Micheladas: a Mexican Cocktail Recipe

October 31, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Posted in Beverages | 15 Comments
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The hard drive on my laptop went belly up this week. Died quickly in my arms, I don’t believe it suffered. There wasn’t any warning that it was sick. One minute the screen saver was frolicking and the next minute everything went black. Several attempts to recesitate by powering on and off  failed. We even called in the finest surgeon in town, not even the Dell technician couldn’t bring it back to life. It’s now at the morgue (data extraction business) for an autopsy. 

During the whole ordeal I found myself heartlessly dreaming of a new Apple Powerbook but the Hub cheerfully announced that he had purchased a three-year warranty…drat. So I’m back in business with a shiny new hard drive. The Powerbook will have to wait until the next tragedy.

So what else do you do during crises but drink.  Let’s talk about Micheladas. 

I think you all know by now that my favorite food to eat, smell, cook,  look at and talk about is Mexican. A couple of weeks ago, we went to my new favorite restaurant in town and saw this Mexican cocktail on the menu. I must preface by saying that I can’t even remember the last time I had a beer. I’m not a beer drinker…don’t like it one bit. But, with the discovery of this tasty combination, I could see myself sporting a healthy beer belly in no time.  

I read that Micheladas have been around for decades in Mexico and have been especially popular in the Northern areas of Mexico. The Michelada stemmed from the usual practice of adding a squeeze of lime and a dash of salt to a beer. Now there are as many recipes as there are bartenders. I opted for a Rick Bayless version. Let’s take a look at what’s in this wonderful Mexican beverage  (pronounced mEE-shaw-lah-da)

  • Coarse sea salt for the rim of the glass (I used a pink Hawaiian)
  • Plenty of ice cubes
  • 2 12 oz. cans Mexican Beer, such as Bohemia, Tecate or Corona
  • 6 – 8 limes, enough to squeeze into 1/2 C. lime juice
  • 1 t. hot sauce such as Tabasco or Tapatio.  (We used the latter, I believe you should use a heat as strong as your threshold can handle)
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 t. Maggi or Soy sauce

In a bowl combine lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire and Maggi and whisk well. With two chilled glasses take a chunk of the lime and press around the rims. Invert the rims onto a plate containing the sea salt. Add ice cubes to fill about half way into the glasses. Next divide the sauce mixture evenly into each glass pouring over the ice.  Slowly add the beer so that the thick mixture remains cozy in the bottom of the glass. Top the glasses with a slice of lime or maybe even a small chili pepper for a festive look. 

Serve with a long straw. Why? For the first few sips you want to suck up some of that thick rich hot sauce from the bottom of the glass and then chase it with a sip of the cold sparkling ice cubed beer from the top and a crunch of sea salt that is beautifully fringed on the glass. This makes for a unique flavor sensation. 

The flavors in this cocktail are as exciting as it’s appearance.  Deliciously spicy and refreshing.  About half way through, stir it all together and let the lime jump in for a swim.  It tasted wonderful sitting in the warm fall sun on the back deck while waiting for the grill to heat for a sizzling steak dinner.

Micheladas…It’s Whats For Happy Hour

One year ago:  Rode Kool, braised red cabbage, a Halloween Tradition

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Sunday Breakfast

October 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Breakfast | 39 Comments
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Most mornings you’ll find oatmeal and fruit or cottage cheese and berries in my breakfast bowl, but when the calendar says Sunday, you can bet I’ll be serving up a fun breakfast.

Saturday at Whole Foods, I briskly walked past a display of asparagus on my way to the meat counter. I quickly hit the brakes and put it into reverse as the asparagus was beautifully thin and delicate. I hadn’t seen asparagus like this since May. I grabbed a bunch and mentally started planning how it would end up on our kitchen table for Sunday breakfast. Here’s what I did.

Cream Sauce: I had some heavy cream in the refrigerator, so in a small sauce pan I heated up about 3/4 cup and added about two teaspoons of some very flavorful thick and zesty hot sauce and let it steep for about ten minutes.  At the end I wilted in some rough chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon. 

PotatoI had one lonely little russet potato in the vegetable crisper that didn’t get used for the Columbian Potato and Chicken Stew I made earlier in the week. I peeled it and cut it into pretty good-sized wedges, boiled the wedges for ten minutes, drained and patted them dry, salt and peppered the dickens out of them and browned them in some pretty hot olive oil so they’d be crispy.

