Thursday, September 29, 2011

Booze and Birthdays... and some recipes too!

I haven't been cooking much lately. We were in California for a week and spending time with Annie, Tim and Parker. So I present to you stream of consciousness. Uh oh.


Why am I showing you a picture of Everclear? Because Dr. Food brought it back to me from New Jersey. Of course you can't get it in New England. As you know New England is a bit backwards when it comes to booze. I needed this Everclear to start the bitters we are making.


One of the bitters is made with Coriander and Keffir lime leaves. The base is Everclear. Other stuff also goes in it. I will give the recipe at the end of this post.


I am going to call this one "Swamp Bitters". I may get rich off of it. Or not...


Second Bitter is made with a base of high proof Bourbon. I also used orange rind and figs.



Most importantly we went to visit Annie and Tim and Parker for Parker's birthday. Ohmygod how I love this kid. Oh Annie, I love you too but you already know that.


I can't tell you how much I loved just watching Parker do everyday stuff. He is eating an Avocado here.


He is eating squash here. He is a good vegetable eater.

Ok, enough... I will get on with it. Annie made all the stuff for Parker's birthday and it all was awesome.

There were hats and chocolate mustaches.


I baked some apples for what was going to be Caramel Apple Cupcakes.


Annie did an incredible job making all the decorations. I don't know how she did it all along with taking care of Parker and work.


I got to play with my little squiggy LOTS!


Check out these cupcakes that look like popcorn. They reallllly looked like popcorn.


Caramel Apple Cupcakes


Here is a timeline of Parker every month for a year


Back to food... Pulled Pork Mini Sliders were made.


Parker got the first taste of cake.


The little guy led us all in a round of "If you're Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands"


He then sang "New York, New York" while riding the lion that Grammy and Gramps gave him.


He negotiated with his mommy for a snowcone.


He was a real trooper and didn't disappoint his appreciative audience. I love him so much.


Ok, here are your damn recipes.

Keffir Lime Bitters
Adapted from

Allow four weeks to prepare this bitters recipe.

4oz Dried Orange Peel, Chopped Very Fine
4 oz Keffir Lime Leaves, Chopped Very Fine
1 Teaspoon Cardamom Seeds (taken out of their pods)
1/2 Teaspoon Caraway Seeds
1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
1 Teaspoon Quassia Chips
1/2 Teaspoon Powdered Cinchona Bark
1/4 Teaspoon Gentian
2 Cups Grain Alcohol
4 1/2 Cups Water, Divided Into 1/2 Cup, 3 1/2 Cups, and 1/2 Cup
1 Cup Granulated Sugar

Place the peel, cardamom seeds, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, quassia, cinchona bark, gentian, grain alcohol, and 1/2 cup water into a half-gallon mason jar and push the ingredients down so that they are covered by the alcohol and water. Seal the jar.

Shake the jar vigorously once a day for fourteen days.

Strain the alcohol from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to form a pouch and squeese tightly to extract as much alcohol as possible. Place the dry ingredients in a strong bowl or mortar; reserve the alcohol in a clean mason jar and seal tightly.

Muddle the dry ingredients with a pestle or strong spoon until the seeds are broken.

Place the dry ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and cover with 3 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, cover, turn the heat down, and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, still covered (about 1 hour).

Return the dry ingredients and water to the original mason jar that contained the alcohol, seal, and leave for seven days, shaking vigorously once a day.

Strain the water from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Discard the dry ingredients and add the water to the alcohol.

Put sugar in a small nonstick saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar becomes liquid and turns dark brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for two minutes.

Pour the sugar into the alcohol-and-water mixture. At this point the sugar may solidify, but it will quickly dissolve.

Allow the mixture to stand for seven days. Skim off any bits that float to the surface and carefully decant the clear liquid to separate it from any sediment resting on the bottom.

Measure the bitters; thee should be about 12 fluid ounces. Add 6 ounces of water, and shake thoroughly. Pour the bitters into a bitters bottle. Store for up to twelve months.

