Say Cheers with Irish Mojitos

I’ve got a refreshing cocktail for y’all just in time to say cheers on St. Patrick’s Day: an Irish Mojito! Bright and a little on the dangerous side (because you can’t taste the alcohol), the Creme De Menthe gives this cocktail a minty flavor and a festive pop of green color. It’s fruity and just the kind of thing I love to sip on while watching the parade go by in the 80 degree Savannah, Georgia “spring” weather. Continue reading “Say Cheers with Irish Mojitos”

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Featuring “The Queen Julep” Just in Time for The Kentucky Derby

Contributed photo
The Kentucky Derby in action! (Contributed photo)
On the first Saturday in May since 1946 (the Derby actually debuted in 1875), thousands of revelers have graced the infield at Churchhill Downs to place bets on the fastest horse, go cow tippin’, don their fanciest hat and sip on mint juleps at the infamous Kentucky Derby. In fact, more than 80,000 onlookers are expected this weekend to experience the pageantry and tradition of the 141st “Run for the Roses” live in Louisville.
Though I’ve never personally been to a race, (I would LOVE to go one of these days), I’ll be celebrating from a far with mint julep in hand — and thanks to Charlotte, North Carolina Mixologist Bob Peters, I’ll be sippin’ in style.
Bob Peters doing what he does at The Punch Room in Charlotte, NC.
Bob Peters doing what he does at The Punch Room in Charlotte, NC. (Contributed photo)

Peters uses one of my favorite bourbons, Bulleit Rye, to make this sugar spirit-water cocktail. I use the same stuff to create the ultimate Blackberry Smash. An award-winning cocktail master, he’s the head bartender at Charlotte’s newest hot-spot, The Punch Room, nestled on the 15th floor of the Ritz-Carlton.

With a mere four ingredients, you’ll be glad you made this drink at home. Word on the street is, one mint julep at the races will cost you $8 a pop.

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The Queen Julep by Head Mixologist Bob Peters (Contributed photo)

The Queen Julep
Recipe by Punch Room Head Mixologist Bob Peters

Bay Breeze, Take Me Away

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Meet my go-to cocktail: the Bay Breeze. No matter where I am, what season it is or the kind of mood I’m in, with one sip, the Bay Breeze inevitably takes me to the Islands. Something about a semi-sweet fruity cocktail in a cold glass sets my mind at ease, and kicks off the countdown to relaxation.

On my recent vacation to the Western Caribbean, I picked up a bottle of Coconut Rum, and I’ll be putting it to good use with this recipe. Don’t forget the garnish…much like a good outfit needs finishing touches, so too, does a good drink.

It’s almost Happy Hour…cheers y’all!

Barcadi Bay Breeze

      Serves 1

    • 1 part Coconut Rum (I like Bacardi or Malibu)
    • 2 parts Cranberry Juice
    • 2 parts Pineapple Juice

· Squeeze of fresh lime juice

  • Fresh pineapple wedges, slices of lime for garnish (Tip: Rather than garnish randomly, I enjoy adorning the glass with something that gives a nod to its ingredients)

Enjoy.

Simple Recipes Tailored for Summer Entertaining

Hosted by myself and Chad (left) of The Stylish Steed, "Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!" was held on Thursday, May 15  at the Gadsden State Cherokee Arena.
Hosted by myself and Chad (right) of The Stylish Steed, “Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!” was held on Thursday, May 15 at the Gadsden State Cherokee Arena.

As many of you know, I had the opportunity to headline a food and style event recently in Centre, Alabama with my good friend, Chad. It’s been one week ago today, and as promised, I’m sharing the recipes served during the event right here on Some Kinda Good. Whether you attended the event or just happened across my food blog, these refreshing grilled desserts, appetizers and warm weather-friendly beverages are tailored for summer entertaining and don’t even require heating up an oven. They’re simple, yet elevated and certainly Some Kinda Good!

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Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders with Spicy Pimento Cheese

Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders
Serves 12
Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 12-Pack of Dinner Rolls, such as King’s Hawaiian
  • 1 Package of Spring Mix Lettuce
  • 6-8 Slices of Hardwood Smoked Bacon, Cooked Crispy
Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders with Spicy Pimento Cheese
Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sliders with Spicy Pimento Cheese

Spicy Pimento Cheese

  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 Large Sweet Onion, such as Vidalia, diced
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 2 4-oz. Jars of Diced Pimento Peppers, drained
  • 1/2 of an 8-oz block of Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 of an 8 oz block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 of an 8 oz block of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of Dukes Mayonnaise
  • Salt, Pepper and Old Bay Seasoning to taste

In a medium bowl, blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer. To assemble a slider, spread pimento cheese onto dinner roll. Top with spring mix lettuce, one fried green tomato and crispy bacon.

