Andy’s Bloody Mary

30 Sep

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This weekend I stumbled upon this sweet photo of my friend Andrew enjoying a Bloody Mary in the mountains. They are a tradition for the boys on Sunday mornings. I’m usually enjoying a greyhound or a water in recovery from a big night before and walk in the morning. But he gets rave reviews from fellow tomato juice drinkers.

I asked Andrew to share his recipe for bloody Mary’s and it was too good of a text not to quote verbatim. Here’s the recipe. Cheers to you!

Well, this won’t satisfy the purists, but I start with Zing Zang mix and then I add a lot of freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice, a little Texas Pete, some Worcestershire, a tiny bit more fresh horseradish if there’s some in the house, some ground pepper, and then Absolut vodka. I like to make it in a pitcher – and I think 1 part vodka to 3 parts mix is a better ratio than 1 in 4, but others (Methodists?) may demur. Mix it well with a spatula and serve the blend over crushed ice. I like to skewer several green olives and a lemon wedge in lieu of a celery stalk as a stirrer, but whatever. If you have a highball glass instead of a solo cup (there’s no reason to fool with a double old fashioned glass), you can do the salt rim thing if you like. I think I’ve given that up.

Cauliflower & Kale Gratin

29 Sep

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Fall is here. Pool season seems to be over and the only last hope is cool nights with bourbon, chili and good cashmere. This year the summer season caught up to me. I’m left with few regrets – just longing for a couple more warm nights in the garden with rose and a fired up grill. But so it goes. It goes to gratin – potatoes, cauliflower broccoli, squash, throw in some kale this year to make yourself feel better. He is a good starter recipe for your fall meal. It pairs well with a simple roasted pork loin or quick seared piece of red meat.

Cauliflower & Kale Gratin

1-1/2 to 2 pounds curly or *Tuscan kale (about 3 bunches)
2 small heads or one large head of cauliflower (3-4 lbs)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk*
1 cup half & half *
1 3/4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (about 3 firm slices of whole wheat* or white sandwich bread)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg*
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Parmesan

Strip kale leaves from stems and center ribs (discard stems and ribs). Tear or cut leaves into 2-3 inch pieces.
Cut and discard greens and core from cauliflower, then cut cauliflower into 1 1/2-inch florets.
Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Butter the baking dish.
Cook kale in a pasta pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, in 2 batches until almost tender, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking, then transfer with tongs to a colander to drain. Gently squeeze excess water from kale by handfuls and transfer to baking dish. NOTE: If using Tuscan kale do not squeeze too hard. Press on dishtowel or paper towels to remove moisture.
Cook florets in 1 batch in pot until crisp-tender, about 3 to 6 minutes, then transfer with slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking and drain well in colander. Nestle cauliflower in kale.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in lower third.
Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking frequently, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and half & half and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer béchamel sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 cup (of the 3/4 cups) of grated Parmigiano cheese. Pour sauce over kale and cauliflower.
Toss together bread crumbs, oil, rest of the cheese, and 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper, then sprinkle evenly over mixture and bake gratin in oven until sauce is bubbling and crumbs are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
If you wish the crumbs to be more golden, broil gratin under a preheated broiler, about 6 inches from heat, watching carefully, 1 to 2 minutes.

Spicy Pork, Kale and Noodle Soup

22 Sep

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This weekend, my friend Margaret and I had a “quiet night in” that turned into an evening of much wine, laughter and a bit of minor mayhem. Those are the best kind, in my opinion, unexpected rolling of hilarity between bottles of red wine, political gossip, skyping with friends far away and cooking. We picked out this recipe for Pork, Kale and Noodle soup early in the day because Margaret had a pound of Massey Creek Farm ground pork on hand and we are both devouring kale right now. It’s also fun to make new recipes with friends – finding replacement ingredients when you just happened to purchase “salted sand lance” instead of fish sauce (lemon juice is a good replacement).

With all that said, have casual nights in the kitchen cooking with friends. You’ll have an unexpected fun time, a delicious meal and a night to remember. This recipe is perfect for the start of Fall.

