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Archive | July 25th, 2009

Splashy Summer Cocktails

Splashy Summer Cocktails

Margarita Flight

Margarita Flight

We all know what a cocktail is — it is cold, sweet, sweet-sour, fruity, icy, alcoholic, plain, simple, fancy, icy, decorative, not decorative, colorful, cold — the list goes on.

While some terms that grew up around the cocktail culture have taken on a slight taint of the out-of-date, the actual drink, the cocktail, is still going strong. Especially considering that the term originated sometime between 1795 and the first decade in the 1800s, according to “The Dictionary of American Food and Drink” by John F. Mariani.

But enough about history. What can cocktails do for those of us in San Antonio now, as we suffer through the heat, wonder how many truckloads of ice it would take to cool off the pool and finally give up on our crispy lawns?

For one thing, a cocktail or two might cheer us up. (Funny how that works, since alcohol is a depressant.)  But it isn’t just about the alcohol, some might argue. A well-made cocktail is flavorful, fun and cool to put in your hand or even to against your fevered brow.  It brings a semblance of class to an occasion that you hope will transcend beer bash.

We offer today two recipes for colorful new summer cocktails courtesy of Roaring Fork. If you don’t want to make your own, the bar at this restaurant will make them for you. While they are selling these as summery drinks now, they will also be available throughout the year. Roaring Fork is at 1806 N. Loop 1604 W.

If you make them at home, though, you don’t have to drive anywhere. And that’s a very good thing to consider, too. You can also play around with the amounts of each ingredient, to tailor the drink to your own tastes.

Pomegranate Pink Grapefruit

Pomegranate Pink Grapefruit

Pomegranate Pink Grapefruit

0.5 ounce El Jimador Blanco Tequila
0.6 ounce  Sun Orchard Margarita Mix
0.9 ounce Cointreau
0.5 ounce lime juice
0.5 ounce pink grapefruit juice
0.4 ounce pomegranate simple syrup
Lime wedges, for garnish

Fill shaker halfway with ice. Pour ingredients into shaker and shake. Dip glass in salt, if desired. Strain drink over ice and garnish with lime.

Makes 1 drink.

From Roaring Fork

Blakberi Madras

Blakberi Madras

Blakberi Madras

0.7 ounce  Stolichnaya Blakberi
1 ounce Chambord
1 ounce Cranberry Juice
1 ounce Orange Juice
Orange slice, for garnish

Fill shaker halfway with ice. Pour ingredients into shaker and shake well. Strain over ice into glass. Garnish with orange slice.

Makes 1 drink.

From Roaring Fork

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Daily Dish: Texas Monthly on Burgers

Daily Dish: Texas Monthly on Burgers

The new Texas Monthly promises to offer the best 50 burgers in the state. But does it really?

The list is thorough in that it covers all corners of the state, but the San Antonio inclusions are a questionable mix. A couple are expected (grass-fed burger at the Cove, the bean burger at Bracken General Store), one was a happy surprise (the ref burger at Fatty’s)  and the omissions were numerous (no Bunsen Burgers? no Lord’s Kitchen? no Bobby J’s?). The only others from the city that I noticed were Big’z, Gourmet Burger Grill and Roaring Fork.

I might have missed a name or two because I found the layout of the article to be an ugly, confusing mess. Was it designed by a person who skipped his/her Ritalin dosage for the day? It was so scatter-shot and unfocused that it managed to obscure some of the more appetizing photos.

List stories are designed to generate controversy and press, like this piece. So, let’s keep it going with your response: Which of your favorites did not make the list? Which should not have been included? Post your opinions below.

Posted in Daily Dish, Restaurants1 Comment

How to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker

How to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker

icecream4You don’t need an expensive machine to make ice cream at home.

A large tin can, such as the ones coffee used to come in, or an unbreakable container with a secure lid is all that’s required.

A little extra help, from young or old, comes in handy, but nothing will prove as strenuous as the old hand-crank machines of yore.

