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Summer Vegetable Cianfotta from A16 Food + Wine

Welcome to the very first installment of Recipe Friday, the latest feature here at Bits+Bites. We've got a stack of soon-to-be-released cookbooks from local chefs and bartenders and we couldn't resist sharing—each Friday, we'll be giving you a sneak peek at one of the recipes from the book. This week, we're pleased as punch to be sharing a recipe from the forthcoming book, A16 Food + Wine. This lovely book, photographed by Ed Anderson (who photographed our "Around the World in 31 Meals" story in the August issue) makes me want to rush into the kitchen. This recipe, summer in a bowl, is the first thing I plan to cook.

A Cucumber Vodka Cocktail: The Watermelon Refresher

Cucumber, perhaps my favorite vegetable, is the supreme food for summer. Light, crisp, a mixture of sweet and bitter, cucumber is just made for eating … and drinking. As my colleague Sara Deseran pointed out last week in her Bits and Bites posting, Square One, the locally masterminded organic vodka company, has just released its cucumber-flavored vodka, and it's a winner. Normally, I don't get particularly excited about flavored vodkas, but this one is novel and very well made.

Tony Abou-Ganim's Cable Car: A Signature SF Drink

Last night was the kick-off event for cocktail week. It took place at the Starlight Room, where many of SF's best and brightest (like Marco Dionysus, pictured here) got behind the bar, making drinks for the masses.

Joey Altman's Matzo Ball Soup

Just in time for Passover (which begins this Saturday at sundown), we bring you a simple and trustworthy recipe for matzo ball soup from SF's own Joey Altman, from his new cookbook Without Reservations: How to Make Bold, Creative, Flavorful Food at Home (Wiley).

Note: Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat. You can get it from some kosher grocers, from Boulettes Larder in the Ferry Building, or you can render it yourself by simply making homemade chicken soup and scooping the solid fat off the top after refrigerating it. The broth and shredded chicken would both come in handy for this recipe too. But if it's all too much trouble, Altman recommends vegetable oil as a substitute.

The Corpse Reviver Cocktail: Morning of the Living Dead

Most mornings, my wife, Christie, likes to sleep in. She works late into the night, so it's understandable, yet at the same time she does often need some encouragement to emerge from the cozy confines of the covers. Today, it was especially difficult for her to get up, since we had stayed up late talking. At a certain hour, I came in and joked to her resistant ears that she resembled a corpse and I’d decided to make her a Corpse Reviver to help her get out of bed. A drink first catalogued in the Savoy book by Harry Craddock, it's a strong, hair-of-the-dog type of concoction. I thought it would be just the thing.

Apple Strudel Done Right

I don’t have extra space to say much this week, other than the fact that on Christmas Day at my friend’s house, I ate one of the best things to ever enter a human mouth: her German mom’s homemade apple strudel. I learned that true strudel is (1) painstakingly difficult to make and (2) more similar in consistency to a baked pasta than a pastry dough. You will probably never attempt this at home, and neither will I, but isn’t it good to know that a recipe this authentic and delicious is being preserved for eternity on the Internet?

Hedy’s Apple Strudel
Makes three strudel rolls, each about 13 inches long.

For the Dough

Basil and Booze: The Perfect Summer Combo

Bartenders have been playing around with fresh herbs lately, so I decided to try my hand at it, using basil from my parents garden up in Sonoma, the handle of a wooden spoon as my muddler and some citron vodka as a start. From there, I looked for inspiration on Hangar One’s website, where they have a whole bevy of good cocktail recipes. My final—very popular, I might add—concoction was based on SF bartender David Nepove’s recipe called The Retreat. The only difference is that I only swirled each glass with a good dash of Pernod (the anise-flavor of Pernod perfectly reflects the basil), rather than go for a full ounce. I also added a bit of cointreau to the shaker. If you serve it on the rocks, top with club soda as Nepove does.

The Hemingway Daiquiri

Ernest Hemingway, July 21, 1899 - July 2, 1961

As was pointed out by one of the genial, twittering, PR birds so constantly abuzz in my ear, this is the week of Hemingway's birthday (and the anniversary month of both his death and birth).

Hemingway's contributions to many fields are in no need of enumeration here. But the man did stamp his identity on the cocktail with his favored way of taking the drink.

The Daiquiri is named for a Cuban mining town where an American engineer came up with the simple formula of lime + rum + sugar (hmmm, hard to imagine that had never been done before) that worked so beautifully that it became canonical.

Late-Night Pasta Recipe

Some people are into rice. Some like corn. I, however, am a pasta guy, through and through. Good lord I love pasta. I love it for lunch and for dinner. I’m even partial to a little cold carbonara in the morning (hey, it's made with bacon and eggs). It's always good.

Classic Crunch Cocktail with a Twist

Here is a version I created of a classic drink: the Champagne Cocktail. This one employs blackberries, which I quartered and marinated in Cointreau for a half hour. The rest is just as simple.

Champagne Cocktail

Drop a sugar cube into the bottom of a Champagne flute
Drench it with several dashes of Angostura bitters
Top with Champagne or some other sparkling wine
Drop in a few blackberries

It’s a good drink for brunch—that is, if you're not nursing a hangover with a Bloody Mary.
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