It dawned on me the other day I had never written about a beverage. I’m certainly not whipping up cocktails in my kitchen every night, but alcohol or not, I do enjoy toying with ingredients in my drinks- whether it be adding apple pie spice to hot cocoa, or putting grapefruit juice in my gin and tonic (though there must be a name for that). With an abundance of limes on hand, I decided to make homemade limeade. If you’ve only had lemonade and not limeade, then you’re missing a crucial part of the citrus drink spectrum. Even more tart in flavor, limeade is incredibly refreshing. To enhance the drink’s natural green hue and mellow out the tartness, I added mint. This drink is wonderful on its own, but it without a doubt begs for a splash of gin or vodka. Cheers to finding my go to summertime drink.
Homemade Mint Limeade
Make 2 glasses
juice of 6 limes
2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
3 T agave nectar (or simple syrup)
2 1/2 c water (sparkling if you have it)
Whisk together the lime juice, mint, and agave nectar. Divide lime mixture between two medium size glasses. Fill the glasses slightly more than half way with ice cubes. Stir well to chill lime mixture. Pour 1 1/4 cups of flat or sparkling water into each glass and stir well. Enjoy immediately!
A few weeks back, I had dinner at Rosa Mexicano for the first time. I ate everything from the crab empanadas to the pork belly tacos, but what stood out the most was their guacamole. Big buttery pieces of avocado tossed in onion, jalapeno and cilantro. As I downed the dip, I began to question why, when making guacamole at home, had I always smashed my avocados into oblivion? From that moment forward I swore I’d never made guacamole that way again. This Sunday, midst a Mexican food themed weekend, I finally had the opportunity to amend my guacamole making tendencies. I followed Rosa Mexicano’s signature recipe and added in lime and extra jalapeno for freshness and spice. The outcome was delicious, most certainly a vast improvement from my previous version of guacamole. Not to mention, this guacamole method makes a remarkably pretty dip, don’t you think?
Guacamole adapted from Rosa Mexicano Restaurants
3 ripe hass avocados
handful chopped cilantro
2 1/2 T very finely minced white onion
1 japaleno finely minced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop out whole halves (gently run a spoon around the rind). Chop avocados into medium size chunks. Toss gently with remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the avocado so it’s not exposed to the air. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes before serving with tortilla chips.
I am by no means experienced in Asian cooking. It’s the one area in the kitchen I don’t feel too inclined to explore. I’d much rather eat out for Japanese, Chinese, or Thai food (etc) and call it a day. However, there is one dish I’ve taken to making at home- Sesame Noodles. Granted it’s probably one of the most Americanized dishes at a Chinese restaurant, but I love it anyway (largely due to the presence of peanut butter in the sauce). Plus, any sauce that just requires throwing items in a blender and hitting on is an ideal weeknight recipe in my book. We paired these noodles with baked tofu (Gasp! How un-Contessa like of me) as we’re trying to eat less meat, but sauteed shrimp or chicken would also work well. Toss the raw shrimp or chicken in a few tablespoons of the sauce, allow seafood/meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes, and then cook in a lightly oiled frying pan. Serve over tossed noodles.
Spicy Sesame Noodles adapted from Dana Treat
1 pound rice noodles
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)
4 T soy sauce
½ cup water
1 T sesame oil
2 tsp crushed red pepper flake
1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 large garlic clove
scallions and sesame seeds for topping
Set a large pot of water to boil. Cook rice noodles for five minutes (do not overcook or they will stick together!), drain, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Place in large bowl and toss with 2 T vegetable oil so noodles don’t stick together.
In a blender or Cuisinart, puree the remaining ingredients except for the sesame seeds and scallions to make the dressing.
Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the noodles, and toss gently to coat. Add more dressing if noodles seem dry. Top individual bowls with sesame seeds and scallions if desired.
I am half Irish, thanks to my mother’s side of the family. Her last name begins with “O’, ” just to give you a sense of how Irish she is. Every year, growing up, we’d have Corned Beef and Cabbage around Saint Patrick’s Day. But since moving away from home, it’s become harder to keep up the tradition (Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t exactly a holiday you go home for).
When I made my travel plans to go home a few weeks back, my mom told me (enthusiastically) that she’d be making Corned Beef and Cabbage for our visit. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just looking forward to any form of my mother’s cooking. But this past Saturday, as we sat down to enjoy this timeless Irish meal, I was quickly reminded of how much I love this dish. Corned beef and cabbage is a prime reminder that in cooking, simplicity is often best. And when paired with nostalgic memories of your childhood, well, that’s even better.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!