Vodka Hurricanes, Cheap Liquor and Tea Infusions
I don’t usually usually use artificially flavored vodka at my bar, but sometimes circumstances arise, and you find yourself with some. Since wasting anything is rarely an option, I wanted to see if I could make something palatable.
I had 1 bottle of Whipped Cream Vodka, 1/2 a bottle of Light Lemon Vodka and 1/4 bottle of Cherry Vodka (all were 750 mL). They were put in a plastic container together. To that I added 11 Tazo Passion Flower Tea Bags. It is an herbal tea with rose hips, orange, licorice and hibiscus. The vodka was left to infuse overnight. It took on a deep red color by the next day. The original character of the vodka was covered up, and turned into something that would be decent in a cocktail.
It was Mardi Gras, so we wanted to use this as a hurricane of sorts. For a batch we used 16 oz tea vodka, 16 oz pineapple juice, 8 oz orange juice and 1 oz blood orange bitters (Stirrings, which aren’t really bitters).
It had a deep purple color. Not a traditional hurricane, but passable. What was surprising was that we sold out if it and had to make more during service. Sometimes we surprise ourselves.
One of the most common questions a bartender asks (or should ask) when making a classic Margarita is: salt or no salt? At the iconic tequila Mecca, Tommy’s in San Francisco, they are not proponents of salt (unless, of course, you request it), but I am an unabashed salt guy. The problem…
Thanks to a certain Japanese celebrity chef, Miso Black Cod has become a symbol. The black cod has become the yard stick used by some guests to measure the quality of a japanese or “fusion” menu and often a go to for the uninspired kitchen. Due to the stigma I attach to this dish, we had avoided preparing it altogether. However we are in the northwest. Not utilizing black cod, gindara, sablefish, or whatever you want to call it, is missing an opportunity to make the most of our local bounty. Our black cod comes fresh, glistening, and vibrant from the coast, not a grey/yellow, freezer-burnt mess. The trials began to create a dish that is unique and reflective of my style and philosophy, but is not too unfamiliar to those guests holding rulers. After much work and constant tweaking we came up with a signature preparation for our local jewel. The cod is cured in sake lees, salt, and sugar. Then it is smoked, broiled, and finished. In the end, this dish has captured my love of our local ingredients and japanese cooking technique and aesthetic.
Prime Rib Scrap Jam
Often, we like to serve prime rib on Sundays as a special. We don’t serve brunch anymore, and it used to be something that was popular. We roast them whole and they’re carved during service. As you probably know, there’s a lot of fat and trim on a rib. I’ve done a lot of playing around with prime rib fat in the past (see Prime Rib Buttercream). This week was no different. Prior to serving to guests, the cooked rib was trimmed. I chopped up the already-roasted fat and threw it in a 150 F oven for 5 more hours. Every half hour I drained off the clear fat that had rendered out, saving it for a later use.
The nice thing about prime rib fat is that it starts to get crispy as the fat renders out. You also have those small morsels of beef that start to turn into jerky as it continues to cook. Once you’ve rendered out most of that liquid gold, throw the crispy, chewy fat and meat into a food processor. Loosely basing this on a bacon jam we make, I added brown sugar, coffee and Frank’s Red Hot. Blend on high for 4 minutes or so. What you end up with is a delicious, fatty meat spread. One of my cooks compared it to Chinese spare ribs, and I definitely get that. We’re not sure what the restaurant application is, but I can tell you that it’s great just spread on toasted bread. Keep it in the fridge (pic 1), then scoop out and microwave for 15 seconds as needed (pic 2).