ORby rsiv with
The US was facing Cuba in the Gold Cup, so I thought we’d have a Cuba themed night. I decided to make Cuban pork marinated in mojo, moros y cristianos with sofrito base, and chorizo. Cuban food isn’t bland, but it isn’t spicy. Since I like bold food, I decided to go heavy on smoke flavor. I broke out the smoking gun, and used Jamaican pimento wood (because I like it, but also because Jamaica is fairly close to Cuba). I smoked the pork and chorizo, but then decided to smoke some sugar and limes as well for the mojitos.I marinated the pork and chorizo in smoke by adding smoke to a ziplock, and letting it sit for about five minutes. The result was fairly subtle, so if you really like smoke, maybe let them sit in smoke a bit longer.
We also came across the first US TV show to be filed entirely in Cuba. Its pretty good, and if you’re interested in Cuba and/or classic cars, I highly recommend it.
Always use more butter than the recipe calls for…
So I’d never caramelized sugar before… The Goya box said not to stir the sugar. I think this is a trick for the uninitiated gringo. I burned the crap out of the sugar the first go around. Then I got on google and decided to try again with vigorous stirring. It worked out much better with lots of stirring on slightly lower heat.
Here is the difference between the two methods:
When making cocktails, one must use superfine sugar. If you’re making simple syrup, or warm cocktails, any sugar will dissolve, but if you’re trying to incorporate sugar into a cold or room-temp solution, only superfine will do.
Being an American, Cuban rum is hard to come by. White Cuban rum is even more rare. I didn’t have any, but I do have a white rum that I really highly recommend. Cruzan aged white is what all white rum should aspire to be. Its soft on the palate, delicious, and very mixable. I believe its aged 14 months which takes the edge off it, and makes it perfect for cocktails. The price point is also very agreeable.
For a mojito you also need mint. Store bought mint is OK, but go on the ol’ interwebs and get you some Kentucky Colonel mint. Its easy to grow, and you won’t regret it.
I used some coconut soda and shaved coconut to make HB a coconut mojito. I went traditional, and just had rum, smoked lime, smoked sugar, kentucky colonel mint, and some club soda/sparkling water.
The pork was on about ten minutes and was about an inch thick. This gave the chorizo plenty of time, and you could see the juices boiling in the casings.
The food was spectacular, and it was time for some soccer.
My second attempt at the flan worked out great. I added some bourbon to the mix for flavor (maybe two ounces), and would definitely recommend that you do the same.
After the match, I was still in a Cuban mood, so I lit an Upmann Magnum 46, and poured a little liquid flan. The H Upmann brought back memories of Havana. The draw was a little tight (the Mag 46 is build like a tank and won’t go out on you), but the flavor was intense. I got cedar, buttered toast, and a hint of salt and sweet hay. There was definitely that je ne sais quoi one gets from a puro habano. Perhaps best, there was none of the hot white pepper taste one gets from non-cuban cigars of milder-medium body. Its probably obvious that this cigar was on, and I really enjoyed it. I kicked back with a playlist that can be found here, as well as my inspiration for the evening in general.
by rsiv with
On a misty Friday, we loaded up the truck and rode down to Pemdenwall to set up EF’s stuff early so I could make my tee time.
No one in our foursome played well, but there were beers, brown, cigars, and loaded fries. A good time was had by all.
You can take the man out of the landscaping game….
After an interesting evening, I went out for some early morning fishing. It was beautiful and peaceful on the lake, and I managed to land a fish. It was a great, and American way, to kick-off the 4th.
Winn-Dixie’s breakfast, as always, was delicious and filling.
As the rest of the guests arrived, it was pool time.
Did LB or Harvey win the staring contest?
Chad and Brammer held court down on the pong side of the pool, but Bolt and I never got a chance to challenge them…
I think this was the most food, and the most guests we’ve ever had. I’d bet 40-50 people rolled through. It was really cool to see the old group all together (with all the new little ones) and having a great time. It was really awesome of Pam-ela and Winn-Dixie to host everyone (and do all the shopping, planning, set-up, cooking, cleaning, and etc.).
The force is strong with this one…
Instead of Bourbon, I decided to mix it up brown sauce wise. The Bernheim was good, but a little hotter than I expected. Still, it was nice to try something new.
The first leader I’ve ever used. It landed me several fish. It was sad to see it go.
The Captain and I took a paddleboat out for a romantic fishing expedition. Unfortunately, we forgot to check our vessel to make sure it was ship-shape, and ran into rudder problems on the water. Several wide arcs later, we made it back to land.
