As many of you know, in August my wife gave birth to a beautiful, happy, healthy baby girl. Her name is Fiona, she’s the cutest thing in the world, and I’m in love. She went to IKEA at 2-weeks (mistake!), attended her first A’s game at 4-weeks, sat at her first bar at 6-weeks, enjoyed her first spa day at 8-weeks, and danced at her first wedding at 10-weeks. We made the decision to not share her photos on social media, but trust me, she’s adorbs . . . wait, did I just say adorbs in public? As many of you also know, the lovely Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats is due to have a baby in a few weeks too!! Of course Bev and Ashley, being the awesome friends that they are, organized this little virtual baby shower. Not just any baby shower, but rather an over the top, trashed up, neon, larger than life spread of tacos, pizza, burgers, salads, dessert, and of course cocktails. So please join me in celebrating this wonderful moment . . . Jessica, this one’s for you!
I knew immediately that my cocktail of choice would have to include bacon. The next step in this logic was to use a technique that I’ve tried only once before: fat-washing! I mean, what could be more indulgent than that?!! The idea is to infuse the flavors of a tasty fat (in this case bacon) into an alcohol. The alcohol is then put into the freezer, where the fat will solidify and but alcohol will not. Gotta love science! The fat is skimmed and strained (think gravy) and you’re left with fat-washed booze, perfect for any virtual baby shower. It’s really that easy!! Let’s begin . . .
I love putting grains in my salad. It turns a light side dish into a hearty main course. For Thanksgiving, I’ve put together this salad highlighting one of my favorite vegetables: kabocha squash. I’m not typically a fan of squash, but kabocha squash is something else– it’s got this amazing flavor that puts butternut squash to shame! This salad is packed with wheatberries, crispy roast shiitakes, fragrant hazelnuts, peppery baby arugula and creamy French feta, and all comes together with a light tahini-honey dressing. Yup, it’s a whole lot going on in there, but it’ll be the highlight at your Thanksgiving dinner!
With kabocha squash, you only need to rinse the outside and no need to peel the skin. You can also serve the salad with cubed kabocha instead of wedges.
You would think something as delicious as pumpkin butter shouldn’t be reserved for a single season. It’s basically pumpkin pie in a jar – but without all the fat and sugar. So you can imagine how slathering pumpkin butter on toast or pairing it with yogurt and granola in the morning makes for the most decadent treat – and something that should be enjoyed all year round. And you’ll be surprised to see how incredibly easy it is to make. I’ll give you a hint: slow cooker.
Even on a crisp, blustery autumn evening there’s always time for a rum cocktail or two at my house. The Old Cuban is an elegant, and dare I say sophisticated libation, created by Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club fame. Sweet and sour notes are celebrated in a way that rum fans knows and love. Some call it a contemporary classic, but I just call it cocktail perfection.
Start by adding the mint leaves and simple syrup to the bottom of your mixing glass.
I’m calling this candy “bone brittle” even though it’s not technically brittle– this is (and also amazing). But, the pockets of air and shards of sugar in this honeycomb candy remind me of the porous cross-section of brittle bones, so . . . there you go! But what’s even more fun than eating this honeycomb is making it. The recipe is pure science– the addition of baking soda to the hot molten sugar makes it begin to foam and bubble up . So it’s time to get all mad scientist and have some fun with that Halloween candy!!
Occasionally while I’m mixing drinks behind the bar I feel like I’m a mad scientist: a dash of bitters here, a droplet of tincture there . . . you get the idea. And as you know, I’m a huge fan of self-serve cocktail stations at parties. After all, I made a whole business out of it back in the day. So you can imagine my excitement when I got the idea for an evil drink lab this Halloween. With so many fun props to choose from, you can really get into the “spirit” of the holiday – get it, the spirit . . ? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
I wanted to push the styling to the max, so I decided to keep it simple with the cocktail. Just lemonade, vodka, and a little bit of food coloring. It is Halloween after all. Let’s call them “Gremlin Drops”.