Jack and Coke: The Right Mix

jack&coke

You could mix your favorite and most expensive bourbon with Coca-Cola, but somehow it’s not going to taste as good as Jack Daniel’s No. 7 and Coke. There’s 5 different ways to mix it, and all of them are terrific.

Popular Jack & Coke

  • 2 ounces Jack Daniel’s No. 7
  • 8 ounces Coca-Cola

— Fill a tall or Old Fashioned glass with ice. Pour in the Jack. Gently pour in the Coke. Garnish with nothing. This is a balanced mix of Jack taste and Coke taste.

Ask your bartender for a 4-to-1 ratio or mix. Other mixes with 7 ounces and 9 ounces of Coke aren’t so good, for some reason, 8 ounces is perfect.

If the bar pours only 1½ ounces of Jack for a drink, then ask for 6 ounces of Coke.

Pro Jack & Coke

  • 2 ounces Jack Daniel’s
  • 6 ounces Coca-Cola

Recommended by the Jack Daniel Distillery, and brings the taste of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 to the forefront. Strong, but not too strong. It’s a 3-to-1 mix. If using 1½ ounces Jack, add 4½ ounces Coke.

Smooth Jack & Coke

  • 2 ounces Jack Daniel’s
  • 10 ounces Coca-Cola

There’s just a hint of the taste of whiskey. A 5-to-1 mix. If using 1½ ounces of Jack, add 7½ ounces Coke.

Strong Jack & Coke

  • 2 ounces Jack Daniel’s
  • 2 ounces Coca-Cola

I like this one a lot, it has a slight caramel taste.

Coca-Cola from Mexico is bottled with sugar, and tastes better with alcohol than corn-syrup Coke. Many drinkers will enjoy Jack with a splash of Coke. What’s a splash? It’s a bartender’s one-count, and since a 4-count is an ounce, that’s about ¼ ounce.

Other Whiskey?

Jack Daniel’s just has the right stuff, and it’s better than expensive bourbons when mixed with Coke. The only whiskies that come close are Wild Turkey 101 and Crown Royal.

Found this American Icon at Schneider's of Capitol Hill.
Found this American Icon at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, my favorite liquor store ever.

In England, this drink is called JD & Coke, and in the rest of Europe it’s a Whisky Cola.  Serve a glass of cold water with every drink, to reduce consequences.

Make Hatch Green Chile Sauce

Green chile sauce doesn't look beautiful, but it's awesome.
Green chile sauce isn’t beautiful, but it’s awesome.

You may have an abuelita in Santa Fe who makes green chile sauce better than this, but to make your own requires a delicate balance of savory onion and garlic with the sweetness and pleasant burn of roasted green chiles. A tomato adds just the right touch of acidity. Many recipes add tart tomatillos, but that’s not New Mexican.

As a cameraman for an Albuquerque TV station, I traveled all around New Mexico, dined at a lot of cafés, and interviewed several cooks (and a few grandmothers) to develop this recipe.

If you’re ever in Santa Fe, I recommend the huevos rancheros with red and green chile at Cafe Pasqual’s (The Breakfast Center of the Universe). The roast beef burrito smothered with green chile at Tomasita’s looks like a hot mess, but it’s terrific.

Best Hatch Green Chile Sauce Recipe

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 1 heaping cup of roasted and chopped green chile (9 or 10 chiles)
  • 1 tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon instant tapioca (best) or regular flour
  • ½ cup Swanson chicken stock
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried or fresh chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper

1. Add olive oil to a sauce pan, turn heat to medium, and heat oil for 2 minutes.

2. Add onion, and saute until it turns golden (about 8 minutes). Don’t worry if it turns a little brown–it’s caramelized.

3. Stir in the garlic and turn the heat down to low. Add the tapioca or flour, and stir frequently for 4 minutes. Add the tomato, green chile, chicken stock and water, stir, and turn heat back to medium.

4. Finally, add salt, cumin, oregano and black pepper, then stir. Let it cook for about 5 minutes on medium. You’re done, that’s it. Green chile sauce stays fresh for 4 days in the fridge, or you can freeze it and reheat it with no loss of flavor.

