Sunday, March 6, 2016

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 10: The end of Downton

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.

Tonight for the end of Downton Abbey, I have picked a classic that can be linked back to the very first episode of Downton Abbey:  The Olympic.  The Olympic can be traced to a 1920s era London bar where it took its name from the the cruiseliner RMS Olympic.  You might be wondering what this has to do with Downton, well... The Olympic is the sister ship of the Titanic (only she didn't sink and therefor not nearly as well known), which if you recall was a major focus of the first episode of Downton and the first season as a whole.  So there you have it for Downton's end, I provide a link back to the beginning.
The Olympic is effectively a variation of the Sidecar, one of my favorite cocktails from the series so far.  The Olympic adds orange juice to the recipe which makes the cocktail even smoother than the lemon based Sidecar. 
Despite the end of Downton, I will continue #MasterpieceCocktails with recipes that fit the seasons and holidays as they come, expanding the repertoire from classic to more modern and hopefully some originals.  I hope you have enjoyed the posts so far!!
The Olympic
1.5 oz Cognac (VSOP Remy Martin)
3/4 oz Grand Marnier (can use Cointreau or Triple Sec)
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.  Add garnish if desired.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 9: Oscar night

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.

Tonight in honor of the Academy Awards (and because Downton is skipping this week), I decided to do a cocktail with a cinematic history:  The Vesper Martini.  The Vesper is named after the classic James Bond character and love interest Vesper Lynd from Casino Royal.  The drink is an interesting take on the Martini replacing the classic Vermouth with Lillet Blanc and adding some Vodka (traditionally a Russian one in reference to Vesper's allegiance).
Lillet Blanc adds an interesting change to the Martini, it has a almost buttery flavor and mouth feel that is noticeable different than the dry nature of Vermouth.  The Vodka does little for the flavor but overall makes the cocktail quite strong, so I wouldn't recommend having more than 1 or 2 in an evening.  The drink overall has an interesting taste, it starts Gin and then the Lillet takes over on the finish.  Overall, I prefer the Vesper to the classic Martini which i found quite dry.
Hope you enjoy and have fun watching the Oscars, I can't wait for the final episode of Downton next week (end of the series but not the end of #MasterpieceCocktail)!
The Vesper Martini
2 oz Gin
1/4 oz Vodka
1/3 oz Lillet Blanc
Lemon or Orange Twist
Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled glass, and add the twist.

Asian Inspired Apps

Today's post is all about Asian inspired small plates, which when made together can make for a great meal or are great for entertaining when mixed with other apps.  These recipes come from several sources (food network chefs, restaurant favorites, cookbooks, etc.).  The apps span several countries' flavor profiles including Chinese, Thai, and Japanese; however, they all share common elements which make them great for pairing.  We have made some of these dishes several times because they are so easy and quick to make (sometimes even faster than their carry-out equivalents).  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Thai Curry Lime Wings

Thai Curry Lime Wings (Courtesy Tyler Florence)

1 lbs chicken wings
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 lime, halved
Chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat chicken wings dry.  Spread the wings out on a baking sheet drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast about 25 minutes until the skin gets crisp and brown, and the meat is tender.

While you wait, mix the butter, red curry paste, honey and soy sauce together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.  When the wings come out of the oven, add to the bowl with the curry butter and toss. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the wings. Give it a toss and you're done.

Garnish with cilantro.

Chicken Fried Rice

 Cook the chicken pieces over medium high heat until cooked through.  I have used both diced chicken breast pieces and ground chicken and both have turned out great.  The ground chicken is a bit easier to cook since you don't have to turn individual pieces of chicken
 Remove the chicken from the pan and saute up the veggies.  At this stage, you can add eggs if you like.  I am not a fan of scrambled eggs so I omit them from the traditional recipe.

Add the chicken and rice to the pan and add the soy sauce and hoisin and toss.

Chicken Fried Rice
1 cup jasmine rice, cooked
3 tsp. Sesame oil
3 tsp. Canola oil
1 lb. ground chicken or chicken breasts diced into 3/4 in. pieces (seasoned with salt and pepper)
1 1/3 cups frozen carrot and pea mixture
2 green onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. hoisin sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook jasmine rice according to package directions

Once rice is cooked, heat 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil and 1 1/2 tsp canola oil in a large saute pan or wok over medium high heat.  Once hot, add the chicken and saute until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining t 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil and 1 1/2 tsp canola oil to the pan and once hot add the peas carrots and green onion and saute for about a minute, then add the garlic and cook for about another minute.

