Archive for the ‘Cocktails’ Category

Screaming Pineapple Cocktail

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

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This is the next installment of my adventure into juicing.

(Take a peek at my first juice, Spicy Strawberry Beet Apple Juice, here.)

I’m all for using my juicer to make super fresh juices to boost my health.

I’m also all for using it to make luscious, mouthwatering cocktails. This little baby is sweet AND spicy. I love it.

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This is so simple. Juice some fresh pineapple and chili peppers, then shake it up with a coupla shots of Reposada tequila.

That’s it.

The combination of heat and sweet makes this a killer brunch cocktail.

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Dial the amount of chili up or down, depending on how hot you like your drinks.

Serve it straight up in a martini glass or on the rocks in a tumbler.

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Here’s what that looks like. To the juicer!

Screaming Pineapple Cocktail

1 1/3 lbs. fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, chopped + juiced
1-2 fresh chilis, juiced (plus 1 more for garnish)
2 shots Reposada tequila
Ice

Serves about 1

Juice the pineapple + chilis

Following the instructions for your particular machine, juice the pineapple and the chilis, reserving one chili to garnish your glass. I used my Breville Juice Fountain Plus, which is the new love of my life.

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Set the juice aside for a sec.

Make the garnish

This is a super easy, very dramatic garnish for any kind of spicy cocktail. Slit the chili pepper (go about 3/4 of the way up to the stem) and stick it on the rim of your glass. Make sure to remove any loose seeds from the inside.

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Shake up your cocktail

Half fill a shaker with ice. Pour your fresh juice into the shaker. (If your juice was super foamy on top, ditch the foam with a spoon before pouring into your shaker.) Cap and shake to chill, then strain into your prepared glass.

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Easy, right?

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Serve + enjoy!

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Spooky S’mores Martini for Halloween

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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It wouldn’t be Halloween here in Salem, MA if we weren’t drinking some kind of goofy, seasonal cocktail.

This year, it’s the Spooky S’mores Martini, which by accident (ok, not by accident) turned into a FLAMING martini. We garnished them with Halloween-themed Peeps.

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I mean, when you garnish something with a giant marshmallow, you kind of have to light it up. (If you know me, you know how I love fire. <3) The sugar-coated Peeps don’t burn quite as well as your average, run-of-the-mill marshmallow, but I’ll take it for the drama alone. Improvise as you will!

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Spooky S’mores Martini

2 ounces vanilla vodka
2 ounces chocolate liqueur or cream de cacao
2 ounces Irish cream
2 ounces whipping cream
2 – 3 Tablespoons chocolate syrup or hot fudge
Crushed graham crackers
2 Halloween Peeps (or other large marshmallow)

Serves 2

Rim the glasses

Grab your martini glasses. Drizzle the chocolate syrup or hot fudge along the rim. Roll in crushed graham crackers to coat.

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Cut your garnish

Cut a diagonal slit in your Peeps or marshmallows. Set aside.

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Shake up your cocktail

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice. Toss in the vodka, chocolate liqueur / cream de cacao, Irish cream, and whipping cream. Cap and shake vigorously. Strain into your prepared glasses.

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Pop a Peep onto each rim to garnish.

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Light ’em up

If you’re so inclined, hit the marshmallows with a torch or lit match to crisp them up for a few seconds. Caution: Be sure to blow the fire out before it comes remotely close to touching the glass.

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Serve & enjoy!

Fancy a warmer drink?

Check out our Harvest Pumpkin Steamer, which got some love from NYC’s illustrious Gothamist this week. (Thanks, guys!) We like to spike this hot pumpkin drink with a little spiced rum. Think liquid pumpkin pie.

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Stay tuned for more Halloween madness from Salem, MA!

We’re super excited for the big annual party here in Salem tomorrow night. We’ll be out in force with our cameras so we can share the revelry with you guys. In the meanwhile, take a peek at what it’s like here in town.

Halloween in Salem MA The Hungry Mouse

Harvest Pumpkin Steamer

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

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Ah, pumpkin: Every autumn, either you love it or you hate it. I know a bunch of peeps who are already sick to death of this season’s pumpkin onslaught.

Me? Never. Pumpkin really is one of my favorite things. And not just because I live here in Salem, Halloween capitol of the world. 😉

This little baby is just like a hot chocolate, but with pumpkin instead of cocoa. Think liquid pumpkin pie. If you’re in the pumpkin loving camp, you’re in for a treat.

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I could seriously drink these every day this Fall.

In fact, I think I just might.

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What if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice?