Flour is the traditional thickener for green chile sauce, but tapioca makes it look shiny and bright, and doesn’t change the taste. The chile sauce will be gluten-free.

The Desert Hurricane

Just about every weekend we make a breakfast with bacon, fried eggs, and cheddar cheese on top of a pile of Ore-Ida hashbrowns. Then we pour hot green chile sauce over the top. It’s called a Desert Hurricane, and it’s stunning.

greenchile2

Want to know how to roast green chile? Click here. Don’t have fresh green chiles? Forget the ones in a can–the taste is off–but check the frozen aisle for Bueno Chopped Green Chile, it works great!

If you want to make a Green Chile Cheeseburger, use chopped green chiles (not this sauce), onion, mustard, tomato, and pickles. Ketchup is not recommended, as the tomato already provides that taste. The preferred cheeses are Cheddar, American, or Provolone.

Eater.com has a superb guide to green chiles, and if you’re ever in Santa Fe, a great list of restaurants to visit. Green chile also won a USA Today/10Best.com poll as the best regional cuisine, and the site also included great restaurants to try in New Mexico.

Best Cheap Frozen Margaritas for a Party

margariter

It was never easy in the past to make good cheap Margaritas, because the ingredients weren’t very good–cheap tequila was harsh, lime juice remains harsh, and orange triple sec isn’t something to drink on its own.

Nowadays there is excellent and cheap 100% blue agave blanco tequila available, and we have a secret ingredient to brighten the taste of lime juice. A touch of lemon juice makes all the difference.

No need to use expensive tequila. Cointreau is the best triple sec for this drink, but other orange liqueurs may be used. You can make these Margaritas a little better with your favorite premium tequila, but that’s up to you.

Frozen Margarita (makes 4 servings)

  • 6 ounces Lunazul 100% Agave Blanco Tequila or other 100% agave blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau, DeKuyper O3 Orange Liqueur, or other triple sec
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 2/3 ounce (4 measuring teaspoons) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 ounces agave nectar (do not dilute with water)
  • 2 cups of ice

— Blend the ice before adding the ingredients. Add the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, and agave nectar to the blender. Blend until smooth, and serve in a glass with ½ of the rim salted. Garnish with a lime wheel, half of a lime wheel, or a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

For easier preparation, premix several jars, glasses, or other containers with this recipe, so that you just have to add ice and the contents of the premix containers to the blender.

Lunazul Silver is one of the lowest-priced 100% blue agave tequilas, and deserves all of its prestigious awards. Olmeca Altos is also a good bargain. DeKuyper O3 Orange is half the price of Cointreau and as well as Cointreau with these Margaritas.

Other tequilas in the $20 range we’ve tested are Campo Azul Reposado (the gold one). Espolon makes a smooth, sweeter margarita with a milder taste. Other highly-rated tequilas in this price range include El Padrino and Pueblo Viejo. Sauza Hornitos Reposado (gold) is popular in Mexico, and will give you an enjoyable burn.

If you want a Premium Margarita, use a more expensive blanco tequila such as Milagro.

For Strawberry Margaritas, add 8 fresh or frozen strawberries to the blender before mixing.

Cheap award-winning tequila makes cheap great margaritas
Cheap, award-winning tequila makes cheap great margaritas
Fancy margarita glasses or garnishes are not always necessary.
Fancy glasses or garnishes not required.

Fry Hash Browns in Olive Oil and Butter

hashbrwns

MJ is a master of Spanish cooking, and when she was frying potato slices in olive oil and butter to put in her tortilla (the egg omelet from Spain), I snatched a slice to sample.  It shocked me how delicious it was, and I knew I had to use the same technique with American hash brown potatoes. The results were just as delicious.  Better yet, frozen hash brown potatoes taste even better than fresh ones, so it only takes about 12 minutes to make this part of a very satisfying breakfast.

