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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fire up the Grill

Spring is in full swing now and hopefully D.C.'s snowy season has come to an end. And, with a good weather forecast for Memorial Day, it's time to fire up the grill. No matter if you use charcoal or propane, here are some tips to spice up your grilling.

Tip #1: How hot is the grill? Carefully hold your hand just above the cooking grate to gauge the heat level and start counting how long you can take the heat:

    5 Seconds - Low
    4 Seconds - Medium
    3 Seconds - Medium High
    2 Seconds - High
    1 Second -  Sizzling

Tip #2: Spice up your food a good hour before you grill.  While there are always exceptions, a good rule for marinades and rubs is the longer you marinate/let the rub sit, the better. This za'atar marinade is great on chicken, tuna, or just about anything:

Za’Atar Marinade: (prep time: 10 min)
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbs  Za’Atar blend
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs garlic
1 tsp pepper

Tip #3: Once on the grill, watch carefully! Meats with sugary sauces or marinades have a tendency to burn easily.

Tip #4: Fruits and vegetables love to be grilled too! Season eggplant, zucchini, or peppers with salt while cooking to draw out excess moisture. Quickly grill chard, kale, or romaine before tossing into a salad.

Tip #5: When grilling fruits, add a simple flavorful touch simply by brushing grilled fruits near the end of cooking with melted butter, brown sugar, or honey and a light dusting of cinnamon, ginger, or allspice. For the more experimental types, try pink peppercorns or cumin, or herbs like thyme, rosemary, or mint.

Tip #6: Add a great smokey flavor to your foods by using organic wood chips, available at Bazaar Spices. Never used wood chips before? Check out these guides for charcoal and gas grills.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Happy "Cinco De Mayo" Hour: Tamarind Rye Sour

It's Cinco de Mayo! Let's celebrate using a delicious fruit from Mexico! 

I love tamarind. Tangy, sour, and a flavor unlike anything else, tamarind is the fruit of the tamarind tree, native to tropical Africa. 

Tamarind pods

Over the course of its long history, tamarind has traveled to India, Thailand, the Middle East, Mexico and Latin America, among other places. In short, it’s everywhere. And do you know where else it should travel?

Into your drink.

Maybe you’ve encountered tamarind in block form at your local grocery store, or maybe you’ve even stopped by Bazaar Spices and seen the tamarind candy or tamarind powder. Hopefully you love tamarind’s sour bite, but there is a chance that you greet tamarind’s punch with more revulsion than fond feelings. It’s ok; tamarind is not for everyone.

But, if you want to step outside your norm for a bit, why not blend the sour tamarind with a woodsy, lemony rye whiskey? I recently came across a recipe for a Tamarind Whiskey Sour from Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, but, being more of a rye girl, decided to give it a whirl with tamarind powder from Bazaar Spices and a bottle of rye from Cordial. Although I made it on a rainy day, this Tamarind Rye Sour would be equally content being sipped on a hot summer’s evening. With the slightest tang from tamarind in the drink and a tamarind powder/sugar rimmed glass, this drink is at once bracing and refreshing. I thought about using a lime wedge to garnish, but really liked the sweet aroma from the orange slice as I drank the puckery concoction. Your call.

Tamarind Rye Sour

Note: To make simple syrup boil 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Let boil for a few minutes then remove from heat and cool. Syrup will keep in a sterilized jar in the refrigerator for a really long time. (I’ve had mine in there since January.)

For one drink:

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon tamarind powder
1 orange slice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (see note)
1/4 teaspoon tamarind powder, or more to taste
Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
2 ounces rye (I used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye, but use your favorite)
Lots of ice

Mix the sugar and 1/8 teaspoon tamarind powder in a small bowl. Squeeze a bit of juice from the orange slice onto a plate. First dip the rim of a short glass into the juice, then into the tamarind sugar, and set aside.

Stir the simple syrup and ¼ teaspoon tamarind powder together. Taste and, if you want more sour, add a little more tamarind powder. Add the simple syrup mixture, lime juice, and rye to a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, and shake for about 15 seconds. If you don't have a cocktail shaker, just stir everything together in a separate glass. Fill you drinking glass with ice and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass. Top with the orange slice and serve.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Spring is in the Air

Did someone say spring is in the air?  It sure doesn't feel like it with temperatures hovering around 40°, but sure enough, cherry blossoms will be blooming, tulips will be bursting, and spring will have sprung.  Many of us think about doing a little spring cleaning around the house, but how about a little spring cleaning on ourselves? A great book we recently read, Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Elson M. Haas, suggests, ”…springtime seems to be the best time for major cleansing, drinking nourishing liquids, such as fruits and vegetable juices, for a period of five to ten days or longer.”  While that may be a bit much for some folks, starting with a few days and working up will help get your spring off to a good start.  One of the spring cleansing programs the author recommends is Stanley Burrough's Master Cleanser listed below. As always, it’s a good idea to check with your health physician prior to starting any new health regimens to see what works best for you.  

Stanley Burrough's Master Cleanser

2 tbs fresh squeezed Lemon or Lime juice
1-2 tbs maple syrup
1/10 tsp (or a dash) cayenne pepper
8 ounce of spring or filtered water - drink liberally (6-12 glasses) throughout the day

See you soon!