I was searching for a cocktail to bring you this week. I really wanted to mix up a bourbon beverage but since next month is Bourbon Heritage month, I thought I’d wait for that. (That’s right, get ready. In just a couple weeks there’s going to be a lot of bourbon on this blog.) Anyway, I thought I’d do the next best thing. Something with scotch.
I know bourbon and scotch have very different tastes, but believe it or not they’re not that different. Both come from fermented grain mash. Bourbon is at least 51% corn and scotch is made from malted barley. They’re also both brown and Hubs likes both. So as a lead in to Bourbon Heritage Month I thought I’d do a couple cocktails that share a few commonalities but taste oh, so different.
Today’s cocktail is the Bobby Burns. Although the origin of this drink is somewhat hazy, it’s pretty clear the cocktail dates back to Prohibition. And even then there were two different versions – one with Benedectine and one with Absinthe. The Absinthe cocktail has the proper name Robert Burns and the one with the Benedictine goes by the more personable, Bobby, though I have no idea why. There’s also the theory that the Bobby was named after a cigar salesman who frequented the bar at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where the drink was supposedly created.
But whatever its origin may be, it’s definitely a classy drink well worth a try. While I mixed up the Bobby, the Robert is also quite tasty and the differences between the two are very, very subtle. This comes as no surprise since the base of both drinks are scotch and vermouth. But whichever version you choose, choose one. You won’t be disappointed.
- 2 oz. scotch
- 1 oz. sweet Vermouth
- 1 dash Pernaud’s bitters
- 2 dashes Benedictine
- Pour all the ingredients into a glass with ice and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.
I’ve been talking a lot about grilling the past few weeks because it’s summer, it’s hot and God knows I don’t want to be stuck cooking inside. So, I’ve been grilling. While a lot of it has been proteins like chicken and steaks, I’ve also been grilling vegetables and fruits. The open flames and wood not only add a nice smokiness to the fruits and veggies, they also make produce sweeter, especially corn.
I love corn. It’s actually one of my favorite vegetables. So, of course I love this time of year because fresh corn is everywhere. It’s impossible to walk through the farmer’s market these days without seeing at least a half dozen vendors selling piles and piles of corn. While I’m partial to the white kernels, there are those out there that love the yellow. Then there are those who can’t decide and hence you have white and yellow kernels together on one cob. But no matter which corn you prefer, grilling it is waaaaaay better than boiling it on the stove.
While the corn is delicious as a side with butter and salt on it, I prefer to turn my corn into an entrée. So when I found this amazing salad in Food and Wine Magazine I rushed right out and bought several cobs. Even though I adore grilled corn, it isn’t those sweet kernels that makes this salad an awesome summer dinner. It’s actually the dressing.
This dressing is one of the best I’ve ever had. It may be simple, but the tart flavor from the fresh lime juice combined with the slight heat from the jalapeños is absolutely amazing. That spicy, tart combination actually makes the corn seem even sweeter than it is. The salad was so pleasing to my palate in fact, I’ve already made it twice. And since almost all the ingredients are grilled, this has become my new favorite dinner salad. It’s not only filling and scrumptious, everyone in the family loved it; which means, as long as corn’s in season, this salad will be on our table at least once a week. Maybe it can find it’s way onto yours before the summer’s over, too.
Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 ears of corn
- 1 bunch of scallions
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- In a medium bowl whisk together the lime juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, jalapeños, salt and pepper, set aside.
- Preheat the grill to 350°F.
- Remove all but the last layer of green husk from the corn. Soak the corn in water for at least 10 minutes.
- Toss the scallions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Coat the chicken with the remaining oil, salt and pepper.
- Grill the corn, scallions and chicken, turning occasionally until the scallions and corn are lightly charred and the chicken is cooked all the way through, 5 minutes for the scallions and 12 – 15 minutes for the corn and chicken. Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes, then slice across the grain.
- Chop the scallions into 1-inch pieces.
- Remove the husks from the corn and cut the kernels off the cob.
- Transfer the scallions, corn, and tomatoes to a large bowl. Add half the dressing and toss to coat. Spoon the salad onto 4 plates. Top each with a sliced chicken breast, sprinkle with lime zest and serve with remaining dressing.
If there’s one kind of recipe I love, it’s the kind that takes no time to put together. The fact that my boys lap it up every time I make it for dinner is also a huge plus; and it can be made year round. In my book that’s the hat trick of dinner recipes.
