Peach Fuzz

I was having a really great day.  It was Friday, the official kickoff to the weekend was only hours away, it was sunny and 80 degrees – it just doesn’t get much better.  Then I went to the doctor.  Buzz  killed.  It was time for my four week follow up with radiation.  He asked me all of the usual “how are you doing?” questions and I answered positively for all.  Then it came to the hair.  I haven’t seen much in the way of hair growth following radiation and had been paranoid that I would be one of “those people” who didn’t have hair come back after treatment.  At all.  So, I pulled the scarf off of my head and he took a good look.  His next few words made my stomach drop.  “I’m pessimistic about your hair growth.  If you don’t see anything more in the next two months, this will be the permanent state of your scalp.”

Gulp.  31 years old, female, and bald.  Not quite what I had in mind for my recovery.  I realize that I have made a major recovery from a pretty scary kind of cancer.  But allow me to be vain for just a bit.  I never wanted to look like a cancer patient in the first place, and I certainly never wanted to do so on a permanent basis.  I asked what more I could do to encourage hair growth.  Vitamins?  Diet?  Nope.  Nothing I could do.  The saying goes when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, right?  Well, when I want peach fuzz, I’m going to make a peach cocktail.  And take drastic measures.  Friends, today I bought Rogaine.  Well, the Target version.  That stuff is expensive!

So here I go on my hair growth journey.  I’m taking pre-natal vitamins, a super B-complex vitamin, eating more protein, having my thyroid checked out, and using Rogaine.  Giddy up.  I will have hair again if I have anything to say about it.  It seems my doctor might have been a little premature in his assessment too.  Phew.  Most of the medical sites and patient forums I saw online indicated 3 months to a year before hair was really growing again.  So, it sounds like I have a while to wait and that I’d better purchase a few more caps and scarves in light, breathable fabrics to get me through the sweltering summer.  And maybe I’ll have to make a few more of these to get me through the summer too.  Just call it my “rain dance” cocktail – but for hair.

sparkling peach melba

recipe:  jb’s pour house

1/2 bag frozen unsweetened peaches or 3 ripe fresh peaches, sliced

6 oz. raspberries

1/4 c. sugar

1 bottle Asti, chilled

1/2 c. vanilla cognac (or make your own)

Combine peaches, raspberries and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Carefully toss and let fruit macerate for about 20-30 minutes.  Working in batches, puree fruit in a food processor or blender.  Place puree in a pitcher.  Slowly add half of the Asti to the puree, as the Asti will bubble and fizz quite a bit.   Stir, and add half of the cognac.  This will cause the fizz to dissipate.  Slowly add the remaining half of the Asti.  Add the remaining cognac.  Stir well and chill until ready to serve.

Raising a glass to hair,

– j

All content and photographs © 2010-2012 jb’s pour house

tipsy golfer

Man, it is hot.  Our little apartment has the benefit of being on the second floor, above a bay of garages, with the blazing western sun beating into the few windows during the late afternoon hours.  After multiple maintenance requests, we were finally told that the second floor apartments struggle to maintain anything cooler than 70 degrees during the summer.  Ha!  We’re lucky if our thermostat dips below 80.  Thank goodness there is a pool in our complex…

So it was with much anticipation for air conditioner awesomeness that B and I climbed into the car and headed back to our former hometown to check on our little house with its forlorn “for sale” sign and to visit with friends and family.  Wouldn’t you know our luck?  Midway through night one (the coolest of the weekend), the condensor motor decides to go to Appliance Heaven and we’re stuck in a house with no screens.  Morning dawned hot and sticky and the neighborhood children covered their ears as I fought with the screens on our ancient double hung windows amidst a steady stream of profanity.  The effort and frustration proved to be more than my sweat glands could bear, and I retreated to the cool basement leaving B to fight with the last of the devil-spawn screens in our bedroom.

In weather like this, I can’t seem to get enough liquids.  Mind you, there is plenty of ice water to be had, but sometimes I want to spruce it up a bit.  *Blasphemous statements ahead*  When the sun is beating overhead and the apartment is a balmy 85 degrees without hope of a breeze, I can’t seem to find joy in my glass of supposed-to-be-cool room temperature red wine.  And while a nice cold beer does the trick on round 1, any future attempts at quenching my thirst with another leaves me with a full stomach and a still unslaked thirst.  It appears I am beered out.  I told you, blasphemy indeed!

