Dining Outside the Home: Little Room Jazz Club in Key West, Florida! If you prefer to sit on the edge of the party, tuck your legs under a bar stool at a high table in a cozy corner of Little Room Jazz Club. Step back in time to an era of speakeasies and nightclubs. Pay attention as the piano player tickles the ivory keys in the glow of blue neon lights. Every now and then, requests ring out from regular patrons while first-timers absorb the melodic freedom of harmonic jazz enticing a head bob, toe tap, or other bodily motions. For those who like to nibble as they drink, a nice assortment of small bites are available on the menu. Choose an entertaining evening; experience it all.
Dining Outside the Home: Red Fish Blue Fish in Key West, Florida! When you’re wandering around Mallory Square, step off the beaten path a block or so to discover a hidden gem where seafood is prime and the drinks go down easy. Order one of the signature cocktails from Red Fish Blue Fish, made with real fruit and fresh juices. Stay awhile, and without a doubt, you’ll be smitten by the most breathtaking sunset in the Florida Keys. This is cause for celebration. The sheer beauty and passion of the residents is enough to make anyone feel at home once they cross the threshold of this popular seafood joint.
Dining Outside the Home: Old Town Tavern & Beer Garden in Key West, Florida! When the heat becomes stifling on a humid island day, duck inside the threshold for cooling shade of Old Town Tavern. This is real southern hospitality. Crafted cocktails and other nice drinks invite relaxation and conversation. Mixed greens and hearty portions encourage shared plates, if you’re into that sort of thing. The friendly staff makes this location a stopping point on a busy street. Drop in and stay awhile.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Mexican Shrimp Cocktail! One bite, one little taste, will leave you wondering how you didn’t know about this version of an old classic. So what’s the difference, you ask. Actually, quite a bit. But I’m not gonna lie to you. If you’ve been following my blog, you can often see there’s a method to my madness. One recipe can be a critical ingredient to another dish. Like today. Recently I featured Jalisco Pico de Gallo. I’m gonna tell you it is a key ingredient in my Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, slightly tweaked. On the upside, it makes preparation a snap. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
MEXICAN SHRIMP COCKTAIL
1 1/2 cups Jalisco Pico de Gallo*
1/2 cup Clamato Tomato Cocktail**
1/2 cup ketchup
1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked but chilled
1 avocado, cut into medium chunks
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a bowl, combine Jalisco Pico de Gallo, Clamato Tomato Cocktail, and ketchup. Mix well. Take at least half the shrimp, discard tails, and cut into chunks. Add the shrimp chunks to the sauce mixture. The remaining whole shrimp will be used for dipping. Gently fold in avocado chunks. To serve, divide shrimp cocktail into parfait glasses. Arrange whole shrimp on the edge of the glass. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
*Follow the link for recipe.
**I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Iced Peach Spritzers! Ripe peaches are succulent and running-down-your-chin juicy. When you have an abundance of them, think peach cocktails. By adding a sparkling mixer, such as seltzer water or Prosecco, you’ll feel as though every meal is as special as dining out. The blend of flavors and textures is far from ho-hum. Both versions are suitable for mixed company. Go completely non-alcoholic or throw together a grown-up concoction made with a nice white wine and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.
ICED PEACH SPRITZERS
4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 8 wedges each
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle white wine, chilled
12 ounces seltzer water
Layer peach wedges on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. To serve, place 3-4 frozen peach wedges into a stemmed glass. Add 3 ounces of white wine. Pour 1 1/2 ounces of seltzer water over top. Stir. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Ginger Liqueur! There’s nothing worse than enjoying a specialty crafted cocktail on a remote tropical island and then returning home with a craving to have it again. That happened to me about 4,500 miles ago. What’s a girl to do? “Why not make it yourself?” my husband quipped. “Sure…easy for you to say”, I responded. Well, long story short, as long as he agreed to help me as the “taste tester”, it was worth a shot. Between the two of us, I’m pretty sure we came up with a winning combination for my new fav, Ginger Liqueur Martini. Cheers!
2 cups vodka
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup ginger root, diced
1/2 vanilla bean, sliced horizontally and seeds scraped
Take a quart-size jar. Combine vodka, sugar, ginger root, vanilla bean, and orange peel. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Place jar, away from sunlight, in a kitchen cabinet. Swirl the jar to stir the contents every morning and night for one week. Remove the vanilla bean. Repeat swirling twice a day for 3 more days. Strain solids through a fine wire mesh strainer. Filter remaining liquid again through two coffee filters until no solids remain. Bottle the ginger liqueur. Allow it to “mellow” for another day. Store away from sunlight.
Ginger Liqueur Martini:
4 ounces vodka, chilled
1 ounce ginger liqueur
Garnish with crystallized ginger
Place martini glass in the freezer to chill. Remove glass and add chilled vodka. Set aside. Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Pour in ginger liqueur. Allow it to chill for one minute. Shake. Strain the ginger liqueur over vodka into the martini glass. Garnish with crystallized ginger.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Garlic Clove Little Smokies! I know people often wait for the holidays to serve this spicy little appetizer, but I recently discovered its popularity as a picnic basket companion. By making it ahead of time and storing it in a jar, it travels well. Add dill pickle chunks, bite-size cheese cubes, vegetable skewers, fresh fruit, chips, salsa, and double chocolate brownies. You’ll have the perfect portable picnic. Doesn’t everyone love finger foods?
GARLIC CLOVE LITTLE SMOKIES
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup catsup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
14 ounces little smokies cocktail wieners
Fresh chives for garnish
Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, catsup, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and roasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Add cocktail wieners. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Li Hing Pineapple! Talk to any adult who is native to Hawaii and you’ll discover a craze from their youth. It’s Li Hing Mui, a powdered flavoring that can be sprinkled on anything from fruit to candy to popcorn, and even rimming the glasses of adult cocktails. No kidding. So what exactly is this mysterious flavoring, you wonder. Li Hing is plum powder made from dried plums. It has a combination of sweet, salty, and tangy taste. Local children love it on sour gummy worms or shave ice. Anything goes. One taste and you’ll find yourself giggling like a kid.
LI HING PINEAPPLE
Li Hing powder
Peel and core fresh pineapple. Cut into chunks. Using a sifter, lightly dust the fresh pineapple chunks with Li Hing powder. Let rest for a minute. Serve.
Dining Outside the Home: Ainsley’s Café and Harbor Bar in Brookville, Indiana. It’s always a good sign when boat owners swarm to the marina basin to remove slip covers from their vessels. That means the weather is getting warmer and Spring Fever has struck. Ainsley’s Café offers the perfect sunny side view of Brookville Lake and all the activity the lake provides. In the distance you may see a golfer tee off at the nearby Harbor Links Golf Club. Or a pontoon boat leisurely coasting into open waters. Check out the jet skis criss-crossing like synchronized dancers. When you dine on the outdoor deck for a midday lunch or sunset dinner, you may need to pinch yourself as a reminder this is real. The food is as fresh as the air you breathe. Whether it’s a Girl’s Getaway, Date Night, or Family Outing, Ainsley’s Café on Brookville Lake is time well-spent.