Pink Grapefruit Champagne Sorbet

pink grapefruit champagne sorbet custom thumbnail 2I like breaking out the ice cream maker to make boozy sorbet for parties.* New Year’s had me thinking about this Pink Grapefruit Champagne Sorbet.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can also make a granita by throwing the same ingredients into a baking dish, then freezing it and scraping it down with a fork every 30 minutes.

If you don’t have the time to make a granita, there’s still good news: You can just throw the bottle of champagne into the ice cream maker about 25 minute before midnight and you’ll have a champagne slushy to serve.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker or the time to make a granita, just be honest with yourself and drink the bottle of champagne alone.

Remember: Anyone can drink a bottle of champagne. Let’s eat one.

*At times, parties of one.

Cilantro Three Ways

When our friend Tonya came to visit for the weekend, we wanted to make some really special dishes using one of her favorite ingredients, leading us to cilantro hummus and cilantro chutney. Tonya is one of our dearest friends and, as such, these visits often lead to a dramatic reading from “I Could Pee On This” while wearing a mixing bowl as a hat in the bathtub and kicking us in the shins if she doesn’t like the meal we’ve prepared. So we also wanted to make sure we had a fancy cocktail to distract her in case she didn’t like the dishes.

Good news: She likes all three takes on cilantro, and we hope you do, too.

That business about her kicking us in the shins is not true. She would never do such a thing. She kicks us in the face.

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Cilantro Hummus

What to Have

  • fresh cilantro (one bunch), hard stems removed
  • 1 cans chickpeas
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper

What to Do
Combine half the cilantro and all other ingredients in food processor. Blend until smooth. Add more cilantro to taste.

cilantro chutney with mark

Cilantro Chutney

What to Have

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 serrano pepper, some seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

What to Do
Pulse all ingredients in blender. Leave some coarseness.

YIMK Absolut Cilantro cocktail - with mark

Absolut Cilantro Martini

What to Have

  • Absolut Cilantro
  • Coconut Water
  • Mango Nectar
  • Lime
  • Cilantro

What to Do
Combine two parts Absolute Cilantro, one part coconut water, one part mango nectar and a squeeze of lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour into glass and serve with a cilantro sprig.

Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off 2: Shaved Root Vegetable Salad

Shaved Root Vegetable Salad: So pretty. So thin. We should all try to be more like Shaved Root Vegetable Salad. I mean, not you. You're already so pretty and so thin. But those other people. They should try.

Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off continues today with a Shaved Root Vegetable Salad facing off against the Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad, which then morphed into Kale Slaw.

Shaving things, as it applies to food, is more appealing than it first appears. I will now provide examples: chocolate shavings, shaving a paper-thin slice of apple and placing it in vodka, shaving potatoes and baking them instead of sitting in your pantry eating potato chips and crying. I am now out of examples, but you see the possibilities here.

Or perhaps it’s just my love of mandolins, a device that provides magical slicing options and the ability to accidentally commit suicide while cooking. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Side-Dish Face-Off

Sometimes after you cook a nice meal for your family, you stand in the corner behind a camera and document them. Everyone enjoys it.

We hosted Thanksgiving for the first time last year. As people do, I set up cameras around the house to capture the experience and create a fake movie trailer about it. It was more or less a dry run to see if I had it in me to create a video cooking blog. And I did. Are you thankful for that? I bet you are. You’re welcome.

As we gear up for hosting again this year, I’m trying to cook as many side dishes as I can to see which ones should make the cut for the big day. Side dishes are the real magic of Thanksgiving, right? Last year’s spread, 19 dishes in all, included homemade macaroni and cheese (we made the macaroni fresh that day), chestnut and parsnip croquettes, pumpkin pie made from scratch and 16 gallons of vodka.

I’ll have more on the side-dish face-off soon. First up: kale and brussels sprout salad vs. shaved root vegetable salad.

Screwdrive your Halloween: Layered black vodka cocktails

We’re hosting a Halloween party Saturday, and I’ve been drinking a lot developing cocktail and punch recipes. Pumpkin pie martini. Dry ice in the punch bowl, or in each glass. I also wanted to include Blavod black vodka in the mix. Nothing says Halloween more than drinking something that looks like death, right? Right.

Then, as I do, I decided to try to make my own black vodka using food coloring. And it works!

Then I wanted to layer the black vodka with something orange. And it works!

This is a basic screwdriver — orange juice with black vodka floating on top. I wanted to keep it basic, and now I have a few days to figure out how to punch it up some. Vanilla vodka? Black sambuca? Pairing our vodka-tasting set with our punch bowl so guests can spike their punch with layered shots of their choosing?

