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.


Date Nut Logs

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It’s funny how easy it is to lose a recipe. And to think I’m so organized. These date nut logs have passed through my brain from time to time, and yet I haven’t been able to locate the recipe for years.

And then a while back I got out my little book called Glorious Liqueurs, when I posted on spiced pear liqueur. Just for fun, I looked through the book to see recipes I’d bookmarked, and also recipes I’ve made. And there it was. Just in time for the holidays. Glory be.
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The book, which is available through Amazon, was published in 1991. It contains recipes for making your own liqueurs, as well as recipes utilizing the liqueurs.

The author describes these date nut logs as “halfway between a confection and a cookie.”

If you love a sweet treat, give these a try for the holidays. They have a lovely flavor with dates, pecans, and orange.
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Date Nut Logs*
from Glorious Liqueurs, by May Aurea Morris

1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
8 ounces pitted dates, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped (about 3 1/2 ounces)
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13″ baking pan; set aside.

Onto a sheet of wax paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt. Set aside.

Toast the pecans in a skillet, then set them aside to cool before chopping. (The author didn’t toast her pecans.)


Combine the chopped dates and pecans in a medium bowl. I added about a tablespoon of the flour mixture and tossed it into the dates and pecans to make them less sticky and more able to separate.

In a large bowl with the electric mixer on high speed, beat the eggs until they are foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is very thick and forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted from it.
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On low speed, beat in the flour mixture just until absorbed. Beat in the liqueur and zest.

Fold in the dates and pecans. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

With a sharp knife, cut 9 lengthwise strips and 8 crosswise ones, forming 6 dozen tiny rectangles.

Sift the powdered sugar onto a sheet of wax paper. Gently roll the rectangles in the sugar, coating all sides and forming log shapes.
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The log rolling only works when the cake is still warm. If you get carried away on HOTELS.com like I did the evening I made these, just leave them in mini rectangles. No one cares what shape these are, because they’re that good. I’ve actually undercooked them before, ever so slightly, and rolled them in to balls.


Store the cookies in a tightly covered container.
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From experience, I know they freeze well in a ziplog bag or plastic ware.
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Claret Cup

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Recently I was talking to my husband and mentioned that I thought it was silly for food bloggers to post about smoothies. I mean, you really don’t need a recipe for a smoothie, and besides – it’s just a drink.

And then he reminded me that I post cocktails on my blog. Touché! But, in my defense – they’re cocktails. They’re important. We don’t drink smoothies when it’s five o’clock somewhere.

So this recipe is for a cocktail called a Claret Cup I’m using from this Gourmet compendium cookbook.
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I googled the name claret cup because I had a feeling it was a very old-fashioned drink, and indeed it is. It was fashionable in England in the 1800’s, in fact. Furthermore, according to this fabulous website, called The Art of Drink, there is a “striking resemblance” to Pimm’s Cup, which I made here on my blog.

The drink eventually made it to the U.S., then died down in popularity. Maybe I’ll start a new trend?

The recipe in the Best of Gourmet cookbook calls for 2 bottles of wine. Specifically, claret. Since I was only making the drink for two, I opted for 2 cups of wine, and adjusted the recipe accordingly. I hope. Unfortunately, unless I make the punch for a crowd, I’ll never quite know what it’s supposed to taste like.

I chose a Shiraz, but tasted it on its own and was not impressed. If you don’t like inferior wine, don’t buy this Layer Cake Shiraz.

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Claret Cup

2 cups red wine, preferably from the Bordeaux region of France
1 1/2 ounces orange liqueur
1 1/2 ounces crème de cassis
1 ounce ruby port (the original recipe listed tawny port)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweetened lime juice, purchased
Bubbly water

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In a small pitcher, pour in the red wine. Then add the orange liqueur and crème de cassis. Measure the port and add that to the wine mixture.
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Then stir in the lemon juice and sweetened lime juice. Stir and taste. You could always add some superfine sugar if you think it’s not sweet enough, or a little more port.

Pour some into and glass and top with bubbly water of your choice. San Pellegrino comes to mind, but I used bubbly water made from my Sodastream machine. I used about 2/3 wine mixture and 1/3 bubbly water.
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Serve with a slice of lemon.
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Alternatively, chill the wine mixture and the bubbly water first, and then serve cold, or forget the bubbly water and just serve this over ice. It would be very refreshing this way.

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verdict: This claret cup is very different in flavor from a Pimm’s cup, but there are some sweet and fruity similarities. Using this recipe exactly, I thought it came out really well – more like a sangria – because it’s essentially sweetened wine. You could really play with the liqueurs and make it more raspberry using Chambord, or make it more orange using Grand Marnier or another orange liqueur. But this drink is good. I seriously wouldn’t make it as a punch, just because of the spillage potential of this really red drink!