Greeni Bellini

So it is New Year's Day and you imbibed maybe just a little too much last night, or maybe just the right amount, but in any case someone mentions mimosa and omelettes and immediately after agreeing, you remember those pesky Resolutions you made.

New Year's Day comes on a Saturday this year so you tell yourself that you'll start on Monday, yea that's it, you'll start on Monday with the 'eating right' and the 'exercising everyday' and right now you could totally go for a carafe of mimosa and a Denver Omelette, extra Cheddar.

Enter the Greeni Belini, stage right.  Think: Starbucks Green Tea Latte meets mimosa.  Packed with iodine and manganese, antioxidants and bioflavonoids, spirulina and and Nova Scotia Dulse (whatever that is) - this isn't your grandmothers mimosa.

The Greeni Bellini, although not-surprisingly unphotogenic, is really quite the tasty treat to tantalize the buds and get you firing back on all eight-cylinders.  Powdered green tea, Macha, has a ton of antioxidants that your cells will thank you for.  

Besides adding a little sweet and a little sourness to some cheap inexpensive Champagne sparkling wine, the matcha and the more wholesome bits in the Superfood give it more depth than a straight Bellini would have.  The macha also lends a mild caffeine boost.

I made this with Korbel, a fantastic grab for $8 at CVS.  Sorry, but please don't mix anything in with the good stuff (Veuve, Dom, PJ, Moet).  I used Odwalla's Superfoods, but you could substitute other wholesome green juice blends like Naked's Green Machine.  

I floated the sparkling wine over the Superfoods using a spoon like one would make a Black & Tan; this gave it very much the Mad Scientist look I was going for.  I also used sencha instead of macha, but 9-out-of-10 Gaijin would never know the difference.

Here's how you do them:

 

  • 1 bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1 bottle of green juice, Superfoods, Green Machine, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered macha, sencha, usucha, or kiocha - I'm a gaijin, I'll never know

 

Pour about 1 tablespoon of the Superfoods at the bottom of a Champagne flute or other long narrow glass.  Place a spoon into the glass over the Superfoods, but not touching it.  Pour the sparkling wine gently onto the spoon so that they don't mix.

Using the end of the handle of the spoon scoop a small, pea-sized scoop of macha and top each glass.  Be gentle or they will all erupt with bubbles.  Enjoy while thinking of all those sit-ups you'll be doing... on Monday

I got my Sencha from O-Cha.com, they have very high quality Japanese green teas.

 

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Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes

How about a fancy-pants twist on a summer favorite?  OK, it's not THAT fancy, but it isn't much more difficult than making a normal mojito and it adds a nice little kick.  Yes, you could just add more rum if you want a kick... so why not add more rum and the ginger too?

Obviously only fresh mint and ginger will do.  Unfortunately, ginger comes in pesky little shapes and can be difficult to remove the skin.  If you peel it with a spoon you can eliminate the risk of slicing your finger. 

Garnish these little firecrackers with a lime wedge or a slice of ginger.  Make a slit with a sharp knife and hang it from the rim.

Make a mojito as you normally would:

  •  a small bunch of fresh mint leaves, about 6-7
  • half a lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 3-4 sugar cube-sized chunks of fresh ginger
  • 1.5-2 ounces white or light rum
  • ice
  • top everything off with soda/seltzer water

 

Directions:

Put the mint, lime, sugar, and ginger into a tumbler.  Muddle everything together with a... muddler! (seriously, you can't make a proper mojito without one). 

Add the rum, ice, and top the glass with seltzer water.  I like to munch the mint as I go, it freshens your breath; and besides, spitting the little bits back into your glass every time you take a sip is uncouth.

Done.

 

 

 

 

Here is a great video from Epicurious on how to make a "proper" Mojito; a la one that you would find in a nice bar.

 

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Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes

 photo by Dave Koch

Here is the perfect Spring drink to celebrate everything coming into bloom.  

Hibiscus Bubbles

It is pink.  It has bubbles.  It is easy.  You can make the extract ahead so that you have more time to spend with your guests.  What more do you really want?

Hibiscus is most commonly found in the form of a drink at Mexican restaurants as an agua fresca commonly called jamaica.  You often find it on ice, in large jars, with metal ladles.  It is tart, fragrant, and absolutely delicious.    

My only complaint is that in aguas frescas, I think its wonderful astringency is often masked with too much sugar.  But then again, I don't drink it everyday so... who am I to blow against the wind?  

