Mancheros: Frittata Edition

15.01.13_FritattaCooking scares a lot of people. Instead of approaching a meal as an opportunity for failure, think about it as an opportunity to learn, which reduces pressure. Cooking with friends should always be enjoyable where the meal is an accoutrement to community.

Mancheros is never the same—sometimes it rocks my mind, other times it is just okay—but the friendship developed through collective experimentation in a place where it is okay to fail has made me a better cook.

People often complain that they don’t have enough time or skill to cook, ergo the rise of prepared and dine-on-the-go meals. Food trends point toward more eating alone or on-the-go, which I’m definitely guilty of, but I’m trying to eschew.

In all my travels, food is the one of the few constant points of connection. Not everyone enjoys discussing economic theory or American football, but eyes brighten and barriers diminish when I’ve asked about a favorite meal or food tradition.

We cannot demand a carte blanche return to home-cooked meals and authenticity, yet would it be too much if we sought to share an extra meal a week with someone?

This week’s Mancheros was out of left field from Justin—Mancheros Fritata—which was probably just an excuse for him to season his cast-ironed skillet with the flavors of Mancheros.

As per usual no specific measurements are required—we encourage experimentation—but here is basically what we did:

Base:

  • 1-2 onions (diced)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (diced)
  • 3 carrots (diced)
  • 1 bell pepper (diced)
  • 10-20 grape tomatoes (halved)

Eggs:

  • 6-9 eggs (scrambled)
  • ½ cup of milk
  • Queso fresco crumbled

15.01.13_Fritatta_2We seasoned the skillet with oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and hot sauce and then started on the garlic and onions. After a few minutes we added the carrots and bell peppers. We let them cook for a few minutes (you know, get that maillard reaction going) and then stirred in the grape tomatoes to help add some liquid.

Once that cacophonous concoction is reduced by 1/3rd we added the eggs mixture. We kept it on the burner for a minute or two while the oven got to 350.

2015-01-12 19.59.00We put it in the oven for 15 minutes and halfway through added some sliced queso fresco on top.

We topped with a rough guacamole (Avocado mashed up with Herdez salsa) and devoured it.

After seconds we paused to reflect that we’re getting better at appropriately using a cast-iron skillet and that we’re really good at cooking onions. Months ago we couldn’t have said that and hopefully in a few months we will be frittata maestros, or a step closer to making such a braggadocios claim.

Ideas for improvement:

  • Cook onions in batches. That’d given us the caramelized flavor and some of the sharp onion flavor
  • Limit tomatoes to only be a topping. Addition water affected consistency of frittata.
  • Be more adventurous! nothing too revolutionary here.
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5 Old Fashioneds for Winter

Happy Frozen Friday (the new #ff?). The bone-chilling cold gripping the country right now inspires us to reach for warm comforts. The favorite wool blanket, some home-made chicken noodle soup, and sure enough, even an icy Old Fashioned has unique warming properties as well.

Old fashioned - title

Just this past Tuesday, I attended H Harper Station’s School of Fine Bourbon in which the establishment’s owner, Jerry Slater, gives some bourbon history and lore, shares three off-the-beaten-path bourbons, and shows us every step of his house old fashioned, which we also get to drink. So in the spirit of recency, we’ll start with the H Harper Station House Old Fashioned.

H Harper House Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Old Forester bourbon
  • rough cut sugar cube (I’ll use brown sugar or demarra sugar cubes)
  • Angostura bitters
  • water
  • lemon peel
  1. Slater likes to show guests this trick he learned on his journeys. To soak the sugar perfectly without leaving too much angostura in the glass, he places a cocktail napkin on top of the glass, the sugar cube on top of the napkin and dashes the bitters on top of the cube. As the bitters soaks through the cube, the extra bitters is soaked up by the napkin and he drops a perfectly-soaked sugar cube into the glass.
  2. He then measures out a half oz of water and pours it into the glass to aid the muddling process and muddles the cube to break it up. He’s not going for total analhation of the cube, just enough to break it up and dissolve some of the sugar.
  3. He then measures out 2 oz of bourbon, pours it in and adds three large clear ice cubes to the glass and stirs.
  4. He then cuts off a lemon peel, sprtizes the oils over the glass, rubs the rim down with the peel and drops it in.

And that is a great, classic Old Fashioned.

Slater explains that this is one of the oldest ways to make an Old Fashioned, since, you know, it’s really old.

