A real puff piece

Posted by Anita on 02.20.09 1:48 PM

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*It’s always an thrill to discover that one of your idols admires your work, and a huge honor for another blogger to trust you with their “baby”. So you can imagine my elation — and perhaps even sense my panic? — when the lovely Tartelette asked me to guest-post over at her place this week.

I’m beyond flattered to be asked to contribute to Tartelette’s incredible site, winner of Food Blog of the Year in the 2008 Well Fed Awards and — just this week! — placed at #43 on the Times Online list of the World’s 50 Best Food Blogs.

After a lot of hemming and hawing about whether I had the chops to showcase my meager pastry skills on such a gorgeous site, I finally mustered enough courage. With some spirited inspiration from David Lebovitz‘s fabulous book, The Perfect Scoop, not to mention a healthy dose of chocolate, I think I managed to bluff my way through without too much embarrassment with a recipe for Profiteroles with Chartreuse Ice Cream.

Be sure to head on over to Tartelette‘s place to read the story, get the recipe, and enter for a chance to win a copy of The Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent.

baking, other blogs


Rose-colored world

Posted by Anita on 02.06.09 9:36 PM

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*I know that it’s been awfully quiet around these parts for a while, but whirlwind trips to New York City will severely cut into your blogging time. The lovely folks at NOTCOT and Liqurious sent me on a hybrid photography/writing assignment to cover the launch of Rosangel, a new hibiscus-infused tequila from Gran Centenario.

You can probably guess that I don’t have a lot of personal affection for flavored spirits, but my better judgment prevailed: As freelance gigs go, getting to visit New York for a long weekend sure beats the hell out of just about anything else.

I fretted about how to make a rose-pink tequila sound credible to our cocktailian friends. But in all honesty, from what I was able to taste at the event, Rosangel has all the hallmarks of a quality product. It uses Gran Centenario reposado as its base, it’s aged for an additional 2 months in port casks to give it complexity and a rosy glow, and then it’s infused with hibiscus blossoms, not doctored with artificial flavors. I’m anxiously awaiting the chance to get my hands on a bottle to play with; the retail launch is set for March.

What I didn’t know when I accepted the assignment was that one of the events would be held at Clover Club, the newish Brooklyn bar from Julie Reiner of Flatiron Lounge fame. And, better still, that I’d have a chance to watch Ms. Reiner and Paul Pacult lead a hands-on immersion training for eight tequila-loving bartenders flown in from all around the country. (I won’t steal my own thunder any more than I already have: You’ll have to check out the NOTCOT post for the full scoop.)

So anyway, apologies for the radio silence. At least you know I had a good excuse! I promise there’s another post coming soon, all about the 70-pound pig we roasted for Cameron’s big birthday.

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*

(Oh man, I shot so many frames… picking just five representative photos for the filmstrip this time is impossible! Please click through to see the whole collection.)

bar culture, drinks, NYC, other blogs


Garden party

Posted by Cameron on 12.16.08 1:46 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

I have never been an instinctively organized person. I tend to leave planning until the last minute, overestimate (and overbuy) the necessary materials, and then fly by the seat of my pants. Most of the time my “method” works, but it can be wasteful. It’s also hard to define and evaluate what I did in retrospect, so that I can do it better next time.

I have been trying like heck not to take my typical approach with our nascent vegetable garden. From the construction of our new raised beds (hammer and shovel account coming in a future post, I promise) to planning plantings, I have actively encouraged my inner project manager to come out and play.

However, I am acutely aware of the fact that what I consider a “plan” often sounds like Marty McFly’s instructions to the 1950s dance band in Back to the Future: “Okay guys, this is a blues riff in B. Watch me for changes and try and keep up, okay?” So when Genie, aka the Inadvertent Gardener, volunteered to lend a hand with our very first planting, I was primed to overthink the entire event. And boy, did I.

I read all of the instructions on the seed packets, inside and out, cross-referencing the information with my two new best friends, Pam Peirce’s Golden Gate Gardening and Jeff Ball’s 60-Minute Vegetable Garden. I gazed at our new beds, making calculations about relative amounts of sun and shade, and searched the Web for general planting instructions, raised bed ideas, and wide-row planting theory. I made a list of the vegetables that I wanted to grow, organized by the distance between rows that each required. I drew up a small diagram of my beds (to scale, of course), illustrating what would go where. And, when Genie asked what time she should arrive on Saturday, I thought about how much time planting might take and left a generous margin for error, suggesting that I pick her up from the BART station at 1pm.

