People come to Cooking by the Book for many reasons: corporate team building, birthday parties and — more and more — bridal events. Bridal showers and bachelorette parties are on our calendar every weekend.
I love the enthusiasm and joy of these events where women celebrate this most important step forward in life.
Naturally, if it’s that important, people want to party and enjoy some creative new beverages. For Sunday afternoons, I have found people asking for and loving this Sparkling Mojito Martini, another wonderfully inspired drink from Kim Haasarud. It does carry a punch, but I’ve had no complaints. The flavor balance here is excellent. In one drink, you can have your mint, citrus, vodka, and sparkling taste buds all satisfied.
This drink scales up beautifully, so this recipe for one person can quickly grow for ten or twenty. You’ll just need to do the “shaker” routine three or four drinks at a time.
This recipe calls for a chilled martini glass. That’s a key touch for a sophisticated cocktail. You can make sure the chill stays by filing each glass with crushed ice before filling with the cocktail. And, before you do that, you can give the drink a zing by rimming each glass with lemon or lime juice, then dipping into super fine sugar.
Better yet, the day before, put the zest of two lemons in a container, add two cups of superfine sugar and stir to mix. That citrus sugar is a clever entry point for the spirits deep in the glass.
Sparkling Mojito Martini
Yield: 1 drink
- 5 to 7 mint leaves
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 ½ ounces citrus vodka
- 1 ½ ounces light and dry champagne
Combine the mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup. Muddle lightly and add the citrus vodka and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top off with the champagne. Garnish with an additional mint sprig.
Source: 101 Champagne Cocktails by Kim Haasarud
While nothing beats a great steak, we often struggle to attain that greatness. How often have you, or someone at your table, reached for salt, and salt, and salt, to get the flavor boost you are convinced that steak needs.
Of course, there are the endless lines of bottled steak sauces all there for you to try, too, all designed again to somehow “add flavor.” And when we try a sauce, nobody does it a teaspoon at a time. That steak, fresh off the grill, may often find itself drowning in sauce.
So much sauce that you can end up eating sauce with steak on the side. The meat flavor is lost in what came out of that bottle: tomatoes, vinegar, onion, salt, herbs, more salt, …
Yes, I’m on a salt kick but only because my doctor told me so. Here’s a path to a perfectly satisfying steak that works and that is easy.
First, turn the grill on and get it hot. Grilling the steak is, for many of us, the only way to prepare our meat.
Second, a half hour before you grill, take the steak out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Don’t cook cold. The temperature shock when cold meat is plopped on a hot grill can result in tissue breakdown that destroys the texture of the meat.
Third, during that half hour, coat the steak in a little olive oil and then liberally salt and pepper each side of the steak. By “liberal” I’m talking about a teaspoon a side at most. This is the last time your steak will see salt, by the way.
Fourth, grill away to reach you doneness standard. There’s a “four minutes a side” rule which of course ignores steak thickness and therefore is really not a universal rule. It’s a few minutes a side, though, not several. You do want some redness inside and you do not want to create shoe leather.
Fifth, pull the steak off the grill and do NOTHING. Give it a five minute rest. Now is the time to finally open that bottle of wine, or pour yourself another glass.
Last, plate the steak and serve. Take 2-3 teaspoons of cold butter and drop them on the top of the steak. As the butter melts, squeeze half a lime over the flowing butter. Just half. Pick up your knife and fork and consume away.
Steak sauces generally tend to have a “sour” flavor to them. That “sharpness” is supposed to complement the meat. Well, with this butter-lime technique you cut to the quick. The butter adds richness, just as it would if the steak were pan cooked and then the juice converted into a sauce using, of course, butter. The lime juice gives you that seemingly hidden “brightness” you want – it really does amplify the flavor — but without all the complex baggage of the “other” flavors that come in those bottle sauces. You’ll taste meat now, not the complex array of tones coming from the bottle.
Miss your sauce? Want to used it anyway? Put in on your baked potato. There, the best of both worlds.