Friday, November 30, 2012

Key Lime Martini

Ah, the weekend.  Time to relax a bit, and indulge a bit.  
How about a Key Lime Pie Martini?  

I had my first key lime pie martini at the Abaco Inn (Bahamas) earlier this month.  I promised I would share a recipe for this flavorful rich drink.
Ke Ke is a key lime flavored cream liqueur and "key" to making this martini.  Rimming the glass with crushed graham cracker gives an even more authentic taste to the drink.  Just rub a cut lemon around the rim of the glass and then dip the edge in the crumbs.
  • 1 1/2 oz Ke Ke key lime liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz vanilla vodka
  • 1/3 oz Rose's lime juice
  • 1/3 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz half 'n half 
Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain and pour into graham cracker rimmed glass.
A Key Lime Pie Martini is a rich, dessert-like drink.  It is something you sip, not gulp.  I prefer it as an after dinner treat.

A tray of these martini shots would be fun for a holiday party.  

Have a wonderful weekend and see you on Monday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chile-Lime Cashews

I've been testing new recipes for our annual holiday party.  After a few misses, I've got some hits.  This recipe for Chili-Lime Cashews is a winner.

I always serve spiced nuts at my party and I was looking for something new.  Often times spiced nuts include brown sugar or something to make them spicy-sweet.  This recipe is spicy without being "too hot".  The recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves as well as lime zest which is a nice balance with the dried chilies.  

This recipe is simple to put together.  Combine raw cashews with chiles, kaffir lime leaves, kosher salt and ground ancho chilles.
Kaffir lime leaves can be a bit hard to find.  I was able to purchase the dried leaves but if you can find the fresh leaves, do so.  Check Asia markets for the leaves.

A combination of melted butter and vegetable oil binds the spices to the nuts.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

When the nuts have cooled, toss them with some freshly grated lime zest to really wake up the flavor.

A simple, savory treat to nibble with a beer or glass of wine.

Makes 4 cups:
4 cups raw cashews
15 dried chiles de arbol
10 kaffir lime leaves, cut into 1/4" slices (if dry, crumbled)
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ancho chiles
2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Combine all ingredients except lime zest and toss to coat.  Spread nuts on rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally until cashews are evenly toasted, about 20 minutes.  Let nuts cool completely and then toss with lime zest.  Serve.  Nuts can be made 2 days ahead and stored in airtight container.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All That Glitters

The holidays are certainly one time of the year to bring out the bling.  Anything that glitters, glimmers, shines or shimmers is fair game.  But, a little goes a long way.  Use gold for a POP of sparkle, it will be more outstanding that way.  Here are a few of my picks.

All that

Ukala wool boots / Kate Spade glitter pumps / Diane von Furstenberg strappy heels / Jimmy Choo glitter pumps / TOMS black flat, $64 / Flat shoes / Kate Spade

All that glitters..home

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bespoke: Box of Awesome

Not long ago, a box was delivered to the house.  

I didn't recognize the box as anything I had ordered.

The writing on the box called it "Box of Awesome".  I opened the box and it was awesome.  Had someone sent us a gift?  Hubby came home and said, "Oh, I subscribed to this.  Saw it in Details magazine.  The Bespoke Post is a men's subscription service.  Each month a "box of awesome" arrives.  The value of the box is around $70 but the price is $45...if you decide to keep the box.  You may return that month's selections if it is not something that interests you.

The selections are not sample sizes but full-sized and theme based.  This box was a "spread worthy of a king".

The foundation was a slate cheese board.  

Oil and vinegar imported from Italy.

A pork sausage.

Spanish smoked okra.

A sweet treat of Burbon Brittle. 
 A gift card for the online store, was also included toward the purchase of an artisanal spirit.  Add a bottle of red and some good bread and you are ready for some good eating.

