Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Finals Breakfast

It's finals time.  That means it's finals diet time.  Nothing too green, lots of bacon, and spiked coffee.  So, this morning I made two breakfast sandwiches and some spiked coffee.

I start with two toasted English muffins cut in half and with pimento cheese.  I make my pimento cheese with cream cheese instead of mayo, and add various peppers (Scotch bonnet, habanero, jalapeno, and the obvious pimento).  

Next, pan fry some thinly sliced pork belly (basically uncured bacon).

Drain access grease.

Next fry some eggs.



Do some lazy-ass plating with sambal oelek aioli (AKA: Samurai Sauce). 

Meanwhile, brew some coffee.  I used some whole bean Honduran coffee I was gifted.  Grinding your own beans is so much better.  Using a non-blade grinder is so much better.  Using a Chemex (http://www.amazon.com/Chemex-6-Cup-Classic-Series-Coffee/dp/B0000YWF5E) is so much better.  But sometimes you can only be so snobby about things in life.  I think I've reached that point (for now), so I just use the refillable K-Cup for my Keurig.  Also, we're spiking this so it's not that important.


After brewing the coffee, add the magic.  We're trying to be happy and productive, not buzzed.  So I stick with low ABV liqueurs/amaros/cordials and a few dashes of bitters.  Maybe have one total ounce of booze for a whole cup of coffee.  I used:

1/2 oz Amer Picon
1/4 oz Amaro Ramazzotti
1/4 Luxardo Maraschino 
3 dsh Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

Breakfast is served.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Moules Frites and a Beer Cocktail

My dear noble two readers,

It's been too long, I know.  You've missed me.  I've missed you.  Let's make amends.  My peace offering?  A food AND cocktail post.  Tonight I made Moules Frites (Mussels and Fries) and a cocktail with beer.  I'll start with the food.

Moules Frites

4 russet potatoes
1 quart peanut oil
Fresh ground black pepper

1 lb mussels (live):
325 ml dry white wine
Grapefruit bitters
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 large carrot (skinned)
1 serrano pepper (seeds removed)
2 oz olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper

Spicy mayo

Bitter Berry (not at all influenced by Matthew Berry.  Not even a chance.  *ahem*).
1.5 oz gin
.5 oz Aperol
3 dsh grapefruit bitters
IPA (Beer, I used Sierra Nevada Torpedo)

Skin and slice potatoes.I have a shortcut device thanks to my wonderful cousin but if you aren't so lucky, check out my boy Kenji's knife skills post on how to replicate the process the old fashioned way, here:


Blanch the fries.  Boil water with a little bit of vinegar and salt.  Add potatoes.  Boil 10 minutes

Dry fries on a paper towel lined thing.

In the meantime, add all the veggies and such to a heavy bottomed pot.  Also, heat up the peanut oil to 400 degrees in a cast iron skillet.

Add the fries to the oil in batches.  Let them cook for a minute or so, then remove and dry.  YOU ARE NOT DONE HERE. YOU WILL FRY THEM TO A CRISP SOON.

Once done frying for the first time, let all the fries dry on a paper towel-lined something or another.

In the meantime, dump all the mussels into a bowl of cold water.  If any are open, tap them.  If they don't close shut, throw them away.  They're dead and nasty.  They shouldn't smell like spoiled seafood.  Also, remove anything from the exterior of the shells, like the little scraggly "beards." Now heat up the veggies and oil from earlier on high.  Get wine and bitters ready.

Once the veggies and such are starting to make some noise, add the mussels (sans water) and cook for about a minute and a half with the lid on.  Strain in a caldron over a bowl.  Then add the mussels back to the heavy bottomed pot and cover with the broth and reheat for a couple minutes.

While that is happening, combine 1.5 oz of gin and .5 oz of Aperol with 3 dashes of grapefruit bitters.  Pour over ice in a tall glass (if it's a pint glass, you'll have to recalculate the ratios.  Should be full of ice, then half filled with gin mix and half filled with beer) and garnish with a lemon twist, being sure to express the oil around the rim of the glass.  Don't stir.  The specific gravity of the ingredients will force mixture after a little bit.

It's a thing of beauty.

Consume while watching Archer.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Barrel Aged Cocktails

For those of you at UGA Law with me, you know that this weekend is the Equal Justice Foundation's charity auction.  In honor of this great event, I've created a barrel aged cocktail to auction off.  If you like what you see, stop by on Saturday and place a bid.

I started with a base of Whistlepig 10 Rye.  If you haven't had the chance to try Whistlepig, I strongly suggest you do so.  It's got the ferocious bite of a strong Rye, but it still retains the smoothness of the finest of whiskies.  Coming in at 100 proof, it's going to take over whatever cocktail you put it in.  Subsequently I did my best to dress it up and show off its bold flavor profile (ginger, vanilla, clove, and pine).  My efforts are detailed below:

1.5 oz Whistlepig 10 Rye Whiskey
.5 oz St. Germain
.5 oz Aperol
.25 Amaro Ramazzotti
1 dsh Orange Bitters
1 dsh Angostura Bitters

Aged in a Port Wine Barrel

Serve straight up.

