Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kiwiberry sidecar

Kiwiberry Sidecar

1 3/4 oz kiwiberry infused brandy
3/4 oz cointreau
1/2 oz lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe. Sugared rim is optional and even less necessary than a traditional sidecar.

This is so good! It has a really mysterious tropical flavor from the combined lemon/orange/kiwiberry profile. It tastes like passionfruit or some fruit you've never tried but would come from an island.

I have a big kiwiberry vine growing at my parents house. It takes over a fence every couple years and needs to be hacked back. Last year I made some jam from them and infused some brandy with them as well. The main thing we like to drink with brandy is the sidecar so this made sense to try. Sidecars are a classic sour, made much like a margarita, with ingredients varying slightly between recipes. I usually make them 3:2:1 but for this infused version I bump the brandy a little more to increase the kiwi flavor.


3 oz Kombucha
1 oz blackberry shrub
1/2 oz lemon

This doesn't have a name and its only sort of a recipe, more of a suggested guideline perhaps. The proportions really depend on the flavor and intensity of your ingredients. Over the winter I've been brewing kombucha until its super sour then cutting it with sweeter fruit juice or ginger beer or anything else I can find. On this occasion, I took some kombucha before it was fully fermented, so it was sour but also still sweet. I made a shrub over the winter with some random cheap out of season berries. I don't know what recipe I used or if I messed it up, but it is also sweet and sour. Shrubs should be but this one is really sweet with a hint of tartness. So this recipe works really well for the ingredients I had but may not be reproducible. 

Kombucha in mocktails works very well because it is so intensely flavored. It has the oomph that a soda or fruit juice is lacking. I've been using club soda to stretch out the flavors if I use other intense ingredients like lemon or lime. I'll also use sparkling wine if its for someone that drinks alcohol but doesnt want a big drink.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Gold Rush Cocktail

Gold Rush Cocktail

2oz bourbon
3/4oz honey syrup*
1/2oz lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a shaker tin. Add ice, shake and strain into a coupe or a rocks glass with a big cube. No garnish.

{*to  make honey syrup, use 2 parts honey to 1 part water and stir or shake in a sealed jar until dissolved}

This is a really delicious drink. It is sweet and tangy but still boozy, especially if you use 100 proof bourbon, which you should.

Surprisingly, it was only invented recently. It is one ingredient swap away from several classics like the bee's knees and brown derby but somehow no one ever came up with honey, lemon and bourbon, or at least never wrote it down. Sam Ross created this at Milk & Honey in Manhattan in the past ten years or so.  I don't know which he made first but it's also like a simplified penicillin cocktail.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

North & South

I missed this months mixology monday but I made a maple pecan old fashioned. I had infused pecans in bourbon after seeing a post about it awhile ago on the Post Prohibition Blog. This was the best thing I've made with it so far.

maple pecan old fashionedNorth & South Cocktail

2oz pecan infused bourbon
1/2oz maple syrup (2:1)
Angostura bitters
Maple bitters
Whiskey infused pecans for garnish
Lemon peel for garnish

Stir with ice. Strain into an old fashioned glass with a big rock. Wipe the peel around the rim and toss it in.

I love this. Neither flavor overpowers the drink. It is still very spirit forward even with the maple. I even bump up the maple flavor a bit with maple bitters (but only because I happen to have them, they are not as crucial as angostura) The pecan garnish is also incidental. I still had some left in the fridge so I used them to add more pecan aroma. They were still soft from being full of booze, so they skewered easily. The lemon peel brightens the heavy whiskey and sweet maple flavors and should definitely be used.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


This drink is a new classic. It was created a few years ago by Sam Ross at Milk and Honey in Manhattan and since then has appeared at better bars across the country.  It makes sense because it's delicious. It has a  certain medicinal quality from the smoky scotch and lemon but also its good for what ails you with the ginger and honey combo. Highly recommended.


