Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mojito Cocktail

Two Mojito Cocktails with Mint Garnish and Straws, White Background

Fresh Mint and Lime Add Sparkle to This Tall Cuban Cooler

The Mojito is one of the trendiest drinks of the past decade.  And no wonder.  This refreshing cocktail packs a lot of flavor and pleasure into each tall, cool glass. 

The Mojito is a volume drink that takes a while to consume.  And sparkling water helps dilute the alcohol quotient.  So it makes an excellent thirst quencher for a long, hot summer afternoon.  You can have two — and still keep your wits about you.

It’s also exceptionally easy to make. 

Been a while since you’ve had one?  Well, now you know what you’re drinking this weekend!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cocktail Basics

Gimlets in Cocktail Glasses with Lime Garnish, Mixing Beaker in Background

The Hows and Whys of Mixing Cocktails

This week we’re inaugurating our Summer Sippin’ Series here on Kitchen Riffs.  Each week we’ll do a post about a different drink (don’t worry, we’ll also have lots of food posts throughout the summer).

We’ll highlight an assortment of cocktails, including several of the tall cool ones we typically associate with warm weather.  And we’ll do some Tiki drinks — complete with little umbrellas.  Our first drink will be the Mojito, and that post will go up later this week. 

But first, we need to cover some basics about cocktail mixing.  Think of it as Cocktails 101.  You won’t be ready to apply for a bartending job by the end of this post, but you will understand how to make just about any drink.

There are only a few things you need to learn.  And they’re easy! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Root Beer Floats

Root Beer Float with Cherry Garnish and Cocktail Umbrella

a/k/a Black (or Brown) Cows — Perfect for Summer Holidays

OK, we’re basically talking ice cream sodas here.  Black Cows (Root Beer Floats) are usually made with root beer and vanilla ice cream.  But change the soda to cola or orange, and the ice cream to chocolate or something else, and you’ve got same concept, different flavor. 

You probably don’t need a recipe for this dish.  Still, I bet it’s been awhile since you’ve had one.

Remember how good it was?  With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, maybe it’s time to lay in some root beer and ice cream — and brush up on your float-making skills.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Creamy Coleslaw

Creamy Coleslaw on Red Plate, Overhead View

A Touch of JalapeƱo and Horseradish Add Zip to this Classic

Coleslaw is the perfect sidekick for barbecue and cookout fare.  And the creamy style brings the forks out fast. 

Usually made with a mayonnaise-based dressing, it has an appealing richness that showcases the flavor of the most important ingredient — cabbage.

Every supermarket and deli sells prepared coleslaw, and some of it is pretty good.  But as good as what you make in your own kitchen?  No way! 

This weekend we observe Memorial Day, the official kickoff to summer in the US.  What better dish than Creamy Coleslaw to celebrate?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Easy Baked Beans with Bacon

Baked Beans with Bacon on Plate with Grilled Hamburger and Cole Slaw

Barbecue Sauce Spices Up This Cookout Star   

OK, there are baked beans you make from scratch.  You know, soak the beans overnight, then combine them with some pork and molasses and slow braise them in the oven for hours until the aroma drives you crazy enough that you grab the pot (before they’re done!) and start dipping your spoon in.

Pretty good.  But not as good as these shortcut beans.  My recipe starts with canned baked beans (don’t tell!)  Then you add some bacon and barbecue sauce, plus other goodies.  Time in the oven?  No more than an hour.  Time before the aroma drives you wild and you grab the pot of beans (without an oven mitt!) and start spooning them down?  Half an hour — 45 minutes tops.

Seriously, these baked beans are good.  I don’t care what else you serve at your next cookout, this is the dish people will keep coming back to (and the one they’ll beg you to bring to every pot luck for the rest of your life.)

Fortunately, this is a pretty easy recipe to make.  But you don’t have to tell them that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grilled Hamburgers

Grilled Hamburger and Fries on Black Acrylic

Perfect for Cookouts

May is National Hamburger Month.  How appropriate!  After all, Memorial Day arrives near the end of May — and in the US, that’s the official kickoff to summer.

Which means cookouts.  And what better cookout fare than hamburgers?  Add some sides of baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad (and maybe a decadent dessert) and you’re in hog heaven!

No burger tastes better than one cooked outside on a grill.  The seared flavor that only a hot flame or charcoal can deliver is irresistible.

So don’t you think it’s time to hone your hamburger cookout skills?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Interview with Kitchen Riffs Down Under

Maureen, an Australian blogger who writes The Orgasmic Chef, has a weekly feature where she interviews a fellow blogger from somewhere around the world. It’s a fun way to learn more about bloggers you may already be reading, and also a great way to find new bloggers who may be of interest. It’s one of my favorite features on any blog anywhere.

Well this week she decided to interview me! She asked some great questions, and I had a lot of fun answering them. So head over to Maureen’s blog and read her Interview With Kitchen Riffs. Have fun!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

French Toast

French Toast on Plate with Maple Syrup and Strawberry Garnish

Perfect for Brunch

Mother’s Day is this weekend — which means it’s time for a festive brunch! 

And no brunch munch seems more special than French Toast.  It’s rich and satisfying, yet not over-the-top heavy or filling.  It also pairs exceptionally well with fresh berries, which are in season right now.  Add some powdered sugar, maple syrup, or whipped cream, and you’ve got a dish that’s long on both flavor and eye appeal.

Best of all?  It’s a snap to make!  So what are you waiting for?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fried Eggs

Fried Eggs in Pan with Plate of Biscuits

Over Easy, Sunny Side Up, Whatever — They’re Easy and Tasty 

Fried Eggs make excellent eats for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

They are inexpensive, high in protein, and chockfull of nutrients. But many people avoid them because of worries about cholesterol. Well, good news! Scientists now largely agree that eggs pose little danger (I have more information about this, plus links to scientific sources, in my Red Pepper and Onion Frittata post). Most of us can now eat eggs more frequently.

So how do you like your eggs cooked? Sunny Side Up? Over Easy? Over Medium or Hard? Basted? All are popular choices that take just minutes to prepare.

Best of all, nothing is easier to cook — once you know the basics, at least.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Classic Margarita Cocktail

Classic Margarita Cocktail in Cocktail Glass with Salted Rim and Lime Slice

The Cinco de Mayo Drink 

The Margarita gets lots of love in the US. Partly that’s because of its slightly sour — but wonderful and refreshing — lime taste. And partly it’s because the drink has become synonymous with a carefree, easy-going lifestyle. You know, as in Jimmy Buffett’s song, Margaritaville.

With Cinco de Mayo coming up this weekend, isn’t it time to kick back and sip one? You’ve got the thirst. I’ve got the quencher.