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Pisco Sour

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Since we’re still smack dab in the middle of citrus season, I thought I’d continue with the Sour cocktails this week. So, today I’m bringing you the Pisco Sour. While I’m not usually a fan of the sour beverages because they are so sour, the Pisco is actually pretty sweet.

The sweetness can most likely be attributed to the Pisco itself. See, unlike the gin or whiskey of my previous Sour cocktails, Pisco is made from grapes. Both gin and whiskey are made from grains and then flavored with either botanicals or barrel aging respectively. But since grapes are inherently sweeter than grains, nothing’s added to create the brandy. They’re simply distilled like wine.

Even though the Pisco Sour is sweeter than the gin or whiskey version, the actual cocktail itself will have a different flavor depending on whether you use Chilean Pisco or Peruvian. While Peruvian Pisco uses anywhere from one to eight grape varieties that are distilled once in a steel or glass container, Chilean Pisco is made up of only three grape varieties and can be distilled several times in a wooden barrel. So, you can see how a Chilean Pisco Sour can taste totally different from a Peruvian Pisco Sour.

While most believe the Pisco Sour was created by Victor Morris at his bar in Lima, Peru sometime in the 20’s, a very similar cocktail was documented in a cookbook from 1903. So, why wasn’t the cocktail created in 1903? Well, said cocktail may have shared most (if not all) the same elements as the Pisco, but it wasn’t called a Pisco and it didn’t have any specific measurements. It was all according to taste. So, maybe Morris had tasted the cocktail and simply decided to give it name and add measurements or maybe the original auteur was never interested in writing down his concoction. How ever the Pisco Sour came into existence though, one thing is certain – it’s a delicious creation well worth it’s place in cocktail history.

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Pisco Sour

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 ounces Pisco brandy
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 whole egg white
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters

Directions:

  1. Combine the first four ingredients (through the egg white) in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for about a minute to make sure the egg white is nice and frothy.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Add the bitters and serve.

Grilled Onion Beer Bread

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Superbowl’s in a couple weeks and if you’re anything like me, you’re either having a party or attending one. The Superbowl is far and away my favorite holiday. I know it isn’t really a holiday, but with all the parties, food and drinking it sure seems like one, and I love it! Hubs and I are such big fans in fact, that we’ve been hosting a Superbowl party for years. But a party means you have to provide food for your guests.

While dips, veggies and chips are quite popular, I also always like to have something a little heartier to serve my guests. While most people make a shredded beef of some sort or hot dogs and hamburgers, I always make a big pot or two of chili.

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I love a good bowl of chili. It’s delicious, seriously hearty, and it’s hot, which is great for the beginning of February, because it’s usually pretty chilly outside. But over the years I’ve discovered that a simple bowl of chili isn’t enough. People like toppings. So, I’ve started to include a chili bar full of topping options like cheese, onions and bread. Why bread? Well, I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I love more than dipping a big piece of crusty bread into my chili while eating it.

Sure, you could buy a loaf of french or sourdough, but why not make one instead? Scared? Don’t be. This isn’t the kind of bread that needs yeast or kneading or even time to rise. It takes just over an hour to make and it has a whole bottle of beer in it making it the perfect choice for Superbowl. And if there are people at your party who don’t like chili (or dipping), this bread is delicious all on its own with a little butter.

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Grilled Onion Beer Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and sauté until soft and golden, about 15 minutes; set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the beer and the onions and mix until combined. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  4. Pour the melted butter over it and bake for 55 – 60 minutes.
  5. Remove from the pan and let cool for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack. Serve.

Gin Sour

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We’re right in the middle of citrus season. That means lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits are overflowing at the grocery stores and farmers markets. With so many to choose from, you don’t have to get just a lemon or an orange. Now you can get an Eureka or Meyer lemon or a Cara Cara or Blood Orange. So, with all the citrus choices out there, I thought it only fitting that I mix up a Sour Cocktail this week.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Whiskey or Pisco Sours, but it turns out there are several drinks out there that are part of the Sour family: the Margarita, Sidecar, and even the Aviation. While I’m not a fan of the sour drinks, I do like a little tart in my cocktails; and this drink definitely has that in spades.  The reason this drink is so tart is due to the fact that it’s made with 1 whole ounce of lemon juice. While I used Meyer lemons, any lemons will work.

Much like the other members of the sour family, this drink was very popular during the Prohibition and into the 40’s. But unlike the Whiskey and Pisco Sours which you can still find on bar menus everywhere, the Gin Sour fell out of fashion some time in the 50’s. No one knows why exactly the gin sour lost its stature, but I’d say it’s ready for a comeback.

