Monday, January 30, 2012

Monkey See Monkey Do

MiddleBar Monkey Bread
Resident pastry chef Rachel is back at it again and this week she's brought us a treat you won't be able to keep your hands off of. Monkey bread is a southern favorite with enough butter to make Paula Deen proud. Rich, sugary, and buttery Monkey bread is great for brunch or a midday coffee break.

MiddleBar Monkey Bread
3 packages of buttermilk biscuits
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter
3 teaspoons cinnamon (don't be afraid to use a heavy hand here)
dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 capful vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a large ziplock bag. Quarter the biscuits, add to the bag, and shake to coat. Place the biscuits in a bundt pan (or 2 disposable bread pans).  Melt the butter and brown sugar with the vanilla and pour over the biscuits. Bake for 45-50 minutes until dark and yummy.

Keep a baking sheet handy to place below the rack to catch any overflow butter and sugar but only if necessary.  Placing the pan on the rack will effect cooking time and oven temp so use the pan only if necessary.  

Remove the pans from the oven and cool on a rack. Turn over to remove from pan and with the amount of butter in this dish your bread should slide right out.  You can try and be civilized and eat this with a fork and knife but I can guarantee that you'll just wind out pulling it apart with your fingers.

Monkey Ya'll

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quick Fix: The Earhart

If you are not scared of a stiff drink you have to try The Earhart. The Earhart is a play on The Aviation Cocktail made entirely from liquor making it incredibly complex and extremely potent. Consider this your warning, if you drink too many you may not come back!

The Earhart
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1 barspoon of Khaki Simple Syrup*
1/2 oz Herbsaint
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with lemon.

Khaki Simple Syrup
2:1 simple syrup made from 1 part light brown sugar and 1 part granulated white sugar.

Fly away Ya'll!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quick Fix: Lillet Poached Pears

Lillet poached pears with vanilla bean ice cream
The French aperitif Lillet Blanc made it's theatrical debut in 1967 in the film Casino Royale. James Bond ordered a martini made with Lillet Blanc, gin and vodka which he named the "Vesper" Martini.  Lillet is usually served ice cold with a slice of lemon or orange to accent it's inherent citrus flavors and is also delicious when served warm in this pear recipe.

Pears can be poached in any sweet white wine and this recipe calls for Lillet Blanc that adds a citrus note to the sweetness of the pear.  Poaching causes the pears to break down and become soft and luscious. Serve these pears with vanilla bean ice cream or a whipped cream for an extra sweet delicious dessert.

Lillet Poached Pears
4 Pears Cored
2 tbs Sugar
2-3 cups of Lillet Blanc
1 tsp Vanilla

Core 4 pears and pierce the skins to allow the steam to permeate throughout the pear while cooking.  Place the pears in a 4.5 quart a sauce pan and cover 1/2 way with the Lillet anywhere from 2 cups to 1 bottle depending on pear size. Add vanilla and sugar a then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer covered until the pears are fork tender (about 40 minutes)

Bonjour Ya'll!

Friday, January 20, 2012

MiddleBar Roasted Tomatoes

Ina's Tomatoes at MiddleBar
MiddleBar is known for anything that has a tomato in it. But unfortunately, tomatoes are a summer fruit and I'm a strong believer that tomatoes can't be eaten out of season. But roasting those crappy winter tomatoes turns an almost inedible December tomato into a fantastic appetizer dish year round. These tomatoes are also a great base for an unbelievable pasta sauce or tomato basil soup and don't worry you will see those recipes in future posts.

This dish is elevated in both taste AND beauty by pairing it with Burrata cheese, an artesianal soft mozzarella cheese. Burrata comes in a little cheese "pouch" and when sliced open the creamy and stringy interior cheese is exposed. Burrata is traditionally served at room temp so don't worry about putting a milky cheese out on an appetizer tray. There are several brands of Burrata available at Whole Foods, TJs and your run of the mill grocery store but I find that the best Burratas come from speciality cheese stores. I encourage you to find one in your neighborhood and spring for the more expensive cheese for this dish because you know that's the way Ina would do it.

MiddleBar Roasted Tomatoes
12-15 roma tomatoes cut in 1/2 cores and seeds removed
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
White granulated sugar
Salt and Pepper
Crushed garlic (I use the jar version but don't tell Ina)

Preheat the oven to 450.
Oil a half sheet pan and place the tomato halves face up on the baking sheet. Brush each tomato with crushed garlic and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper and sugar. (I find that the more sugar the better, my grandfather was from Palermo, Italy and had a heavy hand with sugar in all of his red sauces.) Roast until the tomatoes are caramelized, about 30-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp with Burrata cheese (drizzled with olive oil, s&p) and crostini.

