Rat Pack Nightcap

rat pack night cap

I love Manhattans. They’re wonderful on their own, with food, friends, dessert or simply because it is Wednesday after work and you feel like making one. Served stirred with a cherry garnish, this drink has a rich history with boatloads of variations. The Rat Pack had many of these in their day and due to the dessert nature of this one, I’d like to think they’d enjoy this as an end to their day.

Ingredients

Equipment: mixing glass, cocktail spoon, strainer, martini glass, cocktail pick

3 oz rye whiskey (Dickel is amazing)

1½ oz sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica is my go to although Dolin is also extremely good)

4 dashes Scrappy’s chocolate bitters

Chocolate truffle or cream for garnish

Instructions

Combine rye, vermouth and bitters in glass. Top with ice and stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with chocolate on cocktail pick. Cheers!

Espresso Martini

espresso martini

Perfect for an after dinner conversation, espresso martinis can have a touch of caffeine (or not), a delicious creaminess and a hint of delicious coffee flavor. Personally I like to make mine decaf with a hint of chocolate and hazelnut. If I’m running low on any of my usual ingredients, it is extremely fun to experiment with anything else on hand. Don’t have vodka? Try with rum!

Ingredients

Equipment: Shaker, strainer, coffee maker or espresso machine, coupe or martini glass

1½ oz vodka

½ oz Frangelico

½ oz Kahlua coffee liqueur

½ oz chocolate liqueur

½ oz milk

1 oz fresh coffee or espresso

Fresh ground coffee for garnish

Instructions

Combine vodka, Frangelico, Kahlua, chocolate liqueur, milk and coffee or espresso in shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 20-25 seconds and strain into chilled martini glass or coupe. Garnish with a sprinkle of freshly ground coffee. Cheers!

Curry Udon with Beef

curry udon with steak

I have been exploring the world of Japanese cuisine recently with the help of a fabulous cookbook called Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat. Far beyond sushi and teriyaki, the book covers everything from Soba to tempura, and delivers a rich account of Japanese food history in between. One of my favorite tidbits is about Japanese curry, which is profoundly different from Indian or Southeast Asian curries. It tends to be far less spicy, and has an easy, comforting quality to it that is much more approachable for home cooking, at least in my opinion. The funny thing about it though is that it is considered a British food, since it was British sailors from India that first brought curry powder to the shores of Japan in the 1800s. Try it for yourself with this udon (thick, chewy wheat noodles. Mmmmm so good) recipe, and you will see why this culinary mutt is a staple in Japanese kitchens (and mine).

spices for curry udon

Ingredients

Serves 4

4 bricks fresh-frozen udon Saucy Note: It may be that you can only find dried udon, which will do in a pinch, but the fresh frozen noodles are incredibly delicious and very cheap if you can get your hands on them. Try a specialty Asian grocer, though you might get lucky at a standard grocery store if you live in a larger metropolitan area-I don’t even live in the city and I can get fresh yakisoba noodles in my produce section. Yay!! 

1 lb. pork belly, sliced very thin Saucy Note: The cookbook calls for pork belly, but Shake and Salty do not enjoy the texture. I used it for flavoring, so I made large thin slices that could easily be avoided when serving. If you like to eat the pork belly, slice it thin and then cut it into bite-sized pieces.

1 lb. steak Saucy Note: I made tenderloin bites marinated in kaeshi (see below) and topped the soup with them, but you can also slice skirt or flat iron steak very thin and add it to the hot soup right before serving.

3-5oz. beef trimmings (optional) Saucy Note: Whenever I trim beef, I freeze all the little fatty bits for later use. Then I can use them in recipes like this to add delicious beef flavor.

1 sweet onion, sliced thin

1 tbsp. sesame oil

3 tbsp. curry powder

1½ tbsp. potato starch, dissolved in 1½ tbsp. water

2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias for serving

Soup base

Saucy Note: The base for this soup is called tsuyu. Tsuyu is a mixture of dashi and kaeshi. Dashi is a very simple broth that is the base for like, everything in Japanese food, and is made of kombu (a type of edible kelp) and dried bonito flakes (dried, fermented, smoked fish) both of which are easily found online if you don’t have access to them otherwise. You can also buy premade powdered dashi, which is what I used this time around because I had it and not kombu, not to mention its much quicker than making your own stock. It comes in little sticks-use two sticks in 6 cups of water. If you’d like to make your own dashi though, the recipe is at the end of this paragraph. Kaeshi, the other component of the broth, is a mixture of mirin, soy sauce, and sugar, and is an excellent condiment to keep on hand (it keeps for a month). The cookbook recommends letting kaeshi sit for at least 3 days to let the flavors deepen, but I made it at the same time as the soup and it was still delicious.