Saturday morning, I laid out all of my garden tools (a shovel, a long rake, a hand trowel, and a hand rake) and the seed packets, clipped together. It wasn’t until Genie arrived and I started describing the work plan — illustrated with my hyperactive little meth-junkie diagram — that I started hearing the loose screws rattling around in my tiny little head. I hauled in the reins and ground to a halt, biting off the suggestion that we measure the distance between rows. Folks, we’re talking about two small raised beds, each almost exactly eight feet long and four feet wide; surrounded by and aligned with stone tiles that are each almost exactly two feet square. About the only thing that we didn’t have to work with was a grid printed directly on the dirt. Somewhat sheepishly, I handed Genie a rake and suggested that we start loosening the soil in the beds, which had settled and crusted over a bit in the two weeks since I installed them.

About an hour later, I was feeling like an even bigger dork. The planting that I thought would take most of the afternoon? Done. Actually, Genie finished her bed in about 30 minutes and spent the rest of the time taking pictures of me stumbling about. Right now, somewhere, my über-gardener mom is looking down on me and laughing her butt off. With love, sure. But laughing nonetheless.

But you know what? We now have a bunch of dirt with seeds in it! We’ve got three kinds of onions in (two from seed and one from sets) — some that I’m planning to pull as scallions. We also planted three rows of mixed beets, two rows of French breakfast radishes and another of cherry radishes, a row of leeks, two of peas, and one of mixed lettuce.

And to tell the truth, I could use more “chore” days like this one. Anita made delicious lunch of Reuben sandwiches with Marin Sun Farms pastrami, which we ate with Laura’s dilly beans and Sean’s pickles. We spent the rest of the afternoon talking, playing with the pups, sipping beer, and kibitzing in the kitchen.

After the sun went down, the three of us washed our faces, put on our city duds, and headed off to SPQR, where red wine, non-stop wisecracks, at least six different kinds of pork, and a surprise fireworks display (seen across the bay from the top of Fillmore Street as we waited for our table) were the order of the evening. If there’s a better, happier, more karmically charged way to kick off a new garden, I cannot imagine what it would be.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

garden, other blogs


Across the miles

Posted by Anita on 12.06.08 9:03 AM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**When Cameron and I started blogging a few years ago, we were talking to ourselves. After walking away from the food message boards that had been our online home, we found ourselves adrift. A pair of food-obsessed writers can’t exist in a vacuum for long, so when our pal Sean suggested we should blog, it didn’t take us long to see the wisdom of his plan. We set up an account, bought a domain, and started writing.

An interesting thing happened along the way: People — strangers who we didn’t even know! — started reading the blog. Some of them even left us comments. And then we started visiting their blogs, leaving comments, and becoming intertwined with their lives. We celebrated their joys, cheered on their triumphs, cried at their losses, and consoled them in their grief… and they did the same for us. It’s funny to say this about people who I’ve (mostly) never met in person, but I’m closer with some of my food-blog pals than I am with people I see every day. To an outsider, perhaps this sounds odd, even a little loney… but to me, it’s one of the big blessings in my life, this circle of support and affection that literally crosses the oceans.

The most fabulous things happen in this little world of ours. Last week, I got an email from Bron, telling me that she and Ilva were planning a big surprise for our mutual friend Barbara, who’s been struggling with the side-effects of chemotherapy. Would I help them send a virtual hug to Barbara this weekend, in the form of a recipe? Oh, absolutely!

To me, nothing says love and comfort better than a bowl of soup. I know that bowl full of beef and chile sounds far too spicy and rich for someone struggling with the nausea and unpleasantness of chemo, but in truth this dish is clean, light, and flavorful, with just a hint of sweet spice. The broth base is chicken, not beef, so the flavors of the sprouts and scallions come singing through. Ginger is known to help with nausea, and if you seed the Fresno chile — which is already mild — you’re left with just the clean, fruity flavor and none of the heat. And because the meat is cooked separately and then used as a topping, you can adjust portions for varying appetites. Barbara doesn’t enjoy the taste of cilantro, so we substituted a sprig of flat-leaf parsley for the garnish; it’s mostly just for a splash of color, so feel free to leave it out entirely.