AsparagusI cut the ends off, and sautéed until tender in butter, lightly salt and peppered, of course.

Eggs:  Sautéed in an olive oil and butter until over-easy.

The Build: I circled some of the cream sauce on the plate. Topped with potato wedges, crisscrossed the asparagus over the potatoes and then teetered the egg on top and drizzled the whole thing with the remaining sauce.

In the end I had every fry pan and spatula in the kitchen dirty but what a delicious breakfast! That skinny asparagus was some of the best tasting I’ve had. The flavor was exquisite. Next time I’ll make more of the sauce as those potatoes really tasted good smeared around in that lemony spicy cream sauce. Actually everything tasted good smeared around in that sauce. 

Potato, Asparagus and Egg Tower…It’s What’s For Breakfast.

One Year Ago:  Tarragon Chicken

Hazelnut Chicken Sausage, Oregon Food and Wine

October 23, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Chicken | 31 Comments
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Oregon inspired Hazelnut Chicken Sausage resting in a red pepper cream sauce. More about that later in this post, but first let’s talk Oregonese.

Please don’t tell Colorado…but I’m having a love affair with Oregon. Look at this Oregon inspired hazelnut sausage snuggled against cranberry tangerine chutney, two over easy eggs and a nice big fluffy warm buttered croissant. Now if that doesn’t make your stomach growl! (Note to self: Pepper eggs after photo shoot).

Our two last vacations have been to the Northern Willamette Valley region of Oregon. What a foodie and wine lover’s paradise. The Willamette Valley is in the heart of Oregon Wine Country and contains two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards. And the Pinot Noir…world class in my humble opinion.

And where there’s wine there’s always an abundance of cuisine. From wonderful restaurants, to farms where you pick your own bounty, to wineries offering up world-famous chefs to prepare winemaker’s dinners, to famous cheese factories like Tillamook. In Oregon you’ll find a culinary discovery around every bend in the road. 

So with all that said, you can imagine how thrilled I was when I learned that I had won Cathy’s Oregon Food Sampler Basket giveaway over at Wives With Knives. Take a look at the loot that arrived on my doorstep. From left to right, cinnamon dusted hazelnuts and almonds, fruit candy, tangerine and cranberry chutney, marionberry jam, a package of fresh hazelnuts and a Wives With Knives Apron. 

So let’s just take a peek at what I’ve been cooking up over the last couple of weeks with all of these wonderful items.

We’ll start with this beautiful and delicious Cranberry Tangerine Chutney. Rich in color and bold with delicious flavor…

simply slathered on a croissant with some turkey breast made for a fabulous sandwich.

or whisked with some lime juice and smeared on shrimp before grilling produced a wonderful caramelized and flavorful glaze. Yum.

On our last trip to Oregon I brought home these two cookbooks.  Both books are authored by Chef William King a highly acclaimed and award-winning Pacific Northwest chef.  As you can imagine, the books are chock full of wonderful recipes and some of the finest food photography I’ve seen…compliments to photographer Rick Schaeffer.

Which, of course, provided me with plenty of recipes in which to use these beautiful Oregon Hazelnuts that Cathy threw in the package as a bonus. I chose a Hazelnut Chicken Sausage recipe. Let’s take a look.

That’s right, I made my own chicken sausage, using my food processor to mix the egg, ground chicken, hazelnut mixture into a pasty texture to form into tubes. I’ve never done this before and it was quite fun and rewarding. Using plastic wrap to form the tubes, you just drop them into simmering chicken broth and they cook up like a charm. Look at my first roll, perfect! I have absolutely no explanation why the other two rolls became unruly. The lengthy recipe, which I won’t post, then instructs you to slice and saute the sausage until brown and lay on top of a wonderful red pepper cream sauce. As you can imagine, it was delicious.  Recipe can be found in the Chef’s Bounty book.

