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Irish Ginger Cocktail

Simplicity sometimes gets an undeserved reputation of being synonymous with bland. This, my friends, is patently untrue. While simple can sometimes be boring, if done well, simplicity is classic, refreshing, and pleasant.

Ginger ale is a perfect “adult” mixer. Once your palate has moved beyond the saccharine sweetness of other soft drinks, it offers a sweetness accented by the sharp but delightful flavor of ginger. If you like that pungency, you can try this with a bit more booze and ginger beer (try finding the “craft” versions that contain whole pieces of this friendly rhizome).

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Guinness Ice Cream Pi(e)

Go ahead, be irrational. Celebrate Pi Day.

An irrational number is, quite simply, a number that can’t be written as a fraction. Pi is the relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle, which rounds to 3.14. Hence, March 14 has been adopted as Pi Day. And what better way to celebrate math than with some delicious dessert?

It just so happens that this weekend is book-ended by Pi Day and St. Patrick’s Day. I decided to celebrate with a fusion of the two holidays and created a Guinness ice cream pie. I know this post is too late for you to make this to celebrate Pi Day, so go ahead and make it for St. Patrick’s Day instead. After all, there’s not much that is more Irish than Guinness!

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Elements of Flavor: a conversation with Jorel Pierce

Get Euclid Hall Chef de Cuisine, Jorel Pierce, talking about food and you’ll quickly see why he has been described as ‘innovative.’ A simple question about how he creates unique pairings (featured at events like the annual “Midnight Breakfast”) evolved into a fast-paced, fascinating conversation about the elements of flavor.

Pierce grabbed his legal pad and made a list of the tastes with which everyone is familiar: sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, salty, umami. This, he explained is absolutely not the way he thinks about food. These tastes are constants. Cavier, Pierce explained, will never be sweet, sour, spicy, or bitter. In and of itself, it’s only ever going to be salty and umami.

When you regard food in this manner, your variables become temperature, texture, and time. That’s where the magic really happens in cooking. You add heat to sweet and it gets sweeter. You decrease the temperature of something sour and you lessen the intensity.

“Let’s not write hard and fast rules about food. Let’s think about how food affects our mouth.”
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Hot Browned Buttered Rum

My mom has made hot buttered rum a bit of a Christmas tradition. While I didn’t get around to sharing it during the holidays, tomorrow is National Hot Buttered Rum Day (no, I’m not making that up.)

Hot buttered rum is a sip of American history. Hot toddies, mulled wine, and nog had been circulating though Europe for generations. Those European traditions were brought to the Americas but new world products created new drinks.

Rum is a uniquely Western Hemisphere product. While the dubious history is dark spot (it was a direct part of the triangle slave trade of rum, molasses, and slavery.) Molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining, is what gives rum the smoothness and sweetness you won’t find in many other spirits.

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Ginger Rum Punch

Rum punch, I was recently informed, contains four ingredients. Lest you consume a little too much, the recipe is a simple one: 1 sour, 2 sweet, 3 strong, 4 weak. You may remember that I recently infused a batch of rum with chai spices. In trying to find ways to use it, I looked to the flavors of the spices. When I got to ginger, I stopped. Ginger ale would be my “weak.”

Let’s be honest, for those of us who have day jobs, a nightly grocery run to fill our culinary whims is just not a reality. Yes, there’s a grocery store in walking distance of my house but most evenings once I get home I’d rather not step out for one or two ingredients. So, while my initial thought was to use grapefruit and superfine sugar, I decided to make use of a orange that was sitting on the counter and skip the sugar.

That’s it. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but if you don’t have any citrus hanging around it can be simplified even more: rum + ginger ale. The candied ginger in my chai spiced rum gives just a touch of sweetness (this is what I ended up sipping this New Year’s Eve). I have to say though that a bit of citrus puts the drink over the top for me. I can’t vouch for anything except the orange but let me know if you give grapefruit or even lemon a try!

Ginger Rum Punch

Ingredients:

2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
3 oz chai spiced rum
6 oz ginger ale

Note: This makes a pretty strong drink, so ease up on the rum or add more ginger ale for something with a little less punch.

Directions: In 16 oz glass, stir together all ingredients. Top with ice.

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The Year of Infusions: Chai Spiced Rum

I’m dubbing 2014 the year of infusions.

Adding flavors or spice to oils, honey, and booze is an impressive but almost ridiculously easy project. I’m somewhat embarrassed to confess that it’s been a few years since I’ve ventured into DIY infusions, but that’s going to change.

It is the perfect season for sweet and aromatic spices. Pumpkin spiced everything heralds the end of fall and the start of winter. Spiced cookies, cider, and mulled wine fill the holiday season. Then, January hits and everyone starts to get sick of winter (or just get sick) and all of the sudden things start looking, well, bland. But there are still months of cold and snow ahead and I have one word for you.

Chai.

I must admit, I am absolutely not a fan of chai tea. I don’t know whether it’s the sweetness or the milkiness, but I’d much rather have a cup of plain old tea. However, I have found that my distaste for chai doesn’t extend to infusions. I’ve had (and loved) Chai Infused Sweet Potato Bisque and even created a recipe for Chai Caramel Sauce. When I found myself in possession of a hefty bag of chai spices I wondered what I could create for this blog. Then, with a flash of holiday inspiration, it hit me! Chai spiced rum.

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