Bars can be expensive. Not that hotel bar you eye occasionally, the one with the $15 drinks. No, I’m talking about your home bar.
If you love cocktails and cocktails books — which I do — then it is possible to have stack of “gotta make” recipes. Taken together, all those recipes can demand that your home bar be extensively stocked. And there’s the rub.
I collect the Food and Wine Cocktails books, one published each year. The 2013 edition is easily the best, flush with wonderful beverage ideas. I recommend the ideas and the book.
One idea called for both tequila and mescal. Tequila I have in abundance. Of Mescal, not a drop. I know enough to know that all tequilas are a subset of mescal so, I assumed, the larger collection of mescals had to include some bottles with modest price tags. My first nearby liquor store want $54. I passed, heading for my corner store which always has a good selection at modest prices. $120 and $80. I now began my mantra of “Curse you, Red Baron.”
Back home I examined the recipe. It wanted agave, which I believe, based on the prices in Whole Foods, is as outrageously priced as certain liquors that are based on plants related to asparagus. [Oh, you thought agave used to be considered a cactus but is really a lily. There’s been a little update and it has been reclassified again as a cousin to asparagus. That should give tequila drinkers both pause and smug satisfaction: it is, too, healthy.]
I felt confused and cheap. I rethought the whole concept for this cocktail and I revised it. A lot. It’s now my concoction.
What had caught my eye initially was the heat. This drink begins by muddling poblanos, along with jalapenos the most popular of hot peppers. I imagined a meal of stuffed poblanos consumed with a fork accompanied by muddled poblanos consumed sip by sip.
To fight the poblano heat, the muddling includes fresh pineapple chunks. Then tequila, and lemon juice and that backbone ingredient of most cocktails: a simple sugar syrup. All that resonates in my brain like a mariachi band.
Once made, the drink is pretty to look at that I waited, perhaps, a full three seconds before imbibing. Frankly, my dear, I don’t think mescal would have made a damn difference.
As a hint of things to come, I have been experimenting with hot sugar syrups, spicy hot. In place of the simple syrup, you could use a habanero sugar syrup here for a refined blast of fire. More about that as spring evolves.
Muddled Heat and Sweet
Yield: 1 cocktail
- 4 ¼ inch thick rings of poblano + 1 more for garnish
- 4 1-inch cubes of fresh pineapple
- 2 ounces of silver tequila
- 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 4 of the poblano chile rings with the pineapple. Add the tequila, lemon juice and simple syrup. Fill the shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled cocktail class filled with crush ice. Garnish, if you wish, with a poblano ring or a citrus round.
Source: Brian O’Rourke with inspiration from Food and Wine Cocktails 2013 [the Pablo Escabar]
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60MM Macro Lens, F/5.6, 1/100th second, ISO-1600
We were window shopping in Crate and Barrel when I saw it. A book by Diane Morgan. I peeled off from Suzen who had her own shopping plans.
Twenty minutes later, we were checking out and I slipped Delicious Dips on the counter.
“Really?” Suzen sometimes questions random additions of cookbooks. We have almost four thousand so we have just about every topic covered. You like Tibetan? I actually think we have one. I know we have Burmese and a whole row of Indian.
“Diane Morgan,” I said peacefully.
End of argument.
I chose this salsa to inaugurate our Thanksgiving feast for multiple reasons. First, by at least American traditions, the pineapple is a sign of hospitality. That’s why, especially in New England, you’ll see carved pineapples on fences, porches and doors.
Second, this salsa has no cilantro. I have nothing against cilantro. But, my God, there are days when I have it three times, from dawn to dusk. I needed a respite.
Third, the heat. There is certainly habanero heat here but it is so offset by the pineapple and brown sugar that all is fine in your mouth
Lastly, the colors: pineapple yellow, red bell pepper, scallion green,… A bowl of this, as the picture show, is absolutely festive.
Pineapple Habanero Salsa
Yield: 5 cups
- 1 pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into ¼-inch dice
- 4 green onions, including green tops, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 habanero chile, seeds and ribs removed, finely minced
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- A teaspoon kosher salt
In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, bell pepper, green onions, habanero, lime juice, sugar, thyme, and salt. Stir gently to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and set aside for 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
This dip is best made with 8 hours of serving. It can be made the day before and refrigerated. Diane suggests bringing it to room temperature before serving. I like the chill of cold pineapple
Source: Delicious Dips by Diane Morgan
Photo Information: Canon T2i, 18-53MM Macro Lens, F/2.8, 1/100th second, ISO 400