When I started blogging, one of the first food blogs I followed was Cathy over at Noble Pig. You can imagine my delight when I found out that not only did she live in Oregon and featured some beautiful regional dishes, but also had graduated from UC Davis in California, majoring in oenology and she and her husband had moved to Oregon to plant their own vineyard and bottle wine under the Noble Pig label. Her first bottling was released this summer from Willamette Valley grapes and you can bet we ordered six bottles, four Pinot Noir and two Pinot Gris. We loved the Pinot Noir. In an email Cathy wrote:  “It was my idea to make a true Burgundian Pinot I wanted a food wine, a real Pinot.”  

The Pinot Noir was wonderful Cathy and we can’t wait to try the Pinot Gris.

 Thanks to both Cathy’s from Oregon for some wonderful fare!

Oregon Food and Wine… It’s What’s For Any Meal.

Ajiaco – Columbian Potato and Chicken Stew

October 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Soup | 30 Comments
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Plain and simple…I love soups and they’re popping up on blogs and food sites everywhere right now. So many soups are being made that I swear you could walk outside and smell the savory seasonings wafting across America.

I read somebody’s blog who had made an oriental soup and commented that “it was the best soup she had ever had in her life”. Man, I’ve had so many good soups it would b a big job to pick one as being the “best I’ve ever had in my life”. This is one that I’m posting today would make it to the top ten, oh, probably even the top five.  Googling Ajiaco took me to Wikipedia which tells us it’s usually made with three different varieties of Columbian potatoes and can be  garnished with a chunk of corn on the cob. I’ve had this recipe for such a long time, and my database doesn’t tell me where I found it, so I can’t give credit where credit is due.

It’s pretty simple. I think what makes it so doggone good is the use of the rotisserie chicken. I removed a lot of the skin, but did leave a few chunks in just for that added flavor. I also like to simmer this soup with some of the larger bones in, removing them at the end. Add a dollop of  “Better than Bouillon” and you’ve got a wonderful tasting broth. 

After the soup is dished up, add in a swirl of heavy whipping cream and here’s where the real party starts…The toppings add all the excitement and move this simple soup right up into the excellent category. Cilantro, avocados and drumroll please for capers. A big delicious wow. 

Ajiaco (Columbian chicken and potato stew)

Chicken, whole — roasted
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1 large onion — finely chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
4 medium potatoes — peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken broth (I used water and a huge dollop of Better Than Bouillon)
Accompaniments:
Cilantro
Heavy cream (Mexican Crema even better)
Capers — drained
Avocados — cubed

1. In a Dutch oven, saute onion in small amount of olive oil. Add chicken pieces, chicken broth three cubed potatoes.  Simmer until potatoes are tender. Grate one potato into soup mixture, simmer until tender. 

2.  Dish up the soup, swirl in the cream and sprinkle on toppings.

Smoky Pimento Cheese Spread

October 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Appetizers | 28 Comments
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Looking for a great little cracker and dip idea to impress your football watching guests this weekend?  Take a look at this one.

I think I tried bottled Pimento Cheese Spread once and promptly filed it in the “didn’t like” section of my mental food file. When Larry over at Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings posted his wife Bev’s Homemade Pimento Cheese Spread, it looked so good that I knew I had to give it 2nd chance. His sentiments to my comment was “warning, you’ll never buy store-bought again”.   Sold!

With its hearty flavor and served with crackers, this would be a great addition to any tailgating party, or with its slight heat, a nice warm-up appetizer to a chili dinner with friends. This even works nice as a spread to compliment a good sandwich. Let’s take a look.

Bev’s recipe was more about directions that an exact accounting of ingredients, so here’s what I did with ingredients I had on hand.

Bev’s Home Made Smoky Pimento Cheese Spread

1 C. shredded White Tillamook Cheddar
1 C. shredded Sharp Yellow Tillamook Cheddar

2 roasted Italian Bullhorn red peppers (wonderful flavor) peeled and chopped
1 roasted pimento, peeled and chopped (or one small jar – drained)

I’m not sure how much mayo,  just kept adding a little at a time until I had a good consistency – maybe 1/2 cup?

2 – 3 Chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped – I deveined and seeded these so it wouldn’t be too hot

A shake of salt and pepper. Bev didn’t say to, but I added a few shakes of dried onion.

Delicious Bev! I love the smoky flavor the chipotle peppers add not to mention the sweet earthy flavor that the roasted pimentos and bullhorns bring to the party.  I took it to an afternoon barbecue and I think it lasted all of ten minutes…and we’re even were a polite bunch!

