cocktails

Clementine Margarita

It is #nationaltacoday so I figured it would be fitting to post a nice margarita to wash down those tacos.  My friend Naz came over this summer with a bag full of her own cocktail kit and shook up a bunch of terrific margaritas for us.  Who doesn’t want a friend like that??  She used tangerine juice but that can be hard to find so I used clementine – they are both delicious.  The sweet tang of the clementine juice is the perfect base for the tequila and she introduced me to Patron Lime Liquor which has a more limey taste then triple sec.  Happy National Taco Day!

Clementine Margarita

  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Patron Lime Liqour
  • 4 ounces clementine juice
  • ice, salt and lime wedge

Shake the tequila, lime liquor and clementine juice in a cocktail shaker with ice until cold.  Pour over ice, in a salt rimmed glass if you prefer (I like to use spicy salt).

Easy Peasy Brunch Menu

Since this week is the Patriots bye week our Sunday is wide open.  This doesn’t happen too often in the fall – the perfect excuse to throw an impromptu brunch party.  Having people over for brunch is one of my favorite ways to entertain.  It’s pretty inexpensive, there is usually bubbly involved and people can go about their business later in the day.  The key is to have some simple to throw together dishes, that only necessitate a quick run to the store.  Actually you may just have all of this stuff in your pantry already.  For me brunch is about having something salty and something sweet so you don’t have to decide between the two.  Oh and bacon.  Of course bacon.  Add a bubbly drink on top and you will have some very happy friends.

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If it’s nice out doing brunch outdoors is really fun and adds to the festivity of it.  Just because you are outdoors though doesn’t mean should always turn to paper plates and solo cups.  I like to use real linens, footed glasses and sparkly flatware.  I found these amazing gold accented plates at Home Goods that go perfectly with my Izon flatware set from Target.  When the menu is this easy it’s always nice to make extra effort with the presentation.

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Easy Peasy Brunch Menu

Aperol Spritz

This is the easiest pitcher drink you will ever make.  Slice an orange and drop it into a pitcher with some ice.  Top with a whole bottle of Aperol and a whole bottle of bubbly (go ahead and make it with prosecco or cava to save some money).  I like to add about a cup of Lillet Blanc as well, but it’s not necessary.  Done!  This drink is sparkly, citrusy and a little bitter – perfect for cutting through rich food like the frittata and low alcohol enough that you can still run errands after brunch.

Pasta Carbonara Frittata with radicchio and arugula salad

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This frittata is delicious and has all the elements of pasta carbonara.  It is pretty rich (pasta, cream, bacon, eggs…) but the recipe also has a delightful side salad made with bitter greens.  The radicchio and arugula salad tossed with the lemony vinaigrette are the perfect foil to the frittata and side of bacon.  Everything in this menu is about balance and this is the perfect centerpiece.  Prep all the salad ingredients and cook off the pasta before hand so you only have about 10 minutes of actual cooking to do.

Baked Bacon

Baking bacon is so much easier than cooking it in a pan.  You don’t have to doge grease splatters and the bacon comes out nice and crispy and flat.  There was bacon in the frittata but who ever accused a brunch of too much bacon??  Place the bacon on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cook at 400 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.  This way you can make trays and trays of bacon at one time if you are doing brunch for a crowd.  If you want to bake this off at the same time as the frittata all the better – go ahead and crank the temperature to 425 as indicated for the frittata, and just start checking on the bacon at the 10 minute mark to make sure you don’t burn it.

Nutty’s French Toast

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This post has to be the one I get the most positive feedback on.  These mini french toasts stuffed with nutella are perfect for this easy brunch.  I made them as a psuedo dessert but you could certainly serve them alongside with the frittata.  Good news is they only take a couple of minutes to make so if you do make them at the end you only have to slip away for a few moments.  When you come back with these babies your friends will be smitten!

Strawberry Margarita

How else to celebrate the first Fiesta Friday of August then with a delicious summery margarita?!?  This strawberry marg is nothing like those gross syrupy things that churn round and round in Island Oasis machines.  This is a drink that packs a punch, tempered by sweet fresh strawberry puree.  The inspiration was Patrick buying 2 pounds (pounds!) of strawberries right before we left for Chicago.  Try as I might, I wasn’t able to put down all those strawberries so I decided to make a strawberry puree and freeze it in hopes of using it later.  When we returned I thawed the puree and it tasted just as fresh and juicy as when I made it.  The puree is just strawberries and a little bit of sugar thrown into the food processor until smooth.  I added a 1/3 cup of sugar for 2 pounds but really it depends on how sweet your strawberries are to start with.  Add just enough sugar to encourage the strawberries to give up some of their juice and whir away.  It should last in your fridge for a couple of days.  If you don’t finish it all then freeze in a large container if you have a lot of margaritas in mind or several smaller ones so you can pull out the puree whenever you need a summery boost.  This puree would also be terrific over ice cream, swirled in yogurt, or on pancakes or waffles.  Definitely make some before the season is over.

