|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on October 8, 2013 at 10:45 AM|
Moscow Mule at the Happy Hour Bar on Hebgen Lake, Montana
A few years ago Oprah Winfrey visited Yosemite National Park on her TV show. During that episode, Oprah and her friend Gayle King were drinking Moscow Mules at their campsite and she even brought some to her neighbors at the campsite next to hers. When she named the ingredients, ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice, the drink did not sound all that appealing to me.
Fast forward to this past summer while I was in Montana with my cousin Becky and she mentioned that some of her friends told her that the Happy Hour bar down the road had this drink called a Moscow mule that we needed to try. Soooo, naturally we did. Our friend Theresa joined us. We tried one. And then another . . . .
Moscow Mules are served in copper mugs. There is something about the oxidation of the copper that gives the drink a special flavor. At first drink you don't taste it, but after a while it's there. And, it's good.
At the Happy Hour bar on the shores of Hebgen Lake in West Yellowstone, Montana where we had our first Mules, the Moscow Mule is a very popular drink. Apparently, the copper mugs, which are fairly expensive, would be taken home as souvenirs by the guests of the Happy Hour. In an effort to prevent the loss of mugs, each time a Moscow Mule is served, the bartender yells, "Copper on the floor!" and all of the customers yell it with her. If someone sitting at the bar orders one, she yells, "Copper on the bar!" and again, all of the customers in the bar yell it too. Everyone knows who has the copper mugs and it's a lot of fun to yell, especially when you have had more than one Moscow Mule.
When I got home from Montana I decided to buy some copper mugs, which I found is a tricky thing to do. As I mentioned before, the copper mugs are fairly expensive. I started looking for them in thrift stores, but had no luck. I did, however, find an Arthur Court serving tray for $2.95 at one thrift store. There are a lot of places on-line where you can buy them, but you need to be careful. One nationally known chain sells "Moscow Mule glasses" that have a copper finish on the outside, but are stainless steel inside, which defeats the purpose of the copper mug. Others are aluminum with a copper finish. The mugs I ended up purchasing were from the Butte Copper Company. Unfortunately, I discovered when the mugs arrived that there is an antique finish on the inside. I do plan to see if I can remove it with steel wool.
The ingredients for Moscow Mules
I have seen recipes for Moscow Mules with freshly squeezed lime juice and I have had them made with a sweetened lime juice, such as Rose's. So, yesterday when my sisters and some of my cousins were over canning pickles, I did a taste test with them. Hands down the Moscow Mules with the freshly squeezed lime juice was the favorite. So here is the recipe I used:
Place ice cubes in the bottom of a copper mug, add:
3/4 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice (or sweetened lime juice)
1 shot of vodka
2 shots of ginger beer
Squeeze a lime on top and drop the lime in the drink
Serve without stirring.
Copper on the floor!
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 28, 2013 at 12:20 AM|
Our "classroom" for the infusing spirits class
Several weeks ago some friends and I went to an infusing spirits with fruit and herbs class at the restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore. The class was interesting and the cocktail we got to drink after the class, a Knockout Martini, was simply incredible.
Although I have not yet taken the time to try it on my own, infusing spirits with fruit appears to be very simple, as you use the amount of alcohol it takes to cover the fruit in the glass container you will be using to store the fruit and alcohol during the infusing process. I think infusing spirits with herbs may be a little trickier and may require some trial and error to get the flavor right. A couple of important things that I took away from the class was that you should always use glass containers to infuse the spirits and that the staff at Wente store their infusing spirits in the refrigerator as a food safety precaution.
Below is a list of the types of spirits and the fruits and herbs that the Wente staff recommends for infusing.