Bev’s Smoky Pimento Cheese Spread,

It’s What’s for a Party.

Kraut Burgers and Berry Patch Farms

October 10, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Denver Area Restaurants | 32 Comments

A mid-day field trip to Brighton found us eating Kraut Burgers for lunch and exploring a wonderful certified organic farm.  Let’s take a look.

With my friend Marla as tour guide, Kirsten over at  My Kitchen In The Rockies and I were given a mighty fine tour. You see, Marla’s Russian-German descendents settled in this agriculture rich area of Colorado. She and her family still live in the area and when she suggested that Kirstin and I meet her for a Kraut Burger, followed by a stop at Berry Patch Farms, we couldn’t get it on the calendar fast enough. 

Let’s start with Lauer Krauts, a small family owned and operated  restaurant in Brighton simply serving Kraut Burgers and a soup of the day. You can get your Kraut Burgers three ways; regular, with cheese or with jalapeno. I opted for the original “regular” version. A Kraut Burger is ground beef, onion and cabbage and some seasoning, steaming inside a fresh-baked bun. Cut it in half, squeeze in some spicy brown mustard and you’ve got a delicious treat.

The meal even came with nice visit with the owners who demonstrated a sauerkraut making machine and gave us a view of a special German pastry, kuchen. 

Their kuchen is made with a German berry that can only be obtained by growing it yourself. Smaller than a  raspberry with a more tart flavor. They grow the berries behind the restaurant and keep a list of patrons that want to purchase a slice of kuchen each fall. Doesn’t it look beautiful? I didn’t write down the name of the berry…darn it. Marla actually just commented on this post and informed us the berry is Schwartzbeeren and you can read abit about it at this link:  http://www.volgagermans.net/portland/foods.html

Seating inside is friendly and hospitable and we had such a good time chatting with everyone. Kirsten, my blogging friend is from Germany has only lived in the states for a few years and I honestly didn’t think they were going to let her leave. Too much fun talking about German food.

Lauer Krauts is beaming with small town charm and great food. I’ll definitely be back.

Next stop was Berry Patch Farms, which hosts a barn full of beautiful certified organic produce grown on the land that surrounds it. Take a look at their website to learn more about them.

You can also pick your own at Berry Patch.  We didn’t, but as you can see by the look on this young man’s face, it’s a satisfying task. Man, don’t those raspberries look good. It’s a wonderful  place, with a great selection of produce and a lot of items I had never heard of…lilac and chocolate bell peppers to name a couple. It even comes with a greeting crew of beautiful roosters, a farm dog that chases the roosters and a pig that doubles as entertainment and sheriff.  As you can imagine, I felt like Alice in Wonderland.

Thank you to Marla for a wonderful Foodie adventure, and stick around for a slide show tour.

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Turkish Fries -Taters Of The Lost Ark

October 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Potatoes | 32 Comments

A few years ago we took a trip to California to visit our birdwatching/rock and roll music loving/wine and foodie friends Nancy and Neal. They treated us to a great little Turkish restaurant not far from their home. A wonderful family owned and operated small restaurant which Nancy has sadly reported is no longer in business. 

We fell in love with their Turkish Fries.

Nancy being the persuasive sort that she is, coerced a pretty good description of the recipe out of the owner and emailed it to me back in January, 2004. 

When I realized that I had printed it out and promptly misplaced it, I assumed it would show up eventually, hopefully sooner than later. 

I could never find it.  About a year ago, I became so obsessed, that I raided every cookbook in my possession and turned all spine side up and shook the dickens out of  each hoping the recipe would magically fall out. I emailed Nancy with a ridiculous and desperate request to search her “sent” email folder for the email. Not there.

Several times over the years, I’ve even Googled “Turkish Fries”…nada.  Hence, the lame attempt at “clever” for the title of this post. This Turkish tater recipe which has been buried for what seems like centuries has just been discovered, not in an Ark, but in the tombs of my cookbook collection…six years, eight months and one day later. I opened up one of my cookbooks and there it was neatly folded in half, tucked away for safe keeping, nicely preserved in between the pages. Odd, since I’ve opened up that cookbook many times without making the discovery. 

