25 February 2009

Shrimps with White Wine and Feta

I love shrimps. Jacquie loves shrimps. Thus: we eat a lot of shrimps. I can't remember how I figured out this particular meal out - most likely I found the recipe somewhere and changed a few things around to make it better (or at least different). It's quick, easy and extremely flavorful.

Shrimps with White Wine and Feta

3/4 lb raw shrimps
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
16 oz feta cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 small package of spaghetti
black pepper

Start by bringing water in a large pot to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt, then boil the pasta according to the instructions on the package - you're looking for al dente. Once boiled, drain and return to the pot. Next, peel and de-vein the shrimps, then set aside. Peel and chop the onion, peel and mince the garlic. Over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of cooking oil (or olive oil if you prefer that) and sauté the onions. Add the garlic after a couple of minutes, to prevent them from burning (as they will cook much quicker than the red onion). Once they are translucent and smell absolutely wonderful, add the shrimps. Cook the shrimps until just pink, then add the white wine. Stirring occasionally, cook until the shrimps are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.

Crumble the feta cheese and finely mince the parsley (I usually put it in a coffee cup and go to town with a pair of scissors). Once the shrimps have finished cooking, pour the sauce over the pasta. Add the cheese and parsley. Toss and serve immediately.

24 February 2009

23 February 2009

More Cookies

I made cookies recently, and decided to try again but with a slight variation. Instead of dark chocolate chip cookies, I made them with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. I decided to mix up some cocoa in the batter to give them some color instead of having light cookies with white dots of chocolate and nuts in them. Turned out great. Follow the previous recipe, but replace the chocolate chips with white chocolate chips, add about 1/3 cup macadamia nuts (crush lightly, we don't want huge chunks) and add 1/2 cup of baker's cocoa to the batter. Yum yum.

22 February 2009

Salsa Chicken Tortillas with Guacamole

I found a recipe for the slow cooker that is amazingly simple and the end result is pretty freaking awesome. Served on a tortilla with some homemade guacamole and shredded cheese, I can't believe it takes all but ten minutes to whip this up, including the time it takes to make the guacamole but naturally not including the 6-8 hour cooking time in the slow cooker.

If you do not have a slow cooker, it can easily be made in a dutch oven or similar, just shorten the cooking time to 1 hour and cook on medium heat.

Salsa Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets (preferably with rib meat, not thinly sliced)
1 large can of salsa

Yes, making your own salsa will most likely make this recipe far better, but this isn't haute cuisine we're talking here - this is a simple, middle of the week, comfort food sort of recipe that is so easy to prepare on a day when you have no time or energy to actually cook (rarely for me, but still). Trim excess fat off the chicken. Place the whole pieces in the slow cooker. Dump the salsa on top, making sure to cover the chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. The chicken should be cooked through and be shredable, but not dry.


3 ripe avocados
1 medium tomato
1/4 white onion
1 lime

Make sure the avocados are ripe - they should be soft, but not mushy. You'll have a hell of a time getting the fruit out of the shell if they're too hard or too soft (but too soft is preferable over too hard). Place the avocado in a bowl. Finely mince the tomato and onion. Discard the tomato pulp, you only want to keep the meatier parts. I leave the skin on the tomato, you can peel it if you want to. Add the onion and tomato to the avocado. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over the mix, making sure no seeds from the lime find their way into the bowl. Mash together, salt and pepper to taste.

If you wish to make the guacamole spicy, do not add Tabasco sauce. Tabasco is vinegar based and you do not want to introduce that element to your guac! I suggest a hot sauce made from chilis or - why not - a fresh jalapeño. Your choice!

Once your chicken and your guacamole is finished, heat a tortilla according to the instructions on the packaging (unless you make your own, but that's something I'll save for another day), add salsa chicken, grated cheese (anything goes, cheddar is great for this though) and guacamole. Wrap up, consume. Goes great with a light Mexican beer like Corona or Dos Equis.

