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November 2012

I'll Take A Manhattan - My Favorite Cocktail

Manhattan 2a 

If you’ve never had a Manhattan, you may be missing out on one of the great cocktails, a truly sophisticated drink that lives up to its name. I suppose the Martini is the most popular and famous of the two, but I prefer the warm, smooth, interesting flavors of a traditional Manhattan. Of course, not all Manhattan’s are the same - every bartender (mixologist) seems to have his/her own version. At the risk of sounding a bit pretentious, it’s worth specifying a few things when ordering. Try to request a Rye whiskey rather than Bourbon, it’s the original and frankly tastes better - a few favorites include:  Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (if you can find it), Russell’s Reserve, Knob Creek Rye, Hudson Manhattan Rye, Bulleit Rye, or Rittenhouse. The rest of the recipe is simple –sweet vermouth, a splash of bitters, and a cherry; but make sure they stir, not shake your drink, otherwise you will wind up being served a cloudy, foamy cocktail. This silky smooth libation should be a clear amber color, and perfectly chilled. Manhattans have a wonderful warming effect which makes them ideal for the fall and winter months and around the holidays. It’s an easy cocktail to make at home and since there are only a few components, it’s essential to use the best of each ingredient. Here’s my favorite version – Cheers!

Download The Best Manhattan recipe 

2 1/2 ounces Rye Whiskey

1 ounce Vya (or Carpano Antica) sweet vermouth

2-3 dashes Peychaud's (or Angostura) Bitters

1 Luxardo Marasca Cherry

1 twist orange peel

1. Combine whiskey, the sweet vermouth, and bitters with 3-4 ice cubes in a mixing glass.

2. Stir gently, don't bruise the spirits and cloud the drink, for about 90 seconds.

3. Place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass. Strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry.

4. Sip slowly and enjoy!

Vya Sweet Vermouth 1
Peychauds_bitters_lg1 Luxardo cherries2

Thanksgiving Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Cookie Topping

Mashed Sweet Potatoes Oatmeal Topping

If you’re a fan of sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, but are looking for an alternative to ubiquitous marshmallow topping, this is the recipe for you. It’s an easy dish that can be made a day ahead and baked when needed. Make ahead recipes are really key to a manageable and peaceful Thanksgiving celebration! Marmalade is the secret ingredient that compliments both the sweet potatoes and the crunchy oat topping. A potato masher will yield slightly lumpy sweet potatoes, which gives the dish a rustic homey appeal; a food mill, however, will make a perfectly smooth puree.  You can also skip the cookie topping and just serve the sweet potatoes on their own.

Download Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Cookie Topping 

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 Tablespoons heavy cream

3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar, dark or light

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup sweet orange marmalade

1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh gingerroot

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

For topping

14 three-inch crisp oatmeal cookies,(like McVitie’s HobNobs) broken into pieces (about 3 cups)

¼ cup toasted pecans

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch ground cumin

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the topping:

1. In a food processor grind cookies fine. Add the pecans and spices and pulse 3-4 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles soft cookie dough. Wrap topping in wax paper and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Topping may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

For the sweet potatoes:

1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, cream, brown sugar, maple syrup, orange juice, salt and pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of the center of the potatoes with very little resistance), 45 to 60 minutes.

2. Off heat, mash sweet potatoes in saucepan with potato masher (or press through a food mill). Stir in marmalade and gingerroot .  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spread potato mixture evenly in baking dish. Preheat oven to 400F. Crumble the chilled topping mixture over potato mixture and bake in middle of oven until topping is browned lightly, about 25-35 minutes. (Potato mixture may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring potato mixture to room temperature before proceeding)