Blistered Shishitos, Chilled Oysters and the Perfect Cocktail Sauce

January 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Appies, Brunch, Cocktails

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Here’s an appy course to rock your New Year.  Pour a nice glass of cold Sancerre.  Fire up some blistered shishitos, tossed with some S&P and a bit of garlic powder.  Shuck a fat icy plate of chilled oysters — maybe some Bluepoints and Montauk Pearls.   And however gauche, I’ll still own me a touch of spicy cocktail sauce….


The perfect cocktail sauce- you don’t buy it.  Two good squeezes of ketchup.  Juice from a quarter lemon.  Spoonful or two of hot horseradish. A few drops of Worcestershire, and a couple three shakes of Tabasco. Taste and adjust to your liking.  

Blistered shishitos go surprisingly well alongside oysters.  If you don’t recall the shishito gig, click here.   

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Happy New Year, all.  Hope your 2106 is filled with good food, fun and family.  




Summer Melon Skewers

July 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Appies, Cocktails

As easy as good.  The cracked pepper and lime zest skews interesting.  

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So these are just balled cantaloupe skewered with fresh mint and a little pull of prosciutto.  Just before service, drizzle with fresh lime juice and a throw of lime zest.  Finish with a few turns of fresh cracked pepper.  The pics are from an evening summer cocktail party out on my in-laws’ flagstone patio.  With oysters on the half shell and a flinty Sancerre.  It was all very Summer Breeze.   

Here’s a parting shot:


Moonshine Bloody Mary with Bacon Cube

February 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Cocktails



Here’s a bloody that’ll sear a hole right through your Sunday morning. Garnished with a bacon cube! What’s not to love.


Now there are two schools of thought on bloodies. Regular vodka, gently garnished with a celery stalk, or maybe a carrot stick if it’s getting crazy.  


And then there’s the rest of us – rolling with tequila, absinthe, pepper vodka, and/or limoncello — and our bloodies lean more toward boozy salad than cocktail.  Olives, fennel, pepperoncini, spicy green beans, cucumber batons. Pickled okra. Cippolini onions.  Chunks of provolone.  


So it’s a long weekend, what better time for a bloody.  Got some moonshine hanging around from when we did the moonshine lemonade.  And a hunk of slab bacon.  I spy a bloody getting itself together…


The bacon cubes were pretty easy, fashioned from the thick end of a piece of slab bacon, seared nicely on each side. Skewered warm with a bamboo pick, balanced atop the zombie glass.


And the White Lightning gives a nice little burn to the proceedings.


p.s.  Don’t make a whole lot of plans for later. 









37 Second Bar Snack

May 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Appies, Cocktails

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I trot out a bar snack now and again.  And again.  Umm, and again.   This one’s so easy, knocking off what we had with friends D&J at David Burke Kitchen on the bare edge of SoHo. Served at the bar while our table was getting ready.  A good night, the evening devolved into karaoke at BiNY where SoHo meets TriBeCa at Canal.  Note this, friends: AC/DC is not a good karaoke choice.  It’s just way too high and sustained.   But we did kill it with Every Rose Has Its Thorn.   

The Goods:

  • Grissini – the fancy word for skinny breadsticks.
  • Mustard oil.
  • Canola oil.
  • A glass that will hold the breadsticks up.

The Execution:

Pour equal parts of the oils into the glass. Stand up the breadsticks in the glass.   And there you have it.  I cut the mustard oil with the canola oil because the straight mustard oil will burn your face off.  

The Takeaway:

It’s good to have little riffs like this in your back pocket.  For the unexpected cocktail party (it happens).  Or a nosh for dinner party arrivals.  The first guests are announced, and during their elevator ride up this little ditty appears.  In 37 seconds.

p.s. – Awesome time at Camp Blogaway last weekend – met lots of good people with blogs that are just crazy good.  

Moonshine Lemonade. Let’s make it crazy summer.