Vodka: Hot peppers, basil, citrus fruits, watermelon, ginger, rosemary, thyme, pumpkin, cucumber, sage, berries, green tea, pears
Rum: Pineapple, tropical fruits, mint, herbs, ginger, mango, kumquats, quince
Bourbon: Peaches, apricots, citrus fruits, mint, cranberries, cinnamon, spices
Gin: Lavender, citrus fruits, cucumber, mint, basil, roses, grapefruit, green tea, sage, elderflower
Tequila: Hot peppers, melon, cilantro, kiwi, pineapple, berries
In addition to Wente's ideas, here is a Danish website with instructions for making schnapps with fresh fruit:
The Knockout Martini
Knockout Infusion (to be used to make Knockout Martini)
1 liter Pinnacle Orange Vodka
1/3 liter Absolut Mandrin
Cut the ends and the skin off of a whole pineapple. Slice away the core of the pineapple and then cut the remaining pineapple into one or two inch chunks. The chunks don't have to be perfect. Place the pineapple into a large glass container (a Mason jar would work very well for this). Do not use a plastic container as the plastic can adversely change the taste of your end product. Pour the vodka into the glass container over the pineapple. Place the pineapple in the glass container in the refigerator for approximatley five to seven days. After the five to seven days, strain the liquor into a large container. Place the pineapple pieces into a blender and puree. Use a strainer with fine holes to strain the pureed pinapple into the liquor (you may even want to use cheesecloth). Use a spatula to press all of the juice out of the pureed fruit. Once this process is complete, it is ready for mixing drinks.
To make the Knockout Martini, the staff poured a few ounces of the Knockout Infusion into a cocktail shaker with ice and added some simple syrup. After shaken well, the drink was poured into a glass with a sugared rim.
I think when I finally get around to making my own Knockout Infusion, I will hold back some of the infused pineapple to use as garnishes on the martini.
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 2, 2012 at 5:25 PM|
There seems to be a renaissance in pickling these days, even amongst our family. This year we pickled 45 quarts of asparagus, resurrected our Grandmother’s Danish Pickle recipe after 20 some odd years of slumber, and also whipped up some Dills, Bread and Butter Pickles and Pickled Okra. And boy oh boy, were they good, it was well worth the effort.
Our pickled aspargus under construction
You can find a wide variety of tangy pickled products on the shelves of sustainable grocers in the bay area from Studebaker Pickles, and you can also visit the Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley where they are whipping up Kim Chee, Sauerkraut and Kombucha, who knew?!
On a recent trip to Portland, we were in need of an adult beverage, so we headed to one of the state liquor stores (unlike California, you can’t buy liquor in the grocery store), and as I was perusing the shelves, low and behold, I saw a McClure’s Pickle label; but it wasn’t pickles, it was Bloody Mary Mix. I felt like I had hit the jackpot! I have seen McClure’s products in specialty grocery stores here in the bay area and had picked up a few jars here and there, but I had never seen this concoction! Joe, Bob and the McClure family use their great grandmother's recipes for the Brooklyn pickles they produce by hand.
When you picked up the bottle and shook it around, you could see that there was some love and attention given to this bottle of tomato juice. Flecks of hot chili flakes and black pepper, chunks of vegetables, this was a must have. And sitting next to it was a welcome addition to any Bloody Mary, pickled asparagus. So I loaded up my cart with a lemon, celery, some potato vodka and we headed back to the hotel. My friends had never had Bloody Mary's with pickled asparagus, and we certainly had never sipped on McClure's mix, this was a real winner, a unanimous vote for Best Bloody Mary Mix on the Planet!!
Bloody Marys concocted in our Portland hotel room
Our family's favorite Bloody Mary was found at The Point, a restaurant on the banks of the Sacramento River in the San Joaquin Delta. They have been voted Best Bloody Mary on the Delta numerous years running, and that's where I learned about adding pickled asparagus, because of course, we're near the asparagus capitol of the world! Unfortunately, they are closing this December. We were planning our next family reunion in February at The Point, so if you have any recommendations for a new restaurant serving killer Bloody Mary’s on the Delta, please post it on the Holm Family Cookbook facebook page!
Bottom's Up! Nancy
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 21, 2012 at 10:30 AM|
Glamour Gal Martini
My sister Susie and I have been friends with Brenda and Melanie Vieux for several years, and we've have had a lot of fun times with the Vieux girls, such as
trips to Mexico, "sibling" dinners in San Francisco, trips to the beach,
and just hanging out. Urban legend has it that their father Don Vieux, a well respected rancher in Alameda County, would make deliveries to our grandparent's ranch in the Livermore Hills and would spend time chatting with our grandmother Ione. Our grandmother was one of the kindest people you could ever meet and Don assumed the rest of the family followed suit, so he encouraged Brenda and Melanie to forge a friendship with us. Boy, did we have him fooled!
