I didn’t get any pictures of the cocktails I did in our session at the 2015 Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School, but I thought I’d get the recipes down anyway. The first one is original; the second one is not.
For the “Winter Honey”:
1 half-pint honey
1 cinnamon stick
zest of 1 medium orange
1/2 tsp vanilla
If you have an immersion circulator, combine all ingredients in a half-pint Mason jar and place in a 120 degree F water bath for six hours. If you don’t, either combine all the ingredients in a jar and leave for at least 5 days, or combine them in a saucepan and heat over low heat for 30 minutes or until tasty, then cool completely. See the previous post for details on infusing honey.
For two cocktails:
3 barspoons “Winter Honey”
3 dashes Angostura bitters
3 ounces Appleton Estate XO rum
2 coins of orange peel
Place the honey and bitters in a mixing glass and swirl around with a muddler. Add the rum and swirl some more. Add ice and stir until the glass is cold. Strain onto clean ice in an Old Fashioned glass and top with a flamed orange peel.
(originally created by T.J. Siegel at Milk & Honey, NYC)
For the honey syrup:
Combine equal parts honey and water and heat just until the honey dissolves, then cool completely. Or, if you have a sous vide setup, place equal parts honey and water in a Mason jar and place in a 120 degree water bath for 2 hours.
For two cocktails:
4 ounces high-proof bourbon (such as Old Forester 100 or Old Granddad Bonded)
1 1/2 oz lemon juice (fresh squeezed or don’t bother)
1 1/2 oz honey syrup
Pinch of salt
Shake vigorously with ice and strain onto clean ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This recipe is from What’s Cookin’ Now!’s “Cooking with Honey” presentation at the East Kentucky Beekeeping School in Hazard on January 24, 2015.
Infusing honey presents a dilemma. The easiest way to do it is to just chuck something flavorful into a jar of honey and let it sit until the flavor infuses, but you’re going to have to wait at least five days and probably more before you get any real intensity. Heating up the honey mixture speeds up the process considerably, but it’s very hard to do without pasteurizing the honey. Pasteurization is the process of heating raw honey until the wild yeasts still present in it are thoroughly vanquished; it’s a function of temperature and time, but at 161 degrees F it takes less than 30 seconds to be considered pasteurized, and it’s really hard to maintain a temperature lower than that on the stovetop. Health advocates say that pasteurization destroys many of the health benefits you get from the raw stuff, and honey connoisseurs say that it blunts the complex flavors that can make honey so interesting. So how do you infuse honey but keep it as raw as the Wu-Tang Clan likes it?
Enter the immersion circulator!
Maintaining those low temperatures is exactly what sous vide cooking is all about. If you happen to own a Sansaire (or other circulator), just put your honey and flavorant in a Mason jar, seal it up, and put it in a 120 degree water bath. At 130 degrees honey will pasteurize after about seven hours; six hours at 120 degrees F gives you a nice infusion and spares most of the yeast from execution.
Now, have I Pepsi Challenged honey infusions made in the circulator vs. those made on the stovetop or those just left to sit and infuse at room temperature? No, I haven’t. But it’s a nice tool to have in your arsenal.
My original plan was to serve the rosemary honey over fried eggplant, as they often do with honey or molasses in Spanish tapas bars. (Curate, possibly the best Spanish tapas bar that isn’t in Spain, does theirs with honey and garnishes it with rosemary.) But since it’s January and the few eggplants I could find in the store didn’t look very good, I decided to use some of Old Homeplace Farm‘s awesome butternut squash instead. I’m really glad I did, because this one’s a keeper. It can be a side dish on its own, or a main dish served over quinoa with a little lemon juice, and the leftovers would be excellent tossed into a salad.
Sauteed Butternut Squash with Rosemary Honey
For the honey:
1 pint raw honey
4-5 sprigs rosemary
Seal honey and rosemary in a pint mason jar and put in a 120 degree water bath for six hours, or until the flavor is as intense as you’d like. Alternately, let it sit for several days, or put it on the stovetop over low heat until it’s tasty (shouldn’t take long at that temperature).
You won’t use the whole pint. If you intend to store it for more than a few days, strain out the rosemary and keep it in the fridge, but once you realize how good it is poured over a sheet pan of popcorn and parked in a low oven for a while, it won’t last long.
For the squash:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup water
salt, pepper (to taste)
Melt the butter in a 12″ saute pan along with the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Let some good browning develop. Add some salt (three-finger pinch) and a few grinds of pepper and pour in the water and a couple of tablespoons of the honey. Cook down until the water is nearly gone. Remove to a plate, drizzle another half-cup or so of honey over the top, and garnish with a sprig or two of rosemary.