UPDATE: Sold for $105.  This might be a recurring thing.  Stay posted.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Habanero Infused Margarita paired with a NY Strip

If you haven't noticed from my Instagram feed, I deal with stress by cooking.  I also celebrate good things by cooking.  And I cook when I'm bored.  Basically, it's about time I started adding some food pairings into my blog.  This is the first of many cocktails to be paired with food of some variety.

-NY Strip
-Sea Salt
-Black Pepper
-Black Truffle Oil

Make sure you get a steak with marbling.  This is not good marbling, but it's not bad.  Publix kinda let me down.  Note that if you get a grass-fed steak that isn't corn finished, it won't have marbling.  It will be healthier.  It won't taste as good, though.

 Season with sea salt and pepper on both sides.  Be very liberal on the salt.  This does science/magic things to the steak to make it taste better.  Either trust me on thus or check out any of Kenji Alt-Lopez's various columns on steak over at Serious Eats.  He's a fantastic human being.

While this is going down, preheat a skillet on about medium-high.  I prefer a cast iron because it's hardcore (this one is well-worn but well-loved through the generations of my family) but you can use a regular skillet, too.  I don't think the Maillard Reaction* works as well in a non-stick pan, but I have no science to back me up on that.

*The Maillard Reaction is the browning process that happens when meat is cooked at high temperatures and develops that amazing crust/char you want on your steak.

I like to cook the sides of the steak first, particularly the fat.  This produces some fantastic juice to cook the steak in.  Rotate the steak to get a nice sear on all sides.  Once the sear develops, start cooking each of the main sides of the steak.

Contrary to popular belief, it's okay to flip your steak more than once.  You won't lose any flavor or whatever people say happens.  But I don't, because I'm a baller.

Look at that char.  Beautiful.  When cooked to your desired temperature, pull the steak.  I was feeling medium so I went with about a 135F internal temperature.  

Let is rest for about 7 or 8 minutes.  Juices will collect so be sure to have something to catch them, like a piece of aluminum foil folded up around the edges.  While this is happening, work on the cocktail.


I've been watching a lot of Breaking Bad lately so I was in the mood for some Tequila.  This is a habanero pepper infused margarita that I like to call The Heisenberg.  

-1.5 oz tequila reposado
-.5 oz Aperol
-.5 oz ginger syrup
-Juice of a lime
-1 habanero pepper
-2 mint leaves
-1 large ice sphere

Slice and remove the seeds from the pepper.  Add it and the tequila to an ISI whipper.  Charge with 1 NO2 charge.  Shake and release gas after 30 seconds.  This results in a good, medium heat.  The longer you wait to remove the gas the more heat the tequila takes on, so be warned.  If you're not using an ISI whipper, here's a decent guide to doing it the old fashioned way:


After that, add everything but the ice and the mint to the shaker.  Stir with ice. Look at everyone getting friendly in there.  Mmmmmm.

Pour and double strain (Hawthorn and fine mesh) over the ice sphere in an Old Fashioned glass.  Firmly slap both mint leaves in the palm of your hand.  Rub one around the rim of the glass and garnish the drink with the other.


Now back to the steak.  Slice that sucker up.  

Pour the juice that collected in the foil over the top of the steak.

Now anoint the steak with a thin line of black truffle oil across the middle of the steak.

See the beautiful pink center.  Get excited.  Plate it with some sriracha.

Boom.  Get at it.  The heat of the sriracha plays well with the heat of the tequila.  The savory notes the pepper adds to the tequila also has some nice synergy with the truffle oil.  I've done this two nights in a row now, but with a barrel aged Manhattan the other time.  Doesn't work as well with the sriracha but there are few things that can beat a steak and a Manhattan.  If I try that again, I might swap the sriracha for a pepper sauce of some sort.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mixing Scotch or: How to Play Well with Others

There's a stigma involved with the mixing of Scotch in cocktails.  The idea is that it's just too good to adulterate with anything else.  Now, I'm as much a fan of Scotch as the next guy, if not more so.  However, I think you miss out on some fantastic possibilities if you don't let your Scotch play with its other friends in the liquor cabinet.  So, in the spirit of playing well with others, I experimented with mixing one of my favorite whiskeys with a great Scotch.

I chose a nice blended Scotch that wasn't too peaty and a bold, spicy, Rye that would be strong enough to dance with the Scotch without being overwhelmed.  A little cinnamon syrup and coffee bitters round out the drink.  A twist of orange as a garnish lights up the cocktail and adds aromatics.

