Cocktail Week: Preserved Meyer Lemon Martini

My friend Jessica gave me a large jar of preserved Meyer lemons, so I spent most of the afternoon thinking up what to do with it. At first, I thought of maybe a salty soda, like those salty plum sodas Vietnamese restaurants serve. That led to thinking about a salty cocktail, which led to a Preserved Meyer Lemon Martini. It’s kind of like a dirty martini, but instead of olive and olive brine, I used the preserved lemon and a bit of the liquid in the jar.

Cocktail Week: Dirty Lemon Martini

The piece of lemon I included with garnish was great — it completely made the drink. Unfortunately, I think I put in too much gin compared to everything else because it tasted like a science project. Next time, maybe I need more dry vermouth. Or maybe I’m just not as big a fan of martinis as I thought.

Recipe:

Stir the gin and dry vermouth in a mixing glass with some ice cubes for about a minute. Stir in the lemon brine. Strain into a martini glass. Top with garnish.

Cocktail Week: The Martinez

To celebrate November (and an excuse to get the BF to make drinks), I’m going to post one cocktail a day for this whole week.

To start us off is The Martinez, which is supposedly the precursor to the ubiquitous martini.  From just the color of this drink, you’d never guess it was related to 007’s drink of choice at all, would you? Other than the gin, it also tastes completely different from a martini.

Cocktail Week: Martinez

While I do like all of the ingredients (maybe not the gin so much), this is certainly the case where the drink is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s thick without being syrupy, warming, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, and complex.

Recipe (via art of drink):
1 oz Plymouth Gin
2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
2 Dash Maraschino

Dinner: Donabe w/ Chawanmushi

Donabe: Before

Last night, I made donabe, also known as Japanese claypot rice. I’ve never cooked rice in a claypot before, so I was wary of doing it, but it was pretty easy and came out well. Claypot rice is such a good one-meal dish because you get your carbs, protein, and veggies all in one go without having a ton of dishes to do.

For the claypot rice (for either 4 people, or 2 people plus leftovers for lunch for both people), I used:

  • 1/2 cup of mixed grains/beans from some package I got at the Japanese market
  • 2 1/2 cups of white rice.
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 strip of kombu
  • 1 tbs Chinese cooking wine (or sake)
  • a cup of chopped up fried tofu
  • a handful of chopped up Japanese mushrooms
  • About 2 cups of chopped greens — I used some Japanese green for this.

Other than the rice, water, soy sauce, and sake, the topping is pretty up to your preference. Next time, I think I’ll use shiitake to add more savory flavor to the rice.

I rinsed and drained the rice, then soaked it with the measured amount of water, sake, soy sauce, and kombu for 30 minutes. During those 30 minutes, I roughly chopped everything else. After the soaking period, I put the claypot on the stove, put all the toppings on top, and turned the heat onto medium-low for about 10 minutes, then to medium-high until steam started coming out. Once steam started coming, I turned it to medium-low again for about 7 minutes, never opening the top (don’t want the steam to escape!). After 7 minutes, I turned the heat completely off and just left the pot there to steam for 20 minutes with the cover on.

I wasn’t sure if this was actually going to work, but at the end of 20 minutes, when I took the cover off, I was greeted with the pleasant fragrance of cooked rice! I mixed everything on top together with the rice and was thrilled to see there was even a nice brown rice crust on the bottom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as crunchy as I had hoped.

Donabe: After

The end result was still good nonetheless. While the rice was steaming, I also made a quick chawanmushi, which is basically a savory steamed egg custard.

The ingredients for chawanmushi (feeds 2 people):

  • 4 small eggs or 3 regular sized ones
  • 1/2 the amount of veggie broth as eggs. So if you have 2 cups of eggs, you just need 1 cup of broth.
  • a couple leaves of the raw greens from the donabe above. Or you could use green onion.
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp cooking wine/sake

Beat all the ingredients together and then pour into small ramekins. The ramekins should be about 2/3 full. Place into a steamer and steam for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, poke a toothpick through the middle. It shouldn’t be too yolky in the middle.

Other than the chawanmushi, the dinner was completely vegan. But for meat-eaters, I could see Chinese bacon or sausage adding a lot of flavor for the donabe. For the next day’s lunch, I had leftover donabe with natto and bonito flakes mixed in. Delicious.