gominokouhai: (Default)

Spare a thought please, this Yuletide season, for Jehane's family. I know them and I know that they're putting a brave face on it. But a table has four sides: and there's no way to set a table for christmas dinner without a big, glaring, empty gap where your daughter should be.

I wonder if I should phone them, polite friendly call to wish them well, or whether I'm too close to the problem and I'd make it worse.

~

Roastin a ham just now, and once that's out of the oven the pheasant is goin in. The brine this year is ginger, orange juice (oranges left over from sazeracs), and rum. And too much bicarbonate of soda. Usually I use bicarb to wash my hair, so I have a giant jar of it with a huge spoon, and hence my quantities were off. Or perhaps not. I'll know in a couple of hours.

I also have sausagemeat stuffing, sossinges with bacon wrapped round, potatoes, and parsnips and sweet potatoes that I'mma roast with a maple glaze. I am fully aware that I live on my own, but circumstances should never stifle genius. Fortunately, I'm fond of sandwiches.

Also, it's cold enough in this flat that I don't need to keep any of the leftovers in the fridge. The counter will be just fine.

~

Merry christmas all. Now get back to work or I'll belt your nut in.

gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

My preferred serve at the moment is—no really, trust me on this—whisky and cream soda. Get yourself a nice smoky Islay blend (Black Bottle is good, plus the purchase of it pisses off Donald Trump; Islay Mist is far superior if you can find it), pack an old-fashioned glass with plenty of ice, and add cream soda. Since I am a posh New Town bastard these days, none of the supermarkets round here sell cream soda. I have to walk for twenty minutes before I can get to the grotty kind of shop that has a proper shelf full of Barr's products. It is worth the walk.

There is a commonly held belief that one shouldn't add mixers to single malts. This view is incorrect. You still shouldn't, ever, add mixer to single malts, unless you have a really good reason, which I often do. In defiance of this naive view, I have tried the same pour with Smokehead. Smokehead is a single malt (Scuttlebutt has it that it's a seven-year-old vatted Ardbeg with a dash of 10yo), but it still doesn't work as well in this serve as Islay Mist, which is a bloody fantastic drop for a blend, and cheap too, if you can find it.

Limited Edition, single hogshead, Ximenez finish cask strength 1996 Ben Riach: bloody marvellous. This is the bottle I was saving for when Maggie died, and now I finally have something for which I should thank the horrendous old bitch. Worth waiting for. Not a lot of point in my reviewing this, since most of you will never get to drink any. I have bottle no. 112 of 310, and this one's not coming round again. But nonetheless: bloody marvellous. Tart apple, hint of stewed raisins, and strong acetone on the nose; incredibly sticky mouthfeel, with a touch of burnt golden syrup on the palate; lighter notes and the sherry and oak all come out when you add a drop of water. The concentrated essence of apfelstrudel in a glass. Bloody beautiful. Thanks, Mags. Please feel free to die again any time you like.

Now, who's up for clubbing together to buy a cask of something nice, so that we may drink it when Gideon Osborne is finally deservingly assassinated?

I had a whisky recently that tasted exactly like Scarlett Johansson. I'm not kidding, that's what it tasted like. Or possibly it tasted like how she looks. Unfortunately I can't remember anything else about it, not even the whisky's name, or how it could possibly taste like that, or how I would know. Must have been a good one.

Many of you will know of my fondness for Lidl's finest Ben Bracken single malt. Lovely fresh vanilla cream notes, hint of lemon sherrrrbert, and it's about eighteen quid a bottle. Scuttlebutt has it that it's the last expression from the mothballed Tamnavulin distillery, but if that's true then I'm not sure where they're still getting the stuff from, since Tamnavulin reopened in 2007.

Vaguely related, today's find has been Aldi's finest, Glen Marnoch 12yo Highland single malt. There's no such place as Glen Marnoch and Internet is suspiciously silent on where this stuff came from. It's spent some time in a sherry cask, without question. Dry white pepper and old wizened cinnamon sticks on the nose. Packed full of fresh fruits—watermelon, guava, tropical fruit salad—citrus, and a warm welcoming sherry length to it. Nice long smoky finish with a little ethanol kick at the end. And the whole thing comes in at under twenty quid.

I'm starting to like Aldi. Their weinerschnitzel is good too.

gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

I promised I was going to make the chilli Vesper work and by Eris I've done it. On the third try. The first one didn't count, because I was using tequila. Tonight: success.

Did my research first, and turned up the useful factoid that you can buy quinine powder (although not, apparently, any more from the company linked from the Esquire article), which can be used to requinify Lillet back to a reasonable simulacrum of the 1953 recipe. This I have to try. But not today. Today is for habanero gin.

