During a recent trip to Madrid, Spain we dove head-first in to the wonder and chaos of the Mercado de San Miguel, an indoor pavilion with an open air feel that was packed with a dizzying array of tapas-style food vendors. The market was wall-to-wall people, and everyone was jockeying for a turn to place an order or for an open spot at a table. The vendors served everything from gourmet cheeses and olive assortments to amazing seafood spreads that included sea urcins, gulas (thin slices of fish intended to imitate the pricey angulas, which are baby eels) and barnacles.
The feeding frenzy also included a plethora of wine vendors and opportunities to sample famed cuts of Spanish ham, chorizos and salchichónes. Then there were the pastries, which inspired this post (I’m getting to that part, I promise). If you could resist stopping at a vendor boasting an arsenal of sweets that made Candyland look sparse, well, you have a lot more will power than I do. We settled on two thin-but tasty-looking cookies. One plain. The other covered in chocolate …
After much Googling I determined the mysterious Caracas Chocolates we devoured were similar to Florentines — a crisp, nutty, buttery cookie that hails from Italy (as so many tasty things do). So I was super excited to come across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen — and it’s holiday-inspired, eggnog twist qualifies them for this blog. Yay!
Although this page is all about cooking with booze, in my opinion, these treats stand on their own without the spiked filling. I may even like them better that way (gasp). So I suggest saving a few out of your batch to taste by themselves. In fact, in the not too distant future, I plan to make these again adding a little more flour (while Florentines are supposed to be thin, I felt that mine could benefit from a little more substance) and glazing them with chocolate (possibly the Baileys Ganache that made my Peanut Butter Brownies amazingly decadent).
Okay, enough of the back story. Let’s get you on your way to cooking — but if you ever find yourself in Madrid, make time for the Mercado de San Miguel and save room for dessert!
What You’ll Need: makes about 2.5 dozen
Pecan and Hazelnut Florentines
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 tablespoons or 45 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup nuts (The original recipe called for pecans, but I used both pecans and hazelnuts — about 35 grams hazelnuts and 15 grams of pecan halves. I roasted them as well)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
2/3 cup (65, oops, sorry, it is 130 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream (We didn’t have any heavy cream on hand so I used milk)
1 tablespoon corn syrup, honey, or golden syrup (We had pecan syrup on hand so I used that)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, hard-boiled
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups (300 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rum (I used Bacardi Golden.)
Make the Florentines:
For a quick video of the Florentine-making process, check out the Vine.
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup of nuts, 1/4t cinnamon and 1/4t salt and pulse until the nuts are very finely chopped, about 1 minute. Turn the nut mixture out into a large bowl.
- In a small-medium saucepan set over high heat, combine the 1/2c butter, 2/3c sugar, 2T heavy cream and 1T syrup and bring it to a boil. Boil the mixture for one full minute, then turn off the heat and add the vanilla. Pour this caramel mixture over the nut mixture and stir to combine. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, until it has cooled. Mixture will firm up and seem more mushy than doughy — that’s okay.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Scoop the dough into small balls using a 1 teaspoon measure (according to the Smitten Kitchen, the original recipe recommends a 1/2 teaspoon measure, which I may use when I try this recipe again. Also, in the photo below, I mistakenly used the 1T scoop — don’t do this. Your cookies will be huge! Stick to either the 1/2t or 1t scoop. Most of my cookies — with the 1t scoop — ended up about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. I would like them to be a little smaller and slightly thicker the next time around). Place the scoops about 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
- Bake until the cookies are thin and golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes. They will not crisp until they are cool, so don’t worry if they’re soft. *The next step is the most difficult.
- Wait for them to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Blot off excess grease — use a thin metal spatula to carefully transfer the cookies to paper towels for blotting. After they’ve been blotted, transfer cookies to a cooling rack, though they should be pretty cool by now.
- Repeat the process with the remaining cookie dough.
Make the eggnog filling:
- Peel the four boiled eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Save the whites for another use.
- Press the egg yolks through a fine-mesh strainer so that they become mashed and powdery. Place in a large bowl with 4T butter, 2 1/2c confectioners’ sugar (I might lessen this just a tad next time around), 1T milk, 1t vanilla, 3/4t nutmeg, 1/8t cloves and 1/8t salt.
