Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Pear Apparent

Those of you who know me know that I am not much of a cook, but still, I take a lot of inspiration from the culinary world. Some people, I imagine, have a sixth sense for flavor pairings, but I am always looking for clues. I had been wanting to make a pear cocktail, because I have a weird affinity for pear brandy, and at the farmer’s market I spotted a pear butter flavored with almond and cardamom, which was all the inspiration I needed to get started.

I knew that pear and bourbon were a good match, thanks to this pear old fashioned I made years ago (from Danny Meyer's Mix Shake Stir). So you have bourbon, and pear brandy, or eau de vie (a liquor distilled from pears), and also orgeat, an almond syrup frequently seen in tiki drinks, and cardamom bitters and a bit of lime. It all comes together beautifully, as if all these flavors were meant to be together, which, of course, they were.

The Pear Apparent
1 oz bourbon
1 oz pear eau de vie (Neversink Spirits' pear brandy, which is distilled in New York from New York pears, is a really beautiful option.)
.75 oz fresh lime juice
2 tsp orgeat

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with a slice of pear and a cinnamon stick if you're feeling fancy - or just drink it down.

Friday, November 24, 2017

I'm Back! With beets.

Hi everyone. It's been a while. Sometimes life happens to you, and then you don't update your blog in three years. I've been busy, making the move from Texas to New York and creating lots of great content for Apartment Therapy. But it's good to be back. Last Saturday I wandered around the farmers market, looking for something to liquify, and I had that feeling of pleasure and deep rightness that you get when returning to something that you really love.

I bypassed lots of decorative gourds and settled on some beets, because I remembered having seen a beet cocktail once in a book of seasonal drinks. And because I didn't feel like juicing a pumpkin. Juicing beets, it turns out, is quite an ordeal. The pumpkin might've been easier.

Right away, I cut into my beets and was horrified to discover that they were not bright pink on the inside, but rather pink and white striped. I began to panic, thinking I had accidentally bought radishes. A little research revealed that my beets were actually chioggia beets, an heirloom variety from Italy. Sources vary as to whether chioggia beets taste the same as other beets, or a little bit sweeter. I had nothing to compare them to, having never eaten raw beets before, and I thought they tasted like a carrot that's been rolled in dirt.

Cooked beets, of course, are much sweeter, but I couldn't help thinking that that earthy, rooty flavor would be a nice match for something else that's a little earthy and vegetal: tequila. Pair raw beet juice with tequila, lime, and ginger liqueur, and you get all the brightness of a margarita, but with a touch of dirt, like the raw, rich smell of a chilly winter hike.

Beet It*
1.5 oz beet juice**
1.5 oz tequila
3/4 Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice - shake and strain into a glass. (If you're using homemade beet juice you'll definitely want to double strain this one to remove any lingering beet gunk.)

*After considering many puns about beets, I went for the most obvious. Have other suggestions? Leave them for me in the comments!

**A note about juicing beets: This is totally possible, even if you don't have a juicer! It's just a complete pain in the ass. First you wash the beets, and then chop them up into little cubes. Place the cubes in a blender, and add enough water to get to a consistency that's a little slushier than what you'd expect from a smoothie. Then, run this unholy mixture though a strainer, pressing with a spatula (like so) to make sure you get all the juice out. (You will have to periodically discard the spent beet gunk to make sure your strainer doesn't get clogged.) Voila: fresh beet juice! Your kitchen is now a disaster. (You could also buy beet juice from the supermarket, and that would probably be ok.)