fennel raspberry rosé spritzer

fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table

My mom is coming to visit! She finally booked her tickets and will be here for a month. She says she wants to visit Alaska in December though she found San Francisco too cold in May, I'm not sure how this works. Yes, this is my mom! It will be a month of fun, she will try to spoil my pets and M, despite my objections. She doesn't like to cook and unlike most regular families, there will be some role reversal where I will be making her food for her to try out. This weekend, I won't get to spend Mother's Day with my mom, I'll call her up and talk to her over the phone and listen excitedly to her as she lists all things she wants to see and do while she visits. My mom is pretty cool and selfless, I love my mom. 

My mom likes port wine, I think it is the only alcohol besides beer that I have ever seen her drink in my lifetime. So did my grandma but I think I might have seen my grandma drink whisky (not completely sure) though I know she loved chocolates stuffed with liqueurs. So I figured if I were to create a Mother's Day drink, I should make a cocktail with wine for her (even though she won't able to drink this over the weekend, I will drink one for her) that's lightly sweet. This drink is also an excellent spring and summer drink for brunches (or anytime you want a refreshing cocktail).

This cocktail is easy to prepare, it uses a simple syrup infused with fennel seeds. I then smash fresh raspberries and mix this into the fennel simple syrup and strain this mixture. The spritzer then comes together with the addition of rosé and club soda. Serve it chilled!

fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this cocktail;

  • Use fresh good quality raspberries, I used Driscolls. Make sure the fennel seeds are not old or the flavor won't be as good. 
  • You can serve this over ice cubes, I didn't but either way it is delicious!
fennel raspberry rosé spritzer | A Brown Table

fennel raspberry rosé spritzer

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds

1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups) Driscoll’s Raspberries

300mL rosé

120mL club soda

4 thin lime slices

extra raspberries for garnish

1. Prepare a simple syrup by mixing the water, sugar and fennel seeds in a medium-sized thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 minutes. The sugar should be completely dissolved. Allow this mixture to cool for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight). Strain and discard the fennel seeds by passing the syrup through a sieve. Refrigerate to chill the fennel infused simple syrup for at least 2 hours.

2. Place the raspberries in a large measuring cup and smash to form a smooth pulp. Add the chilled simple syrup to the raspberry pulp. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Then strain this liquid through a strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Discard the solids in the strainer. 

3. In a large jar, mix the fennel-raspberry infused liquid along with the wine and club soda. To serve pour the chilled cocktail into four glasses and garnish with a slice of fresh lime and a few raspberries.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Driscoll's. All opinions expressed are solely my own. . Visit Driscoll's for more berry recipes & enter to win the Sweetest Berry Sweepstakes

fig and bourbon summer smash

fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

Last Sunday, we attended the San Francisco street food festival. Ever since we moved, I've been wanting to attend the festival and taste all the delicious things that people are cooking up because that is what makes this city such an amazing food destination. And to be honest, we weren't disappointed. We tried empanadas, tacos, bahn mis, ice creams etc. Every thing had some sort of innovative flavor or idea combined into a traditional dish. 

fried pork cake sandwich, thai iced tea at San Francisco Food Festival | A Brown Table
Lobster salad at San Francisco Street Food Festival | A Brown Table
Watermelon Agua Fresca + Beef and Chicken Empanadas at San Francisco Street Food Festival |A Brown Table

When Renée and Sherrie asked me to join their blogger summer drink special, I wasn’t sure if I should. You see, I have never, ever in the past four years created a cocktail for this blog. It made me nervous and after I said yes to the girls, I kept telling myself, “Why the heck did you say yes?” Since I rarely make my own cocktails at home, I wasn't sure how this would pan out. But now, after going through this fun experience, I’m glad I said yes and my blog is no longer a cocktail virgin (though my dear friend Meg shared a cranberry moscow mule with you in December when I went to India). 

fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

Fig and bourbon are meant to be together. In an ideal world, every fig tree should produce a bottle of bourbon with every fig it grows. Maybe those travel size alcohol minis would work? And so I've combined my love for figs and bourbon in a glass or two for this drink recipe roundup.

