I'm gonna have to defer to Bangar, our resident moonshiner, on this one, but I am interigued enough to seek out his opinion regarding this Gizmodo piece on making smooth whiskey even smoother.
Long story short, your put apples in the liqour - the greener the better - and let them sit in there for at least six days. Even longer if you can hack it, 'then strain the rye through a cheesecloth. The end result is a liquor that still tastes very much like a rye, it's just much more mellow and smooth.'
The original recipe calls for crab apples, but you can use Granny Smiths (black eye to Gizmodo for not knowing they were developed in Sydney, noth South America) or even dried apple slices as above.
It seems to be a trick specifically designed for American bourbon, not Scottish whisky. I'd be keen to know if anyone from across the pond has tried it.
22 Responses to ‘An apple a day keeps the scrunch face away’
These things snuck up on us didn't they? I'd hate to think it was Masterchef's fault, but I can't recall them being as insanely popular before Adriano Zumbo tortured a bunch of would-be micro-celebrity cooks with his recipe for the diabolical French treat a couple of seasons ago.
There's other possible explanations. Quite a few French migrants have quietly arrived here the last few years, seeking economic refuge from the slow motion collapse of the European experiment. A few of them have done what migrants have always done, and set up a food stall for the curious indigenes.
Macaroon is the English spelling of the 'original' French macaron. Air quotes added because the French lifted the idea from the Italian's maccarone. The hard core fans insist that only mashed coconut shavings are appropriate. But fuck them, I say. Fuck them right off. It's the modern, popular almond paste biscuits which have captured our hearts. But why, besides their obvious superiority over the nasty, shredded coconut variety?
There's the convenience and conscience-calming nature of the little biscuit. A whole lot of nom packed into a very small and comparatively calorie-lite package. Well, lite compared to, say, Quokka's rum soaked cheesecake. Macaroons seem almost perfectly matched in size for a cup of coffee, and there's the almost gaudy, carnivalesque element of have so many diff types to choose from.
There's plenty of duds around too, and I kind of hope they don't go the way of the friand, another arrival from gay Paree – not that there's anything wrong with that. Oh, wait, there was something wrong with that. Friands grew so popular, so quickly that the quality inevitably declined across the board as more and more charlatans served up dry crumbly oval shaped munter-muffins that they passed off as the traditional treat.
My local caffeine brewery, Mugged, has recently started offering macaroons, and I'm pleased to report they're the light and delicately flavoured variety - even if in presentation they look like a flashy neon strip of Vegas. It's not unusual to find hard, dense and lumpy insults to the very idea of macaroony goodness. These are not those.
The most popular, by far they tell me, is the salted caramel, the jaunty little tan coloured fellow pushing himself forward for your consideration just above.
I'd place a bet, however, that the candy colored ones are favorites with children.
24 Responses to ‘Rise of the macaroon. Or Macaron’
I repaired to a local noshery on Saturday, bleary and sleep deprived from supervising a tween-grrl sleepover, and then tidying up after said event. Luckily Mme Q was there (along with Lord Bob, Morgana and some architect). I soothed my frayed nerves with a few glasses of pedestrian rosé, a kilo of Lamb Iskander and two slices of Mme Q's cheesecake.
I am a fan of cheesecake, and especially the variety baked in New York or the New York style (as Murph will attest). This was a fine example, with rum-soaked raisins and a crumbly dark biscuit base, about which there was, I believe, some controversy.
It seemed the very exemplar of a cheesecake base to me and I am nothing if not a professional in these matters.
I believe I may have had two slices, and no dinner that night.
BISCUIT BASE: 400 gm biscuits (1 ½ packs of butternut snaps or gingernuts) 60g chopped butter, melted
FILLING: 750gm light/low fat cream cheese, softened ½ cup castor sugar 3 tablespoons dark rum (may need extra) ¾ cup raisins 3 eggs, separated 300 gm sour cream (light/low fat) 1 tablespoon plain flour Ground nutmeg
METHOD 1-2 days before baking, soak the raisins in rum. Seal bowl in cling wrap. Splash a bit more rum in each day till raisins have reached optimum saturation.
BISCUIT BASE • Grease a 23cm round springform tin with melted butter. • Line the base with non-stick baking paper. • Crush the biscuits, mix in melted butter. • Press biscuit mix into base of tin and refrigerate till firm. (tip, use disposable gloves or a layer of plastic wrap to press it down and push the mix 3cm or so up the sides to create a pie shell) • Preheat the oven to 160C.
FILLING • Beat the cream cheese till soft. • Gradually beat in the sugar and 2 oz rum. (unless there is still this much swimming around in the raisin bowl) • Separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. • Beat in the sour cream and the flour. Mix should be the consistency of thick cream & be lump-free. • Fold in the raisins. • In a clean, dry bowl, using clean dry beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. (Do this last as once beaten they break down quickly) • Whisk the egg whites lightly into the cream cheese mix. • Pour the filling over the prepared crust. • Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
BAKING • Bake in a 160C oven for around 1 hour 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. • Allow cheesecake to cool in the oven then refrigerate.
NOTES: • I cook this on fan-bake, in the centre of the oven. It will crack but it will also rise and be very light. Cook on Classic Bake for a denser non-cracked cake.
70 Responses to ‘Madame Quokka's cheesecake (UPDATED with recipe.)’
Bungalow 4171 is a reasonably recent addition to the southside's meagre list of decent cafes. It's telling that it's a few minutes drive away from Oxford Street. Far enough to insulate it. There's something about that strip that... Oh, that's right. It sucks.
