Spring is here, and while I can wax semi-poetic about the season, it is best to let nature (and Carolyn’s photos) do the talking. Our fruit trees and berries are blossoming and even fruiting! Here is a photo-tour of the progress to date:
It’s late at night, and I am writing this now because our local barn owl is keeping me up. (No, I don’t know “who”, so shaddup already!..;-) It could be worse, the owl used to scratch around on our roof while eating its prey. Very cool, but also kinda creepy.
In any event, this week’s cocktail, the Cameron’s Kick, comes from what is rapidly becoming my favorite cocktail book, the “PDT Cocktail Book” by Jim Meehan, with illustrations by Chris Gall. David Wondrich’s “Imbibe” is still my foundation for cocktails, but the “PDT Cocktail Book” almost seems to pick up where Wondrich left off. The PDT cocktail book has over 300 classic and new recipes, notes on ingredients and real insight on how to stock and manage a modern bar. It was clearly a labor of love and passion. Chris Gall’s illustrations add a whimsical touch that reminds you, that while Meehan takes his drinks seriously, cocktails should be fun.
As for the Cameron’s Kick, all I can say is that our “cocktail karma” has been very good recently, this is another drink that exceeded expectations. I was looking for a cocktail that would use up some of our liquor that was almost done, in this case some Johnny Walker Red and some Bushmills. It turns out that the Cameron’s Kick combines blended scotch, Irish whiskey, lemon juice and Orgeat syrup. In case you are scratching your head, Orgeat is the special “almond-ish” flavor in a Mai Tai- you may have some in the back of your liquor cabinet or bar right now. If not, Orgeat syrup is cheap and easy to find, go get some and then you can make Mai Tai’s as well, and who doesn’t like a Mai Tai? Continue reading
Sometimes it’s fun to just follow the muse. I stumbled on the Chartreuse Swizzle at the excellent tiki cocktail blog “A Mountain of Crushed Ice”. It is a tiki cocktail blog, written by Helena “Tiare” Olsen a Swede who is in love with New Orleans and tiki cocktails. The world is indeed becoming smaller. The blog is full of joy, passion and great cocktail recipes. I’ve become an instant fan.
I found this recipe and was immediately smitten. I have been enjoying Chartreuse in Last Word cocktails, and this drink seemed too fun not to try. The drink features green Chartreuse, aged rum, pineapple, lime, falernum and bitters- all good stuff. The suggested caramelized lime garnish is way over the top, but this is a tiki drink, so why not?
The drink is great, with the full range of “tiki” flavors but some extra complexity from the Chartreuse. Tiki drinks are all about flavors that seem exotic and hard to pin down- this drink certainly has that. We had our neighbor, Jeni over to test the drink and she liked it as well. The Chartreuse keeps the drink from being too sweet or cloying at the finish, but it is still very much a tiki drink.
I thoroughly enjoyed making this cocktail, even though it was a bit or work. (Ok, I did end up using the broiler to fully caramelize the lime- but whatever, it worked). Something about fire and tiki drinks seems fitting. The Chartreuse Swizzle will certainly be a good conversation starter. Continue reading
Along with our running tests of chocolate chip cookie recipes, we continue to tinker with our homemade bacon recipes (our main bacon recipe is here). This week we made what we call “breakfast bacon”, a sweeter, “porkier” bacon we thought would go well with traditional breakfast fare like eggs and pancakes.
For our breakfast bacon we made a cure with no garlic, less herbs and pepper and a LOT more sugar. In this cure we almost doubled the normal sugar, with ¼ cup of both dark brown sugar and grade B maple syrup. We also finished the bacon in the oven, rather than smoking it, with the hope that we would get the pork, sugar and salt as the dominant flavors.
How did the breakfast bacon experiment go? It went pretty well, the bacon was very tasty and we had a good pork belly to work with, so it was very attractive, meaty bacon (yes, I just described bacon as “attractive”). A number of us tasted, and all liked the bacon very much, as it was both sweeter and “porkier” than our savory bacon. The extra sugar also caramelized slightly on the bacon when cooked, which a few of us liked. Continue reading
Artichokes are one of our favorite vegetables at Putney Farm. Usually we eat large artichokes and artichoke hearts, but we recently discovered a special treat, young or “baby” artichokes. These are the first artichokes of the year and are still very small, about 2 inches long or less, and quite tender. So small and tender that you an eat most of the outer leaves, and you do not need to remove the inner “choke”. After some trimming, you can eat these artichokes whole.
When and where can you get baby artichokes? Artichokes have two seasons, spring and fall, and you may be able to find these small beauties early in each season. As for where, we would suggest a farmers market, probably in California. Central California’s Monterey County (Castroville, to be exact) is the epicenter of US artichoke farming, almost all commercial artichoke farming takes place in this area. Most baby artichokes are likely to stay in this area, as farmers and locals like to keep them to themselves. However, artichokes are highly prized by chefs worldwide, so it is worth seeing if you have a small local producer at your farmers market. And if you can find them, with their tender texture and earthy flavor, baby artichokes are worth seeking out. Continue reading
There is one thing we know for sure at Putney Farm, you can never have enough chocolate chip cookies, or enough good chocolate chip cookie recipes. And you do need more than one chocolate chip cookie recipe. There are so many variables to consider: crunchy, chewy, cakey, buttery, salty, chunks, chips, dark, milk, white, nuts, thick and thin. All these variables can be part of a truly spectacular cookie, but not all go together. It takes time, skill and testing (yum) to get the best cookies.
So with the goal of having a full set of different, but awesome, chocolate chip cookie recipes we are starting a series of tests. We are happy to share the results. And please hare your own recipes and tips, we are happy to try them.
So here is cookie recipe #1, the Big Chocolate Chip Cookie. Continue reading