Do you know what makes a good drink? The answer is fresh ingredients. It’s the same with food recipes too. You get really fresh ingredients and the whole becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts. So how do you make drinks with fresh ingredients? Lets make a grapefruit vodka martini and I’ll show you.
Before we make the grapefruit vodka martini, lets take a quick look at the very common and very boring drink the screwdriver. It’s just vodka and orange juice right? Now did you ever have one when you were vacationing somewhere tropical? I bet that was the best screwdriver you ever had right? Its safe to say that it was because if was made with fresh squeezed orange juice.
I’m a fan of doing some big cooking on the weekend and then using the leftovers in other meals during the week. My wife and I both work and by the time we get home and pick up the kids from their different after school activities it’s already pretty late and everyone is starving. Getting the cooking that takes a long time done on the weekend really helps with the weekday meals. For example, last weekend I made pulled pork in the crock pot and we had several meals with the leftovers during the week. I’ll create some posts about the other recipes but I want to start with my Pulled Pork Taco Recipe.
What is a dirty vodka martini? My definition is that it’s an outstanding way to drink vodka. I’ve never been a huge fan of regular vodka martinis. You might as well just have vodka on the rocks or straight up instead. There’s nothing wrong with vodka martinis but there’s not a lot of flavor in that drink. But with this Dirty Vodka Martini Recipe, you’ll have all the flavor you’ll need.
The dirty part of the dirty martini is olive brine. Basically you’re mixing vodka with olive juice. That’s it. It tastes great and it’s definitely not hard to make.
dirty vodka martini recipe
3 parts vodka
1 part olive brine
Combine in cocktail shaker with ice
Serve in a martini glass
Garnish with olives
Most people will make their vodka to olive brine ratio more like 5 or 6 to 1. I’m good with 3:1. Extra dirty is a good thing.
You can buy a bottle of olive juice or brine at your local liquor store to make your dirty vodka martinis at home. But if you want something a little more interesting you’ll need to find a gourmet olive bar in your favorite supermarket or farmer’s market. Get a container of olives (stuffed with blue cheese if you can find them) for your garnish. And also get a container with just the olive juice in it to add to your vodka.
Now there are some that say that you need to add vermouth to a dirty martini but I’m not one of those people. Olive juice has such a strong flavor that it’s going to overpower just about anything else. And in the worst case the vermouth and olive juice will work against each other. Try it with vermouth if you want but I don’t think you need it.
I heard that Winston Churchill disliked vermouth so much that he’d only wave the bottle or cork over the martini. Sounds like a smart guy to me, so I’ll be having my dirty vodka martinis Winston Churchill style.
French Toast Burger
Hey my French Toast Burger recipe is below but first I’d like to give you a little of the backstory behind my burger ideas. If you just want the recipe you can skip past this. Go ahead, I’m don’t mind.
Now when my publisher first reached out to me and expressed an interest in getting me to write a cookbook, I couldn’t have been happier. Seriously, I was over the moon. I had always dreamed about becoming an author. Mostly I dreamt about writing Science Fiction novels but a cookbook made a lot of sense too because of my love of cooking. And because I blogged about making hamburgers in a panini press right when the publisher happened to be looking for panini press recipes online, I was actually going to become an author.
The Everything Panini Press Cookbook came out in 2011, 5 years ago. And now looking back, I didn’t really take advantage of this huge opportunity and follow it up with anything else. No book tour, I didn’t really blog about it much and I definitely wasn’t invited to appear on the Today Show to cook panini for Al Roker in a cooking segment. Now here we are 5 years later and I don’t update this blog enough to earn a big audience. I have a YouTube channel that my family watches and I’ve only written one more cookbook, How to Fondue.
So now I plan on fixing that. I have ideas and outlines for another 4 cookbooks. And maybe it’s time to take a crack at that Science Fiction novel too. I’m not quite sure what’s next but be sure to subscribe to my blog’s mailing list. More Good Stuff is in the works.
One idea that I have for another cookbook is about hamburgers. Recently the hamburger has evolved from a fast food staple to more of a gourmet delight with tons of different styles and varieties. I’ve spent my summer coming up with lots of interesting burger recipes. There was BBQing burgers, frying burgers and even stuffing burgers. My family is getting sick of all these burgers that I’ve been cooking. Oh come on family! The R&D is the best part of writing a cookbook.
This weekend I made a French Toast, Bacon Burger stuffed with Swiss Cheese. There’s something about mixing breakfast foods with burgers that seems right. A lot of those summer burgers that I made for the family were topped with a fried egg. And like those fried egg burgers, the french toast burger was delicious.
Here’s how I made it.
French Toast Batter:
1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
1/2 TSP Cinnamon
2 slices (thick) Challah Bread
Pour Vanilla Almond Milk into a bowl large enough to put a slice of bread into and add the cinnamon and eggs. Beat until combined.
Heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan or skillet over a medium high flame and coat with non stick spray or melt a TBSP of butter in the pan.
Dunk bread slices into milk mixture one at a time and coat each side, then place in pan.
Cook for about 2-3 minutes and flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes then remove from pan and set aside.
80% lean meat, 20% fat ground chop meat
Salt & Pepper
Form 2 flat burger patties with your hands. Place a folded slice of Swiss cheese in between the two patties and pinch the outside of the burger patties to seal the cheese inside. Make sure the cheese is completely encased inside the two burgers or the cheese will ooze out during cooking. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of burger.
Place burger on a hot cast iron skillet or a BBQ and cook 3-5 on each side.
Fry 2-3 slices of bacon while cooking burger.
That’s it, you’re done. You can now assemble your French Toast Burger stuffed with Swiss Cheese and serve it with a small dipping bowl of your favorite Maple Syrup.
