Monthly Archives: April 2013

Asparagus officinalis

Despite it’s unfortunate urinary side effect, holy crap, do I love me some asparagus. And did you know that it’s supposed to help with hangovers?! At least according to some South Korean scientists. If that’s true…we here at The Amateur Cocktailer count that as a double bonus!! Delicious and helpful! What a vegetable.

Because of my love for this particular plant, I was determined to come up with a fantastic asparagus recipe. And ooohboy, did I! The missus was quite pleased last even when she came home to it. It’s so good, I think I’ll have to make some for a little get-together we’re having this evening.

Anywho, here’s the recipe in all it’s glory.

Sesame AsparagusSesame Asparagus

Ingredients:
*1 large bunch asparagus (about 40 asparagus)
*1 large sweet yellow onion
*3 cloves garlic
*2 tbsp toasted sesame oil (if you can find La Tourangelle, buy it!)
*1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
*2 tsp fresh lemon juice
*1 tsp Savannah honey (just buy some!!)
*Garlic salt
*Pepper
*Sriracha

Take your bunch of asparagus, toss it in a decent sized oven pan, and dress it with everything except for the onions and Sriracha. Be liberal with the garlic salt and pepper – more so the garlic salt than the pepper – but don’t go too crazy.

Asparagus Dressed

Now go ahead and dice your onion and garlic up fine. Per usual, I’ve employed my favorite thing EVER – a food processor.

Diced Onions

Now take a grill pan (if you have one), spray a little cooking oil into it. Toss your onion and garlic in the pan at a medium heat and sauté for a good 7-8 minutes.

Sauteed Onions

Now toss your asparagus in and keep them over that medium heat. You’re going to want to stir them around the pan every so often, along with the onions and garlic. Because of the high volume of the asparagus in the pan, they’re going to take a while to cook – about 15-20 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your asparagus. Just try one or two throughout the cooking process to see how they’re doing. No big deal – this just means you get to eat these delicious things a few minutes earlier than the rest of the people longingly waiting for them to cook.

For the final touch, you’re going to want to toss some Sriracha over the asparagus and give them one last stir before pulling them off the heat. A little bit of this spicy elixir will totally make this dish.

Sesame Asparagus

So there you have it! Just make sure when you serve the asparagus to be liberal with spreading some of the onions top of them. That’s where all that delicious sesame goodness really lies.

Next up…homemade orgeat!! Until then…

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Froth of the egg

Sometimes I forget that egg whites are COMPLETELY WONDERFUL in cocktails. Don’t let me forget this again, okay?!

Seriously though, they provide such an amazing frothiness to any cocktail that I’m actually pissed off at myself that I don’t use them more in my concoctions.

Well that changes today! Tuesday afternoon’s offering from the committee of one here at The Amateur Cocktailer is a tasty, fresh spring delight. And best of all, it gave me the opportunity to use my good friend Sage from the fine folks over at Art in the Age. I swear, you guys, you MUST go out and try all of their absolutely fantastic craft spirits. I really can’t recommend them highly enough.

Anyway, here she is!

Sage Citrus FizzSage Citrus Fizz

*2 parts Sage
*1 part Dolin Blanc
*1 part OJ (fancy, of course!)
*1/2 part fresh lemon juice
*1 egg white
*Dash of plum bitters

This one is entirely delicious. It reminds me of springtime without being too light and airy. Complex yet frivolous. Okay, that’s being a little too fancy, I suppose. But it’s one tasty cocktail that is perfect for the season. And in keeping with my obsession with brunch, this could also serve as a perfect brunch concoction to impress your friends.

So enjoy! Until tomorrow, folks.

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Baking the banana

I’m not sure what the title of this particular post means – I just feel like “Baking the Banana” ought to be some sort of phrase that people use in life. Right? Now that I’m writing it…I realize the potty-humor potential. But I’m just choosing to go with it. I’ll take any suggestions on how we can make “Baking the Banana” a brand-new meme. Or at least make it part of the lexicon.

Anywho, I digress. Today we’re here to talk about banana bread. Our friend over at Uni Homemaker – a great blog you guys should all spend some time on – has come up with quite the banana bread recipe. I’ve tweaked it just a little – mostly because I’m currently obsessed with Savannah Bee Company honey and I wanted to include it – but the credit really all goes to Uni. So here goes!

Full LoafButtermilk Banana Bread

(courtesy of Uni Homemaker, with a few tweaks)

*1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
*1/2 cup granulated white sugar
*1/4 cup Savannah honey (go here)
*2 eggs
*3 medium-sized bananas, mashed
*4 tbsp buttermilk
*2 tsp vanilla extract
*1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
*1 tsp baking powder
*1/8 tsp baking soda
*1/2 tsp kosher salt, ground

Here’s a nice little shot of all of those ingredients laid out, just for the hell of it.