- Beat together until smooth, then raise mixer speed and beat until mixture is thick and frosting-like, about three minutes. Stir in the 2T rum by hand (it doesn’t sound like much, but this small amount gives the filling a noticeable kick that I liked).
- Spread a dollop of eggnog filling on one cookie, then gently press a second one on top of it. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.
- Place them in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving, to firm up the filling.
According to Smitten Kitchen:
- The dough and the icing can be made up to three days ahead of baking if stored in an air-tight container in refrigerator.
- The baked, unfilled florentines can be stored in a loosely covered container at room temperature for up to two days before being filled. At our house, however, these were so good they sat in a loosely-covered tubberware for about three days and were still as tasty (although slightly more chewy) as the first. They may last longer, but I doubt you’d be able to defend them for more than a few days.
- The original recipe says that once filled, the florentines need to be eaten immediately but the Smitten Kitchen says theirs stayed crisp a loosely covered container (not airtight) in the refrigerator for a couple days.
The full Eggnog Florentine post is soon to follow. In the meantime, check out this quick video. You don’t see the rum go in, but I promise it’s there!
Check back soon for the “how to” on these crunchy, buttery treats. If you’re missing the flavors of the holidays, but not the stress, this eggnog filling will fill void.
It starts with Halloween. Sugar just laying around the house, tempting and taunting every time you pass. Then Thanksgiving hits with an onslaught of rich, sugary treats that, well, haven’t stopped yet. And New Year celebrations are right around the corner.
So if your sugar hangover is in full effect but you would still like to offer New Year’s Eve Party guests something sweet, Champagne Gelee is the perfect answer. It’s sure to add pizzazz to your get together, impress as a bring-along dish or put leftover bubbly to good use (if for some reason you have any left). And better yet— it’s extremely easy to make. Just five steps!
We tested this recipe out as the finale to our Christmas dinner, which led to an important observation and a burning question: Is this dessert really just a frat-party Jell-O shot all grown-up? Maybe, but no one seemed to care. What I’m getting at is — in the majority of recipes featured so far on this blog the alcohol cooks out, leaving traces of its flavor but not its effect. That’s not the case here. These treats are definitely boozy. This makes them fun, but be sure to warn those you serve and keep them off the kids’ table.
So with a thank you nod to friends and family for their willingness to be culinary guinea pigs, to Harper for assisting with the pictures and to Imbibe Magazine for publishing this very cool recipe from Sweet, let’s put some bubbly in the glass. Cheers!
What you’ll need:
1 Tbsp plus ¾ teaspoons of powdered gelatin
¾ Cup plus 3 Tbsp cold water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 bottle (750 ml.) Champagne or other sparkling wine, chilled
Large pitcher (for mixing ingredients)
Small mixing bowl
How to do it:
- Place the 3 Tbsp of cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Let sit for 10 minutes until the gelatin softens
- Combine the remaining ¾ Cup of water and the 1 Cup of sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
- Add the gelatin to the sugar syrup, stirring until it has dissolved.
- Pour the gelatin and syrup mixture into a large pitcher, then add the champagne to the pitcher. It will foam-up, so I poured the bubbly in a little bit at a time. Stir the champagne and the gelatin/syrup mixture together with a long spoon.
- Pour this mixture into glasses, or small glass bowls, and refrigerate for 3 to4 hours or until set. The gelee can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
- To serve, we placed little dabs of whipped cream atop each treat. Enjoy!
Here’s a quick look at Champagne Gelee in the making. The full blog post is soon to follow, begging the question: Is this a sophisticated dessert worthy of holiday tables or just a dressed-up Jell-O shot?
I can’t believe it, Thanksgiving is just one day away! And if you’re stressing about pulling together last minute details, or what you’re going to bring to the multiple dinners, take a deep breath. Not only is this recipe a breeze, but it will make you – and others at the Turkey Day table — smile.
If you’re bringing a dish to an uptight gathering — I’m sorry that stinks, but smile to yourself as others indulge without knowing the condiment’s spiked origins. On the other hand, if your Thanksgiving company is of the rowdy breed, or at least open to toasting the day, nothing will revive interest in a Thanksgiving staple like telling them the Cranberry Sauce is boozified (shout-out here to my mom. Thanks for being super excited about having Spiked Cranberry Sauce at our table).
