Saturday, July 8, 2017

The First Drink!

The recipe said to use a large wine glass, but 1/4 cup of liquid doesn't fill it up very much.
The first drink we tried was Bataan Royale which calls for gin, white rum, cherry liqueur, triple sec, grenadine and lime juice.

Those first four ingredients contain alcohol, so we made some substitutions and came up with this.

Virgin Bataan Royale 

1 tablespoon juniper berry infusion (see here)
1 tablespoon white grape juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cherry syrup (from a can of cherries)
5 dashes grenadine (or 5/8 oteaspoon)
3 dashes triple sec* (or 3/8 of a teaspoon)
Orange slice

Mix everything except the orange slice and shake to combine well. Serve over ice in a large stemmed glass and garnish with an orange slice.

*I found a non-alcoholic version (basically water, corn syrup, and orange extract) at the grocery store, but you could also use orange juice.

It would be nice to have a back stories for these drinks, but the cook book doesn't include them. All I know is that Bataan is a province in the Philippines. I guess we'll have to imagine our own story for how this drink got its name.

Wayne felt like he was doing a science experiment, and he looked like it, too, with all the different jars and measuring cups and spoons. It turned out to be a pleasant experiment, definitely a taste combination we've never had before, kind of light and refreshing, and we're looking forward to seeing what the next drinks taste like. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Clam Linguine

We first tried this recipe over 15 years ago. That's how long we've been trying to improve our diets and do more "low-fat" cooking! It's a good one, and quite festive if you use red peppers. (Today I'm using yellow ones.)

Linguine with Clam Sauce

3-4 ounces uncooked linguine, cooked and drained
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (or yellow or orange)
1 teaspoon flour
1 can minced clams, drained and liquid reserved
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook garlic and pepper in oil until crisp-tender, then stir in flour. Add clam liquid, salt, pepper and oregan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in clams and peas. Heat through. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with cheese. 2 servings.

P.S. Did you notice from the picture that we used fettucini instead of linguine this time. It really doesn't matter!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Garlic Basil Tortellini

We had some tortellini in the fridge, and here's the recipe I decided to use. It turned out well.

Tortellini with Garlic Basil Sauce

32 ounces chicken broth divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (16 ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini
4 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese for garnish
Minced fresh parsley for garnish, optional

In a large pot, bring 2 ½ cups broth to a boil. Add cheese tortellini. Return to a boil and cook about 5 minutes. The tortellini will float to the top when cooked and the internal temperature should be 165ºF for at least 15 seconds. Drain completely. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1 ½ cups broth with corn starch. In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Stir in garlic and basil and cook about 2 minutes. Add broth-cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil; simmer until the mixture thickens. Add the cooked tortellini to the skillet and toss to coat. Pour into a serving dish and garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsley, if desired.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tri-Tip Roast

Wayne's next Dutch oven recipe called for a tri-tip roast, which meant that I had to do some research and find one. The book described it as the butt end of the sirloin, with the grain going in three directions - hence the name tri-tip.

I looked at these sites as well -

Just a Pinch:

The tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin primal cut. It is a small triangular muscle, usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs per side of beef. In the United States, this cut was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the late 1950s, when it became a local specialty in Santa Maria, California, rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and other seasonings, cooked over red oak wood and roasted whole on a rotisserie, smoked in a pit, baked in an oven, grilled, or braised by putting a pot on top of a grill, browning the meat directly on the grill surface before and after the braising. (The tri-tip is still often labeled the "Santa Maria steak".) Most popular in the Central Coast of California and Central Valley regions of California, it has begun to enjoy increasing popularity elsewhere for its full flavor, lower fat content, and comparatively lower cost.

The TriTip Guy says it's also called

  • The California cut
  • Bottom sirloin tip
  • Triangle cut
  • Bottom sirloin primal cut
  • Santa Maria cut
  • Newport steak
  • Bottom sirloin butt (but not a rump roast)
The Weber site:

Due to its triangular shape, tri-tip also goes by the name "bottom sirloin butt" and "triangle roast". Tri-tip is nicely marbled, tender, and one of the most flavorful cuts of beef you'll find. As a whole, untrimmed roast, tri-tip may weigh about 5 pounds. The tri-tips you're likely to find at the supermarket will weigh 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 pounds and measure 2-3" thick.


