February 23, 2012

Adelaide’s Perfect Cocktail Hour Spread {Naptime Entertaining}

Adelaide's cocktail spread

Today my friend Adelaide is stopping by to share three great recipes to make an easy, and delicious, cocktail spread at home. You may remember last year when Adelaide stopped in with an amazing recipe for quick fettucini alla vodka, a recipe I swear by to this day. You’ll also find her name in the acknowledgments of my book since she was my recipe tester extraordinaire! For more of Adelaide’s expertise check out her blog, The Moonlight Chef. Better yet, read it while you’re sipping your hot toddy.

Like Kelsey, I adore Meyer lemons. I find the aroma so sweet and intoxicating that upon first smell, I immediately begin brainstorming what I might cook or bake using this wintertime produce.

My husband and I recently ran into a restaurant for a quick bite after a late movie. Cold and a bit frozen, he ordered a hot toddy to warm up. It arrived in a beautiful clear glass mug and on the bottom sat several coins of ginger. After one sip, the hot toddy was then shared between us. Spicy and citrusy, it completely stole the show –the rest of the meal was forgettable. Inspired, I knew I had to replicate this cocktail and what better accompaniment to the strong ginger than the juice of a Meyer lemon?  Instead of hot and cloying apple juice, in addition to the dark rum, I substituted black tea.

Hot Toddies

Because the hot toddy is so clean and bracing, I thought I could serve this warm drink alongside some heavier and winter-appropriate pre-dinner nibbles, such as my favorite two cheeses, triple crème and manchego. Earlier this fall, I experimented with a brown butter fig spread. Despite it’s deliciousness, it was too filling for the season. Similar in appearance to quince paste, I thought it might go well with a rich and creamy or salty and crumbly cheese.  Instead of figs, I used Medjool dates, which are sticky and sweet and perfect in this spread.  They are also considered to be royalty amongst all dried fruit varieties. If you can’t find them, feel free to substitute any other high-quality dried dates or figs.

Brown Butter Date Spread 1

Luscious and smooth on top of a baguette slice slathered with cheese, this spread goes well with a sip of the hot toddy. It’s incredibly easy to make, and can be prepared a day in advance, refrigerated and brought to room temperature before serving.

However, I knew I wanted to make one more aperitif to go with the hot toddy. Eager to use more Meyer lemon, I infused extra-virgin olive oil with Mediterranean herbs and flavors, which I then used to bathe my pitted Kalamata olives overnight. The result was tangy and bright. I could taste each element and eagerly consumed these crave-worthy olives.

I’m a big snacker and if you’re like me, you may just turn this selection of winter apertif into dinner.


 Adelaide’s Perfect Cocktail Hour Spread


Hot Toddy with Meyer Lemons and Ginger – makes 1

1 Meyer lemon, divided
½” peeled ginger, root sliced into coins
1 tsp honey
1 – 2 oz dark rum (high quality)
1 English Breakfast (or other dark variety) tea bag

Mediterranean Infused Olives

1 ½ cups pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp dried oregano
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
½ Meyer lemon, sliced into rounds

Toothpicks, for serving

Brown Butter Date Spread

2 ½ Tbsp unsalted butter
10 Medjool dates, sliced in half and pitted
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp light brown sugar (optional)

Manchego cheese, for serving

Triple crème cheese, for serving

Baguette rounds, for serving


For the Hot Toddy’s:

  1. Bring 1 ½ cups water to boil in a teakettle.
  2. While the water is boiling, cut your Meyer lemon in half. Squeeze half of the juice into a mug and slice the other half into rounds. Place in the mug.
  3. Use your fist, a rolling pin or side of your knife to bruise the ginger coins. Don’t destroy the coin shapes – instead you want to tenderize the ginger so that the root gives up its full flavor and juices.
  4. Add the coins, honey and dark rum to the mug. Give the ingredients a quick stir. For a stronger hot toddy, use 2 oz rum.
  5. Once the kettle is ready, seep the tea bag in the hot water for 1 – 2 minutes. Pour the tea into the mug and enjoy hot.

For the Olives:

  1. Vigorously simmer the olive oil with the garlic, spices, herbs and lemon slices for 7 – 10 minutes over medium heat. If the herbs or garlic clove begins to look like they are browning too quickly, turn down the heat. Your kitchen will begin to smell amazing!
  2. Remove the pan of infused oil from the stove and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Pour over the olives in an airtight container fitted with a top.
  3. Cover and let marinate overnight.
  4. When you’re ready to serve the olives, you can either strain out the herbs and garlic through a sieve and serve the olives in the oil with toothpicks, or serve everything together for a more rustic appearance.

For the Spread:

  1. Place the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and then begin to slowly brown, swirling the pan every once in awhile. After 3 – 5 minutes, you’ll begin to smell a nuttiness and the butter will become golden and then light brown. Remove from the heat and reserve. Make sure you watch the butter the entire time – it can go from brown to burnt very quickly.
  2. While the butter is browning, slice the dates in half and discard the pits. Place in a food processor with the salt and pepper and pulse several times until a paste is formed.

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One Response to “Adelaide’s Perfect Cocktail Hour Spread {Naptime Entertaining}”

  1. HMD says:

    The spread sounds so good!