Kentucky cocktail, cake optional

wpid-kentucky-mule_01.jpg.jpegwpid-buttermilk-cake-slice_02.jpg.jpegLast post’s Buttermilk Cake was a sweet tribute to my late Great-aunt Helen. And as we do with all of these sweet tributes, it’s time to find an adult beverage pairing.

Because I’ve been enjoying classic Moscow Mules (a.k.a. Vodka Bucks) lately, I considered suggesting that this vodka-lime cocktail accompany the cake. But somehow the flavors of the cake and cocktail didn’t seem to mesh.

My thoughts next turned to bourbon, as they often do, and I remembered a Mule variation I also enjoy: The Kentucky Mule.wpid-kentucky-mule.jpg.jpegSadly, none of my cocktail cookbooks carried this recipe, so I googled and found this beauty. Three ingredients were mixed and I soon had a Kentucky Mule in hand.

Some recipes I’d found also contained mint, hinting at another bourbon favorite–the Mint Julep. But I stuck with the simplicity of bourbon, ginger beer, lime juice and was richly rewarded. More tart than sweet, it could have used an extra pour of ginger beer, but overall it was refreshing and lovely.

Opportunity to pair it with the cake was missed as the cake didn’t last long enough to meet the Mule. The Kentucky Mule doesn’t need a cake partner, though, and I’ll happily toast food for fun readers with a glass. Thanks for being here!wpid-bourbon-mule.jpg.jpeg

more marshmallow madness again

This gallery contains 9 photos.

The marshmallow train moves forward as I finally brought a bit of my madness to the masses. A friend who directs a local culinary school had asked me on board to teach a class on boozy marshmallows and last Friday … Continue reading

eggnog blog (plus granola bars, too)

While eggnog is held in higher regard than say…fruitcake, it’s still not always respected. It’s old-school. It’s quaint. It’s the kind of party drink Clark Griswold enjoys.

Then again, all things “old-school” seem to be enjoying new-found popularity. (Can you say “retro”?) Old-fashioned cocktails are making a comeback and I’m betting eggnog is poised to do the same.

This train of thought led me to my most recent Blog of Funny Names post. Would you please hop over to read about funny eggnog names (bonus comic included)? Then return for a recipe and a snack!

***

Researching the BoFN post made me thirsty for eggnog, though I wanted to try my hand at DIY instead of buying store-bought. An Alton Brown recipe (Anyone else an AB fan? I love this man.) came to mind, so I googled and hit the kitchen.

Brown offers uncooked and cooked versions of this holiday punch. Knowing full well that consuming raw eggs is not recommend, I went with uncooked anyway, mainly to save time. (Pasteurized eggs are an option, though the whites won’t whip as fully.) Without whole milk, I subbed in soymilk and also used rum instead of bourbon. As well, I cut the recipe down to make only one serving.

Though I expected the eggnog to turn out nicely, I had no idea it would be amazing. After just five minutes of prep time, this eggnog poured up light, fluffy, cool, creamy, and refreshing. I would have downed the entire serving (and it was a big mug) in one swallow if I hadn’t had a meeting to run off to. (Though you’d better believe I stored it in the fridge for later consumption.)

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

The cooked version would have been thicker, I’d imagine, but still creamy and decadent in its own way. What matters most here is how unbelievably easy it is to whip up your own batch of eggnog. Even without the booze, this is a lovely holiday beverage: Think of it as (melted) ice cream for winter.

With a mug of eggnog at the ready, we’ll need a snack. Preferably something healthy to balance out the cream and sugar. How about granola bars?

A few weeks back, food for fun offered a granola bar recipe. Soon after, Shanna of Curls and Carrots surprised me by sharing her AMAZING granola bars and crediting me with helping to inspire her recipe. These granola bars looked better than what I’d made and I looked forward to making a batch.

No surprise–Shanna’s Favorite Granola Bars were phenomenal. With room for all sorts of improv, they can be made repeatedly without ever being the same: I used dried apricots in place of some of the dried cherries and almonds instead of pecans. I also chopped up chocolate bars instead of hunting down chocolate buttons. Shanna had also mentioned trying cinnamon along with the other spices, which sounds lovely to me.

packed with goodness

packed with goodness

Now that we have our food and drink plated and ready to go, I offer you a warming winter beverage and a deliciously healthy snack.

