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"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

5 of May

Here’s a drink that’s hot and just the right amount of spicy for this week’s celebrations and the upcoming summer months.

CHIQUILA MOCKINGBIRD MARGARITA
A spicy, smooth, and sassy cocktail from our latest book,  Summer Cocktails !

Makes 1 (or make several batches for a crowd)

2 tablespoons coarse salt
1/2 lime
Ice
2 ounces Chiquila*
1 ounce triple sec or Cointreau
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ounce honey syrup**

To make our signature “Chiquila,” add 3 morita chiles (dried smoky chilies available in the Latin American section of most supermarkets) to 1 (750-milliliter) bottle of silver or gold tequila. Allow the tequila to steep for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Strain the tequila, discard the chiles, and voilà! All done.

For the Honey Syrup: Bring to a boil 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water. Stir until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat, cool completely, and use or store, refrigerated.

– Spread the salt on a saucer. Dampen the rim of the glass with the lime and dip it in the salt. Fill the glass with ice.

– Combine the tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and honey syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the prepared glass. ¡Salud!

Strawberry Vodka Cocktail & Chocolate Madelines

I think of myself as “ladylike,” but truth be told, I’ve been known to sit on filthy floors at Penn Station, curse like a sailor, and engage in a number of other activities that would not be characterized as demure. I think that goes for Tara as well, though I suspect the dirty floor situation is a María del Mar Exclusive.

What happened?! Remember when women wore hats and little white gloves and skirts and crossed their ankles? Remember those up-do’s and perfect lipstick? When did we start wearing Uggs (I admit to being a chronic offender) and dressing in sweatpants to travel?

Modernity has its freedoms: No corsets! No girdles! No nonsense! I did grow up somewhere where it was a major violation of code to leave your house without makeup, a proper blow-out, and an impeccably pressed linen outfit. While it made for a very decorous procession down the aisles of the supermarket, it was a terrible chore.

Balance, I say! Most of the time you’ll find us wearing utilitarian uniforms—trousers, chambray button-downs, flats, and fine, yes, UGGS—but once in a while, especially now that spring has graced us with its presence, you might spy us in a dress and heels and pucker-up-perfect lipstick: I adore it! I love feeling like the vision of women I had when I was painstakingly buttoning up Barbie’s pink double-breasted suit (which had a sparkly underpinning and a tulle lining under the pencil skirt). When it comes to dining, a lady sits and eats daintily and sips.

When it comes to a modern-day lady, a meal might entail half a bottle of wine and forkfuls of food between retouching and typing. Balance? What we often write about: going about your daily business of rushing everywhere, sandwich hanging out of your mouth, takeout coffee spilled down your front, and then, occasionally, sitting down to sip and take tiny bites out sheer enjoyment and wanting to make the moment last rather than trying to fit an Emily Post ideal.

In thinking of these brief respites we came up with a new tea party idea that combines the ombré spectrum of our femininity. There are indeed dainty chocolate bites, but instead of tea, strawberry vodka and bubbles. Take a seat, and, do, DO! take your hat and glove off. Crossed ankles optional.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetAn excerpt from one of my favorite books, courtesy of Abuela Muriel: “Good Housekeeping Party Menus and Recipes” 1958 edition.

CHOCOLATE MADELEINES

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Yields about 18

Baking spray
8 ounces bittersweet (60 – 70% cacao) chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup heavy cream
1 ounce (¼ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Place a standard or silicone Madeleine baking pan (these come in different indentation numbers) on a baking sheet (for easier transferring in and out of the oven) and lightly coat with baking spray.

– Set up a double-boiler by adding about 2 inches of water to a small saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl that will fit over the saucepan—when using a double-boiler, the bowl should never make contact with the water as it is the hot vapor that will allow gentle heating. Stir the chocolate until it is melted and glossy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool about 5 minutes.

– Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, extract, and salt in a medium bowl until pale yellow in color and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate.

