By Brianna Bain
Pete’s Autumn Fixer Upper mirroring qualities of honey, vanilla, smoke, and cinnamon cranked my memory reels back to seasonal holiday parties past. Fall brings with it not only cool, damp nights but excuses to drink eggnog, warm sweet spiced rum drinks and peppermint hot chocolate, libations I would not find myself making for myself or others at any other time of year.
Truthfully I am not a huge fan of creamy sweet drinks. While tasty, they tend to lead to some pretty painful next mornings. But after reading Pete’s post about combating oncoming seasonal illnesses, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at a spice infused, creamy, dreamy, filler upper, cold season cocktail. I’ll recommend to just have one! If you can…
CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.
I’m relaying the spice from Pete’s drink last week and selecting vodka as my poison. I’m aiming for a sort-of White Russian with autumnal flair that will put this drink into the seasonal category. Pete’s ginger beer sorcery nudged me to make my own spiced simple syrup rather than go looking for a sweet spiced liqueur to candy my mix of vodka and cream, typical of a standard White Russian. For my ingredient list I took guidance from some pumpkin pie spice that I had in the pantry. While my spice may seem a bit elaborate for pumpkin pie don’t let any lack of ingredients allow you to skip making your own, you can always use the most basic - cinnamon, ginger and clove and you will achieve similar results.
For my vodka choice I got my hands on an organic white corn vodka called Rain. It is handmade from scratch in small batches at Buffalo Trace Distillery located in Franklin County, Kentucky USA. This organic vodka boasts some very interesting flavor and if you care to enjoy a vodka on the rocks with a squeeze of lime this would be a great vodka to do so with! The vodka undergoes an extensive 20-day production technique that includes cold-water sweet mash fermentation, seven distinct distillations and a polishing stage that adds pure limestone water. The Buffalo Trace website gives a very interesting taste profile, which I do find mostly true. I do have my thoughts on the power of suggestion with these descriptions though. “Smells of pear drop, moss and hay in the first sniffing; aeration allows the aroma to deepen, especially the appealing earthy moss/wet soil perfume. Palate entry is feather-light; at mid-palate there’s a firm but satiny taste of sweet grain. Aftertaste is grainy. Delicious and delicate.” Fancy huh… and like I said, mostly true. I almost felt bad covering up this unique tasting vodka with spices and cream. Oh well here it goes…
Spiced Simple Syrup
Prep Time: 20 minutes + cooling time
Yield: 1 3/4 cups
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups brown or turbinado sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 6 cloves
- 3 whole star anise pods
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm. Strain syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof airtight container and discard spices.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Pumpkin Spiced Russian
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Tools: short Collins glass, spoon
- 2 oz Rain Organic Vodka
- 1 oz Heavy cream
- 1 oz Spiced Simple Syrup
- Drizzle of Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Pour vodka and simple syrup into short cocktail glass. Stir.
- Add hand-full of crushed ice.
- Slowly pour in cream.
- Top with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil and garnish with a cinnamon stirring stick.
Warning: This drink is dangerously good! You will want more than one…
Brianna lives in sunny San Diego, California. When not making Local Libations or creating recipes for RecipeRealy she farms urban landscapes to support more localized food systems and restaurant supported agriculture.
by Pete Vasconcellos
Last week, while I read about Marc Duquette waltzing through his backyard garden plucking the cucumbers and herbs that flourish in New Hampshire’s mild climes for his Cucumber Sage Martini, I had to wonder: is he having a Labor Day party? The kind with badminton nets, folding chairs, lobster pots and sunburn? Because I am not keen on spending another Labor Day on a fire escape in Astoria, Queens crowding around a whimpering habachi and pretending like I am enjoying “just being outside for a change.” Marc: please invite me to New Hampshire. We can use your sage and make margaritas— Watermelon Sage Margaritas, to be specific.
CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.
At the heart of this drink is a Tommy’s Margarita, barman Julio Bermejo’s perfectly stripped version of the classic served at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco. Two parts tequila, one part fresh lime juice, one part agave syrup. It omits any orange liqueur found in other margaritas, and cuts right to the three components of a good shaken cocktail: decent spirit, fresh juice and sweetener.
If you think it’s criminal to fuss with something this simple, stop here.
But there’s so much watermelon at the farmers markets in NYC now, that there’s bound to be some at the Labor Day party. Seed spitting loses its charm as soon as the attractive guests show up, so why not juice the watermelon? It’s easy with a blender and strainer.
The second tweak to the classic Tommy’s Margarita is to add sage to the agave syrup. This scores a depth that will surprise even your foodie friends, and might even ward off Alzheimer’s disease .
A spicy salt rim works to balance this drink as it teeters on the edge of over-sweet. A 1:1 ratio of kosher salt and Sichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven pepper mix) looks and tastes sensational. Judging by Brianna Bain’s Arrogant Bastard Tomato Soup and Louisa Shafia’s Hello Mary, many of us enjoy hot pepper in hot weather. Thanks to Louisa, who showed me where to buy Sichmi Togarashi in NYC, I now know how to satisfy all my spicy rimming needs.
For a blanco tequila (a reposado, in my opinion, will beat up on the watermelon juice) most bartenders agree that Pueblo Viejo is good, clean and cheap ($19). Whichever tequila you choose, pay homage to the Tommy’s Margarita by making sure it’s made from 100% agave.