Eggs In Purgatory may sound like a recipe from a religious cookbook but they are actually a great tasting dish. Who doesn’t tomato sauce, cheese and eggs? Why not put them all together and serve them in a cast iron skillet?
As I’ve gotten older its a lot harder to keep the weight off. In fact I’m doing a terrible job. One of the many reasons is because of all the egg sandwiches I have eaten for breakfast. I seriously could eat one each and every day of the rest of my life. Really, I’m serious, there isn’t a better way to start the day than with 2 fried eggs on a roll or bagel with some cheese and bacon. Or even better than bacon is Taylor Ham. Taylor Ham is proof that God is from New Jersey.
Well according to my wife and most of the world, bread and carbs are the enemy. So I had to say goodbye to my beloved sandwiches and now I live in a town called Nobreadville. But since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I’ve had to find other ways to start the day off right.
Eggs in Purgatory fits the bill. Not only is it a hearty egg meal but it also is perfect for my cast iron skillet.
There are lots of variations but this is how I make it. First take some leftover tomato sauce. I make a large pot of sauce about once a month and freeze it so we always have some on hand. Lately it’s been less than once a month because pasta is a high carb enemy too. What good is it to be Italian if you can’t have a bowl of macaroni on Sundays. Come on! Well anyway, I scoop some tomato sauce into my skillet, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over it, then cut some slices of fresh mozzarella and put them in there too. Sprinkle with hot pepper flakes. The more heat you like, the more pepper flakes you should add. This is the Purgatory part of Eggs in Purgatory. Not quite hot as Hell but not all cool and happy like Heaven either. It’s somewhere in the middle. Although most of the time it’s served as a spicy dish. My variation takes advantage of my very garlicy tomato meat sauce so mine is more Italian style I guess.
Heat up the skillet on top of the stove for a little while to warm the sauce and start melting the cheese.
Next you’re going to make a few indentations in the sauce, sort of like little pockets and crack an egg in there. The egg should sit in the hole and not really spread out too much. If your sauce isn’t thick enough to hold the egg then add some more cheese. And you want to make sure that the sauce is warm enough to start poaching the eggs.
Then you bake the whole thing in the oven for about 10-15 minutes on 375 degrees or as soon as the eggs whites are firm. The goal is a perfectly poached egg but if you overcook the eggs, don’t worry because Eggs in Purgatory still taste good with hard boiled eggs in there.
There’s lots of variations to this dish. You can used diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce but then you’ll want to saute some garlic in olive oil before adding the tomatoes to the skillet. Like I said, my tomato sauce is ready to go with the seasonings so it’s easier. I’ll have to post my tomato sauce recipe at some point.
Other variations include adding onions and red peppers or even puttanesca style with olives, capers & anchovies. Yum!
Breakfast is saved thanks to Eggs in Purgatory. And living in Nobreadville might not even be that bad after all.
Eggs In Purgatory Recipe
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
4-6 thicks slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
Hot Pepper Flakes to taste
Heat sauce in cast iron skillet on stove
Add cheeses and hot pepper flakes
Scoop holes in sauce mixture and crack eggs into holes
Bake 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees
Done when egg whites are firm
Can be served over toasted Italian bread (unless you live in Nobreadville too).
When it comes to breakfast, I have a lot of experience. I used to work in a dinner as a short order cook when I was young. So it’s safe to say that I’ve cracked a few eggs. Definitely thousands of eggs, maybe even tens of thousands. Also stacks and stacks of pancakes and many loafs of french toast. I’ve done the basics over and over again. Now as a Dad, I’m always looking to try something new.
I saw a video from The Domestic Geek where she makes french toast three different ways. The PB&J French Toast Roll Ups looked really good and I thought that was a most outstanding idea. My kids love French Toast sticks and they love making desserts with things like peanut butter and nutella and fruit so combining the idea for a nice breakfast is awesome. But the part where she slowly rotates the sticks while cooking them seemed like a drag. If I changed her cooking technique to use the panini press, it might work out better for me. Quicker and better is always good when getting the kids ready for school in the morning.
I used potato bread because that’s what I had on hand. Any kind of sliced soft bread will work great. I could see a honey wheat probably adding the right flavors for these style of recipes. I’ll have to try that next time I pick some up at the store. When I make regular french toast, chill bread is the way to go. But since these are getting rolled up, I went with the sliced potato bread.
Now if you didn’t watch the video to see how to make these, I’ll summarize it here.
Take your topping and spread it over the bread. I’m going with cream cheese & strawberries in some. And I made a quick apple pie filling by dicing some apples and sauteing them in butter, cinnamon & sugar. French toast and apple pie are a great combo.
Now gently roll them up and put them aside. If they aren’t staying together you can pin them with a toothpick if you want. But obviously remember to take it out when you cook them.
The french toast mixture is usually eggs, milk, cinnamon & vanilla. I’m not a big milk fan so i went with vanilla almond milk, eggs & cinnamon and then I still added a little bit of vanilla in there too. Dip the sticks in the mixture and put them directly on the preheated panini press. Close the lid and cook for 3-5 minutes. There’s really no need for rotating because the panini press squashes the sticks into a flat form. That squashing effect wasn’t really what I expected but it turned out fine. The panini press shaped the french toast sticks more like folded over bread than like a rolled up stick. But like I said, I’m okay with this.
The panini press also cooks the sticks a little more crispy than regular french toast that’s cooked in a buttered pan but it works because my kids are used to french toast sticks that you eat with your hands.
Take them out and dust with powdered sugar and serve with syrup and or jelly.
Overall, I’d say this was a nice breakfast experiment and something that we’ll do again in our house. Too bad the diner didn’t have a panini press.