BASIL GIMLET

Basil Gimlet

Incorporating various aromatic herbs into classic cocktails is certainly not a new trend in mixology. That being said, summer presents one of the best opportunities for the home cook to try their hand at a seemingly exotic cocktail like the Basil Gimlet. With an abundance of fresh basil during these warm summer months, I am constantly looking for a way to use up those few leftover leaves lying around from recipes like Basil Chile Chicken and the ubiquitous Caprese Salad. This cocktail is so easy to pull off, and the end product definitely results in a drink that seems to be more than the sum of its parts. Bright, floral and refreshing are all adjectives I would use to describe the taste of what has to be one of the best libations for sultry Summer evenings and backyard cookouts.

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PEPPER VINEGAR

Pepper Vinegar For Web

I love vinegar. In fact, it is the one pantry staple I would have the hardest time living without. Much to my girlfriend’s chagrin, I do my best to sneak it into every dish I can get away with, even those that might not call for the addition. Tangy and lively, vinegar, like lemon, has the ability to brighten up almost any flat-tasting dish. Though it must be used sparingly, I personally think a splash or two of vinegar to complete a dish goes a long way in enhancing flavors. Recently I had a friend over for dinner; while digging through my cupboards, I was able to unearth ten different varieties of vinegar. I have a reputation among my friends as being a bit food obsessed, and my vinegar collection only served to confirm this belief, or so said my friend’s baffled expression.


“Do you actually use all of those?” He asked

Yes, yes in fact I do. From the Spanish sherry variety and asian rice wine to Italy’s famed balsamic, all these vinegars play very specific roles in helping to make the dishes I cook that much more authentic to their place of origin. Today I’m featuring a very simple recipe for the southern table staple, Pepper Vinegar. While it’s a great condiment for almost anything, it’s especially good splashed on pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, eggs, and anything else that needs a little pick-me-up.

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WARM FLANK STEAK SALAD WITH MINT AND CILANTRO

Warm Marinated Flank Steak SaladI’d been eating Thai food for a while before a friend of mine insisted that we order Nua Yang Nam Tok, or Waterfall Beef Salad as a starter. While I’d had American beef salads before – usually romaine lettuces topped with freshly grilled strip steak – I had never come across one in which nearly the entire “salad” was the beef. Having already familiarized myself with the typical (and sometimes boring) Thai staples of Pad Thai and Chicken Satay, this dish caught me by surprise with its intensely refreshing impact on the palate.  Its been years now since I first experienced Thai beef salad, and there is seldom an occasion when I do not order this salty, sour, and fiery dish before a Thai feast.

I’ve sampled and cooked many versions of this salad in the past, and I can honestly say that Andy Ricker’s of Pok Pok restaurant in Portland, Oregon is one of the most authentic tasting I’ve ever come across. If you’re ever in the Portland area, do yourself a favor and stop by his restaurant for some of the most amazing Thai BBQ (and Fish Sauce Chicken Wings) you may ever enjoy in the United States.

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ARROZ CON POLLO

arrozconpollo2

I used to make an Americanized version of arroz con pollo in college that called for hot Italian sausage and turmeric, to lend a neon yellow glow to this Latin-American classic. After experimenting with a few more authentic recipes, I think I’ve found a true winner. The essence of chicken, dried Spanish chorizo, and smoky-sweet roasted red bell peppers all find their way into the nutty brown rice, rendering a dish that is deceptively robust in flavor. This is an incredibly easy and hearty one-pot dish that reheats well if you plan on eating it as leftovers throughout the week.

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