Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey

Sometimes bite-size foods are the best foods.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are no exception! They’re salty, sweet and tangy, and fit in the palm of your hand. They’re portable and the perfect addition to a cocktail party or get-together (did someone say Oscars?)

I’ve always been a snacker. When given the choice between a gigantic meal that will likely leave me bloated and sluggish or light snacks throughout the day, I’ll 100% of the time go for the latter. Plus, that way I get to try allll of the different things. Don’t pin me down, I want to taste all the food!

Speaking of snacking, the hubby and I are especially good at it on the weekends, and this past weekend (wait, are we still in “the weekend” since today is President’s Day?) was no exception. We were up in NorCal for a baby shower on Saturday, then took advantage of the long weekend and being so close to Napa and headed up to Wine Country on Sunday. We’re headed back to SB but will be back up in NorCal next weekend. It’s turning into quite the frequent commute for us, but we don’t mind the drive. We always joke that we’d rather make the 4-6 hour drive up to the Bay Area than the 2-3 hour drive down to LA because we never hit any traffic.

Anyhow, we really enjoyed seeing so many of our NorCal friends this past weekend. It seems like with the craziness of the holidays and the subsequent need to just hibernate and do nothing in the beginning of the new year, it’s been ages since we’ve seen everyone. Now we’re celebrating babies and multiple engagements and I can’t believe all of that has happened since we’ve last seen everyone!

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are just the type of thing I like to make for casual get-togethers with our friends, no matter where we are. They’re pretty darn easy and require almost no actual cooking, so you can really whip them up anywhere. Might I also add that they’re the perfect things to munch on when you’re sipping on some delicious Napa wine? Let me tell you, these crostini and a crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc are a match made in heaven.

The hardest part about this recipe is literally toasting up the sliced baguette to make crostini. If you can toast bread under a broiler without burning it, you’re in good shape. If not, just add the toppings to untoasted bread and these puppies will still taste absolutely divine.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

After you have your baguette slices toasted, simply spread each one with a hefty dollop of chevre (that’s creamy goat cheese for all you non-cheese snobs out there), top with the apricot and pistachio mixture, and drizzle on some honey. That’s it!

I’d also like to point out the absolutely necessity of a couple of things:

  1. Toast your nuts. I know, this technically requires more cooking, but it’s a must for ANY recipe that involves nuts. Just trust me.
  2. Chop your dried apricots. Nobody wants a crostini where they have to gnaw through a huge chunk of something so they can be sure to get a taste of it in every bit. Also, I’m a huge fan of the fatter, juicier dried apricots as opposed to the flatter, more dehydrated ones. They are definitely a must IMHO.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, now that you have the down-low on all that goes into these drool-inducing Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey, I’ll let you get to it! It’s a holiday after all, so you deserve a little something to go along with that bottle of wine you’re sure to pop the cork on today 😉

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

These bite-size hors d'oevures are perfectly balanced with sweet, salt and tangy flavors. Pistachios, goat cheese and apricots are a match made in heaven!

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 6 ounces chevre (creamy goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nutmeats, toasted
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces honey (approximately)
Instructions
  1. Turn the broiler on high. Arrange the baguette slices on a sheet pan and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until they become golden-brown. Keep a close eye on them, as they can get too dark in a matter of seconds. 

  2. Remove crostini from the oven and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to touch, spread about a tablespoon or so of the goat cheese on each piece. 

  3. Combine the pistachios and dried apricots in a small bowl, then sprinkle on top of each crostini. 

  4. Drizzle each piece with honey and serve immediately.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

Belizean 75

This drink is brought to you with so much looooove.

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

I know Valentine’s Day is behind us, but this Belizean 75 holds a very special place in my heart for multiple reasons.

First, you all know that the French 75 is one of the hubs’ and my absolute favorite cocktails, so much so that it was one of the two signature drinks we served at our wedding. I mean, anything involving both bubbles AND gin is a winner in my book. I love them both to pieces.

Second, we first got to taste a “Belizean 75” on our honeymoon shortly thereafter which, although not quite what we expected, did have a few fond memories going for it. This drink is definitely one of them and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make my own version at home.

I ordered the Belizean 75 the day we got back to our resort after being evacuated due to the hurricane, and, let me tell you, after being stuck in a $100 a night eco-lodge that flooded and had no power OR water after the storm hit it was like tasting the nectar of the Gods. Forget the plentiful glasses of red wine and steaming seafood platters that were constants at our Francis Coppola-owned resort, I just wanted this incredibly cool and refreshing cocktail on repeat.

