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The Fiscal Cliff Cocktail
Dec 31st, 2012 by

This cocktail should be served half-full. Read on to find out why.

This cocktail should be served half-full. Read on to find out why.

I made up this cocktail this afternoon with some help from my Facebook friends. I asked everyone to contribute at least one ingredient. I then chose a few, threw them in a cocktail shaker and created this recipe.

Although two people suggested gin (”because you can make that in a bathtub if you have to,” said my friend Elizabeth Comeau), I opted not to use that because gin is a tricky thing to mix with anything else. Instead I chose a base of cheap whiskey (”because I think we’re all going to have to tighten our belts”).

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Whiskey (A shot)
  • Beer (About 4 oz.)  (Bob McKenzie suggested Miller, “because it’s the champagne of beers” but I had to use Pabst Blue Ribbon, because that’s what I had on hand)
  • Some lemon juice (About 3-4 tablespoons) and a few dashes of Angostura bitters (it’s been a bitter battle, no?)
  • Simple syrup (1 Tablespoon) (Because putting an end to this political crapshoot and not having to hear about it again will be sweet)

What I did:

Fill a cocktail shaker with several cubes of ice

Add whiskey, beer, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters.

Shake it up (not too much or it will explode — or go over the cliff).

Now pour half of it in a glass and pour the other half out for the government (as suggested by my friend Kenny Hogan). Thanks all!!

Happy New Year,

–Mark and Trish

Pork Cutlets With An Express Marinade
Jul 11th, 2012 by

This flavorful dish is easy to make on a weeknight.

This flavorful dish is easy to make on a weeknight.

I made this one up Monday night with ingredients I had on hand. It was quick and easy to make and very garlicky. In other words, it’s a healthy dish.

Ingredients:

  • Pork cutlets (about 1 pound)
  • Garlic powder (2 tbspoons)
  • Paprika (2 tbspoons)
  • Dried sage (1 tbspoon)
  • Salt (1 tbspoon)
  • Olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (1/3 cup)
  • Dijon mustard (1/2 tspoon)

What I did:

Put the cutlets between two pieces of wax paper and beat them with a rolling pin until flat and thin.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Dip the cutlets in the bowl, covering them with the oil mixture.

Fry the cutlets in a little olive oil in a saute pan until done (about 30 seconds on each side). Don’t overcook.

Serve with rice or a mushroom risotto and a side salad. Serves four.

Saints Preserve Us, Don’t Try This At Home
Jul 9th, 2012 by

You can see the dregs at the bottom of the carboy on the right.

You can see the dregs at the bottom of the carboy on the right.

I started drinking before 10:30 this morning and there was an explosion in my basement.

The 1-liter bottle exploded when the cork was pulled out.

The 1-liter bottle exploded when the cork was pulled out.

It was really more of a minor eruption and involved one of my 1-liter wine bottles. And the drinking was more of a tasting as part of my wine-making duties.

It was a little more than a month ago that the wine stopped fermenting in the large oak barrel and I siphoned it into two 5-gallon glass carboys, two 1-gallon bottles, and three 1-liter bottles. Over that time dregs settled to the bottom of the carboys and as part of the wine-making process I had to change it from carboy to clean carboy so that the wine didn’t sit too long on top of it.

Usually, when I make wine in the fall I crush the grapes in early October and I change the carboys on St. Martin’s Day, Nov. 11, an old superstition of my father’s that I’ve followed for years to great success. But this year I made wine in the spring using grapes from the fall harvest in Chile (our spring is their fall) and I wasn’t sure which Saint should guide me.

A Saint To Guide Me

Today I started a new tradition and declared St. Veronica Guiliani’s Day the day to change the wine from glass to glass. Catholic Online told me St. Veronica was a Capuchin mystic who was born near Milan and “who had many spiritual gifts.”  She was a “recipient of a stigmata in 1697 and “she impressed her fellow nuns by remaining remarkably practical despite her numerous ecstatic experiences.”

All was going well until I tried to open a 1-liter bottle of the wine to help fill one of the carboys to the top. The dregs take up some room so when I fill up a clean carboy I’m usually short a third of a liter or more and I need to fill it up all of the way to keep the air out.  Air will turn wine made without preservatives to vinegar. I use no sulphites, only grapes which mysteriously change from grape juice to wine when I follow this process.

So I pulled out the cork on the 1-liter bottle and it came out with a pop, followed by what looked to be smoke, and a raging rush of rose-colored bubbles that erupted out of the bottle along with three-quarters of the bottle of homemade wine. In the end I used up that bottle, as well as nearly two more liters, to fill both carboys to the brim. What I’m left with is 12 gallons of homemade malbec in clean bottles in my basement.

I had to taste each carboy and bottle after I opened it to make sure nothing had turned to vinegar. All tasted good– nearly ready to drink even now.

I Have A Vision

St. Veronica entered “a new phase of her spiritual life in 1693 when she claimed to have a vision of a chalise, symbolizing the Divine Passion which was to be re-enacted in her own soul,” according to Catholic Online.

