Friday, May 16, 2014

Apéritif Friday - Bacon Wrapped Onions on the Grill, and a Grapefruit Martini

Nearly every morning, over our ritualistic coffee in the living room, Mr. Musky asks what's for dinner. Sensing I was fresh out of ideas last week, he suggested on Friday morning that he take over the cooking that evening, especially since the weather promised sunny, seventy degree skies.

What is that? Seventy degrees? Please someone remind me. Because I forgot, with the snow and whatnot around here. On May 16th. Ridonkulous.

Anyway, I had no idea what was in store for me that night. So let's take a look together, shall we?

If I left the mixology up to him, I'd get the same cocktail every night. Sapphire Gin and water, equal parts. So I took it upon myself to start the party right with a springy treat. The Grapefruit Martini.

Now don't go hating on me, especially you men, because this is girly and pink. Hear me out.

Most people either love or hate grapefruit. Yes, it's sour and acidic, and probably not the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the word "Apéritif." But...it is fabulous mixed in a drink. Squeeze the juice of half a grapefruit into a shaker, add 2-3 ounces of good vodka, a dash or two of bitters (I love the blood orange variety) and a solid squeeze (about a teaspoon) of honey.
Shake vigorously with ice, and pour over a fine meshed strainer into a martini glass. If you'd like to lighten it up, top it off with some club soda.
Mmmmmmmm. I love this. The tartness of the grapefruit shines through, but it's jazzed up with the bitters and mellowed out with the sweetness of the honey. It sort of dances on your tongue, and is very smooth going down. Two of these and I'm flitting around like a bumblebee warmed by the sun.

Sun. What is that again? I forgot. But I think it's where we wear short sleeves and sunglasses.
For every picture I'll ever have with my husband, there'll be one where he makes a face first. Then I get a decent photo of us. Forever and ever, it will always require two takes, minimum.
Huntington Beach, CA example of dork-face...
 ...followed by decent picture.
On the other hand, Miller just gives me the "FEED ME, WOMAN!" look every time. He's very consistent. And smiley.
So back to our dinner.

For starters, and may I pause to say that lately, the appetizer just might be my favorite part of the meal? For starters, we nibbled devoured on what may be directly heaven sent, it's that good. And what makes it taste even better? It's a total cinch to prepare. Could. Not. Be. Any. Easier. I promise you will want to eat these every day.
I give you, the Bacon Wrapped Onion.

It doesn't sound like much, but after seeing it online here, I knew this tasty morsel was in our imminent dining future.

Slice a sweet onion into big rings, and separate the rings so that two layers of onion are in each piece. Then slather some sriracha on the raw onion, and wrap bacon around it. It may take 2-3 pieces of bacon to wrap the entire ring. Poke a wooden skewer through the onion to hold the bacon in place, and grill on indirect heat until the bacon is cooked and crispy, about 60 minutes. We actually took ours off the heat and finished them in the warming oven because my man had other stuff to cook for our feast.
Miller thinks his luck at the table will prove repeatable after last week's deviled eggs.
We dipped these beautiful babies in some homemade mayo spiced up with sriracha. The possibilities for this concoction are endless. You could slather your favorite barbeque sauce on the onions, and dip them in leftover sauce. Or use mustard. Maybe some honey mustard. Maple syrup? The old salty sweet combo? Nomnomnom. I want these all over again. I give them an A+.

So does Miller, based on the pan juices.
Children appeared out of nowhere when these came out.
In all of their hormonal, unsmiling, teenaged-angst filled glory.
Because studying for AP tests requires food breaks.

The appetizer lasted all of 4.5 seconds. I could have made twice the amount, but Mr. Musky had other ideas in mind. So I meandered over to the grill to see what the master griller was up to.

 Ever since we healthed it up last fall, the dude's been NUTSO about brussels sprouts. I tried for years to serve them, and he poo poo'ed them every single time. Now he can't get enough. He whined. Actually whined to my girlfriend Michele a few weeks ago that I don't make enough vegetables (despite the fact that I serve two per night). She just laughed her head off at him.
Since I plopped my feet up and savored my cocktail in lovely weather, I can't tell you how he prepared these. But I know him, so I can logically guess. A coarsely chopped onion, some coconut oil and/or ghee (clarified butter) and some salt and pepper or Montreal Steak seasoning. Grill until slightly charred and tender to the bite, but not mushy.

Next up? Oooohhhh.....what fun to see what he has up his sleeve.
Lobster. Two tails. Not the pinkest suckers around, because we live in the middle of the country nowhere near a salty body of water. But lobster nonetheless. Likely with the shell chopped down the middle for easy removal and so they don't curl up, and some ghee slathered on with a little grind from the garlic, salt and pepper mill. Grill until opaque, being careful to not overcook.