No pumpkin pie spice? No problem. If you’re a baker, you probably have all the makings in your pantry. (And if you’re not, just throw in 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon or any combination of the spices below…it will still be very tasty.)

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

Makes about 2 Tablespoons spice

Spike it up

This would be fantastic with a couple of shots of spiced rum. Just saying.

The short version of the recipe goes like this

This is so easy, it’s ridiculous.

Toss all the ingredients into a pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking frequently to avoid scorching. Ladle into mugs, top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and dust with a little pumpkin pie spice.

I served mine with Stuffed S’mores Squares (recipe coming soon)!

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Harvest Pumpkin Steamer

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Garnish with whipped cream and more spice

Serves about 2

Whip up your steamer

Grab a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. (Why the heavy bottom? A thick bottom on a pot will help distribute the heat more evenly, which can help keep your milk from scorching.) Add the milk, cream, pureed pumpkin, sugar, spice, and vanilla extract.

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Whisk until uniform. Bring to a simmer on the stove over medium-high heat, whisking frequently.

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Simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking frequently.

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Garnish, serve + enjoy!

If you’re adding booze, throw in your shots now. Ladle the hot drink into mugs. Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

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Mint Simple Syrup

Friday, June 14th, 2013

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If you’ve ever planted mint, you know that it grows like mad and spreads like wildfire.

I always put it in pots because it’s so invasive. Plant mint right in your yard and by the end of the summer, you’ll have mint everywhere.

If you don’t grow your own, you can usually find fresh mint at the grocery store or your local farmer’s market.

This is one of my favorite ways to add fresh, summery mint flavor to cocktails and desserts.

Uses for mint simple syrup

Use this the way you’d use any sweet, flavored syrup. Try:

  • Adding it to cocktails
  • A shot in your coffee, tea, or latte
  • Adding it to milkshakes
  • Drizzling it on a warm cake as a glaze
  • Using it to flavor icings or fillings

Use your imagination!

This method works with other herbs

You can use this basic method to make a bunch of other kinds of simple syrups with leafy green herbs. Try making rosemary simple syrup. It’s a-ma-zing in a cocktail with St. Germaine and vodka.

If you want to do a woodier herb (cinnamon, ginger, etc.), you want to use a slightly different method. I’ll post The Angry Chef’s Cinnamon Simple Syrup soon.

Mint Simple Syrup

1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar

Yields about 1 1/2 cups

Grab your mint. If you picked it from the garden, give it a quick rinse and dry it off.

Chop it up, stems and all.

Aim for about a cup. A little over, a little under…no big tragedy.

Stick the mint in a bowl or other heatproof container and set it aside while you make the sugar syrup.

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Put the sugar and water in a small pot.

Bring it to a boil over high heat, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. When it’s boiling and the sugar has completely dissolved, remove the pot from the heat.

Pour the sugar syrup over the chopped mint.

Give it a stir to make sure all the mint is submerged.

Cover it with plastic wrap or a plate. Let it steep like this on the counter until it cools to room temperature. You want to cover it because a lot of mint’s flavor is in its volatile essential oils, which can escape with steam. (Same thing if you make peppermint tea…cover it while it steeps to keep more of that minty goodness in your cup.)

The mint will go from vivid green to a duller, cooked veggie colored green.

When the syrup has cooled completely, strain it, pressing the mint with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much syrup as you can. Discard the mint, it’s done its job 😉

And…voila! Mint simple syrup! Store it covered, in the fridge, for about 3 weeks…if it lasts that long.

How will you use your mint simple syrup?

Leave a comment, let us know! Have you made it? Send me a picture and maybe I’ll add it to this post w/credit to you!

Bacon Bloody Mary

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

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This is my new favorite Sunday brunch cocktail.

I’ll put bacon in anything. I’m one of those people. I’d like to agree with you guys who are over the whole bacon-on-the-internet thing. But I can’t. Bottom line, I like the stuff too much. Sorry.

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Thanks, Naked Juice!


The good folks at Naked Juice tossed me a few ripe tomatoes to pimp their juice. I honestly don’t mind. I drink their juice and have for a while. I really like that noxious colored green one that’s made with all the veggies. (To the handful of you who like to give me grief for doing sponsored posts: I only endorse products that I actually use and can get behind 110%. And the money I make keeps The Hungry Mouse running. Remember, I work a full-time day job, too 😉 )

I was psyched to try their new Tomato Kick flavor out in a recipe. I’m a sucker for a good Bloody Mary. For me, it was the obvious place to start.

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Each bottle is made w/a pound of veggies. Not bad, right?

