oven-fried chicken + book review

Oven-Fried Chicken + Poulet Book Review by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

I recently realized that I haven’t had fried chicken – like, real Southern style fried chicken – since my pre-vegetarianism days. That’s almost 20 years! I can still hear the symphonic marriage of crackling oil in hot cast iron, songs of long-legged crickets, and rolling thunder on so many muggy summer nights. My mom carefully dropping each flour dusted breast, thigh, and drumstick into bubbling gold magma. Mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet corn.

The closest I’ve had since then was a crazy good (and super naughty) fried chicken lollipop with sriracha mayo at Smallwares in Portland during an anniversary dinner with my sweetie last year. I came REALLY close to breaking this sad streak the other night at Grit in the Whitaker. My heart started to sing when I saw it on the menu, especially since I know they use good quality local meat. No luck. Fried chicken sells like hotcakes and they were sold out by the time I got there.

So, my desire grows…

 

Poulet: More Than 50 Remarkable Meals That Exalt the Honest Chicken

 

I picked up a beautiful cookbook the other day called Poulet by Cree LeFavour. The bird is a staple protein for me most weeks and this book offers over 50 different recipes for bone-in, skin-on chicken, calling on traditional cuisines from around the world.

I opened the book to this recipe for Oven-Fried Chicken and just had to try it! Crispy, crunchy skin and tender, juicy meat full of flavor, this recipe makes a wonderful and easy alternative to the classic fried luxury. I reduced the cayenne just a smidge here since I found the original recipe to be a bit too spicy. Otherwise, this is a winner…especially with a side of Horseradish Green Bean Potato Salad!

 

oven-fried chicken  

adapted from Poulet

Ingredients:

1/4 cup organic whole milk
1/4 cup organic olive oil
juice of 2 organic lemons
1 tsp fine sea salt, plus 1 Tbsp
2 organic bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp organic cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp organic onion powder
1/4 tsp organic paprika powder
1/2 tsp organic fresh cracked black pepper
flaky cyprus salt for finishing

Directions:

In a large bowl, stir together the milk, olive oil, lemon juice and the 1 tsp sea salt.  Add the chicken to the bowl and turn to coat on both sides.  Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. If refrigerating, return the chicken to room temperature for 30 minutes or so to take the chill off before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Stir together the flour, 1 Tbsp sea salt, and spices in another large bowl.  Season with the black pepper.  Lift the chicken pieces from the marinade and dredge in the seasoned flour to coat on both sides.  Give each piece a little shake to remove any excess flour.  Lay the pieces on a parchment paper-lined or lightly greased baking sheet, skin-side up.

Bake the chicken for 30-40 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, or until the crust is a deep, golden brown.  Either insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part or cut into a piece with a paring knife.  The thermometer should register 175° F.  If using a knife, look for clear, not red or pink, juices running from the spot where you pierced the meat and opaque, barely pink flesh at the bone.  If the chicken isn’t done, bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer and check it again.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven, sprinkle with a little flaky salt, and let rest for 5 minutes.  Arrange on a platter or divide among individual plates.  

 

Horseradish Green Bean Potato Salad + Poulet Book Review by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

horseradish green bean

potato salad 

adapted from Poulet

Ingredients:

1 lb organic red skinned potatoes
1 lb organic green beans
2 shallots, chopped and sautéed in olive oil until caramelized
1/4 cup organic olive oil
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (make your own)
4 tsp grated fresh or prepared horseradish
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup fresh chopped chives + chive flowers
organic fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:

Chop and gently boil the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. In another pot, gently boil the green beans for about 5 minutes or until just tender, strain, and chill in an ice water bath. Drain the potatoes and allow to cool.  Strain the green beans.

Whisk together the olive oil, mustard, horseradish, chives, pepper, caramelized shallots, and salt in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and green beans and toss to coat with the sauce. Garnish with chive flowers.

