Stay for Tea

Category: food and cooking

Caprese Bread Pudding and Two Cocktails

I’ve been a derelict and delinquent blogger. I probably could never make a career of it, being a dedicated content creator who actually updates at least once a week. Not with a full time job, writer’s block, and lots of other things to be distracted by. Good thing I never wanted to be one of those lifestyle bloggers who develop themselves into a personal brand. That would potentially require having to go to things like networking events and all that. Yuck. Anyway, I’ve gone far longer between updates. For now, here are three recent recipes of mine: a savory bread pudding and two cocktails.

On the Plate: Caprese Bread Pudding. 

breadpud1 Read the rest of this entry »


I have a tendency to get involved in far too many activities, meet-ups, projects and the like, and sometimes those don’t have a long life span. It’s been a particular point of pride and pleasure for me that for several years now I’ve managed to remain a consistent and active member of one of my groups: LARC – Ladies Advocating Respectable Cocktails.

I seem to have amassed a goodly amount of spirits & cocktail recipe books.

I seem to have amassed a goodly amount of spirits & cocktail recipe books.

Since late summer of ’09, we’ve met more or less once a month to mix cocktails on a theme, share personal stories and reflections, and get to know each other over a tipple. I started out timidly, browsing cocktail recipes online instead of inventing my own. As I’ve learned more about the nuances of a balanced cocktail, I’ve gotten more adventurous, actually crafting my own (at least, I think they are) cocktails. We’ve had all sorts of monthly themes, from base spirits, to countries of the world, to more abstract ones, like creating a drink inspired by a song or a passage in a book. Our group is a small and manageable size, and we never drink a full glass of each cocktail, instead passing around a couple of tumblers, or decanting into small tasting portions. At each gathering, conversations go from academic to intimate, sometimes devolving into silliness, like writing (in the spirit of exquisite corpse) a short passage inspired by a side-splitting reading of that awful 50 Shades of Gray book. But mostly, we’re there for the friendship, and the booze. And pizza, which seems to be our general go to food for the evening.

Below are two of my most successful – because I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some disappointing flops -  recent creations. (I’m afraid I’m terrible at noting quantities, but it’d be roughly 2 measures first ingredient, 1 measure second, and half a measure or dash of each of the remaining. Give or take. Sorry. Play with it!)


Cold brewed coffee, brandy, Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters, Torani Amer, home made orange-cardamom simple syrup (with some orange peel in the shaker). The theme was “vessels” hence my glass coffee cup & saucer.

The theme was songs, and I picked this eerie, entrancing, synth heavy Bee Gees song. Vodka, Galliano, St George Spirits’ Aqua Perfecta Raspberry liqueur, and Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters. No photos of this one, so instead, listen to the song.

Thai basil pesto

Weekend prior, I had made a pitcher of delicious Thai basil sangria for a gathering I co-hosted. (The drink was a hit and disappeared within the hour, thank you Food & Wine!) I found myself with still quite a bit of left over basil, as well as a bunch of fresh mint that was left from a yogurt-mint sauce I prepared for lamb kabobs. (More on those at another point; I discovered the lamb mix also makes for an excellent meatloaf, while the mint-yogurt sauce serves as a fantastic marinade for chicken).

So, with all those fresh herbs, I made a pesto. The recipe is a combination of several different recipes I found online. A lot of the pesto recipes using the more spicy Thai basil also called for the addition of fish sauce; generally, I love the phish sauce – especially in a bowl of vermicelli noodles at a phở joint – but I wanted to keep the recipe as simple and vegan friendly as possible. Myself, I’m an omnivore, but I like to try and make sure that I can prepare at least a few good things that would be absolutely OK to serve to some of my vegan friends.

Thai Basil Pesto


  • 1 and 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves (it adds… something extra, I don’t know what it is!)
  • 1/3 cup blanched almonds (but you could use other nuts you like, maybe pine nuts or peanuts?)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or a little more to help with blending & if you like less chunky texture)
  • 1/2 tbsp rice wine viegar
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper or chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and chop’n’grind. That’s it. Keep refrigerated.

Things you can do with the pesto: EVERYTHING. It’s so nomnom delicious. So far, I’ve had it on chicken, on a pesto and cheese sandwich, and this morning with some poached eggs & Hollandaise on an English muffin. Let me know how you like it!