Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cooking with Booze, Vol. 2: Bourbon Reprint #2

Readers, food isn't just a mechanism by which your body creates ATP to be used by your muscles. I'm not a Bio major, so I'm not even sure if I got that right. But trust me when I say that food is an adventure, and that's a scientific fact. Making food can be exciting, like trying to find a restaurant on foot at night on 82nd Street and getting lost. Except you're in your own kitchen, where only your housemates or dormies can mistake you for a prostitute.
One way of making food exciting is applying sauces. This is because making sauces sounds easy but takes some actual effort and practice. I have failed often enough to assure you that messing up a sauce is easy.
Fortunately, you can learn from my errors. Even if you still mess this one up, you can console yourself with the following Mint Julep recipe:

Mint leaves (as many as you like - how about five? Five is a good number)

1. Take your glass and your mint leaves and put them together. Put a little bit of sugar and pour it in with the mint leaves.
2. This is the tricky part. Muddle. Basically, the goal is to bruise/shred the mint leaves by means of abrasive action with the sugar. If you don't have a muddler, get creative... but not too creative, this isn't Renn Fayre.
3. Once you've muddled your mint leaves (the more the better, I say!) pour in some of that sweet bourbon.
4. Add sugar to taste. I won't judge you.
5. Imbibe. You just made for a pittance what costs 7 bucks at the Delta.

Now, a tasty sauce: bourbon creme anglaise.

1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon

You will also need a whisk. Trust me, it's the best way to go.

Now, creme anglaise can be intimidating - there are several places where you can go wrong, and there's one skill required that not everyone has ever even heard of - keeping the yolk. To extract the yolk only from an egg, crack it carefully, but don't open it yet. Instead, hold the egg upright (pref. over a sink or something, because white is going to spill when you open it) and open it carefully. Really carefully. Now, you should have one half with some white in it and one half with most of the egg in it. Carefully trade the yolk back and forth between shell halves until you've gotten rid of most of the white. Voila!

1. Heat your cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat, aka setting 2 or 3. Be very, very careful not to go overboard with hotness, because it will split the cream and you will feel very sad. Add vanilla and simmer (setting 1). Always stir!!
2. Once you've got your yolks, whisk them with the sugar until the mixture is a sort of pastel yellow color, not unlike a cooked yolk.
3. Slowly pour about half your warm cream into your yolks and sugar and mix. Then pour all of that back into the saucepan.
4. Simmer this for a while. Don't let it boil, and don't stop stirring it. Ever. You should start noticing it thicken.
5. Add your bourbon. If you want to add even more bourbon, advance at your own peril. While White Russians don't curdle, there is a threshold at which you will cease to have bourbon creme anglaise and begin to have ugly bourbon and creme curds. And that's gross.
5a. (A tip for advanced users: When I get scared I have too much booze for the cream, I save some of the sugar from previous steps, put it in a cup with bourbon, and microwave it to zap some of the alcohol out, then add it back in.)
6. Serve on top of something delicious, like cake! Or ice cream! Or, now that you know how to make creme anglaise, add something to it besides/in addition to bourbon!

Allez cuisine!

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