Category Archives: Recipes

Wings and Celeriac Slaw

Wings and Celeriac SlawThere are two paradigms people generally think of when talking about food and Bourbon: cooking with Bourbon or eating food while drinking Bourbon. I much prefer the latter, in fact, I very rarely get a good hit of Bourbon flavor when I see people trying to throw the drink into their mix as an ingredient. I almost always feel like it’s just there to sound sexy. Bourbon chocolate cake sounds like it could sell some units, but I always find myself asking, “where’s the Bourbon and why did they waste it in this recipe?”

When we’re cooking with Bourbon we tend to think of sugary things, like bread pudding, glazes, caramel or peach preserves. In these instances, the Bourbon is not being framed, rather contributing to a dish, surrendering a lot of its character to fit in. Conversely, when pairing food with Bourbon, we intend to create harmony with the Bourbon, to make it better than it would have been by itself and not squash too much of its essence. Cooking with it can mask it while pairing should frame it.

Eating super sugary things, like caramel, with Bourbon actually lays waste to the sweet receptors on your tongue, destroying any sweetness you could have perceived in the spirit and throwing the whole thing out of balance. Caramel might sound like a delicious pairing but if you’re drinking a Bourbon after a big hit of it, you’ll find a sour, bitter mess in your glass. Not that a little sweetness is completely uncalled for, just don’t go overboard. You need to temper your sweet with a heavy dose of creamy, savory, perfumed or bready.

Carrots, parsnips, pretty much any sweet and earthy root vegetable, when prepared correctly, play nicely with Bourbon’s perfumed and savory side. Mayonnaise is just about as mouth-coatingly creamy as you can get. Fried foods work to the bready ends and, using meat as a vehicle, mingle a little in the savory side as well. With this in mind, the toasted batter on savory wings served with a side of creamy celeriac slaw are all begging to be served with a few fingers of heady Bourbon.

There are a few day-before preparations to attend to in this recipe. Chicken fries best when it’s had lots of time to dry out, and giving the salt lots of time to absorb into the meat will not only help keep it juicy, but helps make the outer surfaces dry and fry better, so don’t skip these steps or you could end up with soggy, flavorless wings. The  most difficult part for the celeriac slaw is making your own mayonnaise, which you could just as easily skip, but I love the flavor of homemade mayo; making your own is a skill any good cook should have under their belt.

Celeriac Slaw

  • 1 medium celeriac (celery root)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • pinch of ground allspice
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle sugar
  • a few grinds black pepper
  1. If you don’t wish to try your hand at making your own mayonnaise you can skip to step 7.
  2.  In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder grind both mustard seeds and coriander.
  3. In a flat bottomed bowl add yolk, ground spices, allspice, black pepper, salt and sugar and beat yolk until smooth.
  4. Add vinegar and lemon juice.
  5. Whisk in a few drops of oil, one drop at a time, until a stable emulsion forms. Take your time. The key is to go slow and let each drop fully mix in before proceeding.
  6. After 10-20 drops are mixed in, you can begin to slowly drizzle in the rest of the oil slowly, whisking quickly. Every few seconds back off the oil and make sure it’s good and mixed before proceeding. When all of the oil is mixed in you should have a thick sauce. Set aside. Don’t be discouraged if it comes out runny. Just try again and add the oil a little slower during the first stages of mixing. Go, literally, one drop at a time.
  7. Peel the celeriac, wiping the freshly cut sides with the leftover lemon as you go, to prevent browning.
  8. Once peeled, cut one side flat. Flip that side to the bottom so the root sits steady. Cut slices of the root as thinly as you can, and after you get a few, lay them on the cutting board and finely julienne. A julienne-capable mandolin will save you lots of time, but a sharp chef’s knife will work, too.
  9. When you get a small handful of strips, toss them into the bowl of mayonnaise and fold to cover. If you want a thicker dressing, don’t use as much of the root. If you want a thinner dressing, use it all. If it’s still too thick you can add some extra lemon juice to thin it out.
  10. Cover surface with plastic wrap and store in fridge up to a few hours ahead of time.

