Whet Bar – Cocktails

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Summer Lover


Beach House Crab Cakes

I am a summer lover.  The summer solstice is the time for listening to acoustics around a fire pit on the beach, Bar-B-Ques, picnics, and dining al fresco.  I muse over the flavors of the season and think of all of the wonderful foods I want to prepare during this glorious 13-weeks of fun in the sun.  My list is long.  This week I settled on crab cakes.  I discovered a new way to prepare crab cakes in the July/August 2017 issue of Louisiana Cookin magazine which I combined with a recipe for lemon crab cakes that I learned how to prepare at a cooking class hosted by Christina Dimacali called “Clean Your Plate” when I lived in Philadelphia, PA.  I call the new crab cake recipe, “Beach House Crab Cakes”.  It is a longtime dream of mine to own a beach house with a water front patio where I can entertain guests and have memorable summer dinner parties.  These crab cakes would star as one of the appetizers.  Until then; however, I am grateful for what I have right now.  1.) Access to the beach; 2.) a big beach blanket; 3.) a beach umbrella; 4.) a blue-tooth speaker to play my beach picnic playlist; and 4.) a beach bag packed with my beach house crab cakes and cucumber lime basil prosecco spritzer.

BEACH HOUSE CRAB CAKES

Makes about 8 crab cakes

Recipe adapted from Louisiana Cookin magazine, July/August 2017 issue

INGREDIENTS INSTRUCTIONS
1 tablespoon canola oil In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat.

Add corn and bell pepper; cook until softened, about 3 minutes

Spoon corn mixture into a large bowl, let cool slightly

Add mayonnaise, green onion, mustard powder, salt, black pepper, Creole spice, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and egg; whisk until combined.

Fold in crab meat, bread crumbs and lemon zest

Refrigerate for 10 minutes

Shape mixture into 1/3-cup patties

 

Heat remaining oil in same skillet over medium heat.  Cook cakes in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side, turning carefully with a spatula.  Let drain on a wire rack.

 

Serve with Dill-Cucumber sauce.  Garnish with dill, chives and a lemon wedge

4 tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup fresh corn kernels
¼ cup red pepper, diced
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup green onion, chopped (2)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice + zest
1 pound lump crabmeat, drained
1 cup panko
DILL-CUCUMBER
½ cup plain Greek yogurt In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, dill, chives, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Gently stir in cucumber.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or Creole mustard)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup seedless cucumber, chopped

 

WATERMELON and FRIED CHICKEN, DONE UP


Watermelon-Shrimp Salad

Watermelon is one of the first foods that come to mind when I think of 4th of July bar-b-ques and picnics.  It’s a summertime favorite.  Sweet, refreshing, good for you.  Yet, the association of watermelon with Blacks in America, pictured as lazy simpletons, made for some distastefully juicy humor at the expense of a nation of people who loved the fruit as much then, as we all do today.

It was with the popular satirical blackface American theater performances from the 1830s through the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s that spread such racial stereotypes.

It’s disheartening to know that some Black people will not eat watermelon to this day because of this stigma, regardless of how good it for you.  Watermelon is soaked with nutrients, each mouthwatering bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C and is nicknamed “liquid love” because it is a rich source of citrulline, an amino acid that enhances male sexual performance (it relaxes and dilates the blood vessels much like Viagra) making this slave diet food all the rave of late.  It should be noted; however, that the sweet watermelon can be found in a medieval manuscript, the Tacuinum Sanitatis, which is a guide to healthy living based on an 11th century Arabic manuscript.  It’s what the angels eat.

As we celebrate the independence of the 13 colonies that represented America in 1776 from Great Britain with fireworks and feasts sure to include watermelon, it’s hard not to recognize that it wasn’t for almost another 100 years, by executive order in 1863 (the Emancipation Proclamation), that the Black people in America gained their independence; all the while, the nation’s laughing stalk. The United States is the largest producer of watermelon and no doubt the farmers of this crop in those early days were Black.  The under mindedness of the value placed on Black people and this bountiful crop was crude and shameful to say the least.  It’s glorious though, to see the influence and the evolution of both Black people in America and of the recipes starring watermelon.  It was the recipe on the cover of the July/August 2017 issue of Louisiana Cookin’ for Watermelon Shrimp Salad that inspired me to write this post.  It is a beautiful, flavorful summer salad that I instantly said yes to, a “done up” watermelon salad with a “done up” watermelon cocktail. I curated a cooking playlist to make this dish and another recipe from the New York Times for my beach picnic and discovered a song called Watermelon Man by Johnnie Taylor on Spotify, the Watermelon Man is super cool and appropriate for what I felt as I danced and cooked.  My Beach Picnic Playlist connected me even more to my cooking experience.

Watermelon Shrimp Salad and Pink Cadillac Watermelon Margaritas

Fried chicken, another American favorite, has negative connotations associated with Blacks and is also another common dish found in summer celebrations.  For my beach picnic I used a The New York Times  recipe for Fried Chicken Biscuits with Hot Honey Butter.  Talk about movin’ on up.  I enjoyed the results of the double-dredged crust for the fried chicken that the recipe called for.  One layer of flour and cayenne pepper and one layer of panko.  I would have customarily used the flour mixture for each dredge.  The recipe also called for the thigh, which I also like because its the juiciest part of the chicken, the dark meat.  A feeling of nostalgia overcame me while making the biscuits, that seems to always happen when I do anything related to baking.