Dashi Recipe:

8 cups water

2 six inch pieces of kombu

3 packed cups bonito flakes

Put the water and kombu in a large stockpot and let steep for 30 minutes without heating. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then remove the kombu. Add 2 tbsp. of cold water to bring the temp down, and then add the bonito, stirring once before bringing back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, skimming any scum off the top. Let the liquid steep off heat for another 15 minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth. Discard the bonito.

Kaeshi Recipe:

2 cups soy sauce

½ cup mirin

3 tablespoons sugar

Bring all three ingredients to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature. The curry udon calls for a little over half a cup, so use the extra for the beef marinade or dipping sauce, and store the rest in the fridge.

Tsuyu Recipe:

6 cups dashi

½ cup plus 2 tbsp. kaeshi

6 tbsp. mirin

Combine dashi, kaeshi, and mirin. This is the main soup broth.

Instructions 

Start heating a large pot of water to prepare the udon. Thaw the beef in the microwave if necessary-it doesn’t need to be completely unfrozen, just enough to break the pieces apart.

Heat the sesame oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat (a dutch oven or similar style pot will also work well). When water flicked on the surface sizzles immediately, add the beef trimmings in a single layer and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, so the beef develops a deep brown sear. Remove the beef to a small plate or bowl with tongs, leaving the beef fat in the pan.

Add the pork belly and stir constantly until the meat turns white. Turn heat down to medium and add the onions, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent and softened. Add the curry powder while stirring and toast for about 10 seconds, being careful not to burn the curry. Add the broth and return the beef to pan, along with any juices accumulated on the plate. Stir occasionally for a few minutes until the liquid is simmering, and then add the potato starch mixture. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, reducing heat to low once the liquid thickens. The soup is now ready to serve, but it can be kept warm like this for 30-40 minutes. The noodles cook in about 30 seconds in boiling water, so this is a great recipe if you need some time flexibility (like if you have a husband who works on messy projects that aren’t always pause-able).

onions for udon

udon base

Prepare the beef just before serving. If making a steak bite style topping, marinate bite sized pieces in just enough liquid to cover them for five minutes, and then broil on high for 90 seconds on one side and 60 seconds on the other. If you prefer sliced beef, freeze the steak for about 10 minutes before you cut it, and then slice it as thin as possible. Add to soup and simmer until desired doneness-it will cook quickly, and continue to cook in the bowl, so be sure to serve it a skosh underdone. If you’re feeling fancy, shaved ribeye is excellent in soups like this-it cooks so quickly you can just add it to the bowl when serving, and it will cook in the heat of the soup. If you’ve ever had beef pho, you know what I’m talking about.

When ready to serve, boil the frozen udon noodles until they soften and break apart. The noodles are already cooked, so you’re just thawing them. Divide them evenly among four bowls, and top with soup. Salty and Shake don’t like onions or pork belly, but they’re easy to avoid with a large ladle, so if you have any picky eaters help’em out. Top with steak, or make sure all the steak is out of the pan. Garnish with scallions and enjoy with chopsticks, a large spoon, and plenty of slurping. Itadakimasu!!

udon

 

 

 

Jerk Chicken and Shrimp

jerk chicken with rice

I went out for lunch today and experienced an extremely underwhelming jerk halibut taco. Besides the fact that I only got about about 2 oz. of fish between two tacos, the seasoning was bland and the overall presentation was quite lackluster, so I decided to apologize to my taste buds by making my own jerk seasoning. I tend to be a little afraid of punchy spices, but I already feel quite a bit more confident after tackling this delicious seasoning. The rub is still a work in progress, but the shrimp especially were too delicious not to share. Serve with fire roasted peppers, pineapple, and rice for an easy meal.

