When I was in school (not so long ago) I wrote two columns for the school newspaper in order to open the minds of my colleagues to the wider possibilities of teh booz. As a bon vivant, serious chef, and equally serious drinker, I am not satisfied with just one side of one thing. Like Alton Brown, I need everything in my life to be useful or beautiful in more ways than one. So it is with his cooking implements, and so it is with my drink. What is the point of buying something you will only ever experience in one way?
As I tried to point out in my short-run column, cooking with alcohol can immediately elevate the sophistication of a dish, especially if you are a poor college student. Steak with port sauce sounds a lot cooler than just steak. And moreover, if you try hard, you can do it cheaply. For example, I currently have like a gallon of cheap port sitting on my countertop.
My recent attempts to get friendlier with my copy of that longtime bible of cuisine, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", have reawakened a desire in me to cook with booze. Mainly because cooking with booze is well-nigh one of the foundations of French cooking. That, and it makes for some good blog posts. Without further ado, I'd like to kick it off by offering you a reprint of my first column. Keep in mind that this was tailored for college students; if you have nice things, don't let my sassy instructions keep you from using them.
Readers, while I cannot in print endorse or support underage drinking, I think we can all say that alcohol is one of nature's great gifts to humanity. Besides getting you drunk, booze also has the magical property of making food taste DELICIOUS, which is something everyone can enjoy even if they don't drink. You can save yourself a lot of money and impress the hell out of whoever is eating at your place by mastering the art of cooking with booze. Let me take you there.
This month's booze is bourbon. If you live under a rock and don't know what bourbon is, it's a type of whiskey produced and favored by the American South. Bourbon tastes excellent with muddled mint leaves, AKA the 'Mint Julep'.
Bourbon also tastes great in sauces and marinades. As I found out thanks to Tarah at Genesis of a Cook, it also tastes great in DESSERT. Here is Tarah's recipe for Vanilla Bourbon Bread with Walnut Coffee Crumble, translated by me into College Student:
For Crumble Topping
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. cold butter
1 tsp. instant coffee
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
For the Bread
2 cups flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
2 tbsp. bourbon
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. salt
You will also need a 9x5 baking pan.
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease that pan.
2. Put all the ingredients for the crumble in one bowl and then mix it. Don't worry about it; it doesn't need to be hardcore mixed.
3. Put all of the dry ingredients for the bread in a different, much bigger bowl. Mix them together until it's all nice and evenly mixed. Be careful, because if you're an out of control mixing freak you're going to get flour everywhere.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones. If you want to, you can add more than just 2 tsp of bourbon - though not TOO much. I personally think that another tsp would be awesome, but YMMV. Stir until ingredients are combined. If you don't have a mixer, don't sweat it - small lumps will come out fine.
5. Pour the batter into your greased pan, and top with the crumble. Bake for 40-50m, or until it's done (if you stick a toothpick in it, it comes up clean).