1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 cups fruity red wine, such as a pinot noir
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Bing cherries, sliced oranges and Meyer lemons
Soda water, optional
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Let simmer 1 to 2 minutes to form a simple syrup. Let cool.
In a pitcher, combine the wine, brandy, orange juice and some of the fruit. Add half the simple syrup, taste and add more, as needed. Refrigerate at least an hour, or as long as overnight.
Serve over ice, with a splash of soda water. Garnish with fresh cherries and orange and Meyer lemon slices.
6 medium cured guindillas (see note)
12 large green Spanish olives, cured, marinated
6 cured cornichons
6 cured cebollitas
6 cured anchovy fillets
Arrange 1 guindilla, 2 olives, 1 cornichon, 1 cebollita and 1 anchovy on each wooden skewer. Serve on baguette slices or, if you want the pintxos to stand up, skewer the cebollitas last for stability.
Note: You can use Italian pepperoncini instead of guindillas, which are small Basque pickled peppers.
3 to 5 yellow chili peppers, such as guindillas or cubanelles, pricked a few times with a toothpick
White wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar per 1 cup liquid
1 tablespoon kosher salt per 1 cup liquid
Makes 3 to 5 pickled peppers.
Place chilis in a jar that just holds them; cover with water. Drain water into a measuring cup. Note the amount. Discard half and add an equal quantity of vinegar.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the sugar and 1 tablespoon of water, swirling the pan lightly until a light amber caramel forms. Add the vinegar mixture and salt. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until sugar and salt have dissolved.
Combine peppers and pickling liquid. Weigh down peppers so they are submerged. Cool, then seal and refrigerate for 2 to 4 days, or until pickled.
20 pearl onions
Red wine vinegar
1/3 ounce sugar per 1 cup liquid
1 medium red beet, peeled, quartered
1 ounce kosher salt per 1 cup liquid
1 fresh bay leaf
1/2 star anise
1/8 ounce black peppercorns
Makes 15 to 20 pickled pearl onions.
Slice off onion tips (the end opposite the root end). Fill a bowl with ice and water. Bring a small saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add onions; cook 3 to 4 minutes, until they soften slightly. Transfer onions to the ice bath. Rinse saucepan.
Slip the onions from their skins. Place onions in a jar that just holds them; cover with water. Drain the water into a measuring cup. Note amount. Discard half and add an equal quantity of vinegar.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Do not stir; swirl the pan lightly and heat until a light amber caramel forms. Add onions, beets and salt; stir to coat and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add vinegar mixture, bay leaf, star anise and peppercorns. Reduce heat to medium, simmer 3 to 5 minutes more, until all the sugar and salt have dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a food-safe container; weigh down onions so they are submerged. Seal the container and refrigerate for 2 to 4 days, or until pickled.
Baby Beets, Cucumbers and Feta Pintxos
8 baby beets, 1 to 1 1/2-inches in diameter
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
8 squares feta cheese, cut 3/4-inch square and 1/2-inch thick
8 pitted Kalamata olives
8 squares peeled English cucumber, cut 3/4-inch square and 1/2-inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil and moscatel vinegar reduction, for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the stems of the unpeeled beets, leaving 1/2 inch intact. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them in a baking pan with 1/4 cup water. Roast for 30 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a knife. Transfer to a bowl of cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, top and tail them and slip off the skins. (Note: If you are using small beets, cut them into squares, as you did the feta and cucumber.)
Thread each of 8 skewers with a beet, a feta square, an olive and a cucumber square. Arrange on a small platter. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar reduction. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Albondigas with Wine Sauce
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound each ground beef and pork
3 tablespoons fresh, flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 slices country bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped, blanched almonds
2 tablespoons fresh, flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
A few saffron threads, warmed and crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup dry white wine, dry fino or amontillado sherry
2/3 cup chicken broth
Meatballs: Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Combine ground meats, parsley, egg, softened bread, spices, salt, pepper and onion mixture. Mix well. Fry a nugget of the mixture, taste and adjust seasoning.
Shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Spread flour in a shallow bowl. Roll meatballs in flour, coating evenly and shaking off the excess.
In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear meatballs, turning as needed, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
For the wine sauce, combine the garlic, almonds, parsley, paprika, saffron, a pinch or two of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a food processor; process until finely ground into a “picada.”
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add wine and broth; bring to a simmer. Add meatballs, reduce heat, cover and simmer until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes more. Add the picada and cook a few minutes more.
Grilled Chorizo Kebabs with Cherries
12 ounces cooking chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch circles
1/2 pound cherries, pitted
1 large red onion or bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
Skewer the ingredients together, alternating between the chorizo, fruit and onion. Place in a grill-safe pan. Drizzle with olive oil.
Grill over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, rotating the skewers periodically.
Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad
4 cups watermelon, cubed
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thin, optional
10 leaves fresh basil, sliced thin
Vinaigrette or ranch dressing
In a large bowl, combine watermelon, feta cheese and optional red onion. Scatter basil over the top, and lightly dress with vinaigrette or ranch dressing.
Picante Three-Melon Salad
3 cups red cubed, seeded watermelon
3 cups yellow cubed, seeded watermelon (see note)
3 cups cubed honeydew melon
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 finely chopped, seeded serrano or jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon minced chipotle chile (from a can in adobo sauce)
Combine watermelons, honeydew, onion, cilantro and serrano in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine rind, juice, salt, chili powder and minced chipotle. Pour juice mixture over melon mixture, and toss well. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Note: If you can’t find yellow watermelon, use cantaloupe.
Creamy Cantaloupe Panna Cotta with Mixed Berries
1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, flesh cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin (1 packet plus 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt (see note)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons honey, divided
1 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
In a blender, puree cantaloupe until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing lightly on solids (you should have about 2 cups of puree); discard solids. Pour 1/3 cup juice into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top; let sit 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk yogurt into remaining juice.
In a small saucepan, bring cream, 2 tablespoons of the honey, and a pinch of salt to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in gelatin mixture and cook until gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute. Whisk cream mixture into yogurt mixture and divide among 6 (6-ounce) bowls or ramekins. Refrigerate until set, 2 1/2 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon honey, blackberries, blueberries and orange juice. With the back of a fork, lightly mash berries to release their juices. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To unmold panna cottas, run a small knife around the outside edge of each bowl and invert onto a serving plate, gently shaking from side to side to release. Serve with berries and juices.
Note: If you want it sweeter, use 1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half or whole milk instead of the yogurt.
Honeydew and Arugula Salad
1/2 honeydew melon
1/3 cup mixed fresh herbs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lime juice
10 ounces baby arugula
Salt and pepper
Cut honeydew into small, thin pieces. Puree 1/2 cup of the melon pieces with the herbs, mayonnaise, lime juice and salt and pepper. Toss this mixture with the baby arugula and add the rest of the melon pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Italian Caprese Sliders
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic, divided
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices
18 white dinner rolls
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 large Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
36 medium-large basil leaves, stemmed
Makes 18 sliders.
Make the patties: In a large bowl, gently but thoroughly mix together the ground beef, Italian sausage, Italian seasoning, onion, bell pepper and 2 cloves minced garlic. Press the mixture into a jelly roll pan, using a rolling pin to make a flat, even layer. (Cover the meat with plastic wrap, if necessary, to keep it from sticking as it’s rolled.) Cut the meat into roughly 2-inch squares.
Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers until cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. When the burgers are done, place a slice of mozzarella on each burger and tent with foil while preparing the buns.
Warm the rolls: Wrap the rolls in foil and place on the top rack of the grill, or place in a warm oven until warmed through.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and remaining minced clove garlic. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette.
Assemble the sliders: Place a cheese-topped patty on the base of the bun, add a slice of tomato and 2 basil leaves. Drizzle each burger with 1 teaspoon of the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
4 (8-ounce) ground beef patties
8 slices Gruyere cheese
2 cups Howie red onions (recipe follows)
3/4 cup Dijonnaise (recipe follows)
4 hamburger buns or English muffins
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
Heat a grill over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side for medium.
Just before pulling the burgers off the grill, top each patty with one-half cup Howie onions. Place 2 slices Gruyere over the onions and continue cooking until the cheese is fully melted. Remove and set aside in a warm place.
Toast the buns on the grill, and slather the top half of each with about 3 tablespoons Dijonnaise. Place about 1 cup shredded lettuce on the bottom of each toasted bun, place the burger on top and then cover with the top of the bun. Serve immediately.
Howie Red Onions
1 pound red onions
1 quart red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Makes about 2 cups.
Cut the red onions into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, making sure everything is dissolved.
In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, combine the onions and vinegar mixture. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the onions are softened, light pink to purple in color and slightly translucent, about 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass baking dish and cool before using.
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 cups mayonnaise
Makes about 2 2/3 cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream and ground black pepper. Mix in the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise. The Dijonnaise will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Hoad’s Hot Jalapeno Burger
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Tajin clasico seasoning or taco seasoning
Habanero or other hot chile powder
2 to 3 fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced
4 slices of pepper jack cheese
4 jalapeño cheese bagels, toasted
Lettuce for garnish
Fresh avocado slices, for garnish
Hot sauce, preferably homemade or Frank’s
In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, green onions, garlic, mustard and taco seasoning. Divide the mixture and form into 4 patties. Cover and refrigerate the patties at least 1 hour to give the flavors time to marry.
Heat the grill and season both sides of each patty with habanero powder. Grill the patties on both sides to desired doneness, topping the burgers just before they are done with sliced jalapeños and cheese.
Serve the burgers in the toasted buns, garnish as desired with lettuce, avocado slices and hot sauce.