Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mint Limoncello Champagne Cocktail

Ringing in the New Year with a new drink:

Mint Limoncello Campagne Cocktail

½ cup fresh mint leaves
¼ cup limoncello
2 T sugar, plus more for dipping
lemon peel strips from 1 lemon
4 tsp fresh lemon juice plus lemon wedge
1 cup champagne

Place mint, limoncello, 2 T sugar and lemon strips in blender. Blend until mint is finely chopped, about 10 seconds. Strain into a jar. Refrigerate until midnight.

Run lemon wedge around rim of champagne flutes. Dip into sugar. Divide limoncello mixture between flutes. Top with champagne.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Dove for Dinner

We come to the end of 2011 and enjoyed a dinner of dove that were shot over the course of the year by my father.

To prepare, wash dove very clean and sprinkle with Creole seasoning. Melt 1 stick of butter in 1 cup of water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil and toss in dove. Steam for thirty minutes. Remove dove from pan. Add to broth 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1 lb of mushrooms, 1/2 cup of sherry. Serve as is or thicken with flour. We served the dove with a wild rice blend.

We had eight people to dinner, so we tripled the recipe. We also had to remind everyone to not bite down too hard--there is always the chance that there will be buckshot in the bird. At the end of the night, we just had over 30 dove carcasses to dispose of:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mama's Red Beans

When my Mama makes red beans and rice, she doesn't fool around!

Here is her recipe (the batch from the picture above was a doubling of this double recipe)

2 lb dried red kidney beans
8 quarts water
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 tsp minced garlic
4 bay leaves
4 tsp salt
4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried whole thyme
1 tsp ground red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried whole oregano
1 lb andouille sausage
1 lb bulk sausage (if you like hot red beans, use hot, otherwise use mild)
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Wash beans then place in a large pot. Cover with water 2 inches above beans and let soak overnight. Drain Beans and return to pot. Add 8 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion, celery, green bell pepper and garlic. Saute until tender. Stir sauted vegetables and spices into beans. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add additional water if necessary.

Bake sausages at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, drain well. stir sausages into bean mixture. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves and stir in chopped parsley. Serve over rice.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

I'm not usually a fan of using box cake mixes; at least not for their intended purpose. Here is a recipe for Red Velvet Crinkle cookies that start with a box of Red Velvet Cake mix.

1 Box Red Velvet Cake Mix
6 T unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp corn starch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter, cake mix, eggs & vanilla until fluffy & smooth.

In a shallow bowl, sift together 1/2 cup powdered sugar & 1/2 tsp. corn starch. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in the powdered sugar mixture. (If you run out of powdered sugar, sift together an additional 1/2 cup powdered sugar & 1/2 tsp. corn starch).

Place cookie dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, space them about 2 to 3 inches apart as the cookies spread out quite a bit.

Bake for 9 minutes exactly. The cookies will not look done, but they will set up more as they cool. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets for 1 minute and then place cookies on a cookie sheet to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ancora Pizzeria and Salumeria

Ancora Pizzeria and Salumeria is part of the Freret Street resurgence. Located just a block or so off Napoleon, they serve authentic Neapolitan pizzas. What does that mean? These pizza's are cooked in a wood fired pizza oven imported from Naples that gets up to 850 degrees and cooks the pizza in 45 to 80 seconds. With that fast of a bake, the toppings have to be minimal and crust super thin. That also means that every item must be at the peak of flavor. What is so good about Ancora is that they are.

We started with drinks (Charlotte had an adult root beer float and I had an Italian sidecar) and a meat plate with a mix of house-made cured meats. While I'm not a fan of headcheese, everything else on the board was delicious and almost too rich. I could have used a piece of bread with the slices but, as the pizza was coming, I just enjoyed the meat.

We ordered the Margherita pizza with tomato, fior di latte and basil. The tomato was bright, the cheese was in slices, so it didn't cover quite enough but was perfectly melted and the basil added a terrific flavor. I really enjoyed the crust--lightly chewy and puffed on the edges. Because the pizza's are so thin and only about 11 inches, had there been any more of us at the table, we would have needed to order a second pizza.

We had glasses of Italian wine with the meal--Charlotte with a rose and me with a Feudi di San Gregorio red. The wine list is set up with pairs for each pizza and her choice was good and the waiter steered me well on his recommendation.

We missed out on the chocolate dessert and ended up just getting the cookie plate. All right but nothing particularly noteworthy (although I'll skip the anise flavored one next time).

There weren't that many other folks in the place but there was a bit of ambient noise. It would probably be pretty loud on a busier night. The bartender and both waiters swung by the table regularly to check in and refill the water. Everyone was friendly and quick with suggestions, especially when we told them that we hadn't ever been in before.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Salu - small plates and wine bar

I was among the ladies who lunch today or, more accurately, lesbians who lunch. We went to Salu, the newest restaurant to take over the corner at Magazine and Pleasant Street.

I started with a very delicious margarita and then moved on to applewood smoked bacon wrapped dates. Frankly, the sauce was a little much and nearly hid the bacon but the marscapone cheese was a lovely touch. My lunch came with a Cesar salad and it was pretty good--grilling half a head of romaine gave it a slightly nutty flavor and the roasted garlic-anchovy vinaigrette was pretty tasty without an overpowering fishy taste.

For the entre, I had BBQ pulled pork. The corn fritters they came with had no flavor, so I had them bring a second loaf of fresh bread and I made myself a sandwich. I also had the patatas americanas (fried potatoes) with garlic aioli that were a highlight of the meal.

As I was out with good friends, I also ate off of all their plates. The seared tuna with papaya salsa was decent, the smoked ham and manchego croquettes had a delicious smokiness, and, unfortunately, the duck and manchego flautas with salsa fesca, smahed avocado and cumin creme fraiche were just a few too many flavors at once.

The wait staff was friendly and quick with refills and extra Splenda and patient as we waited for all the people in our party to join us. As we left, the floor manager asked about our meal and experience. With that sort of care, I believe that this place might have a future at this location.

I want to thank again my friend, Mickie, who bought my lunch as a celebration of my winning the Rainbow Awards for Debut Lesbian Novel. You rock!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011 Rainbow Awards: Best Lesbian Debut Novel

Taking a breather to talk about my other writing. I won Best Lesbian Debut Novel Rainbow Award for my romance novel, Unbroken Circle.


Mary Griggs - Unbroken Circle
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Bella Books; 1 edition (June 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594932433
ISBN-13: 978-1594932434
Bella Books: Unbroken Circle
Amazon: Unbroken Circle

Sallie Lee Hybart doesn’t see many strangers at her diner counter. Pennington, Alabama, is a town the interstate passed by, so newcomers are rare. But this one looks familiar. Janet Bouton has nothing and no one. Her life has been stripped down to the clothing on her back. Counting out her meager change to pay for a stick-to-the-ribs meal, she is hoping to escape the diner unrecognized. She shouldn’t have come back...but no place else on earth was familiar. An act of kindness sets a chain of events in motion and pulls Sallie Lee and Janet together, but the past has the power to tear them apart. There are still people in Pennington who remember Janet too well. Small town memories have had a lot of years to simmer, and love may not be the recipe for happiness. Mary Griggs’ debut romance novel unites a lost soul and a determined survivor to create a passionate story that readers will remember long after the final page.