Fried Wings

  • 8 whole chicken wings cut into flats and drumettes (16 pieces)
  • 1 c cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 c ap flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • kosher salt
  • Canola oil for deep frying
  1. The night before your meal, spread the wing pieces out on a drying rack over a baking dish. Season liberally with kosher salt on both sides and rest in refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next morning, rinse the wings. Dry them off well with a paper towel and set aside.
  3. Mix 1/2 cup of the corn starch, baking powder, spices, and a sprinkle of salt. Whisk to mix and then dredge the wings in the mix, shaking off the excess well before returning them to the drying rack. Set back in fridge for at least one hour, up to twelve.
  4. Preheat heavy pot of oil to 390*F. Preheat oven to 250*F.
  5. While oil heats, whisk together last 1/2 cup of starch, all flour, vodka, chicken stock and a sprinkle of salt. Batter should be very thin.
  6. Fry in two batches to keep oil hot. One by one, dip wings in batter, let excess drip off and then slowly add to fryer. Fry for 7-9 minutes or until wings are light bronze. Oil should drop down to around 360-375*F. Try to maintain that temp. Drain wings on paper towel or brown paper bags. Keep first batch of wings warm on a pan in the oven until second batch is done and ready to serve. Taste one and if they need salt sprinkle it on while the wings are still warm.

Plate wings with a dollop of slaw, serve with a nice heady Bourbon, like Buffalo Trace, Johnny Drum or Noah’s Mill on the side, and enjoy!

The Lagavulin Julep

The HawthorneBack in May, after attending the Whisky Guild’s Boston cruise, I had the pleasure of joining a few bloggers, owners and ambassadors for some post-event cocktails at The Hawthorne, a swanky bar at the Hotel Commonwealth beneath Fenway’s iconic Citgo sign. It’s hard for me to be a proponent of whisky cocktails but the cocktail list and quality ingredients here make a very strong argument. Round top bottles and rows of premium bitters line the marble-top bar, enough to make even the most well-stocked apothecary jealous. Even if you’re not in the mood for a mixed libation, their whisky list is a well chosen mix of official and independent bottlings, and absolutely worth a visit should you find yourself nearby.

I started with a whisky cocktail called the Roscoe Pound. The eponymous Roscoe was a Nebraska native who later became the Dean of Harvard Law School just six years after he started teaching there. His tenure eclipsed prohibition and his contributions to law echo far into the present legal system. The drink was reminiscent of an unpeated version of Sam Ross’ Penicillin, a gingery-sweet citrus offering. The Roscoe is a smart cocktail with a smart name to match, but the next drink I tried would take things one step further and change the way I thought about mixing and crafting my own cocktails at home; that was the Lagavulin Julep.

You’ll often hear Lagavulin fans say mixing such a pricey spirit pains them, and in most cases I agree, but my attention was won over by the Roscoe Pound and this Scotland-meets-Kentucky scenario plays out quite nicely. Part of the draw for me was how Lagavulin had been my first, true single-malt-love. Before that, I considered whisky to be a terrible substance which needed to be exorcised from its bottle in quick swigs between basement jam sessions. Jack was top shelf stuff and the shot glass was the best vessel for consumption. The day I was presented a bottle of Lagavulin my world was upended, and the day someone showed me how much better it was in a proper glass started me on a journey that led to this blog you’re reading right now. While navigating the world of whisky cocktails hasn’t been as easy for me as exploring the spirit itself, the Lagavulin Julep was one of those victories that made all those other awful drinks I had along the way worthwhile. I wouldn’t be surprised if, when the ball drops for 2014, this ends up being the best cocktail I’ve had all year.

So who were the masterminds behind the drink? That would be the Hawthorne’s owner-manager, Jackson Cannon, and head-bartender, Katie Emmerson. Cannon comes with an impressive curriculum vitae. He’s traveled the world sourcing the best cocktail reagents he could find. He’s been on the ground floor developing some of the greatest bars in Boston. A menu thief and gastronomic historian, if you want to chew the fat about food or drink you could do much worse talking to almost anybody else. Emmerson also comes with her own impressive résumé. She came to Boston from New York to help open the Hawthorne in 2011, having spent time sharpening her skills among the famously awesome mixologists at Lantern’s Keep, The Raines Law Room, and Death + Company. A veteran Bourbon drinker, her expertise was put to good use experimenting with and constructing the Julep after brain-storming with Cannon.

Lagavulin Julep

It seems like an obvious permutation, but it’s a brilliant one, and one that I’ve not seen anywhere else. Emmerson tried many different ideas, from experimenting with alternative sweeteners to spritzing different liqueurs on the aromatic bundle of mint, but the classic sang by itself without adulteration.

