity to refill the bird feeder. Earlier today I was beset by Grackles. They stayed all day and ate absolutely every bit of seed around. I’ll post some pics of my birds in action tomorrow. Getting to the feeder was not the easiest, but -Mission Accomplished! We’re ready for the onslaught tomorrow.

Filling the Feeder-Snow to my Knees!

TaaaDaaa!

John was not playing around with any such stuff, but was working feverishly all day long. Hmmm…..John? What is that in your hand?

John-Hard at Work

Well, its dinner time now. We’re having some ravioli topped with my homemade sauce. This weather reporter has had it for today. I’ll check back in tommorow

Dinner!


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