When “pixie dust” is a featured part of a dish, you know you’re in for an amazing taste experience. Sprinkled atop smoked oysters, the magical ingredient conjured up an award for “Best Classic Small Plate” for Chef Levon Wallace at this year’s Bourbon Classic event. Chef Wallace (formerly of Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky) has now moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work for Cochon Butcher, but the memory of his and other bournon-tinged creations lives on.
Set at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, this year’s Classic again delivered an unforgettable program of smoothly finished events. The opening night featured an array of mouth-watering dishes and beguiling cocktails, such as Diane Rehm of Feast’s concoction of apricot and black pepper bourbon sour featuring Russell’s Reserve 10 year. Chefs and bartenders expertly paired dishes and signature drinks in two categories (classic and contemporary) to compete for the coveted Bourbon Classic barrelheads. Following the competition, attendees headed across the street to Chef Edward Lee’s restaurant Milkwood for the after-party and additional cocktails (because really, there are never enough).
On Day two, participants filed into “Bourbon Classic University” classes, where they honed their knowledge on topics such as country ham and bourbon pairings and bourbon flavor profiles. A highlight of the day occurred in John Shutt of Blanton’s workshop, where he expounded on the art of entertaining with whiskey (which requires thoughtful consideration, if you do it right). In between classes, a master distillers session featured a gathering of the greats giving their thoughts and stories. The event ended with another round of bountiful food and bourbon, as guests congratulated themselves on surviving another year with intact livers and improved palates.
Planning has already begun for next year’s Bourbon Classic, which will take place in the winter of 2016. Click here for details.
Ah, chocolate. The albatross of Valentine’s Day. Snarky online articles will chide you for taking the easy route of buying your lover such clichés as flowers or a heart shaped box of sweets. But let’s be honest. Chocolate is pretty amazing. As the poet Rita Dove wrote about the treat, “dark punch/ of earth and night and leaf, / for a taste of you/ any woman would gladly/ crumble to ruin.” Who would turn up their nose at that?
If you’re starting to squirm over what to lavish upon your valentine, relax. Whether it’s a friend, sweetheart, or family member, most people’s hearts are warmed more by a thoughtful tidbit than by an outlandishly expensive trinket. And you can make your offering that much more meaningful by taking the few minutes to whip it up yourself.
Don’t worry. I haven’t chosen something complicated or time-consuming. We’re going with classic chocolate truffles. Sound boring? Not when you taste them. And here’s the best part: they only require four ingredients, unless you get crazy with the toppings. And you may want to, because it’s pretty fun. Chopped nuts offer a savory balance, or for a pop of color and unexpected flavor, try pink Himalayan sea salt or pomegranate seeds. With any luck, your amour will be as smitten as Rita Dove. Assuming you don’t eat them all yourself first.
1 pound dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of bourbon or liqueur (I used Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream liqueur)
Coatings: Chopped almonds or hazelnuts; cocoa powder; pomegranate seeds; pink sea salt
- Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water.
- Gradually stir in cream.
- Gradually add bourbon, stirring gently to blend.
- Cover and chill overnight.
- Once chilled, shape the mixture into balls, and roll them in your chosen topping.
(adapted from Bounty of Biltmore Cookbook by Whitney Wheeler Pickering)
Thanksgiving is about more than just food. Family, gratitude, fighting over ancient resentments…it all plays a role. When a bunch of people (whether related or not) gather together over a holiday, there will be quirks. And possibly arguments. But, mercifully, there will always be food. Lots of delicious, button-popping food. And while life may be as unpredictable as your Aunt Suzy’s newest hair color, you can always depend on your favorite stuffing.
While I’m a big supporter of experimenting with food and beverages, there are times when tradition reigns supreme. It can be fun to try eccentric twists like apple cider risotto or curried carrots, but ultimately, many of us crave the classic sides that filled our childhood plates this time of year.
That’s why I turned to Kahlil Arnold, the chef of Arnold’s Country Kitchen based in Nashville, Tennessee, for several of his signature creations. Arnold’s is a mainstay of Nashville, known for its meat and three, country-style cooking and warm atmosphere. Patrons range from politicians and lawyers to construction workers, who return again and again for dishes like squash casserole and banana pudding.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, Kahlil shared recipes for several of his most beloved side dishes: southern greens, mac and cheese, and sweet potato casserole. If you prepare these for your gathering, get ready to become the family legend, the keeper of the Thanksgiving flame. Or at the very least, up for consideration of graduating from the kids’ table.
