Sunday, May 18, 2014

Drinking Like You’re in Bermuda – May 18, 2014

I am terrible at a cocktail bar.   I simply don’t know enough to read a drink description or list of ingredients and know if I will be a fan.  But, this year on vacation, I decided to give it a try.  John and I sought out hip bars in both Chicago and Florence, Alabama.  My first drink was a really cool tropical pineapple and lime rum drink with an ingredient I had never heard of – falarnum.  John and I “Googled” falarnum and learned it was a tropical infused rum from Bermuda.  Later we headed to Florence and our new bar had a Dark and Stormy which also included falarnum.  Turns out the Dark and Stormy has been taking New York City by “storm.”  Who knew.  I didn’t care.  I just knew I really liked it and since it also included falarnum, I needed to learn more about this magic ingredient.

When we returned home I did a bit more research about falarnum.  I knew I had hit the jackpot when I found Paul Clark’s site and recipe.  The recipe is actually called falarnum #9 because he tried eight others prior and decided this one was the best.  I made my own in a mason jar and it is really delicious with the flavors of almond, lime, ginger and cloves.  The only thing I haven’t figured out is what to do with all these great ingredients you infuse the rum with other than compost after infusion.  Maybe one of you has an idea!

Falarnum #9
2 T. blanched, slivered almonds
40 whole cloves, crushed
3/4 c. white rum
Finely grated zest of 9 medium limes, with no pith
1 (3-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 c. plus 2 T. sugar
3/4 c. plus 1 T. warm water
3 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. almond extract

Toast the almonds and cloves in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat until the almonds are golden and the cloves are aromatic, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat to cool slightly, about 3 minutes.  Place cloves, almonds, rum, lime zest, and ginger in a 2-cup nonreactive container with a tight fitting lid. Cover, shake, and let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.

Combine sugar and water in a 1-quart container with a tight fitting lid. Cover and shake until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture looks clear, about 5 minutes. (By not heating the sugar-water mixture, the simple syrup will be less dense and crisper than a cooked syrup.) You should have 1 3/4 cups; set aside.

After 24 hours, strain the rum mixture through a cheesecloth or several layers of paper towels set in a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl. Press the solids against the strainer to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids.  Add the strained liquid, lime juice, and almond extract to the reserved simple syrup. Shake. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Dark and Stormy
1/2 oz. falernum
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 oz. dark rum
4 oz. ginger beer

Mix and enjoy.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bacon, It's Not Just For Breakfast Any More - May 4, 2014

Yesterday was the Kentucky Derby and we had a great group of friends over to celebrate.  We even had our local bakery, Plehns, make horse head cookies with the numbers of all 20 horses so each guest could select a cookie and make a bet to go to the pool.  Congratulations to Mark and Kay who picked California Chrome and won the pot.

Thanks to our friend Gerry, we had mint julips and Jeff and Elizabeth brought all the makings and created Oaks lilies.  John made his own tradition of jambalaya in a giant cast iron dutch oven and we had more traditional items like ham biscuits and Camy's derby pie as well as my mother-in-laws melt in your mouth peach cobbler.  It really felt like Spring had sprung.

Along with the other treats, I decided to make a fabulous and not too difficult treat that was shared in Edward Lee's (another Louisville treasure) great new cookbook, Smoke and Pickles.  This treat has very few ingredients and is a great use for the pack of thick cut bacon you bought by accident or a big bag of cashews that you want to spice up a bit for a party.  I'm not a bourbon drinker, but it is supposed to be a great compliment according to Edward Lee and it has just the right amount of salty and sweet.

Bacon and Curried Cashews

6 thick cut slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced (you need a sharp knife)
(you can also buy a big slab of bacon and cut about 6-8 ounces into chunks)
2 T. sugar
1 c. cashews
2 tsp. mild curry powder (I used Penzeys and I haven't tried with spicier blends)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat skillet and cook diced bacon on stove top 5-6 minutes until most of the fat is rendered and the bacon starts to crisp.  Drain off all but a T. of grease.  Add the sugar and cook until bacon starts to look shiny.  Add remaining ingredients and toss.  Spread everything on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and bake about 12 minutes.  This is the most important step.  You want the nuts and bacon to cook until crisp and well browned but not burnt. Too little and they will get soggy, too much and they do burn.  Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

One Year Ago - Lemon Ramp Rissoto