Drinking the Bounty: White Onions

IMG_9778Onions. You guys, he made a cocktail with onions. AND IT WAS GOOD.

The only thought process to share on this one is that Chris knew he didn’t want to add sugar so he muddled a thin slice of onion straight into the lime juice. Aquavit brought some complementary flavors like caraway to the party and the whole thing ended up tasting a bit like biting into a tart green apple. After the first few sips, we actually decided it needed MORE onion so he smashed another slice with the side of the knife and added it as a garnish. The extra aroma added a nice sharpness to the sip.

This drink is magic. It’s alchemy. It’s alive! It’s delicious!

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Awful pic because I was busy going “Wait, whaaaaaaaaaaa?”

The Gobsmacker (named for my reaction to how well this worked)

  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 oz Aquavit
  • Two thin slices of a fresh white onion (these were smallish CSA, not grocery store bohemeths)

Add ingredients to Collins glass, gently middle the onions into the line juice. Add Aquavit, top with ice and side. Garnish with reserved onion for added aroma.

Drinking the Bounty: Cucumber

Commentary to follow

 

Cucumber #1

  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 medium slices of cucumber
  • 2 oz mezcal (Del
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz maraschino

Muddle the cilantro, cucmber, and mezcal in the bottom of a shaker glass. Add lime juice, maraschino, ice. Shake well, double strain into a glass, and garnish with a thin slice of cucumber.

 

Cucumber #2

  • 2 thin slices of cucumber
  • Leaves from one sprig of mint
  • 2 oz Malfy Lemon Gin

Gently bruise the mint and cucumber by stirring it around the bottom of the glass. Add lemon gin, fill glass with crushed ice (and more gin if needed), and garnish with a mint spring and cucumber slice.

Drinking the Bounty: Parsley

It’s not easy being greens. We are definitely in the green days of summer – this week’s CSA share was full of greens like chard and romaine and herbs like basil and parsley. I tend to think of parsley and cilantro as similar flavors, and things that are great as an accent but overpowering as anything more. That said, we decided that with the hot summer days well upon us, the refreshing and cooling flavors of parsley would be our herbal inspiration.

The overall inspiration was basically an alcoholic gremolata – a sauce that always sounds refreshing. Chris started with lemon juice and Tattersall Crema (similar to a curacao) for both sweetness and additional citrus flavor. His odd twist was a bar spoon of homemade amaretto to add a touch of nuttiness (thinking along the lines of a pesto). All of that was tossed into a cocktail shaker with two ounces of vodka, several sprigs of parsley, and ice then shaken and strained.

The resulting cocktail has a strong parsley aroma but a complex herbal and citrus flavor. The parsley actually lightens up the heavier citrus flavors, making it a light and refreshing cocktail with just a little depth from the amaretto. Definitely a summertime winner!

FullSizeRender (7)Being Green

  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Tattersall Orange Crema (or curacao)
  • 1/4 oz amaretto
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 2-3 sprigs of parsley

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake well, double strain and serve neat with a parsley leaf garnish.

Drinking the Bounty: Strawberries!!

I. Love. Strawberries. I think I single handedly kept the strawberry seller in business at the farmer’s market by my office. Quarts and quarts! Some went into popsicles, some went into milkshakes, some went on top of ice cream, some went in my mouth. Well, you get the idea.

While the market berries had shown up a few weeks ago – the rules we set for ourselves and this challenge meant we couldn’t use them in cocktails until they (hopefully) showed up in the CSA. This was that week – hurray!

We started out by playing with a strawberry-balsamic syrup (one of my favorite flavor combinations) but felt like it hid the fresh flavor of the berries far too much. When you have farm fresh berries, you want farm fresh flavor! We ended up going for something much closer to a smash – with muddled strawberries to pack that fresh punch. A little lemon juice added a bit of tartness, the barreled gin adds some smooth vanilla notes, and the fruity cognac buttresses the strawberry flavor against the aroma of the mint. (I tried it before and after the mint garnish and the aroma really does change everything.)

 

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Strawberry Smash

  • 5 small strawberries
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz rich simple syrup
  • 1 oz cognac
  • 1 1/2 oz barreled gin

Muddle the strawberries with the simple syrup to make a strawberry mash. Add lemon juice and spirits. Stir to mix. Top with ice and a little soda water, garnish with a mint spring.

 

CSA Preview

STRAWBERRIES!!!! (And rhubarb, basil, spinach, kale, lettuce, and parsley)

I was concerned about running low on strawberries after hitting the farmer’s market today.

Mostly I’m excited, because despite getting berries at the market, our arbitrary made up rules meant we couldn’t feature them on the blog until they (hopefully) showed up in the CSA.

Stay tuned!

Drinking the Bounty – Rhubarb

Chris and I got our first CSA box last Thursday, a small bonus box as a thank you for signing up for all three seasons of the Featherstone Farm CSA. Signing up for three seasons means we are heading into nearly eight months of fresh produce! We chose Featherstone because they came highly recommended by friends and they have a drop off site just around the block from our new home. It’s hard to imagine an easier way to stock our home with fresh and local produce!

While the majority of our CSA share is destined to be eaten, the rhubarb we received in Bonus Box #1 ended up being made into a syrup for cocktails and sodas. I started thinking about unexpected cocktail ingredients – like the time I was at Parlour and had a drink made with butternut squash shrub. Are there more tasty ways to drink veggies in cocktail form? Can we destroy all the nutritional goodness of greens by adding them to alcohol? Can we use at least one thing from every CSA box we receive to make a delicious cocktail?

