Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sunday, Bloody Mary, Sunday

My favorite cocktail has to be a bloody mary...  Spicy, vodka-y, can pass it off as a "vegetable" on the food pyramid and feel like you're being a health nut...  What's not to love?

Zinburger's Bloody
This Bloody Mary came from Zinburger in Tucson...  I've adapted it to take what was best about theirs and best about my own recipe.

Start with a good quality vodka.  In general, I prefer regular Absolut.  I'm not into the Absolut Peppar. I find it too, well, peppery.  If you want to be saucy, and I know you probably do, look for a bacon-infused vodka.  It is available at specialty liquor stores and maybe a really alcoholic-prone neighborhood grocery store.  Zinburger was using this according to the waitress who really needed to rethink that scrunchie hair thing:

Confession:  I am not actually a big bacon fan.  This has that smoky infused taste.  I never would have picked it out as being "pork product" which just sounds so, so wrong.  Now, of course, you could make your own bacon-infused vodka, but we will save that lesson for another day...

Jules' Bloody Bar
Okay, so fill a tall glass (and for the love of God, use real glass, not plastic, unless you are by my pool where *certain people* necessitated a no-glass rule) with ice.  Add 1-2 shots (I go with two, so should you) of your vodka of choice.  (I personally think it is better to have vodka stored in the freezer.  It makes it taste crisper.)  Then fill the glass halfway with a good quality tomato juice which you have shaken well.  Next, fill the glass to about an inch from the top with Clamato.  I like the regular stuff, not the spicy version, because you are going to be adjusting your spices anyway.  This is your base.

Add a small amount of horseradish, 4 dashes of Worcestershire (I use Lee and Perkins), a squeeze of lime (then throw the whole thing in), two dashes of tabasco (a bit more if you like it spicier), two dashes of celery salt, and a couple of cracks of pepper.  I then use a piece of celery to mash it together like no tomorrow.  When you think you are done, keep going.  Top it off with a little bit more Clamato and then give it another smash around with the celery.  If you have a martini shaker, that is actually better, because it "bruises" the vodka and opens up the flavors, but it isn't necessary.  You can also do this with two glasses, but I don't recommend this after consuming the first one.  It can get messy, fast.

You can garnish however you please:  a strip of crispy bacon as above, a lime wedge, a "sword" of olives, dill or sweet pickle, bar onions, pickled asparagus, pepperoni, pepper jack cheese, or celery.  All of them at once might be a shade of overkill, but I won't judge you.  For that.

I'm not a huge fan of a salted rim because this is already a salt blast.  Now a savory rim is another story:  Basically you mix garlic powder, celery salt, chili powder, and coarse ground sea salt.  You then wet the edge of your glass (with a paper towel or dishcloth) and dip the glass into the mixing bowl.  You can save the mix in a plastic bag for the next time.  Which will probably be in about half an hour.  At the most.


Orecchiette, Orecchiette, Orecchiette...with Kale

I, for some reason, which I truly can't figure out, remember at age 19 being ENAMORED with orecchiette pasta.  I know.  What a thing to get excited about.  Hell, I had a very sheltered childhood in terms of food, let's chalk it up to that.  However, my current fascination is easier to explain and it's really simple:  It's fun to say.  Orecchiette, orecchiette, orecchiette.  Less fun to spell.  

This is a newer dish I've been making which adds bacon (everyone's favorite, not so much mine) and kale in a very light sauce.  

Beauteous, no?

Ingredient List:
1 cup Orecchiette Pasta
2 pieces of Bacon, Proscuitto, or Pancetta
Red Pepper Flakes
2 Cloves Garlic
1 cup Kale (Swiss Chard also works)
1 tbsn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsn Apple Cider Vinegar
Fresh, grated Parmesan
1 tomato

Here are the instructions:  

-Boil 1 cup of orecchiette pasta for 12 minutes. (You can technically use whatever kind of pasta you like, but you will hurt my feelings if you don't join my orecchiette fan club.) 
-While that is cooking, take a couple of slices of bacon and fry it up in a pan.  (That feels like a song.  Oh wait.  It IS.)  You can also use proscuitto or pancetta if you have that on hand.  Vegetarians/vegans, look away and just pretend this isn't in here.  PS.  Proscuitto would like to auto-correct to "prosecution."  Lovely.  
-When the bacon/proscuitto/pancetta is finished, remove from pan to cool and drain on paper towels.
-In that same pan, throw in *some* red pepper flakes and like 2 cloves of minced garlic. Let that get all brown-y. (I know.  This is technical.  Your *some* can be more than my some.  I won't judge you on that one.  Brown-y is probably better described as golden or something sounding a little more classy.  I'm just not classy.  I'll work on it.)
-Then add 1 c or so of de-veined kale, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (evoo), and kosher salt. Cover and let the kale get all wilty. 
-Crumble up now not-capable-of-removing-your-fingerprints cooled bacon.
- Remove the kale to a bowl and add 1 teaspoon cider vinegar. 
-Drain the pasta. 
-Mix the whole mess together and top with fresh grated parmesan and diced tomato.

This dish is just as good hot or cold and like many things, is actually even better the next day.  


Friday, February 10, 2012

Cooking *is* Alchemy

If you had told me two years ago that people, many of whom  I have never met, would consider me a foodie, a chef, and beg me to write a cookbook, I would have laughed until I cried.  In all honesty (no hyperbole here), I could not make macaroni and cheese from a box.  You wouldn't think directions meant for an elementary-aged child could go quite as wrong as I managed...  However, in the last two years, I accidentally discovered that I am, in fact, really damn good at this.  I love cooking.  I love thinking about cooking, I love reading about cooking, and I'm sure I will love writing about cooking.  I must say that this new hobby has improved my life approximately a gzillion percent.

I'm going to use this space to share photos, recipes, inspirations, and maybe a touch of randomness. The title reflects my belief that while there is certainly a science to creating food (it is theoretically possible to follow precise measurements and come to a certain result), there is also something larger within it.  Food is powerful stuff.  Food sustains our physicality.  Food brings people together.  Food feeds, quite literally, our souls.