Apart from a couple of stand out venues, like the Oxford Street Bakery, home of the Portuguese custard tart we discussed a while back, and Mugged or The Deli for a coffee or quick bite, it's dire. So dire I wonder why so many people drive all the way over to drink and dine here. Especially if they go past Bungalow 4171 along the way.
Hit the brakes, stop to a screeching halt and back the fuck up, people. Especially if you're in the way of needing breakfast. This quiet little shack is one of best suburban secrets in Brisneyland. They do pretty much everything in house, including the sweet treats (below).
The huge tectonic slabs of golden buscuity goodness you can see there are actually scones, althought they remind me of old fashioned tea cakes. They're fresh baked each day in the back room kitchen and thump down in front of you with enough of a thud to know you're not going to need anything but a bevvy to knock them down. The coffee is always expertly done, and arrives with a little Hershey Kiss, just to make you feel that little bit guiltier about blowing your calorie count.
The breakfast menu ranges a lot wider than up market, remimagined egg-n-pig, but the up market, remimagined egg-n-pig is pretty fucking good. It's called the Bungalow one pot breakfast and reminds me of something you might get in First Class when you fly. (It's why I didnt include it in my review for Qantas. Might incite a riot down in cattle class.)
I believe I've already shared my philosophy about breakfast sausages. They are the standard by which you judge a cafe, and these are magnificent; slightly fiery chorizo chipolatas. Warm enough to wake up the taste buds, but not so spicey as to overwhelm the rest of the dish. There's a little pot of thick relish hiding between the cherry tomatoes and the milk jug in that photo, again made in-house. It really lifts the egg and bacon while the spinach lets you imagine you've done something good for yourself.
I'm kind of curious about how they pull all these elements together at once, because they'd cook at different rates. I'd place a small bet on the snags being part way done before their added to the mix, for instance. Possibly the bacon too, because it comes with a nicely crisped rind, while the eggs remained soft and even a little runny in the centre.
It was a hefty feed which left no room for one of those monster muffins. I suppose I'll have to go back.
Nobody does. Not twice anyway. The resulting brew tastes thin and underdone, no matter how well the water may have boiled in the nuclear oven. There simply is no way to make good tea in a microwave. Boiling the water to pour over leaves, be they in a bag or strainer, or even in a pot, doesn't help. I've idly wondered why for years. After all it'd be so much more convenient.
Because a proper cup of black tea must be made with water that’s come to a rolling boil... Heat at the bottom of the kettle... The hot water rises and the cool water falls in a cyclical fashion, which uniformly heats the contents of the kettle to a boil ... But microwaves don’t heat water evenly, so the boiling process is difficult to control.
Having surmised as much myself in the days when I used to heat milk for younger children – the top of the milk would be scalding, and the lower depths lukewarm at best – I'd once or twice tried stirring the cup of boiling water to see if that helped. Not a bit. But now I know why.
When tea leaves meet hot water, hundreds of different compounds that contribute flavor and aroma dissolve and become suspended in the water. Black tea contains two kinds of complex phenolic molecules... These are responsible for the color and the astringent, brisk taste of brewed black tea, and they are extracted only at near-boiling temperatures.
Water also cooks certain volatile compounds, chemically altering them to produce more nuanced flavors and aromas, such as the earthy, malty, and tobacco notes in black tea. When the water isn’t hot enough to instigate these reactions and produce these bold flavors, tea tastes insipid.
If that's not bad enough, superheating the water, which is always a risk with microwave cooking, can destroy the oxygen normally found in water. "The longer water boils, the more dissolved oxygen it loses—and tea experts say that dissolved oxygen is crucial for a bright and refreshing brew."
There's more, but by now I've heard enough, not just about the perils of nuking tea, but of reheating soup in the microwave. I gave up on that particular fool's errand many years ago, preferring to use a stovetop pot. Or rather, not preferring to, but choosing to because there seems no way to ensure a uniform heat when nuking a bowl of leftover soup from the fridge. I guess what happens is that significant chunks within the soup retain their chill, making the whole exercise pointless.
27 Responses to ‘The reasons you don't microwave your cup of tea’
I've been buried by paper work today. Actual paper work, thanks to the tax office. So it's been quiet around here. I've just filed tomorrow's rather long Blunty, which required a couple of hours research, and in ditzing about looking for stuff to blog about here tomorrow I came across this really lovely piece in the Atlantic. A real ode to the army cook. Well worth reading the whole thing at the end of the link:
I don't know what goes into the job of Army cook. I don't know the baseline for success, nor what failure would look like, aside from food poisoning. Observationally: Cooks seem to put 10 or so basic meals into rotation, changing up the sides on occasion, and incorporating whatever new item is sent from wherever it is the Defense Department finds food. (Boxes are marked with labels as "Pork, imitation, pre-formed" or some such.) In other words, no Army cook ever had an aneurysm from thinking too hard about his or her job.
But John seemed to come close. Watching him, he seemed like the kind of guy who wanted to do something big, something meaningful, but was worried about the consequences of even asking for permission. The start of his reign as midnight cook involved reheating lunches and dinners that weren't appetizing even when they were fresh. It was obvious this pained him, and next to the giant ashtray, he talked a lot about this chili he wanted to cook. It was a family recipe. He talked about the ingredients, and about scaling the recipe for a company-sized crowd and how great the response would be.
His enthusiasm seemed weird, and borderline delusional. When finally he worked up the courage to ask for permission, and later received it, all anyone heard about for what seemed like weeks was this chili he had planned... When the big night finally came, two things struck me: A lot of people showed up for midnight chow, and the chili was really, really good.
6 Responses to ‘"Moisture-wicking socks, digital camouflage, and caffeinated meat."’