So here’s a hug to Barbara, across the oceans and miles. I wish we could come by and bring you a bowl of soup in person, but for now we’ll slurp a bowl of gingery noodles and keep you in our hearts.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Ginger Beef Ramen
- adapted from The Wagamama Cookbook

5 oz (150g) mung bean sprouts
9 oz (250g) ramen noodles
12 oz (350g) sirloin steak, 3/4-inch thick
teriyaki or soy sauce, for brushing
4 cups (1l) chicken stock
2T ginger, peeled and slivered, or more to taste
2T ramen sauce (recipe follows), plus more for serving
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
1 red Fresno chile, trimmed, seeded, and sliced lengthwise
1/2 small red onion, sliced very thin
1 lime, quartered
parsley (or cilantro) sprigs for garnish

Rinse the steak and pat dry. Season with salt and brush with oil; let sit 30 minutes to come to room temperature.

Cook the noodles in a medium pot of boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes. (I recommend cooking 1 minute less than the package indicates, as the hot soup will continue to cook the noodles later.) Drain and rinse with cold water until cool; drain well and set aside. In the same pot, heat the stock to a simmer; reduce heat to low and cover until ready to use.

Grill, broil, or pan-sear the steak until medium rare. Remove from the heat and immediately brush with teriyaki or soy sauce. Keep warm to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Add slivered ginger and 2T of ramen sauce to the stock, and heat to a rapid simmer; adjust for saltiness with soy sauce or fish sauce, as desired. Meanwhile, divide the noodles among two bowls, and slice the rested steak on the bias. Top the noodles with the beef, sprouts, scallions, chile slivers, onion. Garnish with herb sprigs and serve with lime wedges and additional sauce to add at the table.

Ramen Sauce
1 scant tsp sugar
1T malt vinegar
3T Asian sweet chile sauce (or to taste)
3T fish sauce

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, then combine with other ingredients.

cooking, other blogs, recipes


Mission: Edible

Posted by Anita on 11.19.08 11:31 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**What do you do when one of your favorite foodies comes to town, and specifically mentions wanting to stroll through The Mission? Why, you plan an itinerary that takes you past some of the neighborhood’s favorite places to buy delicious treats!

After shopping our way through the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market together, we left Laura to explore on her own for a few hours. (We hit Rainbow Grocery for a few staples, then headed home to put our perishables in the fridge.) We met up at high noon at 16th Street BART. Seeing as how it had been ages since we stuffed ourselves with Mexican breakfast at Primavera, we decided a traditional San Francisco burrito was in order. We stopped at Taqueria El Castillito — an old favorite, but definitely not local, sustainable, or organic in any way — and fortified ourselves with burritos and a torta, and a few bottles of Mexican cane-sugar sodas.

Back out into the bright sunshine — it’s always sunny in The Mission, but Saturday was unseasonably hot — we trekked down Mission to 18th. Trying to keep to the shady side of the street, we pointed out the retaurant row that is 18th and Guerrero (Farina, Tartine Bakery, Delfina, and Pizzeria Delfina) but did not stop to join the monster queues. We’d really just planned to peek into Bi-Rite Creamery, but the short line — full of surprisingly happy ‘No on 8‘ protesters — and list of fabulous flavors tempted us. We couldn’t let Laura leave San Francisco without a taste of the famous Salted Caramel ice cream, could we? (Cameron also sampled the malted vanilla with peanut brittle, just to make sure we’d covered all the bases.)

Across the street, Bi-Rite Market was sampling their Thanksgiving offerings from a catering station on the sidewalk. We smelled the heavenly aromas, but couldn’t even consider a nibble. We pressed inside the store along with everyone else in the entire neightborhood, taking a peek at all the fabulous local produce and the justifiably famous deli case. (I still don’t understand how Sean and DPaul lived around the corner for years without weighing 300 pounds. I’d never cook!)

Backtracking to Valencia Street, we strolled past Range — where we’d enjoyed a fabulous dinner the previous night — and popped into Lucca, one of the last remaining vestiges of the Mission’s Italian heritage. We browsed the aisles, admiring the terrific assortment of goodies, then headed back out into the street. I think I always knew that Lucca makes their ravioli on the premises, even noted the minuscule factory visible through the picture window along Valencia, but I’d never timed it right to see the process in action until this week. We stood with our noses pressed to the glass for what must have been half an hour, watching as a pair of flour-dusted pasta makers heaved giant wads of dough through an industrial sheeter, then picked them up like so much dirty laundry and magically unfolded them along a table the size of most San Francisco living rooms. (I could descibe the whole process, but Laura’s slideshow does a much better job.)

