Corned Beef and Braised Cabbage with Red Potatoes, photo by Donna

  It’s time for my yearly re-post of a recipe for corning your own beef. If you can brine a chicken, you can cure your own beef. Start by Thursday and it will be ready to cook on St. Paddy’s day. Of special note here is my partner in charcuterie Brian Polcyn’s recipe for a fabulous pickling spice. You can buy pickling spice, but Brian’s is over-the-top delicious. Any cut of beef can be “corned.” (See my pastrami short ribs.) But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available here, and also from Amazon. If you know of any local shops that make their own bacon, hams, or smoked sausage, they may have some on hand. This is what accounts for the deep red Read On »

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The Boulevardier with the twist

  Just home from a quick trip to Chicago (have started the reporting for a new book!) and have piles of notes to transcribe. Will be having the above if I can get even halfway through by 6 pm tonight. Happy Friday, all! Originally posted in February, 2013: Were it not for the Internet, my guess is that only the most devoted barfly would know about the Boulevardier. It’s not in any of my cocktail books, not the standard-bearing The Standard Bartender’s Guide, my Madmen-era dad’s paperback. I only heard about it from a reader of this blog (with links below). And an email this week pushed me into a tasting, happily! I love how various flavoring components (bitters, vermouths) become different cocktails when you change the spirit. How the Manhattan becomes a Rob Roy when you Read On »

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Lamb-X3

  Having come into the possession of several exquisite lamb tenderloins from the well-known and much admired John Jamison, and it being too cold for pleasant grilling, I pondered what to do with them. I wanted to flavor but not overpower them. So I returned to an old idea: the cooked marinade. Marinades do one thing: they flavor the outside of the meat. That, combined with a grill pan, would give just the flavor I wanted. If you infuse the oil with aromatics and partially cook those aromatics, the aromatics themselves (here, garlic and shallot) are more deeply flavorful. I’m loving my grill pan this winter. It does add flavor in ways that oil in a skillet does not. It helps to have one with a top piece that you can use to press down Read On »

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Key-Lime-Martini-2

    So cold, so much snow, can’t get Key West off my mind. I must, but before I do, one final post and a cocktail, the Key Lime Martini (shot with my iPhone in a dark bar). Donna and Abby (of Spaceman Spiff) once tried to recreate this but couldn’t get it right; we all got too drunk trying and had to give up. I thought it impossible to make outside Key West, but one of the boys, Jason, said he makes these for himself and his wife Kristi every weekend. His recipe is below. Or you can watch below as the wonderful Ramsey pours one at the White Tarpon, a beloved watering hole in Key West, if you don’t mind the poor lighting. The sweet and sour mix Ramsey uses is Daily’s, Jason tells Read On »

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Key-Sunset-Cocktail

(Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman) In one week I’ll be in quirky, decadent Key West on my annual boondoggle cooking for my cousin, Rob, and the crew of Spaceman Spiff. Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour gathering pots and pans, two big cutting boards, a giant cast iron skillet, Lexan tub and circulator, flat-edged wood spoons, side towels, knives, all of which are loaded onto the boat trailer that’s now on the road south. My iPhone says it’s 77 degrees and sunny. Here in Cleveland it’s 18 degrees. Yesterday when I woke it was -2. Tomorrow’s high here will be 16 degrees. Needless to say I am not disappointed that I’ll spend nine afternoons cooking for the sailing droogs, with mornings poolside to get some writing work done. And looking forward so much I intend to Read On »

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