Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bratwurst Reubens

There we were looking into the fridge staring at leftover brats from Sunday’s neighborhood shindig while craving Reubens....hmmmmm...what's for dinner, what's for dinner....helllllooooo.  Necessity became the mother of the Bratwurst Reuben!

Imagine the good stuff of a Reuben grilled on rye, piled with sauerkraut, oozing with melted Swiss cheese…only using brats sizzled in the skillet instead of corned beef.  Quick and easy, too! 

All that was needed were a couple of Kosher dill pickle spears and a choice of Thousand Island Dressing or good old brown mustard.  Delish.  Or should that be deli-ish?  Not a kraut fan?  Make them into Rachels with a good slaw in place of the kraut!

Bratwurst Reubens

Makes 2

  • 4 slices rye bread
  • butter
  • 3 bratwursts, sliced almost through lengthwise and open like a book
  • 8 thin slices Swiss cheese
  • Sauerkraut, drained VERY well – I like the Bohemian-style kraut with caraway seeds
  • red onion, sliced so thin it's almost shaved
  • Mustard
  • Thousand Island dressing

Butter the bread.  In a large skillet or griddle, place 2 slices of rye side by side.  Top each slice with 2 slices of cheese, then 3 brat halves on each, 3-4 T of kraut spread out evenly on each, a layer of the red onion, 2 more slices of cheese on each and then top with the remaining buttered rye.

Grill over medium heat until each side is browned and beautiful and the cheese is melted.

Serve with mustard and/or Thousand Island dressing to dip.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Heath Bar Cookies

Last week was Cookie Monster’s birthday!  And I missed it.  Never fear, the Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Heath Bar cookies I made for the kids over Memorial Day weekend made up for my oversight in spades! 

The cookies were overloaded with oats a-plenty, a heap of walnuts, scoops of raisins (take THAT Raisin Bran!) and great big pieces of Heath Bars that melted into puddles of chocolatey, toffee deliciousness throughout each cookie.   

Not only were they crunchy and chewy and everything an oatmeal cookie SHOULD be, they were gluten-free, too.  I think the best comment I heard (besides “May I have another cookie, please?”) came from my neighbor, Rick, who said, “I don’t know what gluten is, but you sure don’t need it in a cookie.”  It feels really good to serve a cookie that is gluten-free, but NOBODY can tell it's any different from a regular cookie...and EVERYBODY clamors for more!

So here’s the gluten-free version….just substitute regular all-purpose flour to make them WITH gluten if it’s not an issue in your house!  All your own little (and BIG) cookie monsters will be very happy.

 Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Heath Bar Cookies

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons shortening, Crisco!
  • 1 cups dark brown sugar (gives the cookies a more pronounced caramel flavor)
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Jules or Tom Sawyer (or other high-quality GF flour mix) Gluten-free all purpose flour, or regular all purpose flour if you're not making these GF
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon, Vietnamese, if possible
  • 3 cups rolled oats, certified gluten-free to make these GF
  • 3 cups raisins
  • 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 full-sized Heath Bars, coarsely smashed

Preheat oven to 350
With a mixer, beat butter and Crisco until creamy.  Add sugars and continue beating until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon together. 
Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Stir in oats, raisins, walnuts and Heath Bar pieces. 
Using heaping tablespoons of dough,  place onto parchment covered baking sheets leaving about 2" of space around each ball of dough.  Flatten each slightly.
Bake until edges are browned, but cookie is till light 22-25 minutes - more or less depending on your oven.  

Slide the parchment paper with the cookies on it from the cookie sheet right onto a cooling rack.  Let cool 1/2 an hour before serving or storing.  Store in an airtight container.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rock the Guac!

It’s a good day to rock the guac!  But then again, what day isn’t?  Actually, it was yesterday that Mieke & I rocked it…by ourselves…shamelessly.  The original intention for the molcajete full of gorgeous green was to serve it as an app for the neighborhood picnic we threw on the deck last night.  Um…that didn’t happen.  Well, the picnic happened, it’s just the guac that didn’t make it to the party.