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

syrupy sweet

Last week’s post mentioned that I was “taking it easy,” which many of you (accurately) pointed out wasn’t really the case. When does taking it easy include making a pot of soup, loaf of banana bread, lovely cake and caramel sauce, and pumpkin waffles? Yet keep in mind that my profession–and obsession–puts me in the kitchen. And as it is for many of you, the kitchen is my playground. Strangely enough, it’s the weeks I don’t have time to be in the kitchen that are my busiest and most stressful.

Now THIS week, though, I’m really going to take it easy. Really. Because all I’m going to do (well, mostly all), is send you over to yesterday’s Blog of Funny Names in Food post. It was fun to write and I’d love for anyone who hangs out at food for fun to also see what I’m putting out over there. It’s a once-a-month gig and I’ll continue to highlight it here when my turn comes around. (Which, btw, I spaced last month. Read this if you want to see what a hastily thrown together blog post looks like.) So. You head over to read at least the latest waffle iron (spoiler alert, yes) post and I’ll wait here. Promising you something tasty when you return!

Alrighty then, you’re back? Signed up for the Cornelius S Waffle event on facebook? Excellent. Because I promise to never send you home empty-handed, we’ll finish with two recipes that were posted months apart on the same blog. Last April, I mentally bookmarked the first and when the second posted a few days ago, I committed to making them both. Then the waffle flag started flying–it was time.

I admit to being one of those maple syrup snobs–shunning anything in a plastic squeeze bottle on grocery shelves. If it isn’t pure maple syrup (preferably from a local artisan), I’m not buying. When I saw Kitchen Simplicity’s DIY syrup recipe, I was a bit taken aback, but the ingredients looked wholesome (read: no corn syrup) and it seemed a fun project. Ditto when I saw her buttermilk version go up.

butter-flavor on left, buttermilk on right--both divine

butter-flavored on left, buttermilk on right–both divine

These recipes are as easy as it gets. They both came together in under 10 minutes–not 10 minutes each, mind you. I made two syrups in 10 minutes. Now I have two lovely homemade syrups and they’re amazing.

We’ve already enjoyed them on pancakes and waffles and next up will grant my daughter’s wish of pouring over ice cream. They’re going to be grand in cocktails as well.

drizzled over 'cakes

drizzled over ‘cakes

oh, so sweet on waffles

oh, so sweet on waffles

poured over ice cream

poured over ice cream

add a bit of soda water, and this could be a lovely cocktail

add a bit of soda water, and this could be a first-rate cocktail

If you’re up for “taking it easy” this week, I suggest you get into the kitchen and cook up syrup. It’ll be the easiest DIY you ever do.

because sometimes one ice cream flavor just isn’t enough

Seems the blogosphere has been heating up. True, some bloggers are now enjoying a winter season (talking to you, Peckish Kiwi), but for the most part I read of folks pert-near melting from high temps. Becky, Deb, Lilly Sue, Cheri, and so many others have been advising us on how to stay cool. Even in Minnesota, where winter kicks in late October and sometimes stays put until April, we’re looking at high temps and dastardly humidity that make indoor cooking unfathomable. For my part, meals this week have been no-cook, grilled (thanks to the fine folk at Patrons of the Pit for teaching me there are few foods that can’t be grilled), or cooked up in the slow cooker.

The soaring mercury also has me thinking ice cream (though ice cream thoughts are always near regardless of what the mercury is doing) and plentiful fresh produce offers hosts of options. Nearly 30 pounds of pick-your-own berries (when local fresh produce shows up in Minnesota, we consume with a vengeance) and a neighborly gift of MORE BANANAS helped me narrow these options. My ice cream cravings would be satisfied in flavors of banana and strawberry.

First, those bananas. What to do with more bananas? I’d already baked bread, cakes, cookies, and bars. I’d made a smoothie. I’d roasted and pureed the flesh for mashed banana at a moments’ notice. But, I had yet to make ice cream. Stories of “healthy” banana ice cream had always intrigued me as it was purported to taste like ice cream, while being nothing more than frozen frappéed bananas. It seemed a good way to burn through the six bunches I had recently acquired, so I peeled, pureed, froze. I also mixed in chopped chocolate just because I could.

banana "ice cream" in the making

banana “ice cream” in the making

Verdict? Not bad. Though I’d compare it to an icy popsicle more than I would ice cream. In the end, the poor banana faux ice cream didn’t stand a chance as it was compared to my next project: Killer strawberry ice cream.

