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Upside Down Blood Orange and Kumquat Pineapple Cake

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Brightened up your winter diet with seasonal citrus fruit season, And nothing has more flair than a blood orange. The sweet, sour, tangy and unbelievably bright blood orange is bursting with juicy flavor that is reminiscent of an orange, tangerine and lemon, all they while drenched in its own crimson uniqueness. This cake definitely lets the orange’s ruby flesh shine. We also kumquats. And the hidden surprise of pineapple to the batter. The result is a festive fruit dessert guaranteed to lift even the worst winter doldrums.

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:
3 blood oranges, thinly sliced
1 dozen kumquats, thinly sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup  water
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
Zest of one lemon, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).

Liberally spray the cake pan and line the pan with parchment paper.

To make the candied citrus fruits by whisking together the sugar and water in a large sauce pan. Heat on medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Gently add the sliced oranges and kumquats and simmer on low heat for an additional 3 minutes and then remove from the heat.

Layer the cake pan with the slices covering the entire bottom of the pan and gently pour ½ cup of the remaining syrup over the slices.

To make the cake batter, prepare your wet and dry ingredients. In a large bowl,whisk the dry ingredients, the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cardamom together until well combined. in a second bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, the butter, olive oil,eggs and pineapple until combined into a homogeneous mixture, about 2 minutes. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients only until just combine, do not over mix.

Pour the batter into pan over the citrus fruit. Transfer to oven and bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then run a knife along pan’s edges to loosen it; invert onto a platter, remove the parchment paper. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving. Sprinkle with lemon zest, if desired.

 

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Fancy Fried Chicken Livers

I love chicken livers as much as I love oysters and frying them highlights all the best qualities of the common  grocery store staple, and this quick recipe will make you want to cook them regularly because they are so economical. Really, you can season the eggs and flour however you want, just be bold. Sometimes I use Thai Sweet Chile Sauce, and the hotter the sauce the better—the liver can stand up to it. I like to eat them immediately after frying, when the crunchy exterior gives way to a still-juicy center.

Salt is mandatory plus more hot sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon for lift. Fried chicken livers can be seasoned to almost any taste. You can swap the Old Bay for a combination of roasted sesame seeds and Korean red pepper flakes. Or try sprinkling them with crushed peanuts with a side of fish sauce and lime dressing and shredded cabbage.

Once cooked, fried chicken livers last in the fridge for up to two days, during which time you could simply snack on them cold with a dab of mustard. My favorite way to use leftovers is chopped in a hearty salad of arugula, ranch dressing, and roasted sweet potato, or you can tuck them into a roll with a spicy slaw and some sliced pickles.

Fried Chicken Livers

Photo Credit: TASTE, 2018

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pint container of chicken livers
1 egg
¼ cup hot sauce, plus additional for serving
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
vegetable, oil for frying
McCormick’s OLD BAY® Seasoning
Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
Rinse livers in cold water and pat dry with paper towels before trimming them of visible sinew, fat, and areas of green discoloration. Separate large connected lobes, but otherwise try keep the pieces as big as possible.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg with a fork until blended, then add hot sauce and mustard. Gently drop the livers in the egg wash and toss to coat. Let them marinate for up to 10 minutes while you prepare the breading.

To make the breading, mix the flour, cornmeal, and the remaining spices in a shallow pan or plate so you can spread the mixture out. Lay the livers on the seasoned flour and let them sit on one side for at least 2 minutes so the coating bonds well to the egg. Gently turn them over and repeat on the other side.

Heat half an inch of oil in a cast-iron or carbon steel pan. Fry the livers until dark golden brown before flipping, which takes about 2 or 3 minutes depending on the size of the piece. 5 minutes. Don’t be tempted to let them go longer than 5 minutes to insure a  perfectly pink interior, which is what you want. This is how you harness the elegant pâté qualities that are waiting to be unlocked, so keep an eye on the smaller pieces. When the livers are solidly golden brown on both sides, they are done on the inside, Be careful when cooking livers, the liver releases a lot of juice while frying on the first side. I like to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes and then sprinkle a pinch of the dredging flour on the top to absorb the moisture and prevent splattering. Flip the livers and continue to cook until they are uniformly brown, another minute to 2 minutes.

Drain on paper towels. Once the livers are fried, you would be almost negligent not to consider another layer of flavor for the exterior, so lightly dust generously with Old Bay. Serve with lemon wedges and hot sauce.


