Club Special Cocktail

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We live in a town about 100 miles from Oklahoma’s capital city, Oklahoma City. We’ve been here 32 years. It was not that long ago that we joined our town’s country club, mostly because after retiring, my husband’s main hobby was golfing.

It was at the club I discovered a cocktail called a Club Special. I was naive enough to think that this wonderful cocktail with a salted rim was only made at our local club, which is why it would be called a club special!

But recently, I googled Club Special cocktail out of curiosity, and I found a recipe that supposedly originates from Oklahoma City’s Twin Hills country club. This is what I discovered, from My Recipe Magic.

And that’s when I discovered that it’s not a local cocktail, but it is one that originated in Oklahoma!

So I wanted to make it at home and for the blog, because it really is good, and perfect for warm months; this was mid-April, when pansies, kale and lilacs were blooming.

I quadrupled the recipe, and made a small pitcher. Why not?!!

Oklahoma’s Famous Club Special Cocktail
Serves 4

8 ounces vodka
4 ounces limeade
4 ounces Sprite
Salt for rim
4 splashes of club soda

Place the first 3 ingredients in a small pitcher. Mix well. I made my own limeade using fresh limes and some simple syrup I had on hand.

Salt the rim of two cocktail glasses and add ice. Pour the mixture into the glasses, then add the club soda splash to each.

I love how I really can’t pour with my left hand! (Notice above left photo.)

These are so refreshing. And, addicting!

If your limeade is tart, you could rim the glasses with sugar instead of salt; I personally prefer salt.


Birria

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Birria de Res – Recipe from Chef Josef Centeno, Adapted by Tejal Rao, from NYT Cooking email, dated February 10, 2021
Yep, this photo got my attention!

Birria, the regional stew from Mexico saw a meteoric rise in popularity recently, as a soupy style made with beef, popularized by birria vendors in Tijuana, took off in the United States. Chef Josef Centeno, who grew up eating beef and goat birria in Texas, makes a delicious, thickly sauced version based on his grandma Alice’s recipe, mixing up the proteins by using oxtail, lamb on the bone and even tofu. Preparing the adobo takes time, as does browning the meat, but it’s worth it for the deep flavors in the final dish. The best way to serve birria is immediately and simply, in a bowl, with some warm corn tortillas.. —Tejal Rao

Birria de Res

2 poblano chiles
5 guajillo chiles, seeded, stemmed and halved lengthwise
5 pounds bone-in beef shoulder, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves
Fresh black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
2 dried bay leaves
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, quartered
Corn tortillas, warmed

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Use tongs to place the poblano chiles directly over the open flame of a gas burner set to high. Cook the poblanos until totally charred all over, turning as needed, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the poblanos can steam. After 10 minutes, use your fingers to pull the blackened skins away from the poblanos, then remove the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the poblanos and set aside.

If you want this process shown in photos, click on poblano roast.

While the poblano chiles steam, place a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches to cook the guajillo chiles evenly in one layer, flatten the chile halves on the hot skillet and toast them for about 15 seconds, turning once. Put the chiles in a bowl and add 2 cups hot water to help soften them. Set aside.

Season the meat all over with the salt. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof pot over medium-high. Working in batches, sear the meat on all sides until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, transferring the browned meat to a large bowl as you work.

After you’ve seared all the meat, add the onion to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Return all the meat to the pot.

Use a seed toaster to toast the jumpy sesame seeds.

To peel the roasted poblanos after they’ve steamed and cooled, simply use a paper towels or your fingers to remove the charred surface, then with a knife remove the stem and any membrane and seeds on the inside.

Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, cloves and a few grinds of black pepper to a blender, along with the chopped poblanos, toasted guajillos and the chile soaking liquid. Purée until smooth, scraping down the edges of the blender as needed. I bought a case of “Joysey Tuhmatuhs” to try them out. Fabulous ingredient!

Pour the blended mixture into the pot with the meat. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, along with about 4 to 6 cups of water, enough to amply cover the meat.

I didn’t add water because I used less meat and I wanted the stew more stewy and less soupy. Cover and cook in the oven until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Divide among bowls and sprinkle with cilantro.

Serve with lime wedges for squeezing on top, and a side of warm tortillas.