Yes, habaneros. I know I promised Scotch bonnets last time, but they're significantly harder to buy dried. Habaneros are basically exactly the same thing but from a different part of the world, and spelled differently. They have the same light zinginess and all the tropical fruit pineapple-mango-papaya freshness on the approach. They're also spicy as all fuck, so do not attempt the following unless you habitually gargle Tabasco for fun.

Turns out that the whole problem with buying them dried was completely pointless anyway, because doing it with dried chillies doesn't work. (That was the second failed attempt.) It worked perfectly well with the Arbol chillies in the tequila, but a Vesper requires more subtlety. Buy fresh. Hell, that means you could use Scotch bonnets after all. You can get them in Sainsburys now for cheap.

Utterly fuckin amazing habanero Vesper, I'm not even kidding this drink will eviscerate you with pleasure, you will literally BLEED to death AND YOU WILL THANK ME

  • Decant 300ml of gin into a glass container. Glass, because I dread even to speculate what this stuff would do to plastic.
    • I used Colonel Fox's gin, because the balance of flavours would go well with the fruitiness from the chillies, but frankly the chillies are powerful enough that you could use any old antifreeze as long as it's 40%ABV or more.
  • Chop two (fresh!) habaneros (or Scotch bonnets, like we discussed) into quarters and drop them in. Screw the bottle up tight.
  • Infuse for an hour. Give it a gentle shake half way through.
  • Since this drink requires preparation, you have adequate time to a) chill down your martini glass and b) ponder what it is you're about to do to yourself.
  • Seriously, NO MORE THAN AN HOUR. Strain out the chillies.
  • For the love of God, Mary, Jesus and all the little cherubim and seraphim, label the bottle with the gin in it. It still looks like water and when you wake up tomorrow you're going to be wanting some of that. You might also not be thinking particularly clearly. Preparation saves lives.
  • Showtime. Combine in a cocktail shaker:
    • two measures chillified gin;
    • one measure regular, unchillified, gin (no need to get crazy, now);
    • one measure vodka;
    • half a measure Lillet Blanc;
    • dash Peychauds bitters.
  • Top up with ice and shake like a motherfucker.
  • Double-strain into your suitably chilled martini glass.
  • Add a large, thin slice of lime peel. Lime, because it's got chilli in it; also, because I firmly believe that there is no single application of lemon that cannot be immediately, infinitely improved by the substitution of lime.[0]
  • Drink until you can't feel your nipples.
  • Don't even think about touching your dick until you've washed your hands twice.

Utterly fuckin amazing habanero Vesper, I'm not even kidding this drink will eviscerate you with pleasure, you will literally BLEED to death AND YOU WILL THANK ME

Yes, it's pink. It is so pink in fact that I have a new life goal: one day, I shall run a classy cocktail bar, and when a gaggle of irritating young women come in who've seen Sex And The City too many times[1] and think they're being sophisticated, I shall serve them one of these garnished with a cherry. It looks exactly like a Cosmo and then I shall laugh and laugh and laugh as they die. Remember, this cocktail started from Bond's recipe, to which I added chillies. This is a man's pink.

Also, it tastes bloody fantastic.

The photo above is photoshopped all to hell because I inadvertently shot it at ISO800; the choices were employing [personal profile] stormsearch for her 'shop expertise or making another one to take another picture of it. If I did that, I'd have to drink it, and there's only so much unadulterated joy that one can experience in a single evening.

While we were in 'shop, she clone-stamped out the rather obvious tandoori sauce stain that was visible on the counter. I wish cleaning the actual counter were that easy.

ObSafetyNote: chillies, so wear safety goggles. (Getting that wrong is a mistake you make exactly once in your life, and I have a permanent note on my medical record to say so.) Also, there is a mild-to-severe risk of botulism from using uncooked chillies: C. Botulinum lives in soil and reproduces anaerobically, so the gin won't kill it. I am still researching methods to alleviate this risk without boiling the chillies in vinegar, which works but makes them taste of vinegar. When I sort that out I'll let you know. Meantime, if I wake up paralyzed tomorrow morning, I want you all to know that it was totally worth it.

You may commence the statue-building now.

--

[0] The only possible exception to this otherwise infallible rule is the Cure For The Common Cold (Pat. Pending), and that's only because I haven't tried doing that with lime yet.

