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Yellow Jacket

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This well-balanced cocktail was created by the bartenders at Employees Only, in New York. It’s named for the wasps that swarm around agave farms and tequila distilleries. I took a few liberties with the recipe, but only because I wanted to use what I already had in my cabinet. Until I get yellow chartreuse, I have just been substituting green for any recipes that call for yellow. Partida reposado has notes of oak which is different from Don Julio’s smoky herbal taste. Lastly I was out of lemons so I used an orange peel. The 2 things that remained original to this recipe were the St-Germain and Regan’s orange bitters. It was still quite the cocktail. The flavors played well together and sang on the palate. Cheers!

slightly adapted from: Craft Cocktails
makes: 1 drink

2 ounces Partida Reposado tequila
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
3/4 ounce yellow chartreuse
1 dash Regan’s orange bitters
lemon or orange twist for garnish

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Place all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add large ice cubes and stir thoroughly. Taste for balance. Slowly strain into a chilled coupe, taking care not to aerate. Garnish and serve.

yellow jacket

 

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Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans

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I think there are 3 kinds of people when it comes to kale. The first, people who don’t like kale. The slightly bitter leaves they would not touch with a 10 foot pole. Secondly, the people who have jumped on the kale bandwagon and openly pretend that they love kale while secretly making the “I’d rather be eating a cheeseburger” face as they eat their kale salad. Thirdly, the people who love the taste of raw kale, simple as that. I fall into the 3rd category. I have never pretended to be a salad fan, (I would rather have a cheeseburger), but I do love salads made with greens that can stand up to everything else in the salad without being limp or soggy after a few minutes (sorry wimpy tasting ice berg, you lose). I realize it’s not for everyone, but when you pair kale with dried fruit, toasted pecans, and homemade honey-Dijon, I believe you might even change the minds of those in category one! Lacinto or Tuscan kale would probably be best in this salad, but I had a huge bunch of curly kale that came in my farm box this week, so curly it was. This salad is delicious by the way.

slightly adapted from: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
serves: 4

salad
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
8 ounces (or 1 bunch) kale, ribs removed
4 radishes, sliced thin
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled

dressing
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Wash the kale and run it through a salad spinner, or dry with paper towels. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the pecans, radish slices, cherries to the bowl with the kale. Sprinkle the goat cheese over top.

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Whisk the dressing ingredients together until emulsified and pour over the salad. Toss the salad until it is evenly coated with the dressing.

This salad can be eaten right away, but it is even better if it sits for 20 minutes. The dressing will tenderize the kale, especially if you are using curly kale.

 

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Chickpea, Farro, and Feta Salad

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I have made many summery salads lately, and this one takes the cake. I have been overrun with produce from my weekly farm box and I can hardly seem to keep up with it. My refrigerator looks like it has been overtaken by a small forest. This was a great recipe to use for the plethora of green beans waiting to be eaten. The salad itself was tasty, but the toasted spice vinaigrette kind of blew my mind. I was grumbling about having to find whole cumin seeds when I had ground cumin in the pantry, but I am so glad I did. Toasting the 3 spices together makes them explode with flavor. It went so well with the toothsome farro, the creamy bite of the feta, the toasted pine nuts and fresh flavors from the fresh dill and lemon juice. I have a good feeling this salad will make it onto many more of our dinner plates. I love farro, but feel free to use barley instead. You could also use quinoa or brown rice as well. And don’t settle for powdered spices for the vinaigrette, use whole seeds-it makes a huge difference!

adapted from: Bon Appétit
serves: 4

8 ounces green beans, halved crosswise
Kosher salt
1 cup pearled farro
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
4 oz. feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

 farro salad

Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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for the vinaigrette
Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
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Let cool, then chop. Whisk with oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Do Ahead: Vinaigrette can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a sieve or a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water.
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Return water to a boil, add farro and simmer until tender (refer to packaging for timing); drain. Spread out and let cool on a baking sheet.

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Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast pine nuts, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; let cool.

Toss green beans, barley, pine nuts, chickpeas, feta, dill, lemon juice, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve.

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Dublin Iced Coffee

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A delectable mix of caffeine, cocktail, and dessert.

from: Bon Appetit
makes: 1 drink

2 ounces strong, cold-brew coffee*
2 ounces stout (I used Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, but you could use Guinness or whatever stout you prefer)
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce heavy cream
cinnamon for garnish (this really made the drink, in my opinion)

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Mix the coffee, stout, whiskey, and simple syrup in a highball glass. Add ice to fill. Gently pour in the heavy cream so it gradually sinks into the coffee; sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir if desired.

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*Cold brew coffee is coarse-ground coffee that is brewed in cold or room temperature water for an extended period of time (usually 12-15 hours). The coffee grounds are then filtered out (using a sieve, then coffee filter) and then it is ready. It is a concentrate, so you then dilute the concentrate with an equal amount of water or milk. It can be used for iced coffee, hot coffee, blended-with-ice coffee drinks, or cocktails. Cold brew coffee has less acidity, so I think it tastes smoother and sweeter. It is amazing… This is the recipe I use for cold brew.