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into thin cutlets and pounded flat (see the Chicken Paillard recipe for more detailed instructions)

24 large shrimp, deveined and shells removed (thaw ahead of time if using frozen shrimp)

3 bell peppers in different colors

2 jalapenos

3-4 pineapple rings

2 tbsp. dark rum

1 cup white rice

1 ¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Canola oil (for cooking)

Tortillas (for serving)

For the spice rub:

2 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. onion powder

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. smoked paprika

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. dried thyme

1½ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. white pepper

¼ tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. kosher salt

Instructions

Start the rice. Combine 1 cup rice, 1¾ cup stock, a pinch of salt, and 1 tbsp. butter or oil in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir for 1 minute, then cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 25 minutes without removing the lid (about how long the rest of this will take to make!).

Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl. There will be extra, so store about half of it in an airtight jar.

spice rub

Warm plates, a bowl for the peppers, and a bowl for the shrimp in the oven.

Turn broiler onto high. Arrange the pineapple rings on a broiler pan and sprinkle with a small amount of the spice rub (just a pinch on each piece). Broil for a minute or two, until the pineapples caramelize just a little.

Wash the peppers. I like to char mine over the open flame of my stove, but you can also just sauté them over high heat in a little olive oil if you don’t have a gas burner. I use tongs for the jalapenos, but the bell peppers sit nicely on the grate-just turn them every 20-30 seconds so they don’t get overcooked on one side. You want them to have a good char all around. Once charred, chop them into small pieces. Chop the pineapple into similar sized pieces. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet, and then add the pineapple and peppers. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and then turn the heat to high and add the rum. Cook until the smell of alcohol is gone, salt to taste and set aside in warmed bowl.

peppers for charring

IMG_6818

charred peppers and pineapple

Clean and devein your shrimp, if necessary. Remove shells and tails. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels, then transfer to a large bowl and add 1 tbsp. olive oil. Use one hand to mix the shrimp while you use your other hand to sprinkle the jerk seasoning in a little at a time, until shrimp are well coated (1-2 tbsp. of seasoning). Let the shrimp marinate while you prep the chicken.

Prepare the chicken. You can buy pre-cut cutlets, or have your butcher cut them for you, or purchase whole breasts and do it yourself. Pat the chicken dry and place the cutlets on a plastic cutting board between two sheets of wax paper. Pound flat with a meat tenderizer, but don’t pulverize it-you want it to be one consistent piece, not a holey mess. Rub the chicken with the spice mix and let the pieces marinate while you cook the shrimp.

To cook the shrimp, I used a non-enameled cast iron pan. The cast iron gets really hot, which is necessary to caramelize the sugars in the rub properly. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and drizzle a 2-3 tbsp. of canola oil into the pan. You want the bottom of the pan completely covered with a very thin layer of oil, so adjust according to the size of your pan. When water flicked on the pan sizzles immediately, add the shrimp in a single layer (do two batches if necessary). Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on size. When the shrimp are firm and pink (cut one open to check if you’re unsure it is cooked through) remove from pan and let stand in warmed bowl.

cooking the shrimp

Add more oil and the chicken to the pan next, cooking in batches if necessary. If you pounded it flat enough, the chicken only takes 2-3 minutes on each side. Cook until all the pink is gone and the meat feels firm when pressed with tongs. Cut into the thickest part to check for doneness if you’re unsure-you’ll get the feel for it quickly with thin cuts like this.

cooking the chicken

Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve the chicken on warmed plates topped with the pineapple pepper sauce and several shrimp, with the rice alongside. Warmed tortillas make a great accompaniment too if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy!

jerk chicken with rice

Solitaire in San Monique

solitaire in san monique

Spicy and complex, this drink uses zest hot Thai chilies and a deliciously juice mango. Make the syrup ahead and keep it around for as many rounds as you like! It will keep for 2 weeks or so if kept well sealed in the fridge. Enjoy while watching the James Bond classic, Live and Let Die!

Ingredients

Equipment – saucepan, strainer, bottle with well fitting lid, shaker, strainer, coupe or martini glass

Spicy Mango Syrup

1 mango, peeled and diced

½ Thai chili cut into rounds

½ cup demerara sugar

Water to cover (about a cup and a half)

Solitaire in San Monique

2 oz vodka

½ oz fresh lime juice

1 oz spicy mango syrup

1 oz ginger ale

1½ oz soda water

1 slice of Thai chili for garnish

Instructions

In a small sauce pan, combine syrup ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer. Lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Strain out solids and store in container with well fitting lid in refrigerator for up two weeks.

