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“The Primo:” A summer cocktail

Summer drinks. When I have fresh fruit and herbs, I make a plethora of simple syrups and shrubs for mixing. Inspired by a local bar, I’ve been working on a grapefruit & basil cocktail, which finally seems to be ready to share. This recipe is for two drinks. It would scale up pretty easily, assuming you have something big enough to make it in.

Ingredients

  • 4 large, fresh basil leaves
  • 1 keffir lime leaf (fresh is best, dried will work in a pinch)
  • pinch salt
  • 3 oz basil simple syrup
  • 4 oz. vodka
  • 6 oz grapefruit juice
  • bitters
  • lemon twist
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the basil, lime leaf, and salt until the leaves have expressed their oils. Add in the simple syrup, vodka, and grapefruit juice, then add ice to the shaker and shake until well chilled. Rinse two martini glasses with a splash of bitters. Pour out the cocktail, garnish with a twist of lemon and a fresh basil leaf. Makes two.

Basil Simple Syurp

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, stems and all

Instructions

Add all ingredients to a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat until the syrup thickens slightly, approximately 40 minutes. Cool, then jar. It will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

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Pickled Radishes

Radishes are in, so it is time to preserve some of the harvest.  This recipe works well as either a fridge pickle or a water-processed canned pickle. If you plan on water-processing, cut the radishes on the thick side to preserve their crunch.

Spicy Pickled Radishes

Ingredients

  • Approximately 12 radishes (depending on variety and size, this could be up to 24)
  • ¾ apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or light brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (flavorful without being overly spicy, if you want a hotter pickle, use coarsely ground dried serrano or thai bird chiles)
  • ½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 12 black peppercorns

Instructions

Wash the radishes, trim off the tops, the bottoms, and any blemishes or discolorations. Using a chef’s knife, thinly slice the radishes into rounds (If you plan on preserving these with a water bath or pressure cooker, make the rounds thicker). Toss with 1 tsp. kosher salt and place in a colander to sweat while you make the brine.

Make the brine: In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water,  maple syrup or sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat.

Rinse the radishes under cold water and pat them dry. Have two 8 oz jars and lids washed and ready (if you are using a water bath, put the lids and cans in a pot of water and bring to a boil, keep them there until you are ready to pack your pickles). Fill each jar with radishes and top with the dry spices. Press gently with a clean wooden spoon to pack everything lightly, then cover with the hot brine. For fridge pickles, top the jar with a lid, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for 2-3 days to allow the flavors to meld. For processed pickles, leave 1/4″ head space at the top of the jar when filling with brine. Press gently to expel any trapped air, then place a lid and a ring on the can. Water process in boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool (you should hear the lids *tink* as the vacuum seal sets while they cool). Store in a cool, dark place for at least a week. Refrigerate after opening.