That evening I lit up a fine cigar, and The Captain invented a new beer pong game when Bolt demanded a triangle despite having four cups left, and Pam-ela named it Niagara. Kinky Koleen and I also cemented our names in Niagara history by participating in the first game and determining the rules.
The next morning WinnDixie made my favorite breakfast, and I got to enjoy the rare luxury of the first spoonful of a fresh jelly.
After some more time on the water, I fixed some Palomas and lit a cigar.
WinnDixie boiled some gizzards for a couple hours, and then panko breaded them and fried them. OMG delicious and tender. After that he also made wings. It was decadent.
Another great 4th is in the books, and I’m already looking forward to Labor Day.by rsiv with
I was missing the beach today, and thinking back to a trip to the OBX I took almost a decade ago. My buddy RP made some ceviche and it was delicious. I realized I’d never tried to make ceviche so I decided to give it a shot. After googling a few recipes, I decided on a general game plan. To make ceviche, you basically get about a half cup of citrus juice per pound of seafood, and marinate it for about 20 minutes. I decided to use swordfish, scallops, and shrimp. I broke out a chef’s knife I got for xmas, and cut the seafood into small chunks. Instead of cutting up onion and tomato, I found some fresh pico de gallo at the grocery store. It had cilantro in it already, but I bought extra because I’m a fan. For heat, I went with seranno peppers. I sliced them as thinly as possible.
The interwebs told me to marinate/cook the seafood in the citrus for 20 minutes, but to add the rest of the ingredients right before serving, so that they don’t get mushy or let their colors run. I juiced about 8 limes per pound of seafood, and a lemon and half grapefruit as well just to give it a little something extra. The grapefruit reminded me of a Papa Doble (recipe found here), so I decided to do a little riff on that drink with my ceviche. I added a little marachino liqueur (a little goes a long way). After 20 minutes, I drained most of the citrus juice, combined the rest of the ingredients, added some pink sea salt and pepper, and we were in business.
Despite having the ingredients to make a Papa Doble, I decided to try a cocktail I saw on twitter instead. The Paloma turned out great, and is definitely a good alternative to a margarita.
The ceviche turned out great. My car read 101 degrees today, so a light refreshing meal was exactly what we wanted. I’ll definitely be adding ceviche to my repertoire. All and all it took me about an hour to prepare everything. Longer than the 10 minutes it takes me to grill a steak and put dressing on a salad, but worth it when you have the time. Crack a pacifico, whip up a paloma, or make one of Hemingway’s favorite drinks, and give it a try…by rsiv with
We got back from our WV trip on Friday. I still had the fishing bug, and HB and LB wanted some exercise, so the family headed over to Holmes Run. A buddy had told me that he’d seen browns at Holmes Run about 10 days previous to our visit, so I thought there might be a few trout left in the warming water.
I walked down to the creek at the first access point and saw plenty of lines stuck in the trees, so I figured I must be in the right place. I did get a bite, but I wasn’t quick to set the hook. I spent about 20 minutes here before moving on down the creek.
I tied on a fly from my Big Y Fly Company 10 best trout flies selection. It wasn’t getting down far enough on my floating line, so I added a small split shot to my line about a foot over the fly. I also was using a thingamabobber strike indicator from orvis. I could see the fly in the good sunlight, but in the shade I had to rely on the indicator. At about the third creek crossing on the trail, I cast out to a dark hole a few times (on HB’s suggestion), and after a few casts and nibbles by smaller fish, I hooked up. HB yelled, “Fish on!” I reeled in a small, non-trout but unknown, fish. We didn’t manage to get a good picture of it, as I was trying to get it back in the water as fast as possible, but you can tell from the color and shape that its no trout.
A few minutes later, I hooked up again near the same hole. This time the fish looked much more like a trout, though it was only about 4 or 5 inches long. I’m not confident it was a trout, and again I didn’t get a great picture.
I hooked one more fish, but it threw the hook before I could reel it all the way in. Then I saw a monster. A 12 inch (minimum) brown trout, cruising upstream. In my excitement, I slipped off the rock I was standing on and got snagged in a tree. By the time I got the line free, he was gone. Unfortunately, its just about the very tail end of the stocked trouts’ lives in Holmes Run since the water is getting so warm. I doubt I’ll have another chance at him.
Since its been so warm, I was prepared to call this a scouting trip and expected to catch no fish at all. As it turns out, I finally caught some fish on a wet fly, and even successfully used weight and a strike indicator. I’m not sure I’m ready to call myself a fly fishermen yet, but I’ve got caught the fever, and I’m getting closer.
After our fishing excursion, we stopped in at Public House No. 7 to catch Barca play Juventus.