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Bacon Bloody Mary

15 oz. tomato juice (I like Naked Juice Tomato Kick)
1/2 – 1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (adjust up or down depending on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 – 3 shots bacon-infused vodka
Ground black pepper
Ground sea salt
Lemon juice
Ice
Cooked bacon strips, for garnish
Lemon wedge, for garnish

Serves 1

One week ahead: Make your bacon-infused vodka

This takes about a week. Plan ahead. Torture, I know.

Cook a few strips of bacon until crispy. Cool. Break them up into pieces. Toss them in a clean jar and fill with a couple of cups of your favorite vodka. Cover. Shake a couple of times every day. Your vodka should take on a distinct bacon-y flavor after about a week. (You can totally do this with rum or whiskey, too. Really good if you like this kind of thing.) After a week, strain and bottle and store in a cool, dark place for up to a month or so.

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Admittedly, it’s not the best looking stuff, but the taste more than makes up for it.

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Make your bacon garnish

I do my bacon in the oven, on a rack. Saves the splatter and cleanup of stove-top frying. And it makes for very straight strips of bacon.

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If you live with beasts and cook a lot of bacon, you’re probably familiar with this, which we call the I KNOW YOU’RE COOKING BACON, WHERE IS IT face.

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Whatever. Don’t feel bad for Dexter. We always save him a piece. 😉

Cook your bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside while you shake up your drink.

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Make your Bacon Bloody Mary

I like my bloody marys spicy, so I always include a big squirt of Sriracha. If spicy isn’t your thing, leave it out.

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Half fill a shaker with ice.      IMG_2091

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Add a generous squeeze of lemon. Toss in a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper.

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Squirt in the Sriracha. IMG_2105

Add the vodka.

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Fill with juice. Cap and shake to chill.

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Pour into a pint glass.IMG_2119

Top with a little freshly cracked black pepper.

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Garnish with bacon and a fat wedge of lemon. (We skewer our bacon to make it a little easier to eat.)

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I also roasted a whole turkey breast this weekend. Stay tuned for the recipe!

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What do you think?

Love bloody marys? Hate ’em? What do you put in yours? Leave a comment, let us know!

nj_logo_100x100A message from Naked Juice

Power Garden is Naked Juice’s new veggie drink lineup with 1lb. of veggies in every bottle.* With delicious flavors that only Naked could blend, Power Garden offers one of the easiest ways to get your daily servings of veggies and fruits, along with good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Learn more at http://www.nakedjuice.com/veggiedrinks. 

*weight of vegetables, prior to juicing

Disclosure

Compensation was provided by Naked Juice via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Naked Juice.

Wordless Wednesday: Steamy Drunken Pirate

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

#RainyWednesday

#SoGood

#PerfectNightcap

Drunken-Pirate-The-Hungry-Mouse

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Have you had the flu yet this season? How about a bad cold, or (my personal nemesis) a nasty sinus infection?

If you have, I hope you’re feeling better! If you haven’t, I’m sure you’ve been surrounded by sickies. This has been one rough winter in New England, that’s for sure.

So, with all the germs flying around out there, I figured I’d share my recipe for homemade elderberry syrup.

What is elderberry syrup?

Elderberry syrup is an old folk remedy for colds, flu, bronchitis, and fever. It’s been used for centuries in Europe.

For me, it works like a charm. Personally, I think it’s a great immune tonic.

Not to mention, it’s pretty darned delicious if you like berry-flavored stuff.

Aside from any health benefit, it makes an amazing base for a cocktail. Shake a little up with ice, a shot or two of St. Germaine and vodka. Delicious!

You can also toss it into smoothies, mix it in with seltzer, pour it on pancakes, use it as a base for sorbet or granita…You get the picture.

I make my elderberry syrup with dried elderberries, cinnamon, cloves, loads of fresh ginger, and local raw honey.

I use a LOT of ginger, because I love the stuff. If you’re not so keen on it, use a smaller piece. Ginger also packs a strong medicinal punch when it comes to colds and flu.

I also always toss in about a half dozen Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) for good measure. Chinese star anise is a key component in making Tamiflu. You do the math. 😉

Homemade syrup is better than store bought

At least, so says the Mouse.

I’ve been making this elderberry syrup for about two years now, and let me tell you: I’ve hardly been sick. True story.

And when I do get sick, it’s never as bad as it used to be. I’m talking a cold that lasts 2 or 3 days versus 7 or 8. That kind of thing.

I started making it because I can control 100% of what goes into it.

