Saturday&Smoking Bishop

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

It was a wonderful gift; to begin with. I do like cookbooks, and a love love love books, so a cookbook with recipes mentioned in or inspired by books was a great Christmas gift. I spent part of the holiday with coffee in hand, browsing the recipes and reading the stories accompanying them. Oh, and the photos! What delicious photos!!

Now let’s talk a bit about the books mentioned shall we? One in particular, why not? As it happens there are several recipes in this one of dishes mentioned in A Christmas Carol by Dickens. Fancy that. Obviously I got right on it and made the hot drink called Smoking Bishop; it being cold winter nights and all.

As a wise man said; first time you do it by the book. So I did follow Young’s instructions to the letter. In the back of my head there was a voice, making comments based on all that time I’ve spent research vintage cocktails and Victorian punches but ignore that for now. The end result was a great success. If you do it according to what’s written in The little library cookbook you will have a brilliant time reading and cooking and drinking Smoking Bishops. You are sorted for food and book recommendation.

However, I can never leave well enough alone and made it a second time, according to my own mad ideas. This is how it went down. I’d like here to issue a note of caution and a disclaimer; this recepie contains instruction to set something on fire. If you do not know how to handle it, skip that step. Have a lid ready to put out the flame should it be needed.

IMG_6669

Smoking Bishop; makes 2 very generous servings, or 4 small ones

8 cloves

1 orange

1 stick of cinnamon

3 cm ginger; sliced into 6 slices or so

a couple of crushed allspice berries (4-5)

(the odd cardamom pod should you have it around)

3,75 dl Port wine

1,75 dl red wine (plonk is fine)

3+1 tsp granulated sugar

1,5 dl water

2 clementines

fresh nutmeg, to serve

for preparing/serving;

waterproof glasses or cups

Matches

Tea strainer

  1. Divide the orange in half. Stick cloves in one half and place it in the oven at 190 degrees/gas mark 5 for around 30 minutes (I put the flat side down) until the orange is slightly brown or the kitchens smells like Christmas. Mine was nicely caramelized  on the side that was cut (that had been placed downwards).
  2. In the meantime; peel the other half of the orange thinly. No white, just the orange. Chop it in rough bits and place with 3 tsp sugar on like a saucer. This is a mini version of a classic Victorian oleo-saccharum (a sort of citrus sugar), usually used as a base for punches. The oils in the zest will give the sugar a lovely fresh orange taste, use the back of a spoon or a proper muddler to give it a bit of a bash to get things going.
  3. And as two things isn’t enough; in a saucepan, combine the water, ginger, cinnamon stick, allspice berries and one teaspoon of the sugar. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat somewhat, and let reduce to about half. The little bit of sugar releases the flavors (things you learn when making cocktail bitters). Then turn of the heat and let it steep for an additional 10 minutes, then strain it. I use a vintage tea strainer with a fine metal mesh, but a seasick or a coffee filter is fine.
  4. At around the same time the orange and the spiced water should be ready. Then you proceed to mix wine and port in a sauce pan and place it over a low heat. Now comes the fan part; when it is hot you take a match, light it and gently set the port/wine mix on fire. It burns with a blue flame. After a few seconds, blow it out. Add the spiced water and the orange with cloves. Let it simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, slice the clementine and add to the glasses (I like a lot of citrus). Squeeze the juice from the other clementine and have it ready.
  6. When the 10 minutes have passed, take the saucer with sugar and zest and add to the hot liquid. You will probably have to scrape it of the saucer.
  7. Take the orange out of the saucepan, fish out the small bits of peel too (or use the tea strainer again). Dived the clementine juice between the glasses, then pout the hot wine/port mix over. Grate a little nutmeg on top.
  8. Serve piping hot.

My version also worked well and so this is how I will make it, and it has less cloves in it, which is an advantage as I see it. Not thrilled about cloves (which might have something to do with me fiddling with the recipe to begin with).

-Suss

Advertisements

Thursday & Tipples

IMG_6038First of all let me offer you one of my reflections about alcohol and Christmas; it’s not the best of combinations. I love Christmas and all the flavours and find it endlessly inspiring, and cocktails is often the result. So here I offer up a few suggestions, and I do so early in the season as it is the kind of thing that is best enjoyed with friends. Making slightly more advanced cocktails is usually a good way to keep people from drinking too much, or at least people act a little better when they drink in my experience. But when the actual holiday comes along, when it’s time to sit down to a family dinner, then alcohol is probably the last thing you need in that potent mix of rich foods and racist relatives (everyone has a racist uncle it seems). If you are on a diet, or just don’t want to gain weight then chosing water over wine is an easy way to cut calories, if you can live with the questions. Sadly people who don’t drink alcohol get their sanity questioned. Like any kid has ever wanted drunk parents for Christmas.

