Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Craftaculosity: The "Woods" Basket

Once again I had the fortunate chance to design a Cocktail Configurations Basket for a local charity's benefit. The event was being held in conjunction with the Reunion Show at The Lodge. It was an amazing night! More people packed that tiny log cabin in the woods than I had seen there in years! It was great seeing all of the performers who hadn't graced the stage since the place was known as Deer Park Lodge many years ago.

For the event, I traveled down memory lane and created a cocktail basket that recalled my own precious memories from the heyday of Deer Park. I give you "The Sex in the Woods" basket. Don't judge.

I stopped while it was still tasteful...don't ask!

The tagline reads, "It's like 'Sex on the Beach' only darker...and you don't wind up with sand in your junk!" Basically, I took the standard Sex on the Beach cocktail recipe and constructed it with dark spiced rum instead of vodka. You'll find my recipe at the end of the post. But first, a few more pics.

The basket was a hit and brought in $200 in the auction. Again, more than I ever would have personally written a check for! Here is the recipe for the drink.

               The Sex in the Woods

                   2oz   Spiced Rum (I use Bacardi Oakheart)
                   1oz   Peach Schnapps
                   2oz   Cranberry Juice
                   2oz   Orange/Pineapple Juice

                   Mix all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker
                   with ice, shake well and pour into a Collins Glass
                   filled with ice. Garnish with an orange stabbed
                   by a twig.

I went out on a limb and didn't test this recipe in my own bar before offering it up for auction. I was fairly certain it would taste ok at the the very least. I have since heard back from the folks who purchased the basket and the cocktail was a huge hit. Lesson learned? Don't be afraid to just take a shot in the dark every now and then. Course I 'm not sure I've ever been afraid to take a shot...unless it was made with J├Ągermeister (Ick)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Call Me...

...Maybe. It's been the hit song of the summer. I found myself trying to avoid it for simply that reason. Having seen the inspired creativity the song has led to, I can't resist it anymore. Now it even has a Glee version.

That really can't compare to this orchestral and choral version.

It just amazes me that a bippy little dance number can go this far and be this wonderful. So I am hooked. I have started a playlist in iTunes devoted entirely to Call Me Maybe creativity and when I'm at the club I just simply can't resist dancing to it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Presto Pesto!

I have a terrible weakness, ok fine...I have many. But, one of my most crippling is the search for really great Pesto. I try Pesto dishes whenever I can at restaurants, hoping that they've gotten it right. Some have and some haven't. So, the easiest way for me to satisfy my hunger for the Perfect Pesto is to make my own.

This weekend I harvested our Basil plant and proceeded to turn it into amazing Pesto...like MAGIC! Now, let me first say that I don't use a recipe for this. A good Pesto "recipe" is all about feel and consistency. Some people prefer a wetter Pesto, some a dryer. I fall into the latter. I will walk you through my process.

Fresh from the garden...Thanks Hubby!

Granted, I should have harvested this Basil two weeks ago in it's prime, but my schedule just didn't allow for it. Still, it worked just fine. One should always start with very fresh green Basil when making Pesto. That being said, I have whipped up some passable Pesto in the past (wow alliteration!) using some high quality dried basil, but I certainly don't recommend that...except in the case of Zombie Apocalypse. 

Now, lets talk nuts. I use Pine Nuts, but there are folks that say that Walnuts work just fine...I don't agree with them, but they are entitled to their opinion. For me, Pine Nuts impart an unusual flavor your just can't get from the namby pamby Walnut. Save your Walnuts for cookies people!

Toasting is touchy!

When toasting Pine Nuts, you have to be paying attention. Pine Nuts go from browned to black in like 3 seconds! These took about 10 minutes on low heat and I was constantly flipping them around in the pan. I used just slightly over a 1/3rd of a cup pretty much because that is how many were in the bag.

Garlic! It's one of the main ingredients of Pesto and I like a lot of it!

Heaven in a hard to peel container.

I used 4 cloves of garlic for my Pesto. I was going to go for 6 cloves, but I got tired of peeling it. OK, so once you have assembled everything, you throw it all into your food processor.

About to be pulverized!

Here it is. My Basil, the Garlic, the Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese, and a dash of salt and pepper. Heck, I could eat is as a salad just like this. I pulse this about a dozen times in the food processor just to get everything chopped up and saying, "Hi" to everyone. Then, with the food processor on high, I begin to very slowly drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the mix. 

You want to keep an eye on this step. Too much EVOO and you wind up with really runny Pesto, which...if you like it that way, go for it. I prefer a dryer Pesto so I add just enough to incorporate the ingredients.

Once processed it looks pretty much like this.

Heaven in a Food Processor!

This was still a little lumpy for my tastes, so I processed it for a bit longer on high giving the blade time to cut it down even further. Here is my final result.

Just looking for some fresh pasta to mate with!
So, even after all of my careful oil pouring this turned out a little runnier than I prefer it. No problem, I just added some extra Parm to it. The cheese absorbed the oil perfectly.

Now comes the hard part. What to pair it with? Pasta? Chicken? Pork? Spread it on a piece of bread and be done? Eat it by the spoonful right out of the food processor??? That is the great thing about Pesto, you can do ANYTHING with it. I have opted this evening to coat a chicken breast in it and bake it. Nummy!

What so you like to do with Pesto? Sound off in the comments.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Last...

...Mojito of the Summer Season. Breaks my heart, and it should break yours as well.

In all it's Limey/Minty goodness

Now I'm not saying you can't make a Mojito after Labor Day, but to do so, just wouldn't be the same. This drink epitomizes summer for me and to drink it at any other time of year just seems unnatural.

You can check out my previous post for my amazing Mojito recipe. I hope you all had a wonderful summer!