The Vieux family has lived and ranched in the hills high above Fremont since Brenda and Melanie's great grandfather Octavien Vieux immigrated to the United States from France in the late 1800s. Brenda and Melanie grew up in the house their grandfather built on the ranch that overlooks the San Francisco Bay and cities of Fremont, Newark, and Union City. Evenings at the Vieux ranch offers a view of beautiful sunsets and the twinkling lights of the cities below.
Susie and I have been fortunate to attend many events and dinners at the Vieux's house. The meals are usually prepared by Brenda and Melanie's mom, Ralene, and complemented with salad, dessert, or cocktails made by Brenda and Melanie. Unfortunately, life has a way of complicating things, so we don't get together as often as we used to. We recently, however, made plans to get together for a potluck. Those plans then morphed into a dinner that was prepared by Ralene and complemented with dishes and cocktails made by Brenda and Melanie. As usual, the food and company was outstanding.
Melanie made some beautiful cocktails that night and if not metered, they can knock your socks off. I still can't find the socks I wore that night. The recipe is below.
Glamour Gal Martini
2 oz vodka
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup or 1 tsp sugar
Drop of crème de cassis
Rim a martini glass with crème de cassis and sugar.* Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the martini glass. Finish the cocktail with a drop of crème de cassis on top.
*To rim the martini glass, first dip rim of glass in a shallow dish filled with crème de cassis and immediately place rim in another shallow dish with sugar, rotating the glass to ensure the whole rim is covered.
Note to the Vieux's: I'm still working on my thank you card.
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 19, 2012 at 1:00 AM|
Flaming σαγανάκι cheese at Demitri's Taverna
My work buddies and I drop by Demitri's Taverna, which is a Greek Restaurant in downtown Livermore, about once a month for flaming σαγανάκι cheese (saganaki) and ouzo. At Demitri's the flaming saganaki is cheese that has been doused with ouzo and lit on fire. One of my work buddies describes ouzo as liquid Good & Plenty--it's a sweet anise or licorice flavored Greek liquor. After drinking a shot of ouzo you shout "opa!" (just like in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding). At Demitri's the same thing is shouted after the saganaki is lit. A few times after our saganaki has been served, I have seen other diners call our server to their table to ask what the saganaki is. Once they find out the diners usually say, "That's what we're getting next time!"
The saganaki at Demitri's is served with grilled bread and a side plate of sliced onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and capers. The way I like to eat the saganaki is to spread the cheese on the bread and eat it like an open faced sandwich with the vegetables on the top. It is so good!
For weeks I have been trying to make flaming saganaki at home, but I couldn't find ouzo at the grocery stores where I shop. I finally made it to BevMo and bought some ouzo there. I couldn't find the Greek Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese, so I used asiago cheese instead.
If you try this recipe at home, be sure to do it in an area that is not near any combustible items. If this recipe looks too hazardous to try at home, drop by Demetri's--he's a real personable guy and will be glad to serve you saganaki and ouzo!
Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese (asiago works too)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons Ouzo
4 slices of bread - sourdough or peasant bread work well
2 romaine lettuce leaves
1 small tomato sliced thin
1 tablespoon capers
1 slice of red onion, cut into strips
Cut cheese into slices 1/4 inch thick. Melt butter in a small skillet and place the cheese in the skillet. Broil on high 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese bubbles. Remove from heat. Pour ouzo over the cheese and ignite immediately. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and serve with grilled or toasted bread and veggies.
Romain lettuce leaves, tomatoes, onions, and capers to eat with the saganaki
Grill or toast some bread
Melt the butter in a small skillet
Place slices of cheese in skillet
Place under broiler until cheese bubbles
Quickly ignite the ouzo after pouring it over the cheese
Squeeze lemon juice over the cheese
Saganaki is ready to serve!
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on October 24, 2011 at 8:40 AM|
Adult food and beverages found at the Epcot Theme Park
Disney's Epcot Park in Orlando holds an international food and wine festival in October and the first part of November each year. The international marketplace that surrounds the lake at Epcot has kiosks set up in each "country" where you can buy a beer or wine paired with a tapa-sized entree or dessert specialty from the 22 countries represented. So, you can start in Australia (which is number 1 on the map below) and drink and eat your way around the world. On an occasion or two I've made the unfortunate mistake of not pacing myself and halfway around the world I've found that I've had a wee too much to drink.
