The other night I had some friends over and we sampled the infused vodkas and schnapps that I made a while back. The first one we tried was the hot pepper vodka. Knowing what went into making it, I cautioned everyone to be careful when drinking it. Only one person listened to me. Two others decided to do the whole shot in one gulp. BAD IDEA! It was HOT!!! After the initial shock wore off, everyone was fine, but in preparing a cocktail with the pepper vodka I diluted it about 3:1 with regular vodka and added smoked okra. This resulted in a very delicious hot pepper martini with just the right amount of kick:
Last week’s Food52 contest was for “Your Best Pasta with Seafood”. I entered my pasta with smoked salmon, cream and dill, but I didn’t make the cut. The winner was LastNight’sDinner, who submitted a recipe for Linguine with sardines, fennel, and tomato. She describes it as “pantry meal” because the majority of the ingredients are things that you can always keep on hand, and this dish can be thrown together in 10 minutes. It packs a lot of flavor, uses sustainable seafood, and it definitely deserved to win! Here is a link to the post on Food52. The only thing I did differently was to add some parmesan cheese (because that always makes pasta better!)
Back when I was living in Thailand, there was a local islander who had a fruit cart, and he would walk up and down the beach paths selling all kinds of fruit. Everything from watermelons, mangoes, papaya, pineapple and bananas to the more exotic mangosteens, durian, and lychees. For a few cents, he would give you a fresh green coconut that he would cut open with a very intimidating machete, right in front of you. Nothing will deter would-be thieves like a man with a machete. I immediately tried all of the strange fruits that I’d never had before. Mangosteens and lychees became my favorites, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started seeing fresh lychees in the store. Canned lychees are readily available in most Asian grocery stores, and they make a great martini:
Every once in a while you just need to have a good steak. In the summertime you can always throw a few on the grill, but in the winter the idea doesn’t usually come up as frequently. I have started cooking petite filets in a cast iron skillet, searing them on the outside before finishing them under the broiler. For those of you in New York and CT, Fairway sells them in 2-packs, which is perfect. They come out with a little crust, very juicy and tender, and they cook in less than 10 minutes. Throw in some sauteed brussel sprouts with some cayenne and parmesan, and you’ve got a quick, easy meal that doesn’t have to wait for a special occasion or an outdoor grill.
Ok, you can chalk this one up to “using up the leftover ingredients from my last few dinners”. I find omelets to be the perfect vehicle by which to clean out my refrigerator of odds and ends, and in this case I just happened to have the perfect ingredients to make a lively, atypical breakfast out of what I had lying around. I would go out and buy these ingredients again specifically to make this omelet; it was really that good.
Every once in a while you need to have a meal ready on short notice, and you want something relatively healthy and definitely tasty. Seared tuna is a great way to go in this situation. Almost zero prep time, 5 minutes in a pan, and you have dinner. Throw some sauteed vegetables with miso butter (cribbed from Momofuku, of course) in there and you’ve got a meal that looks like it came from a high-end restaurant right in front of you, in 10 minutes. All you need is a good source for fresh tuna, of course:
There is something about chocolate pudding that brings me back to childhood. My grandmother, making dessert in the kitchen at our house on Cape Cod, and Bill Cosby promoting Jello pudding snacks on TV. Little green bowls on a rack in the refrigerator, covered with wax paper, each one containing a serving of the cool, smooth, delicious dessert.
The other night I suddenly had a flashback to those chocolate pudding days, and I did a quick search to find some pudding recipes. One of the top results was from Smitten Kitchen, a New York blogger with great recipes, and photos that put mine to shame. She really does great stuff. So I decided to give it a shot, and it was great! It also took about 20 minutes to make, which is a plus.
It has been a long time since I have contributed to Food52, and I’ve felt like a total slacker. But this week’s contest was for “Your Best Seafood Pasta”, and anyone who reads this blog with any frequency knows that I cook lots of seafood, and lots of pasta, so I had to work up something great to submit to this contest. What I decided to do was a twist on a traditional recipe that I’ve been cooking for years (the first iteration of this dish was when I was back in High School in Arizona, and my Mom would have leftover salmon, and my favorite dish in the world was fettuccine alfredo).
See, this dish is GOOD FOR YOU, because it has peas and salmon in it! Nevermind the cream, butter, and pasta. It’s totally healthy. Or something…
I’ve been recently bombarded with tweets about the “newly fashionable” Pickleback. For those of you who haven’t heard, the pickleback is a shot of whiskey followed by a chaser of pickle brine. I am surprised to learn that this is newly fashionable, because I have been drinking these at the Fatty Crab for years! They have a drink that they dub “The Recession Special” (dubiously stolen from Grey’s Papaya, I think) which is a PBR tallboy, a shot of whiskey (origin unknown) and a shot of their spicy pickled pepper juice. The first time I ordered one I was a bit nervous, but I have to say that it is absolutely delicious. Their pickle juice is good enough to drink on its own, and the briny shock is enough to take the edge off the rotgut whiskey they are pouring out of the well. Totally worth 8 bucks, because then you have a 16 oz. PBR to drink!
From the Huffington Post:
“A shot of whiskey backed up with a shot of pickle brine tastes good (way better than it sounds), but I feel as if there’s something more to the pickleback: sentimentality, comfort. The pickleback is the macaroni and cheese of the cocktail world.”
Photo by Max Watman, Huffington Post.
The macaroni and cheese of the cocktail world? Only if you grew up doing whiskey shots and drinking pickle juice from the jar! What kind of childhood did this guy have?!
Either way…worth trying sometime if you’ve never had one. At least just to say you’ve done it.
Unrelated, or maybe not, is the Facebook group that was created to see if a pickle could get more fans than Nickelback. The pickle won. Was this the inspiration for the Pickleback? We may never know…
Infused Vodkas and Schnapps: Dill Schnapps, Blackberry Schnapps, Peppermint Schnapps, and Hot Pepper Vodka Recipes
Those of you who don’t know me well may not know that I have a bit of Swedish blood in me. My Grandmother on my Father’s side was 100% Swedish, and I grew up eating pickled herring, Swedish meatballs, and all manner of smörgåsbord delicacies during the holidays. The Swedes love their vodka, aquavit, and schnapps, as well as midnight swims in the North Sea after enjoying said drinks (I know from experience). My Dad, for years, has made lemoncello from the lemons that grow on our family’s tree in Arizona, and though that drink is more Italian than Swedish, the idea is the same.
Today I was at a friend’s house (who is also 1/4 Swedish), and she pulled out a great cookbook that her Mom had given her: A Culinary Tour of Sweden, by Tina Nordstrom. Apparently it is out of print at the moment, but you can get used copies from Amazon.com if you are so inclined. Flipping through the book gave me lots of ideas for food (which will be coming soon!) but when I saw the page on making your own schnapps, I was immediately thinking about heading to Fairway to pick up the ingredients.