SMOKED NEGRONI COCKTAIL

Its cocktail time! It has been a while since I have done anything beverage related, and for those of you that enjoy that, my apologies for neglecting you….it won’t happen again. I had forgotten how much I actually enjoyed a negroni until a few weeks ago. I had a client taking one of my online cocktail classes, and one of their clients was campari. So naturally we were making negoni’s. As I went through this class, talking about the origins of this cocktail, making it, and tasting it with my class, it just kind of came back to me how much I really enjoyed this particular drink.

The drink itself is very simple, it is equal parts gin, campari, and sweet vermouth. Sounds simple enough right? You can actually watch the full youtube video of how I made this smoked version here, https://youtu.be/9HtpYAcDK9A . Now, even though the ingredients themself are simple, technique and the right gin/sweet vermouth are crucial components. I opted for a Japanese Gin, a little smoother than its London counterpart, a little more floral, and a little less juniper. For the vermouth we went with Carpano Antica, which is my favorite to use in cocktails.

SO where does the smoke come in you ask? Well, I used a cedar plank, you can usually find those in the seafood section of your local grocery store (think cedar plank salmon), and a small torch to light it on fire a bit to cause some great smoke. I placed the cocktail glass over the smoking cedar plank, and allowed the glass to fill with the smoke. Cedar smoke is thick and has a great aroma, so it just coats the inside of the glass, and you get that smokey nose throughout the cocktail.

Directions:

First you are going to get the cedar plank smoking, then place your glass over the smoking area. Then, in a mixing glass or shaker add in 1 oz of gin, 1 oz of campari, 1 oz of sweet vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters (optional). Next add some ice to the mixture and stir, do not shake, we don’t want to agitate the drink, we want to keep it smooth and velvety. Finally strain the contents of the mixing glass/shaker into your smoke filled drinking glass, over some fresh new ice. Then garnish the cocktail with an orange peel!

Enjoy!

SPAGHETTI SQUASH

So as I am getting my YouTube channel together and deciding on what recipes/longer format videos that I should put out first, I have to say that I was shocked that this one was an overwhelming favorite. I mean, I know that its a good dish, but out of everything that I have posted, I just thought there were a few others that may have been voted first.

Either way, I am grateful for all of the support that everyone is showing me on this journey. It has always been my intention to give YOU what YOU want, and not just do it for the likes and views. I mean any chimpanzee can go out and make pasta with shrimp and cajun seasoning and get a ton of views. I have never been “like everyone else”, and dont intend to be….but dont be surprised if you catch me making a few “basic” dishes!

Here is the link to my youtube, where you can find this recipe as well as more to come… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSnGNZiGXUuz-FRmXi7ZsKQ

ok, here is the recipe….

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbl spoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley for color and garnish
  • as much or as little cheese for added flavor

Directions: First preheat your oven to 400 degrees, next split your squash in to 2 even halves. Be careful as the skin is tough and this can be a difficult step. Next you need to use a spoon and scrape out all of the loose flesh and seeds. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and spread on the inside of the sqush. Drizzle about 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil on each half, and finally season with salt and pepper. Place both halves face down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes, then using a fork, gently scrape the inner flesh. Serve this in the squash itself, or on a plate. Check for seasoning, add cheese and parsley….and enjoy!

Lilibet’s Sunset

I haven’t really done much cocktail/alcohol content lately, so when I got a media request to do something to commemorate the Queen’s passing, I figured why not. Not that I need a reason to drink, I can do that all on my own. I did it to get those creative cocktail juices flowing again. I got a few things in the works that I can’t wait to share.

Seeing all the news/documentaries its been made very clear that everyday the Queen drank a gin & Dubonnet, with a lemon slice. She actually had 4 drinks a day (thats way more than the 2 I usually have), a glass of wine, a gin martini, the aforementioned gin & dubonnet, and then finished off the day with a glass of champagne. Sounds like a great way to end the day to me

When creating this cocktail, I knew that I did not want to stray to far from the original, but wanted to try an incorporate all of her drinks into one, and sort of crank it up a notch….and this is what we ended up with!