And? Quite frankly, you can easily go broke buying elderberry syrup in the store. Check out the prices online for the bottled stuff and you’ll see what I mean.

As of this posting, Mountain Rose Herbs sells organic dried elderberries for about $10/lb.

One pound of dried elderberries will keep you in syrup for months, depending on how often and much you take. (As you can tell, I buy in bulk, but then I make the syrup and give it away to all my friends during the winter.)

About elderberries

So what is an elderberry, anyways?

The elder is a small, deciduous, shrubby, tree type deal that grows in North America, parts of Europe, and Western Asia. The dried berries are little, dark, and wrinkly:

Its botanical name is Sambucus nigra.

Whenever you’re buying an unfamiliar herb, always be sure you check the botanical name to ensure you’re getting what you intended. A lot of herbs can be known be similar names, and you want to be sure you’re working with the right one.

Use dried elderberries unless you have experience processing the fresh berries. I haven’t done this yet, so I can’t offer any advice. (Have you? Please definitely leave a comment! Would love to hear from you.)

Raw, unripe elderberries, bark, seeds, and leaves are all potentially toxic, so don’t go there unless you know what you’re doing.

Elderflowers make a lovely tea, and are the base for St. Germaine liqueur. They’re also great for colds, and for sweating out a fever.

Read more about elderberries and elderflowers here.

Where can you buy elderberries?

Get your elderberries from a reputable shop or online retailer that specializes in herbs for cooking or medicine. Don’t buy them at a craft store, etc., where the herbs likely aren’t food grade and are meant for pot pourri and the like.

I buy all my herbs and spices from Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon.

In my experience, they have the best quality and the best pricing. (Any other online herb shops you guys recommend? Leave a comment and let us know!)

Frontier Herbs is also great, though they seem to be more expensive than Mountain Rose.

How long will elderberry syrup keep? How do you store it?

Store your finished elderberry syrup in the fridge for up to 2 months. It keeps well for that long because of the high sugar content from the honey.

As with any other homemade good, if it starts to look funky, smell funky, or grow anything that resembles mold, throw it out and start again. I’ve never had any issue, but better safe than sorry.

How much should you take?

Me? I take a shot glass full in the morning and another at night as a preventative. Every day.

When I feel like I’m getting sick, I take it more frequently (1 teaspoon every two hours or so).  Many traditional herbalists treat acute problems with more frequent, smaller doses of herbs.

That’s what works for me. You might be different. If you take too much elderberry, it will upset your stomach. Use your judgment and always talk to your doctor before starting any kind of vitamin/herb regime.

What is raw honey?

OK. So, raw honey is good medicine. People have been using it to cure their ailments since the days of Ancient Egypt. (Check out more on that here.)

Raw honey is honey that’s never been heated or filtered.

That means that it contains all little bits of beeswax, pollen, propolis, and beneficial enzymes. To maintain these properties, I add raw honey to my elderberry syrup once it’s cooled to at least 110 degrees F. If your syrup is too hot, it’ll destroy a lot of the good stuff.

My favorite honey is Crystal’s Raw Honey. Hands down, it’s the best honey I’ve ever had. Seriously. Get your hands on some if you can, just don’t blame me if you eat half of it right out of the jar with a spoon.

You guys with kids will all know this, but don’t give honey to little peeps under the age of one. There’s a botulism risk there.

You can also make a shelf-stable tincture

If you want to make a shelf stable version of this recipe, infuse the same ingredients (EXCEPT THE HONEY AND WATER) in 12 cups of 100 proof vodka for 6 weeks. Put the mixture in a sterilized, glass jar with a tight lid. Shake every few days.

After 6 weeks, strain and press the liquid out of the solids (discard them once you wring them dry).

That’s it. No cooking necessary.

This tincture will keep well, shelf stable, in a cool place for at least a few years.

When I take elderberry this way, I do 1-2 Tablespoons/day, smaller doses more frequently when I’m sick.

Obligatory disclaimer

My lawyer wants me to remind you that I’m not a doctor, nurse, or licensed healthcare practitioner. This post is for educational purposes only, and is based on my personal experience. Yours may be different. This post is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your doctor before beginning any kind of new vitamin, herbal, diet, or exercise regime.

Warning: This recipe makes a massive amount of syrup

About yield: This recipe makes a LOT of syrup. As in 3 quarts of it.

I take it every day, so I tend to make bigger batches. Definitely feel free to cut it down by half or even three-quarters.

Also, it needs to live in the fridge, so if you make a full batch, make sure you have the room.

Featured in O, The Oprah Magazine!

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Hey!

