Thursday, 29 July 2010

Mai Tai

I'm not normally a fan of Tiki style cocktails, since they are usually rum(s) disguised by fruit juice(s). The Mai Tai has a bit of a storied & complex history, the one above is Mr Boston's version of Trader Vic's. Minus golden rum as I didn't have any. The mix of lime,cointreau & orgeat gives quite a good base to the rum, the dark rum float gives it a bit of a hit. Not my normal fare, since I tend to like bitingly dry drinks, but not a bad summer sup.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Pizza !

Over at lifehacker they're pretty serious about pizza. Pizza is pretty nice, I can get one delivered with little more effort than opening a new tab on my browser, so what's the fuss about ?

Homemade pizzas
Turns out pizza is one of those things worth the hassle. Heston Blumenthal goes into his usual depth when he makes pizza in "Perfection" Kilos of tomatoes get used, dough is prefermented and so on. The main thing he talks about though is the temperature at which the pizza gets cooked. Wood fired pizza ovens are really hot, hotter than you can get out of a domestic oven. Fortunately there are some simple solutions to get you started.

First, dough. My pizzas were made with a simple flour,water,yeast and salt dough. It takes about 10 minutes & doesn't need to prove though letting it rest always helps. Toppings, cheese & tomato are glutamate rich, so a well made pizza should have a strong umami flavour. To get my tomato sauce I butchered a ketchup recipe leaving out the sugar & the final reduction and fiddling with the seasoning (Basically I left out the spices & added more herbs). Takes about an hour, though most of that is the sauce bubbling away on its own. The 2 pizza halves up top are potato & prosciutto (top) and Salami & mushroom (bottom). To cook them I used the skillet method, heat a cast iron pan on full heat for about 20 minutes, meanwhile get the grill going at full heat.
Slip the prepared pizza onto the bottom of the skillet(*) and whiz everything under the grill, 2 minutes later you have pizza. Really good pizza, OK it takes more than opening a tab on your browser (I had to do that to get the dough recipe) but the taste is worth it.

(*) Sounds simple, it's not. You are going to be wrestling with a floppy circle of dough, loaded with sauce,cheese & toppings and a ferociously hot pan. Get help, make sure you've got tools and take care. 

Friday, 16 July 2010

Dirty Dirty Martini

Funny how summer leads to ice cold refreshing cocktails.
This combines my love of Gin with my love of BBQ.
You will need, GOOD olives, a hot BBQ and a skewer or two.
This takes a bit of timing, but make up a very very cold version of your favourite martini.
Thread your required number of olives onto a skewer & BBQ. First they'll sweat, then they'll begin to char at this point take them off the heat. Drop the hot Olives into the cold martini they should split, dirtying up your martini nicely.

There you go one dirty martini.

(I mean it about good olives, thats why I'm using Kalamatas)

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Cucumber martini

This dangerous concoction is courtesy of Larousse. They make it with vodka, but as you know, I'm a gin martini person.

Peel & roughly chop half a cucumber, you are going to muddle this with some sugar in the bottom of your mixing glass to get as much liquid out of the cucumber as possible. Having successfully muddled add a dash of dry vermouth (to counter the sugar), a very generous handful of ice and as much gin as you need(*) stir down for a good 30-40 seconds then double strain to serve.
Drink, very very carefully. On a hot day the refreshing nature of ice-cold cucumber will dominate pretty much everything, don't be fooled, there is a good dose of hard liquor in there which ever way you choose to make this one.

