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

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

A Glover Gardens Follower Shares: “Summer Days” Cocktail

I love it when you make my recipes!

A Glover Gardens Cookbook follower – a great gal pal from Glasgow – recently tried the Warm and Yummy First Course: Toasted Goat Cheese Salad recipe from the Glover Gardens Cookbook.

I love it double when you share a photo!

She did a great job with the recipe and posted a photo on the Glover Gardens Cookbook Facebook page.  She said, “Had a wonderful toasted goats cheese salad last night. Thanks for the recipe. First time ever trying panko…very nice.”

Nice, indeed!  Look at that beautifully plated Toasted Goat Cheese Salad.

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I love it mucho grande when you share recipes, too!

She went on, “While prepping my salad I had a wonderful cocktail called….Summer Days.  I know you’ll love it.”

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Summer Days Recipe from My Glasgow Gal Pal

One measure each of vodka, peach schnapps and midori, shaken with three to four measures fresh orange juice. Pour into a chilled glass and add a measure of grenadine.


One more thing I love:  cocktail recipes in “parts” or “measures” as above.  You can easily multiply them to fit the number of guests, or just make one to accompany your salad preparation.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook, with all photo credits and the recipe to Anne of Glasgow

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch

 

The sixth 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.

Today I will wax poetic about the frozen Bourbon Milk Punch from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House.  Because I must.

It Started with a Travel Tip

The Grill-Meister has a friend who travels extensively for work and also for pleasure, and he has a talent for sniffing out excellence in every locale.  When he gives you a travel tip, you pay attention.  That’s how we first learned of the frozen Bourbon Milk Punch:  “If you’re going to New Orleans, you have to try the Bourbon Milk Punch – it’s an adult milkshake.”  He was right.  If you’re of age and inclined to imbibe, this creamy, dreamy, thick elixir should be on your bucket list.

A Break from the Hullaballoo

Bourbon House is situated on the bottom floor of the Astor Crowne Plaza New Orleans Hotel, and the Bourbon Milk Punch is served in the hotel lobby as well as the restaurant.  The restaurant has terrific seafood and is always crowded, so if you’re just in the mood for a naughty little frozen drink, just pop into the lobby bar.  It’s quiet and offers a nice little break from the hullaballoo.

The “Secret” is the Gelato

If you get chatty with the bartender and ask for the recipe, you’ll get a coy, “well, it’s a secret, but I’ll tell you if you promise not to share it; it’s the house-made vanilla gelato that makes it so creamy”.  Imagine my surprise when I found that information online, right there on the Bourbon House web site – see below.

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Recipe from the Bourbon House web site; link below

The Replay List

I’ve just realized that if you’ve already done something – like going to the New Orleans Jazz Fest and experiencing the rest of the unique and wonderful city – then you’ve crossed it off the bucket list of things you must do in life.  So there needs to be another list for those things you simply must do again; I’m going to call it the replay list.  The Jazz Fest is on our replay list and will probably get replayed again and again, like that favorite song back in sixth grade.  The frozen Bourbon Milk Punch is on there, too, but one per trip is enough.

Resources

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Blackberry Mint Iced Tea Lemonade – This Might Be on the Menu in Heaven

Source: Blackberry Mint Iced Tea Lemonade – Cooking with a Wallflower

I subscribe to lots of wonderful blogs written by people who are smarter than me.  They’re all different, but they have some things in common:  they either write beautifully, are super-artistic, have wonderful, creative ideas for food, or sport the kind of wisdom and spirituality that I can only aspire to.  And sometimes, I just have to share their smarts.

This is one of those times.  Doesn’t this drink look perfect for the long, hot days of summer?  How can it go wrong, with mint, tea, lemon and blackberries?  I think it might be on the menu in heaven, and it’s definitely on my list for the weekend.  I think Blackberry Mint Iced Tea Lemonade would pair beautifully with Crab Quesadillas or Turkey Cevap on a Pita.  And if you just had to have that extra kick from alcohol, Tito’s Vodka would be just the thing.  Wouldn’t it?

Click the picture; you’ll see the recipe, and understand.  Happy times getting through the heat of the summer, from one who understands in sunny, hot, muggy and yet still wonderful Southeast Texas.

911 Call for a Hot Toddy: Introducing the Myra

Saturday on the Patio

It’s a lovely, warm, bright-blue-sky Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting on the patio digging up photos from my computer for my son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor slide show.  I’m nominally being useful, but mostly, I’m enjoying the vitamin D-building sunshine.

Jingle-Jangle Disruption

Ring, Ring! My cell phone jumps, startling me and the cardinal in the bird feeder behind me.

Drowsy, I grab the cell phone and greet my bestie, who has an urgent need for a hot toddy recipe.