  • Last month, the box contained 6 pairs of very cool, colorful, men's socks. Also included were two very significant gift cards for men's haberdashery.
  • The theme next month is cocktails.
If you are interested in receiving a "box of awesome" or sending the subscription as a gift to someone, check it out by clicking here.  This may just be the solution for that guy that is impossible to buy for.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings

Welcome back from the holiday weekend.  
I hope your Thanksgiving was "food and fun filled" as well as relaxing.  
After a hectic week and a full day of cooking on Thursday, I took great delight in purging the condo of all autumnal decor on Friday.  This was followed by a thorough cleaning and then setting the holiday mood with lights and trimmings.
Winters are quite gray here in Michigan and I decided to go with lights.  Rather than attaching lighted garland to the railing, I spread the greenery along the edge of the loft under the rail.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  
Feels cozy inside...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Warm Chocolate Tarts

Chances are, pumpkin pie will be served at most thanksgiving dinners.  Chances are also good that half of the guests don’t like pumpkin.  An alternative is needed.  Tradition would probably dictate apple or pecan pie but how about chocolate?  Certainly chocolate is not your typical Thanksgiving dessert alternative but undeniably a tempting choice.  
image  a borrowed image since I have not baked mine yet
I am offering a decadent, do-ahead, crowd-pleasing, award winning, EASY chocolate dessert.  You may know warm chocolate tarts as molten chocolate cake or lava cake.  No matter what you call it, this dessert is exceptional.  

Mousse like consistency...this is ready for the freezer
I made this dessert on Saturday and put the ramekins of unbaked batter into the freezer where it will remain until 22 minutes prior to serving.  You see, the trick to the molten cake center is to take the frozen ramekins straight from the freezer to the preheated oven and baking the frozen batter just until the edges are set.  Then the half baked cakes are allowed to set on the counter for just 10 minutes before being inverted onto individual plates for serving.  
borrowed image
A scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream enhances the dark, rich tarts and a beautiful berry or two completes the visual seduction.

So where is my photo of the completed dessert to tempt you?  Well you see, soon after I popped my ramekins into the freezer I began to enter the recipe into a blog draft for future posting.  As I finished typing the recipe I realized that I forgot to add the baking powder.  So, I defrosted the individual ramekins, scooped out the batter, got out my mixer and then added the forgotten ingredient.  Back into the little cups and into the freezer where they are awaiting their bake-off Thanksgiving Day. I had to catch a plane for Philadelphia and didn't have time to bake one of my tarts to show you.   

Here is the recipe.  Be sure to take your time beating the ingredients until they reach mousse consistency.  AND don't forget the baking powder.

4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Lightly butter 6, 1 cup souffle dishes/ramekins.  Melt both chocolates in top of double boiler over barely simmering water stirring until smooth.  Add butter and sugar and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves.  Transfer to large bowl.  Add eggs, then flour, cocoa and baking powder.  Using electric mixer, beat until mixture thickens to mousse consistency, about 8 minutes.  Divide mixture among prepared dishes.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.  Peel plastic off frozen dishes.  Bake until edges are set and centers are still moist and shiny, about 11 minutes.  do not over bake.  Cool exactly 10 minutes and then invert 1 dessert onto each plate.  Serve warm with ice cream, or whipped cream if desired.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  
Shop 'til you drop on Friday and I'll see you on Monday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wild Rice Stuffing with Pearl Onions, Dried Cherries and Apricots

I would love nothing more than to show you a beautifully styled photo of this great side dish for Thanksgiving.  BUT, I am in Philadelphia helping my daughter and son-in-law move into a new house and I won't be making this until Thanksgiving day.  I did want to share this with you because it is a really good dish and so different from potatoes, bread stuffing, sweet potato casserole and all the other usual Thanksgiving side dishes.  

The recipe is one I've used for years from Bon Appetit 1998.  It is now on Epicurious and you can view it here.  The recipe calls for a combination of wild and white rice but I've been very happy with this gourmet blend from Lundberg.  The rice is cooked in broth with thyme.

While the rice cooks, blanched and peeled pearl onions are saut├ęd in butter.  

Just before removing the rice from the heat, chopped dried apricots, dried cherries and raisins are to the mixture and simmered for 3 minutes.  The rice is then removed from the heat and butter and the onions are added along with toasted pecans.

The rice stuffing can be cooked inside the turkey or in a baking dish.  
My lactose intolerant friend will be able to eat this dish as butter does not bother her.  

I love this dish as a Thanksgiving leftover too.  AND it is equally delicious with pork, especially as a stuffing with Crown Roast of Pork.  

