Tag Archives: cocktails

Mojito with a Twist and a Shopping List

July 11th is National Mojito Day – turns out that pretty much everyday of the year has some food or drink attached with it.  I am not so sure we need a National Blueberry Muffin Day (which incidentally is also the 11th) but I think any excuse to drink a mojito is a good one.  The mojito surged in popularity a decade ago but really has been around forever.  Back when they first became popular most bartenders hated making them because they required muddling.  Now if you order a cocktail and it doesn’t come with some muddled element, a homemade tonic, slapped basil and a nitrous foam you may as well just order a Bud heavy!  I still like the original version as it’s refreshing and perfect for the summer but years ago we began experimenting by using tequila instead of the traditional rum.  The sharpness of the tequila is really great with the mint and keeps it from getting too sweet.  I have also switched out the usual sugar or simple syrup for agave nectar since tequila is made from agave, they are natural friends.  There is no rule that says you have to wait untill tomorrow and its official day to have a mojito though – it is Fiesta Friday after all.

Mojito with a Twist (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration: long summer nights on the deck

Special Equipment:  cocktail shaker and muddler (or use a wooden spoon)

  • 8 mint leaves
  • 2 lime quarters
  • 1 ounce agave nectar
  • 3 ounces silver tequila
  • club soda
  • ice

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker muddle (i.e. crush with a muddler or a wooden spoon) the mint leaves, lime quarters and agave.  Normally I don’t like dirtying up another vessel and would just say muddle it directly in the glass but I have seen way too many break that way.  If you have a really sturdy one go ahead, otherwise use a shaker.  Pour in the tequila, shake it up and pour the contents into a glass (don’t strain it like you would with most drinks, it’s nice to have the crushed lime and mint in the drink to keep giving off flavor).  Add ice and club soda to cover, stir, and a sprig of mint if you are feeling fancy.

Mojito with a Twist

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

Special Equipment:  cocktail shaker and muddler (or use a wooden spoon)

  • 8 mint leaves
  • 2 lime quarters
  • 1 ounce agave nectar
  • 3 ounces silver tequila
  • club soda
  • ice

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker muddle (i.e. crush with a muddler or a wooden spoon) the mint leaves, lime quarters and agave.  Pour in the tequila, shake it up and dump the contents into a glass (don’t strain it like you would with most drinks, it’s nice to have the crushed lime and mint in the drink to keep giving off flavor).  Add ice and club soda to cover, stir, and a sprig of mint if you are feeling fancy.

Here is the shopping list for this week’s menu calendar dishes which can be found here.

Shopping List for July 13-17

Items are tagged with the day of the week they are used so if you don’t want to cook that day just scratch it off.

  • jasmine rice  (Tues)
  • 1 can coconut milk (Tues)
  • fish sauce (Tues – it’s not for anyone so you can omit)
  • soy sauce (Tues)
  • garlic (Tues/Wed)
  • 3 hot peppers – calls for red but green works too (Tues)
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef (Tues)
  • 3 cups basil leaves (Tues/Wed)
  • green beans (Tues)
  • 2 onions (Wed/Thurs)
  • 2 pounds zucchini (Wed)
  • 1 pound pasta (Wed)
  • 1 cup ricotta (Wed)
  • 1 lemon (Wed)
  • parmesan or pecorino (Wed)
  • chicken sausages (Thurs)
  • 1 bell pepper (Thurs)
  • hot dog buns (Thurs)
  • mixed greens – and the fixings for salad dressing if you don’t have them already (Thurs)
  • bag of potato chips – let’s make em Cape Cod (Thurs)

Intro to the menu calendar and a cocktail for the weekend

I cook almost every single day.  To people who know me well that doesn’t come as much of a surprise but anytime I meet someone new they marvel at the thought.  How do you have the time?  Where do you get the energy?  Don’t you ever just want to call takeout?  The answer to that last one is yes – for sure.  Everyone has days where the thought of putting something in a pan seems impossible.  However, I have to say even on rough work days, or at the end of a busy weekend, I am usually happy, even eager to cook.  Sure I have to check my blackberry while cooking but trust me I have mastered simultaneously stirring and typing.

wpid-20150601_191019.jpg

the last resort…

Stop looking at cooking as a chore and start thinking of it as a creative outlet and a way to decompress.  The key to changing that mindset is setting yourself up for success by menu planning. When building the week’s menu I go through recipes I want to try and think about what we already have in the fridge that I can incorporate.  We have some standbys that show up often but generally I like to make something new at least a couple of times a week (because I am a masochist).  If you are just trying to get in the groove of weeknight cooking go with tried and true meals you feel confident making.  I also put thought into the week as a whole.  Sure we might have chicken multiple times a week but no one needs to have it two days in a row so I stagger the proteins.  I also mix it up when it comes to cuisine – if we are having beef tacos one night I wont make turkey chili the next day.  Ok so now you have a couple of meals planned – next you have to make sure to have everything on hand.

