Smoky Sunset Scotch

Apologies for the lack of posts... we've been doing to much of what's seen in the photo below. That is, enjoying the hell out of sunsets and surroundings, often with food and drink by our sides. We're working on some things, more soon. 

Homemade Bitters: Chocolate and Grapefruit

The makings of a great cocktail: good booze, ice, and not much else. It’s an equation that keeps the Martini going strong.  And it's the reason why “Old Fashioned” is a good thing. The “not much else” is where bitters come into play. Bitters alter the flavor profile of a cocktail in a subtle way, without adding sugar, fruit, or other liquors. There are countless options out there, but making your own is as easy as throwing a bunch of aromatics in a jar of booze and walking away from it for a week or so.  Two staples in our bar: chocolate and grapefruit.

CHOCOLATE BITTERS
Drink of choice: vanilla bourbon, chocolate bitters, rocks.  The runner up: sub out classic bitters for chocolate in an Old Fashioned

Add to your 8 oz jar:

  • ½ cup cacao nibs (find them in the health food isle)
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon gentian root
  • fill to the top with 101 proof bourbon

Keep it in a cool, dark place. Shake it from time to time. Let it sit for at least a week before straining out the solids (a coffee filter works great here). Add ¼ simple syrup to the remaining liquids to bring out the flavor.


GRAPEFRUIT BITTERS
Use it with gin, vodka, or add a few drops to your margarita to cut the sweetness.

Add to your jar:

  • Zest of 2 grapefruits and 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup 100 proof vodka
  • 1/2 tablespoon gentian root
  • Small piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

Keep it in a cool, dark place. Shake it from time to time. Let it sit for at least a week before straining out the solids (a coffee filter works great here). Add ¼ simple syrup to the remaining liquids to bring out the flavor.

Braised Oxtail Soup

We don’t always wait 24 hours until dinner is ready, but when we do, it is because of Oxtail Soup. The recipe is adapted from Chin Chin (thank you Mitch & Lauren for introducing this into our bellies). If you happen to be spending a rainy day indoors, tackle this rich recipe. It’s not the usual Clean Sink fare, as it takes quite a bit of ingredients and time, but it’s well worth the wait.  It’s rich, creamy, salty, spicy, sweet, sour, and topped with crunchy fresh herbs.

The Components (a lot of them, deep breath in…)


The Meat
2 pounds oxtail or other bone-in stew meat
1 cup kecap manis, or sweet soy (or just mix equal parts soy and brown sugar with a few chunks of ginger and a chili in a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half)

Marinate the oxtail in the above overnight. Wipe off excess sauce and sear on high heat to brown the meat before adding to the below Braising Liquid.


The Braising Liquid
3 cans coconut milk
3 stalks of lemongrass
2 large pieces of galangal (if you can’t find this ginger-like tuber, sub in ginger)
4 spicy chilies (scud or Serrano work well here)
½ cup fish sauce (plus more to taste)
½ palm sugar
½ red onion
4 cloves garlic
10 small dried chilies, roasted and crushed
2 tablespoons tamarind paste

Combine the above in a large pot and simmer for 1 hour. Before adding marinated oxtail.

 

The Chili Jam
5 thai chilies
4 yellow wax peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 stalk lemongrass (pale part only)
1 thumb size piece of ginger
3 cloves garlic
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
¼ cup fish sauce

Blend peppers, onion, lemongrass, ginger and garlic into a paste. Pan fry in oil until fragrant, then add sugar and caramelize. Add tamarind and fish sauce. You’ll add this in at the end along with the chicken stock, lime juice, and fish sauce to taste.
 

4 Cups Chicken Stock (you may use less, depending on how thick you want your soup)

 

The Herb Mix
2 Shallots, sliced thin and fried in oil until crispy
Handful of roasted, chopped peanuts
1 small bunch thai basil leaves
1 small bunch mint leaves
1 small bunch cilantro leaves
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved

Mix the about together with lime juice and use to top dish. Serve extra alongside soup.
 

The Extras
Lime juice, to taste
Extra Fish Sauce, to taste
1 packet cheong fun noodles (optional)

 

To assemble…
Add the marinated and browned oxtail to the braising liquid, cover, and simmer for 5-6 hours, or until meat falls off the bone. Remove the meat and strain/discard the rest of the solids in the braising liquid. Take the meat off the bones and return to the liquid. Return the liquid/meat to a simmer. Add to the pot ½ cup of the chili jam and 4 cups of chicken stock (or less – depending on how thick you want your soup). Add more fish sauce and lime juice to taste. Add noodles if you’re going that route. Top with herb mix.

