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Posts Tagged ‘scotch’

So as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve haven’t really written anything in over a month now. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to; Writing has always given me a good way to de-stress and get my ideas out on the page when my brain works faster than I’d like it to. Work has just gotten super busy lately, and pretty much all of my free time has been taking up just trying to recuperate. On the plus side, being busy at work is something I really enjoy, and not something I’ve had since moving from the Burlington area last fall, so it’s nice to have that rush of adrenaline back into my daily routine. But I’ve been kicking myself for not keeping up with getting things written. I’ve still been plugging away at Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge and if you’ve been following along on Instagram or Facebook, I’ve had some fun working up some recipes with Berries, Garlic, and Vanilla, as well as some Dim Sum and Charcuterie.

This week was an especially fun theme for the challenge: Inspired by Magic. This year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone in the UK, and on Monday the Boy Who Lived celebrated his 37th birthday. Growing up, I was immediately enthralled by the series. Vast, fantastic landscapes and settings, deep character development, and the exploration of ideas and lessons that still resonate to this day. I want to get a big, non-food-related piece written for the US 20th anniversary next year, but that’s still quite a way away.

The wizarding world is full of amazing foods; Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Treacle Tarts, chocolates, candies, you name it. I’ve never had a super strong arsenal of dessert recipes, but in the past year or two I’ve definitely made some leaps and bounds. While desserts would have been a fairly easy route to go, I dug deep for a cool recipe that would kind of push my boundaries in a different direction.

The morning of Halloween, 1492, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington was set to be executed, having attempted to cast a tooth-straightening spell on an assistant of King Henvry VII the previous evening. After 47 hacks into his neck with a blunt axe, Sir Nicholas’ head was left dangling from his body by no more than an inch of flesh. Returning as a ghost, “Nearly-Headless” Nick took up residence as the ghost of Gryffindor Tower at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

To commemorate his 500th Deathday, Sir Nicholas held a party and feast in “one of the roomier dungeons” at Hogwarts, inviting the main trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as well as a host of notable deceased: the Bloody Baron, the Fat Friar, the Grey Lady, the Wailing Widow, Peeves and Moaning Myrtle. It would go without saying that ghosts can’t eat or taste food, so the menu consisted of food smelling so foul they could almost taste it: Moldy bread, stinking salmon, fungus-covered peanuts, and the pièce de résistance, Maggoty Haggis.

IMG_6108

Haggis is one of those dishes that, whether or not you’ve eaten it, you’d probably assume is super disgusting. It kind of has that reputation of being a bunch of gross things (organ meats) stuffed into an even grosser thing (stomach) and cooked for a thousand years. I was lucky enough to get a bunch of offal from Howvale Farm, so I figured it was time to finally try this out for myself.

When it comes down to it, haggis is largely similar to black pudding: a loosely bound meat sausage with oats. I took lamb heart, liver and tongue and simmered them in a bit of beef stock until tender, then ground it together with some onion and spices. Oats and the cooking liquid bring it together into a workable dough (I don’t know if that’s the word I mean). Not having a stomach to stuff the mixture into, I baked it off like a meatloaf until browned and crispy.

Admittedly, I was certain that this was going to be as gross as it’s always made out to be. But one bite in and I was singing a different tune. Super savory, fatty, and delicious; Imagine if your favorite meatloaf had a baby with leftover Thanksgiving stuffing. As far as the “maggoty” aspect goes, I had a package of barbecue-seasoned larva that I got for Christmas, which provided a nice salty crunch. Now that I know how great this dish itself is, I think I’m going to start looking for a stomach to try it again.

Haggis
makes 1 loaf

  • Liver*, 8 ounces
  • Heart*, 8 ounces
  • Tongue*, 8 ounces
  • Beef Stock, 2 quarts
  • Vidalia Onion, 4 each
  • Pork Lard or Beef Suet, 8 ounces, diced
  • Rolled Oats (not instant), 8 ounces
  • Sage, dried, 1 tablespoon
  • Allspice, ground, 2 tablespoons
  • Coriander, ground, 2 teaspoons
  • Kosher Salt & ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Maggots, to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F. In a medium-sized pot, combine heart, liver, tongue, 1 chopped onion and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender. Remove meat from stock. Roughly chop heat and liver. Remove membrane from tongue and roughly chop. Process meat, 3 chopped onions and fat through medium die of a meat grinder**. Add oats and spices to meat mixture, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Add enough cooking liquid to the mixture to form a workable dough. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease. Transfer meat mixture to baking sheet and form into a tight loaf. Bake at 425F 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

*Organ meats from any animal can be used, but you want about 1.5lb total
**If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can also coarsly grind using a food processor

 