A map of the Epcot theme park with numbers marking all of the opportunities where you can try food and beverages from other countries during the Food and Wine Festival
In addition to the kiosks in the international marketplace, there are also events that you can purchase tickets for in advance. Some of these events include cooking demos and meals prepared by well-known chefs from TV cooking shows and upscale hotels and restaurants. There are also Italian and French food and wine pairing events, tequila tasting, and a chocolate tasting paired with spirited beverages and wines lead by a professional chocolatier.
This year I had an opportunity to attend a private dining event during the Food and Wine Festival. In the true magical Disney fashion, we were driven behind the scenes and led through the park to a huge decorative wooden gate that opened to a dining hall that looked like it was decorated for the arrival of Cinderella. Inside there were stations set up with chefs at each station that prepared a dish for us and we were served a glass of wine that had been paired with the dish. My favorite dish of the night was the lean spiced duck medallion that was paired with a Pinot Noir. My friends liked the seared scallops the best. Oh yeah, did I mention that I also had a cosmopolitan?
The entrance to the dining room where the private dinner event was held
A couple of the chefs
Lean marinated duck served with potato mash and mango chutney
Scallops served with a grilled lemon and garlic bread
Short ribs served on pureed parsnips
If you visit Epcot when the food and wine festival is not in operation, never fear--you can still eat foods and sample alcoholic beverages from other countries. Just to name a few of the opportunities available, in Mexico they are always serving margaritas, there is an outstanding Norwegian bakery and a fancy French restaurant, German beer is always flowing in Germany, and there is a great British pub just waiting for you in Britain!
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 19, 2011 at 12:09 AM|
A toast to the retiree
Six friends and I recently gathered at Holm Family cookbook recipe tester, Sue Mears', home in Incline Village on Lake Tahoe's north shore. All teachers, we were gathering to celebrate Sherri Vares’ retirement. Our usual routine during our get togethers is to have a light breakfast, go out for lunch and return home for cocktails, appetizers, dinner and dessert. This visit was no different.
We started with fresh berries, yogurt, cinnamon toast, coffee and juice. Some headed out for a morning walk around Incline Village – beautiful day! Next stop was the Hyatt Regency’s Lone Eagle Grille restaurant. It has a beautiful bar that looks out over Lake Tahoe. The mountain style décor in the dining room gives it a warm feeling. We all were pleased with our choices, mine being a venison quesadilla. I just can’t pass up something different!
The beautiful view from Lone Eagle Grille's bar at the Hyatt Regency
In the late afternoon the group of four retired teachers and three working teachers loaded up snack bags and headed to the movie theater. The movie Bad Teachers was playing and we saw it only fitting to see the movie. On the drive up to Lake Tahoe I had heard a review on NPR and from the review it didn’t sound bad – I must not have listened very well – I guess I was distracted by the snow covered Sierras. Fortunately, we had some Mandarin Martinis waiting for us after the movie.
Mandarin Martinis were a welcome sight after watching the movie, "Bad Teachers"
Sue loves to cook, so she has guests bring breakfast, appetizers, and beverages and she does the rest. Linda Andrade brought breakfast, Stephanie Beard, Fran Rebello, Janet Berglund and I brought appetizers. For this meal, Fran Rebello, also one of our recipe testers, got us primed with her Mandarin Martinis. Stephanie Beard brought an appetizer she had tasted at Whole Foods – ricotta cheese, with sweet onion marmalade and crackers. I made a Prosciutto and Pear Pizza from a recipe I found one holiday season in Raley’s, Something Extra, magazine.
Sue made the entrée and salad; beef burgers on whole wheat buns and Orzo with Roasted Vegetable salad. She had prepared the beef burgers stuffed with lemon herb butter ahead of time. Before going to the movie she had roasted the vegetables for the salad. This strategic move allowed her to enjoy the appetizers and Mandarin Martinis! Sue’s husband, Al, was allowed to come home to grill the burgers and of course enjoy our company. We accompanied the meal with a Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay and a Heritage Oak Zinfandel.