It’s all in the name of science. Oh, and justifying all those failed cocktails that I couldn’t let go to waste. And for you. I did it all for you.

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar: When you make something this healthy, it's best to balance it out by eating it with chips.

During our Tastes Like Freedom party, we grilled pizzas, potato and paneer skewers and eggplant for baba ganoush. But I knew I’d need a few things I could whip together beforehand and toss on the table. I remembered I hadn’t made one of my favorite dishes this summer — Texas Caviar. I realize this reveals just how pretentious I can get, but I tried several times to think of a better name for the dish. I settled on Salsa Fresca for the menu for the party … but at least one friend was horrified, thinking I’d taken the Tequila Fresca idea a bit too far and turned it into food. Hadn’t thought of that.

The appeal of the dish is that it’s so easy. You open cans. You put the contents together. You pour on some dressing. You chill it. You immediately remove it from the fridge and eat an inappropriate amount to make sure the flavors are right. You chill it again. You serve it. You continue to eat an inappropriate amount, this time in front of your guests.

I’ve tried to fancy up the flavors quite a bit … and am convinced that the real secret is Seven Seas Italian dressing. Fancy yours up as you like, but the dressing will do the trick. Continue reading

Soda jerks.

Did Scott like my Blackberry Mint Soda recipe, or did it put our marriage in peril? Let's find out.

Say, do you remember last week when we made three types of vodka sodas? If you don’t, then I bet you’ve been making them every night since! Now, if you would, sober up just long enough to see how my taste test went.

As soon as I wrapped up taping for the vodka soda video, my husband walked in from work. Is there anything more American than having a cocktail ready to go when you’re husband walks in the door? I mean, aside from the overwhelming amount of camera gear, the ingredients in the glass that were not vodka and the fact that we’re both dudes, it was like a scene out of “Mad Men.”

Remember, the Strawberry, Lemon and Basil Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda recipes were from bon appetit, and I made up the Blackberry Mint Soda recipe on the spot. Did Scott like mine as well as the chef’s recipes? Watch and find out.

Also: I told you about how protective he is of that flour sifter!

Soda three ways

Blackberry Mint Soda, Strawberry, Basil and Lemon Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda

I read about the trend of restaurants making their own sodas in the latest bon appetit and was intrigued. I decided I’d give it a shot soon. Moments after that, I thought, “Oh boy — I can add lots of vodka when I make mine!” Moments after that, I was at the grocery store. Moments after that, I was making this video for you so you can make your own, too. All told, these were some pretty productive moments.

I decided to try bon appetit’s Strawberry, Lemon and Basil Soda and Spicy Ginger Soda recipes. Then I created my own — a Blackberry Mint Soda.  The idea here is simple enough: take fresh fruits, herbs and spices and bring soda water to life with their flavors. I used a different technique for each — muddling the ingredients, making a puree and making a simple syrup. This is easy stuff, and definitely worth doing. Mashing strawberries and basil in a glass with some lemon juice, sugar and salt takes but a few moments.

There’s nothing special about the soda water here, either. It may be called seltzer water or sparkling water. Club soda works, too, if you can’t find those, but it may have a slight flavoring to it, whereas soda water is just carbonated water.

I shot a taste test with a very special guest for these three sodas; I’ll have that video ready for you soon. But suffice to say, my Blackberry Mint Soda was an experiment and an attempt to compare the muddling method with the pureeing method. Truth be told, next time around, I’m just going to muddle everything in the glass or make a simple syrup. The puree took a few extra steps that didn’t add much to the flavor or texture.

Blackberry Mint Soda (in the video)
Puree 2 pints of fresh blackberries. Pour two tablespoons of the puree into a glass, rip up six mint leaves, fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and top with a shot of vodka.

Blackberry Mint Soda (just do it this way)
Muddle eight blackberries, a tablespoon of sugar and six mint leaves in a glass. Fill the glass with ice, fill with soda water and stir to chill. Strain into another glass filled with ice (unless you’re fine with a chunky soda … . (I am.)). Top with a shot of vodka.

Before shooting this video, I asked on Facebook and Twitter what flavors I should make. Two flavors that piqued my interest: pear cardamom and lavender lemonade. What flavors of soda would you make?

Enchilada leftovers

Last week, we made Layered Potato and Spinach Enchiladas as we drank Tequila Fresca and snacked on nacho. A good time was had by all. If you did not have a good time, you did something wrong.

Those enchiladas were delicious. And they were easy. But I still had some oopsies along the way. And so, in the grand tradition of that one other time I offered you my leftovers, today I give you my enchilada leftovers — the things that didn’t make the cut.

Mistakes are part of what make cooking fun. Enjoy mine.