New York Magazine stopped by this week to get pretty, and Culinary Director David Mawhinney showed them how to build a beautiful cocktail inspired by sweet and #prettythings. David mixed up a drink and toasted to New York Magazine's weeklong break from reality dedicated to all things pretty.
Inspiration for new dishes and cocktails can come from many places. A childhood memory may inspire the reinvention of a classic savory dish. In the case of cocktails, inspirations are usually grounded in something classic, and then the ingredients can be swapped around – keeping some basic proportions in check. My Beet Retox cocktail is a play off of a drink one might get at a juice bar after a Sunday morning workout. But here, I stuck with more familiar territory and opted for the booze-based version and skipped the gym.
The Beet Retox uses vodka as the base. For this drink, it's important to use a neutral spirit like vodka that won’t mask the flavor of the beet juice and ginger. Using a shrub —a sweetened vinegar-based syrup— is a great way to add balance and flavor to a classic cocktail; in this case, a dash of habanero shrub brings out the heat in the ginger. This retox also has lemon juice —always fresh squeezed— and simple syrup to balance the flavors of the pungent beet and ginger juices. As beets are naturally sweet, there is more lemon juice than simple syrup, providing that refreshing citrus punch.
Once all the ingredients are in the shaker, add ice —large cubes, not crushed— and shake for about 20 seconds. This not only chills the drink down, but also dilutes it. This is one of the many differences between cocktails at a bar and cocktails made at home with friends – cocktails need the dilution in order to be balanced and not overly “hot” or alcohol-forward.
After shaking, strain twice in the same motion. Once with a hawthorn strainer placed directly on the shaker, and then again as it pours through a mesh strainer into a coupe glass. This captures any ice shards, preventing additional dilution as you sip, and insures a smooth, velvety cocktail.
Finally, garnish the drink. A best practice is to use elements that the drink contains. In this case, I opted for a simple lemon twist and a piece of crystalized ginger. The opposite end of the garnish spectrum is the oft over-garnished Bloody Mary, which can take on the visual of a Carmen Miranda headpiece.
2 oz vodka
1 oz beet juice
½ oz ginger juice
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
dash habanero shrub
lemon twist and crystalized ginger to garnish
Add vodka, beet, ginger, lemon juice, simple syrup and habanero shrub to shaker and top with ice cubes. Shake for about 20 seconds and double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel and crystallized ginger. Serve and repeat as necessary.
For dietician and practicing monk Masami Asao, food has come to play a physical, mental and spiritual role in her life. Her deep study into the practice of the Shojin Ryori began when she realized that this ancient Buddhist Temple cuisine could nourish not only the physical body, but also benefit one’s emotional and spiritual health. In her upcoming class at Haven’s Kitchen, Zen in the Kitchen: The Art of Shojin Ryori, students will immerse themselves in this devotional cuisine and learn to prepare vegetable-focused, seasonal dishes that connect heart, mind and body.
1. What is shojin ryori, and how does it benefit both the mind and body?
Shojin Ryori (“devotion cuisine”), originally practiced by Buddhist monks, is a carefully prepared vegetarian meal. Using seasonal ingredients, the meal is prepared in a way that produces the least amount of waste – every part of the ingredient is used. The essence of shojin ryori is to achieve balance and the absence of any dissatisfaction; it is meant to fill you with peace and heal both the body and mind.
2. How did you first become interested in Buddhist Temple cuisine?
As a dietician, I am tuned in to the way food and physical health are connected. It wasn’t until I married my husband – a priest – that I discovered the connection that the art of shojin ryori has to one’s emotional wellbeing. From the nutritional perspective, food nourishes the physical body, and the art of shojin ryori allows the mind to become nourished as well – that’s when I realized the two could coexist.
3. In what ways can learning the art of shojin ryori affect other parts of our daily life and routine?
Learning the art of shojin ryori may help you more deeply experience emotions like harmony, sympathy, thankfulness, and love. In addition, the patience and concentration it takes to create a dish also forces you to take time to self-reflect, which can translate into how you look at any meal you have during the day. For example, you might have a crazy day when you’re working on a stressful project, and you decide to go for a coffee break. When you take that same intentionality you use for shojin ryori and apply that to your cup of coffee, that simple break from work becomes so much more significant; it recharges you. Balance is an important characteristic of shojin ryori, not only in flavor and color, but in the physical proportions of the dishes. The amount of food is proportional to the size of the plate or bowl in which it sits, which prevents overeating.
4. Tell us a little about the menu you are planning for your class at Haven's Kitchen, and why you chose those particular dishes.