It all makes perfect sense. Peat wants to be sweetened. Grungy whiskies yearn for ingredients like honey, vanilla, bright citrus and sugar. The drink’s mix of mint and sugar sweetness is part of what makes the Lagavulin Julep work, but mint also has an earthy note that rounds out some of the earthiness in the whisky. The mix is bitter, sweet, herby and smokey, like a well-balanced dish, and it’s refreshing enough to serve on a hot summer day. That’s something not a lot of peaty whiskies have managed to do successfully. If you like peat and want to try an unusual mixed drink you won’t find anywhere else, then you need to try Katie Emmerson’s Lagavulin Julep:

  1. Take a small handful of mint and rub it in the bottom of a julep cup. 
  2. Pour 1/2 oz of 1:1 simple syrup on top of the mint. Lightly muddle. 
  3. Add 2 oz Lagavulin 16yr. Stir gently. Add a small amount of crushed ice and continue to stir. Watch the frost form on the outside of the cup. 
  4. Pack the remainder of the cup with crushed ice. Add the straw, garnish lavishly with mint and enjoy!

Even though this is a relatively simple drink, don’t let that stop you from experimenting a little. There is room for variation. You could try any peated single malt, like Ardbeg or Laphroaig… maybe even an Octomore Julep if you were feeling particularly bold.  If you’re handy in the garden there are lots of different varieties of mint to play with, as well, from chocolate to apple, and I’ll bet many would be exceptional in this recipe. Either way, if you enjoy this drink and you’re ever in Boston, I would highly recommend paying them a visit; there are many more interesting whisky cocktails there to explore.

Cheers and thank you to the awesome folks at the Hawthorne for sharing their insight!!!

The Hawthorne
500a Commonwealth Ave
Boston MA 02215

Mole Poblano

Mole PoblanoIf you’re looking to hit a home run and impress your dramming buddies, there are few dishes I’ve had that compliment the whisky of Scotland better than mole poblano. I’m usually not a big fan of pairing spicy food and alcohol, either, but this dish is one of the exceptions. This mole pairs with just about any scotch whisky out there: sweet, malty, peaty or blended.The sauce and the spirit change each other for the better, the whisky sweetens the mole a bit and the fat in the sauce smooths out some of the alcohol. Just stay away from heavily-sherried/sulphury drams, which need more sweet and meaty notes than a mole offers. If you break this rule you’ll find yourself mulling over a very bitter experience. Try a Talisker, Clynelish, Laphroaig or Aberlour… even Johnny Walker is delicious when serving mole.

Mole is not a quick and easy dish to prepare. It takes a few hours, but it freezes well so you can make it once and then have it a few times on down the road. Just thaw it out the day you want to use it, add a little chicken stock and heat it on medium for a few minutes. Puree it with a stick blender to smooth it out, and serve over chicken or turkey.

Again, as with most recipes I offer here, this is not a completely traditional mole. I’ve departed from most of the recipes I found, not only to make it easier to prepare, but to make it a little more palatable for the average American. I’ve added some extra sweetness, took out some of the bitterness, and cooked in a few more spices to make it a little less like you’re eating a dried chile.

If you don’t live near a Mexican grocer, Google will help you find where you can order the chiles online. Make sure to buy whole chiles, too.

Mole Poblano


  • 4 skin on chicken thighs 
  • 3 whole mulato chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 3 whole pasilla chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 3 whole ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • ~ 2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 tomatillos
  • 1 peeled and quartered onion
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbs whole black peppercorns
  • 2-inch piece of Ceylon or Mexican (real) cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp anise seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • 8 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted
  • 10 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup whole, blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 handful tortilla chips
  • 6 inch French roll, cut into slices
  • 2 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 disc (about 1.3 oz) Mexican chocolate, chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme tied together

Sprinkle the chicken with a little kosher salt, cover and refrigerate for an hour prior to cooking. Meanwhile, husk and wash the tomatillos and put them on a small oven safe dish with the quartered onion.

Sear the chicken in a pan until brown on both sides. Fit all the chicken in a small pot just big enough to hold it. Add the garlic over and under the chicken pieces and cover with at least 1 cup oil. Bake covered at 325*F. After 1:15 hours throw the tomatillos and onion in the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove everything from oven. Reserve garlic and garlic infused oil, and set tomatillos and onion aside. When chicken is cool enough to handle, you can carefully pull the bone out and remove the skin if you’d like, or you can leave them in for a more rustic meal. Set meat in refrigerator.

Heat 1/2 cup of fresh oil in a large heavy pot to around 325-350*F. The chiles should sizzle a little when you add them, but not smoke. Fry the chiles in batches for 10 seconds – but do not burn! Drain on paper towels. In a stainless or glass bowl, cover chiles with hot water and soak 30 minutes. Drain. Puree the chiles in a food processor with enough chicken stock to make a smooth paste.

