April 2011 Archives

Big Girls, Test Kitchen: Derby Day Punch

Check out our other 5 Best Cocktails

I had a dirty little secret in high school: I was a horse person.

In the burbs, this was standard. Perhaps even a status symbol. But in the city, being a rider was on the same social plane as being a drama nerd, which I happened to be too. Given these two factors, sometime around junior year, my friend Essie told me that it was a miracle that I was cool.

I am hard pressed to think of what possibly negated both horse and theater in my pedigree to make me acceptable company at the cool kids’ table. But I think part of it must have had to do with alcohol. For every horse show I attended in Connecticut on weekends, I also most likely attended a high school party, wine coolers et al.

In college, I realized that my weekend routine must have been early training for the drinking event that appeared each spring: Derby Day.

It was a dream come true. I got to watch miniature people competing on horseback, with my hair neatly tucked under a sun hat, and my Solo cup filled with whiskey. Derby day has also been one of the few party traditions that has lived on since college. And because we are so much classier now, we can afford to add fresh mint leaves to our whiskey, turning the drink into a classic julep.

This year, I’m reinventing the old Derby Day classic in punch form. This concoction was inspired by our BGSK catering bar captain, Matt, who suggested I try making a cross between a hot toddy and a julep, with chamomile simple syrup, plenty of lemon juice, and a hint of elderflower liqueur to add a floral note for spring.

If you’re tuning into the horsies next weekend, try serving your guests a few tumblers full of Derby Day punch. It is sure to bring out your inner cool kid, so long as you’re not afraid to let your hair down too.

From my kitchen, where horses and alcohol come hand in hand, to yours,

Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipes**

Derby Day Punch
Makes 20-25 servings

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 chamomile tea bags
10 cups bourbon
3 1/3 cups lemon juice (you can use store bought)
3 1/3 cup elderflower liquor
1 bunch mint leaves

Combine the sugar with 2 ½ cups boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tea bags and steep for 1-2 hours at room temperature. (This can be done days in advance).

In a large punch bowl, combine the chamomile simple syrup. Bourbon, lemon juice, elderflower liquor, and mint leaves. Add a loaf of ice (a giant ice cube made in a loaf pan) or a large handful of cubes, and some lemon slices for garnish (optional).

Giveaway: Le Creuset Steamer Set Winner!

Thank you for participating in the spring Le Creuset giveaway! We chose a winner randomly from the list of commenters. And the winner is…Anna Rose! Here’s what Anna had to say:

Squash and zucchini–can’t get enough of either when they’re fresh! And, I can’t wait for summer tomatoes!

We can’t wait for the produce either, and we’ll have many a recipe on the way to satisfy those cravings!

From our kitchen, albeit small, to yours,

Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS

Cooking For Others: Green Chile Chicken

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To my mind, Molly O’Neill is a genius. She’s the author of The New York Cookbook and One Big Table, and the former food columnist for the New York Times Magazine–not to mention a horde of other amazing food credits. Her books are more than cookbooks; they’re real research projects, ones that span years and cities and now a whole country. I can spend hours engrossed in the books, reading not just recipes but also whole stories, histories, almanacs.

Best of all, Molly O’Neill is writing a blurb for our book.

That’s just one reason that we’re featuring this post today. Most importantly, this simple, flavorful chicken stew is the first recipe I bookmarked and made from One Big Table, after flipping every one of its pages at least once. We’ve been known to open cans of chipotle in adobo and use them in everything, but canned green chiles were something I hadn’t yet tried.

This stew is the best kind of one-pot meal, straightforward to make and luscious to serve. I think it would be easily doubled or tripled for a crowd if you’ve having a party. The only condiments you need are some corn tortillas, warmed in the oven or on the stove, and perhaps some grated cheese. To stretch the stew further, make a pot of white rice.

Happy Cinco De Mayo! (Check out our full Cinco De Mayo Party Menu!)

From my kitchen, celebrating with Molly’s stew, to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Green Chile Chicken
from Molly O’Neil’s One Big Table
serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, trimmed and chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 jalepeno chile, seeded, trimmed, and minced
One 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, carrot, and jalapeno. Cook about 4 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the green chiles, garlic, cumin, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook 1 minute, until aromatic. Stir in the flour until incorporated.

Stir in the broth and chicken, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. If using fresh corn, stir it in and cook for 5-10 minutes. If frozen, cook the chicken 5-10 minutes, until no longer pink, then add the corn and cook 1-2 minutes more.

Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and add extra salt and pepper to taste. Serve with corn tortillas, charred over the stove flame.

Recipe Flash: Whipped Mint Ganache Tart with Blackberries

Chances are we’ve got it all wrong, but for us Northerners, Derby Day means an afternoon of wearing spring clothes and drinking mint juleps. Oh, and betting on horses. In honor of the mint and the real arrival of springtime, I invented this tart. The filling sits in a shallow shortbread crust, more like a French pastry than a deep-dish Southern pie. It’s really made of white chocolate, mint, and cream, but it tastes like a mixture of marshmallow and heaven. To bring spring into the mix, I top it all off with some gently cooked blackberries, for which you could substitute freshly cut, sugared strawberries if they’re around in time.

If you’re hosting a Derby Day Party–or any spring event–at home, this elegant yet gooey tart makes a fine end to a cocktail party or sitdown dinner.

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,

Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipe**

Whipped Mint Ganache Tart with Blackberries
Serves 10

Ingredients

For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (ingredients contain cocoa butter)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract or 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves

For the crust
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

For the berries
10 ounces blackberries or strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar

If you’re using fresh mint in the filling, start two days ahead of time. Combine the mint and the cream in a small bowl and refrigerate overnight.

At least 6 hours before serving, strain the mint if you’ve used it and transfer the cream to a small saucepan. Chop the white chocolate coarsely and place it in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil slowly, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minutes, then stir thoroughly but gently to melt the chocolate. Let rest for about 15 minutes, the stir it again to make sure all the chocolate is melted. If you didn’t use the fresh mint, stir in the extract. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°F for the crust. Combine the butter, vanilla, sugar, and salt and stir well. Add the flour and fold it in. The dough will be very soft. Press it into a 9-inch fluted pie pan with removable bottom, and even it  out across the bottom and the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden and firm. Cool completely.

Prepare the blackberries: combine half of the berries with the sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a smal saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the berries have begun to break apart and a syrup has formed. Add the remaining half of the berries, and cook through. Cool to room temperature. (If you’re using strawberries, no need to cook. Simply slice the berries, combine them with the sugar, and leave to marinate for 30 minutes-1 hour.)

When ready to serve, beat the cold ganache with a handheld mixer until it is thickened and holds stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat–you just want the ganache to be spreadable. Scoop the ganache into the cooled tart shell and spread it across, making a slight indentation in the center, where you’ll pour the berries. You can do this up to 2 hours ahead of time; keep the tart in a cool place.

When ready to serve, heap the berries in the middle of the tart, letting the juices flow around the ganache. Serve immediately.

The Kitchn: Breakfast with a Blogger

We were featured today on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn, in their Breakfast with a Blogger series! Check out the write up and recipe for Pistachio Marmalade Cake here!

Amazon: In The Small Kitchen Trailer!

Our book trailer is finally up on Amazon! Check it out on the In The Small Kitchen page here, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy!