Friday, September 12, 2014

Homemade Cocktail Cherries

Years ago, while celebrating my birthday at a spot in Seattle where a friend was tending bar, the Luxardo cherry entered my life and cocktail cherries have never been the same for me. Old Fashioned's have long been 'my drink', and while I once subscribed to the idea that cherries had no place in one, that tiny little Luxardo gem won me over. 

Neon red, almond flavored, sickeningly sweet, cherries, these are not. The Luxardo cherry tastes (and looks) like a real cherry, with the added complexity of the maraschino flavor from the Luxardo. Perfect in any drink that calls for a cocktail cherry, or even as an ice cream topping, their only downfall is that, at nearly $20 for a 14 ounce jar, there is no room for them in my budget. Good thing I'm not afraid of a little r&d in the kitchen, eh? Affordable version, here we come!  

The key to these is the cherry- a sour cherry. If I lived in Italy, I'd use marasca cherries, like Luxardo does, but sour cherries are the best option in the US. If you don't live somewhere sour cherries grow, you can usually find sour cherries in the frozen fruit section of nicer grocery stores or order them online. Although they don't grow well in Southern California, I lucked out and found fresh ones at a tiny little Armenian market, where I considered buying everything they had in stock.

If you're using fresh cherries, you'll need to pit them. My favorite cherry pitting tool is this little contraption that attaches to any mason jar. It's easy to use and keeps the mess contained, all for under $10.

After pitting, freeze the cherries. I find they absorb more flavor this way, and freezing them also means you can keep some on hand for future cocktail cherries. To flash freeze, arrange cherries, so they're not touching, on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer for about 24 hours. Transfer to container or zipper bag and store in freezer.

When you're ready to make the cocktail cherries, you'll need:

1 pound frozen sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water or cherry juice
1 cup Luxardo maraschino liqueur
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stir and continue to simmer until sugar has dissolved.

Add vanilla, Luxardo, and cherries. Simmer 5 more minutes.

Cool to room temperature. Pour equal parts cherries and liquid into clean jars and refrigerate 3 days before using. Store in refrigerator up to 2 months.

Original recipe, styling, and photography by Danae Horst for Gather and Hunt. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Return of the Blog

Remember that trip to Joshua Tree I mentioned back in the Spring? Well, at long last, here are the photos from that adventure!

Our visit to Moorten Botanical Gardens in Palm Springs was one of the highlights of this trip. Every imaginable variety of cacti can be found on display here! They even have a great selection of plants for purchase- we definitely brought one home with us.

Camping in Joshua Tree will be an adventure we remember forever. We hiked a bit, watched a gorgeous sunset , and camped in the shadow of a rock formation- all against the backdrop of this stunning landscape.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Desert Adventures

{Photo: Gaby J Photography}
The desert is growing on me. Growing up near mountains and rivers, I was always more inspired by those landscapes, but the longer I live in SoCal, the more inspiration I find out in the desert. 

The mister is finishing up another brutal quarter in his Ph.D. program and we are looking forward to next week, when he gets a bit of a break (from classes at least), and we'll head out on an overnight camping adventure in Joshua Tree National Park. Today I look to other photographers to fuel my excitement for this trip.

{Photo: Mark Webster Art}
{Photo: Amelia Durham via National Geographic}
A campfire, star gazing, fresh air- all a reprieve from the noise and light of the city. Even if it's only for one night, it'll be much needed time away for us. 

{Photo: The Weaver House}
On the way home, we'll stop in Palm Springs and pay a visit to the Moorten Botanical Garden. This place has been on my wish list for a year- doesn't it look amazing?! Spring break or bust.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bourbon & Stout Beef Stew

Last week, after finding stew meat on sale at the grocery store, I whipped up some beef stew and it turned out so well I thought I'd share the recipe with you (plus it gave me an excuse to photograph produce, which is one of my favorite subjects lately). While it's not quite a traditional Irish stew, I think it could work quite nicely for Saint Patrick's Day, in case you're thinking of making something festive next Monday.

Bourbon & Stout Beef Stew
(Makes 4 hearty servings)


1 pound beef stew meat (chuck or bottom round roast cut into cubes)
2 T butter
1/2 medium onion
1 T minced garlic
2 T tomato paste
2 c beef broth
Dash Worcestershire sauce
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 c sliced crimini mushrooms
2 T bourbon
1/4 c stout beer
1/4 c minced fresh Italian parsley


Sprinkle stew meat with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, brown the stew meat, working in batches if needed to ensure the meat isn't crowded in the pan. Once nicely browned, remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Set meat aside.

Add garlic and onion to pan and stir, scraping all the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes more. Add beef stock and Worcestershire, stirring constantly. Add beef back to the pan. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 60 minutes.

After 1 hour, add potatoes, carrots, stout and bourbon, stirring well. Let simmer for 15 minutes, then add mushrooms.  If the sauce seems too thick, add more beef stock as needed. Simmer 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender. Add most of the minced parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta or biscuits. Sprinkle with additional parsley just before serving.

Original recipe, styling, and photography by Danae Horst for Gather and Hunt. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Meyer Lemon Iced Cream

A sweet friend recently gifted us with a bag of Meyer lemons from the tree in her yard. In search of something a little different to make with them, I came across this recipe from the Los Angeles Times and thought I'd give it a go. The cardamom really brings out the earthy tartness of the lemons. I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter (a rarity for me), so I won't repost it here, but I hope you try it while Meyer lemons are still in season.

Styling and photos by Danae Horst for Gather and Hunt. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Simple Pizzas

Making pizza at home has recently become an obsession of mine, which works out nicely since I crave it at least once a week. Last week, I figured I would work on a goal for the new year- taking more photos of things I'm already doing- and document the super simple recipe I've been using.

You'll need:

-1 ball of pre-made pizza dough (you can make your own of course, but I find I make pizza more often if I don't have to make the dough as well). I like the dough at Trader Joe's or Safeway/Von's/Pavillions. If there's a pizza place you like the crust at, you can also see if they'll sell you the dough- most will.
-El Cento canned crushed tomatoes. I've seen these at both TJ's and Safeway/Von's/Pavillions as well.
-1 log fresh mozzarella, sliced
-Fresh basil
-Crushed garlic

Pre-heat oven as high as it'll go without broiling.

For the sauce, you'll need about 1/2 the can of the crushed tomatoes for two pizzas. Add salt and garlic to taste. Set aside.

Divide the pizza dough into two balls. Roll them out one at a time on a lightly floured counter. For this style of pizza (Napoletana-esque), you'll want to roll the dough out thin. If you're having a hard time getting it thin, gently stretch the dough between your fists.

Once the dough is rolled out, place it on a pizza screen, or, if you're using a pizza stone, a pizza peel.

Sauce the crust, spreading it evenly but leaving a thin ring around the edge sauceless. Add the mozzarella, spacing it evenly, not too close to the edge. Add some of the basil (I like to chiffonade mine, but whole leaves are fine too).

Bake for 5-10 minutes, until the mozzarella is bubbly and begins to brown. Cut immediately, add some more basil if you like, and serve.

I hope this simple recipe will get you making more pizza at home! Make it your own and add topping you enjoy (just try to limit it to 2-3 toppings per pizza or it'll get soggy). If you try it, I'd love to hear what you think. I already can't wait until I recover from this terrible flu- I know what my first meal will be once I can eat again!

Original recipe, styling, and photos by Danae Horst for Gather and Hunt.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to All!

I know it's been quiet around here lately, but I wanted to take a moment out of my visit with family in Wyoming to wish all of you a very merry Christmas! May your holidays be filled with joy and love!
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