 

Oven-Fried Chicken + Poulet Book Review by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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maple flower spring rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

 

New buds glow like still flames upon a candelabra.

Slender golden limbs balancing the light of spring.

 

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

 

Acer macrophyllum, the Bigleaf Maple, sends out playful flower bunches before the giant leaves begin to unfold. The dangling inflorescences engender a closer look. Some racemes bloom with male flowers first and then females, while others surprise with the reverse. These female first inflorescences result in “drop off males” after the spicy pollen is spent and graceful samaras begin to twirl in the wind. According to botanist David Wagner, they are sweetest.

 

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

 

We trekked along the McKenzie River with Wolf Rock in view, plucking tender flower bunches as we hiked. Along nearly every street in Eugene, these trees were also in bloom, heralding the season.

I like when all of the flowers have just barely opened so the complexity of slightly bitter green and floral sweet shine through. However, they do become less supple and enjoyable as they begin to fruit after pollination, so “younger is better” is a good rule of thumb.

I’ve mostly heard of wildfoods folks tossing these into stir-fries and scrambles, which I love, but eating them fresh is such a treat when they’re just right.

 

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

 

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

 

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

 

Ingredients

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a medley of herbs, fruits, and veggies. You really can use anything that you like, anything growing in your garden, or any fresh wild edible that doesn’t require cooking. How pretty would a combination of dandelion greens, oxalis leaves, salmonberry flowers, and violets be all wrapped up in rice paper translucence?

 

Here’s what’s in mine:

bigleaf maple flowers
fresh mint leaves
fresh basil leaves
fresh cilantro leaves
mesclun greens
sprouts
sesame tofu
pineapple
carrots
daikon radish
green onions
fresh ginger
spicy peanut sauce and organic sriracha
rice spring roll wrappers

 

Technique

Start by prepping and neatly organizing all of your filling ingredients. Fill a bowl with warm water – you’re looking for around body temperature, since anything hotter can cause your rice paper to soften and breakdown too fast. Have a slightly moist cutting board or moist non-terry towel on top of the board ready next to the bowl. Gently place a single sheet of rice paper into the water for about 1 minute, feeling for the perfect texture. It will become impossibly pliable, almost like wet chiffon. The trick is to carefully remove it from the water before it gets to the point where it will just fall apart in your hands.

Allow the soaked rice paper to drip a bit and then rest it on the cutting board. If you want to show off an ingredient, like a flower or whole leaf, place those down first about a third of the way from the perimeter. Build the other ingredients on top, being mindful not to over or under fill. This might take a few tries. Once all of your elements are arranged, fold and roll as tight as possible, much like a burrito. The sticky paper will fuse together and seal your spring roll.

Slice in half and serve with dipping sauces on the side. Enjoy!

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

How to Make Wild Spring Rolls

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travel eats: florida food

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

After six years living 3,000 miles away from my hometown, I craved the delicate crust of Cuban toast inlaid with palm fronds, soaked and salty with melted butter. Deviled crabs daintily crisped with tender blue crab meat, spiced and smothered in hot pepper sauce. Creamy boiled peanuts bathed in brine.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

I like to tell people that I’m from the Tropical South. Tampa offers a special cuisine all its own born of Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrant influences on Appalachian granny meals, Native American traditions, and African-American soul food.

Grits, fried pork chops, sweet tea, black beans and yellow rice.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Ybor City is the epicenter of this cultural mingling. In the 1800′s, these cobblestone streets connected a Cuban community dotted with cigar factories and cafes. The world-famous Cuban Sandwiches and spicy Deviled Crabs came into being here, feeding the hungry labor force of the day. This is still what you want to eat.

For a quintessential Ybor experience, don’t forget to check out Florida’s oldest eatery – the gorgeously tiled, 110 year old Columbia Restaurant in the heart of the city. Flamenco dancing, sangria, and an entire city block of dining rooms. You also won’t want to miss out on the cigar cafes like King Corona, where you can sip a strong sweetened cup of Cuban coffee while chewing on a locally rolled cigar…indoors.

