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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

Get ready for fireworks! This 4th of July we’ll be making hot dogs with a little more than just ketchup and mustard. We can’t decide which is our favorite. Tell us what you settle on!

 

POTATO SALAD WITH HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING
Serves 10

Fresh, fresh, fresh! We’re getting ready to perk up basic potato salad with a series of recipes, but we couldn’t wait and broke this one out for the weekend festivities. No more powdered spice mixes or bottled dressings! This dressing is all fragrant herbs. Take note of the 2-step dressing process: your potato salad will have more flavor than ever.
4 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 bunch dill, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh lemon juice

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the vinegar and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, dill, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to taste.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing.  Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold.

 

GRILLED FRANKS’N’BEANS
Makes about 6 cups beans

Sure, you can buy canned baked beans, but these are sparkler-dazzling. Also, you probably have most of the condiments in the recipe lurking in your pantry already. Make them a couple of days in advance and reheat them in a cast iron skillet or a disposable foil pan right on your grill when you’re ready to serve. Add a little water to the beans if you need to loosen the sauce up a bit.
For the Beans
1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
2 slices smoked ham, cut into cubes
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons molasses
1 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup water
4 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
– Heat the lard over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or other large pot until shimmering. Add the ham and bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and brown. Add the onion, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and brown sugar and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in the molasses, then the ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and water.

– Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and stir in the beans. Cook until the sauce is thickened and the beans are warmed through, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and adjust with vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, if desired.

For the Franks
Franks, of your choice
Hot dog buns
Brown mustard

– Grill the franks outdoors or cook them on a grill pan, or even a standard skillet with a pat of butter, until they’re nicely browned.  Place them in the buns and top them with baked beans and mustard.

L.A.-STYLE BACON-WRAPPED HOT DOGS
Serves 6

I can’t get enough of this recipe. My soon-to-be sister Whitney took me to downtown L.A. years ago and introduced me to these hot dogs. They were cooked on a bunsen burner on a sheet tray, right there in the middle of a busy street. There was a huge bowl of fresh guacamole on a cooler in the front, surrounded by bottled Jarritos sodas. Bacon-wrapped, grilled, topped with charred onions and jalapeños, and topped with creamy guacamole, you’ll have a line of customers at your own grill. Oh, and, yeah, there are chicharrones in the guacamole.

For the Hot Dogs and Jalapeño-Onion Topping
6 jalapeño peppers
Vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 hot dog sausages
¼ cup cornstarch
6 slices bacon
6 hot dog buns
Mayonnaise, for serving

– Set a grill or grill pan to high. If using a grill, set a large cast iron skillet on the grill to preheat. You can also use a grilling basket. Drizzle the jalapeños with oil and set them directly on the grill, if using. Season the onions with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Cook them in the preheated cast iron or on the grill pan, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Transfer to a serving platter.

– Roll the sausages in cornstarch. Wrap 1 bacon slice around each sausage: the cornstarch will glue them together. Cook the hot dogs in the skillet until the bacon is crisped and browned.  Tuck the sausages into buns spread with mayo, and top with the onions and jalapeños. Serve with guacamole.

For the Guacamole
Makes about 3 cups

4 ripe avocados, pitted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ yellow onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 to 3 limes
Worcestershire sauce
Pork cracklings, crushed

– Scoop the avocado flesh into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or a large fork to desired consistency. With a rubber spatula, fold in the onion, jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Adjust seasonings, top with the cracklings, and serve.

ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS
Serves 4

4 bell peppers in assorted colors, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
4 fresh Italian sausages
4 sturdy rolls, split in half

– Set a grill or grill pan to high. If using a grill, set a large cast iron skillet on the grill to preheat. You can also use a grilling basket. Toss the peppers and onions together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Cook them in the preheated cast iron or on the grill pan, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Transfer to a serving platter.

– Poke the sausages a few times with a fork and lightly coat with oil. Grill until lightly charred and cooked through. Transfer them to a cutting board and cut the sausages into thick slices.

– Brush the insides of the rolls with oil and grill them just long enough to toast.  Stuff the rolls with the peppers and onions and sausage. Serve with banana peppers and pickled vegetables if desired.

This was our tiny guest at the shoot: Paloma. Little but with a dinosaur appetite! Yes, this is a very kid-friendly post.

 

 

Father's DayFather's DayThis Father’s Day focus on spending time with your dad rather than slaving away in the kitchen.  It’s summer — time to get the grill out.  These beef skewers are easy to make, casual to serve, and completely satisfying, especially when paired with our chimichurri and homemade mayo.

