Here is a recipe for a quick, refreshing summer drink. (No blender required.) To avoid the need to add ice, which is a hassle and dilutes the flavor, I keep the tequila in the freezer (it won't actually freeze because of the alcohol), and the lime juice and simple syrup in the fridge.
In a tall glass, mix
3 oz Tequila
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal volume of water)
3 oz Frozen Orange Juice
Stir until the OJ is thoroughly mixed
4 oz lemon/lime soda
If you'd like, you can pour into a separate glass whose rim has been rubbed with lime juice and dipped in salt.
Before the pandemic, I would travel each week out of town to my client. Since March, I haven’t been traveling at all. That’s meant a lot more time at home to do a little all-day cooking of braised meats—pork, chicken, beef, lamb. I cook them in bulk, and then freeze them for use later, either as straight-up barbecue, in Mexican dishes, in Indian curries, or in pasta sauces. These days, there are a lot of good jarred sauces available, and, while not as tasty as made-from-scratch, they allow me to prepare a dinner in a matter of minutes using my divided batches of braised meats.
The basic recipe involves creating a rub for the meat, then browning it on the stove in a high-smoke-point oil (I like grape seed). From there, I add vinegar and liquid smoke (and maybe a little sherry, port, or bourbon) and cook it in a covered pot in the oven at low heat for 5-7 hours.
It’s important to use the right cut of meat. Generally, you want what starts out as relatively tough ones. The long, slow cooking breaks down the connective tissue, and the meat gets tender and really just falls apart. Bone-in pieces will have more flavor. For pork, I use shoulder or country ribs. For beef, I like brisket or a cut I only recently came across called the coulotte steak (apparently, a cut also known as top sirloin cap). Chicken legs work much better than breasts. For lamb, I also use a leg. Top cuts like beef fillet don’t work at all. Without connective tissue to break down, they just get hard and dry, even if they’re cooked in liquid.
My basic rub for 3 pounds of pork, beef, or chicken is:
As I said, rub this into the meat and allow to sit for a bit. (You can do this the night before, and leave it in the fridge overnight.)
After browning in an oven-ready, heavy pan (enameled cast iron is perfect), add the liquid:
Cover and cook all day at round 250 degrees. The pot will fill up with liquid that is released from the meat, so turn the meat every couple of hours. I usually put the meat in the oven about 10:00. At first, cuts like shoulder or brisket will turn into a stiff, rubbery slab, but, by 4:00 or so, they're falling apart, and you can eat it with a fork. Let the meat cool for a while with the lid on to allow the meat to reabsorb some of the liquid.
For lamb to use in Indian dishes, I use Penzeys vindaloo powder. You can make your own (using about a dozen individual spices), but the powdered mix is pretty tasty. A couple of tablespoons is good for one lamb leg. I add liquid smoke and vinegar after browning it, but no sherry or anything. For more of a Greek bent, you could use garlic, onion, oregano, and maybe some thyme and rosemary (along with salt and pepper).
I usually transfer the meat in single-use portions to resealable plastic containers or zip-lock bags. One or two can go in the fridge, the rest in the freezer for use later. As long as the container is sealed well, and there isn’t much air inside, I’m sure it would still taste good a month or more later.
Below is a quick burrito construction that can be ready in about 15 to 20 minutes:
Take one large flour tortilla (dinner plate sized) and spoon on an inch-wide mound of braised pork/beef/chicken across the diameter. (Last night, I just broke off some pieces of frozen pork.) If you have some cooked rice or pinto beans handy, add a bit. Spoon in some roasted tomato salsa (I really like what Fronseca Grill sells) and roll up the burrito.
Sprinkle it with a little water, set a bowl over it to trap the moisture, and heat it in the microwave on a “reheat” setting for about two or three minutes. (Every microwave is different, so you’ll have to play with the time for yourself.) Allow it a rest to give the heat a chance to disperse, then repeat. Add some cheese on top (pepper jack is good) and give it another half a minute or so in the microwave.
Top it with some chopped onion, jalapeno, and shredded greens. (I find the easiest way to shred greens is to put the leaves in a bowl with a rounded bottom and use a pair of kitchen shears to cut them into thin slices.) You can add a little salsa on top. Last night, I had some home-made guacamole in the fridge, so I put a little of that on as well.
For a quick Indian dish, I use the braised lamb in a jarred vindaloo sauce called Masala Mamma's, available from a number of grocery stores . There are some really tasteless jarred Indian sauces out there, but this one is quite good. I just saute up some diced onions in a little grape seed oil and butter, then add the sauce and some braised lamb. Once it begins to simmer, I serve it over basmati rice with some chopped cilantro.
The last time I made this, I also whipped up a quick batch of raita using lamb's milk yogurt, a little salt, pepper, and cumin. I added a little lemon juice and chopped onion and cucumber. You can make this up in advance and keep it in the fridge for days. I don't have a tandoor, so I just buy premade naan bread from Whole Foods and warm it in the microwave.
Spoon out a little lime pickle, onion pickle, and coriander chutney, and you can have use your pre-made lamb to whip up an Indian dinner in about 20 minutes. (Cooking the rice is the longest part.)
