June 2, 2013
Margarita of the Month: June
Faced with an excess of watermelon (which is not a bad thing) around the kitchen after the Memorial Day weekend, I sought an alcoholic way to use up the plethora of moist melon, and came up with a pretty simple, light and refreshing version of a watermelon margarita… so let’s dive right in, shall we?
Light & Easy Watermelon Margarita
4 cups cubed seedless Watermelon (or thereabouts)
3 ounces Silver Tequila
1 ounce Grand Marnier (or Cointreau or other orange liquor)
1 ounce light Agave Nectar (or Simple Syrup)
1 1/2 ounces fresh Lime Juice
Sugar and lime wedge for rimming the glass if desired
Now here comes the hard part: put everything (except the sugar and lime wedge) into a blender and process until nice and smooth…
sugar the rim of you glass if desired, add a few ice cubes and pour the melony goodness over!
With little added extra sugar/sweetener, be sure to make this with nice and ripe watermelon – this is perfect for a day by the lake/pool/beach or just a hot day in the backyard while grilling – heck, it’s pretty good just while inside too…
Give it a try – let us know what you think! Back to the kitchen.. and the bar!
May 28, 2013
Recently some initial details about the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival have been creeping out, and this, of course, has gotten me thinking about the up-coming event (okay, I’m pretty much always thinking about the Food & Wine Festival, this just got me thinking even more about it…).
One of the more interesting booths the past couple of years at the festival has been Singapore – the dishes from Southeast Asia served here are different from anything else being offered elsewhere around the park, and to many guests may serve as the first introduction to some unusual and delicious flavors – lemongrass, garlic, ginger, coconut and warm spices abound…
Beef Rendang, a spicy deeply-flavored stew with coconut milk has been served at the Singapore kiosk and has been popular with some of the more adventurous diners. The recipe for this version has been published in at least one (the 2011 I believe) version of the festival cookbook, but I haven’t been quite convinced to try making this dish myself until I came across a recipe in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.
In the May 2013 issue, Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland recounts his first visit to Indonesia as a teenager, his exposure to it’s cuisine, and mostly how rendang “rocked his world”. The short piece, entitled “Worth the Wait” is worth the read, and if it doesn’t encourage you to try this recipe, nothing will… well, I can also hope this post might as well…
So, let’s head off to the Asian market and gather some supplies, and then, Let’s Cook!
5 Whole Cloves
1 Whole Nutmeg (crush slightly in a mortar and pestle, or stick in a plastic bag and smash with something hard!)
3-4 Thai Chilies, stemmed and roughly chopped (or even more if you’re like me, or other hot pepper of your choice)
6 small Shallots, peel removed and roughly chopped
5 Candlenuts (or Macadamia Nuts, which you’re more likely to find)
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 2″ long piece of fresh (or frozen) Turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (I’ve found this at an Indian market), or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Turmeric
1 2″ long piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 2″ long piece of fresh Galangal, peeled and thinly sliced (a root that looks similar to ginger, if you can’t find at the Asian market use more ginger)
2 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into about 2″ cubes
7 fresh or frozen Kaffir Lime leaves, plus 4 very thinly sliced ones for garnish (you’re probably going to have to find these at the Asian market, if you can’t come across them some thin pieces of lime rind could substitute during the cooking, and grated rind for the garnish)
3 stalk fresh Lemongrass, trimmed and smashed with a mallet (or other heavy implement of destruction to tenderize a bit), then tied into knots (easier said than done…)
2 sticks Cinnamon
2 1/2 cups canned, unsweetened Coconut Milk
Salt to taste
Put the cloves and crushed nutmeg into your food processor and grind to a powder.
Add the chilies, shallots, nuts, garlic, turmeric, ginger and galangal and puree until it’s a paste.
Put the beef pieces into a Dutch oven or deep, heavy skillet.
Add the paste from the processor and mix thoroughly – go ahead, use your hands…
Add the 7 lime leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, coconut milk and salt (start with a healthy teaspoon or so) and stir to mix with the beef. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil – reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring frequently.