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

The main difference between a Belizean 75 and a French 75 is that local rum is used in place of gin, and any variety of local citrus is used in place of the standard lemon juice. I’m not too sure what variety of citrus they used at the Turtle Inn, but I had some blood oranges laying around and boy, did they add just the right zing of color to this cocktail!

I love this cocktail because it is incredibly easy to make and uses very few ingredients, ones you’ll likely have on hand already without requiring an extra trip to the store. All you’re going to need is sparkling wine, rum and fresh-squeezed citrus juice! I would just recommend that whatever citrus juice you use isn’t too tart, since there is no added sweetener in this drink (bonus – less of a hangover the next day!)

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

The blood oranges I used were perfect and lent that lovely pinkish hue. Despite what it looks like in the photos, I did use the exact same amount of blood orange juice in each drink, the pulp of one of the blood oranges was just a lot darker than the other. But that’s nature for ya!

Now I know today isn’t a “special” Friday per se (although if you ask me, every Friday is pretty dang special) but that’s no excuse to forego making a Belizean 75 or two. Whether you’re getting together with girlfriends or just want an easy at-home Happy Hour drink for you and your honey, this cocktail will do the trick. And with another round of nasty weather headed our way, I’d say we need as many tropical drinks as we can get to make us forget all the rain. Am I right?

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Stay safe and dry this weekend my friends! Xx

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Belizean 75
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This cocktail is a fun, tropical riff on the classic French 75, using local rum instead of gin and fresh blood orange juice instead of lemon. The ultimate refresher!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce fresh blood orange juice (or other fresh citrus juice)
  • 1 ounce rum
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine
Instructions
  1. Combine orange juice and rum in the bottom of a champagne flute. Slowly pour the sparkling wine over top. Garnish with a blood orange wheel, if desired.

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

21 Valentine’s Day Cocktails and Mocktails

Love is in the air! <3

21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails | CaliGirlCooking.com

Since today is the last Friday before Valentine’s Day, I thought it most appropriate to put together a fun roundup of Valentine’s-themed cocktails for you.  Whether you’re planning on going out to eat, or cooking a romantic meal for two at home, I’m confident you’ll be able to find something you like here (there are even mocktails for those of you who choose to abstain from alcohol.)

The hubs and I haven’t yet decided what we’re going to do on our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple but, not to sound cliche, I’d really be happy doing anything just a little extra-special with him!

I don’t know about you, but putting together this list only made we wish that this holiday was a week long event so we would have time to try more of these delicious drinks. So, without further ado, here it is!

1. Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch
Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe here.
2. Strawberry Old-Fashioned
Strawberry Old-Fashioned | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on The Wooden Skillet
3. Chambord Citrus Tonic
Chambord Citrus Tonic | 21 Valentines Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Berly’s Kitchen
4. Aperol Punch
Aperol Punch | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Taste and See
5. Rosemary, Fig and Date Tequila Smash
Rosemary, Fig & Date Tequila Smash | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirl Cooking
Recipe here.
6. The Bourbon Sweetheart
Bourbon Sweetheart | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on The Gastronom
7. Pomegranate Rose Gin Fizz
Pomegranate Rose Gin Fizz | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Ahu Eats
8. Whiskey Champagne Cocktail
Whiskey Champagne Cocktail | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Ann’s Entitled Life
9. Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Lime Cooler) with Coconut Water
Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Lime Cooler) with Coconut Water | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on The Worktop
10. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Martini
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Martini | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Just a Little Bit of Bacon
11. Cranberry Lime Mocktails
Cranberry Lime Mocktails | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on My Wife Can Cook
12. Pink Champagne Cocktail – Two Ways
Pink Champagne Cocktails - Two Ways! | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe here
13. Grapefruit, Thyme and Elderflower Cocktail
Grapefruit Thyme Elderflower Cocktail | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on The Girl on Bloor
14. The Best Bloody Mary
The Best Bloody Mary | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on The Domestic Dietitian
15. Amortentia – Harry Potter Love Potion Punch
Amortentia - Harry Potter Love Potion Punch | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Cookilicious
16. Blueberry Lemon Drop Cocktail
Blueberry Lemon Drop | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Platings and Pairings
17. Sparkling Elderflower Pomegranate Spritzers
Sparkling Elderflower Pomegranate Spritzers | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Home and Plate
18. Berry Mint Iced Tea
Berry Mint Iced Tea | 21 Valentine's Day Recipes on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on The Purple Ladle
19. Rose Sangria
Rose Sangria | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Grey is the New Black
20. Blue Q Margarita
Blue Q Margarita | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe on Pass Me Some Tasty
21. Raspberry Mint Gin Smash
Raspberry Mint Gin Smash | 21 Valentine's Day Cocktails and Mocktails on CaliGirlCooking.com
Recipe here

