Monday, August 31, 2015

BLTs + G&Ts


Few things please me as much as the farmers' market at this time of year.  Everything is practically perfect.  There is a wonderful intersection of high summer and early autumn produce that makes cooking a joy.  I believe one should eat corn, tomatoes, and peaches every day they are in season.  So I wanted to pop in and share some very important recipes to maximize this wonderful time of year.  I'll warn that if you've just started a new diet or joined AA, you may want to skip.



I'll start with the easiest: Old Bay Mayonnaise or if you're inclined to lazy puns like me, Old Bayo.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black or cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients and let chill about an hour. Combines easiest if you add vinegar first to the bottom of the bowl/cup
I'm a big fan of the seasoning blend Old Bay.  It's well balanced, a little spicy, and very fresh tasting with the celery seed.  Until recently, I had only used Old Bay for preparing seafood.  I've discovered I also love it on vegetables and chicken.  Old Bayo on a BLT is transcendent.  I feel I should also admit that I rarely add ”L" to my BLT.  I usually opt for thinly sliced cucumber (tossed in red wine vinegar and kosher salt) instead. 

Cucumber Gin and Tonic





















Every Midwesterner needs a corn tote. 

But what al freso lunch chowing down on a BLT with Old Bayo running down your hand would be complete without a cocktail? I'm not much of a believer in rigid food and wine/cocktail pairing.  I say do your own thing and enjoy what you like. However, if you've taken my advice this far and made your BLT with Old Bayo and cucumber instead of lettuce, you're going to want to see this through and mix a cucumber gin and tonic. I enjoy cucumbers all year, but I go apeshit crazy for real cucumbers in the summer.  I have the most charming friends at the market who grow my favorite cucumbers.  They are a husband and wife team who grow a titanic garden full of tomatoes, plums, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, gorgeous greens, peppers, and exquisite tomatillos.  They love to hear what I've made with their produce since I saw them last, and I love to get the forecast for what they might bring next week.  I make my g&ts a little differently than most people.  If you order a g&t in a restaurant, it will likely have a lime wedge garnish but no lime juice mixed into the cocktail.  I prefer a g&t with a lot of lime juice.  Also, very few places have diet tonic water.  A source of constant irritation to me.  I always make mine with diet tonic water.  (Regular) tonic water has about 9 grams of sugar per serving. Not that anyone should accept nutrition advice from me, but I suggest you save your sugar consumption for the recipe following this one. 
This expression means: I'm...

...not...

...getting out of bed. 






























































So.  Back to g&ts.  I prefer Bombay Sapphire, though my sister and my best friend both prefer Tanqueray.  If you favor a more citrusy gin like I do, go for Bombay.  If you prefer to taste the juniper first, go with Tanqueray.  I choose to mix in a cocktail shaker and transfer to a glass. I do this so I can cool the drink with a lot of ice in the shaker, but not as much in the glass.  Generally, a g&t is mixed in its serving glass.
First, make the cucumber gin infusion. 
1/2 cup sliced/diced/cubed cucumber, skins on
3/4 cup gin
Muddle and leave covered at room temperature for 1-4 hours.
--
Add approximately 1.5 shots of cucumber gin to glass or shaker. 
Squeeze in  juice of 1/2 lime, a little lime pulp is fine
Add ice and stir vigorously
Top with diet tonic water and stir again
Transfer to tall glass. 
This is my favorite cocktail of all time.  It's so easy and tastes so fresh.  I will warn you though--it is a little creeper.  The abundant lime juice and cucumber flavor really take an edge off the gin.  They go down very easily. 

















