Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Blue Jalapeno

As "brown" as most of my blog postings look, I love color! When recently asked to mix a drink to bring along to a BYO party some friends threw, I went to my bar and discovered it needed serious help. I had plenty of red and white wine, but the only liquor on the bar was a bottle of 1800 100% Agave Reposado tequila, some blue Curacao, Vermouth, and Angostura Bitters. What to do? When I tweeted asking for suggestions, suggested that I do something with jalapeno and @achenglovesfood (Ashley Cheng) sugggestedI mimic a drink from Toro Restaurant in Boston. I did my best to mingle the two suggestions. The result is the "Blue Jalapeno."

Serves 4

This is what I needed:



4 Chilled Martini Glasses

The ingredients::

1 Jalapeno Pepper, quartered and seeded
Two Lemons, removed peel for garnish avoiding the pith
One Lime, remove peel for garnish, avoiding the pith
8 oz 100% Agave Reposado Tequila
2 oz Blue Cracao
3 T. Superfine Sugar*
1 t. of Angostura Bitters
Red Sanding Sugar
Coarse Kosher Salt

*A lot of mixologists would use a simple syrup, I opted not to because I wanted to keep as much "kick" in this "tequini" as possible since I knew I would shake it over ice before servicing and it would get slightly diluted then. You certainly can adapt it to use simple syrup and I am sure it would work. To make the superfine sugar I simple put the granulated sugar in a mini food processor to break it down.

Here is what I did:

I juiced the lemons and lime, combined them with all the other ingredients, including the jalapeno pepper and let it macerate overnight to get some kick from the jalapeno and to thoroughly chill the mix.

To chill the martini glasses, rinse them under hot tap water and place them in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.

To serve:

Remove martini glasses from freezer, run a cut lemon or lime around the rim and roll in a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of kosher salt and sanding sugar. Place cocktail mix into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously until the shaker is chilled, strain into glasses and float lemon & lime peel and a slice of jalapeno.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Granola Granola Granola

Well it seems reasonable to continue with the love I have for grains. That being said, I love granola! However, I am an obsessive/compulsive label/ingredient reader, and I am often appalled at how much sugar and fat are hidden in store bought/prepared granolas. I stand for hours it seems at Whole Foods reading the nutritional content of each and every variety, rejecting many because a "portion" is 1/4 of a cup so that the calorie/fat count looks reasonable. Who are they fooling? Am I really going to put 1/4 cup of granola in my bowl?

I recently read Michael Ruhlman's blog about making your own granola. You know how you get the "kitchen hots" to make something, you know you have to adapt it because you don't have exactly the same ingredients in your pantry, but you are forging ahead anyway. Well that's how it was with this granola. I got the spirit of the task though. He proceeds with instructions on a Strawberry Banana Granola. Method: you process/blend fruit, in this case strawberries and bananas, sweeten it with honey and brown sugar add some canola oil and spices than toss with your grains. Once toasted in the oven you add your dried fruits. With this much control I could have a say so in the fat and sugar content, so I was greatly inspired to sally forth into granola making. Most of the other recipes I looked at for granolas slathered the grains with too much sugary sticky stuff, his recipe relied more heavily on fruit. I liked it!

Well, I was missing more than a few ingredients by his recipe, but I didn't let that deter me. I was very pleased with the outcome. Albeit, I made some adjustments, I made some mistakes but nothing that ruined the final product and one mistake I would probably repeat. He didn't specify what to spread the mixture onto when you toast it in the oven, but he instructs you to stir it every 15 minutes. That instruction would indicate that the sheet/pan would need sides. The yield on this recipe is GINOURMOUS, so I toasted in batches. The first batch I placed on a cookie sheet with no sides, forgetting to stir every 15 minutes and I got some clumping, which I actually love. The second and third batches I placed in sheet pans with sides, stirred every 20 minutes and that kept the granola loose. For a bowl with milk loose is fine, but with yogurt I love the clumps. Clumps are also great for just snacking, which is my favorite way to eat granola.

With apologies to Michael Ruhlman I did not have wheat bran, flax seeds, almonds, dried cherries or cranberries. Why did I even attempt it, you ask? Because in theory the recipe should work with a lot of combinations of pureed fruits, grains and dried fruit. Much like his new book Ratio, this was about the method. I also adjusted the amount of oats because I only had 2 boxes of rolled oats. He also used 1 cup of strawberries, but I wanted to use the ones I had left, so I added another cup. Kudos to him for inspiring me, this is my home made recipe:

Preheat oven to 300ºF
Bake time: 45-60 minutes
Yield: A ton


For the fruit puree:
2 bananas
2 cups strawberries
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 t. cinnamon
grated nutmeg

For the grains:
2 lbs rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

For the dried fruit:
2 cups of raisins

What to do?

Process the ingredients for the fruit puree until a good paste. Pour over the grain mixture and mix well with your hands until it is thoroughly well coated with the puree. Spread on either a sheet pan or shallow pyrex dish and bake 45-60 minutes stirring periodically for even toasting and separation. I had to do my mixture in batches to make sure it dried out and toasted evenly.

When cooled, add the dried fruit and store in an air tight container.

Notes: Flax seed, wheat bran, dried cherries, cranberries and almonds will definitely be in the next batch, but the method leaves the home cook with many more options to include your personal favorites!