Arnold’s Southern Greens
2 pieces of applewood smoked bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons margarine or rendered bacon fat
1 turnip bulb, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 (8 to 12-ounce) ham hock
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
4 tablespoons ham base
6-10 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound collard greens, washed, stemmed and chopped
1 pound turnip greens, washed, stemmed and chopped
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, add the margarine, onion, bacon and ham hock. Sauté until onions seem translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients with six cups of water, except the greens, and whisk together. Add the greens and cook on medium heat, partially covered until tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes-1 hour. If necessary, add more water. The longer you cook the greens down, the more flavor the greens will have. Taste to see if more salt and pepper is needed. When the greens and turnips are tender, it’s time to eat.
Arnold’s Mac & Cheese
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons margarine
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups shredded American cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
2 cups of macaroni noodles
2 tablespoons of canola oil
Pinch of salt
8 cups water
In a medium pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil and 2 cups of noodles. Cook for 20 minutes, or until noodles swell and are soft. Drain in colander. Meanwhile in a double broiler, melt 2 tablespoons of margarine. When melted, stir in flour and cook for a few minutes until browned. Slowly add milk, whisking vigorously. Next add 2 cups of shredded cheese and stir until melted. Whisk in black pepper, mustard, and parmesan cheese. Taste, to see if a pinch of salt is needed. In a small casserole dish, add noodles and stir in cheese sauce. Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded cheese in top. Lightly sprinkle paprika on top. Put in preheated oven at 325 degrees. Cook for 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling around edges.
Arnold’s Sweet Potato Casserole
6 pounds sweet potatoes
2-3 cups sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
For the pecan topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup chopped or whole pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the filling: Roast the sweet potatoes on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet for approximately one hour, or until tender. Cut the sweet potatoes in half and cool until able to touch. Peel and mash the sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher. (This should yield approximately 8 cups.)
In a large bowl, combine the mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, cream, butter, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon the sweet potatoes into a lightly greased 2 quart – 4 quart casserole dish.
For the pecan topping: In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar and flour. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut the butter into the brown sugar mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the pecan topping over the sweet potato mixture. Bake the casserole until the topping is golden brown and bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Cook’s Note: The sweet potato casserole can be assembled the day before and kept in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Now that the ballots have been counted and the concession speeches have been delivered, it’s time to rest those campaign-weary feet and kick back for that age-old tradition: the post-election martini. Whether your candidates of choice emerged triumphant or disappointed, we can all breathe a sigh of relief at the end of another grueling election cycle. There were highs and lows, from inspiring policy ideas to soul-depleting ads. Nonetheless, it is always an affirming sight to see friends and neighbors lining up to put their thoughts into action on Election Day.
You should take this opportunity to have a bit of a breather. Before the next flurry of debates, ads, and fundraisers begins (probably much sooner than we’d all like), take a little time to sit, reflect, and enjoy a rejuvenating treat. For that, may I suggest the Moonshine Martini, a bracing refreshment. Whether you’re taking a victory lap or need a nip of comfort, this taste of Appalachia combines rural and urban elements as a reminder of the enduring power of both constituencies.
If your style of imbibing lies along the sweeter lines, I have something for you as well. In the spirit of fall, try this ginger cake. The fragrant spices will soothe the senses, and the ginger will settle your stomach from the nausea-inducing spin. So kick back and give a “cheers” to surviving another political season; you’ve earned it.
3 ounces (1/4 cup) clear corn whiskey
1 teaspoon dry Madeira, dry sherry, or dry vermouth
1 pinch of kosher salt
3 boiled peanuts or 1 pickled onion for garnish (optional)
- a) Combine the whiskey, Madeira, and salt in a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
- b) Strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the peanuts, if using.
(Source: The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee and Ted Lee)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little extra for the pan
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
1 cup unsulfured light molasses
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 packed cup of dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup finely grated fresh ginger
A stand or handheld electric mixer
an 8-inch springform pan about 3 inches deep
an 8-inch circle of parchment paper
- a) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and position a rack in the middle. Grease the springform pan very well with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment paper circle, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
- b) Sift the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl and stir well. In a small pot, stir together the boiling water, molasses, and baking soda until the molasses has completely dissolved.