I have huge news! Are you ready?

*drumroll*

I’m really proud to announce that The Hungry Mouse has been featured in the August 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine! That’s this thing here:

(Holy cow, right??!!??)

Wait, Oprah, like THE Oprah? Yep, the very same.

Let me back up.

So, a few months ago, Kate Rockwood, one of O’s senior editors, emailed me.

She’d seen my book, Slushed! More Than 150 Frozen, Boozy Treats for the Coolest Happy Hour Ever, and thought I might like to develop a handful of adult (read: spiked with booze) granita recipes for them.

Would I ever!

Thank God she e-mailed me. Because if she had called, I think I might have fainted.

I told her I’d be thrilled to, and we started furiously testing recipes.

Six granita recipes for Oprah

So “granita” is grown-up speak for “Slushee.” In keeping with the recipes in my cookbook, the granita recipes I gave Oprah all walk the line of cocktail and dessert. They’re all spiked with a little booze.

Here’s what I came up with for them:

Watermelon & Wine granita
Great combination, with just a hint of cinnamon + brown sugar.

Vietnamese Coffee granita
Sweet and creamy, awesome for any coffee lover.

Chili-Lime Tequila granita
Packed with lime flavor, and a little, slow heat.

Blueberry Basil Gin granita
The blueberry and basil are a surprisingly delicious combo.

Ginger-Lemon Vodka granita
A must for ginger lovers, think of it as a spicy lemon drop.

Pomegranate-Lime Vodka granita
A little sweet, a little tart, and very refreshing.

Never made granita? No problem.

If you’ve never made a granita before, it’s really, really easy.

Basically, you make the mixture, pop it in a lasagna pan, stick it in the freezer, then rake it with a fork every half hour to break up the ice crystals as they from.

Super simple.

Get the recipes in O magazine today

Get the recipes online at oprah.com today.

You can also find us in the print issue (we’re on page 164).

Get ready for giveaways!

We’re so excited, we wanted to share the love.

In honor of our feature in O magazine, we’re giving away a whole host of awesome stuff from some of our favorite peeps this month, including a basket of goodies from Witch City Wicks, a luxurious gift box of Chambre de Sucre artisan sugars, and a Breville mixer ($300 retail value).

Thanks again for reading + for all your support! Stay tuned for info on how to win!

Cheers!

Jessie + The Angry Chef

Homemade Gin (Infusion)

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go: This is not Carol Burnett’s bathtub gin.

(Remember this from Annie?)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDkEXszYtdo[/youtube]

This recipe came to me from Gourmet Live, by way of the lovely folks over at The Peche. It’s packed with some of my favorite fresh and dried herbs and spices. I should note that this is an infusion, and true gin is made with a still (not legal for home use, and not something we remotely recommend ever trying at home.)

I should also note that this gin isn’t crystal clear.

At least, mine picked up a hint of yellow-green from the fresh herbs. Now, I’m sure this will bother gin purists. But hey, it’s gin I made at home, and you connoisseurs are probably firmly ensconced with your favorite bottles, anyway. Plus, what it lacks in pristine-as-the-first-fallen-snow clarity, it makes up for in flavor. It’s delicious. So there. (Besides, if you take the time to run it 2-3 times through a coffee filter, the clarity improves dramatically.)

I should also note that I gave some to a (badly) hungover friend, and he said it perked him up. Probably too soon to start touting this as a hangover cure, but initial results are promising. 😉

So what’s in gin, anyways?

Good question.

And there’s not really a simple answer. The short response is: Gin can be a lot of different things.

As long as you’re looking at a neutral, hard liquor that’s been flavored with juniper berries and other botanicals, it qualifies as gin. Pretty open ended, right?

Here’s a look at some of the botanicals that go into gin. You should be able to find all them at a well-stocked grocery store.

Juniper Berries

Let’s start with the star. Juniper berries are these things here.

Juniper trees are evergreens that make their home in North America, Europe & Asia. The ancient Egyptians used juniper to cure tapeworms. The Romans and the Hopi used it to treat stomach problems.

Western Europeans planted juniper trees by their houses to ward off witches. The Scottish burned it to ward off the evil eye. And the Tibetans added it to incense to exorcise demons.

Not to mention that juniper has also been used medicinally to cure everything from gas and heartburn to bladder and kidney infections.

Pretty good stuff, right?

Botanicals

Aside from juniper berries, I tossed a lot of other botanicals into this batch of gin, including:

Green Cardamom Pods
Cardamom pods smell AMAZING, and have a ton of different uses outside of amateur gin-making, including in baked goods, ice cream, tea—and the cuisines of the Middle East and Scandanavia. It’s also a key player in chai.

