Infused Vodka (continued)

I put up a post 3 weeks ago about a cucumber infused vodka I randomly decided to do one day. Infused vodkas have been a trend in many bars and restaurants for a few years now and are very popular amongst the younger females. Vodka as most folks know doesn’t have a flavor at all which makes it very easy to infuse with. When Infusing liquor the best thing to do is buy the cheap stuff. If you think about it, who goes out to the bar and takes shots of the bottom shelf vodka? That’s just nasty. Cheap vodka is almost meant to be used for infusing. If not, what else is it good for?

I had some fruit I wanted to use up so Brandon and I put our gifted culinary minds to the test to see if infusing peaches and watermelons are a good idea. Here are the results: YES. Brandon and I want to start experimenting farther out with other liquors for infusions mostly bourbon and tequila. Those will come later down the road. I’ve included two drink recipes to accompany each vodka. You may use your creativity to fancy a drink of your own. Cheers!

Prep Time for both: 10 Minutes

Actual Time for both: 4 Days

Spiced Peach Vodka:

 Ingredients:

-1 peach, peeled and chopped up

-8 ounces cheap vodka such as Burnettes

-1 Small chunk of a Cinnamon stick

-1 Small chunk of Star Anise

-2 ounces Simple syrup

Preparation:

-Blend together peach, vodka, and simple syrup in a blender.

-Pour into a mason jar or container you plan to infuse in.

-Add in cinnamon and star Anise. Place in refrigerator for 4 days.

-Strain liquid into another jar or container.

-Make a delicious cocktail out of it. (You may need to add more syrup/sugar if its bitter)

Recommended Recipe:  

Peachy Navel:

You Will Need: –2 Ounces Peach Vodka

-Orange Juice

-Grenadine

-1 Slice of an Orange peel

Preparation: -Fill a rocks glass with ice

-Add in Vodka

-Fill ¾  with orange juice

-Top with a splash of Grenadine

-Rub rim of glass with orange peel. (Bend peel first to release oils and zest)

-Throw the peel in with the drink, stir, and Enjoy!

Watermelon “Aqua Fresca” Vodka

 Ingredients:

-2 Cup Watermelon, chopped and seeded.

-1/2 Cup Simple syrup

-8 Ounces cheap Vodka (Burnettes)

Preparation:

-Blend together watermelon and simple syrup.

-Add in vodka and pour into a mason jar or other container you plan to infuse liquor in.

-place in the refrigerator for 4 days.

-Strain liquid and make a delicious Cocktail.

Enjoy!

 

Recommended Recipe: Watermelon  Cooler

Ingredients: -4 Watermelon ice cubes, (see end note)

-4 Cucumber slices

-1/2 Lime

-Club Soda

-2 Ounces Watermelon Vodka

Preparation: –In a rocks glass add watermelon ice cubes, lime juice from the lime, and cucumbers.

-Add watermelon vodka and a splash of club soda.

-Stir and Enjoy!

**Cut up the squeezed lime into ¼’s and add into drink as well.

Watermelon Ice Cubes

To make this all you have to do is blend watermelon and simple syrup together, using the same measurements mentioned above. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze until ready for use.

**These are also great to snack on during a hot day and can even be added into other drinks such as lemonade.

Whiskey & Mango BarBeQue

Everybody has their condiment of choice. As a kid I chose ranch on everything, yes everything. Now its barbeque sauce, not on everything though. Unfortunately barbeque doesn’t pair well with my yogurt and granola.  I’m at a point in my cooking career where I’ve stopped buying the pre-made ready to use condiments and sauces and have begun making my own. It’s inexpensive, healthier, and the quality is a million times better, plus I can change up the recipe and incorporate whatever my wild imagination feels like adding.

When I made this recipe I didn’t expect to get a high yield out of it but I got just over a quart. This recipe will go awesome with ribs, and pulled pork! You might notice that I didn’t include molasses in my recipe. The only reason is simply because I don’t like molasses. Although I do think molasses is mandatory in bbq due to the added flavor, this recipe turned out excellent without it. Add it into your batch if you wish.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Actual Time: 40 Minutes

-2 Vine Ripe Tomatoes, large dice

-1/2 Cup Mango Nectar

-1 Large yellow onion, medium dice

-6 cloves Garlic, minced

-1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

-1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar

-1 ½ Teaspoon Ground Mustard

-1 ½ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

-1 ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper

-1 Teaspoon Ground Cayenne

-Salt TT

-2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste

-2/3 Cup Jack Daniels

Method of Preparation:

In a large sauce pot, begin to sweat onions and garlic until soft.

-Sprinkle in spices over the aromatics and stir.

-Add tomatoes and cook until almost mushy.

-Pour in vinegar, mango nectar, and brown sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved completely.

-Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes stirring often. Add in Tomato paste and continue to cook over medium low heat until thickened. Approximately 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings and tomato paste if needed.

-Pull off of stove and using a hand blender, puree sauce until smooth.

