Cookin' With Leo
You can't let all your guests sit around waitin' in anticipation (or wherever they're waitin' in.) If you're a good host you'll have some snacks or goodies out so they won't stand around watchin' you watch the pot. This is a good warm up for the main event.
Stuff you need:
1 - 2 lb box of Velveta Cheese.
2 - 15/16 oz cans Armour's Chili Without Beans (make sure you get the cans that say Without Beans.)
1 - 16 oz jar Old El Paso Salsa (There are three kinds - Hot, Medium, Mild - get what you can stand.) Almost everybody can stand the Medium. And it gives a good kick to the mix. Mild is like eatin' baby food.
A few bags of Taco or Tortilla Chips.
How to Fix it:
You might want something like a double boiler to melt the cheese in, but if you don't have one, just be careful about meltin' the cheese in a pot over too high heat. If the pan or pot gets too hot on the bottom the Cheese will burn and stick like Crazy Glue and you won't be able to dip it out, you'll need a hammer 'n chisel to beat it out.
OK, got that, just enough heat to melt the cheese.
Dump in the 2 cans of Chili and blend into the Cheese (of course with a wooden spoon.)
Dump in the Jar of Salsa and blend that in.
Keep the mix warm, but don't cook.
Dip right in there with them chips. That should be enough for 15 - 20 dippers.
Party Drinks For Your Guests
Here are a few drinks (yep, they contain alcohol) a good party host can serve to guests as they arrive, or while they're sittin' and waitin'. But, don't forget the rules, and right now I better add a few more, as might pertain to booze and drinkin':
1. Don't use cheap booze or imitations of the better stuff.
2. Remember that ICE is for cooling - not for drinking. I'm sure, by now, you've noticed that I have made no reference to water in any recipe. In fact, I have used everything but water. In this day and age I know of no city tap water that could possibly be good for you. It's been recycled too many times as to render it impossible to clean up without adding tons of chemicals to it. And, if it is clean it would have to be distilled. You might buy bottled water, but nobody ever said the guy who bottled it didn't get it out of a tap and slap a label on it. Ice cubes bought in a store are reasonably pure, because in order to freeze them the water is passed through filters at the ice making plant. If you entertain and cook a lot you might want to invest in a good water filter for your home.
3. Don't cook or boil alcohol - recipe's that call for heated booze of any kind must be heated or warmed, but never ever boiled or cooked. Alcohol heated to the boiling point will make it nothing more than flavored water.
4. Blenders, as the name implies, are used to blend, NOT TO BRUTALIZE.
5. Never have a DRINKIN' PARTY - all parties should have FOOD and drink.
The first two recipe's here gave the name to BRAVE BULL CHILI. So here is how to make a couple of Brave Bull drinks.
LEO'S ORIGINAL 'BRAVE BULL': Toss a couple of ice cubes into a bar mixer, add 1 1/2 oz Kahlua and 1 1/2 oz Tequila. Stir gently with a bar spoon to cool and strain off into a cocktail glass without the ice cubes. That's it, sip away with your chili.
LEO'S UPGRADED 'HORNY BRAVE BULL': Toss a couple of ice cubes into a bar mixer, add 1 1/2 oz Kahlua, 1 1/2 oz Monte Alban Mezcal, 1 tablespoon of pure lime juice and a dash of Louisana Hot Sauce. Stir gently with a bar spoon to cool and strain off into a cocktail glass without the ice cubes. Same drink, just a braver bull.
These next recipe's are 'warmer uppers' and ain't to be guzzled up in huge quantities. Use any one of these drinks to warm your friends as they emerge from a cold night into the warm hospitality of your party.
HOT WINE: Use a large stainless steel pot. Pour in one quart, gallon, whatever, of good, very dry, heavy-bodied Red Wine. For each part of wine add an equal part of sparkling water (Unsweetened seltzer.) For each gallon of mix add 8 cups of sugar. Heat to melt the sugar into the mix.
REMEMBER RULE 3 - HEAT, DON'T BOIL.
Use your wooden spoon to stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Add a few sticks of cinnamon and float some slices of orange and lemon on top.
Serve one (one only) in a heavy mug with a slice of fruit to each guest as they arrive.
ORANGE CRANBERRY TODDY: For 16 servings.
48 oz - fresh orange juice.
24 oz - cranberry juice cocktail.
1/2 cup - sugar.
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks and 6 whole cloves.
Mix the ingredients and warm in a stainless steel pot and stir with wooden spoon to mix and dissolve the sugar.
Keep it warm and serve in a heavy mug with 1 jigger of Cranberry Liqueur and 1 jigger of Grand Marnier.
Don't put the booze into the heated pot, add to the mug when serving.
Serve one (only one) to each guest as they arrive.