Simply make up your favorite ice cream base and refrigerate it until it is cool. You can do this in the morning or a day ahead of time.

When the time comes to make the ice cream, pour the mixture into several zip-top bags. This is the point where you can play around with flavors, adding strawberries to one, peaches to another. Add a drop of almond extract and some shredded coconut or rum flavor (not rum itself or it won’t freeze) with some golden raisins. Whatever you add, don’t use anything with a sharp edge, like chocolate chunks, that could puncture the bag.

Seal the bag tightly and place it in another bag for safety. Place a little ice at the bottom of your can and then insert the bags. Fill the rest of the can with ice and rock salt until the can is full. Place the lid on it and start rolling.

icecream3Roll the can back and forth for a half hour. Keep it constantly in motion. When it’s finished, empty the ice and use the container to store the ice cream in. Place in the freezer and let it ripen for at least 2 hours for best results.

Why make your own ice cream? There are a host of reasons, including the fun factor. You also are in charge of creating your flavors. Why not try a chocolate ice cream with raspberries in it? Or chocolate with a touch of orange extract? Juice some ginger or make a syrup with fresh mint.

Experiment with some more savory combinations, such as basil and strands of sun-dried tomato. You would still need the sugar, to keep the flavors pronounced after freezing, but it could make an intriguing alternative to a salad. In Chile last year, friends and I had a pairing of avocado ice cream and celery ice cream alongside the raw version of each.

As we learn about all cooking, you are limited only by your imagination.

Making your own ice cream is also a way of avoiding the addition of any preservatives. That is surely one of the marketing strategies behind Haagen-Dazs’ new line called five (lowercase and all). Each pint features only five ingredients, including sugar, milk, cream, eggs and your flavor of choice, such as ginger, mint, coffee or milk chocolate. I’ve tried the ginger and almost wish I hadn’t; one spoonful made me want to stock my freezer with as many pints as would fit.

By the way, you can buy a special ball that you fill with your cream mixture and kick it around like a soccer ball until it settles. But if you’re going to do that, why wouldn’t you just buy an ice cream maker?

icecream2You don’t even have to kick the can around to make ice cream without a machine. David Lebovitz, former Chez Panisse pastry chef and author of “The Perfect Scoop,” offers a recipe on his blog that makes the beloved treat in a manner similar to granita or granité. You simply stir the cream every half-hour or so until the desired consistency is reached.

Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups milk
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half

Scald milk in double boiler, gradually add mixture of sugar, flour and salt, and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly; stir small amount into egg yolks, then return this to mixture in double boiler and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Chill; add vanilla and cream and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes 3 pints.

Variations:

  • icecream1Strawberry Ice Cream: Add ¾ cup sugar to 1 cup crushed strawberries or other berries and let stand 1 hour in warm room. Add to ice cream mixture just before freezing.
  • Caramel Ice Cream: Add ¼ cup caramel syrup after adding vanilla.
  • Peppermint Chip: Add crushed peppermint candies to taste after vanilla.
  • Pistachio Ice Cream: Blanch and chop ¾ cup pistachio nuts and scald with milk. Add 2 drops green food coloring before adding other ingredients, if desired.
  • Peach Ice Cream: Add ¾ cup sugar to 1 ½ cups sieved peach pulp and mix well. Add to ice cream mixture with ¼ teaspoon almond extract just before freezing.
  • Banana Ice Cream: Mash 3 ripe bananas with a fork, beating quickly to a smooth pulp. Add to chilled cream mixture just before freezing.

Adapted from “The Herald Tribune Home Institute Cook Book”

I used the basic recipe for a Mint-Cocoa Nib Ice Cream. I steeped 4 stocks of fresh mint in the milk as I scalded it, stirring in the sugar mixture a little at a time. I removed the mint when I stirred in the egg yolks, then returned it while I cooled the mixture, before adding the cream. (I omitted the vanilla.)

That worked well, but the cocoa nibs did not. They didn’t mix throughout the ice cream, but clumped together.

Posted in Featured, How To, Recipes1 Comment