[1] i.e. once

gominokouhai: (Default)

At the market on Sunday someone was cooking bolognese sauce at the pasta stall. Slow-cooked in red wine, she said, offering me a taste. I don't taste stuff at markets unless there's a vague chance I'm going to buy something, which is a bizarre new rule of etiquette that I seem to have adopted for myself, and I had no cash that day. But the smell was enough. I wanted bolognese.

I research these things, I'm thorough. Read a bunch of recipes and then deliberately ignored all of them. The vast majority of bolognese recipes, I am still astounded to note, don't specify red wine. Many of them insist on white wine, but I don't care what Dr B says, this is a bolognese and it's having red wine in it. To do else would be madness.

Celery is another one of those things. Apparently you need celery to make a soffrito. I've never eaten celery and I'm not about to start now. I did consider buying some today, but I'm not about to buy a gigantic pack of the stuff in order to add a tiny amount of it to a soffrito. Until celery is available in individual sticks I shall remain unabashedly free of its pernicious apiceatic influence.

So. Read a bunch of recipes, ignored all of them. Ended up with this:

May contain images too saucy for those of a delicate nature )

And lo, it was delicious.

(There was also whisky, which it's possible you may determine from the content of this post.)

Tomorrow: minced-meat pies. Rowr.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Regular readers will know that there are many ways to make a pasta sauce, and Jamie fuckin Oliver's version is pretty crappy. In the time since we made that episode (holy crap that was three years ago today) I've improved on his methods, combined them with Hugh's, and improved on those too. This, then, is how you make a proper pasta sauce.

cut for length )

Meatball lasagne el diablo is fantastic.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Chocolate and peanut butter.

Have ever two diverse flavours been so deliciously juxtaposed? Apart from maybe beef and cheese. Or bacon and maple syrup. It would seem that this is something the Yanks do really well: putting together two things that, on paper, should become an abomination unto all the laws of god and man, only to discover: dude, this is awesome.

Actually, it transpires that there is one thing better yet than even chocolate and peanut butter. Chocolate and peanut butter and bourbon. In a milkshake.

It's like everything that is good about America in a cup. It's the Liquid of the Free and the Hooch of the Brave.

In addition, and this point may be vital to full enjoyment of such a beverage: it looks like regular milkshake, and thus can be drunk at work.

I have been doing some experimentation, and my first conclusion is this: before you do anything else, before you even finish reading this post, go and buy chocolate syrup. I know you have drinking-chocolate powder in the cupboard. It is insufficient. If you don't have the finest American-themed grocery in the land just around the corner from you, and I'm guessing that most of you don't, then you can get it online.

The best goddamn milkshake in the universe, I'm not even joking

  • Four or five scoops of vanilla iced cream.
  • About a shot of chocolate syrup. If you've run out of chocolate syrup, three teaspoons of drinking chocolate forms a barely-acceptable substitute, but seriously, go and get some chocolate syrup.
  • One shot of milk. That's if the iced cream is sufficiently soft. If the iced cream came directly from the freezer, use two shots of milk.
  • Blend into a brown-ish paste. (Tip: pulse the blender. If you let the blender run, all the iced cream piles up on the sides and it won't get blent. Pulsing gives it chance to collapse down into the middle again.)
  • Pour a little over half into a glass and give it to your peanut-allergic girlfriend. If you don't have a peanut-allergic girlfriend, you can probably order one online.
  • Add a shot of bourbon and a level teaspoon of peanut butter. Smooth peanut butter, for Cthulhu's sake. And be careful with the amount. Ever tried eating peanut butter off the spoon?... you don't want that. Be stingy.
  • Blend until it is blent. Then blend a bit more for luck. Peanut butter has a tendency to form hidden lumps.
  • If you can control yourself, pour into a glass and enjoy. If not, drink it straight out of the blender. Nobody's watching, I promise.

DSC06370w   DSC06372w

Best served with a colourful straw and a rousing chorus of something from Assassins.

gominokouhai: (Default)

I wanted to drink something specific this evening. So I tinkered around, added this and that, finally got it perfect, and only then realised that I'd just invented the daiquiri. I'm not quite sure if this makes me a genius comparable to Constantino Ribalaigua, or whether I'm just a hundred and fifty years too late.

Part of the problem was that, after a double bacon cheeseburger, cajun fries, and short-stack maple pancakes I was extremely thirsty but very, very full. Basically I wanted a long cold lemonade, but short. So I set about inventing the concentrated essence of lemonade.

The concentrated essence of lemonade

  • Juice of one large lemon and one lime.
  • Two shots sugar syrup.
  • Dash Angostura bitters.
  • It wasn't working at all until I added half a shot of tequila.