I want you to take a look at Nancy’s closing remark in the photo:  “Don’t pass this around or I’ll have to report you to the Turkish Tater Police”.  Ok, I’m officially not “passing” it around, I’m posting it around. Has the Statute of Limitations run out? Think I’m safe?

Let’s get started.

Hopefully you’ve got a good spice store or an on-line source to find exotic spices because you’ll need to have some Turkish red pepper. I found this amazing Aleppo Pepper at a local spice shop. Moist, oily, pungent, earthy with the addition of a little heat gives this a wonderful flavor on potatoes. The description on the back label even suggests potatoes as a recipient.

Peeling two good-sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, I used my mandolin to  cut perfect french fries. I soaked the fries in salted water while proceeding to the next step.

Slice one large sweet onion and saute in olive oil with 1 T. Aleppo pepper, until onion is carmelized, about 20 minutes.

In a cast iron skillet, add about 1/2 cup canola oil. Get the oil hot, add wet potatoes, salt and pepper and fry until all are beautifully browned.

Drain potatoes on paper towel, place in a serving bowl. Toss with carmelized onion/pepper mixture, chopped green onions, adjust with more salt and pepper if needed, and 1 teaspoon cumin.  Serves two.

Delicious!  Nancy, even thought it’s been years since I’ve had the original dish, I do believe I came pretty close to recreating. A big sigh of relief, the Turkish Fries recipe lives!

Turkish Fries…

They’re  What’s for a Great Side Dish.

Southwestern Corn Chowder

October 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Soup | 14 Comments
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I know, I know, everyone has a corn chowder recipe, but I thought I’d chime in with my Southwestern take on this delicious classic. 

Starting out with fresh Silver Queen Colorado sweet corn, I add some roasted Hatch chiles and some thyme leaves from my garden. I  kick it up with some red chili flakes, cream it up with sour cream and carb it up with grated potato. I finish with a festive bouquet of cilantro, shredded cheese and sliced green onions and you’ve got yourself a slightly different and delicious twist.  Take a look:

Southwestern Sweet Corn Chowder:

  • 2 stalks celery, rough chopped
  • 1 medium onion, rough chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 roasted Hatch chiles, skins removed, chopped/divided
  • 1/2 t. red chili flakes
  • 3 C. chicken broth
  • 1/4 C. sour cream
  • 2 C. sweet corn, blanched and kernels removed from cob
  • For garnish:
  • 1/4 C. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 green onions sliced thin
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Chopped Hatch chiles

 In a soup pot heat olive oil until hot. Add onion and celery and saute until tender.  Add chicken broth and thyme leaves and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add in the sweet corn. With the larger size grater holes, grate potato into soup. Add grated cheddar cheese and chopped Hatch chiles. Simmer for another five minutes. Stir in 1/4  cup sour cream. Partially blend the soup with an immersion blender.

Ladle into bowls. Top with a few of the chopped chilis, green onions and some chopped cilantro.

Southwestern Corn Chowder,,,

It’s What’s For Dinner.

Roasted Pear with Blue Cheese Salad

October 1, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Posted in Salads | 33 Comments
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When our friends Kathy and Tom invited us to a dinner party and asked that I bring a salad, I knew I wanted to throw together something seasonal…a  salad that oozed Fall. Since we’ve had unseasonably hot temperatures, I wanted something that reminded us of falling leaves, crisp temperatures and sweater weather. Opening up my recipe database, my salad section didn’t fail me. This Ina recipe was just waiting to join the party.

My notes indicate that about two years ago I watched Ina make this on her show and promptly headed over to Food Network and copied  the recipe into my database.  Don’t know why I haven’t given it a try until now. 

The flavors are exquisite.  The sweet baked pear topped with the rich pungent port wine sauce, stuffed with blue cheese, a crunch of walnut  and a tart craisin, finished with lemon and olive oil, all nestled on a bed of peppery arugula make this a wonderful combination of flavors and a perfect fall salad. This recipe has been moved from my “Salads” chapter to my “Fabulous Finds”  in my cookbook database. Take a look:

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese:

3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
3 oz coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese such as Stilton
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup apple cider
3 Tbs port
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 oz baby arugula
Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small sharp paring knife and a melon baller, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.

3. Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation.

4. In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature.

5. Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid in a large bowl. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.

Servings: 6

Roasted Pear with Blue Cheese…

It’s What’s For a Fall Salad.

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