You know that feeling? When something tastes just right?

One little sip of this Bourbon Sour leads to another. Your taste buds try to pinpoint exactly what's at play in the delectable concoction... Citrus, for sure. But what kind? Orange? Lemon? What's that hint of sweetness mingling with the bourbon? Maple syrup? You take another sip. Wonder about these things. Smile. And sip some more.

When our friends Dave and Roxy came over for dinner last fall, they brought cocktail fixins and when I saw the ingredients going into Dave's mix, I knew the drink was going to be good - but I didn't know it would be this good! Dave was kind enough to share the recipe and so was his original source, James Schaaf - thank you Dave and James.

We've now made this cocktail many many times for friends. Those who've tasted it always ask us to whip up another batch the next time we get together. With Labor Day just around the corner, you know what to do to make your friends happy.... a backyard BBQ with Bourbon Sours sounds good, doesn't it?

INGREDIENTS (per drink)
printable recipe
  • fresh juice of one lemon, pulp and seeds strained (Meyer's are fantastic, if you can get them)
  • 4-5 dashes orange bitters
  • 1-1 1/2  tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon or whiskey of your liking
Fill a big mason jar or cocktail shaker with all ingredients, including a few ice cubes. (Feel free to make one, or many cocktails at once.) Give everything a good shake and you're good to go.

Place fresh ice into a glass (or glasses) and pour the chilled, mixed cocktail over the ice. Discard the ice used for shaking.

Sip right away.


    Even though it has been feeling a bit like winter here in Berkeley - we're talking plenty of fog, wooly socks, gray skies, high temps in the 60s - I know it's summer out there somewhere.

    Every time I step into Monterey Market I see edible proof of mid-summer heat. A few weeks back I bought the most tender yellow beans. Peaches are bursting with sweet juices. Melons abound. And a few days ago I saw the piles. The piles of dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes. I smiled, did a little jig, and snatched up pounds of the beauties. For decades, I was committed to heirloom tomatoes, then I discovered dry farmed Early Girls. They don't look too snazzy when you compare them to the heirloom lookers, but man oh man the Early Girl flavor is incredible. Sweet, like candy.

    Good tomatoes make this simple dish sing. A quick stint on the stovetop only heightens the sweetness of the tomatoes, then their juices mix with the garlic-infused oil, there's a slight crunch to the parboiled green beans, and the fluffy quinoa soaks up all the juicy tomato goodness and becomes almost creamy like risotto.

    This dish is light, relaxed, and summery - it's delicious served with the Slow Roasted Salmon and Meyer Lemon Relish from my last post, or can stand on its own as a nice one-bowl vegetarian option. (Leave out the feta, and we can feed our Vegan friends too!)

    The recipe is quite flexible....  You can eat it warm or at room temp. Leftovers are delish, and you can bring this dish to a potluck, or even pack some up for a plane flight as I did a couple of weeks ago. I can't tell you how happy I was at 35,000 feet, passing up airplane food to nibble on this quinoa. Yes, I was strapped into my uncomfortable plane seat, passing the time watching bad TV, but I had freshness in hand and it tasted darned good.

    (printable recipe)
    • 1 cup quinoa
    • sea salt
    • a couple of handfuls tender green or yellow beans ( about 6 ounces), rinsed
    • 1 pound dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes or firm sweet cherry tomatoes, rinsed
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into thin slivers
    • chopped fresh basil leaves (or micro basil if you have access to it)
    • optional: Crumbled feta

    First make your quinoa: Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa with cool tap water, then place quinoa in a medium saucepan. Cover with 2 cups water and add a pinch of salt. Place saucepan on the stove top and bring the liquid to a boil. Turn down flame to low, cover and simmer quinoa for 15-17 minutes until tender. Let cooked quinoa rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Let the quinoa sit in the saucepan while you prep the other ingredients.

    The beans: Trim stem ends off beans and parboil them in salted water for 3-4 minutes until vibrant and tender. Immediately spread cooked beans onto a clean dishcloth and allow them to cool a bit before handling. Once the beans are cool enough to handle, slice them into bite-size pieces. Set beans aside while you prep the tomatoes.

    The tomatoes: If you are using Early Girls, slice them into 6-8 wedges. If you are using cherry tomatoes, go ahead and cut the cuties in half. ( By the way... do you use a serrated knife to cut your tomatoes? I find that it's so much easier.) Heat olive oil in a medium cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add garlic slivers to the hot oil and let them sizzle for 20-30 seconds, then add tomatoes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the tomatoes cook for 2-3 minutes. Take pan from the heat and add the sliced beans to the tomatoes. Salt to taste.

    Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl, stir in tomatoes, beans and all the juice and goodies from the pan. Salt to taste. Top with chopped basil and feta.  

    If you are planning to take this salad on a picnic or for a work lunch, I suggest adding the feta and basil just before serving.

    Serves 2-3 as a main; 4-6 as a side

    Psst... Any of you with kids at home, you know that the start of school is fast approaching. If you're anything like me, you are desperate for school lunch inspiration. Katie Morford from Mom's Kitchen Handbook has come to our rescue - when Chronicle sent me a copy of Katie's new book, I was stoked.  Best Lunch Box Ever: ideas and recipes for school lunches kids will love is packed with tasty, healthful lunch ideas. Lilah is already scheming up what she wants from Katie's book. Phew!