January 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Cocktails

Ok so it’s cold now.  Not much green in our fair city, and no vacay planned.  We need us a shot o’ front-porch rocking chair weeping willow Southern summer.   And Beantown-cum-Florida Steve recently dispatched a decidedly below Mason-Dixon rib recipe — a must-try, and came out great.  To  pair with my winter-bbq meal, a cocktail to round it out? And for whatever reason, I seem to have moonshine and lemons here…  It’s on.

The Prep:

  • Shot of moonshine.
  • Shot of limoncello.
  • Two shots fresh squeezed lemon juice.
  • Shot or two of simple syrup (to taste).
  • Into the Boston shaker with some ice.  Make that sweet sound.  And get the hips into it, people.
  • Pour into a Mason jar, top with a splash of seltzer if you like.
  • Sprig of mint, wheel of lemon.
  • Sip.  The summer rolls all out on your wintered-in self.

The Takeaway:

If you want to get all fancy-pants, rim your Mason jar with fine lemon zest tossed in cane sugar.  But I skipped that.  It’s moonshine, after all.

p.s.  Moonshine isn’t actually illegal, it’s just illegal to make it without a license.  I neither confirm nor deny the good standing of my provider.

More Crostini! Pickled Grapes with Rosemary and Gruyere

December 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Appies, Cocktails

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Pickled grapes?  Really?  Stay with me on this, people.

The Prep:

  • Quarter large grapes, or halve small ones.  Mix up colors. Pop into ziploc.
  • Pour in a bit of champagne vinegar – lightly coating, not submerging.  S&P and finely diced fresh rosemary.  Let it sit and get all intimate.
  • Slice baguette thin, brush with olive oil, toast in 350° oven five mins.
  • When ready for service, top baguette toasts with grated gruyere, pop back into oven just to melt cheese.
  • Evacuate, add pickled grapes.  Serve.

The Takeaway:

My mother in law suggested this one, I think she had it as a sample at Whole Foods.  Served at our Bar Opening Brunch last weekend, alongside the goat cheese tapenade number.  Nice contrast between the two.   Couldn’t put them out fast enough, gone by the time the little one and her friends realized appies were even happening.  Tough luck, kids.  There are the quick, and there are the hungry.

p.s. – as requested, here is a pic of the new bar.  I’ll do a close-up of an infinity-glass shelf next week.  Happy holidays everyone!!

Spicy Smokey Marcona Bar Nuts

October 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Appies, Cocktails, Cravings

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What’s better than Marcona almonds.  They come salted and lightly fried in sunflower oil.  Now I should just leave that alone.  Well, maybe we’ll trick out half of them…

The Prep:

  • Marcona almonds – I get these from Whole Foods.  Fresh Direct doesn’t carry them yet.
  • Oven to 425º
  • Set aside half the almonds.
  • Taste one, see how salty it is.
  • Toss with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, a bit of agave nectar and just a touch of oil.  If the test nut wasn’t salty enough, a throw of sea salt.  Mix up, onto a sizzle platter or cookie sheet.
  • Into oven.  Toss around after a few minutes.  Remove in a few more minutes.  It won’t take long, just when you start to smell nuts.  And better under than over, you can always throw them back in, but you can’t un-scorch.
  • Taste a nut once it’s tolerably cool.  If it needs something (for me it’s usually some more cayenne and nectar) add, toss around and pop back in the oven for just a minute or less.
  • Serve warm, alongside the other half of naked nuts.  Nice contrast.

The Pros:

Cocktails love warm spicy nuts like the waves love the beach.

The Cons:

If you keep them in the oven too long, there’s really no recovery.  Just start over with the reserved half.

The Takeaway:

These nuts are all very C.J. Sweet Jane dim lighting cocktail party.  And I love me some appies.  Little bites, not too much, leaves you wanting more.  Sometimes we do “appies for dinner” at The Room.  The little one gets very excited about appy for dinner night.  Almost as excited as she gets about taco night.  Almost.

p.s. So the OWS protesters who make the food for the other protesters revolted this week.  Apparently they were upset at people taking food who were not really supporting the protest.  OWS doesn’t want to feed freeloaders, you need to work hard if you are going to get rewarded.  But isn’t that the conservative 53% agenda?    Hmm… well… ummm…   Awkward.

