Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Homemade Irish Cream

I was at the store musing about which brand of Irish Cream to pick up. In response to my musings someone working in the store mentioned that he usually made his own, and then went on to make some recommendations that I didn't catch because ... I can make this myself?!

So I went home with a bottle of Irish whiskey, a recipe, and a short shopping list.

Mix together:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 2/3 cups Irish whiskey
  • (recipe called for 1 tsp instant coffee granules that I skipped)
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (that I made from scratch, but that's a separate story)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
I blended them in my Vitamix and stored the elixir in a 1 quart jar in the fridge. 

I think this costs out about the same as the cheep Irish Cream I usually buy on sale for around $10. I did a head to head unblinded test highly prone to confirmation that definitively generated an anecdotal data point that I like the new stuff quite well. Noticeably thicker and notes from the whiskey came through nicely. For folks with more refined pallets you may want to go with a higher end whiskey. It does seem like an obvious point of experimentation if you have other whiskies you fancy. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Chocolate "syrup" from scratch

Chocolate "syrup" in the mason jar
I needed some chocolate syrup to experiment with Irish cream. So I found a recipe and made a go of it. What I ended up with was tasty but in no way a "syrup". At best you would call it a paste. Still seems to work as long as it gets fully incorporated. Wouldn't work very well for chocolate milk (without heating).

Bring to boil in saucepan:

  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 dash salt
  • 3/4 cup water
Boil 2-5 minutes until thick, store in fridge. 

Well, I never really got a "boil" and so I gave up and took it off the heat after 5 minutes. I had to keep stirring to keep from scorching. I glopped it into a mason jar and stored it in the fridge. It worked fine in chocolate milk as long as I processed it with the milk in my Vitamix. 

Next time: I am going to try Alton Brown's recipe. It has you make a simple syrup first, then incorporate the cocoa. It also uses a small amount of corn syrup which may help keep it from seizing up. And it calls for Dutch Process cocoa, which is probably worth trying.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mild peach salsa

My previous attempt at peach salsa turned out a little spicy for my wife, so this go around I set out to make something more on the Mild Side. And I think I pulled it off.

Recipe came from pickyourown.org and I mostly followed it.

Mix the following in a large pot:

  • 3 pounds of #2 heirloom tomatoes, blanched, shocked in ice bath, peeled, and diced
  • Two yellow onions chopped
  • two cups yellow, orange, and red bell peppers seeded and chopped fine
  • 10 cups of ripe peaches, blanched, shocked in ice bath, and peeled, and 1/2 inch diced
  •  1 Tbs canning salt (actually pickling salt, I'm not sure of the difference)
  • 5 Tbs pickling spices in tea ball (whole spices: coriander, mustard seeds, black pepper, cubebs, long pepper, grains of paradise, 2 cloves, crumbled stick cinnamon, crumbled bay leaf, some red pepper flakes)
  • 1 1/4 pound brown sugar (almost two boxes)
  • 2 1/4 cup cider vinegar 
  • 1 small can of diced roasted chile peppers, drained. 
Heat to boil, gently stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 30 mins. 

Then can with the standard hot water bath techniques. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer is for salads

Getting back into the salad groove.

My recent creation: lettuce greens from the garden, spinach, kale, pan fried chicken, tomato, apricot, toasted pecans, basic oil & vinegar salad dressing, grated carrot & zucchini soaked in white balsamic vinegar, feta, Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, bacon, fresh ground coriander and allspice.