The Sazerac: the official cocktail of New Orleans

I am back from holiday but I have gotten into the swing blogging yet. The vacation to New Orleans was fabulous but I did come back with a nasty cold too. I promise I will have pics soon and tell you all about it.

I did find the energy however to recreate a fabulous cocktail we enjoyed while there. One thing NOLA is know for, besides food and beads, it’s cocktails. From industrial daiquiri machines to a Vieux-Carré or a Hurricane, there is a drink that will fit your bill. The number one cocktail my friend and I wanted to try was the Sazerac, which just so happened to be proclaimed New Orleans’ official cocktail in 2008.

Sazerac 1

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Raspberry Minteato for Berrylove

Even with my broken wrist in a cast I really wanted to participate during the #berrylove month. So I came up with this simple summer cocktail. Sorry short text..I have only one hand to type with. I am also taking one handed pics.

This is a cross between a Raspberry Iced Tea and a Mojito, I call it a Raspberry Minteato

Ξ Raspberry Minteato Ξ

2 cups of brewed tea
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup  raspberries
1/8 cup lime juice
12 mint leaves
8 ounces rum
1 1/2 cup club soda

Bring 2 cups of water to boil and brew the tea for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool tea to room temperature. Muddle the raspberries, lime juice and mint in a pitcher. Add rum, cooled tea and club soda to the pitcher and stir. Serve in a glass with ice. Makes 1 liter approximately.

April is #berrylove month!

Please join in on the #berrylove fun by linking up any berry recipe from the month of April 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #berrylove event! The twitter hashtag is #berrylove.


Grown Up Orange Hot Chocolate

What to post as the first recipe of the year? I was not too inspired at first. The fact that I was bed/couch ridden for 4 days with a nasty cold certainly did not help. December overall was not a good thing (I will stop bitching soon, smiles for 2012). Cooking was not a priority. With the cold still hanging on, the return to work was also difficult. Oh and did I mention how freaking COLD the weather was too.

Elaborate cooking no. A hot and warm drink yes. One with strong booze to kick my cold in the *&?%, oh yes! So I offer you a Cheers for the New Year with a drink that will fill the party quota, the sitting by the fire place quota, warming up from a cold day quota, and help scaring away  a nasty virus  quota. A nice boozed up hot chocolate with orange notes.

Ξ Grown Up Orange Hot Chocolate Ξ

1 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of salt
1 oz orange juice
7 oz milk
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 Tablespoon Scotch (or other)

Mix cocoa, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan, slowly stir in milk and orange juice. Heat and stir over moderately low heat until just boiling, then simmer 2 minutes. Add Grand Marnier and Scotch. Serve in a mug or thick glass with an orange zest.

Check out all the other citrus lovers on January’s #citruslove bloghop


Happy Holidays: Bloody Mary Fruit Sangria Cocktai

Like most you I am sure, I have spent he day lunging around resting and trying to recuperate  after lots of fun and partying. I hope Santa was good to you? I certainly got plenty of new toys and gadgets for the kitchen.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year 2012

Bloody Mary Fruit Sangria Cocktail

Not to put a damper on things I am leaving town for a few days tomorrow morning for a funeral. My godmother has passed away from cancer. Don’t feel to bad, she is no longer suffering. Silver lining and all. Besides that she lived a wonderful life for 80 years and she was my mom’s best friend for the past 70 years. She was an amazing baker. I will try and get one of her recipes while away and bake them as an homage.

I will be back in town for New Years Eve and parties are already planned. So this will most probably be my last post for 2011. And I will have to leave my commenting on your blogs to 2012 as well I am afraid. I want to thank you all for visiting my blog when you can. I hope to entertain you, makes you laugh most of the time and make you salivate of curse.  I am always so thankful to have found this outlet to share my passion: FOOD.

I will end this post with a little peak into the family meal we shared on December 24th and a bizarre but awesome cocktail recipe I created.

