Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caipirinha-Brazilian Cocktail-Thirsty Thursday

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Caipirinha, (kie-puh-REEN-ya)is a traditional Brazilian cocktail made with cachaça (ka-sha-sa), a white rum distilled from sugarcane. Although the exact date of it's introduction to Brazil is unknown, cachaça was in production soon after sugarcane was being grown in on plantations. It is likely that the spirit was produced by accident when the sugar mill workers realized that when the sugar cane juice was left out for a certain amount of time, it would ferment and become alcoholic. Plantation owners were thought to dole out cachaça to their workers thinking the drink would increase their vigor and encourage them to work harder in the sugar cane fields. No doubt, it made them happy. For hundreds of years, cachaça was thought to be a poor man's drink by the Brazilian upper class. Today it is a Brazilian national icon, ranking high among other cultural symbols- the Samba, soccer and Carnaval.
Not a pure "rum" which is made from distilling molasses, cachaça is known by many names, including pinga, the most common-cana, garapa doida and parati. Similar to tequila, aged Cachaça ranges in colors from gold to amber. Caipirinhas are more often made with un-aged cachaça. This once plebian rum  now is the darling of the cocktails bars and  a caipirinha will cost around $15 in some high end establishments. However, the drink is quite simple with only a few ingredients-cachaça, fresh limes, sugar and crushed ice. In Brazil, key limes are considered the best limes for a true caipirinha. Readily available brands of cachaça in the US are Pitu, 51, and Ypioca brands, retailing for around $20 dollars.
If you don't have cachaça, you can substitute vodka which then is called a caipirioska or light rum, now a caipirissima. Never use a simple syrup,beet sugar,or brown sugar, always a white cane sugar. A strong thick glass is best for muddling (mixing the limes with the sugar). Don't have a muddler, muddle as the Brazilian's do- mix the limes and sugar in a mortar and pestle first, then transfer to a glass of choice. Dance the Samba and serve appetizer size empanadas to accompany the caipirinha.


1 lime, quartered or 2-3 key limes cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
2 ounces cachaça
4 large ice cubes, crushed

Place the lime quarters in a strong highball or old fashioned glass. Add the sugar and mash together. Pour in the cachaça, mix together, then and add crushed ice. Serves 1.

Check out other Thirsty Thursday libations from the diva on a diet at who blogs at Beach Eats. Also, a delightful blue haze cocktail from vibi at LaCasseroleCarree.

Want to be part of Thirsty Thursday-leave a comment at the end of this post?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chockablock Cookies-TWD

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Thanks to Mary of popsiclesandsandyfeet for her pick for this edition of TWD. A short post today as I have tons of stuff going on. These cookies weren't my favorite as the molasses seemed to over-power all the ingredients. I wonder if I could use brown sugar for the next batch? Any beverage other than a cold glass of milk or a strong cup of espress would be too much competition for these dense and very sweet cookies. They are loaded with chocolate chunks, walnuts, sweetened coconut and mixed dried berries. You can find the recipe here

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Five Quarters of the Orange

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Five Quarters of the Orange***** by Joanne Harris

For FoodforThought event created by Jain of Once in a Blue Moon.

Mirabelle Dartigen asks "Has any of you brought oranges into the house?" Oranges play a menacing role in Five Quarters of the Orange, a novel by the author of the renowned novel, "Chocolat".   Framboise Simon, an elderly widow, returns to the village of her childhood to buy back the dilapidated farm armed with only her inheritance-her mother Mirabelle's album of  recipes (sometimes poetic), newspaper clippings, cryptic references  in a family invented "pig Latin" style of language and a two-liter jar containing a single black Périgord truffle preserved in sunflower oil. She is not recognized as the daughter of the "infamous" woman held responsible for a tragedy during the German occupation of France many years before.