To end the evening we had Sue’s Blackberry Buttermilk Cake and Sherri’s Graham Cracker Brittle with ice cream. It was a delightful way to end the evening with some of my closest and dearest friends.
The recipe from the evening I would like to share, and believe me there were many delicious recipes, is the Orzo with Roasted Vegetables. Sue found this recipe in the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook and changed it a bit. I have also made it and left out the feta cheese adding one pound of cubed roasted chicken. For me it is the dressing, fresh basil and toasted pignolis that put it over the top!
This recipe is a slight variation of a wonderful summer dish invented by Sarah Leah Chase in her book, The Open House Cookbook.
Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
1 pound of asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, 1-inch diced
2 yellow bell peppers, 1-inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup good olive oil (I’ve used lemon olive oil with good results)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 cup orzo or rice-shaped pasta
For the dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted
3/4 pound good feta, crumbled
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss the asparagus, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.
The toasted vegetables
Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
Draining the orzo
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature and add the pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings and serve at room temperature.
Cutting a chiffonade of basil
"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable."
~Ina Garten, 'The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook'
And that my friend, is what Sue Mears does!
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on April 4, 2011 at 11:43 AM|
Moss green and fuchsia were the colors of the day
One of the Holm clan is getting married, so naturally there needed to be a wedding shower for the bride-to-be who is marrying into the Holm family. Yesterday the groom’s sister, Staci, hosted the wedding shower, which was a luncheon that was extremely well done.
Cran raspberry champagne cocktail
As guests arrived they were served a cran raspberry champagne cocktail (the recipe is below).
Staci had selected fuchsia and moss green as the colors for the shower and did an outstanding job carrying those colors throughout.
Fuchsia and lime green colored napkins, table clothes, and decorations
The food, which was catered by Bud’s Seafood Grille located in Stockton, was outstanding. The marinated and grilled filet mignon medallions were some of the best beef I have ever eaten (and believe me, I eaten a lot of beef!). There were also grilled chicken breasts that were well seasoned and moist.
Food catered by Bud's Seafood Grille
Marinated and grilled filet mignon medallions. Best.beef.ever.
To the delight of the guests, there were no games except for prizes were given to the people that had the initials of bride and groom on their luncheon and cake plates. I was a very lucky winner and had the initials on both my luncheon and cake plate. I went home with a floral arrangement and a chocolate gift basket.
Cran Raspberry Champagne Cocktail
1 lime, quartered
Frozen raspberries (fresh will work too, but the frozen will help chill the drink)
3 parts champagne
1 part cranberry raspberry juice
Rim the glass with the colored sugar by running the fruit side of one of the lime quarters around the rim of the glass to moisten. Roll the moistened rim of the glass in the colored sugar and then dip the rim into the sugar. Hold the glass upside down and dip the rim in the sugar. Drop three or four raspberries into the bottom of the glass. Pour in three parts champagne and one part cranberry raspberry juice. The number of parts used for this drink can be altered for the taste of the individual drinking it (e.g., ½ champagne, ½ juice). Serve.
Rolling the rim of the glass that has been moistened with lime in the colored sugar
Drop three or four frozen raspberries into the glass
Fill with one part juice and three parts champagne
For my sister Nancy and me, getting to attend the shower was sure appreciated as it was a welcome relief after a few days of caring for our mother who recently had surgery. Thanks to our sister Susie for taking on the shift that prevented her from attending. Thank you Staci for a great day!
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on November 29, 2010 at 12:38 AM|
If you happen to be planning a visit to Reno, Nevada, driving through, or live in the area, for a change of pace you might want to consider eating at Louis' Basque Corner restaurant. Louis' serves traditional Basque food family style on long communal tables that you may be sharing with others. For about $25 per person, you are served a seven course dinner by servers wearing Basque dancing outfits. If you fancy a fine restaurant with impeccably trained servers, this isn't the place for you.
One of my favorite things at Louis' is the Picon punch. The Picon punch is a very strong concoction and the first one can take a while to drink, but you'll love the second one! The Picon punch is one of those drinks that will cure you if you're ailing. I found this out last year when I had a very bad cold. The over-the-counter meds I was taking didn't do a thing for me, but after a couple of Picon punches I was feeling great! I have provided the Picon punch recipe below. Be warned: It's not a drink for sissies.
