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Posts from the ‘Liquor’ Category

A Toast to 2012! (and a happy new year!)


I’m sneaking in one last post of 2012!  There is too much to reflect on here in this moment, but for the next few hours, I am celebrating all of what 2012 had to offer…and truly looking forward to an amazing 2013!

Let’s be honest, this particular evening…there is a good chance you have a drink in your hand and you are surrounded by friends and family.  Of course we will be popping a bottle of bubbly at midnight, but we are starting off the evening with one as well, accompanied by some Homemade Cranberry Vodka!

This process began about a month ago, with no recipe but a lot of internet research and it is very simple.

Housemade Cranberry Infused Vodka

1.  Buy cheap vodka.  (seriously, no need to buy the good stuff…the flavors you’ll infuse it with make up for any harshness straight out of the bottle)

2.  Use the extra bags of cranberries you had leftover from an overly ambitious thanksgiving.

3.  Pick through the cranberries to remove any that are soft or squishy and rinse them well.

4.  Toss them in a ziplock bag and use something heavy to smash them and pop them open.  I didn’t bother making sure that every single one had popped.  I gave it a good couple whacks, shook the bag around and whacked them a few more times.

5.  Using a funnel, or parchment rolled into a cone, put all the smushed cranberries into a clean, washed out, old juice bottle.

6.  Pour vodka in the bottle all the way to the top.  Now stash it away in a cool and dark(ish) location.  Shake the bottle at least once a day for the first week or so and then leave to steep for at least 3 weeks.

7.  Once the vodka has turned a deep red color, strain out all the cranberries and any small pieces…cheesecloth or a coffee filter work very well…and pour into a clean bottles, mason jars, etc.  The vodka should keep very well, especially in the freezer.

Now it’s time for the exciting part!

I haven’t settled on an official title for this drink…perhaps a New Year’s Sunset?  I’m open to thoughts and ideas!

Pour 1 oz. of cranberry vodka into the bottom of a flute.

Add in one dropper full of bitters.  We’re currently using Urban Moonshine Citrus Bitters, which was a gift from my brother’s in-laws a year or so ago.

Next…pop the champagne…which was actually a Cava from Trader Joe’s.  There are plenty of reviews out there…and they all say the same thing…a very good bubbly for the price-point.  In fact, the Carte Noire M. Chevalier Brut was recommended to me by a nice older gentleman in the aisle of TJ’s while searching for a decent bubbly for a party that wouldn’t break the bank.  He told a long story of a blind tasting, where everyone settled on this one as their favorite of the evening and were truly shocked when they revealed the bottle and saw the price of $6 a bottle!

Top with Cava and just a dash of simple syrup to even out the tannins in the cranberries.

Put a little twist of citrus on the rim of the glass and you are ready to start the celebrations!

Christmas Eve we created another festive cocktail with our homemade cranberry vodka.

Cranberry Pimm’s Cup
(for 2 short drinks)

2 oz. housemade cranberry vodka
1 oz. Pimm’s #1 Cup
1 dropper full of Urban Moonshine Citrus Bitters
2-3 oz. of Sprite

Shake over ice and pour into two martini glasses!

Cheers to 2012!

Ready or not…Here comes 2013!

(please celebrate safely!)

Hot Cross Bun(nie)s!


What do you get when you our boiling water down a rabbit hole…?

Hot Cross Bunnies! 

Okay, I kid.  But I do love some hot cross buns!  I came across a recipe on the King Arthur Flour site.  It seemed to have a nice balance of spiced dough with just a bit of sweetness not too much dried fruit.

Recipe can be found right here and the only changes I made were that used about half the total dried fruit called for in the recipe and only used currants.

I soaked them in rum as I did not have any apple juice in the house. This is a great trick to make sure that your dried fruit doesn’t steal all the moisture from your dough during the rising process.

No need to worry about the order of mixing either,  I added all the dry ingredients to the bowl, gave it a quick stir with the dough hook and then threw in the wet ingredients – eggs, milk and room temperature butter.

I happen to love the Proof function on my oven…it heats to about 80º (my guess is using the heat of the oven light), but it ensures that my rising dough stays warm and out-of-the-way of any drafts.

Note that it is not a super-puffy rise.

Just as the recipe stated, it makes 12-14 (for me – 14 exactly) and they are about the size of billiard balls.

And since I wanted warm toasty buns on Easter morning without having to wake up at the crack of dawn to get the dough going, I started it the evening before and left them formed in rolls over night in the fridge for the second rise.

I slashed the tops with a razor and let them sit on the counter to take the chill off of them while the oven heated.  Woody tried to get Cleo interested in them…which I don’t approve of.

Last step before the oven is to brush the tops with an egg white mixed with milk to help them brown up.

All seemed to go as planned although I cooked them a bit longer as they were so well chilled that I worried they would turn dark brown without the insides being cooked through.