You buy hibiscus as dried flowers like these:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil.  Turn the heat off.  Add 1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers.  Allow to steep for 20 minutes.  Strain to get your hibiscus extract.  The extract can be added with water and ice in a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio for making aguas frescas.

Dried hibiscus flowers can be found at any Mexican market, and remember: they are almost always found under their Spanish name jamaica.  

 

You can also get them online at Mexgrocer.com:

Buy Authentic Mexican Food at MexGrocer.com!

 

 

 

 

 

Once you've made your hibiscus extract, to make Hibiscus Bubbles, add about a tablespoon to each Champagne flute and then fill with a sparkling wine.  We used a "California Champagne" but an Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava would also be fantastic.

 

 

 As long as it is sparkling, it doesn't really matter.  My only advise?  I wouldn't use something very expensive because the tartness of the hibiscus and the added sugar take center stage.   They will mask any subtle nuance you may have paid for.

 

 

We dropped in a flower into each glass for presentation.  Enjoy! 


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Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes
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I was recently introduced to a new bourbon (new to me) that had a little more kick to it than I'm used to... and I liked it.  That zing is attributed to the unusually high rye content, being around 30%.  I checked out their website and read their "Legend."

"In the 1830s, as a tavern keeper in Louisville, Kentucky, Augustus Bulleit set himself on a mission: to create a bourbon unique in flavor.  After countless small-batch trials, he came upon a bourbon with the character he had been seeking.  

While transporting barrels of his bourbon from Kentucky to New Orleans, Augustus Bulleit vanished. What happened to him is still unknown, and his creation could have passed into history as well.

But after more than a century, in 1987, his great-great -grandson Tom Bulleit stepped in. A lawyer by profession, Tom's lifelong dream had been to revive the family’s bourbon legacy, started more than 150 years ago."

 

I love stories like this.  It reminds me much of the history of Samuel Adams Lager and how Jim Koch dug up his great-great-grandfather's recipe for "Louis Koch Lager" -  developed in the 1860's.

There is a review for Bulleit on Liquor Snob that filled me in on some of the gaps in my bourbon knowledge:

"Although a common misconception is that all bourbon must come from Kentucky, actually bourbon can legally be made anywhere in America. However, it must be at least 51% corn and the rest of it wheat, rye or barley, plus it must be aged in new charred oak barrels."

 

My friend Colin Cook manages Bulleit for Southern Wine and Spirits who tells me:

"Bulleit Bourbon has really taken off in the city of San Francisco.  More cases of Bulleit are sold here than in LA and San Diego combined, due in large part by the “grass-roots”backing of the brand by the SF Bartenders Guild.  The now nationally famous “Bulleit Revolver” cocktail (conceived at Bourbon and Branch) helped put Bulleit Bourbon on the map too!"

 

Bulleit Revolver

                2 oz. Bulleit Bourbon

                ½ oz. of Tia Maria

                2 dashes of orange bitters

Cocktail is stirred over ice (not shaken!) then strained and served up with a flaming orange peel.

 

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Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, History

Two years ago when Danny DeVito was on Jimmy Kimmel Live drinking his Limoncello and cooking with Mario Batali, I wonder how many people he introduced the liqueur to with his shenanigans.  (I wonder how many people were introduced to Mario and his funky orange footwear too...) but back to drinks.

Lemoncello is an Italian digestivo which is drunk following a meal and supposed to aid in digestion.  Digestivos are not very popular in the US; although Fernet Branca is having a renaissance of sorts (a "ginger back" anyone) - though I think they're becoming more commonplace.

Supposedly limoncello easy to make (according to what I've read, although I have never attempted to make any) - all you need is sugar, water, lemons, alcohol, and time.  Start with the highest proof alcohol you can find, this ensures a more complete extraction of lemony goodness.  Essentially, you peel the lemons and allow them to soak in the booze; add sugar.

Limoncelllo Quest is a wonderful website devoted to making your own lemoncello and one day I will follow it to the T.  "A Personal Pilgrimage to Create the Perfect Lemoncello" - Limoncelllo Quest begins, "Step One: Cut a hole in the box. (Just kidding.)"  Hilarious, I like it already.

 

"Kumquatcello" Photo courtesy of Sippity Sup

Our friend Greg at Sippity Sup is working on a lemoncello variant made with kumquats.  Brilliant!  He's inviting suggestions for names because "Kumquatcello" sounds a bit awkward, and I agree.  I suggested "Fortuncello" because the kumquat's genus is Fortuna and I think it has a nice ring to it.  It sounds intriguing and I hope it works.

