Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tullamore DEW

OH LOOK - I'm blogging??? Good grief.....sometimes life takes over and the easiest way to survive is to just strap yourself in and hold on right?
 I am FINALLY getting this post up that I started a month ago! My apologies to all involved.

anyway.....it started with this note:

".....we have set this Toast and Taste and interview for you with the Brand Ambassador for Tullamore DEW Whiskey to be Tuesday at 6:30 at Pour House restaurant.....thank you....."

How I actually read that note???


Yes.....I love my whiskey so this was - hopefully - not going to be a difficult assignment in any way. I did bring a friend along just in case this whole event was a total drag. Did I actually need her? Yes! We had such the awesome evening with Tim Herlihy (the Rep). We tasted some fantastic whiskey. And we gained quite the education on Tullamore DEW. (did I mention we tasted some fantastic whiskey???)
I will do my best to share with you here some of the points Tim made and some thoughts on the flavors.

".....drink this and you'll enjoy me more....."

To start the evening, Tim poured the Green Label (bottle on the far left in the above photo)

I think this one is my favorite. Tullamore DEW recently re-did the label here so people like you and I have a better understanding of the name and the history of the man that really got this distillery in motion.
Tim poured this and said something about ".....moisture in the grass on a wet Irish morning..." in that lovely brogue of his. It was definitely a moment that took me back many years to my time living in Ireland. 
This bottle was described to us as smooth, sweet and friendly.
I have to agree - definitely the star of this show as far as I'm concerned.
Triple-distilled (grain, malt and pot-stilled), citrusy, aged 4 to 7 years in bourbon casks give it the honey, vanilla whisper...delicious...
He called this ".....the sipping whiskey....."
Be respectful.

".....this one is the Rookie Whiskey....it still has enough interest and intrigue to please the Whiskey drinker, but is also very soft and delicate...this is usually the crowd pleaser..."
A good bottle to take to a party.

The Toast here:

may you be poor in misfortune,
rich in blessings,
slow to make enemies quick to make friends.
but whether poor, rich, quick or slow
nothing but good times and happiness from this drink forward

Tim called this bottle the Bigger Brother of the original. Soft and smooth. Also a triple blend.

And then a little whiskey lesson:
single = from one distillery
malt = barley soaked in water then tricked into thinking its spring and begins to germinate, converts starch into sugar, add yeast, alcohol....basically malt = barley
This bottle has mostly 12 year old liquid in it, but makers are required to name the youngest alcohol - therefore the Number 10 on the label.

Next up was the Malt and a little trick. Pour a bit in your glass, seal the top of the glass with your palm, shake the glass until your palm is completely wet.
Put the glass down then quickly rub your hands together until they're sticky.
At this point you can also threaten the rep with big, big trouble if you get pulled over on the way home!
Anyway, how do your hands smell?
Little bit of honey and vanilla?
".....so guys, this is Irish aftershave....."
(he was hilarious)
The hand trick above burns off the alcohol leaving you with the subtle aromas and all the secret flavors. And then taste...from the glass...we were admonished to NOT lick our fingers and palms since we were in public...
The Toast here:

 a ladies toast.....

here's to the men we've loved,
and to the men who loved us
if only they were the same, glasses up
but f***the men and here's to us

I think he actually dared me to post the above toast here?

This Malt was actually my least favorite of the evening. Robust and heavy (from being All Barley I was told) a touch too sweet for me. 70% of the flavor comes from the wood it's matured in and this one matures and finishes in 4 types of casks - Bourbon, Port, Sherry and Madeira - there's a lot going on in this bottle.

Lastly we had the Black Label 12.
For me, this was the runner up to the first bottle we tried (the Original green label).
Again triple-distilled, bourbon and sherry casks, award winning - delicious!
Tim called this the Mythbuster Whiskey:
".....don't have to spend tons of money to have a really good whiskey...this one does the trick....."

He called this bottle The Gem...neat with couple of cubes...relax and enjoy.

The Toast?

here's to the girl I kissed last
it wasn't slow
it wasn't fast
(and I will let you all find out or fill in however you like here)

there are good ships
there are wood ships
and there are ships that sail the sea
but the best ships are friendships
and may they always be

".....drink it whichever way you want, just with friends and with a toast....."

Thank you Tim Herlihy and the company you represent. We had a great, great evening. Hope to do this again.

Friday, November 16, 2012

easiest Ambercup Squash dish ever

Ambercup Squash?
I can admit I had to google "varieties of squash" and the Ambercup looked like what I had sitting on my kitchen counter.