A Valentine’s Day Wine and Food Pairing for Two

I’m so excited to be partnering with Hana-Lee from Wander & Wine to bring you today’s post!

A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

We got together recently to create the perfect Valentine’s Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two, and let’s just say it’s so ridiculously tasty that you won’t even think twice about trying to make a reservation out somewhere to celebrate this year.

We’re talking Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade and Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction over Creamy Polenta, both paired with the most delicious wines. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect Valentine’s Day meal, I don’t know what does.

A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

One of the greatest things about this blogging life is the huge network of other bloggers and entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to connect and eventually become good friends with. I feel especially lucky to have found a great group of gals living here in Santa Barbara that are in the same (or very similar) lines of work.

Hana-Lee and I first became “Insta-friends,” and it only took us oh, about six months, to actually meet IRL. Ever since, we’ve become blogging partners in crime, taking “research” trips to Napa and working up some fun collabs just like this one! Stay tuned for another simple fun collab coming in March, but until then, let’s chat about this delicious Valentine’s Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two.

A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

The menu is perfect for next week’s big event for multiple reasons:

  • It looks elegant and decadent, but comes together seamlessly.
  • It has lots of red, purple and pink hues going on.
  • It is INCREDIBLY tasty and is guaranteed to wow your significant other.
  • Finally, and most importantly, it is paired with TWO delicious wines.

Does it get any better than that? I think not.

Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

We start with an appetizer course of Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade. From the creamy cheese filling laced with sautéed shallots and thyme to the fruity, citrusy marmalade gracing the top, once you taste these tartlets you MIGHT not be able to go back to just any old sweet or savory tartlet. Even better, the tartlet shells, filling and marmalade can all be made up to three days in advance, which means all you need to do before serving is compose and pop in the oven for five minutes or less. See, I told you this wouldn’t be too difficult.

Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

These Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade are mouth-watering on their own, but they only get better when paired with Domaine Chandon’s fruity, refreshing sparkling Rose. Click here for Hana-Lee’s in-depth wine pairing notes!

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

For the main dish, we created these Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction and Creamy Polenta that, although not difficult to prepare, are far from your average weeknight dinner. You’ll want to start by making the polenta because, although it’s incredibly easy to make from scratch, it does take about 45 minutes to come together (most of that just sitting simmering away on the stove.) If you’re really in a pinch, you could use pre-made polenta, but seriously, once you try making it yourself once, you’ll realize it’s not any more difficult. We also graced our homemade polenta with a hearty handful of aged gouda cheese, which lends the perfect salty, savory kick to the entire dish.

Next, you’ll want to get the Blackberry Reduction simmering away on the stove. Sweet, tart and savory all at once, I’m very confident that once you master the basics of a reduction like this, you’ll feel liberated with all of the different ingredient combinations you can use to make the perfect topping for any meal.

The lamb lollipops are going to be the last step, as they’re both the quickest and the easiest to put together. We simply take a garlic and rosemary concoction and rub it all over the chops, then sear them off in a cast iron skillet (although you could use any nonstick skillet or even the grill if you’re so inclined.)

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

Once you have all of these components made, these Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction and Creamy Polenta come together quickly and painlessly. Scoop a heaping pile of the creamy polenta onto whatever serving dish you choose (the individual gratin dishes we used worked perfectly, you can find similar ones here,) top with a lamp lollipop, and then drizzle on the thick, glossy blackberry reduction.

We paired this entrée dish with Tablas Creek Vineyard’s 2014 Patelin de Tablas, a Rhone-style blend made up of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Counoise. Click here for Hana-Lee’s notes on this delicious pairing.

