Monday, July 29, 2013


I don't read directions sometimes. The mixology monday guidelines said to swap 2 ingredients. So, against my better judgement and sobriety, I re made my julep using Rye whiskey, Anise Hyssop and simple syrup. It was still delicious, but the Rye's spicy character was able to subdue the anise/fennel/licorice flavor of the herb more than the Bourbon did.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Anise Hyssop Julep

I decided to tryout a new made up cocktail for Mixology Monday (Hey cocktail virgin). {heres the roundup of all the drinks that month, linked ultra late..}The theme was flip flop, in which you substitute one or two ingredients in a cocktail recipe and make a new drink. This was appealing because I had just picked some herbs from the garden (and chard but it didn't cross my mind to make a drink with that.) This summer was the first time I truly appreciated both Mint Juleps and Mojitos. Last week I made a Gin Basil Smash for the first time, and it was so good. And I have so many herbs growing!

One of the odder herbs we have around various gardens in Kensington is Anise Hyssop. They all came from the Frankford Garden, its in the mint family and reproduces prolifically. It grows out of cracks in my sidewalk now, with the marigolds, and the violets, and the strawberries. It is native to the great plains region of the U.S. and was used medicinal by Native Americans, although it doesn't seem to hold great importance in their pharmacopoeia.

It tastes like a sweet fennel and makes great tasting tea. It is good in blends and by itself. I think most of the mint family (Lamacieae) plants combine well with true mint and this got me thinking about Mint Juleps. I tried, earlier in the summer when my mint was sparse, to make a Julep with Lemon Balm and it was crap. Not this time....

Anise Hyssop Julep

3 oz Bourbon
2 oz Simple syrup (1:1 <cane sugar>)
3 stalks of Anise Hyssop
ice cube tray of ice crushed in a blender

Take a few leaves of Anise Hyssop off of the stalks. Muddle gently in the bottom of a Collins glass. Fill glass 3/4 with crushed ice. Add whiskey and syrup. (1 oz syrup much if you don't like sweet things but I think it goes nicely with the herb and offsets the strong amount of booze in the drink) Stir until glass is frosted. Top with more crushed ice. Insert herb and a short straw, so you smell a face full of herb every sip. Don't forget to eat dinner.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Raspboozy Donuts

I've been making donuts a lot lately. I am trying to get a recipe down that yeilds super poofy, tender and delicious donuts but also isn't too fragile and fussy when raising the dough and getting it into the oil. I really like the ease and results of Wayne Schmidts recipe, and all his thorough research. However, it is heavily yeasted and the dough is so airy that it inevitably begins to fall before it even makes it into the oil. The slightest jostle deflates them. The recipe is very quick though....

Another recipe I've made a few times is from Sherry Yards in her book The Secrets of Baking.  It is for a brioche donut. It is super rich and not sweet. Also it is built very slowly with only a small amount of yeast to start. It takes 3 times as long to make but part of me really enjoys the process and flavor of slowly risen breads. For this recipe, you must first make a sponge. This is a wet starter that allows the yeast to easily multiply before slowing it down with salt, butter and eggs.

Brioche Donuts


2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 Tbl brown sugar
1/2 C milk
1/2 C flour

Whisk together and then cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit for 30-45 minutes. 

3 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
1/4 lb  butter

Add flour, salt and spices. 

Beat eggs seperately and add to dough. Add butter 2 Tbls at a time. 

Knead forever if making by hand, until smooth and shiny. 

Cover bowl and let raise until doubled, about 2 hrs. Punch down, cover and raise again for 45 minutes. 

Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. 

Cut with 2 1/2 inch donut cutters (or a tin can and a soy sauce cap!) and deep fry about 1 minute for each side. 

after sitting an hour out of the freezer

I've been making the dough up until it is ready to fry and freezing it. This recipe takes far too long to make for breakfast but they can be thawed and fried in an hour or 2.

raspberry infused vodka
powdered sugar

Whisk until you get a good thick dipping frosting/glaze.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chairry Cookie

When I bake, I use a scale. It ensures accuracy of the recipe and it ensures consistency every time. Texture and flavor are preserved. When I first try out recipes, they are usually written in volume. I will measure by volume while I have the measuring cup on a scale and a notebook on the table. From there, I slightly modify the ingredients until I am most pleased with the results. One recipe leads into another and yet another varies from that...
This recipe started with a snickerdoodle; devolved into a sugar cookie; adjusted into a chai snickerdoodle; and, seasonally apporpriately, morphed into a chai flavored cherry cookie.

