Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sorry guys - I forgot this. Still, there is next Christmas.

I have just realised that I didn't post up the three awesome Christmas drinks I knocked together just before the big day. To be honest they are not season specific so you can always give them a go. On top of which, if you don't have a sous vide and a ziplock bag or chamber vacuum sealer then it's going to take a few months to get the same result so here goes for next Christmas.

I had been into our local Costco and picked up some dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries. The primary reason was a little more healthy than these recipes and that was to mix them with nuts for some healthy snacks. I just happened to be reading up on recipes for bitters and decided I fancied trying to create a Cherry bitters so I popped a bottle of blended whiskey, 4 vanilla beans split in two, a teaspoons of fennel seeds, two star anise and a crushed stalk of lemongrass into a bag along with a cup of dried cherries. Vac sealed and into the sous vide for 2 hours at 70C and on to the next recipe.

My wife is a sucker for a Cosmopolitan cocktail and I thought that something along those lines would make a great gift. A litre of vodka, a cup of dried cranberries and the rind of an orange were popped into a vac pack bag and joined the cherry bitters in the sous vide.

Now the question was what to do with the dried blueberries ? A little research on flavours and recipes led me to another litre of vodka, a cup of dried blueberries and the rind of a lemon heading in to a vacuum bag and joining the other two bags in the sous vide.

Two hours passed and the contents of each of the bags were strained. I retained the now spirit plumped fruit for use in a Christmas cake ( that turned out to be a good decision ). The only variation was the blueberry vodka that I poured over a bunch of fresh bruised basil while it cooled.

Once the items were cool enough to try I discovered that they needed no more sweetening for our taste but you can always add a simple sugar syrup to sweeten to taste.

The cherry bitters makes a great addition to a simple gin and tonic. A few drops can add a great edge to such a simple drink. I also enjoy a few dashes in tonic water if I want a low alcohol drink.

The cranberry and orange vodka was put in the freezer for 24 hours. This thickened it up and created a great frozen shot but it was best served as two measures of the vodka to 1 measure of bitter lemon or lemonade and squeeze fresh lime juice to create a great alternative to a Cosmo.

As for the blueberry vodka. I tasted this and found the rich flavour delicious. It has yet to be drunk but I think this will be another frozen shot that will be perfect on a summers day.

If you don't have the luxury of a sous vide then the same recipes put into a sealed storage jar and left in a dark cupboard for 3 to 6 months should produce similar if not richer results.

As for the Christmas cake. That will be for another post .....

Saturday, 10 January 2015

New Year - New recipes. Updated

I've been out of the loop for a while after a major operation. Although there has been a little creativity in the kitchen it has taken a while for me to get back in my stride. Now the Near Year has arrived and my health is back it is time to get back to the kitchen and this blog.

Over Christmas I tried to make a maple cured bacon but the result was a little too salty. Having reviewed my recipe and carried out a little more research I am trying again. I managed to pick up a nice 2 kg loin of pork in my shopping today at an excellent price  so I decided to use this.

Firstly, I mixed the cure, making it very simple and lower in salt than the last attempt.

The cure.
4 tbsp of caster sugar
4 tbsp of fine sea salt
4 tbsp of maple syrup

Having mixed the ingredients together I washed the pork joint with vinegar. I then coated the joint in the cure and placed it in a vacuum bag. I put the remaining cure into the bag and sealed it. I then placed this in the fridge where it will live for the next 8 days. I will rub and turn the bag each day to ensure the cure coats the joint evenly. I'll wash it off next week and let you know how it tastes.

Well, 7 days have passed so I thought I'd wash the bacon off and have a little taste for lunch. The result, scrummy. A perfect sweet cured bacon. It is currently hanging in the conservatory drying before I slice and pack it. Next time I may add a little nutmeg to the cure just for a little something extra in the taste but it is still my best bacon yet.