Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cooking ahead

In preparation for the coming work week (three 16-hour days in a row, followed by the two busiest nights of the week), I've made a whole bunch of food. Complicating matters were a slightly empty refrigerator: I didn't want to go grocery shopping on a holiday weekend.

So I leaned on the contents of my freezer instead, and made:

White bean soup with spinach and sausage
Roast chicken with carrots and potatoes
Baked shells with spinach and sausage

Along with bread and a batch of tomato sauce. I made scallop ceviche, which we'll eat with a big thing of salad greens, and fudge to finish things off.

Frozen spinach and a few versatile meat items (sausages, bacon, whole chickens) in your freezer can be a lifesaver, especially when supplemented by pantry items like dried beans and pasta.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Baked shells with spinach and sausage

Baked pasta combinations are a great way to make a filling, delicious dinner out of pantry/freezer ingredients (box of pasta, box of frozen spinach, some sausage, some cheese). I used shells here, but really any shape will do.

3/4 lb mild Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup pesto sauce
10 ounces pasta, cooked
1 box frozen spinach
6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage, onion, and garlic, and saute until sausage cooked through, about 10 minutes, breaking up meat with back of spoon. Add tomatoes with juice to pan. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in pesto sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Combine pasta, spinach, mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese in large bowl. Stir in hot tomato sauce. Mix gently until spinach is wilted. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese over top. Bake until sauce bubbles and cheese melt, about 30 minutes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Scallop ceviche

My restaurant got in some beautiful dayboat Cape Cod sea scallops last week, so as a treat to myself, I brought a pound home yesterday. (Wholesale price: $22.95 a pound. Not bad, considering they had to be flown in from Cape Cod.)

So I made scallop ceviche with them. Ceviche is essentially cured seafood, cured in citrus juices, which give the seafood a cooked texture but raw flavor. There are many different way to make ceviche, often involving jalapenos, avocados, and cilantro. This particular one uses grapefruit and mint, because that's what I had on hand. (I REALLY didn't want to go grocery shopping on a holiday weekend.)

Note: this recipe calls for bay scallops, which are the little ones. I used sea scallops (the big ones) and cut them into smaller pieces.

From Martha Stewart:

1 red grapefruit
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 5 limes)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, cut into 1/2-inch lengths (I used a shallot)
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound small bay scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Cut off top and bottom of grapefruit to make level; cut down along sides to remove peel and pith. Working over a nonreactive bowl to catch juices, cut along membranes to remove segments. Cut segments into 1/2-inch pieces; refrigerate. Measure 1/4 cup juice.

In the bowl, combine the 1/4 cup grapefruit juice, the lime juice, red onion, jalapeno, salt, and pepper. Add scallops, stir, and refrigerate, covered, 3 hours. Before serving, stir in mint and 1 cup reserved grapefruit segments. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to plates.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Coffee with an orange peel

This is shockingly good.

Sounds weird, I know. A friend of mine at work turned me onto this trick. Take any ordinary cup of coffee (with or without milk, sugar, whatever, cappuccino, espresso, etc.) and carve off a slice of orange rind above it. Wipe the orange peel around the lip of the coffee mug, squeeze it over, then drop it in.

What you have is a cup of coffee redolent of citrus and dark chocolate, with substantially reduced coffee bitterness.

Now I have to start keeping oranges around the house.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beet greens and rice gratin

This is another one of those dishes that's good either hot or cold.

Notes: I used mozzarella instead of Gruyere (and added more Parmesan), and I skipped the blanching/steaming set. I just threw the raw beet greens directly into the pan with the onion and garlic and let them cook until wilted.

From the New York Times:

1 generous bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 eggs
1/2 cup low-fat milk (2 percent)
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup cooked brown rice, arborio rice or Calrose rice
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1/2 cup, tightly packed)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup bread crumbs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish with olive oil. Either blanch the beet greens for 1 minute in a large pot of generously salted boiling water, or steam over an inch of boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes, until wilted and tender. Rinse with cold water, squeeze out water and chop medium-fine. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cooked greens and the thyme and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir in the greens mixture, the rice and the cheeses and mix together well. Scrape into the oiled baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until sizzling and lightly browned on the top and sides. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Duck fat and grapefruit salad

Awwww yeah. Hot duck fat poured over napa cabbage. Just what you always wanted, right?

