Kate’s Famous Bloody Marys

Anyone who has been to our house for brunch or spent a Sunday morning with us at an event knows that Kate makes the world’s best Bloody Marys. Trust us.

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Kate's Famous Bloody Marys
 
The following proportions are for one cocktail, but Kate usually makes Bloody Marys by the pitcher, using a 3:1 ratio of tomato juice to vodka and seasoning to taste. For a fabulous variation, try a Bloody Maria by substituting tequila, lime juice, and Tapatío hot sauce for the vodka, lime juice, and Tabasco.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ oz vodka
  • 4 ½ oz tomato juice (we’re fond of Campbell’s)
  • Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
  • Several dashes Tabasco sauce (to taste)
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes celery bitters
  • ½ tsp prepared horseradish (or more to taste)
  • A splash of dry sherry (we use amontillado)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (don’t be stingy with the pepper)
Instructions
  1. Add tomato juice to a shaker or pint glass without ice.
  2. Stir, adding the balance of the ingredients one at a time.
  3. Taste frequently until it’s spicy/salty/acidic enough.
  4. The drink should be well-balanced, but with an assertive presence of lemon and spice.
  5. Add vodka, stir thoroughly, and pour into a tall glass filled with ice.
  6. Garnish with a stalk of celery, a couple of pickled green beans, or a skewer of pimento-stuffed olives and peeled cooked shrimp.

 

Celery Tonic

I promised three drink recipes this week and here is number two. This is another one that features our celery bitters and which can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. As crazy as it may sound, we usually make the non-alcoholic version.  If you don’t have a bottle of Two Drunkards Celery Bitters, some good commercial ones have recently become available. I urge you to steer clear of Fee Brothers Celery Bitters, though. They have a very artificial flavor.

Celery Tonic
 
We’ve discovered that there aren’t a lot of things that are more restorative after overindulging, or just refreshing on a hot day, than a tall glass of soda water and ice flavored with several dashes of bitters. We usually don’t add any sweetener, but a little bit of simple syrup really helps bring out the lovely vegetal notes of the celery in this drink.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail
Serves: 1 cocktail
Ingredients
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 3-4 dashes celery bitter (or more to taste)
  • 6 oz soda water
Instructions
  1. Add simple syrup and bitters to a tall glass and stir.
  2. Add several cubes of ice, fill with soda, stir again and enjoy.
  3. Garnish with a twist of lemon if you’re feeling festive.

I usually enjoy this as a non-alcoholic drink, but there is no reason you couldn’t replace an ounce of the soda water with vodka or London dry gin. In that variant, I would add the alcohol to the glass with the ice and stir before topping off the glass with soda.

The Fourth Regiment Cocktail and an update

A lot has happened since our last blog post, but the most important thing has been the very successful Indiegogo campaign to fund our licensing as a cottage food business. Thanks to our very supportive friends, and a surprising number of supportive strangers, we raised enough money to do some necessary improvements to our kitchen, do repairs to one of our ovens, purchase some new kitchen equipment, and get the Two Drunkards registered as a fictitious business name and licensed as a cottage food business. At this point we are still, I’m embarrassed to say, working on fulfilling the perks promised to our contributors, though I am happy to be on track to putting cocktail bitters and biscotti in the mail to the folks who chose those perks by the end of this week. Then I have a lot of bread to bake.

To celebrate the first shipment to our quarterly bitters club, which includes two ounces each of celery and orange bitters, we’re going to post three cocktail recipes this week. Here is the first one.

The Fourth Regiment Cocktail
 
Our intrepid hero Charles H. Baker, Jr. picked up this variation on the Manhattan from the commander of a British sloop of war in Bombay in 1931, and kindly recorded it in his Gentleman’s Companion. This version varies from the Manhattan by using a 1:1 rat ion of rye to sweet vermouth, instead of the usual 2:1, and adds orange and celery bitters to the standard Angostura. The resulting cocktail is a bit sweeter and rounder than a Manhattan with a nice savory vegetal undertone from the celery bitters.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail
Serves: 1 cocktail
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ ounces rye (Rittenhouse 100 proof is our favorite)
  • 1 ½ ounces sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica or another old formula vermouth works best here)
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash celery bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir.
  2. Strain into a coupe or Nick and Nora glass.
  3. Garnish with a twist of lime peel.

 

Sumer is Icumen In

Hey, it’s officially summer! I know, I know, it’s not really OFFICIALLY summer until you have tomatoes coming out of your ears, but this year it’s all stone fruit all the time, so I’m declaring it to be officially summer.