Strawberry Margarita 

  • 2 ounces strawberry puree
  • 3 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 1/2 ounces triple sec or Cointreau
  • 2 ounces lime juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice.  Shake until cold and then strain into a cold glass with a salt rim if desired.

Note:  To make the strawberry puree, just process hulled strawberries with a little bit of sugar in the food processor until smooth.  No need to strain out the seeds.  1 pound of strawberries should make about 16 ounces of puree, good for 8 margaritas.

Welcome to a Capitol Contessa! Grab a margarita

I am so excited to get this thing going – what started as a slightly boozy idea at the Fainting Goat on New Years Day, is finally a published product.  The minute I mentioned I was thinking about doing a blog my husband Patrick told me to take 60 days to conceptualize and 60 days to execute which roughly takes us to today.  I would not have even imagined starting this journey without him and his incredible support.  He will always be my number one guinea pig but I am glad that this forum will give me the opportunity to try out new ideas and recipes on a larger universe. My friend Ben brilliantly pointed out that if one is launching an entertainment blog there should be a party involved!  With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner we decided a fiesta with plenty of margaritas were in order.  I was so glad to have my friends and family to celebrate with me. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I tried to keep it pretty simple by grilling tacos and we got super lucky to have a beautiful D.C. spring day.  The cookies, margarita mix, and most of the taco fillings were prepped in advance so all I had to do day of was make the cornbread, guacamole and guacamole salad and have Patrick grill the steak and chicken for tacos.  This kind of party is great for a crowd because everyone can find something they like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Menu

Cornbread by Martha Stewart

Guacamole Salad  by the Barefoot Contessa

Steak and Chicken Soft Tacos

Homemade Guacamole and store-bought salsa

Alfajores Cookies by Fine Cooking

Grate some cheese, chop some onion and plop sour cream into bowls and you officially have a taco bar.  Aided by the dozen or so hot sauces Patrick keeps on hand we had quite the spread and plenty of leftovers for Sunday.

DSC04510 It’s not a party without a cocktail and for this one we went with a household favorite – Spicy Margaritas with Salt Air.  If you have ever been lucky enough to go to Oyamel in D.C. you will be familiar with Jose Andres’ amazing salt air – it’s the perfect solution to getting a salty little touch with each sip of your margarita without ending up with salt crystals all over the front of your shirt.  I was so happy to learn you don’t have to be a gastronomic genius to figure this out – thank you Washingtonian Mag for sharing this with the masses.  I also gave out the tequilla as a favor because you never get too old for goodie bags right?  People just love getting to take a bit of the party back home with them. DSC04513

Spicy Margaritas with Salt Air

– 1 habanero pepper, stemmed and cut in half
– 2 cups silver tequila (or the whole bottle if you want to infuse it all)
– 3 cups freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
– 4 cups water, divided
– 1 tablespoon kosher salt
– 1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin powder (get this at a nutrition store or online, I got mine on amazon)
– 2 cups sugar
– 1 cup triple sec or Grand Marnier (which I prefer)

First you want to infuse the tequila – I suggest go ahead and do the whole bottle as it lasts forever in the fridge and is great to have on hand. If you don’t want to go whole hog just pour out 2 cups which is what you will need for 8 margaritas. Place the cut habanero in the tequila carefully as these little peppers are HOT. I use disposable gloves whenever handling hot peppers so taking out my contacts later doesn’t become a painful event. Let the pepper infuse into the tequila for 3 hours or more depending on how much heat you want (if you want less you could also use a jalapeno instead). At this point you toss the pepper and keep the tequila in the fridge indefinitely for when you want to use it.

For the margaritas first make a simple syrup by combining 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Let cool (this is a good thing to make in advance as well as it lasts forever in the fridge and simple syrup is great in lots of cocktails and iced coffee). Combine the simple syrup, 2 cups of the lime juice, 2 cups of the spicy tequila, and the Grand Marnier in a large pitcher. Stir and taste – if it’s too hot you can add lime juice or water to dilute.

To make the salt air combine 1 cup of the lime juice, 2 cups of the water, the salt and the soy lecithin in a large bowl. Tilt the bowl so the liquid is at the bottom away from you and use an immersion blender until you create a good layer of foam. Pour the margaritas into chilled glasses and top with a scoop of foam. If you run out of foam no worries, just blend again to create more. Enjoy!

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