Moving On: New Blog & New Cookbook

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


So it's been a while since I've posted here. My apologies for that. But, then again, it's because I've been blogging elsewhere and working harder than a gogo boy with one leg.

I started Vanilla Garlic one day ten years ago when I wanted to practice my writing. I had no idea what I was in store for. Vanilla Garlic has been my home, opened innumerable opportunities for me, helped me start a career in food writing and recipe development (something has become a second full time gig that absorbs much of my time these days), pushed me to write two cookbooks, and introduced me to people I now consider family.

Sometimes, however, you outgrow your home and you find yourself consumed with the overwhelming need to move.

Coupe de Grâce is that move. I wanted a place to be a bit less reserved in my words (I've warned my mother never to read it should the words she sees make her go spontaneously blind and riddled with disappointment in me) and where I could simultaneously explore the craft cocktail world a bit more.

Vanilla Garlic will still exist and I will on occasion post here when I can. I encourage you to check out Coupe de Grâce. It's fun. Light. It's certainly me.

In addition, you can see the revamped GarrettMcCord.com, which still has some tinkering going on but, hey, it's up and that's pretty darn nifty.

So this isn't goodbye and this isn't a farewell post. It's, "Hey, come check out my new place! I made martinis!"

Cool?

Cool.

XOXO,

Garrett

http://coupedegrace.net/


P.S. That new cookbook I mentioned a year ago? Yeah, it's here. Stewards of Spirits: A Collection of Sacramento Cocktails and the People Who Make Them is ready for you. Learn more here.

http://stewardsofspirits.com/

Thoughts About Turkish Delight

Monday, June 20, 2016


"The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. … At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one's mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could, and the more he ate the more he wanted to eat … .

At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more. Probably the Queen knew quite well what he was thinking; for she knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves."

-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I devoured the Narnia books as a child as much as Edmund devoured this now legendary Middle Eastern candy. Growing up the only Turkish Delight I had ever encountered were those terrible stale squares that became oddly popular gifts in the nineties. Everyone loved to give them, but god forbid you receive. Crunchy exteriors with far too gummy interiors enrobing stale nuts and fruit in sugary prisons.

Still, I was always curious to try the real thing, and for a recent Lebanese-themed dinner party I figured that now was a fine time to try.

They're easy to make, but the result is somewhat dichotomous...

Fresh Turkish Delight is definitely an acquired taste. Somewhere between jell-o and marshmallow sit the wobbly, brightly colored candy. If the texture doesn't appeal than the rose water flavoring might not either. Recipes require heavy pours of the stuff. In addition, the only ingredients are cornstarch, sugar, gelatin, and water. Not exactly a miracle pill.

The result is an incredibly sweet, overtly perfumed candy with a rather odd chew. I found it lovely, but after two pieces I had had my fill for the year, which seemed to be the total judgment from the table. One piece is dandy. A second a dare. A third is unthinkable.

Still, Edmund eventually betrays his siblings upon hearing from the White Queen that, "there are whole rooms full of Turkish Delight" at her castle, so perhaps TD is just the sweetie for you.

Just remember that if you do get a taste for it, that Turkish Delight may become a rather nasty habit. Remember Edmund…

"He had eaten his share of the dinner, but he hadn't really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight—and there's nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food."

Excerpts From Steamy Romance Novels for Food Writers: Pluot & Vanilla Jam

Saturday, June 4, 2016


He began to stand on his chair. Stalwart. Strong. Almost as quick as his flash she reached out to him and pleaded. "If you don't sit down they'll know we're writing a Yelp review." Yet, she knew he cared nothing for her reviews, regardless of how witty they were. All that mattered was his food porn.

---

He gazed longingly at her as she paraded the coconut cake with homemade, organic Meyer lemon curd and Italian buttercream frosting made with fair trade Tahitian vanilla beans to the table. She had shaved the coconut herself; a dedication that only made her more desirable. He would have to chain back his lust before leaping upon her and the cake until she had a good shot for her Pinterest board.

---

They couldn't understand why someone would call that question into The Splendid Table when a Google search would have been more efficient.

I am Loki. God of war: Peach & Almond Crumb Cake

Friday, June 3, 2016

 -I know, he's the Trickster God. Just keep reading before you correct me in the comments.-

Today I saw one of the most hilarious things ever.

A little girl and her brother were playing around. She was about five, I guess. Short blond hair, little pink sandals, a nondescript sundress that came from someplace like Target or Walmart. A very average little girl. Her brother, also blond, was about six. He was in jeans and a t-shirt.

