sherry stirred, not shaken

wpid-20150324_161524.jpgAfter an unintended break, food for fun is ready to climb back on the Cocktail U train in search of the perfect cocktail for last post’s Cheese Soufflé. This seemed a tricky pairing. While wine and cheese go together like, well, wine and cheese, I can’t think of many mixed drinks I’d want to sip alongside a mixture of cheese, eggs, and bread. So I asked this question: What would Great-aunt Helen do?

And the answer is that she would drink sherry. Though I was too young to join her in a glass of this fortified wine, I remember seeing her sip sherry from a small, pretty stemmed glass. It means the world to me that I now have one of her original glasses and can sip sherry from it, just as she did back in the day.

Sherry by itself, though, does not a cocktail make. To my trusty collection of cocktail books I turned, where I found what sounded to be a lovely sherry-based drink in The Savoy Cocktail Book.wpid-20150324_160152.jpg

Ordered from Amazon after reading about it on another Word Press blog, Savoy is old-school. Originally published in 1930, this book celebrates the famed London Savoy Hotel bar. Without so much as an index, it was challenging to search, but because the drinks are alphabetized, I turned to S for sherry and found this little gem:wpid-20150324_160219.jpgI mixed a Sherry Cocktail to the best of my ability (Who’s to say exactly how much sherry is “1 Glass”?) and enjoyed the results.wpid-20150324_161447.jpgPretty as can be, strained into Great-aunt Helen’s classy vintage sherry glass, this amber-colored drink was bracing. Only slightly sweet, it was meant for sipping, and would make a nice foil for a rich and creamy cheesy soufflé.wpid-20150324_161549.jpgThough it’s becoming vogue again, sherry is often thought of as a drink best suited for old ladies. There may be some truth to this as Helen was one of those older ladies–at least when I knew her. But I’ve always enjoyed sherry as well (and I’m not OLD), especially the sweeter “cream” style. That it mixes well into a cocktail is a lovely bonus.wpid-20150324_161538.jpgA Sherry Cocktail toast, then, in memory of Great-aunt Helen. And a toast to you as well: Thank you for stopping over. Next week we’ll find another recipe in Helen’s collection that needs making.

spring break special ed. or there really is such thing as too many marshmallows

Spring break means sunshine, beaches, and tropical beverages. Especially after Coldest Winter Ever, trips to warmer climes seem mandatory. But our family had other plans. We would visit my husband’s parents in a small town 200+ miles north of where we live.

While this vacation locale won’t bring us any beach days, it does offer opportunity for rest and relaxation. With grandparents on-site to mind the kids, I can sleep in, work out, and tackle projects that haven’t been moving forward back home. One project in particular–remember Marshmallow Madness?–kept me busy today.

Since that last January marshmallow post, I’ve been drawing up outlines, testing recipes, dreaming up marshmallow flavors and uses (popcorn balls, anyone?), and researching what’s already out there in hopes of advancing my own spin on DIY ‘mallows.

To that end, I bought bottles of sweet red wine and sherry, intending to try these wines in marshmallows. Weeks went by, the bottles collecting dust on the shelf (save the sherry, which I enjoy sipping come evening) and I wondered when my schedule would allow me a few hours in the kitchen to try these new marshmallow flavors.

Knowing I’d have plenty of time at my in-laws, I packed it all up and set out to turn my mother-in-law’s kitchen into a marshmallow test kitchen.

And how. After making three different kinds of marshmallows–sherry, sweet red wine, and root beer–I can say without reservation that there IS such a thing as marshmallow overload. Tasting along the way, many spoonfuls of sugary fluff were consumed. Add to that the many marshmallows “tested” after project completion, and I write this in the throes of a sugar coma. That said, here’s a review.

The sherry and red wine flavors were riffs on Alton Brown’s recipe, subbing alcohol for part of the water (1/2 cup for the sherry and 2/3 cup for the red wine). Red wine won for appearance as it started out deep purple, then faded to light pinkish lavender after whipping. Sherry won flavor, if only because I prefer sherry over red wine.

sherry marshmallows-to-be

sherry marshmallows-to-be

boiling the wine syrup

boiling the wine syrup

whipping the wine fluff

whipping the wine fluff

Wanting to make a ‘mallow for the kids, I turned to Marshmallow Madness (Shauna Sever beat me to this book title!) for its Root Beer Float marshmallow. Sever’s recipes had different proportions of corn syrup, sugar, and liquid compared to other recipes I’ve tried, though she knows what she’s doing as her marshmallows were fluffiest and the “batter” easiest to work with. I’ll be turning to Sever’s book again.

gelatin "blooming" in root beer

gelatin “blooming” in root beer

I wasn’t overly crazy about any of these flavors, though that’s more about my being sick of marshmallows than it is marshmallow quality. My best bet is to step back from marshmallow making, though I’ll need to hit it again soon as I’ve signed on to teach a marshmallow class at a local cooking school. The madness must continue. I’ll also be reporting back here, eventually offering up the root beer float marshmallow recipe as well*. Please stay tuned!

l to r: red wine, sherry, root beer float

l to r: red wine, sherry, root beer float

*Can’t wait for the recipe? Let me know in comments or on deLizious facebook and I’ll send it your way.