Add the cooked rice and chicken back to the pan.  Add the soy sauce and hoisin and salt and pepper, to taste.

 Chicken Lettuce Wraps (copycat PF Chang's recipe)

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 (8-ounce) can diced water chestnuts, drained
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 head lettuce

Heat sesame oil in a sauté pan or wok over medium high heat. Add ground chicken, salt and pepper.  Cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes.  Drain excess fat.

Stir in garlic, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chestnuts and green onions and cook until tender, about 1 minute.

To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf

Sesame Noodles (variation of a recipe from Ree Drummond AKA the Pioneer Woman)
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 package of Udon Noodles
4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles green onions and 1 tsbp sesame oil) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.

Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a small wok or saute pan.  Add the udon to cook through.  Slowly add the sauce to the noodles and toss to coat.

Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 8

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.

Tonight I have for you another 1930's, prohibition era cocktail: the Chicago.  The history on the Chicago is a bit spotty, with references to it being made at bars in both Nice and London, but the name is clearly a reference to the Windy City.  Several classic cocktail manuals and guides mention the cocktail so locking down the exact origin seems tough. 

The cocktail is a combination of Cognac, Cointreau/Grand Marnier, Champagne, and bitters.  The resulting cocktail was what I would call tart, but refreshing.  It starts slightly bitter and finishes with a combination of Cognac and Champagne that is refreshing.  The cocktail quickly grew on me as I started to drink it.
The Chicago
1.5 oz Cognac
1/4 tsp Cointreau/Grand Marnier
1 Dash Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)
3-5 oz Champagne
Add all of the ingredients, except for the Champagne, to an ice filled cocktail shaker, shake, and strain into a chilled glass.  Top with the Champagne.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 6/7: Classic Double Feature

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.
Tonight I am bringing you a double feature to make up for missing last week while Amy and I were on vacation in Disney World, where you can find some excellent cocktails if you know where to look for them.  Any way, I digress... Tonight I have two very classic cocktails the Whiskey Sour and the Sidecar.  Both of these are true classics, I hope you enjoy!

Whiskey Sour

I got the idea to make a Whiskey Sour tonight while Amy was watching Barefoot Contessa today and Ina Garten went to this old hotel bar in Paris where she had one.  The Whiskey Sour dates back to the mid-1800s making it the oldest cocktail that I have made.  As Ina pointed out, and I have to agree, freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must, as is a good whiskey.  I used Bowman Brothers (see my post on drinking local for more information) but Rye or blended whiskeys also work.  The base recipe also calls for a Maraschino cherry, but I don't really like cherries so I used a lemon twist.  The resulting drink is refreshing with a nice mix of the bourbon and citrus.
2 oz Bourbon (or other whiskey)
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

The Sidecar was a first for me, my first time drinking/using Cognac and I got to say I don't know why I waited so long!  The Sidecar is a 1930s classic from Paris where it originated at Harry's New York Bar, where it was named for a patron who regularly rode to the bar in a motorcycle sidecar.  The Sidecar is said to be the precursor drink to both the Daiquiri and the Margarita (which i have a great recipe for which I will post at a later date).  The Sidecar is a very refreshing drink with a slightly sweet yet citrusy taste, its very easy to drink and smells and tastes awesome.  The recipe calls for a salt rim on the glass but I am not a fan of salt in my drinks.
1.5 oz Brandy or Cognac (I used Remy Martin VSOP which is great to drink on its own)
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Lemon Twist
Salt rim (use lemon to wet the edge) (OPTIONAL)
Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Veal Piccata

This might be my version of "engagement chicken" because this was the first dish that I cooked with my husband.  In fall 2008, my husband and I just started dating as freshmen at Villanova University.  We started to miss home cooking after eating dining hall food day after day, so I asked my Uncle who lived right by campus if we could use his kitchen to make dinner one night (and also to buy the wine to cook with).  We made Chicken Piccata that time because we were on a college student budget.   But now that I actually have an income, I love to swap in veal every so often to mix things up.  Not only is this a delicious and easy meal, but it brings back some great memories every time I make it.

 Rob loves his artsy ingredient prep shots

 I ended up flipping these pieces too quickly so I had to flip them again to continue to brown on the other side.
 Deglazing a pan with wine gives off the most amazing scent.  I LOVE IT!

