Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rhubarb Cocktails

What says spring and early summer than rhubarb? Nothing. That's what.

If you're tired of strawberry rhubarb pies or even rhubarb crisps, turning to fun, flavorful cocktails is a great way to take advantage of the bounty of rhubarb available this time of year. Here's two great ways to use the same rhubarb simple syrup.

First, make the rhubarb syrup so it can cool.

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2 cups chopped rhubarb

Combine and heat over a medium heat for 20 minutes. Strain through a chinois and reserve the leftover rhubarb pulp for use with vanilla ice cream or greek yogurt.

For the first cocktail, I wanted to experiment with mezcal.

Smoky Rhubarb Margarita

2 oz. mezcal
1 oz. Patron Citronage
1 oz. rhubarb simple syrup
Juice of 1 lime

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and strain into glass with crushed ice.

Next, I wanted to experiment with bourbon. It paired really well.

Rhu McClanahan

2 oz. Kentucky bourbon
1 oz. Rhubarb simple syrup
4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Ginger Ale

Combine first three ingredients in a highball glass filled with crushed ice and top with ginger ale.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Best Damn Greens Recipe

As a southerner, I'm contractually obligated to love greens. I've tried over the years to approximate the melting and porky goodness found in the greens at southern soul food restaurants. Dancing around with using bacon or even pancetta, I've never hit the bulls-eye. That is until last night. Using turnip and collard greens with smoked pork neck bones proved to be the magic trick.

• 1 medium red onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 lb. smoked pork neck bones
• 1 lb. bunch turnip greens, stems removed, well rinsed and cut in ribbons
• 1 lb. bunch collard greens, stems removed, well rinsed and cut in ribbons

Sautee the red onion in a deep pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic once onion is softened and sautee until fragrant. Add neck bones and sautee briefly.

Cover with water to top of bones. Simmer for 1 hour to 90 minutes covered.

Add greens to pot and simmer covered for 2 hours. Add more water if pot gets dry.

Serve with cider vinegar and/or hot sauce if desired.

Pictured above: Brunswick stew, sweet potato souffle, black-eyed peas, buttermilk biscuit and best damn greens.

Tropical Kraken Rum Punch

Happy New Year! We rung in the new year with this delightfully fruity rum punch.

4 oz. Kraken rum (black spiced rum)
4 oz. white rum
2 oz. Bacardi select (dark rum)
2 oz. Grand Marnier
Juice of three limes and lime peels reserved
Juice of two lemons and lemon peels reserved
6 oz. ginger simple syrup (below)
4 oz. guava nectar
4 oz. mango nectar
4 oz. pineapple juice
¼ cup sugar
Ginger ale

Combine peeled and chopped fresh ginger with one cup sugar and one cup water. Cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool.

Muddle sugar with lemon and lime peels in large glass pitcher to release the natural citrus oils.

Combine liquors and juices with muddled sugar. Stir.

Serve over crushed ice in tumblers/cocktail glasses leaving about a half inch. Top with ginger ale and stir.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sea Bass Ceviche

As a cool dish, ceviche is perfect in the summer, but you can serve it anytime of year and wow your guests with a unique appetizer. Serve in a martini glass for the extra pizazz.

• Juice of two large limes
• Juice of two lemons
• 1 minced garlic clove
• 1 tablespoon minced shallots
• 1 teaspoon minced serrano chili OR 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
• 1 lb. sea bass fillets, skinned, cubed in small dice
• Salt to taste
• 1 avocado cubed (wait to prepare until ready to serve)
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients except last two ingredients and let marinate covered and refrigerated for 3 to 4 hours.

When ready to serve add cubed avocado and cilantro and stir.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Classic Fish Soup

Trying to recreate the absolutely awesome fish soup we had at The Fishery in San Diego this fall, I purchased a lovely red snapper from Whole Foods for the dish. Combined with fresh fennel and other vegetables, this is a healthy, satisfying soup that's great as a starter or main course.

• Red Snapper, skinned, filleted, bones reserved for stock
• 3 small or 2 medium fennel bulbs, chopped, stalks reserved for stock
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
• 1 small shallot, minced
• Pinch of saffron
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• 8 cups total fish stock (combine fresh and store bought)
• 1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• Salt and pepper to taste

Use the reserved fish bones and fennel stalks to make a homemade fish stock. Cover with water, season with salt, and gently simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Keep warm.

Saute fennel, onion, celery in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Season with salt and black pepper.

Add garlic and shallots and saute until fragrant.

Add saffron and red pepper flakes followed by wine. Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Add stock, lemon juice and zest, tomatoes and tomato paste.

Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes or more.

5 minutes before ready to serve, add cubed snapper fillets to soup.

Garnish with flat leaf parsley and serve with a plank of garlic bread.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tuscan White Bean Dip

One of our favorite stand-bys for dinner parties and entertaining is a very simple but flavorful Tuscan White Bean Dip.


One can of cannellini beans (great northern) rinsed in a colander
Juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Blend in a food processor until smooth.

The beauty of this recipe is you can easily modify to suit your tastes. A little more lemon juice makes for a tangy treat. A little more olive oil makes the dip even creamier.

I serve this with good Italian bread toasted and rubbed with garlic. Pairing it with roasted vegetables as part of an antipasti platter allows your guests to construct their own crostini.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pineapple Frozen Margaritas

Wanting to use up some leftover pineapple, I took a stab at a pineapple margarita. Even though it was a cold winter's night, the frozen margarita was incredibly refreshing. Can't wait to make this again on a hot summer day.


2.5 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cointreau/orange liqueur
1 oz. grenadine
1 oz. light agave syrup
3 slices of pineapple

Mix all ingredients in blender and pulse until blended.

Serve with a garnish of pineapple and enjoy.