This stew is so good. Great depth of flavor; you can really taste the cumin and cinnamon.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

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I’ve finally fessed up to subscribing to People Magazine. I feel like it keeps me up-to-date on the who’s who and what’s happening. It’s probably not working because I’ve never been accused by my kids of being hip. But occasionally, there are recipes in the back pages of People, and some times I make them, like this fabulous salad.

It’s watermelon, jicama, Oaxaca cheese, arugula, and candied sunflower seeds, topped with a zingy lime dressing.

The chef is Matthew Trebek, who owns Oso restaurant in Harlem, New York. It serves Southwestern cuisine, and this salad is on the menu. The good thing is that it appears that Oso survived the pandemic.

Chef Trebek is also the son of Alex Trebek, who is a well known game show host in the U.S.

What I loved about this recipe are the two main ingredients – watermelon and jicama. When I went to California to attend college one of my roommates turned me on to jicama. She ate jicama with lime juice and salt, and that’s how eat jicama to this day.

And who doesn’t like watermelon?! Well, I actually have a friend who doesn’t, so I won’t share with him. However, because I still can’t drive because of my hand surgery, I’ve been relying on teenage grocery shoppers for my weekly deliveries. And I ended up with a yellow watermelon!


It tastes the same as the red, of course, but I’m weird about food colors. I prefer red watermelon and red tomatoes.

But I persevered, and wow this salad is incredible. I hope you make it. Seriously.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

1/2 medium shallot
1/2 serrano chile
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons white sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
4 ounces arugula
1/2 small seedless watermelon (20 ounces) cut into matchsticks
1/4 medium jicama (9 ounces) cut into matchsticks
6 ounces Oaxaca, cut into thin strips

Combine shallot, chile, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt in a blender jar. With blender running, add oil in a steady stream until blended, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Place sunflower seeds and remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has caramelized and amber in color, about 9 minutes.

Pour onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break apart into clusters.

Arrange greens, watermelon and jicama on a large platter. Scatter with cheese strips.

Top with candied seeds and add about 1/2 cup dressing.

Then dig in!

It’s really flavorful with the arugula mixed in with the other ingredients, and the dressing is fabulous.

I’m making it again soon, but omitting the candied sunflower seeds. I didn’t feel they were an integral part of the salad, but if you want crunch, include them.

Pisco Sour

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Last year, my husband and I took a major trip through Central and South American countries. It had been our dream to visit Machu Piccu In Peru and we finally did.

After getting to Cusco right in time for lunch, I was handed my first Pisco sour. After one sip, I handed it off to my husband, who loves strong drinks.

So after that experience, I didn’t seek them out. At least I’d had a respectful sip!

Pisco is a clear brandy made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. It reminds me of grappa, which you won’t be surprised that I also don’t like.

Peru and Chile both claim the pisco sour as their national drink. Ironically, the most pisco sours offered to us were in Brazil. Here is the staff making pisco sours in Rio de Janeiro, at the Copacabana Palace Hotel in town.

But then, when visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue, I was a bit parched (honestly, it was hot hot hot) and I ordered a pisco sour. And it was fabulous! Totally different. Look at all those limes! Unfortunately I never found another one like it.

Pisco Capel is the variety I can purchase where I live. Here is a nice description of it from Market View Liquor’s website:

There’s a story, that when Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations, drank a pisco sour in Valparaiso, Chile, he supposedly said, “That’s good, but… next time I’ll have a beer.”

Pisco Sour
Makes 2 drinks

4 ounces Capel Pisco
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
2 egg whites
4 drops Angostura Bitters, regular flavor

I used my handy dandy electric citrus juicer to squeeze the limes, plus more, cause freshly squeezed lime juice really comes in handy.

Place all ingredients in a blender jar or shaker jar. Blend until smooth and foamy. Pour in to glasses neat, or glasses with ice, if you prefer.

Serve immediately.

If you don’t want your pisco sours on ice, make sure all of the important ingredients are chilled first.

I actually really liked this ratio of ingredients. I wouldn’t want the drink any sweeter, stronger, or more tart.