When you make margaritas for more than two people you learn, as Ernest Hemingway once noted, “The first draft of anything is shit.” As soon as they hear “margarita”, most drinkers have an idea of how they want it: extra salt and sweet; no salt, rocks; very tart with almost no sugar; etc. Your palate is only a guideline. While the recipe I’m providing is my version of balanced, you and your Labor Day party guests might consider this the first draft. Either that or don’t call it a “margarita” … that could save you a lot of headaches.
Finally, this is a party drink. Save yourself some time and dispense with straining the drink after you shake it. Just dump it in the glass. You’re going to be making a lot of them.
Watermelon Sage Margarita
Prep Time (with sage syrup and melon juice): 30 minutes
Active Prep Time: 1 Minute
Yield: 1 serving
Tools: Shaker, Jigger, Strainer, Knife, Something for Boiling water, Non-reactive container (2 cups), blender, mesh strainer, small plate for rimming
- 2 oz Blanco Tequila
- 3/4 oz sage infused agave syrup
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 oz fresh watermelon juice
- lime wedge or wheel
- kosher salt and sichimi togarashi rim
- Combine tequila, sage agave syrup, lime juice and watermelon juice in a shaker over ice.
- Use the slice of lime to wipe the rim of your double old fashioned glass. Dip the rim of the glass in a a 1:1 mixture of sichimi togarashi and kosher salt so it sticks to the rim.
- Strain drink into rimmed glass over ice.
- For the watermelon juice: Scoop out a watermelon into a blender, discarding seeds and rind. Turn on the blender. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer.
- For the Sage Syrup: Add 1/2 c of near boiling water to 1/2 c of agave syrup in a non-reactive container. Add 8 to 10 stems of sage (leaves and stems) to the syrup mixture. Allow it to cool naturally to room temperature. Remove the sage.
- For the kosher salt and pepper rim: Use a 1:1 ratio of salt and sichimi togarashi.
Pete Vasconcellos has been tending bar in Boston and New York for fifteen years. He has finally forgotten how to make a Malibu Bay Breeze.
By Allison Goodings
Since Tuesday’s post about cheese and community spirit, I have thought long and hard about what kind of dish I wanted to make that could relay from one of Brianna’s many soup ingredients. With a piece of Cheshire cheese in my fridge, and a basil plant blooming on the windowsill, my menu started to come together. I wanted to make something that showcased many of the English vegetables coming into season, but I also had a hankering to throw a bit of protein into the mix. I set off to my local high street shops to see what else I could find.
There are many places to find local produce in a large urban center – when I lived in Toronto, we frequented our local farmers’ markets on a regular basis during the summer because they were very nearby and easy to get to. While London does have a great network of farmers’ markets and other street markets, they are not always the most convenient places to shop in. Our closest farmers’ market is an amazing place that we love to make special trips to, but it is a multiple-bus journey from our home – navigating in the drizzly weather of London with bags full of produce isn’t always the most appealing way to do our weekly shop. I think it’s important when speaking of local produce, that we also consider supporting local shops in addition to supporting local producers. A mere block away from our flat is a street with a butcher, fishmonger, bakery, greengrocer and independent grocery store. The shops are small and independently owned and we are able to foster relationships with the people who work there, which helps when you want to know where things come from.
CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.
At Tony’s Continental Foods, our wonderful local greengrocer, I found beautiful broad beans still in the pod. Also known as fava beans, these beans are very popular in the UK– less so because of their affiliation with Dr. Hannibal Lecter than because of their sweet taste and brilliant green color. I was reminded of a dish I made during a cooking class a few years ago that paired a puree of broad beans with a piece of crispy fish. I thought these lovely beans could be combined with basil, my Relay ingredient, as well as fresh peas, some mint sprigs, a clove of garlic, a splash of lemon juice and a good drizzle of fragrant olive oil. Next there were some tender new potatoes with their papery skins which practically leapt into my basket, and I decided that they would be fabulous crushed with some green onions, olive oil and the crumbled Cheshire cheese. Further down the road our fishmonger sold me two fillets of wild English sea bass – when pan fried with crispy skin, this fish would be the crowning glory of my dish!
Fillet of Sea Bass with Pea, Fava Bean, Mint & Basil Puree and New Potatoes with Cheshire Cheese
Prep time: 20-30 minutes (less if you get someone to help you shell the beans and peas!)
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50-60 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
- 1 cup fava (broad) beans, shelled
- 1 cup peas, shelled
- 2 Tablespoons basil leaves
- 2 Tablespoons mint leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup Cheshire cheese, crumbled (or another aged hard cheese of your preference)
- 3 cups new potatoes, halved (about 1/2 lb)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 2 sea bass fillets, skin on, pin bones removed
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Cook fava beans in salted water until soft (mine took 10 minutes). Drain. Remove white skin from bean and set beans aside. Cook peas in salted water until soft (approximately 10 minutes) and drain. Combine peas, fava beans, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until you have a coarse mixture. Add basil and mint leaves, the juice of half a lemon and ¼ cup of olive oil, and pulse a few more times until mixture comes together. Season with sea salt and black pepper and add more olive oil if desired. Set puree aside.
