Knowing that I’m not anything close to a high roller, everyone always asks — what do you do?
First, we walk.
Our local Mexican restaurant makes the best Micheladas. In fact, I’d never had a Michelada before my husband convinced me to try one during a meal there less than a year ago. The spicy original flavor is delicious, but they make about eight or ten flavored ones, too. The guava version is darn tasty as well.
I had an easy description of the drink in my head, ready to type, but then a little research showed me that explaining it was going to be more difficult than I had anticipated. That’s because I’ve learned there is a bit of controversy about whether you call this drink a Michelada or a Chelada.
In their book, Beer Cocktails, Howard and Ashley Stelzer say that the Michelada is the drink that contains no tomato juice (just lime, beer, salt and Worcestershire or Maggi seasoning). It’s the Chelada that has the added tomato or Clamato juice. But they also say that there are many others that believe it’s the exact opposite.
Last night we watched the Mexico episode of Parts Unknown and wouldn’t you know it, Anthony Bourdain had a Michelada. From what I could tell, it didn’t look like there was tomato juice added.
But our local restaurant has something different to say about it. The menu states that Micheladas became popular in Mexico in the 1940s when people started mixing beer with hot sauce or salsa, and it must include lime and salt to be a true Michelada.
Since my first experience with a Michelada was with tomato juice, that is what I’m going with here.
A few weeks ago, I was sent a sample of Tecate Light and that is really how I decided that this year’s Cinco de Mayo post would be a Michelada. After tasting it, my husband and I both thought it would be perfect mixed in with the tomato juice, lime and spicy seasonings.
Instead of using a prepared tomato juice, I decided to juice fresh tomatoes for a raw juice and add seasonings. I used a centrifugal juicer to make the juice and I fed through a handful of cilantro with the tomatoes. I spiced it up with hot sauce, garlic powder, black pepper and salt and added plenty of lime juice. The one thing I didn’t have was the Maggi seasoning. That is sometimes substituted with Worcestershire sauce, but I didn’t have that either. If you have either on hand, you can add a splash to make it more authentic.
The combination of the raw tomato juice with the cilantro and Tecate Light made this Michelada light and refreshing with a pleasant, lingering burn from the hot sauce. As tomato season gets into full swing, I have a feeling this may become our go-to summer cocktail. Cheers and ¡Salud!
Spicy Cilantro-Lime Michelada Recipe
5 small tomatoes (I used Romas)
¼ cup packed cilantro leaves
1 ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. hot sauce (I used Cholula)
¾ tsp fine ground sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2, 12 oz. cans light Mexican beer, cold (I used Tecate light)
To rim the glasses
3 tsp fine ground sea salt
Zest of 1 lime
Large pinch of ground cayenne pepper
Make the juice by processing the tomatoes and cilantro in a centrifugal juicer. Stir in the lime juice, hot sauce, ¾ teaspoon of sea salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. You can also speed this up by popping it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
On a plate, stir together the 3 teaspoons of salt, lime zest and cayenne. Rub a wedge of lime over the top edge of each serving glass and rim with the spicy lime salt.
Fill each glass half full with ice. Pour 3 ounces of tomato juice into each glass. Top with 4 to 6 ounces of cold beer. Add a lime wedge and serve.
You don’t have to live in Kentucky long to catch the Derby bug. We were there for about ten years, but I was hooked after our very first Derby celebration.
Did I mention that I’ve never actually been to the Kentucky Derby?
Everyone seems shocked when I tell them this. It’s a bit of a long story, but you basically have two choices – the infield with loads of intoxicated folks having a good time where you can’t even get a clear view of the race (or so I’ve been told), or tickets for the Grandstand side which, if you can even get your hands on some, are a bit expensive. Add to that, all the people I know who have gone (on the Grandstand side) and had a less than stellar time to see the big, but very short, race.
Compare that to hanging out at the local race track, Keeneland, in Lexington and watching the race on the big screen or having your own party at home. No traffic, no hot sun, you can still wear a hat if you want and there are plenty of bourbon-based beverages and good food.
What can I say? The latter won out for us every year.
Over those ten Kentucky Derbies, and within the past year, I’ve made a few favorite recipes that are perfect for celebrating the big day. Most with bourbon, some with mint and others with Kentucky classics in mind. There will be more to come in the future, but these should give you plenty of ideas for your own Derby celebration whether you need breakfast, brunch, drinks or dessert.
(Click on the recipe name to go to the recipe.)