If you want to head off the beaten path for some old school traditional Tampa eats, try The Cuban Sandwich Shop in my little pocket of Tampa called Forest Hills. It’s very close to both Ybor and the up-and-coming foodie scene happening in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. More on that later…

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Ask any Tampanian with a love for Vietnamese cuisine (or with nostalgic vegetarian leanings) where to eat and Trang will be the answer. Besides the charming decor that was obviously inspired by an old folks home cafeteria from the 80′s, my favorite thing about this place is the herb garden out back. A very rare treat in Florida, the family grows beautifully lush mint, basil, green onions, lettuces, and more behind their strip mall restaurant. Also, the food is dope. They offer a Traditional Vietnamese Menu and a Vegetarian Menu with various vegetarian proteins. Awesome. I always order the Vegan Curry Stew, Autumn Rolls, and the Happy Pancake.

Another place that has a hold on my heart is Tomo Sushi. When I was a kid, my best lady friend Summer forced me to go out for sushi. Like, eww. Imagining slimy raw tongues of fish slumped over chewy balls of rice, it took some convincing to get me through the door. As we found a seat, koto music strummed across the room and ladies in kimonos brought us tea. Summer ordered age-dashi tofu and a spider roll. She told me I would love it and I did. Life = Changed. While the restaurant is quite different all these years later, the food was still fresh and well executed when I visited.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Back to the Seminole Heights foodie revolution… go to Mauricio Faedo’s Bakery for that amazing Cuban bread pictured at the top of the post. Seriously. You can watch Cuban grandpas artfully form mountains of loaves by hand, gently decorating each with a moist palm frond. There’s also the Front Porch, Ella’s Folk Art Cafe, and the Independent – but y’all need to eat at The Refinery. It was maybe the best meal I’ve ever had in Tampa.

Mirroring the local farm-to-table movement we’re privileged to enjoy all over the Pacific Northwest, this spot obviously puts love and care into every plate.  I guess that’s why the James Beard Foundation took notice and nominated them for awards in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Check it out…

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Burger: garlic potato salad, house bacon, smoked eggplant puree, pickled kohlrabi, Yukon Gold fries.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Roasted chicken with turnip-rapini cheddar casserole, brown butter-sage veloute, herb salad, pickled watermelon radish, lemon vinaigrette.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Lamb shoulder chop with black eyed peas, collards, fennel confit, ginger-sherry glaze, grainy mustard-tarragon butter.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

If you have time for a day trip or longer, go to the Gulf of Mexico – it’s only 30 minutes away!

We took a trip out to Clearwater, where I spent so many hot days of my youth swimming out to the shell covered sandbars, wading through flocks of stingrays, and chasing sandpipers. This oceanside city offered me a peek at adult independence and eating at the beach shacks made me feel grown.

Wild dolphins raced our car as we flew down that familiar highway. I suddenly dreamed of the thick and creamy, salty-sweet She-Crab soup at Frenchy’s. These days, I would only really recommend the Original or Saltwater Cafe, since the Rockaway location has become a bit of a tourist circus – but, if your goal is to enjoy the citrus blood beauty of a Florida sunset with a drink in hand (and food is an afterthought), Rockaway is just dandy.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Now, if you want to know which restaurant back home has haunted my every memory with inextinguishable desire and longing, this is it…

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

I discovered this South Indian restaurant during college when I was a strict vegetarian. It was extraordinary. I’ve taken all of my friends and family there, and eaten at many other Indian places from New York City to San Francisco and nothing compares. Call me crazy…until you try it for yourself.

There is no decor. No fancy service. No meat. No neighborhood ambiance.

Sounds awful, right?

Wrong.