Apparently I ought to be able to find it at Costco, maybe Publix, or at Charlie's Gourmet Meat Market, which is now found inside The Butcher Shop Beer Garden and Grill restaurant at 209 6th street, West Palm Beach (561) 622-9988. Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm. [6/19/2017 Note: called the butcher shop - they can order it with a day's notice -$12.99/lb.]

Amici Market, located at 155 N. County Rd. in Palm Beach (next to Green's Pharmacy), carries tri-tip, although it must be ordered at least a day in advance. Call 561-832-0201, or visit

However, I also heard that Trader Joe's carried tri tip, and since that's closer than all the other options, I tried it first. Success, they do carry it! And that's nice, because I think we have several recipes that call for that cut of meat in our Dutch Oven Cookbook.

The first one was basically a pot roast. The entire tri tip was browned on all sides in a bit of bacon grease along with some sliced mushrooms. That baked in a low oven for an hour. Then we added quartered onions, potatoes and carrots and cooked it for another 1 1/2 hours. Although it took a bit of time, it was simple and delicious!

Alcohol Substitutes

We're starting the "Drinks" section of the Columbia Restaurant Cookbook. Unfortunately, these are alcoholic drinks, and since we don't drink alcohol, we're going to have to make some major adaptations. I figured there would be a resource to help me and I was right. Here's one from What's Cooking America. Of course, the first one I'm trying to find is gin, and it's not on this list! So, I'll have to keep looking. Here's another list from Gourmet Sleuth. Below is my compilation from the two. Use your common sense on deciding if it should be a 1:1 substitution or not. For example, apple juice could probably be the equal amount, but an extract should probably be mixed with grape juice or something. You would treat needing 1 tablespoon differently than needing 1 cup.

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Alcohol in Cooking

Amaretto – 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract for 2 tablespoons.
Anisette – Anise Italian soda syrup or fennel. Also use the herbs anise or fennel.
Apple Brandy - Apple juice or apple cider.
Apricot Brandy - Syrup from canned apricots, or apricot preserves.
Beer or Ale – Chicken broth, beef broth, mushroom broth, white grape juice, or ginger ale.
Bourbon – 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of non-alcoholic vanilla extract for 2 tablespoons. 
Brandy – Water, white grape juice, apple cider or apple juice, diluted peach or apricot syrups.
Champagne – Ginger ale, sparkling apple cider, sparkling cranberry juice, or sparkling white grape juice.
Cherry Liqueur (Kirschwasser) - Syrup from canned (Bing) cherries, Italian soda cherry syrup or cherry preserves.
We'll use the syrup from these bottled cherries when the recipe calls for a cherry liqueur. And then we can eat the cherries!
Claret – Diluted grape juice or cherry cider syrup.
Coffee Liqueur – To replace 2 tablespoons of liqueur, use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chocolate extract mixed with 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, which has been mixed in 2 tablespoons of water. Can also substitute expresso, non-alcoholic coffee extract, or coffee syrup.
Cognac – Juice from peaches, apricots, or pears.
Cointreau – Orange juice or frozen orange juice concentrate. 
Creme de cacao - Powdered white chocolate mixed with water; vanilla extract mixed with powdered sugar.
Creme de cassis - Black currant Italian soda syrup or black currant jam.
Creme de menthe – Spearmint extract or oil of spearmint diluted with a little water or grapefruit juice.
Gewurztraminer – White grape juice combined with lemon juice. 
Gin - Basically an infused vodka, flavored with juniper berries. (This was complicated enough that it deserved its own post.)
Grand Marnier or Orange-Flavored Liqueur – Unsweetened orange juice concentrate or orange juice.
Grappa – Grape juice.
Kahlua – Substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chocolate extract for 2 tablespoons. 
Kirsch – Syrup or juices from cherries, raspberries, boysenberries, currants, or cider.
Maraschino Liqueur – Syrup or juices from canned maraschino cherries, or almond extract.
Mirin - White grape juice mixed with lemon juice or zest.
Peppermint Schnapps – Non-alcoholic mint or peppermint extract, mint Italian soda syrup, or mint leaves.
Port Wine, Sweet Sherry, or Fruit-Flavored Liqueur – Orange juice or apple juice; Concord grape juice with some lime zest added, cranberry juice with some lemon juice added, or grape juice concentrate.  
Red Wine – Red grape juice, cranberry juice, chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, clam juice, fruit juices, flavored vinegar. 
Rum (light or dark) – Water, white grape juice, pineapple juice, apple juice or apple cider, or syrup flavored with almond extract. Note: golden rum is also known as dark rum.
Sake – Rice vinegar.
Sherry or Bourbon – Orange or pineapple juices, peach syrup, or non-alcoholic vanilla extract. 
Southern Comfort – Peach flavored nectar combined with a small amount of cider vinegar. 
Sweet White Wine – White grape juice plus 1 tablespoons Karo corn syrup.  
Tequila – Cactus juice or nectar.
Triple Sec – Orange juice concentrate, orange juice, orange zest or orange marmalade.
I found a non-alcoholic version of triple sec in our local grocery store. Basically it's an orange-flavored syrup.
Vermouth, Dry – White grape juice, white wine vinegar, or non-alcoholic white wine.
Vermouth, Sweet – Apple juice, grape juice, balsamic vinegar, non-alcoholic sweet wine, or water with lemon juice.
Whiskey – If a small amount is called for, it can be eliminated. Whiskey generally tastes like oak barrels and malt/wheat.
White Wine – Water, chicken broth, vegetable broth, white grape juice, ginger ale, white grape juice. For a sweet white wine, add a bit of white corn syrup as well.
Vodka –  Vodka is theoretically not supposed to taste like anything. You could use white grape juice or apple cider combined with lime juice or plain water in place of vodka.