Here’s where I have to be honest – I’ve never been a big fan of cranberry sauce. My goal here was to kill two birds with one stone: make something blog worthy that I would help fulfill my contribution to the family dinner. But I’ve been converted. This stuff will definitely be going on my turkey. And possibly on some vanilla ice-cream at some point. When dinner is over I may try to lick the bowl before it heads to the dishwasher.
But enough raving. You’re busy with last minute runs to the grocery store, keeping the kids occupied while you try to cook and double checking your to-do list, so there’s no time to go on and on about how good this stuff is …
But there is time for a suggestion. Since you’re going to be in the liquor cabinet anyway, go ahead and grab the Cointreau (or if you don’t have it, Triple Sec). After you toss all the ingredients together in the pot you’ll have a few minutes to spare before they start to boil and you have to stir. So why not make yourself a classic cognac cocktail, The Sidecar, while you wait.
Here’s what you’ll need (Makes approx. 16 oz of sauce):
1 bag of whole cranberries
¼ cup Cognac (I used Hennessy)
¾ cup orange juice
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of All Spice
If you’re going to make a cocktail to sip while you stir:
2 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
Tools: shaker, strainer
Garnish: sugared rim (optional)
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
To make Cognac Cranberry Sauce:
- 1 Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then stir and reduce to a simmer.
- 2 Cook mixture uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst and sauce thickens, about 15-20 minutes.
- 3 Remove mixture from heat and pour into serving bowl. Cool completely before serving.
Left Hand Milk Stout Mushroom Ragu
Today is International Stout Day, so why not celebrate in your kitchen with a new boozipe:
What you’ll need:
4 Turkey sausage patties
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
8 oz. gourmet blend of mushrooms (baby bella, shitake and oyster)
8 oz baby bella sliced mushrooms
¼ Cup yellow onion, diced
1/6 Cup your favorite stout. I used Left Hand Milk Stout (yum)
¼ Cup Heavy Cream (I used fat free Half & Half)
1 garlic clove
½ Cup Fontina Cheese, shredded
1/6 Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1 Tablespoon butter
1/3 teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon dried basil
Your favorite thick bread, crostini, Focaccia, flat bread or pita (I made good use of French rolls we had in the pantry)
How to do it:
- Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet at medium heat. Cook sausage until brown on both sides.
- Remove sausage from pan.
- Place pan back on the burner, add ¼ cup of onions, garlic clove and sauté until onions are translucent and garlic starts to brown, two to three minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. Add in enough mushrooms to cover the pan. Two cups may look like a lot, but they shrink down significantly. Add in more mushrooms as they reduce in size, making more room in the pan. About 8 – 10 minutes. While mushrooms are browning, dice the sausage patties.
- Remove the pan from heat to drain the liquid that has accumulated.
- Return the pan to heat and add in the diced sausage, 1/6 c of Milk Stout., 1/3 teaspoon white pepper and basil.
- Stop, take a sip from the beer that remains in the bottle.
- Add 1 Tablespoon butter and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the stout has reduced to the point that it appears there is only about two tablespoons left, about five minutes.
- Stir in cream.
- Remove the pan from the burner.
- Stir in both cheeses.
- Serve immediately atop your bread of choice and enjoy. We chose to do so with tomato basil soup a Caesar salad and, of course, a frosty pint of Left Hand Milk Stout
Recipe adapted from the Wiltbank Farm Mushroom Ragu recipe found in Laura Pensiero’s Hudson Valley Mediterranean
I started this post with “I love, love, love …,” and then I realized that’s exactly how I started off the last post. But it’s true – I love, love, love peanut butter too. In my world the only thing better than peanut butter alone is peanut butter with chocolate. Add a little pizzazz from the liquor cabinet and you’ve got yourself one dangerous treat.
In fact, although I will definitely make these again it won’t be for a little while as it’s extremely difficult to walk by these brownies and not grab one. So, unless you have Herculean will power, my advice is to make them and then take them somewhere (share the love and the calories). That way you won’t have a giant Tupperware full temptation lurking in your kitchen for an extended period of time as I did (the recipe makes about 32 brownies, depending on how you cut them).
These brownies are also a cooking milestone. Almost one year ago my husband and I went to Tahiti for our honeymoon (Yes, this was my dream trip and it’s even more amazing in person than in pictures). The islands of French Polynesia are dotted with small vanilla plantations so, along with great memories, we brought home a bottle of Tahitian vanilla extract. This recipe was the first to be christened with the special ingredient, which may have made the brownies taste even better to me. I promise though, you don’t need Tahitian vanilla to make these goodies fly off the dessert table.