It is glorious.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

We started with one of their Indo-Chinese specialties: Gobi Manchurian Dry – cauliflower marinated and sautéed with fresh ginger, garlic, chilies, and green onions. Drool.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Next, of course, was a giant, fluffy, crisp, and steaming hot balloon of batura bread ready to sop up some curry. It was about the size of a beach ball.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

And then my favorite chana masala in this whole crazy world, served with fresh cilantro and a lemon wedge.

 

Florida Restaurant Guide + Foodie History

 

Finally, I had to have one of their perfectly sour fermented dosa crepes stuffed with curried potato, onion, and lentils. It was about 3 feet in length.

Damn, friends.

I wonder if they overnight to Oregon?

 

Places to eat and drink in Florida

Specifically in Tampa, Clearwater, St Pete, and Orlando – but be aware that some of this might be pure nostalgia, others the only decent option around, and the rest are solidly great. Let me know where to go next time!

 

Food & Drink

The Refinery

Trang VietCuisine

Columbia Restaurant

Bern’s and SideBern’s

La Teresita

Grassroot

Woodland’s South Indian Restaurant

Mauricio Faedo’s Bakery

Tomo Sushi

The Cuban Sandwich Shop

Frenchy’s

Evos

 New World Brewery

Cask and Ale

 

Tea/Coffee

Sacred Grounds Coffee House

Kaleisia Tea Lounge

Infusion Tea

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

 

Cigar Bars

King Corona

Cuban Crafters

Fusion Cigar Lounge

 

 

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flourless chocolate coconut brownie bars

Flourless Chocolate Coconut Brownie Bars by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

Snowed in and held captive by sharp-speared icicles threatening from cracking branches overhead, this epic Arctic storm has all of Eugene snuggled up indoors. While 10 inches of snow might not seem like a big deal to folks in the Northeast, it’s a record breaker for us, leaving the city scrambling to clear roads, remove branches, and restore power with less than adequate preparation or resources.

All that said…damn is it pretty! Crystal clear ice jewels encase lichens, tiny fig buds, spiky Oregon grape leaves, and each individual conifer needle, magnifying their beauty as if preserved in glass. (It’s okay. Please ignore the strange lady staring at and touching all the ice-covered plants in your front yard. She’s from Florida.) Absolutely mesmerizing.

When the storm began, I nervously peeked in my cupboard for reserves. To my happy surprise, I found that I had everything needed to make parsnip apple soup, pickled jalapeno quesadillas, coconut chickpea curry with wild rice, huckleberry pancakes, and some kind of chocolate yum yum. Then, after two giant maple branches fell on our car sounding the alarm and causing damage, I decided that I really needed to make a flourless chocolate treat to ease my winter weather woes.

This recipe is super chocolaty, rich, creamy, melty, silky, and not as guilt-inducing as it could be thanks to the lack of flour, pure dark chocolate, and virgin coconut oil! One of my favorite fats, good quality organic and unrefined coconut oil has been linked to all sorts of health benefits from boosting metabolism, to supporting healthy thyroid function, to nourishing skin and hair. Plus, it tastes like paradise and makes a great replacement for other semi-solid fats, like butter for example.

Served hot out of the oven, this recipe can be considered a flourless chocolate cake or torte, but after it’s refrigerated, it becomes more of a brownie bar that is smooth and fudgy with a satisfyingly crisp top. This is the perfect dessert to make for any gluten-free person in your world – but everyone will want a piece or two.

Flourless Chocolate Coconut Brownie Bars by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

flourless coconut brownie bars

6 oz chopped organic dark (or semi-sweet) chocolate
1/4 cup organic butter
1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil (buy the good stuff here)
2/3 cup organic sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
3 organic farm eggs
1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
1 tsp organic vanilla extract

Variations: Feel free to add cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, orange zest, curry powder, rose powder, a teensy bit of lavender powder, or chopped nuts to the batter.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round pan with coconut oil. Using a double boiler, gently melt the chopped chocolate, butter, and coconut oil together and stir well. Whisk in sugar and salt until well combined. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in one egg at a time. Grab your wire mesh strainer and sift in the cocoa powder (along with any other optional dry ingredient) and mix well. Add vanilla extract and stir. Pour batter into the greased pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Watch for the top to become bubbled and firm (like traditional brownies). If the sides begin to brown too quickly, wrap a little foil around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes on a wire rack. Flip over onto a cutting board to remove the cake from the pan, and then flip right-side up again. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or more cocoa powder and slice.

