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