Cook on a Whim: Fourth of July Recipe Round Up

Here are a half-dozen perfectly patriotic summertime treats to help you and your family members and friends celebrate all weekend long.

Cook on a Whim: Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Prepare yourself for the easiest and most delicious butter pecan experience of your life. Browning the butter amplifies the buttery taste and adds a toasty, caramel flavor and aroma.

COCKTAIL OF THE WEEK: Dirty Bananas From Saint Lucia

The first thing I notice when I meet Big Ted is not his size. It’s his smile. It’s a friendly, welcoming type of grin; similar to the ones proudly displayed by most of the locals I meet in Saint Lucia. Ted Barnard, or “Big Ted” as he is called, is the bar manager at the Coconut Bay beach resort, which is tucked away on the southern tip of the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The vacation spot, which boasts multiple bars spread out over its mile-long stretch of beachfront property, is known for its lengthy drink choices. Between the swim-up bar, the lobby bar, the nightclub, sports bar, restaurants and the tiki bar beside the well-shaded adult pool, I lose count of the different cocktails by my first evening. Each bartender seems to have his or her favorite potions. Everything from the self-named “Terry in a Cup” to Kay’s “I Like” and Hami’s killer “Negroni,” I ask Ted to mix me the most popular tipple at the resort. He whips up a “Dirty Banana,” a delicious smoothie-like concoction forged from fresh bananas, coconut cream, rum, coffee liqueur with an optional squirt of chocolate syrup. Because it is forged from fresh bananas, this cocktail sips more like a milkshake. Its thick texture gives it a dessert-like quality. But don’t be fooled, the dirty banana packs quite a punch thanks to three ounces of liquor. Later, I am informed that Ted has an extra-special version of the drink known as a “Filthy Banana.” When I ask him to elaborate on its contents, he slyly tells me it’s made with even more rum. Ted likes the dirty banana because it showcases the island’s local ingredients, St. Lucian rum, bananas, coconut and Ti Tasse, a rum- based coffee liqueur that is also produced in St. Lucia. Like most Caribbean nations, Saint Lucia takes great pride in its native rums. The flagship spirit, Chairmen’s Reserve, is blended rum concocted from a combination of continuous distilled and double-distilled rums. The result is a full-bodied spirit with just enough sweetness and a little bit of bite. The spiced version of Chairmen’s Reserve contains local spices and fruits including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut, all spice, lemon and orange. It is also rumored to include Richeria Grandis – known locally as “Bois Bande” – a bark renowned in the Caribbean as a potent aphrodisiac. While I specifically requested Chairmen’s rum in my drinks, Ted usually blends his dirty bananas with a light locally-produced overproof rum. Hence the potency of this drink. A few too many, will have you floating off your barstool. Unfortunately, many of Saint Lucia’s spirits can be difficult to find in the states. If you’d like to replicate the dirty banana at home, I would recommend using either Wray and Nephew overproof rum -- or if you like a fuller flavored spirit, Flor De Cana seven-year-old rum. For the coffee liqueur, you may substitute Kamora. The smooth frozen tropical coconut-banana flavor is a fine anecdote for Washington’s recent scorching Caribbean-like weather. ? THE DIRTY BANANA 1 banana, sliced 1-ounce milk 1-ounce coconut cream 1.5-ounce coffee liqueur 1.5-ounce overproof light rum Squirt of chocolate syrup Add ingredients to blender with ice. Blend until well mixed. Garnish with a pineapple wedge. [gallery ids="100878,127477" nav="thumbs"]

A New Role: Chef de Quarantine

Despite my family’s tendency to retreat to our respective personal spaces during the day, we’ve spent more time together, largely because of dinner.

Cook on a Whim: Guava Margaritas

These margaritas are fruity and super tart, made with good tequila, lots of fresh lime juice and guava nectar, with a splash of coconut milk to make things creamy and round out the flavors.

Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii may be one of Elvis Presley’s most iconic movies. In the 1961 musical, Presley plays a young man, newly released from the Army, who is enjoying Hawaii with his surfboard, beach buddies, and girlfriend. It could be argued that this film set the tone for Presley’s film career: gorgeous women, pretty scenery, dull plots, and plenty of upbeat tunes. The soundtrack for this movie became Presley’s most successful chart album. The cocktail that shares its name follows the same basic formula. The Blue Hawaii is a visually stunning drink due to its radiant, deep blue hue. Often enjoyed by vacationers in an idyllic beach setting, it is composed of unremarkable ingredients, and when served at a tourist spot, it usually contains plenty of alcohol to keep the good times rolling. It’s one of the most requested libations in its native state. According to Jeff Berry, author of “Sippin’ Safari”, a bartender named Harry Yee invented the “Blue Hawaii” in 1957, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa in Waikiki. Yee was asked by a representative of Bols to create a drink using the company’s new Blue Curacao liqueur. After a little experimentation, the Tiki classic was born. Berry also credits Yee with being the first to use paper umbrellas and orchids as garnishes. If you follow this timeline, the drink predates the movie by four years. It is believed that Yee named the cocktail after the film’s title song, a piece first composed for the 1937 Bing Crosby film Waikiki Wedding. Few cocktails are as recognizable by their color. The brilliant sea tone comes from Blue Curacao. According to the Bols website, Curacao is a sweet liqueur distilled from a blend of herbs, sweet red oranges, bitter Curacao oranges, and Kinnow oranges. However, its distinctive tint is artificial. Curacao is also available in orange, green, and clear varieties. If you wish to try the sweet and frosty drink in context, take a trip to Honolulu where every watering hole near Waikiki serves cocktails in ornamental glasses garnished with umbrellas and tropical fruit. Visitors may sample the Blue Hawaii at its birthplace at the beachfront Hilton Hawaiian Village. The resort, which boasts multiple bars, is enjoying a recent renaissance, with scenes from the new television series Hawaii Five-O being shot on the hotel’s property. Wherever you choose to enjoy your Blue Hawaii, pick a spot with an ocean view, where you can sip your cocktail and compare its color to the vivid cerulean-colored Pacific. As you gaze at the romantic Polynesian scene of Waikiki, you’ll suddenly realize you’re a long way from Rehoboth. Normally, I don’t care much for sugary cocktails, but when caught up in the moment, this drink fits perfectly into the dreamy Hawaii experience. One word of caution, when consumed in quantity the Blue Hawaii will leave you with a temporary souvenir, much like the white mustache celebrated by milk advertisements. If your lips turn purple, don’t worry about your health. Wipe your lips with a napkin and keep drinking. Aloha! The Blue Hawaii 3/4 oz Light Rum 3/4 oz Vodka 1/2 oz Blue Curacao 3 oz Pineapple Juice 1 oz Sweet & Sour Mix Combine ingredients and mix well. If using ice, mix in a blender. Serve in a tall glass. Garnish with a pineapple slice. (Recipe from Hilton Top Chef) Ingredients to make the Blue Hawaii may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.

Cook on a Whim: Coconut Kiwi Parfaits

This is a cool, totally no-bake/no-cook dessert — or, heck, even a breakfast treat you can whip up in minutes. Use any fruit you have lying around.

Cocktail of the Month: The Vodka Martini

Though the U.S. team failed to qualify for the World Cup, you can still give a nod to the host country by making a toast with vodka while watching your team of choice.

Paolo’s Ristorante Closes

Part of Capital Restaurant Concepts, a company co-founded by Paul Cohn and Bechara Nammour in 1984, Paolo's was known for its happy hour, breadsticks and olive tapenade, pizza and minestrone soup.

Cook on a Whim: Warm Mushroom & Arugula Salad

It's that glorious time of year when we can go outside, nibble on some delicious snacks and sip some cool rosé on a warm afternoon.