Well, after several days of beautiful weather, a cold front moved in yesterday afternoon, bringing thunder, lightening and hail. I was going to post the video of the storm I took, but I can’t figure out how to get it off of my phone.
I has me some mad smart phone skillz. Not.
Then I thought I’d post the recipe for the marvelous beef vegetable soup I made a couple of weeks ago – since it’s all COLD again, and there’s a dusting of SNOW on the ground – but it occurred to me that some of you might actually have warm weather and why should I spoil your spring with a winter soup dish?
So, I decided to do something I hadn’t for awhile – let Beloved the Martini Mixologist save the day. I made the usual “Make me something fun” request last weekend, and he handed me this. VERY, VERY good.
serves me, and nobody else but me
2 1/2 shots vodka
1 tablespoon spicy vegetable juice, such as V8
2 or 3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 dash of your favorite barbecue rub
1 inner rib of celery
Place all ingredients except the celery in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well; strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the celery.
Our party went very well – everyone seems to have had a good time (no one has quit and everyone still seems to be speaking to us, anyway). I took a few pictures because, well, our house won’t look quite that nice again until right before next year’s party.
I like this picture for two reasons: it’s halfway decent – I don’t take very good pictures of rooms – and it’s the only time our fugly fireplace is pretty. If we’d had to buy this house because we loved the fireplace, we’d be living somewhere else, trust me.
Our Amish-crafted bookcases. We had someone clean the carpets before the party, who looked at the bookcases and said, “Boy, someone likes to read.” I replied, “Not at all – I’m just allergic to moose heads.” (Here’s your sign…)
Look very carefully at the dining room. Appreciate how nice it looks, because the other 364 days a year it is covered with my laptop, note pads, pens, pencils, The Young One’s homework and my photography stuff. Oh, and ignore that I still have not picked out a color for above the chair rail. Oh, well.
This is a Hendrick’s Martini. Lately it is the libation of choice if we’re going to drink a martini because A) it tastes really, really good and 2) it’s not exactly cheap so we don’t drink a lot. Distilled in Scotland, Hendrick’s lacks the junipery sharpness of most gins and has a subtle undertone of cucumber. Best served very dry, it is also quite tasty garnished with a sour gherkin.
serves Beloved and makes him happy
3 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
several drops dry vermouth
Chill a martini glass in the freezer. Place several ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Drizzle the vermouth sparingly into the shaker, just enough to coat the ice cubes. Add the Hendricks to the ice and shake. Strain into the chilled martini glass, garnish with the cucumber slice and serve.
Well, Fall has hit us with a vengeance and I’ve been on a “comfort food” kick. Warm, hearty, filling dishes – and we’re still on our winter squash kick. I’m working on a savory version of the butternut squash souffle with chipotle peppers, roasted red bell peppers, onions and cheese and will post it as soon as I’ve got the proportions of the ingredients just right.
Oh, as an aside and sort of a follow-up on my HFCS post last Friday – canned red kidney beans contain sugar/corn syrup/soybean oil, depending on the brand. Fortunately, the organic store brand was just soaked beans (soaking is important, as it releases a lot of the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients from legumes), water and salt. Why was I buying canned beans? I was making chili, and the beans in my pantry were apparently old and did not take well to the “quick soak” method (boiling them for 2 minutes and letting them sit for an hour); every last one of them split wide open and became mushy.
Anyhoo. Comfort food. We got a ton of roasts when we purchased Chuck (including a standing rib roast destined to be Christmas dinner). I reserve the tougher cuts – chuck, blade and arm roasts – for stews or chili (just cut them into 1″ to 2″ cubes) or just throw them in the crock pot with some onion, garlic, seasonings and a little water. Cook it on low for 8 – 10 hours and you’ve practically got dinner on the table. I used to do a nice pan gravy with this, but since we’ve cut out grains we’ve just been dressing our beef roasts with a little steak sauce or low-sugar ketchup. I wanted to do something with a little more flavor with the last roast, so I made this.
And it is GOOD. I’m one of those that can take mushrooms or leave them – I prefer them raw, to be honest – and even I thought this was great. Beloved, who loves mushrooms in any way, shape, form or fashion informed me that I can’t serve him roast any other way now. This would be excellent over a good steak, and since it has a “marsala-ish” quality, would be pretty darn good over chicken or pasta, too.
Note: You can use bourbon, Kentucky or Irish whiskey, but since “whisky” in our house means single malt scotch, that’s what I used. A good dry white wine would also work well.
Whisky Mushroom Cream Sauce
4 – 6 servings
2-3 cups sliced fresh white button mushrooms
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons whiskey, scotch, bourbon, or dry white wine
1/2 to 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced chives (optional)
Melt about 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium-sized heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to foam, add about 1/4 of the mushrooms to the pan. Do NOT crowd them; you want to brown the mushrooms – they will release liquid into the pan and will not brown if there are too many. Cook the mushrooms in batches until the liquid they release evaporates and they are golden brown. Add a little butter with each batch, if necessary. Remove each batch as done to a plate and set aside.
Lower the heat and add a little more butter to the pan; when it begins to foam add the onions and saute until the onions are soft and translucent, but not brown. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Increase the heat back to medium-high and add the mushrooms back to the pan, tossing to combine them well with the onion/garlic mixture.
Add the whiskey and balsamic vinegar to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the mixture to bubble and reduce slightly. Lower the heat slightly and add the cream and nutmeg; cook, stirring constantly, for another minute. Remove from heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in chives, if using, and serve immediately.
Can I say gorgeous? Yes, I can, because she is. Tiny and gorgeous. And so very, very nice – I can’t even begin to describe how nice. I also got to meet PB, who is every bit as sweet and warm as his lovely wife, and LG and little o. Folks, pictures don’t begin to do those boys justice – they are flippin’ adorable. LG was a bit on the shy side Saturday afternoon, as well as immersed in watching Mickey Mouse (I wish I’d had more time to spend there, I’d have been doing the Hot Dog dance with him before too much longer), but I did get to spend a little time getting to know little o. Beautiful blue eyes and eyelashes for days, and he was giving me smiles before I left (as MB said, he can tell a Grandma when he sees one!).
I was also presented with a lovely and thoughtful gift from the Badger clan. My love of fun and fruity martinis is well-known, and I couldn’t have been more surprised to be given a lovely set of two martini glasses etched with little fishes all around – TOO CUTE!! How could she know I’m so fond of unusual and funky martini glasses? – and a bottle of all-natural Wild Blueberry Martini Mixer. All natural, folks – not a drop of high-fructose corn syrup to be found.
And it is delicious. (Alcohol-free primal challenges don’t count when you’ve been given something like this. Trust me.) I’m sure it would have been better if Beloved had concocted something with it, but I wasn’t going to wait for him to come home from his business trip either.
I know…I’m bad. Happy, but bad.
Very Blueberry Martini
serves me, happily
1/2 part Wild Blueberry Martini Mixer
1 part Stoli Blueberry Vodka
1½ parts Stoli Vodka
1 small squeeze of lemon
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 2 or 3 ice cubes; shake well. Strain into a well-chilled martini glass, garnish with a slice of lemon and serve immediately.