We picked up the pace and continued down Valencia to 23rd, then down Mission to 24th. After a quick stroll through the Mexican produce stalls and flower shops, we stopped into Philz to let Cameron caffeinate himself with a fine Turkish-style fiter-drip blend, while Laura and I rested our eyes and feet in the cool, dim surroundings.

Our last stop took us to a rendezvous with some of our fellow bloggers at Mission Pie. We were nearly stuffed, but somehow made room to share a slice of double-crust apple pie and another of pear-raspberry galette. When Jen arrived, she showed us the error of our ways, generously offering nibbles of the godly walnut pie (with a gooey center like pecan pie); I now understand why people drive across town to buy a slice. We sat at a big table together in the now-waning afternoon sun, marveling at all the shop’s gorgeous, quirky details — a map of the farms that sell their produce to the pie-makers, a collection of antique egg scales, and some of the coolest light fixtures in the city — chatting about everything from Yves St. Laurent to antique tractors to …well, food, of course.

If we’d only had an extra stomach, we could have kept walking all day.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Taqueria El Castillito
2092 Mission Street (x17th)
San Francisco, CA 94110

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street (x Dolores)
San Francisco, CA 94110

Bi-Rite Market
3639 18th Street (x Dolores/Guerrero)
San Francisco CA 94110

Lucca Ravioli Company
1100 Valencia Street (x 22nd)
San Francisco, CA 94110

Philz Coffee
3101 24th Street (x Folsom)
San Francisco, CA 94110

Mission Pie
2901 Mission Street (x 25th)
San Francisco, CA 94110

coffee & tea, dessert, Italian, Mexican, other blogs, The Mission


Long-haul locavore

Posted by Anita on 11.17.08 11:02 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**“I can’t wait to show you what I’m sneaking down in my bag,” wrote Laura. “Hopefully you’ll be as delighted as I am!”

I knew we would be thrilled with whatever she brought us, and I suspected she’d be stocking our pantry with a fun assortment of jars — she’s an accomplished canner. But what actually landed on our kitchen counter was a jaw-dropping surprise.

Sure, there was a pint of (homegrown) dilly beans, and a pot of (homemade) strawberry jam. But there was also a shrink-wrapped frozen broiler chicken from the farm… and — wait for it — a dozen fresh eggs from the hennery itself … which Laura had brought down in her checked bags! (Eggs, says the TSA, contain more than 3oz of liquid in each “container”. And in any case, a dozen would definitely not fit in a quart-sized Ziploc bag.)

I wish I had thought to take a photo of Laura’s ingenious packaging: two half-dozen cardboard containers inside a perfectly sized plastic food-storage container, all wrapped in packing tape. And miraculously, every last egg made it here intact, with not a single crack.

This, my friends, is the way to get invited back for a return visit!

The three of us ate six of the eggs poached with a big batch of Cameron’s hash on Sunday morning. The yolks were almost fluorescent orange, and the whites held together like magic. (I forgot to take photos — d’oh!) There was Acme toast, too, with a generous slathering of Spring Hill butter and Laura’s no-pectin preserves — not too sweet, soft and fresh-tasting.

We toyed briefly with trying out a new recipe to share here on the blog, but decided that this bird needed little more than a good roasting and some simple accompaniments — we didn’t want to bury the flavor with complicated preparations. The chicken sat salted in the fridge all day, its skin drying out in preparation for a turn on the rotisserie tonight. After 90 minutes on the spit, it emerged golden and crispy-skinned, with juicy white meat and fabulous flavor: Truly the best bird we’ve eaten since the Hoffmans left the market.

SheHe’s a big bird, by farmers market standards — nearly 4 pounds — and we’re looking forward to making chicken pot-pie later in the week with the leftovers. And of course the bones and cartilage will be saved for our next batch of stock. Most guests leave little more than a pile of sheets in the laundry room; a fridge full of home-grown food is sure a welcome change!

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cooking, other blogs, travel


Beans by the book

Posted by Anita on 11.16.08 10:44 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**The irony of yesterday’s 80-degree excursion to the Ferry Plaza was that none of us wanted summery stuff. We waltzed right past stalls filled with tomatoes, artichokes, and strawberries(!) and gravitated toward the pork, beans, and greens we all craved despite the heat.