Picon Punch at Louis' Basque Corner in Reno, NV
At Louis' the entrees of the day are listed on a board on the wall before you get into the dining room. The entrees and one of the sides change daily. The Koopmann's from Sunol, Bonde-Master's from Livermore, other stragglers, and I usually eat there on a Wednesday night during the California Cattlemen's/CattleWomen's convention. On these Wedndesday nights the choices of entrees have included steak, shrimp in garlic sauce, sweetbreads (bovine glands), lamb chops, and pork chops. The dinner that we are normally served includes:
French bread, beef barley soup, tossed green salad, Basque beans, French fries, tongue, entree, dessert, which was ice cream or fresh fruit and cheese. A carafe of wine is also served with dinner. Other nights you might find oxtail or rabbit on the menu.
This year the Picon punch gave me the courage to try to the beef tongue. I used to eat beef tongue sandwiches when I was a kid, but over the years have lost the nerve to eat it. It was actually very good at Louis'. The Picon punch, however, did not give me the courage to try the sweetbreads. Those that ordered them did say they were great.
Soup and Salad at Louis' Basque Corner
Beef Tongue at Louis' Basque Corner
Dry Sweetbreads (left) and Sweetbreads in Sauce (right)
Shrimp in Garlic Sauce
Cheese and Fruit Dessert Cup
Empty Picon Punch Glasses Line the Table
Picon Punch - Serves one
In Nevada, the Picon punches are served in a special glass. Check out the Louie Picon Glass Company website for retail locations, additonal recipes, stories, and photos. I found the Amer at BevMo.
1 teaspoon grenadine or Torani pomegranate syrup
1-1/2 to 2 ounces Picon (from France) or Torani brand Amer
Shot of seltzer water
Splash of brandy
Lemon twist (peel only)
Fill a Picon glass (OK, any glass will do) with ice. Pour in the teaspoon of grenadine. Pour in the Picon or Amer. Pour in the shot of seltzer water and stir. Top with the splash of brandy. Rub the rim of the glass with the lemon twist and drop the twist into the punch.
Adiskide onekin, orduak labur.
"Time flies when you are among friends."
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 25, 2010 at 2:23 AM|
Last week my friend Sheri and I were walking at lunchtime and she was telling me about the fun gourmet-cooking weekend she'd just had. One of her friends is an event planner at a spa and event center in the Napa Valley area and the event center hosts well-known chefs to teach cooking classes. Her friend has learned a lot from the classes and spent the weekend showing Sheri all kinds cooking tricks and introducing her to new seasonings and oils. Sheri was really excited about everything she learned and we discussed how much fun it would be fun to start a gourmet-cooking club to learn new cooking methods and to share our recipes and knowledge.
Then, on Thursday night my cousin Wendy, my aunt Patsy, and I went to a cooking club dinner where we had been invited to talk about the Holm Family Cookbook. This cooking club started out over 10 years ago with one neighbor inviting the neighbors over for soup. The neighbors enjoyed the evening so much, they decided to get together once a month for dinner. Currently there are eight members of the cooking club and they take turns hosting it at one another's homes. The host decides what the theme will be. Each member brings a dish to share and eight copies of the recipe that they made. Thursday night's theme was "favorite family recipes." Needless to say, most of the dishes fell into the comfort food category. After everyone had eaten dinner and before dessert, each member took a turn telling the others about their recipe, e.g., where the recipe came from, special memories about the recipe or the person that they got recipe from, ingredients, etc.
We had a wonderful time that night and I was really envious of the great time these women have when they get together to share their food, stories, and companionship. It really reinforced my desire to start a cooking club.
A Wide Variety of Tasty Comfort Food Was Served at the Cooking Club Dinner
Settling in to eat Sue's Polish American Christmas Eve Mushroom Soup
Anna's Coffee Cake, foreground. Rhubarb Torte, back.
All of the food served at the cooking club dinner was great. Below is the recipe for one dish that we thought was really great because finding the very tasty spinach hidden under the potatoes was like finding a prize in a box of cereal. Below the potato gratin recipe is a recipe for a refreshing (and fully loaded) punch that was served by the hostess.
Spinach, Bacon, and Potato Gratin
6 russet potatoes (about 3 lbs.) peeled and cut into quarters
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 lb baby spinach, rinsed and well dried
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 12-inch (1 1/2 quart) oval gratin dish.
