Reveillon Cocktail

With the weather turning modestly cooler by dipping into the low 50s at night (hey, its California after all) and the days getting longer, it has me thinking about crisp Autumn days back East in Boston, when you wake up to find a thin layer of hoarfrost on the grass, the leaves have turned a bright crimson and your breathe leaves a fog when you exhale.  Winter is coming, but in the meantime, there is much to enjoy – the Head of the Charles regatta, leaf peeping, apple picking, college football as its meant to be seen – bundled up on a cold bleacher with a flask of whiskey in your pocket to keep you warm.

It also means the Fall harvest  – cranberries, pumpkins, winter squash, celeriac, parsnips, beets, turnips, chestnuts, blackberries, crisp apples and ripe pears.  Married to roasted and braised meats, its the season of bountiful comfort food.  Sadly, this being California (I can’t believe I said that), its not quite cold enough in October to want to sit down to a long dinner of rich foods featuring plates of acorn squash, roasted chestnuts, meat pies and braised pork with apples.   But the evening cool has me almost wishing the weather cold enough to want to cook that kind of long rich meal..

Oh well, at least there is a drink that has a hint of wintry places, warm fires and hearty feasts.  And it even has the right name.

Reveillon

2 oz. Laird’s straight apple brandy
1/2 oz. pear eau de vie
1/2 oz. pimento dram
1/4 oz. Punt y Mes or Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
dash of bitters

Stir with cracked ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Recipe courtesy of The Cocktail Chronicles.

Cha Siu Spare Ribs

Remember those fire engine red colored, sweet, sticky ribs you’d get from the Chinese takeout in college after the end of an evening spent getting sloshed on cheap beer at the corner dive?  It was pretty obvious they weren’t exactly “authentic” Chinese, but neither was the sweet-and-sour pork nor the cream-cheese filled “crab” rangoon you added to the order.  Regardless of how real or not (or if they were really food or not), they were definitely more finger licking good than possibly even the Colonel’s finest herbs and spices.  This recipe is a mighty fine take on this fantastic junk-food.

Chinese BBQ Ribs

1⁄3 cup hoisin sauce
1⁄4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. sugar
3⁄4 tsp. red food coloring
1⁄4 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
1  2-lb. slab spareribs, preferably St. Louis style,
cut into individual ribs

Whisk together hoisin, soy, sherry, garlic, sugar, food coloring, and spice powder in a large bowl. Add ribs and toss to coat with marinade. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap, to let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350F. Arrange a baking rack on top of a rimmed, foil-lined sheet pan. Remove ribs from marinade and reserve marinade. Arrange on the rack, meat (not bone) side up. Place pan on middle rack of oven; pour in enough water that it reaches halfway up the sides of the pan, making sure the water does not touch the ribs. Bake ribs for 35 minutes. Baste ribs with reserved marinade; flip and baste again. Bake for 35 minutes more. (Add more water to pan if it dries up.)

Raise heat to 450F. Flip ribs again; baste with remaining marinade. Continue baking until ribs are glazed, browned, and tender, about 20 minutes more. Serve with Chinese mustard or duck sauce (optional).

Note: Ribs can also be made on the grill.  Cook, covered, on indirect heat for 35 minutes.  Flip, baste and cook covered for another 35 minutes.  Flip, baste and cook over direct heat to brown for 5-10 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Saveur.

Petruchio & Bardstail

Aperol, Aperol, Aperol! I’ve gone a little nuts for this sweet little aperitif from Italy.  Aperol was originally made by the Barbieri company in Padua, but has since been added to the Campari family of products.  It dates back to 1919 and includes a number of herbal components including bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona.  Its flavor profile is sweeter and less bitter than Campari with a pleasant, almost floral, orange taste and half the proof.  It makes for a good entry into this glass of aperitifs, especially for folks who might find Campari too bitter.  Plus, it just rolls off the tongue!

Aperol, Aperol, Aperol!

Petruchio and Bardstail

Petruchio

2 oz. gin
1 oz. Aperol
dash of Laphroaig scotch

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.

Bardstail

1 1/2 oz. Maker’s Mark bourbon
1/2 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/4 oz. Aperol

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Courtesy of Robert Hess.

White Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Bits

We just got an ice cream maker and already its quickly become like having a crack machine in my freezer.  I swear it sings at night, “Make ice cream…make ice cream…”    The stuff we have gotten from it is light years better than anything we can get from a pint at the corner grocery store.  The most mouth watering are the ones made using a French-style base that involves a cooked flavored custard folded into heavy cream.

Tempering Yolks

Our go-to resource has been The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, a former pastry chef with Chez Panisse who now lives in Paris giving food tours and writing cookbooks.  (Me = Officially Jealous.)  His blog is a great resource for all things sweet.  There is a variation of this recipe on his blog that also includes fresh ginger.  I can’t wait to try it.

White Chocolate Ice Cream Scoop

8 ounces white chocolate
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put the pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks to temper the yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  To tell if the custard is done, you should be able to run a finger over the back of the spatula without the custard running back together.  Basically, you are looking for the steaming yolk/milk mixture to thicken to the consistency of a milkshake.  Be careful – if you stop stirring or allow the mixture to get too warm, you’ll wind up with scrambled eggs in your custard.

Pour the custard through the strainer over the white chocolate.  Stir until the white chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth, then stir in the cream.  Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz’ The Perfect Scoop.

Hurricane

Back in my much younger and much poorer days, I went on a solo road trip across the Appalachian South and into the Mississippi Delta. I was living in Boston and working as a community organizer for a small housing nonprofit, which meant my personal transportation was a subway pass. Lacking the funds to rent a car, I got one via a company that matched drivers with people looking to ship their cars affordably. Your only expense was paying for gas while your choice of destinations was limited to whatever they had available.