And now that you're in a state of summer euphoria, the golden light is beginning to give way to amber and pale pink as the moon rises, a quintessential summer dessert is in order.  You're too drunk to cut and serve a pie (I told you those g&ts will sneak up on you), but how else can you enjoy the best fruit of summer? Ice cream! Technically, frozen custard.  This is a vanilla ice cream spiked with bourbon (wonderful flavor but prevents the ice cream from freezing too hard), and flavored with juicy, ripe peaches.  I add chunks of graham cracker crust for texture and appearance.  It is unbelievably good.  The flavors of bourbon and peach blend so seamlessly, the custard has such a decadent, silky texture.  And the chunks of graham cracker add an instantly recognizable punctuation of summer nostalgia.  This is a long recipe, but I promise it's not hard.  Just several steps.  I suppose the hardest part is the tempering of the egg yolks.  That can be intimidating, but it's very easy.  My ice cream is most certainly not diet friendly.  If it's just too much of a good thing for you, customize it.  Cut the cream with milk or half and half.  Ice cream is cooking, not baking.  That's why you often see chefs making ice creams on Iron Chef or Top Chef.  They are pretty forgiving and don't need to be painstakingly precise.  The most important ingredients to ice cream are time, air, and temperature.  I use this Cuisinart ice cream maker.  I have two bowls so I can yield more ice cream at one time for the effort.  The turnaround time on one of the bowls is about ten hours.  This is not a recipe you can whip up while your guests wait.  I start it about two days before I want to serve it.  Corn syrup may seem to be a curious ingredient.  Why can't you just use all sugar? Corn syrup helps the ice cream from not freezing too solid.  The alcohol helps with this too.  This recipe without corn syrup and alcohol would freeze into a solid brick.  Because of these elements, it will not freeze to the standard of "normal" ice cream in the ice cream maker.  It's ready to come out when it begins to hold together.  Don't worry if after 30 minutes it seems too liquidy. The additional time in the freezer helps it freeze into a traditionally textured ice cream.   
-Custard-
6 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup bourbon
3 duck egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Mix duck egg yolks together in measuring cup with plenty of extra room (for hot custard and vigorous mixing). 
2. Whisk together cream and granulated sugar in large sauce pan.  Place on medium high flame.  While consistently whisking, allow mixture to come to 140F.  When you begin to see steam rise, you are likely there. 
3. Reduce flame to low.
4. Take approximately 1/4 cup hot cream mixture and quickly whisk into duck egg yolks.  Once combined, add another 1/4 cup.  Whisk.  Add another 1/4 cup.  Whisk.
5. Whisk yolk mixture into cream mixture over low flame. Whisk constantly for about two minutes, as mixture begins to froth and thicken slightly. 
6.  Off flame, transfer to pourable measuring bowl.  Whisk in corn syrup, bourbon, salt, and vanilla extract.
7. Refrigerate at least five hours, preferably overnight. 

-Quick Peach Jam-
2 peaches, skins removed, diced
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Cook peaches, sugar, and salt on medium flame until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to steam.  About three minutes
2. Turn off flame, add nutmeg.
3. Once cooled, add bourbon. 
4. Refrigerate overnight

-Graham Cracker Crust-
1 sleeve graham crackers, processed into sand
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. combine all ingredients. spread into thin layer coating the inside of mixing bowl, or spread onto cookie sheet. Refrigerate overnight, covered.
2. Once cooled, break into chunks with fork.  Perfect chunks are nickel size.   

So now that we have all the elements to the ice cream, making it is very simple. 
























1. Add (just) custard to ice cream maker. 
2. Process for approximately 25-35 minutes.  Texture should be like melting softserve. 
3. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
4. fold in peach jam and graham chunks.  Work as quickly as possible.  Only a few folds are necessary.
5. Transfer to container with tight-fitting lid. 
6. Allow to freeze another 3+ hours in the freezer.   
So with summer quickly slipping through our fingers, remember there is still some to enjoy.  This is actually my favorite time of year.  The summer madness is over, the back to school rush has ended (around here), and the pace is slow and casual.  And since most of the pools close this weekend, you can indulge in ultra decadent ice cream.  No need to wear a swimsuit until at least March.



