Pisco Sour is the house drink in Chile. Pisco is a popular brandy produced in Chile by distilling grapes, mainly of Muscat, Torontel and Pedro Jiménez varieties. Just like wine, the color, aroma and flavor of pisco can be described as fruity, clean, sweet, refreshing, woody and bold, depending on it’s variety.
There are four main classifications of pisco:
Pisco Corriente o Tradicional, 30% to 35% (60 to 70 proof).
Pisco Especial, 35% to 40% (70 to 80 proof).
Pisco Reservado, 40% (80 proof).
Gran Pisco, 43% or more (86 or more proof).
Did you know? Annual pisco production in 2013 reached 30 million litres in Chile and 9.5 million litres in Peru.
I got a chance to learn how to make this cocktail from an expert bartender. Luis Mariano Cerda Monsalve is a mixologist and author of “Recetario – Pisqueria De Chile.” He has worked at the bars of the Ritz Carlton in Santiago, Cumbres Puerto Varas and now at Hotel Vira Vira in Pucon.
When you ask Monsalve for a pisco sour, his question is “what flavor?” I didn’t know that there were any until he pointed out that he makes it in mango, pineapple, cucumber-ginger, and several other flavors.
“Let’s try them all!” I had a pisco sour tasting hour at the hotel’s modern bar and Monsalve happily shared his recipe with me.
Vegan Pisco Sour Recipe
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
2 stems of rosemary + additional for garnish
1 cup lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
3 cups Gran pisco
Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix well on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Strain through a cocktail sieve.
Pour the liquid into a cocktail shaker and add crushed ice till its three-fourth full. Shake well and pour into flute glasses. Garnish with a rosemary stem and say cheers!
*Unlike the Peruvian pisco sour, Monsalve’s does not contain eggs so it is perfect for vegans.
Monsalve is also well versed with his wines too. Ask him about any winery and he will pull out a map to educate you about the different wine regions of Chile.
Monsalve’s other favorite pisco drink is Piscola, which is just pisco and coke.
Do you know the difference between Peruvian and Chilean pisco sour? If yes, please share below…
Most of us start off with a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy and loose weight. We go on salad only diets, avoid alcohol and sweets, exercise more regularly and try to convince ourselves, that we will burn off those pounds we accumulated through the holidays. But the truth is, most resolutions last about 3 weeks and majority of Americans gain 8-10 lbs. each year.
Perhaps this year you can try something different. Incorporate superfoods into your daily diet, throughout the year. Superfoods are exceptionally healthy foods that are packed with nutrients and have health promoting properties. Can you identify some of these superfoods?
Here are some recipes using superfoods from Peach Dish to get you started…
The SuperFood Salad
This hearty, filling salad is made with kale (high in Vitamins A, C, and K), wheat berries (packed with fiber and protein), almonds, olive oil (both healthy unsaturated fats), antioxidant-rich dried dark berries and pomegranate juice. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, and green soybeans, also known as edamame, add protein and iron. Learn more about the SuperFood Salad in this video.
Flatbread with Smoked Salmon, Artichoke & Arugula
Salmon has a high level of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and protein. Artichokes are rich in magnesium while arugula is packed with Vitamin K and antioxidants. Some added lemon zest lends extra Vitamin C to this flatbread, and we create a more healthful base by using whole wheat flour for added fiber and protein.
Sautéed Chicken with Cauliflower, Arugula & Date Salad
Mediterranean ingredients jazz up everyday fare like chicken and cauliflower (the new kale of superfoods!). Salty olives and sweet dates are a tasty combination.
PeachDish is a Southern inspired, national meal kit delivery company. They are introducing a 2016 SuperFood Series this week, available now through February. Each refrigerated PeachDish box is packed with all the ingredients and recipes needed to make dinner at home. The Atlanta-based company ships nationwide and works directly with farmers and purveyors throughout the South to source the freshest ingredients. PeachDish’s in-house dietitian Mary Alice Shreve and Culinary Director Seth Freedman developed the nutritious, superfood-centric recipes as healthy menu options to kick off the new year.