Banana Bread Ingredients

Okay, technically it’s missing the buttermilk. But the “Manager’s Special” sticker on the buttermilk wasn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing, so I had to leave it out dammit!

First off, pre-heat your oven to 350, and then go ahead and mash those bananas so you’ll have them ready.

Mashed Banana

Mmm…mashed bananas. So very pleasing to the eye, I know.

Now take your sugar and your butter and beat them together in a mixing bowl until the mixture looks all fluffy. Like this!

Butter and Sugar Mixed

Next, toss in your honey, eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract, and beat them all together.

2nd Mix

Again, very eye-catching, I know. Now take the rest of your ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt – and toss them all in the bowl.

Final Ingredients in Bowl

And beat all that good stuff until it’s nice and mixed together.

Final Mix in Bowl

Finally, spoon the mixture into a (greased!) loaf pan and toss it in the oven for about 55 minutes. Just make sure to check it with a knife before you remove it from the oven.

What should come out is something resembling this beautiful piece of work.

Loaf in Pan

Let it cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy! It’s definitely best warm…and probably even better with a little pat of butter. Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone about the butter.

Loaf with Slice

So thanks very much, Uni, for the inspiration and the recipe. It’s a really tasty one. And super easy for those of us who are most definitely baking novices.

Until tomorrow!

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Super Thursday

Wondering what happens when you move to a new, beautiful, slightly mysterious and ultimately captivating city? Well, high on the list is that EVERYONE YOU KNOW will want to come visit you in said new wonderful city. We currently have 3 lovely folks staying with us, on the heels of my Mom’s visit. Phew! It’s both amazing and exhausting, but I guess I should really just be thankful that we have an overwhelming amount of people who want to hang out with us. So what the hell – everyone, come visit!! 🙂

Anywho, I’m trying to be good and post even when we have visitors, and man, do I have a tasty treat for you today. It’s simple syrup, but with a lot of twists. So I’m calling it Super Syrup. Lame, perhaps. But that’s the name that’s sticking, so you’ll just have to accept it. Here she is:

Super SyrupSuper Syrup Jar

*1 cup water
*1 cup white sugar
*1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
*1/2 tsp sriracha
*1/2 tsp cinnamon
*1/2 tsp honey (Savannah Honey!)

Really, all you need to do is toss all of this together in a pot, put it over a medium-low heat and stir once in a while. Give it a good 20 minutes to simmer so that all that good stuff blends together.

I’ve got a wicked cocktail ready to go using this delicious concoction, but I’m gonna save that until tomorrow, mostly so you guys can have an extra happy Friday. Until then!

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Peanuttier!

Hello out there! I am back with a fully complete peanut-scallion recipe. And I’ve even managed to turn this whole thing into a completely delicious Peanut Pork Chop Taco recipe. Sounds crazy, I know! But damn, if it isn’t tasty.

Let’s start with the peanut sauce. Here’s the goods:

Peanut-Scallion SaucePeanut Sesame Scallion Sauce

*1 cup natural peanut butter
*1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
*1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (low sodium is essential here)
*1/2 cup orange juice (fancy stuff!!)
*1 tsp garlic salt
*4 scallions, finely chopped
*1 tsp red pepper flakes
*1/4 tsp sriracha
*2 cups filtered water
*1 tsp honey (I used Savannah honey from the lovely Savannah Bee Co.)
*2 tsp fresh lime juice

I know there are quite a few ingredients here, but it really is super easy to make. And REALLY great. Just a note: this recipe makes a LOT of sauce so feel free to cut it in half. If you’re gonna go ahead and make the pork tacos that I’m about to bestow upon you – which I highly recommend you do – this recipe is enough to marinade two large pork chops and have a little bit leftover to savor. It’s also very versatile. Toss some into a stir-fry! Water it down and make a salad dressing out of it! Hell, I could even see it on some fancy ice cream in moderation. The possibilities are endless, my friends.

Okay, now onto the tacos! Here’s what you’ll need into addition to the peanut sauce.

Peanut Pork Chop TacosPeanut Pork Chop Taco

*1 large pork chop
*1 medium red onion
*3 cloves garlic
*Peanut-scallion sauce
*Scallions
*Corn tortillas
*Sour cream
*Sriracha

First and foremost, you’re going to want to marinade your pork chop in the Peanut-Scallion Sauce. Use just under half of the Peanut-Scallion Sauce recipe to do so.

Pork marinade

I let it marinade for a good 24 hours, but I don’t think that’s necessary. A few hours ought to do just fine for our purposes here.