- Meanwhile, cook new potatoes (leaving skins on) in plenty of salted water until tender. Drain and put back into pan, along with sliced green onions and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Using a potato masher or fork, crush potatoes. You are looking for a coarse mixture of crushed potato, not a smooth mash. Add crumbled cheese, a bit more olive oil if desired and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut a few slashes into the skin side of the fish. Season the fish with salt. Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil for a few minutes until very hot, and place the fish skin-side down in the pan. You want to cook the fish until the skin is crispy and golden brown, which will take only 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook another minute or two until the thickest part of the fish is white and opaque. Turn off burner and squeeze half a lemon over the fish to finish.
- To serve, I like to fill a small bowl or ramekin with the potato mixture, and invert the dish on the plate so you have a perfect portion of potato. Spoon a large dollop of puree beside the potatoes, and place the crispy fish, skin side up, on top of the potatoes. If you have an extra sprig of mint or basil, that would finish the dish off quite nicely!
Allison Goodings lives in London, England, and is the recipe writer for the Archer, a local community newspaper in East Finchley. When not feeding her friends and family, planning what to cook for her next meal, selling cheese at a local market or daydreaming about asparagus, she works for the Canadian High Commission.
By Brianna BainThe tomatoes are heavy and ripe on the vine at my house; eggplant squash, carrots, beets and little baby water melons also make up the symphony of veggies in my Summer garden. This is the first year that I have had such a rich and diverse garden since converting my front lawn to an edible landscape. So, when reading Cassidy’s recipe for her “So Many Summer Veggies Pizza” I knew we had a similar starting place as I took the baton for the next leg of the Relay. The farmers markets are full of the most amazing looking food this time of year and if you are lucky enough to have access to a garden this is the time when everything is bursting- green and dripping with anticipated harvest. The feelings are good when you buy veggies from your local market no doubt, but when you harvest your own just a few steps form the kitchen food suddenly takes on a whole new meaning and flavor. Your own hands, planting the seed, tending to the soil, and always checking for its safety against insects and other predators. Each plant in my garden is like a little friend who, if treated with great respect, appreciation and tender loving care, will produce for me the most amazing fruits!
CLICK HERE for the full post.
Cassidy pulled together a Summery pizza creation from her CSA and home garden, presenting me with a broad selection of potential Relay items. In scanning my garden and her recipe I chose the easy route with the always prolific summer duo of tomato and basil. I really didn’t have much of a choice as I had planted nine tomato plants this year and if I couldn’t use them quick I would start loosing them to the critters who know when the best fruits are ready - the moment before you go to harvest. So it’s tomato time!
Recently I attended a dinner party where a cold tomato soup much like a chunky gazpacho was served as the meal starter. It was salty, sweet and just right! Because of the volume and variety of tomatoes I have I wanted to create a summer tomato recipe that was mostly tomatoes without it becoming a sauce or another summer salsa. This cold tomato soup was just the muse I needed to start brainstorming a cool soup that could take a typical gazpacho to the next level. I’m thinking crunchy, sweet, spicy and fresh while holding it’s own as a starter or a meal.
With four varieties of tomato and no shortage of basil I head out for a Summer soup lap. I hit my favorite Hillcrest Farmers Market and rounded out my ingredients with sweet peaches and crunchy heirloom Armenian cucumbers. I just need to find my touch of spicy and we’re all set.
See you back on Thursday for completed cold soup adventure and a yummy recipe!
Brianna is a seasonal food enthusiast who spends her time helping to share good food stories as Co-founder and Editor of RecipeRelay and growing organic food for local San Diego restaurants as a Farm Manager with Urban Plantations.
By Allison Rizzolo
I am a proponent of daytime drinking—in moderation of course, since nothing’s more annoying to me than wasting a perfectly beautiful summer day by, say, passing out at 2 in the afternoon. Still, nothing beats a bloody mary like Louisa’s to accompany brunch, or a refreshing fruity libation in a sunny, warm backyard.
Louisa’s cocktail last week happily inspired a little bit of day drinking. I decided to stick with the theme and create a sweet-ish partner to Louisa’s savory creation, one that could be enjoyed as much before noon as after sunset.
CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.
Berries are bountiful right now in the northeast, and last week Valerie and Eugenie took advantage of that bounty, incorporating blueberries into their Flounder in Papilotte recipe. I decided to show raspberries some love, using them to make a shrub. My raspberries came from Berried Treasures at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. A pioneer farmer at the Greenmarket (and an NYC local libation favorite), Berried Treasures can be found in Union Square on Wednesdays, Fridays and, currently, Saturdays, and at the 77th Street and Columbus Avenue Greenmarket on Sundays.
Fruit shrubs hearken to the colonial days, pre-refrigeration, when vinegar was used to preserve the fruit from spoiling. With the rich sweetness of fruit and sugar balanced with a tart backbone of vinegar, shrubs are an excellent summer drink on their own with a splash of soda, and even tastier with a bit of alcohol.
A fan of all things Spanish and particularly of sherry, I’ve been seeking to perfect a recipe combining the flavorful nuttiness of a darker sherry with the tart and fruity brightness of a raspberry shrub. Until now, it had been missing something. Sherry, for me, is difficult to negotiate with as a base liquor. The qualities I adore about it when drunk alone—dryness, robustness, nuttiness—have translated into flatness in a cocktail. I owe gratitude to Louisa for providing me with the element my cocktail had been missing - tea. A simple syrup infused with green tea gave my drink that fullness in the mid-palate that it needed.