Welcome to the first cocktail week on Fake Food Free. This week I’m recapping some of the excellent cocktail mixers I discovered at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January. This is post three of three. Check out post one and two for more great drink ideas!
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m attracted to cool packaging, especially bottles. This usually leads me to all kinds of good stuff for the kitchen – olive oils, sea salts, and this time, cocktail mixers!
I heard about Owl’s Brew before I attended the food show in January so I was on the lookout. What is different about Owl’s Brew is that it’s all about tea. There are three different blends, two made with black tea and one with English breakfast tea. The teas are brewed with whole spices, fruit peels, fruits and herbs, and slightly sweetened with agave. The idea is to use two parts of Owl’s Brew to one part of your favorite spirits and plenty of suggestions are provided on the bottle.
Cocktails using tea are something new to me and Owl’s Brew served as the perfect introduction. I’ve steered away from mixers in the past, but with less sugar and all the natural ingredients in this, I can see keeping a bottle around for good. You can also get all three flavors in a sampler pack. Gift giving for cocktail and tea lovers is totally taken care of!
So how about those flavors. I mentioned there are three:
Coco-Lada – Black tea with chai spices, pineapple and coconut
Pink & Black – Black tea with strawberries, lemon peel and hibiscus
The Classic – English breakfast tea with lemon peel
I had a sample of Pink & Black to work with. I tried it with a lager at the show and it was delicious as a beer cocktail. This time around I wanted to concentrate on the strawberry flavor that comes through in the brew. I love rosemary and strawberry so a vodka martini seemed like a good idea.
And a good idea, it was. This drink is nice and simple with both the rosemary and the flavor of the Pink & Black tea mixer coming through. It’s also a beautiful deep pink color. Perfect for spring!
Pink & Black Rosemary Vodka Martini with Owl’s Brew
Makes: 1 drink
2.5 oz. vodka
1.5 oz. Pink & Black Owl’s Brew
2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
Place the vodka in a cocktail shaker and add the leaves of one of the sprigs of rosemary. Mull the leaves with the vodka to extract the oils.
Pour in the Owl’s Brew. Add ice. Cover and shake until cold.
Strain the martini into a glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and serve.
Disclosure: This product was provided for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so.
Welcome to the first cocktail week on Fake Food Free. This week I’m recapping some of the excellent cocktail mixers I discovered at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January. This is post two of three. Check out post one for more great drink ideas!
The first place I stopped while at the food show was the new products pavilion. I love this area because it is full of passionate small companies who are excited about their products and they hope that you will be, too.
Nicely displayed in a corner booth, Mixer Elixir was a product that immediately caught my attention. I loved the trendy jars and logo design, and I think it’s been pretty well established that I like cocktails.
These drink mixers are from the San Diego-based company Praline Patisserie, created by pastry chef, Cruz Caudillo. They use few ingredients like fresh herbs, fruits and pure cane sugar to create a syrup that can be used to flavor seltzer water, teas, and of course, cocktails.
I had two varieties to try – Hibiscus Limón and Wild Ginger. Each has cocktail suggestions on the bottle.
For the Hibiscus Limón, a margarita with orange juice was suggested. But because I can’t think of hibiscus without thinking about Jamaica, and I also associate grapefruits with Jamaica, I added my own twist with grapefruit juice. Yes, I know we’re talking tequila and not rum (which I also associate with Jamaica), but trust me, a margarita is a winner with this one. The Hibiscus Limón is rich, sweet and tangy. It would make a unique soda mixed with seltzer or club soda as well.
The Wild Ginger has a wonderful spicy flavor and bourbon was the first thing that came to my mind. So I spiced up one of my favorite drinks, the Mint Julep. I may make all my Mint Juleps like this from now on. The kick from the ginger isn’t lost in sweetness like it can often be with sodas. I might even venture to use this Elixir as a flavoring in desserts.
In addition to keeping one around for myself, Mixer Elixir is going on my gift-ideas list. I like that both non-alcoholic and cocktail options are offered on each bottle making them perfect for just about everyone.
Hibiscus Limón Grapefruit Margarita
Makes: 1 drink
Place the grapefruit juice, tequila, Mixer Elixir and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, cover and shake until cold.
Fill a salt-rimmed glass with ice. Strain the margarita into the glass. Garnish with a lime slice and serve.
Wild Ginger Mint Julep
Makes: 1 drink
2 oz. Kentucky bourbon
2 oz. Mixer Elixir Wild Ginger
2 sprigs fresh mint
Place the bourbon in a cocktail shaker with one sprig of the mint. Mull the mint with the bourbon to extract the oils. Add the Mixer Elixir and stir.