- c) Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, you can use a handheld electric mixer.) Mix on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Occasionally, scrape down the butter and sugar that clings to the sides. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, add the egg, and mix until incorporated. Then add the grated ginger and mix some more.
- d) Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until well combined. Do the same with about one-third of the molasses mixture, and repeat the process until you’ve used up both mixtures. Stop the mixer from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- e) Pour the batter into the springform pan and place the baking sheet (pan and all) into the oven. Bake just until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out almost clean and no longer wet, about 1 hour. Before you remove the ring of the springform, let it cool a bit.
(Source: A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield)
Re-reading Hunter S. Thompson’s notorious story, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,” I can’t help feeling like I missed out. The past few Derbys I’ve attended haven’t nearly reached the level of decrepitude Thompson describes. You’re more likely to spend all day standing in line than to be hit in the head with a whiskey bottle.
Still, if you’re looking to celebrate Derby in a way that’s guaranteed to be decadent without too much depravity, your best bet is to host a Derby party.
Like most successful shindigs, this one should have several main elements: good food, ample booze, and lively guests. Music and décor help the mood, but the first three are essential.
On Derby Day, guests are likely to be restless as they mingle and contemplate their betting picks. Serving a variety of hearty, bite-size treats buffet style will fuel your pals while allowing them to work the room (which they’ll do, if you’ve chosen wisely). You’re probably familiar with time-honored Kentucky race day dishes such as deviled eggs, Benedictine, and bourbon pecan pie. If you want to turn heads though, you should consider trying something a little different.
For ideas on traditional Derby foods with a twist, I turned to Barbara Goldman, head chef at Parc Café in Maysville, Kentucky. Goldman whips up specials that inject traditional Kentucky dishes with delicious twists. She was kind enough to share the recipes for a few of her covetable dishes, which you can find at the bottom of the article. If you’d like a fresh take on a Southern classic, brandish a platter of her fried green tomatoes with bourbon cherry chutney and goat cheese crumbles. Bored with traditional country ham and biscuits? Try Goldman’s riff on the dish, bourbon peach balsamic glaze with country ham and blue cheese crumbles on toast points. It’s sure to chase away biscuit fatigue. And for heaven’s sake, don’t neglect dessert. Study Goldman’s bourbon bread pudding, perfect it, and then make extra helpings.
As far as drinks, it’s without question that you’ll have bourbon. A proper mint julep should be made individually rather than in batches, so for the sanity of the home bartender, I would recommend a less time-intensive cocktail. Perhaps a carafe with Bourbon Bloody Marys or a heaving bowl of bourbon punch with a big ice ring in the middle. For guests who are intimidated by the brown water, keep sparkling wine and orange juice for mimosas on hand, not to mention pitchers and pitchers of homemade iced tea.
Don’t forget the guest list. Try to invite a fun mix of folks, both close friends and a few newer guys and gals that will keep things interesting. Note: It’s usually worth it to invite one slightly outrageous person who will say or do something conversation-worthy as well. You have to have a little depravity, after all.
For décor, a simple equestrian theme with horseshoes, Derby glasses, and red roses ties the event together. Have some racing programs available as well. However, don’t get too fussy about the style of dishes or other flourishes; you’re better off spending the extra money on a higher grade of country ham or bourbon.
If your friends are up for it, feel free to encourage them to gussy up in seersucker, fancy hats, and bowties. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that’s how everyone at the track dresses. At Churchill Downs, you’ll see all kinds of get-ups, from the t-shirts and shorts of the infield denizens to the serious horsemen and women in jeans who never leave the barns on the backside. Of course, ladies in over-the-top headwear and dapper gents are also represented in vast numbers, from the clubhouse to the concession stand. A few of them may even hazily resemble the caricatures in Thompson’s story. Whatever you do, make sure you’re not one of them at your own party. Unless, of course, that’s what you’re going for.