The fact that I’m a coffee drinker was immediately apparent to Oliver, the proprietor of a delightful, fairly new tea and spice shop in my neighborhood. Sullivan Street Tea and Spice Company has been open since March and is a wonderland of spices, teas and herbs, straight out of Diagon Alley. I’m sure I looked more than a little befuddled, staring slack-jawed at the endless rows of jars filled with teas and spices, and Oliver was quick to offer his assistance. “Um, I’m kind of boring,” I said, “I just need some green tea.” Oliver laughed and replied: ”Green tea is anything but boring.” After I explained to him why I needed the tea, he worked with me to find five different options. A smell test narrowed the choice down to two: Ancient Beauty Green and Gyokuro, a shade-grown Japanese tea. While the Ancient Beauty syrup on its own was more appealing, it turns out the Gyokuro worked the best in the cocktail itself.
Gyokuro translates to Jade Dew, in reference to its color. It so happens that The Spanish Jade is an early 20th century book and movie (a lost silent film on which Alfred Hitchcock worked). According to Amazon, the story reveals the very soul of Spain: “Passion, Cruelty, and Bravery Under the Hot Sky of a Laggard Land.” Who wouldn’t want to drink something embodying that? I therefore present to you the Spanish Jade.
The Spanish Jade
Prep time: 2 days
Yield: 1 cocktail, though the shrub and green tea syrup can be refrigerated for later use. Both will yield several servings.
Tools: 2 non-reactive bowls, measuring cup, fine mesh strainer, whisk, spoon, small saucepan, tea infuser, jigger, shaker, strainer
- 1 cup fresh raspberries, plus 1-3 berries for garnish
- 1 cup Champagne vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups Demerara sugar
- 2 teaspoons loose Gyokuro tea
- 1 cup water
- 2 oz. sherry (Amontillado or Palo Cortado)
- Soda water
- Raspberry shrub: With your hands, gently bruise 1 cup of raspberries and combine with 1 cup sugar. Let sit overnight or for 2 nights. Strain into clean bowl. Transfer any remaining sugar that has clung to the original bowl to the strained mixture and stir until absorbed. Combine with ½ cup to 1 cup of champagne vinegar (to taste) and stir.
- Green tea syrup: Fill a tea infuser with 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons of Gyokuro tea. Warm 1 cup of water to just under boiling. Gyokuro tea steeps at a lower temperature and water that is too hot will result in bitter tea. Steep for 90 seconds. Remove tea, add a 1/2 cup of sugar and stir until sugar is absorbed.
- Cocktail: In a shaker, combine 2 oz. of Amontillado sherry (Palo Cortado also works) with 1 1/2 oz. of raspberry shrub and 1/2 oz. of green tea syrup. Fill with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into Collins glass, add ice and top with soda water. Garnish with 1 or 3 fresh raspberries.
Allison Rizzolo improves democratic problem solving by day and moonlights as a bartender, Spanish teacher and casual photographer. You can follow her on Twitter and read more about her libation-related adventures at her blog, Veni Bevi Vici.
By Brianna Bain
Summer abounds with squash knocking at your door saying, “Eat me!” If you’re eating in tune with the seasons it’s hard to avoid this fruit in all its glorious Summer varieties. Several weeks ago I planted three zucchini plants and three white scallonpini or patty pans, then I had a volunteer globe squash aka ‘eight ball squash’ pop up on my walkway and was given another Golden Dawn zucchini variety that I just couldn’t turn down. Needless to say I am squash rich. If you have ever planted squash of your own then you are probably thinking she’s either mad about squash or she provides squash for a small army; neither really but I would lean toward the former, I guess… I knew I’d be swimming in Summer squash when the time came and the time has come! So let the squash treading begin.
Having more doesn’t have to be a bad thing when it comes to squash, you just have to know what to do with all of the bounty. As I find new ways to put this delightful summer fruit to work for me I keep track of my favorite recipes. I am now happy to share how I am coping with my copious amounts squash this season.
CLICK HERE for the full post.
Summer Squash 5 Ways
- Whole: If you can find these miniature, cute, sometimes bright yellow blossom still intact fruits or manage to get to your own squash plants for a harvest once or every-other day. You can take advantage of the small, sweet and nutty baby bounty by eating them whole. Steam them with your favorite spices and serve up as a side to your favorite meat, stir-fry with other seasonal faves like green beans and some hot chillies or just eat them a la carte.
- Stuffed: A family heirloom recipe. My mother’s mother and my mother stuffed the largest zucchinis from the garden every year. If you have ever grown your own, then you know that it only takes one warm summer day to make a squash double and sometimes quadruple in size. These over-sized monstrosities are the ones you stuff. With a more pithy and or seedy middle because of their maturity, they act as a perfect vessel once carved. I use a mixture of sautéed veggies like eggplant, onion and spinach, blended with precooked quinoa and a few eggs as a stuffing binder. I slice my stuffed squash into rings and pan fry them like a veggie burger but you can slice them the long way, fill up the halves and bake in the oven. The sky is the limit with stuffing so add all your most desired fixings. Another favorite is to make a meatloaf-like stuffing and sprinkle it with shredded cheese. Yum!