Fried Chicken Biscuits with Hot Honey Butter

A signature drink is always a fun addition to celebratory dinners.  Aretha Franklin’s Freeway of Love named the pretty watermelon margarita, Pink Cadillac.  Trading out triple sec for Grand Marnier and for all of the health benefits of fresh watermelon juice makes this cocktail a high-end ride just like Aretha’s whip.

Pink Cadillac Watermelon Margarita

  • 2 cups Watermelon, cubed & juiced
  • 1 cup Silver Tequila, 100% Agave
  • 2oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice, juiced
  • 1/3 cup Simple Syrup, infused with orange zest

Watermelon and fried chicken is a mainstay in American cuisine with a cynical history no matter how we dress it up, it’s bitter-sweet, yet it is a part of  this nation’s food history that makes the fabric of this country.

Happy 4th of July ~ 2017

The Telltale Kitchen (cafelamour.me; alovecafe; gina’skitchen, spellbindingcuisine) reveals traditions, beliefs, myths and secrets of food and cooking.

Fish Tales


06-22-2015 Fish Tales - Thai Style MusselsBeloved Food Lovers,

As a weekly practice I write down all of the good things that happen to me throughout the week.  This past Monday I was especially excited about a dinner date.  I spent the weekend contemplating what to make.  First, I thought I would make one of my favorite French dishes, Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic but then decided that would be too heavy for a hot summer night.  It was hard to know what to make because this is a person that I am just getting to know and I haven’t discovered his “favorites”.  I love to spoil people with their “favorites”.  Then, out of no where, the idea popped in my head to make mussels.  Last summer a fellow food blogger and colleague of mine posted a recipe for “Thai-Style Spicy Mussels“, as I recalled, it sounded and looked fabulous but I never got around to testing his recipe, so I headed over to Gotham Home Table to refresh my memory.  I took a chance that the guy liked seafood and went to town creating one of my famous seduction suppers.  Everything came together nicely, the ingredients for the broth inspired wonders, I pulled together a beautiful tablescape based on the coconut milk, ginger, pineapple chunks, hot peppers, lime zest and cilantro infusion. 06-22-2015 Fish Tales - Thai Style Mussels - Close up

Earth tones and a beautiful orchid, symbolic of the vanilla orchids that grow wild in Thailand brightened up the table.  I placed a wonderfully rich homemade vanilla cake right in the center, between the setting for two and it looked divine.  Just as I buttered the bread before putting it in the oven, I received a text message, “May have to take a rain check baby girl.  Give me a call momma.”  All I could do was laugh.  Really.  There I was all dolled up, with a yellow flower in my hair and an amazing dinner that I spent two days planning and had just about completed.  Of course, I did not immediately reply to him nor call him.  I took a shot of the cognac instead, yes, Hennessy, it was to be used for the special drink that I had planned for the evening, named “What the Hell??”, and appropriately so.  “What the Hell??” is a concoction of ginger root beer, a splash of apple juice, cognac and lime slices.  I proceeded setting my table and toasted my bread.  I couldn’t let this upset ruin the good thing I had going on.  The sounds of Lhasa Del Sela in the background were as soothing as they were sexy and I wanted to stay in that groove.  After I made up my mind not to express any disappointment, I called.  No answer.  I left No message.  I proceeded.

06-22-2015 Fish Tales - What the HellAs I settled into dinner, I looked at the empty place setting beside me and said, “There must be a VIP reservation for you” and allowed my feelings to flow from my mind to my hand and on a piece of paper in my journal.  I didn’t much feel like dessert, feeling a little too gingerly after drinking for two.  I laid my game down and slept like a baby.  Yes, even a culinary seductress will get stood up.  But like ol’ boy said, “everything happens for a reason” and it’s all good.  Duly noted. 06-22-2015 Fish Tales - Diary

Sensuously yours,

Honey L’Amour

P.S. Do not let this deter you from trying the Spicy Thai-Style Mussels, they are better than good!!! …And I did get a follow-up text message and call.  More on that later.

 

06-22-2015 Fish Tales - Dinner Table

RECIPES

♥ Love is always the first ingredient in amorous cooking ♥

THAI-STYLE SPICY MUSSELS

From the Gotham Home Table kitchen comes this slightly modified sweet and spicy twist on a classic recipe for this delicious Thai-style broth to steam (or flex) your mussels

1 (8-ounce) coconut cream (Gotham’s kitchen calls for coconut milk)

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks, with juice

1 shallot, diced

2 jalapeño peppers, diced (Gotham’s kitchen calls for serrano peppers)

 1 inch piece ginger root, diced

2 pounds mussels, de-bearded

Fresh cilantro, garnishing

**See Gotham Home Table for cooking instructions.

WHAT THE HELL??

6 ounces ginger root beer

1 ounce apple juice

2 ounces cognac (Hennessy)