Chicken Ballantine

My mom is always in charge of the dinner. This year she made a Vichyssoise soup and Chicken Ballantine. This was apparently my grandmother’s recipe. It is deboned chicken legs shaped into a ball filled with rice and liver stuffing. To accompany it she made a white sauce flavored with Ricard, a French aniseed liqueur. Yep it is as good as it sounds.

I always am in charge of the cocktail and dessert. Thank you to Liz from That Skinny Chick can Bake for the Ganache Topped Chocolate Tart she posted and I could not resist making. A resounding success it was declared. Instead of whip cream I opted for a recipe of homemade real Crême Fraiche I saw at Food Wishes. You have to make this! This is what the Brits put on their scones at tea time.

My father is from Vienna, Austria and we follow the tradition of opening the gifts on the evening of  the 24th. And a personal family tradition is to open a bottle of bubbly as we open the gift. This is where the cork landed: in a crystal wine glass by the sink from dinner. Funny but my mom was not laughing lol. Speaking of drinks, here is my cocktail invention. It was a spur of the moment invention and it does sound weird but it was really delicious. I am guessing the measurements since I did not take notes. If you don’t have pepper vodka just add a bit of Tabasco to taste with regular vodka.

Ξ Bloody Mary Fruit Sangria Cocktail Ξ

12 oz tropical fruit smoothie
1 oz hot pepper vodka ( I used Khortytsa Pepper Honey Hot from the Ukraine)
1 oz Grand Marnier
2 oz red wine

Mix all ingredients together and serve on ice. Serves 2.

The Secret Recipe Club: Bloody Mary of the Sea Verrine

This is so exciting, it is my first time participating in the Secret Recipe Club. I came across this monthly club while visiting one of my favorite bloggers. I just had to look into it and joined right away. Basically you are assigned by the organizer a fellow club participant which has a food blog too, from which you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it.

But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the pre-established posting date….which is today! I can’t wait to see who picked me.

I was assigned Suz’ blog called Thru The Bugs On My Windshield. When I read the title of her blog I was on the floor laughing and rolling my butt off. Awesome name! It took quite some time to look up all her recipes and to finally settle on one to make. I noticed she is also a fellow Daring Kitchen member and her very first participation in the Daring Cooks just so happen to be the one I co-hosted on patés and bread. But did I really want to revisit a recipe I made? Nah!

Finally the recipe found me I think. And it certainly was not a complicated project but I was just inspired. Suz had posted a Bloody Mary cocktail recipe on her post entitled It’s Mary Time. A cocktail that actually makes you consume a vegetable for your health…yum!

But this was not going to be a simple cocktail recreation, oh no! I was hit hard on the head with an inspirational bottle of vodka and ran with my idea. I thought instead of drinking it, what if it is was solidified and served during the meal. I saw several versions of this concept online but this recipe is truly mine and unique.

***Historical note: the actual recipe was only invented in the 1930s in the USA but there are assumptions as to the name of the cocktail, possibly inspired by two gruesome women in history. The first was Mary of Tudor, Queen Mary I of England. She was a Catholic Queen in a Protestant country and she wished to renew bonds with Rome. She had about 300 Protestants reformers burned at the stake under the Heresy Act, quite inspired by the Spanish Inquisition. She was a hated and feared Queen by her people who nicknamed her Bloody Mary after her death. The second Mary which could have inspired the name was the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory Nadasdy who was reputed to have bathed in the blood of young virgin girls in order to retain her youth.***

My version would make an ideal first course. The liquids are heated with the gelatin to melt it completely and then you add flavors and some chopped veggies. I also added small baby shrimps. It makes a lovely light appetizer with a good doze of vodka. Cheers to your health!