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 3 Large Green Tomatoes
  • ½ cup Cornmeal
  • ½ cup Self-Rising Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • Vegetable Oil + Bacon Grease for frying

Slice tomatoes about ¼ of an inch thick. Place them on a flat surface and season with salt. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander and allow them to drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a cast iron skillet or 10-inch frying pan with vegetable oil halfway full and set over medium heat. The oil will be ready for frying when sizzling occurs after gently sprinkled with water. In a small dish, use a fork to combine the cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Dredge the tomatoes in the flour mixture on each side. Roll the sides of the tomato in the flour mixture too, to ensure an even coating. Shake off any excess before dropping the tomato slices into the hot oil. Fry the tomato slices until golden brown, turning once during cooking.  Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Pineapple-Mango Salsa

  • 1 whole Pineapple, Cored, Peeled and Diced
  • 1 whole Mango, Diced
  • 1/2 of a Medium Red Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded and Diced
  • Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 whole Lime, Juiced
  • Dash Kosher Salt

Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. This salsa is also refreshing alongside or atop grilled meats such as chicken or fish.

Samples of Honey Vanilla Pound Cake served with fresh macerated berries.
Samples of Honey Vanilla Pound Cake served with fresh macerated berries.

Grilled Pound Cake Served with Macerated Berries 

  • Store-Bought or Homemade Pound Cake
  • 1-2 Pints of Strawberries or a combination of Mixed Berries
  • 1/4 cup of Sugar or more to taste

Remove stems from strawberries. Slice lengthwise. Pour sugar over berries and mix until coated. Set aside and let stand at least 30 minutes. Slice pound cake. Lay on an oiled grill grate just until heated through and grill marks appear. Serve macerated berries over cake. For major indulgence, dollop with fresh, sweetened whipped cream. Any combination of fresh berries can be substituted. Blackberries or blueberries would work marvelously! Always use what’s in season and available.

 

Grilled Panzanella is a Tuscan salad of fresh, seasonal vegetables, and grilled Italian bread.
Grilled Panzanella is a Tuscan salad of fresh, seasonal vegetables, and grilled Italian bread.
Samples of Grilled Panzanella
Samples of Grilled Panzanella

Grilled Panzanella

  • 2 large bell peppers (any color), quartered
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Medium Onion, cut in half
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta or Italian bread, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Brush grill with olive oil, season vegetables with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill bell peppers, zucchini and onion for about 4-5 minutes, turning once until grill marks are visible. Chop the grilled vegetables into bite size pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cucumber into the same bowl. Remove bread from grill, cut into cubes and toss together with the vegetables. Drizzle the mixture with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, just enough to dress the salad lightly, and season with more salt and pepper. Squeeze about 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice over the mixture. Toss in fresh basil. Devour!

Watermelon Refresher

  •  4 cups of sliced seedless watermelon, rind removed
  • 1 16-oz carton of Lemon Sorbet
  • The Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Watermelon wedges and mint, for garnish

In a blender, combine the first four ingredients until smooth. Pour over ice and serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with fresh mint and a wedge of watermelon. If you’d like to make this recipe a cocktail, vodka is a great addition. Recipe inspired by Paula Deen.

 Watermelon Skewers
Serves 25
Prep Time: 30 Minutes

  • Seedless Watermelon
  • Feta Cheese
  • Fresh Basil
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Using a small melon baller, scoop out 25 balls of fresh watermelon. Cut feta cheese into medium size cubes (You don’t want them too small because they will crumble when skewered). Pick 25 small basil leaves from a basil plant. Skewer ingredients on wooden skewers in this order: watermelon, feta, basil. Pour about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small bowl. With a grill brush, dip the brush into the balsamic vinegar and gingerly brush the skewers with it. If the feta cheese gets too damp, it will crumble and fall off the skewer. Serve in a tall flower or frog vase for an interesting display! 

A special thanks to all who attended “Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!” If you make these dishes at home, please let me know how they turn out. To see photos from the event, visit Some Kinda Good on Facebook.  Now you’re set on the menu for your summer party, but don’t forget to check out The Stylish Steed for tips on what to wear and how to decorate!