17 February 2009

The Serbian Ice Tea

I was originally going to post this in my drinks post a while back, but couldn't locate the recipe. I asked an old friend who knows the creator (Marko, used to work at Chesterfield's (now House of Live) and Long Hop in Paris, I think he's still at Le Violon Dingue) and I finally have it! To the liquor store!

Serbian Ice Tea

2 cl (2/3 oz) Malibu (or similar coconut rum)
1 cl (1/3 oz) Kalúha (or similar coffee liqueur)
2 cl (2/3 oz) Southern Comfort
2 cl (2/3 oz) peach schnapps
2 cl (2/3 oz) Triple Sec
1 cl (1/3 oz) vodka
cranberry juice
7-up or Sprite
2 lime wedges

Add all the alcohol, the grenadine and the squeezed lime wedges in a shaker with a lot of ice. Fill up with about 5 oz (15 cl) cranberry juice. Shake.

Pour into a pint glass (with the ice and lime wedges) and top off with 7-up or Sprite.

16 February 2009

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo (Fettuccine al burro e panna in Italy, although that is generally made without the cheese) is a relatively heavy dish, consisting of pasta tossed with butter, cream and cheese. It's apparently pretty unusual outside of the US, as I don't think I've ever had it in Europe but I've had very similar courses - unsurprising since butter and cream is pretty common in all Western cooking.

Today's recipe is an Alfredo from scratch, with chicken and broccoli. I opted for farfalle pasta instead of the more classic fettuccine. I like the way the farfalle looks and feels when you eat it, and it works well with the bite-sized chicken and broccoli.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

2 1/2 cups farfalle pasta
1 large head of broccoli
3 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups heavy cream
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
white pepper
kosher salt
olive oil

Turn your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cut the stem off the broccoli and discard. Place the broccoli florets in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple of pinches of kosher salt. Toss to coat. Transfer the broccoli to a roasting pan. Once the oven is hot, roast the broccoli for 10 minutes - we're looking for it to be cooked but still have resistance.

Slice the chicken into strips, about half an inch wide. Fry the strips in a frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once cooked through and beginning to brown, remove the chicken from the heat and set aside.

Bring water in a large pot to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. As soon as the water is boiling, cook one package of farfalle. Once cooked al dente, drain and leave until the sauce is ready.

Finely mince the garlic. In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the garlic. Let cook for about a half minute, making sure the garlic does not brown at all. Add the cream and cook, stirring, for about three minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir frequently until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the mozzarella cheese, a couple of pinches of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper (taste!), and cook another 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Add the chicken and broccoli and let cook until reheated (another minute should do the trick). Add the pasta and serve immediately.

12 February 2009

London Broil with Mac'n'cheese

Mac and cheese. How something so simple (take macaroni, mix with cheese) can be so good is beyond me. Making it more complicated (take macaroni, mix with cheese, add something else) often seems to make it better and adding multiple kinds of cheeses is just plain genius. This is a far cry from Kraft's version of the mac and cheese and while not being extremely unhealthy, it's full of saturated fat and the pasta itself is just simple carbs. But it's so damned good!

I served it with a piece of London broil which was more tender than I had expected, and that made me happy. Steak served medium rare (well, the center of the center was more rare than anything), I'll explain how I cooked it in the recipe as well.

Credit where credit is due: Jacquie saw a show on Food Network called "Barefoot Contessa" that featured this recipe. It's been slightly modified from its original version.

Mac and Cheese with a London Broil

4 oz thick-sliced bacon (roughly 4 large slices)
2 cups macaroni (farfalle, shells, penne, elbow...your pick - I used shells)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
4 oz Gruyere cheese
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz blue cheese
2 slices white sandwich bread
10 fresh basil leaves
kosher salt
olive oil
black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

Start by heating your oven to 400 degrees F. I refuse to use the term "preheat" - to quote George Carlin - "there are only two states an oven can possibly exist in: heated or unheated. Preheated is a meaningless term." Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, heat a large frying pan (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Add the bacon, fry until crisp. Remove from the heat and place the bacon on a plate, covered with paper towels. Leave until cold and crumble into small pieces once cooled enough (I generally use kitchen shears for this if it doesn't crumble easily enough, something some people think is weird).