- Salad: I came up with this recipe last year as a remedy for the piles of squash I was receiving in my CSA box. I was attempting to create a meal that was solely built from the content of my CSA share. A success, except for the goat cheese, but the cheese was a must in my opinion. I gathered a mixture of squash, tomatoes and a combo of fresh herbs for a Summery chopped squash salad that was sure to please. Another squash laced salad for your summer pleasure: Sarah’s Kohlrabi and Zucchini Summer salad.
- Ratatouille or Ratatorte: Layer it up! There is nothing better than slicing your squash thin and layering it between more summer veggies, spices and olive oil for a slow bake (pause for drool wiping). I like to use different types of squash, tomato, and beets. Between each layer I slather an herb and onion sauce that will find its way into every nook and cranny of the layered veggies during baking. I top it off with a special herbed cashew sauce and call it a “ratatorte”. This layering of summer veggies can go many ways, there is no need to dress it up like I did. Simple and tasty is always an option with the classic ratatouille recipe.
- Bread, Muffins or Cakes: Okay, this might be the ultimate Zucchini overload recipe. You always here someone say “we’ll have to make zucchini bread.” Don’t get me wrong, I love zucchini bread but I have recently been working on a twist for this traditional favorite. I took the RecipeRelay birthday cupcakes recipe, omitted the water and replaced it with an equivalent amount of shredded squash. It doesn’t stop there though! I added a little cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and 1/3 cup of pure cocoa powder for a whole new kind of zucchini bread. I whizzed 1/2 of the shredded zucchs in the processor to liquify them and then added it to the mix. The result: Vegan dark chocolate zucchini muffins or cupcakes if you will… So good - and good for you right?
By Andrew StatesI’m at the whim of the weather. My days are demarcated by the look of the sky and the feel of the air. The sidewalk is a great predictor of how things are going to progress. The blinding brightness of a snow slicked avenue guarded at its verges by brittle ice-laden trees sets my mind to the struggle to find warmth, to search out some comfortable corner in which to revive my inner machinery. Conversely, the fat, heated air rising in waves from the black pavement, still but for an occasional cough of a breeze, flattens me to near uselessness. There are days when shade just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes motivation has to be harvested. After reading Chad’s post on the Triple “S”, I was inspired to take up arms against the swampy New York summer air. Instead of using gin, a spirit endlessly easy to combine in refreshing ways, I took a cue from Chad and tried my luck with whiskey.
CLICK HERE for he full post and recipe.[gallery columns=”4”]
But which whiskey? Having already filed several reports on New York’s local distilling boom, I thought I’d exhausted the available. I wanted to bring in something new. So, it was with faint hope that I stopped by my local specialty liquor store. The predicament facing a would-be whiskey distiller is the importance of aging in the production process. It follows that a new distiller can’t go from start-up to product as quickly as someone trying to make gin or vodka. It takes time to create something you can be proud of and, when you’re paying for New York real estate, time is a commodity in short supply. That being the case, many distillers start out selling gin and vodka to create capital and give themselves enough breathing room to let their whiskey age.
I walked through the door at Juice Box Wine & Spirits and it was as though Bacchus himself heard me. Prominently displayed on an old barrel before the entrance was a bottle from the Breuckelen Distilling Company, of which much has already been written. The difference between this bottle and all the others I’d seen was the color of what was inside. A clear honey-brown. 131 Days old was written across the hand-printed label. I smiled as I scanned the word repeated in my prayers: Whiskey. I chatted with the retailer who told me they’d released the bottles to a select few stores. Is it good? He nodded. I tasted it as soon as I got home. The words the clerk at the store had used came back to me. It was bright and sweet as he’d said, young but not astringent. I’d anticipated something on par with an unaged corn whiskey, something that burned. Admittedly, I was surprised, pleasantly so.
Turning my attention to the recipe, I decided to try something that seemed appropriate for this heat. I opted to riff on the classic whiskey cocktail, Sazerac, a staple libation enjoyed in the balmy air of New Orleans. It’s more of a cover really, Tom Waits doing Dean Martin, using variations of the standard and adding a last minute twist to make it unique. Sazeracs are made with rye whiskey. The Breukelen Whiskey I’m using is made with wheat. Sazeracs also employ an Absinthe rinse. As I have no conception of what absinthe was like before it was banned, I’ve chosen St. George Absinthe Verte based, first of all, on it’s flavor and secondly on the quality and care with which it’s made. For my bitters I’ve gone with The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters. Finding myself out of the Peychuad’s called for in traditional Sazeracs (and finding the store out of them too) the clerk recommended a tiny bottle of The Bitter Truth’s concoction. It isn’t quite as sweet as Peychaud’s and not nearly as anise heavy, but this is a variation after all. The final ingredient I picked straight from the sizzling brain of Han Shan, a man I remain unashamed to rip off, with his permission of course. Giving him the lowdown on my plans, I asked if he had any thoughts on that final bit of flair that I could employ to make my cocktail unique, after a few “yeah”s and a slight furrowing of the brow, he suggested I try infusing some vermouth with black tea. Falling back on my reliable bottle of Dolin Vermouth Blanc, I took his advice. The resulting infusion became a mixture of sweetness and bitterness that I would happily drink by itself.
Because I’m determined to follow my music metaphor to the end, I’ve combined the name of a Tom Waits song and a Dean Martin song. I call this drink a Downtown Volare. I think it’s appropriate. Enjoy ye sweaty masses!