As the narrator, Framboise takes us back through flashbacks of the time when she was nine years old and infatuated with a German soldier. Along with her brother Cassis, and sister, Reinette-Claude, she trades knowledge about the neighboring villagers, nothing of military significance, just small things-what they own or produce- in return for sweets, magazines or forbidden cigarettes. To spend more time with the German soldier, Framboise secretly hides orange peels around the house knowing that it causes her mother to have severe migraines who then takes to her bed for days comforted by morphine pills. Things begin to get out of control with their antics and a tragedy happens-----. Five Quarters of the Orange is a superbly executed tale of wartime in occupied France, the cruelty and simplicity of children, dysfunctional families, revenge and love. Sometimes dark, but will hold your attention until the end.

Five Quarters of the Orange is full of food vignettes-sweet pancakes with raspberry coulis served with Framboise's homemade raspberry liqueur, fig jams, herb and apple sausages, fish stews and many, many more. The raspberry liqueur seemed appropriate-Framboise, also the name of the main character.  Recipe from Food and Wine- Creme de Framboise

  1. Creme de Framboise
1-1/2 pounds fresh or frozen raspberries
3 cups dry red wine
3 cups sugar
1 cup brandy

In a large bowl, mash the raspberries with a fork. Stir in the wine. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 2 days.

Pass the berries through a fine strainer into a medium saucepan, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the sugar and simmer over moderate heat until thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Stir in the brandy. Pour the liqueur into clean jars or bottles and refrigerate for up to 2 months.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Japanese Slipper Cocktail

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Curious as to where the Japanese Slipper cocktail gets its name? The term originally referred to a type of flat casual sandal brought back to the United States from Japan after the Second World War by American servicemen. These slippers which drew their origin from ancient Egyptian footwear eventually evolved into the flip-flops we now consider de rigueur for the beach. The slipper and the cocktail connection-a mystery!

Considered an "official drink" by the International Bartenders Association, the Japanese Slipper cocktail was created by Jean Paul Bourguignon of Melbourne in 1984. Midori, a honeydew melon liqueur gives the drink the lovely green color and fruity taste. Midori liqueur, produced by Suntory in Japan was launched in the United States in 1978. The liqueur was all the rage at a grand party at Studio 54(touted as the world's most famous nightclub) and attended by the stars of the 1977 hit movie, Saturday Night Fever, including the new star, John Travolta. After its success in the US, Midori was launched in Australia and then Europe where now is available in more than 30 countries around the world.


Traditional ingredients include Midori, Cointreau and lemon juice. Vodka is sometimes substituted for the Cointreau making the Japanese Slipper a more powerful drink. Lime juice is often used in place of the lemon juice. A very versatile drink, indeed and a perfect drink to serve with Asian food. Although the Japanese Slipper cocktail is most often served in a martini glass, I've used tall slender glasses for presentation.

Japanese Slipper Cocktail

30 ml(1 oz) Midori
30 ml (1 oz) Triple Sec or Cointreau
30 mi (1 oz) freshly squeezed lime juice, strained
6 ice cubes, crushed

In a cocktail shaker, combine Midori, Triple Sec and lime juice. Add crushed ice;shake well, Strain into chilled glass. Garnish with orange, lime or lemon slice; or a perfect maraschino cherry. Makes 1 cocktail.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Cream Biscuits-TWD

Print Friendly and PDF The secret to making delicious no-fail biscuits is like making pie crust, you have to make them often so you can get the feel of the dough. My grandmother lived with us on our farm when I was a kid and she made the  loveliest, flakiest, most wonderful biscuits I have eaten, but she made them every morning in a wooden bowl reserved only for biscuit dough. I, on the other hand, try to make biscuits once a year on special occasions. Grandma used self-rising White Lily flour and buttermilk,plus some shortening, but, basically did not measure the flour,buttermilk or shortening, as she had made them for so many years that it was a natural process to her.

White Lily flour, always popular with Southerners, hit the big time in the early nineties when it became available at Dean and Deluca. J.Allen Smith, a Georgian came to Knoxville, Tennessee around 1873 and co-founded a grain business called the Knoxville City Mills. After developing several flours, Smith came up with new flour that he reputedly named Lilie, for his wife. White Lily flour, along with its sister flours became big sellers and made Mr. Smith a rich man. In 2008, after more than a century, Knoxville closed its factories and White Lily flour was bought by Smuckers and its mills were scattered throughout several mills in the midwest. Some say the flour was never the same after that. However, Smuckers stands by its claim that White Lily flour comes from the same soft red wheat variety and traditional production processes. Personally, I can attest to the silkiness and fine quality of White Lily flour having used it as my grandmother did.

