Thursday, May 29, 2014

Barbecuing with Bourbon

Grilled tofu for Barbecue Month! #BourbonBBQ
Things haven’t been going my way lately. Well, nothing terrible actually – just a string of bad luck I kind of have to laugh at. First of all, the kids and I got lice. Yes, lice (go ahead and scratch your head). Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be all about cooking out and spending time with friends and family, but ours was mostly spent doing laundry, vacuuming and placing items in plastic bags. I also agreed to foster a couple of kittens this weekend who turned out to have fleas. Great, more insect fun! And if that wasn’t enough, we got a flat tire in the family mobile.

Tuesday night was the night to have a peaceful family meal – to finally grill out and try the Four Roses Bourbon for which I was asked to make a barbecue marinade. In honor of National Barbecue Month, Four Roses asked select bloggers to create a barbecue recipe using their bourbon (#BourbonBBQ). I had been plotting my recipe all month and finally had a chance to tackle it.

We had a chance to barbecue after the chaos subsided. We bought some beautiful bone in pork chops and were set to go. I popped some sweet potatoes in the oven, whipped up a marinade and get the pork chops out to baste. I carefully unwrapped the paper and got a whiff of something funny. OK, this pork chops do not smell right! It’s past 5 o' clock and I’m on a mission to salvage dinner. The only other meat I had is in the freezer and there’s no time to thaw. What the heck can I grill with this marinade? After surveying the fridge, it looks like tofu is my only hope. Meat lovers may scoff, but I love tofu and my kids do too. Tofu with a bourbon marinade – who would have thought? Turns out it was pretty tasty. My husband, the grillmaster, grilled it with some veggies and we ended up having a nice dinner after all – albeit a little late.

Special thanks to Four Roses Bourbon who allowed me to try out their Single Barrel brand. It is simply delightful in drinks and marinades this one. Try out this marinade the next time to barbecue pork, chicken or yes, even tofu. Happy grilling! 

Bourbon Barbecue Marinade
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons of Four Roses bourbon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sorghum syrup (if you don’t have this molasses will work)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon celery salt
Dash of sea salt
Pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until blended. Store any leftover marinade in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Tips on Grilling Tofu
·         Choose firm or extra firm tofu for best results.
·         Place whole tofu cube on a plate and cover with another plate. Stack two cans or heavy objects on top and allow tofu to drain for about 20 minutes.
·         Pour off excess water and cut tofu into four slabs.
·         Brush on marinade and allow it to sit for a few minutes while the grill warms up.
·         Grill on low heat. Allow to cook each side for about 5-6 minutes. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sangria Time!

Ah, spring is here and it's beautiful! It seems that the flowers and greenery have been more vibrant here in Atlanta. It's the kind of weather that's makes you want to grill out, play outside and sit out an patio and sip icy drinks while basking in the sun (and pollen). A few weeks ago, I was asked along with some fellow Southern food bloggers to review a boxed sangria that's new to the market here in Georgia. It's called Beso del Sol (which means "kissed by the sun"). Let me tell you, the timing of this little sangria experiment couldn't have been more perfect. Sangria and spring go quite well together. I've had the box for at least four weeks, have carried it to a couple of get-togethers and have sipped it on my front porch. And it's still going!

Here's what I liked about this particular sangria:
  • It's boxed for easy to transport.
  • It keeps up to 6 weeks, so no need to guzzle it all (unless you just want to) for fear of it going sour.
  • It's actually made in Spain with good quality Tempranillo wine.
  • It's 100 percent natural with no fake flavors or colors.
  • It's sweet, but not too sweet.
  • It tastes more like sangria you would make yourself -- not the usual bottled fare.

Serving Tips
Add fresh fruit and serve over ice for an authentic sangria experience. It also pairs really well with Spanish tapas. I had the pleasure of visiting Spain several years ago (before kids, obviously) and almost everywhere you go you find jamón y queso. It is true that Spaniards have a national love affair with ham and cheese. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to find imported Spanish cured meats and specialty cheeses here in the United States. Look what I found at two of my favorite stores: Costco and Trader Joe's.

Spanish cheese selection from Costco; Spanish ham from Trader Joe's.

I recently took these to a neighborhood potluck and they were a huge hit. Throw some cheese, cured ham, olives and Marcona almonds on a platter. Combine with Beso del Sol sangria, and you have magic. Happy spring, everyone! What are drinking, cooking or eating? I would love to hear from you.

Disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure, Beso del Sol provided me with a sample of their product but did not pay me to review or endorse their product.