Monday, 15 October 2012

MxMo LXVI :- It ain't easy being green

 Gosh its been a while, and summer has passed (mainly in a damp whimper round here ). Anyway Ed at Wordsmithing Pantagruel decided on MxMo LXVI. Now I've taken a pretty loose interpretation because I was focussing on the whole end of summer thing. To the extent I was down at the allotment on a frosty October morning & realised that the Fennel needed to be dealt with before the frost turned it to rotting mulch.
Now there were a few bulbs of fennel left, too many to use in one dish. So out came the Kilner jars & the vinegar. I added a strong dash of Chartreuse Elixir vegetale to the pickling mix and let the whole lot stand for a while.
Then came time to turn it into a cocktail.

Pickled Fennel Sazerac

So with it being Autumn I wanted a warming drink, not a long cool fruity drink and the sazerac seemed ideal, the fennel adding a last hurrah of Summer in the background.  Now there are arguments about whether a sazerac is made with rye or cognac. I tend to settle them using a 50-50 mix.

3-4 pieces of Pickled Fennel
1/2 barspoon of pickling liquor
4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1pt Rye whiskey
1pt Cognac

Muddle the fennel, pickle juice & Peychaud's in the bottom of a mixing glass, add a couple of cube of ice, the rye & the cognac & stir down. Double strain into a chilled glass, add an ice cube or two & a couple of fennel fronds as garnish. Sip in front of a roaring fire

Monday, 8 October 2012

Sausage & Potato Pie

It's autumn, so time for pie & stew & hearty warm meals that spend the afternoon cooking.
With this in Mind (and slightly embarrassed that it hadn't been opened in anger) I grabbed pieminster's "Pie for all seasons" cookbook and flicked to Autumn. I found many delights, the pulled pork pie looked great, but life got in the way & I needed something a bit less work. Sausage & potato looked spot on. Potatoes, apples and cider I had from the allotment, so just a case of nipping to the butchers and grabbing some sausage. The pie uses a suet crust, which is interesting, because I normally steam that rather than baking it.

Its an easy make, slice & par-boil the potatoes, fry an onion in butter add the apple & sugar then pour in cider & reduce. Empty the meat out of the sausages and mix it & everything else in a big bowl. Scoop the filling into your pie. Pop the lid on & put it in the oven for 40-45 minutes. If you've a digital thermometer its probably an idea to poke it into the pie to check the filling is done. Slice & serve. It's pretty filling you won't need much alongside it. I reckon its going to be pretty good cold

Next time I think I might make my own sausage meat, that way I can fiddle with the flavours as much as I like.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Soft shelled crab

Soft shelled crab by anam_uk
Soft shelled crab, a photo by anam_uk on Flickr.

Oh I love soft-shelled crab, so when my fishmonger had a pile of them, well I just had to buy a couple.

In the top right they are sat in my sink ready to be rinsed off. Our fishmonger is a nice person & had removed the gills, face & tails. That left me with the all important decision, how to cook them. Now I was tempted to go with tempura, but all that mucking about with icy soda water1 was  putting me off. So I just dredged them in seasoned flour & chucked them in a hot pan with a bit of chilli & a bit of oil. 2 minutes each side and onto the plate, with a bit of salad, mainly leaves & fennel from the allotment and a very satisfying light lunch2 was just there. 

1OK not strictly necessary, but to get a light batter chilled carbonated water is the easiest thing to use 
2You eat the whole thing, which is pretty rich. I could probably mange 2, but 1 is an ideal light lunch, half makes a fine appetizer  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Clearly irresponsible

I was invited to compete in a Havana club rum competition, I originally got the wrong rum, thinking we were using the 5 or 7 yr old gold rums not the 3yr old, that shaped my idea for the drink. As a result of that & the article on agar clarification I'd read  and some pouring over Embury I decided to go with a new variation on the Hemingway Daiquiri. 

The first job was to get & taste Havana club 3yr old. Its a white rum, but aged in oak barrels, giving it depth and a very pale straw colour, a great cocktailing rum really. Then it was time to try the gel clarification. The first test gave glorious results as a thin stream of pale yellow juice ran & dripped from the muslin. For some reason though the clarified grapefruit & lime didn't play well together. Using cordial instead of juice for the lime fixed the problem, which meant the daiquiri was a bit less Hemingway, but seriously how much of that diabetes was due to the great man's rum habits ? I now had a working recipe so it was time to clarify more grapefruit ready for the actual competition. 

Disaster this came out less than crystal clear (not a technique problem, just a hiccup in the process). A bit of filtration took care of that (after a tense couple of hours where I worried enough juice would make it through the filter). Daiquiris are normally shaken to get them good and cold, that wasn't going to work here, so a bit of mucking about with an instant freeze pack allowed me to chill my rum and away we went 

I was up against some seriously stiff competition, so I'm reasonably happy not to win and it was a great night of mixology & rum, so here is my take on the Hemingway daiquiri,

The clearly irresponsible 

60ml Havana club 3yr old rum (another white rum will work, but won't be as good)
20ml Clarified Grapefruit juice 
15ml Maraschino liqueur
10ml Lime cordial (I use Roses' see debates about the Gimlet)

Stir over ice, double strain (Hemingway was particular about ice in his drinks) and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Here it is with an ordinary Hemingway for comparison purposes.(Hemingway left, Clearly right)