Vanilla Extract

 

If your one of the people who bakes often, vanilla extract is probably a staple in your kitchen. I used to fly through the little $3-5 bottles from Publix from how often I was using it.  Working in a kitchen, you pick up on little tips and tricks with through cooking and baking with the use of recipes. One trick that I learned was vanilla extract is super simple to make from home! It only uses 2 ingredients and takes 1 month! I prefer it to the store brought because I get a lot more yield and find it cost efficient.

Now that fall is here, everyone should be at least baking pies. If your going to be spending some time baking this fall, I recommend you start a batch of your own vanilla extract asap so it will be ready for you next month!   If you’re having trouble finding inexpensive vanilla beans you can find them online at top vanilla.

 

Ingredients:

-1 bottle of Vodka. The type doesn’t matter, cheap vodka is best to use. (For this recipe I used Skyy vodka.)

-4 EA vanilla beans split open and seeds scraped. (For a stronger flavor use up to 16 vanilla beans)

-1 empty glass bottle or jar of your choice to store the liquid in. (I found a $3 olive oil bottle from Marshalls that works well.)

 

Method of prep:

-Split open each of the vanilla beans and scrape the insides into the container you are going to use. Add vanilla beans into container.

-Pour bottle of vodka into jar up to the top. Put the lid back on and place in a cool dark spot.

-Every other day, shake the bottle around to get the vanilla moving.

-Let sit for up to 4 weeks before using or until the color is dark.

-You can remove the vanilla beans at the end or leave them in. I will keep my beans in and eventually incorporate them into cooking which is a good way to utilize the product before throwing it away.

Enjoy!

**Note: Your extract will begin to darken in color the longer it sits.

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Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca

One good thing about working in kitchens is the amount of diversity you come across with your co-workers. It is typical that in most kitchens there is someone of mexican discent working. since working at the Greenbrier, I have worked with many passionate and food driven chefs and I have never worked anywhere else where I have seen so much creativity. One of the chefs in our kitchen is crazy about making this fruit drink just about every day for our family meal. I finally went up to Armando and asked him what the deal is with him making these delicious and refreshing drinks. He told me that this melon water or Agua Fresca is a very popular drink in Mexico. Traditionally when they drink water they add any fruit of choice preferably watermelon  for a delicious flavor. I did some research on this tradition and according to the Hawaiidiner.com, this beverage literally translated as “fresh water” is a drink made from what ever fruit is in season and usually has a sweetener such as sugar added to it. You will find these drinks all over Mexico on the street or in restaurants and the distinct fruitiness balances very well amongst Mexican cuisine. This beverage can also be see in the Philippines.
I watched Armando prepared this tasty beverage one day and asked if it was okay to copy the recipe and add it to my blog.  You can use any fruit you like, we prefer to use compressed melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. We compressed them due to the fruit we received this year not being as sweet as it should be therefore compressing it in simple syrup added great sweetness to it.

To make you:
-Add into a blender or vita prep any kind of fruit cut into small chunks up to the top. For this recipe we used all three melons as mentioned above.
-Add in 1 cup lemon juice
-Add 4 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, cooked down)
-Add in small handful mint leaves (optional)
-Blend together
-Strain though a fine mesh strainer or chinoise
-Serve over ice and enjoy.

You can also add in berries if preferred for additional flavors. This is a very delicious and light refreshing beverage. Goes wonderful with hot/spicy foods, and great to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Pictured above is an example of how to start the beverage with adding everything into the blender prior to blending.

Drunken Cheese

The fun part of working in an Italian restaurant is the use of as much authentic Italian food as possible. One of the garde manager menu items, that is common on most menus is a cheese plate. There are many varieties of cheese in the world as I’m sure most of us know, and it seems every time I’m around a cheese cooler in the store I’m finding another cheese I’ve never seen or eaten before. I was introduced to a wonderful Italian cheese the other day called Ubriacone cheese. It is translated in Italian to “drunken”. When I first picked up the cheese I was curious because the color was a pale yellowish gold and it almost looked like Parmesan Reggiano by the texture. I was confused by a cause of a dark purple rind that smelled like wine. I took a bite and sure enough the first thing that came to my mind was this would go excellent with a glass of Pinot Noir. Ubriacone (Ubriaco) is from the province of Treviso in Italy and made from raw cows milk. This young cheese is soaked in local wine, both red and white then covered with crushed grape skins, seeds or stems left after from the wine making process (wine must) and then allowed to mature for six to ten months. The cheese is then pierced with tiny holes to let the flavor and aroma of the wine permeate the cheese. As mentioned above it is covered with grape leaves to keep mold from entering the holes of the cheese. Ubriacone has a hint of pineapple and a slight nutty taste. The texture is firm and slightly crumbly similar to Parmesan. If you are a wine lover like myself, this cheese would pair well with medium bodied wines and sweet or sparkling wines such as Prosecco. You can buy this cheese online at http://www.dibruno.com for $12.99 / 8oz.

Hello world!

Welcome to my new blog! I am new to this therefore the first year of this blog is going to be a work in progress. I’m going to look to this blog as my stepping stone to my career as a food writer. I don’t know much about designing a great website, however I do know that I love food and wine. I want to use this site as a way to blog about new recipes, restaurants, hotels, stories, and wine to others who don’t live their life around food or the hospitality industry but still enjoy it. I’m looking forward to updating as much fun and useful information on here for all to enjoy and in return would like any feedback you have. I have a secret passion for baking and I enjoy going to new restaurants or food scenes with my boyfriend Brandon, who is a huge help to me with this blog. I love to cook, travel, read, write, have fun and drink wine. I’m driven to eat and I hope you will join me on my journey through life’s culinary and hospitality scene.Thank you and enjoy!