With the unseasonably warm weather and our un-air-conditoned house, we knew it would stay too hot to braise, so we headed over to the Marin Sun Farms stand and checked out their grillable options. Laura picked out a lovely slab of pork ribs, and I walked across the aisle for a bag full of Brussels sprouts from the Iacopi’s stand.

Since Laura’s only able to find pintos and cranberry beans at her local markets, she planned to load up her bag with lots of fun varieties from the Rancho Gordo stand. Little did we know that Steve Sando himself would be tending the stall on Saturday, training two new employees and charming the shoppers who were surprised to see the bean guru himself behind the baskets and bags. In addition to the four varieties Laura chose — old favorites Yellow Eye and Calypso, plus two others that escape me Pebble and Anasazi — we also bought a pound of Red Nightfall, for our Dark Days dinner that night. I had no idea how we’d serve them, but I knew we could find inspiration flipping through our just-bought copy of Steve’s new book, Heirloom Beans.

Cameron gave the ribs a simple rub (salt, pepper, dried sage, and pasilla), and we planned to serve them with a mustard-and-vinegar sauce, so we looked for a simple recipe that would showcase the beans’ natural flavors. It didn’t take us long to find a dish that we all agreed sounded delicious: What’s not to love about porky goodness topped with a drizzle of bright olive oil and a snowy dusting of cheese? We found a hunk of Fatted Calf pancetta in the freezer and snipped some fresh sage from the garden, swapped a red onion for yellow, and left out the original recipe’s carrot. The end result was delicious, if I do say so myself, and a perfect counterpoint to the smokiness of the ribs and the tart-bitterness of the shredded sprouts.

ps: For more great photos of our meal prep, don’t miss Laura’s set and post.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Rancho Gordo - Heirloom Beans(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Beans with Pancetta and Sage
- adapted from Heirloom Beans

1/2 pound heirloom beans, soaked
- the original recipe calls for Jacob’s Cattle, but we used Red Nightfall
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, diced
2T chopped fresh sage
dry Jack or other hard cheese, grated, for garnishing

Place the beans and their soaking liquid in a tall pot, adding enough cold water to cover by at least an inch. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, until beans begin to soften (about 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and warm through, then add the onion, celery, garlic, pancetta, half of the sage, and a little salt and pepper. (Keep in mind your pork may be heavily salted.) Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté very slowly; do not allow the ingredients to brown. When very soft and aromatic, about 20 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

Add the sauteed mixture to the beans and bring to a simmer, adding more water as needed. Taste the simmering liquid, and adjust for salt as needed. Simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about another hour, keeping an eye on the water level. When beans are cooked through and no longer chalky, add the remaining sage and adjust seasonings; simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve the beans with a little of their pot liquor in shallow bowls, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with the grated cheese.

Disclaimer: Cameron and I are big fans of pretty much everything Steve Sando does; the three of us are friends from the olden days on various food boards, and we’ve been known to babysit his market stall on occasion. There’s no way to say that I’m not biased, but I still think that the book is fabulous: The recipes go well beyond the usual things you think of making with dried beans; the photography is stunning; and the graphic design is trademark Rancho Gordo, with bold typography, clean lines, lots of white space, and judicious use of bright accent colors.

Although I’ve only cooked once from it, at the price ($15 on Amazon) it seems like a bargain. It’s got a fun foreword by Thomas Keller (yes, Food Jesus is one of Steve’s fans, too), great front matter that covers everything from Rancho Gordo history to equipment notes, and recipes from some of our favorite restaurants — like Range‘s Cellini Bean Soup with Chard and Poached Eggs. I’m looking forward to exploring it in more depth, and I’d say that even if Steve wasn’t a pal.

cookbooks, Dark Days challenge, farmers markets, locavore, other blogs, recipes


Urban adventures

Posted by Anita on 11.15.08 11:46 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Oh, what fun we’re having with Laura, eating our way around the Ferry Plaza and The Mission from sunrise to sunset, then cooking up a storm for the first night of the Dark Days challenge. The three of us (with the dogs, naturally) sat up gabbing until almost midnight, telling stories and talking about… food, duh!

I promise a thorough recap later, but for now you can check out my Flickr set — plus Laura’s Flickr set and post on (not so) Urban Hennery — for a quick peek at our day.

Dark Days challenge, farmers markets, other blogs, shopping, The Mission


Guess who’s coming…

Posted by Anita on 11.13.08 11:41 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

…to Married with Dinner?