Ξ Bloody Mary of the Sea Verrine Ξ

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
9 oz tomato juice
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp coarse salt and ground pepper, each
1/4 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp horseradish (I used Wasabi)
Tabasco sauce to taste
5 oz vodka
1/2 c chopped, seeded, peeled cucumber
1/2 c chopped shrimp
1/4 c chopped marinated vegetables
1/4 c chopped onion

– In large saucepan, soften gelatin in tomato juice for 5-10 min.

– Turn on the burner to med-low heat and stir constantly until gelatin dissolves as it just boils lightly. Remove from heat right away.

– Stir in lime juice, all the seasonings and vodka. Refrigerate until partially set (keep an eye on constantly it even if it takes about 1 hour).

– Fold in cucumber, shrimp, marinated vegetables and onion.

– Spoon into 4 wine glasses, verrine, or sherbet dishes.

– Refrigerate until firm, 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with marinated vegetables and a shrimp.

If at any time you want to jell a liquid with some alcohol content, with gelatin or agar agar, keep in mind that no more then 30% of your total volume of liquid should be alcohol based or the jelling process may not happen. This recipe is a the 30% mark. I was totally solid but one verrine I took time eating and after a couple of yours at room temp, during a heat wave, the consistency semi melted.

A Wolf in Tenderloin’s Clothing Pork Tebderloin

I really really really think (I hope) I am on the last leg of this laryngitis. Yes I still have some symptoms. I went to the clinic finally on Friday when I woke up with a terrible sore throat, nasal passage…spare you the details. So it is officially laryngitis, the viral no antibiotics but not contagious kind. I was given a nasal spray with cortisone and steroids. My nose and throat will soon be powerful.

Now one of the MAJOR drawbacks of such an illness is the NO ALCOHOL rule, one I followed as best I could. Yeah alcohol is bad and dehydrates. But I LOVE my booze! OK before I sound like a drunk let me precise I like the occasional wine glass with dinner even on a week night and and drinks can be part of a weekend outing too. And as Murphy’s Law likes to have it, I was recently sent a bottle of Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2009 to try. I stared at it day in and day out for 2 weeks…it was torture.

Not only did I want to be able to truly enjoy and critique this wine fairly but I also wanted to cook something appropriate for its flavors…but I have been too tired to cook lately. Well I had enough yesterday and stuck with a simple yet delicious meal to accompany my long needed pleasurable glass of wine. My simple affair was a lovely pan pork tenderloin served with ready made salad and corn chips.

I have been a fan of Wolf Blass wines for quite sometime. I think the Shiraz was the very first Australian wine I bought year ago. Wolf Blass Wines was established in 1966 by a German immigrant named Wolfgang Blass in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. Today it is owed by Beringer Blass. White wines are sold under the White, Yellow, Green and Gold labels, where as the reds are sold under Red, Yellow, Brown, Grey and Black labels. Yellow Label and Red Label are considered everyday drinking wines.

Chardonnay is what I would call the safest bet for a white wine as it tends to be neutral in flavor compared to some other grapes. Chances are a Chardonnay will please all palates, especially the wine novice. This is not to say there are no complex Chardonnays that will enthrall the connoisseur. Quite the contrary. But this Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2009 is a safe buy. The color is a light yellow-green and the taste has notes of white peaches, melon and nectarines. The oak taste is not overpowering and it leaves a buttery texture in the mouth. It is crisp without being to acidic.

Again this wine is not meant for a major WOW factor but is more of a lovely everyday white wine, in my opinion. I really did enjoy it and would have it regularly for non special occasions. Now what to serve with it? Well this particular Chardonnay goes well with fish, seafood, white meats, spicy Asian dishes, as well as earthy foods like mushrooms and aged cheeses. I chose to go with a pork tenderloin that I marinated and then pan fried. I thought it was a perfect combination. Just marinate for a good  hour and then cook in a pan with a bit of olive oil. I like my pork with a very pink shade personally. Here is the marinade I used, just mix it up and put on the meat:

Wolf in Tenderloin’s Clothing Marinade

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp Dijon mustard with seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Wining in Niagara

As I mentioned in a last post this holiday season was partly celebrated in the Niagara and Toronto region. There will be a few blogs about this trip but my first one will concentrate on the really important stuff: the Niagara wine region!

