New E-Cookbook Announcement: Stewards of Spirits

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sweet lordy, I've been gone a while. But I have reasons. Good reasons. Swearsies.

I've been working on a cookbook. An e-cookbook. And by "I," I actually mean "we." We is me and my partner-slash-phtographer in this cookbook, Callista Polhemus. She's a food photographer here in Sacramento with a varied background in public relations and marketing for some of the best restaurants ever.

So what is the e-cookbook?

Well, if the image above didn't tip you off, it's on cocktails. However, that would be a bit too narrow, too simple a description.

The e-cookbook is titled, Stewards of Spirits: A Collection of Sacramento Cocktails and the People Who Make Them. So it's not so much an e-cookbook, as a collection of profiles of epic Sacramento bartenders, their stories, and the cocktails that they feel define them best.

You see, the Sacramento cocktail scene is experiencing a homegrown renaissance. Our bartenders are enthusiastic, thoughtful, intelligent, and get along well. Simultaneously, home bars are growing increasingly complex and sophisticated. Even better is that everyone is on board from niche-gin sipping novices to master distillers and champion cocktail crafters.

Sacramento’s welcoming and cheerful cocktail culture is ready to imbibe.

And though it might just be Callista and I who think this (though we doubt it), the home cocktail enthusiast wants to further connect with the craft cocktails and their creators on a more visceral level. They want to engage with bartenders, learn the tricks of their trade, and maybe shake-n-stir their favorites drinks at home. Stewards of Spirits: A Collection of Sacramento Cocktails and the People Who Make Them, will do just that.

Stewards of Spirits will be an e-cookbook collection of Sacramento’s finest cocktails from the region’s top professional bartenders, distillers, and brewers. Each recipe will detail the drink, profile its origins and creators, and provide fascinating information about the spirits and methods used. We plan to include plenty of gorgeous, chic photographs of the bartenders and the drinks.

The best part? The book will be made available for free download. In return, we ask our imbibers to consider making a recommended donation of $10 (the cost of a cocktail!) to the Food Literacy Center, a Sacramento non-profit that focuses on nutrition education throughout California.

The book will be released in August 2016 during Sacramento Cocktail Week and will feature around 25 recipes, and 50 color photographs.

I do hope you're as excited as I am.



P.S., My first cookbook, co-authored with Stephanie Stiavetti, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, is coming out in paperback on February 9th! Pre-order your copy today!

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 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!

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