After an hour or two the sauce will have begun to reduce and color slightly. Adjust heat as needed while cooking so as not to scorch the stew and continue to stir often.
The sauce will continue to reduce…
Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce turns dark and coats the beef. Remove the lemongrass, lime leaves and cinnamon sticks. You can keep this a bit more “stewy” if you like, but this time I cooked it until almost all of the “wet” part of the sauce had evaporated and the remaining goodness clung close to the meat.
Serve with rice, and garnish with the thinly sliced lime leaves. If you want a bit more heat, you can also top with some finely chopped peppers.
Rich, herbal and earthy… this is certainly not a week-night-cook-after-work dish, but it’s worth the time and effort when you have a leisurely afternoon to spend in the kitchen. Like most other stew-type dishes, this does seem to be even better the next day…
If you’d like to check out the original recipe, you can view it here at the Saveur site.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you make this dish!
Now it’s back to thoughts of the Food & Wine Festival, and as always, back to the kitchen! See you soon!
May 17, 2013
Margarita of the Month: May
A few weeks ago I was wandering through the produce section of my neighborhood Publix and was confronted with a pile of somewhat mis-shapen fruits labeled as “Honey Mangos”. They were on sale for the pauperly price of a buck each, so I picked a few up with (what else but) margaritas in mind.
I searched through a few mango margarita recipes for inspiration, and based the following recipe loosely on one from the new Rick Bayless Frontera book. Let’s pull out the blender and get started….
Honey Mango Margarita
3 ounces Silver Tequila
1 1/2 ounces fresh Lime Juice
1 ounce Cointreau (or other orange liquor)
2 ounces Honey Mango Puree (see below)
1 1/2 ounces light Agave Nectar (or Simple Syrup)
4 or 5 fresh Basil Leaves
Slice of Lime and Fresh Basil for garnish if desired
Salt for rimming the glass if desired
First we make the mango puree – peel and pit the mangoes (use a couple and you’ll have plenty extra puree which should keep in the fridge for three or four days). The fruit has an odd, elongated pit, but it’s not that hard to navigate.
Cut the flesh into roughly 1″ chunks and toss into a blender. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.
Rim your glasses with salt if desired (and you will desire to…).
Put the basil leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle a bit to release their flavor then add the tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, mango puree and agave nectar. Throw in a good handful of ice cubes, put the top on and shake well until very cold.
Strain the drink into your prepared glass (straight up or on the rocks, as you prefer), garnish as desired and bottoms up!
This turned out to be a wonderful concoction, sweet and fruity from the mango and the bit of basil adds just the right notes of herbaceousness (cool word there, huh?). The honey mango lived up to it’s name, you could certainly use a non-honey mango (or maybe something else like peaches when in season), but taste before you puree, you may want to add a bit of granulated sugar if the fruit is not very sweet. I also think this would take well to some added heat if you’re so inclined – mango and hot peppers often being paired in Caribbean cuisine – try adding a bit of habanero or jalapeno when muddling the basil.
I think you’ll really like this one! Miss Bonnie gave it two thumbs up (well, really one thumb, the other was involved in holding her glass). Please try, and as always, leave your comments!
Back to the kitchen (and the bar), see you soon!
March 5, 2013
Margarita of the Month: March
Well, once again we spent too much time drinking and celebrating margaritas in February (more on that in another post…) to get you a recipe for that month, so let’s not waste too many days in March before we try something new…
This recipe is inspired by one from Rick Bayless’ book Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks (and I’m sure we’re going to be seeing more recipes from or inspired by this tome in the coming months…). So let’s get to it, shall we?