Veal Piccata

Ingredient Count: 7 (I only needed to buy 4)

1/4 cup flour
4 veal scallops, about 3/4 pounds
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp. capers, drained

Salt and pepper the veal, dredge the veal scallops in flour and shake off the excess flour.
Heat oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan or skillet.  Add butter.  Once melted, add the veal and cook until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes on each side (at least on my stove).  You will know when to flip when the veal comes easily off the pan and there is color on the edges of the top side of the veal scallop.  Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat and add the wine to the pan to deglaze.  Bring to a boil while scrapping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half.  Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, garlic and capers.  Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 8 minutes.  Return the veal to the pan and flip the veal scallops in the sauce.  Serve over a plate of pasta with the sauce served over the veal and pasta.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 5

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.

Tonight, I am going a little older than the Downton Abbey era for my choice: the Ward 8.  The Ward 8 is a cocktail that was created in Boston in the late 1890s in honor of the election victory of a major player in the Boston political scene at the time.  The drink is named after the election district that historical clinched the election for him.
The Ward 8 calls for bourbon or rye whiskey (a first for me and cocktails), I used Maker's Mark bourbon as opposed to my higher quality Bowman's bourbon (see Week 4 Part 1 post) as I prefer to drink my good whiskey neat.  The rest of the cocktail in fruit juice and grenadine.   A number of garnishes may be called for depending on the recipe, traditionally it includes a maraschino cherry and a mini Massachusetts state flag (sounds kinda silly but I get the idea), I just used a lemon twist.  The Ward 8 overall is very similar to the traditional Whiskey Sour.
Interestingly, many whiskey based cocktails call for some other kind of liquor (often Brandy), whats great about the Ward 8 other Whiskey Sour derived cocktails, is that you don't need any other liquor or uncommon ingredients.
Ward 8
2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
1 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz fresh Orange Juice
1 tbs Grenadine
Grarnish of Juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass with garnish.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 4 Double Feature Pt 2

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.


It's time for Part 2 of today's #MasterpieceCocktail double feature!  Tonight's Downton Abbey companion drink is my take on the "Love Potion" cocktail.  Unfortunately this drink doesn't have a really great story to go with it, in fact its hard to nail down what exactly the drink is supposed to contain.  In doing my research in preparation for this post i found at least 5 different recipes including the one that I used as the basis for my version (found it in my cocktail recipe book).  That being said the variations range from a frozen style with strawberries, to one with amaretto and peach schnapps, and one with rum. 

My take is fairly basic but it has a few varieties that can be made based on personal preference and what style drink you are going for.  I have made mine as a cocktail and a highball.  My personal take combines the basic ingredients from the recipe of Citron Vodka, Cranberry Juice and Chambord but adds a little something else: Pomegranate Liquor!!  The result is a sweet easy to drink cocktail.  To make the highball version I just add some club soda. 

Hope you enjoy!!


2 oz Absolut Citron
1/2 oz Chambord
3/4 oz Pomegranate Liquor (Pama is what i have)
2 oz Cranberry juice

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
Same as above but pour into an ice filled highball glass and top with club soda.

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 4 Double Feature Pt 1

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.

Today brings you a #MasterpieceCocktail double feature in honor of a new show we started watching, Mercy Street on PBS (pilot was last week).  If you are not familiar with the show, it takes place toward the end of the Civil War and follows the staff of a Union military hospital in Alexandria, VA (just down the road from us!).  A show set local got me thinking about something that I am passionate about: eating/drinking local products.
I feel very strongly about supporting local farms, business, wineries, breweries, and distilleries.  While often a little more expensive, local products are often higher quality and have an interesting story.  It concerns me that recently many of my favorite "bottle shops" have closed down as they cannot compete with the large grocery stores, where the people who stock the beer and wine often can't tell you anything about the products or make an educated recommendation.  My primary concern with this is that people with a genuine passion about wine and beer cannot express that passion and pass it on to their customers (similarly when was the last time you saw a legitimate butcher shop).  I personally believe that supporting local businesses, both bottle shops and producers, is the best way to keep these markets going and help to keep people with a true passion in business.  Further, growth and support for local businesses signals to our lawmakers that antiquated liquor production and distribution laws need to change (and in many places they are!) to allow these local businesses to thrive.  While Virginia has not seen the microbrewery and microdistillery market growth as some other states (small wineries are extremely strong though), many of the more antiquated laws have been changed to make starting up and distributing easier and support is strong, from both the 3rd party groups and the government, for the growing industry.

