Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pineapple Coconut Margarita


Summer is in full swing and there is nothing like a margarita on the deck to enjoy it to it's fullest. Here's a tasty little combination of pineapple, coconut rum and tequila.  Throw in some lime and a salted rim and you have yourself a delicious pineapple coconut margarita.

In this recipe I include some pineapple coconut water. Now, normally, I do not like coconut water, I think it tastes kind of icky, however mixed with tequila and coconut rum, it is quite yummy.  Hahaha, isn't that amazing how that works?  I realize that you may not have any of this ingredient around, and so therefore, I recommend that you use two jiggers of straight pineapple juice instead. 

Please often ask about the "jigger" that I refer to in my drinks...
A jigger is an hourglass-shaped measuring device used by bartenders to ensure that they pour accurate amounts of alcohol into every drink. Usually made of metal (and sometimes plastic), jiggers contain two different measuring amounts – one on either side of the hourglass. A jigger of alcohol refers to 1.5 ounces and 1 ounce on the other side. 


Makes 1 large margarita
Ingredients

1 jigger Coconut rum
1 jigger Tequila
1 jigger Pineapple juice
1 jigger coconut-pineapple water (or substitute another 1 jigger of pineapple juice)
1/2 jigger Triple sec
1/2 lime, juiced
10-12 ice cubes

Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth.  Serve in a salted rimmed glass with another wedge of lime.


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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Prague Food Tour- Czech Republic




A beautiful view from our hotel room really kicked off the good vibes for our visit to Prague.

There is so much to see in this well preserved city, only bombed once in WWII (they thought it was Dresden 150 miles to the north), this city's sites are mostly original.  The town square shown in the two photos below were a mob scene of tourists, but a really fun place to be. Everywhere you turn, there is unique architecture to see. Tourist waiting ain't bad either.

Prague is a major party city besides being a tourist stop, we saw so many bachelor parties of rowdy guys (and gals) dressed in hilarious outfits. Apparently it's cheaper to fly in from the UK and spend the weekend in Prague than it is to spend a night on the town in London. We saw men dressed as ballerina's, prisoners and even a penis. It was fun to watch, but I wouldn't want to be them.






This is the most well known site in Prague main square, a 600 year old astronomical clock.  Apparently it is one of the oldest still working clocks in the world. It's exceedingly beautiful, but the tower around it was under scaffolding, so it might be even better looking next year.

In case you are wondering what time it is, the top is the hour, and the bottom tells the minutes.
Local bar snacks, you have to like a place that has these all over the tables.  A little something to nibble while waiting for your beer.  Mind you, you don't have to wait long for your beer in Prague, they get it to you exceedingly fast.  Apparently locals want their beer served quickly, we never waited more than a couple minutes for the server to return with your beer. 


We took a morning 4 hour bike tour through Prague which is a really great way to see some great sites and also earn your right to have a big dinner. We biked up to the Prague Castle (seen in the picture at the top) and was able to walk our bikes through the grounds, and even left them safely unlocked while we saw the sites.

Our bike guide promised us a beer for all our hard work, and knowing it was mostly down hill to return to our starting point, we sat outside and enjoyed a cold one from Strahov Monastery. Just behind the Prague Castle, Strahov is one of Prague's best mini-breweries, which is also known as Klasterni Pivovar This monastic brewery is from the 17th-century and was restored & reopened as a craft brewery in 2000, with restaurant & courtyard.

Below is a picture of their beautiful copper bar, just out of view of this shot were large tanks of the beer, but I thought the bar was so charming, I only took that picture.

After a morning of bike riding we needed some lunch.  Below is a picture of just a little sandwich at a local shop.  Every sandwich we had was amazingly fresh, beautiful and delicious!





The interesting thing about trdelnik is that it's not really Czech at all!  It's funny that all the guide books and blogs say it's a "must have".  Our food guide explained it only caught on in popularity after a guy from Slovakia brought to town for one of the Christmas markets.  I'm sure there's more to the story though.





Next thing on our agenda was the food tour, which was the highlight of our day, especially after our long bike ride that morning.  We used a local place called Prague Food Tour. We highly recommend doing it this way, you will get to see small places and hear great stories from the guide, George.


We met up with our food tour in front of a local hotel.  It was a small group of 9 people and our guide, George. The first stop was 
The Cafe Imperial restaurant to have a fancy "mini" dinner to start off our tour.  I wasn't expecting to immediately sit down and start with a real meal, but George had a method.  Better get a meal in these tourists before taking them drinking like the locals do!



Here's a recipe for the soup... it's not very clear, but I am going to try winging it some day soon.  The most unusual thing about the soup was the poached egg served on top. I really, really liked that part.  The mushroom soup itself was a yummy combination of both sweet and sour. Below it the actual recipe he gave us...  it leaves a lot to be desired for measurements, but I think it could still happen.  Some recipes are very forgiving.


