Thursday, June 28, 2007

Grad Club Sangria

Another tried-and-true Grad Club summer drink.

1 bottle dry red wine (don’t use plonk you wouldn’t normally drink)
4 shots Grand Marnier or any other orange liqueur like Triple Sec or Cointreau
2 oranges, segmented
1 lemon, segmented
1 lime, segmented
1 Cup juice or pop (apple, pineapple or orange juice, or a clear pop like 7-Up, ginger ale or Sprite)
A couple spoonfuls of sugar (optional - taste test before you drink)
Mint sprigs

Mix everything together in a jug and let sit for at least 24 hours, although you can let it sit for days if you can resist it! At the Grad Club we used to leave it for up to 5 days. Play around to see what combos you like best.

Bottoms up!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


My favourite summer cocktail is the mojito. I used to make them at the Grad Club when I was a bartender. The ingredients were a scoop of ice, a shot of white rum, the juice of half a lime, a handful of mint leaves and a spoonful of sugar. We would blitz the whole lot together in a blender then pour it slushy-style into an icing-sugar rimmed martini glass. It was really perfect!

Tonight S and I made our own version, and instead of straight sugar I made a cardamom-infused simple syrup.

Cardamom-infused simple syrup
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup sugar
sprinkle of ground cardamom
Combine ingredients and stir until sugar has dissolved. Tonight I let it cool on the stove top and then used it, but ideally it should be cooled in the fridge.

1 shot (or however much you fancy) white rum
7-8 torn mint leaves
4 tsp cardamom simple syrup OR 2 tsp sugar
juice of one lime
club soda
Combine everything and top up with club soda.

I think you could add more cardamom syrup than 4 tsp, as we taste tested both versions and didn't taste much a difference. I haven't yet figured out how to get the mint leaves to stay at the bottom of the glass. Maybe I should just keep them on the stalk and just submerge that. Does anyone know?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

History Bites: Salt

Salt on Flickr by beFOODled.

I read the other day that the word salt has its roots in Ancient Rome. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt, hence the word salary, from the Roman salaria. The word salt is also derived from this term. Salt was one of the hot commodities of the ancient world because it was used as a preservative, and in those days food often travelled for a long long time over large distances. It's difficult to imagine being paid a mere seasoning for all my hard work. As much as I love the stuff, let's face it: salt is cheap and omnipresent, as demonstrated by people like me who spill it without a second thought. But if the Ancient Romans could see us tossing it around liberally as we do today, I wonder what they would think...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Saturday Night Befoodies: Mexican Night

Buen provecho! Last weekend we attended what I hope will be a long-lasting tradition. It was the first potluck dinner of the Saturday Night Befoodies (my temporary name for us). S and I have found great friends who love to cook and eat as much as we do. Every month we are going to get together and have an international feast. For our first time, we all paid homage to Mexican food.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bean hosted this time. They made a beautiful mole, a dish which Squeaky discovered at the Tulip Festival and has raved about ever since. Here's a photo of the mole, simmering away.
Would you believe the sauce is made with chocolate and three kinds of roasted chili peppers? An unlikely combination, unless one already knows the secrets of Mexican food or has watched Juliette Binoche in Chocolat. There's also bread and tortillas in it. It tasted as good as it sounds. Peanut Butter is going to e-mail me the link to this recipe so stay tuned. Squeaky and Calimocho brought some delicious guacamole and tons of enchiladas, and S and I brought a salsa salad and a Spanish paella.

Before we celebrated Mexico with its food, PB and J served a traditional drink called Mexican Flag.
Mexican Flag
shot 1: sangrita (tomato juice, orange juice, worcestershire, tobasco sauce, lime juice)
shot 2: tequila
shot 3: freshly squeezed lime juice.
Take a sip of each shot and let them blend in your mouth before swallowing. It's so much nicer than the usual salt and lime routine.

Here's a pic of the paella, and also a shot of PB and J's dining room that is so nice that I had to photograph it, too:

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Tamarind Fish Curry

Last Sunday, Calimocho and Squeaky had us over for an awesome Kashmiri meal. We were about to invite them over for tamarind fish curry, but they beat us to it. So we compromised and we went over Sunday (aren't we generous?) and they came for curry on Tuesday.

This salmon curry recipe uses tamarind, the fruit of a tropical tree from Africa. It has a very light and subtle citrus flavour, kind of like lemongrass. I used a tamarind brick for this recipe that I found at an Asian grocery store. You need to break off a piece, let it sit in a bit of hot water, and then press it through a sieve to get the pulp, but leave the fibres and seeds behind. Kind of messy and a bit of a hassle. But Calimocho and Squeaky have recently bought me a jar of tamarind pulp, pre-seived and deseeded - thanks guys!

Tamarind Fish Curry
From Jill Dupleix's Good Cooking: The New Essentials.

700 g skinned salmon fillets
sea salt

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cm knob ginger, grated

1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 big red chili, chopped

1 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 Tbsp tomato puree
400 mL coconut milk
1 tsp sugar
torn coriander leaves as garnish

Cut the salmon into bite-sized chunks and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

Fry the onion in a bit of oil until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute. Add the spices and the chili, stirring well. Add the tamarind, tomato puree, coconut milk, 200 ml of water, 1/2 tsp salt and the sugar, and heat gently while stirring. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Taste for tamarind and chili.

Add the fish and simmer for another 5 minutes. Scatter with the coriander and serve with rice.

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