Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Cheese-Inspired Cocktails

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One of the nice things about the holiday season is all the festivities and food. On Wednesday, December 9, I got to do something a little different—I went to a cheese-tasting event at The French Cheese Board on 39th Street in Manhattan. It’s a chic, clean, modern space where you can purchase your favorite French cheeses.IMAG3515

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Wheel of Raclette

The event was promoted by The Baddish Group, a PR firm that specializes in food and beverage marketing, and they offered a sumptuous spread of several different cheeses, from Camembert and brie to Raclette and butter made with sea salt. They were all so fresh and flavorful that I couldn’t help going back for more. I watched as others kept going back as well, which made me feel kind of bad for the kitchen staff. They were definitely being kept hopping trying to replenish the table. A server came by with a few different hors d’oeuvres: Mac & Mimolette, Brie and Grapes on a canape, and Raclette & Potatoes. The mac ’n’ cheese was so good in its simplicity, cheese and grapes is a classic combination that can never go wrong, and a potato slice with a piece of Raclette on top was divine.

IMAG3504It was a warm, friendly gathering of people in different segments of the food industry. A couple of us were food bloggers, while others were buyers, chefs, and marketers. I’m sure that other professions were represented. Despite the incredible and uncharacteristic warm weather, a simple, lovely Christmas tree along one wall reminded us that it was the holiday season. I think that always puts people in a better mood.

Mimolette

Mimolette

My favorite cheese, by far, was the Mimolette, a pumpkin-colored cow’s milk cheese. It’s a firm cheese, which is my favorite kind, but I really liked it for its smooth, sweet flavor. Which leads me to my favorite drink of the evening.

They asked mixologist Natasha David from Nitecap, a bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, to come up with some cheese-inspired cocktails for the event.IMAG3516

Natasha created cocktails that were not only inspired by cheese but that actually used cheese. And not just in the final concoction—her creations were made with spirits that were infused with cheese.

I asked Natasha what her method for the infusions was, and here’s what she said:

The infusions were quite simpleI let the cheese sit in the booze for a certain amount of time, then strained them and froze them so that all the fat would rise to the top and then strained again. I did that twice over 48 hours.

For the Mimolette RindI used 50 g of rind to 1 750 ml bottle of Calvados for 7 hours.

For CamembertI did 60 g of Camembert to 1 750 ml bottle of Dorothy Parker gin for 5 hours.

For BleuI did 50 g to 1 750 ml bottle of Linie for 2 hours.

From there, the mixologists at the event concocted the three drinks below to accompany the hors d’oeuvres. I’m going to give an infusion a try at some point—it will definitely be a new experience for me. If you do it yourself, let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!IMAG3506

Cheese-Infused Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail #1: To accompany the Mac & Mimolette, a Mimolette Rind-Infused Calvados cocktail

2 oz. Rind-infused Busnel Calvados
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
1 barspoon Bon Mama Fig Preserves
Egg White

Method:      Shake, Strain
Glass:        Double Rocks glass with Big Block of Ice
Garnish:     Grated Mimolette

 

Cocktail #2: To accompany Brie and Grapes, a Camembert-infused Gin cocktailIMAG3508

2 oz. Camembert-infused Dorothy Parker Gin
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Ginger Syrup
1 barspoon Lingonberry Preserves
Seltzer

Method:      Shake, Strain, Top w/ Seltzer
Glass:        Highball with Kold Draft
Garnish:     Candied Ginger

 

Cocktail #3: To accompany Racelette & Potatoes, a Bleu d’Auvergen-infused Aquavit

1.5 oz. Blue-infused Linie Aquavit
0.75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.75 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 tsp. Pickled Tomato Brine

Method:      Stir, Strain
Glass:        Nick and Nora or Martini
Garnish:     Blue cheese stuffed Pickled Tomato

This is my friend Tucker. He wanted to do something classy this holiday season.

This is my friend Tucker. He wanted to do something classy this holiday season.