Lunch came, the avocados were sitting in the molcajete all pretty, practically begging to be mashed up with garlic, onion, jalapenos, cilantro, salt and lime juice.  Those avocados were sending secret messages to our mental tastebuds luring our hands to obey….make the guac now, make the guac NOW!  So we did.  And it was good.  Very, very good.  And we were happy.  

Of course, the picnic was guacamole-free last night, but there will be other nights with drinks on the deck and plenty of time to make guac for the neighbors.  Unless the avocados start sending secret messages again.   


  • 2 nice ripe avocados
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 T. chopped onion
  • 2-3 T. fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 juice lime - more if not juicy

Don't cut avocado until you're ready to add it to the molcajete.

In bottom of molcajete, add jalapenos, garlic, onion and cilantro.  Sprinkle with salt.  Using the stone, mash and grind the veggies into a paste or as close to it as possible. 

Now cut avocado around the perimeter and twist apart.  Remove pit, use a large spoon to scoop out all that gorgeous green goodness and add it to the molcajete.  Immediately squeeze lime juice over the avocado to prevent it from turning brown.  Mash it well into the veggies in the vessel.

Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add more lime, salt, cilantro or heat depending on your preference.  Play with it! 

NOTE:  If you don't have a molcajete, use a bowl and a fork!  Just as good...and that's what I did for many years until Mieke bought me a REAL molcajete for my birthday last year.  Do you think it was a gift for both of us?  Of course, I got her one for Christmas!  Turn about, you know?

If you want to invest in a real molcajete, Williams Sonoma has a really nice (i.e., expensive) one.  If you're lucky enough to live where there's a World Market (Pittsburgh NEEDS a World Market!!!!!!!), they carry them at a VERY reasonable price!  ($19.99 as opposed to $49 for the one at Williams Sonoma...see what I mean about NEEDING a World Market?!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Spinach & Feta Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes

Yesterday was Mark’s birthday…he’s finally as old as I am!  Are you a cougar if you’re nine months older than your husband?  Hmmmmm…..

For every single birthday dinner I can remember, Mark has requested steak for dinner.  He isn’t hard to please!  His choice this year was a big ol’ T-Bone.  He’s so simple when it comes to special dinners, just give him meat….preferably beef…preferably a steak…preferably a BIG ASS STEAK!  That’s exactly what he got. 

His choice of sides?  If you go to the trouble of making a twice baked potato, he gets REALLY happy!  So I came up with a new version for him with spinach and feta and green onions…kind of a Greek take on the traditional stuffed potato....and he loved it!  What else to complete the meal?  Crisp grilled fresh asparagus with just a drizzle of lemon juice.  

Yet another birthday gone by, celebrated in his very favorite way.  He is happy as he can possibly be....okay, without winning the lottery. 

Whoops!  Except I forgot to mention that NO birthday dinner for Mark is complete without a BEER!  Happy Birthday, Marky-pooh!

Spinach & Feta Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes

Makes 4

  • 4 baking potatoes, baked
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, dry, dry!
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly, well into the green
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste - don't be stingy
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

 Cut a thin slice off the top off each potato, lengthwise.  Carefully scoop out the potato, leaving an 1/8" edge, into a bowl.  Fluff the potato in the bowl and break up well.  Add DRY spinach and onions - fluff again.
Add the cream, sour cream feta and seasonings.  Mix well and spoon back into shells.* 
Bake at 400 degrees until the tops are golden.

*There will be more filling than you can fit into the shells - put what's left into small buttered ramekins for another meal.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Old Fashioned Picnic Potato Salad - Like My Mom's Used to Be

Moms ALWAYS make the best potato salad, don't they?  In my Mom's case it was absolutely true.  Nobody could make potato salad they way she did - just the right balance of tart and sweet, salty and sour, smooth and tangy and creamy, not too much egg or mustard.  Balanced.  Every single picnic we went to her potato salad was the hit.  It was requested, demanded even! A picnic wasn't complete without Helen's potato salad!

The only one who sometimes had an issue with Mom's potato salad was Aunt Anna, who did NOT like onions!  And so every batch of potato salad had some taken out BEFORE the onions went in...just for Aunt Anna.  Well...except for this one time when we forgot and put the onions in first...oooops!  Knowing how disappointed Aunt Anna would be not to have her very own dish of that beautiful salad, we simply took of a little of the onion-laden potato salad into a small separate bowl.  We held our collective breath and waited.  