Directions

1.  Preheat a skillet on medium heat with a few drops of water in it.  When the water boils, turn heat to medium-high.

2.  Add 3 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, let it heat up, then add a Tablespoon of butter to the oil.  When the butter stops foaming, swirl it around, and add 1/2 of the bag of frozen hash browns to the pan.  (Watch out, the oil may pop.)

3.  Fry for 4 to 5 minutes (uncovered), lifting the edge of the potatoes to check with a spatula, to see if they are properly browned.

4.  When they are browned, flip the potatoes, and turn down the heat to medium.  (There’s less oil left in the pan, so they would burn on the higher heat).

5.  Cook 3 minutes, turn the heat to medium-low, the stir the potatos a little. Let them cook about 2 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

potat

It’s easier to turn the potatoes if you divide them into three parts. If you don’t use butter, the potatoes will still be delicious with just olive oil, although the outside browned crust may be slightly crunchier than with an olive oil/butter mix.

A wooden mallet is good for breaking up frozen hashbrowns.
A wooden mallet is good for breaking up frozen hash browns.

Electric and glass-top stoves burn hotter than gas stoves, so you may have to use slightly lower heat on these types of stoves.  If you are frying the whole bag, increase the amount of olive oil to 4 or 5 teaspoons, and add a little more butter. Don’t overload the skillet with the shredded potatoes, or they’ll get steamed instead of fried.

breafast

Tasters for the California Olive Board determined that all olive oil tastes the same after you heat it. We don’t find this to be completely true, as it seems that Spanish has a slightly better taste when frying potatoes than Italian olive oil does. Either way, inexpensive supermarket virgin olive oil is recommended for these hash browns.

The Best “Champagne” for Mimosas Is Cava

A Mimosa is the official drink of a Sunday brunch, and though it’s originally made with Champagne, there’s an inexpensive sparkling wine that tastes better than Champagne when mixed with orange juice . That wine is from Spain, and it is called cava.

There’s two great Mimosas. The first one is simply orange juice and sparkling white wine, and the second adds a touch of Cointreau or other orange liqueur.

2 ounces fresh orange juice

Mimosa

2 ounces fresh orange juice

4 ounces Spanish cava, Champagne, or other white sparkling wine. The brut variety is recommended, while the extra dry style will give you a slightly sweeter drink.

Orange peel, for garnish

— Add the orange juice to a champagne flute or white wine glass. Gently pour in the white sparkling wine. Garnish with an orange peel in the drink, or a thin orange wheel on the rim of the glass.

The recommended cava wine is Jaume Serra Cristalino, which is terrific and inexpensive, too. Dibon Cava NV Reserve, Freixenet Sparkling Cordon Negro Brut Cava, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva or Rondel Brut are also recommended.

Mimosa de Luxe

1 1/2 ounces orange juice

1/4 ounce Cointreau, triple sec, or other orange liqueur

3 1/2 ounces Cava, Champagne, or other sparkling white wine

Thin orange wheel half, for garnish

— Add the orange juice and orange liqueur to a flute or white wine glass. Gently pour in the sparkling white wine. Garnish with an optional orange wheel half, in the drink.

Fresh orange juice or bottled not-from-concentrate orange juice is recommended.

The Best Way to Mix a Dark ‘n Stormy Cocktail

darknsturmy

While a Dark ‘n Stormy conjures visions of soft sand and turquoise seas of the sunny Caribbean, it also has subtle flavors of northern winter spices, so it’s enjoyable all year round.

The Dark ‘n Stormy name comes from the way the drink is made, with the ginger beer poured first, followed by Black Seal Rum floated on top. The dark rum drifts slowly down into the bright ginger, suggesting the look of an approaching thunderstorm.

Dark ‘n Stormy

  • 3½ ounces mild ginger beer (Barritt’s or Gosling’s)
  • 2 ounces Gosling Black Seal Rum
  • Thin slice of lime, for garnish, optional

— Slowly pour the ginger beer into a highball glass. Add ice, but leave room for the rum.  Gently pour the rum down the inside of the glass. Serve with a straw.

For a holiday taste, try sipping the flavors of the dark rum float, before it mixes into the drink.  Just a blush of ginger livens up the first tastes of Black Seal.