Turning again to Humphry Slocombe, I pureed 2 cups sliced fresh berries per instructions for Here’s Your D@mn Strawberry Ice Cream. (This wicked-cool ice cream has the same naming origins as does HS’s Here’s Your D@mn Chocolate Ice Cream, featured here.) A no-cook “custard” made this the perfect frozen treat to make on a sweltering day in a non-air conditioned kitchen.

berries + cream=bliss

berries + cream=bliss

And when I put these ice creams side-by-side for their deLizious facebook post

can you spot the imposter ice cream?

can you spot the imposter ice cream?

a clear winner emerged. The strawberry ice cream was rich, creamy, tart, sweet, and pink; a frozen ball of brown banana was going to play second fiddle.

Wanting to give the banana ice cream another shot, I thawed it slightly, then beat it with an electric mixer (a food processor was used the first round) to whip more air into it along with ingredients I hoped would enhance flavor: ground cinnamon, vanilla, peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and bourbon (!). It was much improved with a stronger flavor profile and slightly creamy texture. But it was also still basically frozen banana.

creamier and a fuller flavor, but it still ain't ice cream!

creamier and a fuller flavor, but still not ice cream

If this were a contest, the strawberry ice cream wins. But there’s always room for more than one ice cream–real or faux–so will enjoy each flavor for what it is. The banana as a sweet and sort-of healthy treat (adding bourbon, etc zapped much of its nutritional merit) and the strawberry as a decadent summer I-shouldn’t-really-eat-this-whole-bowl-but-I-just-can’t-stop-myself sort of thing.

If you need a summer cooler, I’d recommend whipping up bananas (with beaters instead of in a food processor) and freezing the puree. Stirring in plain or vanilla yogurt would be a good move, too, adding creaminess. But don’t stop there. Go ahead and make HS’s sensational strawberry ice cream as well. It’s as simple as pureeing those 2 cups fresh hulled berries (straining if desired, though I did not) and whisking together with 2 cups cream, 1/2 cup condensed milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (!), and 2 teaspoons salt. Chill thoroughly, then process in ice-cream maker.

tastes like summer

tastes like summer

So, chill out, beat the heat, stay cool. There are more summertime clichés I’d like to use here, but that strawberry ice cream is melting and it’d be a shame to let it go to waste. Rushing off to catch it now, but will see you next week. Thanks for stopping by!

happy hour @ foodforfun

A few months back, I happened upon a blog I connected with instantly. Andi, a.k.a. The Weary Chef, is mom to two little ones and enjoys playing with her food while building her virtual empire complete with facebook page, tweets, pinterest boards, and lots of other icons I don’t know but am sure lead to great fun. She strives to put homemade meals on her table–and provides readers with the recipes for those meals–and I absolutely connect with all of that.

What got me really excited, though, was her Happy Hour. Each Friday, Andi posts an original cocktail and I was enamored enough to mention it in a previous post here, pledging to recreate her Friday beverages to the best of my pantry’s ability.

Though I never again mentioned it at foodforfun, I’ve been faithfully recreating The Weary Chef’s cocktail each Friday on my deLizious facebook page. If  you’re already on board, thank you for that (!), and you’ve perhaps seen these drinks before. But if facebook isn’t your thing, a recap of food for fun’s take on The Weary Chef’s Happy Hour is in order:

my first TWC Happy Hour

my first TWC Happy Hour

This was my first attempt to recreate Andi’s concoctions, and I was thrilled with the results. Not only did I match her ingredient for ingredient (save using whipped cream vodka instead of plain vodka, though wouldn’t do again as my drink was just a touch too sweet), but I even had a similar glass for photo.