There is one beverage that I adore once the summer sun dances in the blue sky – lemonade.  When I am searching for an adult version, I do enjoy a vodka lemonade, but I had my fair share on the floor of the dance clubs during my college days.  My poor liver…  Instead, today as I wandered through the aisles of the grocery store, filling my cart with fixins for many “no-cook” and grill-ready meals this week (read: no way am I turning on that blasted oven), I passed an end cap filled with Arizona teas – among them, the Arnold Palmer.

Now I don’t know much about Mr. Palmer’s personal beverage preferences beyond the half iced tea-half lemonade concoction bearing his name, but I would like to think that he’d appreciate a grown up version once he was finished with the back nine (or maybe before he started the back nine?).  Lucky for me, there is a liquor store right next to the grocery store stocked with multiple sweet tea vodkas, and I was off to the races.  When I returned to the apartment to see the dog passed out on the linoleum floor, desperate for a cool respite, and B closing the shades to the punishment of the afternoon sun, I knew it was time for a Tipsy Golfer.  Or two.

tipsy golfer

recipe:  jb’s pour house

2 oz. sweet tea vodka of your choice (but how can you pass up one with Carolina in the name?!)

2 oz. lemon vodka

1/2 c. lemonade

Fill a highball glass with ice.  Add 2 oz. sweet tea vodka, 2 oz. lemon vodka, and fill the glass the rest of the way with lemonade (about 1/2 cup).  Stir, garnish with lemon slice if desired, then enjoy as beads of condensation run down your glass.

Cheers, friends, stay cool!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 – 2011 jb’s pour house

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local brew

note:  this is the third of a three-part series chronicling a recent romp around Green County in southwestern Wisconsin, aka “Baja Wisconsin” to my family

 

The Wine:   (actually, it’s beer) New Glarus Two Women Lager

The Grapes:  Malted barley, lager yeast, hops, water – none of these are grapes

The Region:   Southern Wisconsin

Pairs Well With:  Almost anything (lager is extremely versatile), but shows best with difficult pairings including spicy food, Asian-inspired dishes, salads, and seafood

Stay Away From:  Extremely mild fare – the lager’s subtle cleanliness will be lost

You Will Like It If:  You like beer on the crisp, clean, mildly malt-driven side

Stay Away If:  You think you are drinking wine.  This is in fact a beer.  Also forego if you want a huge rich beer

Cellar Potential:  Best consumed early

Marriages don’t go smoothly all the time, and with the groceries laid out in front of me I started considering my options.

Of course, these were more akin to small treasures than simple groceries.  One-by-one J unpacked each morsel and presented it for inspection.  Small-batch cheddar cheese curds, handmade European-style pastries, specialty cured meats, gourmet sausages.  Visible salivation is something generally limited to Saturday morning cartoons, but as the food passed before my eyes I was sheepishly aware I had to dry my mouth.

This was the good stuff all right, brought back from J’s annual family excursion to southern Wisconsin, where artisanal producers and small grocery vendors put their inventories to the test against the wrath of J’s credit card (or hopefully debit card these days – in theory at least, we’re trying to be smarter).  But the food, certainly impressive, was only the foreplay.  Where was the beer?

I learned about New Glarus brewery from a book I bought on “the world’s best beers.”  Beer, which up to that point I had taken as wine’s retarded cousin – a fizzy yellow, neutral-tasting concoction best suited to frat parties and weekend tailgates (both customs I admittedly embrace but you get the point) – was never something I had taken very seriously.  As it turns out, people take beer (I mean real beer but we’ll get to that in a minute) at least as seriously as wine, and customers of the small wine shop where I worked were burying me in difficult brew-related questions.  I sought Michael Jackson’s Ultimate Beer for an education, and my fancy new book claimed this strange brewed beverage could be at least as complex as wine.  And New Glarus was referenced as one of the best.

New Glarus, Wisconsin and its eponymous brewery are nestled in a picturesque hamlet about 45 minutes north of Rockford, IL.  A couple years ago, per Jackson’s ever-valuable advice I asked to make New Glarus part of the trip.  It turns out the brewery makes an impressive lineup of top-quality brews, including its flagship Spotted Cow and Fat Squirrel ales and a number of smaller batch offerings (it was actually the brewery’s take on Lambic – a traditional Belgian beer brewed with natural yeast and often fruit – that graced Jackson’s pages).  A stop at the brewery has become tradition, and a staggering amount of beer always accompanies us home from our travels.

