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Argentine Cappuccino with Dulce de Leche

25 Jan

argentine cappuccino with dulce de leche

I was at a cafe in Buenos Aires for merienda (an afternoon snack, usually consisting of coffee and pastries) a few weeks back when I spotted a drink the cafe called a “capuchino porteño.” Porteño is an adjective used for the natives here (literally meaning of/from the port, referring to Buenos Aires being a port city), and once I read the description of this cappuccino, I knew I had to order it. The key ingredient, unsurprising given its great popularity here, was dulce de leche. The drink was right up my alley, since I prefer my coffee drinks sweet and milky. When I found that our apartment in Uruguay (another dulce de leche loving country, by the by) included an espresso machine, I was determined to recreate this drink. It’s not a traditional cappuccino, although it does have the usual base of espresso and steamed milk; this is more of a dessert than anything, and in the Argentine style of desserts, it’s quite sweet. Dulce de leche is drizzled down the side of the glass and whipped into some cream on the top (this recipes makes extra dulce de leche whipped cream, but I’m sure you’ll find a use for it), and a sprinkle of cinnamon (cocoa powder would also work well) is a great complement to the caramel flavor.

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Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade

26 Nov

strawberry bourbon lemonade

Strawberries are starting to show up here, reminding me why I chose to move to the Southern hemisphere just in time for spring. I couldn’t resist buying some up and concocting this cocktail for the increasingly hot days. Nothing like sitting on the balcony, sipping on this dangerously tasty drink, and wishing the pool below was for this apartment building instead of the next one over. I’ve been feeling nostalgic for bourbon, so that’s what I used, even though the bottle of Jack Daniels was pricey. Selection’s limited around here (the Argentine imitations are, frankly, not even close). But this recipe can be adapted to whatever liquor you have on hand, and cheap liquor works just fine, so save your high quality stuff for drinking straight. Ginger mint simple syrup was ready and waiting in my refrigerator, and the flavors are great in here, but, again, feel free to adapt – plain simple syrup will do just fine, or if you have another fancy infused one around, use that. If winter’s approaching where you are and strawberries aren’t in season, the drink’s tasty without them, and it’s a great prop for pretending you’re someplace warm, to boot.

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Momofuku Pulled Pork

21 Nov

momofuku pulled pork

It’s not often that a recipe comes along that I can eat for multiple days straight. I get easily tired of eating the same thing and am always craving something new – that question about, if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, leaves me feeling panicked contemplating the possibility. But despite the large quantity of pulled pork made by this recipe, taken from the menu of the famous New York restaurant Momofuku, I found myself wanting even more when I ran out (after 48 hours straight of using it in every meal). The recipe is deceptively simple (though, admittedly, requires some patience), with the shoulder rubbed with salt and sugar, then cooked for hours in low heat, and finally glazed with brown sugar at the very end. The result is moist, tender pork with an addictive salty-sweet crust – I can never resist the salty-sweet combination. For my first few meals, I ate this with a Korean spread reminiscent of how its served in the restaurant, alongside homemade kimchi, a scallion ginger relish (recipe included at the bottom of the post), thinly sliced cucumber, and leaves of butter lettuce (there’s also rice served in the restaurant, but I didn’t find it necessary here). But because the pork itself is so simple, there’s no need to stick to serving it Asian-style – I also had this on a salad with black beans, apples, blue cheese, and a red wine vinaigrette, as well as in a sandwich on crusty French bread. No matter how you serve it, this version of pulled pork is worth cooking up

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Ginger Mint Simple Syrup

14 Nov

ginger mint simple syrup

I love basics like this recipe. An infused simple syrup is a great building block that’s great to have in your refrigerator because even though it’s trivial to throw together, it makes it easy to add a gourmet touch. Suddenly, it’s no problem to make ginger mint lemonade or ginger mint iced tea. Or you can pour a little bit over a fruit salad to take dessert to the next level. And, of course, it’s the perfect addition to mixed drinks, a great foil for whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, or whatever your favorite spirit might be.

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Thai Basil Lime Agua Fresca

29 Jun

thai basil lime agua fresca

I’ve been posting about Thai basil all week, and here’s a final recipe honoring one of my favorite herbs. Perfect for the seemingly constant heatwaves that have been hitting DC lately. An amazingly refreshing agua fresca. A little sweet and a little tart and packed with flavor from the Thai basil (this is one recipe where other varieties of basil can be readily substituted, too, if that’s what you have in abundance), this is exactly the drink I want to sit and sip on during a hot summer day. It’s also ridiculously simple to make and a vibrant glowing green color, so it’s a great option to serve to guests.

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Habanero Infused Mezcal

20 Apr

habanero infused mezcal

I’ve recently become obsessed with mezcal. Similar to tequila, mezcal is made with agave, but the plant is roasted before distillation, lending a pleasantly smoky flavor to mezcal that is missing from tequila. Since I happen to love the flavors that are usually paired with tequila (lime and salt? Orange juice and grenadine? Yes, please!) and also anything smoky (bacon, good barbecue, smoked cheeses, smoked salt – all irresistible to me), it’s really not all that surprising that mezcal has grabbed my attention. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking things a step further and infusing my mezcal with habanero peppers for a spicy punch on top of the smokiness. The result is amazing with anything fruity although definitely not for those without a high spice tolerance. My habaneros may have been extra spicy (or maybe this was because I opted to only infuse half of my bottle of mezcal rather than the whole thing), but I actually needed less than 24 hours to reach a level that tested my (rather high) limits. So be careful to keep tasting the mezcal as it infuses so it doesn’t get too spicy. This technique can, of course, be used with tequila instead of mezcal and with different peppers instead of habaneros (although I like the fruity and citrusy notes they lend).

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Aged Eggnog

30 Dec

aged eggnog

I revel in the unusual when it comes to cooking. The dishes that most people find too strange or disgusting are typically the ones I’m most interested in. So when I heard about eggnog that was aged for up to one year, I knew I had to try my hand at making it. The alcohol content here (about 20%) is what keeps the egg, cream, and milk from spoiling, and the aging process improves the flavor as the proteins in the egg and dairy denature and the different components combine. If you’re scared of the aging, this eggnog still tastes significantly better than store-bought varieties immediately after making. I’ve only tasted this at the three week mark thus far, but the flavors were already mellowed and noticeably different. If you’re not scared of the aging, make this now and you’ll be glad you did when the next holiday season rolls around!

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