I opened this wine to accompany a baked ham. Visually, the wine was a deep amber, almost the color of a tawny port. The nose was woody, with ample citrus. The taste was rich with apricot and orange zest, backed by a strong oak structure and underpinned with dry, limestone, minerality. A heavier wine than I expected. Unfortunately, I don't think I gave it enough time to warm in the glass and open up more. Alas, the bottle was already fully divided among family, so I didn't get another glass to taste. I'd rate this about 90 points.
This isn’t exactly a “recipe” per se—more like a presentation idea for serving caviar that not only makes it easier to maneuver from plate to mouth, it also ensures an adequate amount of toast. (Because, as James Bond astutely observed in Casino Royale, “The problem with ordering caviar in a restaurant isn’t getting enough caviar; it’s getting enough toast to go with the caviar.”)
To make my “caviar cups” I just took a small metal serving cup (probably about 2 ounces in volume) and used it to cut circles from white bread. (I find toasted Pepperidge Farms thin-sliced white bread the best for caviar—but not much else.) The cup is tapered toward the bottom, so I used that as a form, pressing the slightly larger circle of bread down around the upside-down cup to form a small pie-crust-like shape. Placing a dozen or so on a wire-mesh baking rack, I toasted them in a toaster-oven until light brown. If you don’t have a toaster oven, you can use a broiler—browning one side, then flipping them and browning the other side.
Once the cups cooled, I scooped in a small dollop of crème fraiche, then topped them off with a spoonfull of various caviars.
A little while ago, I popped a bottle of Pichon Comtesse to accompany a dinner of filet mignon with melted bleu cheese and French string beans. Here are my notes:
First off, the capsule was slightly corroded, but the fill was low neck, so still quite good. The cork was weak, but intact when I removed it. I decanted the bottle, then poured a bit in a glass. There was a faint mustiness at first, but that cleared quickly, and, as the wine opened up, the nose became much fruitier.
The taste was amazing. There was moderate fruit—the usual cassis notes of a good Bordeaux, with notes of something like ripe plums or blueberries. The fruit was balanced with low to moderate acidity, but what really struck me was the overall structure, maintained by wonderful tannins that were matured, but still strong. The finish was lovely, if only moderate in intensity.
Conclusion: This is one of the best Bordeaux I’ve had for a while. I guess if I had to give it a score out of 100, I’d give it a 95 or so. It was that good.
This sandwich is my integration of the Italian beef sandwich and the more common French dip. The former, popular in Chicago and its environs, is served with pepperoncini and sometimes includes chopped Spanish olives. The latter, in the version served at the excellent Cuts Steakhouse in Atlanta, skips the olives, but melts asiago cheese on top. I put the two together to create my version, and, since Monaco is the closest thing to a hybrid of France and Italy, I’m calling it a Monaco dip sandwich.
Ingredients (to serve two):
3/4 lb tri-tip sirloin (dusted with salt, pepper and roasted garlic powder (from Penzeys Spices)
4-5 oz Spanish olives diced (from the deli counter rather than jarred or canned, if possible)
4-5 oz shredded asiago cheese
2 rolls (brioche, baguette cut to 6 inch length, or other roll)
16 ounces water
4 Tbsp. beef or veal demi glace
(Amount approximate; amount varies depending on concentration of demi glace and personal taste. My personal favorite is Schreiber's.)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dried toasted onion flakes (from Penzeys Spices)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
Salt to taste (may not need any, depending on saltiness of demi glace)
Simmer for a few minutes
Dust steak and broil on both sides until medium rare inside
Cover with foil and let rest. Slice thin across the grain when cool enough.
Place sliced steak on open-faced rolls. Spread diced olives then grated cheese
Broil until cheese melts and begins to darken
Serve with jus to dip and pepperoncini on the side
Note: You can substitute the steak with sliced roast beef from the deli, but, if you do, try to get slices from an actual roast (as they do at Whole Foods) vs. pressed beef in shrink wrap.
Given the intensity of the flavors, pair with a red zinfandel/primitivo, syrah/shiraz/Rhone or Chateauneuf du Pape
Note that duck breast can be hard to find in a typical grocery store. A wide variety of duck (as well as other meats and specialty foods) is available online from dartagnan.com.
Trim the edges of the duck breasts of excess skin and fat.
Remove any remaining connective tissue on the meat side.
Score the skin with a sharp knife being careful not to cut all the way to the meat.
Dust both sides with salt and pepper.
Brown skin side down in a hot cast iron skillet. Turn breasts and brown on the meat side.
Drain excess fat and transfer the skillet to a 300 degree oven and roast until 150 degrees in the center.
Plate breasts and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with cherry sauce.
Saute a shallot in 1 TBSP butter.
Add 1 ½ ounces of duck demi glace (available from savoryspiceshop.com) dissolved in 2 ½ ounces of warm water, 12 pitted cherries, 1 TBSP black cherry balsamic vinegar (available from thespicyolive.com), and 1 TBSP Contreau. Reduce to a syrup. Salt to taste.
The classic pairing for duck is pinot noir, whether a red Burgundy, or a nice domestic varietal.
Photography by Charles Jacobs
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