"F" Is For FIESTA!
Need a little spice in your life to tide you over till daylight savings time? How about a margarita party! Printable Version
Before we break out the blender let's discuss ingredients. The traditional margarita recipe is as follows: One and a half ounces of tequila, a half ounce of Triple Sec, and one ounce of lime juice. First, notice lime juice. Go to any bar or restaurant, (even the Mexican ones), and they will use sour mix instead of lime juice. Why? It saves money. Sour mix is cheaper than even that bottled lime juice. Some places may throw in a squirt or two of lime juice but you'll ALWAYS get sour mix. Be a purist and try the recipe with fresh squeezed lime juice. I'm confident you'll be pleased.
Second, notice the recipe calls for twice the amount of alcohol to mixer. You will also never get this ratio in any public establishment. Most bars and restaurants will use a shot of tequila, a half shot of triple sec, and numerous ounces of mixer. You know those grande margaritas at your favorite Mexican eatery? You're shelling out $8 for ten ounces of watery, sugary mixer with two ounces of liquor. People like them because they're tasty and sweet, but they're a profit-laden shadow of a margarita. If the traditional recipe is too strong for your liking, you can increase the lime juice but always keep the tequila/Triple Sec ratio at 3 to 1.
Now, take a lime wedge, slice it through the center and slide it around the rim of a margarita glass. Then dip the rim in kosher salt. Kosher salt has larger granules and is better for taste and texture. Add ice to the glass, whiz the alcohol and lime juice in a blender, (for that frothy quality), pour, and garnish with a lime wedge. Or, if you prefer a frozen margarita, add ice to the blender. This will dilute the drink somewhat so measure accordingly.
In terms of which tequila to use, you don't need a premium tequila but don't use the bargain brand either. White or gold tequila doesn't matter. Except for premium tequilas, most "gold" tequilas get their distinctive hue from caramel coloring, not aging. Ordinary gold tequila is a marketing technique aimed at making the consumer think it is of higher quality. The only thing higher is the price.
Now for variations on a theme. You can create a variety of flavored margaritas by substituting your favorite fruit juice for the lime juice. Orange and cranberry are common choices. Or for a real tropical flair, try a blue margarita. Simply substitute Blue Curacao for the Triple Sec, (both are orange flavored liquors but the Blue Curacao is colored blue).
Now we need some chips and salsa to go with the margaritas. Forget the jarred salsas. They're nothing but tomato sauce, a few bits of onion and pepper, and chemicals. Trust me; take the time to make fresh salsa. The jarred salsas can't even come close to the flavor of fresh salsa.
5 large, ripe, on-the-vine tomatoes, chopped.
1 small onion, chopped.
Half a green bell pepper, chopped, for mild salsa or 3-4 jalapenos for hot.
Quarter cup cilantro, chopped.
Juice from one whole lime.
A splash of red vinegar.
Kosher salt to taste
First chop the tomatoes and place them in a fine mesh colander. Squeeze the excess fluid from them with a spatula. This will prevent the salsa from being too watery. Transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl. Chop the onion, peppers, and cilantro and mix all the ingredients together. Add salt to the salsa until you achieve your desired degree of salinity. Finally, to maximize flavor, allow the salsa to rest, covered with plastic wrap, for an hour so the flavors can meld. The flavors will also be more robust at room temperature.
If you can't find the on-the-vine tomatoes you can substitute 10 plum tomatoes. Buy the tomatoes ahead of time and let them sit on your sunny windowsill for a few days to fully ripen. The linchpin of this recipe is tomatoes at the peak of ripeness. You can be creative and flexible with the peppers, altering the number of them or mixing mild and hot. For super hot salsa, use 3-4 serrano chiles, or if you're really brave, use one habanero. Cilantro is an herb that people either love or hate. Adjust the amount to your taste but if you eliminate it, you will lose one of the key flavor attributes of salsa. If you really like it, I recommend cutting up some of the stems as well to add to the crunchiness of the salsa. Oh, and I have to say it. Just like the margaritas, fresh lime juice is imperative. Ole!
About the Author
Mark R. Vogel received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Yeshiva University and his culinary arts degree from the Institute of Culinary Education, both in New York City. Although he still practices psychology, his deepest passion remains cooking at an Italian/Mediterranean restaurant in NJ and writing about food and wine. His column "Food For Thought" is published in a number of NY, NJ and PA newspapers and food related websites.