Flourless Chocolate Coconut Brownie Bars by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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drinking bloody marias at home + recipe

Spicy Bloody Maria Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

  Are you craving summer yet, Eugene?

After days on end of living under a hazy grey ocean of freezing fog that turned the city monochrome, the sun is out and teasing us with thoughts of July. This sunshine won’t last long, and I do hope our seasonal rains will finally arrive and soak the earth as they should, but I just can’t help basking in it all the same.

One of my favorite ways to celebrate this fleeting mirage has been to sip a spicy homemade Bloody Maria. Why a Bloody Maria rather than a Bloody Mary? Well, why drink vodka when you can have tequila! This classic brunch cocktail is actually perfect any time of year. In the summertime, you can make it with fresh tomato juice picked and squished straight from the garden or garnish with thinly sliced jalapenos. When the weather turns cool, a Bloody Maria can warm you up with its wonderful heat while also showcasing the gorgeous pickled veggies you canned over the year. Plus, it’s kind of medicinal with loads of vitamin C and the diaphoretic action from horseradish and hot sauce, which helps boost the immune system. Cough, cough.

For many years I thought I didn’t like Bloody Marys at all, but that was before we started making them at home with good quality ingredients. Making your own bloody mix isn’t difficult and is sooo worth the little bit of extra effort. It’s also a really flexible recipe that can be played with to create unique concoctions. Try using infused booze, like serrano pepper or black peppercorn tequila, some fire cider in place of the hot sauce is amazing, and don’t forget to experiment with the endless garnish possibilities out there – mini burritos, jalapeno poppers, or grilled cheese sliders, anyone?

Here’s how to make the perfect Bloody Maria at home…

Spicy Bloody Maria Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

bloody maria recipe

2 to 3 oz. good tequila
4 oz. organic tomato juice
1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice
1/2 oz. worcestershire
fresh grated or good quality prepared horseradish to taste
pinch organic celery salt
hot sauce (or fire cider) to taste
fresh cracked organic black pepper and fine sea salt to taste
fresh ice cubes
Garnish: pickled onions, dilly beans, green olives, celery stalk, lime wedge, etc.

Combine all ingredients (minus the garnishes) together in a glass and stir. Add horseradish, hot sauce, salt, and pepper until it tastes nice and spicy and to your liking. Fill a metal shaker with fresh ice. Gently pour your Bloody Maria over the ice in the metal shaker and then pour back into the glass. Do this several times to mix all the ingredients well and to properly chill the drink. Be careful not to let it froth up! Once cold, strain into an ice-filled collins glass and garnish to your heart’s content.

 

Spicy Bloody Maria Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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fire cider honey mustard

Fire Cider Honey Mustard Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

Last year I fell in love with the traditional winter immunity tonic called Fire Cider. (To make this spicy formula, take fresh horseradish root, garlic, ginger, onion, hot peppers, maybe a lemon or an orange, rosemary or thyme, turmeric root, and grate all ingredients well. Toss into a jar and cover completely with apple cider vinegar. Allow to infuse for 1 month in a cool dark cabinet and then strain by squeezing through cheesecloth before adding honey to taste.) So very much in love, that this year I made a whole gallon all for myself. As it turns out, that’s a lot! I was going to make my Brandied Honey Mustard recipe for holiday gifts when an idea bulb flashed on the jars and jars of deliciously spicy infused vinegar hanging out in my closet…

Why not soak the mustard seeds in Fire Cider?!

…yesss!