Ingredients:

.75 ounces Gordons Gin

1.5 ounces Dubonnet (if you cannot find this, because its out everywhere…Lillet Rouge is a viable substitute)

2 ounces champagne (Bollinger is you have the budget, thats what she drank)

1 charred lemon wheel

Directions: Using a hi-ball glass filled to the top with crushed ice, add in the gin, then the Dubonnet. Top the glass with champagne, and finally garnish with the charred lemon wheel. Really pretty simple, and quite the sipper. If you give a try, let me know what you think!

Cheers

CHICKEN MARSALA

I dont usually cook a lot of chicken, its not really my favorite protein to use, but I love it in this dish. If you are like me and DONT like chicken, pork tenderloin medallions also work well here. Now, when I use chicken, I will generally go for the dark meat, so today I am using thighs WITH the skin on. Again, you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you like, this is just the way I like it.

Lets get into the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless chicken thighs (or style of chicken/protein of your choice)
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 2 cups baby bella mushrooms (sliced/quartered)
  • 1/2 shallot (diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3 oz Marsala wine
  • 1/2 table spoon chicken base
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • thyme
  • parsley
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika

Directions: First you need to preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Next season your chicken with the salt, pepper, and paprika on both sides. Next, season your potato starch with the same seasonings. Make sure to evenly coat the chicken in the seasoned potato starch, and shake off any excess. Ina saute pan with deep sides, add in 2 tablespoons of oil. Once oil is heated, place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and sear for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the chicken form the pan and place it on an oven safe baking dish and finish in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. While the chicken is cooking, add the shallots and garlic to the same pan that was used to sear the chicken. Once garlic and shallots become tender, translucent, and fragrant, add in your mushrooms. Give all the ingredients a good toss, and add in the chicken base. Once all ingredients are well combined, deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine. Let the wine reduce a bit, then add in the fresh thyme. Next we are going to add in some heavy cream, bring that to a simmer, stirring occasionally until it reduces to our desired thickness. Check for seasoning, and then serve.

I chose to plate this over pasta, but rice works great as well. Use the rice or pasta as a bed, add on the chicken, then sauce, and finally garnish with fresh parsley.

Shrimp Cake Sliders

Whats good everybody?! So I am trying to get into the habit of posting the complete recipes for all those videos you guys love here on my website. Since you all were so excited about those shrimp cake sliders yesterday, here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1lb peeled deveined shrimp (tails off)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (small dice)
  • 1/2 medium sized shallot (diced)
  • 3 TBL chives diced
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 whole eggs
  • salt/pepper/oldbay/paprika (as much or as little as you would like of each)

Directions: First thing you are going to have to do is is chop up the shrimp. You can use a blender if you like, but i feel that doing in that way makes the shrimp to pasty and fine. I like to have a few little chunks of shrimp, so I chop it by hand. After all of the other ingredients have been chopped and diced, you ar going to add everything into a large mixing bowl, and gently mix it all together. Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined, form the mixture into about 8-10 patties. Now that our patties are formed, using a saute pan/skillet on medium high heat, heat up about 3 table spoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, add your patties to the pan, and cook for about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan once they are done, and serve them up. If you are looking for more of a burger size, you can certainly make them larger. You can get 4-5 patties out of this mixture. The great thing is, you dont even need to put them on a bun/roll if you dont want to. They are just as good on their own with a little dipping sauce.

PORK CHOP W/ DOUBLE MUSTARD AMARETTO CREAM SAUCE

For all of my swine lovers out there, this one is for you! Pork chops were made to be cut thick, so that they can retain all that good flavor on this inside. Those thin cut ones just don’t do it for me. They tend to get tough and dry out very quickly. Now, the next thing I am going to tell you may shock you a bit……..you CAN eat pork at a medium rare/medium temperature. It will NOT make you sick. I know the majority of you all just said out loud, “oh HELL NAH, this man is crazy!” And that is ok, you are free to cook your meat any way that you like to eat it. I am just letting you know that THIS recipe is how I eat mine. If you like that tough, dry meat, you go ahead and eat that, luckily I got a great sauce for you to give it some moisture, lol.