Shake very well over ice and strain into a chilled Nutella glass.

Perfect.

My shot measures are Imperial, so each shot here is one and a half ounces. They were a christening present from my godfather (who displayed remarkable prescience in determining, when I was three months old, exactly what present I'd value most when I turned out the way I did). They come from a silversmiths in York that has a five-digit phone number on the box, which tells you how old I am.

And now I am no longer thirsty. Job done.

Although now I'm considering combining the drink with a layer of pineapple-coconut hydrocolloid foam... it may be that my problems are deeper than those of mere hydration.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Last night a well-known Edinburgh bistro reopened as a tapas-style Scottish restaurant. I was invited along for free food and booze.

Tapas has become a big thing lately. Spanish restaurants started it, then the Indian places and, later, the Chinese places started moving in. I think the business case is that you can serve tiny portions for almost the same price as a regular main course, and get everybody to order six of them. So in this case they're doing a Scottish menu, local ingredients, all done as small portions for sharing.

For the Grand Reopeningapalooza, all the portion sizes were reduced further to canapé-scale, usually served on spoons, as a sort of tasting menu. You got one mouthful, went oh or eh or occasionally even bleh but more usually oh or even ooh!, and then waited twenty minutes for the next mouthful to come round. In the meantime, the drinks were flowing. They had a good selection of Scottish ales and ciders—none of which I bothered trying since I already know them all very well—and a very competent bartender selling local-ingredient cocktails. Example: there was a Tom Collins on the menu made with Scottish (Hendrick's) gin. They call it a Tam Collins.

On booze and bragging rights

The special cocktails of the day were a local daiquiri and some kind of rhubarb martini. Both looked fascinathing, but I pride myself on my daiquiris, so out of professional interest I'm going for one of those first.

Waitress: It's made with apple juice from the local farm.
Yr. corresp.: Which local farm? Belhaven, Laprig...?
Waitress: ...um. It's a nice man called Peter.
Yr. corresp.: Oh, that's Belhaven Fruit Farm.

Turns out actually it's Thistly Cross, which is associated with Belhaven Fruit Farm but not actually the same thing, but I knew what I meant. I was at least correct enough to impress the shit out of the waitress, which is what counts.

On shellfish and squeamishness

The first course came round on individual spoons, and the waitstaff were very careful to ask do you eat black pudding? Of course I eat black pudding. Black pudding is delicious. The second course was oysters. Nobody asked if I eat ciliated bivalves. Jehane demurred, but I subscribe to the except-sodomy-and-Morris-Dancing principle of trying things once.

Based on extensive research, then, this is what oysters are like.

You're presented with a grey, fleshy, mucosal mass wallowing in a pearlescent shell. Drizzle over it the red wine and onion sauce and squeeze over it the wedge of lemon. The lemon juice will squirt skywards first, making a desperate bid for your eye: this is a natural law, like gravity but in reverse. Turn the lemon around and try again.

Raise the shell to your mouth and try not to think too hard about what you're doing. Down the hatch.

The oyster will remain stubbornly in the shell and you'll get a mouthful of red wine (which I can't drink), onion (which I loathe), and lemon juice (which nobody drinks). Quickly, now—because every moment gives you more time to think twice about what you're going to put in your mouth—poke the mollusc a bit until it comes free. Swig. Oh, God, it's huge and you have to chew! It's got the consistency of chunky snot and it tastes of onion and the fishy smell you get at the end of a dilapidated pier. Swallow as soon as possible. Resolve never to do that again.

Spend the next 24 hours with a debilitating migraine. Once you've regained the power of sight, spend another hour reading up on Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.

Oysters, it would appear, aren't really my thing. Fortunately there was a fantastic rhubarb-and-ginger martini on hand to take the taste away and to take my mind off it.

(Apparently drinking vodka with oysters isn't a good idea, even if it is Blackwoods (Scottish!), but it was an emergency.)

On selective hearing and second helpings

I wave the waiter away when he comes round with a tray of something we've had before: a breadcrumbed bauble nestled on a bed of tomatoey stuff, which I remember being delicious. Alas, we're tasting canapés, not pigging out at the restaurant's expense. Nonetheless, a mouthful every ten minutes isn't exactly providing me with adequate sustenance—especially not with all these cocktails.

J stops the waiter and asks what it is, then takes two.

J: We haven't had the lemon sole yet.
I: He said lamb rissole.

Oh well. Bonus food!

Afterwards, we went out for quesadillas, because we were still hungry. All in all, a fantastic evening, modulo the minor shellfish poisoning. I'm told it's only rarely fatal.

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