I was over-the-moon with this one as I’d just ordered it the weekend before at a fancy-pants restaurant. I’d also seen mention of this classic cocktail in one of my favorite reads: Boozehound On the Trail of the Rare, The Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits. Here I matched her on all ingredients and it was a lovely drink for sure.Aviate

deLizious facebook sat this one out as it was Easter weekend and my mother-in-law’s pantry is less well-stocked than my own. But being at my mother-in-law’s had other rewards, as it was she who introduced me to the pink squirrel. Here’s what we made that weekend.

usually use fat-free half-and-half, but at the  in-law's it's ice cream all the way!

usually use fat-free half-and-half, but at the in-law’s it’s ice cream all the way!

not much green at all

not much green at all

With so much greenery, this drink was prettier than it sounds. Yet without Coitnreau, cucumber, and fresh basil, I ended up with an entirely different drink detailed here in facebook archives:

“Lacking pretty much everything for The Weary Chef’s Green Quencher, I had to make a few changes. This one (gently) muddles 2 strawberries, a few (frozen) basil leaves, 2 parsley sprigs, cut-up tiny lime. Topped with 2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce Chambord, and seltzer to the top. It was sweeter than what TWC served up and probably a bit more intense, but still mighty tasty. Will call this one the Berry-Lime Smash.”

Seems odd that the two Happy Hours I’ve had to miss have both been sangrias, but there you have it. I was busy doing art-y like things for my girls’ school that day (not to be confused with doing real art for which I am unqualified) and also into the evening for their Art Show. Fortunately, the art-program ladies cap off their night at a local restaurant known for its Rudy-tinis. Served with a side of champagne, this drink is–in the words of a facebook commenter– “four drinks in one.” While not my beverage of choice that night, I snapped a photo and put it up on deLiz facebook so Andi would know I at least tried.

yep, four drinks in one

yep, four drinks in one

oldfashionedAndi was especially clever with this one, taking a classic and giving it a fruity spin. And because bourbon always wins with me, I was thrilled to have an excuse to open a bottle. No pineapple on hand (though by now Andi was dropping hints via messaging that I might need certain ingredients on hand come Friday), I subbed in kiwi and used a bit of strawberry juice for the pineapple juice. I liked mine well enough, but would have also liked to have tasted her version.

TWC's was more pink than mine

TWC’s was more pink than mine

Here’s where I outdid myself: I had both sake and rose water on hand–no hint needed! (Though no canned pineapple for the previous week’s cocktail. Go figure.) This one rated “tastes like a flower!” in my comment to Andi and is a light and pretty little cocktail–think bridal shower or garden party.

Because I’d (finally) caught Andi’s hint, a bottle of Pimm’s was on my shelf when I saw her Happy Hour post that week. This one is my favorite thus far–lots of tang and fruit and sweet. Refreshing and perfect for summer. Also got the most deLiz facebook comments, making it a crowd favorite as well. (That said, my husband wasn’t a fan. ??)

summer in a glass

summer in a glass

a touch too pink to pass as a snickerdoodle

a touch too pink to pass as a snickerdoodle

She used Goldschläger, I used cinnamon liqueur. Hers was white, mine was pink. She had vanilla vodka, I had tuaca. My version didn’t look a thing like her original, but was still sweet and yummy. Very much a dessert beverage.

So there you have it–Happy Hour with the Weary Chef as told by deLizious and food for fun. I invite you to stop over at deLiz facebook page Friday afternoons for whatever Andi puts together next. Or start at Andi’s page and work your way over to mine. I remember posting a while back about wanting to expand my repertoire of fun and tasty cocktails and now as I write this, realize my goal is being met. Many thanks to Andi at TWC for helping me along. (Another rockin’ cocktail shout-out goes to Putney Farms for some of the most gorgeous sippers I’ve seen.) Cheers to all!

marshmallows with spirit

Googling gets results. Seemingly any question can be brought to the keyboard and an answer can be found. Among the bazillions of ways google makes “research” easy is as recipe-finder.

My plan to make vodka marshmallows, then, was simple. Find recipe online (nothing on my bookshelf to guide me here) and make marshmallows. But to my great surprise, the google search turned up nearly empty. Though I very clearly typed in “vodka marshmallow recipes,” most of the hits returned were for Marshmallow Vodka. So not what I was looking for.

I might have just fiddled with a tried-and-true recipe for plain Jane marshmallows, but introducing alcohol into the mix intimidated me and I wanted at least general guidelines to follow the first time around. (True, I had had fair success with bourbon marshmallows, but they were more rough-textured that what I would have liked, so wanted to keep looking.)

bourbon marshmallows didn't cut too cleanly, but still yummy

bourbon marshmallows didn’t cut too cleanly, but still yummy

The lone recipe found in my “vodka marshmallow” hit list involved two mini bottles of spirits and though the marshmallows looked divine, it seemed more trouble than is was worth to translate quantities for the sample-size bottles. (Yes, I can be a very lazy homecook.)

