Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fermented (?) Vermouth Hot Sauce

So I found this chili head message board on the internet and someone on there had a post about fermenting chilies in white wine. I assume, over the several weeks it was supposed to take to make this, that the wine would convert to vinegar as it was exposed to air. I never have white wine laying around, but I always have vermouth. Now vermouth is a fortified wine; it is a higher percentage of alcohol, and it is also infused with a variety of herbs. I didn't know if the higher proof would slow down or destroy that wine to vinegar conversion but I gave it a go anyway. I also think this is more an infusion of chili in booze to make sauce than truly fermenting chili.

I used Carpano Antica, which is a higher end vermouth with a bittersweet, very herbaceous profile. The end result is very tasty but perhaps not the best use of expensive vermouth. While there is some herby undertones, the chili heat really dominates. Which, I suppose, is to be expected because it is hot sauce. I think if I made it again I would use very mild chiles like anaheims so the vermouth could be noticed more. I think this is more an infusion of chili in booze to make sauce than truly fermenting chili. So, being hopeful, I added raw pickle brine as a starter to maybe get things fermenting...

When I decided it was finished, I blended it all up. This was very annoying because there was so little of it. Stopped to scrape down the blender every second. No matter what, all the seeds never ground up; so I strained it. This gave the sauce a smooth consistency and it wont keep getting hotter while the seeds sit and infuse in the sauce while its refrigerated.

Vermouth Hot Sauce

(this was all done with a scale, based on how many chilies I had, with 2% salt and vermouth to cover)

84g chili (mix of yellow jalapeno, tabasco, habanero and mostly cayenne)
2g salt
187g vermouth 
1Tbl raw fermented pickle brine (from green bean pickles- haricot vert, salt, garlic)

Chop chilies and combine all ingredients in a jar. Stir or shake every few days for a few weeks. I ended up doing 3 full weeks in a cool fall philadelphia. 

 Blend it. 

Strain it. 

Bottle it. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baba Ghanouj

I've been roasting eggplants lately. I have lots of late season eggplants in the garden still and tons of parsley, finally. (If you dont love parsley cut it back by half or omit entirely but I think it helps tame the raw garlic flavor and goes really nicely with the lemon.) I think the texture is greatly improved if you put out the effort to pick out the seeds. They all grow in little clumps and most of them can be removed easily. Its not necessary to pick out every single one but eggplants can have so many seeds that the texture is clumpy and crunchy and gross if you dont deseed them before making baba. Enough warning, do what you will. This is how Ive been making it lately:

Baba Ghanouj

3 eggplants; roasted, skinned, seeded 

(Yes 3, and yes "normal" big eggplants, I generally grow black beauty)
2 Tbl  tahini
2 cloves  garlic
1  lemon; juiced, about 2oz
2-3 Tbl  olive oil
1 1/4 tsp  salt
1 C  parsely; leaves only
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seed; ground in a coffee grinder first

Grill, bake or broil eggplants until skin is blackened and blistering away from the flesh. I cut them in half and broil them, skin side up. I set the broiler to low and cook for between 20 and 30 minutes, moving them around so they cook evenly. I juice the lemon with a citrus reamer and pick parsley off the stems and grind up cumin seeds while they roast.
I keep the eggplants in a strainer over a bowl while peeling
 and picking out seeds. That way the majority of liquid in the
finished dip is from  lemon and olive oil.
When they are blackened all over and the flesh has softened and deflated, remove them from the oven. Flip eggplants over to help them cool and release moisture. Once cool, the skin should peel off very easily. The next part is messy but worth it for improved texture: With your hands, dig out the clumps of seeds. It doesnt need to be perfect but try to get out as many as possible. Put the remaining eggplant flesh into the blender or food processor. (The recipe is wet enough that I usually pick the blender because it is easier to clean...) After you pick through the eggplants, add everything else to the blender EXCEPT olive oil and parsley. Once the garlic and cumin is all chopped up and distributed evenly, slowly add the oil while it is blending on low. Finally add the parsley and mix it in briefly. (My last batch I forgot lemon until the end and really blended up the parsley so the baba had a greenish tint) Makes a big batch but it keeps well for at least a week. Dip bread and veggies in it or do anything you might do with hummus...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Grand Autumn

Here is my favorite new fall drink! I found it on St Germain's facebook page. It seems weird that they are a real company and dont have a website, just facebook. But whatevs, I learned this great recipe from them and saw a few more that looked promising.... I know this doesn't sound that autumnal but it does have a nice leaves-changing-colors kind of look to it.

Grand Autumn

2oz Rye (Russels Reserve)
1oz Elderflower liquer (St Germain)
3/4oz Lime juice
3oz Ginger Beer (Reeds)
2 dashes Angostura

Shake Rye, St Germain, lime with ice. Strain into a collins glass with ice. Add ginger beer to taste and bitters on top. The bitters are a great addition. Sweet/ sour/ floral/ spicy. Excellent.

{I do love all things involving ginger beer. I pretty much always use Reeds extra ginger. Its very spicy, pretty sweet, and very citrusy.}

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gin Basil Smash

So good. do it.

Way better than the "normal", barely-has-any-mint-in-it whiskey smash, this is a drink worthy of your muddling. I heard about it at a bar I forgot and then searched the internet until I found a few recipes. I've been slacking on the blog the past 2 weeks and I came across a picture of one of these I made months ago and realized I had never posted about it. There are lots of recipes on the web and they vary pretty widely, make it to your taste, altering lemon and sweetener to your liking....

Gin Basil Smash

2oz Gin
1oz lemon juice
1/2oz simple syrup
tons of basil! (at least 5 leaves, upwards of an entitre shaker full..)

Muddle basil and simple syrup. Add everything else and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or on the rocks in an old fashioned glass. You should probably make a stiffer drink if its going in an old fashioned glass though because the ice will melt and water it down while you sip it... I did several sprigs of basil because I had tons in my garden. The drink turned a lovely green color with a few specks of basil that I did not mind but could be double strained out.