That said, people do drink and  I would like to offer a few nice things, and I tried to make these fairly universal i.e. not dependent on weird Swedish seasonal ingredients.

  1. Saffron tonic (to be mixed with gin, vodka or white wine based glögg). This is a staple in my home and on the blog. No surprise to anyone but let’s go though it again. You take a small (0.5 dl) bottle of generic tonic like Schweppes and the bottle MUST HAVE A SCREW ON CAP! You also need proper saffron threads, they usually come in a tin or jar. A little harder and more expensive to buy initially but oh so easy to use (and higher quality. You get what you pay for). Then you screw off the cap, add a few saffron threads, screw the cap back on, and let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You’ll have a yellow tonic with a lovely flavor, proceed like you would a usual G&T with ice and such. As the tonic has a bit of a bite it make a good non-alcoholic alternative just on its own with ice and a slice of lemon. Very grown-up taste.
  2. A “Fairytale of New York”. This is a twist on a New York sour that I make this time of year, and I’ve named it after the classic, and brilliant, Christmas tune by The Pogues. It does require cold Glögg or left over mulled wine. Usually it is made with red wine and I replace that with the Christmas tipple. Instruction can be found here.
  3. A riff on something I drank once. At a bar in Stockholm you can have this drink with dark rum, dry vermouth and coca-cola syrup and smoke. Something that tastes really good is 4 cl of dark rum, 2 cl of dry vermouth, 1.5 cl of syrup made with gingerbread spices and 1 drop of liquid smoke. The syrup is made by mixing 2 dl of sugar, 2 tablespoons of finely ground gingerbread spices with 1,5 dl of boiling water, and whisk until all the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool before transferring to a clean jar, store in the fridge (it will keep around two weeks).

Three very simple things, each trying to pick up on an element of the Christmas palate. Given that Byredo makes three seasonal candle every year, three seasonal cocktails seemed apt. You do not need seven. No really, you don’t. That is not what this holiday is about.

-Suss

Gift guide; On the bar cart

When it comes to gifts for the bar cart, in many ways I recommend all of the things from last years. That list has aged well. But given the chance that you bought all of those things and still would like to give a little something special to the cocktail-enthusiast in your life, let me offer seven suggestions.

  1. A nice bottle of Cognac or Armagnac. First of all don’t say “Brandy”. Cognac and Armagnac are districts, this is similar to Champagne in that it is a geographical definition but there is very little Cognac that is bad (overpriced however? Possibly). Brandy is is a catch all term for everything from ambrosia to stuff that is better used to clean medical equipment. With Cognac and Armagnac the odds are with you, and I predict a comeback for this grape-derivative. After a few years of bourbon-hype (I blame hipsters) and a much needed tequila/mezcal-revival ( and damn it; hipsters are responsible for that too so I cannot make rude jokes) I think the time is right to bring back Cognac as a cocktail ingredients. In 2018 Margaritas will be replaced by Sidecars to begin with, and I see in my cristal ball that there will be a couple of cool things re discovered and a handful invented. You don’t have to go higher than V.S.O grading as it is for cocktails.
  2. All of the cocktail books I’ve recommended before+ Cocktail garden. I haven’t bought any new cocktail books lately but had a look at Cocktail garden and it stuck the right note between useable and fun. I really want to encourage people to use more fresh ingredients in their cocktails; it makes a world of difference in taste but also appearance, and it is a chance to play around and be creative without breaking the bank (yours truly has poured a lot of expensive alcohol down the drain as my cocktail making efforts have rendered it undrinkable).
  3. Metal straws. I read in an interview recently that Tom Ford had replaced all the paper stars with metal ones in his home in an effort to reduce carbon footprint and amount of waste. He has small children so I assume that milk, juice and smoothies are drunk through straws (and besides Ford is a teetotaler? Sober alcoholic?). Good for Tom that he is responsible in that regard. However, that thinking is also applicable when it comes to long drinks. Very stylish that, metal straws for your Gin Fizz.
  4. Coasters. Cocktail glasses, in fact all glasses, leave rings on tables if not careful. Nice coaster are thus a good gift, and can be adjusted to the recipients taste. Pretty  much every museum I’ve been to this year has had a set in their shop.
  5. Champagne bucket. I’ve spoken lovingly about punch bowls before, and it should be noted that some punch bowls can easily be filled with ice and used to chill champagne, prosecco or many small bottles of tonic should you want to. I personally have a slightly taller and slimmer champagne bucket that also serves double duty as a waste basket under my desk or frequently as a vase for branches or big bunches of flowers.
  6. Homemade sweet vermouth. My love of a Negroni is well-known I think, and for that (and many other cocktails) you need sweet vermouth. Having started to make my own I have never looked back. An easy and inexpensive gift to give a friend. Find my recipe here.
  7. Ice moulds. I’ve mentioned this before but it seems that not all of the world has gotten the memo so I repeat; Muji has a few excellent moulds in silicone to make nice ice cubes. Why haven’t you gotten them already? It makes all the difference to a drink.

