23 June 2017

Make mushrooms great again!

Last year, I remember eating a lovely little salad of thinly sliced mushrooms with a bright, zippy dressing drizzled over the top at a friend's house. It sounds too pompous to say this was a revelation, but it was--those ubiquitous grocery store white button mushrooms, in all of their blue-collar, mushroomy glory, displayed like a work of art and balanced with plenty of acid to keep them from tasting like dirt (cuz they kinda do).  I buy those 4 oz. packs wrapped in plastic all the time at my local Safeway, but I always cook the living daylights out of them and hide them in a mass of other vegetables. It never occurred to me to make them special.  And now that it's getting too hot in the kitchen to cook again, I thought I would try to recreate that late-summer snack I enjoyed with home brew last year, while talking about the meaning of life and how much better it would be if we ran the world. For the record, a glass of pinot grigio and a ban on all political talk are my current accompaniments. 


Mushroom Carpaccio

Serves 4 as a side or snack

½ pound mixed sliceable mushrooms (white, cremini baby bella…)
cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Grated lemon rind from half of a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice from one whole lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon small capers


Wash mushrooms and trim any ragged bottom ends, leaving stems otherwise intact. Cut mushrooms vertically into very thin slices; arrange on a platter in a single layer. Combine parsley, rind, and garlic in a bowl. Combine juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Gradually add oil to juice mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture evenly over mushrooms; sprinkle with parsley mixture, cheese, and capers. Grind more pepper over the top if desired. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the dressing.

16 June 2017

Boozy Cherries for your Old Fashioned and Manhattans


These are terrifically easy and delicious, and besides topping drinks, they make a great snack before board meetings...just kidding! Use any cheap brown liquor you have laying around...dark rum, bourbon, brandy...and get to work!  (I would avoid particularly smoky whiskeys or scotches as the flavor will be weird, but you probably want to keep that stuff for sipping anyway.)



Boozy Cherries

1 1/5 cups dark rum, bourbon, etc.
1/3 cup white sugar (maybe a little less if you're using a sweet liquor like brandy)
2 cups pitted dark cherries

Bring the rum and sugar to boil in a small saucepan, whisking to completely dissolve the sugar.  Turn off heat and leave it for about 15 minutes while you pit this cherries.  I don't have a fool proof method for this, but I tend to favor a chopstick.  The guy in this tutorial is also adorbs. Stuff your cherries into a jar, pour the liquid over the top  to cover, and twist the lid on tight. Will keep in the fridge for about a month, if they last that long. If you have any leftover rum syrup, use it to make last week's banana daiquiris!

Now, what are you going to do with them?  May I suggest two classics?

(I'll Take) Manhattan

makes 1 drink

2 oz. rye whiskey
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
dash Angostura bitters

Put 2-3 cubes of ice into a cocktail shaker. Add bitters, vermouth, and bourbon and shake. Strain into a martini glass and sink a cherry or two in there.


Old Fashioned

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters 1 
Sugar cube

Place sugar cube in old fashioned glass and saturate with bitters, add a dash of plain water. Muddle until dissolved. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add whiskey. Garnish with orange slice, and a cherry.



09 June 2017

Banana Daiquiris are my summer spirit animal

Don't think a lot about it. This recipe is quintessential 1950s camp in a glass, and perfect for a casual gathering on your patio this weekend.

Frozen Banana Daiquiri of Your Dreams

Makes 1 drink

2 oz. rum of your choice
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. sugar syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water)
1/2 frozen banana

Blend with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cracked ice until smooth. (If you like a thinner consistency, use closer to 1 cup.) Pour into the corniest glass you can find, and top with Angostura bitters and a float of dark rum.


02 June 2017

Another roasted chicken story, but perhaps the best one yet

Did you ever have those epic, heavy Sunday "dinners" (meaning noontime meal outside of the Midwest) involving roasted meat and vegetables, and lots of family members?  Maybe it was after church, maybe not, but there was a coziness to it--a long, luxurious meal focused on comfort food and comforting people. I miss the sense of security and simplicity I got from those meals sometimes, and I find that if you make the right dish, you can evoke a little of that feeling, even if you're all by yourself. This one tries to capture that sense, and leftovers keep well if you don't have a crowd to feed, but best of all, it's very simple and fast, allowing much more time to drink wine and be idle.



One Dish Maple-Mustard Roasted Chicken Thighs with Vegetables

Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or with skin, or bones…)
4 medium Russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
6-8 white mushrooms, thickly sliced
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425⁰F. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup.

In a large casserole dish, toss all the vegetables (potatoes through mushrooms as listed above). Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix. Lay the chicken thighs on top in a single layer, trimming extra fat and spread out when possible. Season thighs with salt and pepper. Pour the vinegar sauce evenly on top and place in the oven.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

This dish is meant to be eaten straight from the oven, but it is equally delicious the next day as cold leftovers, and you can also shred the meat and mix it all together with some broth for a soup OR turned into a curry by heating it with coconut milk and curry powder. I like to serve it the first time around with steamed green beans or broccoli seasoned with a quirt of lemon juice and salt on the side, and those can also be throw in to your leftover soup or curry.