Bet your Boots, Bourbon Recipes for Derby Parties and Festive Events
Barbara Goldman, Head Chef, Parc Café
Recipes Serve 5
Fried Green Tomatoes with Bourbon Cherry Chutney and Goat Cheese Crumbles
3 firm green tomatoes
Dash of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup cornmeal
½ cup fine dry bread crumbs
¼ cup peanut oil
1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles
1 thirteen-ounce container of cherry preserves
½ cup Bourbon
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
a) Wash each unpeeled tomato and slice into ½ inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 3 minutes. Place flour in a separate bowl. Beat buttermilk and egg in an additional bowl, and bread crumbs and cornmeal into another.
b) Heat peanut oil in skillet at medium heat. Dip tomato slices into flour bowl, then buttermilk/egg mix, and finally cornmeal-bread crumb bowl. Fry each side of tomato slices in oil for 3-5 minutes or until brown. Set cooked tomatoes on paper towels to cool.
c) In an additional skillet heat cherry preserves at medium heat. Add brown sugar, lemon juice, and bourbon. Keep your eye on preserves, stirring occasionally. When mix comes to boil, 7-10 minutes, allow to cool for 5 minutes.
d) Place each fried tomato open faced on serving plate. Dollop a tablespoon of Bourbon Cherry Chutney on each tomato slice. Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles.
Bourbon Peach Balsamic Glaze with Country Ham and blue cheese crumbles on toast points
½ pound country ham
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
a) Slice baguette into ½ inch slices. Lay onto pan open faced. Sprinkle with olive oil and toast for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Allow pan to cool and place small pieces of ham on each toast point.
b) Wash and slice peaches, removing seed. In skillet, heat the remaining oil on medium heat. Add peach slices and balsamic. Stir skillet continuously to keep peaches from burning. Add brown sugar and bourbon. After sugar has dissolved and peaches are as crispy as you prefer, remove from heat.
c) Dollop a peach slice on each country ham toast point. Sprinkle blue cheese across peaches and ham.
Bourbon Bread Pudding (to be served with Bourbon Hard Sauce, recipe below)
12 cake donuts
1 cup chocolate chips
½ stick softened butter
1/2 quart heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Non-stick cooking spray
a) Spray deep baking dish with non-stick spray. Break apart donuts into baking dish. Dash cinnamon onto the top of donuts in baking dish. In a separate bowl mix all other ingredients. Pour mixture on top of donuts and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.
Bourbon Hard Sauce (to be served with bread pudding or on top of ice cream. Or perhaps both)
½ cup Bourbon
1, two pound box brown sugar
1 quart heavy whipping cream
a) Heat all ingredients in skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and not allowing to boil. Take off of heat source when sauce comes to a boil.
b) Pour on top of desired desert.
What is it about Champagne that so aptly embodies New Year’s Eve? Is it the effervescence, the silky luxury of a liquid that personifies decadence?
Is it the exoticism of a wine that most reserve for special occasions?
As surely as sequins and “Auld Lang Syne,” you will see gallons of the beverage imbibed on this night.
Perhaps it’s because New Year’s provides one last chance to indulge in a spell of revelry before settling into the quiet sobriety of winter resolutions.
Whether you’re hosting a New Year’s dinner party or just want a toast-worthy drink to pour before hitting the bars, it’s a good opportunity to brush up on your bubbly knowledge.
Of course, legitimate “Champagne” only originates in the region of France by the same name. All other bubblies are actually sparkling wines, and there are many interesting choices. California makes some excellent versions, as do Washington state and Virginia.
For inexpensive but lively European sparklers, try a Spanish Cava or a German Sekt. The Italians offer an array of fabulous sparkling wines, from the dry Prosecco to the sweeter Asti. There are also fizzy Shirazes, Rosés, and Lambruscos, all of which set a festive tone for merrymaking.
Sparkling wines are famous for their versatility with food pairings. A dry type complements everything from foie gras to spicy curry to apple pie. It’s also wonderful on its own. Save the sweeter kinds for before or after dinner, as they can overwhelm the palate and diminish the taste of many dishes.
As you’re perusing the Champagne aisle of your local wine shop, keep in mind the dryness vocabulary. From driest to sweetest, the range is Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux.
Ready to rollick? Here are a few picks to kick-off this boisterous night.
For a semi-sweet Italian sparkler, try: Martini & Rossi Asti.
For a fruity, Californian sparkling wine, try: Schramsberg 2009 Brut Rosé
For less than $10, this dry Cava is an absolute steal: Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut.