Prep time: 3 Minutes
Tools: 2 Old Fashioned glasses, Knife, Muddler, Ounce measurement, Spoon or other stirring implement, Strainer.
- 2 1/2 oz Breukelen Whiskey
- 1 Sugar Cube (or 1 tsp sugar).
- 1/2 oz Black Tea Infused Dolin Vermouth Blanc.
- Three dashes The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters.
- St. George Absinthe Verte rinse.
Fill one of your glasses with ice and water to chill the glass. In the second glass:
- Drop in the sugar cube with a few drops of water.
- Muddle water and sugar together.
- Add 2 1/2 oz of Breuckelen Whiskey.
- Add 1/2 oz Black Tea Infused Dolin Vermouth Blanc.
- Add 3 dashes The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters.
- Empty second glass of chilled ice water.
- Coat inside of chilled glass with Absinthe Verte.
- Add ice to first glass with all other ingredients.
- Strain into second chilled glass.
- Add lemon peel.
- Drink up.
Welcome to the Third installment of our Meat Guide, a special feature courtesy of Marissa Guggiana. Marissa brings us her meaty expertise and carnivorous recipes as Co-Founder of The Butcher’s Guild and author of Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers. Today Marissa shares a variation on the classic BLT recipe – we hope it will help you explore something new in your world of meats this Summer - Enjoy!!
By Marissa Guggiana
A BLT is one of those perfect things that expresses majesty in its simplicity. When I got this BLT recipe from Butcher’s Guild member, Prince of Pork, bacon-curer, salumist and chef John Stewart, I thought ‘Can it really get better than the classic?’ And then I remembered the time that I put a PBJ in the cast iron pan with a little butter, and I thought ‘Yes, it can get better.’ Just to be safe that it was worth the effort, though, I made a control BLT with the basics. And as John and his wife, Chef Duskie Estes, pointed out, the BLFGT is the solution for those BLT cravings before the tomatoes are ripe. Trust me, this is worth the little bit of extra work.
CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.
Black Pig BLFGT
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 sandwiches
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco, or more or less to taste
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 green tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil for cooking
- 12 slices cooked black pig bacon (or your favorite pork belly confection)
- limestone lettuce or romaine
- 1 loaf of Incredible rustic bread, sliced (toasted, if you like)
- In a food processor, combine the eggs, lemon juice, and garlic.
- With the motor running, slowly add the oil and emulsify - this is your aioli!
- Season to taste with tabasco, salt, and pepper. Set aside aioli sauce aside.
- In a loaf pan, combine the buttermilk, paprika, and cayenne.
- In another loaf pan, combine the flour and cornmeal.
- Place the green tomato slices in the buttermilk to coat. Using one hand for the dry ingredients and the other hand for the wet ingredients, dip the buttermilk coated tomatoes into the cornmeal, coating them evenly.
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in two large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Saute as many tomato slices as will fit comfortably at a time. Saute until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
- Drain on paper towels and season with kosher salt.
- Slather all the slices of the bread with the aioli.
- Place the lettuce on 4 of the slices.
- Top with bacon and top with the green tomatoes.
- Then top the sandwiches with the remaining bread.
Note: You could also use the fried green tomatoes on their own as a picnic side and this Tabasco aioli also makes an incredible BLT with ripe heirlooms too!
The Butcher’s Guild is a fraternity of meat professionals bound to create a support system for our industry. Butchers and conscientious consumers are welcome to join the Good Meat fight!
By Jessie Chien & Sarah A. Maine
Seasonal cooking is what inspires us all here on RecipeRelay. But no matter if you are an amateur in the kitchen or a Top Chef, we all need somewhere to turn for inspiration. We too need occasional guidance on how to use Spring’s first pea shoots, Summer’s sweet red peppers, Fall’s golden beets and Winter’s everlasting supplies of potatoes and apples. Below is a list of our favorite seasonal cooking resources that we like to flip through all year round. And although the recipes are seasonal, these cookbooks don’t have a shelf-life. They will last you, season upon season, year after year.
CLICK HERE for the full post & list of Seasonal Cooking Resources.
- Lucid Food, by Luisa Shafia. Luisa Shafia, a longtime natural foods chef, has created a beautiful cookbook and corresponding blog that profile natural cooking with fresh ingredients. A highlight from the book is a section with terms and descriptions that are often exchanged (though not often clarified) within the sustainable food industry: CAFO, Biodiversity, Carbon footprint, Fair trade, Wild Foraged, to name a few. Her approach to recipes is holistic and health-forward, but isn’t all tofu and tempeh. Examples of Summer recipes include Lemonade with Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena, and Indonesian Corn Fritters. On the opposite end, Winter recipes include Buckwheat and Orange Zest Gingersnaps, and Creamy Red Kuri Squash soup. Not your typical health nut guru, if you ask us, which is precisely why we dig Shafia’s cookbook. Additionally, coming from a restaurant and catering background, Shafia offers plenty of entertaining tips scattered throughout.
- A Platter of Figs, by David Tanis. David Tanis’ book is beautiful. Everything from the font to the paper to the way the pictures are centered…and above all else, the beauty lies in the pure simplicity of the recipes. As for the eloquent title, Tanis explains in his intro “Do you really need a recipe for a platter of figs? No. Is that the point? Yes. Does it have to be more complicated than that? Not really.” What else would you expect from a longtime chef at Chez Panisse? But don’t be fooled, Tanis splices his simple recipes for dishes like Roasted Apples or Goat Cheese with Honey with the occasional surprise, like a Pig’s Ear Salad, a Succotash with Jalapeno Butter, and Five-spiced Duck. His recipes are clearly meant to provide guidance on to how to eat happily, seasonally, and on a long wooden table with your closest friends.