What’s especially wonderful about this recipe is that it falls into the category of “make-your-own”. While the whole sandwich calls for lamb, the cucumber/orange salad, plain yogurt and grilled onions stuffed into a pita pocket, there’s nothing that says the sandwich isn’t just as delicious without the salad or with just the grilled onions.
I love recipes like this because it allows my children to make their own decisions about what their eating that night without turning me into a short order cook. Sure, I’d like for them to eat the sandwich with all the ingredients inside, but I also know that most 5 year-olds and a 2 year-olds just aren’t interested in onions (raw or grilled). There are also a lot of adults out there who don’t like plain yogurt.
So when making this pita sandwich, do what I do: stuff the pita pocket with the ground lamb and then put everything else in bowls for your family (or your guests) to pick and choose from. This way everyone will be happy. But more importantly, it will guarantee that your family will eat what you’ve made for dinner. And for me, there’s no recipe on earth that can beat that.
Lamb and Sweet Onion Pitas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 oranges
- 1 small cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 pitas, sliced in half
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive in a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 3/4 of the onion, a little salt and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Once ready, transfer the onions to a small bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the lamb, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to the same skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
- While the meat cooks, finely chop the remaining onion and place in a medium bowl. Cut the orange segments free from the membranes and add to the bowl. Mix in the cucumber, vinegar and remaining oil and toss to combine.
- Once the meat is ready, fill each with about a 1/2 cup of lamb. Add some of the grilled onions and the orange/cucumber salad. Place a dollop of yogurt on top and serve.
Last week I did a cocktail that had lemon and orange juice in it because the citrus juices are wonderful mixers for the summer time. So, I thought why not continue the trend this week; especially since it’s still summer, it’s still hot, and these citrus cocktails are wonderful refreshers. So, today I’m doing a Gin Fizz.
If you think the Fizz sounds like a Gin Rickey or a Tom Collins you’d be right. Though if you look at the way they’re made you’ll see the differences. A Rickey is made with lime juice instead of lemon, and a Collins is served over ice and stirred instead of shaken. Whichever one you choose though, all three are great summer time cocktail choices.
The Gin Fizz was created in the late 1800′s. Although there’s no direct record of which bartender was nice enough to whip up this cocktail, Jerry Thomas wrote a little appendix to his 1862 bartender’s guide in 1876 that included the Fizz. Why would he write an appendix 14 years later? To include all the “new” drinks that had been created over the past several years. But the Gin Fizz wasn’t the only drink listed in this appendix. The Silver Fizz (made with egg white) and the Golden Fizz (made with an egg yolk) were listed too, proving that the Fizz was definitely here to stay.
You know, it’s funny: I keep saying I’m not a big gin fan, yet I keep discovering (and loving) these classic gin and citrus cocktails. So maybe I need to rethink my aversion. Maybe I am a gin fan… as long as it’s mixed with one or two types of citrus juice.
- 2 oz. gin
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- dash of gomme syrup
- club soda
- Pour the gin, lemon juice and gomme syrup in a shaker and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain into an old fashioned glass and top with club soda. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and serve.
I love summer time – the warm air, the sun not setting until 7:30 or 8, our lovely backyard. All these things make it the ideal kitchen, especially if you love to grill, which I do. But since I’m me, I don’t just want to cook hamburgers and hot dogs all summer. I also like grilling steaks, sausages, fish and chicken. The grill not only gives me tons of dinner options, that awesome smokey flavor just can’t be replicated on the stove.
Since I’m such a big fan of the grill, I was excited to see this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens. Yes, this is an entreé tailor-made for the grill, but it’s the simple marinade that makes the pork loin so flavorful. The fact that this recipe is also super easy to prepare, makes this dish a no brainer when it comes to “what’s for dinner”. Even if your kids aren’t big pork fans (like mine) they’ll lap this up because of the lip-smacking marinade. But if you want a guaranteed dinner hit, do as Better Homes suggests and serve it with some guacamole and chips. That way both adults and kids alike will devour this dish faster than you can say summer time grillin’.
- 2 limes
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 cup tequila
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Finely zest and juice the limes.
- Place the pork in a large resealable bag. Add the zest, juice, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, chili powder, onion powder, tequila and salt. Seal the bag and turn over a few times to coat. Place the bag in a large bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 4.
- Preheat the grill to 400°F, once ready adjust the grill for indirect cooking. Drain the pork and discard the marinade. Oil the grill and place the pork on the grate to cook indirectly. Cover and grill for 25 – 30 minutes or until done. Remove and let the pork stand for 3 minutes.
- Slice the meat and serve with guacamole, corn chips and lime wedges.