While WCN! may be the World’s Only LIVE Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of), we are certainly not the only radio show out there about food. Lynne Rossetto Kasper is celebrating her 20th year as the host of The Splendid Table, a weekly show from American Public Media that covers the whole world of food from chefs to farmers to scientists to home kitchens where listeners call in with their questions. Jenny and Jonathan have both been devotees of the show from very early in its run, and I think it’s safe to say that our show wouldn’t exist (at least not in its current incarnation) if Lynne’s hadn’t been there first.
So we couldn’t have been more excited when she agreed to join us for an interview! In this first part, which aired as a part of our January show about inspiration, we talk about (among other things) Julia Child, kitchen disasters, when you can call yourself a professional, and the whole crazy idea of talking about cooking on the radio.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper interview (Broadcast Version)
And in this Web Exclusive, we take Kasper’s classic Stump the Cook segment–in which a caller gives her five ingredients that happen to be in their fridge at the moment, and she comes up with a dish on the fly–and turn the tables, creating our own dish from what Kasper has in her fridge. After Jenny tells a story involving a fridge full of breast milk, we go hard Appalachian and emerge victorious with the Full Kilt Salad.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper interview (Web Exclusive Segment: Stump the Cook!)
They say that good artists borrow and great artists steal. Find anyone who has taken a craft seriously enough to be good at it and he’ll usually be happy to rattle off a list of the people who have inspired him, whether he’s learned from them directly or admired them from afar. Cooks are no exception; the best cookbooks read more like biographies than anything else, tracing the path to a recipe and describing the people and influences that a dish wouldn’t exist without.
This month on The World’s Only LIVE Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of), Jenny and Jonathan will talk about some of the inspiration we’ve found on our way. Jonathan will be paying tribute to kitchen nerd patron saint Alton Brown in advance of his appearance in Richmond next month. Jenny is reaching all the way back to the 80s for a moment of inspiration. And there will probably be cocktails.
We’ll also be airing our interview with a lady who has been a huge influence to both of us–Lynne Rossetto Kasper of The Splendid Table! We talk about Julia, kitchen disasters, and what would possess someone to do something as crazy as a cooking show on the radio.
That’s Wednesday, January 7, 6-7 PM on 88.7 WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, KY. You can stream it online here. And if you’re fortunate enough to be in or near Whitesburg, come on over to the Appalshop and join our Tasting/Dishwashing Panel!
Don’t miss it!
When it comes to the traditional Thanksgiving meal, most of us have a good idea in our head of what it looks like. The differences in details can be revealing and fascinating, but mostly it’s variations on the traditional turkey, stuffing, cranberries, etc. But what is the traditional Christmas meal? Songs and stories tell of roast goose and figgy pudding and wassail, but when is the last time your grandmother turned those out? A lot of people have pretty much the same thing they had at Thanksgiving. But when it comes to specific foods that mean Christmas, they’re different for everybody.
Wednesday on an all-new What’s Cookin’ Now!, we’ll talk about our own Christmas traditions and those of our tasting panel and our listeners. And we’ll make some foods that say Christmas to us, even if they might not say it to everybody.
That’s Wednesday, December 3, 6-7PM, on 88.7 WMMT-FM! You can stream it here, and we’ll have it posted to the WMMT website shortly thereafter. As always, we’d love to have you on our Tasting/Dishwashing Panel, so come on out to the station and join us!
Don’t miss it!
In his song “Alabama Pines”, Jason Isbell says “No one gives a damn about the things I give a damn about.” It sums up how I feel a lot of the time–who else cares about what technically constitutes a sandwich? Or how a sandwich should be ideally plated? Or proper strategy at a buffet? Who else thinks about surface area to volume ratio so often that the concept requires its own abbreviation (SATVR)?
Enter Dan Pashman and The Sporkful. The podcast’s tagline is “It’s Not For Foodies, It’s For Eaters”, and the focus is on how to make every bite more delicious. Dan has collected his wisdom into a new book entitled Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious, a textbook exploring the finer points of something we all do a few times a day every day.
He sat down for The WCN! Interview, and we discussed foodies vs. eaters (I’d consider myself both), pie vs. ice cream temperature, Thanksgiving strategy, stuffing vs. dressing, and more!
(A shortened version of this interview aired as part of our November 2014 episode.)
Pumpkins! They light our way on Halloween and they flavor our lattes (sort of). But the pumpkin and its winter squash brethren are so much more than coffee flavorants and pretty things to put at the base of a fodder shock. That mysteriously orange flesh is an essential component of fall flavor. We’ve been especially inspired this year by our dear friend Maggie at Old Homeplace Farm, who has grown not only awesome varieties of winter squash but also the tastiest butternuts you’ve ever had.
So for the November edition of The World’s Only Live Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of), we’re going beyond the pie and the latte to bring the deliciousness of the winter squash to the main course. Jonathan will also talk about a high-tech way to infuse booze and some tasty ways to deploy the results.