Cheers…to good food and good company.

New Flavors with Nashville Friends: A Food Adventure at The 404 Kitchen

wpid-0329142036.jpgThe 404 Kitchen
Nashville, Tennessee 

The older I become, the more I realize that so much of life is about our experiences. When I auditioned for ABC’s cooking competition reality show “The Taste” last year, I couldn’t have predicted the friendships that would result and never would have imagined I’d be hanging out in the Music City with the co-owner of an award-winning food truck eating chicken liver pate and drinking cocktails with smoked bacon. I’m talking about my friend, Carlos Davis of Riffs Fine Street Food. You may have seen him on the Cooking Channel’s Eat Street or featured in the Nashville Scene. He’s the coolest Caribbean I know, with a local, inside perspective on good eats. On a chilly Saturday night in early spring, Carlos and I reunited for the first time since we’d both hopped on a plane Southbound from Burbank, California in September 2013. Carlos showed me around a Nashville neighborhood known as the Gulch, and introduced me to The 404 Kitchen, led by Chef Matt Bolus.

wpid-0329142033.jpgAs noted on The 404 Kitchen’s website, the restaurant is “Housed in a former shipping container…and offers a modern take on classic European cuisine with an emphasis on local, seasonal fare, including herbs grown on the rooftop garden.”

A semi-finalist in the Best New Restaurant category of the 2014 James Beard Awards, The 404 Kitchen features indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate 56 guests for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.

We decided to forgo the entrees all together and jump right in with Starters and Cocktails. We took our seats at the bar where Carlos quickly pointed out The Nearest Green, a libation featuring Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Laird’s Rare Apple Brandy, Benton’s Smoky Mountain bacon and citrus infused Tennessee honey. It had every flavor going for it–fruity, smoky and sweet. Who wouldn’t love a cocktail including bacon? I was all in, and it didn’t disappoint. When I had finished sipping the cocktail, I shamelessly ate the bits of bacon in the bottom of my glass with a spoon to which Carlos commented, “You would be weird if you didn’t!”

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The next order of business came in the form of Crudo, an appetizer of Cobia, blood orange, fennel, bee pollen (that’s right, bee pollen), pistachio and vidal ice vinegar. Now, I grew up in Blythe, Georgia and Twiggs County farm country. My folks and I didn’t eat quite like this. I had no idea what the majority of these ingredients were, but I tasted them with gladness and what a refreshing combination! I learned that Cobia is a type of fish. I loved the crunch of the pistachios and fennel. The vinegar and citrus flavors gave every bite a noteworthy kick. As for the bee pollen, I was at a total loss.

wpid-0329141912.jpgStarter number 2 was delivered on a butcher block: Kennedy Farms Chicken Liver Pate, served with whole grain mustard, pickled radish and the Lowcountry’s popular benne wafers. A pate is a mixture of cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste. Nothing about that sounds appealing to me, and by the looks of it, you’d think it came directly from a Spam can. Tasting chicken liver pate was another first for me, and the truth is, I really liked it. Reminiscent of humus in texture, its flavor was rich and herbaceous. When the dish came out, I looked directly at Carlos and said, “Alright chef. Teach me how to eat this.” He took a healthy portion of the pate and spread it on the wafer, then topped it with a bit of the spicy ground mustard. I asked, “What about the radish?” to which he informed me it was a palate cleanser. Makes sense! This home cook surely enjoys having chef friends.

wpid-0329141932a.jpgNext up came my pick for the evening, and my favorite of all: 14 Month Aged Benton’s Country Ham served with buttermilk biscuits, Tennessee whiskey jelly and red-eye gravy. In the moment the plate came, Carlos tweeted, “#CountryHamAndBiscuits @The404Kitchen. @SKGFoodBlog just squealed.” It was true. I had church with this appetizer. The biscuits were perfection, the country ham was salty and sliced to the perfect thinness, and the jam? I can’t. I could have turned the red-eye gravy ramekin up and drank it, but civility got the best of me.

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With each new dish, the bartender switched out our silverware and brought new small plates. Lastly, we tried the Burrata featuring celeriac, grapefruit, black truffle, pine nuts, leeks and calabrian peppers. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Smooth like butter, I’d never known a cheese could be elevated to such heights. Other Starters on the menu that night featured Lamb Sugo, Winter Squash Soup and a 3 Cheese Plate. Entrees included Rabbit, Cioppino, Swordfish, Pork Ragu and other mind-boggling dishes. Dining in a place like The 404 Kitchen reminds me of just how much I have to learn about the world of gastronomy.