But for this year’s trip there was tragedy.  My office asked me to be available to work over the weekend (yes, I have to work to pay for all this tasty stuff), so J was left without a chaperone.  It was with sadness over missed Spotted Cow (and fear at what J might do without someone to keep her American Express in check) that I watched her leave for Wisconsin.

Fortunately, she was not travelling alone.  Her sister allowed her to carpool, in exchange for my watching her two puppies – ruthlessly jolly terriers of five and twenty pounds each, there was no limit to the face-licking, shadow-barking, ball-retrieving insanity they were prepared to unleash on my peaceful abode (especially when joined by their co-conspirator, our own little Yorkshire Terrier, who I’m convinced managed the insanity through secret messages via obligatory hind-quarter sniffing).  Resigned to my three-day role as canine jungle-gym, I tolerated a face-full of scratchy paws and drooly mouths on the promise of a fridge-full of New Glarus beer.

So it was, when J came home (I was convinced she was hidden somewhere behind the forest of shopping bags), my dismay was twofold.  Primarily, I could actually feel my wallet sweating.  Considering the financial acrobatics her spending spree no-doubt entailed, the only consolation was the idea New Glarus would erect some sort of statue in my honor. 

But closer to my heart (or beer belly as it were), I was more concerned about the beverage selection.  Even as the beer bounty was revealed (an acceptably hedonistic two full cases of Spotted Cow and Fat Squirrel), I was dubious.  Half the point of going to the brewery is to get something unique, something I had never seen.  But when J revealed the “Two Women” lager, what was to be this year’s unique brew, my marriage teetered on the brink.

We the hop-loving, alcohol-thirsty, intensity-craving American beer drinking public (at least those of us who know to stay away from the large domestic breweries spewing out oceans of yellow fizz only mislabeled “beer”) tend to shy away from lagers.  Lagers rely on finesse and transparency to show their quality.  Ales, their older brothers, are typically richer, bolder, and more robust.  And considering the domestic love for rock-n-roll and muscle cars, it’s maybe no surprise most top-quality domestic beer is ale.

And lager’s biggest problem is its connection to those juggernaut American breweries (you know which ones I mean – I told you we’d get there).  It’s at great risk of family feud that I tell you most large-scale American “lagers” are terrible.  Thankfully (and lucky for those of us that know better), they bear little resemblance to the true style.  In the words of brewmaster Garrett Oliver is his amazing The Brewmaster’s Table (242), “American mass-market (lager) presents a watery beer that is quickly produced out of a half-malt mash, with virtually no hops at all….The beer is then filtered to within an inch of its already pallid life…You’d need a laboratory and millions of dollars of equipment to achieve such a remarkably bland creation.”

How did American lager come to this?  A little history lesson illustrates it best.  Be it German-Czechoslovakian lager or English ale, quality beer was big business until prohibition threw everything out of whack.  When the Vollstead Act was finally repealed, the domestic market had been without beer for several years.   American tastes now gravitated toward flavored cocktails and soft-drinks, and the depression-ridden market wanted its booze cheap.  Weaker beer, dumbed down by rice and corn additives (and, rumor has it, other controversial chemicals) helped keep prices low and flavors inert.  Sales became driven by sophisticated and extraordinarily successful marketing campaigns, rather than flavor or quality, to the point where today we are left with bloated domestic production no longer even pretending to make real beer (trust me, “triple hops” brewing and “cold filtering” mean essentially nothing, and don’t get me started on “drinkability”).

So it was when J unwrapped this nondescript little lager from New Glarus, I started envying the bachelor life.  In fact, if J hadn’t kept pestering me about trying the darn thing, it probably would have sat on a shelf for some time as more fashionable brews found their way to my belly. 

But as usual, the wife was onto something.  The Two Women lager, marketed as Bavarian in style but reminiscent of a Pilsner for its clean pale malt crispness and mild hop bitterness, is a tasty if understated brew.  On the nose, flowers, baking bread and a little bit of sea foam give way to a firm, slightly hoppy midpalate and finish.  It’s a thirst-quencher all-right, and superbly mild malty character (the beer is marketed as a special collaboration of the female leadership behind New Glarus and local Weyermann malting) stays modest and lets bright, bitter hops cleanse the palate.  True to its Pilsner roots, it’s not an overpowering beer, designed for the Bohemian practice of consuming several pints in a sitting. 