Pack a mint julep glass full with crushed ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass, over the ice. Garnish with the second mint sprig and serve.
Disclosure: This product was provided to me for review purposes. I was not required to write about it and received no compensation for doing so.
Welcome to the first cocktail week on Fake Food Free. This week I’m recapping some of the excellent cocktail mixers I discovered at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January. This is post one of three.
I gave up my beloved diet soda about five years ago (I used to drink 3 cans a day!). It was a big step in cutting artificial sweeteners out of my diet and one of the best decisions I’ve made.
While I can’t even think about drinking a diet soda these days, there is something I still crave often. The carbonation. We make our own club soda all the time, but I’m always on the lookout for flavored carbonated waters without any sweeteners. Especially when we need something for a road trip or when we make cocktails at home.
Let me introduce you to my new favorite find – Ayala’s Herbal Water®. I was thrilled to discover this product at the Fancy Food Show last month. Ayala’s Herbal Water® is water infused with organic herbal extracts. It has no sugar, no sweeteners and no preservatives. It also comes in both still and sparkling varieties.
The flavor combinations are anything but boring, but I thought me simply showing you water in a post might be. So I decided a couple cocktails were in order. The sparkling varieties are perfect for cocktails.
I had four sparkling flavors to try — Lemongrass Mint Vanilla, Cinnamon Orange Peel, Ginger Lemon Peel and Lavender Mint. There were none that I disliked, but my favorite surprised me. It was the Lemongrass Mint Vanilla and typically I’m not a huge mint fan. I really enjoyed how the vanilla flavor came through with this one and the mint was balanced by both that and the lemongrass.
None of the flavors need much to be turned into a great cocktail, especially since the refreshing flavor of the water should come through. I decided to use the Lemongrass Mint Vanilla and the Ginger Lemon Peel. A great choice. (P.S. The Lavender Mint is great with gin and the Cinnamon Orange Peel goes well with dark rum.)
Both of these drinks are perfect for spring, which is already arriving here in California. Proof is in all the gorgeous mint that I picked out of our herb garden. I hope spring makes it your way soon!
Lemongrass Mint Vanilla Cooler
Makes: 1 drink
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. dark rum
3 oz. Lemon Grass Mint Vanilla Ayala’s Herbal Water®
Add the vodka and rum to a lowball glass and stir. Add the water. Add ice to fill the glass.
Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.
Ginger Lemon Bourbon and Brandy
Makes: 1 drink
1 oz. Kentucky bourbon
.5 oz. brandy
½ tsp honey
3 oz. Ginger Lemon Peel Ayala’s Herbal Water®
Lemon slice for garnish
Add the bourbon, brandy and honey to a small cocktail shaker. Stir well to dissolve the honey.
Pour into a lowball glass. Add the water. Add ice to fill the glass.
Garnish with a lemon slice and serve.
Disclosure: This product was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so.
I can see them before I pull up to the entrance of the farm. They are specs of bright orange sunshine amid a sea of dry, brown brush. The excitement builds as I get closer and begin to make out the endless shapes and sizes. Some perfectly symmetrical, others with an odd bump here or a groove there that only adds to their character.
Picking a pumpkin is unlike any other garden harvest. It takes a good eye and a good bit of strength to find (and haul) the right one. First, I judge by size. I have to get this thing back to the front register to check out, so as tempting as those extra-large beauties may be, I have to leave those in the field for someone a bit stronger.
Next, they must be analyzed from every angle ensuring there is at least one good side to show off to the neighborhood. It may take a while to find one, but there is nothing I enjoy shopping for more than the perfect pumpkin.
While I have memories of pumpkin hunting from my childhood, the appreciation of the local pumpkin patch is something I associate much more with as an adult. Fall is my favorite season, and there is nothing better than seeing the first signs in the form of a bright pumpkin.
When I was invited to participate in a special project with Frei Brothers Reserve to celebrate a place that I feel is worth preserving, the opportunity hooked me in right away. It was a tough decision. There are so many. But what is the one place that stands out most for me?
The local pumpkin farm.
It’s not a place that is reserved for a lucky few that live in a specific region. It’s not tucked in the wooded hills of the East or along the rugged coastline of the Northwest. From Kentucky to California, and just about every state beyond and in between, when October arrives you can hear the laughter, smell the spiced cider and see the orange specs among the dry brush. It’s pumpkin season, and for me, this feeling and this special place is worth preserving.