These were actually given to me by the Learning Garden Director at my daughter's school (have I already mentioned how much I love this school?)

Yes, they have a huge garden that is run by a parent volunteer and that has children in it at all times of the day. The kids are learning, planting, harvesting, weeding...whatever needs to be done to ensure their garden grows. And they absolutely love it!
So, when the Garden Director brings me a bag of squash and says "could you come up with something easy the kids can cook after they harvest the rest of the winter squash?"
YES!!! I'm ON IT!

easy.....I don't think it can get much easier than this recipe and still be this delicious. 
Brown sugar and butter! easy.....


oven to 375

These were about the size of large grapefruits so this recipe may need to be adjusted based on what is sitting on your kitchen counter.
Also, this recipe is for a gob of children - please doctor it up as you see fit.
I think I am trying it again with homemade croutons and some crispy Pancetta...or maybe over some fresh pasta.....hmmmm.......

In a microwave safe bowl - put 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple turns of black pepper.
Microwave about 45 seconds - just until butter is melted - then whisk the mixture thoroughly.

Slice your squash in half.
Remove all seeds and pulp.

Cut a small disk from the back of the squash for stability.
Toss the little disk.

Place the squash in a baking dish.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the bottom of this dish - Not into the center of the squash.

Pour the butter and sugar mixture around the edge of the squash - letting it run into the middle - until this mixture is all gone.

Cover tightly with foil.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes - depending on the size of your squash.
(these baked 40 minutes)

Remove from oven,
Remove foil,
Let sit 5 minutes.
You see all that butter and sugar just marinating in there???

Using a fork scrape the flesh of the squash all around the inside until you are left with the shell - and what looks like a very pretty squashy bowl.

And that's it! 
Just be careful to not puncture the sides if you want to serve in the actual shell.
Otherwise - taste for seasoning and add as needed...enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

lemon chiffon cupcakes

For the September dinner@Tate's I needed a dessert I could make the day before and a dessert that felt light since it was following a pretty heavy meal. These seemed to fit the bill perfectly plus, cupcakes always seem to be a crowd pleaser - I think partially because it feels like portion control! 
(not really, but maybe...just a little bit.....)

Now, as I've stated in past posts, I really do not like making cupcakes, but I had to give these a try since I love lemon anything.
And they were so pretty.
And I could make them a day ahead - except for the frosting part.
So it seemed like a win, win all around.
They were delicious.
Please try this.

recipe VERY loosely adapted from 
Food and Wine "Our Best New Classics" book


for the CUPCAKES...

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
3/4 cup sugar + maybe a dash or so more
2 large eggs - at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter - melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk - at room temperature

for the FILLING...

2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1/2 stick of cream cheese - at room temperature
1 cup lemon curd
3 egg whites - at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon

for the FROSTING...

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 large egg whites - at room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


oven to 350

whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
in different bowl - whisk the sugar with the eggs and vanilla until smooth and slightly thickened.
add the melted butter and oil and mix until completely incorporated.
add all dry ingredients and milk in alternating batches - mixing well between each addition.
fill muffin tins about 2/3 full.

bake at 350 for 15 - 17 minutes.

let cool completely before filling and frosting.


in a small bowl add 2 tablespoons water - sprinkle the gelatin across the top and let sit 5 minutes.
in a small saucepan - low heat - add cream cheese, lemon curd and lemon zest.
once all the cheese is melted add the gelatin mixture.
continue to cook on low- stirring constantly - until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
in a stand mixer - beat the egg whites until foamy.
add the 1/4 cup of sugar.
when the whites are stiff, turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the cheese mixture down the inside of the bowl.
turn off the mixer - using a rubber spatula -  gently fold all of the egg whites and cheese mixture together until no white streaks remain.

in a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat - stirring constantly - until all sugar has dissolved.
let cool for a few minutes.
in a stand mixer - beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
with mixer on medium speed carefully pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites.
continue beating until frosting is cool and billowy - 5 or 6 minutes.
add the lemon zest and juice and beat until combined.

ready to put all this craziness together???

oven to Broil.

carefully slice all around the top inside edge of the cupcake - at an angle.
same concept as the way I do the Boston Cream cupcakes.

fill the centers with the cheese, lemon curd mixture.
place on the hats back on.
let sit for about a half hour (long enough for me to wash all those dishes)

top each cupcake with frosting - I used a spoon instead of piping because I liked all the stickyuppy parts - do whichever way you like best.

place all your cakes on a tray.
stick under the broiler until peaks are toasty.

remove and let cool just a couple minutes.

serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

salty, crispy chicken thighs

I just made this for my dinner@tate's event. Delicious! 
Salty and crispy - moist and tender meat...I may never roast a whole chicken again!

