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

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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! Continue reading “Simple Recipes Tailored for Summer Entertaining”

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!