Making mustard is so easy that it’s almost a shame not to. It takes hardly any effort and allows plenty of creative space to innovate flavor combinations. After all, who doesn’t love a sandwich smeared with the yellow stuff, hot pretzels dipped in its sweet aromatic goodness, or a charcuterie plate paired with a dollop of the spicy condiment? Well, if you’re ready to go for it, start here:

fire cider honey mustard

Ingredients

5 tablespoons organic yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons organic brown mustard seeds
3 tablespoons whiskey
2/3 cup fire cider (or apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup local honey (I used Coriander honey)
1.5 teaspoons fine sea salt

Directions

Combine both yellow and brown mustard seeds, 1/3 cup water, whiskey, and fire cider in a jar and stir well to completely submerge the seeds. Cover and allow to soak at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. I like to swirl the jar around a little each day to observe the expanding seeds. After a few days, the seeds will swell and meet the liquid level. Pour the mixture into a blender, add honey and salt, and blend until smooth. Store in a sealed jar and refrigerate. I recommend using a plastic lid or using some kind of barrier to keep the vinegar from corroding the metal, like natural parchment paper. For less sweet mustard, cut the honey by half. Use on everything!

 

Fire Cider Honey Mustard Recipe by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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8 home bar basics: how to make great craft cocktails and save the party

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

1. Measure your pours.

Steven, my private bartender and lifelove, taught me everything I know about the art of imbibing. Again and again he’s said that the biggest mistake home barkeeps make is not properly measuring the ingredients in a drink. Making a cocktail is all about balance. You need a jigger or one of these awesome measuring glasses with ounces, teaspoons, tablespoons, and millilitres. I recommend starting with classic cocktail recipes and learning ratios before experimenting with your own creations. This is a good way to learn what components work well together and how much of each to use when crafting. Get a copy of Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide here to start practicing old tried-and-trues. This will lead to confidence and inspiration!

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

2. Use fresh ice.

Ice is actually an essential ingredient in most cold cocktails, since the water that melts as you stir or shake a drink helps to dilute, meld, and mellow the other components. Sometimes ice absorbs the weird old stale aromatics lingering in your freezer from leftover food and who-knows-what other ghosts of meals past. That can ruin your drink. Clean your ice trays often, use good water, and put some baking soda in the fridge/freezer. It’s also fun to have ice cubes of different shapes and sizes. Use larger ice for slow sipping liquor drinks, as the ice will melt slower and keep your drink nice and cold longer.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

3. Squeeze fresh fruit juice.

This is especially important for lime and lemon juice, although any fresh-pressed juice will elevate your cocktails. If you are using one of these manual citrus presses, you can expect about 1 ounce of juice per lemon or lime, 2.5 ounces per orange, and 8 ounces for a ripe grapefruit. Avoid concentrated and artificially flavored juices when possible.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

4. Have garnishes on hand.

Fresh sliced citrus peel (twisted to release and spritz the oils), good quality cocktail cherries, olives, fresh herbs like basil and rosemary springs, organic cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, star anise, artisan salts, fresh cracked peppercorns, celery, carrots, pickles, dilly beans, sugar, etc. I also love these metal garnish picks to help create a nice presentation.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

5. Stock mixers, bitters, and syrups.

Mixers are non-alcoholic ingredients or lower alcohol content ingredients in a cocktail recipe. We like to keep bottles of fruited or spiced liqueurs, organic tomato juice (I know, I know: see above), sweet and dry vermouth (BUY GOOD QUALITY VERMOUTH! Cheap vermouth will ruin your drink. I love the sweet Italian vermouth called Antica Formula, but you can also try the Cocchi or Dolin – keep it in the fridge), ginger brew, tonic water, a soda syphon, homemade sour mix (coming soon), champagne or prosecco, and of course, fresh citrus juice. You will also want to have bitters in the cabinet.