Thanks, Melissa of aloveatfirstbite for bringing back memories by choosing the sweet cream biscuits as her weekly pick for TWD. Maybe my grandma didn't use sweet cream, but these biscuits come the closest to what she would have baked. You can find the recipe on Melissa's blog or in Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking From My Home to Yours".

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Espresso Granita con Panna-Thirsty Thursdays

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Sant'Eustchaio Caffe was just minutes walking distance from our apartment near the Piazza di Campo Dei Fiori in Rome, touted as having one of the best espressos in Rome. But I wasn't there for the dark steaming brew topped with its enigmatic thick crema floating atop the perfectly brewed espresso. For months, I had been thinking not only of the wonderful dining experiences that I would have in Rome, the plethora of ancient ruins and world famous museums, but of my favorite warm weather treat coffee-espresso granita con panna. I wasn't disappointed-the espresso granita at Sant'Eustachio Caffe was out of this world. Dark shaved coffee ice topped with fresh whipped cream-a perfect mid-morning pick me up preparing me for my busy day of sightseeing. I was so excited, I forgot to take photos of the cafe or the icy concoction!  Back home, although I knew there was no way I could recreate the atmosphere of being in Rome having an espresso granita con panna, I was going to give it my best shot of espresso!
For this recipe, if you don't have an espresso machine, you can make your coffee extra strong in a conventional coffee maker, or use a cafetiére,sometimes called a French press which actually works very well.

Espresso Granita Con Panna

7 fluid ounces very strong coffee (about 5 generous cups of espresso or cafetiére brewed coffee using 14 tablespoons coffee per 1-3/4 pints water)
14 ounces water
5 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white, whipped until frothy (optional) I made two batches-one with the egg white and one without and I didn't discern any difference between the two.
4 ounces whipped cream(you can also use whipped cream in the can-easier and pretty, too

Pour the brewed coffee in a large bowl and set aside. Boil one-half of the 14 ounces of water with the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Refrigerate until cold. When cold, add it, the remaining 7 ounces of water and the vanilla to the brewed coffee. Stir well. If using the egg white, fold it into the mixture. Pour in a shallow freezer-proof pan, and freeze. About every 30 minutes, break the mixture up with a fork, to create the shaved appearance traditional to iced espresso. When it is well frozen, serve in cups and top with whipped cream. Serves 4.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brunswick Stew-The Daring Kitchen

Print Friendly and PDF  The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Thanks to Wolf of Wolf's Den for choosing a dish that I have often wanted to prepare, but somehow never got around to making. However, my daughter makes a mean Brunswick stew using most of these traditional ingredients, but uses her own smoked pork which takes the stew to a new level. Inspired by her version, I added chunks of home smoked and grilled pork tenderloin.

Brunswick Stew-Original Recipe from: The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook

4oz slab bacon, diced
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1 lb smoked pork tenderloin (recipe below), chopped into 1-inch chunks, roughly, or fully cooked smoked pork chops, boned and diced large, original recipe used rabbit
1 4-5lb  chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 Tablespoon sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
8-12 cups rich chicken broth, preferably homemade
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2 lbs  Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups  carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
3 ½ cups  (about 4 medium onions) chopped
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears) or defrosted frozen corn
3 cups  butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Tabasco sauce to taste

1-In the largest stockpot you have, , preferably a 10-12 qt, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.
2- Season liberally the chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper, add chicken pieces, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon and chiles Set it aside.
3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or smoked pork tenderloin floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.
4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard. After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.
5- Add in your smoked pork tenderloin chunks, onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to pull a me, and squirt juice straight up into the air, requiring cleaning of the entire stove. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.
6 You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.  I used large homemade croutons made from a yeasted cornmeal bread to top my Brunswick Stew and sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese over the top

