February 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It’s cool—you can be impressed.
We used an adaptation of Sunny Anderson’s wings recipe for the Buffalo variety, and used that to add a spin to Caribbean Jerk marinade. I kid you not, these were the best wings I’ve probably ever had. Adding the lemon juice (we added the juice of half a lemon) and herbs to the sauce completely took wings to a new level for me. (We also cut down on the butter, and just did one stick). We then added a bit of lemon, butter, and herbs to Caribbean Jerk marinade, as well.
In addition to the great flavor, the texture of this was unreal. We shook these in a bag of flour, and then we let them sit for a few hours to absorb it all. What resulted was perfectly crisp, perfectly juicy wings. Ah, I’m salivating just thinking about it.
For Valentine’s Day, we talked about making pizza with a glass of wine. We talked about going out to a fancy dinner. And all of these sounded great, until James suggested we just do what truly is nothing but fun for us.
And so, we will be having hot and spicy wings and a pitcher of beer.
October 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been deliberating about what would be a good cocktail for my tailgating series.
It came to me the other day. A wonderful way to represent Alabama would be, of course, a sweet tea vodka cocktail.
I thought about what else would be a great addition to that. Then it came to me—mint! I thought about the fantastic mint sweet tea that I order at Hooligans in Tuscaloosa, and it only seemed appropriate. And somehow honey sounded like the perfect way to tie both flavors together.
So I took some mint, placed in a glass with a healthy pinch or two of sugar, and muddled it.
Now, if you don’t have a muddler (I don’t), just find a rounded surface to gently crush the mint leaves. I used the end of a wooden spoon. Be careful not to shred the leaves or overly crush them. If you do, you may release the chloroform in the veins of the leaves, which creates a bitter flavor. Just gently press on the leaves until you start to smell a more minty smell than you were smelling before. Then you know you’ve successfully muddled.
Then add some honey. I added a teaspoon.
Then place some ice in the glass, and here comes the part that really depends on your taste. I added one and a half shots of sweet tea vodka (I used Firefly), and then filled the rest of the glass with water. But if you aren’t crazy about tasting the flavor of the vodka (or there’s no way you’d need that much vodka in your cocktail), go ahead and start with one shot, then add water, and see how you like the taste.
Deliberate the taste while you go visit a certain someone who is just really perplexed by your camera. Then say hi to his little friends who live next door.
Return to your cocktail, stir well, and place a straw in the glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Enjoy the fresh mint flavor that highlights the comforting taste of the sweet tea. The Alabama honey brings it all together for a true Southern cocktail that’s great for your tailgate. Serve drinks individually in mason jars or create a big batch in a pitcher or beverage dispenser. Roll Tide!
Honey-Mint Sweet Tea Cocktail
Makes 1 drink
4 to 6 leaves fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon honey
2 to 3 ice cubes
1 shot sweet tea vodka (I used Firefly)
Water to taste
Garnish: sprig fresh mint
Gently wash mint and pat dry with a paper towel. Place mint in desired serving glass. Pour sugar over mint.
With a muddler, or a rounded wooden or metal surface, gently muddle mint leaves.
Add honey, ice, and vodka. Add water to taste. Stir drink together. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
October 13, 2011 § 2 Comments
I didn’t know what I was missing.
Yes, I devour dill pickles. But the thought of dipping a few dozen of those crinkle cut chips into a thin batter and tossing them into the bubbling grease of a deep frier never occurred to me before I moved to Alabama. But what results is a sizzling hot delicacy of the South—one that manages to slip into my wandering mind at my office desk far too often.
In my mind, I grab a toothpick and skewer a few of those too-hot-to-handle golden nuggets. I dip the blazing bunch into the cool ranch sitting in a plastic container at my right, and pop those deep-fried dixieland delights into my mouth. I sweat a bit at the piquancy that the crunchy batter delivers. I savor that familiar pickled tang that is utterly blissful at a screaming temperature. I am grateful the ranch tames the explosion just a bit. And with each bite, I reveal a bit more of the greasy wax paper beneath the pile.
Related: What We Ordered: Big Bad Wolves
October 1, 2011 § 3 Comments
Three years ago, I sat in a crowded Baton Rouge bar. Cigarette smoke coiled overhead, and spontaneous cheering erupted as football fans decked in crimson (and purple and gold) watched the TV. I nursed a beer as I still felt a tad woozy from the late night before (my first and only night in New Orleans). And that was when one of our travel companions turned to me and offered me a bite of a sizzling basket of fried gator nuggets.
It wasn’t bad. (It was quite delicious actually.) It was hot, crispy, and tasted a bit like a cross between chicken and fish.
So, as the Tide rolls over the Gators this evening, what better appetizer to serve at our football watching party than fried gator? Gator isn’t hard to prepare. Simply cut it into small pieces, coat it in some fish fry, and toss into the bubbling grease of a deep fryer (I confess, though, that James handles all of the deep frying, so thanks JJ!). Serve it with a remoulade or some ranch dressing (tartar sauce would have been great, but I didn’t have any relish! Sad). It was a bit like I remembered, only tougher in texture. I think if we had marinated it in some lemon beforehand, it might have been more tender. I did toss it in lemon, but I don’t think it sat in it long enough. However it was still tasty! Tasted like chicken. And a bit like a meaty white fish.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 pounds alligator meat
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 packages fish fry (I used New Orleans Fish Fry)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Also needed: deep fryer and canola oil
Cut alligator into bite-sized pieces. Set in a large bowl, and add lemon juice, tossing to combine. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Pour fish fry into a gallon-sized food storage bag. Add cayenne pepper and stir or shake to combine.
Working in batches, add meat to bag and shake until pieces are evenly coated. Place in fryer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until alligator floats in oil. Drain excess oil on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Related: tailgating: guacamole
September 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
The way my mother makes guacamole is simple.
She combines avocados, lemon, salt, pepper, and a hint of mayo for added creaminess.
This is certainly a crowd pleaser, so it’s great to serve at a tailgate or for the great big crowd sitting in your living room that’s ready to watch the Tide roll over them hogs.
Guacamole My Mother’s Way
Makes enough for a crowd of snackers
3 large ripe avocados
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice avocados in half and remove seeds. Remove avocado from skin and scoop into a large bowl. Squeeze juice from one lemon over avocado, and add mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Mash together ingredients with a fork, then stir to combine. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
September 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
For the record, my version of pigs in a blanket are sausage links wrapped in pancakes. This probably stemmed from memories at the Brite Spot restaurant with Grandma Arguijo. But these are still delicious nonetheless. And so stinking easy to have ready in just a few minutes for hungry game watchers.
And if you want to get a bit creative with sauces, serve up this spicy ketchup and Dijon mustard dip. The recipe is as exact as I could make it, but the truth is I just kept mixing and adding ingredients until the sauces were right where I wanted them. So don’t be afraid to go a little crazy when you’re mixing these up.
Enjoy! And Roll Tide!!
Pigs in a Blanket
Serves 4 to 6
1 (14-ounce) package cocktail smokies
2 (8-ounce) packages crescent roll dough
1/4 cup ketchup
1-2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/8 cup mayonnaise
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven according to package directions of crescent roll dough.
Pull small strips of dough from package and wrap each cocktail smokie. Place on baking tray. Cook in oven according to package directions on crescent roll dough.
While pigs are baking, combine ketchup, Worcestershire, hot sauce, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste in a small bowl. Then combine mustard, mayonnaise, and pepper to taste in another small bowl.