41 comments:

  1. I want you to have a cooking show on PBS. Can see it now! Your writing style is equal to your recipes and photographs. Barbie looks great...and it's about time you managed to get something together for us! Our gardens are huge this year. Currently we are eating cabbage, carrots, leeks, beets, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, plums and raspberries. The peaches and apples are almost ready and the green beans have been frozen. Gary has made about 15 bags of sauce so far. Last Sunday the only thing I got at the farm market was corn on the cob and a big cantaloupe. Ain't life grand?

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    1. I didn't know you grew peaches too! Your garden really is an incredible feat. I know how hard you and Gary work on it! Thank you!

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  2. All my favourite things! Mayo, G&T, ice cream and Barbie.
    Never going to make that ice cream but will try out cucumber not lettuce on a BLT.
    I am with you - Bombay Sapphire is my gin of choice.

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    1. Let me know how like it! Haha I swear the ice cream really is easy! Just a few steps :)

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  3. I have missed you so much. I love diet tonic water too.

    Barbie is a true beauty.

    Love all the colourful veg!

    You def need your own show.

    xxxx

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    1. Thank you FF! We need to add diet tonic water to your list of 43 high end luxuries!

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  4. I'm so happy with this post and I want to create everything in it. Old Bayo, I love it, and I was just looking at my Old Bay yesterday thinking about what else I could do with it? It really is an excellent spice mixture, I used it over the weekend in a steak and carrot pie with a puff pastry crust.
    Diet tonic water makes perfect sense because you're right it has loads of sugar but it tricks people with its bitter taste.
    Thank you Stephen Andrew for this wonderful post XO

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    1. Thank you! Steak + carrot + puff pastry sounds like a very good idea. Try the old bayo and let me know what you think!! I was quite surprised when I learned tonic water has sugar. I figured it was soda water with quinine. Not so! I do think that regular tonic water knocks some of the punch out of the gin though. Diet g&ts seem to hit people a little harder.

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  5. Love all as usual. I've been enjoying Hendricks Gin with club soda and cucumber slices. Fresh!

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    1. Thank you! That sounds so good! I think I've only tried Hendricks once.

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  6. A few weeks ago, I was hungry for a BLT. I had the B and the T, but no L ... used mashed avocado on the bread (lightly toasted) instead of mayo, and added a slice of Havarti cheese. Yumm-o!

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    1. Oh Connie, that sounds like a good way to ruin a BLT! Haha. No, I'm sure most people would love that. I happen to personally dislike avocado. But I'd imagine no mayo was needed with having avocado.

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    2. Say it isn't so ... you don't like avocado? It's one of my favorite things in the world.

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  7. Omg, nom, nom, nom...
    Old Bayo is definitely in my near future, what a simple and excellent idea!

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    1. Thank you! Let me know how you like it!!

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  8. Old bay seasoning is not popular here so it's something you'd have to go to specialty shop for! A cocktail guy here said that tanqueray is better garnished with grapefruit and each gin has its own accent fruit. I'm a tanqueray girl so that's the one I remembered! But sipsmith is a newer Lonfon blend you might enjoy but very herby. they have upped their tonic water game here too and some are so yummy I have it on its own.

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    1. Ooooh thanks for that tip! I'm going to try tanq with grapefruit. I can really see that working. I'm hoping that here in the States the craft beer movement will go away and the craft diet tonic water movement will rise. I'm not holding my breath though.

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  9. Fab pics and especially love Barbie's inquisitive gaze at the butterfly.I'll be circulating these recipes to a few hostesses.

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    1. Thanks! I was enjoying a c g&t when I took that, so it seemed very appropriate to include.

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  10. Lovely pictures! Great recipes and I long to try the Old Bay season spice. After joining WW I switched up my G&T to gin, Perrier and splash of tonic with a wedge of line squeezed hard.
    Barbie looks very content on her bed!!
    Have missed you but am ever so grateful that you are back.

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    1. Thanks! Oh you must get some Old Bay before your boating excursion is over! What could be better than a g&t and BLT on a boat deck?