And in a similar tradition, the clean profile and crisp carbonation scream out for just about any dish one could think of.  Beer’s bubbles predispose it to food friendliness, but this lager’s crisp, gentle demeanor leave it ready for almost any fare.  This is a beer meant to be enjoyed with food.

One major problem is its packaging and marketing.  The 500mL bottle, sold as singles only, isn’t really what one expects from an easy-drinking lager, and I was left wishing we had another bottle to wash down our cheeseburgers.  Also disappointing, only a vague description and no mention of alcohol on the label, leaves one guessing as to the beer’s style.

But in general, New Glarus’s Two Women lager is testament to what domestic lager can be when breweries take it seriously.  And it’s another example of why southern Wisconsin is worth the trip.

 -b

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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butter burgers with spotted cow battered cheese curds

note:  this is the second of a three-part series chronicling a recent romp around Green County in southwestern Wisconsin, aka “Baja Wisconsin” to my family

The gravel lot was filled with cars haphazardly parked.  Flicks of the dairy cattle’s tails waved with the breeze as they happily munched their breakfast in the sun after a long night of rain. The hills, more sparkling green after the night’s storm, rolled across the countryside.  Two older men in faded denim and mesh John Deere caps flagged us to a waiting spot.  Inside the fans hummed as the employees bustled about filling orders for waiting patrons in the small, closet-like space.

“The Curd is the Word.”

T-shirts boasted the Decatur Dairy’s slogan as they danced in the breeze above row after row of bags filled with cheese curds.  Muenster, Cheddar, Bleu Cheese, Buffalo, Garlic & Herb, Peppercorn Ranch, Wasabi, and on and on the labels read.  Those in the know head to the dairy early to snatch up the freshest cheese curds – ones that squeak so loudly against your teeth you’d swear your companions could hear the symphony of squeaks muffled in your mouth.  As hand cut wedges of cheese and bags of curds piled up against the counter, the cash register ticked along happily as the order total grew.  Outside, we sat on the concrete against the stainless tanks filled high with fresh milk and munched on our treasures.  Ah, a Wisconsin breakfast.

Bags of differing flavors were opened in the morning sun and we stretched and reached across one another, dipping our hands into the bags being offered to sample the noisy chunks of cheese.  Heads nodded, accompanied by approvals of “yum” in between squeaky bites.  Recipe ideas were tossed out as suggestions for savoring the cheesy bites.  “Fried cheese curds,” someone said.

“Spotted Cow fried cheese curds!” I shouted, raising my arms in victory to the exclamations and grumbling stomach noises that met my proclamation.  As the bags were sealed and stored away and the cars were packed with the morning’s treasures, I pondered my idea further and wondered how I could take the cheese curds to the next level of awesomeness.

Our travels around the country continued (see part 1) and by mid afternoon, we had made it to our final stop in New Glarus.  After only a few quick minutes in the main shopping district in town, new shopping bags had joined the growing collection and were filled with sausages, smoked wieners, pastries, breads, fudge and a new cooler given those in the waiting cars were already filled to the brim.  We steered away from town and headed up the hill to the waiting New Glarus Brewing Company.

The new hilltop facility bustled with activity as happy patrons milled around the gift shop, sampled brews in the brewhall or across the emerald lawn, and rang up their purchases in the well-stocked beer depot below the brewery.  New Glarus is famous for their Spotted Cow – a fruity Wisconsin farmhouse ale and a perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day.  Spotted Cow is disappointingly NOT available outside of the state of Wisconsin (as is the case with all New Glarus brews).  *boo*

That being said, it was 3:23 when we rolled into the bustling lot and with the brewery closing at 4:00, I had work to do.  Wristbands containing sampling tickets were quickly purchased and as we stood in line in the brewhall, I contemplated which of the brews to try first.  The clean white tap handles announced the names of the beers available to sample:  Spotted Cow, Fat Squirrel, Moon Man, Totally Naked, Golden Ale, Stone Soup and Wisconsin Belgian Red.  We sipped and sampled our way through our allotment and watched as the clouds rolled in overhead.  Fearing either rain, the beer depot closing or both, we downed the last of our samples and headed into the store to buy up our treasures before the registers stopped chiming for the day.