-Suss

Saturday&Spirits

IMG_5476I had plans to make sloe gin but my excursions have come up short of berries; there aren’t that much sloes on the bushes because the spring was so cold, and what little is  I’ll leave for the birds. Instead I decided to go all in with the quince liqueur this autumn.

Quinces I bought at the market, I went with a less expensive cognac but not the cheapest because in my experience that’s just nasty. It’s worth spending a little extra on this, especially since I’m thinking about giving some away as Christmas presents.

I’ve made this before with light rum and spices, with cognac and spices and this time it’s just fruit and booze. And a little sugar. The real sweetening however is done in six weeks time, and then it can be adjust to taste. The first recipe I used was from the web, this is a pared down version of that from The wonderful weekend book by Elspeth Thompson.

Quince brandy-based liqueur; yields almost 1 liter in the end

750 ml cognac/brandy (spend as much as you feel you can afford)

1 large quince

4 tablespoons of castersugar

  1. Rinse and dry the fruit. Then spilt it in quarters.
  2. Put the fruit pieces in a clean 1 liter jar, add the sugar and the pour the cognac/brandy over it. Closer the lid.
  3. Let infuse for at least six weeks.
  4. After six weeks; pour through a sieve and add around 2 dl of freshly made sugar syrup to the cognac/brandy, stir so it blends and put into clean bottles.

IMG_5478

This is so easy to make, and such a great thing to have. Impossible to buy something similar in the shops. I’ve made several cocktails with it but just mixed with some champagne it’s wonderful.

-Suss

Vendredi&Vin chaud

The other morning when I left the house I noticed that it was nippy out, to the point that I should have either worn my winter coat or put on my little down west underneath the coat I was wearing. Luckily I had a big wooly scarf, and my little thermos of coffee, nice and toasty I was, huddled up with my book in the corner of the train. You can make anywhere cosy if you have good books and coffee.

Later that day however I was shivering in a bad way. Someone had lured me out on a walk in the nice autumn sun, and it was nice as long as we were putting one fot in front of the other. The minute I was standing and waiting for the underground I curled up desperatley in my scarf, and at that point the sun was rapidly disappearing and with it any warmth it brought.

So when I got home I was both hungry and cold, and very much in the need for comfort food. I ended up mixing two things (some left over ragu and one small portion of vegetable stew) I had in the freezer which I ate with pressed potatoes which really is one of the best side orders; fluffy carbs and so light compared to mashed potatoes (which I love don’t get me wrong but there is a lot of butter in that one)

While I was waiting for the whole thing to be ready I made myself some Vin chaud and read entries from Life is meals a food lover’s book of days by James and Kay Salter. I’ve mentioned this book before of course, and I will again. At this point I’ve read all the little sections for different days at least twice. It’s such a lovely kitchen companion, just the right amount to read in between, and so so good for my mood, always.

IMG_5048

Vin chaud; serves two

Mix equal amounts of red wine and boiling hot water in a heat proof glasses ,approx. 2 deciliter of each depending on what glasses you are using (so each glass 1 dl wine+1 dl hot water), and then add 1 teaspoon of caster sugar to each glass, stir, and then garnish with a thin slice of lemon on top. Serve and enjoy responsibly!

This is a very nice aperitif during this time of year as it is quite light, not a lot of sugar and spices as the glow later in the season. It’s easy to make too, which is an added bonus. Why more bars in this town don’t serve it is beyond me, French bistros do however, that’s how I learned about it in the first place. If you want a non-alcoholic option I will always think fondly of blackberry cordial and boiling water with some lemon and possibly cinnamon mixed up.

Now if you excuse me I have to get out some extra blankets, socks and locate the hot water flask because winter is coming, soon.

-Suss

 

Wednesday& Witchcraft&The Winter King cocktail

Last week I lost myself in the world of The Bear and the nightingale by Katherine Arden. It made my commute an adventure; the time spent on crowded trains, wrapped in a big scarf and with damp feet, was a pleasure as I had this with me.

IMG_4890

Between the covers there is a story about a girl by the name of Vasilisa, called Vasya, whose mother dies when she is born, and who grows up to be a bit of a wild child. It’s not just circumstance though, part of it is in her blood; she has inherited some of her grandmothers blood, a grandmother that was a witch according to gossip.