It's been terribly hot for the past few weeks (the mercury hit the triple digits) and fortunately, the cocktail experimentation in the kitchen turned out to be the perfect remedy to battle the weather. An ice cold glass of this fruity bourbon drink that's lightly sweetened with honey and infused with fresh mint and lime. And of course if you like it a little more sweet or a little more boozy, adjust accordingly. 

fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this drink;

  • Use dark figs such as black mission figs or brown turkey figs. Their flavor is stronger and more robust and will work really well in this cocktail.
  • Instead of water, you can also make the drink a little fizzier by replacing it with sparkling water.
  • The more overripe your figs, the sweeter and stronger the flavor. Fresh limes and mint leaves make a huge difference in the drink.
  • I like to make the fig-bourbon mix ahead of time but just a word of caution, the longer you keep it in the alcohol (don't go over more than 2 days) the boozier the fruit pulp. 
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

fig and bourbon summer smash

yields: around 6 servings

ingredients

6 to 8 overripe fresh figs, stalks trimmed

500mL bourbon

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 cups chilled water

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

12 fresh mint leaves, julienned

ice cubes

1. Place the figs in a 1 liter mason jar or a jar wide enough to allow the figs to be smashed. Pour the bourbon over the figs and smash the fruit using a muddler. Pour honey into the jar and seal airtight with a lid. Shake aggressively and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours. 

2. Just before serving, shake the jar. Remove 1/4 cup of the fig mixture add 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 mint leaves. Muddle the mint leaves in the glass using a muddler, taste and adjust sweetness if necessary and then add a few ice cubes. Serve ice cold and immediately. 

Note: If you like this drink stronger, you can add a little more bourbon to it before adding the ice cubes. 

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table

You'll notice a new tab up on the blog, it's a link to my photography portfolio. Some photographs will be familiar and others new to you but in general, it's a collection of projects I've worked on or currently working on. When people ask me what I like more being in the kitchen or working with the camera, I find it hard to choose and honestly, I don't think there should be a choice. In that very sense, maintaining a food blog is the nexus of these two elements and I think it also answers that question. Probably, one of the most exciting things is having the choice to do things the way you want to and breaking and bending the rules, be it food or the camera. 

"Falooda" is probably one of the most popular dessert type drinks you can find in India. When I visited India, last year I got one and made sure it was topped with ice cream. An ice cold glass of sweet rose flavored milk served with ice cream, thin vermicelli noodles and basil seeds. But before I talk about my version, I have to give a shout out to a Persian dessert that is the origin of this delicious drink.

Persians have a dessert with a similar name called "Faloodeh" which is pretty spectacular, the ones I've generally eaten at Persian restaurants, is a rose and lemon flavored frozen dessert with thin vermicelli noodles and I like to top it off with some sour cherry sauce. But there are variations, on this theme that I know I have to taste soon. If you visit a Persian restaurant get it, you will love it. 

In this updated version of the Indian drink, I've skipped the dairy in favor of almond milk from Califia. Falooda is all about the layers so I stuck with the theme because that's what makes it rather exciting, besides all the lovely flavors. I kept the vermicelli and the rose, well sort of. Ideally you would use rose syrup but rose water is much gentler and you can control the sweetness, the syrup on the other hand can be super sweet in this drink. Basil seeds can be tricky to find but chia seeds are easily found at most stores and give a similar gelatinous texture after being soaked. I added a layer of strawberry purée to give a pop of color to the drink (usually the rose syrup does that job) , the purée is also sweetened with sugar which is why I avoided sweetening the almond milk but if you want you can sweeten the milk or use Califia's sweetened almond milk. The garnishes I suggest are all optional, some of you might like edible rose petals while others might not but the ice cream is always a nice touch (you know how much I love ice cream, I'm rather surprised that for once I didn't have any at home to add to this falooda).

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this drink,

  • You'll notice I don't call for adding any extra sugar or sweetener to the almond milk. The strawberry purée is pretty sweet to begin with so I didn't find the need to add any more. However, if you want it sweeter, feel free to add more sugar. You can also use Califia's Almond Coconut milk blend or their pre-sweetened almond milk. They will all work very well in this drink.
  • Chia seeds absorb a lot of liquid, you might find the need to shake or stir things up in the jar when you soak them overnight. You might also need to add a little more milk to the seeds if you find them in a big chunky clump. 
  • The strawberry purée is rather thick but if you want you can thin it out a little if you prefer with water or simple syrup. Just remember that as it thins out the vermicelli will sink through and sit on top of the chia seed layer. 
  • This drink is pretty heavy and I find it best served after a really light lunch or dinner. 
  • Since this drink is all about layers when presenting, it's important not to mix them up when preparing the glasses. Carefully prepare the layers but be extra careful when pouring the almond milk over the vermicelli layer. Another trick that works well here, carefully pour the milk over a spoon so it doesn't disturb the layers.
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda

yields: 2 servings

ingredients 

4 cups unsweetened Califia almond milk, chilled

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups water 

1/4 cup vermicelli noodles (broken into 2 to 3 inch long fragments)

1 tablespoon rose water 

1 tablespoon dried rose petals (optional)

ice cubes/crushed ice for serving (optional)

vanilla or strawberry or rose ice cream for serving (optional)

1. Take 1/2 cup of the almond milk in a medium-sized clean glass jar, sprinkle the chia seeds over the milk. Close the surface of the jar with a tight lid or cling film and shake. Leave the chia seeds to expand and absorb liquid for a minimum of 4 to 6 hours but preferably overnight in a refrigerator.

