Thursday, April 25, 2013

Limoncello Recipe

Someone once said, "when life gives Italians lemons, then make Limoncello". Our first experience with this amazing lemon liqueur was during our honeymoon in Italy. Cold, sweet, fragrant, and citrusy goodness gently flowing down your throat and warming your body. After we got back to the US and finished our supply of Limoncello, we decided to make our own at home. You'll need three ingredients: lemons (preferably organic, and more preferably, Italian), grain alcohol (or rectified spirits), and sugar. This can't get any easier. And then all you need is patience and love. Since you can't easily find Italian lemons in the US, make sure to get organic lemons since you will be infusing the zest and you don't want any chemically treated lemons.

  • Zest of 14 organic lemons
  • 750 ml grain alcohol or rectified spirits (at least 190 proof)
  • 375 g sugar
  • 1 L water
Make sure to wash the lemons well. When you are zesting, make sure not to get any white pith because the end result will be bitter. Take the zest and place it in a glass bottle, followed by the alcohol. Seal the bottle as tightly as possible to prevent any alcohol from evaporating. Let the alcohol infuse for at least one month.

PS. When life gives you leftover lemons, MAKE LEMONADE!

Next, strain the zest from the alcohol through a coffee filter or other fine strainer. In a separate pot, boil the water and add the sugar to make a simple syrup. Let the syrup cool then add it to the alcohol. You will know right away if you performed the tasks correctly. The previously translucent yellow alcohol will immediately become a pale yellow opaque liquid upon adding the syrup. See Steps 3 and 4 in the image below for an illustration of this process. We like to leave the final product in the freezer so it will last as long as possible. Drink responsibly and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Beef Stew with Vegetables

This recipe was adapted from a stew in James Beard's American Cookery. The stew incorporates black beans turnips, pearl onions, leeks, green beans, potatoes, and parsley. We added Madeira to the stew which added a very unique flavor.

We made strawberry and pineapple angel food cake for desert which is super easy to make. We bought the angel food cake and pimped it out at home. You'll need to slice the cake in two, which is very easy with a knife. In the meantime, marinate the fresh strawberries in sugar and liquor for couple of hours until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Spoon the leftover juice over each half of the cake (see bottom left of image below). Next, we made a Georgian cream for the filling. We placed the crushed pineapples in the center and decorated the top with strawberries.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Grimaldi's Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria

We were looking for a good pizza parlor in Dallas and came across this place. They claimed to have the best wood grill pizza in town so we gave it a try. You can choose from many toppings and add as many as you like. We ordered a pizza with onions and anchovies. The standard ingredients were fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce. The anchovies were a little too salty, which I guess you'd expect considering how they are generally preserved in packaging, but the rest was delicious. The crust was thin and crispy, just the way we like it. The restaurant is at Watters Creek in Allen, which has lot of shopping and restaurants. They also have many events, such as concerts and festivals on the lawn. It's a great place to bring your family and enjoy the festivities.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sea Breeze Fish Market and Grill, Plano TX

This was an absolutely delightful restaurant! Their seafood comes directly from the East, West, and Gulf coasts and is never frozen. The atmosphere in the restaurant is casual and it's clean, but it certainly presents a strong fish smell upon entry, akin to being in a fish market. They also have fresh fish available for purchase from behind a counter. The food we ordered was amazing! I had a cup of lobster bisque, which I strongly recommend, and Brian had seafood gumbo. My main entree was the popular lobster roll and Brian's was the salmon burger with Asian purple-cabbage slaw on the side. Both were quite tasty. 


Monday, April 8, 2013

Blinchiki Stuffed with Meat

This appetizer is common in Georgian cuisine and is also popular in other Eastern European countries.  I'm not sure of the origin of blinchiki aka blini aka blintzes, or why in Georgia we called it Sultan's blinchiki. Anyhow, blinchiki refers to the type of dough that will be stuffed and is similar to that of a crepe.

Blinchiki (dough)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Flour
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1 pound of ground or mix of pork, beef, or veal
  • 1 whole onion
  • Parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Black pepper 
  • Salt
Blinchiki: Mix eggs and water together. Add pinch of salt, then slowly add flour so that consistency is like a butter milk or lighter.  Add hot olive oil to the mixture and mix it very fast to avoid flour clogs.

Use a nonstick pan on medium to high heat. Poor 1/3 cup of blinchiki batter to cover the bottom of the pan then poor the excess batter back into the batter bowl (Figure 1). It takes about a minute for the dough to turn golden brown on one side. Carefully remove the dough and start your next one.

Figure 1: Preparing blinchiki.

Filling: Cook the ground meat in a covered pan with a little water. In a separate pan, saute the onions in olive oil and then add the cooked meat and saute together for about 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Last, add the minced parsley. Now you are ready to start stuffing and wrapping the blinchiki.

Take the cooked (golden) side of the blinchiki and add 1tbs full of stuffing and start wrapping.  After you are finished you can save them in the refrigerator or in the freezer (Figure 2). When ready to serve, pan fry each side till golden.

Figure 2: Stuffing and pan frying the blinchiki.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shashliki aka Shish Kebab

Who doesn't love shashliki? Especially growing up in Georgia, shashliki was a special treat served at certain celebrations. You can smell it cooking from miles away. Shashliki refers to skewered meat slow roasted over charcoal. The meat can be lamb, pork or beef, and it's marinated overnight in vinegar, onions, and black pepper.  Brian tried to make shashliki on our charcoal grill using pork tenderloin. The taste was not the same because Georgian pork is usually fattier and tastier than what they sell in the market here in the US, but it was still YUMMY!

In addition, we fire-roasted potatoes in foil, which is, BTW, to dye for. When I was a kid we used to steal potatoes from our house and throw them in a bond fire and eat them after they were done with salt. The potatoes get very smoky and they are delicious! The meal was completed with a fresh cucumber, tomato and dill salad.