Spicy Pork and Kale Soup, from Eat Live Run

1/2 lb ground pork

1 tsp chopped ginger

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/4 tsp lemon zest

3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp vegetable oil

4 cups chicken broth

4 scallions, sliced thin

1 large bunch curly kale, roughly chopped

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

8 oz rice noodles

If you have a mortar and pestle use it to smash together the peppercorns and lemon zest. If not, use the back of a knife on a cutting board (carefully). Do the same thing with the cumin seeds. Place the smashed peppercorns, lemon zest, smashed cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic in a medium size bowl. Mix well then add the ground pork and mix very well to combine the spices with the pork. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the oil and heat over medium high heat. When hot, add the seasoned ground pork. Sprinkle with salt and break up pork with a spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes, until pork is done.

Add the chicken broth to the pot along with the scallions, fish sauce and soy sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 6 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Add the kale — don’t worry if it seems like a crazy huge amount, it will cook down! — and stir well. Keep simmering for about 10 minutes while you prepare the noodles.

In another pot, cook the rice noodles in boiling salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

To serve the soup, place some rice noodles at the bottom of bowls. Ladle soup on top. Serve with sriracha if you desire but keep in mind that this soup already has a big kick!

Grilled Poundcake with Balsamic Peaches and Whipped Cream

19 Sep

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As a child, my mother would allow me to eat toasted pound cake for breakfast as a treat. Nothing beats it. I used the same concept in the mountains and grilled store-bought pound cake from The Fresh Market and topped it with fresh peaches in balsamic and fresh whipped cream. I promise it takes so much better than you would expect and it couldn’t be easier. Use any seasonal fruit you’d like and even consider grilling the fruit!

Cherub’s Cup

11 Sep

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This baby angel cocktail will knock your socks off – especially at high altitude. It’s not for the weak of heart but is extremely delicious when strawberries are stick at peak. We enjoyed these cocktails at a special cocktail hour with friends in the mountains. They are perfectly refreshing and not too sweet. Get it into your summer cocktail hour before fall turns. When is that harvest moon?

Cherub‘s Cup
  • 1 part St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 parts Gin
  • 3/4 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 shot simple syrup
  • 1 part muddled strawberry
  • top with Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine
  • strawberry for garnish

Grilled Brie with Fresh Figs and Mountain Honey

7 Sep

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When my friends informed me that their new condo had an outdoor grill over looking the mountains, I planned the entire weekend around cooking outside. Every meal utilized the grill – including when I brought out the pots and pans and heated them directly on the grill. Nothing beats outdoor cooking – especially in the mountains with a great breeze.

Grilling Brie was an experiment that turned out extremely well. The trick is to keep the cheese very cold until your ready to cook and heat the grill to high. The process won’t take too long – you’re grilling just enough to make beautiful grill marks and heat the cheese through. This will take about four minutes on each side – but please use your own discretion. And, by no means should you press down on the cheese with a spatula.

Meanwhile, warm honey with a handful or two of quarter fresh mission figs.

Once the cheese is starting to ooze slightly and you can see the grill marks, transfer to a platter. Drizzle with honey, figs and a pinch of good sea salt. Serve with crackers or grilled baguette. Crazy good.

Grilled Lamb with Porcini Mustard Sauce

5 Sep

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What pairs well with Pommes Anna? Grilled lamb, of course. With a hint of fall air, this recipe for grilled lamb chops with a porcini mustard sauce was perfect. Instead of individual chops, I grilled an entire rack on the grill until 125 degrees. It’s important to watch the thermometer like a hawk – over cooking lamb is sinful. With a little focus and the perfect glass of wine by the grill – you’ll be just fine. You’ll certainly regret not trying.