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Classic Mac

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I drooled over this book in a shop in Chicago. A cookbook full of mac & cheese recipes? Where have I been? Now that I know they come from Homeroom, a restaurant in Berkeley, California that specializes in my favorite comfort food- I have a new restaurant to add to my bucket list. It all starts with the perfect base, a creamy béchamel sauce. Then you add all sorts of various goodies for different mac & cheese recipes from Croque Madame Mac to Sriracha Mac to Vegan Mac. This book even has a few recipes for sides and old-school desserts. So basically the best book ever, am I right?

from: Mac & Cheese
serves: 4

mac sauce
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 pound dried elbow pasta (don’t use those baby elbows, they fall apart. Go for a large elbow or serpentine, or use penne, rigatoni, or orecchiette)
2 cups mac sauce
1 1/2 cups grated 2 year aged, extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup toasted panko -optional (toast in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned and toasted)

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to make the mac sauce

Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, but is not boiling, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a separate, heavy-bottomed pot. When the butter has just melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

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Slowly pour the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. It will get very thick when your first add the milk, and thinner as you slowly pour in the entire 3 cups. This is normal.

Once all the milk has been added, set the pot back over medium-high heat, and continue to whisk constantly. In the next 2 to 3 minutes the sauce should come together and become silky and thick. Use the spoon test to make sure it’s ready.  To do this, dip a metal spoon into the sauce-if the sauce coats the spoon and doesn’t slide off like milk, you’ll know it’s ready. You should be able to run your finger along the spoon and have the impression remain. Add the salt.

The Mac sauce is ready to use immediately and does not need to cool. Store it in the fridge for a day or two if you want to make it ahead of time-it will get a lot thicker when put in the fridge, so it may need a little milk to thin it a bit when it comes time to melt in the cheese. Try melting the cheese into the sauce first, and if it is too thick then add milk as needed.

for the mac

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until a little less than al dente. Drain, rinse the pasta with cold water, and drain it again.

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Add the sauce and both cheeses to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium heat. Stir until the cheese is barely melted, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the cooked pasta, stir, and continue cooking while stirring continuously until the pasta is hot and steaming, another 5 minutes.

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Spoon into bowls and enjoy. You can also top with toasted panko crumbs at this point.

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Mexican Eggs in Purgatory

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I’ll be the first to admit that this dish won’t be receiving any beauty awards, but it definitely wins accolades for taste. It is seriously good. If you’ve never had eggs in purgatory, it is an Italian dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. This Mexican version has the eggs cooked in a green base of tomatillos,  jalapeño, scallions and cilantro. You broil the dish until the egg whites are done but the yolks are still nice and runny. The crumbles of Cotija cheese get nicely browned which adds to the flavor (kind of like that deliciously, spotty-brown pizza cheese right out of the pizza oven). I thought I had tortillas, but alas I did not, so David and I ate this all by itself. I topped the eggs with some diced avocado and it was so delicious the tortillas were not missed, but I could see how they would have been a nice companion. We loved this dish so much we are making it twice this week, for dinner and for breakfast on Saturday.

adapted from: Food + Wine Annual Cookbook 2013
serves: 2-4

1/2 pound tomatillos, husked
1  jalapeño, stemmed and seeded (for little or no heat, substitute a poblano)
3/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1 or 2 scallions, coarsely chopped, plus slices scallions or chives for garnish
6 tablespoons of vegetable broth
3 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
4 large eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons crumbled Cotija (or feta) plus more for garnish
chopped or sliced avocado for garnish
warm tortillas for serving

Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat source. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos with the  jalapeño, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, and broth and puree until smooth.

In a large, shallow, flame proof casserole or skillet, cook the bacon in the olive oil over high heat until the bacon is browned, about 4 minutes (at this point you can remove some bacon to top the finished dish later, or just leave it all in the skillet). Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatillo puree and cook over moderate heat until the sauce is thickened and dull green in color, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and using a spoon, create 4 depressions in the sauce. Carefully crack the eggs into the depressions. Sprinkle the eggs and tomatillo sauce with the crumbled Cotija.

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Broil the dish until the egg whites are set but the egg yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes. Garnish with more cojita if desired, as well as a sprinkling of salt, the avocado and sliced chives. Serve right away with warm tortillas, if desired.

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Cantaloupe Martini

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This sweet drink will delight melon lovers and it pairs very well with salty foods. I think it would also be a great companion for brunch in lieu of a mimosa.

from: 101 Martinis
makes: 1 martini

3 ounces fresh cantaloupe juice (from a juicer-1 cantaloupe makes enough for 4 to 5 martinis)
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Midori
1/2 ounce simple syrup
splash of lemon juice
melon balls, for garnish

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Combine the cantaloupe juice, vodka, Midori, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a skewer of melon balls.

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