I took off for a week and a half in late August in a Nissan that needed shipping from Nashua, NH to Houston -and more specifically, from Daddy’s leafy suburban McMansion to Princess’ off-campus condo near Rice University in Houston. Side trips to the Smokey Mountains, Graceland, B.B. King’s in Memphis, and Hope, Arkansas later, I wound up dropping off a car to Daddy’s Little Girl and realized Houston sucked. So courtesy of Greyhound, I hoofed it to New Orleans.

New Orleans, of course, has far too many awesome things for a brief booze-post to fit: the Preservation Hall jazz band, the wrought-iron Garden District, chicory-scented cafe au lait with fresh beignets, ancient mausoleums, jambalaya…  However, being as I was in my twenties, most of the reason I was there was to party until I couldn’t see straight – which, as anyone who has hit Bourbon Street discovers, is easier than ordering a pizza, courtesy of vendors selling giant mugs of boozy, red slushy concoctions called Hurricanes.  From what I can dimly recall, Pat O’Brien’s, the bar that invented the drink, served endless supplies of the brain killing juice in an outdoor courtyard featuring a flaming water fountain of all things.

In spite of the nasty sugary slurpee it was turned into, the original was actually a fairly tasty drink.  Pat O’Brien, the original tavern owner in the 1940′s, was looking for a way to unload a lot of rum.   During the war years, whiskey and scotch were in low supply, so distributors required bars to purchase quantities of the far more readily available rum before they could buy their quota of whiskey.  Bred of necessity, Pat sold the drink in hurricane lamp-shaped novelty glasses to the ever present soldiers and sailors passing through town.  And thus was a drink borne which would eventually become synonymous with Mardi Gras debauchery.  This simplified recipe is surprisingly well-balanced and quite delish.

Hurricane

2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. passion fruit syrup

Shake violently with ice and pour into goblet or large glass with ice shards. Garnish with cherry, pineaple or both.

Painkiller

They say it’s a curse to live in interesting times.  I have to agree.   As we lurch into year three of the Great Recession and my personal approaching fun-employment, I can’t help but hope that some good comes out of all this – like a future where Paris Hilton doesn’t get a TV show, where we all get affordable health care, where investment bankers live in daily fear of roving, torch-wielding mobs… A guy can dream, right?

This drink is definitely a balm for the times.  Think an upside down pina colada that kicks you in the head like a mule with anger control issues.   It’s a take two and I’ll call you in the morning.

Painkiller

2 oz. Pusser’s Navy rum
2 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. Coco Lopez coconut cream
1 oz. orange juice
4 oz. crushed ice

Combine ingredients in blender and flash blend for 3 seconds.  Pour into tiki mug and garnish with grate nutmeg or cinnamon.

Petruchio Cocktail

What do you do when you are craving something akin to a milkshake but lack the ingredients?  Easy – make a cocktail that involves adding an egg white to the mix and frappe-ing it!  Which is just a nerdy way of saying shake the ingredients in the mixing tin without ice first in order to emulsify the egg white.  Then add the ice and shake with plenty of vigor.  Or at least a Howling Mad Murdock level of intensity.  The result is a creamy shake that will get you buzzed.

Petruchio Cocktail

1 oz. gin
1 oz. Aperol
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 dash simple syrup
2 dashes Fee’s orange bitters
1 egg white

Combine in tin and frappe until frothy.  Add ice and shake until frosty cold.  Strain into cocktail glass.

Recipe courtesy of Jamie Boudreau.

Jersey Boy at the Mall

Another in a long overdue post that was sidetracked by wisdom teeth purgatory! As a follow-up to my previous recipe for an Outside Lands inspired drink, this one likewise came about after a weekend on non-stop, “This is your brain. This is your brain on San Francisco”-style crazed behavior with New Jersey’s finest lothario and part-time goaltender.

The base is Irish whiskey which is a challenging spirit for a cocktail by half. Its sharp bite and wood spice doesn’t play as easily as gin, rum or rye does in the traditional cocktail of base/sugar/water/bitters. To round out and sweeten the whiskey without clashing with the Bushmill’s, I used Cherry Heering which has a mild cherry flavor and a dry finish. Some lime juice added enough tart fruit to settle down the wood, while cherry bitters brings it all together. I topped with Reed’s ginger ale for some effervescence. Reed’s has more ginger than mass market ginger ale but isn’t a true ginger beer, which I feared would over-spice the drink. Plus, it has the right name.

Jersey Boy

Jersey Boy

1 1/2 oz. Bushmill’s Irish whiskey
1/2 oz. Cherry Heering liqueur
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
dash of cherry bitters
Reed’s premium ginger ale (approx. 2 oz.)

Combine whiskey, cherry liqueur, lime juice and bitters in shaker. Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Top with ginger ale.

As an added bonus, I’ve thrown in another Jersey inspired cocktail, this one my attempt to create a booze version of that addictive yet horrifying mall food court concoction known as the Orange Julius – a Twilight Zone beverage that is Sunny Delight orange “drink” meets frothy milkshake.  Sounds gross? Totally is.  But you’ll still slurp it down.

Orange Julius

The Jerzy Mall

1 oz. gin
1 oz. Aperol
2 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 oz. homemade vanilla syrup
1 oz. milk
1 egg white
dash of orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a tin and dry shake to emulsify.  Add ice and shake until your arms hurt.  Strain into champagne flute and garnish with orange twist.  Drink and pretend you are thirteen at the Cherry Hill Mall.