The SuperFood Salad, incorporating 8+ different superfood ingredients, will be a mainstay on the menu throughout the series. Each week, a new SuperFood menu option will be offered. Expect dishes highlighting a variety of powerhouse ingredients, like wheat berries, pepitas, kale, edamame, and more.
Before I even recovered from my 12-hour time change, I headed to a Japanese Cooking Class on my first day in Tokyo (because that’s what I do when I first arrive in a new country). After an intense walk through the crowded Tsukiji Fish Market, where “tuna fish” is more of a prized commodity than food, I arrived at a small place than didn’t look like much of a cooking school from outside.
At Tsukiji Cooking School, everyone had to take their shoes off outside the door and put on slippers, as the local tradition dictates. There was a tiny kitchen where the chef and her two assistants were prepping our recipes. In the middle of the room was a dining table and chairs. We were given an apron, hand fan and printed recipes. Our instructor did not speak much English, but she had a translator.
During the 2-hour class, we learned to make miso soup, chicken teriyaki, spinach salad and Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) – all from scratch! Although I consider myself to be a savvy chef, there were things I had not known about, especially because I never cooked Japanese before.
This Miso soup had very strong flavors. We first made a broth using whole seaweed and dried fish skeletons.
We made a delicious dressing of freshly ground roasted red sesame seeds with soy sauce, dashi, and lots of sugar, to flavor local greens that tasted sort of like spinach but crispier.
Okonomiyaki was fairly easy to prepare as most of the work involved only chopping. It is a savory dough full of vegetables, topped with sauce, mayo and seaweed. Apparently, there are parties around this dish where everyone sits around and grills their own pancakes.
Here are a few things I learned about Japanese cooking –
Japanese chefs cook with chopsticks. It was actually not that difficult and more practical, since the “spatula chopsticks” are much longer than the eating sort.
There are different kinds of seaweed, each with its own purpose. Depending on the texture and flavor, some are better suited for dashi (broth), others for toppings.
None of the recipes call for salt or pepper. In fact, there are no seasonings, spices or herbs added to the dishes we prepared.
Soy and sugar always find their place in most dishes. Contrasting flavors add enough seasoning to satisfy Japanese palates.
Teriyaki is a sauce added at the end, not a marinade. Common myth we have in the West since we tend to grill our meats.
You taste food with your eyes first. I was fascinated by how much time and effort the chefs put into making each component on the plate look perfect. Presentation is definitely very important.
The smell of seaweed remained on my hands the rest of the day, but I surely learned a lot at the Tsukiji Cooking Class. Once I returned to Atlanta, I tried all of the recipes and a few more.
Chicken Teriyaki Recipe (authentic Japanese style)
2 large pieces Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 1/2 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon Mirin (rice cooking wine)
3 tablespoon Sake
1 tablespoon Sugar
2 tablespoon Green Onions, sliced
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and remove excess grease using a paper towel. Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown on both sides.
Combine the soy sauce, Mirin, sake and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Pour the sauce over the chicken, cooking on low heat with a lid on. Flip the chicken few times so that it absorbs the sauce thoroughly. When the sauce is thick and well coated, remove from heat and travel to a plate. Slice the chicken into bite size pieces. Garnish with green onions and more sauce, if needed.
In honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, The Fairmont Hotel in D.C. has created a special Cherry Bomb cocktail. If you are around in the area to see the festivities, stop by for a drink in the hotel’s lobby between March 20 and April 12, 2015.
Otherwise, enjoy this spring cocktail in the comfort of your home. Here is the original recipe provided by the mixologist at The Fairmont Washington, D.C.
Want to learn to make authentic Cuban tostones? Well, tostones is basically a savory plantain chip that is enjoyed as a snack or a side in many Caribbean cuisines. It is very easy to make provided you have the right ingredients.
Before we get started, here are a few utensils you will need:
chefs knife, pairing knife, small vegetable knife
plate & bowl for serving
3- 4 green plantains (must be firm, not yellow)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup juice of sour oranges (naranja agria)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin powder
lots of salt & pepper
Peel the plantains using a sharp knife across the length of the skin. Loosen the peel along the cut and remove peel by hand. Cut the plantain into 2 inches wide slices.