It's actually a much more balanced salad than it sounds. The crispy raw cabbage is cut by the acidity of the grapefruit but then there's the richness of the duck fat. Delicious hot or cold, but best hot.

2 grapefruit
6 cups shredded napa cabbage
1/4 cup duck fat
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Grate the zest off the grapefruit and set aside. Cut out the segments (without the pith or membrane) and juice the remainder. Save the grapefruit segments and juice. Shred the cabbage and place in a large bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the duck fat over medium heat and add the shallot. Cook til softened, add the remaining duck fat and the grapefruit segments and juice. Stir until hot. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss to mix. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Roasted golden beets, potatoes and apples

Just that: roasted chunks of golden beets, new potatoes, and two apples. Mix with some olive oil to coat, salt liberally, and roast at 425 until the potatoes are done. The apples add a nice sweetness, different from the sweetness of the beets.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Roasted radishes

If you've only eaten radishes sliced into a salad, you really have to try this.

Roasted radishes, drizzled in butter, taste like a cross between a parsnip and a crunchy potato, with the pepper of watercress. Delicious, in other words.

2 bunches medium radishes (such as red, pink, and purple; about 20)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Cut off all but 1/2 inch of green radish tops; reserve trimmed tops and rinse them well, checking for grit. Coarsely chop radish tops and set aside. Cut radishes lengthwise in half and place in medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and toss thoroughly to coat. Place radishes, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Roast until radishes are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Season to taste with more coarse kosher salt, if desired.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add butter. Add pinch of coarse kosher salt to skillet and cook until butter browns, swirling skillet frequently to keep butter solids from burning, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice.

Transfer roasted radishes to warmed shallow serving bowl and drizzle brown butter over. Sprinkle with chopped radish tops and serve.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spicy chicken thighs with rhubarb-cucumber salsa

I worked three doubles back-to-back last week, so by the time my day off rolled around, I was exhausted. All the stuff I'd pre-cooked for the week was gone, but that was okay, because I had a party to cook for. 

Okay, not really a party, more like friends sitting around eating and drinking wine, but it was still a lot of fun. I thawed some chicken thighs I got at Costco and made this. It was a big hit; I was a little unsure of the rhubarb-cucumber salsa at first (raw rhubarb is kind of weird), but after sitting out for a while, it was actually pretty good. Light, refreshing, crunchy.

1 habanero or two jalapenos, seeded and stemmed
2 garlic cloves
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
6 large skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch cubes rhubarb
1 cup 1/4-inch cubes unpeeled seeded English hothouse cucumber
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 500°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Pulse chile, garlic, and white parts of scallions in a food processor until finely chopped. With machine running, drizzle in soy sauce, then olive oil; process until emulsion forms. Transfer sauce to a bowl.

Place chicken thighs, skin side up, on a work surface and slash each crosswise at 3/4-inch intervals down to the bone. Season lightly with salt. Place on prepared baking sheet and brush with sauce. Bake until skin is crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 20–25 minutes. Broil on high for an additonal 2–3 minutes for crisper skin, if desired. Let rest for 5–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss rhubarb, next 5 ingredients, and green parts of scallions in a medium bowl to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Serve chicken with rhubarb salsa alongside.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Baked rigatoni with mushroom ragout

Mmmm, baked pasta. I used rigatoni, but ziti or penne would work just as well. I also used this recipe from Bon Appetit, without the dried mushrooms; I had a big clamshell of white button mushrooms from Costco which I used up instead.