EF and I were on pins and needles, but Barca pulled off a definitive win.
That evening LeBeef made some fancy cocktails and we had salmon on the grill. We almost didn’t go out because the forecast wasn’t great, but that just goes to show you that without risk there is no reward.by rsiv with
We left la ragazza grassa with nana, and headed to DC. Jodi got just some tickets for the white house garden tour.
It was a very spring time, with very fall weather. I’d been on a white hour tour before, but I’d never seen the gardens.
We saw the Andrew Jackson magnolia.
Bees on Beaze.
HB found some dogwoods that Hilary may be back for.
After the tour, we headed across the way to the Willard.
We enjoyed a round of Cherry Jubilee Mint Juleps (special for the Cherry Blossom Festival). It was a great time, and thanks again to Jodi for scoring us those tickets.by rsiv with
I’ve made some really good food the last couple of days. The first was last week when I realized we had a lot of hummus and tzatziki leftover. I instacarted some ground lamb, feta, and salad. I pan fried the lamb burgers with some oregano, feta, and herbs de provence mixed in. Then I just put some baby kale in champagne vinaigrette on the plate with the leftover dips, and we were in business. I’ll have to remember this recipe. Its easy, fast, and delicious. Then FJ took me to pick up the M3 at Martin Motorsports. Gary has been taking care of my M3 for over a decade, and he is the best in the area. He has done everything from oil changes to transmission replacements for me. I cannot say enough good things about Gary or Martin Motorsports.
I enjoyed a small success in working from home some this week.
On Thursday, Lemuel and Caroline came in to town. Caroline was headed out to Morocco with LeBeef. Lemuel gave her a ride and then picked up a motorcycle in Charlottesville. We had dinner at Gypsy Soul.
The food was decadent, and everyone had a great time. EF was particularly good that night. She was all smiles and hardly a peep.
The fried chicken, steak, and mac and cheese were standouts. The chicken and dumplings were pretty good as well, and I’d say my catfish rounded out the bottom, despite also being quite good.
Friday, we started on a walk to Mad Fox, but a delicious scent of curry wafted through the air, and like a siren, it pulled us off course and to its door.
I ordered the Junglee Laal Maas. The waiter asked if I liked spicy food, as its a very spicy dish, but before I could answer, HB interjected that not only did I like spicy food, we were insulted that they asked, and that they should try to serve me something too spicy just too see how futile it would be (or something to that effect). I was then served the spiciest dish I’ve ever consumed. I felt dizzy while eating it.
But it was so delicious, I even had the leftovers the next day…
…but that was a terrible mistake. I tried to preempt the inevitable by taking some peptos, but I learned my lesson about trying to play god with my bowels. Nature must take its course and some things are not meant to stay in the body. My tum was not right for a long time, and I would get woozy off even one beer. Something was not right. I feel OK today (5 days later), but its taken me that long to feel right. Moral of story (HB), don’t taunt the waiter when he asks if you can handle India spicy.
Later that week I made some chicken and waffle sliders with some WV apple sauce for breakfast.
Since it was a nice day, I made some Barbados Rum Punch, and we got some salteñas and fried yucca for lunch. For the rum punch, use mount gay eclipse (or at the very least, something aged), and freshly ground nutmeg.
Then we did a little porch sitting with a glass of mount gay eclipse and a bolivar. I’ve been loving this spring weather.
On Saturday, we went to the farmers market and got some crabcakes for lunch.
Then I put my germinated tobacco seeds in plugs. I’ll post more about my tobacco crop later on, or search my archives about last year’s harvest.
On Easter Sunday, FJ and I went to Jefferson to get a quick 9 in (yes I ended that in a preposition, deal). Sunderland came off with a big win, 3 points, and hopefully, a better chance of not getting relegated.
With LeBeef out of town, we still decided to do a family Easter dinner. I had an irreverent idea/good recipe I thought would work with rabbit, so I went for it. I quartered the rabbits the night before, and put them in a brine of salt water (1/4th cup salt, half cup water or so), bourbon, and freshly chopped rosemary. After golf, I got the smoker going (but you could also do them on the grill).
I used FJ’s trusty blowpoke to regulate the temp.
It smelled delicious.
A while back, I found a different kind of rib recipe. Its basically just balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and rosemary. It works really well with pork, but I had a hunch it would also work well with smoked rabbit. I never follow a recipe exactly, but I did use the same ingredients. I used a different brine/marinade overnight, and then since there is a lot of sugar in the sauce, I only mopped the rabbit about an hour or so before it was done, and then added some extra sauce when I took it off. Otherwise, the sugar in the sauce might burn on you (especially if grilling it at a higher temp).