Add the macaroni to the boiling water together with about a tablespoon of kosher salt and a dash of olive oil. Cook the macaroni according to direction - we're looking for al dente, so if it says "10-11 minutes", I'd say try a piece after 9 minutes. If it's slightly chewy but doesn't leave that "dry pasta" taste in your mouth, you've got al dente. Anything beyond will be soggy and that just won't fly. Once the pasta is done, drain in a colander and set aside.

While the pasta is boiling, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Do not let the milk boil! At the same time, melt the butter in a medium pot over medium low heat and add the flour once it has melted. Stir constantly with a whisk after adding the flour. Do not burn this mix (called a roux, hey, you're making something with a French name!), but let it get a little color or the flour taste will linger. This should take about two minutes. Once the flour reaches the desired color (hint: not black and smokey), add the milk. I usually raise the heat to medium at this point, or this will take all night - and don't forget to turn off the burner you used to heat the milk (unless you used a microwave, which I didn't tell you that you could do earlier).

Once the sauce is smooth and thick, after about 2-3 minutes, take the sauce off of the heat. This is where I stop using a whisk and start using a large plastic spoon to stir with because cleaning chunks of cheese off a whisk is really not my favorite activity. Again, off the heat, add the (grated) Gruyere, (grated) cheddar and (crumbled) blue cheese. Also, add about a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Get a pinch of nutmeg in there while you're at it and stir, stir, stir. Taste the sauce - add more salt/pepper/nutmeg if you feel it's needed. Once the cheese is incorporated and the sauce is once again smooth, add all the macaroni and the bacon to the mixture.

Now, you have two options. You can put this mixture into individual (oven-safe) bowls or you can put it in one larger (oven-safe) dish. I opted for the latter, since I wasn't throwing a fancy dinner party and the leftovers are easier to keep in one dish rather than a few. I also don't have smaller, oven-safe dishes at this time, so that may have had a small influence on my decision.

At this time, you can cover the bowls with tin foil or plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge. Leave it overnight or even a couple of days - just make sure it's adequately covered up so it doesn't go bad. If you're having people over, making this in the morning and just heating it when it's time for the main course is a pretty awesome concept.

Once you've placed the mac/cheese/bacon mixture in a bowl, it's time to bring out the food processor. Put the bread in the bowl, attach the knife and close the lid. Pulse a few times - we're looking for relatively large piceces of bread still left. Next, pull about 10 basil leaves off their stems and add to the processor. Pulse another few times, until the bread is well crumbled and the basil has been chopped up. Now, cover the macaroni mixture with bread. Bake in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes. If the bread appears to get too dark too quickly, cover loosely with tin foil to prevent burning. Enjoy with your favorite protein source - steak is naturally the best choice.

What I generally do is as follows: heat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place your cast iron pan over relatively high heat (I do 7 or 8 of 10 on my stove). Add canola oil or other oil with a high smoke point.

Make sure your steak is at room temperature. If it's a big piece of meat like a London broil, remove it from the fridge
at least 30 minutes before cooking. Pat it dry with paper towels. Feel free to salt and pepper now. No, it's not going to "dry out" your steak. Trust me.

Now, once your pan is nice and hot, put the steak in there. Don't touch it for a minute. I said do not touch it. If it's a thick steak, you may want to also sear the sides for about 30 seconds each. Next, flip it over and put the cast iron pan in the oven. I repeat "cast iron pan" here because if you put a teflon pan or a pan with a plastic handle in the oven...you'll end up with a potentially toxic steak and a ruined pan.