A change of search terms was needed. Switching it up to “spirited marshmallows” brought an intriguing mention of homemade marshmallows surrounding a center of a spirit-infused jelly. Wow and certainly yum, but way more than I was in for that night.

Changing it up yet again, I searched “marshmallows with alcohol.” Here I found a contender in Homemade Baileys Marshmallows, but thought that flavorless vodka might not be the best sub for a cream-based and super-sweet liqueur. By now, I was tired of clicking and wanted to get cooking, so the next find of St. Germain Marshmallows was my winner.

A fan of St. Germain, I have a bottle of what is advertised as “the first liqueur in the world created in the artisanal French manner from freshly handpicked elderflower blossoms” in my pantry. While not sure that the stories of monks handpicking these blossoms in the French alps while under their vows of silence are true, I appreciate the lightly fruity and floral notes in this lovely spirit. (The pretty bottle and golden color don’t hurt, either.)

Originally intending to follow the recipe exactly, I switched it up last minute and replaced the St. G with whipped cream vodka (laugh if you must, but mixed with root beer it makes a tasty “root beer float”). Though the recipe noted that only cane sugar would do (apparently beet sugar would hinder the needed “chemical reaction”), I paid no mind, reasoning that my sugar source had made many a batch of marshmallows and would perform for me again. I was happy to see the whipped mixture go from opaque to white, but started sweating when it failed to whip up as fully and as stiffly as had previous batches. Maybe the sugar source was key? Not willing to cave, I kept on and let the marshmallow-like cream set overnight in its prepared pan.

Relief all around when the marshmallows held their shape when cut the next morning. Tossed with a mixture of powdered sugar and vanilla powder, they were dreamy indeed. The 2/3 cup vodka used to soften the gelatin rendered them heavier, denser, and more moist than others I’ve made, yet they were elegantly sweet and more than a little boozy. Including them on a tray with plain ‘mallows and the above-mentioned bourbon made for a well-balanced trio.

clockwise from left: bourbon (with caramel swirl), whipped cream vodka, plain but pretty

clockwise from left: bourbon (with caramel swirl), whipped cream vodka, plain but pretty

This last month has involved much marshmallow making and I was surprised to find the variations among recipes. The recipe for this last batch had nearly twice as much liquid as I’m used to seeing and the sugar ratio differed as well. I’ve also tried recipes that fold whipped egg whites into the gelatin mixture, though decided it’s more work than it’s worth. (My Sweet Addiction has a good post on trying different marshmallow recipes should you want to know more.) Perhaps my marshmallow phase has played itself out for a bit. Though I’m hoping for easier recipe googling when my next marshmallow-making urge hits.

whipped cream vodka 'mallows

whipped cream vodka ‘mallows

almost-there chocolate lava cake

My mother-in-law clipped a recipe from her local paper that grabbed my attention in a big way: Spiced Chocolate Whiskey Lava Cake. The spices in question were freshly cracked black pepper, ground ginger, and cayenne. A recent purchase of large blocks of chocolate as part of a wine tasting “kit” meant I had the 8-ounce block of 60% dark chocolate. Outside of the mandarin orange zest, all ingredients were on hand.

Expectations were high as I started melting the butter and chocolate. But here’s the thing: I was balancing the project with other Sunday evening tasks–laundry, picking up around the house, getting kids to bed–so ended up with a good but not great final product.

My first mistake was thinking I would sub lime zest for the orange zest. I had lime zest stored in the freezer, which would save me the step of zesting enough (regular as I didn’t have mandarin) oranges for the 2 tablespoons I’d need. As I emptied the small ziploc of what I thought was lime zest, it just didn’t look right. A little taste told me that I was putting frozen pesto (!) into the chocolate cake batter. Not about to give up on all the expensive ingredients I’d already stirred together, I removed the few clumps of pesto that had made it in to the chocolatey batter, rationalizing that this was how new recipes and flavor combinations are discovered. Maybe a hint of basil would make this cake even better? I forged ahead, deciding to use fresh orange zest instead of hunting down the frozen lime zest. Two oranges were freshly zested into the batter and I moved on.