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Every now and then, you get to do things that you’ve wanted to do since you were a little kid. For some people, that might be driving a race car or becoming an astronaut. For some people, that may be meeting Hulk Hogan or Evel Knievel. For me, the one thing that I’ve always wanted to do, since I was about four years old, is to go skydiving like in the opening scene from the first Power Rangers movie. Little kid me thought that was the coolest possible thing, and somewhat grown up me still agrees. However, that dream isn’t quite as easy to achieve as others are. The second thing I’ve always wanted to is to make candy like Willy Wonka. Roald Dahl’s Charlie & The Chocolate Factory was one the first books I can remember being actually interested in. As a boring little kid in a boring little town, it was really cool to read about somebody in a similar situation being taken on a fantastical adventure in the greatest candy factory in the world. Let’s be honest, what kid isn’t going to love a story about candy? Just in time for Halloween, the 44th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking challenge presented the opportunity to make my own candy, and I jumped at the opportunity to pay homage to the maniacal candyman himself!

After tearing through the DVD cupboard and any remaining unpacked boxes I had around, it appeared that my copy of the original movie had been unfortunately lost in transition and I was left without a source to gather ideas. The internet was rife with lists of things mentioned in the book and movies, but none of them seemed like they could be translated into something realistic. I don’t have many enemies to give exploding candies to, nor was I need of shaving or hair cream for any reason. One that piqued my interested was the Rainbow Drops that make you spit in seven different colors, but that didn’t seem practical and, as Ms. Beauregard points out “Spitting’s a dirty habit.” After scouring list upon list and countless video clips, I finally ran across one of my favorite scenes that I had almost forgotten about. While in the Inventing Room, Mr. Salt sees two large tubs labeled “Butterscotch” and Buttergin”. When questioned about their uses, Wonka simply replies “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker!” Through Wonka’s quick wit and the filmmakers play on words in the candies themselves, I knew that this was something I wanted to try out for myself. Since the candies weren’t mentioned again and weren’t actually shown on screen save for the tubs themselves, I had to get a little creative.

taffy

Since I’ve never had any experience making candies before, I wanted to really try and do something fun. Making hard candies seemed to be easy enough, but something I had always wanted to try was pulling taffy by hand. In the grand style of Wonka himself, I added the real deal to my taffies: 12 Year Aged Scotch, for butterscotch, and Imported Gin for buttergin. I could have definitely bought the cheap stuff since I was just cooking with it anyway, but I feel like Wonka would spare no expense for the quality of his candy. The basic recipe for the taffy was the same for both batches, but flavored with each liquor respectively. The process was actually pretty simple. Cook the sugar to a certain temperature, let it cool enough to handle, and start pulling.

taffy pulling

Once you get the hang of it, the pulling is actually pretty fun. Pulling the hot sugar incorporates air into the candy, which makes it softer and chewier, as well as lightening the color. At first I had a hard time pulling the taffy because it was a little too warm and was basically falling out of my hands. Once it cooled a little more, it got much easier to pull and as it cooled down it got a little harder to pull. I can definitely see why they have machines for doing this process on a large scale. After about 10 minutes of pulling and twisting, the candy is soft enough to be cut and wrapped up. While wrapping isn’t totally necessary, to does make pretty easy storage and it also keeps them from sticking to each other. The Buttergin taffy didn’t exactly taste as much like gin as I would have liked it to, but it was still a nice subtle flavor. The Butterscotch on the other hand tasted a lot like scotch, and I imagine that was the intention whenever it was first made. Enjoyed separately or together, I would say that these candies were a very good first try. Not perfect, but a good starting point.I’m definitely excited to see what else lies out in the big bad world of candy making!

Basic Saltwater Taffy

makes about 50 pieces

  • Granulated Sugar, 1 1/4 cup
  • Light Corn Syrup, 3/4 cup
  • Water, 1 cup
  • Vanilla Extract, 1 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Butter, 1 tablespoon

Lightly butter a baking dish or sheet tray. Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and cook to 250F, reading temperature with a candy thermometer. When temperature reaches 250F, remove from heat and stir in vanilla, salt, and butter. Pour into buttered baking dish and allow to cool until easily handled. Working over wax paper or parchment paper, begin pulling the sugar by stretching and folding. Continue pulling for about 10 minutes, or until taffy lightens in color and becomes hard to pull. Roll out into a 1/2 inch log and cut into bite sized pieces with kitchen shears. Wrap pieces in small sheets of wax paper in order to keep from sticking together. Store in a cool, dry location.

Butterscotch Taffy:

Substitute brown sugar for granulated sugar, and Scotch Whiskey for water and vanilla extract. Procedure is the same for basic saltwater taffy.

Buttergin Taffy:

Substitute Gin for water and vanilla extract. Procedure is the same for basic saltwater taffy.

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