In Bermuda, lime is not included. A wedge or slice of lime is an attractive garnish, but lime juice can interfere with the subtle taste of ginger and rum. Nevertheless, many people enjoy it, so have lime wedges available.

Barritt’s is the best ginger beer for this drink. Gosling’s Ginger Beer in a bottle is made with sugar, wich is superior to the drink in cans, which is made with corn syrup. Corn syrup dulls the flavor of rum.

Many ginger beers, other than Barritt’s or Gosling’s, contain capsaicin from chile peppers, which gives the beers a nice burn, but it can detract from a Dark ‘n Stormy.

Barritt’s Bermuda Stone Ginger is available at Total Wine and many Kroger supermarkets.

Serve a glass of cold water with every drink, to reduce consequences.

How Long to Cook Broccoli? Perfect Every Time.

brocci

Little wonder why so many people hate broccoli. John and Michael used to loathe it. When we cooked it 30 seconds too little, the broccoli was still raw and crunchy. When we cooked the veggie 30 seconds too long, it got mushy and olive-colored, which is not a good look (or taste) for broccoli.

This technique nails it–just right–and simply requires a timer.  John and Michael eat this broccoli 3 times a week.

1.  Bring 3 inches of water to boil on high temperature in a covered saucepan or pot.

2.  Cut the florets off the broccoli head, and if the florets are too big, cut them in half. Put the florets in a bowl so that you can dump them all into the boiling water at the same time. Set your timer for 4 minutes, but don’t start it. Have a big spoon ready. (If cooking more than 2 heads of broccoli,  increase time to 4:15).

3.  When the water boils, remove the cover, dump the broccoli into the water, and give it a quick stir so that all the broccoli gets dunked.

4.  Clamp the lid on tightly, and start the timer. When 3;30 is up, turn off the heat and immediately drain the broccoli, or remove it with a slotted spoon. If you use the lid to strain the water out of the pan, wait about 15 seconds and strain it again to get all of the water out.

5.  Put a few pats of butter on the broccoli, and leave it uncovered until the butter melts. Stir the broccoli with a large spoon or chopstick–very lightly so you don’t break off pieces of the florets. Salt and pepper the broccoli, and serve.

If desired, sprinkle the broccoli with cheese, preferably a cheddar or other yellow cheese. White cheeses aren’t the best for this vegetable. Tostito’s Medium Salsa con Queso is cheesy-delicious poured over the top.

Pan-Grill Hot Dogs for More Flavor

“My favorite meat is hot dog, by the way,” Mitt Romney told his supporters, “That is my favorite meat”.

Sure, it’s easy to boil a hot dog and get decent results. After 4 to 5 minutes (package directions), the dogs will be soft and not too hot.

For the added flavor of lightly browned skins, grill them in a pan.

1.  Put a few drops of water in the skillet, turn heat to medium, and wait until the water boils away.  The pan is now hot enough.

2.  Put hot dogs in pan, cook for a minute on medium heat, turn the hot dogs 1/4 turn, and cook for a minute more. Turn 1/4 turn again, cook 1 more minute. You get the idea. Turn and cook, turn and cook, 8 times, until all 4 sides of the hot dog have been cooked twice for 1 minute each.

3.  Keep the hot dogs next to each other in the pan, to keep them from rolling around. Don’t worry if a side or two doesn’t get properly browned.

4.  If you want, lightly butter the inside of the bun, turn heat down to medium-low, and put buttered down side for 2 minutes. The buns will be Texas-toasted.

Texas-toasted bun

For easier hot dogs, boil a few inches of water in a saucepan, drop in the frankfurters, cover, turn off heat, and let them cook in the hot water for 10 minutes. The dogs will be firm, and 180° F inside.

Toppings

Mustard, pickle relish, onions (pictured) – a favorite

Onions, cheese, mustard – superb

New York Style – sauerkraut and spicey brown mustard, maybe some Sabrett’s grilled onion sauce – classic

German Style – sauerkraut, pickles, mustard

Carolina Dog – chili, mustard, coleslaw

Mustard, chopped onion, relish, cheese, and Cholula – great!