The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, is my favorite chef hands down. I have a special love for Ina and she inspires many recipes that you read here on MiddleBar including these roasted tomatoes. I often take the liberty of altering Ina's recipes usually adding some New Orleans flair and even occasionally omitting some butter, gasp. All that butter is just cheating anyway.
How easy is that Ina!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quick Fix: House Cured Cherries

MiddleBar House Cured Cherries are now available for
purchase please contact us for details

Pair them with your favorite cocktails, oatmeal, or atop ice cream. Delicious Ya'll!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Colonial Manhattan

"Brett did not turn up, so about a quarter to six I went down to the bar and had a Jack Rose with George the barman." -Jake Barnes The Sun Also Rises

The Jack Rose, ohhh sounds fancy, Hemingway liked it so lets give it a try. STOP. Do not waste your time or your Applejack by polluting it in that cocktail. Remember when I watched Prohibition for you? I have made the drink, tasted the drink, and you'll hate the drink, just trust me.

Apple brandy distilled from hard cider has been a popular American spirit since colonial times and apparently George Washington was a huge fan. It was originally distilled via a process called freeze distillation.  Apples were harvested in the fall and then created into hard cider.  Throughout the colonial winter the cider was left outside in the New Jersey winter conditions which caused the freezing distillation process referred to as "jacking." Jacking produces an alcohol with a high sugar content that tastes subtly like apples = Applejack.  

The Jack Rose cocktail blends Applejack with grenadine creating a cloyingly sweet drink that (in my opinion) a 1/2 lime can not cut. Instead of making a drink with more sweetness I treat Applejack like whiskey by cutting the sweet with bitter Carpano, and the Colonial Manhattan was born.

Colonial Manhattan
1 Barspoon of demerara sugar
1 1/2oz Applejack
1 1/2oz Carpano

Stir, strain, garnish with lemon

The Carpano's bitter qualities blend perfectly with the Applejack's sweetness and create a perfectly balanced cocktail. The Jack Rose had potential, the Colonial Manhattan is perfection.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quick Fix: Cajun Bourbon Nuts

Looking for an easy snack for your next cocktail party? Look no further than deeeezz nuts! This is a quick and simple recipe blending sweet, salty and spicy.

6oz unsalted almonds
6oz bag of unsalted shelled pecans
3 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 oz bacon bourbon
1-3 pinches of cayenne (depending on your desired spice)
1 tsp bacon bourbon fat

Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Pour nuts onto a Silpat on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, toss and serve.

Yum Yum Ya'll!

The Clover Club Cocktail

You might expect he Clover Club Cocktail to be green but this drink takes it's name from the Men's  club in Philadelphia where it was invented. The Clover Club can be made with grenadine but the MiddleBar version uses raspberry syrup give the cocktail a softer hue and silky flavor.  Add some southern style with a sprig of mint and Peychaud's bitters.

1 1/2oz Gin
1/2oz Raspberry Syrup
1 lime
1 egg white
Peychaud's Bitters

Dry shake the first 4 ingredients. Add ice re-shake. Serve up and garnish with Peychaud's or sprig of mint.  An ounce of heavy whipping cream will make this lucky beverage a Pink Lady.

Alright Ya'll

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What are you doin' New Year's day?

Celebrating New Years in the South holds many traditions. Of course it does, it's the South. These traditions have questionable backgrounds so here's the way and why we ate black eyed peas and cabbage January 1st in the bayou by ME.

1. Black Eyed Peas "Luck" 
In the South black eyed peas have symbolized luck since the Civil War. When Union troops raided the Southern supplies they refused to take the salt pork and black eyed peas. Northern soldiers wouldn't dream of eating such peasant food that they used for horse feed. The confederate soldiers considered themselves extremely lucky to have something to eat through the long winter. Luck and the Black Eyed pea were inextricably linked from then on.

2 tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbs minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
2 ham hocks
1lb dried black eyed peas (soaked and rinsed)
1qt chicken stock
1 cup cold water
Salt Pepper & Cayenne to taste
In a heavy stockpot heat the oil and cook onions for 2 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves and ham hocks. Add the peas, chicken stock and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the peas are tender adding water if necessary.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne as needed. 

2. Smothered Cabbage & Pork "Prosperity" and "Money" 
Who doesn't want the New Year to bring prosperity and wealth? Cabbage or collard greens both represent the greenback and either can be found on the Southern New Year's table. Tradition states that each bite of greens will get make you &1,000 so eat up. Pork in the south represents wealth in it's ability to feed many on the fattened pig. May you live high on the hog.

Ma's Smothered Cabbage 
2 tbs bacon fat (bacon bourbon fat)
2 heads of cabbage (shredded)
1 yellow onion diced
3 links of andouille sausage (in 2in pieces)
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 cup chicken broth
pinch cayenne
salt & pepper
Melt bacon fat in a cast iron skillet. Saute onions, garlic, and cabbage with cayenne and s&p until translucent. Add chicken broth and andouille and enough water to cover the cabbage.  Simmer for 1-1 1/2 hour until tender adding more water if necessary. 

3.) Cornbread "Humility"
Your cornbread should be baked in a cast iron skillet lined with bacon grease. The bread reminds us that we came from humble beginnings. And the fat reminds us not to forget where we came from.

2/3 cup bacon grease                  
2 eggs        
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder & 3 tsp baking soda
2 cups corn meal
1 tsp salt
Put oil in bowl with eggs and milk then beat until foamy. Sift in dry ingredients. Put in a bacon greased cast iron skillet and bake at 475 for 20 minutes. 

Resolve to eat this meal to ring in the New Year.
Welcome to 2012 Ya'll!