And thus Vasya sees more than others. She sees what is there, not just what she wants to see, for better of for worse. She makes friends with the domovoi, the household spirit, but also the Rusalka, a sort of aquatic nymph, that lives in the lake nearby. With out her knowledge The Winter king is keeping an eye on her, as is his brother, and at some point there will be a battle. Add to that mix a sexy priest with a taste for power. I don’t want to spoil it completely so I won’t say more, but think of it as Jane Eyre meets Russian fairytales and you have a fairly good description of what to expect. Katherine Arden has taken liberties with the language, and a tiny bit with historical accuracy, to create a more magical setting but it works for me. I mean really. I started to plan cocktails and outfits pretty much immediately.

In terms of ingredients vodka felt like a natural choice even though no vodka is in fact drunk in the book, that’s a spirit of later invention. They do drink honey wine, sometime called mead, throughout so I decided to include that somehow. It should be noted that there are many kinds of mead around, Systembolaget here in Sweden even has a Russian mead that’s organic and all, but I went with the German Imkergut for practical reasons. Several berries are mentioned and I went with blackberries, again with “replicability” in mind.IMG_4885 Several version that included these ingredients were tried. As it turned out though, less was more, and a little creative license was needed too.

Part of this comes down to the mead, it’s got a honey taste for sure but there is also a fermented aftertaste. Not bad but it must be factored in when mixing. It didn’t work as a sour really so I went down the Martini/Martinez alley. Equal amounts of vodka and mead turned out really well but it needed a little something else. The blackberries were a good garnish. I ended up rinsing the glass in smokey whiskey as a reference to the stove in the kitchen where the domovoi sleep (and everyone else too during winter).

Finally, to balance the whole thing, I ended up using a barspoon of ginger syrup which has no justification in the text but it is the magic that makes the whole in this case. The name? I had a few suggestions and I asked friends and “The winter king cocktail” got most votes, and fair enough. He does have a bit of a feast at his house, with mead and all.

IMG_4889

The Winter king cocktail; makes one cocktail

3 cl vodka

3 cl Imkergut honey wine

1 barspoon ginger syrup (from a jar is fine)

1 dash of Angostura aromatic bitters

for serving;

Smokey whiskey, I used Caol Ila

blackberries

a long slice of fresh ginger

  1. Stir the ingredients in a stirring glass full of ice. Rinse the coupette in the whiskey.
  2. Pour the drink into the coupette, no ice should be included.
  3. Put the berries and the ginger on a cocktail stick (see what I did there in the picture?)
  4. Put the cocktail stick in the drink, serve, enjoy responsibly.

So this cocktail should keep the domovoi of this house happy if there is one. I’m sure it lives off of high-end cocktails, expensive scented candles and pain au chocolate, drops of mead and scraps of bread isn’t good enough for the contemporary household spirit living in a big city I suppose (and there are more dangers to protect the household from so worth the investment, if you want to be superstitious).

-Suss

 

Thursday&The sign of four

Oh god how I love a bit of Sherlock. Having read these as a child, but in Swedish, I’m well aware who has done it for the most part but that takes away none of the reading pleasure I tell you. The dialogue between Holmes and Watson is just brilliant, and so are the descriptions and the intrigues. They are not however entirely politically correct but the are a product of their time and as responsible reader factor that in.

The Baker street irregulars was a term I came across in one chapter and it refers to the homeless children that Holmes employs as spies. The term then is in opposition to the regulars i.e. the police force. “Great name for a cocktail” I thought, and at that my imagination got the best of me.

There were actual drinking  whiskey in a few chapters, and an awful lot of talk of creosote, poison simply put, but smells like tar I guess ergo use a smokey whiskey.
Plenty of references to Pondicherry, and you know I love me a pun, so a cherry had to be in there. It’s the season for old-fashioneds so I was gonna make a twist on that anyways, it was just a question of what kind. With someone smoking a hookah at one point, events in India at another and a lovely lady being a part of the plot I turned to rosewater syrup. It is top of mind, always. Last but not least some Reagans No.6 orange bitters.

However this would not be the cocktail that it is without ice cubes in the shape of diamonds. I really must insist. We are talking about a hidden treasure here people, show some respect!

IMG_4839

The Baker street irregulars; makes one cocktail

1 cl rosewater syrup

5 cl Smokey single malt, I used Talker

2 dashes of Reagans No. 6 Orange bitter

for serving;

Ice cubes shaped like diamonds (or other precious stones, some emerald cut cubes would very nice)

Cocktail cherry.

  1. Add Whiskey, syrup and bitters to a tumbler, then add the ice and start stirring.
  2. Stir until well blended and chilled.
  3. Add cherry.
  4. Serve. Enjoy responsibly.

Maybe not the healthiest thing but a lot better than cocaine as used by Holmes. Not as advanced as a plot that Holmes would relish in solving but the kind of thing to keep Watson in a good mood I guess. And we do need to keep the good doctor happy.

-Suss