Not-Groni

Oh, right, it’s Negroni week. Awesome. Another FoodBev industry circle jerk, like this industry needs an excuse to overindulge.

Oh, right, a portion is donated to charity. It’s for the kids, we’re drinking for the children.

Anyway, a friend stopped by the bar Monday and after he had sampled our blended and barrel aged Negronis on offer for Negroni Week, he said he wanted to venture off menu and try a Negroni variation with No 3 London Dry Gin, Cynar, and Vermouth.

Gin, Cynar, and Vermouth, you say?

I can do that!

I felt a bit inspired by the Chrysanthemum Cocktail for it, and came up with this “Not-Groni”, “Reverse-Negroni,” or maybe “Mixed Up Negroni”. I believe my friend was calling it a “Gron-i-mum”.

1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with Grapefruit twist.

Usually when people “lighten” Negronis, they increase the Gin and decrease the Campari and Italian Vermouth by equal parts. But, really, it is the sweetness of the Campari that is weighing down the drink. Swapping in a Blanc for the Red Vermouth and pumping it up turns a digestiv cocktail into and aperitif.

Oh, oops, I didn’t use the No 3 Gin, how on earth did that happen?

If Only You’d Apply Yourself, Erik

Of all the criticism I have heard in my life, I would say this is probably the most frequent.

“You’re a smart person, Erik, if you’d only apply yourself, you could go far.”

Whether it was my English teachers in 6th Grade trying to teach me grammar, or my Math teachers in 3rd Grade trying to get me to learn my multiplication tables, or friends wondering over my puzzling, and often self defeating, career choices.

In point of fact, I can’t really apply myself in the same way others can. I am an intuitive, insightful thinker, not a methodical, plodding, stepwise, thinker.

I would, in fact, rather gouge my eyes out, than really learn multiplication tables, no matter how much it would improve my life.

The funny thing is, I am really good at memorization, but not in a conscious way. If I repeat things out loud, I can memorize pretty much anything: random numbers, letters, lengthy text, times tables, etc, but I can’t consciously pull it up, and don’t really understand it. It is as if I am reading it out loud for the other smart person who lives in my brain, and then can only access it, if that other person interrupts me with their insight.

I have to distract the Erik who lives from day to day to get any insight into my real thoughts and feelings.

Switchel-ish

Switchel

Switchel

An interesting American frontier drink is called “Switchel”.

Basically, Switchel is Ginger Syrup acidulated with vinegar instead of the usual citrus. As for where Switchel ends and Shrub begins, I guess Switchel is a subset of the Shrub superset. It must always contain ginger & vinegar, with vulnerabilities allowed mostly in sweetener and spice. Early recipes are usually sweetened with Molassses and/or Honey.

Fooling around with versions of my Ginger Beer, I wondered how it would be if I added some Vinegar, a la Switchel.

Initial versions were not that awesome, but it turned out a spiced, yeast carbonated version is really awesome. Probably my favorite Ginger based beverage so far.

Switchel-ish

1 Quart Water
3/4 Cup Washed Raw Sugar
5 oz Ginger, sliced
4 Very Spicy dried chile (Chile de Arbol)
1 tsp green cardamom seeds
4 whole cloves

4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 tsp Yeast


METHOD: Bloom yeast in lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Bring 24 oz water and all sugar to simmer. Add ginger and spices to blender bowl with remaining water and puree. (Blender works well for me in these amounts, but if you have a juicer that can juice ginger root, go for it.) Pour through cheesecloth to filter. Press as much liquid out of ginger solids as possible, I use a sturdy potato ricer. Add ginger juice, vinegar, and water to hot sugar solution and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and bottle in clean sanitized containers, leaving some headroom. Seal tightly and place in a warm dark place for 5-8 hours, depending on temperature and how feisty your yeast is. Move to refrigeration when the bottles are firm to the touch. Yeast (tan) and Ginger starch (white) will fall out of solution. When serving, open carefully over bowl to catch potential over-foam.

I tried a bunch of frontier style booze add-ons with this, Jamaican Rum, Rye Whiskey, Bourbon, Genever, etc. I enjoyed none of them as much as the drink on its own.

Eventually I gave in and tried mixing it with the obvious choice, Dry Gin. Yep, that’s it.

Switchel-ish High Ball

1 1/2 oz Beefeater
1 oz Soda water
3 oz Switchel

Build and stir carefully in an iced Collins Glass. Garnish with crystallized ginger.

Milk Punch Spiel

A friend sent me the following questions, and I realized I had never really gotten around to writing up my conclusions or hints after making many a batch of clarified Milk Punch.