Chairry Cookie (Chai/Cherry)

123 g butter (or earth balance margarine)
8 g chai spice (or if, like normal people, u don't make yr own chai spice for baked goods in bulk, perhaps 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp clove)
182 g cane sugar

216 g flour 
2 g baking soda
1 g salt

12 g brown flax seed
47 g Cherry Herring
4 g vanilla
4 g vinegar

10 fresh cherries

Cut Cherries in half, pit and dust with cane sugar. 
Let sit in a small bowl while you prepare the dough.
In a small bowl, whisk flour baking soda and sea salt. (maybe about 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of soda?)
Cream spices with butter in a large bowl.
Cream sugar into butter.
Make vegan eggs in a small bowl.
-grind flax seeds super fine in a coffee grinder
-whisk flax seeds with liquid for about 30 seconds
--for the liquid; strain out the cherry/sugar water from the fresh cherries into a measuring glass and then add Cherry Heering to make 47 grams
Beat fleggs into butter/sugar jawn.
Stir in vanilla and lastly vinegar.
Preheat oven to 350.
Line half sheets with ripped in half parchment.
Scoop cookies using a number #20 ice cream scoop and youll get about 15.
Use a tablespoon scoop or actual spoon and youll get about twice as many. (10-12 min bake)
Space cookies about a dozen/ half sheet and theyll bake in 15 mins or so.
You want the edge to be just barely golden.
Let cool on the pans on a wire rack at least ten minutes.

The bigger size is more appropriate for half of a cherry.

La Paloma

I've been getting more into tequila in the warmer months and many fun new cocktails have been brought to my attention now. (I've also been so hot that I'm too lazy to make cocktails and drink lager tallboys like its going out of style.) There's always margaritas, so sour and refreshing, but sometimes, especially in the heat, you want a bigger drink that lets you drink more without having to drink a pint of margarita. Enter La Paloma. It is basically grapefruit soda and tequila. Maybe with lime and salt, as most Mexican things like to be garnished. The sum is greater than the parts here folks. Somehow, this transforms into a magically delicious, how did they think of that?, profoundly enjoyable experience.

With such a simple recipe, the door is open to infinite variation and experimentation. I bought some Italian grapefruit soda at Trader Joes, specifically to make La Paloma. It is cane sugar sweetened, which i like. I also bought the same packaged blood orange soda. Luckily for me, the internet already decided that La Paloma also works with blood orange soda. Really well, in fact. I got this idea from Aida Mollenkamp. I am really bad at rimming glasses with salt, or anything really. I dont like salt rimmed margaritas and have not practiced much because of it. This drink made me want to perfect thyme salt rims. (I have not yet though.)

La Paloma

2 oz tequila
1/2 lime, squeezed and thrown in
pinch salt
grapefruit soda to taste

Build in a highball filled with ice. I've made with Reposado and Blanco tequila with great results. I've only tried with Tjs soda, but Pellegrino and Jarritos both make grapefruit soda too.

Blood Orange and Thyme Paloma 
from Aida

12 sprigs fresh thyme leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt such as Maldon
2 ounces 100% agave silver tequila
1/2 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice
6 ounces Blood Orange Soda such as San Pellegrino

Chop thyme and mix with salt. Put on a small plate, rub the glass with a lime wedge and roll it in thymey salt. I used lemon thyme because i am growing it and it is the most delicious thyme one could eat. I used Tjs blood orange soda. It was so good that I made 2 in a row. I am very bad at rimming a glass though...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cucumber Collins

A Tom Collins is a classic highball made of gin, syrup, citrus and club soda. I like them ok but never desire them or make them. I saw a few different versions of this Collins using muddled cukes and thought eating vegetables along with my cocktails seemed like a good idea.

Cucumber Collins

2 oz gin
5 slices cuke (1/2 of the small cucumber i used)
1 Tbl sugar
1 oz lemon or lime
club soda to fill

Muddle cuke slices with sugar. Add lemon and gin and ice. Stir and strain into a collins glass with ice and fresh cucumber slices.
(The cucumber I grew was yellow). I made another one with lime juice and it was much better. Perhaps it's just more like gin and tonic, but it seems like the lime and cucumber pair particularly well in a cocktail...

Beet Pickle

I made delicious raw fermented beet pickles. The recipe is from Phickle except i didn't add the basil. I even have way too much basil growing, but cumin seemed like enough. I sliced them thick and left the skins on. They fermented for 10 days in our ridiculous heat wave and were super sour and wonderful.

I have a double shot glass that fits perfectly into skinny mouth canning jars and this is how i should ferment from now on.