Figgy-Orange Bitters
Contributed by Brad Thomas Parsons to Food and Wine

2 cups overproof bourbon (such as Wild Turkey 101)
1 cup dried figs (about 6 ounces), halved
8 green cardamom pods, crushed
4 cloves
2 fresh figs, halved
Strips of zest from 3 oranges
1 tablespoon cinchona bark
1/2 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 cup dried orange peel
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split
2 tablespoons rich syrup (see Note)

1. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine all of the ingredients except the syrup. Cover and shake well. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily.

2.Strain the infused alcohol into a clean 1-quart glass jar through a cheesecloth-lined funnel. Squeeze any infused alcohol from the cheesecloth into the jar; reserve the solids. Strain the infused alcohol again through new cheesecloth into another clean jar to remove any remaining sediment. Cover the jar and set aside for 1 week.

Meanwhile, transfer the solids to a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes; let cool completely. Pour the liquid and solids into a clean 1-quart glass jar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking the jar once daily.

Strain the water mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel set over a clean 1-quart glass jar; discard the solids. If necessary, strain again to remove any remaining sediment. Add the infused alcohol and the syrup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Pour the bitters through a cheesecloth-lined funnel or strainer and transfer to glass dasher bottles. Cover and keep in a cool, dark place.

MAKE AHEAD The bitters can be stored at room temperature indefinitely. For best flavor, use within 1 year. NOTES To make simple syrup, in a small saucepan, dissolve 1 cup of granulated sugar in 1 cup of water over moderate heat; for rich syrup, use 2 cups demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 cup of water. Let cool before using, and reserve the rest for another use.

Carmel Apple Cupcakes
Adapted from

9 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2-3 apples, granny smith
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Rinse and core the apples. Place them on an ovenproof pan or baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until soft.
2. Remove the apples from the oven, let cool slightly, then remove peel and mush the apple with the back of a fork. Measure out 1 cup of apple mush and set aside to cool.
3. Combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Crack the eggs into a separate, medium sized bowl and beat with a form to break up. Add the oil, apple juice, vanilla, and cooled apple mush and mix to combine.
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until all ingredients come together.
6. Scoop into cupcake papers about 3/4 full so cupcakes will have a significant dome. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Thick Caramel

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Bring the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium-high heat stirring to combine.
2. With a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients together and then slowly add the heavy cream.
3. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes until the caramel reached 248 degrees. It is important to continuously stir the mixture and to allow it to reach temperature.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Transfer to a bowl and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes allowing the caramel to cool slightly.

Final Assembly
1. Using a small offset spatula, frost each cupcake with the caramel.
2. If desired sprinkle warm caramel with any number of toppings, like coconut or crushed nuts.
3. Transfer the cupcake into the freezer to allow the caramel to set without dripping over the edge of the cupcake paper.
4. Continue frosting and topping the cupcakes and try to work fast. As the caramel cools, it becomes less spreadable. If possible work in pairs and let your helper top the cupcakes and transfer them to the freezer. By the time you reach the last few cupcakes, you will not longer need to freeze them and you can take all the cupcakes out and transfer them to the counter.
5. Top off each cupcake with a popsicle or craft stick to finish off the look.

For the Popcorn Cupcakes go on over to Duhlicious's site. It gives all you need to make these.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Steak and Stilton Pies and other stuff


Boy did I make a lot of stuff this weekend. Fall is in the air. It is beautiful and cool outside. Trees are just starting to change and apple cider and cider doughnuts are at all the farms. I couldn't help but get into the mood of cooking fallish type of stuff. I saw this Steak and Stilton Pie recipe in Saveur Magazine and knew I had to make it.


It takes time but nothing about it is difficult. It was nice smelling it cooking most the day.


At the same time I was boiling Apple Cider that we got at the farm. I was making Apple Cider Molasses. I got the recipe from Foodie with Family so you can mosey over there if you want the recipe.


The stove was working overtime. I also was making bitters for fun but that is a whole other post.


So back to the Steak and Stilton pie. There were vegetables.