The bitter flavor is often shunned, but it’s necessary for both flavor balance and general health. Bitters stimulate the digestive system, which is why cocktails have been called apperitifs and digestifs throughout history – bitter aromatics stimulate appetite before a meal, encourage digestive prowess, and help relieve belt-loosening bloat. They also balance flavors and take the edge off of sweet and sour flavors. You’ll need Orange, Angustura, and Peychauds, but go ahead and grab a bottle of Cherry, Peach, or Whiskey Barrel bitters to try too.

You should also make a batch of simple syrup. Making a liquid sugar syrup for your sweetener ensures that the sweetness will be distributed more evenly throughout the mixture. They are simple to make too! Once you get that down, you can make all kinds of flavored syrups to play with in your creations. Having a bag of super fine caster sugar is a good idea too.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

6. Know when to stir vs when to shake.

Do you want your drink to be clear or frothy? Are you using something with bubbles? Milk? Egg? All of these require specific techniques. A good example of my first pet peeve is the classic Manhattan. Nine out of 10 times, a bartender will shake my Manhattan, serving a watery, chunky ice disappointment. This beautiful combination of bourbon, vermouth, and bitters likes to be stirred and strained to produce a silky cocktail that’s clear as a jewel.

Generally speaking, cocktails with fruit juice, eggs, and cream should be shaken, while drinks composed entirely of spirits should be stirred. How long should you shake? Look for frosty condensation to form on the outside of the shaker and then double strain using a boston strainer and a mesh strainer. For stirred drinks, fill a pint glass half with ice, add the cocktail ingredients, and stir using a bar spoon around the perimeter of the glass for about 20 seconds and then strain with a julep spoon.

 8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

7. Use the right glass.

From tall Collins glasses for soda drinks, rocks glasses for old fashioneds, and pints for beer, to champagne flutes and toddy mugs, having the right glass is an important component of any drink. You can find my favorite glassware here: Kitchen and Bar Tools.

Cold cocktails should be poured into well-chilled glasses just before serving. This helps keep them cold longer and adds a nice frosted glow to the drink. We always keep a few glasses in the freezer, but you can also give them a quick freeze by swirling ice water in the glass for about 30 seconds and then dumping out before pouring the drink into the now chilled glass.

This technique also works for warming a mug, but you’d fill the cup with boiling water, allow it to heat up, and then dump before serving your hot drink.

 

8 Home Bar Basics: How to make great craft cocktails by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

8. Buy good quality liquor.

Higher quality spirits make better tasting cocktails. However, you don’t have to break the piggy bank to stock your home bar. We usually pick up a bottle for the cabinet each week, always keeping staples stocked too. The first rule is NO PLASTIC BOTTLES. You always want to buy alcohol in glass to avoid nasty chemical leaching from the plastic. Gross! Generally, I’ve found that bottles priced at $25.00 or above to be reasonable for good quality liquor, while assorted liqueurs can range from $30 to $70 (and up from there if you’re really serious about making an investment and drinking some fantastic booze). We usually spend around $25 to $50 for vodka, $35 to $55 for bourbon, rum, and gin, and $35 to $70 for brandy, tequila, and cognac.

For more cocktail and home bar building tips visit: WHISKEY

 

Cheers!

 

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roasted acorn squash + apple soup

Roasted Acorn Squash + Apple Soup by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

Winter squashes are collecting on my kitchen counter with each trip to the market: butternut, spaghetti, delicata, acorn. Pretty mottled skins with smears of yellow and green hold the promise within of sweet and tender golden flesh. These heavy fruits, symbols of the season, are called pepos, (fleshy, indehiscent, many-seeded with a tough rind) and include pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers.

Here’s what I made with the first acorn squash of fall. This classic soup pairs roasted squash with juicy apples and is easy to make if you are still planning a dish for Thanksgiving. It can be updated with my favorite garnish of creamy crumbled feta cheese and crispy fried shallots.