What you’ll need:
For the Peanut Butter Brownies:
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Chocolate Baileys Ganache:
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)**
- 1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream,
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Get to cooking. To make the brownies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.
- Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer sped to low, then mix in flour until just combined.
- Mix in 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips (I dare you to dump them in without stealing one to sample :))
- Spread batter in baking pan — it will be thick, almost like cookie batter – then smooth the top.
- Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a toothpick comes out almost clean when inserted into the middle. (I say “almost clean” because I like brownies a little on the chewy side. If you like them a little drier wait until the toothpick comes out clean)
- Cool completely before adding the ganache topping.
Make the ganache:
- Put chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) in a heatproof bowl.
- Bring ½ cup of Bailey’s Irish Cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute.
- Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.
- Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.
* I used to buy the store brands of chocolate chips until Ghiradelli‘s were on sale one day. I’ll never go back. These are the best chocolate chips around! Also, I prefer dark chocolate, so instead of using all semisweet chips, I used ¾ cup of semi sweet and ¾ cup of dark chocolate.
The brownie recipe was modified from The Smitten Kitchen‘s version.
I love, love, love breakfast food, southern cooking and of course booze. So you can image how excited I was to learn about Angel’s Share Biscuits. It doesn’t get more southern than biscuits, which are a breakfast food and these feature bourbon – a tasty trifecta. Yay!
The “Angel’s Share” is the portion of a wine or spirit that evaporates during the distilling process. A perfect name for a biscuit recipe that calls for bourbon; the name “Devil’s Share Biscuits” would probably work too, as the Devil’s Share is the volume lost in the distilling process because it was absorbed into the liquid’s oak barrel. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have angels in my oven than devils, so we’ll stick with the latter.
For the most part I’m not a fan of bourbon, regardless of the mixer. So I was unsure of whether I would like these breakfast breads. I feared they would pop out of the oven tasting like Jack and coke — yuck.
So, if you’re a non-whisky drinker thinking about passing on this recipe, I completely understand. But give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed – especially if you like biscuits.
Not only did I really like how these turned out, next time I think I’ll use a little less half-and-half and a little more bourbon. The liquor gives the biscuits a hint of sweetness, as opposed to an over-powering “there’s booze in this” taste. I think I could handle a little more of that sweet, oaky taste.
Since the recipe calls for bourbon, the biggest decision of the baking session was Jack or Jim. When my husband and I got married almost a year ago, we stocked the bar. So, thanks to leftovers from The Big Day we had both Jack Daniels and Jim Beam on hand. I chose Jack – because, while the Jim Beam bottle was nearly full, there wasn’t much left of the Jack. I figured why not finish it off.
As for this batch. I served them with honey, which was wonderful but the honey was all I really tasted. So if you’re looking to appreciate the light flavor the bourbon adds, I recommend just a little butter as opposed to the honey.
As I mentioned before, whisky isn’t my drink of choice, so I haven’t tried the Jim Beam’s Maple version, but I bet it would be a wonderful substitute in the recipe. I’m thinking Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Jim Beam’s Red Stag Honey Tea might be worthwhile variations to try as well. If you experiment with any of these flavors, let me know which you used and how it turned out.
In the process of creating this post, I discovered that September National Bourbon Heritage month. Yes, while the country was on the verge of a financial meltdown in 2007 our elected officials in the Senate were able to agree that, since the spirit is distinctive to the United States, it should be elevated with a special designation (S.Res. 294). It was presented by Kentucky Senator Jim Burning and agreed upon unanimously. All members of a congressional house agreeing upon and accomplishing something – well that’s something worth toasting in and of itself. But I digress – this isn’t a political blog. So, if in addition to making Angel’s Share Biscuits, you’d like to celebrate with a new cocktail, check out these five recipes at Imbibe Magazine.
Happy cooking and cheers!
What You’ll Need:
1/2 Cup warm water
3 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. yeast
5 Cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 Cup butter
1/2 Cup shortening
1 1/2 Cups buttermilk
1/4 Cup bourbon (Jack Daniels was used for this post)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the warm water and honey together and dissolve the yeast in the water-honey mixture.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and shorting and mix with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
- Mix the buttermilk and bourbon with the yeast mixture; add these ingredients to the flour mixture. Combine lightly until ingredients are mixed together. I switched the blending attachment here from the whisk to the hook as the mixture becomes doughy and difficult for the whisk to manage.
