Archive for December, 2013

December 31, 2013

4plates Best of 2013

New Orleans 2013

New Orleans 2013

Tonight is New Years Eve. I’m looking forward to a nice, quiet evening at our neighbors house with lots of good food and conversation. No need to drive anywhere or even get too dressed up. Perfect. Years before we used to have some fairly big parties at our house. They’ve tapered off in the last few years along with my alcohol tolerance and inability to stay up until midnight. That was actually a conversation yesterday with our neighbor. He asked, “Do you think you guys can stay up?” My response, “Good question. I think Alan can make it but I’m not sure if I can.” Then realizing the ridiculousness of that statement I followed up with, “No, that’s crazy, of course I can stay up! It’s only until midnight. I can make it.” REALLY?!  How embarrassing. Are we so old that staying up until midnight has become difficult? Then I realized the answer is sadly yes.

The end of 2013 marks the close of another exciting year in food. Although my reflection back doesn’t include the cronut, ramen or kale, I do feel I’ve added some fresh, new things to my repertoire. Here are a few of my favorites from 2013.

COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR – Jerusalem

If you love the flavors of the Middle East, this cookbook is a must. I’ve made many recipes from Jerusalem and all have been excellent. It’s a beautiful book too. Makes a great gift.

Jerusalem

COCKTAIL OF THE YEAR – The Sazerac

And here my friends is where my new-found love of whiskey was born. Sigh. I love the traditional Sazerac I had in New Orleans, as much as the fancy infused whiskey version I learned from the bartender at the Village Whiskey. I should mention that learning to infuse the whiskey myself was very cool, and the result was fantastic!

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FAVORITE NEW FOOD OF THE YEAR – Quinoa

I know some of you may be thinking that quinoa is not new, and you’d be correct, but I found some interesting new ways to use it this year. Now quinoa is on our table all the time. It’s even become a lunch box staple. Other than following the rules for how to make basic quinoa, the ways you can use it from there are endless. Packed with protein, it makes such a healthy meal or side dish.

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VEGETABLE OF THE YEAR – The Watermelon Radish

For the different holidays this past year I tried to steer away from serving too many heavy appetizers. Firstly because it’s healthier, but more importantly no one is hungry for dinner. I made this huge crudite display a couple of times and everyone loved it. I just use a big cutting board as a platter and pile up the veggies. I make a Mediterranean rosemary bean dip and tzatziki to serve with itbut you can use store-bought hummus or any other dip you love. The watermelon radish is the standout veg every time. It’s the beautiful hot pink burst of color in the center of the platter below. Milder than a regular radish, it looks so pretty and when sliced very thin (I use a mandoline), it’s just delicious.

Vegetable Crudite

SWEET TREAT OF THE YEAR – Dulce de Leche Donut from Dough in Brooklyn  – Enough said!

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PRODUCT OF THE YEAR – Ninja Blender

I contemplated buying a Vitamix blender when my Waring blender finally died. I had that Waring for almost 20 years, it was time for it to go. Vitamix is all the rage now and I had read it was a must have, but questioned if I needed to spend over $300 to make smoothies. I decided it wasn’t worth it and took the risk opting for the inexpensive Ninja for $99.00. Best purchase of the year. Here’s one of our delicious morning smoothies. I tend to not even measure. This one is non-fat plain Greek yogurt, frozen strawberries & raspberries, a little cranberry juice, some honey and ice. I think a proper smoothie post is in order for 2014.

Ninja Blender

MEAL OF THE YEAR – Fried Chicken Plate from Willie Mae’s Scotch House, New Orleans

Of all the food we’ve enjoy in 2013, this plate of crunchy, piping hot fried chicken was the most memorable and mind-blowing. Macaroni and cheese and peas on the side, it was seriously the best EVER!

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BEST NEW ADDITION TO THE FAMILY – Wanda Bean

In August of this year, Sophie Bubbles got a sister. She’s turned out to be a constant source of entertainment for us and an awesome little sister for Sophie. And look at that hair!

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Wishing everyone a happy, healthy & delicious New Year! And many thanks to everyone for visiting my blog. I look forward to 2014 being filled with lots of new recipes and culinary adventures. Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2013

Orange Crush Cocktail

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I love a good cocktail. I only get to enjoy one on the weekends, but that’s because I fight the urge to make something snazzy to drink during the week. Maybe I should have lived in the 1950’s? Didn’t they have cocktails every night? The whole Mad Men thing? The obedient wife pours her man a scotch when he walks through the door after a hard days work?

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This definitely wouldn’t work for us. For starters, Alan never sleeps in his shirt and tie, and we don’t even own a bed tray.

If you’ve followed me, you might remember that I’ve been on a quest to find my signature cocktail. I’ve wanted to fall in love with a mature or shall I say, old-fashioned cocktail that I could be proud to order and would actually enjoy. My college friends are so cool. We went to dinner a couple of weeks ago and they strolled up to the bar and ordered Manhattans. Impressive!

For the New Year I’ve decided to give up on my quest and accept that my love of good rye whiskey and vodka is enough to offer lots of cocktail options. I should mention that I tried to make the Sazerac my signature cocktail, but surprisingly most bartenders don’t know what it is. What’s up with that? It’s a classic!

I wish I could remember where I found this cocktail. It does fulfill the few requirements I have. Not too strong, not too many ingredients and not too complicated. If you don’t like orange flavor, don’t bother. It’s intensely orange and a bit on the sweeter side. A friend mentioned making it in a pitcher to serve for the holidays. Genius! This definitely would make a perfect last-minute cocktail to serve to your guests.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year!

Cheers!

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INGREDIENTS (Serves 1)

  • 1 1/2 ounces Orange Vodka
  • 1 ounce Rose’s Lime Juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • Orange Slices

Put all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled glass. Serve with a slice of orange. Delicious!

* The original recipe called for this to be enjoyed neat. I prefer it with a couple of ice cubes.

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