This is certainly not something that you can only do with these two drinks.  Pairing different whisk(e)y is an art form.  Some distilleries have mastered it, or at least gotten pretty darn good at it.  For some examples, check out these blends:


"An Unwritten Life"

1 oz. High West Rendezvous Rye
1 oz. Great King St.
1/4 oz. Cinnamon Simple Syrup (see previous posts)
1-3 dsh. Coffee Bitters (see previous posts)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Apple Manhattan (or: What to Do with a Lot of Bad Bourbon)

I've recently had a lot of bad bourbon on my hands.  As I've hinted at in previous posts, I'm working on barrel aging cocktails.  For this to happen, I had to prime the barrels - one with bourbon and one with port.  Being the poor grad student that I am, I'm not dropping a ton of $ on bourbon just for the sake of flavoring a barrel.  So, I got 2.5 liters of Very Old Barton and 2.5 liters of that very cheap port that they make somewhere in the US (hence not Porto) that's generally reserved for cooking.  After two weeks in my adorable charred oak barrels, I now have an overabundance of both.

Now, if you know me well you know that having a lot of an ingredient that kinda of sucks is a de facto challenge of my culinary/drink making skills.  So, Very Old Barton, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

There are a number of cocktails that are essentially pillars of the drinking community and that serve as the basis for a number of variations.  The Old Fashioned, the Martini, the Negroni, the Daiquiri, and of course, the Manhattan.  So, sticking with something tried and true, I decided to channel the regal Manhattan.  I started with 1.5 oz of the Very Old Barton, .5 oz of sweet vermouth (not pictured for some reason), and bitters.  Coffee bitters were my first choice and worked pretty well, though Angostura is also a natural pairing with the apple.  Peychaud's wasn't bad, either, but the other two were better. Next, I went for an apple because I had a bunch in my fridge.  I'm nothing if not economical (read as: lazy).  I took half the apple, cut it up sans skin, and muddled it in a shaker.  At this point I thought I'd throw in some simple syrup to maybe mask the nastiness of the bourbon.  I used a cinnamon* variety I made recently, about .25 ounce.  I then added the other ingredients and shook with ice.  Double strained (hawthorne and tea strainers) into a martini glass.  Finally, garnished with a slice of apple because this is a classy establishment.  At least on Tuesdays.

1.5 bourbon (Can be scaled up)
.5 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 a small(ish) apple, muddled (I'd recommend a sweeter apple like Golden Delicious to go with the vermouth)
.25 oz cinnamon simple syrup
Garnish with apple slice

OPTIONAL: dash of Cognac.  I've tried it with it and without it and it honestly wasn't too different.  Slightly smoother.  I think a half and half of Cognac and bourbon would be great here, but I'm trying to burn the bad bourbon, not the Cognac.

I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out.  Very fresh, very smooth.  You get a lot of apple and a lot of spice.  Not overly sweet at all.  Fresh apple juice from muddling the fruit does wonders over using a processed substitute.  Perfect seasonal drink that costs a pittance to make.  Tastes even better with Aziz Ansari in the background.

*To make your own cinnamon simple syrup, just make a 1::1 simple syrup and simmer it with some cinnamon sticks in it for 30 minutes.  It lasts longer if you add a splash of rum or vodka.

P.S.  Barrel Aged Cocktails are coming soon.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sterling's Gold

In honor of one of the greatest TV characters of all time, my boy Roger Sterling, I made a martini (ish thing) to go with my dinner.
Yes, the martini, one of the most abused and bastardized beverages in the world of booze.  These days it seems anything in a martini glass will be called a martini no matter how much blue curacao or sour apple schnapps you dump in it.  Even when you get closer to the heart of the drink, there is still dispute.      There's a segment of the drinking world that gets offended if you call a vodka martini a martini instead of a kangaroo.  I'm not that picky.  If it's got a few ounces of gin or vodka (maybe both, Mr. Bond), a little vermouth, and maybe a dash of bitters, I'm a happy camper.  Tonight I was feeling feisty, though, so I went a little crazy.  Okay, not too crazy, but definitely something a little different.

 I started with my go-to vodka, 42 Below.  Yeah, there's better stuff out there like Tito's, but for the price point and as low on the alcohol chain as vodka is for me, 42 Below is perfect.  For my vermouth, I added Cocchi Americano.  It's technically a fortified wine, but it acts like a vermouth.  It's also on the sweeter side and I normally stick with dry vermouth for a vodka martini.  However, like I said, feeling feisty.  My last ingredient was a few dashes of some black peppercorn bitters I recently made (see previous posts for a general bitters recipe).  Combine, stir with ice, and pour into a chilled martini glass.  Finished with a garnish of jalapeno pepper slices.

I hope Roger, would be proud.  Yeah, yeah, it's not exactly gold in the picture, but it does have a gold tint in real life, my phone's camera just sucks.  I also had to go with a clear spirits because that's how Roger roles.

3 oz Vodka
1/4 oz Cocchi Americano
3 dashes peppercorn bitters
Garnish with jalapeno slices

The pepper really comes out strong with this one.  It plays really well with the Cocchi in a way that I didn't exactly expect.  The mild sweetness of the vermouth is subtle and melts into the peppery bite at the end.  Not a bad way to enjoy a Braves game.