He was keeping himself occupied with whatever Nintendo's newest portable not-a-Gameboy is and she was sort of getting all kung-fu. Seriously, while he was entranced she was running around the room, air kicking hostile ninjas through the air, battling space aliens, fighting evil robots, and all and all kicking a lot of imaginary butt. She had dual sword, at least fifty laser guns, unparalleled martial arts skills, and I think she could shoot fireballs from her eyes.

All the sudden she stopped and caught me watching her. She suddenly called a ceasefire with the ninja alien robots and walked up to me.

Talking Trash: Blackberry and Buckwheat Scones

Thursday, May 19, 2016

 -

Scones are sort of a brunch band-aid for when you and someone in your group has been involved in a shadowy game of throwing shade. A peace offering, of sorts. They're an edible version of, “I’m sorry I called you a dirty hooker behind your back to all of our friends, even though I totally caught you giving head on the stairwell at the club to that Slavic drug dealer. Here’s some scones.”

And, then, peace fell upon the land.

At least, until the hooker leaves the room and you start that slam talk up again.

Ah well… at least these scones should assist in a temporary truce. Just sweet enough with the tart, juicy flavor of fresh blackberries suspended in a nutty buckwheat dough. Utterly irresistible, and if these little flavor bombs don’t help you move forward then simply salt the earth of that former friendship and move on because nothing will.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED… 
1 ¼ cups bread flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup blackberries
1 egg, beaten
crystalline or sanding sugar (optional)

WHAT YOU’LL DO… 
1. Whisk together the bread flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

2. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter, a pair of forks, or your fingers until the mixture is sandy with a few pea-sized bits of butter here and there.

3. Add the heavy cream and blackberries. Take off your rings and be prepared to get your hands dirtier that the rumors you’ve heard. Fold the mixture together with your hands until the cream is incorporated. Drizzle in a bit more cream if you need to.

4. Turn the whole mess out onto a lightly floured surface and knead together three or four good turns. You don’t want to overwork it, but buckwheat needs extra attention that wheat flour. Shape the dough into a square and cut into 16 pieces.

5. Preheat oven to 375F. Place the scones on two parchment-lined baking sheets and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Have a shot or two while you wait and ponder the best way to text your frenemy an invite to brunch. Pleasantly tipsy, take the scones out of the fridge and brush them with egg. Give them a bit of sparkle with sanding sugar if using.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, give or take, until lightly golden brown along the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Best served warm or with butter and no drama.

VARIATIONS 
Blueberry Lavender: A teaspoon of culinary lavender and substituting the blackberries for blueberries makes for a fragrant and pleasantly purple scone.

Coconut Macadamia Macaroon Pancakes

Thursday, March 10, 2016



Oh yes, that's right. I forgot I had this recipe. It's one that I think you'll enjoy. If you're into coconut macaroons then this should be all up in your business.

It's a recipe I've made a few dozen times before, but somehow never got around to posting. Strange how after 10 years that can still happen.

So what else has been going on? Well, I'm still plugging away at the cocktail cookbook, Stewards of Spirits. I'm also jamming along over at About.com's Fruits and Vegetable channel. I'm keeping it very classy by talking about why coffee makes you poop and why beets turn your pee red. I've also started working for Gallo Family Wineries and all of their various brands, which keeps me pretty darn busy.

Lastly, I completely redesigned the Garrett McCord website; a task that was sorely needed and I'm very pleased with the results.

One more thing to announce among all this craziness is that I will be speaking at IFBC 2016. It'll be hosted in my town of Sacramento, the Farm-to-Fork capital. (Or if you're more of a drinker, the #farmtofuckedup capital.) I'll be speaking with some other fine people about freelance blogging and corporate food writing.

So yes. It's been way busy here. Still, I'm never too busy for pancakes as they only require a bit of attention and time, which is a good thing. Pancakes gives you a chance to concentrate on something that isn't work/school/family/relationships/taxes or whatever today's end of the world scenario happens to be. Fuck the Big Bad. Ms. Summers will stop him for you. You just focus on some breakfasty goodness.

So do yourself a favor. Sit down. Turn off the phone. Put on some Netflix. Make pancakes.

Ingredients
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts, plus extra for garnish
2 1/2 cups unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
butter or cooking spray for the skillet

Method
Let's do this easy. Mix together the dry ingredients into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix together.

Easy so far, right? Okay, now get a skillet or fry pan and heat it up over medium-high heat. Add some butter or cooking spray to grease it up.

Now pour 1/4 cup amounts of the batter into the skillet. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Continue until all the batter is used. Enjoy with a lot of maple syrup and some extra chopped macadamia nuts.

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.

Best,

-G

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!


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