Let me know if you give it a try.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Food: Appetizer

My computer is back after having the trackpad replaced.  It is great to be connected and back to Spiral Style.  The one result of the computer issues is that my photos were deleted with the trash.  Ouch!!  I'm hoping to restore the photos that I've backed up with my external harddrive with some help from the good people at the Apple store, One-on-One staff.

Meanwhile, this is Thanksgiving week and the focus is thankfulness, family and food...then black Friday.  I'm going to concentrate on food and today I'd like to share an appetizer idea.
I saw this recipe in the NY Times this past week.  The recipe is from Jean-Georges Vongerichten for Squash on Toast.
Call these toasts or crostini or bruschetta, the idea is that toasted bread is the vehicle for some lovely roasted squash and caramelized onions topping a layer of ricotta.  The addition of cider vinegar and maple syrup to the onion mixture evokes autumnal flavors.
Thin slices of squash are oven roasted with red pepper flakes while sliced onions are sauteed stove top.  When the onions are are sufficiently caramelized, the syrup and vinegar are added to achieve a "jammy" consistency. 
The squash and onions are then simply mashed together with a fork.
Toast some baguette slices.  The suggested method is in a pan with olive oil.  You could simply toast the bread or grill it without the addition of oil.
Spread some really good fresh ricotta on the toast and then top with the squash mixture.  If you are ambitious, make your own ricotta using the instructions here.   
I used thyme leaves as a garnish rather than the suggested mint.  
I LOVED this recipe.  The texture of the squash and onions are complimented by the smooth ricotta and crunchy bread and the flavors evoke autumn.  These toasts are a great appetizer but would be equally at home as an accompaniment to a soup or salad.  
I highly recommend this recipe.  It is worth the effort.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings

Welcome back from what I hope was a deliciously relaxing weekend.

I'm back from the Bahamas and I must say that the sun and 70 degree temperatures in Michigan on Sunday made me feel if I was still on vacation.  Upon entering the US at the Miami airport I was greeted by one of the first harbingers of the holiday season...the festive Starbucks cup.  The next nod to the holidays was seeing Christmas decorations lit in my neighborhood!!!  So, I decided to hang up the fake, lighted, garland on my deck while it was warm rather than in freezing my fingers off and doing it in the snow later on.  No, it is not plugged in nor adorned with bows as of yet.

Mossimo fur scarf $19.99
I took a quick trip to Target Sunday afternoon for milk and toothpaste and came home with this!  This little fur scarf has a loop to pull the opposite end of the scarf through to make a great neck warmer.  Sure, it is fake but it feels real soft, and warm.  

A cute way to enhance a coat or sweater for just $20!
So what is on your "to do" list this week?  I'm planning to order my Christmas party invitations and plan the menu for the party.  I'll be trying some new recipes that I'll share with you too.

Have a great week, no matter what you do.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Take Time

Take time...that's what I did this past week and it was wonderful.  I'm rested and relaxed and ready to get back to normal life and work.

The holidays are fast approaching and life will get even more crazy.  Take some time to breathe and relax.  Maybe make out a plan to accomplish your tasks early so you can really enjoy the meaning of the holidays and enjoy family, friends and yourself.  Have a a wonderful weekend. See you on Monday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Abaco Inn, Bahamas

This view of the Sea of Abaco makes the Abaco Inn a very special place to have a drink and view the sunset.

Tonight marked the reopening of the Abaco Inn under new management.  

I've been watching the progress of the remodeling of the Inn and its surrounding buildings.

A large group of Elbow Cay residents attended the opening of the bar on Wednesday evening.  Yes, it was very windy!

The motto of the Abaco Inn is: "Tan your toes in the Abacos"

Thursday, the restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Friday is the grand opening with a live band.  Daphne, the bartender, has promised to share with me (and of course I'll share with you) the recipe for key lime martinis.
Until then, enjoy your day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Spoon Sized

Presentation is everything and I'm always looking for an imaginative way to serve food for a party.  Bite sized portions on spoons are one way to do just that.

Purchasing dozens of Chinese porcelain spoons can be costly.  

Individual bites on bamboo spoons is a fresh take on the Chinese-style soup spoons.

A package of 25 spoons is $8.99
The spoons are disposable or wash and use again.


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