As far as pairings for this dish are concerned….here some of my favorites; beer (of the amber variety), bourbons, and rums. An amaretto sour would also not be a bad cocktail choice to compliment AND contrast the sauce for this dish, while also enhancing the some of the slight sweetness in the pork rub. Wine is also a really great pairing for this. Some consider pork, “the other white meat” and with the creaminess of the sauce, a lightly oaked chardonnay would be a great fit. On the red side, merlot and red zinfandel come to mind. Until the next dish y’all!

Ingredients:

  • 2 8oz THICK pork chops
  • Bassett’s Blends Pork Rub (coming soon for purchase) feel free to use your favorite pork chop rub
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 5oz dijon mustard
  • 5oz whole grain mustard
  • 4oz heavy cream
  • 4oz amaretto liqueur

Directions: Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees. Generously season your pork chops. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once your skillet is hot, add in your pork chops and sear on the first side. Let sear for 3-4 minutes (or until you have a nice golden brown color), and then flip the chops. Once you flip the chops, put the entire pan into your oven to finish the cooking process. Cook pork to your desired temperature (time will vary based on size/thickness of chop as well as desired temperature).

For the sauce: First things first we want to burn off the alcohol from the amaretto. the easiest way to do this is to pour the 4oz of amaretto into a small skillet, and using the flame (if using a gas range) on your stove top to ignite it. The fire will go out once the alcohol has burned off, once flame goes out set to the side. If you do not have a gas range, a lighter will work just fine. In a saucepan, over medium high heat, add in both mustards as well as the heavy cream and whisk. Continue to whisk while cooking so that it does not burn and stick to the bottom of your pan. Once mixture begins to bubble, whisk in your amaretto, and let cook for about 5 minutes. Season to taste.

BLACKENED CRAB STUFFED COD W/ LEMON BUTTER SAUCE

It is finally here! After weeks of promising, and some delays, I have finally filmed, edited, and posted this recipe for you all. I really do not have any back story on this dish, or some drawn out explanation to make this post longer. In fact when I am searching for different recipes for myself to try, I actually get really annoyed when I have to keep scrolling just to get to the bottom of the page to find the damn recipe! So, from here on out, unless I some amazing story that just HAS to go with this recipe, I am just going to get right into it.

That being said, I will always drop some beverage pairings for you. I mean, we are “cooking with spirit” after all. It only makes sense right? For this particular dish, I did use viognier, yes I use this wine a lot, it is my favorite style of white. Some others that would go very well with this dish would be a crisp dry riesling or buttery/oaky chardonnay to compliment that butter sauce. Those are the easy pairings, now, if you are looking for a red, a beaujolais would work very well. Because we used some blackening/cajun spices on this fish, there is a little heat to it. A pairing red pairing for this dish that coukd compliment that heat, and offset some of the richness of that butter sauce is a zinfandel. All of these are great in theur own right, I still love the viognier though!

Ingredients:

  • 1 6oz piece of fresh cod (you can use salmon, haddock, sea bass, whatever fish you like, just NOT tilapia)
  • 1 TBL crab mix (recipe below)
  • blackened redfish magic seasoning
  • old bay
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 1 TBL shallots
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2oz white wine
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
  • juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 TBL scallions

Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Generously season your fish of choice (on both sides) using the redfish magic and old bay. Using a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat. Once the oil is ready, place your seasoned fish, presentation side down, in the pan and sear for 3-4 minutes. After fish is seared, remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet. Make an incision in the the fish and fill with your crab mix. Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

While our fish is cooking, we will need to make our sauce. Using a sauce pan on high heat, add in the shallots and whole black peppercorns. Cook on a high heat for about 2 minutes and then deglaze the pan with our white wine. After adding the wine, be sure to whisk the ingredients together and scrape up and remnants that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the wine had reduced, remove the pan form the heat, and begin whisking in your butter, slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. As the butter begins to melt and incorporate itself into the wine, finally whisk in the juice form half of a lemon. Check for seasoning (as in add salt or pepper if necessary), strain your sauce, and it is ready to go!

