I must admit, this blogging business is kind of fun. For one, it commits me to do something creative every week, and secondly…well, it’s just nice to know people are out there paying attention to what I’m doing –  even if it’s just a handful.  This week some good people I’ve met at a few events tweeted me a specific recipe from Bon Appetit – ”a request,” if I use their own words. Well, I’m always listening, so here’s the result. A Prickly Pear margarita with Roasted Jalapeños. It’s pretty dang good. In fact, I’m almost done with the one I just whipped up, so my writing is bound to be a little more uninhibited than usual.

The tweet I mentioned came from Ed and Kerri Hughey of The Well Gro Co. Some good people I worked with a few months back as they were kicking off their organization aimed at educating kids about real food. Anybody who takes bold steps to establish something unselfish impresses me quite a bit, and those guys definitely did. Check the post I wrote about their cause here if you’re interested to hear more.

Now back to the point, their request. They sent me a link to a Bon Appetit Tequila Gimlet recipe with roasted jalapeños and tequila – definitely my kind of drink. I took note of it and then when I was at Fiesta grocery this weekend and saw some plump ripe prickly pears piled high, I knew I had my kicker – you know I have to add some twist.

I also noticed the recipe called for agave syrup, which I previously had been all for. But, bad news folks, I recently learned that the agave syrup we think is a more natural and therefore healthier sweetener is just as un-natural and processed as the dreaded four-letter word HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup). I don’t claim to be an authority on things like this, but I do like to play it safe and only use fresh all-natural ingredients. So my recipe here will use simple syrup composed of water and raw sugar (which I know may be heavily processed as well, but at least it’s been around for decades). I hope I didn’t get too preachy, I just wanted to make you’re aware of some things I’ve read so you approach things with some skepticism.

But it’s Friday, so let’s celebrate and have some fun. Let’s make a margarita!

It may be rainy and overcast, but that doesn’t mean we can’t crank up the speakers and sing to some “Living La Vida Loca” – boy, do I have a story involving that song, a cruise ship, and karaoke for you someday.

I’ve always wanted to make a fresh prickly pear margarita, so much so that I have a cactus outside that sprouts them. But there must be some trick I don’t know of because every time I go outside with optimism to collect, they’ve long been dried out and stripped of their nectar from the Texas heat. The ones I picked up from Fiesta were different, they were plump and soft – you could just tell they were juicy inside. I peeled off their skin with a knife and tried to juice them through a lime juicer. No dice.

So I enlisted my big bad Breville juicer. Done.

If you don’t have a juicer I imagine a blender will work also, the result just might not be as sweet or as efficient. You’ll also want to be sure to strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve, because the prickly pears are very pulpy and seedy.

To ensure a good balance, I often taste each ingredient before adding to make sure they are all present in the result. I tasted the prickly pear juice by itself, it was sweet yet earthy, and I got excited. Which if you’ve met me probably know is not that hard to do.

I mixed things up, I used some ratios I think i got down and this was the result…

Prickly Pear Margarita with Roasted Jalapeños

makes 1

-3 oz Tequila (I usually go for silver with margaritas)

-1 1/2 oz Prickly Pear Juice

-1 lime, cut into pieces

-1/2 jalapeño, roasted and sliced

-1/2 oz simple syrup (this is simply a 1:1 ratio of boiled water and sugar, well mixed until clear and syrupy. Make a cup or two and use for other cocktails)

1. Rinse your margarita glass under some cold water and rim with salt. Place the glass in the freezer to chill.

2. Roast jalapeño over an open flame (I used my oven burners) until charred and crispy skin is seen all around.

3. Let the jalapeño cool slightly, then slice and add to the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Half for one, the other half for the other (you know you’re going to want two).

4. Add the cut lime to the shaker and muddle to release all the juices and oils.

5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the shaker.

6. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously until cold and frosty.

7. Strain into chilled margarita glass and enjoy.

That’s it ladies and gents. Another Friday, and another cocktail. I’m toasting to all the good people I’ve met here in Austin, and all those that continue to inspire me each day! What are you toasting to?

If you want to suggest a recipe too, just send me a shout out on Twitter. Follow me @metropochris!

Oh, and in case you want to relive the past…jam out to this (I won’t tell).

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