Leave the steak in there for about 5 minutes for medium rare. If it's a thick steak, you may need 10 minutes. It may get smokey, so if you have a smoke detector in the kitchen (like me), prepare to push a button on it or wave at it with a kitchen towel. After the 5 minutes are up, remove the pan from the oven (use oven gloves and continue to do so for the next 30 minutes if you handle the pan - this thing stays hot for a while!) and put the steak on a carving board. Cover loosely with tin foil. Leave the steak for at least 3 minutes, preferably more. If you cut into it now, you know all those lovely juices that make the steak so nice and juicy and wonderful? All over your carving board and counter is not where you want them and that's where they'll end up.

Once rested, carve the steak. If the mac and cheese has cooled down, you can put the dish(es) in the recently turned-off oven for a few minutes to reheat.

09 February 2009

Baked Ziti

Ziti is plural for "bridegroom" in Italian ("zito" is singular), but this recipe does not involve any newlyweds at all. A baked ziti is, as far as my extensive research shows (checking Wikipedia), an Italian-American dish. Makes sense, since I'd never heard of it before I moved to the US and I do love me some Italian food. To me, it'll always be like something out of the Sopranos - hell, Bobby Baccalieri kept his wife Karen's last frozen Ziti for ages, before Janice talked him into finally eating it. So, a ziti is essential ziti pasta (or penne, which is very similar) mixed with a tomato based sauce and cheese, baked in the oven. My recipe is a vegetarian version and as it'll last about a week in the fridge, it's usually enough for two dinners and a couple of lunches for me and Jacquie. I prefer making my own sauce, but you can always use a can of tomato sauce if you're pressed for time/like that sort of thing.

Tomato Sauce
16 oz whole peeled tomatoes (canned tomatoes are fine for this)

3 shallots
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup dry red wine
olive oil
fresh basil or oregano

Mince the shallots and put them in with some olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Finely mince the garlic cloves and add. Cook another minute or so, we're looking for some translucent shallots here. Next, add the tomatoes. Chop them coarsely first. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the wine, salt and pepper to taste. Stirring occasionally, let the sauce simmer until it's reduced by half. This can take anything between ten minutes and half an hour. Once the sauce is finished, fold in the herbs (chop them coarsely first) and remove from the heat.

Baked Ziti

1 1lb package ziti or penne pasta
8 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
tomato sauce (above)

Set the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Boil the pasta al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Make sure you salt the water first. Drain the penne and return to the pot (but not the heat!) and add the ricotta cheese and about half of the mozzarella. Mix well. In an oven-safe dish, place about half of the tomato sauce. Next, place about half of the pasta/cheese mix in the dish, add another layer of tomato sauce, then the rest of the pasta. Top with the remaining mozzarella and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top.

Cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely browned and the sauce is bubbling. Let cool a few minutes before cutting, and serve with a fresh green salad.

05 February 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies rock. Chocolate chip cookies doubly so. That is all.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tbsp cake flour (8 1/2 oz by weight)
1 2/3 cups bread flour (8 1/2 oz)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt - kosher salt or sea salt, preferably
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 1/8 cups (8 oz) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 lb bittersweet chocolate disks/chips
sea salt

Start by sifting together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Next, cream together the butter and sugars. You'll need to use an electric mixer at the very least - a stand mixer with the paddle attachment is your best bet. Cream for about 5 minutes until very light. Add the eggs, one by one, and incorporate fully before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla (I like cookies with some extra vanilla so I used a little more than the 2 tsp listed).

Next, mix in the flour. Do it in batches to save your kitchen from a cloud of flour, but be quick, as you don't want to mix this too much either. Once incorporated (5 to 10 seconds after adding the last batch), stop mixing. Add the chocolate chips, carefully so you don't break them too much. I did it with the stand mixer on the lowest setting, and everything was mixed up within a few minutes.

Cover the dough in cling film (in multiple sections, if desired) and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, preferably 36. You can leave the unbaked dough in the fridge for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, set oven to 350 degrees F and remove the dough from the fridge. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or grease it, but the paper is preferred). Scoop out the cookies. They should be roughly the size of golf balls and then some. If you don't play golf or have never seen a golf ball up close, they should be round and roughly 1 inch in diameter, maybe a little bit more.