- Simply Organic, by Jesse Ziff Cool. Jesse Ziff Cool opens her book with a personal introduction on how she’s come to appreciate good food. As one reads, it is obvious that her appreciation has become her passion, and it shows throughout the variety of recipes in her book. The cookbook is full of useful information: conversion tables, how to create an organic pantry, a guide to the Dirty Dozen and better alternatives, and what she calls “Pioneer Profiles” - pages featuring the background and spirit of the industry’s leading small-scale organic producers. What’s more, this cookbook separates each season into two or more parts. Summer is divided into “early summer”, “mid summer”, and “Indian summer”. Like us, she is aware that the strawberries do not last all summer, and the beginning of winter can look completely different than the end of winter. This is the book to have open on you kitchen counter all year-round.
- Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin. Suzanne Goin is a powerhouse - not only as a pioneering top woman chef, but also for inspiring and the LA slow food movement. Her cookbook, Sunday Supper at Lucques, is subtitled “Seasonal recipes from market to table”, and does not deviate from that byline. Pictures and recipes scream of California Farmer’s Markets. Divided by season and then by menu, her recipes are reflective of LA cuisine in its mixture of fresh produce and international influence. The recipes range from a simple Cornbread to the more sophisticated Grilled Quail with Pancetta, Ricotta Pudding and Sicilian Breadcrumbs. At the beginning of each seasonal chapter, Goin writes about what you may encounter at the market at that time of year.
- Canal House Cookbooks. The Canal House cookbook is actually a seasonal publication that is released three times a year. The introduction from the most recent volume 6 reads: “Welcome to Canal House—our studio, workshop, dining room, office, kitchen, and atelier devoted to good ideas and good work relating to the world of food.” (Can you understand why we at RecipeRelay like this cookbook?) With inspiring kitchen stories, clever titles, and sensible recipes that are not only seasonal but current, the Canal House Cookbooks are great if you’re looking for new ideas to inject into your permanent shelf of cookbooks.
- Eating Local, by Sur La Table with Janet Fletcher. I know, a cookbook created by a culinary supply store - seems like a gimmick, and maybe it is, but after attending a panel discussion which included one of the farmers highlighted in this cookbook I was open to checking it out. When I flipped through the book the pages fell open to the profile of Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, the farm that supplies my CSA. What can I say, they got me. Luckily, the recipes do not disappoint. Organized alphabetically by main ingredient, the straightforward recipes are designed to showcase the star ingredients (accompanied by luscious photographs), with farm profiles interspersed throughout. If you are a CSA subscriber, this book will provide tasty inspiration for the array of greens and sometimes alien looking veggies that show up in your weekly share.
- On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee. Harold McGee has written what many refer to as the bible of cooking. On Food and Cooking, originally published in 1984, is a guidebook for basic techniques and ingredients. Though it’s not even close to a seasonal cookbook along the lines of the other books on this list, it’s one that shouldn’t be buried in the stacks. When I need to investigate the history and qualities of the nightshade family, I turn to McGee. When I need to know how to make the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey, or the best method to cook vegetables, or why my attempt at a soufflé failed, I turn to McGee. To successfully cook the produce that you’ve found at the market, it’s never hurts to keep learning a bit of the history, preparations, flavor and family profiles, maximum ripeness, and random facts about the basket of produce sitting in front of you.
- Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Elix Katz. As we have talked about on RecipeRelay in the past, true seasonal eating incorporates the ability to preserve some food from the bounty of the growing season to be eaten out of season. Canning has been experiencing a rebirth in popularity, and alongside it, gurgling and bubbling with delicious promise, is fermentation - the practice of using live active cultures to preserve food. A marriage of history and how-to, Sandor Katz’s bible of fermentation began as an underground sensation before taking its rightful place in the mainstream cookbook lexicon. It makes perfect sense since many favored foods are fermented at some point in their lifespan: bread, beer, chocolate (need I say more?). You can read this book purely for the pleasure of learning about fermentation - its health benefits and its many guises - but I guarantee you won’t be able to resist trying your hand at a little sauerkraut or honey wine. I should warn you that once you have eaten real sauerkraut made by your own hand, the stuff in the jars and bags at the grocery store loses all its appeal. Go forth and ferment!
By Marc Duquette
Why is this “Marc’s Top Ten” list? Because your top ten list will most certainly differ from mine. Regardless, I hope to inspire you to get out there and stick a pot or two of herbs into your landscape. Herbs are incredibly easy to grow, need very little care - even tolerate some abuse and neglect, and most come back year after year (perrenniel herbs). Herbs play a complementary role in any diet that seeks to be local, healthy and organic. The very nature of such a diet suggests that you are spending more time in the kitchen preparing your own food. Why not build on that and add fresh, organic, and healthy herbs to improve the flavor and complexity of your recipes.