In shaker tin, combine vodka, lime and mango syrup with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled coupe or martini glass and top with ginger ale and soda water. Garnish with slice of Thai Chili. Cheers!

solitaire in san monique

Ballad for a Cowgirl

ballad for a cowgirl

With flavors of Kentucky bourbon and lemon pairing with strawberry and balsamic syrup (recipe found here), this drink is a wonderful pairing with any sort of appetizer you can throw at it. A note about dry shaking: when making cocktails with egg whites, its necessary to shake without ice first to get all those delightful proteins activated. 10-15 seconds of a nice hard shake will get you that velvety, creamy consistency.

Ingredients

Equipment: shaker, strainer, coupe or martini glass

¾ oz simple syrup

½ oz strawberry/balsamic syrup

1 oz fresh lemon juice

2 oz bourbon (Eagle Rare is my favorite)

1 egg white

Lemon wheel for garnish

Instructions

Combine simple syrup, strawberry/balsamic syrup, lemon, bourbon and egg white in shaker. Shake vigorously without ice for 10-15 seconds. Open shaker and add ice then shake for an additional 15 seconds. Strain into coupe or martini glass and garnish with lemon wheel for garnish. Cheers!

ballad for a cowgirl

Group Therapy

Group Therapy

Inspired by someone close to Sauce, Salty and myself, Group Therapy is best enjoyed with your closest friends. It is refreshing and delicious and great for making in pitchers.

Ingredients

Equipment: mixing glass, cocktail spoon, strainer, pint glass, Collins glass or something similar

½ oz fresh lime juice

½ oz crème de cassis

1½ oz tequila

4 oz ginger ale

Mint leaf for garnish

Instructions

Combine lime, cassis, and tequila in mixing glass with ice. Stir for 10-15 seconds and strain into clean glass over fresh ice. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a spanked mint leaf. Cheers!

group therapy

 

Planter’s Punch

Planter's Punch

“One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak” This catchy little saying is the best way to make a balanced Planter’s Punch. Originating in Jamaica, this drink is perfect for laying on a beach, boat, patio chair or couch. Its also a fantastic candidate for making a pitcher for a crowd.

Ingredients

Equipment: shaker, strainer, tiki mug

1 oz fresh lime juice

¾ oz simple syrup

¼ oz allspice dram

3 oz rum (Zaya is my favorite but use whatever you love)

2 dashes Scrappy’s aromatic bitters

Wedge of lime for garnish

Instructions

Combine lime, simple syrup, allspice dram, rum and bitters in shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain into tiki mug over fresh ice. Garnish with wedge of lime. Cheers!

planter's punch

Sandtrap

sandtrap

When Sauce, Salty and myself were attempting to name this concoction, we decided it was definitely a summertime drink. It tastes sort of like an Arnold Palmer! I’m not much use on a golf course but I fully intend to drink these on our back patio on beautiful days this summer!

Ingredients

Equipment: Pint glass or pilsner glass, spoon or straw to stir

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

1½ oz Averna Amaro

1 oz rum (Zaya is my favorite)

2 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters

2 oz ginger ale

Lemon wheel for garnish

Instructions

Combine lemon, Averna, rum, bitters and ginger ale in glass with ice. Give it a gentle stir to combine and garnish with lemon wheel. Cheers!

sandtrap

Matteo Ricci

matteo ricci

Matteo Ricci was an Italian missionary in the late 1500’s. He arrived at the Portuguese settlement of Macau and began missionary work that took him across the entire country. In 1601, the Wanli Emperor who wished to put his knowledge of astronomy and the science behind calendars invited him to the Forbidden City. This made him the first European to make enter this incredible place and this drink is homage to the two countries.

Ingredients

Equipment: glass for mixing, cocktail spoon, coupe or martini glass, strainer

2 oz white rum

½ oz bourbon

½ oz Averna Amaro

2 dashes Scrappy’s Orleans bitters

Dried tea leaves for garnish

Instructions

Combine rum, bourbon, Averna and bitters in mixing glass with ice. Stir for 15-20 seconds and strain into chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a pinch of dried tea leaves. Cheers!

matteo ricci

 

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