Of course Niagara in famous for the massive horse shoe falls and the tourist mecca around it has turned into a family oriented gaudy Las Vegas slash theme park with rides, family museums, Ferris wheels, mazes and casinos. Go with an open mind and enjoy the overkill kitch atmosphere. Of course we mostly returned to adult childhood in the evening. Day time was reserved for another adult treat: visiting the vineyards and enjoying some tastings.

In all we did 7 vineyards over 2 days. My friend Stef was driving so he swirled, tasted and spat. I was not driving so a swirled, tasted and was plastered in the middle of the day twice. Awesome times people! And we bought A LOT of wine. All in all we came back to Montreal with 71 bottles, 21 of those were mine. But chances are I good till next year so it is a wise investment (well it made sense then). I also got a bottle of grape seed oil.

Yes my cat Sati snuck into the picture posing perfectly

Now I won’t describe every winery we went to, let’s make it more a picture essay. But first if you plan on going – and I strongly suggest you do – here is what you can expect from the wines in this part of the world:

  • the appellation of origin for Ontario is VQA.
  • there are over 100 VQA certified wineries in the Niagara region.
  • commonly used grapes are riesling, chardonnay, vidal blanc, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, Gewurztraminer, cabernet franc, baco noir, cabernet sauvigon, merlot, pinot noir and gamay noir.
  • you will find table wines, late harvest wines, sparkling wines and the famous ice wine.
  • The term “Meritage” is used to describe the popular red wine combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

And before I start the photo wine tour I highly suggest you try at least once in your life the Baco Noir which is a unique grape to the Niagara region in Canada. The deep red grape produces an extremely dark red wine yet the wine has fruity flavors, a bright acidity and is low tannins.

Reifs Estate Winery

Our first stop, the surprise find here was the Riesling Late Harvest and Gewurztraminer Late Harvest at around 12$ for 350ml bottle.

Pellar Estates

What a wonderful stop this was. At first we hesitated because it is a big known place and usually quality can slide with popularity. Not here. And Stef recognized the lady who helped us from his past trip. The wonderful Rose-Anne was phenomenal and she got us some really special older years to taste in her favorites like the Merlot 2002, 2004 and 2006. The Chardonnay sur Lie was awesome too. But the best by far (of the entire trip) was the Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Signature Series. Truly one of the best wines I have ever tasted.

Konzelman Winery Estate

Well I was right away smitten a bit with Jeremy he he. This is one of Stef favorite place and he knew before hand he was getting a case of their Baco Noir. It is the perfect red vine for any meal during the year. We also enjoyed the sweeter Peach wine here.

Pillittery Estate

Unfortunately the dud of the trip. I am sure I was here 5 years ago and loved it but now everything was a disappointment. The only purchased here was a Chambourcin Special Select Late Harvest.

Henry of Pelham

Another MUST on the vineyard road. The reds here are phenomenal. Get the 2006 Merlot and any Baco Noir. Great little place and ladies go to the bathroom because going up the stairs feels like a small museum.

Herdner Estate

Avid the usual stuff here and stick to the out of the ordinary. Go for all the sweet fruit wines here: black currant, blueberry, peach, strawberry and  raspberry. The drier rhubarb wine is the find here. But I had a revelation here: a green tea Gewurztraminer…OH I got 3 bottles, perfect for a hot summer day.

Harbour Estates

This was my little find 5 years ago and I really wanted to go back. It is not the best place but I like it. The Chardonnay is lovely, I like the Harbour Midnight which is a mix of Cabernet Sauvigon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Finally we both got a few Cherry sweet wines, 50% at $5 a bottle, hello!

Next trip blog we will cover food, stay tuned!