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"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

Get it while it’s hot! Enjoy a super-refreshing discount when you buy an e-copy of Summer Cocktails today through July 2nd! Cocktails have never been this easy and delicious. Learn how to stock your home bar, make underpinnings like from-scratch sour mix, and entertain with drinks that range from classic piña coladas and big bowls of fresh peach and bourbon punch.

Want a taste? You got it!

SHANDY

Serves 1

A shandy or shandygaff is a drink of beer with a carbonated beverage such as ginger beer or citrus-flavored soda. I prefer making it with a pale lager or a hefeweizen and strong ginger beer, and, in the summer, with lemony herbs and dried spices like thyme and coriander, which amp up the underlying flavor notes of the beverage.

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 strip orange zest
1 strip lemon zest
2 rosemary sprigs
4 thyme or lemon thyme sprigs
Ice cubes, if desired
6 ounces lager or hefeweizen (wheat) beer, chilled
4 ounces ginger beer, chilled

– Toast coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a glass. Carefully run a lit match along the orange and lemon zests, rub them on the glass’s rim, and then drop them into the glass along with the rosemary and thyme. Add the ice, if using, then add the beer and ginger beer and stir lightly to combine. Serve.

To be fair, our New York City winters are relatively mild, but the overall slate gray hue of the sky drags spirits down, no matter what the temperature. We are just beginning to spy cotton candy blossoms on trees and the clouds popping against a more emphatic blue. With that in mind, we turned to more vivid palettes in these special treats that are ridiculously easy to make and ideal to serve during Easter or at birthday celebrations for young and old.

EASY AS PIE DOUGHNUTS

Makes 8 small doughnuts or 10 large doughnuts *See notes at end of post

1 roll biscuits
8 cups vegetable oil

– Line a large plate or baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels.

– Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat until temperature registers 350°F on a candy or deep-fry thermometer — or just keep an eye on it and wait for the surface to shimmer. (Oil should be 1- to 1 ½ inches deep).

– Add half of the doughnuts and half of the doughnut holes and fry until the bottoms turn golden brown, 1 to 1 ½ minutes small doughnuts and 2 to 2 ½ minutes for large doughnuts. Using chopsticks or tongs, turn the doughnuts and holes and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer them to the prepared plate. See below for topping ideas!

FOR THE TOPPINGS

2 tubs store-bought vanilla icing
Food coloring of your choice
Sprinkles, gummy candies, or crushed cookies of your choice

– Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Transfer the icing to a medium microwave-save bowl. Heat the icing for 30 seconds, stir, and heat in 15 second increments until it is runny. Stir in food coloring of your choice. Dip the doughnuts in (you should dip the doughnut about half-way) and place, icing side-up, on the cooling rack. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and top with sprinkles. You can, of course, pour small amounts of icing into multiple bowls and add different food colors to each one for a more colorful array of doughnuts. You can also try the Plain Jane Glaze below for simpler doughnuts. We also like to make to toss them in granulated sugar and cinnamon for a quick breakfast or dinner party dessert.

 

PLAIN JANE GLAZE

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

– Place confectioners’ sugar and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately. 

 

Notes: We use Pillsbury® biscuits for this recipe:

One roll of “Buttermilk” biscuits yields ten small (about 2 1/2-inch inches in diameter) doughnuts and ten tiny doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1/2-inch round cutter to punch out the holes (you can also use a bottle cap!).

One roll of “Grands Homestyle Buttermilk” biscuits yields 8 large (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter) doughnuts and eight doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1-inch round cutter to punch out the holes.

 

The end-of-day drink is a fairly common affair, whether it’s a swig from the small bottle hiding in an office desk drawer or a few beers with colleagues on the way home. There’s a perfunctory air to some of these evening proceedings, and sometimes, as in the case of happy hours run amok, a debauched one. But in Italy, the pre-dinner cocktail is a much more refined and stylish event. It’s not that the settings are snobbish or expensive, it’s more a matter of the activity being a respected ritual.

An aperitivo is an Italian cocktail designed to tease the appetite in preparation for supper. The alcohol content of the ingredients used to mix the drinks is fairly low, as the point is not to send anyone home completely sauced. You’re probably familiar with vermouth, Campari, and Aperol, so you’re already off to a good start in the art of aperitivo. Following are a few simple drinks and recipes — because aside from sophisticated sipping, small bites are an indispensable part of the custom.

And, if you’re feeling inspired be sure to pick up our friend Marisa Huff’s beautiful book Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy for more recipes and tips on how to eat and drink like an Italian. Cin cin!

 

CAMPARI SPRITZ

The lush tomato-red color of Campari makes is enough to imagine Sophia Loren speeding in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Campari is a bitter liqueur made from an infusion of bitter herbs, aromatic herbs, alcohol, and water—the exact recipe is of course, a secret.

To make a spritz, combine in a wine glass:

3 parts dry white wine, still or sparkling
2 parts Campari
1 part club soda

– Add ice and garnish with an orange wedge and/or a green olive.

– If you prefer a sweeter and less dry spritz, substitute the Campari with Aperol.

MASCARPONE AND HAZELNUT TRAMEZZINI
From Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy by Marisa Huff

Tea sandwiches are not just the thing of picnics and proper tea tables. In Italy, the crust-less white bread sandwiches (tramezzini) are the ideal sidekick to a cocktail.

*If you can’t find truffle paste, Marisa recommends replacing half the mascarpone with gorgonzola dolce or gorgonzola piccante.

Makes 6 half sandwiches

2 cups mascarpone (from an 8-ounce/250-gram container)
1 teaspoon white truffle paste*
6 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

– In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together the mascarpone and white truffle paste until smooth. Arrange three slices of bread on a cutting board or other flat surface. Spread the cheese mixture across each slices, dividing it evenly. Close with the remaining bread slices and press down gently so that the cheese reaches the edges of the bread. Cut in half to make six sandwiches. (We spread a bit of cheese on the edges of the sandwiches, too).

– To finish, dip all four sides of each sandwich in the chopped hazelnuts, which will stick to the cheese.

THE EASIEST SNACKS

We are frequently asked for easy entertaining ideas, and in general, our approach is to either prep in advance or go to the no-fail crudités-and-dip or cheese and charcuterie boards. You can simplify even further and serve olives, nuts, and Italian meats and cheeses if you decide to try an aperitivo gathering at home. Of course, shop for good ingredients or risk having your cocktail hour spread resemble an airplane snack box.

PERFECT EGG SALAD

Please forget the crusty egg salad you see piled up in the deli case before you continue reading! This version has absolutely nothing to do with that. It is a velvety luxury that goes well on toast, on a bagel under layers of smoked salmon, and in this case, on crusty Italian bread alongside a crisp aperitivo. Oh. And you can use it as a dip for potato chips, too.

4 large eggs
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Mayonnaise
4 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 shallot, minced
1 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained (optional)
½ cup watercress, chopped, plus additional for sprinkling
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil

– The richness of this egg salad comes not only from mayonnaise, but from the natural goo of a runny egg yolk. Usually, when we hard-boil our eggs, we start them in cold water. However, since what we want is a firm white and a fluid yolk, we’ll start with boiling water. So:

– Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Gently lower the eggs into the water and boil them for 6 minutes exactly. Drain the eggs, run them under cold water for a minute or two, and return them to the saucepan. Shake the eggs until the shells are cracked all over, then peel them under gently running water. You’ll see how easy it is.

– Smash the eggs in a medium bowl with a fork and season them with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together and adjust the salad with more anchovy, capers, mayo, etc. to taste.

– Spoon the egg salad on bread, drizzle it with extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with chopped watercress.