With this top ten list, I also provide a nice variety of suggested uses. These uses include a fresh summer cocktail, an herb infused vinegar, a side dish, a yeast bread, a fresh summer salad, cookies, and a meat entree. The point is, there is no limit to what you can do with herbs. You can find more detailed recipes for each of the following suggestions on my Marc’s Garden website.
CLICK HERE for the full post and complete list of herbs.[gallery columns=”4”]
Marc’s Top Ten Culinary Herbs List
1. Basil. Basil is a very fragrant annual herb (annual: must be planted from seed or picked up from the local garden center each spring). Most folks associate basil with pesto. While I’ve certainly made a batch or two, we have discovered a new favorite in our homemade Basil-Lime Mojitos, a perfect and refreshing summer cocktail. Macerate the basil in a shaker with ice, fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and rum. Strain into a glass over ice, top with a splash of club soda and a slice of lime.
2. Parsley. One of my favorite dishes during the summer months is a Lebanese/Middle Eastern Tabbouleh Salad utilizing a load of fresh parsley, vine ripe tomatoes, a hint of mint, and freshly dug onions from the garden. Nothing tastes fresher than this!
3. Cilantro. Either you love it or you hate it - I happen to love it. We most associate cilantro with Mexican cooking, however it is one herb that is heavily used around the globe. A fresh and vibrant way to feature cilantro in your diet is with Cilantro-Lime Rice; white rice to which you add lime juice, zest and cilantro just before serving. Cilantro is an annual herb that self-seeds very easily. I have a bed of cilantro that returns every year without any effort on my part.
4. Fennel. Fennel can be grown for the fennel bulb (considered a vegetable),or the fernlike fronds and seeds (the herb)—it all depends on the variety of fennel you plant. One creative and tasty way to use fennel seed is in Fennel Cookies. Fennel has a mild licorice flavor and when added to a common shortbread cookie dough (2-3 tablespoons), creates an amazing treat.
5. Mint. Mint is an aggressive perennial that is best contained in a large pot. You can find a number of varieties at your local garden center with the most common being peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, apple mint, and orange mint. Although we prefer basil in our mojitos, mint is the herb commonly featured in this cocktail. At my house mint usually finds its way into Mint Water. Simply add a few sprigs of mint to a glass bottle filled with water and let it sit out in the sun for the afternoon. Strain and chill for a fresh alternative to plain water.
6. Rosemary. Like the fennel, I have used rosemary in cookies. Rosemary is a woody and piney herb that pairs well with dark meats. If you like to bake, I suggest trying Rosemary Focaccia. This is a yeast bread that, served warm right out of the oven, makes a great accompanyment to a hot soup, stew, or chili. The full recipe is on my website.
7. Tarragon. A decorative bottle with vinegar, a herb sprig or two, a clove of garlic, and a few peppercorns looks great on a kitchen shelf or windowsill. Herb vinegars are very easy to make, can be used for decoration, and can be used in any dish in place of straight vinegar to create more complex flavors in your dish. Although any herb can be used, Tarragon is my herb of choice. To make herb vinegar, simply heat up the vinegar, pour over herbs, and let cool. Strain, add to bottle with a fresh sprig for decoration and let sit in a dark location for three weeks. Experiment by using different types of vinegars, different types of herbs and herb combinations, and by adding additional flavor ingredients like mustard seed, peppercorns, a chili pepper, or clove of garlic.
8. Sage. Sage is a small, perennial evergreen shrub with fuzzy leaves that is more often used to decorate the garden herb bed rather than for use in the kitchen. When used in the kitchen, it seems like it’s sole partner is pork. And so it is in my kitchen. Sage and garlic rubbed pork is a huge favorite in my house. A pork loin is rubbed, seared and baked (or grilled) with a paste of freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, garlic and finely chopped sage. Delicious! How do you use sage?
9. Chives. OK, what’s the first thing that popped into your head when you saw “chives?” I’ll bet there’s a baked potato in there somewhere. Come-on folks, let’s get creative! Chives grow like a neglected weed in many backyards and benefits from a heavy cutting. Add chives to everything. Add it to salads (potato, pasta, bean or garden). Chives adds a nice delicate onion flavor to many seafood dishes (like yummy crab cakes). Throw some in your next batch of cornbread. Add chives to fresh salad dressings. Throw the purple flowers into your next salad. Use chives everywhere.
10. Oregano. The “pizza” herb! Beside pizza and pasta sauce-based recipes, you don’t often see oregano used in other dishes. Well, how about this for a change? I use oregano throughout the summer months to add flavor to colorful and fresh bean salads. Try fresh oregano in a black bean salad with chopped cucumber, red bell pepper and spring onions. Toss with a splash of apple cider vinegar and olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for a bit so that the flavors meld. ‘Hot and Spicy’ oregano adds a nice zip to the salad but you can certainly use the more common greek oregano.
So there it is, Marc’s Top Ten List of culinary herbs. Now, I’d like to hear from you. Do you grow and use herbs in your kitchen? Which herbs would you add to this list? How do you use these herbs in your kitchen? Where do you source fresh and local herbs if you don’t grow them yourself? I’m always looking for new ideas and perhaps together we can inspire other readers to kick it up with herbs.
Ooops, I ran out of Thyme….
Marc Duquette owns and operates Marc’s Garden when he is not working his day job. He walks out to the garden in the morning before leaving for work; he walks out to the garden when he returns home and then visits later, after dinner - maybe more than once. Weekends? You know where to find him!