Place the cookie dough balls on the cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least an inch between each cookie. A standard size sheet should hold roughly 12 - 14 cookies. If you wish, lightly sprinkle the cookies with sea salt at this time (I did, and it's delicious).

Bake in the middle of the oven until lightly brown but still soft. In my oven, it took pretty much exactly 18 minutes, but when they're ready depends on a lot of factors (your oven, the size of your dough balls, your altitude, whether or not you shaved today) so keep a close eye on them once you've passed the 15 minute mark.

Remove from the oven, leave the cookie sheet for five minutes and then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. I use a spatula - for now, the cookies will be extremely tender and will collapse if you poke around them too much. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before biting into them.

If there's dough left, repeat the process to create more cookies.

If there are cookies left when they've cooled down completely, store in airtight containers. They will last a week or so, and they should stay nice and chewy for about 2-3 days, maybe even more if you're lucky.

If you wish, replace the chocolate chips with white chocolate chips and maybe a few macadamia nuts. Yum.

02 February 2009

These are a Few of My Favorite Drinks...

I was going to come up with lyrics for a parody of "My Favorite Things" from "The Sounds of Music" and end it with the title of this post, but I didn't manage to come up with something witty enough. Thought counts, though, right? ;)

So, what's a food and drink blog without posts about drinks? I've been planning this post for a while, but never got around to actually writing it because it's hard for me to pick out just a few "favorite" drinks. It's always down to my current mood, and I often don't decide what I want until I reach the bar when I'm out - and I don't always order something from the list below.

Having worked as a bartender for a bunch of years in a number of bars in a couple of countries, I have had plenty of time and resources to experiment and figure out what I like and what I dislike in the world of alcoholic beverages. I'm still not even sure what I think about certain products (fruit-flavored beer, for example) and some of my old favorites I hardly ever consume anymore (I used to order a shot of Bailey's and a glass of cider once upon a time...). What I do know, however, is that the list below is my go-to, won't-get-tired-of, incomplete list of drinks I like a lot.

These are not necessarily the classic recipes, but they are the way I make the drinks and they taste great to me, ok? ;)

The Dry Martini

2 oz gin. I prefer Bombay but go with whatever you like.
0.5 oz Vermouth. I like Noilly Prat
a twist of lemon peel

Tools: cocktail shaker, spoon
Glass: martini ("cocktail")

Start by putting ice in the glass and the cocktail shaker. You'll need to fill the glass, cocktail shaker should be about half full. Next add the gin and Vermouth to the glass. Stir. Do not shake. James Bond may like his "martinis" full of ice but I do not. If you don't have a spoon that is long enough or clean enough, you can put the lid on the shaker and slowly turn it upside down a few times, but stirring is preferred.

Once stirring is complete, discard the ice from the glass. Pour the liquid from the shaker without any of the ice. If you have a Boston shaker, this is achieved by using a separate strainer. If you're using a Cobbler shaker, use the strainer in the lid. Finally, garnish with the lemon peel. Some people like to rub the inside of the glass with the lemon peel, but I personally think you'll have enough of the lemony taste from just putting it in the glass. In addition, every second from when you place the liquid in the shaker until it hits the glass is precious - you don't want to water the drink down, but you do want to make it cold. Since there's no ice in the glass, you need to consume the drink within ten minutes unless you like warm gin (and since it's so good, you need to make another one right away).

Rusty Nail

2 oz scotch (blended whiskey)
1 oz Drambuie

Tools: n/a
Glass: Old fashioned ("rocks")

Put some ice in the glass, add the two alcohols, mix. It's simple and it's oh-so-good. Now, Drambuie is a whiskey liqueur made with herbs and honey. It's very smooth and relatively sweet, and has the same alcohol content as most whiskeys on the market (80 proof/40% alcohol by volume). Very much like the dry martini, this cocktail is made from alcohol mixed with other alcohol with only some ice added - no mixers here. If you do not like whiskey (or drinking any hard alcohol straight up), chances are you won't like the Rusty Nail. If you do, however, order one at a bar and prepare to feel the respect from the bartender (just kidding, although I'm sure a bartender would prefer the Rusty Nail guy over the four-shots-of-your-cheapest-tequila guy).