While we waited, I enjoyed the weather with a few beers. If you aren’t up on this Innis & Gunn (thanks CK and Ryan), you don’t know what you’re missing.
LeBeef facetimed us from Rabat.
Otto played with the girls.
And after trying to stoke the smoker up to caramelize the final glaze, and putting the corn on the bottom rack, I managed to start a brief but intense husk fire, which didn’t mess up the food, but was dramatic none the less. Everyone was superlative about the meal. CK said it was in her top 5 of all time. If you want to recreate it, I think I smoked the corn about 45 minutes at about 220-300 or so, and the potatoes can be on as long as it takes the meat to cook. I’d actually have preferred to pan fried the taters, but I didn’t have time and I didn’t want to mess up with kitchen with LeBeef gone. Season the potatoes with the same balsamic, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne, rosemary marinade as the rabbit. Again, due to the sugar, I’d add the marinade towards the end of the cooking process. Spray or mop olive oil on the corn before you smoke/grill it, then butter to serve.
After dinner we had blueberry pie and decorated eggs.
Then the next morning we had some hot cross buns for Easter that we got from the Amish shop over at the farmers’ market.
Monday was opening day, and FJ invited me to the ballgame.
On the way, in the convertible, we saw the first cherry blossoms starting to pop out, and the paddle boats are on the water.
I had a footlong and a beer.
We didn’t come away with a win, but with spring and baseball back, one can’t complain. Especially me. Spring is finally here, I’ve been eating well and seeing family, my girls are doing great, and I’ve got two golf trips on the horizon. Life is good.by rsiv with
Last week, EF had a great time at Fred’s 87th birthday.
Then we got another short glimpse of spring.
Over the weekend, we went to VA’s 1st birthday party. O’G made some CSS Richmond Punch (which means three of his punches have made the blog. Perhaps its time for a punch blog HW…) I throughly enjoyed it, and think I might prefer a rum-based punch.
EF was over served, so she passed out…
…and then yaked on a balloon. Jodi held the balloon for EF and asked if she wanted to touch it. I joked that EF was more likely to barf on it than touch it. Not a few seconds later, EF serendipitously went for it.
After the party, the Humm and Lamb clans joined us for some big beers and salsa blanca.
On Sunday, EF had a playdate with Crosby.
Monday, we celebrated Easter early, as LeBeef is bound for Morocco.
We let EF open the first prezzy of Easter. Despite the Amazon reviews, I was skeptical about the gazillion claim, but it delivered and she loved it.
Then the adults enjoyed some tinier bubbles.
EF donned her bonnet and Easter dress.
Superchunk made out like a bandit with her basket.
It was quite a weekend. Now my girls need to rest their bodies.by rsiv with
EF saw her first flowers, so it must be Spring. In celebration, I decided to fire up the grill.
While we were out shopping for St. Patrick’s Day, I happened to be in an ABC store in which the owner of Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs was giving a taste test of his Night Life coffee liqueur. I had a sip, and it was pretty good. He told me it was Virginia made, and I was sold. With the weather as nice as it was, I decided to make the revolver cocktail, light up a boli, and get into a good book. I didn’t have any oranges for garnish, but followed the recipe otherwise. I really enjoyed it. The liqueur has a rich coffee flavor that isn’t too sweet. For my taste, I think a 50-50 ratio of bourbon to Night Life would be better, but I’ll let you know once I have a chance to try it out.by rsiv with
We finally saw some signs of spring up in Northern Virginia. Over the weekend, we went over to HW and Li’s for a St. Patrick’s Day party. EF had a guinness, I had a harp.
For dinner, Li made a salad, some delicious soda bread, and a hearty Irish stew.
For dessert, we had pie, I want to say it was called grasshopper in the mud, and it was mintly, light, and excellent.
Besides getting the crew together, I really like when HW has people over because he serves punch. HW is a Virginian in many ways. He was raised in the Capital, he is rarely caught without the Richmond uniform on (dressed for dinner at the Tobacco Company), and he doesn’t throw a party without serving a bowl of punch. For St. P’s day, HW made Fighting Irish Punch. The base of Fighting Irish Punch is Jameson. There is a fair amount of apple juice too. What really makes the punch interesting is Benedictine and chamomile tea. HW made a good punch for New Years, but he really outdid himself with this one. Give it a try on Tuesday.
On a side note. If you have a boat, or a child in HW’s case (PS Li, don’t you owe HW a boat?), you’ll be interested in this coozie HW got that blew my mind:
by rsiv with