EASIEST PICKLES EVER

I don’t have the patience to boil Mason jars and lids and all that crap. But I love me my pickles, especially when I’ve got a cucumber surplus in the garden.

This is such an easy way to make great pickles, it’s almost unbelievable…and no water is needed! The salt extracts just enough moisture, like when curing meat, to make it work.

pickles

 

Ingredients:

6 fresh cucumbers

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel)

handful of fresh dill

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

 

Get a large plastic bag.  Add the salt, dill and garlic and gently mix everything in the bag.

Cut the ends off the cucumbers and then slice them lengthwise, in half or in quarters. Add them to the bag and gently mix again.

Squeeze to remove air from the bag, close it tightly and place it in the fridge overnight. The pickles will be ready to eat the next day, but they’re even better after 48 hours.

 

 

 

 

Bondtini

I’LL HAVE WHAT JAMES BOND IS HAVING.

It seemed almost silly to try to make one…but the classic James Bond martini has always fascinated me. I’m not talking about the clichéd Sean Connery “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred.”  I’m talking about the real James Bond martini, which appeared in Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel “Casino Royale” and only appeared in the most recent “Casino Royale” movie starring Daniel Craig.
Bondtini
To quote the novel:
‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’ ‘Oui, monsieur.’ ‘Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s (gin), one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.  Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?’ ‘Certainly, monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleasant with the idea. ‘Gosh that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter. 

Bond laughed. ‘When I’m … er … concentrating.’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.’ 

He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip. 

‘Excellent,’ he said to the barman, ‘but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.’ 

To quote the movie: http://youtu.be/Vc7n7yyXWsU

Bond named this drink the Vesper martini, after a female agent in the story.
My version of this classic drink remains true to the original, though I’ve changed brands due to personal preference. In the novel, Bond just asks for “vodka.” (Of course, this was back in the 1950′s when we didn’t have 100 brands to choose from!) My choice for best-bang-for-the-buck grain vodka is Tito’s: it has just enough of an edge, which is what this drink needs, and it’s half the price of other grain vodkas, like Grey Goose.
Bond asks for Gordon’s gin. I’m partial to Hendrick’s, which adds wonderful floral notes to the drink.
And the original Kina Lillet has had its formula changed in the 1980′s to keep up with the times by reducing the quinine, which made it bitter. The French aperitif wine, Lillet, is today’s version: a blend of wine grapes, oranges, orange peels and quinine. Lillet is not a vermouth, though you’ll find it in the vermouth section of your favorite liquor store. Some aficionados claim the martini is just not the same without the original Kina Lillet formulation, but I find that the drink works just fine for me.
ingredients again
So…measurements true to Bond:
3 oz Hendrick’s
1 oz Tito’s
1/2 oz Lillet
I prefer combining these over ice in a cocktail shaker, and I stir, not shake.
I strain it into a chilled martini glass and I skip the lemon peel. I prefer three olives instead…stuffed with garlic, if my wife is away on a business trip!
Bondtini2
A side note: the correct pronunciation of Lillet is Lih-LAY. Grammatically in French, the double-l would make it sound like Lih-YAY. So to keep that from happening, they spelled it Lilet for a while until the French were used to the correct pronunciation, then they went back to Lillet on the bottle.
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HONEY-BOURBON RIBS

Since I’m busy tasting many bourbons these days, I’ve got some leftovers that may not make a great cocktail but would work great for a sauce. I had Maker’s Mark sitting around, so I came up with this sauce to use it up!

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 Ingredients:

5 lbs St Louis style pork ribs

salt and pepper

 

For the sauce: 

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup bourbon

zest and juice of 1 lime

zest and juice of 1 lemon

zest and juice of 1 orange

2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I use Maille)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon chili oil

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Season the ribs well with salt and pepper and cook in a smoker for 3 hours at 25o degrees, using hickory chips.

While ribs are smoking, combine sauce ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and reduce the sauce by half until it thickens. Stir often, and don’t let the honey foam up and spill over the top.

Pre-heat oven at 250 degrees.

Remove ribs from the smoker and place in a sheet pan that is lined with aluminum foil, with enough foil to wrap around the ribs. Brush the ribs on all sides with the sauce, stacking no more than 2 sets of ribs on top of each other, and then wrap with foil.

Cook in the foil for 2 more hours, until tender.

 

 

 

 

KOHL-SLAW

Kohlrabi is probably one of the most misunderstood vegetables you’ll find in the supermarket. Most people don’t have a clue about what to do with them. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family and can be eaten raw as well as cooked.

For me, the real joy of kohlrabi is biting into a crunchy, sweet, freshly picked and peeled bulb right out of the garden. Unfortunately, much of the kohlrabi you find in a supermarket is grown larger than a tennis ball, making it tough, woody and dry. And they usually remove all the leaves, which are delicious cooked or raw.