Once you’ve allowed the chop to marinade, you’re ready to cook! I used a grill pan for all of this. If you don’t have one, a regular pan should be a good substitute, but the grill pan is the way to go if you own one.

First, chop your onions and garlic. Use your old friend, the food processor, if you’ve got one.

Red Onion Chopped

Now fire up your grill pan at a medium heat. Spray a little cooking oil in there, and then toss 2 tablespoons of the Peanut-Scallion Sauce onto the pan. Finally, toss your onions and garlic on there.

Onions and Garlic Cooking

Let the onions and garlic get nice and soft, and then toss on your pork chop. When you do, make sure to toss all the excess peanut-scallion sauce from the container where you were storing your chop into the pan along with the pork. THIS IS IMPORTANT! It’s going to make all the difference in the end.

Pork Chop Cooking

As you’re cooking the pork chop, stir the garlic and onions once in a while, but don’t be afraid to let them sit for a while. You’ll notice that they’ll start to get a little brown. This is GOOD. Don’t go so far as to burn the onions and garlic, but you can let them go right to the edge. This concoction of onions, garlic and Peanut-Scallion Sauce is going to make your tacos ROCK.

Once you’ve let those onions and garlic get all nice and brown, take them off the grill pan, set them aside, and allow your pork chop to keep cooking. At this point, depending on how thick your pork chop is, you may want to cut it into smaller pieces.

Chopped Pork Cooking

This will allow you to finish up cooking the chop that much faster. Once your chop is done cooking – don’t overdo it or it’ll get dry! – take everything off the pan and set it aside. You should have a nice bowl of delicious, caramelized pork pieces.

Chopped Pork in Bowl

Carmelized Pork

Look how succulent!! To be honest, the Peanut-Scallion Sauce really didn’t do a whole lot to flavor the pork chop. But it did allow for that beautiful caramelization. It also keeps the chop moist. So don’t forget to marinade!!

Finally, you’re ready to construct your taco. I chopped the pork up a little bit more fine when I made the tacos, but feel free to get chunky with it if you want to. When you’re making your taco, toss the pork on the tortilla first. Then add a generous helping of the garlic and onions – here’s where the OH MY GOD DELICIOUS flavor is going to come from. Top it all off with a healthy drizzle of the Peanut-Scallion Sauce, some sour cream, some sriracha, and finally, some chopped scallions. You’ll have your friends coming back for seconds in no time!

Peanut Pork Chop Taco

I’m proud of this one. Really, I could just eat the onion/garlic/peanut sauce concoction all day long and be happy.

Until next time, folks! Happy Tuesday!

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Peanutty

Before I get any further, I just had to post this.

Margaret Berdon gravestone

The Mom was in town this weekend. Being a typically beautiful April weekend here in Ol’ Savannah, we spent most of our time basking in the 75 degree weather, which ultimately took us to Bonaventure Cemetery. I got this shot of this incredible headstone while we were there. And even though Margaret Berdon passed away over 100 years ago, I’d like to think she’d appreciate the shout out.

Anywho, changing subjects entirely…I’ve always kind of been obsessed with peanut sauce. I mean, what’s better?! As far as I can tell, not much.

I haven’t quite seen this sauce all the way through, so I’ll have the full recipe tomorrow. Just know that tomorrow, you’ll be blessed with a delicious Peanut Sesame Scallion sauce that will probably make your head explode. I at least hope it’ll curl your hair a little.

Currently, I’m marinading a pork chop in this delicious concoction.

Pork marinade

Just a little photo so you have something to look forward to. Until tomorrow!!

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Recycled ginger

In keeping with the theme of having an absolute slew of visitors here in the Hostess City, my mom is in town!! Which means I’m a little bit distracted, trying to convince her of the wonders of my newly adopted home. So I’m cheating a little bit today and recycling one of my favorite Friday cocktails here. I promise to be back on Monday with some brand new, completely delicious fair. But for now, enjoy an oldie-but-goodie.

I have to say, one of the joys of writing this blog is discovering random and fascinating facts about the things I’m writing about.

Take, for instance, ginger. In doing a very minimal amount of research on this delicious root, I’ve learned that ginger is a “rhizome” of the plant Zingiber officinale. What’s a rhizome, you ask?! Well, I learned that too! A rhizome is, apparently, a “horizontal, underground plant stem capable of producing the shoot and root systems of a new plant.” And did you know that ginger is also part of the same plant family as turmeric and cardamom? Awesome. I really do love compiling sort of useless bits of information about random things, if only so I can pull them out at social gatherings and mildly impress people.

But I digress. As you’ve probably guessed by now, today’s cocktail does, in fact, contain ginger. Or more accurately, ginger beer. And man, is it tasty.