Mustard, chopped onion, relish, chili, cheese, and Cholula – even better!

South Carolina Style – Mustard, slaw, and relish – tasty

Mustard and slaw – good

Deli Style – grilled onions, kraut, and mustard – excellent

Grilled onions, grilled peppers, and jalapenos

Banh Mi Style – julienned pickled carrots, julienned cucumbers, long thin slices of jalapeno, and cilantro – terrific

Green chile, mustard, Swiss cheese

Kimchi – slice into thin strips

Chilean Style – sauerkraut, tomatoes, mayo, avocado – interesting

Cholula Hot Sauce – simple and delicious

Seattle Style – soft cream cheese and chopped onion – good, unbelievably, though not unbelievably good.  Thanks, Hanna Raskin.

Notes: I used KFC slaw, Wolf Brand Texas Chili (no beans!), Wickles relish, and Boar’s Head or Sabretta refrigerated sauerkraut.  Use whatever mustard you like, and if you like ketchup, do it, no matter what anyone says.

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, pay a visit to The Varsity, and order a chili slaw dog, onion rings, and a Coca-Cola. It is one of the best hot dog meals available anywhere, and even the Coke is better because Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola.

Best Gin & Tonic Recipe

Tanqueray and Fever Tree

One taste of Tanqueray Gin and Fever-Tree Tonic, and you’ll know why it’s the most popular mix in Spain. Never mind the traditional lime garnish, this cocktail tastes better with a lemon wedge. And the Spanish don’t stop there, adding all manner of spices, herbs, and fruit to their “Gin Tonics”.

Tanqueray and Tonic Recipe

  • 2 ounces Tanqueray gin
  • 3 to 4 ounces Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water (or Canada Dry Tonic)
  • Thin wedge of a lemon (or half of a Key lime, or a wedge of regular lime)

Fill a highball or Collins glass with ice. Pour in the gin, and listen for the crackling sound. Stir to chill the gin. Gently pour in the tonic.

Canada Dry Tonic is made with corn syrup rather than sugar, but tastes very good with Tanqueray. Also, Q Tonic is very popular, and goes well with Bombay Sapphire as well as several other gins. Fever-Tree is now widely available in supermarkets, Cost-Plus World Market, and Whole Foods.

Citadelle Gin is also recommended for this drink. To make a Spanish Gin Tonic, use a globe-style round Burgundy wine glass, and add lots of ice. Pour in 2 ounces of gin, and 4 or more ounces of tonic. Lemon or lime juice is added, along with peppercorns, grated nutmeg, star anise, or cardamom pods.

Our Best Guacamole Recipe

guac1

Guacamole is a balance of delicate flavors.. A big secret of great guacamole was revealed to us in a small café on the High Road to Taos, where the guacamole was made tableside, by a woman whose family had lived in the small village for hundreds of years.  After slicing up the avocado, she chopped a tomato, and put the pieces in a sieve to drain the juice, while she mixed the rest of the ingredients. “Tomato juice and avocado don’t go together,” she said.

  • 2 avocados, ripened
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, finely minced
  • 2 Tablespoons onion, finely minced
  • 1 small tomato, peeled, chopped, and drained (preferably a Campari tomato)
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional, especially if you hate cilantro)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt (Morton’s Sea Salt is cheap and pure-tasting)
  • black pepper to taste

Cut avocados in half, remove the pit, then scoop the flesh into a bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except tomato. Mash all the ingredients together, leaving a few small chunks of avocado. Stir in the drained tomatoes.

Serve with fresh warm tostada chips or good storebought chips (Tostitos Restaurant-Style Tortilla Chips are easy to find).

guac

Picking Avocados

Choose avocados that are bright green, but just beginning to turn dark.  Leave them in a plastic bag overnight, or several days, until they begin to dark with touches of light green, or no light green at all.  If you squeeze them and they are slightly soft, refrigerate them. They will be ready to make into guacamole for at least a week, but don’t wait too long!