Dump the oil from your heavy pot (the chile oil can get bitter) refill with 1/4 cup oil over medium heat and add the chile puree (watch out for splattering). Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Toast sesame, coriander and anise seeds in a hot, dry skillet until fragrant, but do not let them smoke!  Grind the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, and toasted spices and then puree it with the garlic, tomatillos and onion in the food processor.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the skillet over medium. Fry the raisins, almonds, and  pumpkin seeds until the raisins puff up. Add to the tomatillos and puree. Add a few more tablespoons oil to the pan and fry the bread until golden. Add tortilla chips and bread to the tomatillos. Puree, adding 1 cup chicken broth a little at a time to make a smooth sauce.

Add the tomatillo puree, 1 cup of the reserved garlic oil and the Mexican chocolate to the chile puree in the heavy pot. Stir to combine everything. Add the remaining chicken broth and the thyme, and reduce over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching on the bottom. Add a fresh splash of oil to the skillet and gently heat the chicken through over low heat; Alternatively, you can add the chicken to the sauce for the last 10 minutes to heat. Remove the thyme bundle. Season to taste with kosher or sea salt. If you like a smoother sauce you can use a stick blender to really get it nice and smooth. Slather the chicken with sauce and garnish with toasted pepitas if you like. Serve with white rice and scotch whisky.

L’Ouefs a la Neige (Snow Eggs)

Snow EggsThis is one of my all-time favorite treats to make. Like chocolate, crème anglaise has enough fat for whisky to cut through and while it pairs with the perfumed American straight whisky style very well, it pairs even better with a Laphroaig or any other heavily peated single malt. Vanilla and peat are a no-brainer but really vanilla and whisky are really awesome together no matter which style you prefer. If you feel like experimenting, you can replace the vanilla with some almond or orange extract and try pairing with a Bourbon or a sweeter, unpeated single malt. Or you could add a sprinkle of ground ginger to the yolks. Or maybe try adding some fennel seed or anise, or some passion fruit puree to the finished sauce. There are so many opportunities to play around with this recipe that I don’t have enough time to suggest them all.

A quick note about tradition: classically, you’re supposed to poach the egg whites in the cream you use to make the crème anglaise but I’m not one for tradition and the anglaise could benefit from a little time in the refrigerator to set up some, so I feel like my technique works, too. I make the anglaise ahead of time and then prepare the egg whites in scalding water a few minutes before serving. It’s much easier to mess up the sauce also, so it’s prudent to make that when you have time and do the whites when you’re ready to eat.

  • 4 eggs separated
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs cardamom seeds cracked in a mortar and pestle
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract (if you have some homemade extract use it)
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Crème anglaise: Prepare an ice bath and set in fridge until ready to use. Reserve 2 Tablespoons sugar, mix the rest with the yolks and a pinch of kosher salt and set aside. In a medium pot, bring the cardamom, milk and cream to a boil. Filter through a doubled up cheesecloth, reserve the liquid and discard the seeds. Temper the hot milk into the yolk mix 1/3 at a time. Put the mix back in the pot over medium-low heat. Gently swirl, continuously scraping the bottom of the pot with a silicone spatula until all the foam on the surface subsides completely. You could stop cooking the sauce, but I like a slightly thicker creme so I keep on stirring until it thickens slightly more, a few extra minutes. This is a slow process and could take up to ten minutes altogether once you start heating the eggs. You do not want to rush it at risk of curdling. When the sauce is at the right consistency (or if you start to see lumps), strain it into a bowl over the ice bath and stir for a couple minutes to stop the cooking. Add 1 tsp vanilla. Set aside, cover with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator until ready to use. I wouldn’t leave it around for longer than a few days.

Poached whites: Bring a pot of water to a boil, cover and turn off heat. With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites. Once the whites are frothy, sprinkle in the rest of the sugar a little at a time. Whip to medium peaks, add the rest of the vanilla and whip to firm peaks. Now take the cover off your water and as long as it’s not boiling turn the heat to low. You don’t want the water to be boiling or your whites will cook too densely. If it starts to bubble at any point turn off the heat again. Take a spoonful of egg whites and drop it in the hot water. Gently poach on each side for 1 min. Remove and place on a paper towel. Repeat until you have an egg white for each serving you plan to serve; place whites on a plate set aside in the fridge until ready to use. They’ll hold for a few hours but I like to make them right before serving to make sure they don’t dry out in the fridge.

Now just fill the bottom of your serving vessel with the creme anglaise, gently lay an egg white on top and enjoy with a nice peaty dram. Cheers!