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  11. Oh my, I wasn't starving until I read this!!! I absolutely love fresh tomatoes, peaches and corn...summer time favs for sure. My fav sandwich is BLT sans the "L" - something about the texture of the lettuce ruins it for me. However, I will definitely give the Bay and cukes a try. Interesting. And the G&T sounds perfect, especially the addition of lime juice. And the ice cream - well, isn't it just about perfect anytime? Good to see Barbie as always. Love her stretching poses on the bed...rough life right? We got a new puppy last week!! Ruby's new companion, she's just warming up to the little varmint. :) Lab/Pitt cross and she's simply adorable! I named her Charlotte...

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    1. Congratulations to you and Charlotte! I love that name! I can't wait to pop over to your blog and see her! I just struggle to keep lettuce fresh and crisp. I love really good, crisp lettuce. But struggle to keep it that way longer than like twelve hours.

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  12. Oh that cucumber gin and tonic sounds SO good right now, especially since I'm in the midst of canning! So happy to see you back and LOVE the pics of Barbie. What a happy girl.

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    1. Oh I hope you did make yourself a canning cocktail! Thank you!

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  13. I don't know of anything that doesn't go with bacon!!
    Love the pics, but, Barbie is my favorite! Our Brandy thinks she is the queen in our bed. (whispering) don't tell her but, she is!
    Maggie

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  14. that G & T sounds so good right now. such a crappy day on top of this mountain surely alcohol can improve it? i love diet tonic water too but have not been able to source it here.

    love any and all pics of barbie - she is so glamorous.

    do you watch flipping out? you would so fit in on that show. x

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    1. I think a g&t will be the perfect thing to help you sit back and enjoy the view! I used to love Flipping Out but then Jeff started getting on my nerves because he does the same look over and over. Kind of like I do. Haha! And I have complicated feelings about Gage as his extremely attractive face with dead apathetic eyes remind me so much of an ex that it's a little unsettling.

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    2. omgosh that's funny. i love JL. he says everything i wish i had the guts to say. sorry gage reminds you of an ex, he must have been a hottie. i love that zoila calls him barbie. :)

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    3. omgosh that's funny. i love JL. he says everything i wish i had the guts to say. sorry gage reminds you of an ex, he must have been a hottie. i love that zoila calls him barbie. :)

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    4. omgosh that's funny. i love JL. he says everything i wish i had the guts to say. sorry gage reminds you of an ex, he must have been a hottie. i love that zoila calls him barbie. :)

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    5. omgosh that's funny. i love JL. he says everything i wish i had the guts to say. sorry gage reminds you of an ex, he must have been a hottie. i love that zoila calls him barbie. :)

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  15. Welcome back! I love a G & T, anytime. Your summer salads look amazing, and the icecream sounds gorgeous (but beyond my limited culinary abilities) :)

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    1. Thank you! I swear the ice cream is easy!! But the g&t is REALLY easy :) make one and please let me know how you like it!

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  16. Stephen - You need to write a cookbook!!! Please include a few simple recipes for people like moi :) And I'll have extra servings of that vanilla ice cream spiked with LOTS of bourbon and peaches. xoxo

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    1. I've actually been thinking about writing a cookbook purely for fun. I'm thinking I'd like for it to center around Thanksgiving. But I can't even imagine how much work goes into it. Not to mention trying to break even after the expense of publishing it. This ice cream would be the perfect dessert after grilled corn and lobster!

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  17. Stephen,
    Can we please host a dinner together?

    love,
    Eleanor

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    1. Yes! You can come to Ohio for our legendary corn and tomato season and we can do a farm theme and then I'll come to Tennessee and can our theme please be based on the Dolly Parton classic holiday film, Smoky Mountain Christmas? It's about a mountain witch who seduces people with her teased hair and feathered bangs (and a bunch of orphans that Dolly adopts).

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  18. You are SO good. That's all I have to say. :)

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    1. Well thank you :) you must make one of these g&ts! I'll bet there are still good cucumbers to be found there, right?

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