For classic French Champagne from a storied brand, go for: Taittinger Brut Reserve NV.
Cheers to a fantastic year and to many new memories in the making!
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion.” – Franz Kafka
While Kafka wasn’t talking about baking, he may as well have been. In the midst of hectic holiday preparations and festivities, I’m here to implore you: don’t water down your favorite recipes just because they may be rich or “unhealthy.” I won’t be so dramatic as to compare it to editing one’s soul…however! Don’t edit the soul of your dish. It’s the holidays. Live a little.
To that end, let’s talk about your to-do list. Have you finished everything? What about those last-minute presents you’ve been putting off? What about that hard to shop for uncle, or the boss who has everything? What about the acquaintance that unexpectedly gave you a gift, and now you’re scrambling to find something for them?
I’ve got a (relatively) quick solution for you: make them something. It’s meaningful, easy, and can be shared with a wide audience. Scads of recipes lie in wait for you within the Internet abyss: homemade jams, pickles, sauces, and hot chocolate are all great options.
Last year, I baked chocolate hazelnut cookies for some of my cohort from a recipe I found online. Recipients liked them so much, I decided to make them a Christmas tradition. I’ve shared a copy of the recipe below, which I promise is not as complicated as it looks.
For a savory option, you can’t go wrong with bourbon beer cheese. My cousin Amanda Cole and good friend Ashley Baker get together every December to whip up a batch, and my aunt Robyn has kindly shared the recipe for your consumption.
My only rule for these recipes is this: no low calorie substitutions allowed. You’ve got a foodie soul to protect.
What are you waiting for? Get cooking!
Baci di Dama Cookies
About 45 cookies
Recipe by Terresa Murphy of La Cucina di Terresa
1 1/4 cups (140g) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 cup (140g) rice flour (or all-purpose flour)
3 1/2 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
Pinch of salt
2 ounces (55g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Toast the hazelnuts in a 325ºF (160ºC) for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown color and the skins are peeling away. Remove from the oven and as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, rub the hazelnuts in a tea towel (or if they’re not too hot, with your hands), until as much of the loose skins come off as possible. Let them cool completely before grinding them up.
1. Put the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them until very fine; they should be the consistency of coarse polenta.
2. Transfer the ground nuts to a bowl and add the rice flour (if using all-purpose flour, sift it in). Cut the butter into pieces then add the butter, sugar, and salt to the dry ingredients. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together until the butter is dispersed and completely incorporated. The dough should be very smooth and hold together. If not, knead it until it does.
3. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece until it’s 3/4-inch (2cm) round. Try to get them as smooth as possible, with no cracks. If the dough is too long to work with as you roll them out, you can cut the dough at the midway point and work with it in batches.
Chill the dough logs until firm on a small baking sheet or dinner plate lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper. (Terresa recommends refrigerating them for 2-3 hours, but we put them in the freezer and they were cold within 15 minutes.)
4. Preheat oven to 325ºF (160ºC) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
5. Working with one length of dough at a time, keeping the others in the refrigerator or freezer, cut off equal-sized pieces using a knife or pastry cutter. The ideal is 5 grams each, if working with a scale. The fastest way to do it is to cut one to the right weight, then hold that one alongside the logs and use it as a template to cut the others. Once you’ve cut a length of dough, roll the pieces into nice little balls and place them on the baking sheet, slightly spaced apart.
If you don’t have a scale, simply roll the dough to the size of a marble, trying to keep them as similar in size as possible.
6. Continue cutting the dough and rolling it into little balls. Bake the cookies for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway during cooking, until the tops are lightly golden brown. Let the cookies cool completely.
7. In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Put a chocolate chip-sized dollop of chocolate on the bottom of one cookie and take another cookie, and sandwich the two halves together.
Once filled, set the Baci di Dama sideways on a wire cooling rack until the chocolate is firm. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
(Liz’s note: To get more bang for your buck out of the dough, I skip sandwiching the cookies together.)
Bourbon Beer Cheese
(adapted from Jonathan at Gratz Park chef Jonathan Lundy’s recipe http://jagp.info/bluegrass-table-cookbook.html)
14 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoon caramelized onions
12 ounces Ky Bourbon Barrel Ale
1 tablespoon of Bourbon
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
Shred cheddar cheeses. In food processor, puree caramelized onions and shredded cheeses. Slowly add beer. Process until smooth and add remaining ingredients, continuing to process until creamy smooth consistency.
Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Make ahead as flavor takes a while to develop.
“It seemed I was a mite of sediment / That waited for the bottle to ferment / So I could catch a bubble in ascent.”
As Thanksgiving trots its way closer, many of us identify with the cheerful sentiment that Robert Frost describes in his poem, “In a Glass of Cider.”
Especially if you are lucky enough to be sipping one of the many high-quality hard ciders that are available now. From Virginia to New York to Washington state, producers across the U.S. offer many exceptional varieties.
This time of year, food columnists and wine experts argue like family over which of this or that wine may pair best with the myriad (and sometimes mystifying) dishes of Thanksgiving. Zinfandel? Pinot Noir? Dry Riesling? This year, I’m recommending a hard cider. It’s crisp, it’s refreshing, and it’s a traditional American beverage. The Pilgrims are said to have drank it, and it may pair surprisingly well with your Aunt Lulu’s green bean casserole and Cousin Alvin’s cornbread stuffing. As a bonus for your allergy-challenged relatives, it is gluten-free.
Thanksgiving pairings are all about accenting the feast of plenty while not distracting from it. Today’s ciders use an assortment of apples, including Pippins and Kingston Black, among many others. Most cider producers make several renditions, from dry to sweet. For meal pairing purposes, a drier version would work best. But if you’re looking for an aperitif or dessert drink to pair with the pumpkin bread pudding and pecan pie, go for a sweet or sparkling apple cider. You may just create a new ritual.
While you indulge, be sure to toast and treasure those nearest and dearest to you, whether friends, relatives, or tablemates for a day. As Frost concluded his poem, “The thing was to get now and then elated.” There’s no better time to celebrate than while surrounded by loved ones and before a heaving table of fixings and fine draughts.
Although excellent cider options abound, here are a few suggestions
Potter’s Craft Cider (Charlottesville, VA) This young label produces two lively types of cider: the Farmhouse Dry and the Oak Barrel Reserve, which is aged in apple brandy oak casks.
Foggy Ridge Cider (Dugspur, Virginia) Try renowned cidermaker Diane Flynt’s First Fruit and Serious Cider to go with the main course, or the harder-to-find Foggy Ridge Handmade for dessert.
Original Sin Hard Cider (New York) In addition to the traditional apple hard cider, there are flavors such as Pear, Elderberry, and Heirloom Cherry Tree, which is made from heirloom apples and tart cherries.
Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend, WA) Of the many wonderful choices from this organic producer, you may want to sample Smoke, which is triple fermented in whiskey and mead barrels, and benefits victims of the 2013 wildfires.
A few weekends ago, I ate hearts. Literally. And I have to admit, they tasted pretty good.
Organs aren’t usually among my choice indulgences. But this particular treat, chicken hearts, was surprisingly tasty, and ended up being one of my favorites among a smorgasbord of delights on a recent evening.
The restaurant was Husk of Nashville, James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock’s new outpost. (The original Husk is in Charleston, South Carolina, also an excellent eatery.)
Biting into the tender yet firm delicacy, I tasted smoky, peppery flavors. The menu imparts a sense of romance about the dish, as it describes the hearts being “roasted in the embers with West African Mustard Onions.” You can almost imagine them being brushed with fairy dust as the kitchen handles them as gently as you would cradle a robin’s egg.
For those who haven’t seen the reams of articles gushing over Brock (including Husk being named Bon Appetit’s Best New American Restaurant of 2011 , he is known for exclusively using ingredients that originate in the American South at both locations. This includes kitchen workhorses like salt and olive oil.
Combine that with an inventive, clever play on traditional Southern dishes in a well-appointed but unpretentious setting, and you’re set for a nice meal.
My visit was meant to be a brief stop-off en route from Mississippi to Kentucky. (It sure beat fast food.) But it quickly turned into a leisurely-paced feast. Why hurry?