THE YULETIDE ICEBREAKER:
This is another Greeter for your guests as they arrive, but is more suitable for the Christmas Season. Into several small, footed glasses pour 1 1/2 oz. Green Cream de Menthe.
For each drink blend 1 oz. Compari with 1/2 oz. Grenadine.
Use a bar spoon to add the red mixture to the top of the Cream de Menthe.
With a little practice you will get the red to float on top of the green. Gently let the red run into the glass over the bar spoon so that it will not pour directly into the green.
Every party needs a little punch, so here are a couple of punches to perk up the party poopers.
SPARKLING SPIKED CIDER: You'll need a warming tray and a heat resistant punch bowl for this one. Keep the punch bowl warm on the tray, but check it occasionally to see that the punch is only warm and not hot.
To two quarts of Pommac (a sparkling aged cider from France) add one quart of Mount Gay Rum.
Pour together into the punch bowl and serve warm in 6-8 oz footed glasses.
A thin apple slice on the rim of the glass makes a nice garnish.
BERRY GOOD EGGNOG: For about 20 cups of eggnog you'll need two 10 oz packages of frozen raspberries in syrup.
2 qts eggnog (store bought stuff is OK.)
And, 2 1/2 cups Chambord.
Thaw and puree the raspberries and strain through a fine seive to remove the seeds. Blend the ingredients and pour into glass pitchers and chill for at least 4 hours in the frig before serving to allow the flavors to blend together.
If you serve drinks here are a couple that will make you a standout mixologist, whatever.
'57 T-BIRD (fast and flashy): Put a couple of ice cubes into a shaker. Pour in 1 1/2 oz Vodka, 3/4 oz Triple Sec, 1/2 oz Unsweetened lime juice and 1/2 oz Amaretto.
Stir with a bar spoon to cool and mix. Strain off the liquid into a cocktail glass and serve. Toss the ice out, don't serve with ice cubes.
BLOODY MARYANNE (south of the border Bloody Mary): Fill a tall glass (12 - 14 oz) with ice cubes. Pour in 2 oz Monte Alban Mescal, 1/2 oz Unsweetened l ime juice and fill with Beefamato (beef consomme' - tomato juice mix) juice.
Rub a lime wedge around rim of glass and drop in. Sprinkle a little coarse ground black pepper on top and add a dash of Tabasco.
And, here's a Bloody Mary mix you can make at home and a recipe for Bloody Mary.
BLOODY MARY MIX: Blend the following ingredients:
4 tblspns of hearty horseradish (if it takes your breath away and your eyes water, that's the right stuff,)
2 ribs of fresh celery chopped up, grated peel from one lemon, 2 oz Worcestershire, 2 tspns Cayenne Pepper Flakes, 1 tspn sugar, 1 tspn Tabasco, 2 oz fresh/frozen Unsweetened lime juice, 1/2 tspn Bitters.
Set blender on slow speed and run long enough to mince the celery and thoroughly blend the ingredients. When well blended, add to 32 oz of Tomato Juice.
Shake well before serving. Taste to see if salt is necessary, some brands of juice are salty enough.
LEO'S FAMOUS BLOODY MARY: Fill a tall glass (12/14 oz) with ice cubes (you might want to use store bought ice instead of home frozen ice cubes - frozen tap water combined with the acidity of tomato juice leaves a bad taste.)
Pour 1 1/2 oz of Vodka into the glass, squeeze a lime wedge and drop into glass, top off with the Bloody Mary Mix.
Serve with a Celery rib for a stir stick and a slice of cucumber on the rim of the glass.
After a good meal, everybody likes a good cup of coffee. And, here's another rule for you to remember about coffee. Regardless of what the surgeon general, or whoever, says about caffeine, no coffee is any good without it. So, if you are going to fix coffee, get the very best, with oodles and gobs of caffeine in it so that it will taste like coffee.
AFTER DINNER COFFEE: Make a strong pot of coffee and keep it hot. Use heat resistant glass mugs, if you have them. This stuff looks pretty in glass mugs.
Pour in some coffee about a little more than half full. Add a jigger of Grand Marnier and a jigger of brown Cream de Cocoa, and fill almost to the top with Half and Half or Coffee Cream (if you are going to use any of that diet powder stuff, then don't read any further.)
Top the mug with a big spoonful of Whipped Cream and shake some powdered sugar over the top.
HAIR OF THE DOG: After any big event there's always somethin' left over. Look around the kitchen for the old, cold coffee pot. Good coffee that got cold has its use.
Get a nice big chilled glass and pour in about 6 oz of that old, cold black coffee.
Stir in 2 oz of Coffee Cream and 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Add 2 oz of Kahlua and drink 'er down.
You'll be up and cookin' in no time.
RDITOR'S NOTE: This is a reprint of the first "Cookin' With Leo" column by Leo C. Helmer who is taking a Fall sabatical and will be with us again in November. Enjoy!!