As part of my participation in the Frei Brothers Reserve project, I was asked to create a meal around my place to preserve. So I roasted my first winter squash of the season, blended up the beautiful, sweet orange puree and prepared three courses in celebration of pumpkin with the help of Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay.
Autumn Salad with Pumpkin-Orange Dressing
6 cups mixed greens
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup walnut halves
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh pumpkin puree
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ tsp salt
Pinch ground black pepper
Place the lettuce, cheese, walnuts and cranberries in a large bowl.
Combine the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, pumpkin and garlic in a small food processor. Pulse until smooth. Stir in the salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over salad and toss to coat.
Divide into 4 portions and serve.
Pork Scaloppini in White Wine Sauce over Handmade Pumpkin Pasta
Pairing tip: pair with Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 ½ tbsp fresh pumpkin puree
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup almond meal
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 pound pork scaloppini (about 8 thin slices)
¼ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup Frei Brothers Reserve Chardonnay
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
Combine the flour, 2 eggs and 3 ½ tablespoons of pumpkin puree in a food processor. Pulse until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and kneaded just until the dough comes together into a smooth ball.
Let rest under a damp paper towel for 15 minutes. Follow your pasta maker instructions for rolling and cutting the pasta, or you can follow my guide for Beginner Homemade Pasta Making.
To cook the pasta, boil for 3 to 4 minutes in salted water, drain and set aside.
In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, almond meal, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and black pepper. In a separate shallow dish whisk together the milk and the 1 egg.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet or a similar skillet over medium-high heat. Dip each piece of pork in the egg and milk, and then into the bread crumbs, turning to coat it evenly.
Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, add the pork to the hot skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through.
Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
Once all the pork is cooked, add the onion and garlic to the skillet and carefully pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan well as the wine boils and reduces for about 30 seconds.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter and continue to scrape the pan until the butter melts. Salt and pepper the sauce to your taste.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to coat in the sauce.
To serve, add ¼ of the pasta to each serving plate. Top with 1 to 2 pieces of the scaloppini and garnish with ½ tablespoon of the chopped chives.
Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream
Serves: 4 to 6
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup raw sugar
5 tbsp fresh pumpkin puree
2 egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Combine the milk, cream, sugar and 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree in a heavy sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium and gently scald the milk, stirring often. The milk should begin to foam on the top, but it should not come to a full boil. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining pumpkin puree, egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Temper the mixture by slowing pouring in ½ cup of the warm milk, while whisking vigorously.
Transfer the tempered egg mixture back to the pan of warm milk by pouring slowly and whisking constantly.
Return the pan to medium-low heat. Cook stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the milk begins to foam again, but do not allow it to come to a boil.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heat and freezer safe bowl (such as Pyrex). Place the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice and stir the mixture until cool.
Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. (I sometimes put it in the freezer to speed up the process.)
Freeze in a counter-top ice cream maker per the manufacturer’s instructions.
What is your Place Worth Preserving? Frei Brothers Reserve is currently hosting a photo competition on Facebook for Places Worth Preserving in association with National Geographic Traveler. Every month between now and November, they are giving away prizes for photo entries including a grand prize trip to visit their winery at Frei Ranch in Sonoma County plus a stay in Yosemite National Park.
You can also check out a round-up of all the delicious Places Worth Preserving and wine inspired recipes at Kitchen PLAY.
Discloser: I was invited to participate in the Frei Brothers Reserve Places Worth Preserving project by Kitchen PLAY. This is a sponsored post. I received monetary compensation for this post and a bottle of wine to pair with my meal.
I woke up last Sunday morning with a food hangover. Have you ever had one of those? It’s not quite the same as the kind caused by alcohol, but it a good indication that you had an enjoyable dinner the night before.
Sleepy and sluggish, I had yet to engage in a workout since I got to Seattle so I made myself get up and run. It was more of a run/walk as I tried to navigate where I was going, but then something awesome happened.
It began to rain.
And I began to bound. Well, I’m sure it didn’t look like bounding to the street-side spectators. Given all the food I’d consumed in the past 48 hours it was probably a heavy shuffle, but it felt like bounding in my mind and spirit. I stopped just short of running down the middle of the street waving my arms in celebration. RAIN.
If you ask me what I miss most after moving to California, the answer is rain. I don’t miss dangerous storms, but I do miss long, gloomy days filled with pouring rain. I was thankful Seattle pulled through for me.