1 3/4 oz blended scotch
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz ginger liquer
1/2 oz honey syrup
1/4 oz smokey single malt scotch

Shake everything but the single malt with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with big ice. Float the single malt and garnish with a lemon wheel. Proportions from Mr Boston's.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mixology Monday: Preserves

This months Mixology Monday theme is preserves and can include anything that has been preserved not just jams and stuff. I had so many ideas but I've been working a lot this week and didn't get to try most of them. Perhaps I'll try to do more experiments and update this post throughout the week. This month is being hosted by Craig at A World of Drinks. I am posting this super late after work and hope he still includes me, we'll see....

I have several jams, a couple shrubs, some syrups and dried herbs that all wanted to be used in a drink this month but I decided to go with raspberry syrup. It's a classic cocktail ingredient that is rarely used these days. The traditional way to make it would be to make a simple syrup and put some raspberries in it, wait a couple days and then strain the fruit out. My parents have a big raspberry patch and they make jelly every year. My dad gave me some jelly that didn't set up properly. The pectin didn't work and it never jelled. So it is syrup. Useless for toast but perfect for cocktails. It is made from sugar, raspberry juice and (worthless) pectin.

Bramble in the Rye

2 1/2 oz Rye whiskey
1/4 oz Benedictine
2 barspoons Raspberry syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large rock.
Adjust to taste depending on the sweetness and the raspberriness of your syrup.

I really like this one. The rye gives it some weight and some spice, the benedictine brings some sweet herbal notes, the syrup brings a fruity sweetness and the bitters bring the bitter complexity. I've made it using less raspberry syrup and a little simple syrup but I cant decide which way I prefer it. Even with 2 barspoons of my raspberry syrup it isn't too sweet nor overwhelmingly fruity. The photo looks much more red than the real thing because it was backlit by a beautiful day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a classic highball made fancier by having its own special glass. So far I have always made them in collins glasses but I finally got some copper moscow mule mugs and made them up properly. The copper mug is able to hold temperatures better than glass, resulting in a colder cocktail for a longer time with less dilution. They are certainly delicious in any glass but these mugs are gonna be a game changer in the summer.
moscow mule copper mug So before we get into the simple recipe, a mule and a buck are the same thing. They are both highballs involving ginger ale/ beer. The gin buck is what I am most familiar with although I have heard of gin gin mule as well and I dont know why the are different. Perhaps they are not and buck is classic terminology and it got renamed after the popularity of moscow mules? That popularity began in LA in the 50's as a bit of marketing for the new on the scene russian vodkas. You don't really need a recipe for this, you can do it to taste. Keep in mind, you don't want too much soda because there will be some dilution from the ice and the whole point of naming it a mule is that its got some kick to it. Here's how I usually do it, with some citrus adjustment based on brand of ginger beer. (Reeds is way more citrusy and requires less):::::::::::::

Moscow Mule

2oz vodka
3oz ginger beer
1/2oz lime juice

Fill copper mug with ice. Add vodka and lime and stir. Top with ginger beer. Add more lime wedges to taste. Unless I've already squeezed a lot of lime juice, I usually just ream half a lime into the glass then throw in the entire half peel.

Tequila also makes a fine substitute at the same proportions....

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


This is the original old school grandfather of the dry martini that we know today. It is anything but dry. When vermouth came on the scene in America in the late 1800's, it was often predominant in mixed drinks not merely a modifier of a stronger liquor. There are recipes for manhattans which have similar flipped (to our modern sensibilities) ratios, as well as other less popular heavy vermouth based drinks. Although I dont care much for ridiculously dry martinis, this other extreme doesn't suit me either. It starts to be interesting at a 2:1 ratio of gin to vermouth for me. Here goes the classic from Jerry Thomas:

old tom gin

2oz sweet vermouth
1oz old tom gin
1tsp maraschino liquer
dash bokers bitters
garnish: lemon peel

Stir with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel. Bokers is an old brand of bitters that has recently been recreated by Dr Adam Elmegirab's. I used Angostura. Old tom gin is a slightly sweetened pre prohibition style of gin which is gaining some popularity. Several brands are available. Maraschino liquer is not the gross red liquid from around neon red corn syrupy cherries but rather a delicious cherry, cherry pit and almond based liquer from Italy made by Luxardo. It is called for in small amounts in lots of classic cocktails. In the few decades leading up to prohibition it was commonly dashed into drinks along with absinthe and together they play quite nicely. Coupes are way classier than pointy martini glasses...