3 ounces Reposado Tequila
1 1/2 ounces fresh Lime Juice
1 1/2 ounces Cointreau (or other orange liquor)
3 ounces Pineapple Puree (see below)
Coarse Salt for rimming the glass
Piece of Pineapple and/or Lime for garnish as desired
First make the Pineapple Puree – take half of a fresh peeled and cored pineapple and cut into about 1″ pieces and put into a blender or food processor, add 1/2 cup sugar…
and 1/2 cup water. Process until very smooth and foamy (maybe 2-3 minutes).
Strain through a fine sieve (push down/stir with a spoon as needed), cover and refrigerate until needed (can be made 2-3 days ahead). Bayless notes that extra puree can be used to make pineapple agua fresca by adding sparking (or still water), some lime juice and maybe more sugar and serving over ice… but I’m thinking you may want to make lotsa margaritas… okay, time to move on…
Moisten the rim of a glass (or two if you’re willing to share) with a bit of pineapple of slice of lime and upend the glass into the coarse salt to rim the glass.
Put the tequila, lime juice, Cointreau and pineapple puree in a cocktail shaker with a good handful of ice cubes and shake away until good and chilled.
Pour the pineapple-goodness into the prepared glass, garnish if desired, and sip away! Makes one big (my size) drink, or maybe two normal ones…
If you’re a pineapple fan (as I am), this one is a keeper for sure! For a little bit of bite, try adding some dried chili of your choice to the salt for rimming the glass – the sweetness of the pineapple can certainly handle it…
Give this one a try & let everyone know your thoughts in the comments!
Back to the bar…
February 22, 2013
This Friday, February 22, is National Margarita Day!
I just don’t know why we don’t get a day off work for this one!
And if you need any inspiration for celebrating the day, check out our Margarita of the Month recipes – I’m sure you’ll find at least one that will strike your tequila-fueled-fancy!
Enjoy the day – responsibly of course!
Back to the bar…
February 20, 2013
I realized that even though I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, it’s been quite a while since we’ve cooked together, so I thought I’d share one of my absolutely favorite recipes: Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower.
Dedicated Readers will be aware of my affinity for Chef Suvir Saran (and of course his food!).
I’ve shared several of his recipes here on the blog (see the end of this post for links), and this is yet another one and it comes from his most recent book, the James Beard Award nominated Masala Farm.
This is one of those great recipes that makes a hearty, flavorful veggie entree, or can be a great side as well… so without further ado, Let’s Cook!
3 Tbl Canola Oil
3 Whole Green Cardamom Pods
3 Dried Red Chiles (more or less to taste…)
1 Tbl Coriander Seeds
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 Tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Head Cauliflower, cored and broken/cut into florets
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
For the sauce:
2 Tbl Canola Oil
1/2 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
8 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 1/2 Cups Catsup
1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste)
1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 9″ x 11″ baking dish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil (or spray with cooking spray).
Grind the cardamom, chiles, coriander seeds. cumin seeds and peppercorns in a spice/coffee grinder until fine (okay, I often cheat on this and just use some packaged Garam Masala and/or Chat Masala, don’t tell Suvir…).
Mix the spices with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and put that mixture, the cauliflower and salt in a large bowl and stir to coat the florets in the spiced oil.
Put the cauliflower into the greased dish and stick that puppy in the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes (you may want to stir about half way through).
Now make the sauce…
Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil with the black pepper in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat until the pepper is fragrant, about a minute. Add the garlic and stir constantly for another minute until it smells good.
Add the catsup and cook another couple of minutes, stirring often.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the salt and cayenne. Cook until the sauce becomes darker red and thickens, stirring often, about 6 to 8 minutes. I will often add a splash of fish sauce for a bit extra oomph… no it won’t taste like fish… okay, it’s for that now-almost-over-used-word umami…
After the cauliflower has roasted 20 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in the sauce.
Return to the oven and cook another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring two or three times, until the cauliflower is tender.
You can add other veggies to the cauliflower while roasting as desired – I usually add chunks of red onion and often sweet peppers (as you can see in the picture above) – carrots or parsnips would be nice as well. Top with some chopped cilantro if you like.