 

 

Aperol
Along the same theme as lemoncello is Mandarino (made with Mandarin oranges), Zenzerino (made with ginger), Raspicello (made with raspberries), and Peachcello (made with peaches).  An interesting liqueur I was recently introduced to is Aperol which is made with oranges and, strangely enough, rhubarb.  Here is the sparkling cocktail we made with it:


Orange Aperol Sun (adapted from Joanne Weir)

2 jiggers of Aperol
2 jiggers of fresh orange juice (we used blood oranges)
1 750ml bottle Prosecco
Thin orange slices (for garnish)
Ice cubes

Combine --> Consume.

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Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Humor

When I saw this I couldn't stop laughing.  Yes, laughing out-loud, and to myself.  It epitomizes everything gluttonous and outrageous that America still has left to stand on.  It is so unapologetically both panache and bas-cuisine.

Imagine Vodka meets Ronald McDonald; first they try to make small talk, then they go out to dinner.  Drinks ensue.  In the end, Ronald's red Afro gets caught on fire as he goes running down Sunset Boulevard screaming something about how the Filet-O-Fish was for Catholics.

When Vodka and Mr. McDonald cross paths again, (at a casting call for Celebrity Fit Club 4, no less) several weeks later, referring to the moment as "awkward" would be like calling Chernobyl a "wardrobe malfunction." They decide to never enter the same state together again, but they do; however, agree on one thing.  The subtle nuance behind a well-made McNuggettini.

The McNuggetini is the result of months of hard work. 

(via thisrecording.com) - by Georgia Hardstark

 

"McNuggitini

Recipe by Alie and Georgia

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 McNuggz (plus more for snacking)
1 tub McDonalds Brand Barbeque Sauce (plus more for licking off pinky finger)
1 lg. Mcdonalds Brand Chocolate Milkshake (plus more for bringing all the boys to the yard)
1 bottle Vanilla Vodka (recommended brand: Absolut)

Open the McDonalds bag. Eat one McNugg each, followed by two bites of the Filet-o-Fish (make sure you don’t tell anyone that you eat Filet-o-Fishes).

Mix three or four shots of vanilla vodka in the McDonalds Brand Chocolate Milkshake, followed by one shot each directly into your mouth.

Rim each martini glass with McDonalds Brand Barbeque Sauce, and pour milkshake/vodka mixture into the glass. Garnish with a McNugg (which is to be swiped along barbeque sauce rimmed glass after the milkshake has been finished, and consumed with pure, unadulterated glee)."


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Authordavid koch
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Following my original article Drinking Vinegars, I went and made my own "shrub" using frozen organic cherries and a bottle of Bragg organic unfiltered apple cider.  As instructed by Toby Cecchini in his NY Times article, I added the cherries to the Bragg vinegar, covered with paper towel, secured it with a rubber band, and waited... 8 days in this case.

 

With the cherries, I smashed them up really good INSIDE the bag before I opened it.  The freezing process should have burst all or most of the cell walls already by the formation of ice crystals, but smashing is fun, and likely expedited the fermentation process even more.

 

 

I found other brands besides Bragg at my local health food store, but this is made in Santa Barbara so it must be good, right?

 

 

The bacteria responsible for making vinegar, called acetobacters, require oxygen to function.  A paper towel held in place with a rubber band should suffice for keeping other, stray bacteria and yeast from entering - while still allowing the acetobacters to boogie.  This vessel stayed at room temperature for 8 days in the kitchen.  My wife complained of the pungent vinegar smell but I liked it!

When the 8 days were up, I strained it through a sieve and boiled it briefly to halt the fermentation where it remained.   I placed it in a glass container, covered it, and put it in the fridge.  According to Toby's article, it can remain there for up to 3 months.

 

 

The end result is a pungent, piquant, puckering, punch that REALLY quenches your thirst.  Besides the tartness of the vinegar, there remained a good amount of cherry flavor which I thought would be gone after fermenting but it wasn't.  Full strength was way too pungent, I found myself diluting it with water 2:1 or 3:1 and sometimes adding some simple syrup out of my handy squirt bottle that sits on the counter.  The more simple syrup I added, the more of the fruit returned to the palate.  

By putting it in a highball or similar glass, it really is like making a non-alcoholic cocktail.  What is most interesting to me is how I began to crave a glass of this after work.  I would come home and immediately go to the fridge and make myself one.   I even began to feel a little flu coming on and I still craved the Drinking Vinegar, unlike booze.

After all is said and done, these are really fun to make, super easy, and I'm going to start experimenting with different fruits and flavors.  I suggest you do too.

 

 

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Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks