Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Dry Martini

Dry Martini

Tonight, I decided to revisit an old standard that we had probably not tasted since before we began this experiment, the Dry Martini.  For one, I wondered if our tastes had changed, and for another, I decided to try an older recipe.  This recipe comes via David Wondrich's Imbibe, from Charlie Mahoney's Hoffman House Bartender's Guide, 1906.  The Dry Martini first arose with the advent of dry gin in the late 1880's, as sweetened drink in general became outmoded.

Dry Martini

1.5 oz Dry Gin
1.5 oz French Dry Vermouth
1 ds Orange Bitters

Stir in a mixing glass full of shaved ice, strain into a cocktail glass and squeeze a lemon or orange peel on top.

The verdict: This Martini was considerably more lovely than other martinis I have had.  Perhaps it was the inclusion of the orange bitters that brought it all together. Perhaps it was the Noilly Prat vermouth, or the fact that the vermouth hasn't been sitting around neglected and gone bad.  (Yes, that's possible - common, even.)  Scott thought at first that it was mainly a very floral gin, and could not entirely pull out the vermouth. I take that as a good sign that the vermouth was not overwhelming, despite the equal portions.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cadence Socks - Finished!

Cadence Socks

It has been a long time since I've spoken about my knitting, and that is because I haven't really done much or finished anything to speak of.  I was still working on the Cadence Socks I was working on back in July.  I hated the way that the author had you shift the stitches, and I realized after the heel turn that I hadn't gotten the last shift correct.  Still, there was no way I was going to rip out and do the heel turn again, so I just futzed it and did something semi-logical on the foot, but the pattern is basically turned 90ยบ from ideal.  It irritated me because I don't like the look as much, plus I had to think really hard about the pattern, so I wasn't motivated to knit it.  This past week, I finally reached the point of grafting the toes, and wove the ends in on Thanksgiving to finish the pair.  And boy was I thankful to have them finished.

I still really like the look of the socks as designed, and I might be able to do it if I knit them individually as the designer anticipates, but I think I will have to chart them out entirely to be pleased with the result.

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, I read about Brave Tart's sweet potato casserole made with homemade brown butter and sage marshmallows, and I was excited to try making them. This year seemed like the perfect opportunity, with a lot of unpicked sage in the flower box, and no responsibility of hosting Thanksgiving, but not traveling across the country either.

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

Making marshmallows from scratch is kind of a crazy thing, and it had never occurred to me to do it before I saw it on Smitten Kitchen, I believe it was. What really intrigued me and made me want to try making marshmallows was the idea of making flavored ones, such as these savory ones for sweet potato casserole, or peppermint ones for hot coco.

Brown Butter Sage Marshmallows

1.5 oz gelatin
8 oz cold water

3/4 oz fresh sage, finely chopped
11 oz light corn syrup
8 oz water
28 oz sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 oz unsalted butter

Ample powdered sugar for dusting

Lightly grease a 9”x13” pan.

Combine the gelatin and 8 oz cold water in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. Set aside.

Heat the sage, corn syrup, water, sugar and salt over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240°. Shut off the heat and let it stand until it cools to 210°.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, brown the butter.

Pour the cooled syrup into the mixing bowl with the awaiting gelatin. Whisk on medium speed until the mixture has more than doubled.

Slowly drizzle in the browned butter and continue whisking until well incorporated.

Scrape the marshmallow goo into the pan and tap to dislodge large air bubbles. Dust the top of the giant marshmallow with powdered sugar, cover in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

To cut the marshmallows, dust a cutting board generously with powdered sugar. Pull the chilled marshmallow out of the pan by literally reach your fingers between the it and the pan. Dust the exposed bottom of the marsh mallow with powdered sugar. Cut the marshmallow into strips and roll them in powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking. Next, cut each strip into individual marshmallows. Toss these cut pieces in more powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking.

For more detailed instructions, see Brave Tart's original recipe.

As for the sweet potato casserole, Brave Tart didn't really give a recipe for hers, so I used one from Epicurious for the sweet potato mixture.

Sage and Brown Butter Marshmallows

I popped it under the broiler for a few minutes before heading out the door, and this is where things went wrong. My glorious marshmallows were either in there too long, or I set the broiler on too high, and they melted, bubbled, and charred. Now, I had a layer of goo with burnt bits floating on top, rather than a lovely mosaic of browned marshmallow. And when it was served for Thanksgiving it was, shockingly, even worse. I suspect that the host heated it too much/when it shouldn't have been, and the marshmallow just oozed over the whole thing like a lake, so you couldn't even tell if you were getting sweet potatoes, or what was in the pan, or anything.  Ahh, well.  At least I can say I have now made marshmallows from scratch.  And three people saw them to verify that -- including myself - and now you've seen the photographic evidence.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Saratoga Cocktail

Saratoga Cocktail

While I finished up making pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, our guest selected the Saratoga Cocktail, which is ironically similar to the previous week's cocktail.  This one was originally published in Jerry Thomas's Bar-Tender's Guide, 1887, and was named for Saratoga Springs, a resort of the time in northern New York, with gambling, horse racing, cocktails and cigars.

Saratoga Cocktail

1 oz Brandy
1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 ds Angostura Bitters
Lemon wedge to garnish

Stir over ice, strain into a claret glass, and serve with 1/4 slice of lemon.

The verdict: This one is a twist on the Manhattan, substituting cognac in for some of the whiskey.  I liked it, as did our guest, but Scott felt that the flavor of the vermouth was too strong.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Morning Cocktail

Morning Cocktail

Two weeks ago, Scott chose the Morning Cocktail from David Wondrich's Imbibe.  I'm not sure what the name is from, since it certainly seems to be a fierce tipple for the A.M.

Morning Cocktail

1 oz Brandy
1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Absinthe
2 ds Angostura Bitters
Lemon wedge as garnish

Stir over ice, strain into a claret glass and serve with a 1/4 slice of lemon.

The verdict: This one is definitely an absinthe cocktail, which overwhelms the other flavors.  They do give a warmth to the cocktail, but are not balanced in flavor the way that the equal parts might imply.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Bijou Cocktail

Bijou Cocktail

We haven't done a cocktail for the last couple of weeks because wee were frantically finishing the basement bar instead.  We had to finish in time for a party we hosted last friday.  Well, at least, we had to finish enough for it to be acceptable for our friends who knew wh had been under construction to come over.  I meant to update you on the progress but obviously I haven't done that yet.

My mom sent us the cocktail book Imbibe, by David Wondrich as a "bar warming" present.  The Bijou Cocktail on page 256 was my selection from this book for tonight's choice.  The original source for this one is Harry Johnson's Bartender's Manual from 1900.

Bijou Cocktail

1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Italian Vermouth
1 oz Gin
1 ds Orange Bitters
Maraschino cherry, as garnish

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, add a cherry, squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top and serve.

The verdict: Another of our favorites, I find this one both warm thanks to the sweet vermouth and bright thanks to the chartreuse. I like the combination quite a lot and was surprised at how well it blends.  Scott says that it has a lot of similarities in feel to a Manhattan, but he likes it better.  I feel that the gin blends into the chartreuse and the orange bitters and possibly the maraschino cherry add enough sweetness to make Scott wonder if there was rum in it.