In a large pot over high heat, cook the potatoes in a lightly salted boiling water until tender when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add bacon and cook until golden and the fat has been rendered, about 3 minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook, turning with tongs until just beginning to wilt. Immediately remove the pan from the heat; season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few gratings of nutmeg. Transfer the spinach mixture to a fine-mesh sieve and let drain.
Slice the potatoes and arrange half of the slices in the prepared gratin dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the top of the potatoes. Top with the remaining potato slices, taking care to arrange them in an attractive pattern.
Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top. Place the gratin on a sturdy baking sheet and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Tips from Lisa: be careful with the salt because bacon can be quite salty and adding additional salt may make the dish over salted. Additionally, if a shallow gratin pan is unavailable or doubling recipe for a crowd, make double layers, one potato followed by spinach, then another potato and another spinach and top with potatoes. I've also broken up the cheese so there is a layer of cheese on top of second layer of potatoes and on the very top of gratin.
A Pitcher of Down Home Punch
Down Home Punch
1 small bottle (300 ml) of Ancient Age Bourbon
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup Peach Schnapps
1 bottle Sweet and Sour
1 cup orange juice (if you want sweeter add more OJ)
Put the ingredients in a pitcher with ice. Chill and serve in a pretty glass. To make it extra special you can garnish with an orange slice and cherry!!
Hey, anyone want to join a cooking club?
If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.
|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 22, 2009 at 2:16 PM|
Last July, the Circle H Cowgirls hosted a dinner party for nine women. The women had purchased the dinner at a middle school fundraiser. And, since they had paid quite a large sum of money for the dinner, we wanted to make sure everything was perfect. The dinner party was going well, the guests were enjoying appetizers, cosmopolitans, and margarita jello shooters out on the patio. The dining room table was beautifully set and included pre-printed menus listing what the guests would be served for dinner and on what page they could find it in our cookbook. The dinner was nearly ready, all we had left to do was cook the wild rice with mushrooms casserole for about 20 minutes. When the casserole was being put into the oven, disaster struck. The person opening the oven door (that would be me) hit the large casserole dish, knocked it out of Wendy's hands, and the dish fell onto the tile floor, breaking into thousands of pieces and spilling the contents all over the floors of the kitchen and butler’s pantry. We all stood there for several seconds in shock.
When we recovered from our shock, we realized that in addition to cleaning up this huge mess, we needed to come up with a side dish and fast. We discussed ordering something from a restaurant. I went out to my freezer to see if there was something out there to salvage the dinner party. Fortunately, I had a few bags of Trader Joe’s frozen mashed potatoes. I popped those into the microwave. I found a package of powdered brown gravy and we got that mixed and on the stove. Into the mashed potatoes we poured some garlic oil that Patsy had made for the salad and a bit of heavy whipping cream and ground pepper. We put some red wine and Worcestershire sauce into the gravy. Our dinner guests sat down to eat and Nancy explained to them that there had been a slight change in the menu.
Nancy Mueller explains to the diners that there has been a change in the menu
While we were removing the dinner plates, the guests raved about the mashed potatoes and gravy, and said they hoped the recipe was in the cookbook. While we could have taken full credit for the great mashed potatoes and gravy, we confessed that they had Trader Joe’s and McCormick to thank for them.
Just in case a disaster strikes this holiday season at one of your dinner parties, below is the cosmopolitan recipe from our cookbook. In the face of disaster, you can use these to make your guests . . . and yourself happy. ~merry carter~
The Perfect Cosmopolitan, Makes 1 serving
1 lemon or lime wedge
Sugar for coating the rim
4 ounces lemon-flavored vodka
2 ounces Triple Sec
2 ounces cranberry juice
Splash of Rose’s lime juice (or fresh)
Squeeze of lemon
Lemon or lime twist, for garnish
Wet the rim of a chilled martini glass with the lemon wedge. Dip the rim in sugar to coat. In a stainless-steel shaker full of crushed ice, combine the vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry juice, and citrus juices. Shake. Strain the contents into a martini glass. Serve with a lemon or lime twist.
Merry's note: You can make this for a group by multiplying the ingredients by the number of people you plan to serve and mixing it in a pitcher.