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pad Thai

Pad Thai has been a go to dish of mine for years. I didnt really use a recipe though. I just made a peanut sauce and sauteed some vegetables and fried some tofu and tossed it all together. This time around i took it a little more serious although I still think a recipe should only be a framework as personal taste greatly shapes this dish.

Upon doing some research i realized that the peanut heavy sauce I was doing before wasn't really traditionally accurate. I think some American Thai restaurants serve things similar to what I was making but the peanuts are mostly a garnish in traditional recipes. The sauce itself is more like a teriyaki sauce containing lots of soy sauce, souring agent and sweetener. Noodles came to Thailand in the 1600's, around the same time as chilies incidentally, and pad thai started as a very Chinese dish and slowly adapted to the thai palate and ingredients. One major change was the use of tamarind and lime to add sourness rather than vinegar and fish sauce substituting some of the soy sauce. I have used all three sour jawns and also still used a small amount of peanut butter in addition to a peanut garnish and I don't eat fish.

This dish is very heavy on garnishes, with the majority of the ingredients being added after the dish is cooked. It does take a while to prepare but you can make a huge amount in a wok without too much trouble and leftovers reheat reasonably well as long as the noodles aren't overcooked the first time. I have made it twice with slightly different vegetables and encourage you to use whatever you have on hand but know that some amount of cooked and raw items gives a refreshing flavor and variety of textures. I would say peanuts and scallions are pretty crucial garnishes. I don't like bean sprouts but they are always used; I did once and can take it or leave it.

You could make the sauce ahead of time and it would come together quicker. You could also use a food processor instead of a molcajete but I wouldnt recommend it if using piloncillo (jaggery). You could certainly used a fine grained sugar and zap it all in the food processor pretty easily though the taste wont be quite the same and you wont get a hand and forearm workout while making dinner. There is some planning that is essential in creating this dish. The noodles need to be soaked before you stir fry them, but only for a half hour. If they sit much longer the texture will be ruined when you cook them. I start chopping and making sauce before soaking the noodles. You have to guess when you have a half hour of work left and then soak them.

Pad Thai
{vegan and gluten free}

12 oz rice sticks (soaked 30 mins)

1lb extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/8ths and deep fried


1/4C piloncillo (cane sugar block- and can be up to half a cup)
1/4C tamarind flesh
1/4C peanuts
2Tbl natural peanut butter
1-10 dry chilis ( i do only 2 bird's eyes and then serve with hot sauce for those that want it)

1/2C soy sauce
1/4C rice vinegar
1/4C water


2 handfuls bean sprouts
1 carrot, grated on box grater
1 sliced bell pepper, thin strips
handful chopped cilantro
4 sliced scallions
2 handfuls chopped peanuts
lime wedges for serving
soy sauce for serving
hot sauce for serving


3Tbls oil
4 cloves garlic
2 shallots
green vegetable, chopped (broccoli, green bean, asparagus)

 To make the sauce:

First, in a molcajete or huge mortar and pestle smash up the sugar a bit because its really hard and annoying to incorporate with other ingredients.Once its in small crumbles, add peanuts and tamarind. I used the shrink wrapped "seedless" tamarind block (make sure to dig out the seeds though) but I've also used jarred Indian tamarind paste which is runnier. Adjust water to taste depending which you use.  Smash it up real good. Add peanut butter and stir hard against the bowl to start incorporating it and continuing to break down other ingredients. In a small measuring cup combine soy, vinegar and water and stir. Slowly add this liquid to the bowl while stirring against the sides of the bowl.

