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Liven up recipes with a taste of tequila

Think outside the shot glass when it comes to tequila. The Mexican liquor can be used in a variety of recipes, even a refreshing ice cream.

ELLISE PIERCE | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Think outside the shot glass when it comes to tequila. The Mexican liquor can be used in a variety of recipes, even a refreshing ice cream.

SANTA FE, N.M. — I'm not a big drinker, but I've always loved tequila. I once even traveled to Tequila, Mexico, on the Tequila Train, where I drank the cutest little minimargaritas, called tequilitas, all the way there and back from Guadalajara.

I did quite a bit of dancing in the aisles, I vaguely remember, and otherwise learned to sip and savor the Mexico-born spirit via la bandera, a drink that's really three, served in small glasses: blanco tequila, a spicy tomato juice and lime juice, the white, red and green of the Mexican flag. (You can, and should, take your time when drinking this. The tequila may come in a shot glass, but it is not to be thrown back like you're at a frat house.)

I've long since given up tequila shots and have gained a healthy respect for Mexico's super-high-octane fermented agave juice. There is tequila that isn't 100 percent agave, called mixto (sugar is added in the distillation process), but I steer clear of that and buy the authentic stuff. It costs more, but it tastes better.

There are four types of tequila: blanco (also called white or silver tequila), gold, reposado and the darkest, anejo.

The difference between them is taste as well as color. The white is the youngest and has a flavor that's sharp and clean and closest to the agave. Simply put, the blanco tequila has the strongest "tequilalike" flavor. It's a little bit grassy-tasting, and this makes the best margaritas in my opinion (and so said the experts at the distillery I visited in Mexico). It's also the booziest, at 90 proof.

Joven, which means young, tequilas aren't aged either. They are a mix of blanco and either reposado or anejo.

Reposado tequilas are darker because they've been aged in oak barrels for two months to a year. They're called reposados because they've rested a bit.

Anejos are the darkest, most tawny-colored of the bunch, are aged the longest, at least one year, and have the smokiest, most scotchlike flavor. They are usually the priciest and are best for slow sipping.

These are just rough guidelines, based on what I've learned over the years and personal taste.

Whichever tequila you like best, there's so much more to do with it than pour it in a glass. Just as brandy, bourbon and vodka have made their way into sauces and marinades, so, too, can tequila.

It offers a sharp and slightly smoky note to all sorts of things that work especially well in the summer. It doesn't take much, usually a spoonful or maybe two, to add a little something different to what you're cooking, and to leave your guests wondering what your secret is. You don't have to tell them. We can keep it between us. And since it's nearly my birthday anyway, shall we drink to that?

>>Easy

Margarita Shrimp

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

16 to 24 gulf shrimp, peeled and cleaned (tails left on)

Sea salt and pepper

1 tablespoon tequila blanco

Juice of half a lime

Small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

Lime wedges, for serving

Melt butter with olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add garlic; when you can smell it, add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook just until shrimp turn pink, a few minutes on each side.

Add tequila and lime juice, toss and let cook for about 15 seconds. Serve right away with a sprinkle of cilantro and lime wedges on the side.

Serves 4.

Source: MCT

>>Moderate

Roasted Red Bell Pepper-Tequila Soup

2 pounds red bell peppers

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Sea salt and pepper

2 tablespoons tequila blanco

cup cream

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to broil. Put red peppers on a foil-lined cookie sheet, cut a few slits in them (so they don't explode) and roast in oven. Watch them carefully, and turn them over as they char, so all sides get evenly blackened. Put the cooked peppers in a bowl of ice water and let cool for about 10 minutes. The skins should come right off. Remove the membranes and seeds, too.

Put a little olive oil in a saucepan along with minced garlic and turn heat to medium-low. Let cook just until you can smell the garlic. Add peppers, vegetable or chicken stock, a pinch of salt and pepper, then stir. Using a hand blender, puree the pepper-stock mixture, then bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and let sit for about 15 minutes. Add tequila and cream and taste for seasonings. Serve immediately with chopped cilantro, or chill soup and serve it cold.

Makes 4 first-course servings.



Source: MCT

>>Easy

Blackberry-Nectarine Salad

With Tequila Vinaigrette

1 pint blackberries

4 nectarines, sliced

1 avocado, chopped

¼ teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon tequila blanco

5 tablespoons canola oil

Sea salt and pepper

Lime wedges, for serving

Put blackberries, nectarines, avocado and chopped jalapeno in a bowl.

Whisk together lime juice, tequila and canola oil, and season with sea salt and pepper. Drizzle a few tablespoons over the fruit and gently mix.

Makes 4 first-course servings.



Source: MCT

>>easy

Margarita Ice Cream

This no-churn ice cream is a cinch to make, and easy-easy-easy to eat. If you want to serve it in glasses dipped in sugar and salt, by all means do. But it is so good, that even someone like me, who is not a committed ice cream eater and no kind of a drinker, finds that I can spoon it straight into my mouth from the container I've chilled it in. In other words: no decorative touches or embellishments are needed. This is truly the express way to dessert-deliriousness. — Nigella Lawson, Food Network.

½ cup lime juice

2 tablespoons tequila

3 tablespoons orange liqueur (recommended: Cointreau or Triple Sec)

1 ¼ cups powdered sugar

2 cups heavy cream

Pour the lime juice, tequila and orange liqueur into a bowl and stir in the sugar to dissolve.

Add the cream and then softly whip until thick and smooth but not stiff.

Spoon into an airtight container to freeze overnight. This ice cream does not need softening before serving, as it will not freeze too hard and melts speedily and voluptuously.

Source: foodnetwork.com

Liven up recipes with a taste of tequila 08/19/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 19, 2013 5:25pm]

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