I just reviewed a new cocktail book, Drink Me Now. Here’s the review. And here’s my favorite drink in the book: Mexican Marshmallow Mocha. It appears in a chapter called Sweet Fix. What more needs to be said?
Here cocoa powder and Kahlua and coffee are mixed, then topped with marshmallows and whipped cream. Because I am a Type 2 diabetic, I am leaving out the marshmallows.
For this recipe, there is a call for “measures” of this and that. This is a British book, so I’m going to make this treating a “measure” as a “small” jigger of 1 ounce.
Mexican Marshmallow Mocha
Yield: 1 cup
4 teaspoons cocoa powder, plus extra to decorate
2 measures Kahlua coffee liqueur
7 measures hot filter coffee
Put 2 teaspoons cocoa powder into each toddy glass, add the Kahlua and coffee and stir until mixed.
Drop in the mini marshmallows and float the cream on top. Decorate with cocoa powder and serve.
Source: Drink Me Now [Hamlyn, 2016]
One thing that the end of year brings us is a rash of cocktail books. Lovely little volumes filled with clever ideas for us to enjoy at parties or in private. This significant book, Drink Me Now, has a very direct subtitle: 150 Cocktails for Any Emergency. What kind of emergency? Not a car accident or anything intense. No, these are the everyday emergencies that we get through with a “grin and bear” it mentality. Now, however, you can “grin and sip” your way through these bumps in your daily life.
The chapter titles have a tinge of humor:
Long Day at the Office
A Friend in Need
The Midweek Slump
Something for the Weekend
Can’t Go Wrong with a Classic
There are 150 recipes here, some brand new, some variations on classics, and some repackaging of the classics in that last Can’t Go Wrong chapter. The recipes themselves are short, simple and easily put together in just moments. Four to six ingredients with a liberal use of fruits and citrus. [Yes, I know, citrus things are fruits!] Here are some typical ideas:
Fresh Paloma made with fresh grapefruit juice
Long Brush combining vodka, honey, and pomegranate juice
Primrose Fizz with elderflower liqueur, apple juice and champagne
Spice Berry with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum alongside raspberry puree and simple syrup
Storm at Sea blending cranberry juice, pineapple juice and elderflower cordial
These are lovely, lively new ideas that are bright in flavor and color. My favorites in the book? There are two: Watermelon Punch and the Mexican Marshmallow Mocha. The punch has you scoop out a watermelon half, puree the flesh in blender with vodka and lemon juice and simply syrup, and then pour that drink mixture back into the watermelon half. The Mexican Marshmallow Mocha is combo of cocoa powder, Kahlua, coffee, marshmallows and whipped cream. I’m posting that recipe right now. And I’m making it tonight.
Drink Me Now can sound like an order but it really is just a gracious invitation to cocktail nirvana.
This is a familiar story with a significant twist.
The familiar part. Two men attend the CIA, the nation’s premier culinary school. They go on work at premier restaurants: Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill, and Alan Ducasse at the Essex House. They have an idea: open up our own restaurant. They look at Manhattan real estate prices and realize they must start small and start in Brooklyn. And they do. In a very small space. So small, they can’t open for lunch because the customer tables are used during the day for food prep. The actual kitchen is a mere four by six feet with one six-burner stove top.
Despite the size issues, the quality is unsurpassed. Their restaurant, Battersby, was an instant, incredible success. What do you do with that success? Close your first space and move on? No, that’s the twist in the story. They keep the space but they do open a second spot down Court Street in Cobble Hill. That means you can still enjoy the wonder of the original Battersby.
That enjoyment can be achieved by visiting the restaurant itself. Or, you can pick up this book and sample the key recipes at home. Can home cooking duplicate the actual restaurant? Most definitely. There is a wonderful philosophy behind both Battersby the restaurant and Battersby the cookbook. Because of their small space, the dishes at Battersby often have to be prepared in stages. Some of the dish is prepared in advance, hours or even days before. Then, at the end, the components are assembled in a fashion that beams “freshness.” It’s not obvious that parts were cooked hours or days before.
So the recipes in Battersby come in two parts: To Prep are the steps you can conduct in advance and To Serve are the last moment actions you take for completion. The completion often involves some anointment with sauce or cheese or greens or herbs. You get a brand new visual layer with pointed flavors to add further dimension to the dish.
Battersby is written for the American home cook and the typical American kitchen. What kind of dishes await you? Here’s a very typical example of Battersby excellence: Garganelli with Chicken Sugo and Peppers:
It is the layers that provide both visual and tasting depth in these recipes. You probably have had potato gnocchi served with a sauce. Here the recipe becomes Potato Gnocchi with English Peas, Ramps and Chanterelles. You’ll find Roasted and Raw Cauliflower with Currants, Capers and Hazelnuts. Do you like beets, that sharp flavor? Imagine Vanilla Glazed Beets with Gorgonzola and Walnuts.
Battersby food will overwhelm you the intensity and vibrancy of multiple components. What is wonderful about this book is that it lets you fashion these creations in your own kitchen. The recipes are doable and delicious. Don’t wait. Grab a copy and starting layering. And, if you are looking for the perfect gift for a culinary friend or family member, Battersby is a gift that will go on giving for year after year. Battersby is a perfect cookbook. Perfect.