Also, my apologies for the photo...this was the best shot taken that evening...maybe there was too much wine?...hmmmm....

I did a combination of thighs and breasts. If only using legs cut the cooking time down a bit but always check the meat with a thermometer - better safe than sorry right?


6 chicken thighs
rinsed and patted dry

couple tablespoons Olive oil

2 tablespoons coarse salt
4 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg (maybe a little extra if you love this spice)


oven to 450

Use a paper towel and rub a baking sheet down with olive oil.
Rub all sides of the chicken with olive oil.
Place onto baking sheet - skin side down.
Sprinkle the seasoning mixture on this side.
Turn chicken pieces over and now generously cover the skin side with the seasoning mixture - especially the skin - SO GOOD.

Into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 450.
Turn oven down to 350 - let chicken cook another 20 to 30 minutes.
Or until thermometer reads almost 160 degrees.

Remove and cover with foil.
Let sit at least 5 minutes.

Serve while hot.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

broccoli beef

here's what happened.
my favorite chinese restaurant is closed!
for over 15 years i have been visiting this same establishment.
 no goodbye, no warning, no referrals, no address to the owners home where i could continue to get my favorite dishes.
yes, there are a hundred other chinese food places in town.
but none of them are near my home.
and none of these other places have food as good as ms. kim's. 

so i'm on the hunt to find recipes and recreate dishes that taste as good and that are as fresh as the ones she made.

it's a slow work in progress 
(like most everything else i'm in the middle of these days)

here's the first - and since it's the family favorite it needed to be the first dish i made.

broccoli beef.


1 to 1 1/2 pounds sliced beef.
note: to expedite this i usually purchase the package of sliced beef that specifically says 'for stir fry'
it works beautifully

2 or 3 heads broccoli florets (or crowns) cut into bite size pieces.
3 garlic cloves - chopped
1 inch of fresh ginger - chopped fine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cooking sherry
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil 
1 teaspoon brown sugar
toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup of water
salt (if you're using low sodium soy)
peanut oil

note re: peanut oil...
when doing stir fry i prefer peanut oil. it has a higher smoke point and gives a lovely nutty flavor. if you do not have peanut oil, vegetable oil is a perfectly acceptable substitute.

in a bowl large enough to hold all the sliced beef - mix together 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, the sherry, vinegar, a tablespoon or so of sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and some fresh pepper.
mix well.
add the beef making sure all pieces are well coated.
cover and refrigerate for a half hour or so.

make the sauce while waiting for the water to boil.
sauce is:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
the 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
some sesame seeds
the 1/2 cup of water
whisk thoroughly

bring a large pot of water to boil.
carefully add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes - maybe 3. the broccoli should be bright green and still very crispy.
remove from pot and set side.

heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a wok.
add the chopped garlic and ginger and cook 2  minutes.
should be very fragrant - be careful to not burn the small bits of garlic.
add the beef slices and any juices and cook until all the pieces are browned on all sides.
remove from wok.
the beef may not be completely cooked but it's going back into the wok to finish cooking in a moment so don't worry here.
add another tablespoon of oil and toss in the broccoli.
add half the sauce mixture.
keep stirring until all the pieces are well coated.
add the beef to the broccoli mixture and add the rest of the sauce.
cook another 7 to 10 minutes.
taste for seasoning.
garnish with fresh scallions and another sprinkling of sesame seeds.
serve immediately with hot rice.

another note: the photo above shows green beans. i had them so i threw them in the mix. i wont use these ones again - the very cool but strange looking really long green beans from the market - odd flavor - the family did not approve.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

pangaea two brews cafe

yesterday my friend liz sends me a note saying "come to Pangaea with me tonight and sample their new menu?"
yes please!

and off we go.

this is a local bar/cafe here in town serving up some of the best brews around and now some pretty delectable small plates - although truth be told - they could serve me saltine crackers and i'd be perfectly happy.
their beer list is that good.
this isn't my first visit here - it will certainly not be my last.
but one of my most favorite things about this place? 
it's cozy. 
at dinner time there are kids in there. my daughter thinks this is the coolest place ever and loves when stop for a snack and a cocktail (she of course is having a sprite - i'm not that horrible of a mother).
big family style tables with long bench seating. it's inevitable to make friends and meet interesting people and really have a great night sitting shoulder to shoulder talking about what else? beer!
last night the couple sitting next to us had different salads so we all took bites off each other's plates! 
then of course shared and critiqued everything else that came our way.
very, very great evening.