The cardamom plant is actually in the ginger family. It’s also the world’s third most expensive spice, right after saffron and vanilla beans. This is probably because the pods have to be harvested by hand, when they’re three-quarters ripe.

Fennel seed
Not only does fennel seed smell like licorice, but it’s good for your digestion, too.

Fennel has been used to cure all sorts of ailments through the years, from snakebites to obesity to stomach trouble. Fennel seed also plays a role in a handful of other liquors, including aquavit and absinthe.

Lemon peel
Lemon peel is one of my favorite ways to brighten up almost any drink or dish. Be sure to scrape off as much of the white pith from the inside of the peel as you can. It’s bitter, and you don’t want that in your gin.

Lavender
A good friend was kind enough to donate some of her homegrown lavender. (Gorgeous, right?)

If you can’t find fresh lavender, I’m sure you could use a teaspoon of dried lavender flowers.

Lavender is a mainstay in French Herbes de Provence, and dried lavender is getting easier to find. Just be sure you don’t use anything that’s not food grade (i.e. potpourri). I like to order my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. (Their lavender listing is here.)

What do the experts say?

Now, what makes GOOD gin is an entirely different question…and one that I’m probably not qualified to answer. I’m just a little mouse who likes to tinker with homemade infusions. (Believe it or not, I actually like making them better than I like drinking them.)

So, I’ll leave the expert commentary to, well, the experts.

Luckily, the Barkeep over at SeeMyDrink.com, a free social networking site for cocktail enthusiasts, was kind enough to indulge us on the topic of gin. Here’s what he had to say. (If you’re one of those with a penchant for Instagramming pics of your cocktails, you should seriously check this site out.)

“Ever since the cocktail resurgence began a few years ago, the gin landscape in the U.S. has changed. Your choices used to be limited to a London gin. Glass bottles were the good stuff; plastic bottles were nothing more than paint stripper. Today, we’re fortunate to have a great variety of gin styles.

A few words about London Dry. Many people think gin originated in the UK. Actually, it’s a product of the Netherlands.

Around the turn of the century, Londoners were cranking out gin like it was water. Because this “bathtub gin” wasn’t regulated, it actually caused a public health crisis ranging from injury, blindness, to even death.

In response, Parliament quickly enacted the strict double distillation standards for production that exist to this day. These standards help make London Dry a favorite of gin drinkers worldwide. While Bombay and Bombay Sapphire are the most prolific of the London Drys, I feel the Plymouth Gin is the best in this category.

About ingredients. Gin is mostly associated with juniper, although there are no legal requirements for ingredients as with Champagne or bourbon. Typically, gin gets its predominant flavor from juniper during the initial distillation.

That said, I like two brands that think outside that box. New Amsterdam (not a traditional Amsterdam gin) has a nice light clean citrus flavor. Hendricks exudes earthy notes of cucumber.

Bols Genever is new to the US market and is currently taking speakeasies by storm. It’s a traditional Holland gin modeled after a 100+ year old recipe. It’s what people were drinking pre-prohibition. Its sweeter, malty taste is nothing like the aforementioned gins. In fact, it tastes nothing like any gin you’re used to.

Another new-to-you-but-old-as-the-hills gin is Old Tom, another pre-prohibition style gin that’s slowly finding its ways to shelves at better liquor stores. Similar in flavor profile to a London Dry, OId Tom is sweeter. Hayman’s is the best Old Tom out there, but whatever you can find will be a rare treat.

Finally a small note on what to avoid: Anything in a plastic bottle! (These are truly words to live by.) The one brand I always avoid is Tanqueray. Even though it’s everywhere, its distinctive taste is the unfortunate result of botanicals (namely, pine) being added during the second distillation, which distorts the flavor and renders it useless to any serious cocktailologist.

What would I put in my own gin? I have no clue. That’s your job, Mouse. I guess I’d start with the cleanest spirit (least amount of aftertaste) so that when cocktailing, my accent liquors are allowed to shine through.”

—Barkeep, SeeMyDrink.com

I also asked a bunch of you guys

I also took it to the street and asked our fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook about their favorite gin brands and cocktails.

I got a ton of responses. Here are some of them. (You gin drinkers are an enthusiastic bunch! Thanks so much to all for contributing!)

“Hendrick’s is my favorite gin.”

