May 2 2012

best margaritas ever (freshly squeezed!)

Growing up, my family had several traditions varying from reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve to eating pizza and renting a movie every Friday night. Now that my sister and I have grown up and moved out, the big tradition is going to one of our two favorite Mexican restaurants (they’re actually owned by the same people and have the exact same menu) and getting a pitcher of frozen margaritas. It’s pretty much a given that if my sister and I are both in DC at the same time (which frankly, doesn’t happen nearly enough), we will all go out to Cactus Cantina or Lauriol Plaza and enjoy a nice salt-rimmed glass or two of ice cold margaritas.

Fresh Margarita

My brother-in-law gave me his super simple and tasty recipe for margaritas and up until a few months ago, it was my go-to recipe for when I was craving a margarita. But I’ve always wondered: what would a margarita made completely from scratch taste like? Well, when I saw that Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe for fresh margaritas, I didn’t have to wonder any more. If the fine folks at Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe they were going to stand behind, well, I had to try it.

Their recipe uses fresh lemon and lime juice, zest, sugar, salt, triple sec, and of course tequila, and that’s it. Completely natural. And so totally delicious. To make sure the drink is packed with enough citrus flavor, they have you steep the lemon and lime juice with both lemon and lime zest for up to 24 hours.

Best Margaritas Ever

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Mar 17 2012

irish coffee

Irish Coffee

My sister sent me an article from the New York Times the other day that lamented the “disreputable image of a mongrel” that Irish coffee has earned itself. What? Irish coffee, a mongrel? Really? I have only the highest respect for Irish coffee, and this was news to me. I figured the very least I could do in the name of Irish coffee was to profess my love for it here and spread the word for this simple but tasty after dinner drink (or mid-afternoon or morning, or whenever you like to drink your coffee and whiskey).

Brown Sugar for Irish Coffee

Whiskey and Brown Sugar for Irish Coffee

I’m not sure why, but I was a little skeptical when my sister and brother-in-law first served me an Irish coffee a few years ago. Any doubt I had vanished after my first sip. Even though I wasn’t really a coffee drinker, the concoction of coffee, whiskey, the slightest bit of brown sugar, and whipped cream was more than enough to win me over.

Irish Coffee

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Jan 26 2012

eye of the dragon (lychee martini)

Eye of the Dragon (Lychee Martini)

Happy Lunar New Year! The lunar new year may have started on Monday, but the Chinese celebrate for 15 days, so why shouldn’t you? You have plenty of time to kick off the year of the dragon with this lychee martini appropriately named Eye of the Dragon.

When a rep from Bulldog Gin sent me this recipe and offered to send a sample of their gin, I could hardly say no. I had never had (or even heard of, to be fair) Bulldog Gin, but the very morning that I got an e-mail Bulldog, a coworker mentioned that she had to find some for her sister’s cocktail party because it was her boyfriend’s favorite gin. My interest was piqued, so I was pretty excited by the time I got the package from Bulldog with my sample.

Eye of the Dragon (Lychee Martini)

Bulldog Gin is distilled with dragon eye (also known as longan, a tropical fruit found in South and Southeast Asia) along with the traditional juniper and other botanicals and is without a doubt the smoothest gin I’ve ever tried. It can easily be drunk neat, but if this drink is any indication, it’s also delicious in mixed drinks. It’s perfect in this lychee martini, with its citrus and floral notes layered with the dragon eye and juniper.

Lychees, if you’re not familiar with them, are a popular tropical fruit in Southeast Asia with a fresh, perfumy flavor that is hard to describe. They’re larger and slightly firmer than grapes with a reddish rind and a marble-sized seed inside. I’ve never had the pleasure of having fresh lychee (I hope to change that in May when they’re in season in North America), but even canned, lychees are delicious, refreshing morsels.

Eye of the Dragon (Lychee Martini)

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Dec 28 2011

cranberry ginger cocktail

Cranberry Ginger Cocktail

Between the scent of fresh pine in the air, festive lights everywhere, lots of time with family, and spectacular food, this is just about my favorite time of year. This year has been especially fun because we spent Christmas with my two nieces: Amelia, who is 3, and Sophie, who is just a couple of months old. This was Amelia’s first Christmas where she had some sense of what was going on and her joy and excitement were contagious. Watching her put out cookies and milk out for Santa and running down to see what he had brought her brought back fond memories of my own childhood Christmases. Granted, she was possibly more excited about the act of unwrapping presents than some of the actual gifts she got, but she had a blast.

Cranberry Ginger Cocktail

We were also treated to my mother-in-law’s amazing cooking, including pork belly, Bing Ssäm (her adaptation of David Chang’s Bo Ssäm), paella, sangria, lumpia, and sinigang. And those were just the dinners (she also made some amazing French toast, crab scramble, and more!). I would share some photos of all her amazing food, but frankly I was too busy eating to stop and take pictures. We cleansed our palates with biko, Christmas cookies (including my two versions of jubilee jumbles and black and white holiday bark among many others), and some spectacular chocolate pretzels bars that Amelia made (with quite a bit of help from her mom).

Cranberry Ginger Cocktail

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