Filling the four 6-ounce ramekins and one mini cheesecake pan, I baked the cakes for the 13 minutes given in the recipe. A quick peek in the oven showed butter bubbling up furiously and pudding-like cakes that looked decidedly undone. At each oven peek, the butter was still bubbling, so I’d leave it alone and come back a few minutes later. After 25 minutes, the cakes looked done (bad sign–only the sides should have looked done), so I removed them from the oven, bubbly butter and all. Out of the heat, the butter subsided and the cakes looked lovely as could be. I knew they had to be overbaked after all that time in the oven (no lava!), but turned one onto a plate and cut into it just the same. While the cake had a nice crumb, it released no river of chocolate.

this lava cake has no lava

this lava cake has no lava

Still delish, the chocolate cake was rich without being overly so. And the orange zest was bright and fresh–lime zest would be fun to try, but orange seems the better choice. There was not even a hint of whiskey, so I’d switch to a stronger tasting booze (bourbon!) when I give the recipe another try. I also wondered why I wasn’t being hit by the spices–where was the ginger, cayenne, black pepper? While the ginger and cayenne were (very) faint background notes, I realized I tasted no black pepper because I DIDN’T ADD ANY. That ingredient somehow slipped by me–shoot.

out of the oven

out of the oven

So I now have a game plan for the next round: Use orange zest–though a hint of basil wasn’t a horrible thing–or sub in lime zest if I must. But absolutely no pesto under any circumstances. Add 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper per recipe instructions and bump up the cayenne and ginger by a pinch or so each. Cut back on the butter just slightly–there’s too much butter if it’s still bubbling up 20+ minutes into baking. Don’t wait for said butter to stop bubbling to take the cakes from the oven. And sub in bourbon (maybe 4 tablespoons instead of 3 since I’m cutting the butter a bit) for the whiskey.

Even with all of the mistakes made, these cakes were still divine. But they could be and should be so much more. (Though the fact that they were not is due to my multitasking more so than any recipe faults.) An optimist by nature, I’m giving myself another chance with this dessert with the amazing name. Expect a report when I do!

spiced chocolate whiskey lava cakes

spiced chocolate whiskey lava cakes

bacon + bourbon

Watching foodie TV (Foodography, the Cocktail episode) last night, I was intrigued by a mixologist who whipped up a batch of bacon bourbon. Both ingredients are favorites (as well as being extremely trendy right now), so I loved that someone thought to put them together. With molecular gastronomy all the rage, I envisioned bacon bourbon being a product of distillation involving beakers, siphons, gasses, and who knows what else. Wrong. It was a simple process involving only the two namesake ingredients–both of which I had on hand. I, too, could make bacon bourbon.

Rendered bacon fat was already on my counter, left over from another recipe. (Though it would have been easy enough to fry up a few strips of fresh bacon if needed.) The other ingredient–bourbon–has been a staple in my pantry since a trip to Kentucky last year. The process, called “fat washing” (lovely, yes?), is simply mixing hot bacon drippings with bourbon (1/3 cup drippings to 3 cups bourbon according to Bacon Today website), letting it cool, then refrigerating to solidify the fat. When chilled and separated, the larger fat chunks are removed. Finally, the bourbon is poured through a fine-mesh strainer to clarify. I also gave it a pass through cheesecloth as my fine-mesh strainer didn’t seem fine enough.

I can’t drink bourbon straight, and the same goes for this beverage. It boasts all of bourbon’s raw power and strength, but also adds a layer of not-so-subtle smokiness. Soda water and an orange rind would make good partners, as would maple syrup. I’ve also found a recipe for a Bacon Old-Fashioned I’d like to try. But for now, I’m happy just to have my bottle of homemade bacon bourbon sitting on my counter, catching the sunlight and promising a lovely and warming cocktail as fall eventually gives way to winter.

a beautifully golden and smoky spirit, perfectly suited for fall

ice cream with attitude

A few years back, my husband and I were in San Fransisco for a wedding. Prior to the trip, I’d seen mention of a San Fransisco ice cream shop flavor called Secret Breakfast in Bon Appetit. SB boasted bourbon and crumbled cornflake cookies and was sold at Humphry Slocombe. Knowing I would soon be in San Fran, I promised myself a visit and taste of what sounded like an amazing flavor.

Of course I forgot the article with the shop’s name and address when we headed to California, but armed with phone book and GPS, my husband and I found Humphry Slocombe, home of Secret Breakfast. Parking not to be found, husband dropped me off and drove around the block until I returned from the funky little shop with what I had come for. Secret Breakfast was lovely indeed, one of my all-time favorite food memories.

