Guest Post: E’s Rock Candy Bulleit Julep

Bulleit

Guest post from Eric!  With bonus Civil War trivia.

While I wouldn’t normally advise adulterating Bulleit with mint, making mint juleps with Jack Daniels results in a product that is only so-so, although the Jack Daniels honey version is passable. Bulleit is a prudent choice for this kind of thing because it’s a quality Mintbourbon at a reasonable price, so you don’t sacrifice taste and can still feel good about committing the deadliest of all sins (not simply enjoying bourbon for what it is).

This drink is great to make on a summer day in February (can you tell we live in Austin?). The actual work is only about 10 minutes, as most of the process is just letting the syrup cool and congeal in the fridge. If you have to walk to the liquor store, as I did today, that’ll add 20 minutes to the process, but again, it’s Austin so that’s just a bonus.

If you have a non-ironic portrait of Robert E. Lee handy, it’s best to toast it before your first sip. If not, just toast any nearby old people with beards, or walk to the statue on campus and toast the grackles. If you live in Baltimore, walk to the statue of Lee and Jackson on the eve of Chancellorsville and toast the horses. Okay, I’m done.

Ingredients:

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint
1 small piece of rock candy, left over from Christmas
2 tbsp local honey
1 bottle of delicious Bulleit bourbon

Steps:

1. In a small tea pot, combine ripped up mint leaves and honey.

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2. Throw in the rock candy.

3. Add boiling water.

4. Let steep for at least 20 minutes, to make a mint/sugar tea.

5. Pour out mint tea into separate container, and throw in any additional mint that’s handy.

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6. Close container, put in fridge, let cool for at least an hour.

7. Take out container, strain contents (if loose mint is in there)now you have a simple mint syrup.

8. Combine mint syrup and delicious Bulleit1 part mint syrup to 2-3 parts bourbon, to tasteand one or two ice cubes.

9. Consume gleefully.

10. Discuss to anyone present how the South shall rise again.

11. Tip hat.

Bulleit


/INSUFFERABLE HIPSTER IRONY

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Turkey Stroganoff

A few weeks ago, I scored some $1.00/pound packages of ground turkey at Wheatsville. I cooked some of it and froze the rest. This week, I also had a whole container of sour cream (buy one, get one free at HEB) and some cream that was about to go off, as well as a bag of mushrooms that needed to be used yesterday. And I’d bought two huge bags of extra large egg noodles recently, because I’ve been craving them for a while. So, even though it was 95°F, of course I made some turkey stroganoff!

Stroganoff includes some of my favorite flavors: mushrooms, onions, beef broth, and sour cream. The fact that it’s served on an ample bed of egg noodles makes it even more irresistible. This is a meal we had fairly regularly at my house as I was growing up, so I was curious as to how my mom and grandmother came to be so familiar with an apparently Russian dish. It’s called govjadina po Strogonovski or bef stroganov in Russian and gained popularity in 19th century. Traditionally made using strips of beef, onions, flour, mushrooms, sour cream, and butter served on a bed of either crispy potatoes or egg noodles, the dish is named after the important Stroganov family. After the Bolshevik revolution but before the Maoist one, the dish became popular in China as Russians moved into the country. It then found its way onto American tables by way of subsequent Chinese and Russian immigrants, and became very popular in the 1950s. I have no doubt that my grandmother probably got a recipe from a cookbook during that time, and my mother continued to make it because it was familiar and simple (my mom hates to cook!).

For this version, I used this recipe from Rachael Ray, which I highly recommend. I used some white wine to deglaze the pan, and added paprika to the spice mix. I also substituted cream for the milk. The result was pretty flavorful and so filling! I ended up making about eight servings’ worth(!), and I just had a small container of the leftovers for lunch—it’s even better than it was fresh.

What are you having for lunch?

Stella’s Colcannon

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

The Queen planting a tree in Ireland.

The Queen planting a tree in Ireland.

Well, it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and I am a hardcore Anglophile, but I just couldn’t help whipping up some delicious Irish comfort food this week, so that’s what you’re getting! Hopefully, as heralded by Her Majesty’s recent trip to the Emerald Isle (the first by a reigning British monarch since her grandfather King George V visited in 1911), relations between the two countries will continue to improve. Meanwhile, we can all enjoy the best, butteriest foods from both windy isles.

Colcannon

3 lbs. potatoes (about seven medium-sized potatoes), peeled and chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage, roughly chopped
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 sticks of butter
6 additional pats of butter, pre-sliced and softened
1 cup of cream
10 slices of bacon
salt and black pepper
3 spring onions, finely chopped (optional)

1. In a large stock pot, cover potatoes with water, lightly salt, and bring to a boil. Cook for about fifteen minutes, or until fully softened.

2. Meanwhile, heat bacon in a large skillet over medium low heat. Allow to sizzle for about ten minutes, turning occasionally, until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels, crumble, and set aside.

3. In a medium stock pot, cover cabbage and spinach with water and bring to a boil. Allow to cook for about five minutes, until cabbage begins to darken, and add a pat of butter. Stir and cover. Boil for a further ten minutes, then drain and set aside.