To soak the noodles:

Get a huge metal bowl and put in dry noodles. (This will work best in the sink so you can be sloppy) Add really hot tap water and stir to make sure noodles aren't sticking together. If they sit for a half hr with no stirring you will get thick annoying clumps of noodles that don't cook right. I stir occasionally and then as the water cools run my fingers through them while lifting out of the bowl to ensure they are all individual strands

To fry the tofu:

Squeeze out as much water as possible. Extra firm holds up best to all the squeezing. The best way is to squeeze gently by hand over the sink then wrap in a few layers of paper towel or cloth napkins and place it between two cutting boards with a weight on top, like a book or skillet. Heavy but not so heavy it is crushed. Weight for 10 mins or so. Pat dry with towels. Slice block into 1/8ths. This makes it easier to flip than if it is cut into little pieces immediately. Either deep fry or shallow fry in a pan. 5 mins or more per side in a pan. Don't flip until it gets a brown crust. Remove from oil and drain on old paper bags that you have way too many of because you always forget to bring reusable bags when you go grocery shopping. Slice each piece into 4 pieces. 

To prepare the dish:

Blanch the green beans and then chop. (Boil for just a minute and then throw in a bowl of ice water so they don't overcook) Add a few tablespoons of oil to a wok and heat to medium. Add garlic and shallots when hot. Drain noodles and add to wok before garlic browns. Stir real good because thats a lot of noodles for a wok and they still have water clinging probably and they all need to get coated in oil and you don't want the garlic stuck to the bottom of the pan burning. Add green beans and tofu and stir more. Add sauce and stir more. Hopefully that's enough sauce that everything is coated really well. If not, add more water, soy sauce and/or peanut butter to thin, season or thicken as necessary. The noodles need some moisture to cook properly but its a stir fry not a soup.Test noodles for texture and sauce for flavor continuing cooking a few minutes if necessary. Add garnishes to the wok or serve table side so everyone can garnish according to their preferences and you look fancy. Even if you add all the vegetable garnishes to the wok, you should still serve soy sauce, hot sauce and a lime wedge for each plate so each person can tweak it as they like. Fresh lime juice on top is really nice even though its pretty sour already made with this amount of sugar.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ginger Kumquat Caipirinha

This months Mixology Monday isn't hot drinks for some reason. I keep waiting for warm cocktails to be a theme but all my toddy practice is just for me. Apparently, not everyone is drinking hot cocktails because their city is ridiculously cold and getting tons of snow. Luckily it only takes one warm cocktail to get comfortable inside and then you can make drinks with ice again. So the theme this month is sours. It's being hosted by ginhound and you can check out all the entries here. A broad, classic category, better suited for warmer weather imo, but a fine collection of cocktails nonetheless. Now, how can we mix things up a bit? Kumquats are sour.

I love weird produce. Kumquats are silly. They have a foolish name, a ridiculous strong flavor that is a combination of most flavors and so tiny for a citrus! They are made backwards also. The skin is sweet and the inside is sour and somewhere its bitter too, I suppose the pith, like normal. At the grocery store I enjoy making people try them for the first time. It's like making a baby eat a lemon. Hilarious!

So I bought some while they're in season and local produce is nearly non existent anyway. Problem is, I never really want to eat more than one. So that tiny pint takes forever to finish. So I thought I should try making some drinks out of them. My search was lazy and all the drinks seemed dumb that I came upon. I just searched for kumquat cocktail though. I considered making a kumquat simple syrup because a sweet/sour/bitter syrup seemed like something my fridge was missing and then they wouldn't all go bad at least.

forgot the lime for the pic
Then when I was about to make the syrup, I realized that the lazy version of that syrup was to just muddle them with sugar and make a caipirinha. I could call it a kumquaipirinha and be ridiculous with portmanteaus as I love to do. I can't call it that of course because no one ever searches the internet for kumquaipirinha and my slow building knowledge of search engine optimization suggest I should label things with titles that people will look for or no one will ever find my blog. Anyways, I thought I was so clever, how was I the first to think of this? I wasn't, obviously. There's plenty of recipes that seem better than my first attempt; so now Im going to have to try to tweak my recipe even though I liked it.
super juicy after muddling

