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margarita by ted_major
margarita, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

I’ve been trying on and off to make a good margarita, with limited success. My paramaters are fairly narrow: I can’t stand frozen margaritas, so I’ve focused on the less forgiving margarita on the rocks. I never really liked margaritas until I went to Sol y Luna, and since then I’ve been spoiled. BitterOldPunk gave the sage, if slightly impractical, advice to make three, because the third one will always be perfect. I recently came across Alton Brown’s margarita recipe, which was close, but not quite there. Shortly thereafter, I came across a habanero grapefruit margarita recip in Bon Appetit that was OK, but still not superb. I borrowed Alton Brown’s method of muddling orange and lime to release the aromatic citrus oils and added the grapefruit from Tulum to come up with the following recipe, which if I do say so myself, isn’t half bad.
Makes 2.

  • 1 Valencia orange
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 lime
  • 3 ozs tequila blanco, divided (Don’t skimp! I used Patron because that’s the best available here; you may have other options.)
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • coarse sea salt

Use 2 small plates to salt the rims of your glasses. In one plate, pour 1/2 oz of tequila, and in the other pour out some sea salt. Dip the rim of a glass in the tequila, drain for 10 seconds, and then dip in the salt. Gently add ice so as not to knock the salt off the rim. Repeat with the other glass.
Cut each of the fruits in half horizontally. Cut one half of the orange and one half of the lime into quarters and put into your cocktail shaker. Muddle for at least one minute to release the juice and citrus oils. Strain and return juice to the shaker. Juice the other half of the orange and lime and both halves of the grapefruit. Add these juices to the shaker along with 2.5 ozs tequila plus the tequila left over from salting the rims of the glasses. Add 1 oz simple syrup and ice. Shake for at least 30 seconds, until the shaker is covered in condensation, and then strain into the salt-rimmed glasses.
Enjoy.

fried zucchini blossoms by ted_major
fried zucchini blossoms, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

We were late getting the garden in this year, so we’re only just now getting any blossoms on the zucchini plants (and still no tomatoes). Here’s a quick and tasty way to serve the blossoms, if you’re willing to forego some squash later on.

  • zucchini or other squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • oil for frying (I used good old-fashioned lard; use the oil of your choice)

Heat oil in a deep skillet or deep fryer to 375F. Mix flour, salt, and beer, and whisk together. Don’t worry about a few small lumps: you don’t want to over-stir and make the batter go flat. Dip blossoms in batter and fry, turning once when the underside is golden. It’ll only take a couple of minutes. Eat ’em while they’re hot.

Barbecue by ted_major
Barbecue, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

A few weeks ago, I fired up the smoker to cook a Boston butt, a few turkey breasts, and a slab of ribs. I usually use the Chez Panisse brine recipe to smoke turkey, but I did a search to see about brining a Boston butt. I found that butts are commonly brined, and even found brine recipe from Alton Brown. I decided to do one brine for everything, and gave Alton’s recipe a shot. It was great for the Boston butt, but the turkey was a bit too salty, and the ribs were WAY too salty. Live & learn.

Brine:

  • 4 gallons water
  • 48 oz. salt
  • 1 pint molasses

I put all the meat and the brine into a cooler with some reusable ice packs, which kept it at aroung 40F overnight.

The next day, I rubbed the butt with a rub made of roughly equal parts dried parsley, black pepper, garlic, and paprika, and put it and the turkey breasts on to smoke early in the morning. I don’t usually use a rub for turkey. After about 8 hours, I took the turkey off. Then I rubbed the ribs with a mix of paprika, cumin, ancho chile powder, allspice, garlic, and enough olive oil to make a paste and put them on for a couple of hours.

I smoked the butt until it reached an internal temp of 190F, which took about 16 hours.

I seved the pork with some slaw and some Cholula chipotle hot sauce for a barbecue sauce. (N.B., I like a hot, vinegary sauce, and can’t stand thick, sweet, tomatoey sauce; YMMV.)