My kohlrabi harvest has just begun in my home garden, and I decided to make a slaw with the leaves and bulb, to best use all the parts of the plant. I used my Awesomesauce recipe as the dressing. Find the recipe here: http://wp.me/p1c1Nl-gT

kohlrabi LTL

Ingredients:

 

2 kohlrabi bulbs, with leaves

1 carrot

Alz Awesomesauce

salt and pepper to taste

 

Wash the veggies thoroughly before using. Pull the leaves off the kohlrabi bulb, and remove the stems. Grab a bunch of leaves at a time, roll them up tightly, and slice as thinly as you can into thin ribbons. Place in a bowl. Do this with all the leaves.

Peel the thick skin off the kohlrabi bulb and slice it as thinly as you can. Then take the slices and cut thin sticks out of them. Toss into the bowl.

Season the leaves and bulbs slices with a little salt and pepper, then add Awesomesauce to taste and toss well.

Refrigerate covered, and let the flavors blend for a couple of hours before using.

THAI-INSPIRED SWEET-N-SPICY CHICKEN

I love the flavors in Thai food…but I don’t enjoy extreme heat and my wife can’t deal with extreme garlic. So this is my more balanced version of a Thai grilled chicken dish…

thai chicken LTL

 

 

Ingredients:

 

3 lbs chicken pieces (I used drumsticks for this recipe)

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or crushed dried chiles
1 teaspoon salt

Marinade: Combine soy sauce, cilantro, canola oil, granulated garlic and white pepper in a food processor and let it run. Place chicken pieces in a Ziploc bag and pour half of the marinade in. Save the other half for basting later. Seal the bag and let the chicken marinate overnight, or at least a few hours, squishing the bag around so that all the chicken gets marinated.

Sauce: In a saucepan, combine sugar, white vinegar, pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil and make sure the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.

After marinating overnight, discard the used marinade in the Ziploc bag. Place chicken pieces over a hot hardwood fire or bake in an oven at 350, basting them with the leftover marinade until fully cooked. If the coal fire gets too hot, move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill to prevent burning. If using the oven, switch to the broiler at the end to give the chicken a nice char.

Serve with sweet pepper sauce drizzled on top.

JUST WHEN YOU LEARNED ALL ABOUT BITTERS…

Bitters have been around forever, but the recent resurgence in the art of mixology has made bitters a real buzzword among bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Ten years ago, I almost never would have asked for a cocktail that included bitters. Now, I almost always do.

But bitters aren’t the only way to spice up your libations. Other tinctures have been around for centuries as well, many of which are finding their way to the forefront of mixology. Two of those are falernum and shrub.

Despite that falernum and shrub sound like the name of a bad law firm, they are welcome additions to many simple spirits we enjoy.

Falernum is a sweet syrup used in Caribbean and tropical drinks. It often has flavors of almond, ginger, cloves, lime and sometimes vanilla or allspice. Some people drink falernum by itself on the rocks, but most often it is mixed in a cocktail. The bottle below is falernum made by my friend Roy, who used ginger, cloves and lime juice in an alcohol base.

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Shrub, meanwhile, can be several different kinds of drinks. It was a fruit liqueur popular in 17th and 18th England, made with rum or brandy mixed with sugar or the juice or rinds of citrus fruit. A shrub was also a drink popular in American colonial times, featuring a mix of vinegared syrup mixed with spirits or water. But most times, today’s version of shrub is the sweetened vinegar-based syrup itself. If you’re curious about shrub, there’s a great source for a variety of shrub flavors: http://www.shrubandco.com.

lobstercake2

WHY MAKE CRAB CAKES WHEN YOU HAVE LOBSTER?

I had a pound of leftover lobster meat (I know, I know…how could you ever have leftover lobster?!) So I wrapped it tightly and kept it frozen. When I had a craving for crab cakes, I figured I’d try my recipe out with lobster instead. So good, I sprained my arm patting myself on the back!

lobstercake2

 

Ingredients:

1 lb cooked lobster meat (thawed, if frozen)

1 cup mayo (I like Hellman’s)

1/4 cup Dijon mustard (I like Maille)
3/4 cup saltine crackers or oyster crackers
1 teaspoon old Bay seasoning
Olive oil

In a bowl, combine mayo, mustard and Old Bay Seasoning.

Chop the lobster into small pieces and add it to the mayo/mustard mix.

Pulse the crackers in a food processor until it resembles oatmeal. Add it to the bowl and gently combine the ingredients.

Form small patties. I use either a small beef slider mold or the lid from a small mouth Mason jar. I won’t kid you: it gets messy, but it’s worth it! Place the patties on a sheet pan lined with Reynold’s non-stick aluminum foil.

Place the sheet pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes to stiffen up the patties.

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Cook the patties on both sides until golden brown.

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