Oh yeah- Cachaca is a Brazilian sugar cane syrup liquor that is barrel aged. Its a little funky, especially for being a sort of light colored rum. Although I am somewhat ignorant, I think Cachaca is closer to Batavia Arrack than rum. Rum is usually made from molasses not cane syrup. Even the clear jawns are usually molasses based and then distilled until they are clear. The only cachaca I ever see in Philly is Pitu. I bought one in California called Ypioca and its good. Also, funky rum is delicious and you should open up to it. (Thanks Smith & Cross!)


ginger kumquat caipirinha
Ginger Kumquat Caipirinha
2 1/2 oz cachaca
1/2 canton ginger liquer
2 tsp sugar
4 kumquats
1/4 lime

Muddle kumquat, lime and sugar in a mixing glass. Add canton and cachaca and ice. Shake vehemently for a bit. Strain into an old fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a sliced kumquat on the glass or a lime twist or a lime wedge or some candied ginger, as suits your fancy.

Or if your lazy or into sloppy boy cocktails, muddle the whole thing in the glass and add ice. After all, caipirinha translates as country bumpkin/ hillbilly/ redneck; its not supposed to be fancy. For real though, if you own a mixing glass and a strainer it will be greatly improved if your drink isn't all pulpy and gross.

This is super seasonal and a different twist on a sour because its bitter. It is well balanced by sweet and sour but the bitterness adds an interesting complexity to the drink. You should try this all while you can still find kumquats, if you can find kumquats at all. The season is over soon and I think turning them into a drink is one of their best uses. It looks like orange juice but tastes like funky/ sour/ sweet/ bitter/ interesting deliciousness.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fire Cider

Fire Cider is apple cider vinegar infused with spicy stuff and used as a tonic/ preventative/ cold medicine. I have been taken it every day since December and I haven't gotten sick this year. Perhaps I've just been lucky though. Maybe fire cider makes you more lucky. It's spicy but delicious. It is medicine I look forward to taking. There are various slightly different recipes on the internet but basically you chop up every spicy ingredient you have and let it sit in vinegar for a month, while shaking it up every day.  Here's how I made it, based off of mountain rose herbs recipe:

fire cider ingredientsFire Cider

1 qt apple cider vinegar (4 C)

1 onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, crushed to remove skins
Lots of ginger, about 1/2 C after microplane                 zested
2 (carrot sized) horseradish, peeled, then grated           on a box grater
{whoops!! that was burdock! i realized when i found the real horseradish. i thought it was just old and weak...}
4 small hot dried red chilis, crushed
1 lemon, zested with citrus zester and juiced with         a reamer and strained
1Tbl turmeric powder
2 Tbl dried rosemary

1/4 C - 1/2 C raw local honey

apple cider vinegar infusion

Put all ingredients except the honey into a half gallon mason jar and cover with raw apple cider vinegar, like Braggs. Eating unpasteurized vinegar is a powerful restorative tonic in its own right. If using a metal lid, cover the jar first with waxed paper so the metal doesn't corrode from shaking up the jar. Let sit for a month. Shake every day. Strain into a clean jar and add 1/4 C or more raw local honey. Fill up dropper bottles. Take a dropperful every morning and every night as a preventative tonic.

I'll report back when I taste it in a month or so. The burdock may have made it quite bitter but we'll see.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Spicy Beer Mustard

I hesitate to write up this post because the recipe feels imperfect and unfinished for my needs. It's from a German restaurant/ beer hall in Philly and is supposed to be used for sausages. I assume you only eat lil dabs of it because its hot as hell. I like spicy mustard but I think I will try to tweak this recipe a bit. Perhaps it is worthwhile to post my starting point and see how it evolves, or how long it takes me to make another batch of mustard. Also, when I was making this I was worried it was disgusting and inedibly bitter. After 2 days in the fridge it mellowed considerably and was delicious. It is still a little too hot and a little too runny for my personal preference though. I want mustard that i can slather on pretzels.

