Cocktail 11/26/21

Rye Manhattan

Most Fridy evenings, I like to have a drink to end the week. What I have will vary quite a bit – a beer, a glass of wine, a glass of whiskey, or a mixed drink. I don’t get too ambitious with cocktails, I mostly stick to a few standards that can be made without having to have a lot of speciality items on hand. So, Manhattans, martinis, G&Ts, the occasional Negroni, and so on.

I typically use rye whiskey for a Manhattan, though I will sometimes make one with bourbon. My rye whiskey of choice is WhistlePig, which is distilled in Vermont. I normally buy the 10-year, which is not hard to find in the liquor stores around here, but this particular evening’s drink was made with the 12-year bottle that my wife gave me for my birthday.

Over Halloween weekend, we took a little mini-vacation to Vermont. We stopped in Queechee, just over the New Hampshire border near White River Junction to visit the Simon Pearce glass factory. The glassware is gorgeous, and is made right on location – you can walk downstairs from the shop into the glassworks and watch the glassblowers at work.

As we were pulling into the parking lot, we noticed a sign on the house next door that said “WhistlePig Tasting Room”. So, after we finished shopping in the glassware shop, we crossed over and found ourselves in a quiet set of rooms, sipping sample flights of various WhistlePig ryes. Rye is not quite as sweet as bourbon, and usually has a little spicyness from the higher proportion of rye grain in the mash bill. I’ve come to enjoy it just as much as bourbon as a straight pour on its own. With my wife’s blessing, of course, I splurged on a bottle of the 15-year. But I won’t be using that to make Manhattans.

In addition to the 12-year WhistlePig, this particular Manhattan has black Vermouth (though usually I use Dolin red), orange bitters, and a Luxardo cherry

Breakfast 12/5/21

Sufganiyah

Sufganiyot (plural for sufganiyah) are a type of jelly donut made for Hanukkah. This one was filled with raspberry jam. The donut shop where I bought it also had ones filled with apricot jam, and apparently they also sometimes have custard filling. This donut shop also makes Polish paczki for Shrove Tuesday. There is a Polish community in town, and this is one of several places that have various Polish delicacies like this.

The Germans call this style of donut a “Berliner”, and I’m sure that most people have heard the story that when John F. Kennedy went to the Berlin Wall and proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner!”, he was really saying “I am a jelly donut!” due to a poor translation job, however, sadly, this is just an urban legend.

Appetizer 12/7/21

Flaming Saganaki

On the menu, this was rather aptly called “Cheese On Fire”. It’s Kefalograviera cheese (you may know it better as Halloumi), which is a very firm cheese that fries without melting. It’s flambeed with a bit of alcohol to get a crispy dark edge and topped wih fresh oregano, pistachios, and honey. Shouting “Opa!” when it is brought to the table is optional, depending on the venue and the quality of your dinner company.

Lunch 12/11/21

Charcuterie plate

One of my favorite things to do for lunch at home is to make up a charcuterie plate with a variety of meat and cheese. These days I try to buy the food from the local cheese shop (since there is, in fact, a lovely little cheese shop in our city), but have also procured similar fixings from Whole Foods, or even the ordinary supermarket.

The cheeses on this plate were a Shropshire Blue (the yellow one in the photo), a Brabander, and a Garrotxa. Both the Brabander and the Garroxta are made with goat milk, but they were not “goat cheese” in the style of Chevre. Brabander is a kind of Gouda from the Netherlands, super buttery and creamy. Garrotxa is from Catalonia and is earthy and a little acidic.

To go with the cheese, there’s some very thinly sliced Wagyu beef bresaola, and a locally-made Genoa salami. The salami looks a bit more like bologna in this photo thatn maybe what one usually sees, but has the same taste profile. The bresaola is salt-and-air cured like prosciutto, intensifying the flavor of the beef.

To round out the plate, there’s some cornichons, pickled red onion, and mixed Spanish olives (most of which are being obscured by the big slice of Brabander). Plus some baguette slices. And the best part is that I still have enough of all of these things (except the bread) to have some again, probably for New Year’s Eve.

Dinner 12/13/21

Bucatini with Tuna Sauce and Capers

I have really scaled back my cooking over the last 6-8 months because my evening commute sometimes doesn’t get me home until 6:30, and because once I did get home, I was often too tired to be bothered. Moreover, withour daughter away at college, cooking for two, when one of those people is a fussy eater, felt like a chore. Nevertheless, I do cook dinner one or two nights a week, as time, energy level and interest permit.

This was an improvised meal I made just for myself, because my wife wasn’t hungry. There was a little bucatini in the cupboard from another easy meal we like (the famous TikTok Feta and Tomato Pasta), and several cans of tuna. I made a basic white sauce and added a can of tuna (drained) to that, then combined it with the pasta and about 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. I threw in some capers to add a little acidity, then some grated Parmesan on top.

I learned the pasta water trick from watching Lidia Bastianich’s cooking shows. It works for just about any kind of sauce you have, helping it coat the pasta better and enriching the mouthfeel of the sauce.

Bucatini is a fun pasta, and great with a creamy sauce like this, but I think this would work with shells, orichiette, or even elbow macaroni. The bucatini made it feel a little more elevated and a little less like tuna noodle casserole.

Lunch 12/16/21

Tikka Masala Momos

A momo is a Tibetan dumpling, not unlike a Japanese gyoza or a Chinese baozi. They also turn up in Indian cuisine. Tibetan dishes borrow from Indian and Chinese cuisines, and these momos came from a place that serves Indian, Nepali, and other Asian dishes. The momos come served several different ways, with several different fillings. These were filled with chicken and covered in tikka masala sauce.

The filling is not heavily spiced, but was flavorful enough to hold up against the rather hearty but mild tikka masala sauce. The eight pieces plus the sauce made for a substantial lunch.