A Celebration of Latin Hospitality
by Anya Von Bremzen
Full of recipes that capture the zest and exuberance of Latin food as well as the joyous spirit of the Latin people, this cookbook will introduce you to a slew of spicy taste sensations that combine style and panache with an easygoing, carefree approach. Fiesta food is vibrant, friendly, generous, and simple. It adds sparkle to casual Sunday dinners, backyard barbecues, informal cocktails, and certainly ¾ wild Latin parties. Short essays, side notes and the recipe introductions are included.
"F" Is For...
Year Round FAVORITE Potluck Recipes
Potluck recipes aren't just for the holidays or summer get togethers. I never go to a family get together without offering to bring a potluck dish.
"F" Is For FALL
A HARVEST BRUNCH TO CELEBRATE AUTUMN
With cool weather creeping in, and the crisp smell of Autumn greeting us in the mornings, it's the perfect time to throw an Autumn brunch for family and friends.
Now that you have been to the orchard, what are your plans for all those apples you picked?
AUTUMN IN MY KITCHEN
The wonderful smell of autumn is here. From simmering cinnamon to the addictive aroma of fresh baked apple pie, nothing could be finer than Fall.
AUTUMN IN THE ORCHARD
Apples, apples, apples! So many to choose from and so little time.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SEASON
...There are two kinds of squash: summer and winter. Butternut Squash is a winter squash. It has a hard, thick skin and it is filled with seeds....
MORE THAN PUMPKIN PIE
It is the peak of pumpkin harvest time and though pumpkins are not generally one of the more popular cooked squashes, don't be so quick to turn it away in the kitchen.
CREATING YOUR OWN STUFFING
Years after her passing, the wonderful taste of Grandma's stuffing is still quite vivid. It's the same recipe that has been handed down for generations. I still remember the first Thanksgiving at my soon to be in-laws home -- oh how I missed my Grandma's stuffing.
AUTUMN AND THE COMFORTING TASTE OF PUMPKIN
As soon as the air starts cooling off I get out my pumpkin recipes. It doesn't seem to matter that I use canned and buy extra to keep on hand all year. I love baking with pumpkin in the autumn. It's one of those wonderful comfort tastes and smells.
ACRES OF APPLES, FRUGAL TO THE CORE
I've always dreamed of having an apple tree in my back yard. You know the old saying, "be careful what you wish for?"
Flaky Pie Crusts
After mixing your pie crust dough, always put in in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour to an 1 hour before rolling it out as it lets the butter or shortening harden again so it creates a more flakey pie crust.
Check out more COOKING tips in our Virtual Tipbook!
FALL Wreath Of Leaves
Cut a doughnut shape from the cardboard to make a wreath. Wrap yarn completely around it.
Draw and cut out leaves from colored poster board. Working on an old newspaper, spread glue around the edges of the leaves and sprinkle them with glitter. Attach them to the wreath.
Cut a strip of fabric and make a bow for a decoration.
Attach a loop of yarn to the back of the wreath so you can hang it up.
Check out more CRAFT tips in the Family FunBook!
"F" Is For...
Butter, margarine, shortening, lards, oils and fat from meat.
A piece of chicken, fish or meat from which bones have been removed, or which originally contained no bones.
To break into small sections or pieces with a fork or spoon.
Flour heated in an ungreased skillet over low heat until browned; stir to avoid burning.
To remove entrails from fowl or game.
A mixture of fruit or juices frozen to a mush, but not solid. Also a cordial or liqueur poured over cracked ice.
Of lamb chops, to trim away the meat from the end of the bone. Of beef tenderloin, to flatten with a cleaver. Of green beans, to cut lengthwise into thin slivers. Of frying, to immerse food in deep hot fat until the surface is browned.
To cook meat, poultry or game cut in small pieces, in liquid and fat. Food covered with batter, or mixed with batter, and fried in deep, hot fat, or in a pan.
To spread icing or frosting over a cake, cookies or other foods.
"F" FAMILY IDEAS
This lovable little ghost can't wait to greet trick-or-treaters. A whimsical addition to your Halloween decor, she's wearing her best bow and perching patiently in her rustic wooden basket. Her body is fashioned from easy to use loopy chenille, which gives her an appealing, cuddly softness.
Many parents are opting for Halloween or Fall parties as an alternative to trick-or-treating. But how do you keep all those kids safely and happily occupied for a few hours?