For the Smoked Pork Tenderloin
1 lb pork tenderloin
2 cups smoking chips-I used Tabasco brand
Salt and Pepper

Thirty minutes to an hour before grilling the pork tenderloin, put 2 cups wood chips in a measuring cup and add water to cover. Salt and pepper pork tenderloin-refrigerate until ready to grill. When chips have soaked, drain off water and wrap them in aluminum foil  or put soaked chips in a smoking accessory for your gas grill. If using the foil wrapped method, poke a few holes in the foil and  place under the grate on top of one of the burners. Close top, preheat on high for 10 minutes or longer until you see smoke coming out of the grill. If your grill is a 2 burner, shut of one of the burners and reduce heat on the other to medium.  If your grill is a 3 burner, shut off the middle burner and reduce the heat on the outer 2 burners to medium. You will be placing your pork over the grate on the burner you have shut off. Grill, turning every 5-10 minutes until pork registers 165-170°F. Remove from grill, let rest 5 minutes.  

Quick Brunswick Stew

Recipe 2- The Short Way-This version goes on the assumption that you already have cooked your meats and have broth on hand. This was also my first experience with eating Brunswick stew. It’s got more of a tomato base, has larger, chunkier vegetables, but is just as wonderful as recipe one. However, it is a lot quicker to make than the first recipe.
Brunswick Stew from the, Ruritan Club, served yearly at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Va.

Serves about 10
2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth - yes, all three meats
3 medium diced potatoes
2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
2 medium diced onions
3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
4-5 strips crumbled bacon
½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
Dash of red pepper
2 diced carrots (optional)
Tomato juice
In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Swedish Visiting Cake-TWD

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You can have your fancy desserts and time consuming pastries if you like, but I'll take this simple, yet bursting with flavor, lemony almond cake any day. Plus, I have a decent collection of cast iron pans when given the opportunity will use in a flash. These 4-inch au-gratin pans were bought a few years from a kitchen supply store specifically to make a clafouti, so when I read that Dorie suggested using a cast iron pan for this Swedish Visiting Cake, I was thrilled. I made the full recipe and divided it among two 6-inch pan which filled the pans nearly to the rim, but since there was no baking powder in the batter, the cake didn't rise much. Thanks, Nancy of thedogseatthecrumbs for choosing this lovely cake which is good for breakfast, too! Check out Nancy's blog for the recipe.

I love lemon zest, so doubled the amount of zest and added both vanilla and almond extract to the batter. Dorie's French Yogurt Cake and the Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake are two of my favorite quick and easy cakes. You can find all these recipes in Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking From My Home to Yours" and possibly by surfing the web, but buying the book is the best option. You can make notes and always have the recipes and Dorie's invaluable suggestions for variations to the recipes plus little vignettes of  interesting stories regarding the creation of the dish.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mango Margarita

Print Friendly and PDF As with many famous cocktails, legends of origin abound. Who invented the margarita, the quintessential summertime libation? Was it Dallas socialite, Margarita Sames, who loved to impress her guests visiting her vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico by nipping behind the bar and mixing up a variety of drinks? At one party in 1948, Margarita threw together tequila, lime juice and cointreau. Her drink became the rage! Maybe the most prevailing story attributes the margarita's creation to a showgirl, Marjorie King who was allergic to all alcohol except tequila. While visiting Mexico in 1938, King asked the bartender to make her a cocktail using tequila. The bartender poured tequila over ice, added lime juice and triple sec. Majorie's name in Spanish translates to Margarita.Voila! Many more colorful stories exist regarding the margarita, but who knows the real truth?

Purists use white tequila, Cointreau instead of the less expensive, Triple Sec and lime juice. On the rocks, frozen, with various fruits and liqueurs-the variations are endless. This  margarita uses pureed fresh mango, lime juice, a limonella liqueur, Cointreau and a premium white tequila, such as Herradura silver, 100% agave. The result is a thicker drink, almost a smoothie-like consistency. The mangoes have to be dead ripe; if not, add some simple syrup to further sweeten the drink. Frozen or canned mangoes work well if fresh mangoes are not available.