Spicy German Beer Mustard
(barely altered from Jeremy Nolen's recipe on Food & Wine)

1/2 C black mustard seeds
1/2 C yellow mustard seeds
3/4 C malt vinegar
3/4 C cider vinegar11/2 C Victory Storm King Imperial Stout

1/2 C Storm King
5 Tbl honey
1/2 C dark brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp turmeric
1 C dry ground mustard

Put both mustard seeds in a quart mason jar. Cover with a 12oz bottle of beer and all of the vinegar. Leave in the fridge overnight. Next day, combine 1/2 C beer, and all remaining ingredients, except ground mustard, in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add contents to a blender with ground mustard, soaked mustard seeds and all liquid. Cool a bit first or open the lid every few seconds or the heat and blending might pop the lid off of the blender and blind you. Blend well but some specks of mustard seed remaining are desirable. 

This makes a lot! I filled 8 4oz jars and an 8 or 16oz. So give some to your friends or eat lots of sandwiches/pretzels/whatevs. When I first made tasted this, straight from the blender, I was horrified. It was so supremely bitter and gross. I thought my Indian grocery store mustard wasn't right for mustard making and I was doomed. Brian tried it and thought I was doomed. I packed up some big jars, rather than reasonable gift sized jars because at this point I thought I'd be throwing it all out after a day or two if it didn't change drastically in the fridge. It improved tremendously after 12 hours and even more after 24. It thickened up considerably and the bitterness was gone. It was still too hot for most of my family even with additional honey added but I like it in small amounts. It's great with really sharp cheddars.

pretzel recipe in the works...
For the next mustard I make, I will use this as a jumping off point. I think I'll try less liquid and much less mustard powder. The powder really seems to increase the heat. 

spicy german beer mustard

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vertigo Cocktail

I've begun exploring amaro's lately. These are a family of Italian digestifs, most of which have been made for at least 150 years or so. Their original purpose was for sipping after dinner to settle the stomach. The mid to late 1800's seems like it was a popular time to create an amaro brand for some reason. They vary by brand but are all blends of different herbs, roots and seeds. Most have some serious bitterness to them and a sweetener to balance it out. Anyway, modern bartenders have been experimenting with them in lots of cocktails. They are often substituted for some or all of the vermouth in a recipe to add a different herbal profile.

averna amaro mixed drinkThis vertigo drink is just a simple highball not a complex mixological creation but it is delicious. I generally love anything with ginger beer and Im always interested in learning there are more variations on a ginger beer highball. All the recipes Ive found on the internet attribute this recipe to Duggan McDonnell, with some recipes calling for floating the averna and others calling for lots of garnish. The averna is heavy and syrup and as such doesn't float well. So even if you float it, it doesn't last very long and I say its unnecessary. Some call for more citrus garnish than others but I think that depends on the ginger beer brand you employ. Reed's extra ginger brew is quite spicy but really sweet and citrusy too. If I used Fentiman's, I could see using a few citrus wheels


1/2 oz lemon juice
3-4 oz ginger beer
2 oz Averna
lime wedge for garnish

Stir in a highball with ice. Add garnish.

The bitterness of the Averna is really well balanced by the citrus and sweet ginger flavors. I think this is a really good drink to serve with some spicy food. It is lower in alcohol than most cocktails so try a few with your next stir fry!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tiger Woods Cocktail

Since this blog focuses on all my food hobbies, you may not know that I really like video games. I have 11 consoles, hundreds of games and an enormous trash picked tv that a wealthy person owned in the 90's. They are mostly all older but I do have a Wii. The new Wii was just released last year and the new xbox and ps were just released, so now everybody is trying to get rid of all the old jawns fast and for cheap. So I have been stock piling all the interesting Wii games I can find, generally at $10 or less.

