Monday, December 1, 2008

Cooking with Booze

I found out that today is the birthday of the Bloody Mary, so I have some ideas to help you celebrate. Let's start with cocktail hour.
I have a very adventurous cousin who would indulges my every whim when it came to making fancy drinks. Ok, so I realize that it is inherently beautiful to mix drinks where one can simply go outside and harvest citrus for one's fancy mixed drinks, and truly, a real whiskey sour is a gift, but have you ever had a Gin Fizz or a, get ready, Lavender Sidecar? Regardless of where you are in the country, a Gin Fizz is a really fun drink- kind of a mix between eggnog and an eggcream soda. Here is one recipe, but we used one closer to this.

Also fun and impressive, (but might have to wait for summer), is a Lavender Sidecar. This is really fun, and different from fruit based cocktails. The recipe my cousin based his creation on is:
1 1/2 oz brandy
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz lavender honey syrup (Lavender flowers heated with honey and water)
1/2 oz lemon
dash orange bitters

Now, on to the soup course.

On cold and rainy days, I make gallons upon gallons of soup. Here is one of my favorites, which will help use up the lifetime supply of vermouth we all seem to have around.

Potato soup with Leeks and Fennel

3 TBS butter
3 leeks, sliced and rinsed well
1 bulb of fennel, sliced (save the tops of these to make broth at a later time)
3 cloves of garlic, whole and peeled
2 tsp dry Vermouth
8 fresh, fist sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
salt to taste
2 Cups homemade broth
4 Cups water
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 Cup heavy Cream

Heat butter over medium heat in stock pot. Add leeks, fennel and garlic sauteing until soft- about 10 min. Add vermouth and cook about 5 minutes until liquid has evaporated. Add potatoes and salt, mixing with veggies. Add stock and water and boil for 30 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Add nutmeg. Puree in food processor in batches, adding cream until totally smooth. Serve with toasty bread and olive oil.

Ok, now onto dessert- pie crust to be exact.
My cousin Jack, (who also happens to be the fantastic bartender,) used this recipe for the crust of his Chocolate Walnut pie. The recipe uses two teaspoons of vodka instead of the entire amount of water in the dough. Vodka prevents gluten from forming, resulting in a flaky crust. I must say, it was delicious.

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