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

With two delicious courses and two just-as-delicious wine pairings, we’re guessing you won’t have too much room for dessert. But, just in case you have a little sweet tooth that needs tending to, here are some options for a third and final course:

A Valentine's Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

And there you have it! The perfect Valentine’s Day Wine and Food Pairing for Two. So cancel your reservations, put on some slow tunes and light some candles for a romantic night in. Your significant other deserves it, and you do too. XO

Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com
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Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

These savory tartlets are creamy and decadent and topped with a brilliant red marmalade. The perfect appetizer to pair with a sparkling rose!

Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4 tartlets
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons shortening
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  • Special Equipment: Four 4-inch nonstick tartlet pans
For the filling:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 5 ounces triple cream soft cheese (We used Delice de Bourgogne)
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • Pinch of pepper
For the marmalade:
  • 6 blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Cointreau
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions
To make the crust:
  1. Combine all crust ingredients (except ice water) in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms. Remove from food processer and shape into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to ¼-inch thickness (you may need to let the dough warm up slightly before trying to roll it.) Cut dough into fourths and shape into tartlet pans, crimping the edges as needed.

  3. Place tartlet pans on a small rimmed baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove and let cool completely. If you’re not composing the tartlets that day, wrap the pans in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until ready to use.

To make the filling:
  1. In a small saute pan, melt the butter. Once butter is melted, add the minced shallots and thyme and saute until fragrant and translucent. Transfer mixture to a small mixing bowl. 

  2. Add your triple cream cheese, crème fraiche and pepper to the mixing bowl and use a spatula to combine all of the ingredients. If you’re not composing the tartlets right away, transfer filling to a resealable container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. 

To make the marmalade (you will have extra marmalade left over, but that means all the more to put on your toast in the morning!):
  1. Using a microplane, gather 1 cup grated blood orange zest (being careful not to scrape the bitter white pith.) 

  2. Once you have the zest, peel the blood oranges and gather 2 cups of pulp, squeezing it out of the translucent white membrane that’s segments the orange into slices. 

  3. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the zest, pulp, Cointreau, lemon juice and water. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer until mixture is thick and reduced, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. If not composing the tartlets right away, transfer to a resealable container and keep refrigerated for up to three days. 

To compose the tartlets:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Use a spatula to put the filling into a piping bag. Cut off the tip of the bag (no piping tip needed) and pipe it into each of the tart shells. Use a small spatula to spread it and make it even. 

  3. Place tartlets on a small rimmed baking sheet and place in oven for just 5 minutes (you might not even need this much time, you just want the cheese to get melty so keep an eye on it!)

  4. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Top with a scoop of the blood orange marmalade and serve immediately.

 

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com
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Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta
Prep Time
55 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 5 mins
 

Rosemary and garlic crusted lamb lollipops are placed over a bed of creamy, cheesy homemade polenta and topped with a perfectly balanced blackberry reduction.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 2 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the polenta:
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup shredded aged Gouda cheese
  • Salt and pepper
For the reduction:
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup red wine (it would be best to use the Tablas Creek here)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
For the lamb lollipops:
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 bone-in lamb chops
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Instructions
To make the polenta:
  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Once boiling, slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking as you pour to avoid clumps. 

  2. Turn down heat to a low simmer and let cook for about 40 minutes, whisking every 10 minutes. If polenta gets too thick at the end of this, simply add a bit more water. 

  3. Whisk in butter in two parts, then stir in Gouda cheese. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Keep polenta over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.

To make the reduction:
  1. Combine all ingredients (except butter) in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a heavy simmer. Turn down heat slightly and let simmer until mixture is reduced by at least half. 

  2. Remove thyme sprigs from sauce and remove sauce from heat. Whisk in butter continuously until it is completely melted, or your sauce will break. Return to very low heat until ready to serve.

To make the lamb lollipops:
  1. In a small bowl, form the herb rub by combining the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place the lamb lollipops on a plate and rub the herb mixture all over both sides. Let lamb sit with the herb rub on it for 20 minutes if possible. 

  2. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once skillet is hot, add the lamb lollipops (you should hear a big sizzle when you put them on.) Cook the lamb lollipops for about 5 minutes each side, or until they get a nice dark golden crust. Remove from heat and let rest for about 10 minutes before plating.

To plate the dish:
  1. Scoop a large spoonful of polenta into two individual gratin dishes. Place a lamb lollipop on top of each dish, then spoon the blackberry reduction over top. Serve immediately.

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub

Have you heard the news? Shrubs are so hot right now!

Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub | CaliGirlCooking.com

At least in Santa Barbara, but looking at our hip, vibrant cocktail scene (thank you, shmancy college town) I’d venture to guess that shrubs are taking the mixology nation by storm. This Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub has quickly become my go-to cocktail/mocktail (yes, there are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions) and I’m pretty sure you’re going to love it just as much as I do.

Believe it or not, shrubs have actually been around since the colonial era in the late 16th century. The original definition of a shrub (according to good ol’ Wikipedia) is a vinegared syrup mixed with water, spirits or carbonated water. Back in the day, shrubs were useful for many reasons: they were easy to smuggle across country borders, they had “medicinal” qualities, and they were a way to preserve spring and summers’ bounties of fresh fruits to enjoy deep in the heart of winter.

I have to admit, I had heard a lot about shrubs, but hadn’t really delved into exploring them until recently. I ordered a Pineapple Ginger Shrub when we were trying out a new bar in town a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn’t get enough! I ordered mine straight up with carbonated water, which was delicious enough, but the bartender assured me it tasted even better with alcohol added to it. Now that I’ve tried a bunch of different concoctions out myself, I don’t doubt him!

After enjoying my Pineapple Ginger Shrub so much, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making something similar at home. My first task was getting my hands on some drinking vinegar, which proved easy enough with a quick search on Amazon. As soon as my eyes came across McClary Bros.’ Pineapple Fennel Seed flavor, I knew I had to order it. Two days later, the drinking vinegar was on my doorstep and I was ready to shrub it up.

Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub | CaliGirlCooking.com

Now, like most drinking vinegars do, I knew this tart elixir was going to need some sweetening up. When I found myself in the Asian section at my local grocery store looking for a completely unrelated ingredient, my eyes fell on good ol’ canned lychee. (My fave! I’ve even made my own signature cocktail out of it, the Lychee Lightning.) I had a sneaking suspicion that it would be the perfect sweetener for my Pineapple and Fennel Seed drinking vinegar, and boy was I right! The Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub was born.

But enough of me gushing about my newfound love for this (apparently) OG ingredient, let’s get to the recipe! This one’s a little different than my usual cocktail posts, because the base recipe is actually the non-alcoholic version. Don’t fret, though, because I tasted through a few different options for alcoholic additions (oh, the things I do for you) and have included my notes/recommendations on those as well.

Once you have all of the ingredients, this Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub comes together in no time at all. There’s no pureeing or shaking or cutting or peeling, just a simple stir of the base ingredients and a top-off of club soda.

Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub | CaliGirlCooking.com

If you don’t have a grocery store with a good Asian section near you, have no fear, the canned lychees can also be found on Amazon along with the McClary Bros. Pineapple and Fennel Seed Drinking Vinegar.

Finally, there’s a reason I chose to share this with you today, as we head into this food and booze-filled Super Bowl weekend. This Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub is THE perfect drink for sipping on while you’re watching the big game, because the amount of alcohol you add (if you choose to add any at all) is completely up to you. I recommend 1.5 ounces for a regular cocktail strength, but you could easily use less if you want to pace yourself, or forego it altogether if you’re the DD (while still enjoying a tasty drink to boot!)

And if you want to make this before you have time to get a hold of this particular shrub, I highly recommend you use whatever flavor you can find and try your hand at a winning flavor combination. The possibilities are endless!

Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub | CaliGirlCooking.com

Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub

A delicious, refreshing drinking vinegar concoction that can be made with or without alcohol with the distinguishing flavors of pineapple, fennel seed and lychee.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 ounces McClary Bros. Pineapple and Fennel Seed Drinking Vinegar
  • 2 ounces lychee juice (from canned lychee)
  • 1 1/2 ounces alcohol of your choice (optional, see notes for recommendations)
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Club soda
Instructions
  1. In a tall glass, combine drinking vinegar, lychee juice, alcohol (if using) and bitters. 

  2. Fill glass ¾ of the way full with crushed ice.

  3. Top with club soda.

Recipe Notes

If you’d like to add alcohol to your shrub, follow these recommendations based on your personal preferences: Add white rum for a tropical feel, add gin for a more floral taste, add vodka to keep the current flavor profile but give the drink some kick, and add whiskey to bring out the spicier notes. My personal favorites were the rum and the gin!

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Pineapple, Fennel and Lychee Shrub | CaliGirlCooking.com