I am not a cheap man. Just ask my wife about my spending habits.
But, even I have my limits. For a recipe to come this weekend, a really good cocktail, recipe, I needed chili vodka. I began to drink a long time ago. So long, that when you went to the rum and vodka section of the liquor store, you just went to a space two feet or maybe eight bottles wide. A couple of brands of vodka, couple of rums.
And now when you hit that store to find something? You need to pack a lunch. It’s a long, long journey down that aisle. Vodkas and rums by the dozen. Raspberry, pineapple, pina colada, … There are a multitude of flavors. Some enchanting. Some that seem a bit silly. Or scary.
Did I find my chili vodka? No, although there was a bottle of pepper vodka for $30. Should I buy it? Would this vodka be good? Would the cocktail be good? How long would it take me to use up that bottle? I still have some stuff I bought before I married Suzen although I will never confess to that.
No. I could not, would not gamble. I bought a bottle of regular old, honest-to-god vodka. And then I made my own chili vodka. That’s it in the picture above. Yes, that’s an Exxon or BP style oil slick on top. The chilis are there, right at the bottom of the jar I used. To get the chili flavor quickly, and not have to wait days, I bought a bottle of Italian red cherry peppers. They are inspiringly fiery. I added some of these bottled peppers to the pure vodka and — voila — in just four hours I had liquid heat.
Does that oil matter? No, it’s just sitting there on top. You can easily scoop it off before using in a beverage. Truthfully, a little of the oil in the cocktail is not going to matter and the oil conveys pepper heat as well.
How long will this vodka last? Years. A decade. But long before that time has flown, I’ll be putting its heat and flavor to good use.
I’m posting this on Friday. Sunday you’ll get the cocktail. And Saturday? Why, I need to blog the ginger ice cream first! It’s quite a cocktail.
Quick Chili Vodka
Yield: 2 cups
- 2 cups vodka
- ¼ cup pickled Italian peppers, drained but not dried of its oil
Pour the vodka into a pint mason jar. [I know 2 cups = 1 pints but there’s headroom.]. Add the peppers. Don’t shake or stir. Just the pepper slide to the bottom. Over the next four hours, just gently swirl the jar.
After four hours, you’ve got flavored vodka. Keep the peppers in the jar, and the flavor simply intensifies.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information: Canon T21i, EFS 60MM Macro lens, F/9.0 for 1/12 second at ISO 3200 [no flash]
There they are. Perfect strawberries. That perfection is, unfortunately, short lived. One technique for both preserving flavor and giving you culinary options is to make a puree that can last for up to five days in your refrigerator.
Once you have puree, it can be used in beverages – like a killer strawberry margarita. The puree is a perfect adornment for ice cream or yogurt. Or you can drizzle it over pound cake or angel food cake to get flavor without the calories of whipped cream or frosting. Yes, there’s sugar here so this is not calorie free but this is the better solution. Of course, you can substitute other types of berries here: blackberries or raspberries. The lemon juice is optional and you can go for a spikier flavor by using lime juice instead.
Here’s the technique.
Yield: 2+ cups
- 4 cups of perfectly ripe strawberry halves [that's a four cup measure randomly filled with halves, not packed]
- ¾ cup of granulated sugar
- Juice of one small lemon
Before you halve the berries, wash and dry them. Make sure you snip off the end and any sore spots.
Put the berries in a blender, or, better, a VitaMix. Blend for two minutes until liquefied. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Blend another minute or two. If using a blender, you may want to sieve the liquid. If you are using a Vitamix, the machine is so powerful that sieving is really not necessary.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The puree is best used on Day 1.