Tag Archives: saturday night

Sparkling Tarragon Gin Lemonade

tarragon-gin-lemonade

Time to Spice Up Your Lemonade

Many of my best party food memories are from Sunday BBQs when the kids were growing up so when the weather changes and it begins to get hot outside I start thinking about those BBQs and fun get-togethers. Then I try to figure out what would be a good adult-beverage for an afternoon outside with my friends and family now that everyone’s grown up. This adult lemonade will fit the bill perfectly this summer. It’s easy to make, isn’t too sweet (even with the St. Germain) and has bubbles which automatically make anything fun. Muddling is a bar technique used to release the essential oils from herbs and fruits to deliver the maximum impact on the drink. It’s basically gently crushing (with what amounts to a wooden pestle) the items against the glass – press and give a ½ turn of your wrist. This was created by Alison Roman and published in bon appétit June 2013. This recipe serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 10 large sprigs tarragon
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup gin
  • 3/4 cup St-Germain (elderflower liqueur)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • (1) 12-ounce can club soda

Directions

Muddle tarragon sprigs, lemon slices, and sugar in a large pitcher. Add gin, St-Germain, lemon juice, and club soda. Add ice and stir to combine. Serve over ice.

Pasta Recipe: Bucatini With Tomato, Guanciale, And Chile

Bucatini With Tomato, Guanciale, & Chile

Original Recipe by April Bloomfield & Josh Evan

I love a good Pasta Carbonara, but sometimes the combo of the bacon and eggs can get a “little much”. I found this in the September 2014 issue of Bon Appétit. It looks amazing and simple AND they use tomatoes instead of eggs – it’s going to be my next pasta with friends!

Ingredients
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 ounces guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl) or pancetta, very thinly sliced
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces bucatini
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 ounce Pecorino, finely grated
  • Olive oil (for serving)
Instructions
  1. Microwave rosemary on high in 20-second intervals until leaves are brittle, about 60 seconds.
  2. Remove leaves and grind to a fine powder with a spice mill or mortar and pestle; you should have about 1 tsp. (Alternatively, very finely chop leaves.)
  3. Cook guanciale in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until guanciale is browned and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
  4. Cook onion in same skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
  5. Return all but 2 Tbsp. guanciale to skillet and add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and rosemary powder.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 5–8 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 8–10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Add pasta and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  9. Serve pasta topped with Pecorino and remaining 2 Tbsp. guanciale and drizzled with oil.

 

The 3 Essentials for Any Home Bar

Party at home? Better get equipped.

I always love to learn simple tricks and I got lucky today!! I spoke with a good friend (a guy I’ve known for several years) about dating who told me a secret. He asked me if I knew what the 3 essential items every woman’s bar should have. My first guess was a good red wine. He said that it is assumed all women will have decent wine in the house-one strike. So, I said no I have no clue. He prefaced his comments with the following – When you are on a date with someone you like, pay close attention to what they order to drink. If they routinely order scotch, ask if they have a favorite or if they were just ordering what the restaurant had. If they mention a favorite ask what there is about it that they like- single barrel, a particular age, etc.

Now on to the important data – The 3 essentials:

  1. Have a really good Scotch in your bar. If this is their beverage of choice make sure you have the one they like.
  2. Have a really good Tequila on hand. Same rule if this is the favorite beverage.
  3. Have a really good Vodka in your freezer. Same rule as above.

These three items are apparently crucial. Have all three in your bar, just make sure that whichever one they like to drink is included. I would think you might need a good Gin too but I guess that’s only if it’s your favorite or theirs-otherwise just these. He also said that you should always have a chilled beer glass and good cold beer if you’re not sure what the beverage of choice is. Then he said that everybody LOVES the really big ice cubes that some restaurants use in their alcoholic beverages because they keep the drink cold but melt very slowly so they don’t dilute the alcohol. But, there is nothing worse than stale ice. It will ruin your drink. Be sure to throw away the ice cubes once a month.

I happen to have a couple of silicone VERY large ice cube trays that I bought at Crate and Barrel. They are just 6 cubes to a tray so the tray isn’t big just the ice cubes. They fit about one ice cube in a double old fashion glass-you know those short fat glasses. I guess I need to actually fill them with water and put them in the freezer and not just have them on the shelf! My friend said everyone thinks those are really cool. This is apparently (per my friend) the quickest way to seriously impress someone you’re interested in. Just sharing!!!!