And this month on The WCN! Interview, Jonathan talks with Dan Pashman, host of WNYC’s The Sporkful and the author of Eat More Better: How To Make Every Bite More Delicious. They talk about foodies vs. eaters, the merits (or not) of a cheese ball at Thanksgiving, stuffing vs. dressing, and more!
That’s Wednesday, November 5, 6-7PM on 88.7 WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, KY! You can stream it live here, and we’ll have it archived for you eventually. Of course, if you’re in town we’d love for you to come join the Tasting/Dishwashing Panel.
Don’t miss it!
The Bourbon Social is an annual celebration of Kentucky’s native spirit that just had its inaugural edition in Lexington, with a weekend of parties, seminars, distillery brunches, celebrity guests, a cocktail competition, and plenty more. WCN! was a media partner of the event. This is the first in a series of blog posts recapping what Jonathan and Tamara can remember about the weekend. All photos by me.
The WCN! Interview is a new occasional feature here on the blog, in which we chat with interesting people in the food world.
Jonathan talked with chef, restaurateur, author, and Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson about bourbon, Southern food, and kohlrabi, among other things. Acheson will be a Celebrity Guest Chef at The Bourbon Social, Oct. 10-12 in Lexington.
On the popularity of bourbon: “I think as we get back to being more of artisanal culture and revering some of our foodways, I think we’re laying claim again to the fact that we’ve got this indigenous spirit in the South that’s so interesting and nuanced. And it’s our own. So whether you call it a locavore movement, or artisan movement, or farm-to-table type of thing or distillery-to-glass type of thing, it’s something that we can lay claim to, and feel really comfortable that it’s in our own backyard, and the heritage and history is there.”
On pairing food with bourbon: “I think you want something with a little bit of smoke to it…it works really well with grilled meat, it’s got a particular affinity to bacon and pork and that sort of thing…collard greens with pot liquor go really well with bourbon. Some fruits go really well with bourbon, particularly plums…caramelized apples…there are a lot of ways you can go with it.”
On his plans for the Bourbon Social: “We’re going to do a nice rice and beans dish with a bunch of tasso and bacon and country ham in it, and topped with a little quail egg and pickled collard green stem on it. It should be good.”
On Southern food, and how he connects it with the Mexican and Italian cuisine at his two new restaurants: “We want to make sure that our definition of Southern food includes the great panoply of different cultures who find their way to living in the South now, whether that be Korean culture, or Mexican cultures, Hispanic cultures…they’re still influencing and using our foodstuffs to sort of further their own cuisines. So in a lot of ways it’s still Southern food.
I think there’s a great affinity between Italian food, and the sensibility and reaction to the agrarian ways that they have in Italy to the way that we’ve historically done Southern food. Southern food is a reaction to the market, and the farms around us, and how we use that splendor in a really simple way…I think that the most glorious part of Southern food is truly pointing out the beautiful ingredients, and making sure people don’t define it as salty fried chicken and not very good biscuits…the Southern meal is eight different vegetables, a little bit of fried chicken, and beautiful biscuits.”
On using great ingredients: “We’re re-connecting with great food by realizing again that we have seasons…it’s feeling that revolving, beautiful cadence of the season in how we approach food, and how we cook in our homes, and how we show our kids, the next generation, how to cook…
“The popularity of specific varietals of vegetables is exploding again, and that’s good…to me it’s just re-tracing the steps. Somewhere around fifty years ago America just forgot how to cook. So we’re really glad to be in a generation that’s taking pause and trying to reclaim some of those foodways.”
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. For those of us who have been on the academic calendar our entire lives it’s just as much a season of rebirth and new beginnings as the spring. Keeneland, funnel cakes, football–there’s a lot to love in the few days between the first time you need a jacket and the first Christmas commercial.
Part of it is that the traditional fall flavors are some of my favorites. Ovens get turned back on and roast things to a golden brown, baking spices show up everywhere, and the summer fling with clear liquors comes to an end and bourbon makes us wonder why we ever strayed. As a beer lover it brings two of my favorite seasonal beer traditions–ludicrously large mugs of malty Oktoberfest lagers, and the onslaught of pumpkin beers.
I know what you’re saying–“Jonathan, you magnificent stallion, you’re a beer snob, right? Doesn’t that mean you scoff at pumpkin beers as gimmicky distractions from worthwhile beers, which are all hop-bomb IPAs?” Yeah, I know, and I really don’t get it. Pumpkin beers are tasty, dammit. And it’s not like pumpkin beers are some kind of new fad; pumpkin was a common addition to beers in the American colonial days when quality malt wasn’t always available.
Since there is a dizzying array of pumpkin beers out there, we at What’s Cookin’ Now! have decided to do a public service and try as many pumpkin beers as we can so you don’t have to waste your time with the losers.
WCN! on Twitter