It’s really a nonrecipe: start with good steak, like NY strip or ribeye. Upgrade with dry-aged steaks— a bit more expensive but extra-flavorful, just like a steakhouse. Cut the steak into 1 1/2-inch cubes and skewer them (if you’re using wooden skewers, remember to soak them for at least 15 minutes prior to using so they don’t burn on the grill), alternating with assorted mini-peppers and cipollini or pearl onions still in their skins. Season the skewers on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper and brush them with vegetable oil. Grill until nicely charred.

Serve them with grilled crusty rolls and a generous dose of chimichurri.

To make Homemade Mayo (it’s super-duper easy!) all you need do is whisk together 1 large egg yolk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Very slowly, start whisking in 1 cup vegetable oil. Whisk, whisk, whisk, and voilá! MAYONNAISE! It really is superb, but, of course, we are very partial to Hellman’s :)

 

 

Empanadas

My mother went to university in Buenos Aires, and years later, when I was very young, we visited her friends and a very old relative, Tía Chita, whom I remember looking like a cartoon character—very old, very tall, very thin, and wearing a Victorian era gown in deep lavender.

Other things that I remember from those trips are having submarinos, warm milk in a slender glass with a stainless steel exoskeleton in which you would dip a bar of chocolate, with tiny tongs of course. Bliss! There was also steak and chinchulines —innards and offal that tasted too lovely for me to inquire about their provenance.

My first pair of ballet flats — unfettered from Mary Jane straps! — in red. And, of course, empanadas.

 

EMPANADAS ARGENTINAS
Makes about 12

Fear not! This dough is very, very easy to handle.

For the Dough 
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons lard
1 cup warm water, plus more as needed

– Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Cut the lard into small pieces and work it into the flour with your fingertips. Add the water about ¼ cup at a time, incorporating into the flour with a rubber spatula. If the dough is too dry and shaggy, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once all the water has been added, dust a clean, dry work surface with flour and coat your fingers with flour, too.

– Turn the dough out on the surface and knead it just until it forms a smooth ball.  Cut the dough in 2. Dust the work surface with flour once again, and, with a floured rolling pin, roll it out into a thin circle.  Using a 5 ½ to 6-inch round cutter (if you don’t have cutters, find a bowl or vessel of about the same size in diameter), cut out rounds.  You should get about 12 total from the 2 balls.

 

For the Filling

I call for cooked pork in this recipe because I tend to make roasted pork loin or braised pork shoulder fairly often—empanadas are a great way to use leftovers. If you don’t have leftovers, make a quick pork (or beef base): heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 1 small onion, finely diced, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 2 garlic cloves, minced, and cook for 1 more minute. Add ¾ pound ground pork or beef, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. A dash of Maggi seasoning or Worcestershire sauce are welcome. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until browned and slightly crisp.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
12 ounces cooked pork, finely diced
Cholula or other hot sauce, to taste
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 waxy potato, cooked and diced
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and diced
½ cup raisins ½ cup pepper-stuffed olives, sliced

– Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, sugar, oregano, and cumin and cook until tomato paste is darkened, about 2 minutes. Add the pork and cook, stirring to combine. Season with hot sauce, and add the broth. Bring it to a simmer, and cook until mostly evaporated: the intention is to make a moist, not soupy, filling.

– Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the potato, egg, raisins, and olives.

 

For the Assembly 

2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream

– Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper middle and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a2 baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

– Place about 2 tablespoons of pork mixture just off the center of each circle. Dampen your finger around the edges of the dough and fold over to make half moons. Press down on the edges and twist the edges to fully seal.

– Whisk the egg yolks and cream in a small bowl.

– Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheets and brush them with egg wash. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the empanadas on the sheets for about 10 minutes and serve. You can also enjoy them at room temperature.

– Serve with your favorite hot sauce and chimichurri, if desired.

 

CHIMICHURRI

I always have leftover herbs in my fridge, and chimichurri is one of the most delicious ways I can think of to use them. Take a bunch of parsley and cilantro and very finely chop them. If you have fresh oregano on hand, add it as well. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper. Add a teaspoon of dried oregano and 2 finely minced garlic cloves. Stir in about 1/3 cup red wine vinegar and 2/3 cup olive oil. If you can, let it sit at room temperature for a day or two, the flavors grow much more robust.

 

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!

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