I too have a vision of a chalise, filled with this wine, which I’ll be able to start drinking in the fall. This morning’s tastings led me to envision a bold vintage with bright spicy notes and a good kick. It’s a little raw now but I’m hoping it develops a silky texture within the next couple of months, a character of malbec that I like and desire.

Until then, I’ll wait out the rest of the summer knowing there is a God. How else can I explain this miracle?

A Phenomenal Guitarist, At Any Age
Nov 12th, 2011 by

(Above, the 12-year-old New Bedford resident played the House of Blues in Boston in 2010.)

I had quite a surprise Friday night when I went to see Buddy Guy at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston.

I didn’t want there to be an opening act, but when I got there, I didn’t want the opening act to stop playing.

Read: Why I’m A Believer In The Mighty Quinn.

Make Biba’s Mother’s Fried Meatballs For Your Valentine
Feb 12th, 2011 by

These are great served anyway: in a sauce with or without a sub roll or just plain on a dish.

These are great served anyway: in a sauce with or without a sub roll or just plain on a dish.

These are so delicious they’re an act of love. Like all good things they take a little work but aren’t the loved ones in your life worth it?

Restaurant owner and cookbook author Biba Caggiano has the best recipe for meatballs or polpette (as the Italians call them).

What makes them truly great and different is that she uses a variety of meats, including mortadella, and each ball is dipped in egg and breadcrumbs before fried, giving them a tender crust.

They’re so delicious you can eat them plain, without tomato sauce. But I like them with a light sauce: one that isn’t overcooked and where you can taste the fresh tomatoes.

I also deviate a little from her recipe by adding some ground beef. Biba’s mother’s recipe just uses the following meats: ground veal, pork sausage, and mortadella.

Here’s my recipe based on her’s:

Ingredients:

  • White bread (4 slices or 2 large and thick slices of Italian bread)
  • Milk (1 cup)
  • Ground veal (1 pound)
  • Ground beef (1 pound)
  • Ground pork (1/2 pound)
  • Mortadella, chopped finely (1/2 pound)
  • Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Grated Imported Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) (2 cups)
  • Large eggs, lightly beaten (6)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Dried bread crumbs (2-4 cups)
  • Olive oil (Enough for frying)

What I did:

Remove crusts from bread and soak in milk for about 5 minutes.

Drain the bread and squeeze out as much of the milk as possible. Add the veal, beef, pork, mortadella, nutmeg parmesan cheese, and 3 eggs. Season with salt and pepper and mix until combined well.

Take a small amount of the meat mixture and shape it between the palms of your hand into a ball about the size of small egg. Place on a plate and continue to do this until all of the meat mixture is used.

Lightly beat the remaining 3 eggs in a bowl. Dip the meatballs in the egg mixture and then roll them in the breadcrumbs. Flatten them slightly with the palms of your hand and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or large platter. They can be refrigerated for several hours. Just be sure to tightly cover them with plastic wrap.

Heat an inch of oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as the oil is hot, lower the meatballs in batches with a slotted spoon. Do not crowd the pan as this will cause them to cook unevenly and burn. When they’re golden on one side (about 1-2 minutes), turn them over and brown on the other side. Once they are cooked through, transfer them to a dish or platter lined with paper towels to drain.

You can serve them just like this. Or you can put them in a large pot of your favorite tomato sauce over low heat and cook them a little more.  You can use this tomato sauce recipe (adapted from my mother’s recipe) but I’d omit the sausage and possibly add a fresh tomato, chopped fine, or a can of diced tomatoes to give it a fresh taste.

Stir occasionally being careful not to break apart the meatballs. Serve this and it will strike a chord in the hearts of people you love, stronger than an arrow from Cupid’s bow.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

2011 Is All About Presentation
Jan 3rd, 2011 by

This Staub dutch oven is very heavy and very blue.

This Staub dutch oven is very heavy and very blue.

So last year I discovered a new (but very historic) cocktail, called the Tom & Jerry and I also made Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon. But I didn’t have the best way to show it all off.

This year for Christmas my brother gave me a Staub dutch oven, which is perfect for cooking and serving stews, such as Julia’s dish. I spent a good part of New Years Day (3+ hours) preparing the French staple.

Many of the Tom & Jerry sets sold on Ebay or Etsy are from the 1950s or 1960s. But this one dates to the 1930s.

Many of the Tom & Jerry sets sold on Ebay or Etsy are from the 1950s or 1960s. But this one dates to the 1930s and features a fox hunting scene.

I also bought myself an early Christmas gift on Etsy (EBay’s artsy cousin): a punch bowl set from the 1930s specifically made for the Tom & Jerry. This potent eggnog created in the late 1800s was so popular at one time that many pubs were named after it.

If you’ve never had one, you’re in for a treat. Don’t worry if you don’t have a very proper Tom & Jerry mug to serve it in. Drink one of these and you won’t care what it (or you or that person of the opposite sex sitting across from you at the bar) look like.

Happy New Year.

Tom & Jerry Recipe

Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon Recipe

Find more recipes in the Food section.

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