Friday, February 26, 2010

Martini Time!

Because it’s been a LONG fucking week for me and because it’s probably been an equally LONG fucking week for you too, can you guess what time it is? It’s MARTINI TIME!!! After meeting a schedule that’s undoubtedly busier than a Vancouver Olympian’s for the past two weeks, I’m ready to relax, and what better way than with a yummy martini on a Friday evening?

2oz Pear Grey Goose vodka
3/4oz St-Germain
1oz Champagne (aka, sparkling white wine)

For you ex-bartenders out there, this is a piece of cake: in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine 2oz. Pear Grey Goose vodka, 3/4oz St. Germain, and 1oz champagne. Shake. Pour. Garnish with sliced pear. And last but not least, make sure to tell your customers that they’re drinking a Cindy Lop-her ;)

Okay, folks, in this post I’m going to reveal all my guest-bartending knowledge. Use it for good – not evil.
Ever wish you could look as cool as Tom Cruise in Cocktail, throwing bottles around like Bozo the clown and mixing the classiest drinks while balancing “fun-loving tourist entertainer” and “sex symbol”? Yeah, me either. All I really ever wanted was to be able to make myself a really bitchin’ drink that wouldn’t leave me hung over the next morning. Here’s the secret: skip the syrups and sweeteners, and go for top-shelf liquors and naturally-sweetened alcohols and mixers (aka, crushed fresh fruit). Yeah, this makes a more expensive drink, but it also means you’ll be up at a reasonable hour tomorrow, and you won’t be running to the bathroom immediately after greasy diner food – always a plus if you’re a regular anywhere.

If you’re not used to mixing cocktails, don’t be fooled into thinking that you need a cocktail shaker. Yes, they make things easier, but if you learn the method I describe below no special tools are required, and your friends will think you spent at least one summer as a bartender, which will at the very least move you up a notch in the book of your one friend who’s kind of a douche bag.

Fill a glass 1/2 –full with ice. To properly measure an ounce, fill a standard shot glass (it’s an ounce!) – here you’ll see my classy Las Vegas shot glass modeling the ounce of, well, whatever.

Pour all ingredients over ice. Next you’re going to mix them using 2 cups. Pay attention to what I’m about to say next, because it’s important. NEVER use glass-on-glass. If you do, you’re asking for disaster. Typically, bartenders use a stainless steel mixing tumbler and a pint glass to mix cocktails. Since you don’t live in a bar, grab a plastic cup – disposable or reusable, it doesn’t matter. Next pour the drink and the ice into the cup with the WIDER rim – it’s important this cup is on the bottom, or you’re gonna get your fru-fru drink all over yourself. Next, place the cup with the smaller circumference inside the cup with the drink in it. Push it down to ensure a seal. Next, break out your inner Tom Cruise and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Remember: more than 5 shakes is masturbation.

Next, holding both cups still together, one in each hand, carefully create an opening about ¼ inch and no more than the smallest cube of ice that’s chilling your mixed beverage. With the small separation, strain your drink from the ice into the cup of your choosing. Martinis don’t necessitate martini glasses, so pour it in whatever the hell you want (just make sure it’s clean).

Although I’ve never had a full-time bartending gig, I always get accused of it when guest bartending for my derby team. Apparently I look like I know what I’m doing. Good for me. This martini was inspired by the bar and bar-owner who gladly let my team guest bartend once a month last year to help us fundraise for travel: Bad Decisions. Bad Decisions is possibly the MOST underrated bar in Baltimore. Granted, it’s name says “vomiting on the sidewalk, then going home with the uggo”, however Bad Decisions is one of the most unique martini bars I’ve ever been to  - in Baltimore or otherwise. They have a vast selection of proprietary martinis that are made from the freshest fruits and most top-shelf liquors from around the world. It was here that I fell in love with St-Germain, one of the ingredients in this martini. St-Germain is a French alcohol that’s made from elderflower, which gives it a unique floral taste, without being perfumy or too sickeningly sweet. When I guest bartended at Bad Decisions last, I’m pretty sure it was an ingredient, along with Pimms, that makes a pretty damn good sangria tasting concoction. It’s light, it’s versatile, and once you try it, you’re going to want to keep experimenting with what else you can put it in.

