The new and ever more delicious world of food with its ensuing population of “Foodies” has initiated an entirely new way to add pizazz to dinner parties, brunches and even outdoor bar-b-ques. Musings and pairings of signature cocktails, with an unending variety of foods can be used for spirituous marinades: including grilled succulent braised pineapple vodka veggies, apple bourbon marinated roast or pork chops, delicious pies topped with a layer of pecans braised in coffee liquor.
Cocktails can compliment any dish; the pairings are limited only by your own sense of creativity. Each month we will share some of our favorite recipes here. Cocktails are lower in alcohol than most people think. After a spirit is combined with citrus juice or other juices, a simple syrup, and then diluted from being shaken or stirred with ice, the resulting drink’s alcohol content can be as low as, if not lower than, 20 percent, close to that of a white wine.
Look for dates and times of free “Pairings Food & Drink” classes hosted by some of our region’s top chefs and distillers in the coming weeks.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Tequila-lime flank steak with grilled cherry tomato
For the steak:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup blanca tequila
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 garlic clove, minced fine
1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
Freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 lb flank steak, trimmed (or any other tougher cut of meat, like shoulder)
In a large measuring cup or bowl, stir together first 7 ingredients, then whisk in the oil until combined. Season with pepper. Add steak to a baking dish large enough to hold it flat, and pour marinade over. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours.
Heat your grill, and brush the grate with oil. Grill the steaks over high heat until done to your liking, 4-5 minutes a side for medium rare. Remove from grill and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
For the salsa:
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 jalapeño pepper, minced
Juice of four limes (approx. 3-4 Tbsp) + zest of one lime
Juice of one orange
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
2 pints cherry tomatoes
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus some
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
In a mixing bowl, combine red onion, garlic, jalapeño, lime juice and zest, orange juice, and cilantro, then stir in the 4 Tbsp olive oil. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil to coat, and toss liberally with salt and pepper.
Grill the tomatoes over high heat until the skins are a bit charred in places and cracking, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the grill, let cool a bit, and then stir into the salsa, breaking up some of the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Slice the steak against the grain and serve on a bed of mesclun greens, topped with the salsa. And a classic margarita.
1-1/2 oz good quality blanca tequila
1 oz orange liquor
Juice of 2 limes
Dash of simple syrup (optional)
Rim a margarita or rocks glass with a lime wedge and salt them, and then fill with ice. Combine all ingredients except salt in a shaker over ice and shake well. If you like your margarita on the sweeter side, add the simple syrup (orange juice works well, too). Strain the margarita into the glass, garnish with a lime, and savor.