Pink Prosecco Margarita

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My friend Dan loves a good cocktail. So when he made a point to text me this recipe, I knew it would be good. He found it online, and made a few adaptations, but because I don’t know the origin, I’ll just call it Dan’s recipe.

It’s basically the ingredients for a real margarita, plus pink lemonade and Prosecco.

However, I couldn’t find pink lemonade where I live. Maybe it was sold out? But I did find strawberry lemonade, which I never knew existed, so I thought I’d try that, mostly because I’m impulsive. Same cocktail, but subtly strawberry flavored. Still pink, in fact hot pink!

I imagine if you’re not having a girls’ party like a bridal shower or somesuch, you can use regular lemonade for this cocktail, but the thought of making and serving a pink drink was so compelling to me!

My girlfriend helped out with a perfect happy hour setting at her house to test out the cocktail. I mean, to help with the photography.

Dan’s Pink Prosecco Margarita

1 cup pink lemonade*
3/4 cup Patron tequila
½ cup Patron orange liqueur
2 ounces lime juice, about 3 small limes
1/2 – 1 cup Prosecco, well chilled
Lime and salt for rimming

Pour the lemonade in a serving pitcher, and add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. Chill in the refrigerator.

Right before serving, add the Prosecco.

Rim the glasses with lime juice and dip the rim with salt.

I also tried the margarita over ice, mostly because it was hot out and my girlfriend and I had been working so hard on this photo shoot (thanks Jil!) and that was also good. (not pictured.)

Overall, this is a lovely summer cocktail, but in fact, could be served at parties at various times of the year. I can see cranberries thrown in at a holiday party for example!

* Use one 12 ounce can thawed, frozen pink lemonade concentrate, or strawberry lemonade concentrate, and mix with two containers (24 ounces total) of water.

Thai Beef Salad

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Recently, I came across a Christopher Kimball recipe that caught my attention. It’s a Thai-inspired salad with skirt steak. Nothing terribly unique, except that when I make salads, they tend to be of the Southwestern ilk, with greens, beans, vegetables, and goat cheese.

Kimball’s Recipe has grilled steak, vegetables, shallots, cilantro,and a flavorful fish sauce-based dressing. Fabulous flavors.

The only thing I did differently was to sous vide the skirt steak. I know how to cook just about any steak in my sleep, but if you’ve ever enjoyed skirt steak, flank steak, flatiron or hanger steak cooked sous vide, you know why there was no hesitation on my part.

If you’re not familiar with Christopher Kimball, I’m actually surprised (especially if you live in the U.S.) He has authored many cookbooks, but was also the editor of the wonderful Cook’s Illustrated magazine. He has a show on PBS, and also talks cooking on an NPR show.

What I like about this man is his somewhat old-fashioned demeanor, his bow tie, his aw-shucks attitude but in Vermont style. He’s the opposite of loud, abrasive, show-offy, and arrogant.

My favorite book of his isn’t a cookbook, it’s called Dear Charlie, a collection of letters he wrote to his son, that appeared in the introduction of every publication of Cook’s Illustrated.

I loved these down-home letters about sunrises, apple pies, tractors, and so forth that my endorsement was printed on the book cover.

His latest cookbook is Milk Street, shown below, and a classic photo of Mr. Bowtie as well.

And now to his Thai Beef Salad.

Thai Beef Salad

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 large shallot, sliced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
Rice or cellophane noodles, optional

Dry off the skirt steak if necessary with paper towels. Mix the salt, black pepper and brown sugar together, and rub onto the steak on both sides.

Vacuum seal the steak, and cook at 131 degrees F for 12 hours. This can be done the previous day. Refrigerate the steak immediately.

Just when you’re ready to start preparing the salad, remove the steak from the plastic and dry off; set aside.

Combine the shallots and lime juice in a large bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fish sauce and cayenne flakes to the shallot mixture.

Heat a skillet over high heat with the canola oil, and sear the steak quickly on both sides. Transfer to a cutting board. Thinly slice the stead against the grain, and add the slices and accumulated juices to the large bowl.

Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint. Toss to combine.

I wanted to add some noodles for fun, but it wasn’t part of Mr. Kimball’s recipe.

Transfer everything to a platter, and garnish with more cilantro.

This salad is fabulous. Refreshing, spicy, and full of flavor.

I did add a second shallot, more fish sauce, and a little rice wine vinegar.

I can’t stop thinking about how good this salad would be with grilled octopus or shrimp….

Lime Ice Cream

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When it comes to home cooking, I rarely make the same thing twice, let alone multiple times. It’s just how I roll, thus my motto, “so much food, so little time!” There’s just too much out there to try!

But this ice cream is one major exception. I’ve been making it for years. My kids always got mad that I wasn’t making chocolate ice cream when they were little, but instead one lime-flavored. However, they loved it, too!

Here’s the recipe I cut out of a magazine so many years ago.

One doesn’t expect lime ice cream, perhaps a sorbet instead. So it’s unique in that sense. Hope you like it as much as we do!

Lime Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup filtered water
Zest from 5 limes
Juice from 5 limes, about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
2 c superfine sugar
Pinch of salt

Pour the cream and water into a large blender jar. Add the zest and lime juice.

Add the sugar and salt, and give it a good blend.

Place the blender jar in the refrigerator and leave it there overnight. You really want to get the limey flavor dispersed into the cream.

When it’s time to make the ice cream, follow the directions for your machine.

Freeze the container until ready to serve.

I love to serve this ice cream with piroline cookies.

lime3

If you love lime, you will adore this ice cream!

It’s limey, but it’s also creamy. Fabulous!

This ice cream is perfect after a Mexican meal, or a traditional summer barbecue.

And just in case you’re still thinking this is not a creamy ice cream, take a look at this!

A Real Margarita

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Rarely do I order a margarita at a restaurant. Unless it’s a Mexican restaurant with top-shelf margaritas shaken to order by a bartender, they tend to be heavy on the sweet-and-sour-mix.

What that means is the following:
1. You don’t taste the tequila.
2. Your mouth puckers from the sweet-sour.
3. You invariably get a headache.

So typically I make margaritas at home, although I limit myself to two drinks. I don’t have any bad college memories of tequila overindulgence, because I didn’t drink back then. But I’ve probably heard too many scary stories from other folks, that help me maintain a healthy respect for tequila’s powers.

Although I don’t really enjoy the taste of booze, even vodka, I do like tequila. I’d never drink it straight, but I also don’t want to ruin it with disgusting margarita mix. I’ve searched long and hard for a good, reliable margarita recipe.

Lo and behold, enter my friends, man and wife, both great bartenders and hosts.

This post is thanks to them, and their margarita recipe that they’re allowing me to share with the world!!! I have no idea if it’s a common recipe or not, but most all margarita recipes include sweet and sour mix, simple syrup, or sugar. So trust me, if you like a good, strong, but also refreshing margarita, this recipe is perfect!

Just remember: tequila can creep up on you!

The recipe is this simple. Equal parts tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice. That’s it. The lime juice provides the tartness and freshness, the liqueur adds just enough sweetness, and the tequila, well that’s the booze.

Of course, a margarita isn’t a margarita without the lime and salt rim.

Start by squeezing limes. You may think you have a lot, but you may barely have enough. Trust me on this. (My husband squeezed 32 limes on Cinco de Mayo for our pitcher of margaritas for four people!)

I ended up with 4 ounces of lime juice, so to it I added 4 ounces each of tequila and orange liqueur. I recommend either Cointreau or Grand Marnier. For tequila I stick with Patron.

Have your glasses ready with salted rims, then fill with ice cubes.

Pour in the margarita.

Enjoy.

Of course these margaritas could also be blended with ice, but I prefer mine on the rocks.

On a hot day, there’s no better drink than a margarita, but not if they’re cloyingly sweet.

If you want a special treat, top the margarita off with a Chambord floater! And thank my same friends for this unique twist on a margarita.


Coconut Willy

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My husband and I were in Kauai this past February on Valentine’s Day. At the poolside bar, our waitress informed us of a Valentine’s special drink, called a Coconut Willy.

Being ever so daring, I ordered one. Turns out it was the most delicious pool drink we’ve ever had. (Pool drinks typically translate to overpriced, overly sweet cocktails lacking in alcohol.)

It was so good, I asked the bartender about the drink, and he generously showed me how to make it.

I took a mental video of the process, and duplicated it once back at home when the weather warmed. We couldn’t wait to have them again!