“Ooh, I’ve heard great things about Hendrick’s…”

“The brewers of Anchor Steam make a bracing gin great for G&T. As for cocktails… Corpse Reviver #2. Several versions around, but it should call for Lillet Blanc and absinthe, or it’s not legit. And please get real Marasca cherries. A work of art in a shaker.”

“Death’s Door is my fav. It has a strong flavor!”

“Bombay is the best tasting. Bombay in the blender with fresh orange juice and pink lemonade with a few cubes of ice and yummers! Refreshing summer momma Slurpee!”

“We have just tried Old Lady and it’s not too bad and a good price.”

“Have you heard of Brecon gin (wales) or Chase gin (Hereford, England)?? The chase gin is made from apples 🙂 both really good and very easy to drink!”

“Leopold Bros. Gin. I also like Plymouth, and my drink at the moment is The Last Word, a prohibition-era cocktail comprised of equal parts gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and Lime Juice.”

“Beefeaters is a classic in Mexico, Tamarindo martini is my fav, very refreshing with chili powder on the rim.”

“Bulldog Gin!”

“I love Hendrick’s and, locally, knockabout gin from Ryan & Wood in Gloucester.”

“Only recently started drinking gin, but a great drink is one I got at Zaytinya here, called a Beach (or Town?): Plymouth gin, lime, maraschino & egg white.”

“We love Hendrick’s after having it in Scotland. For me, G&T with the cucumber garnish.”

“For Cocktails I love Voyager, and for gin and tonics I like Tanqueray Ten”

“Plymouth is an utterly smooth and easy gin. It’s great in cocktails where you don’t want to get smacked in the face with juniper or when you want to fool someone who doesn’t like gin.”

“No.3, Old Raj, Death’s Door, and the Imperial Cocktail, the Aviation Cocktail and the classic Tom Collins.”

“Magellan gin, St Germain, tonic, twist of lime, ice. So good.”

“My favorite gin is Hendricks, and I love it with a cucumber garnish and maybe some St. Germaine.”

“Gin and tonic with grapefruit bitters on ice is my favorite summer gin drink.”

“Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC made a terrific roasted blackberry infused gin.”

“<3 gin! Particularly new ones from St George. Aviation, Last Word, The Gypsy. Mmmm.”

“The “Strange Brew” at Death and Co. An IPA tops off a gin and citrus delight.”

“Vesper! And Death’s Door is incredible.”

“Cucumber Mint Ice Cubes, my favorite way to serve gin.”

“I really like Rogue Spruce Gin and Barr Hill from Caledonia Spirits.”

“One of my colleagues swears by Tanqueray and tonic. Says it keeps the horseflies from biting.”

“Sweet Patootie Cocktail: Gin, Triple Sec, OJ, ice….”

“I just tried Gale Force Gin, it’s from a distillery in Nantucket, I believe. Although it won’t be replacing my Bombay, it is pretty tasty.”

“The Bijou is always a good gin drink.”

“I know little about gin and am intrigued. I helped a great deal, I know.”

How about you? What’s your favorite cocktail? Brand of gin? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Ready to make your own gin?

The best part about making your own gin? You can 100% control what goes into it. The mix below produces a fragrant gin that’s light and refreshing.

For a stronger juniper flavor, infuse the juniper berries overnight, then add the rest of the ingredients and infuse for another 24 hours.

The short version of the recipe goes like this:

  • Stuff the herbs & spices into a very clean bottle.
  • Cover with vodka for 24 hours
  • Strain, filter (if necessary), rebottle, enjoy!

(Simple, right?)

Here’s a little eye candy for what that looks like.

Homemade Gin

Adapted from Gourmet Live

1 (750ml) bottle of vodka
2 Tablespoons dried juniper berries
3/4 teaspoon coriander seed or ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
3 green cardamom pods
3 black peppercorns
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 piece fresh lemon peel
1 sprig fresh lavender

Makes 1 bottle of gin. Serves as many as you want to share with.

Combine all the ingredients

Gather your herbs and spices. If you’re partial to one flavor, or hate another, definitely feel free to play with the ratio of ingredients, or even omit some and add others. After all, it’s your gin.

Sterilize a glass bottle with hot, soapy water.

Add all the solids to the bottle.

Pour in the vodka.

Shake & infuse overnight

Give it a good shake. Let infuse overnight.

The berries and seeds will rise to the top. That’s just fine. Make sure they’re covered with vodka. Shake the bottle every once in a while.

Strain & bottle

I strained it once to catch all the solids, then ran it through a coffee filter a couple of times to try to improve the clarity.

The final brew definitely has a fresh green tint from the herbs.

Cheers and enjoy!