The craft beer industry has grown massively thanks to a number of changes in state laws, local advocacy, and a rapidly growing demand for alternatives to flavorless macrobrewed options that have dominated the market for so long.  Hardywood Park brewery in Richmond, VA (my hometown) is one of my favorites, they make a wide variety of styles and experimental options.  One of my favorites from Hardywood is the RVA IPA, which uses hops grown by local volunteers (the brewery sends hops to people who grow them and send them back for use in the beer) making it a truly local collaborative effort!  Hardywood has grown in the last few years since they started from being solely local to having distribution at least as far away as Philly. 

Similarly, small wineries are popping up in areas like Virginia and Pennsylvania where the climate is similar to old world Europe and some truly excellent wines are being produced.  Two favorites are Barboursville in Virginia and Grace Winery in Philly.  Barboursville is probably one of the best known Virginia wineries and make some truly excellent wine.  Octagon is their flagship red blend, which we are saving for a special occasion.  They also make an excellent Sauvignon Blanc.  Grace Winery is a small winery in the Philly suburbs loved by Amy's parents (see picture below), who are regulars and well known by the owners.  They make a number of varieties with an excellent Chardonnay Reserve.  Unfortunately due to more restrictive distribution laws in Pennsylvania finding small winery products usually means a trip to said winery to pick up the wine but that is a lot of the fun: visiting the winery, taking in the atmosphere, talking to the owners, and having a drink or two!
Finally, Virginia has changed some laws over the last few years to allow for microdistilleries to thrive and the VA ABC organization actively advocates for these local distilleries.  I am on my second bottle of John J. Bowman Single Barrel Virginia Bourbon Whiskey, which is excellent and my current go to sipping bourbon.  Now I know your thinking "It's not from Kentucky, how can it be Bourbon?"  Well okay, its technically not true Kentucky Bourbon, but it does start off at Buffalo Trace in Kentucky for the first distillation but then comes to Fredericksburg, VA where it is distilled two more times and oaked.  A. Smith Bowman Distillary also makes two other Bourbons, a small batch and limited edition, a vodka, a rum, and a gin.  Also, I recently bought a bottle of Green Hat Gin from Washington, DC.  The distillery got the name from a prohibition era gin distiller known for his green hat who provided illegal gin to a majority of the members of Congress and later wrote a tell-all about it.
I know that this is a fairly long post, but this is something I feel passionately about.  Next time you are out looking for beer, wine, or liquor give a consideration to your local products to keep these passionate people in business producing high quality products with great stories.  Take the time to learn a little about these awesome business and while it may be an extra trip try to support your local bottle shops try to get to one and see the difference passion makes. #DrinkLocal

Balsamic Pot Roast

If you cannot tell by now, I love comfort food!  I especially love slow roasting a large piece of red meat in my dutch oven, and that pretty much defines cooking a Pot Roast.  I had previously posted a pot roast recipe on this blog but this is another take on the classic dish; instead of wine, I substituted balsamic vinegar and added two different kinds of mustard.  You can use just Dijon or grainy mustard but I had both on my fridge so I figured I'd use them both.   Making a pot roast might seem intimidating but the majority of the time this dish takes to cook is in the oven.  The hardest part about making this dish is resisting the urge to take it out of the oven too early because it smells absolutely amazing!  Slow cooking fills the house (or apartment) with smells and aromas that are just so warm and inviting they can warm up the coldest of days, even a snowed in day.
The cut of meat most associated with a pot roast is a chuck roast which is usually a tough piece of meat from the shoulder.  It is great because it is a relatively cheap cut of meat but when slow roasted, it becomes so tender and literally falls apart when you lift it out of the pot.

I dredge my meat to reduce the risk of my kitchen smoking up.  Every so often I have had issues with red meat smoking up my kitchen and one time I tried a recipe for braised short ribs that called for dredging the ribs... guess what! no smoke!  From then on, I have always dredged large cuts of red meat I have to sear.
Searing the meat is one of the most important steps in making a pot roast. The point of searing is not to cook the meat through. By browning the sides of the meat you are able to lock in all the juices as well as impart a lot of flavor to the dish with the brown bits left on the bottom of the pot which come up so easily after pouring in the vinegar.  

After adding the vinegar, scrape the bottom of the pot for all the wonderful flavorful brown bits.
Before adding the potatoes and carrots, the meat should be almost at the point of falling apart but not quite there.
You will know your pot roast is done when the carrots and potatoes are fork tender and the meat literally falls apart when trying to remove it from the pot.

Ingredient Count: 10 (I only needed to buy 5)

Balsamic Pot Roast

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. flour
3 Lbs. Chuck Roast
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 cups beef stock
2- 3 Carrots, chopped
4 red potatoes, diced into 1 1/2 inch pieces
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 F .

