Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Make A Really Good Margarita (Blood Orange Margaritas)

The other day Oprah had a show on aging gracefully. Just before commercial breaks she had little mini Q&A segments with older women. One of the questions was something like "What do you know?" Were Oprah to ask me that question, I would say, "Oprah, I know how to make a killer margarita." In this day of bottled premixed margs, it is a skill of which I am most proud.

Blood Orange Margaritas
1 cup sugar
4 limes (more for garnish)
3 lemons
1 blood orange
Sauza Hornitos
Grand Marnier

I begin by making a sweet and sour mix. Start with the simple syrup. In a sauce pan, mix 1 cup of sugar with 2 cups of water and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Juice the limes and lemons. Mix the juice, the simple syrup and 4 cups of water in a pitcher. Taste and adjust. It should taste like a nice tart lemon/limeade. (If you want to skip this step, Simply Limeade is a perfectly reasonable substitute. I use it all of the time. I don't really care for any other sour mix though.)

Next, juice a blood orange. Reserve.

This is an optional step. If you have a fancy freezer that crushes ice for you, you don't need to do this. Otherwise, here's how I crush mine. Ice goes into a plastic bag.

I cover it with a towel, and beat beat beat it with my muddler. (Rolling pins work too.)

After a minute or so, I end up with some lovely crushed ice.

Fill a couple tall glasses with ice. Add an ounce and a half of Sauza Hornitos and an ounce and a half of Grand Marnier (uh, these are gonna be strong)to each. Not to be picky here, but no substitutions on the booze. I use Cuervo in margs sometimes, but I think it gives a dirty after taste. Sauza Hornitos is a nice middle of the road tequila that isn't super expensive, but isn't rot gut either. It tastes clean. And Grand Marnier is the trick to making any margarita taste like a Top Shelf marg. Add sweet and sour leaving a little bit of room for the blood orange.

Top each with the reserved blood orange juice.

Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel, stir and consume.

These margaritas are also perfectly delicious without the blood orange juice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Homemade Hummus (Chickpea Dip)

Well, this post is long overdue. My parents gave me a really nice food processor for Christmas and I haven't featured it in this blog yet. I've made bread in it and used it to slice potatoes for gratins and chips, but for some reason, I'm not taking pics and posting recipes. Today that changes.

I've never understood why the little tubs of hummus at the grocery store are so pricey. It's easy to make at home for about a dollar. And you know exactly what's in it when you make it yourself.

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
3 cloves of garlic (more to taste)
olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt & pepper

The chickpeas and garlic go into the food processor.
Add a little bit of salt and pepper. I whirl it a bit to get everything chopped up, then add...


...and this....

I usually bowl it up and top it off with more olive oil and black pepper. We eat hummus with celery or carrots like a dip.

And also on toasted bread or pita.

The great thing about hummus is that it has a nice creamy kind of fat feeling texture while packing quite a nutritional punch. Chickpeas contain lots of fiber, protein, and iron.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A San Francisco Treat (Not Rice A Roni)

I mentioned to my friend Erica that I would be travelling out to San Francisco this fall. Erica lives in SF and said, "I'm gonna send you something to get you excited for your trip out here." A few days later the FedEx man arrived with a rather large box. Inside was this <-. Unbelievable. I'm am getting completely inspired by this bag of goodies and we are working our way through tasting everything. For the curious, the box contained the following:
  • A really awesomely sized bag perfect for a trip to the farmers market
  • Maps of San Francisco and Napa Sonoma (really nice laminated maps)
  • San Francisco Magazine (saving it for the plane ride to San Antonio)
  • Susan Rice truffled popcorn
  • Far West Fungi Dried Wild Mushrooms
  • Humphry Slocumbe Duck Fat Pecan Pie
  • Humphry Slocumbe Pork Fat Caramels
  • Eatwell Farms Thyme Salt
  • Stonehouse California Olive Oil
  • Recchiuti Burnt Caramel Sauce
  • Recchiuti S'Mores (those are long gone)
  • Casina Rossa Truffle & Salt, Porcini & Salt, and Fennel & Salt
  • Marshall's Farm Marin Wildflower Honey
  • Humphry Slocumbe Bacon Peanut Brittle
  • Gianna's Chick Cookies
  • Botanical Interests seeds for Delicata Squash, Lemon Cucumber, and Catnip
  • Boccalone Orange and Wild Fennel Salame
  • Range Brothers Smoked and Seasoned Pork Strips (think pork candy)
  • Sweet and Spicy Beef Jerky (I don't have the brand on that cause it all got eaten and the bag got thrown away)

An incredible gift. I felt like a kid at Christmas opening everything up. Thanks, Erica!

New Favorite Thing (Steel Cut Oats)

So after I made my mushroom veggie burgers, I had a lot of oats left over. One morning I was looking at the bag and thought "I should have some oatmeal for breakfast." Now, when I was a kid, I tried the packets of instant flavored oatmeal and found that I didn't really care for the texture or taste. But I popped a 1/2 cup of those rolled oats in the microwave with a cup of water. After two minutes, I added a little salt, a little butter, some cinnamon, a spoonful of brown sugar and some banana. And those oats were magnificent.
I decided to look up the nutritional info on my new favorite breakfast treat and was shocked at how good oats are for you. They have iron, protein and about 20% of the daily RDA of fiber. The soluble fiber helps prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol. I personally found that a bowl of oatmeal keeps me filling full all morning long.
Anyhoo, after spreading the oatmeal love to some friends, someone suggested that I try steel cut oats. They take about 20 minutes to cook on the stove top, so I put them on, made the bed, emptied the dishwasher and fed and watered the cats. By the time I was ready, so were my oats. And now I am a steel cut convert. These oats have a nuttier texture with more bite. The oats pictured above are steel cut, with a pat of butter, some salt, a half of a banana, a few walnuts and some Marin County Honey that a friend sent from San Francisco. Which reminds me....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Grandmother's Scandalous Slaw Recipe

I am reluctant to call this recipe "my grandmother's scandalous slaw recipe" because I know I will get hits from freaks googling "scandalous grandmothers", but the fact is that this recipe has a bit of a family scandal behind it. I won't get into the details, but one family member claimed this to be her recipe. Then someone else decided to bottle it and sell it. Now what makes this funny is that all the people involved were about 80+ years old. What makes it extra funny is that if you google "refrigerator slaw" you will find tons of versions of the recipe. I don't think it was ever only one person's recipe. It appears to belong to everyone of German descent. Regardless, it is the best slaw you will ever try.

Refrigerator Slaw (my version)

1 head cabbage, shredded

2 medium onions, grated

half a jalepeno, diced

half a pepper, diced

1 cup vinegar

1 cup oil

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon dried ground mustard seed

2 tablespoons celery seed

Mix a cup of vinegar, a cup of vegetable oil and a cup of sugar in a sauce pan. As my sister reminds me, "make sure your exhaust fan is on."

Add salt, mustard seed, and celery seed.

I had some frozen peppers left over from last summer's farm share, so I chopped them up and put them in a bowl.

With some frozen jalepeno a friend had given us last summer.

Most people shred the cabbage in a food processor, but I find cutting it with a knife by hand to be soothing.

Chop chop chop chop and...

Shred the two onions with a box grater (this is a seriously painful step, but I prefer the grated onions to chunks.)

Throw everything into a bowl and wait for the dressing.

After the dressing has simmered for 5 minutes, place it in the fridge to cool. After it has cooled, toss about half of it with the cabbage mixture. Save the other half for the next batch (or cut the dressing mixture in half.)

Voila! I really love this stuff. It's sweet, tangy, and kind of spicy.