Challenge accepted!

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First Round – Rhubarb

IMG_9134Rhubarb is almost cheating because it’s a vegetable the world treats as fruit. Raw, it’s basically inedible. When you cook it with plenty of sugar it ends up bitter yet sweet with a bit of earthy funk that is the perfect counterpart to other early summer fruit, like strawberries.
To make the syrup, I simply simmered chopped rhubarb with water and sugar for about 25 minutes, then strained out the rhubarb. (Recipe) The syrup retained all of the good funk of the rhubarb while cutting much of the stalk’s bitterness.

Chris started with the mild sugar cane funk of cachaça to accentuate the vegetal flavors in the rhubarb. Next up was some lemon juice to give the cocktail more body and then finished with homemade grenadine, hoping to bring some smoky notes to the overall taste.

FullSizeRender (4)The final product was smooth on the front of the palate with a hint of dry bitterness at the back of my tongue. The grenadine and lemon juice made it almost taste like a rhubarb lemonade, with the funkiness keeping it from being cloying or childish. The drink had a beautiful pink hue from both the rhubarb and the grenadine and reminded me of the recently blossomed crabapple tree in our new backyard or a Northern Minnesota sunset.

The Rhubarb Sunset

  • 1 oz Rhubarb Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • 1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
  • 2 oz Cachaça (or Rhum Agricole)

Shake with ice and strain.

 

 

 

 

Drinking at Home: Marshmallow Vodka, Two Ways

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Jars, cheap (but tasty!) vodka, and marshmallows ready to go.

I ended up visiting two distilleries, two breweries, and a cocktail bar this weekend and I should be posting about those. But since apparently the first few snow flakes fell today, I’m postponing the epic weekend post for the perfect winter booze project – marshmallow vodka, two ways.

These days it seems like you can buy every flavor under the sun in vodka form. Sriracha, bacon, whipped cream, cake, etc etc etc. Someone is taking this idea to the bank, literally. You can get a decently clean vodka for under $10 and infuse it at home with a little bit of research, or you can buy a bottle of vodka and flavoring. Sure, the bottle says “Natural Flavors” on it, but that doesn’t mean it bears any resemblance to the source of the flavor. Wouldn’t you rather get flavors from your kitchen than a laboratory?

InJars
Jars stuffed full of marshmallows.

Now that I’ve made it sound like I hate chemistry, let me just point out that I actually really like flavored vodkas. When I first discovered the marshmallow and whipped cream vodkas, I owned them both. The marshmallow vodka went in most of my hot chocolates and the whipped cream went with orange soda for a creamsicle concoction. And they were delicious! (And I was in my late 20s/early 30s at this point.)

That said, if I can make something at home and control the process, I’m going to give it a try. With winter lurking just behind the corner, it was time to try my hand at homemade marshmallow vodka. I’m by no means the first to give this a shot, I found several versions online (mixthatdrink.com, Craig’s Concoctions, Rosalilium). The process couldn’t be simpler – cut marshmallows to expose as much of the gooey center as possible*, fill jar with marshmallows, top off with vodka, wait. The hardest part was getting the marshmallows to stay in the jar when adding the vodka – they are buoyant little buggers.

StartedVodka
Immediately after filling, the vodka picked up color right away.

I wanted to try something just a little different, so I did one plain jar and one jar with toasted marshmallows. I don’t have a fire pit and I didn’t want to toast them one by one over my gas burner, so I borrowed a trick from my childhood and used the toaster oven. (I also used “Stackers” flat marshmallows, this was unintentional. I just wasn’t paying enough attention at the store.) The toasted marshmallows tore apart quite a bit, which ended up being a good thing as they dissolved much better. The outer layer of the raw mallows got goopy but never disappeared. Other sites range from a 24 hour to two week infusion time – I sampled a few times and finally strained them after a week. I used half-pint jars for this as it was just to test the concept. I’d go bigger for a full batch.

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After straining.

So tonight, after the first few flakes decide to fall, I strained my vodkas and whipped up some homemade hot chocolate (loosely based on the Hershey powder recipe). The raw marshmallow jar yielded far less vodka because it was harder to fill and some strained out in a thick and unappetizing goo. The resulting vodka is milky white and sweet, but with a definite taste of raw marshmallow. The toasted marshmallow jar yielded almost twice as much vodka because I was better able to fill it, the stickiness kept things from floating. What was in there dissolved far better and ended up as an almost clear brown. The toasted flavor is pronounced without edging to just burnt sugar – there’s still a distinctly marshmallow flavor.

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You can’t see the vodka, but I promise it’s in there!

I tried each one in hot chocolate with one tablespoon of the vodka. The plain vodka got lost in the richness of the chocolate but the toasted one added a nice nuttiness and depth of flavor. I’ve never really been one to eat raw marshmallows (unless they are homemade) but I *love* a toasted marshmallow (s’more optional) so I guess it’s no surprise that toasted won this battle. Toasted marshmallow vodka has earned a spot on my winter bar!

*I am going to try one more test batch of raw marshmallow, using either larger mallows that I can cut apart more, or using marshmallow fluff because that’s ALL gooey center!