Pat chuck roast dry so that the meat can sear.  Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.  Heat oil in a dutch oven, or other heavy pan with a lid, over medium high heat (or high heat if you have a powerful vent hood, which I unfortunately do not have.).  Add the roast to the pan and brown on sides, a few minutes on each side (only turn when the meat comes up easy and no longer sticks to the bottom).  Remove the roast and set aside on a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil.  Reduce for about 5 minutes.  Once the vinegar reaches a syrupy consistency.  Stir in the mustards and tomato paste.

Place the roast back into the pan and add the stock and thyme.  Bring to a boil and cover the pot and place in the oven for about 2 hours.

Stir in the carrot and potatoes and make sure they are coated in the cooking liquids.  Return the pot to the oven to cook for about 1 hour or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Inspired by Ina Garten

Nothing beats a classic comfort food on a cold snowy day and there is nothing more classic than grilled cheese with tomato soup.  One of my favorite things about cooking is the ability to customize a recipe to your own individual tastes An Ina Garten recipe inspired me to make this dish on a snowy day.  Although Ina is a cooking icon, I did make some slight changes to this dish.  My husband likes really creamy tomato soup, so I added 1/4 cup more cream than she does.  I also added some tomato paste that I had on hand to really thicken up the tomatoes and boost the tomato flavor.  Ina adds orzo to her soup and I would like to say I cut this for a very important culinary reason but I have to say it was simply because I was lazy and did not want to clean an additional pot.  Ina cuts her grilled cheese into croutons to serve over the soup, I didn't do that this time but that doesn't mean I will not do this in the future.  This recipe is too good not to make again.  

I like to call this grilled cheese Actual Grilled Cheese.  When I was a kid, it always confused you why it was called grilled cheese was it was made in a frying pan and not on a grill so I broke out my grill pan to make my grilled cheese.  Yes, I was a weird kid but I asked the important questions in life.

Ingredient Count: 9 (I only needed to buy 5)
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
Pinch of saffron threads
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

(Actual) Grilled Cheese

Good sourdough bread, cut into 1/2 in. slices
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 Oz. Gruyere Cheese, grated

In a large pot (I use my dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook on low for about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute.  Pour in the broth, tomatoes, paste and saffron.  Salt and pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in the cream and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, heat a grill pan.  Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners. Turn the slices over and pile Gruyere on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up. Once the grill is hot, add the sandwiched to the grill pan, cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is melty.

Cut the sandwiches on the diagonal to dip in the soup and enjoy a nice comfort food meal on this snowed in day... Thanks winter storm Jonas

Sunday, January 17, 2016

#MasterpieceCocktail Week 3

#MasterpieceCocktail is brought to you by my husband, Rob.

Tonight for #MasterpieceCocktail I decided to go with a special on a  true classic: the Martini.  The Martini is the quintessential classic cocktail composed of Gin and Dry Vermouth, about as simple as a cocktail can get.  The Martini can be traced back to the late 19th century.  The exact origin and name are unknown with several theories existing.  The Martini became one of the most predominant cocktails during Prohibition due to Gin being available illegally.  The Martini went by the wayside following Prohibition but has seen a recent resurgence.

To highlight how much the Martini has influenced the cocktail world, I also decided to try various Martini-based cocktails: the "Perfect" Martini (add Sweet Vermouth), the "Yale" (add Blue Curacao, I also added orange juice and Cointreau to give it more sweetness), and the "Bronx" (add orange juice).  The basic Martini and the "Perfect" version is a bit of an acquired taste due to the dryness and prevalence of the Gin in the flavor profile.  The Yale and Bronx are classic variations, with the Bronx being similar to the classic Orange Blossom (also called Adirondack No. 1) and similarly tracing its origins to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

The key to all Martinis is keeping the ingredients cold minimize the ice melting and diluting the flavor.  Its best to chill your mixing glass, serving glasses, and Gin.  Also a key is to Stir not shake the Martini to present chipping of the ice and easier melting.  James Bond did prefer a shaken Vodka Martini but, according to Martin Sheen's character on the West Wing (Jed Bartlett), "James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it."

I hope you enjoy the drinks as much as we did.

All recipes are stirred in a mixing glass with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.

Classic Martini

2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
Lemon Spiral

Perfect Martini

2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
Lemon Spiral

Yale Martini

1.5 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/3 oz Blue Curacao
Splash of Cointreau
Splash of Orange Juice
Orange Spiral

Bronx Martini

1.5 oz Gin
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Sweet Vermouth

1 oz Fresh Orange Juice
Orange Spiral