Laura from (not so) Urban Hennery is visiting San Francisco this weekend, and we’re the lucky ones who get to show her around! We’ve got a full schedule of foodie fun planned: Dinner at Range, a trip to the Ferry Plaza farmers market (of course!), even a stop at Mission Pie. And naturally we’ll hit some of the tourist highlights: The view from the top of Twin Peaks, a stroll through some of our favorite neighborhoods, and a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.

We’ve even managed to stir up some mighty fine weather. Probably not quite as gorgeous as the autumn day in the photo above — that was October of last year — but it is supposed to reach the high 70s over the weekend, which is sure to send poor Laura home to the cold, dark, and rainy Pacific Northwest shaking her head.

As fun as our adventures will be, the part I’m most looking forward to is Saturday night, when we’re planning to cook dinner together with all the fun things we find at the market. We didn’t plan it this way (or maybe Laura did, ’cause she’s a organizer extraordinaire) but Saturday also happens to be the first day of this year’s Dark Days Eat Local Challenge.

Just like last year, we’ll make a point of searching out new local farmers and vendors — we’ll try to do a better job of profiling them, rather than just a quick mention — and cook at least one meal each week from 100% from our 100-mile radius. We’re going to pass on taking any exemptions other than salt and spices this time, since it’s just one meal a week, and we’ve got a pretty good assortment of just about every other class of food.

Dark Days Eat Local Challenge

Our personal ground rules for the 2008/2009 Dark Days Eat Local Challenge:

  1. We will continue to cook 90-95% local as often as we can, with a challenge baseline of one dinner per week made from 100% local ingredients.
  2. We will write about new pantry items, new farmers we’ve discovered, and recipes for in-season items within our foodshed.
  3. Local for us will be a 100-mile radius. Strong preference will be given to items purchased directly from farmers at market rather than retail. 
  4. For our weekly challenge meal, we’ll try to eliminate processed and prepared foods; We’re making ‘Marco Polo’ exemptions only for salt and seasonings.
  5. We’ll continue with the challenge through March 15, 2009.

Dark Days challenge, other blogs


MxMo: Jacques Rose

Posted by Anita on 11.10.08 12:35 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**We’re no strangers to homemade cocktail ingredients. We’ve been making limoncello (and other citrus liqueurs) for ages, along with nocino, alkermes, plum brandy, and plenty of other infusions. We’ve simmered up our own grenadine, brewed a batch or two of ginger beer, steeped jar after jar of cocktail cherries, and infused more flavored syrups than any reasonable person’s fridge can hold.

Last summer, we hit upon a new favorite: infused brandy using the excess pears from our friends’ tree. Since it’s an infusion, rather than distilled pear cider, our homemade drink is closer to a pear-brandy liqueur — like Belle de Brillet — than to a potent poire william eau de vie or the grappa-style Clear Creek pear brandy. We’ve mostly sipped it neat or mixed into bubbly, with or without a little simple syrup. But there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be a great mixing ingredient… especially as it doesn’t really improve with age, and in fact deteriorates fairly quickly after the initial infusion.

Mixology Monday badgeThere aren’t many cocktails that call for pear spirits, but there are plenty that use calvados and applejack to great effect. One such drink, the Jack Rose, dates to the pre-Prohibition era, and was especially popular in the Northeast where applejack was distilled in great quantity. Many theories abound as to the drink’s name origins, but it seems pretty likely that it’s Jack from booze and Rose from the color, as opposed to any gangster or bartender-nickname references.

The usual recipes for the Jack Rose are split fairly well between lemon and lime juice. When using applejack, I think either option is pleasant, though I will admit a small preference for lime when mixing the stronger Laird’s Bonded. But if you’re making the switch to pear brandy, definitely go with lemons — and Meyer lemons, if you can find them — as the subtler pear flavors are lost amidst lime’s extra tartness.

With a slight change to the more-Frenchified pear brandy, we christen our variation the Jacques Rose. It’s made with all home-made or home-grown ingredients, in honor of Mixology MondayMade From Scratch,” hosted by The Pegu Blog.

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Jacques Rose
2-1/2 oz pear brandy (or substitute 1-1/2 oz brandy + 1 oz poire william)
3/4 oz lemon juice
2-3 dashes grenadine

Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

drinks, Mixology Monday, other blogs, preserving & infusing, recipes