Kramer had a fantastic birthday weekend, or at least I hope that he did! We celebrated a bit each day, which he absolutely deserves after completing his first full year of grad school. His last day of class was yesterday. Congratulations, Kramer! I’m so proud of him for working so hard during the day, studying at night, getting up and doing it all over again each day. I certainly couldn’t do it and I am in awe of his will power and determination. In light of that, I decided we really needed to do it right this year. On Friday night, we went to Burnside with a bunch of friends to have some drinks and stay out what ended up being a little too late, but it was my husband’s birthday party and we do what we do when we do what we do. I even brought over 100 cookies to the bar, and I think they were received well. I brought a box for the bartenders, because they are awesome, then enough to feed the entire bar. They were gone by the end of the night, and there’s nothing a baker likes to see more than all of her treats completely disappear.
On Saturday, we dragged ourselves out of bed to meet with Kramer’s dad, his girlfriend, Jill, and Rachel for brunch at Roberta’s before driving up to New Rochelle to see his aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandmother. Kramer’s aunt always makes us a big, special dinner whenever we make it up there. This time was no different. We had bread, cheese, caprese salad, spinach dip and crudites, Caesar salad, spaghetti and meatballs, sweet sausage, and garlic bread, followed by two different kinds of cake, cake pops, and my favorite, Girl Scout cookies (which I have certainly not had enough of this year). And that doesn’t even include the freely flowing wine and beer. Needless to say, we had a fabulous time. We were tuckered out and in bed by 10:30, where Kramer and I proceeded to sleep without waking up once until 8:30 in the morning. We definitely needed the sleep. On Sunday, Kramer’s dad generously treated us to yet another delicious meal at Craftbar – I think it was probably one of my favorite restaurant meals ever. Get ready for this. We started with fried artichokes, soft-boiled egg salad bruschetta with white anchovies, bread and cheese, and my favorite, duck hearts with dumplings and a fried egg. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Then we got to the main courses. I had halibut with pickled ramps, morels mushrooms, and the most pillowy, soft, incredibly gnocchi of my life. Kramer had veal breast with roasted ramps, potato puree, and wonderfully crispy sweetbreads. I had to finish the meal with an almond semifreddo, and then I immediately fell into a food coma (which was remedied with a quick drink at Raines Law Room with Morgan).
You probably feel full even just reading about all of that incredible food, but you have to do it right when family is in town, there’s a birthday to celebrate, and Kramer’s sister is graduating from Pratt. Speaking of Kramer’s sister, she certainly loves herself a glass of red wine, so when I made this sangria, I had to invite her over for a glass or two. I actually made this because I did a photoshoot for McCormick Spices, and this was one of their recipes. I would never have thought to grill fruit before adding it to sangria, but it added a real depth of flavor to the red wine, as well as making for some lovely garnishes. A lot of people will add Sprite or something similar to their sangria, but I really prefer ginger ale. You can really even use diet and not notice a difference, which can help cut back on the sugar and make you feel a little less guilty about indulging in a cocktail or two mid-afternoon. Or is that just me? Whatever, this is a judgement-free zone. Hopefully it will warm up a bit more in NYC so that I can sit out in the sunshine with a big, cold glass of this grilled fruit sangria.
Last week’s rain, Kramer’s birthday cookies, friends, and Kramer’s 2nd birthday celebration in New Rochelle with family (with plenty of cake pops made by Kramer’s aunt).
- 2 oranges (plus 1-2 more for juice), sliced into ½-inch thick rounds
- 3 limes, sliced into ½-inch thick rounds
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (the juice of 1½-2 oranges)
- ¼ cup orange liqueur, like Triple-Sec or Cointreau
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2-3 cups ginger ale or lemon-lime soda (I prefer ginger ale)
- 3 cups ice cubes
- Combine your red wine, fresh orange juice, orange liqueur, and cinnamon sticks in a large pitcher, stir to combine, and place in the refrigerator.
- Heat up your grill to medium-high heat or, if you live in an apartment like me, your cast iron griddle to high heat. Slice your fruit and dip each side in sugar (this is totally up to you – you can absolutely omit the sugar – I started out with the sugar and then halfway through just did it without) and grill the fruit on each side until nicely charred. It took me about 5-6 minutes per side on my griddle at home, but I’d imagine it would take less time on a real grill. When the fruit is charred with nice marks, set aside to cool.
- When you are ready to serve, remove the cinnamon sticks from the sangria and add your ginger ale or lemon-lime soda. Add in your charred fruit, stir to combine, then add in the ice and again, stir to combine. Serve chilled with a few slices of the grilled fruit for garnish. You can make this up to 3 hours ahead of time without worrying about the soda going flat, or make it up to 24 hours ahead of time and then add in the soda and ice when you’re ready to drink.