Two weeks ago, we were gifted ten pounds of overripe apricots, so of course I immediately got out the canning stuff. Usually my apricot jam sets like the sun on the British empire, which is to say IT DOESN’T, but this time I pulled up a barstool by the stove and stirred with one hand and played SimCity Buildit with the other (there may have been a gin and tonic, too,) and lo, I eventually had a batch of apricot jam that had actually set. I mean, you can SPREAD it. And it tastes amazing. Just fruit, sugar, lemon juice and the precious precious cyanidey nugget of noyaux. And some damned patience for once.

Obviously that batch is getting used for toast, but that still left me with a bunch of last year’s annoyingly runny batch. There’s also way too much of the carrot-habanero hot sauce/chemical weapon I made last month, so I decided to throw them together and see what came of it. It was nothing short of miraculous.

I sauteed half an onion in some olive oil, then dumped two jars of the runny apricot deliciousness in, added a couple of tablespoons of the incendiary hot sauce, then tinkered around with salt, dry mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce until I had a sweet, savory, tangy masterpiece, if I do say so myself.

I seasoned a rack of spare ribs with salt and pepper, Nathan fired up the Weber grill for the first time in a shamefully long while, then those ribs eventually got slathered with the sauce. It was heaven. It was summer.

The sauce really was just made up on the spot, so I can’t produce a recipe. I’m going to pay attention next time, because it turned out so well that we’re going to try to reproduce it and actually can some. However, here is the recipe I used for the carrot-habanero sauce. Be careful not to take any deep breaths once you’ve added the vinegar. It was painful and I had to leave the kitchen for a minute.

I swiped the recipe from the lovely people at happyyolks.com, who take better photographs than I could ever hope to do.

15 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups peeled, chopped carrot
4 medium sweet yellow onions, chopped
30 medium habanero chiles, stemmed
3 cups white vinegar
¼ cup salt
¼ cup sugar
Juice of 6-8 limes
_____
Roast the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, turning regularly until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.
In the same pot, combine the carrot, onion and habanero chiles with the vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are thoroughly tender, about 20 minutes. Blend until smooth. [Drunkard Comment: I used an immersion blender (aka “rhnn thingy”) to do the blending. It was very successful, but I had to cover my mouth so I didn’t breathe in the chemical weaponry.] Thin with a lime juice and more water if the sauce seems too thick. Taste and add salt as preferred. Store in glass jars in the fridge.

Happy summer!!

habanero

That’s 32 damn habaneros!

Happy Apple Day

So I juiced some Fuji and Granny Smith apples that we had in the house yesterday and was inspired to work it into a cocktail this evening after the epic homemade orecchiette with butternut squash, chile and hazelnuts that we made for dinner. So, the Happy Apple Day was born.

The house made Bosc pear bitters that I used, which we made from the recipe in Brad Thomas Parsons’ amazing book “Bitters,” gave the cocktail a hit of baked pear, vanilla and spice that really worked with the crazy fresh apple juice.  If you don’t happen to have any pear bitters in your bar, a few dashes of an aromatic bitters, such as Angostura, will also make a great drink. 


1.5 ounces blended Scotch

1 oz freshly squeezed Apple juice

Several dashes of pear or aromatic bitters

Shake in an ice-filled shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. 

Marvel at how delicious it is. 

Our Valentine’s Day Chinese Feast

Bill Lee’s Bamboo Chopsticks, Bakersfield, California, the early 1970s: my first experience with Chinese food and also the first time I ever had rice that didn’t come out of a box or a boiling bag. That meal was a revelation and the beginning of my lifelong love of Chinese 10982472_1544562569145642_7033656787876584065_nfood. From the Americanized Cantonese food of Bill Lee’s, I moved on to the more “exotic” Mandarin cuisine at Yen Ching, where I went out with my first serious girlfriend Lisa before prom, and discovered pot stickers, sizzling rice soup and mu shu pork. I’ve never looked back or stopped finding new Chinese dishes and regional cuisines to enjoy.