Coco Nuts

Out of fear of impending death by falling coconut, Paul harvested the tree that looms over the sun beds. We are now safe, sunny, and saturated in all things coconut

How to use them?
Get ‘em open. If you have the right tools, it’s fast and painless (like one pirate machete purchased for one lucky lady’s 29th birthday). Otherwise, husk it down to the nut, then use the BLUNT side of a heavy knife to tap it around the perimeter until it opens.

Top uses thus far: Coconut Milk (see below), Oxtail Soup (coming tomorrow), treats for the dog. 

HOMEMADE COCONUT MILK:
Unlike the canned stuff, this creamy additive contains only two ingredients, coconut and water.  Add it to soups, cereal, coffee, and baked goods for a healthy summer coat. Once you’ve mastered the opening of the coconut, whipping up a batch takes less than 10 minutes.

Add the meat of one coconut + 2 cups of very hot water to a blended. Blend until all of the coconut of shredded (5 minutes or however long you have the patience for). Strain out the solids with a nut bag (basically a synthetic version of cheesecloth) or fine mesh strainer. If you don’t have either, get creative (try a French press).

Toss the milk in the fridge. It will keep for a few days.

Don’t toss the solids. Dry them on low in the oven and save to add to baked goods (use a coffee grinder to make coconut flour). 

Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast with Lemon & Thyme

French toast, or any sweet breakfast dishes really, don’t happen often in this place. But when they do, it’s sweet, unadulterated stickiness. No granule of sugar goes down in vain. Plates are licked and random surfaces are recklessly stickied.
This creamy, herbaceous, slightly acidic, and of course sweet start to the morning falls in the aforementioned category of breakfast foods.

The Ingredients:
* 8 Slices of Stale French Bread or Brioche
*  1 Container Mascarpone
*  Zest of 1 Lemon
*  1 Tablespoon Powdered Sugar, plus extra for dusting
* 2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme, chopped and separated
*  ½ Cup Heavy Cream
*  4 Eggs
*  Butter, for frying

Mix together mascarpone with lemon zest, powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme. Make 4 sandwiches, keeping the mascarpone mixture in the center of the slices of bread vs. letting it spread to the outsides. Combine the cream, eggs, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Dip your sandwiches in the egg mix, making sure to coat all sides. Cook in a non-stick pan on medium heat.
Be careful when halving, the mascarpone will be in a much more liquid state at this point. Top with powdered sugar to serve. No, you don’t NEED syrup with this one, but you also don’t NEED to eat Thin Mints by the sleeve. If you get where I’m going, make like Elf and smuggle a side of the good stuff to the table.

Chard. Swiss Chard.

Holy green (or pink or yellow) goodness.  We planted a lengthy row of this versatile green this year, and have been plowing through them all season. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, vitamin E, and iron. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, choline, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and protein. In other words, Mom would be proud.

How do two people go through a massive amount of chard? A few of our favorites:
* Tear up leaves and add to salad
* Stuffed Swiss Chard
* Sauté it in a little olive oil and garlic (finish it off with a squeeze of lemon)
* Juice it with citrus or add to smooties

Sadly, the crop has come down with Cercospora Leaf Spot. We treated the plants with diluted milk and cornstarch today, and then tried to brighten their soggy spirits with “Here Comes the Sun”. We’ll keep you updated on their progress.

Save OuR Seeds!

Broccolini is up there with the most versatile of winter crops. You can eat the leaves (raw in salads or cooked), florets and flowers. When it’s time to pull the plug, you’ll be left with plenty of seeds to repeat the cycle next season.
To Save Your Broccolini Seeds: Snip off the seed pods in bunches and hang or place on dry vase to dry. Once the pods are completely brown and died up, removing the seeds becomes very easy. Store those in a sealed container or plant right away.

Eat It: Fresh Pasta with Broccoli (subbing in broccolini florets and leaves)

Go Grow It: Fresh Ginger

An easy win for cactus killers: ginger. ‘Tis the season to plant it. Buy a piece from the health food store, or better yet, a farmer’s market. Do yourself a favor and look for a piece with some sprouts (green ends). Put it in a sunny spot with good drainage. Water deeply and often. Like magic, your roots will grow and your ginger has multiplied.

Use it in juices (it has a long list of health benfits), cocktails (for mental health benefits), Oxtail Soup, and other Asian-y dishes.  

Fresh Pasta with Fresh Broccoli

Very proud to say that all the vegetables and herbs for this came from the garden. We've been lucky to have broccoli finally producing, and our herbs are always happening, it seems. 