It's almost mac and cheese with mushrooms added in; but the sauce is a white bechamel sauce, instead of a cheese sauce. Regardless, it's rich and cheesy and mushroom-y and delicious.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 3/4 cups finely chopped onions
1 lb fresh button mushrooms, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
12 ounces pasta (rigatoni, penne, or ziti)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and simmer over medium-high heat 10 minutes.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly until golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Stir until sauce thickens and boils, about 3 minutes. Stir into mushroom mixture. Simmer 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and chives. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Return to pot. Add mushroom sauce and toss well to coat. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over. Bake casserole until heated through and light golden, about 25 minutes.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Arugula and pea greens salad with balsamic dressing

Who knew a simple salad could be so delicious? The tenderness of the pea shoots perfectly balanced the bitterness of the young arugula. I threw in some parmesan and some cherry tomatoes, too, just because.

This balsamic dressing is thicker than I'd normally make, but then it clung nicely to each individual leaf. Be sure to use your hands to gently work it into the salad.

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (aged)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Add all except olive oil into a bowl. Mix, then whisk in olive oil slowly to emulsify.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Frittata with brown rice, peas and pea shoots

Mmmm, fresh peas. The brown rice adds a really nice texture to this.

From the New York Times, reprinted below:

1 pound fresh peas, shelled (about 3/4 cup)
6 ounces pea shoots (1/2 big bunch), curly tendrils removed and discarded
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch young spring onions or scallions, cleaned and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup cooked brown rice, long-grain or short-grain (may substitute cooked basmati or jasmine rice)
7 eggs
2 tablespoons milk

Steam the peas over an inch of boiling water for 4 minutes, until just tender. Transfer to a bowl. Add the pea shoots to the steamer and steam 2 to 3 minutes, until just wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until you can handle them. Do not discard the steaming water; pour it into a measuring cup. Squeeze out excess water from the pea shoots and chop medium-fine. You should have about 1 cup chopped leaves and tender stems.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet and add the chopped spring onion or scallions. Cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pea shoots and stir together for about a minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the peas, tarragon and parsley and about 1/4 cup of the steaming water, turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste), freshly ground pepper, and the milk. Stir in the rice, chives and pea mixture and combine well.

Heat the remaining oil in a 10-inch, preferably nonstick pan over medium-high heat until a drop of egg sizzles and sets within seconds of being added to the pan. Stir the frittata mixture and add it to the pan, scraping in every last bit with a rubber spatula. Shake the pan gently, tilting it slightly with one hand while lifting up the edges of the frittata with the spatula in your other hand, to let the eggs run underneath during the first few minutes of cooking. Once a few layers of egg have cooked during the first couple of minutes of cooking, turn the heat down to low, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, shaking the pan gently every once in a while. From time to time remove the lid and loosen the bottom of the frittata with a wooden spatula, tilting the pan, so that the bottom doesn’t burn. The eggs should be just about set; cook a few minutes longer if they’re not.

Meanwhile, heat the broiler. Uncover the pan and place under the broiler, not too close to the heat, for 1 to 3 minutes, watching very carefully to make sure the top doesn’t burn (at most, it should brown very slightly and puff under the broiler). Remove from the heat, shake the pan to make sure the frittata isn’t sticking and allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes and for up to 15. Loosen the edges with a wooden or plastic spatula. Carefully slide from the pan onto a large round platter. Cut into wedges and serve hot or warm or at room temperature.

Some notes: I didn't bother steaming the tendrils, I just chopped and added. (Which means I didn't add any water, either.) I didn't make the frittata on the stovetop, either; I set it up in a cast-iron skillet and baked it at 400 until the center was no longer jiggly. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Potato and pesto gratin

This was a big hit with my husband--he kept going back for more.

On a personal note, I sliced the potatoes with a mandoline, which gave me perfect paper-thin potato slices. The downside is that every time I use a mandoline, I manage to slice off part of a finger. EVERY GODDAMN TIME. Even using the protection thingey. Sigh.

The potatoes were good, though.

From the New York Times:

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (I used small new red potatoes)
1/2 cup pesto
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin with olive oil. Slice the potatoes about 1/4 inch thick and place in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add the pesto. Stir the mixture until the potato slices are evenly coated, then transfer to the baking dish, making sure to scrape all of the pesto out of the bowl.

