30 November 2010

Holiday Cocktail: Jolly Arrival

It's the holiday season! Our Christmas tree is up, the fireplace is lit almost every night, and I get to indulge in cooking with those ingredients that are really only useful for about a month's time around the end of the year.

I came up with a drink that fits well with the holiday theme, and decided to name it Jolly Arrival (figure THAT one out). The only problem is that you can only really have one - it's almost like a dessert!

Jolly Arrival

1 oz vodka
0.5 oz Irish cream liqueur (Bailey's or similar)
0.5 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlúa or similar)
0.5 oz almond liqueur (Amaretto or similar)
0.5 oz hazelnut liqueur
0.5 oz peppermint liqueur
3 oz whole milk or heavy cream
freshly grated nutmeg
cocoa powder

Fill a cocktail glass with ice and set aside. Add ice to a cocktail shaker, and pour in all the ingredients. Shake for 5 seconds. Discard the ice in the cocktail glass and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass. Sprinkle cocoa powder and nutmeg on top. Serve immediately.

20 November 2010


Quick, easy and great-tasting, I certainly adore quesadillas. The ones I make are probably nothing like the ones you’d get in Mexico, but at least they're tasty! If you make your own tortillas, the final result will be so much better, but there are plenty of decent store-bought ones out there as well. Use what works best for you!

As for the filling, I generally use shredded chicken, Monterrey Jack cheese, onion and red pepper, and top it with sour cream and some red salsa. You can really fill a quesadilla with anything you want, which is the beauty of this dish. Serve as an appetizer, a snack or even the centerpiece of a whole meal. If you do the latter, I suggest some tortilla chips and guacamole, perhaps some additional salsa and refried beans.

Quesadillas con pollo

2 tortillas (corn, flour, whole wheat, it’s your choice) – flour tortilla recipe below
1 chicken breast
1 red pepper
½ yellow onion
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (or other soft/easy-to-melt cheese)
vegetable oil

First of all, cook and shred the chicken. The easiest way to do this is to boil in salted water it for about 6-7 minutes, until cooked through. Drain, let the chicken cool slightly and shred with two forks. Next, dice the onion and cook with a little bit of vegetable oil over medium heat, until translucent (2-3 minutes). While the onion is cooking, cut up the pepper, discarding the seeds and any excessive white membrane. Add the pepper to the onion and cook for another couple of minutes, until cooked but still crunchy. At this point, add the shredded chicken and season with salt, black pepper and a little cumin.

Next, bring out your trusty cast iron pan – large enough to fit a tortilla – and set over medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan, and start building your quesadilla. On top of the first tortilla, add a layer of the chicken filling. Top with some shredded cheese, then put the other tortilla on top like a lid. Place in the pan and cook until the bottom tortilla is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip carefully (so you don’t lose any ingredients into the pan) and cook another minute or two, until the second tortilla is golden brown as well. You’ll want to make sure there is some pressure on top after you flip, and that is easily done with the spatula.

Use a pizza cutter to slice into wedges, and serve with some salsa and sour cream.

Flour Tortillas

4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp lard or vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups warm water

Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Work the lard into the flour with your fingers, until completely incorporated. Add enough water to form a soft dough, but not so much as to make it sticky. Knead for five minutes. If you have a stand mixer, all this can be done with the paddle attachment to shape the dough, and the dough hook attachment to knead on low speed for a few minutes. Divide into portions weighing about 3 oz each, and form into balls. Let the balls rest under a towel for ten minutes.

Roll the balls into rounds, about 6 inches in diameter. Cook in a dry cast iron skillet until just starting to brown. When you do make your quesadillas later, you can actually follow the steps below, to prevent burning:

Cook one tortilla until golden brown on one side, then set aside. Cook the second tortilla until brown on one side, then flip it over. Add the filling (with the tortilla still in the pan), then place the first tortilla on top, with the non-browned side up. Flip the quesadilla over, cook until golden brown and serve immediately.

16 November 2010

Open-faced Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwiches

One of the best applications for day-old bread, in my opinion, is to top it with some good toppings and put it in the oven for a few minutes. I recently baked some bread according to the ciabatta recipe I've used before, but shaped short baguettes (bâtards) instead. The recipe below is a very simple sandwich, but providing you use high-quality ingredients, it tastes heavenly.

Open-faced Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwiches

A piece of baguette, 8-12 inches long
1 tomato
2-4 oz Mozzarella cheese
olive oil
dried oregano
dried garlic (garlic powder)
black pepper

Start by turning your oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees F. Cut the bread lengthwise and place, cut side up, on a baking sheet. If you are unable to balance the pieces so the cut side is fairly level, you can trim the underside slightly.

Drizzle the bread with a little olive oil. Slice the tomato and cover the bread. Cut the cheese into chunks and place on top of the tomatoes. Add the herbs and spices to taste. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.

08 November 2010

Video: Cocktails - Aurora, Swedish Midsummer, and Serbian Ice Tea

I finally got around to making my first video! Please enjoy the show, and find all the recipes below:

3 oz sparkling white wine
3 oz Fresca or similar carbonated citrus drink
1 oz triple sec
1 oz vodka (optional)
Fresh raspberries, blackberries or sliced strawberries

Blend all the ingredients in a mixing glass. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and add a couple of berries to garnish.
Swedish Midsummer
1 oz elderberry flower syrup
1 oz gin
3 oz sparkling white wine

Mix all the ingredients together and serve in a champagne glass.

Serbian Ice Tea
The recipe below is from the February 2009 post:
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.

07 November 2010

Pasta con Pancetta e Asparigi

I absolutely adore simple pasta dishes, especially the ones that look and taste like they took much more effort than they actually did. This is one of them – very simple and fast to whip up, and as long as you use high-quality ingredients (fresh is the key word here), you really can’t fail. Well, you could, but follow the instructions, and you shouldn’t!

Pasta con Pancetta e Asparagi (pasta with pancetta and asparagus)

12 oz tagliatelle (for this course, I generally use dried and not fresh/homemade and in the picture above, I actually used shells instead)
4 oz pancetta, thinly sliced
1 lb green asparagus
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch green onions
Italian parsley (flat-leaf)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon
olive oil
black pepper

Start by boiling the water for the pasta, and add the tagliatelle when the water is boiling. Cook until al dente. Cut the pancetta into smaller pieces (I generally do roughly 0.5x1 inch strips) and place in a large skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until crispy, and then move to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Reserve some of the fat in the pan (not too much, about a tablespoon).

Cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces and cook in the skillet with the reserved fat for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Divide the green onion into dark green and light green + white. Mince the garlic and slice the pale green and white pieces of green onion, and add to the skillet with the asparagus. Cook another two or so minutes, until vegetables are cooked through, but still crispy.

At this point, add the pancetta back to the skillet together with the parsley, and the minced dark green parts of the green onion. Drain the pasta and return to the pot, reserving a few tablespoons of the water you cooked it in. Add the contents of the skillet to the pasta, as well as the juice of the lemon, the cream, the Parmesan cheese, and about a tablespoon of olive oil. If it seems a little dry, add some of the reserved water.

Serve immediately. Add some more grated Parmesan if desired.