 

3 Glasses You Need in Your Bar

a row of cocktail classes

There are only three types of glasses that you absolutely need in your bar at home:

The old-fashioned short, squatty, wide base glass, that typically holds about 6-10 ounce drinks.

Then there’s the highball glass (often referred to as a tumbler) that will serve a an 8-12oz drink. These are taller than the old fashioned glass squat ones.

And the Martini glass – think James Bond here). An inverted cone bowl with a slender stem and wide flat base. This one can be anywhere from 6oz to the HUGE Margherita glasses you find at your neighborhood Mexican restaurant with a busy Happy Hour.

Drink up!

 

A Recipe for Saturday Night: Bucatini with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

Bucatini with Butter and Roasted Tomato Sauce

The original Recipe, by Dawn Perry

Sometimes you just don’t want to go out to dinner, but you’ve made plans with a couple of friends. It’s times like that when I want to cook, but I don’t want to go crazy with prep or difficulty and I’m looking for something yummy using just what I already have around. Pasta is my go-to for all meals and for a sauce like this, Bucatini (basically a thick spaghetti) is my favorite noodle. I found this recipe by Dawn Perry in the November 2013 issue of Bon Apetit and it’s super easy! If you just throw together a simple salad of Arugula with EVOO, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, you’ve got dinner – especially if you get someone to bring a really crusty baguette! Never forget the wine.

Ingredients
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti
  • Finely grated Parmesan (for serving)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes in a 13×9” baking dish; season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is jammy, 35–40 minutes.
  4. Using a potato masher or fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.
  6. Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan and more red pepper flakes.
  7. Do Ahead: Tomato sauce can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat before mixing with pasta.

Serving size: 4

Cook/Prep time: 1 hr

 

Simple Recipe for a Night With a Friend

Simple Saturday Night with a Girlfriend

There are those nights when you’re tired but you’d still like to get together with a girlfriend. They’re easy to do with almost no planning at all.

I always keep some fresh pasta in my freezer along with a few sauces that I like to “fix”. I’m very happy with almost any fresh pasta from the refrigerated section at my market – stuffed pastas are my personal favorite. When I get them home, I separate them into individual portions and freeze in Ziploc bags. That way, I can use one package (if I’m home alone) or more depending on how many are coming to dinner.

I do the same thing with boneless/skinless chicken breasts. I cut them up when I get home and freeze in single portion bags. If you want to add protein to your pasta (for this I would use a noodle and not a stuffed pasta) simply take a bag or more from the freezer and thaw (if it’s last minute, place the frozen CLOSED Ziploc in a bowl of water and let sit. It will thaw pretty quickly). Heat some olive oil in a skillet, throw in the thawed pieces of chicken and season with salt, pepper and any dried herbs that smell good to you. Brown the chicken and slowly simmer until cooked through. Add your sauce to the same skillet and when the pasta is cooked, throw it in with the sauce/chicken mixture and toss.

I’ve found that if you add some extra spices to even jar sauces they “come alive”. I love spicy food, so dried chili flakes are always my go-to. Grab a fresh baguette from the market and have your friend bring the makings for a salad.

Of course, I always add a bottle of wine – and there you have a VERY easy, quick, complete dinner that you can enjoy with a friend with almost no planning at all.

 

I will Travel Far and Wide for Good Food


One thing I know is that sometimes the food that I’m craving is not at a restaurant close by – wherever I am.  It doesn’t matter what city I’m in, whether I’m traveling or at home, this holds true.  There are a lot of Italian restaurants close to where I live, including my favorite that is within walking distance from my house.  But if I want Indian cuisine, I get in my car and drive about 15 minutes away to a favorite place in Culver City.  If I want to try the newest American place, it might be downtown or Santa Monica or in one of the beach cities- all perhaps at least 30 minutes away.  And, here’s the kicker, if I want great Dim Sum I drive over an hour. 

That’s just the deal.  Good food is worth the travel miles – it’s worth the gas and the traffic. If you want good food in a particular cuisine, you might need to drive. Just be prepared to do it.  You can’t always find what you’re looking for close by. I’ve found that the drive is part of the whole dining experience.  Gather your good friends together who are up for an adventure and GO.  You won’t regret it.  At least, I never do.