Margaritas, Perfected Over Time by the Raconteur

I have a friend who is a margarita-maker extraordinaire.  My son’s godfather, he is a true renaissance man with a variety of interests, a broad palate for both food and libations, and an uncanny ability to describe the essence of a thing in humorous, quirky way; you might call him a raconteur.  In fact, that’s what I’m going to call him here in the blog:  the Raconteur. He has perfected the mixology for this ubiquitous cocktail through years of practice, experimentation, and feedback. I’ve blogged about the Raconteur and his ‘Ritas before, when I profiled the marvelous Krups juicer he uses. A Friday night tradition for years back when I was a single mom was enjoying pizza and wings with the Raconteur and Kat-Woman, his wife; we washed them down with his hand-made tart margaritas.

We’d laugh and talk and catch each other up on happenings at work and in our extended families, and often share the food and drink with random neighbor friends who somehow began to realize that the party was always at my house on Friday nights.

On several occasions, we put together taste tests to try out the absolute best combinations of a variety of tequilas and orange liquors; these things are important to get right.

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A taste test with three different tequilas during a group trip to the Rio Frio in West Texas, more than a dozen years ago
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He was tickled by the idea of the taste test, even before he started mixing
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All ready for the tasting
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We served everyone three small margaritas, so they could judge the best.  The “cocktail waitresses” are me on the left, and “Kat-Woman” on the right; she’s my son’s godmother

I’ve been working on the Raconteur to be a guest blogger for Glover Gardens, and recently, Kat-Woman sent me the photo below with a suggestion to do a Margarita post.

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The current favorites for tequila and triple sec

These days, we enjoy the Raconteur’s ‘Ritas at Glover Gardens when they visit, or Little House in the Rockies.  He finally agreed to share his thoughts on the topic:

“The margarita recipe is simplicity itself, although different than the the ones that are so often published.

My recipe is 2:2:1. Two parts tequila, two parts fresh-squeezed lime juice and one part triple sec.

Some published recipes call for 3:2:1. Too much tequila for me. Tequila by itself has a taste that is similar (in my imagination, never having tasted the real thing) to kerosene. That is why you balance it out with the lime and the triple sec. And, I like lime juice.

One often sees a recipe that is 2:1:1:1. Two parts tequila, one part triple sec, one part lime juice, and one part simple syrup. If you compare this to my recipe, you will see that it is similar, except that one of the two parts lime juice has been replaced with simple syrup. Makes a sweeter drink, and one that is cheaper to make. Great for restaurants, and the patrons get a sugar rush with their drink.

But I don’t need the sugar rush, I think excessive sugar increases the chances of a hangover (think champagne!) and it masks the taste of tequila. I know that I said just above that straight tequila tastes like kerosene, but lime and triple sec transform it.

So, do yourself a favor and stick with 2:2:1. If it isn’t sweet enough, add some sugar. I do that for my mother-in-law. Just beware of the three consequences I listed above. And cook your steak well-done if you want to. (Note from Glover Gardens – he’s being sarcastic here.)

I salt the rim, but I drink from the same spot on the rim, so I don’t take in much extra salt. Mostly decorative, but it does tone down the sweetness from the triple sec.

I mostly use el Jimador Reposado for the tequila and Hiram Walker 48 or 60 proof for the Triple Sec. Luxardo triplum works well, too.

Cheers!”

A final note on margaritas:  always, always, always use fresh-squeezed lime juice for margaritas. Anything else is simply criminal. For more about the Friday night Pizza, Wings and ‘Ritas tradition with Kat-Woman and the Raconteur and the perfect juicer, here’s The Juicer for Me, for You, for Ritas.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Distant not so Distant

I love this beautiful expression of appreciation for those who are closest.

In the World of Thoughts

M

. . . A glimpse of my world. . .

( Just couldn’t find any frame with all of you, so please forgive me)

There are millions and millions in this World,

A few millions in the country,

A million or so in the State,

A few thousands in the town,

A few hundred in the area,

A hundred or so in the neighborhood,

A few in the same house,

But the one residing in my heart,

I can count on my fingers tips,

They are never Distant from my thoughts,

As they are in my Gratitude list everyday.

Copyright (c) 2017 Namrata D Prabhakar

All rights reserved

Daily prompt :Distant

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Greek Chicken Salad

Check out this beautiful chicken salad recipe from the “Leen Cuisine” blog.