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Guava Cocktail

IMG_5351Last week, I made guava puree from fresh guavas that I had found at the market and made guava quesadillas. I had plenty of puree leftover and promised you a guava cocktail. So now I’m delivering.

Guava puree makes for a complexly flavored drink, but also a sweet drink. So, if you prefer your drinks less sweet, you may want to cut back on the guava. Increasing the amount of rum—as good as that sounds—won’t cut the sweetness—it will just make a really strong drink!

I had purchased (unknowingly) white guavas instead of pink ones. If you get white guavas, you might want to throw in a bit of grenadine for a deliciously red color. The pictures you see here were taken before the grenadine. I stirred some in later and decided that I liked it, but it was too late for photos.

So, while the summer is hanging on by thread and guavas are still appearing at the market, grab some and try this drink. For the rest of the year, use guava paste, which I discuss HERE.

Enjoy!

Guava CocktailIMG_5344

2/3 cup guava puree
½ cup spiced rum
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
Garnish: orange slices and/or mint sprigs

Place all the ingredients in a blender, along with a few ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses and garnish with an orange slice and/or a sprig of mint.

Makes 2 cocktails.

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Boozy Watermelon

IMG_5288I was passing by a market that had some fruit on display outside. I was paying no attention to it, but something caught my eye. They had a box of mini round watermelons. They looked so cute, I had to have one. So, I picked one out and took it home. (I paid for it first, of course.)IMAG3106

When I cut it open, I discovered that it was a yellow watermelon. They hadn’t labeled it yellow—the sign only said “sweet.” I love finding yellow watermelons. They’re like yellow topazes, sparkling in the light.

Unfortunately, it was a lot prettier than it was tasty. They lied. It wasn’t sweet.

Now I had to find a way to enjoy this melon without resenting the money I paid for it.IMG_5274

So, I cut it up and put some booze in it. But not just any booze. I had this beautiful elderflower rum that I picked up at a farmers’ market in Vermont and it paired perfectly with the melon. Then I decided to mash it and make it into a slushy. Continue reading


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Apple Cider Special

Apple cider drinkIt’s the last weekend before Christmas. For many of you, the tree’s been trimmed, the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care, the presents are wrapped and waiting under the tree, and the cookies for Santa have been baked. For many of you, this frenzy will continue for the next few days until Santa Claus is on the radar over Singapore.

For both of these groups of people—and even for those who don’t like Christmas and feel that it’s a time of year you must endure—the best thing I could think to off this week is an alcoholic beverage.

Apple cider is everywhere this time of year and it’s not unknown to add a dash or whiskey of bourbon to enhance its qualities. I thought I’d try something slightly different: apple cider, gold rum, and apricot brandy.

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Put de Lime in de Coconut

If you’re still looking for a cool, refreshing, but yummy drink to serve at your IMAG1802Memorial Day picnic or barbecue, look no further. I’ve got you covered right here.

I had this little bottle of coconut vodka that I wanted to use, and while I was out shopping the other day, I came across one of those coconut juice drinks with the little pieces of coconut in it. Hmm, I said to myself. I think this would be a great mixer for that coconut vodka.

And that’s what I did. I poured the vodka over a little ice and added the coconut drink. It was okay but it needed something. So I squeezed in some lime. That was it. Let me tell you, coconuts and limes are often paired together for a reason! They’re like Antony and Cleopatra, beans and rice, Abbott and Costello—they just belong together (well, at least the beans and rice and Abbott and Costello).

So, here’s my recipe for a Coconutty-Limey Drink. It serves one but can be batched, and it works well with coconut rum, too.IMAG1808

Coconutty-Limey Drink

2 oz. coconut vodka (or rum)
1 1/4 cups coconut juice drink with pulp
2 wedges from a medium lime

Place a couple of ice cubes in a glass. Pour in the vodka and coconut drink. Squeeze in the juice from one wedge of lime. Squeeze in the juice from the other wedge and add the wedge to the glass Serve.