Aunt Anna proclaimed the potato salad delicious!  She never knew the difference.  Perhaps the years had dulled her sensitivity to the power of onion, perhaps it was the treat of her very own, very special bowl...we'll never know.  All we knew was she was delighted.  And so were we.

Old Fashioned Picnic Potato Salad - 
Like My Mom's Used to Be

Serves 8

  • 8 baking potatoes
  • 4 eggs

  • 3/4 green pepper, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced fine

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, Hellmans!
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed (optional) - depends upon your crowd

Place potatoes into a pot big enough to hold them AND the eggs.  Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat a little so it doesn't boil over, but keep it at a low boil.  Cook until potatoes can JUST be pierced easily with a knife.  Don't overcook!  Remove from heat and pour into a colander to cool slightly.
While the potatoes & eggs are cooling, Mix the diced veggies with about a teaspoon of the Crazy Salt and let sit to draw out the excess moisture for about 15 minutes.  Drain WELL.
While you're waiting for the moisture to come out of the veggies, mix the mayo, sugar, vinegar and mustard together well.  Set aside.
Peel and slice the potatoes into a large mixing bowl.  Peel the eggs.   Dice the eggs into the same mixing bowl.  Add the DRAINED veggies.  Pour most, not all, of the dressing over and mix lightly.  Taste, adjust seasoning with Crazy Salt and mix well again.  Add the rest of the dressing if it needs it....but you DON'T want a soupy potato salad.  

NOTE:  The hint above about salting and draining your veggies ahead of time?  Helps keep the potato salad from getting soupy...AGAIN with the soupy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Apple, Bacon & Pecan Chicken Salad with Maple Pecan Vinaigette

The PLAN part of Dinner Plan-it came into play for this recipe! Grilling or BBQing in our house always means throwing on a little extra for later in the week.  Who doesn't love a quick meal that can be assembled at the last minute, doesn't look and feel like plain old leftovers and is absolutely delish?!  

That Spatchcocked Chicken that was posted recently?  Yep, part of the plan for this salad. Tuesday's dinner of fire-roasted poblano pepper burgers and corn on the cob were planned into the salad, too.  What luck!  I had an extra avocado from Poblano Burger Night, too.  The plan was coming together!

All that was needed was to saute the bacon and toast the pecans right in the same pan, arrange the salad, whisk up a quick and easy vinaigrette and dinner isn't just a plan, it's on the table quick as a wink.  Here's how to do it.

 Apple, Bacon & Pecan Chicken Salad 
with Maple Pecan Vinaigrette

Serves 2

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce leaves, mixed red & green
  • 1/2 cup pecans, whole
  • 3 slices bacon, thick sliced, 12" across, fried crisp
  • 1 Apple, Gala or other crisp & pretty one
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons bleu cheese, crumbles
  • 1 chicken breast, roasted, sliced across the grain
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted, blackened skin removed and seeded - sliced

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, grade B - it has more flavor!
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Saute bacon until crisp; remove with slotted spoon & drain.  Saute the pecans in the bacon fat.  Remove.

On two plates, arrange 1/2 the spinach & half the Romaine on each plate.  Top with apple slices in a sunburst.  Arrange slices of avocado and roasted poblano pepper alternately; squeeze lemon juice over both.  Arrange 1/2 the chicken slices around the salad.  Sprinkle with bacon & pecans.  Mound bleu cheese in the center and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:  Mix olive oil, balsamic, maple syrup, granulated garlic, pepper & salt.  Whisk well.

NOTE: You don't have to do an arranged salad...make it easier and chop the chicken, apples, veggies, etc. and mix lightly together.  Top lettuce and spinach with the mixture and drizzle with dressing.  Easy!

Instead of apple, try grilled peaches, pears, mango or even orange slices!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Preakness Vodka Lemon Stick Cocktail

Today is the running of the Preakness in Baltimore!  Some of our happiest moments were spent in Charm City enjoying the hot, humid weather, freak Nor’easter snow storms, crabs, corn, melons and proximity to Ocean City.  Glorious years! 