Greek-Style Lamb Sliders. Opa! (can i say that?)

August 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Cocktails, Cravings, Family Meal

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There’s not much wrong with these sliders.  I mean really.   Toasted brioche roll, oregano-seasoned lamb, black olive tapenade, feta cheese, tzatziki, tomato slice, pickled red onions and mint leaves.  All in a 4-bite package.  We did these on a Saturday night up on the roof deck with some friends.   It started raining on us right at service. Nobody left the table.

The Prep:

The Lamb:

  • Ground lamb shoulder.   Good drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, garlic powder.  And lots of oregano.
  • Mix gently with hands.
  • Form small patties, chill.

The Tzatziki:

  • Peel, seed and dice fine a hothouse cuke.
  • Put in middle of a clean dish towel, gather into a ball.  Hold the top of the towel together and twist the ball so it tightens up, continue to twist hard and squeeze out all the water you can from the cuke.
  • Chop and then smash clove or two of garlic into a paste with the side of a knife, kosher salt as an abrasive.
  • Plain greek yogurt, garlic, squeezed cuke into a bowl.  Salt, pepper, dill (preferably fresh chopped, but I didn’t have any fresh on hand and dried worked fine here).   Drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

The Rest:

  • Sliced feta cheese.
  • Sliced plum tomato.
  • Brioche roll.
  • Mint leaves.
  • Black olive tapenade.  I should have made this myself, but didn’t.
  • Pickled red onion.  I did make this.  I have a tub of these in my fridge at all times.  Michael Symon recipe.

Grill the lamb burgers just a few minutes each side, evacuate and quickly toast the brioche rolls.  Then let your guests assemble their own.

The Pros:

Not your usual slider, a high-class gyro.  When you bite in, it’s all like ‘hey now’.

The Cons:

I should have made my own tapenade.

The Takeaway:

If you want to get high-end mixologist, save your cucumber water from squeezing the cukes.  Shake it up with ice, Grey Goose, squeeze of lime juice.  Rim a martini glass with kosher salt mixed with ground chipotle.  Strain booze into glass, float a thinly sliced cucumber on top.  Now that’s eating your veggies.

Arrrg. The Salty Dog.

July 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Cocktails

Summertime cocktails.  Something light, a little sharp.  Cut right through that NYC humidity.   Maybe a Greyhound.  Hmm. Maybe some citrus salt on the rim.  Now that’s a Salty Dog.  Arrrg.

The Prep:


  • Simple syrup.  Equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves.  Cool and funnel into a squeeze bottle.
  • Halve a bunch of grapefruits, hit with citrus reamer into a bowl.  Pour through strainer, pressing on the pulp with a spoon to get all the juice.  Funnel into a bottle.  
  • Finely zest a lemon, lime, and part of a grapefruit.  Mix with kosher salt.


  • Prep the glass.  Rub the rim with a cut lime and roll in the citrus salt.
  • Break out the shaker.  I’ve got a Boston shaker, which is the one big and one small cup.
  • Ice in the small cup, squeeze in the cut lime.
  • 1 or 2 shots of Absolut Ruby Red.
  • Squeeze of simple syrup.
  • Top off with fresh juice.
  • Shake it all up nice and loud, and carefully pour into the prepared glass.  Top with a couple plump raspberries, or whatever moves you.

The Pros:

There’s a lot going on here.  Sour, sweet, salty, bitter.   Contrast turns good to great.

The Cons:

It’s time consuming to juice and strain all the grapefruits.  A friend was sympathetic with my plight and just got me a Cuisinart power juicer, which should help things (thanks OZ!).  Just need to convince the Mrs. that there’s room in the kitchen.  Maybe I’ll swap out the Chinoise….

The Takeaway:

We’ve ordered this cocktail a number of times out in the city, and with one exception (Blue Hill – yum) it’s never as good as when you squeeze the grapefruit and mix it up yourself.  And get crazy with the shaking. There’s few nicer sounds!

btw it’s great without the vodka too, the little one calls that a ‘hush puppy’