I loathe grocery shopping.  Part of it has to do with the quality of grocery stores in Washington (seriously Safeway you are out of milk??) but it’s also a total bummer after a long day of work having to wield a huge cart down ridiculously narrow aisles, just to get home and have to put it all away and then start cooking.  That is wpid-20150604_065257.jpgwhy I try to shop once a week, usually on the weekend, and make it last. When considering produce, use the most perishable items early in the week and leave the heartier stuff towards the end of the week (or frozen) to ensure that you have fresh veggies each night.  Also buying in bulk is your friend, especially when it comes to meat.  We head to Costco, buy meat for a family of 18 and then vacuum seal them in more reasonable portions to be defrosted for weeknight meals.  My freezer (ok freezers, we have 2) are stuffed to the gills but it makes shopping and cooking much easier (also means you are ready for last minute dinner parties and the apocalypse).

I started to put our dinner menu on a shared google calendar so I could keep track and so Patrick could see what wpid-20150604_071952.jpghe will be eating each night.  When I decided to start the blog my friends Dave and Ashley lobbied in the best DC way to get our menu calendar on the blog – so here it is.  Every Friday I will update the menu calendar page with some weeknight meals for the following week and post a shopping list for the ingredients you will need on the blog.  Some assumptions will be made (you all have salt, pepper and olive oil right??) but it should set you up pretty well to not have to think at all and still put several healthy, homemade dinners on the table.  Once I have a good inventory of recipes on the blog most of the dinners will circle you back to a previous post but for now most of them will take you to other sites.  Even if you don’t want to make the recipes provided it will give you a sense of what types of things really can work on a weeknight and some ideas of sides etc to round out a full meal.

Mi Vida

Let me know how you like it and if it’s getting you cooking more during the week.  Its been a month of A Capitol Contessa and over 1,600 visitors – cannot thank you all enough for reading and following.  Please send the blog along to friends and family – the more readers I get the more good ideas for posts I have!  And don’t worry – I havent forgotten that its Fiesta Friday.  I will not leave you high and dry without some inspiration.  We tried the Mi Vida from Food and Wine several weeks ago and were very happy indeed.  The smokiness of the mezcal goes really nicely with the grapefruit and the pink peppercorn and sugar rim takes it to the next level.  If you don’t have pink peppercorns just do sugar – black pepper wouldnt work as well and wouldn’t be as cute!  I also cheated and used Tropicana grapefruit juice instead of fresh and it was still delicious.  Happy weekend!

Shopping List for June 8-12

Items are tagged with the day of the week they are used so if you don’t want to cook that day just scratch it off

  •  4 chicken breasts (Mon)
  • eggs (Mon)
  • breadcrumbs (Mon)
  • grated parm (Mon)
  • salad greens for 4 (Mon)
  • 3 lemons (Mon/Wed)
  • 2% milk (whole if fine too) (Mon)
  • instant dry polenta (Mon)
  • cream cheese (Mon)
  • 2 pounds cod fillets (or other white fish) (Wed)
  • white wine (Wed)
  • mixed olives (Wed)
  • parsley (Wed)
  • baby spinach (Wed)
  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes (Wed)
  • 2 poblanos (Fri)
  • 1 onion (Fri)
  • frozen corn (Fri)
  • light sour cream (Fri)
  • 1 1/2 pound skirt steak (Fri)
  • white rice (Fri)

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 (printable version at the end of the post) Inspiration:  Salt Air from Washingtonian – margarita recipe is my own Special Equipment: citrus juicer (not necessary but man will it make life easier), immersion blender – 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.  Usually I would post pics here but honestly its really just a cut piece of pepper in a bottle so figure you don’t need a visual! 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. DSC04504 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. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spicy Margaritas with Salt Air

Special Equipment: citrus juicer (not necessary but man will it make life easier), immersion blender

  • 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 (got mine at GNC but it’s also sold online)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup triple sec or Grand Marnier (which I prefer)

First you want to infuse the tequila – infuse the whole bottle or just pour out 2 cups.  Place the cut habanero in the tequila carefully.  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. 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.

Sources:  Serapes as tablecloths from Party Swizzle; Mini pinatas from Oriental Trading; Banner from Party City

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