Finding a non-alcoholic substitute for gin isn't as simple as finding one for Cherry Liqueur (just use the juice from canned cherries) so I figured it needed its own post. Basically you need to infuse some liquid with the flavor of juniper berries. Because apparently there are different varieties of gins, flavored differently, I also came across many different recipes for making your own. I don't have a "favorite" gin, and really don't even know what one tastes like, so I'm just going to make up my own recipe and see if it does the job!

Gin - Basically an infused vodka, flavored with juniper berries.Try soaking juniper berries in white grape juice with a bit of lime juice. Check out this blog post or even this one for a non-alcoholic version of a gin and tonic. To me it just looks like a lot of work when water would quench thirst just fine. And another one. And another one.

As you can see, while the common ingredient is juniper berries; there's no consensus for the remaining ingredients. Here's what I'm going to do the first time we try a recipe that calls for gin, based on some bartender's suggestion: “Mimicking gin is pretty easy. Simply infuse water overnight with the botanicals used in your favorite gin. You’re going to need juniper berries, and you’re probably going to have some citrus peel and various herbs. The water draws out all the flavor of the aromatics, so when you strain it, you basically have a clean tea ‘gin’ infusion.”

By the way, I actually found juniper berries locally, at a store called Fresh Market, on the "spice" end cap with other pre-packaged "bulk" spices.

Juniper Berry Infusion or Syrup 
Gin Substitute

2 tablespoons juniper berries
lemon peel strips from 1 lemon
8 coriandor seeds*
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup turbinado sugar**

Place juniper berries, lemon peel and coriandor seeds in a heat-proof bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let steep for at least 15 minutes, or even overnight. Strain the liquid. That makes the infusion. If you want a syrup, return the liquid to a boil and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Store the syrup in the refrigerator.

I also found the intriguing history of gin here:
The name "gin" is derived from the French and Dutch words for juniper: "genièvre" and "jenever," respectively. This spirit was created by Dutch physician Dr. Sylvius, who redistilled pure alcohol with juniper berries in hopes that the berries' therapeutic oil would manifest in a low-cost medicine. The medicinal project was a success, though it came at the price (or gain, if you look at it that way) of a spirit with a flavor that effectively hid the harsh taste of alcohol. If you've ever used the phrase "Dutch courage," or liquid courage, you can thank Dr. Sylvius -- before charging into battle, British soldiers would down a shot (or two, or three) of gin.

*If I had cardamom seeds I'd use those instead. Some sites say that coriandor and cardamom aren't substitutes for each other, but one website did suggest it. Since apparently coriandor seeds have a citrus overtone, I think they'll work fine in this experiment.

**Really any sugar would work. My inspiration recipe called for demerara sugar, which I don't have on hand. I do have turbinado sugar in the cupboard.

We have a bunch of juniper berries in the pantry now, so I googled how to use them. Maybe someday we'll give one of these recipes a try.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Glazed Chicken

Here's a simple recipe that is quick and delicious. We originally tried it on boneless chicken breast pieces, but then had it later the same week on salmon. Both versions were terrific.

Glaze for Chicken or Salmon

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sage
1 tablespoon water

Combine all ingredients. Spread 1/2 the glaze on some chicken or fish, then sauté in non-stick pan for a few minutes. Flip and spread with remaining glaze. Cook until done.