Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grace Eyre FTW

Virginia Gentleman - Unassuming, but Pleasant

So, I know I've been a total deadbeat with this here blog for a while. But I'm trying to be better about updating. Promise. In the meantime, here's a very interesting article about Virginia Gentleman bourbon, and its distillery in Fredericksburg, VA. (Yes, that's right - not Kentucky. There is no law that bourbon can only be made in Kentucky, though Virginia Gentleman is the only example of one that isn't.) The guy who runs the place is apparently quite a character - a true "Virginia Gentleman."

It's quite cheap around here (now that I'm back in Northern Virginia) but you'd probably have trouble finding it outside the DC area. It's got a very light, piquant kind of flavor to it. I tend to favor heavier, richer whiskeys, but it's certainly the best I've ever had in this price range - most things that run $15/liter would kill you.

Check it out!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Old-Fashioned; a new take on a classic.

Hey guys! I was making one of my favorite cocktails tonight and decided to share. It's my take on an Old-Fashioned - one of the oldest drinks in the history of mixology. The original recipe calls for rye whiskey (or sometimes bourbon,) simple syrup, Angostura bitters, and some type of fruit garnish (common ones are maraschino cherries, lemon/orange wedges, etc.) It's easy to make: you just build the ingredients in a rocks glass with ice, stir, and enjoy.

I like to mix this up a bit (pardon the pun.) I generally use some type of liqueur instead of the simple syrup - it supplies the sweetness, but also allows me to slip in additional flavors. Some of my favorites are Averna, St. Germain, Benedictine, Chartreuse, and Luxardo - but feel free to experiment, it really depends on what you like. Other than the whiskey, this is where most of the flavor will come from, so choose carefully!

Next, you have to select some aromatic bitters. There are various kinds, but all are designed to give a little "oomf" with just a dash or two - it's the glue that brings the different flavors of the drink together. Angostura bitters are the most popular, but I also like using Peychaud's, Orange, Mint, or others! The key is to choose something that blends well with the liqueur you've chosen. If you're interested in bitters, check out Fee Brothers - they make all sorts of them.

Finally, for the base of the drink, you'll need some whiskey. The traditional choice is rye - it's fairly dry, and has some bite to it, but most importantly, it has a nice grainy flavor, which acts as a nice canvass to "paint" the other ingredients on. If you prefer something a little sweeter, bourbon is a great choice too. Some Irish and Scotch whiskey can work too, but you probably want to avoid anything that is heavily peated, as it will take over the drink.

To make the version pictured above, build:

  • 1 oz Averna
  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 2-3 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Once you get these fundamentals down, the Old-Fashioned becomes one of the most versatile cocktails under the sun - you can tailor it to your mood. For this reason, it's probably the drink I make the most, though my favorite is probably a Manhattan.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's '09

Because we are cheap, and because we didn't want to deal with crowds at fancy restaurants, my fiance, Grace, and I decided to have a night in for Valentine's this year. We made a few tasty dishes, and all were easy to make. First, we made a nice snack plate:
It had a variety of num-nums, including dark chocolate, apples, and smoked gouda cheese (the best part!) Just chop everything up into bite-sized pieces. The flavors of the different items really compliment each other!

For the next course, we made a red pepper soup. It's very refreshing, and can be served cold or hot. For this, you'll need:
  • 4 Red peppers
  • 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups Vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves of fresh Garlic
  • 2-3 dashes Hot Pepper flakes (for a little kick)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  • 1 Lemon
  • Fresh Basil leaves
First, cut one of the peppers into julienne slices and set aside for a garnish later. Cut the rest into small pieces, combine with the canned tomatoes, and blend in a food processor until it's a chunky liquid (not too smooth.) Combine this in a saucepan or pot with the Vegetable broth, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Sweat the garlic until it opens up, and add to the soup mixture. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes. You can serve it right off the stove hot, or pop it in the fridge for a while for a refreshing chilled soup. Garnish it with the slices of pepper, a slice or two of lemon, and a few fresh basil leaves on top. Should serve 2-4!

It's actually much brighter red than this, Blogger compressed my photos and messed up the colors.

For the final course, we made veggie chicken cutlets, with a side of penne and vodka sauce. For this, you'll need:
  • Veggie Chicken cutlets (there are various brands; Chicken-style Seitan also works really well)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Box Penne (You could make this with a different pasta style if you want)
  • 1/2 Jar Vodka Sauce
  • 2 Tblsp. Butter
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Garlic powder
First, start boiling up the pasta - while this is going, you can cook up the chicken. I used a breaded type of cutlet, but this is also quite good unbreaded. Just put a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan, and brown the cutlets on both sides. When this is done you can plate them and set aside.

When the pasta is ready, drain it, then melt in the butter. Once it's mixed in, sprinkle a few dashes each of the thyme, basil, chives, and garlic powder, and stir it in. Plate this next to the cutlets, and then top with vodka sauce over both. It's delicious!

That's all for this post! Hope you all enjoy. Let me know what you think! I love comments with new ideas or others' experiences.


New Food Blog!

Welcome to my new food and cocktail blog! I've been thinking about doing something like this for a long time. I want a place to share my musings and experiences with vegetarian cuisine and cocktails, as well as recipes and the like. I'll try to update this fairly regularly, but my track record with such things isn't that great, so we'll see...

I am NOT one of those vegetarians who apparently hate meat as a culinary concept. I have my eating habits for ethical reasons, but I love the taste and texture of meat. Therefore, I am not at all shy about using faux meat products. Yves, Quorn, and Morningstar Farms are some of my favorites, but a great alternative to these is seitan - textured wheat gluten. I use these meat alternatives to make dishes that may seem impossible for a vegetarian - with delicious results.

As for cocktails, I am fed up with the mainstream fake cocktail culture that has been prevelent for years. I enjoy old-style cocktails, made with strong spirits, cocktail bitters, and natural ingredients. Pre-made mixers are strictly off-limits, as are boring drinks that consist mostly of fruit juice or soda with a shot of booze. I like to get creative with my alcoholic culinary adventures.

I hope you all enjoy my blog! Cheers!