Pomegranate and Blood Orange Margarita

Today is National Margarita Day 2019 and it could not fall on a better day, being that it is Friday!

 

National Margarita Day is a day celebrated on February 22nd every year and is a day used to honor the cocktail that is usually made of a combination of tequila, triple sec and various fruit juices (such as lemon or lime). While the drink – and to a lesser extent the holiday dedicated to it – is widely known not only in the United States but around the world, no one really knows the origins of either one.

The fact of the matter is that no one really knows when the margarita was invented – or National Margarita Day for that matter, but the drink is believed to have been invented sometime around World War II. One of the most common origin stories associated with this drink is that it was invented by Rancho La Gloria restaurant owner Carlos Herrera in 1938.

However, a recipe for a tequila-based cocktail first appeared in the 1930 book My New Cocktail Book by G.F. Steele.

Hotel-Garci-Crespo-Mexico-en-Fotos-copy-511x300And then there’s Bartender Danny Negrete, who legend has it, created a signature wedding cocktail  in 1934 at the Garci Crespo Hotel in Puebla which was one of the most luxurious hotels at that time, and christened it “Margarita” in honor of his future sister-in-law. Or maybe Negrete was really inspired by a stunning young dancer named Margaret Cansino who performed at the glamorous Agua Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana where he also worked. That 16-year-old beauty later  became the legendary Rita Hayworth.

                       Rita Hayworth at 16 (left) and at the height of her career in the 1940s.

 

Without noting a specific recipe or inventor, a drink called the Tequila Daisy was mentioned in the Syracuse Herald as early as 1936. Margarita is Spanish for Daisy, which is a nickname for Margaret.

According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, the popular Mexican drink was remade with tequila instead of brandy, which became a sensation during Prohibition as people drifted over the border for alcohol. There is an account from 1936 of Iowa newspaper editor James Graham finding such a cocktail in Tijuana, years before any of the other margarita “creation myths”.

 

 

MEXICO-EN-FOTOS-RANCHO-LA-GLORIA-RESTAURANT-AND-BAR-458x300The 1937 Cafe RoyalMargarita 4 Danny Herrera Cocktail Book contains a recipe for a Picador using the same concentrations of tequila, triple sec and lime juice as a margarita. One of the earliest stories is of the margarita being invented in 1938 by Carlos “Danny” Herrera at his restaurant Rancho La gloria, halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Baja California, created for customer and former Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King, who was allergic to many spirits, but not to tequila. This story was related by Herrera and also by bartender Albert Hernandez, acknowledged for popularizing a margarita in San Diego after 1947, at the La Plaza restaurant in La Jolla. By then it was known as the ‘Margarita.’ San Diego newspaper editor Neil Morgan was a friend and made sure Hernandez’ story appeared locally.

Danny Herrera

 

 

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Albert and Helen Hernandez at La Plaza in 1947. Chef Washington at left.

 

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However, there are many people who claim that it was invented by Don Carlos Orozco in October of 1941. As the story goes, Mr. Orozco was working as a bartender at Hussong’s Cantina – a restaurant in Mexico – when the daughter of the German ambassador named Margarita Henkel walked into the restaurant and asked for a special drink. He then whipped her a drink that was equal parts tequila, an orange liqueur and lime. This concoction was then placed in a salt rimmed glass and served to her. Since this lady’s name was Margarita, that is the name that he decided to give the drink.

 

There are also claims that the margarita was first mixed in Juárez, Chihuahua at Tommy’s Place Bar on July 4, 1942 by Francisco “Pancho” Morales. Morales later left bartending in Mexico to become a US citizen, where he worked as a milkman for 25 years. Mexico’s official news agency Notimex and many experts have said Morales has the strongest claim to having invented the margarita.

 

Others say the inventor was Dallas socialite Margarita Sames, when she concocted theMargarita2.jpg drink for her guests at her Acapulco, Guerrero vacation home in 1948. Tommy Hilton reportedly attended, bringing the drink back to the Hilton chain of hotels. However, Jose Cuervo was already running ad campaigns for the margarita three years earlier, in 1945, with the slogan, “Margarita: It’s more than a girl’s name.” According to Jose Cuervo, the cocktail was invented in 1938 by a bartender in honor of Mexican showgirl Rita de la Rosa.