-Add in Jack Daniels, stir.

-Place in refrigerator until cool.

Enjoy!!

Mango & Coconut Rice

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite Thai desserts of coconut and mango sticky rice. This is a classic Thai dessert and very scrumptious. Includes a great balance of savory and sweet. Now that summer is quickly coming to an end, I want to get the best out of what I can with what is still left in season such as mango’s.

This recipe reminds me a little bit of a rice pudding and essentially it is. Traditionally I believe that the rice is cooked with coconut milk and large slices or chunks of mango are placed on top as a garnish with leftover coconut milk (sauce). This here is my version of a the popular mango sticky rice dessert.

It’s a gluten free and vegan free dessert making it even better so everyone can enjoy. Personally I think mango and coconut are the two best flavor combos out there. If you want to get real fancy with this dessert you can try substituting out the rice for quinoa and make it a bit more savory to enjoy as a meal.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Actual Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Cup Jasmine rice (If you want to go traditional choose the more glutinous rice called sticky rice)

-1 Mango, cut in small cubes

-1 Can Coconut Milk

-1 Cup Almond Milk

-1 Teaspoon Allspice

-1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

-1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

-S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

-In a small sauce pot, add rice and coconut milk. Season with a small bit of salt and pepper. Cook on low heat until rice begins to absorb the milk. Approximately 10 minutes.

-Add in allspice, cinnamon, and 1 cup of the almond milk. Stir and cook until milk is absorbed.

-Add in the last cup of almond milk and brown sugar. Stir.

-Stir in mango.

Enjoy!

Pistachio Angel Food Cake

When I was around 6 years old shortly after the time my parents split up, I remember my dad coming home from the grocery store with a big fluffy cake that had a hole in the middle. I was impressed to see that the Giant Eagle, our local grocery store could produce big doughnuts. My father explained that is wasn’t a doughnut but a cake. Of course I was ecstatic because I was 6 years old and what kid at this age doesn’t love cake?. I tried this cake for the first time and seriously thought it was heaven sent because it was called angel food cake. I held that belief for many years until I found out it was made in a pastry shop and not shipped down from heaven.

I don’t make too many desserts because I’m trying not to eat as much sweet foods as I used to. Every once in a while a girl cant help her cravings. I’m lucky enough to have a great friend who is a pastry Chef who suggested making this delectable dessert the other day when I drove across to the Gulf coast of Florida where she resides. I’ve never made Angel food cake before and didn’t even know that is was a meringue based dessert! Obviously I missed that part a long time ago…

I’ve had many failed attempts with meringues before so I was a little hesitant to making this. Good thing I had a pastry Chef by my side. Allison added in pistachios to the recipe to give an added flavor. Me being a nut devotee, agreed to have the extra addition. This is a light dessert and makes a light ending to dinner. Angel food cake is already sweet, therefore you don’t need any other components to tag along with this angelic cake. We  chose to save the egg yolks and make an anglaise, a custard based sauce to go with the cake. Allison and I both agreed it made the cake too sweet and it wasn’t needed so instead we turned that into vanilla ice cream and enjoyed that the next day.

Prep Time: 25 Minutes

Active Time: 45 Minutes

**Recipe credit goes to Allision Mutek, Pastry Chef.

Ingredients:

-12 oz Egg Whites

-1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

-1/2 Teaspoon Salt

-6 Oz Granulated Sugar, plus an additional -6 OZ

-4.5 OZ Cake Flour

-1/2 Cup Pistachios, chopped fine

-1 Vanilla bean

Method of Prep:

In a mixing bowl combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt.

-In a separate bowl add pistachios and cake flour, and one of the 6 oz granulated sugar, mix.

-Turn oven to 325 degrees.

-Once egg whites are at room temp., begin whisking on medium speed and slowly add in 1/3 of sugar in three separate steps. Continue whisking until you get a medium peak meringue.

-Slice vanilla bean length wise and scrape seeds into meringue as it begins to peak.

<—Beautiful example of a medium peak 🙂

-Once you have your meringue, quickly fold in the pistachio mix using a spatula working from bottom to top. Don’t go rough on the mixing to avoid creating air pockets.

-Spread in an un-greased 10″x2″cake or bunt pan.

-Sprinkle a layer of powder sugar over the top to form a crispy topping. Do this layer twice.

-Place in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until a golden and crispy crust has formed over the top.

Enjoy!

<—This is an interesting approach. If you happen to have a blow torch around the house you can heat the bottom of your mixing bowl to get your egg whites to room temperature faster.

**Note: This recipe was made using a cake pan due to no bunt pan on hand. The cake will rise better in a bunt pan, cooking time may vary.

Homemade Spaghetti & Marinara

If you are just now following my blog or currently reading this post because it sounds amazing, then you should know that not only do I cook at home but I indeed cook for a living. One of the leading reasons I went into cooking to become a Chef was the enjoyment for being in a “hands on” career.