(Aside, in loud stage whisper: I have never used the word “bestie” before, and I feel almost naughty and hipsterish.)

Myra Needs a Hot Toddy!

Bestie, calling from the Texas Hill Country, says that her friend Myra is suffering from strep and as the caretaker, she wants to provide a hot toddy to complement the homemade chicken soup she has prepared.  Myra has some Woodford Reserve Bourbon, a need for relief, and a willing and able bartender in Noemi.  I’ve met Myra before; she has a very precocious son and a super-kind heart.  And she loves my bestie, so of course I love her.

Hot toddy, hot toddy!? I have never made one, but was so flattered to get the call and be expected to know all about it.  So of course I put on my “fake it ’til you make” it attitude and gave stellar advice! My in-the-moment counsel was to make some hot tea, add honey, then lemon and 2 oz of bourbon and put it in a mug with a sugared rim.

My text after we spoke, to confirm the instructions:

“Boil water, then steep the tea for 4 minutes, then remove the bag and add 2 tsp of honey. Stir it in so it can dissipate before adding the 2 oz of liquor, which will cool it down a little. Add a twist of lemon; rub the lemon all around the rim of the mug. You could even rub the lemon and then dip the rim in sugar before adding the liquids, like you do with a margarita. Yum. I’m going to call this drink the Myra.  Send me a picture for the blog!”

The picture is below.  Myra gave the toddy a thumbs-up.

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The inaugural instance of The Myra Hot Toddy, served alongside peppermint eucalyptus oil to clear the sinuses

What Does Wikipedia Say?

I checked Wikipedia after my “sage” advice to see if I was even in the ballpark about hot toddies, and is it turns out, my idea about the tea was “spot on”.  Hot toddies always have bourbon and can be made with water or tea; they are drunk before bedtime as a sleep aid, to provide a warming effect in cold or rainy weather, or for their assumed restorative powers.  Click here to see what else Wikipedia has to say about hot toddies.

Trying It Myself

I felt a little uncomfortable recommending something I had only conjured up in my mind and my virtual taste buds, so as soon as I was able, later on Saturday, I followed my own instructions and made the same drink, using the Grill-Meister’s Maker’s 46.  It was delicious.  And it made me sleepy.

The Myra Hot Toddy Recipe

Ingredients (makes 1)

  • 1 lemon-ginger tea bag, or other tea of your choice
  • 2 oz. of good bourbon (something you would drink neat, not a house / mixing bourbon)
  • 2 tsp. local honey
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • lemon wedges for 1-2 tsp. lemon and one for garnish

Instructions

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Gather all ingredients first

Gather all ingredients.  Boil two or three cups of water and pour over the tea bag in a small tea pot or pitcher. (You’ll want enough tea to make at least two hot toddies, right?)  Put a teaspoon of sugar on a small paper plate. Find a nice mug and rub the rim with one of the lemon wedges, the turn the mug upside down and dip it onto the sugar to coat the rim.

Let the tea steep for 4 minutes, then stir in the honey.  Add the bourbon, squeeze a couple of lemon wedges into the drink and stir, then garnish the mug with another lemon wedge and serve.

The Myra Hot Toddy - Version 2
The Myra Hot Toddy makes a soothing nightcap

 

 

 

Pampas Grass: A Champagne Drink

I love mimosas. Actually, I love many drinks that mix nice-tasting ingredients with champagne.  I love champagne.  Bubbly is good.  Very good.

Overlay the above with the fact that my dad and aunt-mom (story later) had a very prodigious grapefruit tree, and one of my favorite cousins lives in Florida and has an uncle with a citrus farm.  You can imagine:  I am blessed to receive tons of citrus in the winter, and challenged to do it justice.  One result:  the Pampas Grass, a champagne and grapefruit juice drink.

It’s an easy mix:  equal parts champagne (or sparkling wine), Midori, and freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice.  I made it recently for my nieces, who graced us with a pre-Christmas visit.

The Pampas Grass (makes one drink; multiply as necessary)

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (or purchased, if you don’t have fresh fruit)
  • 2 oz. Midori melon liqueur
  • 2 oz. inexpensive but decent champagne or sparkling wine (Korbel or a similar wine) – *see note below
  • lemon, lime or small grapefruit slices for garnishing

Mixing Instructions

Add all liquid ingredients to a wine or champagne glass, and garnish with citrus slice.


*Note: I saw Anthony Dias Blue of Wine Spectator on Good Morning America about 25 years ago, and when asked about champagne for mixing in drinks like mimosas, he advocated using inexpensive but decent champagne (like Korbel). He said that the finer champagnes were wasted when they were mixed with juices or other liquors. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 Champagne First

Pampas Grass
Add the Midori and the grapefruit juice, and voila, you have the Pampas Grass