Monday, December 29, 2008

Chicken Faux Gras - Worth A Try

For Christmas I decided to make something unhealthy for an appetizer. I decided not to really celebrate this year, but just spend the afternoon with friends eating tasty food and drinking lovely wine. I love dishes you can make ahead of time, they make life so much easier on the "big" day and who can resist a recipe titled: Chicken Faux Gras. This recipe is from Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie from the Contraband Cuisine episode.

The recipe for the mousse is pretty simple and just requires: onion, butter, garlic, heavy cream, chicken livers, sea salt, black pepper. It also has a parsley gelee for the top of the mousse and requires: a cucumber, gelatin, lemon juice, suger, Tabasco sauce, flat-leaf parsley (which I omitted due to my hosts dislike of parsley, thus making it really a cucumber gelee). The whole recipe can be found on the Gourmet site here.

While we were devouring the mousse / pate (it really is delicious), I noted that I could do without the gelee on top and my host noted that it really provided a nice balance to the mousse - which I can agree with.

Incidentally, we enjoyed the Faux Gras with a bottle of Francois Cazin 2004 Cour-Cheverny Cuvee Renaissance which is an off-dry, but lovely balanced, Romorantin from the Loire Valley. It matched perfectly with the mousse. It is available for about $18 to $20.

Old Pulteney 12 Year

In lieu of my usual house scotch, the Black Bottle (see earlier post), I had to recently purchase another scotch and tried the Old Pulteney 12 Year. This is a completely different animal to the Black Bottle - the Black Bottle is an Islay blend and the Old Pulteney 12 Year is a Highland single malt. Where the Black Bottle is smoky, peaty, with a touch of iodine on the nose, the Old Pulteney is fresher, floral, richer, salty. It is matured in air-dried old bourbon casks. Old Pulteney is supposedly the most northern distillary in Scotland based in the town of Wick.

I am a Islay fan, so I am not going to change my house scotch, especially since the Black Bottle is so inexpensive at about $24.99, but the Old Pulteney 12 Year is definitely worth a try for something a little different. And at about $40.99, it is still not in the pricey range of some single malts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Northern Lights Cocktail | Adapted from the Oxo Tower

When visiting the Oxo Bar in London back in October I tried the Northern Light cocktail which is made from Ketel One vodka with a rinse of smokey Laphroaig 10 year malt, doused with Noilly Ambre and orange bitters. As noted in my original post, this is definitely a martini for smokey scotch lovers - there is enough Laphroig to bring out the smokiness and peatiness, but it is nicely "diluted" by the vodka and rounded out by the Noilly.

Now that winter is fully upon us, I thought I would try making a version of this at home. Noilly Ambre (which I don't have) is an aperatif somewhere between dry and sweet vermouth, so I used equal parts of Carpano Antica Formula and Vya Extra Dry Vermouth. I also substituted Stolichnaya Gold for Ketel One since that is what I drink at home.

Chill a martini glass (a small one, not one of the huge ones) and in a pint glass combine 10 parts vodka, 1 part vermouth combination and a couple of dashes of orange bitters - stir with a cocktail spoon. Rinse the 10 year Laphroaig in the cocktail glass and drain. Strain the cocktail into the martini glass and flame with an orange twist (okay since I didn't have an orange, I flamed at lemon twist).

This is a great winter cocktail - the smokiness, the orange, the woodsiness, but it is light too.