Serve the dish with rice, and if you want to have a vegetarian meal you can add a simple green veggie on the side (like roasted broccoli, which you can do in the oven at the same time as the cauliflower). This would also make a great side to a simple roasted chicken or other protein.
This is truly one of my favorite dishes, and one that I crave often – give it a try and let us know how you like it!
Here’s some other recipes from Suvir that are on the blog: Fried Chicken Masala (amazing!); Simple Roasted Cauliflower; Coconut Rice; Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread (THE cornbread! Trust me!); Delicious Dal.
As always, I’m headed back to the kitchen… see you soon!
January 19, 2013
Margarita of the Month: January
This past December, Miss Bonnie and I (along with a few others that share Miss Bonnie’s Genetic Material) took a week-long cruise on the beautiful Disney Fantasy.
With that much time on our hands, we partook in more than one Educational Beverage Seminar while on-board…
one of which was a tequila tasting/margarita making fiesta!
So logically a seminar on a Mexican spirit would be hosted by a guy from the British Isles… Daniel the tall, handsome head bartender of the upscale Meridian Bar lead us though a tasting of various types of tequila…
and then brought several by-now-only-semi-sober attendees up behind the bar to mix up many types of margaritas.
Along the way he shared his recipe for the Perfectly Proportioned Margarita – scalable into any quantity, this is a high-end beverage with not-exactly-inexpensive spirits, although he later gave me some options for a more “everyday” beverage, which we’ll share at a later date…
And yes kids, it makes a Mighty Tasty Drink… so let’s make one, or two… or…
Perfect Proportion Margarita
4 ounces Good-Quality Silver (Blanco) Tequila (I used Patron)
2 ounces Grand Marnier
2 ounces fresh Lime Juice
1 ounce light Agave Nectar
Add all to a cocktail shaker, throw in a good handful of ice, and shake it baby!
Strain into a salt-rimmed glass (if desired) and garnish with the usual lime wheel… and sip away!
It’s hard to argue with Daniel’s recipe for basically the perfect margarita… this makes 2 – 3 nice drinks… well, maybe 1 for me… just use these proportions in whatever quantity you desire!
Back to the kitchen – see you soon!
December 17, 2012
Margarita of the Month: December
Nothing says Christmas cheer to me more than fruit juice, hot peppers and tequila… okay, not really, but I needed some sort of intro to this drink didn’t I???
Let’s move on…
Taking the main flavors from that recipe, I made the inspired substitution of tequila for the original vodka (genius, ain’t I?) and so we have this month’s beverage – let’s dive right in, shall we?
Chili Peach Margarita
3 ounces Silver Tequila
4 ounces Peach Nectar
1 ounce Agave Nectar or Simple Syrup
1 Fresh Chili Pepper (Thai or Serrano or your pepper of choice – see below)
Whole pepper (or slice of same) as above for garnish if desired
Chose your chili of choice (the type and volume of pepper will be up to the individuals heat level desired – just give it a go and adjust on the next drink as needed…), halve and seed. Muddle the pepper with the tequila in a cocktail shaker to release the pepper’s flavor (and heat). Add the peach nectar and the sweetener to the shaker. Throw in a good amount of ice and shake like your life depends on it!
Sugar the rim of a glass (yes, sugar). Strain the spicy beverage into prepared glass. Garnish with a pepper (or piece thereof) if you want. Makes two reasonably-sized drinks.
This is really tasty – and if you like things hot, it’s certainly worth a try! If you make it, please leave your thoughts in the comments!
And yeah, this probably technically isn’t a margarita, but it has tequila so I’m gonna let it pass…
Now back to the inspiration for this….