Heat the vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, fry the plantain slices for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, just long enough to make them soft. Remove the plantains and drain on paper towels. Use a plantain press or the palm of your hands to smash the plantains to about half their thickness. Fry the plantains a second time in the same hot oil, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain excess oil with paper towels. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and serve warm.
The Mojo sauce can be made ahead of time. Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan on medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and fry about 30 seconds. Add the sour orange juice, cumin and salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling boil and whisk if necessary. Adjust seasoning as needed. Remove from heat and cool. Serve the Tostones with a side of Mojo sauce in a small bowl.
Mojo is best served within a couple of hours of making, but can it keep for several days airtight in the refrigerator.
Sucheta Rawal, founder of Go Eat Give will be preparing this recipe at the Travel and Adventure Show in Washington DC. Come see her at the Taste of Travel Stage on Sunday, March 8th 2:30-3:15pm for a sample and to learn about our trips to Cuba.
Finally, an Indian inspired cream liquor is in the market! Somrus meaning the nectar of Gods in Hindi, is a pure Wisconsin dairy cream and hand-crafted Caribbean rum mixed with the flavors of cardamom, saffron, almonds, pistachios and rose. Already, spirit and wine enthusiasts are raving about this new cream liquor, naming it in Top 50 Spirits List of 2014. This decadent 750 ml bottle has an attractive gold coating and look more expensive than it is.
Somrus tastes like spiked up rasmalai, a creamy Indian dessert made with milk and similar spices. The alcoholic cream is great to add to dessert, top fruits, or simply make a toast to after dinner. I enjoyed it chilled in a shot glass, in lieu of dessert.
Here are some recipes from the makers of Somrus to try yourself…
¾ oz Green Chartreuse
2 x Raspberries
Add all ingredients to a Boston shaker. Shake vigorously with ice. Serve in old fashioned or rocks glass over 3 x 1inch by 1inch ice cubes. Garnish with raspberries.
1.5oz Aged Rum
Garnished with cinnamon stick
Served in rocks glass
Add all ingredients to shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled rocks glass and garnish with cinnamon stick stirrer.
3oz Chai Tea
2 dashes rose water
Boil water. Brew black tea for 3-5 minutes. Heat milk to just below boiling. Strain out tea leaves and add tea to serving utensil. Add SomruS, milk, rose water and then serve in a handled punch cup.
Hear’s another recipe to keep your Christmas kitchen aroma!
Pear Custard Pie
1/2 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 medium fresh pears, peeled, sliced (about 3 cups)
HEAT oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. In small bowl, stir 1/2 cup Bisquick mix, the oats, brown sugar and nutmeg. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until crumbly. Set aside.
In small bowl, STIR 1/2 cup Bisquick mix, the oats, brown sugar and nutmeg. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter, using pastry blender (or puling 2 table knives though ingredients in opposite directions), until crumbly. Set aside.
In medium bowl, STIR all pie ingredients except pears with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate. Arrange pears evenly over top.
BAKE 25 minutes. Sprinkle streusel over pie. Bake 12 to 15 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes. Serve warm. Store in refrigerator.
MIX crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch spring form pan.
MICROWAVE caramels and milk in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 3 min. or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Stir in nuts; pour half into crust. Refrigerate 10 min. Refrigerate remaining caramel mixture for later use.
BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over caramel layer in crust.
BAKE 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.
MICROWAVE reserved caramel mixture 1 min.; stir. Pour over cheesecake. Melt chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cheesecake.
~ Courtesy of Janice Leary at St Frances Inn bed and breakfast, St Augustine, Florida.
The historic St. Francis Inn (circa 1791) treats their guests 365 days a year to complimentary evening desserts that are homemade and uniquely created for a perfect ending before bedtime.After guests enjoy their dinner or activities throughout St. Augustine, they enjoy returning to the comforting parlor or dining room, sipping a beverage and indulging their sweet tooth on something yummy and surprising from cook Janice Leary’s kitchen.
