Burly but Sweet Irish Coffee

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

 -What you need to get through another family holiday.-

We, like any barely functioning individual, like to mix our uppers with our downers. While ice cream sprinkled with a bit of Prozac is keen, an Irish coffee is by and far much more accessible and doesn’t require a prescription.

The key to a really fantastic Irish coffee is brown sugar simple syrup - the musky flavor of the molasses in the brown sugar brings out the burly, peaty flavors of both the coffee and the whiskey. It’s blended in both the barely whipped cream and the coffee itself ensuring a properly stout coffee cocktail. It takes a few extra steps then your everyday Irish coffee, but the results speak for themselves.

A special thanks to Rachel Valley, who took this amazing photograph. If you're in the Sacramento area and need an excellent food photographer, I highly recommend her. 

For the Brown Sugar Simple Syrup Makes
3 cups of syrup 

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

Place both ingredients in a saucepan and warm over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool before using.

For the Brown Sugar Whipped Cream 
Makes plenty of whipped cream 

1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup brown sugar simple syrup

Place the whipping cream in a bowl and whisk the utter hell out of it. While you do so, slowly pour in the brown sugar simple syrup in a thin stream. Be careful not to overwhisk. You don’t want a super-thick cream with stiff peaks, but rather a soft cream your can easily spoon out or even pour.

For the Irish Coffee 
Makes 1 Irish Coffee 

6 ounces freshly brewed coffee
1.5 ounces Irish whiskey
.5 ounce of brown sugar simple syrup
 brown sugar whipped cream for topping

Place the coffee, whiskey, and simple syrup in a glass and fill almost to the top, leaving about ½-inch of headspace. Fill the rest of the glass with way too much of the brown sugar whipped cream. Indulge immediately.

Bailey’s Irish Coffee: Use Bailey’s Irish Cream in place of the brown sugar simple syrup for the whipped cream. A bit more liquor with your liquor is never a bad thing.

The Next Day: Chipotle Micheladas

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

-Time to wake up and take your medicine.-

At some point in mid-blackout you made the surprisingly wise decision to stumble into a mini-mart for Mexican beer and Clamato juice. Good job. Gold star. You won’t die this morning because of that.

If you’ve never had a Michelada before, it’s like a Bloody Mary but with beer and Clamato juice in place of tomato juice. It’s an odd concoction, but holy hell does it bring you back from the drunken dead. Savory, spicy, salty, and exactly what you need to stave off the collective hangover that threatens to literally kill you if you stop drinking all at once.

A special thanks to Rachel Valley, who took this amazing photograph. If you're in the Sacramento area and need an excellent food photographer, I highly recommend her.

Chipotle Michelada
Serves 8

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (reserve some of the rinds)
4 cups Clamato juice
4 cups Mexican beer, chilled (think Corona or along those lines)
3 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons Maggi or soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon ground chipotle powder
Tajín seasoning or kosher salt for rimming the glasses

1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the Tajín seasoning in a pitcher and stir together. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

2. Place some Tajín seasoning or kosher salt on a small plate. Using one of the leftover lime rinds wet the rim of a highball glass. Dip the rim in the Tajín seasoning to garnish.

3. Fill the glass with ice and top with the Michelada. Enjoy immediately.

Tamarind Michelada: A sour-savory version of the drink that only the bold can handle. Omit the chipotle and add a tablespoon of tamarind paste. Whisk together and taste, adjusting as needed.

Habanero Michelada: If you’re into pain, then replace with ground chipotle with ground habanero or use a habanero hot sauce. This’ll put your guests in their place for sure.

Tajín seasoning is a popular Mexican spice blend made of dried chiles, salt, and dehydrated lime juice that can be found in most grocery stores. Excellent on chicken, pork, and most fruit.

Seedy Bitches: Super Seedy Banana Bread

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

-Sometimes seedy is a good thing.-

Hey there,

Long time no see. I've been working 60 hour work weeks lately. Kill me, please.

Also, I've been blogging like a crazy person writing about produce at About.com. Writing about dead wasps in your figs, why apples turn brown, and about how grapes relate to mythical sex.

You know... the usual.

But I have developed a really nifty banana bread recipe I dig.

So let's talk first about seedy bitches… who needs ‘em? They come in all flavors: the guy who doesn’t put money in for tip after dinner, the douche who brings five annoying and incredibly uninvited plus ones to your party, the girl who trash talks about anyone who’s not there. Cut the seedy bitches out of your life and never look back.

Now these people are not to be confused with the good kind of seedy bitches, like this banana bread. Yes, we know everyone in the world has their own banana bread recipe, but shut up and listen: this seedy banana bread is flavored with brown sugar and tahini, giving it a rich earthy flavor. Plus, it’s packed full of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds making it a protein-rich banana bread to boot.

Lovely toasted or perhaps smeared with butter and jam it’s the kinda seedy bitch that’ll help you get over the other, more distasteful seedy bitches in your life.

Super Seedy Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf 

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus extra
3 tablespoons poppy seeds, plus extra
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tahini
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200F and place the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds on a sheet pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside to cool.

2. Next, we’ll toast the sesame seeds. These are a bit more delicate, but easy. Place a dry skillet over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and keep them moving, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the poppy seeds and toast for another minute until it all becomes fragrant, keeping an eye on them as the seeds can go from toasted to burnt quickly. Take them off the heat and place them in a bowl to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5 bread loaf pan and line with a bit of parchment so as to ensure the loaf will easily slide out. (Insert easy dirty joke here.)

4. Whisk together the bananas, butter, vanilla extract, sugar salt, and tahini until thoroughly mixed. Add the eggs and whisk together, then the baking soda. Add the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and sesame seeds - reserving a few of the latter two for topping - and whisk in.

5. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until just combined.

6. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with the extra poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Again, insert easy dirty joke here.) Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan and continuing to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm to bitches who aren’t seedy, sketchy, skeazy, etcetera. Also excellent toasted and served with butter.

Super Nutty: Use 1 ½ cups of mixed chopped and toasted almonds, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts for a unique and nutty twist. 

Citrus Blam Banana Bread: Add a heaping tablespoon of orange zest and lemon zest to this recipe to give it a powerful fragrance!

Sour: Pickled Sour Cherries

Thursday, July 30, 2015

-Life is like a bowl of pickled cherries: sour and sweet.-

I am a sour person. Not to mean that I'm unpleasant, but that I love sour foods. I'll go Granny Smith over Pink Lady any day, thank you.

It's odd... As a child, I hated sour foods. Sour candy, in particular. If you were a child of the 90's then you are no doubt familiar with one specific popular sour candy of the time: Warheads.

On the playground we would eat them in bulk as a sort of schoolyard dare, all of us fueled by the urban myth - which turned out to be true - of the kid who burned his tongue in the Warhead Challenge. (The challenge being to hold this sour candy under your tongue for 30 seconds.)

Also by "we," I mean, "everyone else." I was a wuss at sour foods as a kid, a sad fact that didn't help alleviate my persona as social pariah and teacher's son.

Today, I can power through theses candies like, well, candy.

It's also therefore no surprise that I often make pickles - sour foods at their best. Even more so when I pickle sour cherries.

Pickled sour cherries are a curious condiment. The vinegar actually tames the natural pucker of the cherries. After a month of curing they mellow, sweeten, and absorb the flavor of the pickling spices. The result is a sweet, sour, floral, and fruity pickle that it best served with bourbon.

Only one farmer in Sacramento grows them and they're only around fort a short time. This year I was quick on the draw and picked up enough to make a batch so that come fall when my bourbon habit picks back up I'll be ready.

For the recipe, go here.

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