Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blood Orange Negroni

The Negroni has been my drink for a while now. I like the play between bitter and sweet that it offers, plus I don't know anyone else who likes it, so I don't have to worry about running out of ingredients.

Traditionally, a Negroni is one part gin, one part sweet red vermouth, and one part Campari, served with an orange peel garnish. I tend to think of Campari as a summer drink (probably because I was first introduced to it on a hot summer day in the form of a Campari and soda). The addition here of blood orange to the basic recipe makes the drink slightly sweeter and also makes it something special that can only be made in the winter months, when blood oranges are available.

Blood Orange Negroni
1 part gin (I use Bombay Sapphire)
1 part Campari
1 part fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 part red vermouth
slice of blood orange

In a short tumbler, pour gin, Campari, juice, and vermouth over a handful of ice. Stir well, then top with orange slice.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday I'm in Love... with Crunchtables

Photo from Crunchtables

Fried. Pickles. In. The. Freezer.

I have found the most perfect frozen food, and it is fried pickles with a crispy pretzel crust! While wandering around the supermarket, I found an endcap freezer filled with Crunchtables, a new product featuring a variety of vegetables dressed in crunchy exteriors to make them more appealing. I mean, I'll eat veggies any time, but I know lots of people who won't. These aren't exactly a health food, but they're better than a lot of things out there.

So far, I've tried the zucchini, green beans, and pickles; I also have a box of broccoli waiting to be eaten.  (There are also mushrooms and carrots, but I couldn't find those.) Everything except the pickles have a "crouton crust" which is tasty enough, but the "pretzel crust" on the pickles is phenomenal! These pickles are as good as any I've had at local pubs, and knowing that I can pop them in the oven at any time of the day makes me very happy.

I only wish the pretzel coating were available on all the other veggies.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Finally, Fantastic Crab Cakes!

I feel like I've tried a million crab cake recipes, and while they always end up tasty enough, they're never easy enough or healthy enough or worth the time. Just prior to New Year's Eve, though, I was thumbing through a copy of Real Simple and found a crab cake recipe that sounded like it would be worth trying.

For a simple but elegant New Year's Eve dinner, I made the crab cakes and placed them on top of a salad made of butter lettuce, avocado, and grapefruit. I made a simple dressing with olive oil and grapefruit juice to tie everything together. I paired the salad with popovers, and we were all very happy.

These crab cakes are a breeze to whip up, and they can be made a few hours ahead of time and kept in the fridge before baking. Oh, and did I mention they're baked, not fried? These would be an elegant appetizer at a party, but I wouldn't hesitate to make them for a weeknight dinner, either.

Sesame Crab Cakes (from Real Simple Magazine)
8 ounces lumb crab meat
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs *
2 scallions, thinly sliced (I used a handful of chives)
1 egg
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
zest of 1 lime
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
3/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with baking spray (I used grill foil, which is already non-stick).

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Form into about 20 miniature patties and place on baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

*Use fresh bread crumbs instead of packaged. They make a big different. Just bake a couple of slices of bread at 300° for a few minutes per side until crispy, then use a food processor to chop fine. Store any extra in the freezer for next time.