There was a time in the early 2000's when my friends and I were all really into Tiger Woods golf for playstation 2. In my opinion videogame golf is far superior to real golf. On the environmental level golf is one of the worst sports for the planet. So much water resources and obscene amounts of chemicals are used to keep those well manicured lawns looking their best, sometimes even in the desert. How absurd! It's also a sport for rich people to impress their friends mostly. The egalitarian, environmental sound way to enjoy this game is through the magic of videogames.

I recently got a new (to me) version of Tiger Woods golf for Wii. It came out years ago but has a billion courses, an insanely detailed create-a-golfer and really accurate swing control with the Wiimote. The game is really fun even though i go to unnecessary lengths to justify it. I always over analyze things. Fake sports make really fun videogames for playing with friends and hanging out. Bowling fits perfectly in this category as well. One person plays at a time. Everyone else sits around with a drink waiting for their turn, feeling the pressure of their rivals amazing shot or learning from their terrible mistake.

Perhaps this is all way too much background for a simple drink but it was created for a reason and tastes especially delicious when drank in this context. Also it's Mixology Monday time again and Joel from Southern Ash said he hoped his simple theme of highballs would bring out some background stories along with some simple barely-even-a-recipe recipes. A highball is a tall icy cocktail consisting of a spirit, a mixer and sometimes a garnish. {Think rum and coke or gin and tonic, or blank and blank, etc.}

january mixology mondayTiger Woods Cocktail

2 oz black tea infused bourbon
3-4 oz San Pelegrino Limonata soda
lemon wedge garnish

Fill a highball with ice. Add bourbon and then soda. Stir gently to combine.

To make some tea flavored bourbon for this drink or old fashioned's or anything else you can do a cold infusion. Add 4 tea bags (I used Irish breakfast because that's what I have for making kombucha) to 2 C of bourbon. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Squeeze out the tea bags and discard.

San Pelegrino is an Italian mineral water company. They also make sodas with real fruit juice and cane sugar. I found tiny little 6.5ish oz bottles which are great for mixing because they don't get flat like huge bottles that sit in the fridge for a week. If you can't find the soda, you could make a similar drink using club soda, simple syrup and lemon juice. That's how I first made it but then I found this soda and it is easier and as good if not better. Try .5 oz each simple syrup and lemon juice with 3 oz club soda to start and adjust to your liking if necessary.

This drink is simple and absolutely delicious. It's like an Arnold Palmer only made out of boozy tea and soda-y lemonade. Perfect on the green or on the couch.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Asian Pear Liquer

My mom's friend has an asian pear in her yard. She gave my mom a huge shopping bag full. This is what i made with some of them...
no good pics of liquer, syrup or drink... here's a pear

Asian Pear Liquer

First, infuse rum with the pears.
Chop any amount of pears and place in a large jar, crock, vessel, whatever.
Cover completely with rum.
Shake every day.
I think I might have done 6-8 pears in my 2 cups of rum.

then make simple syrup by heating equal amounts of sugar and water on the stovetop.
I had leftover spiced syrup from a cranberry sangria I made for Thanksgiving

2 C sugar
2 C water
8 allspice
6 cloves
3 star anise
3 cinnamon sticks

This was from a Jose Garces recipe on Chow. Bring to a boil stirring regularly. Take off heat and let spices steep til cool. Strain, bottle, and fridge.

I had several different fruit infusions I had made but the pear worked great with this spice combo.
I ended up with this ratio:

2 C pear infused rum
1 C spiced simple syrup

Now this is really tasty but my plan kind of backfired. I don't really drink liquers straight and I dont have many recipes wanting spiced pear liquers. Plain old pear rum night have been better for mixing. The inital fruit infusion is going to lower the abv a bit but Im not quite sure how to accurately calculate it. Cutting the infusion with simple syrup at a 2:1 ratio cuts the proof in half. So, at most it is 20% abv, but really probably more like 15%. Tasting tiny sips while making it this seemed fine but in retrospect and in mixed drinks this is a bit too sweet. I decided to try it out for making hot buttered rum, since that is spiced and sweetened, and my concoction would take a step out of that recipe. It was tasty but too sweet. Here's what I ended up using it for:

Hot Pear Pie

4-6oz boiling water
1 oz asian pear liquer
1 oz smith & cross rum
thick pat of butter (1tsp- 1Tbl)

Boil water and pour it in a glass, start with 4 oz. Add booze and butter. If it's too boozy add a little more water to your taste. Garnish with a cinnamon stick if you like.

