How Do You Martini?

In my [very own & very personal] opinion, when you’ve had a hard week at work there is no better way to end it than with a Martini. There are flavors and different decorations, but I lean towards the traditional. With one olive or two if the week was terribly harsh.

Right now there is a discussion about the correct way to prepare the martini. Specifically whether to mix or stir.

Mixed or stirred? For me, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some Martini drinkers prefer to stir it, objecting that when the drink that is mixed it becomes cloudy, and claiming that mixing it hurts the gin and creates a more acidic taste. Other connoisseurs claim that mixing releases the taste of gin, and they point out that the turbidity induced by the shaking quickly disappears.

There is an article published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) which states that shaken Martinis contain more antioxidants than the stirred ones, therefore, are healthier.

James Bond prefers his Martinis shaken, not stirred. So I lean for that option.

Where I have decided to risk is in the garnishing. Olive and onion are both undoubtedly classic variations of the traditional Martini.

However I have risked enough inventing with stuffed olives – peppers, blue cheese, jalapeno, onions, almonds, citrus, capers and even anchovy. By simply incorporating a stuffed olive you really can change the taste of the traditional martini, surprising the guests a lot.

If you prefer to stick to the tradition, add a touch of extra authenticity, adding a pinch of lemon. For a dirty Martini add a few drops of olive juice and extra olives to decorate. Try adding a piece of brine from the jar, or you can buy specially-prepared “Martini Juice for Dirty Martinis”.

If you still think you can go even further, smoke your Martini by following the same recipe for a dirty Martini but adding a dash of Single Malt Scotch. You’ll see how your Martini will now have a smoky flavor 😉

No matter how you prefer your Martini (mind or stirred, with olives, onions, or scotch), what you should never stop doing is to cool the glass cups in the freezer before making it.

The next time you have guests, dare to prepare this delicate appetizer!

Keep Herbs Always Fresh

Aromatic herbs are used in the kitchen to enhance and refine the flavor, aroma, and give color to our dishes.

To keep them handy and always fresh, a beautiful idea is to cultivate them at home. You don’t require much space in your kitchen, nor great care to have them, because with a place near a window and a little love it will be enough to maintain and harvest.

But what are the herbs we should grow at home to use in our recipes?

Basil: There is an infinite diversity of types of basil, almost all with aromas of lime and lemon with notes of cinnamon, licorice and anise. It is the main character of pesto sauce and the perfect companion for a homemade tomato sauce. Basil is an extremely delicate and tender herb, so it is advisable to always use it at the end of cooking or before serving. In this way you will not lose its color and its characteristic aroma.

Chives and Ciboulette: It’s a perfect, tender and delicate version of the onion and is one of the perennial aromatic herbs that is used a lot in the kitchen. Its cylindrical shaped leaves give flavor and aroma to many creams, sauces, soups, recipes with eggs, salads, yogurts, dips, cream cheese and fish.

Cilantro, European coriander, Chinese parsley or fresh coriander: It is the aromatic herb, along with parsley, most used in the world. It is characterized by having a strong and penetrating flavor. Its small leaves of intense green color are used to season broths and soups, and very frequently it is used in the preparation of sauces, fish and birds.

Peppermint and Mint: These two aromatic herbs are very similar in essence, except that the shape of their leaves are distinct. Its aroma and refreshing flavor has an endless number of uses in gastronomy being an important ingredient in liqueurs, ice cream, soft drinks, sauces, consomés, and soups.

Oregano and Mejorana: These two aromatic herbs are very similar, since they have almost the same aroma, only that the marjoram has a less intense flavor than oregano and its leaves are softer. Oregano is very famous in the Italian cuisine, as it is the traditional condiment to prepare tomato sauces, pastas, and pizzas. It is also used in broths, in digestive liqueurs, to flavor oils, to make sausages, in the Italian osobucco and in chili with meat.

Parsley: This herb is one of the most used in gastronomy, as it tunes fantastically with all kinds of dishes. As protagonist in sauces like green mojo, Mexican guacamole, Venezuelan guasacaca, Argentinian chimichurri, in salads such as tabulé, pico de gallo, or adding it to the preparation of a tasty chicken broth or beef is a marvel. You can also garnish a butter, yogurt or simply to decorate a dish is perfect.

Rosemary: This aromatic evergreen shrub is widely used in gastronomy, especially in the Mediterranean, and is used for preparing  roasts, stews, sauces, soups to which it gives a very particular aroma enhancing the flavors, especially in the case of meats.

Thyme: This aromatic herb is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine and is a shrub that grows very easily without requiring too much care. You can grow it in the garden and also in a pot, preferably under the rays of the sun and on floors with little humidity. Thyme is used in many dishes to flavor and flavor soups, stews, meats, vegetables and cheeses. From baked vegetables or roasted potatoes, to rissotos, beef, pork, rabbit, turkey and chicken. It is also used for infusions and is attributed numerous medicinal properties.

Dare to have them at home and to cultivate your own aromatic plants. You’ll see how rewarding it is to not only cook with them but also cultivating them!

How to Keep Cheese Fresh

In Venezuela the variety of white and fresh cheeses is unimaginable: telita, guayanes, hand, guayamano, duro, zuliano… Maybe that’s why my family is addicted to cheese. We joked about being a family of mice because 1 kg didn’t last a single visit to the fridge.

When I moved out of my parents house, I bought the same amount of cheese as my parents’ used to buy for their house, but it rotted rather quickly. Obviously I had to buy less! So I adjusted the amount and still, sometimes, I had to throw away some of the cheese. And that really pissed me off.

So I set out to investigate how to keep it fresh for longer periods of time. Here are 5 ways to make cheeses last much longer in the fridge.

# 1 Do not buy cheese to feed an army

It is best to buy small portions even if it’s annoying to go more often to the market. But I assure you the effort is worth it. Its taste will always be fresh and, having no cheese for a week in the fridge, you will not forget that it is there and will definitely not spoil.

# 2 Replace paper from time to time

Especially with fatty cheeses that sweat a lot. It is important that, every time you take out the cheese to eat, discard the paper you had and wrap it with a new one. Thus, you will always delay the loss of freshness a little more.

# 3 Avoid plastic at all costs

It is one of the worst ways to store cheese. With the days, the food absorbs the odors of the plastic and there is no way to remove them. Cheese is a living thing with enzymes and bacteria that need some air and moisture to survive. As it is not a porous material, the plastic eliminates that microenvironment necessary for its proper storage. Therefore, it is important to use cheese paper or other similar effective methods.

# 4 Use parchment paper instead

Wrap the piece of cheese in paper and then in an unsealed plastic bag. This will form a barrier between the cheese and the plastic, while maintaining the right balance between breathing and insulation.

# 5 Keep it in the right place

That is, in the vegetables drawer that is at the end of the refrigerator and away from the freezer cold. The idea of storing some types of cheese in the refrigerator is between 35 and 45 degrees F. A lower temperature could freeze it and that would ruin its texture and consistency.

**Extra Tip: Use labels to identify the type of cheese and date of storage.

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