 

roasted acorn squash + apple soup

with crispy shallots + feta

 

Ingredients

1 acorn squash
1.5 cups chopped apple + 1 apple chopped and set aside
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 3/4 cups broth
1/2 cup cream
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
shallots, thinly sliced
organic extra virgin olive oil
crumbled feta
fine sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully cut the acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds and fibrous pulp. Score the orange flesh inside, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Place the squash in a glass pan cut side up and then pour 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the pan to keep the squash moist. Allow to roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, testing the tenderness of the flesh with a knife.

While the squash is roasting, saute the onions in olive oil until they begin to caramelize. Add 1.5 cups of chopped apples, garlic, and ginger to the onions and saute for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the broth.

When the squash is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle it. Separate the roasted flesh from the skin and toss into a food processor. Compost the skin. Add the butter and broth, being sure to scrape in all of the onions and apple bits. Blend together until puréed. Add the remaining fresh chopped apple and purée again.

Pour the purée into a pot and warm over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the cream. Add the rosemary, cinnamon, and season well with salt and pepper. Keep warm on low, stirring often.

In a frying pan, heat about a 1/2 inch of olive oil over medium-high and toss in the sliced shallots. Stir constantly with a spatula until they turn golden and crispy. Remove shallots from the pan with a slotted spatula and place on a towel to allow the excess oil to be absorbed.

Serve the soup hot with feta cheese, fried shallots, and fresh cracked pepper on top.

 

Roasted Acorn Squash + Apple Soup by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

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peach purée + golden balsamic shrub

Sweet Peach Purée + Golden Balsamic Shrub by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

I know the memory of peach season is fading fast as the weeks fly. Summer is long gone now and the spindly limbed maples are dropping their flame-colored stars all around the city. While fall offers its own charms, I am so happy to have this preserved peach shrub, and Steven has been mixing up some tasty cocktails to celebrate.

Seriously, this is the most amazing deliciousness of a drinking vinegar I have made yet. The peaches were so juicy and sweet, that I changed up my usual technique to balance the flavor a bit more on the fruit side. Here’s how it went:

 

peach purée + golden balsamic shrub 

2 cups chopped fresh peaches

1.5 cups organic sugar

1.25 cups organic golden balsamic vinegar

Mix chopped peaches and sugar together in a jar and mash. Cap and allow the sugar to dissolve and draw out the peach juice for about 4 days in the refrigerator. Next pour the syrupy concoction into a blender and purée until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the vinegar and whiz in the blender until combined. Let the flavors meld for about a week in the fridge.

Now make this cocktail…

Peach Shrub Smash by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

 

peach shrub smash cocktail

2 oz good bourbon

1 oz peach shrub

juice of 1/2 a lime

ginger brew

Fill a shaker with fresh ice and pour in the bourbon, shrub, and lime juice. Shake and strain over an ice cube in a rocks glass. Top off the drink with bubbly ginger brew and enjoy.

 

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fancy frozen pizza makeover #3

Pickled Jalapeno and Baked Egg Pizza by Salt+Fat+Whiskey

On lazy nights, an organic frozen pizza becomes my blank canvas. A quick and dirty meal, these pies are always re-imagined with a magical (questionable?) hodgepodge of misfit ingredients from my fridge, garden, and pantry. When cooked on a nice hot pizza stone and handled with a wooden peel, who needs delivery?

For fun, I thought I’d share these experiments! Here’s the next creation…

 

fancy frozen pizza makeover #3

I love how pickled jalapeños warm up this pizza with a bite of tanginess. Allowing the egg to bake on top results in a creamy yolk that almost resembles a soft to medium boiled preparation, while the whites bubble and meld with tenderness in the cheese layer.

Mmm…

  • frozen black olive and mushroom pizza
  • shallots sliced and tossed with a little olive oil and a pinch of pink salt
  • pickled jalapeño pepper slices
  • fresh farm egg cracked and baked on top
  • black peppercorns, fresh cracked
  • fresh basil, chiffonade cut and sprinkled on before serving

 

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