As we drove off from the brewery, bottles tinkling happily in the back, the idea of the Spotted Cow fried cheese curds again came to mind.  They’d be great on their own, no doubt about that.  A zippy little dipping sauce and we’d have a happy snack (plus a mandatory trip to the gym).  But I needed something that screamed “Wisconsin!!”  Visions of double smoked bacon and fresh brats from the butcher danced in front of me.  No, that wasn’t it…  And suddenly, I knew.  It must be a butter burger with Spotted Cow curds.  The butter burger (now most frequently recognized as a Culver’s menu staple) originated in Wisconsin.  What better way to pay homage to the beer and cheese gods than with a burger topped with butter and beer battered cheese curds?!  Cardiologist needed, stat!

It’d be fairly easy to overwhelm with this burger, so I opted for simplicity when it came to the patty itself.  A little Worcestershire, a dash or two of a mesquite seasoning, and a light crust of salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder were all I dared to add.  Knowing this baby was destined for a pat of butter and a crown of fried cheese, what more do you really need?  We sliced up a few tomatoes and a red onion for a little freshness and flavor and opted for the basic fixin’s of ketchup and mustard.  Writing this now, I’m disappointed that I didn’t put a pickle on mine, as the brininess of the pickle would have helped to cut a little of the weight of the curds.  I’ll let you make the call regarding pickles, but the burger as I made it had just the right amount of condiments.  They contributed to the overall flavor without drowning out the beer battered curds.

A word to the wise regarding the curds – hot and fast is the way to go.  A candy thermometer is a must-have.  You want your oil temperature to be about 375 degrees – hot enough to fry the outside quickly without damaging the delicate shell keeping all of the oozy, melty cheese at bay.  I wanted a lighter batter, so I opted for a tempura batter with equal parts rice flour and beer.  As the cheese from my first curd oozed out of the batter into my hot oil, I found one coating wasn’t enough to contain the molten cheese.  I quickly dipped the curds back into rice flour and dropped them back into the beer batter for a double coat and was happy with the results.  The cheese stayed within the shell and the resulting batter still had the lighter crust I was after. 

Now, if only I knew what to do with the rest of those cheese curds…

butter burgers with spotted cow battered cheese curds

recipe:  jb’s pour house

1 lb. 85% lean ground beef

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tsp. mesquite seasoning

Garlic powder

Onion Powder

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Hamburger buns

Canola oil

1 lb. cheddar cheese curds

1/2 c. plus 1/4 c. rice flour

1/2 c. Spotted Cow beer

Unsalted butter

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced

Condiments of choice

Preheat a grill to medium high.  Combine ground beef and Worcestershire sauce in a medium mixing bowl.  Form beef into four patties.  Sprinkle with a light dusting of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.  Flip burgers over and repeat on opposite side.

Reduce the heat to medium, and cook the burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side.

As burgers are grilling, fill a large wok, stockpot, or other deep pan about 1/4 full of canola oil.  Using a candy thermometer, bring oil to 350 degrees.  Combine cheddar curds and 1/4 rice flour in a small bowl.  Toss to coat.  Combine remaining rice flour and Spotted Cow in a medium bowl.  Stir until flour is thoroughly incorporated.  Dunk curds in batter, then coat again with rice flour (adding more flour as needed).  Repeat with all curds.  Once curds are coated in rice flour, dunk 4-5 at a time back into batter and carefully add to hot oil.  Fry 2-3 minutes, watching closely to ensure cheese doesn’t seep out.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  Repeat with remaining curds.  Curds can be prepared in advance and placed on a baking sheet and kept warm in a 200 degree oven for up to 15-20 minutes.

Remove burgers from grill and top with a pat of butter.  Transfer the burgers to the buns. Top each burger with cheese curds, onion, tomato and condiments, as desired.

Uff da!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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adult milkshakes: peach & brandy

note:  this is the first of a three-part series chronicling a recent romp around Green County in southwestern Wisconsin, aka “Baja Wisconsin” to my family

The sign read: “Chin Drippin’ Peaches.”

How could you resist that?

Ah, Wisconsin.  The land of beer, cheese and sausage.  (Really, the license plates should be changed to reflect that statement.)  A rolling countryside dotted with century barns and spotted cows (more on that later) where wide spots in the road reveal treasure troves in the form of little general stores.  A place where hand painted signs advertise summer’s bounty, beckoning drivers to pull into small parking lots and explore. 

