Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tough Guy Crusta!

It's really awesome getting to work at a bar connected to a state-of-the-art kitchen.  After wrapping my hands in plastic gloves, I made quick work of the Ghost Peppers slicing them into thin rings, de-seeding, and placing them into a plastic bag with peppercorns and cider vinegar.  After quickly running these in our commercial grade vacuum sealer I waited two hours for fresh Ghost Pepper pickles.  Maybe, the cider helped, but even after the vinegar and de-seeding these thin slices of peppers are still irritatingly hot.  I will serve them as a garnish for a classic brandy crusta.  The idea here is that the cocktail will provide a cooling effect.  But, I am giving my staff strict instructions that the Scoville units of the garnish must be discussed at with the guest prior to ordering.  I hope I don't get sued.

Now about the brandy crusta

The Brandy Crusta was originally invented in 1852 by Joseph Santina whilst working at the Jewel of the South, on Gravier Street, in New Orleans.
This drink is the precursor to first the Sidecar (brandy, Cointreau, lemon, sugar rim) and then, the Margarita (substitute tequila for brandy, lime for lemon, and salt for sugar), and as such, should be revisited at least once in one’s lifetime.
1 ½ oz Brandy
¾ oz Cointreau
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
dash of maraschino liqueur
dash of Peychaud’s bitters

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar
Garnish with spiral of lemon peel (courtesy Spirits and Cocktails...Mr. Jamie Boudreau)

   Now picture this with a hot chili on top and with you crying.  Cheers!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Been gone from Market for a week as I made a plethora of huckleberry syrup.  Time for a change though and I was back at the intersection of Lincoln and Chicago.  It's a little chilly in the city and berries are fading.  Pumpkins and squash are starting to appear too.  Just writing these last two lines makes me feel like my grandmother Dora Mae Brown whose primary concerns are deaths, weather, and crop arrivals.  Full circle.

Tomatoes are still coming in though as well as peppers.  At Nichols Farm's stand I found the most infamous of all peppers.  The Ghost Pepper.

I asked the gentleman running the stand if these were hot like the ones I have had in the past (a past buffalo wing covered in ghost pepper sauce caused me extreme pain in the men's room once...if you have to ask, don't) and he replied...hotter.  So I was intrigued and scooped up ten.  I want to try to tame them a bit, but still I want to make this cocktail something of a challenge a "Tough Guy" cocktail if you will.  But now, a little on the Ghost Pepper...

In February 2011, Guinness World Records awarded the title of "World's Hottest Chilli" to the Infinity chilli grown in Grantham, England.[12] This chilli rates at 1,067,286 units on the Scoville scale.[13] Later the same month, on February 25, 2011, the title returned to the Naga Viper pepper with a rating of 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).[14] The current "world's hottest" is the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, officially tested at 1,463,700 SHU.[15] These figures are highly controversial among the pepper growing community and tests with more rigorous scientific standards are yet to be conducted on the many various peppers vying for "world's hottest" status. (Wikipedia)

Here's some footage:
What an idiot.

Again, I don't want to harm anyone and I still want them to be able to have a nice dinner here at Henri so the pressure is on to subdue the deadly Ghost Pepper.  And make it well...palatable.

Now for something you can't subdue.  The deadly Ghostface,  I love this video for it's use of Speed racer clips.  Cheers!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Waste Not Want Not!

It feels like fall is here already.  I drifted around the market today.  So many options.  But a little voice in the back of my head reminded me that I used some huckleberries from Nichols Farm to make a really great syrup over a week ago. 

And yes...I do have the handwriting of a slow seven-year old.  Anyways, I am at the Green City and I don't know what to get so I just decide that in the spirit of this whole blog and project (really this whole bloject) I just be resourceful and utilize the delicious syrup I already made.  I have just the spirit in mind too.  Gin.  More on this cocktail in the next post.

Since I am here though I might as well...
Buy some grass fed steaks from Mint Creek Farm.  About Mint Creek...

Mint Creek Farm


Sheep graze on organically certified alfalfa, clover and perennial grasses at Mint Creek Farm. In the winter they are fed hay raised at Mint Creek and kelp for trace minerals. "We know that there are many benefits to raising animals without feeding them grain," says Harry Carr, who runs the farm with his wife, Gwen, and their children, Jonathan and Raya, pictured with her dad. "Our lambs, grazing our high-quality legumes and grasses, are lean, fit, and healthy, yet our meat, unlike much grass-fed meat, is not overly lean." The fat, says Carr, contains some of the substances most desirable for health as well as for flavor. The Carrs studied biodynamic agriculture at the Michael Fields Institute in Troy, Wisconsin, a learning center devoted to furthering agricultural practices that sustain the land and its resources. In 1992, they bought 50 acres and now have 220. The sheep were originally part of their plan to rescue soil that had been depleted by modern mainstream agricultural practices. Today, the soil thrives, and so do the sheep.

Okay, I bought beef not lamb, but I just wanted the farm to get  a little shout out.

