Soujouk with Onions and Tomatoes

Soujouk with onions and tomatoes

Soujouk is a beef sausage common in the northern Middle Eastern countries from Armenia to Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia. 

It's traditionally served for breakfast with fried eggs, sliced thinly and heated up in a skillet.

I was making it for lunch, so I did it in a simple and also traditional style, with sauteed onions and tomatoes. It was really good with just those simple ingredients, and the sausage to season it all.

Boston Cocktail

Boston CocktailI don't know what makes this a Boston Cocktail. Most cocktails with Boston in the name include rum, but this one is gin and apricot brandy.

It's not a bad drink, but a lot depends on the apricot brandy. The best brandies out there, like Marie Brizard Apry, have too much flavor, so a 2:1 ratio works better. But the more common ones probably work fine at the original ratio. 

On the other hand, I made this when the New England Patriots were down 15-3 in the Super Bowl and they made up 9 points since then, so I do believe I'll have another! 

Rob Roy

A Rob Roy cocktailThis classic was created in 1894 for the premiere of an operetta of the same name, based loosely on the life of Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor. 

It's basically a Manhattan made with with Scotch.

The traditional garnish is two cherries pinned together, no doubt a reference to the romantic interest in the operetta.

This would never have been made with a fine single malt Scotch - Scotch whiskey was almost all blends in those days. I have good luck with the Famous Grouse.

A Superlative Birthday Dinner

Tournedo Rossini

There's a new French-style restaurant within walking distance of my home. It's called Mallebar Brasserie, and Jim the chef-owner is turning out some pretty fancy fare. Richmond and I tried it out a couple of weeks ago, and were impressed. 

I noticed that some of the menu items included back truffle in season, and there was seared foie gras, and among the steaks was a filet mignon. Those are the key components to the legendary Tournedos Rossini, which I have longed to try ever since I first read about it many years ago. I asked Jim if he could make that for a special dinner and he agreed.

Cherrystones and Oysters

Tournedos Rossini was created by the finest chefs of Paris sometime after 1829, when Gioachino Rossini retired from writing operas and lived almost 40 more years as a Parisian bon vivant. Rossini was a prolific composer, and a brilliant one; everyone knows the famous "Lone Ranger" bit of the overture to William Tell, and his Barber of Seville has been endearingly covered by Bugs Bunny. Gioachino became quite the gourmand, and he got to know all the best chefs in Paris society.

Widow's Kiss

Widow's Kiss cocktailThis is a merry widow, with ulterior motives!

This is a fascinating sweet cocktail of the type that may end the evening unexpectedly...

It's really rather too sweet for my tastes. I think it works best as an after-dinner drink.  

Cardones

Cardones gratin

This hard-to-find, visually-unappealing, finicky vegetable is worth the hunt and the longish preparation.

I had searched for cardoons for years every late fall/early winter, with no success. Albie's Produce in the North End and even Eataly in Boston' s Back Bay had failed me. 

Then a double-stroke of good luck brought me success! The produce manager at my local Stop & Shop acidentally got a shipment of cardoons from California, and I happened to be at the store on that morning.  

cardones, raw

I sort-of recognized this long-sought vegetable, but I wasn't sure. Fortunately they were labelled Cardones, the Italian name for the vegetable, so it was easy to connect the name. 

The raw vegetable is very bitter, but 30 minutes of boiling extracts most of the bitterness, leaving only a bracing aftertaste that complements a rich buttery or cheesy sauce.  

Alaska

Alaska Cocktail

 

Nobody knows why this is called Alaska, but it sure is tasty! 

The Alaska Cocktail is essentially a Martini with Yellow Chartreuse instead of Dry Vermouth. 

This makes it a very different and wonderful symphony of herbal flavors with a delightful color - all in all an exceptional cocktail experience! 

Yellow Chartreuse is more sweet than the green, so 2 dashes of Orange Bitters are an optional improvement.

 

 

Artillery

Artillery Cocktail

This is a potent little cocktail, being almost entirely gin!  

When I discovered Djinn Spirits' Henry Knox gin, I knew exactly which cocktail to try it in. In 1775, Henry managed the transportation of 60 tons of captured British artillery 300 miles from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston, where it was instrumental in forcing the British Evacuation. Knox ultimately became our first Secretary of War (now called Secretary of Defense).

I made this with the Henry Knox gin and with the Coastal Roots (of Portland) Aromatic Bitters; it was perfect!

Mrs Hale's Cranberry Sauce

 

Sarah Josepha Hale's Cranberry Sauce - 1857Sarah Josepha Hale was an amazing woman who pretty well invented the Thanksgiving holiday. I encourage you to read about her on Wikipedia.

This simple, attractive, and delicious version is superior to the familiar tinned variety in every way except convenience, and it's not so inconvenient to make, either.

The flavor is tart, sweet, rich, and complex. This is good enough to enjoy with many roasted or grilled meats at any time of year, and because it molds so well, it can ornament a fancy holiday table.

Sausages, Peppers, and Onions

Italian Sausages, Peppers, and OnionsThis is a classic outside of Fenway Park on game day and at countless other public and family events across the Bay State and New England. It's easy, cheap, and a great crowd-pleaser.

The secret to success here is the perfection of each ingredient. The sausages are the star, so they have to be great - cooked through and with crispy skins, the melted fat saved for the important work ahead. The onions and peppers work best cooked separately or serially. Red and green peppers are a great combination but you can do fine with all green peppers or with whatever your garden/CSA share gives you. A proper New England bun is great, but this works well on pasta too.  

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