 

Jose Cuervo Tequila bottle (1930s)

 

Another common origin tale begins the cocktail’s history at the legendary Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas where, in 1948, head bartender Santos Cruz created the margarita for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee. He supposedly named it after the Spanish version of her name, Margarita.

While all of these origin stories may or may not account for when this drink was created, it is known that the first published recipe of this drink occurred in the December 1953 issue of Esquire. This recipe called for an ounce of tequila with dashes of triple sec and the juice of half a lime or lemon.

 

Margarita6 Trader VicThe person credited for really popularizing the Margarita was Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron, who owned California’s Señor Pico chain of restaurants. In the 1960s he went to Mexico to do research on a cocktail containing tequila, but discovered that Mexicans drink tequila straight. So he collected recipes for tequila cocktails from other restaurants around the States, and settled on the Margarita. By 1973 his restaurants sold more tequila than any other restaurant in the world.

Victor Bergeron

 

 

 

 

frozenAlthough many consider the  frozen Margarita an abomination,  it should be mentioned that the world’s first frozen margarita machine was invented on May 11, 1971 by a Dallas restaurateur named Mariano Martinez. He modified a soft-serve ice cream machine into the first frozen margarita machine to create a consistent, mass produced beverage. He got his inspiration from a frozen slushee machine he saw at a convenience store. Frozen Margaritas and Piña Coladas were all the rage back then, but they had to be made in a blender, which was time consuming, loud, and didn’t make for a very consistent product. His invention popularized the bar and the frozen Margarita at his Dallas TexMex restaurant, El Charro, and the category of frozen drink machines has gotten ever more popular through the years. His original machine now resides in the Smithsonian Institute.

 

Margaritaville-West_German7_SingleCover

At this point in time, the margarita began to spread across North America, but it wouldn’t really gain mass popularity until  a musician named Jimmy Buffett released a song called Margaritaville on February 14, 1977, from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. This song was written about a drink Buffett discovered at Lung’s Cocina del Sur restaurant on Anderson Lane in Austin, Texas, and the first huge surge of tourists who descended on Key West, Florida around that time. He wrote most of the song that night at a friend’s house in Austin, and finished it while spending time in Key West. In the United States “Margaritaville” reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and went to number one on the Easy Listening chart, also peaking at #13 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Billboard ranked it number 14 on its 1977 Pop Singles year-end chart. It remains Buffett’s highest charting solo single.

Named for the cocktail margarita, with lyrics reflecting a laid-back lifestyle in a tropical climate, “Margaritaville” has come to define Buffett’s music and career. The relative importance of the song to Buffett’s career is referred to obliquely in a parenthetical plural in the title of a Buffett greatest hits compilation album, Songs You Know By Heart: Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hit(s). The name has been used in the title of other Buffett compilation albums such as Meet Me In Margaritaville: The Ultimate Collection and is also the name of several commercial products licensed by Buffett. The song also lent its name to the 2017  Broadway musical Escape to Margaritaville, in which it is featured alongside other Buffett songs. Continued popular culture references to and covers of it throughout the years attest to the song’s continuing popularity. The song was mentioned in Blake Shelton’s 2004 single “Some Beach”.

“Margaritaville” has been inducted into the 2016 Grammy Hall of Fame for its cultural and historic significance.

With all that being said, it’s still not clear when National Margarita Day was invented. Like the drink it is named after, it’s origins have been buried in history. Whichever story is true, one thing is certain…Americans have an ongoing love affair with the margarita. According to a 2016 biannual survey of cocktail consumers conducted by Nielsen CGA, tequila was everyone’s go-to base spirit, and the margarita was their favorite cocktail.

The best way to celebrate National Margarita Day is by choosing your favorite recipe and whipping one up, or by going to your favorite bar and ordering one of these icy cold concoctions. See our recipe for a version of this famous cocktail, given that blood oranges are in season.

This is not your ordinary margarita. Combine fresh pomegranate and blood orange juice to create this unique concoction that’s as tasty as it is beautiful — perfect for “wowing” guests at your next party or get-together!

 

Makes Two 12 oz drinks

Ingredients:

8 oz Fresh Pomegranate juice
4 oz Fresh Blood Orange juice
8 oz Tequila of your choice
2 oz Cointreau
1 oz Key Lime juice
1 oz Simple syrup

Directions:
Combine ingredients in shaker and shake well. Serve over ice in salt rimmed glasses and with a twist of orange.

 


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