I will most likely grill these on Sunday when our nation is finally rewarded with the beginning of the NFL season.

Next Post....Huckleberry Sling!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stone Fruit Julep!

Those Flaming Fury peaches I got turned out not to all be ripe.  So I gave them a quick roast in our stone oven with some nectarines (that were past ripe) and set all this roasted fruit over simple syrup over night.  I now have on my hands a delicious stone fruit cordial.  I am going to muddle fresh mint in a glass, drizzle on the stone fruit cordial top with cracked ice, a little lemon juice and then add my old goto.....
Stir and garnish with mint.  I only add about .75 oz. of the syrup to 2 oz. of bourbon.  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back from vacation!

Just got back from Michigan where I enjoyed a little fun in the sun, a little bass fishing (Caught that little beauty in my girlfriend's parent's backlyard!), and a lot of drinking.  I am back at The Green City Market.  In truth, I have been coming here for the past few weeks but my schedule has kept me from blogging and has made me generally lame.  I am back to it now and committed to this thing until the Market ventures indoors.   I feel refreshed and relaxed.  I am focused.  Nothing can escape my fine-tuned eye.  Especially the similarities between this lady and her dog!
 I guess the old adage is true...People really do resemble their pets.

The Market is just ridiculous right now with fresh seasonal fruits and veg.  I wanted to grab two things this week and am contemplating two different Market cocktails.  On the unusual side of things I had to obtain some of these from Leaning Shed Farms.

Lemon cucumbers are technically a type of musk melon.  But musk melons are actually close to cucumbers in the first place.  Either way I am thinking of a shaken cocktail with gin and herbs.

Next I was just looking for flavor.  Peach season is in full swing and Paul Friday is a specialist in the field.
 Paul is renowned for his Flaming Fury Peaches and let me tell you they are so good.  Crisp but sweet, but not in a syrup way.

I really want to pair these with a sweet a smoky bourbon.  Maybe make a smash.  It's funny but one of the biggest things I have learned in the last few years is that fruits I used to hate I now enjoy simply because I have started finding and enjoying them when they are in season.  For years my exposure to peaches was via Nana (my grandmother).  She used those nasty canned ones and served them with cottage cheese.  I give a pass to anyone over the age of 55 who says they genuinely enjoy cottage cheese.  If they are younger and they say this...they must be some kind of mouth breather.
That's nasty.

Check back tomorrow for the drinks.  And remember if you are in the Chicago area to swing by Henri for delicious French inspired food, hand crafted cocktails and amazing wines.

Speaking of Mouth Breathers...Here's something for your Wednesday....


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again!

I haven't been to the Green City Market in weeks.  Hence, the lag in this blog.  Tales of the Cocktail, Lollapalooza (I ran a booth) and other factors kept me too busy.  So I apologize to those who avidly read my blog....all six of you!  But, I returned today and it was beautiful outside and the market was packed with goodness.
I was just trying to snap a pic of market and this "dude" cruised in with his dog.  Some people just want the limelight...even if it's just for six readers of a blog (Hey mom I love you!).

There are many farmers at the market...but dammit Nichols Farm always has em beat.  They have everything.  Because everything is in right now it really makes it hard to overlook fresh fruit.  The raspberries and blueberries they have look amazing.  I snatched up a whole "flat" (12 pints to you civies) and headed off to Henri.  I have already made a daquiri in my progression of GCM market cocktails but I don't care.  After all, it is the summer of Daqs!  You know this guy would agree....

He was the master Daq drinker.  Everytime I hear people refer to the Daq as a girlie drink I think about Ernest.  Anyway, off to the lab.  Tomorrow...Blueberry Daquiris for all!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Behold...Nature's Bounty!

Dang yo...the Green City Market got right.  Whether your needs are for fruits and herbs for summer cocktails or food for the family, the market is bursting with local produce.  It took a while to get here (seasonally speaking) but all of the produce is coming on line.  I quickly noticed all the cherries around.  We got Tart Michigans, Rainier, Yellow Rainier, Sweet Michigans, Laser Cherries (I might have made that one up)...I walked around popping these suckers in my mouth you could say I was a real....

...sorry.  That was bad and stupid.  I am curious how much of that video you actually watched.

Anyways....I like tart cherries but really wanted some sweet ones.  I scooped up a whole pallet of perfect Sweet Michigan Cherries at Klug farms where the uber-nice Abby helped take care of me.
 Literally, everyone of these cherries looked perfect.  Last week, I made a delicious cordial out of black currants.  The cordial gives you the added benefit of both magnifying flavor and allowing the product to last.  I am already thinking about cherry cordial.  I want to add a herbal component and was thinking about rosemary.  I hopped on the horn and called Nicole (she let's me date her) and asked her to consult the Flavor Bible.  If you don't have a Flavor Bible you should rethink things....
Rosemary might work.  But in our high speed world it worth consulting a book like this (which consulted scientists and chefs) to learn that sage or clove might work better, for expediency alone.  I am going to use one of those instead.  Of to the races.