Saturday, June 26, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
SO, I decided to come up with a few of my own infused concoctions, using good ol' vodka instead. My kitchen looked like a mad science laboratory yesterday, but the result is a few fantastically strange looking jars of snazzy vodka for all my cocktail desires! And it's so easy, you've gotta do it.
The first one, pictured above, is my ode to Hendricks. I put in the cucumber & rose petals, then I went a little crazy & added a hunk of ginger, a few peach slices, lemon zest, some mint & lemon verbena. Muah ha ha haaa! The crazy cocktail scientist is a genius!
This one is a citrus vodka. A bunch of lemon peels (make sure you cut it so there's no white pith left on the slices) and a jar of vodka, how much easier could it be?? I'm going to leave these in the fridge for a few days - I'm sure that's all I can wait - and let them do their thing, and then it's fancy pants cocktail time!
Give these a try or let me know what whacky combinations you come up with! I look forward to adding to my collection of mystery alcohol!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
But for now, here's some foliage that will accompany my carbs & booze for dinner!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Last Thursday, the gang at SWAM gave me quite a re-introduction to the world of sake, with a sampling of five different kinds of sake as well as three different Japanese beers. All of the selections were served chilled and varied from traditional style sake, such as Sho Chiku Bai Junmai, to the fancier Kamotsuru Gold Flake, to the sweet Choya plum sake called Choya Ume Blanc. A couple of them did make me feel like I could breathe fire, while others were very sweet and syrupy, and others were intense, but smooth.
I also discovered that the world of sake making is a pretty amazing process. Sake is often called “rice wine”, however “sake” is actually a generic Japanese term for alcohol. The correct term for refined rice wine is “seishu”, or “nihonshu”. I also learned that sake is it’s own breed – the brewing process somewhere between beer, spirits, and wine.
Like wine, there are regional varieties and good & bad years; and as there are good grapes for good wine, there is also good rice for good sake. And therein lies the secret. Like many things I have discovered in Japanese culture, sake is a delicate balance of quality, skill and patience. Sake production takes about 1 year, starting in winter and ending the following spring. The brew matures during the summer and is then bottled in autumn. The taste depends on a balance between sweetness & acidity and is maintained not by technology, but by skilled artisans who sense subtle changes in climate, rice & water.
Sake is another one of those magical things created by the alchemy of water, malt, yeast and in this case, steamed rice. The brewing method is called, Multiple Parallel Fermentation. This method combines converting grain starch into sugar, and then sugar into alcohol, by means of yeast to create a beverage with a higher alcohol content than any other fermented drink, with alcohol content generally around 14-17%.
All sake falls into one of two groups. The first, and highest quality is Junmai-Ginjo, literally translated as, “pure rice”. A traditional brewing method strictly prohibiting the use of additives, with 60% of the rice being refined, compared to 27% in normal sake making. The second group has additives, including added alcohol. Strangely, the more alcohol added, the cheaper the sake is considered.
The reason for sake’s reputation for being a spendy beverage is due to the finest sake-quality rice being grown only in limited areas of Japan, it’s difficult to cultivate, has a small yield & is sold at a premium. 50% of the product is polished away during the brewing process, doubling the cost. Unlike wine, an unopened bottle of sake is good for about 1 year.
After my short lesson in sake 101, I have a lot more respect for the process and the varied tastes in those dainty cups of alcohol, and I will definitely stay open to the warmth, the tradition and the care that goes into each bottle.
If you’re on Oahu, make sure to stop by SWAM in the Waimalu Shopping Plaza for either their Thursday Tastings or any other time to find a gem of a little wine shop:
98-1277 Kaahumanu Street,
Aiea, HI 96701
This article was featured in Wine and Food Travel
Friday, June 11, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Breadfruit has, up until recently, been missing from my list of fantastic foods. Not because I didn't like it, but only because we had never crossed paths. My sister has been a raving fan for years, and I am holding her responsible for not being more adamant that I try them.
Breadfruit is a close relative of Jackfruit. The fruit grows on trees that can reach up to 85 feet, with the actual fruit varying from the size of a small Nerf ball, up to the size of a decent watermelon. I think the fact that these trees only give out their treasures at certain times of the year, preserving them being a bit tricky, and that they have a pretty short shelf life has contributed to me missing out on them all these years.
But alas, on my trip to the farmer's market this weekend, we met. I brought it home, it spent the night, and then today we fell madly in love. I really had no idea what to do with it, how to treat it, or how it would behave. All I knew was that it tastes like a cross between a potato & an artichoke heart. So between the lady who sold it to me & advice from my sister, I opted for roasting half of it, boiling the other half and then devising three different ways to get to know it.
The first was boiled and then tossed with butter, parsley & parmesan cheese. Simple enough, and that was when the infamous love at first bite happened. I predict it will definitely have you at "butter & parmesan", but here is another twist...
Peel, core & chop about 2 Cups of breadfruit, add to boiling, salted water & cook until tender. Meanwhile saute 1/4 C. red onions and a couple cloves of chopped garlic in butter or olive oil until softened. Next add 1/2 Cup of heavy cream and 1/2 Cup of milk stir until slightly thickened. Add 1/4 Cup of shredded cheese and stir until melted. Stir in cooked breadfruit, top with bread crumbs and a bit more cheese and then pop it under the broiler till browned.
Roasted Breadfruit & Melon with Lime Ginger, Coconut Sauce.
Cut bread fruit in half, drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap in foil and put into a 375 oven until tender. Chop roasted breadfruit into small pieces & scoop out melon with a melon baller. Combine 1 Cup coconut milk, the zest of 1 lime, 1 Tbs. honey, 1 Tbs. grated ginger & a pinch of ground ginger & cinnamon. Pour over melon & breadfruit, top with toasted coconut & serve.
This post was featured on Wine and Food Travel.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
And then we had one of those meals where you take a bite, look at your friend and give a stuffed-mouth-eye-roll-head-nodding, "Oh yeah, baby!"