Crab Mix Recipe: In a mixing bowl combine together the following: 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 2 tablespoons mayo, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons old bay, 1 cup jumbo lump crab meat, and 8 crushed butter crackers. Use yor hands to gently mix everything together so as not to break up the crab lumps.

CIDER BRAISED CABBAGE

I know it was supposed t be seafood next, but I made this the other night for something else, and I owe you a video recipe…..sooooooo its cabbage today! As all of my recipes are, at least I think they are, this one is really simple. Due to the braising part, it does take some time, but it just makes it all worth it in the end.

I see a lot of people out here boiling their cabbage in water. Why are you doing that? Yes, I know you want to get it tender, but why water? Water has zero flavor, and adds nothing of value to the dish. Then, once the cabbage is tender, most of you are dumping that water out, and then having to RE-season the cabbage. Not only that, when you boil it, a majority of the nutrients form the cabbage end up getting lost in that water you just dumped out. By using this braising technique, we are holding on to our flavor, adding MORE flavor, and still holding on those important nutrients. Plus, you can use the juice in the bottom of the braising pan to add to the cabbage as well. It is just a win win technique

Now you know that I always cook with spirit, and this dish is no different. For this cabbage recipe, I am using a cider beer. I love ciders, they are smooth and easy to drink, not to mention, refreshing. Now there are several types of ciders and they can range from super sweet to super dry (NOT sweet). Because this recipe also calls for apple juice, I use a dry-ish cider, as opposed to a sweet one. Also, I just don’t really enjoy sweet ciders.

As always, I hope you enjoy this one, and start adding it as a regular side dish to some of your favorite recipes. Until the next dish y’all!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized red or green cabbage
  • 1 12oz cider beer
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • salt
  • white pepper

Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 265 degrees. Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage, and then cut into wedges. Remove the core of the cabbage. In a large bowl, add the cabbage wedges, olive oil, salt, and white pepper to season. Mix together thoroughly to get cabbage coated in oil and seasoning. Next place the wedges on a grill pan for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place the cabbage into a 2 inch baking dish. Add in all of the liquid ingredients. Cover the baking dish with foil and place into the oven for 3 hours. Remove from oven, take cabbage out of baking dish and slice into thin strips and enjoy!

SEARED DUCK WITH ORANGE SAUCE

Duck, Duck, Duck, Orange Sauce! I love duck. The first time I ever experienced the pleasures of eating duck, was at a Chinese restaurant when I was young. I thought it was really cool to watch the chef come to the table, and using a cleaver of all the knife possibilities, and watch him carve this thing up table side. The brilliance in which he was able to utilize his knife skills to perfectly separate the skin from the meat, the meat from the bones, and the bones for the skeleton of the duck was simply amazing to me. I still long for knife skills like his!

The crispiness of the skin, the tender, juiciness of the duck, and just the overall flavor was something that has stuck with me my entire life from that point on. Peking Duck is still my favorite thing to order when I eat out at a Chinese restaurant.

Duck is also used a lot in classic French cooking and that is where the inspiration for this dish came from. The classic dish is Duck l’ Orange. I have taken a few liberties with the l’ Orange part and kind of made this sauce my own.

If you are looking for great wine pairings for this dish, Cabernet Sauvignon is probably my go to, but a smooth Viognier would also be great for a white wine. I do not drink a lot of beer, but this just seems perfect for a real juicy, citrusy IPA.

OK, enough small talk, lets get to this recipe!

For The Duck:

  • 1 Duck Breast
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • Chinese 5 spice (to taste)

Directions: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Make sure to “score” the fat side of the duck breast. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Chinese 5 spice. In a skillet on medium high heat, place the duck breast skin side down in the pan. Do not put any cooking oil into the pan, there is enough fat in the duck that you will not need any. Sear the duck for about 4-5 minutes until skin is crispy, and the fat has rendered out. Transfer duck to sizzle plate or baking sheet and place into the oven and cook until desired temperature. I cook mine to medium rare. Remove from oven and let rest 5-7 minutes before slicing.

