Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Free Cuba

Author: Lyle

I’m a big fan of Jason Wilson’s regular column on spirits in the Washington Post.  Really, really great history, solid writing, and a fan of gin.  He had a great column on the Cuba Libre, which is not only so much more than rum & Coke, but surprisingly has gin in it and is also a good reason to purchase Arigostura bitters.  If you follow the recipe, you may see the inspiration for spiced rum products.


  • 1/2 to 1 lime
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 ounces rum, preferably gold or dark (I used Bacardi black label)
  • 1/2 ounce gin (he says option, I say not.  I used Beefeaters)
  • Coca-Cola, chilled
  • 2 dashes Arigostura bitters

Squeeze the lime into a Collins glass, drop in the lime rind.  Add 3 or 4 cubes.  Add rum and gin, then fill with Coca-Cola.  Add bitters and stir.  Note, I’ve switched to the “Mexican Coca-Cola” (real Coke, but manufactured in Mexico and not the US).  Made with cane sugar and not corn syrup, and there’s no comparison.  A nostalgia trip back to 9 ounce glass Coke bottles pulled from the narrow door of a vending machine.  We find Mexico Coke in singles and 6 packs at Giant Food, and by the case at Costco.

You can find out about Jason Wilson at

Filet Mignon

Author: Lyle

We don’t have beef frequently, so when we do we want it to be good.  Our go-to for something more than a burger is Filet Mignon cooked on the grill.


Filet Mignon on the grill, with red peppers and slices of vidalia onion

This can be a pricey cut of meat, but there are three things in its favor.  One, it seems like the more expensive the piece of meat the less likely you are to mess up cooking it.  Maybe not universally true, but this is our experience.  Two, you don’t really need too much of it.  A 6 ounce piece is enough for a meal.  So, even though it costs a lot per pound you don’t need too many pounds.  Third, it’s hard to find a better piece of beef – the filet is tops for tenderness and flavor in my opinion.

Cooking is very simple – even simpler than a burger since you don’t have to form the patty.  The grill should be very hot, probably as hot as you can get it.  Hit the grill with some oil to make sure the meat doesn’t stick.  A quick wipe with oil will work or a spray cooking oil.  Make sure you let the meat warm up to room temperature – going from the fridge to the grill is a sure way to make sure it isn’t cooked through.

I’ll prepare the meat just by sprinkling a little coarse salt and cracked pepper.  There are also some nice spice blends for this, usually salt and pepper with a little garlic and onion, but just salt and pepper are fine also.  Just sprinkle and pat on both sides so it sticks a little.

Place the meat on the grill, and it usually is only about 6 minutes on a side depending on how hot your grill is.  If you’re used to your grill and do this enough you can just go by time.  If you’re new to this try a thermometer to get it to the internal temperature you like (about 160 for medium).  You can also cheat by cutting one open and peeking in, but the juices will leak out which is why the thermometer is better.  You can get a cheap electronic one at the grocery store for about $10 whieh will work fine.  The main thing is that the meat is at room temperature before starting to eliminate the chance of error.

Finally, when you pull the meat off the grill cover it with foil for about 5 minutes to let it rest.  This ensures it heats all the way through.  And, try and only turn the meat once on the grill.  Every time you touch the meat you run the risk of it sticking to the grill and pulling the seared edge off, which lets out juices and results in more dried out cooking.