Jihočeská kulajda soup: 

* mushrooms 
* couple of bigger potatoes 
* caraway seeds 
* black whole pepper 
* 2 bay leafs 
* 250 ml of cream 
* 2 spoons of smooth flour 
* vinagre 
* 3-4 eggs 
* fresh dill  
In a pot we bring 1 liter of water to boil and we add salt. In another, smaller pot add bouillon cube to 250ml of water and bring to boil. Chop clean potatoes and mushrooms into little cubes. Into the big pot with boiling water add potatoes, mushrooms and caraway seeds, pepper and bay leafs. Boil until the potatoes are soft. Add cream mixed with flour and then add the broth made from the bouillon. Cook everything together. Then add the egg, vinagre, dill and sugar. 


The Cafe Imperial restaurant is a very beautiful classic restaurant. A very stylish and interesting dining room, with tall walls and high ceilings completely covered with Art Nouveau ceramic tiles and mosaics dating back to the Imperial Hotel's construction in 1914. The restaurant is owned by a local celebrity chef whose known to be a bit of a bad boy like Gordon Ramsey.  

It was a pretty spectacular place to have a meal.

As part of the food tour, we were to have a small dinner (with soup!) and then go onto to 3 other stops.  Wow. I was going to need to pace myself. I had the duck with red cabbage and potato dumpling, topped with crispy fried onions along with a crisp Gruner Veltliner wine. 




After the Cafe Imperial, we walked onto a famous local beer  hall, called Lokál Dlouhááá. Yep, the name really does have that many a's at the end.  

Lots of locals here, and apparently a regular dinner menu in addition to the bar snack menu George ordered off of. I took four pictures of our bar snacks below, he kept trying to order more if we were hungry. 

The beer was great, and we enjoyed a crazy variety of food considering we'd just eaten dinner.



Steak tartar pre-mixed together, so delicious on fried bread (!) that has been rubbed with a garlic clove.  If I hadn't just eaten the duck at the restaurant before, I could have made a meal of this.







Above-Delicious Prague Ham with horseradish whip cream.  I could have eaten that whip cream on everything!


Below- Pickled Cheese with peppers. I wasn't a fan of this, which is super surprising since I love both cheese and pickles.  It was just too rich, too strong and well, too pickley.



Fried cheese, good the world over.





Next stop was a fun little bar, called Bonvivants, kind of a funny speakeasy type with tons of charm.  The sign on the door said "No Communists, No Idiots please". 

First drink was Czech Absinth(e) served correctly with a sugar cube and a dribble of  ice water from the fun contraption on the left.  Some bachelor party types drink absinth(e) in Czech republic straight and served on fire (for no benefit of the drink or the drinker). This was very tasty and refreshing tasting faintly of licorice and herbs.  It's said to induce a euphoria feeling, and frankly I felt GOOD after drinking it! Haha, it may have been the company, the food, the wine, the beer...

He also served us a couple other cocktails using Czech apricot brandy and served almost like a Ramos Gin Fizz, all frothy and delicious.  

One disclaimer, though we did drink multiple drinks they were "half size".  Funny, huh?  Czech's are big beer drinkers and they down more beer per capita than Germany.  True fact that.
Third tiny cocktail (ahem...) was made with their aromatic national liquor. I loved this Becherovka, we even bought a bottle to bring home.

Made in the Czech Republic since 1807, its clear, 76 proof, and flavored with anise and cinnamon, along with more than thirty other herbs and spices. The recipe is known to only two people, who make the blend of herbs every week. Like the KFC of Czech Republic.

Becherovka is meant to be served chilled and neat as a digestif. Or another popular way if mixing it with tonic water, a combination called a beton (from BEcherovka and TONic), which is also a pun for the Czech word for concrete. I served one to my Mom on 4th of July, she seemed to like it a lot.

I found a lot of fun recipes online, but I think I need to make this one. Existential Hero — Becherovka, Blanco tequila, Orange liqueur, Light rum, Amaretto, Lime juice.
I will let you know just how existential it gets.

Absolutely feeling no pain after drinking a bunch of super yummy little cocktails, we set off to the other side of the river to visit our last place.  Here you can see the Charles bridge lit up in the distance. Not the best picture, but you get the point, right? I might have been more level photographer earlier in the evening, y'know?




Cafe Savoy was a great place for an almost midnight snack. Were we hungry again?

Not really, but we had some little sweets and a couple of canape sandwiches shown below.  

George mentioned that we were having a traditional Czech "tea" to be enjoyed in the afternoon, but frankly we all needed a little coffee to perk us up before we branched out on our own through the little cobblestone streets back to our hotel.  

I've since read online that this is a great place for breakfast, lunch or tea, so if you go to Prague, you really should check it out.

A couple shots of the ceiling that was covered up from WWII to protect and then stayed covered through the communist regime. So incredibly beautiful.



  

It was sad to say goodbye, but having such a fun food tour was a great last night in such a beautiful and fun city.


Morning brought another classic European breakfast, I was loving the cheese, meats, cucumbers and bread for breakfast every day.  I'm not sure if the Prosecco is traditional, but for a vacation breakfast, why not?  We had to get to the train station to continue to our next stop, Vienna!







Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chocolate Stuff


I can't really explain it, part pudding, part brownie, part cake and all gluten free too.  
And yum, chewy chocolaty goodness.

A co-worker brought this in for my birthday, and the whole gang loved it.  I've been meaning to blog it forever.  I actually think this would be a great summer dessert as the chocolate cake ("stuff") is chilled before serving.

Serves 6-8
Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour an 8” square pan.

1 Bar (4 oz) of Baker German Chocolate (48% cacao/sweetened-green packaging)
1 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 Cube Butter (1/4 cup)
1 tsp Vanilla
Dash of salt
2 eggs
3 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 ½  cups Sugar

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.  Beat the eggs, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla together.  Stir the milk with the butter and chocolate mixture.  Combine all ingredients and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top cracks.  It will feel a little like gel, but will firm as it cools. Chill and serve with whip cream, and sprinkles, if desired.





Enjoy!

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Moroccan Salad- Tomato & Cucumber


We have this crazy tradition in our family, grab yourself an unique party theme and slap it onto your relatives.
You?  You are bringing a Moroccan salad!
Okay,
So yeah, sure. I got one.
Not...
So, you Google it.  Hmmmm, this seems like every other Mediterranean salad I ever made. What exactly makes this different?
Frankly, I am not sure, but it IS different.
It may be the size that you cut them into, it may be the combination, the olive oil, the parsley, or the seasoning.
It is incredibly delicious and easy to make.
Don't believe me, just try it. I think you will like it.

Waiting for the next theme, or dreaming up some challenge for my sisters soon.  
What do YOU think?  Czech Republic?  Poland?  Ghana? Uruguay?  

Serves about 4-6
Ingredients

1 lb cherry tomatoes (or grape), cut into small pieces (I did eighths)
1 1/2 English cucumbers, diced small
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup green onions, chives, or onion, minced
1 Lemon, juiced
1 tsp Lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop everything, add the olive oil and lemon zest and juice. Season well with salt and pepper.  Chill until ready to serve.  Best made 1-2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Indian Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach


Golden and fragrant, we loved the beautiful color and flavors of this dish.  This one is somewhat healthy too.  This one is a quick dinner to pull together, and reheats nicely too.
Inspired by this recipe, but simplified by me (because I am like that).

I usually have boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the freezer, canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) on the pantry shelf and fresh spinach hanging around. We have made this with the yogurt addition at the end, and without, and frankly, both are delicious.  If you don't have the yogurt, skip it, but don't skip this recipe it's so tasty.  If you don't like spicy hot, omit the cayenne pepper, otherwise, curry powder and turmeric are not that spicy, just golden and fragrant.


One caution, be sure to put on an old shirt when cooking, and eating, this. If you don't, you're sure to have some yellow spots adorning your shirt. Ask me how I know...



Ingredients
Servings: 6

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp butter
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
 Kosher salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons grated peeled ginger
2 teaspoons ground curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup (or more) chicken broth
5 ounces baby spinach (about 8 lightly packed cups)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt. Working in batches, cook chicken, reducing heat as needed to prevent over-browning, until golden brown on all sides, 8-10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Add butter and onions to drippings in pot; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden brown, 10-15 minutes.   Stir in garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chickpeas and 1 cup broth. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Add more broth if needed to cover chicken about three-fourths of the way up. Bring to a simmer. Cover pot and turn the heat to low, braise chicken until fork-tender, 45-55 minutes. Add spinach to pot, cook until spinach is wilted, 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat, stir yogurt into cooking liquid. Season with salt and sprinkle with cilantro. Spoon chicken mixture over white, or basmati, rice.




Monday, April 24, 2017

Boulevardier Cocktail


It's just fun to say!
Try it, let it roll off your tongue.
Bo UL le var de A
Welcome to my phonetics, I just made that up.
Add a little French accent twist when you say it, and I think you got this down.

If you like Manhattens, or Old Fashions, then I think you will like this.
A Lot.
Apparently this is the same as a Negroni (but no gin), which is exactly why I like it better. Though this one is pretty good, Amaro Negroni
Wikipedia says it's similar to an "Old Pal".



Makes 1
Ingredients

1 big jigger rye whiskey (or bourbon)
1 sm jigger Campari
1 sm jigger Sweet Vermouth (red)
Orange twist
A marschino cherry (not traditional, but recommended)

Fill up a shaker with ice, pour all the booze over the ice.
Shake, shake, shake.
Twist your orange peel over the glass and pour the boulevardier over the top.

NOTE- You can also serve this over the rocks (ice cubes) instead of straight up in a martini glass.

Enjoy!

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The Old Pal Martini


I read a hilarious article in Elle Decor which matched cocktails with your Zodiac sign.
Hahaha, I thought it was ridiculous, until I read what they matched me with.
Perfect!
Here's the article, if you are interested.
It said I was Loyal, Straightforward and Ambitious, just like this cocktail!


Makes 1 large cocktail
Ingredients

2 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. dry French vermouth (white)
Lemon twist, for garnish

Stir whiskey, Campari, and vermouth in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with lemon twist.

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