2. To prepare the strawberry purée, place the strawberries in a medium-sized thick-bottomed saucepan on medium heat along with the sugar and half cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low then cover with a lid and cook the contents of the saucepan for another 5 minutes. Remove from stove, allow to cool and then purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Strain the purée through a fine mesh strainer and discard the seeds. Reserve the strawberry purée and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill before use. 

3. To prepare the vermicelli noodles. Bring the remaining two cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the vermicelli and cook until soft and tender (they do not need to be al dente but should be cooked completely). Remove from stove, drain the hot water carefully and add cold tap water to cool the noodles. 

4. To prepare the falooda, take 2 tall glasses. Layer each with half of the chia seeds. Then layer about 1/2 cup of strawberry purée (you can use less if desired) over the chia seeds carefully with a spoon. Drain the water from the cooked vermicelli and divide the mixture equally between the two jars over the strawberry pureé layer. To the remaining almond milk, add the rose water. (You can also sweeten the milk with a little sugar or sweetener of your choice. See Note in Tip section above). Pour the almond milk over the layered noodles in each glass carefully to avoid the layers from mixing. Garnish with rose petals or ice cubes/crushed ice and/or ice cream if desired (you can do all three if you want in any combination). Serve chilled with a long spoon. Before drinking, stir the contents of the glass.

Note: This post was sponsored by Califia farms and all thoughts expressed here are solely my own. 

guest post: beard & bonnet cranberry ginger moscow mule

guest post by @beardandbonnet cranberry ginger moscow mule

We're off to Goa for the last wedding and plenty of beach time. All I can think about is eating and drinking all the coconuts in sight (I wish it were summer because it would be mango season). It's only fitting that today's post is a cocktail by the lovely Meg of Beard and Bonnett because this is one cocktail I'd love to drink by the sea. Meg is a super talented blogger and creates delicious gluten-free and vegan food on her site! She's also one of the friendliest and down-to-earth people you can meet and always willing to help. I'll let Meg take over now and talk about her lovely holiday cocktail.

guest post by @beardandbonnet cranberry ginger moscow mule

I am so excited to be visiting here on A Brown Table today sharing one of my favorite holiday cocktails! I have been a fan of Nik's inspiring photography and recipes for quite some time and am honored to have one of my own gracing the pages of his site. 

When I think about food during the Christmas holidays a few things come to mind - cookies, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, appetizers, and cocktails. Unlike Thanksgiving, where my family and friends sit down to huge decadent feasts, in December, we tend to host cocktail parties with tables loaded down with tapas and humongous homemade cookie platters. That's normal right?

guest post by @beardandbonnet cranberry ginger moscow mule

This cocktail has been in the works at my house for a few weeks now and I have to say it is one of my favorite cocktail creations to date. It is so easy to sip and the flavors of cranberry, vanilla, citrus, and ginger are a match made in heaven. If Santa were to whip you up a Christmas cocktail himself I imagine that this would totally be it!

guest post by @beardandbonnet cranberry ginger moscow mule

The recipe itself comes in 2 parts, one recipe for the cranberry vanilla syrup which can be made a few days in advance of your cocktail party and one recipe for the actual cocktail which you can double or triple as needed. I like to make a big pitcher of the cocktail minus the ice and let guests pour their drinks in their own glasses as needed. I intentionally made this drink easy for hosts by ensuring no special bar equipment is needed and the measurements are perfect to fill a wine glass so no need for washing extra glassware after the party is over. 

guest post by @beardandbonnet cranberry ginger moscow mule
guest post by @beardandbonnet cranberry ginger moscow mule

cranberry vanilla syrup

ingredients

4 cups fresh cranberries, washed well

1 cup water

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Combine the cranberries, water, sugars, and vanilla beans in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced and the mixture has thickened. The cranberries will begin to burst as they cook and if the syrup thickens too quickly you can add more water a few tablespoons at a time as needed.

2. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the cranberry vanilla mixture into the strainer. Gently press on the solids with a spatula to extract all of the syrup then discard the solids. Stir in the orange juice. Allow the syrup to cool then store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Prep time: 10 mins      Cook time: 30 mins    Serves: 2 cups

cranberry ginger moscow mule

ingredients 

ice

1 1/2 ounces vodka

3 tablespoons cranberry vanilla syrup

strong ginger beer (I use Bundaberg)

juice of 1 lime wedge

Fill a wine glass halfway with ice. Add the vodka and cranberry vanilla syrup then fill to the top with ginger beer and stir vigorously until the syrup is completely blended with the liquor and ginger beer. Squeeze a lime wedge into the glass, stir again and serve.

pumpkin lassi

pumpkin lassi |A Brown Table

Limits. They should be called restrictors. I realize, I place too many of these little fences around my thoughts. Self-imposed, they are and stifling they can be. But, to grow, these limits need to be pushed away. At first, even pushing the walls down seem hard and daunting. The anticipation of emotions of fear and nervousness about the unknown. Should success be the end goal of every endeavor? I don't know and I don't think I will ever have an answer to that but the thought of having attempted brings me comfort. But it also brings me strength, the strength to break down these limits and experience. To make mistakes and learn, isn't that the true purpose of any venture. 

For the past few weeks, I've been working on a little personal photography project, one to learn and grow from. My goal was to try and capture moments during the process of cooking. I've also been wanting to step away from focusing more on the final product but depict some of the stages through which ingredients get transformed. Some moments are more exciting than others but even the simpler moments have a story to tell. It could be something as icky as pulling the strings out of a pumpkin or something as delightful as icing a cake. But every step in preparing a meal is special which is why I find preparing food a grace and an even bigger joy to share. I do hope you enjoy this series as I share these moments with you.

pumpkin lassi |A Brown Table

I don't think I could have predicted that I'd be sharing a pumpkin lassi recipe in fall . But here I am, doing just that. Tinged with the brightness of saffron and the sweet flesh of roasted pumpkin purée, this yogurt drink is dreamy. Dreamy with the colors and flavors of fall and one of its golden harvest, the spectacular pumpkin. So drink up and enjoy!

pumpkin lassi |A Brown Table

Kitchen Tips

  • If you want to make your own pumpkin purée at home, you can do what I did. It's relatively easy and simple to do this and whatever, I don't use I freeze in airtight ziploc bags until needed. Start with a small pumpkin and cut in half, discard the strings and seeds, place it on a baking sheet at bake in a preheat oven at 400F for about 35-40 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender. Remove and scoop the flesh out and blend it in a blender until completely smooth. For every 1 cup of puree, I add 1/4 cup of water to keep things moving in the blender. Try to use as little water as possible. The purée should be as smooth as possible. 
  • Don't use greek yogurt, use the regular plain, unsweetened variety.
  • Avoid the temptation to use milk to prepare the drink in place of water. Lassi is traditionally made with chilled water. 
pumpkin lassi |A Brown Table

Here are some of my favorite reads that I'm drooling over this week,

pumpkin lassi |A Brown Table

pumpkin lassi

yields : 2 servings

ingredients 

4 tablespoons unsweetened pumpkin purée

1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened yogurt (not Greek yogurt)

3/4 cup ice cold water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon saffron strands soaked in 4 tablespoons boiling water

3-4 tablespoons molasses (you could also use brown sugar or honey, adjust sweetness as needed)

chopped nuts or saffron strands to garnish (I used saffron)

1. Place all the ingredients together in a blender and pulse for about 1 minute on high speed until smooth and combined. Taste and adjust sweetness if needed. 

2. Pour into chilled glasses containing ice. Serve immediately and garnish with strands of saffron if desired.

 

masala chai

Masala Chai | A Brown Table

I decided to get an orchid from the Mountain View Farmer's market. It's not like I've had a lot of luck with them in the past but they are so beautiful that I find it hard to resist. Let's just hope this one lasts and after all the flowers are gone, this plant will sprout some new buds. Here's to some wishful thinking! If you have any orchid tips, do let me know, I need all the help I can get.

Orchids | A Brown TableMasala Chai | A Brown Table

This weekend, my buddies, Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet and Phi of Princess Tofu came over to spend a day. If you follow us on Instagram you might have noticed all the insane amount of eating, cooking and photographing that happened. I took the girls out to try some Indian street food at one of my favorite chaat houses in South Bay, followed by a trip to an Indian grocery store, some pumpkin picking, some cooking, more eating, photography and a whole lot of chatting. And there was chai, we had lots of it, I could think of no better way than to spend my day with these two extremely talented people. 

