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Cocktails with the Captain

July 7, 2010 2 comments

I freaking love America. Everyone knows that. Everyone.  I’m the guy that celebrated the 4th of July when I was studying abroad in London, England… in October. I own multiple pairs of American Flag Chuck Taylor high tops (true) and the Star Spangled banner is the current ringtone on my cellular phone (not so true). When I make my smoking-hot girlfriend breakfast in bed, which I do all the time, she gets a a big ole stack of freedom toast and washes it down with some freedom vanilla coffee.

America!

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I am refusing to pour any White Russians to my customers because of those Commie spies we busted last week. Yes, you heard me correctly: I am boycotting the White Russian, that seemingly harmless yet deadly mixture of vodka, Kaluha and milk. I’m serious. I caught my friend Kelly drinking one and I literally threw her cat out of a fourth story window because of it. Take that you Soviets.

You know what I am pouring everyone instead? Liberty and Justice – thats right, pure Kentucky Bourbon and ginger ale.

Here’s a little piece of sweet, sweet American history for all of you: in 1964, the United States Congress passed one of the most historical and important pieces of legislation in all of American history. No, I’m not talking about the Civil Rights Act; I’m talking about the The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (5.22). It officially recognized bourbon as a “distinct product of the United States.” Truly historical. So when people ask me, what makes a bourbon a bourbon? I tell them what congress told me back in ’64:

  • Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
  • Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume).
  • Neither coloring nor flavor may be added.
  • Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels (THE barrel, in my opinion).
  • Bourbon must enter into the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume).
  • Bourbon, like other whiskeys, may not be bottled at less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).
  • Bourbon that meets the above requirements and has been aged for at least two years may be called (but is not required to be) Straight Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon, aged for a period of less than four years, must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
  • If age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.

I know what you’re thinking: “Adam, all this sounds pretty intimidating….” That’s OK. You’re allowed to be scared. George Washington, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin and Shaun White were all a little scared… but they pushed their fears aside and persevered. That’s all I’m asking you to do. Persevere and taste that sweet cocktail incarnation of liberty and justice.

I realize bourbon and ginger ale isn’t for anyone (just heroes and winners), so I’m including the recipe for something a little more user friendly: the All-American Peach Iced Tea Shot. Enjoy, and remember, it’s AmeriCAN not AmeriCAN’T.

The All-American Peach Iced Tea Shot:

  • 3 parts Jim Beam black
  • 1 part Peach Schnapps
  • Top with Redbull

Wine for Thought: Gamay from the Beaujolais!

July 7, 2010 2 comments

Beaujolais Nouveau: Good to chill

In this week’s Wine for Thought, I am going to touch upon a red wine that you can put on ice and chill. I mentioned Gamay in last week’s recipe of the week. It still stands as a perfect compliment to that Pesto Shrimp Penne recipe. Today, though, I’ll give you a bit more on the grape’s history and current state in the wine market.

Joseph Drouhin's Beaujolais Villages.

Gamay is grown all over the place but its ancestral homeland is in Beaujolais, located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, France. Although technically a part of “Greater Burgundy”, its soil, topography, and climate are distinct from the noble area to the north. The red wines produced in Beaujolais are predominately made from the Gamay grape. The Gamay grown in Beaujolais produces a wine that is light and fruity with a bright acidity on the palate. All three of these characteristics make it a great wine to have chilled at a picnic, at the beach, or at a barbecue in the park or rooftop.

Some people will recognize Beaujolais Nouveau as a wine that is released on the market in September/October; right after the harvest. Georges Duboeuf, the large French negociant, is synonymous with Beaujolais Nouveau. His wines, festooned with flowers, are the quintessential quaffing wines. So if you want to try one, you can’t go wrong with a Georges Dubeoef. Beaujolais Nouveau is the most predominant example of Beaujolais on the U.S. market and is your best bet to find and throw in that waiting bucket of ice.

There are other, more serious Gamay Beaujolais wines that are also great on ice. Instead of serving them between 55-65 degrees (the preferred red wine serving temperature), serve them between 45-55 degrees and enjoy the juicy fruit and spice. So ask your local wine merchant for an affordable Gamay from Beaujolais, pop it into the fridge, wake up in the morning, prepare your snacks, get outside, and enjoy the goodness offered from the region of Beaujolais.

In the future, I’ll make sure to throw out some more examples of wines that can and/or should be chilled this Summer. Until then, keep sipping the good stuff.

A Scrumptious Salad Recipe: Caesar Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

July 7, 2010 1 comment

Caesar Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

It’s about time that the Cocktail Fodder crew offered you a simple, quick, and delicious salad to enjoy in the summer months. I’ve made this salad on several occasions and love the flavor sun-dried tomatoes add to it. The original recipe is from Joie Warner’s Caesar Salads: America’s favorite salad. I checked in with my wine boss (and king of wines), Keith of ABC Wine Company, about wine pairings. He reckons that a round white wine with moderate depth would do the trick. It pairs perfectly due to the creaminess of the dressing and the sun-dried tomatoes. The Pecorino from “Wine for Thought” two weeks back would do well with this salad. As would an Orvieto, a white wine from Italy, or even a Chardonnay (unoaked). So keep these pairings in mind and enjoy this quick, simple, and easy recipe.