10989209_1544562592478973_2500696092370550640_nI first cooked my own Chinese food in college from an encyclopedic Chinese cookbook that I picked up at the half-price bookstore. Since then, I’ve read and cooked from a bunch of Chinese cookbooks and stir fries and take out classics like broccoli beef and fried rice have been go-to favorites for weeknight dinners. In recent years, some of my favorite resources have been Barbara Tropp’s classic The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking and China Moon Cookbook, which Kate introduced me to, and Jaden Hair’s delightful Steamy Kitchen Cookbook and website. My newest culinary love affair, though, is with Fuchsia Dunlop via her fantastic new book Every Grain of Rice. Don’t worry, Kate, I still love you, too. Every Grain of Rice

Every Grain of Rice is the first cookbook in a long time that I have literally been unable to put down. From the minute I got it home from the library, I’ve been reading it cover to cover. Fuchsia Dunlop draws on her years of travel and study in China and employs her clear and engaging writing style to explain what Chinese people actually eat at home. While most of the recipes are simple enough to make, the layers of flavor in the dishes that we have cooked so far have been stunning. Some of the recipes we’ve made, General Tso’s Chicken, for example, which Fuchsia learned to cook in the Taipei kitchen of Peng Chang-Kuei, the Hunanese exile chef who created it, have been so memorable that we’re unlikely to order them in a restaurant again. I simply can’t recommend this book highly enough.

10959368_1544562549145644_5641378934035202710_nWith this influence permeating our house, what else could Kate and I choose to do for a romantic Valentine’s Day but to cook an amazing Chinese dinner together? To make sure that all five of the dishes we were cooking came together without undue craziness, I made a chart of all the ingredients that needed to be chopped, soaked, sliced and marinated for each of the dishes and Kate organized all of the prepared ingredients by dish so that they would all come together without a hitch. And, with our signature teamwork, they did.

We started with Radishes in Chilli Oil Sauce, a simple but delicious cold dish of radishes IMG_0558dressed with soy, chilli oil and sesame oil and which has quickly become a regular in our go-to appetizer collection. We followed up with Bok Choy with Fresh Shiitakes, Chinese Broccoli with Sizzling Oil, Twice-Cooked Pork and Gong Bao Chicken accompanied by Tsingtao beer. Every single dish was treat, and, at the risk of being immodest, the Gong Bao IMG_0556Chicken (often written as Kung Pao) was the best that either of us has ever had.

The recipe that we’re going to share is for the Radishes in Chilli Oil Sauce, which, if you like them as much as we do, you’ll make over and over.

 

 

 

 

Radishes in Chilli Oil Sauce (Qiang Luo Bo)
(From Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop, W.W. Norton & Company, 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches small red radishes10959744_1544543512480881_5774613897607201305_n
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chilli oil with sediment
  • ½ tsp sesame oil

Instructions:

  1. Wash and trim the radishes and smack them lightly with the side of a cleaver or chef’s knife to crack them open.
  2. Salt the radishes and set them aside for approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a small serving bowl.
  4. After 30 minutes, or so, drain the liquid from the radishes, pat them dry with a paper towel and add them to the bowl of sauce. Mix well and serve.

The Negroni

I fell in love with Campari in my twenties the first time I tasted a Campari and soda. Campari’s bright bitterness and brilliant red color paired perfectly with the sparkling water for a refreshing, visually appealing and relatively low alcohol aperitif. I’ve enjoyed Campari in a lot of different cocktails since then, but it has only been in the last few years that Kate and I have settled on the classic Negroni as our favorite.

IMG_0301The Negroni has gotten a lot of press lately, with Imbibe Magazine promoting an international Negroni week this past June. Not bad for a cocktail that is probably at least a hundred years old. Originally one of the variations of a class of Campari based cocktails called Camparinetes, the folks at Campari renamed this predominate version the Negroni in the 1950s. The cocktail is purportedly named after Count Camillo Negroni, a Florentine nobleman, who was a devotee of the drink in the 1920s.

With equal parts of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, finished with a twist of orange, the Negroni is a serious aperitif that is packed with flavor. The botanicals from each of the component liquors mingle in the glass to create a complex harmony that is sweet at the front, herbaceous and fruity in the middle and bitter on the finish. It is simply fantastic as a pre-dinner cocktail, particularly if dinner is built around red meat or pasta. It actually makes me hungry just writing about it.

You should also try two excellent variations of this basic formula: the Boulevardier, which substitutes bourbon for the gin resulting in a rounder cocktail which should be garnished with a brandied cherry; and the Americano, which leaves out the gin and adds soda water and ice. Built in a tall glass over ice, with a wedge of orange or lemon, the Americano has long been a favorite of mine for refreshment on a hot afternoon. Kate and I often make our own house variation of the Americano, which includes the gin, that we call a Negrano.

If you’d like to play along at home, we’ve shot this video of me mixing a Negroni.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce London Dry Gin (we like Tanqueray for this cocktail)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • A few dashes of orange bitters
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Stir with ice in a mixing glass until frosty and strain into a cocktail glass.
  2. Garnish with a twist of orange peel. The oils from the peel add a lovely orange note to the nose of the cocktail.

