Tag Archives: Epicurious

Holiday/Celebrate: Margaritas Would Be So Nice

When it comes to this holiday season, you can count on two things.

  1. You will be invited to a holiday party.
  2. You will be required to bring something fabulous.

If you haven’t been invited to any parties, then…yiiiikes.

YIKES

But you probably all have been because you’re all very cool with nice teeth and good hair.

Our holiday party at work was a week and a half ago (I know, I know) and my friends Anna, Bailey and I decided to throw a little cocktail party beforehand. We planned really well, and had some delicious foodstuffs.

And by “we planned really well,” I mean “I planned ok yet had one major crisis.”

We had the party at Bailey’s, since it was right near the venue of our holiday party. So I was taking all of my stuff there. And since I was making two apps and a cranberry margarita, I was taking all my materials to her apartment.

As I started assembling my cranberry margarita, I realized: I left my tequila at home. And there was a parade going on downtown. And the party started in 15 minutes.

TEQUILA CRISIS.

Anna’s husband, Kevin, generously offered to go buy more but I remembered we were 3 blocks from my office. And there is always tequila at our office, so I took it. (Calm down, I replaced it Monday.) My work is drunker cooler than yours.

TEQUILA CRISIS AVERTED.

These cranberry margaritas are divine, y’all. They look like Christmas with the bright red margarita and the green lime. They’re sweet, but not overly so. And the tequila is present but not overwhelming, so they go down really smooth. The Chinese five spice on the rim is a revelation. Thank to Mark Fisher for the recommendation! (When Mark Fisher recommends a food or drink, you listen.)

As for food, Bailey was in charge of cheese and charchewterie (that’s what we call charcuterie). Anna made these amazing southern samosas and baked brie, and I brought a nut mix and ceviche. Basically, the two most random things ever. But they were good. Light and nibbly. Good party food. Good pre-party food. Good food for eating with your friends at one of your many holiday parties.

And if you weren’t invited to any parties?

Then just pop in your copy of Angels with Dirty Faces and go to town.

Junk and rubbish.

Cranberry Margarita from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • Homemade cranberry jam, recipe to follow
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar
  • Chinese five-spice powder
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Tequila

Cranberry Jam

  • ¾ cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy, 30–40 minutes. Mix in orange zest; let cool.

Jam can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Margarita Assembly

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 lime wedge, plus 2 oz. fresh juice
  • 4 oz. fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz. tequila

Mix salt, sugar, and five-spice powder on a small plate. Rub rims of Old Fashioned glasses with lime wedge; dip in salt mixture and fill glasses with ice.

For each cocktail, combine ½ oz. lime juice, 1 oz. orange juice, 1½ oz. tequila, and 2 Tbsp. cranberry jam in a cocktail shaker; fill with ice. Cover and shake until outside is frosty,  about 30 seconds. Strain into prepared glass.

This recipe can easily be made into a large batch and put in a pitcher. Just make sure final ratio is 1 part fresh lime juice, 2 parts orange juice, 3 parts tequila and as much cranberry jam as you like.

The Union Square Café’s Bar Nuts from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups (18-ounces) assorted unsalted nuts, including peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds | I bought nuts at Whole Foods.
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter. Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm. And once you eat these, you will never want to stop.

Blurry Southern Samosas and Nut Mix, y'all

Mahi-Mahi Ceviche with Japanos and Coconut from Epicurious

Note: There was no mahi-mahi available, so I used red snapper and it was a really good substitute. I also added one cubed avocado.

  • 1 pound mahi-mahi fillets, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 1 ½ cups fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 jalapeño chiles, seeded; 2 minced, 2 thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Saltine crackers

Combine fish, lime juice, and oregano in large glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Chill until fish turns opaque, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes.

Strain almost all lime juice from fish; return fish to bowl. Stir in onion, minced and sliced jalapeños, coconut, and cilantro. Season with salt. Chill at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours. Serve in Martini glasses, or in a bowl if you’re not a cheesy nerd. Pass crackers separately.

