Perfect Summer Lemonade

New York City in the summer just screams heat! The other day, I was sitting in my bed with sweat beads just falling down my head like nobodies business and I wasn’t even doing anything! The humidity never helps, but luckily NYC doesn’t often get to humid, just incredibly hot hot hot. I have been given the clear by my doctor to go into a pool now, so you know where I’ll be for the next three months.¬†I’m thinking that summer 2011 is going to be another one for the record books, but it’s only the beginning of June, so who knows!

I’ve been trying so hard to drink more water in this heat. I’ve been starting to run again, so that motviates me even more to drink, as I often get some pretty bad headaches if I exercise while dehydrated. But when I want to kick back and enjoy the summer days, there is no better way to do that than with a nice tall glass of fresh lemonade. If you’re used to buying lemonade from the supermarket, stop now. Making your own lemonade can be a little bit tedious, but it’s so worth it. You can make it as sweet or as sour as you like and nothing quite beats fresh squeezed lemons!

When I make lemonade, I just throw together a simple sugar syrup – adding in some basil or mint for a nice herby surprise – throw that in with some fresh lemon juice (and lime if you’d like), a bottle of seltzer, and voila – fresh lemonade! The most difficult part about this whole ordeal is squeezing the lemons, but don’t skimp on store bought stuff. That extra teaspoon of sweat from all your work gives the lemonade that extra boost ūüėČ You don’t need to add seltzer, nice cold water will work too. I always make mine as a mixture of lemons and limes, but picking one citrus of the other will work perfectly as well. Drop some fresh mint and sliced lemons into your final product for garnish and you are sure to have a crowd pleaser.

FRESH LEMONADE

(Recipe by Me)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups lemon/lime juice (15 or so lemons and limes, depending on size)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • fresh bunch of basil or mint
  • 2-4 cups cold water of seltzer
DIRECTIONS:
1) To make simple syrup, combine water, sugar, and basil or mint (or both) in a sauce pan. Simmer until sugar has dissolved – about 4 to 5 minutes. Allow mixture to cool. Discard herbs.
2) In a large glass measuring cup, squeeze lemons, until you have approximately two cups of juice.
3) In a large pitcher filled with ice, combine lemon juice, simple syrup and water or seltzer.
4) Add some fresh mint and sliced lemons to garnish and serve.

Gnocchi and Pesto

After almost a month in our apartment uptown, my roommate and I decided that it was time far an all out dinner party.¬†Yes, we’ve obviously made very nice dinners for each other¬†before, but this time we decided to invite over some friends and have many dishes to share. Our planning started weeks ago when we decided that at some point we were going to make gnocchi and all of the other dishes fell into place, as the day got closer.

It was quite the extravaganza. I didn’t get home from work until 6 and my friend Emily and her brother were already there. Thank goodness I had made the dessert in the morning, because once I got home it was a whirlwind of cooking as we made pesto, gnocchi, pickled beet salad, and a caprese salad. While the kitchen turned into a war zone, the meal came out perfectly.  Each dish came out just as we had planned and while the gnocchi was a little more difficult then we had planned, it still worked.

For future reference, I would leave lots of time to make a big pot of gnocchi. While slipping them into the water right before the meal was perfect because they really take all of 90 seconds to cook ‚Äď boiling the potatoes, mashing them, and rolling out the dough takes some time and patience. Investing in a decent potato ricer is advised as well, given that our mixer turned the potatoes into mashed potatoes, making our dough very wet and sticky. Using my dad‚Äôs pesto recipe though, which is really one of the easiest things to make, they came out just fine!

PESTO

(Adapted from my dad)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • ¬ľ olive oil
  • 3 large bunches basil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1)     In a cuisinart mixer, blend pine nuts and olive oil together until a paste is made

2)      Slowly add basil leaves, blending to smooth paste.

3)      Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

4)¬†¬†¬†¬† Enjoy ūüôā

POTATO GNOCCHI

(Adapted from Mario Batalli)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pounds russet¬†potatoes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, extra large
  • 1 pinch¬†salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

DIRECTIONS:

1) Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). While still warm, peel and pass through vegetable mill onto clean pasta board.

2) Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

3) Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

4) Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup canola oil and store covered in fridge up to 48 hours until read to serve.