I call it The LIC, in honor of my former place of residence, since I sort of took a traditional Manhattan and turned it on its head and gave it a spicy ginger kick in the behind. Perhaps I’m blaspheming one of our most beloved traditional cocktails, but honestly, I don’t really care. It’s interesting and delicious, and honestly, isn’t that what matters in the end?

The LICThe LIC

*1 part bourbon (I’ve been loving Bulleit in cocktails lately)
*1/2 part sweet vermouth
*1/2 part St. Germain
*A few dashes of aromatic bitters
*A few dashes of rose water
*Splash of lemon juice
*1 part ginger beer

Shake everything except the ginger beer together, pour into a nice, cool highball glass and then top it all off with that bubbly ginger beverage. Just the thing for that end-of-the-week celebration cocktail.

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A bloody twist

Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t posted a bloody mary recipe on this blog yet. It’s shameful, really, considering it’s tied with a Manhattan for my absolute favorite drink in the world. And I mix a damn good one, if I do say so myself.

Well, that all changes today, dammit! As always, in the spirit of adventuring, I tried to put my own little twist on the traditional bloody, and it actually turned out to be sort of a big twist, considering I’ve ditched the vodka for something else entirely – gin and bourbon (yes, both!)

Before you start gasping in my general direction though, hear me out! This particular bloody concoction will not disappoint, I promise. And if you’re really that much of a purist, you could, technically, use vodka here instead of the gin and bourbon. And it would still taste delicious, yes. But where’s the fun in that?! Trust me – you’re gonna love this.

So, without further ado…

A Bloody TwistA Bloody Twist

*2 parts Hendricks gin
*1 part bourbon (Bulleit, please!)
*4 parts tomato juice
*1 part worcestershire sauce
*1 part creamy horseradish (more on this below)
*1 part olive juice
*1/2 part lime juice
*Cholula
*Tobasco
*Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
*Pepper
*Garlic salt
*Cumin

Alright, I know it’s a lot. But, unlike a lot of other drink recipes, I think bloody marys benefit from throwing a bunch of shit together.

A few notes here:
-The spices at the bottom are a little up to your discretion. I like mine really spicy, so I put a good amount of all of the hot sauce and spicy spices in there. And go easy on the garlic salt, but not the cumin.
-Honestly, I’m surprising myself my listing creamy horseradish here instead of the traditional horseradish. But over the years, I’ve come to accept that the creamy horseradish is superior in a bloody mary. It adds just a touch of sweetness, and it makes the drink a little less chunky. So just go with it.

I love how the gin and bourbon complement each other here. The gin adds some bite, and the bourbon really deepens the flavor palette. All in all, I think it’s pretty spectacular. As with all of my brunchy cocktails, feel free to use this to impress friends.

Until tomorrow!

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Arresting brunch

I’ve written several times here on the ol’ blog about my intense love for sparkling wine, so I’ll save you the trouble of reading about my amorous feelings again, if only because I don’t want you, my loyal readers, to get completely creeped out. But dammit, it’s so good!

Anywho, in my continuing quest to make the perfect brunch cocktail – at least one that rivals bloody marys and mimosas which, are, admittedly, kind of perfect already – I really relish experimenting with prosecco. Clearly, I’ve spent far too many Saturday and Sunday afternoons of my life, wasting away the hours at any number of brunch places in New York. Actually, considering brunch is THE BEST THING EVER, I don’t consider those hours wasted at all, really. God, I miss brunch in New York.

But I digress. Below is my latest attempt to craft yet another brunch cocktail that you can use to impress your friends and loved ones. I’m awfully happy with these particular concoctions. And yes, there are two of them! And they’re quite similar while still being unique. I’ll explain in a minute.

For no good reason except that it’s the best comedy ever to grace our television screens, I’m naming these after some beloved characters from Arrested Development. And because Lucille sure does love her booze. This party is gonna be off the hook.

The Lucille (and The Buster)The Lucille and The Buster

*4 parts prosecco
*1 part Hendrick’s gin (**FOR THE LUCILLE ONLY**)
*1 part bourbon (**FOR THE BUSTER ONLY**)
*2 parts orange juice (the fancy stuff, naturally)
*Healthy splash of lime juice
*Splash of Jack Rudy grenadine
*3 dashes orange bitters

Really, all you have to do to make The Buster instead of The Lucille is to swap out the gin for the bourbon. The Buster is a little more bold while The Lucille is a little more crisp. And both are pretty outstanding, I must say.

That’s all for now. Back for more tomorrow. Just do me a favor – learn how to dance like a chicken, okay? And I’ll leave you with a nice wink, just for good measure.

lucille-wink

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