Among the delicacies that appeared on my table were the following: 6-week aged beef tartare with a smoked oyster sauce, egg yolk, and pickled chilis. Smoky chicken wings with pepper mash dry rub and Alabama white sauce. Soft shell crab with speckled butter bean and pepper salad. An old-fashioned vegetable plate with benne fried green tomatoes, grits swimming with a poached egg & peppers, Brussels sprouts, and succotash. And those are just a few of the dishes I sampled.
All this paired with an Ole Sorgy, a libation containing W.L. Weller bourbon, tobacco bitters, sorghum syrup, Bourbon Barrel cherry bitters, and lemon, along with pleasant dinner conversation. After a slice of lemon buttermilk pie and plenty of refreshing coffee, all that was left was the challenge of keeping my eyes open on the drive home.
Since the typical home cook may be a little hesitant about experimenting with chicken hearts, I finagled a recipe for the buttermilk pie from talented Husk pastry chef Lisa Donovan.
If you want to taste these soul-warming provisions at the source, take a visit to the cordial folks at Husk in either city. They’ll take such good care of you, you just might want to take them home to meet your mama.
Lisa Donovan’s Buttermilk Pie
6 eggs, room temperature
3 cups sugar
½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter, melted
1 ½ cups buttermilk
Zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Whisk sugar, flour and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and add in the dry mixture. Incorporate well. Add melted butter, zest, juice and then stream in buttermilk. Pour into a 10″ unbaked pie shell and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then reduce heat to 325 degrees for an additional 35 minutes.
My meet-cute with New York City took place in 1999. A horse my grandfather and uncle had co-bred, Charismatic, was favored to win the Belmont Stakes for the Triple Crown. I flew up with my parents and brother to watch the excitement unfold.
Devastatingly, during the big race, the thoroughbred broke its leg and finished third. This I blamed on Long Island.
Offering solace was the city, with its sprawling swagger, sensory deluge, and gritty sophistication. It swiftly and aggressively earned a place in my affections.
Several more visits ensued, including a friend’s bachelorette party, where I was increasingly intrigued by New York and its many haunts, especially the little-known cafés and hideaways. For whatever reason, I was always there in the summer, when the city was at its muggiest and most potent.
My most sweltering summer there took place a few years ago, when I attended a program at Columbia University. In addition to writing and attending classes, I got to know Morningside Heights better. I quickly found that one of the best ways to do this was eating my way around the area. Along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, a slew of quirky eateries became favorites, from the famed writers’ hangout The Hungarian Pastry Shop, to Nussbaum & Wu (for bagels and attitude), to many hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints (the neighborhood abuts Harlem). While I explored other parts of town as much as I could, I focused most of my attentions on the Upper West Side.
So it was with anticipation that I had a chance to rekindle my affair with the City that Never Sleeps a few weeks ago. One of the most intriguing ways to explore a city is through friends that live there. Every neighborhood has its gems, and the savviest guides are the locals. On this trip, I visited friends in several different areas and sampled some tantalizing dishes and beverages along the way.
Here is a brief tour of a few of my stops. Maybe you’ll understand why I’m already coveting my next rendezvous with the city.
The Flatiron Room http://www.theflatironroom.com/ (Photo courtesy of The Bourbon Review)
I stopped by to join in The Bourbon Review‘s http://gobourbon.com/ 5th year anniversary party, which attracted a host of well-wishers and Southern expats. Swanky, with a vintage vibe, this hotspot boasts an encyclopedic array of whiskeys.
A sister restaurant of the illustrious Eleven Madison Park, NoMad puts out the red carpet for your taste buds. You can’t go wrong with anything you order here, but don’t miss the foodgasm-inducing roast chicken with truffles for two.
You can eat the Eastern European comfort food here any time of day, but this quintessential East Village spot is best late at night. Try the potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream. You won’t regret it.
The chain lives up to the hype, with a mouth-watering menu of paninis, a vast display of homemade chocolates, a butcher counter, and a profusion of pasta. Pick up a sopprasetta sandwich and chilled champagne for an al fresco lunch with friends. (We laid claim to the breezy rooftop of our friend’s office, the Tiffany’s headquarters).
Habana Outpost Brooklyn http://www.habanaoutpost.com/locations/location/habana-outpost
Grilled corn, pork tacos, guacamole, frozen mojitos, and hipsters. Enough said.
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Liz Roach: Rendezvous with New York: Sizzle and Spirits in the City