photo img_03.jpg  photo img_04.jpg  photo img_06.jpg  photo img_05.jpg  photo img_07.jpg

"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Movie Cocktails - Wakandan Aviator

This post is by Matt, the Beer Baron. He loves to make cocktails based on superhero movies. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @geekcanuck

Black Panther cocktail

Special movies call for special cocktails. Just as we did for Wonder Woman with Themyscira Wonder Punch, now it is time for Black Panther with our newly created Wakandan Aviator -- although I made the process of putting it together more difficult due to my stubbornness.

How do you create a cocktail to celebrate Black Panther? For me, I immediately thought of creating a purple cocktail to acknowledge his regal status as King. The fact that the Black Panther premiere in Los Angeles was on a purple carpet and that the character’s suit glows purple in the movie sealed the deal.

A purple cocktail is easy, right? They are a dime a dozen if you Google them. Alas, that is where my stubbornness played its part. I didn’t want to use food colouring, digitally alter the photos or use Blue Curaçao (which I haven’t had since I was a teenager). That meant our starting point was a classic cocktail called an Aviation, which uses Creme de Violette to imbue a purple tint.  

Aviation cocktail

We made a standard Aviation (2 oz gin, ½ oz lemon juice, ¼ oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur, ¼ oz Creme De Violette) first, using a recipe I found here. It was nicely aromatic but fairly weak and hardly worthy of a King.

Aviation cocktail

Thankfully, we had help in the form of both an awesome book (Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold) and an awesome friend (who happens to certified cicerone and experienced mixologist). The variation above used ¼ oz more lemon juice balanced out by a ¼ oz more maraschino liqueur to bring the total to 2 oz gin, ¾ oz lemon juice, ½ oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur and ¼ oz Creme de Violette. We also swapped out the pretty neutral London dry gin we used in the first version for The Botanist, which is a more herbaceous and flowery gin.

pineapple aviation

Things were getting better. There was more body and complexity but we weren’t just there to make a good Aviation. To start creating our own variation worthy of the name Wakandan Aviator, we started with the Liquid Intelligence recipe, but this time added pineapple simple syrup and Ms. Better’s Pineapple Star Anise Bitters and used an egg white to soften the edges and give it a pleasingly smooth mouth feel. Alas, the end result was too sweet.

cassis aviation

I tried a version with crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) for added vibrancy but then tried to balance out the added sweetness with even more lemon juice and the whole thing was a train wreck. (Not a train wreck I didn’t happily drink, but a train wreck nonetheless.)

blueberry gin fizz

This is when panic (and possibly drunkenness) started to set in. My go-to booze is bourbon but I was thankfully overruled before we went down that particular rabbit hole. Instead, we ditched the entire concept of the Aviation and decided to try muddling blueberries to make a purple Gin Fizz. As you can see above, it was certainly pretty and verging on purple, but not something any of us would seek out, let alone serve to a King.

Wakandan Aviatior

In the end, the Gin Fizz did give us an element we all liked in the muddled blueberries. Now, we just needed to combine it with the other things we liked best from our previous attempts to come up with our Wakandan Aviator, which turned out alluringly aromatic, nicely balanced between sweet and sour, pleasingly smooth, and more-or-less purple:

2 ounces gin (in this case, The Botanist)
¾ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
¼ ounce Creme De Violette
Handful of muddled blueberries
1 egg white

Shaken over ice
Poured into a martini glass and garnished with a frozen red star

Why garnished with a frozen red star (made with cranberry and pineapple juice), you ask? Well, that is because I am a super geek. At the end of Captain America: Civil War, Bucky (aka The Winter Soldier) is taken to Wakanda and placed into cryostasis until Wakandan scientists can figure out how to reverse his brainwashing. The frozen red star represents Bucky and how technologically advanced Wakanda is. Duh.

Winter Soldier

So, what did we learn through the process of making our Wakandan Aviator?

  • Use good gin
  • Egg whites in cocktails (as in bourbon sours) are wonderful
  • It’s always good to have friends that kick ass
  • Never set out to make a vibrant purple cocktail unless you are willing to be vaguely disappointed in the colour or just break down and cheat
  • Buy lots of lemons

spent lemons

Obviously, many lemons were hurt in the making of this cocktail.

Cheers and have fun at Black Panther. Wakanda Forever!
Black Panther cocktail

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

A few years ago we took a trip to Nashville and tried Banana Pudding for the first time.  It's an iconic Southern dessert that's simple to make and very comforting!

Glazed ham with pineapple

Recently for Matt's birthday dinner his wish was to have an old school glazed ham with pineapple and cherries. I served it with scalloped potatoes and black-eyed peas, and banana pudding for dessert. 

scalloped potatoes

It was a great meal.  The banana pudding should be made in advance, so it's a great dessert for a dinner party.  The wafers soften in the custard and make a lovely-textured treat.  You can assemble it the day before for the best texture. 

banana pudding

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen as inspiration, but I didn't make my own vanilla wafers, I used store-bought Nilla Wafers

Making the custard is the most challenging part, but it's pretty simple.

Definitely try this simple, fun dessert! 

Here's how to make it:

6  egg yolks
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
3 1⁄2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon
4 ripe bananas
1⁄2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon

Equipment:  8 6-oz ramekins or jelly jars for serving

To make the custard, place the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium pot. Whisk them together, then whisk in the milk in a slow stream until combined.  Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer while stirring.  I like to use a rubber spatula for this.  Keep stirring as it simmers for about 5 minutes until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Once thick, remove from heat and whisk in butter, vanilla and bourbon. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the custard and chill for 4 hours or overnight.  

Nilla wafers

To assemble, place wafers in a layer in the bottom of each ramekin.  You can also make this in one big dish if you don't have individual serving dishes.  You may need to break some cookies to make a full layer, that's ok! 

On top of the wafers, dollop a layer of custard, then a layer of sliced bananas.  Repeat with a layer of wafers, custard and bananas until all the bananas and custard are used up.  Cover the dishes and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but even better overnight.  

banana pudding

When ready to serve, whip cream with sugar and bourbon until soft peaks form.  Dollop whipped cream on top of puddings and place a Nilla wafer on top.  

Creamy, rich and not too sweet. This is a perfect dessert! Enjoy.