Until next week, keep eating and sipping.

Ingredients:

1 large romaine lettuce head, rinsed, dried, and broken into bite-size pieces

2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 can (2 ounces) anchovy fillets, drained, chopped (I actually prefer tuna but go with whichever floats your boat.)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (Only the best!)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (Store bought lemon juice is fine as well.)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ cup olive oil

10 large, halved sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced

½ cup fresh Parmesan Cheese, with extra for plating

1 ½ cup of Croutons (You can make your own, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, but I usually go with store-bought.)

Directions:

Take a medium bowl and whisk the garlic, anchovies/tuna, mustard, lemon juice, and vinegar until well blended. While you are whisking slowly, add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture is thickened. Take your chopped sun-dried tomatoes and stir them into the mixture along with the Parmesan cheese. Toss the romaine lettuce in a large salad/mixing bowl with the dressing until thoroughly coated. Add croutons and toss again. Plate with added Parmesan cheese on top to taste.

Bon appétit!

Summer heat calls for a light dish: pesto shrimp pasta with a side of spinach sprinkled with gorgonzola

June 30, 2010 2 comments

Pesto Shrimp Pasta with Spinach

The summer heat is currently oppressive. Some of the tell-tale signs: commuting to work and having your shirt gingerly wet upon arrival, walking lethargically in the streets hoping to see an open fire hydrant to frolic in and desperately waiting to hear the familiar sound of the ice cream truck (NSFW!) so you can grab a soft serve. This type of weather calls for the shoestring chef to offer something light and easy to beat back the heat. Here’s your solution: pesto shrimp pasta with a side of spinach sprinkled with gorgonzola. How does that sound to you?

Pasta is cheap and simple to make, pesto simply makes everything taste better (does anyone disagree?), and shrimp offers us great low calorie protein with solid levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and essential minerals (iron, zinc, copper).  Most importantly, a glass of Grüner Veltliner, which I delve into in today’s “Wine for Thought” post, would pair splendidly with this dish.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound Penne pasta, dry

12 medium-size precooked, peeled shrimp

2 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 clove garlic

1 cup spinach

1 tomato chopped

1 ½ tbsp pesto

2 tbsp crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Start by boiling the pasta. Put the olive oil in a skillet pan over medium heat and add the shrimp for no more than a minute or two until they are warm. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and place in a bowl to the side. Heat the butter on a skillet and add the garlic until lightly sautéed. Add the spinach and cook on low heat until the spinach is nice and tender. While the spinach is cooking, take the finished pasta and drain it. Add the pesto into the pasta making sure it’s well mixed together. Sprinkle the gorgonzola cheese over the spinach once done. Plate with the pesto penne. There you have it. Cheap. Quick. Easy. Summery.

Regarding wine choices, other than our suggested Grüner, the penne pasta with pesto will pair well with a nice un-oaked Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. If you are feeling adventurous and want to chill a red wine for this meal go with a chilled Gamay Noir. Bon appétit!

Martha Stewart we are not: chicken roll-ups from New Hampshire

June 23, 2010 4 comments

Chicken roll-up. Hearty and within the budget.

Simple recipe #1: Chicken Roll ups

Our first shoestring recipe comes from my friend Allison from New Hampshire. I had the pleasure of having this dish served to me by her mother last summer and made sure to get the recipe soon afterwards. NH Chicken roll-ups is a hearty dish that will have you coming back for seconds. Live free or die.

Ingredients (for 1):

–       1 chicken breast

–       1 packet of frozen spinach

–       Paprika

–       Onion powder

–       Oregano

–       Garlic powder

–       1 can of tomato sauce

–       Muenster cheese

–       Spaghetti

Directions:

Take the chicken breast and place it on a cutting board with wax paper over it. Use the flat side of a meat cleaver to pound the chicken breast thinner. While you cleave the chicken breast, cook the frozen spinach by placing it in water to heat it up. Take the chicken breast and season it with paprika, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder (1/2 to 1 tsp of each, depending on taste). Once done, take the spinach and roll it around the chicken breast. Place the rolled up chicken in an oven-safe bowl or casserole dish and pour a can of tomato sauce in the bowl/dish. Place one or two pieces of Muenster cheese on top and sprinkle more paprika and oregano. Set the oven at 350 degrees and cook the chicken for an hour. Check periodically and once done serve with spaghetti.

* NPR or classical music should accompany you while you cook. Also, wine should be imbibed at all times whenever you are cooking.  I suggest a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to warm the palate.

* The picture above is not an accurate representation of the dish but is rather to give you an idea of what chicken with spinach would look like if based solely on color schemes. (Minus the red of the tomato sauce.) Actual photos of dishes will be included in the following recipe posts. We’re new to all of this!

Enjoy!