Poof!  They magically turn into delicious and golden brown rolls,  Okay…maybe an oven was involved – at 375 for 20 minutes and at 350 for the remaining time.  In total, they baked for 30’ish minutes.  I know, very precise.

The dough only has a bit of brown sugar in it, so the icing was a nice addition.  (I can’t believe I actually advocated for icing…as I am almost categorically opposed to it…but I’ll admit…it was needed and delicious!

We are soon headed to a delicious brunch and therefore these were just a morning snack to hold us over until our 2:00 pm reservation.  Add in a steaming cup of coffee and it was a fabulous spring morning!

What are your Easter traditions?  Whatever they are I hope they are filled with delectable items and people you love and hopefully some delightful spring weather!

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

Bastille Day & a Little Liberté


Que faites-vous La Fête National? 

Although we were a day late in celebrations…we imbibed with France in mind.  Enter the Lillet-based Liberté cocktailWe’ve been inspired to purchase some eccentric liquors lately (and by we…I mean, the husband!) and have been mixing many a summer cocktail.  Bastille Day or the day the French stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French Revolution seemed reason enough to celebrate! Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn.

Lillet is an aperitif wine containing 85% Bordeaux wines and 15% macerated liquors.  It is also considered a tonic wine as it does contain quinine from one of the liquors included in the blend.  It has strong citrus  and floral notes!

Liberté Cocktail (by Nicole Cloutier and Jacqueline Patterson for Lillet, used with permission)
makes one cocktail

3 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Hendrick’s gin
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters (we used Urban Moonshine’s Organic Citrus Bitters)
garnish: orange peel

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of orange peel, twisted over the drink to release its essential oils.  (No oranges on hand, but thank goodness we have a Meyer lemon tree…the peel worked perfectly!)

We served our early summer evening cocktails with smoked salmon and caper spread from our favorite South Pas restaurant and market.

C’est Parfait!

Beer Review: Stone Vertical Epic


Epic Fail:  Drinking this shortly after purchasing it.  Potential epic win – what it could have tasted like if we had waited until December of 2012.

So the original idea was bottle conditioned ale, 1 batch made per year with each successive batch made 1 year, 1 month, and 1 day after the previous beer.

All of them designed to be enjoyed sometime after December 12, 2012.  This ale is also brewed with Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes as well as Chamomile.

We weren’t sure what to expect…the beer was incredibly floral, very acidic with absolutely no hop…which, to be totally transparent…is frequently what I enjoy in beers.  The hoppier the better!  Woody’s comments included sweet notes, and a bit soft.  It’s hard to imagine that after another two years of bottle conditioning that the beer would sharpen up.

Ultimately, this was not my favorite beer, but I do love me some Stone Brewery though…and I’ll continue to try anything new we see on the shelves and support the little guys!

 

Meyer Lemon Limoncello!


Because who can say no lemons and alcohol?  I mean, really????

Back in late winter, we had more lemons than we could think of things to do with them.  Until some friends of ours, mentioned that they make their own limoncello, and that it was quite a simple process.

Remember all those lemons!

We used our microplane and grated the rind off of A LOT of lemons and then you put that in alcohol.  We went with vodka.  Next, you let it sit in a cool, dark place for a couple of months.  Yep, just let it sit there.  Give the jar a shake every so often, this helps distribute the essential oils from the peel and zest.

Last week, it had been a few more than a couple months…probably at least 6 months…I decided it was time.

The time had come to strain the peels out from the vodka.  A few recipes I looked at recommended using cheesecloth, I substituted a coffee filter and fine strainer which worked well.  In the meantime, I made a simple syrup – with equal parts water and sugar…and simmering until the sugar has dissolved.  Let the simple syrup cool completely.

Once cool, add the simple syrup (ratio of 1:1) to the infused vodka, and pour into clean bottles or jars that will seal tightly.  Make sure to leave some head space if you plan on putting the mixture in the freezer.  The alcohol content should keep it from freezing solid, but it will still expand.

To take it one step further…you can make a limoncello crema by adding milk to the mixture.  I first mixed the vodka with the simple syrup and then added milk to the mixture as well before bottling it.  So the ratio is probably 1:3 milk to vodka/syrup.  Again, leave plenty of head space in the crema bottles, as this mixture will expand a bit more than the simple limoncello.

Once bottled, place in freezer.  You’ll want to let this mellow and marry for at least two weeks before tasting.  Typically, limoncello is enjoyed post-meal, ice-cold and in small doses.  You may need to let it sit on the counter for five minutes to make sure it is defrosted enough to pour smoothly.

Disclaimer:  We have yet to taste this fabulous creation…but we expect nothing but greatness.  Also, I may have just read a book which mentions that Meyer lemons should not be used for limoncello as they are not tart enough…oops!  We’ll find out soon enough.  All things considered…I highly recommend Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It – an amazing book that I am eager to make more recipes from.

Have you made your own limoncello before?  Tips, thoughts, ideas…???!!!  Comment below.  I foresee many more endeavors into the makings of limoncello!

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