This year’s annual pilgrimage was no different.  Seeing the sign, we pulled into Brennan’s Market  and wasted no time grabbing a grocery cart.  Moments later, a flat of peaches sat in our cart, the golden blush fruit wafting its sweet summer perfume into the air.  No matter the direction you looked, piles of peaches, blueberries, plums, apricots, tomatoes, sweet corn, melons and more piled high against the rough, worn wooden tables.  Rows of jams, jellies, relishes and sauces stood at army-like attention against the wall.  And just beyond the doors, miles of cheese chilled comfortably in case after case, boasting of Wisconsin’s pride and joy with stickers announcing them as champions of world cheese competitions.

If Brennan’s is a specialty grocer, it certainly doesn’t put on airs.  Comfortable and casual, it is a fantastic noshing spot as you hop from one plastic deli container to the next, sampling the goodness hidden beneath each lid.  Of course, a sample usually leads to a jar, pint or package being placed into a cart, so sampler beware as you are likely to become a buyer in short order.  A sampler I was and in no time, the cart I pushed ahead of me was piled with cheeses, fruit, relishes, and wine.

We packed our purchases into the coolers waiting in the car (we came prepared) and headed off to our next adventure.  Despite the copious sampling, stomachs rumbled and we headed off in search of a more substantial meal.  In small town Wisconsin, town squares are thriving with boutiques, bars, restaurants, and shops.  Monroe, WI boasts Wisconsin’s oldest cheese shop in the form of Baumgartner’s, a rowdy tavern with communal tables, dollar bills on the ceiling, a small menu featuring cheese, cheese and more cheese, locally brewed beers and a mural spanning the length of the tavern with beer steins and wine bottles at war in the countryside. 

Highfalutin this is not.  A jovial hum permeates the bar with occasional spikes of laughter.  Orders were placed (are you brave enough for the Limburger sandwich?) and pints filled with local brews were set in front of thirsty patrons on the thick wooden tables.  Suddenly, the hum stops.  The fans slowed as the power fails and suddenly the bar is cloaked in darkness. 

“Free beer!!”

Someone shouts a wishful proclamation met with cheers, and the laughter and chatter resumes.  Soon, candles are placed on the long tables as waitstaff dance in the dark, holding flashlights high above their heads.  In the absence of the electricity needed to prepare our orders, our amusing and engaging waiter (name spelled J-o-h-n-n-y D-e-p-p, or so he says) filled the void by keeping the cold brews coming.  What else are you going to do in a Wisconsin bar with no power?!

The people of Wisconsin like their beer.  They also like their spirits.  It is a long, cold winter in this part of the world – might as well have something to keep you simultaneously amused and warm – and another wide spot in the road features a local specialty.  The Ding-A-Ling Supper Club (named for a bell, not anatomy) may be known for many things, but I have only known it as a stop for one thing:  a brandy Manhattan with pickled mushrooms.  This unusual concoction has been the litmus test for men marrying into my family.  If you are man enough to down one of these, mushrooms included, you have passed the test and are welcomed into the family.  Order a Tom Collins afterwards, however, and you’ll be mercilessly mocked for eternity.

Brandy Manhattans aren’t my cup of (spiked) tea, but the bottles of brandy glimmering in the afternoon sun got me thinking about the brandy peach pie I’d made the summer before and the flat of peaches waiting in the car.  Peach ice cream is a local specialty here come late summer/State Fair time, and I couldn’t resist the call of the adult milkshake.  The ice cream maker went into the freezer and peach juices dripped off of my cutting board onto the counter as I peeled and diced the golden orbs. 

Not wanting to waste a drop of the peaches, I slow simmered the milk and cream with the peach skins and pits to glean every last drop of flavor from the fruits.  Already sweet, I macerated the diced peaches with sugar to release even more flavorful juice which I pureed and poured into my waiting peach-infused custard.  The diced and macerated chunks of three peaches were reserved to add texture and additional peachy goodness to the ice cream as it churned around and around in the frozen cylinder.

Twenty-four hours later, the blender whirled in anticipation with the homemade peach ice cream and caramel colored brandy (or Cognac, as it turned out).  Into a glass it went and in no time, it was gone.  How am I doing?  Peachy keen.  And Grandma, I’ll save you one.

 

 

adult milkshakes:  peach & brandy

recipe:  jb’s pour house

7 ripe peaches (chin drippin preferred)

1 c. sugar, divided

1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ tsp. salt

1 ¾ c. heavy cream

1 ¾ c. whole milk

4 large egg yolks, room temperature

¼ c. brandy

Peel and dice peaches, reserving skins and pits.  Place diced peaches in a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle with ¾ c. sugar.  Mix well and let sit for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.  Place peach skins and pits in a large sauce pan.  Add ¼ c. sugar, cornstarch, salt, heavy cream and milk to saucepan.  Bring to a boil (slowly) over medium heat, stirring often.  Do not raise heat as you want to slowly infuse the cream with the peach flavor and you do not want to scald the cream on the bottom of the pan. 

