Espresso Martini

18 01 2008

espresso chocolate martiniIf you enjoy alcoholic beverages, I’m sure you’ve seen Espresso Martini on the menu. I’ve tried several at different locations and found that everyone has their own version of the recipe. Certainly, this is not one of those tried and true standard cocktails that every bartender has in their repertoire that will taste the same no matter where you order it. In fact, what makes it kind of interesting is that the recipe allows bartenders to be creative in their craft. To complicate matters, the quality of the espresso will make a difference as well. A bar that has a good espresso machine should be able to produce a quality cocktail. However, a bar that relies on an espresso flavoring (ugh) or instant (gasp!) espresso will produce a mediocre cocktail, at best.

Giada, on the Food Network, has an Espresso Martini recipe that is pretty easy to make, except that it relies on simple syrup for its sweetness. Granted, simple syrup is easy to make (melt 2 parts sugar in 1 part water), but most people don’t have this handy nor do they want to take the time to whip up a batch.

So, here’s my recipe: Read the rest of this entry »

Tostones – Fried Green Plantains

16 01 2008

Its amazing how few people are familiar with the plantain. You know, the large green “bananas” you see in the produce section?

“Yeah, I’ve seen those before,” say most of my guests when they stare oddly at my plantain concoctions, “But I thought that they were just unripe bananas.”

plantain.jpgFor the uninitiated, the plantain is a fruit like the banana, but it has a much lower sugar content. I know of no one that eats these things raw, as they are always cooked. As the plantain ripens it takes on a yellow color with mottled brown spots and tastes sweeter. In fact, it will look just like a banana, except more firm in texture. The plantain is a staple in Latin cuisine and is used in various ways. In this post, I will focus on only one treatment.

Tostones are eaten throughout the Latin Americas and are prepared essentially the same way (in South America they are more commonly knows as patacones). First of all, the plantain needs to be peeled. Believe it or not, this is a fairly difficult task. Read the rest of this entry »

Easy and yummy donuts

9 01 2008

easy-donuts.jpgI’m normally pretty choosy about donuts. Okay, who am I kidding? I really don’t care where it comes from I’ll almost always stuff my face with these pastry delights. This morning, my wife treated me to her home-made donuts and I ate so many of them (about 9) that I didn’t need to eat lunch. Donuts don’t really seem to fill me up, I just eat until they are all gone. I’ll consume my entire fat intake needs for the week in one sitting.

Well, these donuts are much easier than you think. Go and buy the cheapest biscuits in a can you can get. We haven’t tried to make these with the flaky type yet, so you better stick with the regular biscuits, buttermilk, maybe. Separate all the biscuits and lay them out. Take a shot glass and cut the center out of the biscuit. There, that’s about all the prep work you need (take that, Food Network!).

Here’s the hard part. Read the rest of this entry »

Not your mama’s meatballs!

20 12 2007

albondiga-closeup.jpgI decided to try something a little different the other day in an effort to replicate a dish I’ve had at one of my favorite restaurants in San Antonio, Guajillo’s. They make a meatball dish that is spectacular. No, not the typical Italian meatballs (your mama’s), but a Mexican inspired meatball. It is stuffed with hard-boiled egg and served in a spicy (not necessarily hot-spicy) tomato/chile sauce. The egg in the meatball adds an incredible depth to the meat and the sauce tastes sweet and smoky at the same time. Here’s what you need: Read the rest of this entry »

Anchovies – kids just love them!

19 12 2007

anchovy.jpgEver wonder how people develop an aversion to something, even though they have never experienced it? I mean, some things you can just take someone else’s word for, like “Don’t touch a hot stove.” That one seems pretty obvious, right? Or, “Don’t drive with your eyes closed.” But what about “Anchovies are nasty.” Most people I know have never tried them, and never will based on what other people have told them. Let me try to change your mind.

When I lived in Spain (about two decades ago) my buddies and I used to go out to clubs and bars and, well, you get hungry, you know? There was only one McDonalds in Madrid, and being brand new, the concept of fast food was still fairly non-existent to the culture. However, one type of Spanish fast food I really enjoyed were tapas. Tapas, basically, are appetizers Read the rest of this entry »

The very best guacamole

15 12 2007

I don’t brag about much, but I have yet to eat a guacamole as good as mine. In fact, I’ve had a number of people tell me that they, themselves, make the best guacamole, but end up liking mine better. To be honest, I’ve stumbled upon the ingredients through experimentation, taking my cues from my own personal tastes and the comments of people who eat my dip. So, I’d like to share it with you. For those that may not be familiar with it, guacamole is an avocado dip. However, its what you put into it that makes the big difference. My experience has been that most places simply under-season their dip. Guacamole is the ubiquitous side dish for everything Mexican, and most restaurants just don’t do it justice.

Now, I’m going to list the ingredients here, but the ultimate taste depends on you. I’ll make suggestions, but you will need to modify each ingredient to your liking.

  • Haas avocados
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Lemon Juice
  • Pico de gallo
  • Ancho chile powder (optional)

A few notes on the ingredients Read the rest of this entry »

Chimichurri – the cilantro pesto for everything

27 11 2007

Chimichurri (pronounced phonetically – c’mon, roll the r’s) is a sauce or marinade for meat typically attributed to Argentinian cuisine. I say ‘sauce or marinade,’ but its consistency is really more like a pesto. The cool thing about chimichurri is that you can make it with almost anything once you get the idea. I’ve tried a few different recipes but I’ll share one with you here that I have adapted from Steve Raichlen, BBQ expert.


  • 1 cup fresh parsley (flat leaf or curly, packed)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (packed)
  • 1 cup fresh mint (loose)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 3 tbls. white vinegar
  • Juice from 1 fresh lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 serrano pepper (optional, or use jalapeƱo)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Water as needed

Okay, this is the hard part: Read the rest of this entry »