Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Hound: Vodka Grapefruit with homemade Elderflower Liqueur

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about a cocktail, and I'm posting today with a drink that will chase away your Monday blues. This summer foodies plus’ how about a drink event has really inspired me. I’ve concocted a mock-tail or two; now I’m inspired to recreate an exceptional drink I enjoyed in San Francisco one New Year’s Eve. It was several years ago now, but the drink was so delicious I’ve always intended to get my hands on the ingredients and enjoy it at home.
The bar I imbibed at called the drink The Hound, (which I assume is a play on a Grayhound: vodka with grapefruit juice) but I later learned it could be called a Bichon Frise. Since it was called The Hound when I tried it and as a nod to Game of Thrones, I’ll keep the name. In order to make this cocktail I decided to make my own Elderflower Liqueur. I had fun designing a label for it in publisher, but not half as much fun as I had enjoying the drink! The drink is a bit strong, so if you want to mellow it out a bit my suggestion is to add a few ounces of club soda.

Why go to the trouble of making my own liqueur and hand squeezing grapefruits? Vodka and grapefruit juice, particularly fresh squeezed, are a really nice match, taste wise. The sweet and tart fruit has so much personality and it is a lovely pairing with the exceptionally subtle fire of vodka. Grapefruit juice tastes juicier and more vibrantly citrusy when paired with the sweetly medicinal, herbaceous flavors of Elderflower liqueur. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Give it a try. I think it may just become one of your favorites.

It is not difficult to make liquor infusions and easy enough to turn them into liqueurs (just add the right amount of sugar), and they make great gifts for your fellow booze loving foodie. However, elderflower liqueur is also readily available in stores.

The Hound

(Makes 2 cocktails)

2 ounces elderflower liqueur (see recipe below)
4 ounces vodka
Juice of 2 large ruby red grapefruits

1. Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and drain into martini glasses. If this is too strong, strain into a highball glass and add up to 3 ounces of club soda.

Elderflower Liqueur

1/4 cup dried or 2 to 3 Tablespoons fresh elderflower flowers, leaves and stems
1/4 cup sugar
750 mils 100 proof vodka (or another similarly neutral spirit of about the same proof)

1. In a clean mason jar combine all ingredients. Screw the lid on tight and shake the ingredients well.
2. Set in a cool, dark place to allow to steep for three days. Shake one to two times per day.
3. Strain through a coffee filter to remove all sediment and use in cocktails.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Grilled Salmon with Spicy Teriyaki Glaze

For those of us with lovely early summertime weather it is easy to want to spend all day outdoors. If not all day, then at least enough time to cook dinner over a charcoal grill and perhaps enjoy a beer or two. Whether you call it grilling or barbecuing I’m sure you would agree that not only is it a relaxing way to cook, it is also a fabulous method for imparting maximum flavor to your food. Over the summer I grill my onions alongside my burgers to make a deliciously caramelized topping. I’ve been known to grill corn, zucchini, asparagus and even peaches, as well as many different types of meat skewers. Although I’ve made this salmon dish many times before I’ve always pan seared it and never really thought of grilling it. Until I smelled all the grills going in our little neighborhood and realized that charcoal and a well-seasoned grill impart a smoky, savory flavor that would perfectly compliment the sweet, salty and zesty glaze I had created. At the end of reducing the teriyaki I like to throw in the juice of one or two limes (depending on size); because the glaze is rather sweet they cut the flavor just enough without being sour, and add a fresh, citrusy note that completes the flavors of the dish.

I like to serve this with brown rice and haricot verts sauteed with garlic, mirin and soy sauce.

Grilled Salmon with Spicy Teriyaki Glaze

Serves 2

1 1/4 lbs salmon, portioned into two fillets.
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
Pepper, to taste


1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice of 1-2 limes (about 3 Tablespoons’ worth)
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce of choice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper

1. Premake the sauce: combine all ingredients, except for the lime juice in a small saucepan over low heat. As sugar melts, stir frequently. Bring the pan down to the lowest heat and reduce for about 15 minutes, or until it has reduced by half.
2. Rinse the salmon thoroughly under cold water and pat dry. Cover both with olive oil and season with pepper. Grill the salmon, skin side down on a covered grill, over medium indirect heat for 3 minutes. Flip, recover and cook for an additional 3 minutes. This will yield salmon which is medium rare. If you want it more medium or well done, add 1 minute per side.
3. If sauce has cooled, reheat it before finishing it with lime juice. Divide between the two fillets and serve.