This is a pasta my mom used to make on veggie night at the house. It's vegetarian, though I do use chicken broth since it adds a depth of flavor. You could also use vegetable broth if it's good. 

First, make your fresh pasta. You can follow the way we do it here. 

Then, prep your ingredients while your pasta water starts to boil:

  • Head of broccoli, broken into florets (i like to leave the florets large so they keep their bite and don't get mushy).
  • Small white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • cup of chicken stock (or veg stock)
  • lemon, cut in half
  • chopped fresh herbs like basil and parsley
  • Small handful fresh grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

In a pan big enough to hold everything above, add the oil, onion, garlic, and crushed pepper and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the broccoli, and give the pan a good shake to mix it all up. Add the broth and a good squeeze of lemon, as well as a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and leave a crack for evaporation. You want that broth to reduce down and get flavorful, and the broccoli to cook. Don't overcook! You don't want mushy brown broccoli, do you?

Pull off the heat, add your cooked pasta (we used pappardelle, but rigatoni bought from the store works great). Put it all on a platter and top with the herbs and parmesan. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with lots of bread to mop up the extra veg, herbs, and broth. 

 

Grilled Mushroom Risotto

Once you get the hang of risotto, it can be a quick dinner. Until you get the hang of it, it's overwhelming and intimidating to make. Get the hang of it... you'll be happy. 

Here, we took a lesson from Jamie Oliver who grilled the mushrooms to give a deeper, nuttier flavor. But really, once you figure out the basic way to make risotto, don't stop with mushrooms... there are endless risotto combinations, so figure out the basics and add away based on what you have or what is cheap at the store. 

  • 1.5 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock, hot
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 400 g risotto rice
  • 75 ml vermouth or white wine
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large handfuls wild mushrooms (try shiitake, girolle, chestnut or oyster), cleaned and sliced
  • a few sprigs fresh tarragon or parsley, leaves picked and chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 small handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for serving

In a large pan, heat a lug of olive oil and add the onion and celery. Slowly fry without colouring them for at least 10 minutes, then turn the heat up and add the rice. Give it a stir. Stir in the vermouth or wine. Keep stirring until the liquid has cooked into the rice. Now add a good pinch of salt and your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.

Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. This will take about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, get a BBQ hot and grill the wild mushrooms until soft.  Put them into a bowl and add the chopped herbs, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Using your hands, get stuck in and toss everything together.

Take the risotto off the heat and check the seasoning carefully. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan. You want it to be creamy and oozy in texture, so add a bit more stock if you think it needs it. Put a lid on and leave the risotto to relax for about 3 minutes. This is the most important part.

Take your risotto and add a little more seasoning or Parmesan if you like. Serve a good dollop of risotto topped with some grilled dressed mushrooms, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Eat Your Broccoli.

Broccoli seeds were planted in October. They didn’t sprout right away, so tomato plants took their place. The tomato plants died off to reveal a (slightly smelly) surprise…tiny broccoli plants underneath. 3 months later and it’s time for some Broccoli + Anchovy pasta. Recipe on it's way.

broccoli

Honey Glazed Carrots

Our garden is producing a whole lot of carrots right now, so we've been eating them as much as possible. Here's probably one of our favorites. On the health scale, it's probably the worst carrot incarnation. But on the taste scale, very great. It's probably the butter and honey that make it so. 

  • Salt
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, add carrots and salt and add water, enough to cover carrots. bring water to a boil. Cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the carrots and add back to pan with butter, honey and lemon juice. Cook until a glaze coats the carrots, 5 minutes or more. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley if you'd like. 
 

Malasadas with Caramelized Passion Fruit Sauce

Malasada sugar is sort of like glitter. It’s somehow everywhere in the house, regardless of where it was applied/consumed. Well worth it for these pillows of sweet, fried dough paired with Caramelized Passion Fruit Sauce. Start them the night before or make like Stan Makita and wake up at 3am. I prefer the former, but take your pick. Because waiting until the afternoon to dive in just isn’t an option.