Baltimore traditions abound in the Spring.  May brings not only the second leg of the Triple Crown and the wildly original American Visionary Arts Museum Kinetic Sculpture Race (“amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race” that travel and race through the streets of Baltimore AND across the Harbor to the finish line), it also brings another iconic Baltimore tradition of the celebration of Spring – the Flower Mart.

Kinetic Sculpture Race - 2010
Every year since 1911, vendors have covered the Mt. Vernon area with hundreds (thousands?!) of flats and pots of flowers for mi’lady’s garden.  Back in the old days, it was THE spot for genteel city women to strut their lovely fashions (including some crazy hats!) while choosing just the right floral accents for the window boxes and planters in front of their very upscale row homes in that part of the city.   

While the ladies and their children strolled along the street choosing floral colors and textures, they often were spied sucking lemons through a peppermint stick.  Oh, don’t turn up your nose, these treats are a sweet, tart, minty treat called Lemon Sticks that are still favorites of kids and adults alike at Flower Mart.   

A couple of years ago, I brought out a bunch of these delightful little treats for the neighborhood kids …now they frequently come over to the deck to see if I might just have some Lemon Sticks hanging around.  LOL…Joe told me he LOVES that Baltimore food!  I've been known to make snowballs on the deck, too, for the kids....yet another Baltimore thing....the snowball machine was invented in Baltimore!

And so, I’ve created an adult drink that honors both the Preakness and the Flower Mart.  This is intended to be extra tart to balance out the sweet peppermint rim, so be SURE to rim the glass - otherwise, you'll miss the true taste of a classic Lemon Stick.  Why shouldn’t we adults enjoy a little Baltimore Spring treat of our very own?

Preakness Vodka Lemon Stick

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 large, juicy lemon
  • 2 oz. simple syrup
  • 6 drops Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters (or Angostura)
  • 3 King Leo soft peppermint sticks (check Amazon for availability), crush 2 finely, leave the other whole for garnish*
  • lemon slice for garnish
  • ice 
Squeeze the lemon into a cocktail shaker, add the vodka, simple syrup and Bitters.  Add ice cubes 3/4 of the way up the glass, cap, shake until the tin frosts. 

Rub a cut lemon on the rim of a martini glass; dip rim into the crushed peppermint, covering the rim completely.
Strain the cocktail into the rimmed glass, garnish with a lemon slice, insert the peppermint stick into the glass and suck the cocktail through the peppermint stick.  It may take a couple of sucks to start the flow, but the wait and anticipation is part of the experience!  If you don't have the patience, just sip around the peppermint-ed rim...same effect!
*Soft peppermint sticks are a touchy breed.  Too soft and the peppermint stick simply melts into the lemon, too hard and there is no way, no matter how hard you suck, that you are going to get any juice through that thing.  You'll strain your cheeks first!  King Leo makes the perfect stick.  It isn't easy to find in stock, so when you spot it on Amazon, BUY IT THEN!  Even put your name on the list to be notified when they're available.  I do....and I just got my summer order!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lemony Greek Potato Salad with Feta and Kalamata Olives

Just what was that sexy side dish alongside the Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken in the last Dinner Plan-it post?  Why it was a Greek Potato Salad loaded with chunks of creamy, salty feta, bejeweled with beautiful black kalamata olives, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, brightened with fresh lemon juice and a dash of perky red wine vinegar, mellowed out with a smooth garlic paste.  

This is one nice alternative to traditional potato salad that's NOT mayo based!  

Here's the recipe:

Lemony Greek Potato Salad with Feta and Kalamata Olives

  • 3 pounds red potatoes, small ones, halved and sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, slivered
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled*
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook potatoes with the unpeeled garlic until tender.  Cube the potatoes, set the garlic aside.  Squeeze the garlic from the skins and mash with a fork; set aside.  Combine potatoes with olives and feta in a large bowl. 
Mix garlic paste with oregano, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil; whisk. 
Toss potato mixture with the dressing, parsley, salt and pepper.