(*) Taking into account the number of them you are making (half a cucumber will do upto 4) and how strong/dry you want the final drinks to be.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Orange Jelly

I was given a copy of the jelly book(*) so I got down to one of the simpler recipes.
Orange jelly, I wanted to have a go at strawberry, but getting the juice out of the strawberries is a bit of a palaver, oranges just go on the juicer. The recipe is pretty simple requiring orange juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup & gelatine. I'm afraid all the recipes include gelatine, the reasons are given in a chapter about gelling agents as is a conversion to agar-agar for those who aren't able to use gelatine. I also just grabbed my cocktailing gomme of the shelf rather than  make up a new batch of sugar syrup. The technique is fairly easy and the difference in work over say a packet jelly is not huge (something that can't be said about the wilder technique jellies that'll be making an appearance later). The taste however is way better, the authors say making your own jelly is a revelation and they are right, I recommend it to everyone. Oh yes unmoulding is very tense, but the results speak for themselves, treat yourself (oh and buy or make some good ice-cream to go with it).

(*)Jello in American

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Ain't nothin' but a hound dog

My neighbours have a glut of raspberries from their allotment, so it was time to turn them into a drink.

A simple variation on the bloodhound seemed to fit the bill

I just swapped the strawberries for raspberries, I used a few more raspberries as they pulp down a lot more than strawbs do.

1 Large handful of raspberries
1 pt sweet vermouth
1 pt dry vermouth
4 pts Gin

Muddle down the raspberries, add the vermouths & gin, shake hard over ice, double strain. (This is the hard/irritating part as the pips & pulp clog the strainer quite quickly).

That's the resulting drink on the left, and that surprisingly is its natural, unenhanced colour. If you like raspberries and have enjoyed the other bloodhound variations, this should help perk up your summer drinking

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Gooseberry Fool

Back in may I made fool, mentioning the superior nature of gooseberry over most other fools.
Somebody somewhere heard me & sent a punnet of organic gooseberries in the fruit & veg box. Gooseberries are often seen as time consuming to work with, but with a good sieve & a food processor you can skip all the topping & tailing. Simply wash them and then drop into a pan with either a splash of water & a spoonful of sugar or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous use either elderflower cordial or elderflower liqueur. After 20-25, it should all have gone a bit mushy. Pour that into your food processor & give it a whiz or three, then pour the resulting purée through a sieve, this will take out the seeds & the tops & tails of the berries leaving you with a bowl of smooth green loveliness. Unless you've got very sweet  (red/pink usually) gooseberries, you are going to have to add some sugar. Now is the ideal time whilst the purée is warm. Just remember that the cream will add some sweetness, so add perhaps half a spoonful less than you think you'll need. Stir so all the sugar is dissolved & blended and then put it into the fridge to cool.
Once the gooseberry mixture has cooled whip up some cream (about 1/2 a pint /300ml will do) to the soft peak stage. Then fold in the purée  in stages. I like to leave the last lot roughly swirled, so you get ribbons of gooseberry through the fool. Then dish up into glasses/bowls/ramekins remembering that its quite a rich dish and pop them back into the fridge to chill before serving.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Death in the Afternoon

Well that was a longer pause than I meant, but let us get on with the booze.

Death in the afternoon is possibly the best known absinthe cocktail, it's credited to Ernest Hemingway, and this is how he tells you to make it :-

"pour 1 jigger of absinthe into a Champagne flute, top with Champagne until the correct opacity is reached."

 I've found that this tends to make a bit of a something & nothing drink, where the anise just dominates all the other flavours. There is a second method though. Soak a sugar cube in absinthe, place in the bottom of a Champagne flute & fill with champagne as normal.
This tends to clean the Champagne flavour profile and although the anise flavour is there its doesn't dominate.

The picture to the right is using Dom Perignon 2000 as the Champagne & la fee Parisian as the absinthe. Its a combination I quite like as it deals with the odd sweetness I find in Moet et Chandon's house style. There isn't really any need to go to these lengths, and I did make this because I could. Any dry champagne will work, and Prosecco can be used as a reasonable substitute (I find that Cava is far too sweet).

So next time you have a hot thirsty afternoon and some absinthe & Champagne indulge in one of these, or maybe 2 but take care, the mixture of the green fairy & bubbles is a heady one, and your evening might end up finishing earlier than you'd planned .