There was beer. Some for the dish and some for Big Mama Janis.


Mushroom and stout taste good together. No really.


Ah how I love the Stilton. It isn't too Blue Cheesy. It is just right.


We didn't have 6" pie tins so used dol sot bi bim bap bowls and only made 2 instead of 4.


I gotta say that these really were good. Go ahead and make them on a cold Fall day.


Who are these children and why did I put them on a Steak and Stilton Pie post? Welllll, these are my 2 kids and my two nephews. This was when they were little. We took the same picture when they were much bigger.


Why am I sharing this? I don't know. Could be that I am just insane. Yeah, that is it. Old and insane. Insane and old.

Um. Ok, now that I confused you... Check out this video of my favorite baby in the entire world. His name is Parker and I am his Grammy.

Steak and Stilton Pie
Saveur Magazine - October 2011

Printable Version

1/4 C olive oil
1 1/4 lb beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large yellow onions, sliced
2 ribs celery, thickly sliced
2 small carrots, thickly sliced
2 tbsp minced rosemary
1 12 oz bottle stout beer
1/4 C flour
2 C beef stock
2 tsp. mustard powder
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp unsalted butter
10 oz mushrooms, quartered
6 oz English Stilton, crumbled
1 10 oz package frozen peas
1 14 oz package puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Heat oil in an 8 qt saucepan over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, 10-12 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Add garlic onions, celery, carrots, and rosemary to pan; cook until soft, 10-12 minutes. Add beer; cook until almost dry, 18-20 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring, until smooth. Return beef to pan along with stock, mustard, and bay leaf; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook, coverd partially, until beef is barely tender, about 1 1/2 hours; set aside. Heat butter in a 10" skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, until browned all over, about 8 minutes; stir into beef mixture along with cheese and peas.

2. Heat over to 375 F. Divide beef mixture among four 6" pie tins (12 oz. each). Roll pastry into a 14: square; cut out four 6" circles. Brush tin edges with egg; place 1 circle over each; press to seal. Cut slits into pastry; brush with egg. Bake until browned, about 40 minutes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Charcutepalooza - Packing (no I am not going anywhere)


This is September Charcutepalooza challenge. This month it was all about "Packing". I trembled at the thought of having to make a pastry dough. I can not tell you how just hearing the word "dough" sends me into fits.

We chose to make a Pate en Croute from a recipe I saw on Canadian Living. It called for duck and pork. How can you go wrong? Throw in chicken livers and pork belly and well....need I say more?


So, I put on the "Big Girl Panties" and dug in to the task of making dough. I have to say that I started to really get into it. It wasn't too bad.


Did I ever tell you how much I love chicken livers? Oh, I did? Hmmm.


I can't tell you how amazing and lucky I feel to have Pork from Neal Foley. I feel privileged to have meat in our freezer that was raised lovingly by friends.


So, grinding up pork belly is my middle name. "No it isn't Janis. Your middle name is Diane. Not only that but you are talking to yourself out loud"


Dough! I made pretty pretty dough. Doh.


Heh, this next picture ALMOST makes up for my rambling. No? Ok, well I swear that if you came over and hung out with me that it would make a lot more sense this rambling of mine. I swear. Dr. Food only gives me dirty looks once in a while. What? What is that you said? He is NOT a saint.


And just for you I made Pig cutouts. They sorta look like Aardvarks but they are pigs.


This doesn't look the prettiest but boy did it taste good. I almost (I said almost) cried.


Goober climbed Mount Pate en Croute!


So the collection of charcuterie is growning. As if we didn't have enough I decided to go for another Pate en Croute that I saw in Garde Manger. It is a textbook from the Culinary Institute of America. Amazing book. I decided I had to make the Salmon en Croute.


We needed Crayfish and we found them at H Mart.


It isn't all glamour around Chez Janis ya know. I had to shell those little crawdaddys.


The dough was a Saffron dough.


Me with the dough again. Argh.

We made a mousseline-style forcemeat by processing the salmon and shrimp and folding in the crayfish, chives, and basil.