Black Russian

2 oz vodka
1 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlúa, for example)

Tools: n/a
Glass: Old fashioned ("rocks")

Another simple recipe: fill the glass with ice. Add the liquids. Stir, consume. The Dude in all his honor - and don't get me wrong, I really do love a White Russian - the Black Russian is where it's at. The coffee liqueur by itself is too sweet, the vodka by itself is...vodka by itself, which is fine as long as the vodka is decent. The mix? Fantastic. Yes, it's the third cocktail with no mixers, just booze, but it's so damn good that I can't really help putting it on this list.

If you do want to make a White Russian, prepare the above recipe and add 2 oz ice cold whole milk, or cream if you like that sort of thing.

Long Island Ice Tea

1 oz vodka
1 oz silver tequila
1 oz white (silver) rum
1 oz gin
1 oz Cointreau (or triple sec)
2 oz "sour mix" (equal parts simple syrup, lemon juice and lime juice)
dash of cola
slice of lemon to garnish

Tools: n/a
Glass: Highball

Oh, Long Island, how I love thee. If you go out and drink five of these, you'll wake up the next morning and your liver will sit next to you with a cup of coffee, going "you're an asshole." Yes, I stole that line from Denis Leary, thanks for noticing. The Long Island Ice Tea has been around since the late 70s and is the drink of choice for a lot of people, if I'm to believe my years behind the bar. I've served this potentially lethal mix of liquids to anything from high school students (where it's legal to serve high school students alcohol, of course) to old ladies out with their after-work social club. I've also consumed a fair amount of them, although I tend to limit myself to one a night, once every...month, maybe two. If mixed properly, it will taste like ice tea, but most places overdo the coke and it'll taste like alcohol mixed with coke and a splash of lemon.

First of all, prepare your sour mix. Place equal parts sugar and water (say, half a cup each) in a pot over medium heat. Stir constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a container (made of glass, not plastic) and let cool. Keep in the fridge if you're not using right away. When it's time to make the sour mix, blend the syrup with an equal amount freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice. Keep in the fridge, should last a couple of weeks. Or, you could always buy some at the liquor store.

Next, assemble the drink. Take a large highball glass and fill it with ice. You'll want a glass large enough to only be about 2/3 full when you've added the ice and the 5 oz (total) of alcohol. Pour the alcohol in the glass, fill up with the sour mix (eyeball it - you want it to be roughly 2/3 inch from the top) and stir. Pour a dash of coke over the top. Garnish with a lemon, consume.

There are several things that can "go wrong" with this drink. If it's too sour, increase the simple syrup ratio in the sour mix - unless you bought the sour mix in the store. If that's the case, use less sour mix compared to the alcohol, not the coke. You're not supposed to use enough coke to color the drink brown, it should be yellow with a hint of brown.

See, I can make drinks with fruit in them too! ;)

Flaming Dr. Pepper (shot)

3/4 oz Amaretto (or similar almond liqueur)
1/4 oz 151 proof rum (Bacardi 151, for example)
1/2 pint lager beer

Tools: bar spoon (unless you're a pro)
Glass: 1 oz shot glass, pint glass (US pint - use a half pint glass if in Europe)

Let's do a shot then, shall we? Some innovative bartender invented the Flaming Dr. Pepper, and since you can't find Dr. Pepper in France, it became one of my shooters of choice when I lived there. Now, I rarely do shots, but when I do, I like them a bit fancier than "tequila with salt and lemon."

Fill the beer glass halfway up the rim. Next, fill the shot glass roughly 3/4 of Amaretto. Now comes the hard part: top the shot glass off with 151 proof rum. A seasoned bartender can easily do this by tilting the glass and slowly pouring the rum (through a bottle pourer) into the shot glass, thus layering the rum on top of the Amaretto. If you're not a seasoned bartender, you might have more luck slowly pouring it (still, using a pourer) over the back of a bar spoon.