Cumin Beet Pickle  (

2 C Water
1 Tbl salt
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed

About a dozen beets; some were super small and a few were large.

I chopped up all the beets I had and it fit in a qt jar. Covered with brine above. Let sit at scorching room temperature for 10 days Cleaned the rim carefully and put a clean cap on it and stored in the fridge. Great snack pickle but i wouldn't put it on a sandwich.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gin & Tonic

Its often the simple things that are the best. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the easiest to ruin because there is nothing to hide behind. Ingredients and technique become ultimately important. A good gin and tonic can be made without anything fancy, especially once its hot outside. It is just so satisfying, so bubbly and bittersweet and herbaceous. A gin and tonic can be even better with great ingredients though.

I was in California recently and smuggled back all sorts of booze. Its very difficult to find things in Philly. The state of Pennsylvania has a monopoly on all liquor sales, so what they don't sell, you can't buy. It wasn't until the past ten years or so that it was even possible to buy liquor on Sundays. Anyways, I am very interested in the growing trend of micro brewers also being micro distillers. So after going to Ballast Point and being happily surprised by the vast list of beers I didn't know they made; I was even more excited to find out that they make booze too. (The most exciting weirdo beer I had from them was a curry stout. I want it constantly but I don't think they bottle it.) They make at least gin, white rum and vodka. The gin seemed most worthwhile because I feel that gins have a wider range of character due to the often addition of herbs. The Ballast Point gin uses Torrey Pine, a Cali native as well as Juniper and a dozen or so secret herbs. It doesn't taste particularly piney but it is delicious and smooth.

We planted a new herb in the garden this year: Borage. This is a strange and beautiful plant. The whole plant- stems, leaves and flowers are covered in tiny white hairs. It has a fuzzy glow in the sunshine. The whole plant tastes similar to cucumber. The leaves are a traditional garnish to a Pimms Cup. Having never made a Pimms Cup (yet) and with our plants struggling with the Philadelphia summer and therefore flowering very quickly without a profusion of leaves; I decided to pick the flowers and freeze them into ice cubes. As the ice melts in your drink a slight cucumber flavor is released. This seemed like it would be very pleasing in a gin and tonic. It was.

Gin & Tonic

2oz Gin
3-4oz Tonic Water
Lime wedge
Borage flower ice cubes

Build in an ice filled highball glass. Squeeze the lime at least a little. Add tonic to taste.
I prefer 3 oz of tonic and I always use Hansens brand because it is made with cane sugar and it comes in small (8oz) cans so I dont need to worry about a bottle going flat. When I only make one, I cover the top of the can with a jigger and put it back in the fridge. This keeps it surprisingly bubbly for a day or two.

Has anyone tried any other premium brands of tonic? I don't want anything with corn syrup. I've seen Fever Tree at a few stores but 6 packs of 6oz bottles sell for about $6. This seems absurdly expensive. Has anyone tried them? If they're great I could certainly buy them once....


The Manhattan is one of those classic cocktails that most people have heard of, even if they dont drink cocktails and even if they dont know what it is. I made my first one about 7 months ago when I was first getting into mixing drinks and I thought it was kind of gross. There is an important lesson here: precise measuring and specific ingredients make a huge difference. That first Manhattan I made had bourbon and either Angostura or no bitters at all. I now question if that is even a Manhattan at worst and at best its a bad Manhattan. In the past month or so Ive realized that I really enjoy a well made Manhattan. Also, its nice that you don't need soda or simple syrup or fresh fruit etc.


2oz Rye Whiskey
1oz Sweet Vermouth
few dashes Orange bitters
garnish with maraschino cherry

Chill a cocktail glass if you have time or freezer space.
In a shaker filled with ice, add rye, vermouth and bitters.
Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Or just stir and strain.
Garnish with a cherry.

I made this with Redemption Rye, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Regans Orange bitters and homemade maraschinos. And it was so good. Don't be scurrd of those bitters, the orange is really crucial.

The cherries were unmeasured and needn't be. I had cherries that would go bad if not eaten immediately, so I put them in a jar, covered them with vodka and added a few tablespoons of sugar. They are not cloyingly sweet like "real" maraschino cherries. I like that. If you want to be real fancy and the cherries are nice enough, leave the stems on for a more elegant garnish.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rockledge Mule

One of my favorite simple mixed drinks is a Moscow Mule. Its a ginger beer and vodka and fresh lime. Its tangy, spicy, sweet, sour, and refreshing. (Most liquor pairs nicely with ginger beer in my opinion but more on that later.) The recipe I like to do, when I feel like measuring, is 2oz vodka: 3oz ginger beer: 1/2 lime squeezed and thrown in a highball glass filled with ice. This is Gary Regan's recipe. I generally do measure all my cocktails but this one I occasionally just pour til it tastes right.