Cover the baking dish with foil or a lid and place in the oven. Bake 30 minutes, then uncover and return to the oven. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are thoroughly tender, the olive oil in the dish — now a beautiful green — is sizzling, and the top is beginning to color. Serve hot or warm.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring pea risotto with pea tendrils

The restaurant got some first-of-the-season spring peas in last week, so naturally I had to have some. I brought home two pounds of peas (which, shelled, was about two cups of peas) and a box of pea shoots.

Pea shoots (or tendrils, or vines, or whatever you want to call them) are like pea-flavored microgreens. They're tender and delicious, and can absolutely be eaten on their own if you so desire. I plan to make a very decadent salad with the rest of them later in the week.

This risotto is very similar to this one with peas, zucchini, and bacon, but without the zucchini and bacon. Throw the raw peas in at the last minute, with the butter and parmesan. You want them to still have a slight pop. Scatter pea shoots around the top, and enjoy the taste of spring.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Negociant

Happy Mother's Day, everyone! I am NOT working today, and I can't tell you how happy I am about that. Working Mother's Day brunch last year was a nightmare, so for all you folks taking your moms out to eat today: tip well.

Here's a delicious, light cocktail to start things off.

1 oz white rum
1 oz Byrrh
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz lemon

Shake over ice and strain. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spinach and cheese quinoa casserole

This is a great thing to make when there's not much left in the house--quinoa from the pantry, a box of frozen spinach from the freezer, some odds and ends of cheese.

Reprinted below:

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
3 cups chicken broth
1 red bell pepper, chopped (I left this out, didn't have one)
3 green onions, chopped (I substituted a shallot)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and all liquid squeezed out
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I threw in some goat cheese as well)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cups grated mozzerella cheese (Used gruyere instead)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a large saucepot over medium high heat, add the oil. Once hot, add the chopped bell pepper, scallions and spinach and saute for about four minutes—just until bell pepper has started to soften. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for another 30 seconds. Add quinoa to the pot, followed by the chicken broth, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed. Stir well.

Now, add the grated cheddar cheese and milk. Stir to combine then pour into a greased 9 x 13″ casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine the Panko and the mozzerella cheese. Sprinkle on top of casserole and bake for about 30 minutes at 375 until golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving (or not).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Warm golden beet salad with greens and almonds

From The Kitchn, reprinted below: 

1 bunch golden beets, roasted, peeled and cubed
The beet greens
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup toasted almond slivers

Chop the beet greens into bite-size ribbons. In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook on low for about 5 minutes or until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Add the chopped leaves and stir to coat with the garlic. Cook on medium-low for about 10 minutes or until the leaves are soft and tender. Remove from the heat.

Toss the beet pieces with the cooked greens, goat cheese, and almonds. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold. (This also makes an excellent pressed sandwich filling, especially with some extra goat cheese.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Farfalle with golden beets, dandelion greens, and goat cheese

Golden beets are so pretty. And yummy. I found three enormous ones on sale the other day, so I roasted them and then decided what to do with them. The beet greens were looking a little wilty, and I had a bunch of dandelion greens that was starting to look gross, so I combined the two in this dish and added most of a log of goat cheese. Delish.

1 box farfalle (or other pasta shape)
2 large golden beets, roasted, peeled and chopped
1 bunch beet greens, chopped
1/2 bunch dandelion greens, chopped
1 cup toasted pine nuts
3/4 log goat cheese
2 shallots
2 cloves garlic

Finely dice the shallots and garlic and saute gently in olive oil until the shallots are soft. Add the greens and cook until wilted. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Combine the cooked, drained pasta with a little of the pasta water with the greens, toasted pine nuts, and goat cheese. Stir until combined. Salt to taste.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mint chocolate chip cookies

What an excellent way to use up mint! And the mint taste in these is pleasantly subtle.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mint leaves
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups coarsely chopped dark chocolate

In the bowl of a mini food processor, combine mint and sugar. Process until mint is finely chopped. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, mint sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces. Drop by two to three tablespoon-sized balls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for nine to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kale and mint salad with spicy peanut dressing

There are only so many mint juleps you can drink, so now I have most of two bunches of mint to use up. Fortunately, that shouldn't be hard.

