Sunday, May 26, 2013

Homesteading gets serious

My partner grew up on a farm.  A working farm.  He's grown, harvested, processed, butchered, milked pretty much any farm food you could think of, and then maybe some you won't be able to think of.  He thinks it is pretty amusing that his childhood is essentially en vogue these days.  People growing their own food, pickling and preserving the garden's bounty, etc.  Of course I grew up in suburbia and it wasn't until I was an adult that I even gave much thought to where food comes from (I don't mean the grocery store).  A few lectures into vet school I was so turned off by food animal husbandry I stopped eating most meat.  I got over it for better or worse, but now that I know, I try.  I am not always able to buy grass fed beef or pastured pork, but I try.
Anyways, with the artisan cocktail interest, it only naturally follows to try one's hand at artisan cocktail garnishes and down the road, artisan home made bitters.  We haven't gotten to the bitters, but I attempted cocktail garnish today.  Of course, the cherries are store bought since we don't have a cherry tree.  But HEB is a semi local, south central TX grocery store so it is kind of locally sourced.  Only they are CA cherries, so not really.  *Sigh*

So many of the drinks I like come garnished with a cherry.  The really high end places do it with these dark, crinkled cherries that bear no resemblance to the neon red balloons called maraschino cherries.  So, I delved into research mode and found a multitude of recipes, none of which I exactly followed!  Basically, you put cherries, booze and some sugar in a jar and refrigerate, and wait 2-4 weeks for the cherries to get soused before using.

So, I did one jar of cherries with bourbon, and one with a mixture of kirschwasser and luxardo maraschino liqueur, because I had both in the liquor cabinet and both are cherry based spirits.

So, who is coming over in 4 weeks for a Manhattan or Old Fashioned with one of these cherries for garnish?  

Novel Negroni

So, waaaaay back in March 2012 (seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it?) I regaled you with my impression of the Negroni, a gin/campari drink that I found extremely bitter and somewhat unpalatable.  I then began seeing the Negroni on menus everywhere, on facebook status updates frequently, and one day, Everett ordered one.  I took a sip and was amazed, the balance of bitter and sweet, the citrus notes, all blended to make a complex, flavorful and dare say delicious drink.  What was mine missing?

I did some research on the interwebs and found people even harder at work than me at cocktail hobby-ing.  People who tried 10 different gins and at least 4 different sweet vermouths with Campari being the only constant.  That is 40 different Negronis!  It would take me 4-6 months at least to try all those and that is if I were only drinking Negronis.  Anyways, some suggestions of using higher end vermouth were well taken, as well as using a different gin (Bombay Dry, my go to for martinis now).  I also have aqcuired some orange oil, and one drop makes a huge difference in drinks that need a citrus nose.

So, I made another attempt at the Negroni and was pleasantly surprised.  I liked it!  I really really liked it!

Without further ado......

1.5 oz gin
1 oz campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 drop orange oil
Stir on ice
Strain into glass with a large ice cube
Twist a large orange peel over drink and place in the glass

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prickly pear perfect

We've been blessed with unseasonably pleasant weather this spring, with semi-cool nights, low-ish humidity, sitting outside for dinner weather.  All until this week, when the Texas summer bore down like it usually does only in April, rather than almost June.  With the cooler temperatures, I had not been inspired to make all sorts of margaritas, but rather happy to drink ice cold Big Bark from our kegerator.  Tonight, that changed, and it is now officially margarita season in our house.

I made a favorite with some different ingredients.  Namely, I picked up a bottle of Controy sometime last year, as I was looking for a more affordable orange liqueur that was not quite as cheap as triple sec.  I had never seen this one on the shelves before, and it had "Pura Vida" on the label.  I was taken back to my days in Costa Rica, and I was sold.  Apparently it is a product of Mexico, only available since last summer in the US, and purported to be the original margarita orange liqueur.  Who knows, but it sure makes a nice marg!

The prickly pear puree is store bought.  I attempted making some several years ago, but they have baby fine spines all over the skin, and you have to boil them, peel them, puree them and strain them all for a small amount of puree.  You get these little spines that you can't see embedded in your skin.  And if you don't get enough out during the processing and you ingest them, things could get ugly.  So this is one thing I am willing to buy in the store rather than make myself.....

The margarita recipe is standard for 2 drinks:

4 oz silver tequila
1.5 oz Controy
2/3 oz or less simple syrup
1 lime - juiced
3-4 tsp of frozen/slightly slushy prickly pear puree

Shake, strain over ice, and serve in a salted rim glass.

The beauty of the pink is ethereal and they taste pretty darn good too.