Leen (the blogger) says:

It’s a cool, refreshing take on chicken salad. You can eat it either in a pita, lettuce wrap, plain bread, or a whole wheat bun like I did here. I also like to throw in buckets of fresh dill because it’s my favorite herb and because it just makes everything taste so good.

I’m putting it on my “must make this summer” list, and so of course I had to share it in the Glover Gardens Cookbook.  I’m imagining this lovely salad in a picnic basket with Hawaiian rolls, perhaps a little hummus with pita chips, grapes or strawberries, and a cool, refreshing white wine.  Source: Greek Chicken Salad

My own chicken salad recipe has a Southwest flair; it’s Chipotle Chicken Salad.

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Tom’s Spicy Tomato Juice

In addition to his many BBQ accomplishments, the Grill-Meister makes a marvelous homemade tomato juice.  When we started growing tomatoes at Glover Gardens, he found a recipe online and then honed it over several summers, tweaking the spices, amounts and fresh peppers.  Here it is, hopefully in time for your summer tomato crop, or, if you don’t have a garden, those deep red beauties you’ll find at your local farmers’ market.

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This amped-up tomato juice doesn’t need anything but vodka and a squeeze of lime to make a perfect Bloody Mary. On the other hand, it’s so good, you don’t really need the vodka!

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 serrano, cayenne or fresno pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (you guessed it, we use 4)
  • 1 TBSP kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 c water
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • celery stalks (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Blanch tomatoes and remove skin and core (see pictures below for how-to instructions); cut into large chunks. Dice peppers and onion; mince garlic. Combine all ingredients in large pot; simmer for 30 minutes. Allow mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes; puree in blender. Use medium sieve strainer to remove pulp from tomato juice (reserve the pulp to use as base for soup, salsa, guacamole, etc.) Cool in refrigerator for minimum of 3 hours. Serve chilled, garnishing with black pepper and a stalk of celery.

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Fresh ingredients make for a fresh, robust-tasting juice
Tomatoes on Scale
Start with 4 lbs of the juiciest tomatoes you can find
Tomato Blanched for Easy Peeling
Remove each tomato as soon as the peel splits
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You can see how the peels have separated from the flesh
Peeling is Easy
The peels slip right off
Core While in a Bowl
Core the tomatoes while in the bowl so you don’t lose a drop of that wonderful juice
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The vegetables are roughly chopped for cooking
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This is what the cooked mixture looks like
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The Ninja blender purees in about 10 seconds
Tom's Tomato Juice is Thick and Spicy
Tom’s Spicy Tomato Juice is thick and slightly chunky, almost like gazpacho (yum!) 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Making Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Fish at Home

The eighth post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips. And also cooking some of our favorite Louisiana recipes at home to get in the right mood – yum! Last night, it was Paul Prudhomme’s blackened fish.  Actually, his recipe was for blackened redfish, but we use tilapia instead.

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Blackened fish is a perfect late spring meal by the pool

I usually tinker with recipes to make them my own, which you will know if you’ve ever taken a gander at my About page.  But some recipes cannot be perfected, because they are already there.  Chef Paul’s blackened fish is one of those. His blackened redfish was so popular in the 80’s that some called it the dish of the decade.  In a retrospective about Chef Paul, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says it almost wiped out Gulf Coast redfish population.

I can understand why!  We’ve created magic with the Chef Paul blackened fish recipe twice now, and it is downright spectacular.  Moist on the inside, crusty and just-right spicy on the inside…heavenly.

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My copy of this cookbook is over 30 years old and battered with use

The recipe in the cookbook has a marvelous spice mix that is juuuust right.  Beware: there’s a recipe online on the official Paul Prudhomme web site, but it is different than the cookbook version and uses a pre-made commercial spice mix from the Chef Paul brand.  Don’t use that one – use the one from the cookbook.  I wouldn’t normally publish the recipe from the cookbook because it is copyright protected, but the New Orleans Times-Picayune published it in their online article in NOLA.com, so I’ve included it below. My advice:  do not stray from these instructions. The result is a perfectly cooked blackened fish that is fine enough to serve to Sunday company.