anyway, last night they did a special 'open on Monday night' to debut the new food menu and liz and i agreed it was worth every penny. 
from gueze lemon vinaigrette (and beer) to smoked pork shoulder sandwiches (and more beer) and desserts made with some of their favorite brews (and more beer) it was definitely a very fun and tasty evening.

here's their info - Pangaea Two Brews Cafe
stop in for a visit as soon as you can.

i took a few photos to share (mostly of beer) of some of the dishes we sampled...

this Maredsous started our evening.
my new favorite! it is lovely!

then a lovely speech by Rob - the owner (who is also lovely)

our first dish.
arugula spring salad with this fantastic gueze lemon vinaigrette.
geuze is a beer (i didn't know that) it's on their beer menu. 
i forgot to order one.
next time.

next up was a small plate of hummus and fixings.
very nice combination when you mix the hummus with the feta cheese.

followed by these pork tacos that liz and i both said we could have eaten 2 dozen more of.
great flavor. 
great balance of cool onions and cilantro with the spicy salsa and smoked pork.
i think the comment was "this ain't your average street taco"
we did ask the guy waiting on us what the marinade or rub was for the pork and he of course said he didn't know...not sure i completely believe him...hmm...

next was a chicken sandwich with a homemade apricot marmalade.
much discussion regarding this sandwich. 
one person said "the apricot jam has no business being at this party!"
i kind of disagree.
i thought the sandwich overall was a touch too sweet, but i loved the flavor of the apricot with the chicken.
pretty tasty all together.

next was the pork boy.
i need to figure out the allagash bbq sauce...it's fantastic.
i should of purchased a bottle of the allagash beer...rats...looks like i'm going to need to stop in soon.

somewhere in there we also had some of this.
another favorite.

then ended the evening with this little taste me.

lastly, here is what they offer for dessert.
we didn't get this far because of all the craziness we had already eaten (as you can see)

NEXT time...i'm starting with dessert (and beer)

go visit soon.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

pork tenderloin with plum chutney

The other half of the plum chutney post is this roasted pork tenderloin,
also from the same issue of Bon Appetit magazine.
I made this for a dinner the other night and WOW!
That may have been the fastest 'meat disappearing act' I've ever seen.
Yes - it is a bit labor intensive.
Anything that involves rubs and meat tying is going to take a little effort.
But i promise this is totally worth it.

I hope you try it.

note: I used regular bacon instead of Pancetta.
I also cooked and finished it differently from the original printed recipe.
I will post here the way I prepared it.


2 pork tenderloins
(this MIGHT feed 8 - 10 people.....might because it's that good - you may need to get a third one)
kitchen twine - 12 to 16 pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
(please do NOT use dried rosemary - get the fresh - it will make a world of difference)
4 teaspoons herbes de Provence
4 teaspoons olive oil
12 - 16 slices bacon - 
depending how big your tenderloins are
(yes - i apologize for how terrible that above statement is but i'm not sure how else to word it and i honestly can't stop laughing long enough to try)


Stir rosemary, herbes de provence and olive oil in a small bowl.
rub all over the pork.
Season both sides well with salt and pepper.
Wrap the bacon slices around the pork.
With the kitchen twine - tie a knot over each slice of bacon.
Here's what my process usually looks like.
I usually lay all my strings out.
Then lay a slice of bacon over each string - overlapping a little.
Then lay the pork over the top of the bacon slices.
Then start tying until the entire thing is wrapped.

I also clip all that excess string - yes i do - it's prettier that way.

Place the two tenderloins on a large baking sheet.

oven to 350

Place the above sheet on the stove covering two burners.
Turn these two burners on medium high heat and brown the bottom of the bacon until you can see the edges getting a little crispy.
Do not turn the pork over.
You are only browning the bottom.
Remove from heat.

Into the oven - do not cover.
About 20 minutes.
Check the temperature - should come out around 147 degrees.
It's going to cook a little more even after you remove it from the oven.
As soon as the temperature is where you want it - change the oven to BROIL - let cook until the Bacon is lightly crispy on top.

Remove and let rest about 10 minutes before slicing.

Spoon warm plum chutney over the top, serve then watch it disappear.