For Christmas 2014, once again the Inn’s themed desserts will be paired with one of the 12 Days of Christmas. Each of the desserts below pays homage to the English Christmas Carol that represents a series of increasingly grand gifts presented on each of the 12 days of Christmas.
The song, first published in England in 1780 was without music and offered as a chant or rhyme. Representative of that era – the St. Francis Inn was built in 1791!
SWAN CREAM PUFFS
Pastry Puffs Recipe
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
4 large eggs
Large zip-top bag
PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. In a small saucepan, bring water, butter, and sugar to a boil over high.
Immediately REMOVE from heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in all-purpose flour. Continue to stir until mixture pulls away from sides of pan, about 2 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes.
ADD eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until batter comes together. Transfer batter to a large zip-top bag; twist and squeeze bag so batter is in one corner. With scissors, snip a 1/2-inch opening in corner (or use a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round plain tip).
PIPE batter into desired size mounds, 1 inch apart, onto sheets. For heads, pipe candy cane shapes on to parchment paper. With a wet finger, smooth pointy tops. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until puffs are golden brown and feel light and hollow inside, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
2 Cups cold eggnog
1 box white chocolate pudding mix
PREPARE according to pudding directions. Let set, then scoop into halved puffs.
Gnudi means “naked” as in an inside out ravioli. While a typical ravioli is filled with spinach and ricotta, gnudi is made entirely of the filling mixture, held together with a little flour. Its a great alternative to eating pasta, especially for those who are gluten free! Serve it with a sage-butter sauce as a delightful appetizer.
The recipe below is very easy to make. You don’t want to make gnudi day before as it may dry out.
Ingredients for Gnudi:
1.5 cups Ricotta cheese
1 lb. fresh or frozen spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks (leave out if vegetarian)
pinch of ground nutmeg
salt to taste
1/4 cup 00 pasta flour (more for dusting)
Ingredients for Sauce:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
8-10 fresh sage leaves
Steam the spinach leaves in a large pot until they are fully cooked. Drain the spinach using a sieve and allow for all the water to soak through. The spinach should be cool and dry before its ready to use. If there’s water remaining, then the gnudi will not hold together. Chop the spinach roughly and keep aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add spinach, ricotta, nutmeg, parmesan, eggs, flour and salt. Mix well until the dough is of uniform consistency. It will be soft to touch. Using your hands, take a walnut size pinch of the dough and shape it into a ball. Sprinkle flour on your hands and the gnudi if it starts to feel sticky.
Keep aside the gnudi balls and sprinkle more flours.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil ( same way you would make pasta) and drop in prepared gnudi gently. The balls will be cooked once they rise to the surface of boiling water (about 5 minutes). Remove with a strainer spatula and keep aside. Make sure the excess water is drained.
To make the sauce, heat the butter in a fry pan. Once the butter starts to brown, add the fresh sage leave and cook them for 2-3 minutes until fried. Pour over the gnudi and serve immediately.
Here is the original recipe for GNUDI in Italian courtesy of Luisa Donati, at Montestigliano Società agricola s.r.l.
INGREDIENTI PER 4 PERSONE
350g di ricotta
1 kg di bietole o spinaci
Parmigiano grattugiato q.b.
Una spolverata di noce moscata
40g di burro
Qualche foglia di salvia fresca
Lavare accuratamente le verdure e bollirle in poca acqua salata per circa 10 minuti.
Scolarle bene e lasciarle raffreddare nello scolapasta affinchè si elimini tutta l’acqua in eccesso; quindi strizzarle con cura fra le mani e tritarle grossolanamente con un coltello.
Mischiare in una terrina le verdure con la ricotta, aggiungere la noce moscata e il parmigiano, aggiustare di sale; deve risultare un composto omogeneo e abbastanza asciutto.
Formare con le mani infarinate delle polpettine grandi come una noce, infarinarle bene e posarle in un piatto spolverato di farina.