I love getting my hands dirty and many times at work I have to do just that, especially when handling raw meat and fish. Growing up my parents weren’t much of gourmet cooks. My father worked 2 jobs and raised 2 daughters on his own so he never had time to prepare anything fancy. Living off of hamburger helper, Kraft mac and cheese, cereal and T.V dinners were good enough for me. I never got to know food outside of the box until I started working in restaurants. Reading and following a recipe was like trying to read and write Chinese. I had no idea where to begin and how many ounces were in 1 cup or how to even cook. I never even wanted to go into cooking it just happened. I had applied at a restaurant in town that was soon to open. I was aiming for the hostess job when out of the middle of nowhere the manager asked if I would rather work in the kitchen. I thought to myself “Why would any 17 year old girl want to work in the kitchen? Am I even old enough? I don’t have any experience.” They were willing to pay me very well for a senior in high school, so I took the job, fell in love with the kitchen and the rest is history. Over the past 6 years of working in several kitchens, I’ve learned A lot and still continue to grow. Making recipes from scratch or as the menu reads “in house” has made me appreciate cooking beyond what I could’ve ever imagined.

If I can afford it, If I have the resources and equipment and If I have the time you bet your ass I will be making it from scratch. In my opinion a meal from scratch is healthier, and requires a technique with plenty of passion and love that has been put into cooking to make the experience of that meal fantastic in many ways. The first time I ever made pasta dough was in culinary school. I couldn’t believe how easy it is to make. Flour and egg is all you need. Obviously a pasta machine is needed but If you don’t have one use what you do have around your house to make the shape of pasta (See end note). Pasta made at home has a different texture to it compared to the store bought, its a little chewier and this recipe only yields enough for 2 people. Personally that doesn’t bother me because I’m going for quality over quantity. Marinara is very simple to make as well. This recipe is taken from the Italian restaurant I worked at called the Forum that was located inside The Greenbrier in West Virginia. Hands down the best recipe. The olive oil in the end adds a beautiful orange tint and the balsamic vinegar a nice acidic note in the end. This is honestly one of my favorite recipes to make. Plus this makes a great hands on project for kids if your looking for something fun to do on a rainy day. This recipe does take time, 2 1/2 hours to be exact. If you don’t want to do the pasta at least make the marinara its delicious and makes great leftovers!

Pasta Dough:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Actual Time: 1.5 Hours

Ingredients:

-2 Eggs

-2 Cups AP Flour

-Olive Oil

-Pasta Attachments for a 600 Series kitchen mixer

-1 Pot salted water, at a boil

-1 Colander

-Marinara sauce (See above recipe)

-Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Method of Prep:

-Using a clean and sanitized work surface place 1 cup of flour on counter and form a circle creating a well in the center using your fingers.

-Start by cracking 1 egg into the center. Push flour from the edges to the center mixing with the egg using your fingers.

-Dough will begin to crumble. Add in second egg and extra flour until you can form a nice dough ball.

-If too dry add a little bit of water. If dough is too wet add in more flour.

-Once ball is formed, pour 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil over the top and rub all over.

-Place in a bowl or leave on counter top. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.

-After 1 hour, cut the dough in half. Press the dough until is flat enough to fit through the dough press.

-Using the flat dough press, push dough through, pulling at the top to stretch the dough until you can’t push though anymore without ripping it, about 3 times through the machine. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top to keep from sticking to machine. Continue same step for the other half of the dough.

-Place stretched dough through the top of the pasta machine on the setting of noodle you want (mine has either the spaghetti or fettuccine attachment.)

-Once water is at a boil, cook the way you would regular pasta until al dente. Approximately 12 minutes.

-Drain pasta from water add your favorite sauce and other pasta fixens.

Enjoy!

Marinara:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Actual Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:

-1 ½ Yellow onion, julienne

-6 Garlic cloves, sliced thin

-1 28 oz can Peeled Plum Tomatoes, whole

-Dry Oregano, TT

-Salt and pepper, TT

-1 Handful Fresh Basil leaves

-1 Tablespoon Xantham Gum

-1/2 Cup Dry white wine

-1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

-1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method of Prep:

Sauté onions and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.

-Add a thin layer of oregano, salt and pepper, stir.

-Deglaze with wine until reduced, about 2 minutes.

-Pour in tomatoes and juice from can, season with salt and pepper, taste.

– Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for about an hour uncovered.

-After 1 hour Add in fresh basil leaves, Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and xantham gum.

-Using a hand blender, puree sauce until smooth.

-Season if needed.

Enjoy!

**Note If you don’t have a pasta machine or attachment, You can use a rolling pin to thin out the dough as you would if you were making a pie. Once dough is thin enough, take a pairing knife and cut strips about 1/4 inch in size for spaghetti or 1 inch for fettuccine. From here follow the 10 bullet down on pasta recipe. 🙂 Also if you have a second hand around the house, it will be needed in the pasta process to help catch the pasta as its coming through the machine while the other feeds the dough through the top.