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Gin Sour

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for about 1 minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.

Slow Cooker Meatballs

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My husband hates meatballs, meat loaf… even super thick hamburgers. He always says they’re too heavy for him, too thick, you get the picture. But the boys and I love meatloaf and meatballs, so I still try and make them occasionally, especially since spaghetti and meatballs are my sons’ favorite.

Well, recently I found a recipe in Fine Cooking for meatballs made in the slow cooker. As I said the boys and I love meatballs, and anything in the slow cooker makes my life so much easier because I can mix everything up in there, turn it on and take off. I can run errands, go shopping, take my boys to the park, whatever… and not worry because I know when I return, dinner will be all ready to serve. It seemed as if these slow cooker meatballs were made specifically with me (and all mothers) in mind. So, of course I went right out, bought all the ingredients, mixed up the meatballs and the sauce, placed it in the slow cooker and waited to see what happened.

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When it came time for dinner, I served up the spaghetti and meatballs. While my sons looked up at me with huge grins, Hubs just looked at me. He knew I knew how he felt about meatballs but he didn’t want to roll his eyes or give me a look of distain because the boys were so happy and he didn’t want to influence them. So, Hubs grabbed his fork like a good father, and took a bite. Then he took another, and another, until his plate was empty. Then he did something he never does. He went back for seconds! I couldn’t believe it. I’d made a meatball he actually liked!

Why were these meatballs different from all other meatballs? They were tender. They were juicy. They were full of flavor. They weren’t the hard lumps of meat he was used to. All that flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness came from the fact that the balls weren’t simply cooked for 4 hours. They were cooked in tomato sauce for 4 hours, thereby infusing those delectable little balls with an abundance of flavor. They were delicious; so delicious in fact that for the first time my entire family finished every last piece of spaghetti and meatball on their plate. And you know what that means. It means these easy-to-make meatballs will definitely be a staple in the Kitchy kitchen from now on.

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Slow Cooker Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup sweet vermouth
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2-1/2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Directions:

  1. Mix the breadcrumbs and vermouth together in a large bowl and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the pork, sausage, egg, cheese, oregano, salt and nutmeg to the breadcrumb mixture and mix with your hands until well combined. Form into 16 balls.
  3. Pour the tomato sauce into a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker. Nestle the meatballs into the sauce.
  4. Cover and cook for 3 – 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. (They can stay on the warm setting for up to 2 hours.)
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Esky’s Hot Spot

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I know the holidays are over but it’s still cold outside. When I’m cold I like drinking (or eating) something hot, something comforting; and nothing is more comforting than a hot cocktail. Okay, maybe mac & cheese.

I used to think that once the holidays were over there was no need for hot cocktails anymore. But then I remembered all the times I went skiing, which was usually in January and February, well after the menorahs and Christmas trees were packed away, and at the end of a long day on the slopes, I’d always order something hot with a shot (or two) of alcohol. So, I figured if I did it then, why not do it now? While I usually prefer an Irish Coffee or hot chocolate with Bailey’s, I’m always willing to try a new hot beverage, especially if citrus juice is an ingredient. So you can imagine my joy when I discovered Esky’s Hot Spot.

No, it’s not a happenin’ club. It’s actually a hot cocktail from 1935. Evidently a couple guys decided to put out a cocktail book comprised of some of the famous elite’s favorite beverages. So, they sent a questionnaire out to well known writers of the time and asked what they chose to drink when they went out. The Hot Spot was Arnold Gingrich’s contribution. (He was Esquire Magazine‘s founder.) While I’m not sure if Gingrich came up with the beverage’s moniker, I can tell you he probably didn’t create the cocktail. See, back in the late 1890’s Finley Peter Dunne was quoted as saying that while whiskey “doesn’t sustain life, when taken hot with water, a lump of sugar, a piece of lemon peel, and just the dustin’ of a nutmeg-grater, it makes life sustainable”. Sounds pretty close to the Hot Spot, no?

Whoever came up with the cocktail, one thing’s for sure: it’s warm, comforting and the perfect way to end a bone-chilling day in front of the fire.

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Esky’s Hot Spot

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey
  • 1 sugar cube
  • lemon peel
  • 4 oz. hot water
  • nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine the whiskey, sugar cube and lemon peel in a mug.
  2. Add the boiling water and stir.
  3. Dust with nutmeg, if using, and serve.