“I’ve been thinking about how effective it would be to make a clarified milk “stock” of sorts: heat milk and add to lemon only, then refrigerate and strain through cheesecloth. Then wouldn’t you be able to develop recipes a lot more readily than overnight batches? Once you get the flavor down you could do it all the regular way to make it clearer. Would you have a general proportion to make this stock with? Also, it’s only the whey left, right? So it would be more expedient to use non-fat milk?”

Haven’t I ever given you my Milk Punch Spiel?

As far as I can tell, the primary reason to make Milk Punch is so punch can be bottled and put down in a cellar for later use.

This is why Charles Dickens ended up with bottles of Milk Punch in his cellar inventory when he died.

Adding milk and filtering the punch through the curdled milk solids does an amazing job at fining and filtration. It removes pretty much any impurities down to much of the color from barrel aging or caramel color.

You should have seen the apple punch I made before filtering. It literally looked like really brown, cloudy apple cider. Truly disgusting. I was dubious that the Milk could filter it! I wish I’d taken a picture, so I could have a before and after!

As a bonus, filtering through the milk solids does an amazing job of “rectifying” harsh spirits and marrying the various flavors of the punch.

I also believe that the cream in the Milk does a sort of fat washing, which gives some of the unctuous flavor you get for the punch. That is why I have always used whole milk.

I have also had the best results using Straus, as they don’t homogenize their milk.

When I’ve used other Milk, I’ve had a hard time getting clarity.

David Wondrich has suggested that the best way to filter Milk Punch is through a filter used for filtering Biodiesel. I’ve never really investigated, but from my cursory reading, it is possible that using the correct combination of filter mesh size and materials, you could do some sort of pressure filtration.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is using a centrifuge to separate the milk solids.

On the whole, though, the thing is, once you have a well developed milk mesh in your filter, it really is the Milk Solids which do the best job filtering the punch.

Anyway, I don’t know if just combining whey with punch base will really be even close to simulating Milk Punch.

For what it is worth, I understand that Dillon & Alex have made Milk Punches an important part of their work at Novella. Amusingly, when I last talked to Dillon, he was like, “What do you do with all the cheese?” Apparently, they are accumulating a lot of it.

Sadly, after acting as filtration for booze and the less nice elements of the punch, I do not really think you can do anything with the cheese. It just tastes nasty.

Over the 2013 holidays I visited a bar in Chicago. They were serving a basic brandy based clarified Milk Punch. Chatted a bit with the bar manager re: filtration and he said he makes a habit of leaving the milk in the Milk Punch overnight. That it makes filtration easier.

So, I made two batches based on the exact same infusion: one where I left the milk in overnight and another where I did my usual of only leaving the milk in for a half an hour and then filtering the punch through the solids.

He was right, the milk essentially turns to hard cheese, making getting the milk solids out of the punch really easy and filtration a breeze.

However, after filtering the milk solids out, the punch is not very clear with a lot of darkness from tea and spice floating around. I left it to sit over another night and it did settle out pretty well.

However, giving our restaurant manager a blind tasting between the two, he strongly preferred the one where I used my usual process.

The punch where I did the usual method has the unctuous nature that I enjoy and the ingredients taste mellowed and well integrated. The fruit in the punch is clear and much more apparent.

The overnight steep of milk tastes really harsh by comparison. Strongly of booze and the fruit is not as clear. Also, it seems much thinner, more bitter, and kind of nasty. Basically, like a not very good day old plain punch you have chilled in the refrigerator.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Prep.

Prep.

If you looked at the pictures on the Posole Post, you might have noticed that there was more prep on the table than was used in the Posole.

I also made another soup, one I’ve made variations on over the years, Pureed Squash and Apple Soup.

I often make this with Indian spices, Curry and Ginger, but when I mentioned that this time, Mrs Flannestad pointed out that we already had one spicy soup in the Posole, so maybe the second should be mild and simple.

You’ll notice that there is a lot more mirepoix in this soup. If you’re making a vegetarian soup, you always need to up the vegetable content of the soup to make up for the lack of meat flavor components.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 Onions, chopped
2 Stalk Celery, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
1 tsp dried Thyme
1 tsp dried Tarragon
Olive Oil

1 Medium large Butternut Squash, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped

1 Cup Apple Juice
1 Cup Dry White Wine or Lillet Blanc
Salt & Pepper

METHOD: Sweat onions, Celery, Carrots and herbs in Olive Oil until tender. Add white wine to deglaze and cook off a bit of the alcohol. Add Squash, Apples, and Apple Juice and cook until squash is tender. Puree in a food processor or blender.

