I never knew how easy making homemade Irish Cream would be! I have four cocktail recipe books, but I went with Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen recipe because Deb promised on her blog it would be quick and easy.
As usual, she wasn’t fibbing.
Although it came out a little lighter than it was the pictures on Smitten Kitchen (next time I’d add the optional coffee for color), I was so proud of myself for finally getting around to trying this before the twelve days of Christmas were over that I had to instagram it.
While I (just) managed to make this during the holiday season, it’s all gone and it’s time to make more. It’s a good February drink, because bathing suit season is still so far off and we’re well over those pesky New Year’s resolutions, too. And Irish Cream is also a good drink for March, because (of course) St. Patrick’s Day!
This time, I’m going to try a slightly more complicated recipe from one of my drink cookbooks, Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss. It calls for cacao nibs, which I’ll have to look for.
I wish I had had some Irish cream left this week, to go with my audiobook of Faithful Place by Tana French. All those Irish accents! The narrator, Frank Mackey, takes his whiskey straight, though. Though over all a very sad story, like all the Dublin Murder Squad books I’ve read so far, it has plenty of dark humor. Faithful Place has a scene in a pub where the brothers in a gathering of siblings are embarrassed to order the sissy drink their sisters want, a “babycham”. I had to look this up to see what it was:
Just after I posted about 2017 food trends last weekend, there was an article in Sunday’s paper about how Maple may be overtaking Pumpkin Spice as the trendiest fall food flavor. Since pumpkin spice has “jumped the shark” with pumpkin-spice dog treats and pumpkin-spice ramen noodles. (Something like that…I can’t be sure because He Who Shall Not Be Named recycled the paper in a fit of tidiness only two days after we got it.)
The Kitchn picks on CVS as a prime example of Pumpkin Spice’s jumping the shark – making fun of CVS Pumpkin-Spice Cough Drops. Honey & lemon does make you think “throat-soothing” more than cinnamon & nutmeg does, but I feel sorry for companies who come out with stuff after the bandwagon is well on its way by. Libraries do it all the time. (You are not alone, CVS R&D Department!)
This time, I’m right on trend, because I had this cookbook checked out from the library LAST MONTH:
I have always loved maple, especially after we lived in Vermont for five years, but as a flavor, it is usually celebrated in springtime instead of fall. Maple syrup isn’t allowed on a low-carb diet, but everyone needs a splurge every now and then.
I immediately wanted to make almost all of the recipes in this book, probably because most of them had “maple” somewhere in the name, but these are the ones I’ve marked to try soon:
Maple Tahini Chicken and Broccoli
Maple Ginger Chicken Thighs
Chicken, Peanut, and Napa Cabbage Pad Thai
Maple Ginger Roasted Salmon
Sherry Orange Quinoa
Cauliflower Salad with Black Sesame
Salted Maple Penuche Fudge
Maple Apple Almond Torte with Maple Cinnamon Glaze
The index separately lists Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Vegan recipes, but is otherwise only a recipe name index. The book doesn’t have an ingredient index (so you could look up chicken and find all the recipes using chicken, for example) which I believe every cookbook should have. But that’s my only complaint!
My Mom and I decided over the summer to schedule a night to cook and eat dinner together once a month to use recipes that she has been wanting either to make again or to try for the first time. For our last one, I strong-armed her into choosing a recipe from Maple for us to try, so we could A) use her non-gluten-free kitchen, and B) use some of the brand-new jug of pure Vermont maple syrup she had been given.
We both liked the sound of all of the main-dish recipes mentioned above, but I really wanted to make Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle. The author’s note on the recipe says:
I wish I could claim responsibility for coming up with the idea of drizzling maple on pizza. I first saw it on the menu of the local bakery of our little Vermont town. The syrup adds a lovely balance to the salty cheese. Trust me.
Mom had garden-grown arugula from my sister and Vermont maple syrup from my brother, and I brought fresh thyme from our home herb garden, so it would have been a real family affair if only we had gotten my other sister to come over to eat it!
While we were cooking and talking, I forgot the fresh thyme was supposed to go in with the caramelized onions after they finished cooking, so I had to sprinkle it onto the pizza after the fact. I forgot to put the cornmeal on the pizza pan, too, and had to lift the dough up and put it under. (I’ve decided it might be best to have the glass of wine with dinner instead of during dinner prep. )
I also didn’t add all the arugula the recipe called for (3 cups loosely packed) but I blame that on being misled by the food photography. The arugula wilted from the heat of the pizza just out of the oven, so we could have used all three cups, but the photo showed it as leafy greens atop a pizza, so I was thinking pizza would be hard to eat with all that arugula on it!
Due to time pressures, we used store-bought dough instead of trying the author’s recipe for Maple Wheat Pizza Dough, but the pizza was still delicious. Possibly a little too sweet, because I possibly went a little heavy on the maple syrup. (The recipe called for the pizza to be made in a rectangular baking sheet with sides and we used a round pizza pan, so we used the same amount of maple syrup on a smaller area, resulting in more maple syrup per bite.)
The cheeses on this pizza are a combination of sharp cheddar and feta, so there was a nice salty-sweet flavor to it, with pepitas adding crunch and the arugula to make it good for you.
For far too many years, I hated winter squash and wouldn’t eat it. Pureed squash was watery, bland, and mushy, with a weird grainy texture. Squash soup was the same, except it came in a bowl and you had to eat more of it.
Once I discovered that roasting cubed winter squash in a hot oven with olive oil and herbs and adding savory apple and curry flavors to squash soup transforms this once-hated veggie into a must-have fall favorite, there was no going back to that slooshy scoop of tepid squash puree slowly seeping into everything else on the plate.
So, what could be better than combining the two preparation methods – roasting and currying – and making Curried Roasted Squash Soup? Finally, butternut squash lives up to its tasty-sounding name!
There are recipes for similar autumnal soups all over the place, but this particular Curried Roasted Squash Soup recipe comes from the cookbook Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny (Storey, 2006).
We’re still having tropical weather in New England in mid-October, but the author has written it up on the publisher’s Web site as Polar Vortex Soup, and you’ll find the full recipe there. I tasted it at our library cookbook club meeting last month, where Dishing Up Maine was an alternate selection with other Maine cookbooks. Delicious!
The recipe does call for 1/4 cup of brown sugar, which I’m planning to cut in half when I make it. The apple and cinnamon make the soup seem sweet already, so I don’t think we’ll miss the extra brown sugar too much.