We have the best of both worlds up in the Santa Cruz Mountains: Ten minutes from the ocean, yet surrounded by beautiful, stately redwood trees. My cousin Nikita turned 21 on August 11th, so we had a family birthday dinner at my parent’s place; aptly named “The Tree House.” These are some of the highlights.
- First, make a ginger syrup: Put 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 cup chopped fresh ginger in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the mixture, add a little lime (or lemon) juice to taste and then chill.
- For each drink, use a jigger of gin and the same amount of ginger syrup, and some more lime juice.
- Shake with ice and pour into glasses. Top off with some ginger beer (or ginger ale).
- Drop a piece of crystallized ginger into the bottom of each class. Kanpai!
Marinated Shrimp Skewers
a few cloves of chopped garlic
a few sprigs of chopped fresh rosemary
a dash or two of Tabasco sauce
a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left intact
special equipment: skewers (if using bamboo skewers, soak in water before grilling)
- Combine all ingredients (except shrimp) in a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup (adjust ingredients depending on amount of shrimp). Microwave until bubbly, about a minute. Assemble shrimp skewers and pour marinade over them. Grill.
Polenta with Gorgonzola & Mascarpone Cheese
- Prepare the polenta according to package instructions, stirring until it thickens.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine equal parts Gorgonzola and Mascarpone cheese. Microwave until they’re soft enough to combine.
- When polenta has thickened, spoon onto plates and top with a dollop of cheese mixture.
Peach, Fresh Mozzarella & Mint Salad
- On each serving plate put a few slices of fresh Mozzarella, a few mint leaves, and a few slices of peach.
- Lightly dress with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a sprinkle of cumin.