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 shallot (sliced)
  • 1 garlic clove (diced)
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3oz Madarin Napolean
  • 3oz red wine
  • Juice from 2 oranges
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

Directions: using the same pan that the duck was seared in, on medium heat, add in shallot, garlic, and peppercorns. Saute in the duck fat until shallots become translucent. De-glaze the pan with the orange liqueur and give a quick whisk. Next add in the red wine, and then the sugar. Whisk in the sugar until it is incorporated into the liquid. Next add in the juice from 2 oranges, and the beef stock. Whisk again, and let liquid reduce until it begins to thicken. Once sauce has reduced and thickened, remove from heat and strain into serving vessel. Finally whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold butter.

LAMB CHOPS WITH SWEET ONION FENNEL JAM

They say to give the people what they want, and they will come! Well, I asked, you all voted, and the lamb chops won….IN A LANDSLIDE!!

Lamb chops are actually one of my favorite proteins to cook. It used to be what I would cook on a date night with a girl the first time I had her over for dinner. They just seem fancy right? Most people think of entrees when cooking lamb, and while this recipe can certainly be served as such, I actually prefer to use this one as appetizer. Something that can be easily passed, or dressed up nice on a platter. Just my thought, obviously feel free to serve them whenever and however you want.

As you know, we always cook with spirit, and this recipe is no different. Today I am using Rumple Minze peppermint schnapps. Traditionally, lamb is served with a side of mint jelly. For this recipe, as the title states, we are going to be making a sweet onion and fennel jam. I still wanted to keep that tradition of mint, but I needed to be a bit extra and put my own spin on it!

I remember back in my early days of tending the bar, Rumple Minze used to be THE end of the night shot at last call. I’m not sure why it was, because its really not that great on its own. Maybe it was because now the guests were looking for who they were going to make out with, or maybe it was so that after they had been drinking all night at the bar, if they took a shot of this, the cops would have no idea that they were drunk when they got pulled over. Who knows, but both sound pretty logical to me.

Anyway, until the next dish…..enjoy

Ingredients: (Lamb Chops)

  • 1 qt herb oil (see previous post about herb oil)
  • fresh thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 rack of lamb

Directions: Marinate you rack of lamb in 1 quart of herb oil for at least an hour. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat an iron skillet (or cooking pan of choice) on a medium high heat. Because the lamb has been marinating in the herb oil, there is no need to add more oil to your pan. Once the pan is hot, place the rack into the pan and sear for 4-5 minutes. Flip the rack over, and place the entire pan into the oven, and cook to desired temperature (I cook mine to 135 degrees). When the desired temperature has been reached, remove the pan and place it back on the stove top. Add in a few stems of fresh thyme, 2 smashed garlic cloves, and the 2 table spoons of butter. Spoon the melted butter/garlic mixture over the rack for a few minutes.

Ingredients: (Sweet Onion Fennel Jam)

  • 1 bulb of fennel (finely diced, about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium sized sweet onion (finely diced, about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 oz Rumple Minze
  • 1.5 cups plain white sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • fresh mint leaves, about 7

Directions: Using a medium sized pot, over high heat, add in the diced fennel and sweet onion ONLY. As you begin to smell the onion and fennel, and can hear it sizzle in the pan, give it a good stir, then add in the 2 oz of Rumple Minze (CAUTION!!! This is alcohol, and high proof at that, it can catch on fire, so pour carefully and slowly!!) Next you will need to add in the 2 cups of sugar, and the 1/2 cup of cider vinegar. Stir to mix thoroughly. Once mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium and reduce until a jam consistency. Make sure to stir every few minutes so it does not burn. While the jam is still hot, finely chop up the mint leave and add those in. Allow jam to cool about 15-20 minutes before using. The reduction does take some time, usually about 20 -30 minutes…..but it is so worth it!