I used regular (not lacinato) kale in this, and left out the pomegranate molasses (didn't have any).

From Food52, reprinted below:

1 bunch (large) lacinato kale, chopped very small, almost minced
1 cup fresh mint, minced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons warm water
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

Toss the chopped kale, chopped mint and the walnuts together. Put the peanut butter, warm water, garlic, rice wine vinegar, pomegranate molasses, soy sauce, minced ginger, sesame oil and red chili flakes into a blender and whirl away at high speed until everything is smooth. Toss the dressing with the salad.

This makes an excellent wrap filling, as well.

Monday, May 6, 2013

North Cascades National Park, WA

We've had a stretch of epic weather here in Seattle--clear, bright, temperatures in the 70s every day. So when I have a day off, combined with such weather, I take advantage of it.

Yesterday we drove out to North Cascades National Park. It was a perfect day for a drive, and we ended up driving the long way around to loop back home. The Cascades are like the American Alps: rugged, snowy, piney, and largely undeveloped. Here are some of the many pictures:

Just as an aside, a close examination of the Washington state map on the drive home revealed that Washington is home to one Whiskey Dick Mountain.

Swear to God.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Citrus mint julep

Happy Derby Day, everyone! The day where everyone drinks mint juleps and wears big hats.

Well, I won't have any occasion to wear a big hat today, but I will have a julep and watch the Derby coverage on TV. There is of course the classic mint julep; but today I'm mixing it up a little and having a citrus mint julep.

Reprinted below:

3 oz good quality bourbon
1 ½ oz triple sec (I used Creole Shrubb)
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup or 1 tablespoon sugar
8 to 10 mint leaves (don’t be shy on the mint)

Combine sugar, lime juice and mint leaves in the bottom of a glass and muddle gently to dissolve sugar and release essential oils in the mint.

Add 2/3 cup of crushed ice. Pour bourbon and triple over ice and stir generously with a spoon and let rest a few moments.

It is important to stir generously and allow this drink rest for a few reasons:
1. This is a drink from South, designed for outdoor consumption, it’s supposed to be ICE cold.
2. This drink is pretty much straight alcohol (AKA: Boozy), dilution from the ice is crucial so that the other subtle flavors are not quashed by the bourbon.

Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Steel-cut oatmeal with fried egg and parmesan

I've written about steel-cut oats before. With dried fruit and a little milk or cream, a bowl of oatmeal is a glorious thing. But it took this post on Chaos in the Kitchen for me to realize that same bowl of oatmeal could be a savory meal, as well.

I made a batch of oats, and topped with a fried egg, freshly grated parmesan, and a little truffle salt. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Black Manhattan

For those of you who enjoy a bitter/boozy cocktail at times, like me, you'll find this intriguing.

A Manhattan made with an amaro in place of the vermouth.

An amaro is a bitter Italian digestif (Averna, Cynar, Fernet). Quoting from this Food and Wine article about them:

"Amaro is traditionally made by infusing grape brandy with a (usually secret) mix of herbs, flowers, aromatic bark, citrus peel and spices—a blend that can include anything from cardamom to elderberry flowers. Then it's sweetened with sugar syrup and aged, sometimes for years. It's silky, like a liqueur; bitter and sweet in varying degrees; aromatically complex; and, as far as I'm concerned, both delicious and fascinating."

Traditionally, they're served neat, maybe with ice, at the end of a meal. But they're fun in cocktails, too.  As I discovered when hubs and I stopped into a local bar for a celebratory drink. DH asked for a Manhattan, and we got into a discussion of Manhattans, and the bartender trotted this out: bourbon, Averna, and angostura bitters.

So I may have found another way to utilize my home supply of amari. I'm also going to try a rye version, with Cardamaro.