The drink is creamy with coconut and lime flavors. It’s so good it will transport you to a tropical state of mind!

Coconut Willy
For one drink, or double for two

2 ounces gin (I chose Rangpur gin for more lime flavor)

3 ounces Coco Lopez

Sweet and sour mix, approximately 2 ounces

Place ice cubes in your glass.

Add the gin and Coco Lopez. The Coco Lopez is more tan than white in color.

Stir really well, and then top off with the sweet and sour.

I garnished with a slice of lime.

_MG_9118

Alternatively, place the gin and Coco Lopez in a shaker with ice, shake well, and then pour into the glasses. Top with sweet and sour and stir.

I wanted to see if the coconut “blobs,” which show up in the most right photo above, would dissolve better using the shaker method, but they didn’t.

Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for a frozen variation.

_MG_9133

I prefer drinks on the rocks because I can drink them faster. Sadly, that’s the truth.

Here’s the recipe for making a pitcher of coconut willies, based on a 750 ml bottle of gin:
1 – 750 ml bottle Rangpur gin
38 ounces Coconut Lopez
25 ounces sweet and sour mix

note: Two things about this drink. One, we were both surprised that it contained gin – we would have guessed vodka. Secondly, we were both sure that there was lime juice in the drink, and there is no lime at all. If you use regular gin, it will still taste limey! A mystery!

Mintade

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Many years ago when I was planning my daughter’s wedding day, with the anticipation of having lots people in the house, I wanted to have a refreshing drink available as an alternative to water. And an alternative to booze as well, in order to prevent any potential mishaps. Maybe I’ve watched too many viral videos of drunken wedding parties!

The small evening wedding was at our house, so it was a busy day. I was smart enough to have a casual bridesmaid lunch catered, which really freed up my time. My first instinct, of course, was to do it all myself. Fortunately I changed my mind. The one thing I really wanted on that special day was to thoroughly enjoy it.

I did make individual granola-yogurt parfaits for anyone wanting an easy breakfast. And I served coffee, bottled waters, plus some champagne later in the day, but like I mentioned, I wanted something extra to offer as a non-alcoholic drink.

I had come across a recipe for Mintade, and in my mind I said it like it was a French word, with a short “a” sound. Which now seems really dumb on my part. It was meant so be pronounced like lemonade, or limeade. Duh. In any case, the recipe sounded perfect for the occasion.

Another alternative could have been a fruit and cucumber water, similar to what’s served at spas, but I wasn’t sure if that kind of water would be enjoyed by everybody.

This ade is a refreshing combination of citrus juices mixed with lots of mint. It’s very simple to make. It’s also very pretty. You can either serve this ade chilled or room temperature. The original recipe calls for water added to the fruit juices, but I added sparkling water. If you also use sparkling water, serve the ade in smaller pitchers so it doesn’t go flat.

Mintade

Mint leaves, torn
Approximately 1 tablespoon white sugar
Grapefruits, preferably pink
Oranges
Limes
Lemons
Grenadine, optional
Sparkling water, chilled

Place the torn mint leaves in a pitcher, preferably a glass one.

Sprinkle the sugar over the mint leaves and muddle for about one minute. Keep in mind that this drink is called mint ade, not citrus ade. The mint is a very integral part.

Begin juicing all of the fruit.

Add the juice, through a strainer, to the pitcher.

I used 4 grapefruits, 4 oranges, 2 lemons, and 6 limes, to approximately 1 cup packed mint leaves.

If you have the time, Cover the pitcher tightly and chill overnight in the refrigerator to better infuse the mint.

Add some grenadine to taste/ I used approximately 2 ounces. This was not in the original recipe, but I don’t like adding cup fulls of white sugar to drinks. That’s the only problem I have with mojitos. So the grenadine adds some sweetness and a little color as well. But it’s completely optional.

To finish, pour the sparkling water into the pitcher, an equal amount as there is juice.

Serve immediately, using a filtered lid to keep the mint from getting into the glasses. There’s nothing worse than mint in your teeth!

note: If necessary, depending on the occasion, the mintade would be wonderful with a slug of vodka, rum, or tequila! And instead of sparkling water, you could always add Prosecco!