Todd Porter and Diane Cu are the White on Rice Couple – they are talented photographers, cooks, bloggers and soon-to-be cookbook authors… most of all they are very cool people with a great outlook on life…
Be sure to check them and their site out at whiteonricecouple.com – and if you don’t look at anything else, be sure to watch at the video “Our Life Recipe…”
Sit back, have a drink… I’m back to the kitchen…
November 18, 2012
In a recent post about this years Epcot Food & Wine Festival (Epcot Food & Wine Festival 2012: more food… more thoughts…), I showed you the offerings at the Vegan booth terra, one of which was a meatless chili topped with a faux cheese…
about the same time as I had tried this dish, I happened to stumble across a recipe for cashew cheese in the November 2012 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine, and since I’m quite fond of cashews anyway, I decided to give it a try…
So be prepared to make a trip to the health food store or Whole Foods, etc for a couple of the ingredients, and then Let’s Cook!
Spicy Cashew Cheese
2 Cups Raw Cashews, soaked in water to cover for 12 to 24 hours
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tbl Nutritional Yeast (not the regular stuff – you’ll likely have to hunt for this, like the raw cashews… or find online)
1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tsp White Balsamic Vinegar (or white wine vinegar – rice vinegar would work too)
1/4 Tsp Granulated Onion Powder
1/8 Tsp Granulated Garlic Powder (or a little more, to taste)
1/8 Tsp Ground White Pepper
2 Chopped Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, along with a Tsp of the sauce (of course you can up this as desired… as I usually do)
Drain the soaked cashews and put into the bowl of a food processor.
Process for about 1 minute until a coarse paste develops.
Add the rest of the ingredients, other than the chipotle peppers and sauce, and process for 4 or 5 minutes until the mixture is very smooth.
Add the chopped peppers and adobo…
and process for a couple more minutes until well incorporated.
Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate overnight to firm up a bit.
And now what do you do with it?
Use as a dip, spread on a chip,
use it as a bread spread, and yes, you can dollop it on chili (veggie or not) or with some pasta…
So is it “cheese”? Of course not – the nutritional yeast gives it a little bit of that cheesy taste – but what it really is is a cashew-based hummus – and it’s really good (and probably, shhhh… sorta good for you).
Now if you want to season this differently, at the point after the second (long) processing (and before you add the peppers in this recipe), you have a fairly “blank slate”, as the “cheese” is a bit nutty, but still fairly bland. If you don’t want to make it spicy, omit the chipotles and try adding herbs of your choice (basil?), and/or roasted garlic, or whatever strikes your fancy… or even more or different peppers (habaneros anyone?) for the chile-head!
This is worth a try, and after you’ve found the ingredients it’s is easy as pie… or “cheese”…
Back to the kitchen – see you soon!
October 8, 2012
Margarita of the Month: October
Recently we made our way to the first weekend of the 2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and there we sampled a pretty-darn-good margarita at the Mexico kiosk…
fortunately the recipe for said beverage was in this year’s Festival cookbook, so let’s give it a try at the home bar!
Here’s the recipe from the book that makes 1 drink, but I’d just go ahead and double the quantities as this makes one sorta skimpy pour, and the doubled ingredients will easily fit into a typical shaker… see below for some notes…
Strawberry Lime Margarita
1 1/2 ounces Reposado Tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 ounce strawberry puree (see below)
1/2 ounce simple syrup (see below)
slice of lime and/or strawberry as desired for garnish
Put all ingredients (except garnish, of course) into a cocktail shaker and add plenty of ice. Shake vigorously of 30 seconds. Strain into a glass (with a salted rim if you so desire… I do…) that is filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and/or piece of strawberry if you want.
To make the strawberry puree, put some fresh or frozen berries (maybe a cup, you’ll have extra…) into a blender…
and blend away…
For simple syrup combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely and refrigerate leftovers.
If your strawberries aren’t overly sweet, I’d up the simple syrup by 50% or so (agave syrup would work as well).
If you really want to amp up the berry-quotient, use some strawberry-infused tequila (see the Cabana’s Strawberry Infused Margarita recipe)!
This makes a nice drink – the puree adds a bit of body without being too thick, and the lime makes it very refreshing – great beverage for a hot Florida day!
Give this a try, and let everyone know how it turns out in the comments!
Back to the bar! See you soon!