Grilled Lamb with Porcini Mustard Sauce , Gourmet 2009

  • 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling-hot water
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 7 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 24 rib lamb chops (about 3/4 inch thick; 4 1/2 to 5 pounds total), frenched if desired

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas). Soak mushrooms in boiling-hot water (2 cups) until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift mushrooms out of water and strain liquid through a paper-towel-lined sieve set over a small saucepan. Coarsely chop mushrooms.

Boil mushroom liquid in saucepan until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 13 to 15 minutes. Whisk in mustard, butter, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms. Transfer to a small bowl and cool slightly. Stir in 2 tablespoon parsley.

Meanwhile, pulse rosemary, kosher salt, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a food processor to form a coarse paste, scraping down sides. Rub oil all over chops, then coat evenly with rosemary mixture.

Oil grill rack, then grill chops in 2 batches, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.

Sprinkle porcini mustard with remaining tablespoon parsley and serve with lamb.

 

Truffled Pommes Anna

4 Sep

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Growing up, we always made pommes anna together as a family for special occasions. We had them for birthdays and graduations, all sorts of milestones. I still reserve this dish for these types of celebrations. So I decided to serve Pommes Anna – with an even fancier twist – for a housewarming of sorts at my friend’s Jamey and Phil’s new mountain condo. It was also a fun group activity peeling potatoes, slicing with a mandolin and arranging layers. I put the hardest part of the dish on Phil – flipping the pan before serving.

You can certainly skip the truffle butter and salt but its an over the top addition that will knock the socks off any guest. Truffle butter is easily available at The Fresh Market and you can purchase truffled salt at The Savory Spice Shop.

Get slicing!

Truffled Pommes Anna 

 

  • 3 to 4 pounds, potatoes
  • 1 small container, truffle butter
  • 1/2 stick, salted butter
  • truffled salt (optional) and pepper

Melt butters together. Brush the bottom of a nonstick pan. Meanwhile, peel and slice potatoes into thin and even slices (1/8 inch). Try to make the first layer as pretty as possible. After each layer, brush the potatoes with butter and season with salt and pepper. Once the pan is full, cover the top with foil and put something heavy and heat proof on top of it (heavy cast iron pots work well). On the stovetop, brown the bottom layer of the potatoes for about 5 to 10 minutes on medium high or until the bottom is brown.

 Then, transfer the entire thing to the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Once the potatoes have cooked through, let the dish cool down a bit and then flip onto a large platter.

Labor Day in the Highlands

2 Sep

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Im just back from a wonderful weekend in the North Carolina highlands with some of my favorite friends. We spent three days drinking cocktails with views for miles, grilling on the most fantastic patio grill and mornings climbing in hopes to burn off a couple calories.

The first night we enjoyed gin and tonics with grilled bacon wrapped scallops drizzled with cayenne pepper. After the drive up, this appetizer couldn’t have been easier. Here’s the tip: The Fresh Market sells the skewers pre-made! You don’t have to soak the wooden skewers, deal with the wrapping or the skewering. Just grill, brush with a little butter and garnish with cayenne oil and a little chopped parsley. Looks pretty fancy, right?

Slathered in Summer

30 Aug

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I’m enjoying the final days of official summer in the North Carolina mountains. It feels like fall up here already. Prepare yourself for some great recipes next week!

But before you say goodbye, I highly recommend making a simple supper to toast to the season. A grilled pork chop or steak seasoned heavily with ground cumin and corriander, some crispy and sweet corn fritters and a simple chopped salad with the best produce you can find.

Make a batch of your favorite green goddess dressing (Ina has a good one – as well as Gwyneth Paltrow) and slathers on tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados. When ingredients are that good, lettuce is only a filler. And check out this awesome fritter recipe below. I recommend more jalapeño!

Corn and Jalapeño Fritters, Bon Appetit

 

  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • ½ jalapeño, seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Sour cream and lime wedges (for serving)

Pulse eggs, flour, Parmesan, and ½ tsp. kosher salt in a food processor to combine. Add corn, scallion, and jalapeño; pulse 2–3 times.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook heaping tablespoonfuls of batter until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side; season fritters with salt. Serve with sour cream and lime wedges.

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