white wine sangria Red wine sangria is great and all, but on warm summer evenings, nothing beats it’s lighter, crisper counterpart. As an added bonus (aren’t I generous?) the fruit makes a tasty desert when the booze runs out!

Makes: 3/4 gallon
Total kitchen time: 15 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 cheap bottle of chardonnay or white zinfandel, sweet
  • 1/2 lieter tonic water
  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pear, cored and sliced (bosc or d’anjou work well)
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ice
  1. Add the sliced fruit, sugar and 2 cups of ice to large pitcher. Muddle with a muddler or the back of a big wooden spoon. You aren’t trying to make a fruit smoothie (and the presentation is much nicer if the fruit are shapely) so just try to get some of the fruit oils released.
  2. Add the wine and brandy. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to server. Add the tonic water and top the pitcher with more ice. Pour into tall glasses or wine goblets, letting some of the fruit fall into the glass.

This drink is to yuppies what the mint julep is to Southern, aristocratic tobacco farmers. Serve along side a polo shirt and a heightened sense of worth.

Reading time: 1 min

avocados are not explosives Growing up in San Diego, my best friend’s house backed up to an avocado grove. On warm, bored Saturdays, we used to hop his fence play “grenades” with the ripe, delicious fruit. At $2.00 a pop, I shudder at the amount of damage we may have done to some poor farmer. But I was young, foolish, and hadn’t yet fallen in love – with guacamole.

Makes: exactly 34 chipfuls (look at the ingredients. that’s how much, dummy)
Total kitchen time: 5 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 2 ripe Haas avocados
  • 1 vine-ripe tomato
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roasted, smashed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, smoked, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  1. Split the avocados in half through the stem end; in case you’re from Nebraska, be warned that avocados have a large hard pit. Run your knife around the pit in the center. Twist the halves 1/4 turn to separate. To remove the pit, carefully (with a sharp knife and medical insurance) whack the knife blade into the pit. Turn your knife until the pit pops free. Or, use a spoon.
  2. Cut a 1/2″ grid pattern into the flesh of the avocado. Turn the skin inside out and use a spoon to remove the flesh into a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

OK, now you know how easy it is to make your own guacamole. Trust me, this will be 10 times better thank that green paste crap they sell in the supermarket. You see, avocados are very perishable and they brown quickly in the presence of air. The acid in the lime juice will slow this a bit, but not long enough to give fresh guacamole a good shelf life. So, the crap you buy at the store is filled with radiator fluid, formaldehyde and lava ash. I’m pretty sure, at least.

Reading time: 1 min

 mango lime and mace skewers These skewers are great grill fare. Sweet fruit, such as mango and cantaloupe pair very well with hot spices. In this case, I’ve used mace (yes, the stuff you spray at your creepy uncle) to add heat. The acid in the marinade chemically cooks the shrimp before they ever reach the grill, so cooking time will be short. This means succulent, tender shrimp, which is what you paid for in the first place.

Makes: 6 spicy shrimp stabbers
Total kitchen time: 20 mins, plus marinading time

Shopping list:

  • 6 skewers (metal or bamboo, soaked in water)
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp, raw, deviened, shells removed, tails on
  • 1 mango, skin removed, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 limes, cut into 8ths (halved, then halved, then halved), plus 4 limes, juiced
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the wet ingredients (including sugar) and spices in a large, shallow baking dish. This is a good time to taste the marinade and adjust accordingly. It will be very strongly acidic – this is good.
  2. Assemble the skewers as shown in the picture above: use limes at each end to hold the other ingredients firmly in place. When you skewer the shrimp, pierce it in 2 places – near the tail and near the fat end. This will help it stay on the skewer.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate 2-4 hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Preheat your grill on high heat and lightly oil the grates. If you’re using wooden skewers, wrap the blunt ends in foil to prevent burning. Grill about 1 minute per side..

If you’re cooking for a fire-loving crowd, adjust the mace accordingly. Or substitute with Indian or South American powdered spices. These skewers go very well with a refreshing glass of white wine sangria! [Food modeling courtesy of my sister, Jill]

Reading time: 1 min
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