Take me to Margaritaville

No, I’m not a Jimmy Buffet¬†fan, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the whole¬†song. I just thought this would be a catchy title. It was all about drawing you into my bloggy web.

Living in Houston means, among other things, that you live in Tex-Mex country. It also means sweltering heat 9 months out of the year. Luckily, those 2 little facts make a Margarita a necessity. Simple as that. Margaritas are how we quench our thirst and cool down from the heat in Houston.

You know I like my cocktails, so I’ve dubbed myself something of a Margarita connoisseur. I’ve had good ritas and awful ones. Sometimes they taste great, but don’t have a punch, while others are all punch with absolutely no flavor. Personally, I like mine to be tart and sweet and punchy. Frozen with salt. That’s what I’m talking about.

Some places, most of them, really, will offer the top shelf margaritas. I say go for the house Margarita first, if that’s not good, don’t waste your time or money¬†on the rest. Top shelf ingredients are supposed to make a basic better, but if the basic recipe sucks…, you catch my drift.

Here I’m sharing my ‘recipe’ for basic Margaritas. No fancy ingredients, but this is a very good ‘rita. So if you feel you must use top-shelf liquors instead of some Sauza Gold and Triple Sec, you can do so without any reservations, but don’t skimp on the fresh fruit juices.

Margarita YAY YAY!

Orange juice, 1/2 oz
Lime juice, 1 1/2 oz
Lemon juice, 1/2 oz
Tequila (I use Sauza Gold), 2 oz
Triple Sec, 1 oz
Sugar, to taste (2 tbsps)
Ice
Coarse salt for the rim

This is how it goes, for 2 large glasses: Mix the juices and liquors with sugar, until it dissolves. Put it into the blender with ice and crush.

Rim the glass with a lime wedge, then dip it into the salt. Pour the frozen goodness into the glass, drop a straw in it, and guzzle it down. How could you resist? See that straw beckoning for you?

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

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Tart, tart, limey tart

There I was, mid-Saturday morning and I was watching Ina Garten on the Food Network. She was making desserts. She was making me hungry. As luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend a little get-together that evening and I don’t like showing up empty-handed. The perfect excuse to make that yummy looking lime tart. Yeah, because I needed an excuse.

I think I was drawn to it because it reminded me of a lemon pie my sis would make when we were growing up. Much like Ina’s, my sister’s pie was topped¬†with meringue. I still don’t love meringue. I don’t enjoy the consistency of it. Or the fact that the sugar starts sweating syrupy beads after you put it in the fridge.

The other similarity was a pie crust, except Ina used a sweet pastry. I saw her mix and knead and refrigerate and roll the dough. It wasn’t happening. More work than I wanted to do on a lazy¬†Saturday mid-morning. So, I tweaked and it was a hit. Instead of Ina’s involved pastry, I used the recipe for my favorite sweet crust. I suggest making the filling first, that will allow it to cool before filling the tart shell.

Lime Tart

Crust:
1 stick butter
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup flour

If your butter is soft enough, you can mix this by hand, I ended up putting all of it in the mixer. Combine the butter with confectioners’ sugar, then add flour; mix well. Pat out on tart pan, it may be kind of thin, but don’t worry, it will work out.

Once you’ve spread the dough all the way¬†up the sides of the pan, cut out a piece of foil paper and rub with butter or a bit of oil. Press the greased foil onto¬†the crust, then fill it with baking beads or beans. This is called blind baking; it will prevent the crust from bubbling up because¬†there isn’t filling in it. ¬†Bake at 350¬į for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the foil, prick with a fork a few times and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Lime filling:
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs
3 extra-large egg yolks
2 tbsp finely grated lime zest (4-6 limes)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp cornstarch

In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it binds together–about 3-4 minutes (I used the egg beater of my Kitchen Aid). Slowly add the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and then add the lime zest, lime juice, salt, almond extract and cornstarch. Don’t worry, if it looks curdled, but make sure you’re using a spatula to release any bits that are not picked up by the mixer’s beater.

Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until thick, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When it begins to thicken, switch to a wire whisk and cook over low heat for a minute or two, whisking constantly. Don’t allow it to boil!¬† Pour into a bowl, place plastic wrap directly over the filling¬†and cool to room temperature.

Yield: 3 cups

Once the shell and filling have cooled, pour the filling into the tart shell. Top with whipped cream and strawberry coulis, if desired.

For whipped cream: Add 3/4 cp of chilled¬†heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to your mixer’s bowl. Whip at medium high speed and slowly add 3 tbsp white sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Spread this whipped cream over the top of the filling.

After I covered it with cream, poured about 3/4 cp of strawberry coulis into a baggie, snipped the tip and piped it over the cream in a circular pattern.

Then I used a toothpick to drag the coulis through the cream. I realized I should’ve stayed closer to the surface, I seem to have pushed the toothpick a bit too deep.

It was still pretty. See?

Bebida brasileira (Brazilian drink)

Dana, I hope this is ok with you, but I’m sharing this recipe. I was introduced to Caipirihnas on a visit to NYC a few years back. There’s this little lounge/dive/bar called Baraza somewhere in the East village. It’s¬†one of those dark, sultry, hot and¬†bothered,¬†jammin’ kinda places. Love it!¬†That’s where I had my first one¬†of these. Then¬†my dear Swinda taught me how to make¬†’em. YUM!

This is Dana’s recipe, with some commentary by me. Say thank you, everyone.

Caipirinha (k-eye-per-reen-yah) is made with Cacha√ßa (kashasah) Brazil’s version of moonshine ; a liquor¬†distilled from fermented sugarcane.

Ingredients
1 lime
2 oz Cachaça
3 tsps sugar, or to taste
Club soda (Seltzer)
Ice

First, prepare the limes: rinse and dry the lime. Then remove the thicker rind top and bottom ends and any unsightly blemishes.

¬†Half the limes with a knife and cut a “V” groove to remove the center pithy part from each half.

Slice each lime half into thirds, then half those pieces.

Place lime pieces in glass and add sugar. Muddle (what a great word!)
Muddle, grind, pulverize, mash those lime pieces right in the glass with a “mashing stick”.

Add the cachaça and fill the glass with ice. Top it off with the fizzy water, stir and enjoy! 

Bendy straw and all!

Cocktail Hour

Adult beverages. They rock. They’re necessary. And I’ve been known to enjoy them. Often. Here’s another concoction I put together. Mind you, it may be¬†an official drink, it may have been around for years, but I’m not aware of it. And, frankly, it’s alcohol, who cares who made it first, right?

I’m going to call it… Orange Breeze and it goes a little something like this:

Orange Breeze
1 oz lime juice
2 oz orange juice
1 to 1-1/2 oz Vodka
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
2-3 oz ginger ale
Ice
In a highball glass, mix the first 4 ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Fill the glass with ice and top off with ginger ale.

Bottoms up!

I like red

I wanted a festive looking cocktail to serve to my fam-friends on Thursday. I wanted something red and tart, sweet and refreshing. This is what I came up with. I’m calling it a Cranberry Cooler. I served it as punch for Thanksgiving dinner, but I’m giving you measurements for a couple of tumblers.

First I made some cranberry infused simple syrup by combining 1 cp fresh cranberries, 2 cps sugar, 2 cps water and the peel of 1/2 orange (optional). Bring this to a boil until the berries get puffy, then strain mashing the berries.

Cranberry Cooler
3 tbsp Cranberry syrup
2 oz white rum
1 oz triple sec
1 oz orange juice
Juice of 1 lime

Mix all the ingredients and pour into 2 tumblers filled with ice. Top it off with diet ginger ale or sparkling water.

Oh yeah!