- Grease the baking sheet and drop mounds of dough onto it. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.
** I like biscuits that are golden-brown on the top. After cooking for 10 minutes, the biscuits didn’t have the desired coloring. I took half the batch out of the oven and left the others in. It took them about 25 minutes to develop a very light golden color. I was worried the second batch would be hard, but the consistency of both batches was pretty much the same.
There are so many spirited recipes I’m excited to share with you, but most I considered for this post just weren’t right. For example, white bean, sausage and garlic soup made with bourbon was a top contender. Until I stepped outside. While it’s on the cusp of fall in many areas, here in central Florida the heat hasn’t given indication that it’s anywhere near ready to lighten up.
Almost everyday around lunchtime the humidity rises so much that your glasses fog up when opening the car door. The heat builds until around 5 p.m. when the clouds finally break open in afternoon thunderstorms. I love the rain so it’s not all bad, but it’s not soup weather either. The oppressive heat called for a booze-infused treat that was satisfying yet light and refreshing.
Creamy Tequila Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche fit the bill. I served this island delight with both Lime flavored and three cheese tortilla chips. Fill a pint with a cold Negro Modelo or a Corona Light and all you’re missing is white sand, Adirondack chairs and some waves.
What’s even better is that the majority of the work can be done ahead, which is great for entertaining and busy schedules. I prepared all the ingredients and placed the jalapenos, citrus, some of the tequila, spices and shellfish in a large Tupperware overnight (mixing in a non-reactive bowl is important). The following evening, I drained the mixture, added the bell peppers, avocado, a little more booze, tossed it with the sour cream and served it up with chips. It was a great pre-dinner snack to get through homework-time.
For some, trying ceviche can be a daunting dish. You want me to try seafood that hasn’t been heated? Yes, I do. And it’s true, this dish deviates from standards set forth by sushi-skeptics and fans of well-done burgers. Still, I say give it a try – especially if you like tequila.
When trying something completely new I would rather taste and determine whether I like it before learning exactly what I’ve gotten into. However, for those who like to know what they’re getting into, here’s a little ceviche brain candy. Those who already know and love ceviche may want to skip on to the ingredients and instructions.
The dish is thought to have originated in the coastal regions of Central or South America. It consists of seafood – fish, shrimp and scallops, alone or separate – tossed with other ingredients – peppers, fruit, garlic, etc. — after being marinated in citrus. The citric acid in limes, lemons and oranges causes denatured – or to change to a firm, opaque consistency as if it had been cooked over heat.
However, it is important to note that although the citric acid changes the food’s texture, it doesn’t kill bacteria. So it’s important to make sure your seafood is either very fresh or has been previously frozen. An article on Chow.com suggests those who love the dish, but fear it just the same, make “mock ceviche” by blanching the seafood ingredients before marinating them.
For this post I used only shrimp and scallops in the ceviche, but the recipe can be easily modified to include fish. In fact, when it comes to fish ceviche, your texture preference will determine how long you marinate. Ceviche can be ready as quickly as 15-20 minutes if you’re using just shellfish and flakier fish such as flounder, snapper, or sole. After soaking in citrus juices for just a few minutes, fish develops a firm, opaque exterior but maintains a raw, sashimi like interior.” However, if you’re using a fish that’s denser it may take closer to an hour before the desired texture is achieved.
Simple and uncomplicated, ceviche offers endless opportunities for experimentation. Hence the tequila, which combines with the citrus to add a refreshing zing. Moreover, the sour cream coats the mixture nicely in all of the flavors and tones down the innate citrus tartness, without a mayonnaise salad effect.
Don’t worry, white bean, sausage and garlic soup with bourbon will definitely have its chance in the spotlight on this blog; albeit after the thermometer consistently stays below 70 and the humidity drops to a level where it’s not necessary to flat iron my hair to look presentable. Fellow Floridians are thinking, Okay, so maybe January? Maybe. Possibly on one of those cool days that pop out of nowhere in October, then disappear for another six weeks.
This recipe was modified from The Gourmet’s Guide to Cooking with Liquors and Spirits.
