Averna e More

By Adri | Filed in Beverages, Cocktail, Musings

Averna e More

I know. It sounds like Averna amore, but that’s what’s been going on around here. I have been drinking a lot of this Sicilian amaro lately. I am accustomed to consuming Averna neat (undiluted, at room temperature, no ice) or straight up (with ice.) Then I came across a cocktail called a Blackberry Smash, a bracing mix of Meyer lemon juice, ginger beer, orange-flavored vodka, muddled blackberries and Averna.


The dark fruity flavor of the blackberries and the citrus married beautifully with the Averna, but Bart found it a touch too astringent. So I got busy and fiddled a little, figuring some simple syrup might take the edge off. Then it dawned on me that fresh basil would complement the herbaceous notes of the Amaro Averna. So I added a bit of basil simple syrup to sweeten the drink and cut down on the perceived astringency, and this baby was born.

Averna Amaro Siciliano

I have been making this drink with Eureka lemons. If you’ve got Meyer lemons on hand, they’d also be wonderful. Don’t skimp on the orange-flavored vodka. Use a premium brand, like Grey Goose.

Cheers! For those of you who have been following my remodel, check out the shots of our progress at the bottom of this article. And trust me, with a project of this magnitude, a cocktail helps. For more on Averna, click here.

Averna e More

Averna e More

serves 1

1/3 cup blackberries, plus berries to garnish
1 oz. Amaro Averna
1 oz. orange-flavored vodka
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. basil simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 ounces (or more) Fever-Tree ginger beer
basil sprig to garnish

Fill a rocks glass ¾ full with ice cubes. Drop cup of blackberries into a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Pour Averna, vodka, lemon juice, basil simple syrup, and a few ice cubes into the shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into the rocks glass. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with a few berries and a sprig of basil. Serve at once.

Basil Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is quick and easy to make and has many different uses in the kitchen. It can be plain, just sugar and water, or it can be flavored with anything from anise to vanilla, or as here, basil. Plain, it is the ideal sweetener for cold drinks – no need to worry about your sugar not dissolving. Mix it with spirits to moisten layers of cake. A simple rule of thumb for flavoring simple syrup is if you are using herbs, such as mint or basil, add them at the beginning right along with the sugar and water. If you are adding spirits, do so after you remove the finished syrup from the flame. Generously flavored with basil, this syrup is wonderful over fresh fruit or as a sweetening agent for lemonade or mixed drinks.

2 cups basil leaves
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water

Place all ingredients in medium saucepan. Heat over medium high until sugar has dissolved and mixture has come to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Mixture will be completely clear when sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Cool, strain and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Click here for another use for basil simple syrup.

Averna and Fever-Tree ginger beer are available at BevMo! and Mission Wine and Spirits and other purveyors.


Note: You can click on any picture and see a slide show!

I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.

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Roasted Tomatoes with Burrata

People are talking about fall. But it is not fall in Los Angeles. Not by a long shot. I know this because in gardens up and down my street, tomato plants continue to produce a riot of unmatched end-of-summer color.


With a glorious profusion of red, yellow, and white currant tomatoes, as tiny as your pinkie fingernail, to the slightly larger grape tomatoes, right up to two pound beauties like Gold Medal and Mortgage Lifters of all stripe, the plants continue to produce with remarkable abandon. But the question persists. What to do with all these tomatoes? Read more of this article »

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Averna and Citrus Cocktail
You need one of these

Starting the Demolition
If you have one of these

When a blogger disappears for a while one of two things may have happened. Either she has been engaged to write a cookbook or she has been traveling, trekking through Abruzzo on the trail with five hundred sheep. Oh no wait – that trekking thing, that was my friend Linda of Ciao Chow Linda. And as for the book, no publisher has come knocking yet. Read more of this article »

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Step by Step to a Savory Crostata

By Adri | Filed in Recipes

Zucchini Crostata with Ricotta-Lemon Filling

Zucchini Crostata with Ricotta-Lemon Filling

When most of us hear “crostata” we think of dessert, and a sweet crust topped with sugary fruit, caramelized and bubbling from its time in the oven. Rustic and free form, these open face tarts are good for main dishes too. Savory crusts topped with cheese, meats, and vegetables make simple, unfussy lunches, portable picnics, and satisfying light suppers.

Start with the crust. Lose the sugar, and you are on your way. Switch out some of the all-purpose flour for something with more character and bite, a little whole wheat flour, or perhaps rye flour or semolina. Add a hint of nutmeg, and seal the deal by substituting olive oil for butter. You are home free and dining savory. This olive oil pastry is the ultimate no-hassle crust. Quick to make, sturdy and easy to roll out, you’ll be glad to have this one in your repertoire.

Zucchini Crostata with Ricotta-Lemon Filling

Here I have used fresh ricotta atop the pastry base. The ricotta, flecked with lemon zest and delightfully fragrant lemon thyme, is dotted with sautéed pancetta and green onions, making a delightful medium for thinly sliced zucchini coins and a generous sprinkling of one of Abruzzo’s finest olive oils, Agrumato Lemon. The lemon scented oil adds bright notes of citrus while keeping Read more of this article »

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Roasted Red Onions with Basil, Fennel, Balsamic Glaze

These members of the Allium genus are covered with a red parchment-like skin, and their deep purple and white variegated interior is a glory to behold. Read more of this article »

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Citrus Salad with Hazelnuts and Basil

By Adri | Filed in Recipes

Citrus Salad

The big feast is over. The last head has been bitten from the last chocolate bunny, and it’s time to pack away the rabbit collection for another year. Almost. Tomorrow is La Pasquetta, Easter Monday, a national holiday in Italy, a day that stretches Easter out long enough to enjoy una scampagnata, a languorous country picnic in the sunshine of early Spring.

Pack up your leftover torta, stow some glasses and a bottle of nice wine in your picnic basket and bring this simple salad along. The salad’s vibrant color and bright flavor come from Read more of this article »

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