Now the big question: What’s your favorite gin cocktail?

And what’s your favorite brand? Have you ever made your own gin? Leave a comment, let us know!

Stay tuned for a couple of gin reviews and a cocktail or two in the coming weeks.

Guinness Ice Cream

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

It’s summer. Let’s make ice cream!

(Right?!?)

So last year, I made ice cream nonstop for about 4 months as I developed recipes for my new cookbook, Slushed. That’s this thing here:

It’s chock full of 150+ recipes for ice cream, gelato, sorbet, granita, and frozen cocktails.

You’d think I’d be sick of the stuff by now.

Not so much. Sigh.

So, this ice cream is a classic at The Mouse House, and puts our favorite stout to work in the frostiest of forms.

Guinness is actually one of the four basic food groups for The Angry Chef, so needless to say, we drink a lot of it—and cook with it almost as much.

(Don’t believe me? Take a peek at some of our favorites, from short ribs and hearty stew to homemade mustard and ice cream floats.)

For this ice cream, I like to use the extra stout, which has a deeper, richer flavor.

A candy thermometer is your secret weapon for homemade ice cream

I always use a candy thermometer when I make ice cream. Here’s why.

Eggs are cooked and safe to eat at 160 degrees. Custard will generally start to break at about 180 degrees. You want your custard cooked, but you don’t want it overcooked. A candy thermometer takes all the guesswork out of knowing when it’s done. (Check out more tips in my cookbook.)

Granted, once you’ve made about a dozen quarts of ice cream, you’ll most likely be able to eyeball your custard and know when it’s ready. Until then, a candy thermometer is indispensable, especially for beginners.

You can find an inexpensive candy thermometer at most major home goods stores, or order one from Amazon.

Make this the day before

Because of the alcohol content in this ice cream, it will take longer to freeze solid. Make this ice cream the day before you want to serve it. It needs to freeze overnight to set up properly.

Guinness Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups Guinness Extra Stout or regular Guinness (one 11–12-oz. bottle)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Makes about 1 quart

Make the custard base

Put the sugar and salt in a medium-sized, heavy bottomed pot.

Toss in the egg yolks.

Whisk them together until uniform.

Add the heavy cream and whisk again until uniform.

Set the pot on the stove over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly.

(Seriously, don’t walk away from the pot. You have to keep the mixture moving as it heats up, or else you’ll wind up with a pot of scrambled eggs.)

Your mixture is ready when it thickly coats the back of spoon and reaches 170 degrees on a candy thermometer. (To measure, tip the pot so that the egg mixture is deep, so you get a good reading on your thermometer.) This should take 3 or 4 minutes, depending on your stove.

Strain the mixture

Strain the mixture into a large bowl to catch any bits of stray egg that managed to cook.

Like these. (Ew, right? You don’t want those in your finished ice cream.)

Finish the ice cream mixture

Add the stout.

Toss in the vanilla extract. (I make my own. Learn how here. It’s SO easy. All you need is vodka, vanilla beans, and a little patience. I’ve had my bottle going for 10 years, no joke.)

Whisk gently until uniform.

Give the mixture a taste. This is your finished flavor. If you want to add more vanilla, etc., do it now.

Chill the mixture

Chill the mixture until completely cold, about 4-6 hours.

If you need to, you can fudge this a little by putting it in a shallow pan (like a lasagna pan) and sticking it in the freezer. Just keep a good eye on it, and don’t let it remotely freeze solid.

Process the ice cream

Once it’s chilled, process the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Every machine is a little different.)

Because of the alcohol content, your ice cream will still be a little loose when it’s done. That’s just fine. It will set up in the freezer over night.

Freeze overnight

When it’s done, pour it into a freezer-safe container. I like to use 1-lb. bread pans. They hold a quart of ice cream perfectly.

Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface of the ice cream.

Pop it into the freezer. Freeze overnight, until solid.

Serve & enjoy

Scoop away! We actually love to make Guinness floats with this. It’s also out of this world with fudge-y chocolate cake.

Craving Guinness + ice cream RIGHT NOW?

Make a Guinness float. They’re really easy and a mainstay at Boston’s Irish pubs in the summer. Here’s how.

Want more booze in your ice cream?

Check out my cookbook, Slushed!

It’s packed with more than 150 recipes for ice cream laced with all your favorite liquors and cordials.

Never made ice cream before? No problem.

I included an extensive primer on ice cream basics. I even have a method for making ice cream without an ice cream machine. All you need is a lasagna pan, a whisk, and a little elbow grease.

Happy churning! Talk to you soon.

Jessie