We wound the evening down with dessert. The grand finale was brioche bread with bittersweet chocolate, and a banana nut loaf alongside cold ice cream. With a daily changing menu, this is a place I could return again and again.

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With clean plates and full hearts, we left The 404 Kitchen satisfied, anticipating the next great food adventure. From the service to the atmosphere, topped only by the food, The 404 Kitchen was Some Kinda Good, and the perfect spot to catch up with my culinary pal. After all, good food and good company is what it’s all about.

The 404 Kitchen on Urbanspoon

A Smashing Good Cocktail

Recently while visiting Dutchmans Designs, a quaint little shop on the Georgia coast, I picked up Porch Parties by Denise Gee, a fabulous book containing cocktail recipes and easy ideas for outdoor entertaining. Right away, I wanted to try this Blackberry Smash. Made with my favorite fruit and refreshing ingredients like mint leaves and lemon juice, it’s definitely a keeper.

You’ll need a cocktail shaker. Muddle 16 fresh blackberries and 10 fresh mint leaves. If you don’t have a fancy muddle tool, just use a wooden spoon. Add rye whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup and 1/2 cup of ginger ale. Then drop some ice cubes in and stir, don’t shake.

Pour into a tall cocktail glass and top off with ginger ale to taste. Garnish with blackberries and fresh mint. It’s cold and fruity, the perfect complement to summer.

Here’s the recipe:
10 Fresh Mint Leaves
16 Fresh Blackberries
1/2 Cup Rye Whiskey
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Simple Syrup
1/2 Cup Ginger Ale, plus more for topping off
Skewers of blackberries for garnish (optional)

Let me know if you try it!

The French 75

Meet The French 75. Perfect to serve at an elegant dinner party, it’s festive and fun with a touch of elegance. You’ll need fresh lemon juice, some good quality gin, chilled champagne and some simple syrup. To make simple syrup, just dissolve equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan and let simmer until thick, about 15 minutes. You can also pour the mixture in a blender to help it thicken faster.

Don’t forget the garnish–a maraschino cherry and a twist of lemon. It’s cold and I love how it fizzles.

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

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Ina Garten makes a mean Pink Grapefruit Margarita. It’s not sweet, but very refreshing. With an old friend and a back porch, this tasty cocktail is a Friday night waiting to happen. I had fun with the garnish on this one…no beverage is complete without the proper garnish. Drink up!

Ingredients
1 lime, cut in wedges, optional
Kosher salt, optional
1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1 cup orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec
2 cups ice
1 cup white tequila

Directions
If you like a salt rim on the glasses, rub the lime around the edge of the glass and then dip the rim of each glass lightly in a plate of kosher salt. Set aside to dry. Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, orange liqueur, and ice in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and stir in the tequila. If you’re not serving the margaritas in salted glasses, stir 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the pitcher of margaritas. Serve ice cold.

Shiraz by Layer Cake

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Who wouldn’t love a bottle of wine named Layer Cake? Naturally, I was drawn to the delectable chocolate cake pictured on the front of the bottle, but then I read the description on the back and immediately knew I had made my choice. Here’s what it says:

My old grandfather made and enjoyed wine for 80 years. He told me the soil in which the vines lived were a layer cake. He said the wine, if properly made, was like a great layer cake, fruit, mocha and chocolate, hints of spice and rich, always rich. ‘Never pass up a layer cake,’ he would say. I have always loved those words.

Try Shiraz, Vintage 2009 from South Australia by Layer Cake. You’ll be glad you did.

A Twist on the Classic Bloody Mary

Who doesn’t love a good ole’ bloody mary? The peppery, tomato flavored drink is great for entertaining or sipping on solo. I found this recipe in the January/February 2011 issue of Food Network magazine, but instead of using vodka which is normally the alcohol in bloody marys, tequila is the star ingredient. Deemed Bloody Marias, this drink is a sure refreshment.

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 2 Tbs horseradish
  • 4 dashes worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs ketchup
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Few shakes of hot sauce
  • Salt, Pepper
  • 1 cup tequila

Note: You can always leave out the alcohol and make a virgin version, but what would be the fun in that? 😉

Here’s how I put it all together:

Share with me your favorite cocktail!