The Mad Men Old Fashioned

In the 1950s, bar tenders added the muddled fruit salad, as I’ve heard it called. I like this version, as it reminds me of a cold snowy day that you might spend as a character in The Christmas Story or Mad Men. But beware, cocktail enthusiasts may turn their nose up at this style.

  • 2 oz of bourbon (make it Old Crow or something from the 60s to get serious about it)
  • Two orange slices (one for muddling, one for garnishing)
  • Lemon peel
  • Two or three maraschino cherries
  • Sugar cube
  • Angostura bitters

I like Beam because we used it one Christmas, but snobs and historians might prefer something else. In fact, nostalgia aside, I almost always prefer something else.

  1. In an old fashioned glass, douse the sugar cube with bitters (no party tricks in the ad man’s bar). Throw in the orange slice, peel and all, and the cherries and muddle to crush, but not pulverize.
  2. Pour in the bourbon and stir 30 seconds.
  3. Spritz the lemon peel over the glass and drop it in. Or skip the spritz, because, who has time for nuances? The meeting starts in ten minutes.
  4. Cut the remaining orange wedge to perch on the rim and drink up.

The Badger State Old Fashioned

It kills me to write about a bitter rival state’s recipe, but it’s significant enough to mention, as we don’t have a strong Minnesotan version to speak of. But we can also make fun of Wisconsin, since they use brandy instead of bourbon. So take that, Bucky…

This is essentially the same as the 1950s/1960s version, but

  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 orange slice
  • Soda water
  • Maraschino cherries
  1. In an old fashioned glass, add a few dashes of bitters and a splash of soda. Add the orange slice and cherry.
  2. Muddle to crush the fruit, but not pulverize.
  3. Fill with ice cubes and pour in the brandy.
  4. Add soda to fill.
  5. Stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Garnish with more cherries.

Adapted from Marge’s Brandy Old Fashioned

Justin’s Winter Maple Old Fashioned

I love maple on everything in the fall and winter. So why not use it to give a nice winter flavor to an already wintery concoction.

  • 2 oz good bourbon (I use Buffalo Trace, Woodford works real nice too)
  • 1 oz real Maple Syrup
  • Orange peel
  • Dogan and Roth Christmas Bitters (if you’re Dogan or Roth, otherwise, Angostura will mix up real nice)
  • Water
  1. Add maple, water, bitters and bourbon to the glass.
  2. Stir for about 30 seconds.
  3. Spritz orange peel over glass, rub rim and drop in.
  4. Drink up.
  5. Warm up.

Winter Spiced Old Fashioned

Researching Old Fashioneds, I came across this recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon using quintessential winter ingredients. It will take some time, and you’ll want guests around to share the spoils…or maybe you won’t. Scale the recipe up if you have more people around… or even if you don’t.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 12 ounces sweet bourbon (or whiskey)
  • 1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • optional garnish: 4 cinnamon sticks
  1. Place first five ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the spices from the simple syrup.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool completely before placing in the fridge for an hour to chill.
  4. Divide an orange wedge and two cherries into each four glasses and muddle together.
  5. Place the chilled syrup, bourbon and ice into a large shaker and shake until well combined.
  6. Divide the mixture into each glass and top with an extra orange wedge, squeezing the wedge before dropping into the glass.
  7. Garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick, if using and serve.

Mancheros: Gunshots & Priorities

Spoiler alert—my dog got shot and we didn’t cook Mancheros.

Learning the skills of abiding and spontaneity are major goals/resolutions for 2015, however I didn’t expect such a rude awakening to their hardships with 2015 so newborn.

We had an emergency Mancheros on Sunday to decompress and digest the prior day’s events where my dog started barking frantically when I let him outside (at the crack of dawn). He caught some teenagers breaking into cars on my street and one of them shot him through the chest. Miraculously he is alive and doing well, but I’m still processing.

2014-05-20 23.27.48

As an über¹ Type-A, planned spontaneity is the closest I let the unknown and unplanned into my orchestrated life, however I’m implementing my goal-orientation to incorporate this into my calendar more often. Calling the police, visiting the vet, ruining my morning (nay my month), all shook my core emotionally and from a planning perspective. Yet, the silver lining is my dog is alive and well, I had coffee and biscuits with each of my neighbors that morning. Front doors morphed into faces.

Our recipe was simple:

1 Part Octane Coffee

-1 Part Listening

-1 Part Puppy Appreciation

¹ umlauts are fun. They make me giggle, which is über un-German. See what I did there.