Monday, 24 October 2011

Mixmo LXII :- The Hard stare

Well its another Mixology Monday and this time the theme of Morning drinks has been chosen by Kevin at the cocktail enthusiast.

I went with a breakfast drink rather than a pick me up/hair of the dog. Taking inspiration from Harry Craddock and a rather famous bear we get the Hard Stare.

1 Good large measure of dry gin
1 barspoon of marmalade
a large dash of orange bitters
Shake very hard over ice, single strain & serve

Normally I'd double strain a clear shaken drink, but with this you want the marmalade fragments in the glass as they provide a sparkle. As you can see from the photo I've used shredless marmalade, it makes a better looking drink. Also the orange bitters I use for this are quite odd, they are more of a bitter orange liqueur, that comes in at 20% abv, so I use almost a spoon full rather than the more traditional dash. They replace the lemon juice (which turns the drink cloudy) in Harry's original recipe.

As an aside I tried to order this drink for breakfast a couple of times in Las Vegas, unfortunately they don't seem to keep marmalade behind the bars out there, so I had to go with out.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Last time I made mince pies I vowed I was going to make my own mince meat & here it is (sort of)
I used Delia's recipe but I left out the almonds and used mixed fruits (a pre-mix of currants, sultanas & citrus peel) with some spare windfall apples from the orchard. I may also have used more booze than Delia does because I like my mince pies boozy.


There it all is in the bowl, absorbing the fluids, before it goes into the oven for the suet to melt.
Whilst making this batch I realised that the smoker runs at about the temperature required, so I whipped up another batch adjusting the mixed spice to be a bit more BBQish by adding a pinch of 5 spice & a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper. I swapped the brandy for Bourbon too and smoked it over maple for sweetness.

Right now both batches are in large jars in the cellar, in another couple of weeks I'll put them in smaller jars (with another splash of booze) and then give some as gifts & turn the rest into delicious mince pies. Watch this space  

Friday, 14 October 2011

Lincolnshire sausages

I've a superabundance of sage & a sausage stuffer.
So Lincolnshires (or as they are known in our house hippopotamus & duckweed). Its a simple recipe (though you need to tone down the pepper)

1kg pork shoulder
200g breadcrumbs
15g pepper
15g salt
50g fresh sage

That's a lot of fresh sage: look
the next 10 grammes, pretty much obscured the scales to the extent that it wasn't worth photographing them.
The sage, bread, salt & pepper went into the minichop & got blitzed up into a homogeneous mass of "filler". Meanwhile the pork gets chopped into rough cubes & gets fed through the mincer on a medium plate. Mix the whole lot together (get your hands in and get it evenly distributed). I then put the whole lot in the fridge for a couple of hours, even though this isn't an emulsified sausage it's probably a good idea to let the meat rest. Then its out with the stuffer. This time we tried the more orthodox stuff a large ring & then twist technique, which didn't really work out for us so we went back to stuff & twist.

Lincolnshire sausages aren't really a breakfast sausage, you want a banger or a pure pork sausage for that. The over pepperiness of these was a bit of a challenge, but using them in a nice warming sausage casserole seemed to find them a perfect home.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Seelbach cocktail

A good champagne cocktail is a thing of beauty.This is both good & not all that well known, which is a shame.
Its a slightly odd beast as it uses a lot of bitters, calling for anywhere between 7 dashes & a barspoon of both Angastoura & Peychaud's, which is responsible for the awesome colour.

Bourbon is used as a base rather than the more usual (in champagne circles) cognac. That & Cointreau provide sweetness, the Champagne brings dryness and the bitters depth & complexity. There are a couple of ways of making it, this is my preferred method.

25ml Bourbon
15ml Cointreau
7 dashes Angastoura bitters
7 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Stir down over ice & then strain into a champagne flute, top with good Champagne.

As you can see we tried a cherry garnish, which works well enough.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Filé gumbo

Its more than the line from a song, its an actual thing, that you can eat. You need filé powder (which is ground sassafras leaves) and Andouille sausage and some other bits & pieces too. Most importantly the Holy trinity of Cajun/Creole cooking :- Green bell pepper, Onion & Celery. I'll come clean of the 3 I only really like Onions, fortunately the others dissolve if you cook them long enough and gumbo gets cooked for a Loooong time.

The base of gumbo is a roux. Every single recipe I found suggests you need to drink whilst making the roux, so here goes. Fry some chicken thighs, till brown and the sausage, pour the fat into a big old pan, add butter & melt it and then add flour, turn the heat low & stir and scrape and stir & scrape. Keep stirring & scraping till the roux is Milk chocolatey coloured (about 2 beers of time, or 45 minutes for the more scientifically minded).
 DO NOT LET THE FLOUR BURN ! Because that wrecks everything & you have to start again. Whilst the roux is going on boil the chicken, which will make you a light chicken stock as well as cooking the chicken down for you.

Once you've a lovely roux, throw in the trinity veggies and any others you are using (I know Okra should go in at this point, but I'm not that keen, even if its where gumbo gets its name) and soften them. Add seasonings & spices. Then add your stock and your meat (Sausage & chicken) and let it bubble over a low heat for hours. I reduced my gumbo a little too much at the end, so it was thicker than most. Serve with white rice, a sprinkle of filé and some buttery bread.

Maybe not the most authentic gumbo as I amalgamated 3 recipes and information from an ex-NOLA resident, but it was damn tasty and next time there is cheap shellfish going I'll be making another.

The recipes are here
and the highly recommended baconconcentrate's gumbo-shops recipe

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Andouille sausage

This post  suggested that Andouille (at least the cajun sort) was easy enough to make at home, the only slightly tricky ingredient was Prague powder. A hot smoked sausage, what's not to like there ?

First off you need some pork

and some spices (some of these are from the banger making)

The annoying part of making andouille is the chopping. The paupered chef recipe calls for half the pork to be chopped quite small & the rest to be minced. Grab your sharpest knife & cut the pork into chunks, put half of it into the mincer on a medium plate and then chop the rest of the chunks into tiny (about 1cm) cubes. Using cold hands mix the spices, the onion, the garlic, the cure & the meat (ground & chunked) into a large bowl and let it sit in the fridge for a while.

Break out the sausage stuffer and make the sausages. All the usual sausage stuffing things apply. One slight variation was I used pork casings instead of beef, it was just what my butcher had...

They then go rest in the fridge overnight prior to smoking. Since we had the smoker fired up for several little jobs & there was no pecan available we went with maple and let them smoke. Once done I quenched them as best I could and then sliced one open to see how it tasted.

It wasn't as spicy as I was expecting, but it was tasty, in fact it was rather moreish. If I hadn't promised some to a friend, and didn't have some cooking plans (hello gumbo) for it I think rather a lot would have been eaten there & then