Barley Pepita Brittle

Buttery, malty, nutty, sweet, vanilla. These flavors are all classically whisky, so it would only make sense that a buttery, malty, nutty, sweet and vanilla flavored treat would serve a nice glass of the drink well (it also goes really well with beer). This brittle is not only easy to make, but the unusual use of barley is sure to make a very memorable impression on your guests.

You can find malted barley at your local brewing supply shop. The malt comes in a variety of roasts, from light to dark. You can use any level of roast you’d like, but I like to stick with lightly roasted caramel malt, around 20L (the folks at the store will know what that means). If you get completely unroasted barley the flavor contribution won’t be very strong, but if you use one that’s too dark you might end up with a bitter flavor that not many guests will appreciate. Feel free to experiment, though. A sprinkle of darker malt over a base of light malt may be just what you’re looking for.

You will need:

  • 1 + 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lightly roasted malted barley 
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepitas
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter cubed and brought to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Candy thermometer 
  • Silpat or other silicone mat and the same sized baking sheet 
  • Silicone spatula

In a covered pot over high heat bring sugar, salt, corn syrup and water to a boil. Resist the urge to stir unless noted to. Turn the heat down to medium, uncover and put in your candy thermometer. Bring the mix to 260*F. Add the pumpkin seeds and barley. Gently and slowly stir with a silicone spatula to coat all the dry ingredients and then lower the heat a tiny bit. Don’t rush this part or you may burn the sugar. If you see smoke take it off the heat for a minute and turn it down a little more before resuming. Without stirring, slowly bring the mix to 300*F. Remove from heat. Gently mix in the butter and baking soda and pour onto your Silpat lined baking sheet. Spread it around a little bit with the spatula. Let it cool. Once the brittle is room temperature just smash and serve. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container. Cheers!

The Port Charlotte Marshmallow

Windshield Washer FluidI have a secret… I’m in love with the smell of windshield washer fluid. I don’t know what it is. Maybe my clumsy Italian mother dropped me one too many times as a baby. Perhaps the fluid’s ghostly blueness hypnotizes me, like a moth to a bug-zapper. Maybe it’s because, as ambrosial as it smells, it is a forbidden fruit, a lethal Pomegranate hanging in some ancient Mesopotamian garden that time forgot under the hood of my Volvo; Should I ever dare to taste it, somebody’s god would surely strike me down. Not everybody feels the way I do, though.

Like windshield washer fluid, peat isn’t the most obvious thing for people to think of as delicious. But fortunately, unlike windsheild washer fluid, peated whisky won’t kill you if you drink it (in moderation). Still, not everybody likes the smell of bandaids and decay, not that those are the only notes you’ll find in a nicely peated whisky. So how do we share our love for this substance with the world? How can we frame it to show the non-initiated why we love it so? That’s actually an easy question to answer: marshmallows!

I usually try to use a single malt scotch like Port Charlotte’s PC6 when I make these. You don’t have to use Port Charlotte though. Any other heavily peated whisky would work. Lagavulin would be nice! You could even go one step further and try experimenting with Bourbon or Rye whiskies. Bottlings in the Port Charlotte line are nice and complex so when you lay them out alongside the sugar and vanilla, you’ll find that a lot of the unique flavors unfold and suddenly become accesible for folks who may not share an obvious affinty for peat. Without the fire, the copper suddenly becomes delicious and the fruit can come out from under the rubbery notes. The peat wants to be sweeter, so adding some sugar opens it up and the beast starts to tame itself.

Eat these marshmalllows over vanilla ice cream, toast them by the fire, make s’mores. There are so many possibilities. Go crazy!

The Port Charlotte Marshmallow   

In a mixer’s bowl bloom:

  • 1 packet (1.5 Tbls) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 Tbls Port Charlotte Single Malt Scotch
  • 1/4 cup good cream soda

Then in a sauce pot over medium heat mix together and bring to 245*F (firm ball stage):

  • 1/2 cup corn syrup 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup good cream soda 
  • 1 pinch of kosher salt

Remove the hot candy mix from the heat. Turn the mixer on low and slowly drizzle the hot candy into the bloomed gelatin. Whip for 7 minutes and remember to take the time to bask in the heavenly smells that will rise from your mixer bowl. Next move the marshmallow to a greased 9″ x 9″ pan. If you want thinner or thicker marshmallows use a bigger or smaller pan respectively. Let cool uncovered at room temp for 10 hours. Remove from pan, dust with powder sugar, cut with a sharp knife and dust again. Store in an airtight container if you’re not going to eat them soon.