Masala Chai | A Brown Table

Chai is a ritual habit for some and Indian houses make masala chai in several different ways. Here are some of my tips on making chai at home,

  • I buy loose black tea (tea bags are good) and I generally use the Assam black tea variety at home.
  • Chai (tea) with no spices (masala), is simply called chai in Hindi. There are several different types and combinations of spices that can be added to tea. Some people prefer some more to others. Personally, I prefer green cardamom and ginger in my masala chai, I use them individually or together depending on what I have in the house. Either way of all the spices I've listed in my recipe here, green cardamom and ginger are my top choices. (I haven't shown cloves and peppercorns in the photograph but they are good additions to the masala (spice) blend.
  • Adding the ingredients at the right temperature to the water is important because it helps in infusing the flavors correctly. 
  • When crushing the spices, just crush them once or twice with a mortar and pestle to release the seeds, do not over grind or pound them excessively into a powder. 
  • For sweeteners, you can use sugar, honey or even raw Indian sugar - jaggery. 
  • Milk or any other non-dairy milk is completely optional. 
Masala Chai | A Brown Table

masala chai

yields : 4 cups

ingredients

4 cups water

1 inch piece ginger root

4 whole green cardamom pods, crushed

1 black cardamom pod, crushed (optional)

1 inch piece cinnamon stick (optional)

6-8 black peppercorns, crushed (optional)

4 whole cloves, crushed (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons black tea leaves  (Assam tea)

around 1 /2 cup hot milk or what ever kind of vegetarian milk you prefer (rice, soy or nut based) (amount used might be more or less depending  upon your personal preference on how dark or light you want the tea)

sugar to sweeten as needed 

1. Place the water in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium high and add the spices immediately.Bo (I always add either ginger and/or green cardamom, the rest are all optional). 

2. Remove the saucepan from the stove and allow to the spices to infuse for about 4-5 minutes. Place the saucepan back on the stove and bring to a boil on medium high. As soon as the water begins to boil, add the tea leaves and reduce the flame to low. Allow the liquid to boil for about 30 seconds and remove from stove. Cover with a lid and allow to sit for 1 minute. 

4. To serve, pass the hot tea through a tea strainer to get rid of the tea leaves and spices into a teapot or teacup (as needed). Add enough milk to get a light brown color (depends on how dark or light you like your tea) and sweeten as needed. Serve hot with cookies or pastries. 

lychee rose boba with pistachio jelly {a blogger collaboration}

dual work filtration

I had met Phi of the Princess Tofu blog online, (honestly, that's how many of my food blogger relationships begin). I lived in D.C. at the time and she, in San Francisco. We quickly became virtual friends and upon finding out that I would be moving to the S.F. Bay Area, I was super excited to finally have the opportunity to meet her. I have to say, Phi has been the sweetest host, we've geeked out over all things related to food blogging while eating pastries at some of her favorite bakeries in the city. She's taught me so much about fun things about the city that only a seasoned local would know! 

Phi had spoken of her friend, Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet before and already being a huge fan of Alanna's work, you can just imagine my excitement when they asked me to join them for a little session of pistachio milk jelly and rose boba making. 

pistachio milk making.gif

I took a bag of fresh lychees and some samplings of tea over to Alanna's house (Alanna makes the best drinks and snacks and Phi had these cute and tasty Mickey Mouse waffles) where I got to watch and learn from both of these extremely talented and wonderful people. It was so much fun working with them because for one, you get to watch each person in action and observe their different styles and work aesthetic and two, because action shots are much easier when more than one person is involved (I don't have to balance myself shooting and moving the subjects simultaneously with the risk of dropping or breaking something). 

pistachio nut milk

The process began with the grinding of some presoaked pistachio nuts in a blender to produce the nut milk which Phi then filtered through the nut sac ( The word "nut sac" sounds so inappropriately funny and yeah we were all pretty red, every time one of us mentioned it). Once that was complete, Phi prepared the pistachio milk jelly by adding agar agar which set pretty fast. Unfortunately by this time, I had to leave and meet M who was coming to pick me up for dinner but the girls went on and made a second batch because the felt the jelly was a bit too soft to use. 

sugar syrup

Unfortunately, I missed tasting Phi and Alanna's final concoction which looks amazing but I had such a blast spending the day with them. Please do go ahead and check out both their websites to see what we were up to that day.  The recipe is here at Phi's site and Alanna has more photographs on the drink preparation that I wasn't there for. 

pistachio milk jelly