Since the class will be held around the holidays, and in the preparation for the New Year, I have centered the theme around hospitality. Sesame Tofu is one of the most popular traditional dishes of Shojin Ryori. We will also be creating a dish of chyrsanthemum (shun-giku) and dried bean curd (dried tofu), stuffed persimmon with grated radish, and boiled sweet potato and apple.
Masami Asao will be teaching Zen in the Kitchen: the Art of Shojin Ryori on Wednesday, November 16 at 7pm.
There’s nothing like an abundant, shared meal that makes strangers feel like family by the end of the night. Our potluck-style Friendsgiving, hosted in partnership with Williams-Sonoma as part of their Open Kitchen series, was no exception. The evening began with autumn cocktails and toasting to friends old and new. After each guest added the finishing touches to their dishes -- from winter panzanella, to autumn roasted vegetables with miso brown butter and fig and honey hand pies -- we wasted no time piling our plates high with the fruits of our labor.
The holidays are around the corner, and for many of us, hosting can be overwhelming. But trust us, it doesn't need to be. Williams-Sonoma sat down with Alison to gather some of her tips on being a warm and welcoming host. One of the biggest lessons she’s learned is to take the pressure off of trying to create a flawless Thanksgiving. If you're relaxed and enjoying yourself, so will your guests. Show gratitude for your guests because at the end of the day, that's the only rule that really matters. “Be sure people know you are happy they are there. That’s it. It’s simple. Everything else follows from that.”
Here are some of Alison's rules for being your best host and staying true to (some) tradition.
If you’re a guest wondering what to bring to your next potluck, here are some simple, vegetable-focused Haven’s Kitchen recipes to end your search, once and for all. And since practice makes perfect, be sure to check out our upcoming Holiday Prep Series that will leave you fully equipped -- from cocktail hour, to baking the pie, and mastering all those oh-so-impressive sides.
Photography by John Kernick for Williams-Sonoma
For Kelly and Evan, it was important to find a venue that would capture who they are as a couple. Hailing from Minnesota and New Hampshire, they wanted a space that would showcase their experience in the city thus far, and still have a genuine “New York” feel to it. Throughout the planning process – from choosing the cake, to the cocktails – Kelly and Evan learned to trust each other's instincts. But what was ultimately the most rewarding for the couple was being surrounded by family and friends who traveled from all over the world to celebrate their special day.
What was the most important part of the wedding planning process for you?
I think the most central component we focused on was the selection of the venue. We wanted to find a space that felt authentically New York, and one that was in line with our unique New York experience. We wanted an intimate wedding, so we focused our search on venues that would feel warm and welcoming for our group of friends and family. The space had to feel approachable and genuine, yet still elegant and elevated. Kelly and I both grew up outside the city – Minnesota and New Hampshire – and wanted to incorporate some of the rustic elements from our childhood into the mix. We loved the largely blank space on Haven's Kitchen's third floor, and we were excited to build from that canvas.
How did you plan the menu?
The food component was a close second priority in our planning. We have been to lovely weddings where the meals served barely register, let alone make a lasting impact. We were excited by the Haven's Kitchen team’s passion and genuine interest in helping us craft a menu that was both unique and inviting. We wanted a seasonally focused menu that would be appealing to our guests, yet would offer a bit of surprise. Kelly and I have somewhat separate yet overlapping tastes, and we found a lot of joy in this part of the planning.
What are some of the highlights of your wedding planning process?
The tastings were really fantastic, from choosing the cake to creating our cocktails, and everything in between. It was a balance between a sort of whimsical exploration that we were able to indulge in, and the reality of having to focus on the end result.
What were some of the details you were excited to see come to life as part of your wedding?
It was really fantastic to see all of the different design and planning elements come together. While we were excited about each component individually, there is always some uncertainty in one's mind before the actual event, so we were thrilled beyond belief with how everything turned out and came together. Ultimately, the evening culminated in a truly breathtaking and magical event.
What have you learned about yourselves and each other in the last year as you’ve put together your wedding?
I think we learned to trust each other's instincts when it comes to planning and that our personal aesthetics are more aligned than we thought.
At the end of the day, we were thrilled with how everything turned out. But seeing how much fun our guests had was ultimately the most rewarding. Our friends and family traveled from all over the world to share that moment with us, and it was phenomenal to be able to host an event where everyone felt connected and part of the party.
Event Management and Menu: Haven's Kitchen
Dress: Sachin & Babi
Shoes: Alexandre Birman
His Tux: J. Crew
His Shoes: J. Crew
Decor/Flowers: Emily Thompson Flowers
Photographer: Samm Blake
Ceremony Music: Alexandra Moiseeva
Hair and Makeup: MG Hair and Makeup
Wedding Cake: Billy's Bakery