Figs with Blue Cheese and Honey

Okay, it seems kind of stupid to call this a recipe, because this delectable treat is what it says it is – figs with blue cheese and honey. These three ingredients are fabulous on their own, but put them together and add heat, and you have some seriously sexy food.10641296_1458594031075830_4908217655261371049_n

Ingredients:

  • figs – two or maybe three per person, depending on the size of the figs. You don’t want enormous ones, but don’t get little tiny ones either. We used Mission figs because they inexplicably had some local organic ones at Raley’s that looked great.
  • blue cheese – maybe a half teaspoon per fig, again, depends on the figs.
  • honey – just a little for drizzling on top. Don’t use crappy honey. We were lucky to have been gifted some amazing gallberry honey from Georgia. Use whatever you have that is best.

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Wash and dry the figs. With a sharp knife, trim off the stem and cut an X across the top of the fig, about halfway down the fig.cut fig
  3. Give the fig a little squeeze and stuff a generous pinch of blue cheese into the cavity.
  4. Place the figs into a baking dish (we used a pie pan) and drizzle a little bit of honey on top.
  5. Put the dish in the oven and cook the figs until the cheese is all melty and the figs are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Take the dish out and LET THE FIGS COOL for a few minutes, then gobble them up. There will be a lot of oohing and aahing and ecstatic eye-rolling. It’s kind of a R-rated experience, so don’t invite any children.

Corn Pudding

Corn Pudding

Corn Pudding

Continuing the summer corn theme, today’s recipe is corn pudding made with the extra corn and jalapeños that I bought when I was shopping for the corn chowder the other day. I made this last night as a side dish to go with grilled sirloin tip steaks and pan fried shishito peppers. I shouldn’t really call it a side dish, though, because corn pudding is always the star of the meal when we make it.

Kate and I discovered corn pudding years ago at Doña Tomás in Oakland where it’s served as a regular summer specialty. It was definitely love at first bite for both of us, though we didn’t try making it at home until earlier this summer. At Doña Tomás, they make it with corn and diced zucchini, which is delicious, but, after experimenting with a number of variations, I really like the combination of corn and fire-roasted jalapeño and tend to make it that way at home. By all means, feel free to experiment with the ingredients. Last night, I crumbled a couple of strips of crispy bacon in which the vegetables, but I strongly suspect that I’ll keep coming back to the vegetarian version that I’ve written up in the recipe below. It’s just that good.

This recipe makes about six side dish servings or four main course servings. Once again, you wouldn’t go wrong with a glass of cold sauvignon blanc with this, or maybe a cold bottle of Negra Modelo to celebrate the Mexican inspiration for the dish. If serving as a main course, a crisp green salad is just the thing to round out your plate.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears fresh corn
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1½ cups whipping cream or half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
  3. IMG_0257Shuck the corn, removing the silk as well as you can, and cut the kernels off of the cobs into a bowl with a knife (you should end up with approximately 1½ to 2 cups of kernels).
  4. IMG_0256Roast the jalapeño. I usually just turn on one of the burners of my gas stove, hold the pepper with a pair of metal tongs and fire roast it in the gas flame until it’s blistered all over. If you don’t have a gas stove, or want to be more cautious, roast the pepper in a small skillet over medium heat, turning it with tongs every so often, until it’s blistered all over. Either way, let the pepper cool a bit then peel off the blistered skin, which should come away easily. Split the pepper in half, scrape out the seeds and dice the flesh of the pepper.
  5. Add the diced roasted jalapeño and ¼ cup of all-purpose flour to the bowl with the corn and mix with a fork, or your fingers like I do, until the vegetables are evenly coated with flour. Spread the corn and jalapeño evenly in the buttered baking pan.
  6. In another bowl, or large glass measuring cup, beat the two whole eggs and additional yolk briefly then whisk in the whipping cream or half-and-half and salt until the mixture is smooth. The pudding will be richer if you use whipping cream, but it’s still delicious with half-and-half (and we usually have a quart of that in the house).
  7. Pour the cream and egg mixture over the vegetables and bake, uncovered, on the IMG_3359middle rack of the preheated oven for about an hour, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 30 minutes. When it’s done, the pudding will be golden brown on top and slightly resilient to the touch. Let the pudding cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
  8. Leftover corn pudding, if there is any, is delicious either reheated or at room temperature. This recipe also doubles well for a crowd. Just use a 13x9x2 baking dish instead of the square one and double all of the ingredients, though I recommend using three whole eggs and three yolks instead of four whole eggs and two yolks and ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour is probably enough to coat the vegetables.