Place egg yolks in a small bowl.  Once cream mixture has come to a gentle boil, slowly add ½ c. of the cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  Slowly stream egg yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees on a candy thermometer).  Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the custard into a medium mixing bowl, discard solids.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent forming a film and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove about 1 ½ c. peaches from the macerated mixture, set aside.  Place remaining peaches and juices in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add puree to custard and stir well to combine.  Using a potato masher, gently mash the reserved peaches.  Add to custard mixture. 

Prepare an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Pour custard into the ice cream maker (you may need to make two batches, as I did, depending on the size of your ice cream maker) and process until frozen.  Remove to a freezer safe container and repeat if needed.  Freeze at least 12 hours.

Place ¼ c. brandy into a blender.  Using a standard ice cream scoop, add 4-5 scoops of peach ice cream.  Blend carefully, just until ice cream begins to form a wall around the walls of blender and a hole forms in the middle.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2.

On Wisconsin!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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adult milkshakes: s’mores

Did you hear that?  It is a firecracker, whistling and sizzling through the air, slicing into the summer night sky and then suddenly, a loud pop and a flash of light remind me that the 4th of July is here.  Independence Day – the day where we no longer wax nostalgic for the days gone by and instead, partake in a celebration of all things Americana.  Time seems to slow, maybe even reverse a bit, as we watch the classic cars and firetrucks parade down Main Street, USA as flags of red, white and blue ripple in the sun.  In backyards, parks and campgrounds, you’ll find apple pie, hot dogs on the grill, watermelon, lemonade and maybe even a cake proudly bearing the American flag via blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream.  And when the sun sets and fireworks begin to light up the night sky, flames from campfires dance in the dark, tickling the skewered marshmallows perched just out of reach of the fire.

While I won’t delve into the debate of golden brown toasted marshmallow versus blackened crispy marshmallow, I think at the very least we can all agree that they are delicious.  There’s something about the crusty outer shell and the gooey, melted interior that begs for sticky fingers to be licked.  When perched on top of a melting chocolate bar and sandwiched between crispy graham crackers, a seemingly ordinary marshmallow is elevated to new heights.

There is certainly a time for embracing the traditional, but there’s something to be said for turning the volume way up on our tried-and-true favorites.  I discovered this about a year ago when visiting Kansas City.  A classic vanilla shake was offered with a twist – vanilla-infused cognac had been blended into the frosty beverage.  What’s that you say?!  An adult milkshake?  Yes, it is likely the best invention known to man.  Here, you can have your cake and drink it, too.  Immediately, I latched on to the idea. 

Speed forward a year, and I stumbled across Gourmet’s recipe for a toasted marshmallow milkshake.  Toasted marshmallows?  Good.  Milkshake?  Good.  Toasted Marshmallow Adult Milkshake?  Good…  S’mores Adult Milkshake?  GOOD!  This’ll light your fireworks, friends!

 

 

adult milkshake:  s’mores

adapted from:  Gourmet

 

½ c. vanilla-infused cognac, such as Navan, or make your own*

1.5 quart vanilla ice cream

16-20 marshmallows, evenly toasted to dark golden brown

2 graham crackers, finely crushed

Chocolate syrup

Combine cognac, vanilla ice cream, and toasted marshmallows in a blender.  Carefully blend just until ice cream begins to stick to sides of the blender and a hole starts to form in the center.  Continued blending will melt the ice cream and thin the consistency of the shake.  Drizzle about 1 Tbsp. chocolate syrup around the inside of a glass.  Pour about 1 c. milkshake mixture into glass.  Repeat with remaining glasses.  Top with about 1 Tbsp. crushed graham crackers.  Serve immediately. 

*To make your own vanilla cognac, split a vanilla bean in half.  Scrape the seeds out from the bean and place seeds and bean halves into a 375 mL bottle of a cognac of your choice.  Let steep for at least 1 day and up to several months.  Vanilla flavor will intensify with age.  (Increase to two vanilla beans if using a 750 mL bottle)

I promise this won’t be the last adult milkshake you see on jb’s pour house!  Happy 4th of July, and happy milkshake making!

– j 

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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