Guinness Ginger Bread Cake.

Guinness Ginger Bread Cake.

Lastly, for Dessert I made this Guinness Ginger Bread Cake originally from the Gramercy Tavern in New York.

It is delicious and easy enough to make that even a non-baker like me can pull it off.

The use of leavening in a cake is first recorded in a recipe for gingerbread from Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery, published in Hartford in 1796; I guess you could say it is the original great American cake. Early-19th-century cookbooks included as many recipes for this as contemporary cookbooks do for chocolate cake. This recipe, from Claudia Fleming, pastry chef at New York City’s Gramercy Tavern, is superlative—wonderfully moist and spicy.
Ingredients

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Special equipment:

a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan

Accompaniment:

unsweetened whipped cream

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.

Read More Epicurious Link to Recipe

Chicken Posole

Rancho Gordo Posole.

Rancho Gordo Posole.

The other day I happened to be at the Ferry Building during the day. Since there is a new Rancho Gordo store at the Ferry Building, I couldn’t resist taking a look at the products on display. Technically, I was shopping for Beans to use for Red Beans and Rice on Fat Tuesday, but I had a hard time resisting purchasing Posole.

I used to make Posole for Pasqual’s Southwestern Deli in Madison, Wisconsin back in the day, but I haven’t made it at home ever. Just seemed a little troublesome. Canned Posole kernels suck and the whole soaking and cooking thing for dried fresh hominy is time consuming.

But, we had some folks coming over for dinner, and I figured no time like the present.

I looked at a few recipes for Posole on the Internets, but didn’t see any that were exactly what I wanted to make: Chicken with fresh Poblanos and pureed dried chiles. So, I just sort of went with what I felt like making. FYI, the heat in this is mostly coming from the Poblanos, but they are highly variable. The ones I got this time were pretty zippy, but sometimes they are no spicier than green peppers. If you feel like you need some extra heat, add cayenne peppers either as powder or to the dried chile sauce.

It turned out well, so mostly writing it down here, so I don’t forget what I did, and in case someone who was over wants to make it themselves.

If anyone else is looking for something similar, and feels ambitious, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Posole, Finished

Posole, Finished

Chicken Posole

1 Chicken, Cut into quarters
1/2 Carrot, coarsely chopped
1/2 Onion, coarsely chopped
1 Stalk Celery, coarsely chopped
4 Whole Cloves
1/2 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
4 Sprig Thyme

1 Pound Posole

12 Guajillo Chiles, stemmed and seeded
8 Dried Cascabel Chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 Carrot
1 Onion
1 Stalk Celery
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
Olive or other cooking oil

Cooked Chicken Meat, Chopped
8 Small Zucchini, Chopped and sauteed
8 Poblano Peppers, roasted, skinned, stemmed, seeded, and sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Oregano, Chopped
Salt

Cilantro, chopped
Radish, thinly sliced
Avocado, slices
Lemon or lime wedges

METHOD:

The Day Before: Soak dried posole in plenty of water. Place cut up chicken, onions, celery, carrots, and spices in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a low simmer and continue to cook until chicken is done. Remove chicken meat from bones, cool, and refrigerate. Return bones and skin to pot. Continue to cook as long as time allows. Strain solids out of stock, cool, and refrigerate.

Drain posole and add to large pot. Cover with chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and cook until it begins to be tender, about an hour and a half. When Posole is tender, salt generously.

While you are waiting for Posole to cook: Cover dried chiles with water, bring to a simmer, and cook until rehydrated. Puree cooked chiles in a blender or food processor and run through a sieve to catch seeds or large pieces of chile skin. Reserve chile puree. Sautee zucchini in oil and reserve. Sweat garlic, onions, celery, and carrots in oil until tender. Deglaze with dry white wine or vermouth and add to Posole pot. Add cooked and chopped chicken to Posole pot. Add Zucchini to Posole pot. Add Roasted Poblanos to Posole pot. Add Chile Puree to Posole pot. Simmer over low heat. Serve with Radish, Cilantro, Avocado, and Lemon wedges for garnish. It will be even better the next day. Makes about 5 Quarts.

Roasting Peppers.

Roasting Peppers.

Dried Chiles.

Dried Chiles.

Prep.

Prep.

Posole, Pot

Posole, Pot

Lime Burst Garnish

You may recall, I posted a drink called the Chance of Showers.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the so called “lime burst” garnish or the drink itself.

To remedy the situation, I have made a movie!

Chance of Showers

1 dash Angostura Bitters
Juice 1/2 Lime (or 1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (or to taste)
Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer*, chilled
2 oz Ron Zacapa 23
Lime Burst, with a pickled ginger stuffed peppadew pepper http://savoystomp.com/2013/10/11/ginger-beer-take-2/

Fill an old-fashiohned glass with cracked ice. Add Bitters, Lime Juice, and rich simple syrup to glass and stir to combine. Pour in chilled ginger beer to nearly fill and stir again. Float on Ron Zacapa and garnish.

So the components of the garnish are the lime skirt and a peppadew pepper stuffed with pickled ginger.

My first thought was to do a red spicy pepper in the middle of a simple lime wheel.

When I workshopped the drink at Holy Water, my friend John Ottman said I really needed a better garnish if I wanted to win. The judges go for that sort of thing. Though I did ignore his advice about vintage glassware. Anyway, I knew I needed to improve my presentation.

When I was in Boston earlier this year, one of the bartenders showed me a cool garnish which was a sort of citrus jellyfish thing.

Also, earlier this year, when working at South, in the Jazz center, the opening bartender did all the bar prep and garnish prep. For a long time I pushed off the lime skinning for lime pigtails to the barbacks, but eventually I bit the bullet and figured out how to do it. There is a knack to getting the ice pick into the lime pith at the right angle between the lime flesh and the lime skin.

I was thinking I would try to combine the citrus skin jellyfish with the lime garnish, but the lime was too thick to work quite the same way as the citrus zest squid.

So I started playing with the lime skirt and realized it made a kind of cool grass skirt effect when it was bent. Maybe I could combine the pepper idea with the tentacle idea?

Lime Squid

The first try was a little “tentacular.”

But when I flipped it over, it turned out to look pretty cool.

Holiday Ginger Beer

Another idea for a DIY Holiday Gift with a relatively short turnaround time.

Why not spice up your Ginger Beer with some holiday zest?

Holiday Ginger Beer

Holiday Ginger Beer

Holiday Ginger Beer

10 oz Ginger, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 Orange
4 Allspice Berries, crushed
5 Cloves, crushed
1 small stick Ceylon Cinnamon, crushed

1 1/2 Cup Washed Raw Sugar

32 oz Water
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast


METHOD: Bloom yeast in lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Over low heat, dissolve sugar in 24oz water with spices and orange zest. Add ginger to blender bowl with 16 oz water and puree. (Blender works well for me in these amounts, but if you have a juicer that can juice ginger root, go for it.) Pour through cheesecloth to filter. Press as much liquid out of ginger solids as possible, I use a sturdy potato ricer. Add ginger juice and water to hot sugar solution and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and bottle in clean sanitized containers, leaving some headroom. Seal tightly and place in a warm dark place for 5-8 hours, depending on temperature and how feisty your yeast is. Move to refrigeration when the bottles are firm to the touch. Yeast (tan) and Ginger starch (white) will fall out of solution. When serving, open carefully over bowl to catch potential over-foam. Makes a half gallon and a bit more.

Sassafras Anecdote

“Well, to make Root Beer, you’d have to actually use Sassafras, but since those kids at UC Davis proved it is dangerous…”

“Uh, what? Kids at UC Davis?”

I was chatting with an acquaintance about Gruit, Ginger, and Root Beers, and she threw this into the conversation.

According to her, a group of grad students at UC Davis were bored with their research projects and decided to use the facilities to research the potentially hazardous nature of several flavorings commonly used in soft drinks, because according to her, the students thought the FDA never really researched food additives. Sticking it to the man, using grant money and facilities to do research they thought would benefit humanity.

They picked 5 flavorings, one of which was Sassafras Oil, and dosed up a bunch of their lab rats with them.

Of the 5, the only strong correlation they got was with the Sassafras.

Now I’m going to have to confirm this!

Drinks for 40-60 People

“Hey Erik, would you be interested in making drinks for a surprise birthday party for my wife Dec 15?”

Request: Drinks for a daytime party for 40-60 people on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013.
Requirements: Lonsdale, Bloody Mary, Whiskey Punch, Mimosa

“This seems like a pretty doable few drinks, as long as I get most of it done ahead.”

I have a job, and it’s a busy time of the year, so I will absolutely need to squeeze the preparation into hour segments on several nights before the event.