 

 


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Apple-Bottom Drinks

A few weeks ago, I bought apple slices canned in syrup. I used the apples in apple corn muffins (recipe HERE) and saved the syrup (because of its sugar content, it can stay quite a while in the refrigerator).IMG_2512

One of my suggestions for the leftover syrup was to make drinks with it. I finally had a opportunity to try a couple out. I must say, they turned out deliciously, so I wanted to share them with you.

If you can’t find canned apples in syrup, you can make your own: Slice 2 apples and place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil; lower the heat and let simmer about 20 minutes, covered. Then strain the liquid out over a small bowl.IMG_2802

So here are my successful apple syrup recipes. Both make 1 serving.

Spiced Apple Shooter

1 ounce Captain Morgan rum
1 tablespoon apple syrup (strained)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients, except cinnamon stick, in a shaker with ice. Strain out into a shot glass. Place the cinnamon in the glass and serve.

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Spiced Apple Shooter

Apple-Cacao Aperitif

1 ounce white rum
1 ounce white crème de cacao
1 tablespoon apple syrup (strained)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Lemon zest

Combine all ingredients, except zest, in a shaker with ice. Strain into a small aperitif or cocktail glass.

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Apple-Cacao Aperitif

 


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Orange-Flavored Yerba Mate

I was in a supermarket in Jackson Heights, Queens, that carries a multitude of Latin American products, and as I often do, I chose a product that I’ve never seen before to purchase and try. This time it was orange-flavored yerba mate. (Actually, I picked up two new products—the other one being lucuma flour, but I’ll leave that for another blog).

For those of you who are not familiar with yerba mate, it’s an herb that when steeped makes an invigorating tea. It’s popular in numerous South American countries and is the national drink of Argentina.IMG_2298

The traditional way to drink yerba mate is to prepare it in a hollowed-out gourd and sip it through a bombilla, a special straw, often made of silver, designed so that it filters out the leaves and twigs. The biggest benefit of yerba mate is that it’s an energy booster. Some say that it’s just as effective at invigorating the body as coffee; others say that it falls somewhere between tea and coffee. It contains antioxidants, and it’s been said that it also helps with weight loss. Like anything else, it has its detractors, too, but the Mayo Clinic recommends that it’s generally safe to enjoy yerba mate in moderation.

Yerba mate with Argentinian mate gourd

Yerba mate with Argentinian mate gourd

The gourd itself is called a mate or guampa, depending on where you are in South America. Traditionally, tomando mate (drinking mate) with friends or guests involves a ritual of sharing out of one of these gourds. The gourds themselves require curing, like seasoning a cast iron pan. The ritual is a symbol of hospitality, and is reminiscent of a Japanese tea ceremony. (For more information about the history of yerba mate, the drinking ritual, and how to “season” a gourd, this site is pretty good. Note that I’m not endorsing this particular brand, only its information!)  The one in the photo here was brought to me by my brother when he returned from a “back to my roots” trip to Buenos Aires, where he was born and spent the first few years of his life. Lovely, isn’t it? In fact, these gourds can be works of art, and antique versions can go for quite a bit of money (I’ve seen up to $300 for ornate examples).

Bombilla

Bombilla

Yerba mate has been available here in the U.S. for some time. I first tried it about 10 years ago. But, until now, I have never seen flavored yerba mate. I came to learn that in South America, yerba mate is often flavored with citrus, mint, or other flavors. Yerba mate has a strong flavor, herbal (duh) and a bit grassy, and I find it slightly bitter, so I’ve never been a huge fan. I was curious to see if the addition of orange would improve the taste for me.

Yes, it did. I found that the citrusy flavor, along with some honey, actually made it a pleasant drink to have. I made sure to have it in the afternoon and it got me through a very busy day.

If you’d like to give yerba mate a try:

Place some yerba mate in a tea ball or filter basket (same amount as you would use for any other tea). Heat some water, but don’t boil it—supposedly, boiling water makes it bitter. Pour over the yerba mate and let it steep for about 5 minutes. Add honey or anything else you like to use in tea. Then, enjoy!

If you’re fortunate enough to have a mate, steep the tea right in the gourd and sip through the bombilla. And don’t forget to share.