*Did you notice the technique for making the garlic paste?  When you don't have time to roast garlic, this is an easy way to mellow out raw garlic...not as roasty toasty, but works very well in this and other recipes!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spatchcocked Lemon, Rosemary & Garlic Grilled Chicken

Yesterday I performed my very first spatchcock…on a chicken, of course.  Yes, it’s a real word and technique. No, it isn’t illegal.  And yes, the results are amazingly tender, succulent and delicious once the chicken has been properly cut, flattened, marinated and slowly, slowly grilled.  Under bricks.  Wrapped in foil.  What makes this chicken different from any other grilled chicken is hard to describe, but different it is!  Why?

First, instead of a great big roaster, like I would use for a beer can chicken cooked whole and uncut, I use a small fryer.  A younger, smaller bird equals a more tender finished product!  

Second, possibly it’s the spatchcocking itself.  As a result of being split in half down the back while remaining attached at the breastbone, the chicken can be opened up like a book allowing you to grill it flat.  Sure, you grill individual parts that way – breasts, legs, thighs, but something about the entire chicken being in one large piece more efficiently keeps in the moisture.  Yep, more moisture equals a juicier chicken. 

Third, the marinade adds even more moisture and tenderizes the chicken even further with the acid in the lemon.  I used olive oil, fresh lemon, lots of garlic and fresh rosemary – classic! 

Fourth, the grilling technique of cooking over indirect heat at the lowest possible temp, skin side down to start with and flattened down firmly with the weight of foil covered bricks created a crisp skin that simultaneously nearly melted into the meat of the chicken.  It was gorgeous!  Picture perfect – check the pic!  And perfectly delicious. 

Spatchcocking itself is fairly easy –  directions are in the recipe below, but you can Google “spatchcock” for very detailed directions and even some videos.    

Don’t sweat attempting your very first, very own spatchcocking….its easy to do with a good sharp knife and a little pressure.  Pretty soon you'll have the procedure down and you'll be spatchcocking all over the place!  You'll be giving advice to friends on the glories of spatchcockery!  You'll be proselytizing about your spatchcock technique to anyone and everyone who will listen!  

Here's the recipe:

Spatchcocked Lemon, Rosemary & Garlic Grilled Chicken

  • 1 small chicken, fryer type - tenderer and juicier

  • 1 large lemon, 2 if not LARGE, juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, about 6-8" long or the equivalent length, leaves pulled off stems and chopped

  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 heavy bricks - new, clean and wrapped neatly and completely in aluminum foil

After the backbone has been removed.

Spatchcock the chicken.  Okay, that means to turn the chicken breast side down, take a very sharp knife and cut along BOTH sides of the backbone, one at a time, from top to bottom to remove the backbone.  Go in knife tip first and lower the blade along the way.  Reinsert the knife if necessary.  Once the backbone is out, open the chicken and lay it flat open side down.  Press firmly with the heel of your hand all along the skin side of the breast to flatten as much as possible.

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large zip top bag.  When well mixed, gently put the chicken into the bag, open the chicken out flat in the bag, squeeze ALL the air out and using your fingers, smoosh the marinade all around the chicken evenly.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or you can start this the night before.
Heat the grill, using the lowest setting possible.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess marinade drip off.  Salt and pepper the skin side of the chicken liberally. 
On the grill, under the bricks!
Lay the chicken on the grill over INDIRECT heat.  Lay the foil-wrapped bricks on top of each side of the chicken, pressing the chicken flat.  Close the grill top and let 'er rip.  Gently, of course. 

Check the chicken often to be sure it's cooking and browning evenly, turning as necessary.  If the flames flare up, have a squirt bottle of water ready to put out the flames.
It will take 1 1/2 - 2 hours, more or less, to cook the chicken completely.  Once the skin has browned and crisped, turn it over to cook it through on the other side; then finish off last by turning it over to the skin side again to give the skin one last crisping. 
Carefully move to a serving plate and serve!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Marti's Shaved Fennel with Parm

Oopphhhh...I've been down for the count the last few days.  Writing, blogging and the accompanying stuff that precedes and follows up were simply beyond my capabilities this week.  Oh, what I would have given for a great big bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup!  

Alas, even soup making was too much...just think, it would have humidified the whole house with that beautiful chicken-y perfume!  Such a practical comfort food!  When you're under the weather, do you imagine Mom's chicken soup?  My mom's chicken noodle soup came out of the Campbell's can!  I wouldn't have minded opening a can, but this darn gluten issue prevented that.