1/3 Cup orange juice
¼ Cup lemon juice
3 Tablespoons lime juice
Pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon of granulated sugar
½ Pound scallops
½ Pound shrimp
12 Grape tomatoes
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons finely chopped yellow bell pepper
½ Small red onion
1 Small avocado
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic (split)
2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons sour cream
4 Tablespoons tequila (split)
2 Cilantro sprigs (optional for garnish)
Corn chips for serving.
- In a non-reactive bowl combine the 1/3 cup orange juice, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 Tablespoons lime juice and 2 Tablespoons of tequila (The recipe calls for fresh squeezed juice, but let’s be serious. It was a work/school night for the love of it all. I used prepared juice from the bottle and the end result was very tasty. If you have the time though – go for it. Fresh is almost always better)
- Add pinch of sea salt, ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic and the ½ onion. These will help balance the acid of the citrus juices.
- Add the shrimp and scallops to the citrus mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for about an hour if you plan to serve immediately. If you’re making ahead add the jalapenos 1 Tablespoon of the fresh cilantro.
- After the mixture had marinated, drain the seafood in a colander.
- In another bowl combine the tomatoes, bell peppers and avocado.
- Add the drained seafood mixture.
- In another small bowl, combine the sour cream and the 2 Tablespoons of tequila you didn’t use for the marinade. Add this to the seafood mixture, stirring gently to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place ceviche in serving glasses and garnish with cilantro sprigs.
- Serve with corn chips.
While many of the tipsy recipes you’ll find here revolve around the sweet, this Cognac Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin is a savory entrée that’s date-night or special occasion worthy. It definitely leaves an impression.
After briefly soaking the tenderloin in cognac – I used Hennessey — the remaining liquor is utilized in the sauce, which provides a silky contrast to the spicy peppercorns.
A bit of warning — those who are spice-sensitive may want to cut back on the amount of peppercorns. I’m a big fan of pepper so I didn’t mind the bites that were alive with a good kick. It could be a little much for some though.
Also, the recipe calls for crème fraiche, which is like sour cream but less sour. Despite my best efforts – I scoured grocery stores, boutiques and specialty locations in the small Central Florida town where I live – I couldn’t find any. So I did a little Googling and found a recommendation to use Philadelphia’s Cooking Crème in place of crème fraiche. I chose the savory garlic flavor and wasn’t disappointed. In fact I will likely use this creamy product in the future for sauces and as a pot pie filler, as the product packaging suggests. Actual sour cream and crema Mexicana were also noted as viable substitutes. If you really have some time, give making your own crème fraiche a shot. Those who posted recipes, like this guy, said it wasn’t that hard. If you take the challenge of making it let me know how it goes.
Last, the below recipe is for four tenderloins. I was a little nervous about cutting the ingredients in half when cooking only two filets for my husband and I. Would 3 Tablespoons of cognac really be enough to marinate and provide for the sauce? But it worked out perfectly.
- 3 Tablespoons chopped shallots
- 3 Tablespoons chopped leeks
- 1.5 cups mushrooms
- 6 Tablespoons of cognac (my choice was Hennessy)
- 4 Thick-cut beef tenderloin steaks
- 6 Tablespoons lightly crushed green or black peppercorns
- Freshly ground sea salt
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 a stick) cold unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup crème fraiche or substitute
- Crush 6 Tablespoons of peppercorns, place on a plate or shallow dish.
- Place the 6 Tablespoons of cognac in a shallow dish, add the steaks and let soak for 3 minutes on each side.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan.
- Add shallots, leeks and mushrooms into pan. Saute for approximately 3 minutes.
- Remove the steaks from the cognac, drain excess liquid, press both side of the steaks lightly into the peppercorns to coat.
- Season each side of the steak with the sea salt.
- Remove leeks, shallots and mushrooms.
- Melt butter in the skillet, add the steaks and brown 4 minutes per side for medium rare and seven minutes per side for medium. Keep in the pan longer for medium-well and well-done.
- When flipping steak over, add shallots, leeks and mushrooms back to the pan.
- When steaks are almost finished, add the cognac, swirl in the pan and cook for two minutes, turning the steaks once in the sauce.
- Transfer the steaks to a plate.
- Pour the crème fraiche into the pan, stir and bring to a boil.
- Serve steaks topped with the sauce, shallots, leeks and mushrooms.