Red Snapper Ceviche

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I love smiling. Smiling’s my favorite. An Elf Dinner Party.

The holidays are full of traditions. Some good, some bad. Some so bad they’re good. (Folgers incestuous brother-sister Christmas commercial, anyone? YOU’RE MY PRESENT THIS YEAR, INAPPROPRIATE BROTHER.) And some of them are phenomenal. This one is simply phenomenal. 

For the last 6 years, my friends J & B and I have gathered to watch Elf. We watch, exchange presents, decorate cookies and cry when Buddy saves Christmas*. BACK OFF, IT IS EMOTIONAL.

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*Please note, J and I are the only ones who cry. B, being the man of the group, does what every man does when women are crying at Elf: makes fun of them for crying at Elf. 

This year’s party was in J & B’s awesome new house. New house, new Elf party. Why not incorporate a new twist? Let’s add some Elf themed food.

When I told my dad about this, he assumed that that meant we’d be eating spaghetti with syrup on it. A little on the nose, Dave. But the principle was right. 

J assigned each of us one of the Elf culinary staples. B got coffee (from the scene where Buddy congratulates the shitty diner on the world’s best cup of coffee), J got marshmallows (which Buddy puts on his spaghetti, along with pop tarts and other stuff), and I got maple syrup. Which was both exciting and terrifying.

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I have to make another confession here on the ole blog: I don’t think I’d ever had true maple syrup before. I’m not a huge pancake fan. I’ll do a waffle from time to time, but it sure as shit better have a piece of fried chicken on top. I’ve always been drawn to the savory more than the sweet, so this may have been my first experience with maple syrup. Like, in the world.

Worst. Food. Blog. Evar.

But, I had a mission. To create an appetizer with maple syrup for our Elf party. Buddy didn’t let Santa down. And I was not going to let Santa down either. Or my friends. Since Santa was not attending this party.

I found a recipe on the Epicurious app for Very Simple Pumpkin Soup that featured maple syrup. Sidenote. The Epicurious app is an awesome cooking app, y’all. The functionality is amazing. The way I found this recipe is by searching by ingredient and then by course, weeding out the thousands of French toast recipes and only focusing on the things that were appropriate. Download the Epicurious app.

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And before you ask, yeah right, Epicurious is not paying me. They’ve never even heard of me. I’ve barely even heard of me. Just a rad app for iPhone and iPad. 

Anyways, this soup is good. It’s easy because you’re using canned pumpkin. And it’s a bit sweet, because of the pumpkin and the maple syrup. But the Chinese Five Spice gives it some depth and spice (….5 spices to be precise…) without being spicy. Top with sautéed shitake mushrooms and you’ve got yourself a treat even Buddy might like. 

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B brought the baking with a pumpernickel bread made with coffee. It was terrific. Really rich flavor and paired so well with herbed goat cheese and a creamy swiss.  

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And J made an elegant smores bar, inspired by her some searching on Pinterest. She stepped it up by adding some bacon. Cause bacon makes everything better. We got to toast the marshmallows in their brand new fireplace.

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It was an excellent night. And now, all I want to do is make food inspired by movies. Watch Midnight in Paris and make coq au vin. Watch Ocean’s 11 and make fruits de mer. Hell, I’ll even give Silence of the Lambs a go.

CALM DOWN, JERKS.

I would make LAMB with a chianti sauce and fava bean risotto. And tiramisu. Cause it has lady fingers. PUNTASTIC!

Very Simple Pumpkin Soup, from Epicurious.com

 

  • 2 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed | I do not have a presser of garlic. So, I minced. 
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder | * A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger available in the spice section of most supermarkets. I thought I was going to have trouble finding it, but found these at Fresh Market. 
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced | These I found at Whole Foods. 

Bring first 4 ingredients to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. Whisk in syrup, 2 tablespoons butter, and five-spice powder. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with mushrooms, dividing equally; serve.

Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.

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