My friends Monty and Peter had given me (well they gave it to Dr. Food for his birthday but what is his is mine too. Sorta.) a Le Creuset terrine. It is an old old one. We packed that puppy up. We layered the mousseline with strips of salmon and then another layer of mousseline.


We encased it in dough and put the little chimney's in there.


We baked for prescribed amount of time and then took out to cool. I could have not shown you what this looked like when it came out but then you wouldn't be impressed when you saw what it looked like by the time it cooled all the way down.


Voila! No joke. When it cooled it shrunk and looked perfect. Now was the time to put the aspic in. I don't have pictures of this because both of us were needed to actually do this procedure. The aspic was made out of toasting the shrimp shells and using some clam juice. We also added wine to it. We then added gelatin. After it was piped in and cooled overnight we had a pretty fancy pants looking Pate en Croute.


Came out of the terrine unscathed (well, I won't show you the side that got a little bit wonky).


Look how clear our aspic is? Almost looks like it isn't there. We floated a raft on the aspic to clarify it. Aspic must be very clear and clean.


There you have it! Packing. This was sent to Dr. Foods work for all to enjoy. Don't YOU wish you worked with Dr. Food?

Pate en Croute (Duck Breast and Pork)


2 boneless skinless duck breasts, (each about 8 oz/250 g)
1 boneless pork loin centre chop, (about 6 oz/175 g)
3 tbsp (45 mL) brandy
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme
3/4 tsp (4 mL) pepper
1 pinch ground allspice
2 tbsp (25 mL) unsalted butter
1 onion, finely diced

4 oz (113 g) duck or pork or chicken livers, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
1/4 cup (50 mL) dry white wine
1-1/2 lb (680 g) pork belly
2 eggs
1/4 cup (50 mL) whipping cream
1 egg yolk
2 tsp (10 mL) water
2-2/3 cups (650 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
2/3 cup (150 mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 mL) sour cream
1/4 cup (50 mL) cold water

Pastry: In large bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until in fine crumbs. Whisk together egg yolks, sour cream and cold water; drizzle over flour mixture, tossing with fork and pressing with hands to form ragged dough. Divide in half; press into squares. Wrap each and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.)

Thinly slice 1 of the duck breasts across the grain; place in bowl. Slice pork thinly across the grain; add to duck. Stir in brandy, 2 tsp (10 mL) of the thyme, 1/4 tsp (1 mL) of the pepper and allspice; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in skillet, melt butter over medium heat; cook onion until softened, about 6 minutes. Add liver, bay leaves, salt, nutmeg, and remaining thyme and pepper; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in wine; cook until no liquid remains, about 2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; let cool completely. Discard bay leaves.

Cut pork belly and remaining duck breast into chunks; transfer to food processor and purée until smooth. Add to onion mixture. Stir in eggs and whipping cream until combined, using hands if necessary.

On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry squares to scant 1/4-inch (5 mm) thickness; cut into 14- x 5-inch (35 x 12 cm) rectangle. Place on parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Spread with half of the pâté mixture, leaving 1-inch (2.5 cm) border. Lay strips of marinated duck and pork lengthwise over pâté; spread with remaining pâté. Turn pastry border up sides. Whisk egg yolk with water; brush some of the egg wash over pastry.

Roll out remaining pastry to 14- x 8-inch (35 x 20 cm) rectangle. Place over pâté, pressing to seal. Trim any excess.

From pastry trimmings, cut out decorations for top. Using egg wash, stick onto pastry top. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Cut 2 circles in top. Insert rolled-up parchment paper “chimneys” into holes for steam vents. Brush with egg wash. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C); bake, covering with foil if necessary to prevent browning and removing any fat that seeps onto pan with turkey baster or shallow spoon, until digital instant-read thermometer inserted into centre reads 170°F (77°C), about 50 minutes.

Using 2 spatulas, transfer to clean parchment paper–lined baking sheet; let cool. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature to serve.)
Additional Information:

Tip: Keep pâté refrigerated while rolling the pastry to prevent the mixture from becoming too soft.