Butter sounds gross in a drink but wait until its super cold out and then it will all make sense.Rich, warm and comforting. Smith & Cross is a funky, high proof Jamaican rum. It tastes like fermented magic, not like the sweetish liquor that rum usually is. Its high proof and its weird funkiness really helps to balance out the super sweet pear. It's really good altogether. You could probably make other fruit flavored hot buttered rums with different liquers, using that Smith & Cross to balance it out.

Monday, January 6, 2014


I own a billion cook books. A few of them are just bread books. My go-to ultimate awesome bread book is Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb. It covers a lot of types, lists all recipes in volume measurement, weight measurement and percentage by weight. I love thoroughness. The best pizza and bagel I have ever eaten were made by me, from this book. Both took absurd amounts of time and effort and it was totally worth it. He has other books and they probably all rule, perhaps even more than the one I own but I cannot say for sure.

I was vegan forever. Actually 11 or 12 years, but thats most of my adult life so basically forever. That best ever pizza I mentioned above, it didnt even have cheese on it and I grilled it. Anyways, I will eventually get around to writing up my post vegan manifesto but for now Id like to describe how I finally got around to making some really buttery biscuits. SO buttery. With chocolate gravy. Thats a thing in Appalachia. I think we made that recipe. Im not putting out the effort to retype it because Im not sure. It was good though. I think it sounds gross/ ridiculous and I wouldn't do it often but it truly is tasty.

I tried the blitz biscuit recipe in Reinhardt's book. And as i suggested above, butter baking is still new to me, ridiculous as that may sound. I just double checked before I typed it and its true, although it seems impossible to me but maybe Im just not that good with butter yet, the recipe calls for 3 sticks of butter!x10000 For less than 2 dozen biscuits. Dang yo! I tried the recipe as written and ended up with super flaky biscuits, to the point of layers bursting apart from one another, shallow frying themselves in 1/2 inch of butter that leaked out of them. Still good. I remade them using only 2 sticks of butter, which still seems absurd. That is how much Paula Deen uses for this much flour, which makes it seem crazy and dangerous to use more.
reject biscuits
oven butter leak out shallow fry

The batch I made with only 2 sticks of butter was really good. I cheated and used milk mixed with lemon juice rather than buy buttermilk. Here is the altered recipe:

chocolate gravy
walter crumpkin helping make gravy

3 1/2 C flour (16oz)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

1 C butter (8oz)
1 1/2 C milk w/ 1 tbl lemon juice or vinegar (12 oz)

Sift dry ingredients. Incorporate butter with a pastry cutter or gentle fingers. Don't melt the butter. The colder everything stays, the better the biscuit.  Stir in the soured milk.Dust the counter with flour and roll out the dough ball until 3/4 inch thick.Fold it into thirds like a letter, turn it and do it again. This is building flaky layers.Wrap it in plastic wrap, chill it and do it all over again.Make square biscuits so you don't have to re roll dough and make crappier leftover biscuits. 
Tray them up and chill the trays.Preheat the oven to 425.
Bake chilled pans at least 15 mins up to 25, depending how accurate your oven is, how awesome your biscuit skillz are, and how good you are at determining light brown and golden biscuits. These are NOT cookies, you gain nothing by under baking!!
Cool 5 minutes and then devour until you feel sick, roughly 15 minutes.

chocolate gravy and biscuits
biscuits and chocolate gravy w/ smoked sea salt