Imagine my thrill when I saw that Humphry Slocombe now had a cookbook. And imagine this thrill multiplying when I saw it included the recipe for the bourbon-and-cornflake flavor I’d enjoyed at the shop. This discovery led to me eventually buying the book as well as an ice cream maker.

Yesterday, I churned my first batch from the book. With its 1/2 cup bourbon, Secret Breakfast remained relatively soft even after 20 minutes of churning. Following the recipe instructions exactly (so not my strong point) meant I strained the custard and aged it overnight before running it through the machine. The resulting flavor-packed, rich, sweet, creamy, and smooth ice cream made the extra steps and time well worth it.

Amazing ice cream recipes are easy to find these days. But if you like attitude with your food, I highly recommend hunting down the HS cookbook and reading it first page to last. Like its namesake retail shop, it’s full of sass, inspiration, and recipes that wow.

bourbon and cornflakes–a secret breakfast indeed

peach. bourbon. ice cream. tarts.

Next Monday I’ll attend the annual business meeting of Les Dames d’Escoffier. I’ve written of this group before, and always look forward to being a part of their events. The company is good for sure and the conversation almost always revolves around food. And then there’s the food itself: always spectacular. Often the group meets at a restaurant or has a meal catered in, but the September meeting is traditionally potluck.

Because Les Dames membership is made up of those who enjoy being in the kitchen, you’ll never find a bag of chips and storebought dip at their potluck. This is a group of women who will make their own chips and dip or, better yet, offer up a whole-grain salad, basket of homemade biscuits and jam, or an amazing fruit-and-cheese platter. Because of the high bar that’s been set, I admit to being intimidated when bringing that “dish to share.”

It’s not that I don’t think I can turn out decent fare, but I tend toward basic (the biscuits and jam mentioned above? mine) while many of the Dames kick it up a notch and bring dishes that wow. Today I’ve given a test run to what I hope will pass muster at Monday’s meeting.

With the help of my new ice cream maker, I made a batch of Bourbon Peach Brown Sugar Ice Cream (again, thanks, Accidental Locavore for passing on the link!). With so many fun ingredients, it seemed appropriate for this group. But ice cream isn’t made for a potluck spread, so to turn it into a servable dessert, I started by pressing graham cracker crumbs that had been mixed with enough melted butter to moisten into mini muffin cups. Next in was a small spoonful of homemade cajeta sauce that was leftover from another project. A small scoop of the softened ice cream went on top after which the “tarts” were frozen until solid. Before serving, a dollop of bourbon-kissed whipped cream went on each along with a dusting of graham cracker crumbs. They turned out prettier and tastier than I’d hoped. Yay! They’ll go well with whatever wonderful dishes the Dames bring.

bourbon-peach-brown sugar tart shells with bourbon whipped cream

pretty, tasty, heavenly!

making-do-with-what-I-have pumpkin bread pudding

I have collected a fair number of cans of pumpkin puree (thank you, neighbors), so a recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding recently caught my eye. Being the only one in the house who enjoys bread pudding doesn’t deter me from making it. I can easily justify enjoying the whole batch myself. It counts as breakfast, yes?

Tonight was the night for the bread pudding. Topped with a bourbon sauce (isn’t all bread pudding supposed to be served with some type of whiskey sauce?) and a cloud of whipped cream (yes, laced with bourbon), it was swoon-worthy. The pudding itself isn’t overly sweet and has a beautiful almost pumpkin pie-like texture. As a bread pudding, though, it is decidedly hearty and rustic–even more so than some as it started with a loaf of fairly dense mulitgrain bread.

I was trying to use up a rather large (17-ounce) round loaf of multigrain bread (gift from same neighbor), so this replaced the baguette called for in the recipe. I sliced it 1/2 inch thick per recipe instructions, but my loaf was so much larger than a narrow baguette, the slices were anything but delicate. Just the same, I toasted it in the oven per recipe instructions and tore it into large pieces before soaking it in the egg mixture. In the end, I like how the irregular-size pieces meld together in the custard.

