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.