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The Perfect Ramos Fizz
This frothy drink has a taste reminiscent of Key lime pie or lemon-lime sherbet. If using a shaker, make only 1 drink at a time. If using a blender, you can double the recipe with success.
1/4 cup gin
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
1 egg white (from a pasteurized egg)
2 tsp. heavy cream
Few drops of orange-flower water
3/4 cup crushed ice
About 1/3 cup club soda
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (optional)
In a blender or cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon and lime juices, sugar, egg white, cream, orange-flower water and crushed ice. Blend or vigorously shake until well mixed and frothy, about 1 minute. Pour into a highball glass, fill to the top with club soda and dust with nutmeg. Serve immediately.
Fresh Honey Lemonade
1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups steaming hot water
1 cup fresh lemon juice
Ice cubes for serving
In a heatproof 1-quart pitcher or bowl, combine the honey and hot water and stir until the honey is dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice. Let cool for at least 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
Serves 2 to 4.
Cherry Tomatoes Filled with Goat Cheese
For a refreshing summertime appetizer, fill bite-size cherry tomatoes, round or pear shaped, with a savory mixture of goat cheese flavored with basil. Minced tarragon or chervil can be used in place of the basil.
24 cherry tomatoes, a mixture of red and yellow
1/4 lb. fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Cut the top off each cherry tomato. Using a small spoon, scoop out the pulp to make a hollow yet sturdy shell. Drain off any juice that accumulates in the shells.
In a bowl, combine the cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork until well blended.
Using the small spoon, fill each tomato with about 1 tsp. of the cheese mixture. Arrange the filled tomatoes on a platter to serve. Serves 4.
Here is an adaptation of the traditional outdoor clambake that brings the sweet scent of steamed clams and lobster into your kitchen. Ask your fishmonger for a bit of rockweed, the brownish green tangle of seaweed used to pack lobsters, and add it to your pot. It will lend a nice kiss of saltwater.
1 lb. small red potatoes, unpeeled, halved
2 lb. hard-shell clams, such as littleneck
or Maine mahogany, well scrubbed
2 quarts rockweed (seaweed), rinsed (optional)
4 live lobsters, each 1 to 1 1/4 lb.
4 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and
In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Lay a double layer of cheesecloth about 15 inches square on a work surface. Discard any clams that are gaping and do not close when tapped. Arrange half of the clams on the cloth and fold to make a flat, somewhat loose bundle. Tie the ends with kitchen string. Repeat with the remaining clams and then make a third bundle with the potatoes.
In a large pot, insert a steamer rack or perforated insert that stands several inches above the bottom of the pot. Pour in water to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then turn off the heat. If using the rockweed, arrange a thin layer on the steamer rack. Set the lobsters on top, arrange the bundles of potatoes and clams on the lobsters, and then cover with another layer of rockweed. Cover, bring to a rapid boil over high heat and cook for 16 to 18 minutes. After 8 minutes, lift the lid and set the ears of corn on top. Check for doneness by using tongs to see if the clams have opened. The lobsters should be bright red and the steam should carry the sweet smell of cooked lobster.
Using the tongs, remove everything from the pot, discard the rockweed and pile the food on a large platter. Snip open the bundles and discard any clams that failed to open. Divide the butter among warmed individual ramekins. Serve immediately, along with tools for cracking the lobster shells and plenty of napkins.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled corn is one of Mexico`s favorite street foods. Sometimes the chewy corn is lavished with thick cream, and other times with mayonnaise, but inevitably there are limes and ground chilies for flavor accents. The field corn eaten in Mexico has a starchy texture and is not at all sweet. To better duplicate the flavor, look for corn that is not marketed as ultra- or supersweet.
6 ears of corn, unshucked
1 cup crema
1 cup crumbled queso añejo or grated
2 limes, quartered
1/2 cup ground pequín or other hot ground chili
1/2 cup sea salt
Carefully pull the husks back from the corn, remove the silk and pull the husks back in place. Soak the ears in cold water to cover for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a fire in a grill.
Remove the corn from the water and place it directly on the grill rack over medium-hot coals. Grill, turning frequently, for about 20 minutes. If the husks are very burned but the corn is not yet tender, wrap in aluminum foil and continue roasting until done. Transfer the corn to a platter.
Put the crema, cheese and limes in separate small bowls. Place the chili and salt in shakers or small bowls. Let everyone shuck their own corn. They then rub it with lime that has been dusted with chili, spread it with crema, sprinkle on the cheese and season with saltor proceed in any order that appeals.
Red Potatoes with Bacon
Potatoes accommodate many flavors, none more readily than that of bacon. When bacon is the smoky seasoning as well as a major ingredient, only the best will do, so try to purchase it from a good butcher. Apple wood-smoked bacon is sweetly flavorful; choose a thick-sliced one that will not shrivel away during cooking.
3 lb. small red-skinned potatoes
8 thick-cut bacon slices
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly, cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on a shallow baking pan and let cool to room temperature.
In a large, heavy fry pan, arrange the bacon slices without overlapping. Cook over medium-high heat, turning several times, until almost crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool. Discard all but 1 Tbs. of the bacon drippings from the pan and set the pan aside. When the bacon is cool, chop it fairly fine.
Place the fry pan over medium-high heat and add the butter to the drippings. When it has melted, add the potatoes and cook, stirring and rolling the potatoes in the pan, until they begin to crisp and brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the bacon, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the bacon is hot and the potatoes are very crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the 1/4 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper and toss well. Add the parsley and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Serves 8 to 10.
Rustic Dinner Rolls
In addition to baking single loaves of bread, the La Cloche stoneware baker is ideal for making rustic rolls.
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup wheat gluten
2 tsp. salt
Cornmeal for dusting
In a small bowl, stir the yeast and water together and let stand until bubbly on the top, 2 to 3 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, gluten, salt and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the mixture on medium-low speed to form a soft, smooth and elastic dough, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball, then return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, set in a warm place and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
Gently punch the dough down to remove the larger air pockets, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and, with floured hands, gently shape each piece into a ball, stretching the sides of the dough down and under. Pinch the seam beneath each ball to seal it.
Dust the shallow dish of a round stoneware baker with cornmeal. Place 7 balls of dough, seam side down, in a circle and place the last ball in the center. Cover with the lid and let rise until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375ºF.
Transfer the baker to the oven and bake until the rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving.
Makes 8 rolls.