Proposal: 5 drinks, 2 drinks per person. Bloody Mary, Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch, Lonsdale, Mimosa. Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer with Dark Rum or Bourbon. Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Sparkling Water. Pickle garnish bar for Bloody Marys.

Pre-planning:

Portion planning! 1 1/2 oz booze per drink. 2 Drinks per person is 3 oz booze per person times 40-60 total of 120-180. Divide by the 4 drinks, means I need 32-45oz of each booze. Basically, a 1.75 litre bottle of each booze should be about right, handily. And let’s say a gallon of Ginger Beer and a gallon of Bloody Mary Mix.

Make sure I have enough Ginger, Sugar, and yeast to make 1 Gallon of Ginger Beer.

I want drinks to move quickly, Lonsdale and Whiskey Punch will be fully batched and just poured over ice and garnish.

Bloody will be a pour mix and vodka over ice, mix briefly, and serve, with self-serve garnish.

I can only really effectively make a half gallon batch of ginger beer at a time, so that will need to be done at home over two nights earlier in the week.

For the Lonsdale, instead of shaking the Lonsdale with Basil leaf, I will infuse Gin with Basil for 2 days.

Wednesday

image

First Half Gallon Batch Ginger Beer, see Chance of Showers post for recipe, and double it.

I also had a panic attack about drink service for 60 by myself and called up a friend to ask if he might want to attend the party and help out if needed.

Thursday

image

Second Half Gallon batch Ginger Beer.
Infuse 2 Bunch Basil in 1.75 litres Gin.

Friday

Make Bloody Mary Mix

To be honest, I’ve never worked in a bar or at an event which serves Bloody Marys. I also am not super fond of the drink. However, I do like Sangrita so I have an idea to cross the two drinks, but am not sure if I should go the more traditional route. I run the idea past a friend who gives me the advice, “There will be a lot of foodies there, right? You should be creative, that’s the one I’d want to drink!”

Pureed Chiles

Bloody Sangrita Mix

12 Guajillo Chiles
12 Cascabel Chiles
12 Chile Negro
8 Chile de Arbol
1 tsp Cumin Seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp Coriander Seed, toasted and ground
8 Whole Allspice, toasted and ground

3 Quarts Tomato Juice
1 Pint Pomegranate Juice
1 Pint Blood Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
A little Rooster Sauce
Salt

Stem and seed the chiles. Cover with a plate and add water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until chiles are tender. Puree chiles in a blender with enough steeping water to loosen. Sieve pureed chiles to catch seeds and larger pieces of skin. Combine chile puree with spices and other liquid ingredients. Adjust salt and spice level using rooster sauce and salt.

image

Make Cape Fear Punch Base

Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch is just a basic traditional Whiskey Punch. I will make the base and then dilute with sparkling water and sparkling wine the day of the event. The garnish is grated nutmeg.

Saturday

image

Make Lonsdale Base

First, strain Basil infused gin off of leaves.

The Lonsdale is normally, 1 1/2 oz Gin, 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Apple Juice, 1/2 oz Honey Syrup, shaken with basil and strained into a glass.

Metric makes this easy: 1.75 liter Basil Infused Gin, 1 Liter Apple Juice, 500ml Lemon Juice, 500ml Honey Syrup, 25ml Sparkling water added day of event. Note, since I am chilling the base and pouring over ice, I am increasing the dilution with extra apple and a little sparkling water. Essentially punch-i-fying the Lonsdale recipe.

Sunday

Buy ice, basil leaf (Lonsdale garnish), nutmeg (Whiskey Punch garnish), Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice.
Arrive at event.
Add sparkling water & sparkling wine to Whiskey Punch. Sparkling water into Lonsdale Punch. Pick Basil garnish. Cut limes for Ginger Beer Garnish. Set out Pickle selection for Bloody Mary Garnish Bar.

Rock & Rolla.

image

Lessons: The Bloody Mary, Ginger Beer, and Lonsdales were complete successes, especially the Lonsdale Punch. I broke one of my cardinal party rules with The Cape Fear Punch, that is, never make something for a party which you haven’t made before. I figured that having made Whiskey punches before this would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, the Cape Fear Punch had fewer partisans than any other drink that day. Perhaps the recipe could have used some tweaking, it seemed a little dry. Or maybe I shoulda just made Old-Fashionds…

In any case, I’ve worked at a lot of events this summer, and I felt like this one went pretty well.

On one hand, there was a fair bit of work and planning ahead, and serving out of spigots isn’t dead sexy.

On the other hand, I could walk away from the bar and chat with friends while people served themselves AND the drinks were super tasty.

Those aren’t bad things.