Mango Margarita
4 large mangoes, peeled and sliced
3 ounces silver tequila
1 ounce limonella liqueur
3-1/2 tablespoons Cointreau
3-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Crushed ice

In a blender, add mango and puree until smooth. Add the tequila, limonella liqueur, Cointreau and lime juice, blend a few seconds more, then add crushed ice. Blend again until the drink has the consistency of a milkshake. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with lime slices. If a thinner consistency is desired, add a few more pieces of crushed ice to the blender. Taste, sweeten with a little simple syrup, if desired.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake-TWD

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Many bundt cakes seem to be dry and crumbly, but this cake with a mixture of freshly brewed coffee, instant espresso and bittersweet chocolate swirled through the vanilla flavored batter is very moist with a fine crumb. Delicious served on its own, but taken to a higher level drizzled with a dulce de leche sauce and garnished a few candied walnuts on the side. A scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream would be a perfect accompaniment for a tantalizing dessert, but the cake is equally delicious served plain with a cup of steaming hot coffee or tea. The cake keeps well covered at room temperature for 4-5 days or frozen up to 2 months.

Erin of whenindoubt....leaveitat350 chose the Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake for this edition of TWD, but since last week was Easter week, two desserts were chosen, this cake and the Coconut Tea Cake. You may see either one when visiting the TWD bakers' blogs.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Coconut Rum Mojito

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Pirates of the Caribbean, Sir Francis Drake, Ernest Hemingway-how are all these connected to this very trendy cocktail, the Mojito? The mojito was made popular by the South Beach scene in Miami, but its colorful history dates back to the 1500's. Legend has it that Richard Drake, an English pirate concocted a drink similar to the mojito by mixing an unrefined rum, called aguardiente with sugar, lime, and mint. Probably no relation to the famous Sir Francis Drake, the head pirate who terrorized the Caribbean and South America, but his top boss, so Drake honored him by naming the concoction, "El Draque" meaning the dragon.

Some say the mojito was invented by slaves working the sugar cane fields in Cuba in the late 19th century; that origin more than likely confused with the origin of the daiquiri, another popular cocktail made with rum, sugar, and lime juice. The African slaves working in the Cuban sugar cane fields crushed the cane and from it extracted "jarape", a Spanish word for "nectar" similar to sweet drink from their homeland. Confused in translation, the name for the sugar cane juice became "guarapo".

Early recipes for the mojito were found in a 1931 and 1939 editions of Sloppy Joes Bar Manual. Several restaurants opened in Havana, one being the famous  La Bodeguita del Medio renown for serving celebrities, like Ernest Hemingway. It is thought that Hemingway was responsible for the introducing the mojito to Key West when  he moved there in 1928. Eventually, the mojito made its way to Miami.

My twist on this classic drink is to add not only white rum, but coconut rum to add a subtle, but lovely coconut flavor to the mojito. An important step in successfully making a mojito is the "muddling" of the mint, or lemon balm with the sugar as I have used in making my version. To muddle means to confuse, but here muddling mixes and bruises the leaves and sugar together to fully flavor the beverage. Proper muddlers can be bought in stores that sell bar equipment, but a small spoon can achieve the same goal.

Coconut Rum Mojito

4 lemon balm sprigs
8 teaspoons caster sugar, (superfine) sugar
4 limes, juiced
1/4 cup white rum
1/4 cup coconut rum
Crushed ice cubes
Strips of lime peel
Tonic or sparkling water, to serve

Remove stems from the lemon balm. Put 2 teaspoons of the sugar into 4 small glasses. Add several lemon balm leaves to each glass and lightly rub the leaves into the sugar, using a muddler or the back of a spoon. Add the lime juice to the glasses and then the two rums. Add crushed ice to each glass and decorate with the lime peel. Serve immediately, topped with the tonic or sparkling water. Makes 4 glasses.
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.