– With a soup spoon, spoon the batter about ¾ of the way up each Madeleine mold. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until set and puffed. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and then, the molds directly to the rack.

– Cool Madeleines for 10 minutes, then gently turn out of molds and continue cooling. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

STRAWBERRY BLUR

Let us note that store-bought fruit-flavored vodka is not our go-to, but “Sorbetta”, LiV Vodka’s strawberry liqueur is the exception to the rule. Smooth, bursting with strawberry flavor, and just sweet enough, we like to add it to a chilled glass of prosecco or drink it straight.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say, and we concur. It’s coffee and food just after waking for us, but this classic Irish breakfast ups the ante on the weekday yogurt-and-granola staple.

This breakfast is protein heavy, containing Irish bacon and sausages, black and white pudding, and sunny side-up eggs. In addition, there are fried tomatoes, beans (white in a sweet tomato sauce not unlike American baked beans), sautéed tomatoes, soda bread, and naturally, a pint of Guinness.

Please note that it does take some effort to gather the makings of this breakfast, but Irish products are available, and they are well worth seeking out, particularly the bacon, which is more like a slim pork chop rather than the American bacon strips.

Happy St. Patrick’s day, and sláinte!

Oh, Valentine’s Day. Mostly I associate it with the not getting of the “Be Mine” card in my school desk in grade school. What sort of holiday is this where the frizzy haired and bespectacled girls get snubbed? Boooo!!! Hiss!!! BUT! You know, I love pink and red and it seems like those are the colors of that Valentine guy. AND! Dessert. Seems to be the thing that either you enjoy on a date or binge on if you don’t have one. Go for it,  eat it like a hot dog. xoxo

RASPBERRIES AND CREAM ECLAIRS

Makes 6

Once cooled, you can freeze leftover éclairs in a zipper-lock bag. When ready to use, warm through in a preheated 350°F oven, then allow to cool to room temperature.

For the Eclairs
1 cup water
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts. Stir in flour all at once, and continue cooking, stirring constantly and vigorously, until the mixture forms a smooth ball of dough, 4 to 5 minutes. The bottom of the saucepan should be clean.

Remove from heat and transfer dough to a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, add the eggs and stir until they’re fully incorporated. With a soup spoon, scoop dough out into 6 logs.

Beat the yolks, a pinch of salt, and cream in small bowl. Brush tops of dough with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and golden golden. Transfer éclairs directly to cooling rack and cool completely.

For the Glaze
1 ½ cups fresh raspberries
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Pulse the raspberries in a food processor until completely puréed. Strain the raspberry sauce and discard the seeds. Whisk in the sugar.

For the Filling
1 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 cups fresh raspberries

Beat the cream and sugar together in a large bowl with a large whisk or an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

To assemble, cut the éclairs in half lengthwise. Spoon in whipped cream and tuck in raspberries. Drizzle glaze over the éclairs.

 Eat, drink, and be merry! Wishing you a lovely holiday season and a joyful new year.

WINE, SPICE, & ROSE POACHED PEARS

Serves 8 to 10

Note: Beets add a vibrant crimson hue to the pears, that red wine alone doesn’t achieve.

1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
6 firm Bosc pears
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups water
3 cups granulated sugar
Pinch salt
2 beets, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup dried edible rosebuds*, plus additional for garnish
2 teaspoons lemon juice

– Peel the pears, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or a 1-teaspoon measuring spoon.

– In a large saucepan, toast black peppercorns and cinnamon stick over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high and, add wine, water, and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium, add pears, salt, beets, and rosebuds. Place a piece of parchment paper directly on the surface of the pears and weigh down with a smaller saucepan (this will ensure even poaching and coloration).

– Simmer until pears are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Store, refrigerated, for up to 5 days, until ready to use.

– When ready, remove and discard beets. Remove pears from syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until mixture is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.

– Serve pears with lightly sweetened whipped cream, crème fraîche, or ice cream and a sprinkle of Maldon salt. Garnish with rosebuds, if desired.

*Order rosebuds online at Kalustyan’s.

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