From The Times-Picayune, April 5, 1984

“Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” includes this note: Redfish and pompano are ideal for this method of cooking. If tilefish is used, you may have to split the fillets in half horizontally to have the proper thickness. If you can’t get any of these fish, salmon steaks or red snapper fillets can be substituted. In any case, the fillets or steaks must not be more than 3/4 inch thick.

Blackened Redfish

Makes 6 servings

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted in a skillet

SEASONING MIX:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 6 (8- to 10-ounce) fish fillets, preferably redfish, pompano or tilefish, cut about 1/2 inch thick (note:  at Glover Gardens, we use tilapia)

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over very high heat until it is beyond the smoking stage and you see white ash in the skillet bottom (the skillet cannot be too hot for this dish), at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 2 tablespoons melted butter in each of 6 small ramekins; set aside and keep warm. Reserve* the remaining butter in its skillet. Heat the serving plates in a 250-degree oven.

Thoroughly combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowL Dip each fillet in the reserved melted butter so that both sides are well coated; then sprinkle seasoning mix

generously and evenly on both sides of the fillets, patting it in by hand. Place fish in the hot skillet and pour 1 teaspoon melted butter on top of each fillet (be careful, as the butter may flame up).

Cook, uncovered, over the same high heat until the underside looks charred, about 2 minutes (the time will vary according to the fillet’s thickness and the heat of the skillet). Turn the fish over and again pour 1 teaspoon butter on top. Cook until fish is done, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining fillets. Serve each fillet while piping hot.

To serve, place one fillet and a ramekin of butter on each heated serving plate.

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Chef Paul isn’t with us any more – cooking blackened redfish for the angels? – but friends tell me that K-Paul’s is still just as good

I don’t know if we’ll have time to get to K-Paul’s while we’re in New Orleans for the Jazz Fest (in less than 2 weeks!!!!), but with this recipe, we can have a little bit of Chef Paul’s kitchen magic right here at home.

One last tip:  if you have any blackened fish left, it is marvelous the next day in a fish taco.  Just add a bit of pico de gallo or slaw and serve it up on a corn or flour tortilla.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Home Alone Comfort Food: Scrambled Egg Sandwich

So over the last three weeks I had a long trip for work to Paris and then right away, a shorter trip for relaxation to Colorado (I know, I know, you’re not crying for me). After arriving home in Southeast Texas in the wee hours last night and working all day today, I found myself home alone for dinner tonight with no “on purpose” food in the refrigerator. That is, no food that was purchased with a menu or recipe in mind; all the Grill-Meister and I have in the icebox is a plethora of condiments and some too-old leftovers, and he’s not here tonight to justify my ordering Chinese.

What to do? What to do?

Comfort food to the rescue: a Scrambled Egg Sandwich.

I give thanks to my Dad for teaching me the joys of this humble little culinary bundle of joy. I made it a little differently than he did when I was growing up: his version with “Sandwich Spread” and cheddar on white bread evolved into mine with jalapeño jack and fresh baby spinach on wheat, but it’s still a wonderful go-to comfort food item.

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There’s really no recipe for this:  simply scramble a couple of eggs the way you like them (don’t forget the salt and pepper), toast a couple of pieces of bread, and assemble by resting the eggs atop a bed of baby spinach or perhaps some thinly sliced tomatoes on the bottom piece of toast, adding a slice of your favorite cheese and topping with the second piece of toast.  Voila, a lovely dinner for one, reminiscent of your childhood.  Or mine, at least.

I’m curious – what is YOUR easy comfort food when you’re home alone?

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Easter Sunday

A beautiful Easter picture, with “a glow from the heart”. Thank you to Ray Laskowitz, the Storyteller.

STORYTELLER

On Easter Sunday.

This was harder than you’d think.

I wanted to post an Easter Sunday picture. But, I want to continue to explore my emerging vision. So the question was fairly simple. How do I do that without offending many of you with some weird post production? Art is art. I know that. But, Easter is symbolically a time of rebirth. Bright colors are normally used to portray that. It’s a huge day. So what do I do to make that happen?

Well.

I had to find the right picture. I wanted it to be something you’ve never seen. And, that maybe I had forgotten.

No bright colors. But how about a kind of glow from the heart of the picture? A glow that pierces through the darkness. An illuminating glow. Maybe a glow of hope.

Maybe.

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. However you believe, have a great day.

For…

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