And the grand finale? Why some turf to marry the surf, naturally. For details on how he cooks rib eyes, here's the original post.  The only difference is that he now uses ghee instead of canola oil.
How is it that my son looks like a man? And my man looks like a distinguished gentleman? Except not, because I don't think Blackhawk muscle t-shirts are making the cover of GQ anytime soon.
Weird.

Finally it was time to dig in, watch some hockey and cuddle up with a blanket.
We wouldn't want to think it's summer or anything crazy like that. And no...Miller did not get a single bite of this goodness. This, my friends, is not for dogs.
Thanks honey, for cooking me a feast not only last Friday night but also on Mother's Day. I think I'll keep you around for awhile. Because you cook and stuff.

XOXO,
Jen



Friday, May 9, 2014

Apéritif Friday - Deviled Eggs and a Lighter Version of the Pina Colada

Finally Spring is here.

Thank the heavens. A winter girl at heart, I may be shifting in my seasonal allegiance. I can't believe I just said that. But the older I get, the more I thrive in being outside on a daily basis. And negative any degrees just isn't conducive to frolicking in the great outdoors on a consistent basis. 

I am so happy to be back on the patio, supervising the grilling action by Mr. Musky and watching the birds in our backyard. I sound like I'm seventy. Old people watch birds. Count me in - they're on to something. But watching my husband grill? Now that's like going on an amusement ride. Consider this newfound starter system he hatched:
Blow torching the charcoal. Yes, we are into flame throwing our grill into life now. I demanded: "GIVE ME YOUR BEST FLAME THROWING FACE!"
Yikes.

This Spring has been the busiest on record for us. We have two weddings to attend in May, resulting in scads of showers and parties and the like leading up to the big days, not to mention Jake's Confirmation last weekend...SUCH an awesome day...
...and Mr. Musky's annual golf weekend with some of his buddies. I'm counting down the days until June, when this view greets me on a daily basis. 
And Miller gets visits from friends, like his swimming buddy, Murphy.
But until then, I'll keep sipping a little concoction I came up with in California. Out of necessity, I had to keep ingredients simple while on vacation. I stumbled across this delightful juice, 
and while it's not as good as pure pineapple and coconut milk, it definitely does it's job in a pinch. I add three shots of white rum to a glass with a giant ice cube in it, and top it off with the pineapple coconut juice. If I wanted to be fancy, I'd add a piece of fresh pineapple to the rim. Instead, I opted for a fun swizzle stick. This is light, refreshing, tropical, and definitely worthy of a warm spring day. I foresee this cocktail on many a boat ride this summer.

We had some fantastico burgers with our flame-thrown charcoal this lovely night. Check out the recipe here. 

But today's highlight is the appetizer. Since we moved to a more paleo focused diet, I am enjoying coming up with interesting starters to nosh on before the main event. I've rekindled a love affair with the deviled egg. Growing up, these were reserved for special occasions and holidays, perhaps because they take a bit of time and effort to make. But why? These suckers are so tasty, and when I make them now they last for all of three minutes before my people inhale them. Here's what I do:
Hard boil some eggs. If you're like me and have tried to do this recently, you've noticed that organic eggs and/or brown cage free eggs are tricky to peel once hard boiled. Not one to give up, I scoured the internet until I found a TRULY fool proof method to ensure the perfectly hard boiled egg every single time I make them. Follow the instructions on this post exactly as written, and I promise your eggs will be perfect every time.
Scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Normally, I press mine into a fine mesh sieve to get airy, fluffy yolks. But I broke my sieve in a rage a couple of nights earlier so I opted to just break up the yolks with a fork instead.

Did I just sound a little psycho there? I know. We all have bad moments.

Anyway, chop up a small handful of fresh parsley, two green onions and 3-4 pieces of cooked bacon (but reserve some bacon for a garnish) very finely, and toss 'em in with the yolks.
Add about 1/3 cup homemade mayo, a solid dash of granulated garlic and onion powder (about 1/2 teaspoon each). Grind in some salt and pepper to taste, a shake or two of hot sauce and combine the ingredients. Add a dash of vinegar if you'd like. Spoon the yolk mixture into a plastic ziploc baggie, 
Cut off a corner,
And pipe the mixture into the whites of the eggs.
Top with some reserved bacon pieces. How pretty!
Miller thinks so too.
"Mama, Can I just have this one?"
  "Please?"
 "Maybe just a taste?"
 "She said yes!"
 "Nom nom nom. You all should make these. I promise they're tasty. But I didn't like the parsley. Nope, not a bit."
 Enjoy the weather, and try these little suckers. Marvelous!

XOXO,
Jen