Once layered, here comes the fun part. Light the rum, preferably with a lighter (a match is harder and you might get some phosphorus in the drink if you're unlucky). Let it burn for a few seconds, then drop the shot glass into the beer glass and drink it down in one big gulp. Bam! Instant Dr. Pepper!

The Matrix (shot)

1/2 oz white (silver) rum
1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz blue Curaçao
1/2 oz grenadine
Strongbow cider (or similar English cider)

Tools: n/a
Glass: two 1 oz shot glasses, pint glass (preferably the European pint)

I have no idea who invented this shot, nor have I ever seen it outside the Paris bar scene. It was taught to me by the assistant manager at The Freedom, Dimitri, and it's...let's just say that if a shot of Jägermeister is "not for the seasoned drinker" (quote from Jacquie's dad), this is. It's also for the nutcase drinker. It's not a shot I'd recommend you take very often.

Start by putting vodka and grenadine in a shot glass, with a bit more vodka than grenadine. Next, put the Curaçao and the rum in the other shot glass, with more rum than Curaçao. This is not an exact science. Now, place the glass with the Curaçao and rum in the bottom of the pint glass. Stack the glass with the vodka and grenadine on top. Next, pour the cider down the side of the glass, making sure you don't directly hit the shot glasses. Fill 'er up.

What you have here is a drink with two "pills" - red and blue - and thanks to the cider mixing ever so slightly with the blue Curaçao, the drink itself will be green and green is a pretty dominant color in The Matrix.

Now comes the hard part: drink it all down in one go. It's a shot, even if it's a pint-sized shot.]

Not-so-Irish Coffee

1/2 oz Bailey's (or other whiskey cream liqueur)
1/2 oz Amaretto
1/2 oz Irish whiskey (optional)
4 oz hot, black coffee
whipped cream

Tools: n/a (or a whisk, if whipping cream), bar spoon, straw (optional)
Glass: highball

A traditional Irish Coffee is coffee and Jameson's whiskey mixed up with sugar, topped with lightly whipped cream. While I enjoy that, I actually prefer this not-so-Irish Coffee because I like whiskey more on its own and it feels like a waste to put it in coffee. That being said, I like to add a little Irish whiskey in this just to give it some extra kick (there's not much kick in Bailey's or Amaretto, so why not?).

Recipe is quite simple: mix all the ingredients but the cream together. If you whip the cream yourself (as opposed to buying it in a can), make sure you whip it very lightly - it should still be quite runny - and slowly pour it over the drink. Put a straw and spoon in there first, so you don't mess up the look of the drink by having a strand of cream come down through it, caused by the straw.

If you want to make the drink even sweeter (and, as some would say, "girlier"), replace the whiskey with chocolate liqueur.

By request: Mojito

2 oz white (silver) rum
2 limes
brown sugar
mint leaves

Tools: muddler (pestle for you Brits out there), ice crushing device (see below)
Glass: highball

Luke, here's for you. I can't believe I didn't think to include this in the original post, so instead of making a whole new post called "Request: Mojito", I'll just sneak it in here.

Quarter your limes and place them in the glass. Sprinkle about 2-3 tbsp of brown sugar, and finally add about 15 mint leaves. Now go to town with the muddler. We're looking to release juice from the limes and flavor from the mint leaves, as well as partially dissolve the sugar. Don't destroy the mint leaves too much!

Once you've destroyed the poor mint leaves enough, it's time to add the alcohol. Once this is done, it's ice time. Now, you already have the muddler in your hand, so one way (the best way, of course) is to crush the ice with it! If you don't want to completely ruin your good hand, or any hand for that matter, feel free to use a mechanical ice crusher or even a blender. You're looking to crush the ice, though, not emulsify it. Amount-wise, you need enough ice to fill the rest of the glass.

Garnish with a slice of lime and why not a mint leaf or two?

Some people enjoy a splash or two of soda water to be added on top, I don't think that is necessary at all.