You may have noticed that my champagne (cough, cough) still has its $5.99 price sticker on it in the picture. If you noticed that, then you’ve also noticed I’m a woman of distinguishing tastes. As far as champagne (aka, sparkling wine) goes, I like the sweet shit – the $5.99 shit – sue me. The important thing to remember here and any other time you’re cooking or drink-concocting is that if you don’t like an ingredient in something, you’re probably not going to like the end result. So, if you like dry, pricy champagne use dry, pricy champagne. If you’re an 18-year-old female hockey player who just won an Olympic gold metal, use Dom and don’t apologize to Canadian officials for consuming alcohol under age on every major broadcasting network across world. At least it’s not Crystal. THAT would send a bad message to the kids.

Well, I’ve almost entirely wasted this buzz typing out this entry, so I’m outtie 5000. I hope you like your martini as much as I’ve been enjoying mine. I think I’ll listen to a little bit more Beach House and pass out on the sofa in my work clothes. Cheers.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Roasted Red Peppers (Vegan, Vegetarian)

red peppers (duh)

This week red peppers were on sale for $1/lb at the grocery store, so like every other red-blooded American in that store, I allowed myself to be herded toward the sale bin and shoved 6 of the largest and brightest red peppers into my cart. It was only after I wandered away, satisfied with my savvy shopperness, that I thought to myself, "What the fuck am I going to do with 6 peppers?". Then it hit me: roast the bitches!!!

  1. Preheat your oven to "Broil" or set the temperature to 450-degrees if your broiler is filthy like mine is.
  2. Thoroughly scrub peppers with a vegetable brush and peel off any stickers.
  3. Dry peppers and lay them on their sides on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake/broil peppers for 30-minutes total, turning the peppers with tongs every 10 minutes, or when the tops become blackened and blistered.
  5. After 30 minutes (or when peppers are blistered all the way around), remove peppers from the oven and promptly place peppers into a large bowl, covering bowl with saran wrap.
  6. Allow peppers to cool and store in fridge overnight. Don't remove the saran wrap!
  7. The following day, remove peppers from the fridge and peel and deseed peppers, discarding seeds, skin, and excess liquid.
  8. Place pepper flesh in an airtight container and cover in olive oil. Until used, peppers can be stored in olive oil for up to two weeks (although I always feel weird eating anything left in there for over a week).

Okay, kids, this really ain't that hard. Follow the instructions above, paying special attention to:
  • leaving the peppers uncut when you place them in the oven
  • placing the peppers on their sides when you place them in the oven
  • not fucking with the peppers once you cover the bowl with saran wrap (sealing them in the bowl allows the moisture to continue steaming the peppers, which makes the skin easier to peel the next day)
The next day, when peeling the peppers, you don't need anything special - just your hands. Holding a pepper in the palm of one hand, peel the skin of the pepper off in strips with the other. Rotate the pepper 360-degrees in your palm, ensuring you've peeled all the skin off the pepper.

Next, allow the flesh of the pepper to split open. It's gonna want to do this naturally anyhow. If possible, begin splitting the flesh from the bottom up. When the pepper is fully split, turn the pepper inside-out, so that the majority of the seeds stay attached to the stem, and detach the flesh from the stem, discarding the stem. Run your fingers down the flesh to get rid of any rogue seeds before placing them in your airtight container.

I've always enjoyed roasted red peppers, but I've never attempted roasting them myself until now. How did they turn out? Well, I didn't try them yet, but the smell has been intoxicating, and I've pretty much had to beat my domestic partner away from the fridge with a stick because he wants to eat them straight out of the oil. I'm not allowing that to happen, because I have a plan... Tomorrow I shall make my own roasted red pepper hummus!!! Stay tuned :)