Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bluecoat Gin

This was a special Christmas gift. As a matter of fact I got alot of esoteric booze for gifts this year-I may not have to stock the bar for months (who am I kidding?). Here is a picture of the Christmas liquor presents. Bluecoat is a small brewery in Philadelphia, the product is not widely available-this particular bottle was shipped from California as it is not available in Missouri. It has an ardent cult following. Read the whole story here. This gin has alot of delightful citrus and the always present juniper. It is quite smooth with a depth of botannical flavors-it is the polar opposite of the overly flowery Tanguery. I made a martini to highlight Bluecoat's pronounced citrus qualities. In a shaker filled with ice, pour in some gin, a dash of dry vermouth, a couple dashes of orange bitters, shake and strain into a chilled glass and garnish with orange peel. Olives or pickled vegetables, which are almost always complimentary to gin, would be sort of clunky and inelegant in this martini. I think the cobalt bottle with gold lettering is gorgeous.

Asian Brussel Sprouts with Crispy Won Tons

This simple salad of brussel sprouts served on a crispy wonton are ridiculously addictive. I used this recently as a little hors de ouevre with cocktails. I just put out a big bowl of the salad with some wontons and let everyone chop stix a little salad onto to their chip. I sliced the brussel sprouts on my mandolin to get really thin shreds of brussel sprouts. Then I just tossed the brussel sprouts with the Asian dressing and let them marinate for 1/2 hour. In the meantime I fried some wontons and shook some martinis. I only made 1 pound and they were quickly gone, I wish I'd made more to keep some in the refrigerator for later.

1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed of outer leaves, cored, and thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoon sweet Thai chili sauce

1/4 cup dark sesame oil

Black and white sesame seeds to garnish

Mix up everything and let it sit a few minutes before serving.

I used chop stix to serve it with, but you could also use a tongs or spoon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chalet Suzanne and Christmas Beef Wellington

A friend of mine just returned from a trip to Florida. In addition to playing alot of golf, she likes to tour factories. Forget the beach, swimming, and sunbathing, she prefers the factory circuit. This trip included a stop at the Chalet Suzanne resort in Lake Wales Florida. Go here for a virtual visit. It wasn't really the spectatular pink resort and its renowned restaurant that attracted her, but it was their soup canning plant, located on the resort's premises.

They can and market their famous restaurant's famous soups. The most famous is the Soup Romaine, which is called moon soup because it went to the moon as part of the Apollo 15 and 16's astronauts diet. I was the lucky recipient of a couple of gift cans of soup. On Christmas morning I utilised my much neglected can opener and used the Chalet Suzanne French Onion soup to make sauce for Beef Wellington. It was beefy and oniony, not really too much different from the stuff in the ubiquitous red and white can. The resort also boasts its own air strip just in case you want to fly in and pick up a couple of cans of soup-I highly recommend it.

Christmas Fatigue

I am still recovering from Christmas fatigue. We celebrated with presents, of course, parsnip soup and Beef Wellington. This soup is so elegant and flavorful, sweet and slightly nutty-very warming and rich.

Peel and cut up 1 pound of parsnips
Peel and cut up 1 apple
cut up 1 small onion
two cloves of garlic, peeled
chicken stoch
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup heavy cream

Place the cut up vegetables in a soup pot and cover with stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

Puree the mixture and add salt and pepper to your taste. Bring the soup back to the simmer, thin with a little more stock if the soup is too thick, or reduce it if the soup is too thin. Stir in the sherry and heavy cream, simmer 1 more minute and serve.