After closing out a great conference, I still had one more food (and drink) adventure before my flight – Storyville Coffee. I’d learned by word of mouth (more like word of Facebook) that this was a new coffee shop opening in Pike Place Market. The official opening day is October 1, but throughout September anyone can visit by emailing for a reservation.
The big surprise is that it is not just a visit. It’s an incredible friendly greeting at check in followed by an invitation to order any drink and pastry you want, all on the house. I ordered a delicious cappuccino and a salted caramel roll that was outstanding.
As I sat in their ultra-cool loft-style space with a cozy fireplace burning up front and gazed out the window at Pike Place Market below, I thought, who does this?! Free coffee? (And excellent coffee, by the way.) Free food? All month before a grand opening? Available to anyone?
Well, Storyville does and it was pretty awesome. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to go during my visit to Seattle. I can already predict that it is going to be the best place to escape from the craziness of the market. And I mean that in the best possible way, but wow, does Pike Place get crazy with tourists.
When I finally made my way through the long, slow security line at the airport, I was greeted with one of the friendliest TSA agents I’ve encountered yet. Through overhearing his conversations with others, I learned he was from California. He looked at my license, looked back up at me and said, “Did you miss the sunshine?” I said, “No, I actually really miss the rain. I loved it here.” He smiled and said, “Me too. That’s exactly why I moved up here.”
So it turns out not everyone dislikes the weather in Seattle and as you can tell the city can certainly hold its own when it comes to amazing food.
The International Food Bloggers Conference is in Seattle again, by the way. Same weekend, but with a larger group (up to 500), they are moving it to the Westin. Registration is up now for any bloggers who might be reading this.
Disclosure: I was required to write 3 posts about my experiences at IFBC in order to receive a discounted registration fee. This is email 3 of 3. The weekend involved many free products and foods from companies and restaurants that I may or may not write about. Thoughts are my own. I am not required to write about these foods or companies and will receive no compensation for doing so.
It’s National Guacamole Day!
I was well into adulthood before I realized that guacamole wasn’t a neon green paste served in a little plastic cup alongside Mexican fast food in the U.S. Fortunately, when friends were in disbelief of my dislike of guac, they took the opportunity to explain the potential of the real, non-processed version. From that point forward, bite by bite, I started trying more and making my own.
Now, I like it chunky, loaded with avocado, onion, jalapeno and cilantro, and I make it every chance I get. With California avocados, that chance comes around much more often than it used to. So this isn’t just a celebration of guacamole, it’s a celebration of living in a placing that is brimming with amazing avocados.
And since we are celebrating, we should make a toast to the drink that goes best with guacamole – tequila! I lived in Kentucky for 10 years, so when it comes to bourbon, I’m pretty educated. We also travel to the Caribbean so I’ve learned a fair share about rum, too.
But tequila? Tequila I have a lot to learn about.
That’s why I was thrilled when Casa Noble sent me some samples to help celebrate this food holiday. I received Casa Noble’s Reposado Tequila which is aged 364 days in French White Oak Barrels. It has won both Gold and Silver in the San Francisco World Spirit competition as well as other numerous awards.
(They also make several other award-winning varieties. You can check out those, and their tequila-making process on the Casa Noble website.)
And did I mention how cool their bottles are? Yes, I get sucked in by creative packaging. Especially if it looks good sitting on top of our bar.
After taking a sip, I knew I had lived a sheltered life in terms of tequila. I couldn’t believe how smooth it was; none of that harsh burn that you get from so many tequilas.
There are great tequila cocktail ideas on the company’s website, but to celebrate this day I decided to use the tequila in my guacamole. If you’ve not done this before, it is time to start spiking those avocados. And I know that traditional guac is made with lemon juice, but we are working with tequila here so I dressed it up with lot of lime and salt!
Spicy Spiked Bacon Guacamole
3 ounces pastured bacon ends, chopped and cooked crispy
1 small tomato, diced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped pickled jalapeno
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lime
2 tsp Casa Noble tequila
½ tsp sea salt
Stir together the bacon, tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno in a medium bowl.
Add the avocado, lime zest, lime juice and tequila. Mash and stir the ingredients together until the avocados reach your desired consistency. (You can also use a mortar and pestle or a food processor.)
Stir in the sea salt and serve.
Disclosure: Casa Noble tequila was sent to me for celebrating National Guacamole Day. I was not required to post about it and I received no compensation for doing so. Thoughts are my own and it is really great tequila!