Comfort food might have been just what my heart was craving, but the body simply couldn't manage it. And so my brain started working down it's mental list of alternate comfort foods that weren't a pain to make. 

As I thought, I kept returning to the recent Food with Friends weekend in Annapolis, remembering good times and all the good food...and I kept going back to Marti's Shaved Fennel with Parm.  That would be so good again.  It would comfort me, take my tastebuds, at least, back to a little reality of the sweet memory.  Not only that, I had fennel AND parm and it was a snap to make.  Hence, a brand new dish was added to my lexicon of personal comfort foods. Chicken soup begone!  There's a new comfort food in town!

Marti's Shaved Fennel with Parm

  • 2 fennel bulbs, fronds removed & reserved, root end sliced off, sliced VERY thinly
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, the good stuff, the REAL Parmigiano-Reggiano

Scatter the fennel evenly over the bottom of a shallow baking dish.  Squeeze the lemon half over the top, distribute the minced garlic evenly over the top.
Using a veggie peeler or microplane, generously shave the parm over the top in curls. The amount in the recipe above is a suggestion, not a rule...splurge!
Place into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake 30 to 45 minutes or until tender and beautifully browned.  Garnish with a few reserved fennel fronds.

NOTE: Save those fronds to make a simple syrup for cocktails or to add into a salad.  Both are wonderful.

NOTE 2:  This is my interpretation of Marti's dish...hope I've done it justice, Marti!

Marti's Parm-crusted fennel "before" (in the foreground), my version "after" above.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cinco D'erby

Question.  What cocktail will you serve tomorrow when Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby hit on the very same day?  

Answer.  Why not go the fusion route and make a perfect combination of both the classic Derby Mint Julep and the classic Mexican Margarita?  I did.  And I'm calling it a Cinco D'erby!

I started by using tequila instead of bourbon, keeping the fragrant green mint leaves, adding some fresh lime juice and a splash of Triple Sec and then muddling in a couple of jalapeno slices along with a little simple syrup.  One sip and you'll want to decorate your sombrero with a few raucously colorful flowers while cheering your favorite horse with a hearty OLÉ!   

Cinco D'erby

Makes 2 

  • a big handful of mint leaves, reserve 2 pretty stems with pretty tops
  • 3 oz. simple syrup
  • 6 oz. silver tequila
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 4 thin slices of jalapeno
  • club soda
Muddle mint leaves and jalapeno slices in the bottom of a cocktail shaker with the simple syrup.  Add tequila and lime juice; add ice nearly to the top of the tin, cap tightly and shake until the tin is nicely frosted.  
Add crushed ice to 2 tall glasses, strain the cocktail into the glasses and top with club soda.  Stir gently.
Garnish each glass with a stemmed mint sprig.  Oh....before you tuck that sprig into the glass, lay the sprig on one hand, slap the sprig with your other hand.  This is called spanking the mint.  Kind of naughty, yes?  And fun.  The purpose to to release the mint fragrance!  
If you like your drink a little sweeter, add more syrup.  If you like it tarter, add more lime.  If you like it spicier, add more jalapeno.  If get the idea...adjust it to YOUR preference!  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

All American Shish-Ka-Bob!

One quick recipe for one quick weekday meal...and then there are big plans for the leftover roasted corn on Saturday!  Yep, planning ahead for Cinco de Mayo!

All American Shish-Ka-Bob

  • 1/2 lb smoked sausage, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
  • 6 small red potatoes, sliced in half and pre-roasted in the oven to almost done
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges, separated into layers with 2-3 layers in each wedge
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large squares 
  • bottled BBQ sauce - your favorite
Thread alternate pieces of sausage, onion, pepper, potato and zucchini on metal skewers.  If you use wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water at least an hour before threading.
Put the skewers onto a hot grill and turn frequently to keep from burning while basting frequently with the BBQ sauce.  That's it!
NOTE:  The corn is roasted right alongside the skewers....and I have plans for the leftover corn!  In fact, the leftover meat & veggies make a really good hopple popple with eggs for an easy dinner or breakfast!