Ive made some variations on this simple formula with success. My favorite was using lemon thyme infused vodka. I had the opportunity to try a new variation today and it is exceptional! My parents have a large raspberry patch and when they're ripe there's waaaay too many berries for them to pick or use. So I infused 20oz of vodka with a pint of fresh raspberries, thinking I would make a liqueur eventually. The berries sat for about a month. The booze turned beautifully pink very quickly. This was probably too many berries for this much alcohol but it worked great for this drink. Yesterday I tried making a boozy raspberry limeade by using the raspberry infused vodka to make a caipirinha style drink. It was super gross! The lime and the tartness of the raspberry was too much. I couldn't even drink it. I was bummed. 

I always use Reeds Ginger Beer, extra ginger brew, for any ginger ale/beer recipes. Its pretty sweet, very citrusy and really spicy. It balanced out the wild tartness of my vodka so well. I was pleasantly surprised. I really thought I would need to cut it with plain vodka. Nope. SO GOOD!

Rockledge Mule

2 oz Raspberry infused vodka
3 oz Ginger Beer
small lime wedge

Build in an ice filled highball.


Rat Tail Radish

These odd little vegetables have all come and gone already but we grew so many that they'll be on my plate for months. I made raw fermented pickles out of them to stretch out their eating season. They take longer to grow than many traditional small sized radishes because this strange Indonesian heirloom variety is grown for its seed pods rather than its roots. Most other radishes are picked before they bolt, or send up a flowering stalk. This variety branches out profusely, so profusely in fact that i had to thin out about half of what I had planted to make room for them to grow. On these branches grow an immense array of tiny white/pink/purple flowers. With time, these tiny blossoms become huge radish pods. In fact its easy to get overwhelmed with picking them but persevere because they are best when tender and smaller. I harvested about 9 or 10 pounds over the course of about a month from about a dozen plants. I left the over grown seed pods on the plants, pulled them from the ground and left the whole plant to dry. Now I have lots of seeds for next year, even though I only need a few. Im spreading these to everyone I know. Like many Asian radishes, they are season sensitive. This variety only works when planted in the spring. A lot of small root radishes can be planted at any time and harvested within a month, which makes them great for filling in odd spaces at random times in the garden. These radishes were planted early here in Philadelphia, around mid March, and were harvested between mid May and early June.

Here is how I pickled them:

Rat Tail Radish Pickle

8 C Water
6 Tbl Sea Salt
3Tbl Pickling Spice
2 Cloves Garlic

A cookie jar full of Rat Tails, (maybe 12 C ?....)
Time- about 1-2 weeks in summer, to taste

The exact quantities do not matter. What does matter is the proportions on the brine. I use Sandor Katz recommendation of 4C water: 3Tbl salt for my raw fermenting brine. This is the way pre industrial pickles were made. The salt inhibits the growth of bad bacterias and promotes the growht of benefecial lactobacillus bacterias. The vegetables need to remain submerged under the salty brine. THIS IS CRUCIAL, exposure to air will create mold-which can be skimmed off but its better not to make it in the first place. I use a big cookie jar and then a smaller jar placed in the opening to weigh down the veggies. I then cover the top with a dish towel to keep bugs from landing in it.

As these good bacteria grow, the brine naturally turns sour! You dont need to add vinegar, which is itself a fermented product. I think I let this batch sit for 8 days, I tasted it and like it so I packed it up and put it in the fridge. Once each jar is packed, cover the contents with the brine. Refrigeration greatly slows the fermenting process but does not stop it. You can try packing them into smaller containers over times so you will get pickles of varying sourness if you like. Raw fermented products will continue to ferment indefinitely. Ive had sauerkrauts in my fridge for a year without them going bad. Time and temperature and salt are all related. The saltier the brine, the slower the ferment. The slower the ferment, the more complex flavor development. In the Winter a batch of Saurkraut or Kim Chi could take months to be sufficiently fermented, using the same amount of salt that might only take weeks in the Summer.

The Rat Tails are great fermented raw because they stay crisper. I water bath canned a few jars earlier in the season and wasnt pleased with the texture. They were really tasty both ways though. They naturally have a peppery/mustardy flavor that goes great with sour brine, garlic, fresh herbs or pickling spices. Hit me up if you want some seeds for next year if you're in Philly or buy some online from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.