The recipe called for 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice. Didn’t have (how many of us do?) and wasn’t going to run out and buy so used 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon and made up the difference with half ground ginger and half freshly grated nutmeg. (sort of what the recipe advised)

I also didn’t have 1 quart half-and-half in the house. It would have been easy enough to mix 2 cups cream (which I did have) with 2 cups milk, but this was one of those times (and we all have them) when we were milk-less. I don’t know too many fans of powdered milk, though it does come through in a pinch when baking. My “half-and-half” was 2 cups liquid milk made per powder box instructions stirred into the same amount of cream.

Instead of the dark brown sugar I usually make (1 cup white sugar plus 2 tablespoons molasses), I made a lighter version by replacing 1 tablespoon molasses with the same amount of dark honey.

Also, the original recipe toasted the bread and baked the pudding at 300°F. I bumped up the second bake temp as I wanted faster baking and some browning on the surface.

Here’s how it all turned out.

pumpkin bread pudding swimming in a honey-bourbon sauce

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Adapted from a recipe found in Everyday Food (November 2003). Note that my recipe looks nothing like what was intended. Tasty just the same.

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf multigrain bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick (I used most of a 17-ounce loaf)
  • 4  large eggs
  • 2 cups milk and 2 cups cream, or 1 quart half-and-half
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg, or 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 300°F. Coat 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Place bread on baking sheet. Bake, turning slices over once, 20 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven. Tear into large pieces.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine eggs, milk, cream, pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, vanilla, and salt; whisk until blended. When bread is toasted, add to bowl; push down to submerge. Let soak 20 minutes or until saturated.

Heat oven to 325°F. Pour bread mixture into baking pan. Bake about 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 12 servings.

Honey-Bourbon Sauce

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

In small saucepan, bring all ingredients except vanilla and salt to a boil. Boil  5 minutes or until just slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla and salt. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Bourbon Whipped Cream

In bowl, whip heavy cream to make whipped cream, stirring in a splash of bourbon and just about as much powdered sugar.

Victory Part 3-1What does Nathan Fillion have to do with bread pudding? Absolutely nothing. This is why he’s here.

the bourbon chronicles: ice cream and cookies

My husband and I traveled to Kentucky last fall for a family wedding. The bride and groom had stars in their eyes for each other, but I fell in love with bourbon. The process by which this spirit is made fascinates me and I enjoy its distinctive flavor. I still can’t drink it straight, but a bourbon-and-soda rocks my world.

I also enjoy cooking and baking with this American spirit. For my last birthday, I made myself a chocolate bourbon layer cake (yum) and I’ve also made Ranting Chef’s bourbon chicken (again, yum). I made Angel’s Share biscuits for Thanksgiving and went through at least four batches of bourbon balls before deciding on the “perfect” recipe.

If you’ve been reading foodforfun, you know that I recently got my ice-cream “soccer ball” out to whip up some homemade ice cream for my daughter’s birthday party. After the first batch, I refilled the ball for another, but we never got around to making it. Too many party games to play. Never one to let food spoil (also never one to waste potential for homemade ice cream), I took it upon myself to chase the ball around the backyard the other day. Half-an-hour of kicking a bright blue, plastic ball around trees, a sandbox, and a swing set must have set our neighbors wondering. I stuck it out, though. I go to great lengths for good food.

While refreshing the ice and rock salt, I considered that this was my chance to make the ice cream mine. What could I add to make it worth my solo effort? If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I added bourbon (just 2 or so tablespoons) to the nearly frozen cream mixture. Why not? In the end, I had myself a boozy frozen treat. The alcohol lowers the freezing point of the mixture, so the final ice cream was softer than it would’ve been without the booze. No complaints from me, though. Once the ice cream was transferred to a storage container, I stirred in a bit of sea salt and a few clumps of brown sugar. It was extremely pretty and also plenty tasty. And because I can’t feed it to my kids (no chance for the alcohol to bake or cook out), I only have to share it with my husband!

bourbon brown sugar ice cream

A batch of homemade ice cream wasn’t enough to satisfy the sweets craving in our house, so last night found me making chocolate chip cookies. After baking up three pans worth (about 3/4 of the dough), I saw a bourbon bottle on the counter. Again, why not? I added 2 teaspoons bourbon to what was left of the dough, which made it just a bit moister. The cookies baked up slightly browner than the others and had a definite hint of bourbon. I’d definitely add bourbon (2 tablespoons or so to a batch) to cookie dough again.

If you have bourbon baking or cooking stories, please pass them on. I’d love more recipes that use this bold spirit.