MalasadaRecipe

The Recipe (from Leonard's Bakery Hawaii / Saveur )

1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½  cup milk
½ cup half & half
¼ tsp. kosher salt
4 cups bread flour (1 lb. 2 oz.), sifted
Canola oil, for frying
Passion Fruit Dipping Sauce (recipe below)

1. Combine yeast, 1 tsp. sugar, and 2 tbsp. water heated to 115° in a bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes; set aside. Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy. Add yeast mixture, ½ cup sugar, butter, milk, half & half, and salt; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add flour; beat until dough is smooth. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap; set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ square about ½″ thick. Using a knife, cut dough into 3″ squares; gather and reuse scraps. Place on greased parchment paper-lined baking sheets, at least 3″ apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Place remaining sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Heat 2″ oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Using scissors, cut the donuts out of the parchment paper, leaving about 1″ of paper around the sides of each donut (the paper makes it easier to transfer them to frying oil). Working in batches, place donuts in oil, paper side up, using tongs to peel off and discard paper. Cook, flipping once until puffed and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet with a wire rack; let cool completely, then toss with sugar.
 

PASSION FRUIT DIPPING SAUCE
* 1/2 Cup Passion Fruit Juice
* 1 Cup Sugar
*  ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
* Heavy Pinch of Salt

 

Add juice and sugar to a saucepan. Heat on medium until, swirling occasionally to mix, until the mix turns golden brown. Remove from heat and add cream and salt.

*Passion fruit juice can be made by simmering passion fruit pulp for 10 minutes then straining

The Michelada

As fond as I am of Bloody Marys, I always seem to think a second Bloody Mary is too much--too much food, tomato, and vodka to keep up with. And as fond as I am of beer, sometimes it can be heavy and get warm to fast.  So what to drink? The Michelada. 

Some people would call the Michelada a Bloody Mary with beer. I would not. Like the Bloody it has a thousand variations, from the very simple to the sublime and complicated (with all sort of Bloody Mary-esque ingredients). For me, the simple is better. A glass with ice, lots of lime juice, salt, and a dash of hot sauce. Here it's with Coors Light, but yes, mexican beer would be better. It's how I first had it in central Mexico, and apart from the nostalgia of that, it's clean, very cold, and very crisp. You can drink these things all day. Or at least try. 

Seared Scallops with Sautéed Chard

This dinner can come together in literally 10 minutes. It also only takes one pan, if you're quick about it. It comes out really impressive, and is so clean to eat. It's feel good food, you might say. 

Scallops can be scary, but they really are dead easy to prepare as long as you stick to some steps. First, wash and make sure your scallops are very dry before they hit the pan. If not, they will steam and splatter instead of sear. They also need heavy salt and pepper and heavy heat... get that pan screaming hot. Finally, once they go on, don't touch them. Cook for about 2 minutes per side and don't touch them once you flip them. 

For the chard, get some garlic slivers and red pepper flakes going in the same pan as your scallops (after you've removed them... in the time the scallops are resting, the chard can be cooked and you can save cleaning another pan). Once the garlic is fragrant, add the chard and a splash of white wine or vermouth and a good pinch of salt. Cover and let it wilt slightly, but don't overcook to a mush!

Arrange everything on a plate, and finish it all with a squeeze of lemon. 

Pink Pasta. Beet Root Pasta with Toasted Walnut Kale Pesto

Pink Pasta! How fun! Besides looking very nice, the beet adds a very subtle flavor to the pasta, without being too earthy and beet-like. We thought a nice earthly pesto would be nice, so made a rough hand chopped pesto with kale and toasted walnuts to go with. This pasta would also be good with some simple cheese and olive oil.

BeetPasta2

FIRST, THE PASTA:

The beets were roasted in the oven, then blended after they cooled. We added this red blended beet to our basic pasta recipe (find it here), resulting in a pink fresh pasta. To make sure the pasta dough stays to right consistency, do one less egg since the beets offer so much liquid. 

SECOND, THE HAND CHOPPED PESTO:

This is a corruption of the trapanese pesto, which I was once as hand chopped featuring almonds instead of pine nuts. For this, we chopped walnuts and toasted them in a pan with melted butter. To that I added a big handful of chopped kale, chopped garlic, and cooked until just soft but not soggy. At the end some parmesan was added in.

On top, some more cheese. Enjoy.

The Beet

We got the beet. Rather, lots of beets. Non-woody ones. Lutz Green Leaf Beets to be exact. Because this variety is so tender, they are perfect for Raw Shaved Beet Salad. Also in our near future: plenty of pink-toned foods, including Beet Root Pasta, Beet Chips, and beet stained fingers. 

CHOKE ARTICHOKES

Behold. Our first artichoke. Some said it wouldn’t grow in our warm, tropical climate. Some were wrong. And at $9 a piece at the local market, we figured we could spare the $1.19 for the seed packet to give it a whirl.

The uneventful journey…
May 2014: Threw some globe artichoke seeds in the ground.
Returned September 2014: Hey, artichoke plants!
January 2015: Artichoke numero one.

Next Up: Celebratory Grilled Artichoke