4. Once potatoes are cooked through, drain and return pot to stove. Lower heat to simmer and add about half the remaining butter, plus salt and pepper to taste. Mash until potatoes are as smooth as possible, slowly drizzling in cream. Taste, and add more salt and pepper as desired. Add the cabbage and spinach, along with the rest of the butter, reserving four pats. Stir thoroughly so that all ingredients are evenly mixed.

5. Serve immediately by ladling the colcannon out into bowls and smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Add reserved pats of butter, one per bowl, and allow to melt into the grooves created by the spoon. Top with crumbled bacon, chopped spring onions, and additional black pepper, if desired.

Serves 6. Also makes great leftovers. Just throw a pat of butter on there and reheat!

*I used Kerrygold! Mmmmmmmm.

Stella’s Spaghetti Bolognese

So, I had a pound of beef, some pasta, and no idea what to make for lunch during the Ravens-Texans game (go, Ravens!). I hadn’t had Bolognese sauce since living in England more than five years ago, so I decided to give it a try. Pasta Bolognese seemed to be the most popular Italian dish in the UK a few years back, and it was on every Italian menu, as well as a lot of pub menus, not to mention available in frozen form at the supermarket! This Bolognese, while fairly straightforward, is far superior to the Tesco version. I will definitely be adding this one to my regular pasta rotation.

This classic sauce was registered in 1982 by the Bolognese delegation of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina and stipulates the ingredients as: beef (skirt steak), pancetta, onions, carrot, celery (stalk), tomato paste, meat broth, red dry wine (not bubbling), milk, salt and pepper to taste. There are, of course, multiple regional variations, however; let’s consider this the variazione del texan.

For this recipe, I cheated on on the soffritto, skipping the carrots altogether, added some spices I had on hand (an idea I got from Emeril Lagasse), and left out the pancetta (since I didn’t have–or want–any). I also used spaghetti instead of tagliatelle, a typically American modification (though I love tagliatelle!). Finally, I served the sauce on top of the pasta, which I mixed with the cream and butter, rather than mixing it all together as the Italians would be more likely to do. Eccola!

Stella’s Bolognese Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
~4 oz. tomato paste (half a small can)
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp raw sugar

For the pasta
1 lb. spaghetti
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely grated parmesan

1. Add olive oil, beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to a large skillet and stir over medium heat until just cooked through, breaking up the meat with your spatula.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente, about 10 minutes.

3. As meat cooks through, add herbs and spices. Reduce heat to medium low. Add tomato paste and stir thoroughly. After about three minutes, as tomato paste is absorbed, add wine. Stir again and allow to simmer until alcohol is cooked off, about five minutes. Finally, sprinkle with sugar and stir again. You can cook this sauce for as long as you want, actually – just keep adding water and reduce heat to a simmer. It will become richer with every minute cooked.

4. Drain pasta and return to pot, away from heat source. Add butter, cream, and pepper, and stir thoroughly. Add half the parmesan and stir again, until cheese is absorbed into pasta.

5. Spoon spaghetti into pasta bowls and top with generous heaps of the beef sauce. Garnish with remaining parmesan, and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6, either as one of several courses, or as a main or single course.

Sauce refrigerates well for up to five days.

Greek Easter

Χριστός ἀνέστη! It’s Greek Easter!

Alex and I hosted a small but entertaining crowd poolside on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Greek (aka correct) Easter which, somewhat disappointingly, fell on the same date as Western Easter this year. We had a good time nonetheless, enjoying several Greek Easter staples such as lamb (we weren’t ambitious enough to roast an entire goat, sorry!) and red Easter eggs.

Due to the fact that I’ve just changed jobs and have a crazy work schedule, plus that I have a paper due tomorrow in the class I am taking for credit, I won’t be posting any recipes today. But check back later in the week! Or let me know in the comments which ones you’re most interested in making at home.

Greek Easter meze spread

Alex, your fearless host.

Pure Luck Farm Texas Feta, with homegrown basil, olive oil, and cracked pepper

Homemade hummus, using Vefa Alexiadou’s recipe.

Greek Easter eggs!

Lamb skewers with meat provided by Wheatsville Co-op, multi-colored bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and homegrown basil and mint, marinated in olive oil, 25 year aged balsamic vinegar, and garlic.

On the grill.

The cook.  He’s turning Texan!

Kabobs a’cookin’ – with two veggie ones for Eric.

Alex and her delicious Greek village salad.

Delicious charred kabobs.

The dessert table (detail).

Greek Easter cookiesexcellent with coffee.

Strawberries and home-whipped cream, from Mike and Laura (check out her Austin food blog!).  Mmm.

Ruffled milk pie.

Alex’s homemade baklava – made from scratch!  So sweet and delicious!

Tsougrisma

Alex and I cracking each other’s Easter eggs to see who will have a lucky year!  The winner of each round continues with another person and their fresh egg, going all around the feast, until all the eggs are cracked but one – and the person left with a whole egg at the end is the winner.

The winner.

Kalo Pashcha! Καλό Πάσχα! Happy Easter!