Showing posts with label almond milk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label almond milk. Show all posts

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Welcome our guest, Jeri Westerson!

Welcome our guest, Jeri Westerson!
Noir and hard-boiled fiction seem to be in Jeri Westerson’s blood. She was born and bred on the mean streets of Los Angeles, inhaling smog and enduring earthquakes. Raised in a household that not only embraced history, but medieval English history specifically, Jeri came by her interest in all things medieval honestly. She worked in a bevy of careers prior to setting her sights on becoming a novelist. Would-be actress, graphic artist, theology teacher, tasting host and tour guide for a winery, and newspaper reporter were among them. She wanted to create her own brand of medieval mystery, and combined the concept of medieval mystery with hard-boiled detective fiction into what she calls “Medieval Noir.”

The Alchemy of Medieval Cookery
By Jeri Westerson

My newest medieval mystery SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST, with hunk-on-a-stick disgraced knight turned detective Crispin Guest, hits the shelves. While researching for this book, I had to delve into the art of alchemy, how it was done, who were the practitioners, and what did it all mean. Writing about a different place and time comes with its own sets of problems, including learning what life was like for the everyday person in medieval London. It includes a lot of hands-on research. And since this blog deals in food, I can talk about some of my adventures in medieval cookery.

Cooking is alchemy. Of course it is. And what is alchemy but transmuting elements into different elements. Cooking is just that. Changing eggs into a soufflé, for instance. The amalgamation of eggs, flour, and sugar into a cake. We know how we do it now, but how did they do it then?

My books are set in the fourteenth century, and it just so happens that in about this time, cookbooks were coming into their own. Cookbooks started out life in the Middle East as a physicians’ prescription book, with folk remedies and potions to heal the sick. Eventually, they became recipes for the table. But even so, these were not the kind of cookbooks that included medieval meatloaf. These cookbooks didn’t have recipes that everyone already knew how to cook. These were for manor houses and palaces, showcasing the very special top-of-the-line recipes. How to cook a Cockatrice, for instance, that mythological creature part bird and part beast. (How do you cook a cockatrice, you ask? Veeeerycarefully.)

Still want to make that Cockatrice? (Oh Mom, we had that last night!) Here’s the Middle English version:

Take a capoun and skald hym, and draw hym clene, and smyte hem a-to in the waste overthwart. Take a pige and skald hym, and draw hym in the same manner and smyte hem also in the waste. Take a nedyl and threde, and sewe the fore partye of the capoun to the after parti of the pygge and fore partye of the pigge to the hinder party of the capoun, and then stuffe hem as thou stuffiest a pigge. Putte hem on a spete and roste hym an than he is y-now, dore hem with yolkys of eyroun and pouder ginger and safroun, thenne wyth the ius of percely with-owte and than serve it forth for a ryal mete.

Did you get all that?  Basically, cut a chicken and a pig in half at the waist, sew the front half of one to the back half of the other, stuff them, and roast them on a spit. Glaze them with eggs yolks and powdered ginger and parsley and serve as a royal feast. Sometimes the feathers would be carefully put back on the bird, as when one serves swan. That makes a really good presentation. Don’t forget to stretch your meal with Cockatrice Helper!

I have to admit, I’ve never made this, but I sure want to. Don’t you?

Medieval fare made good use of seasonal foods. Sort of had to with limited ways of food preservation (there was smoking, salting, pickling, and preserving like jams.) But mostly, you had to rely on what was growing and what was able to be caught or bought in terms of meat, and they ate a LOT of meat. But only if you were a middle class merchant or craftsman or higher. Poorer folk relied on lots of pottages or soups and stews, with lots of low-brow ingredients like dried peas and beans. Which was technically healthier than all that bleached bread and meat.

Milk wasn’t really drunk. It was far too valuable for that. They made it into cheese, something that could last for days and weeks. Fruit juices likewise were used for cooking and sweetening other food (sugar was expensive. If you had a sweet tooth, you used fruit or homegrown honey from your own bees.) Thirsty? You had to rely on water, but mostly ales, which were sweeter then. No hops yet, at least in England. They looked down their nose at that. Hops served as a bittering agent but it also preserved the beer. Without it, you had to drink that beer up mighty quick, within days of brewing.

Bread, then as now, was a staple, and baked every day. Sometimes you brought your loaves to a baker and, for a fee, he would bake it for you, using his expensive fuel to keep ovens warm all day.

One common recipe included stuffed loaves, called rastons, which I have made.  

1 large round loaf
½ cup butter
1 tablespoon poppy or crushed fennel seeds

·       Cut the top off a loaf and save for a lid. Scoop out the bread from the loaf and crumble.
·       Melt butter in a heavy skillet and add the crumbs. Toss so that they are evenly coated. Mix with seeds. Replace all into the loaf and put on the “lid”.
·       Bake in moderate oven before serving. Use your hands to pull bits away.

Almond milk was another common fare. It was used as a dipping sauce for bread, a thickener for sauces, and a flavoring agent for meat and fruit dishes. It’s funny that in our diet culture today, almond milk is back on the store shelves as a substitute for milk for the lactose intolerant or for folks who want to cut carbs from the diet. I have used this for a dipping sauce for medieval parsnip fritters. 
½ cup blanched almonds
1 cup boiling water
1 ½ teaspoon of honey
Dash of salt

·       To blanch almonds, boil the nuts in water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Pour cold water over them. Pop off the skins.

·       Grind almonds in ye olde blender or mortar, adding a few tablespoons of ice water during the process to prevent the paste from becoming oily.

·       Add honey and salt to 1 cup of boiling water and dissolve. Pour liquid over almonds. Allow to soak for about ten minutes. Strain out almonds if a smooth texture is desired. (Or go to Trader Joe’s and get almond meal. Skip the blanching process and go directly to adding boiling water. No need to strain.) 

Any of these are wonderful for a medieval party, and easy to do. The amazing alchemy that happens when you cook proves the magic of the process. A lot easier to turn almonds into a sauce than lead into gold, but it is no less mystical.

Jeri works her alchemy on her medieval mysteries. The latest is SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST.  

You can see her series book trailer and discussion guides on her website.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Make a Hazelnut Orgasm (drink!) with tips for layering shooters by Cleo Coyle

Coffee and crime, my favorite subjects, are the subjects of today’s post (well, sort of). The coffee involved is coffee liqueur. As for the crime, it involves shooters.

No guns, no bullets, no big bang...but today’s shooters do involve a crime, at least according to serious drinkers. 

You see, a shooter drink implies one should SHOOT the thing back in one giant gulp. The problem? I’m a cheap drunk. When I shoot drinks, I end up under the table. Consequently, I SIP my shooters, so don't be ashamed if you do, too.

Honestly, I grew up watching most adult members of my family sip from their shot glasses. In my father’s Italian-American household, the alcohol was usually anisette, Sambuca, or Amaretto, and the drinks enjoyed with coffee or espresso. I continue the custom in my own house, but I’ve expanded the menulately with drinks inspired by my writing in the Coffeehouse Mysteries. 

And so I give you a few of my favorite digestifs. Whether you shoot them or stir them and sip them, I sincerely hope you will… 
Drink with joy,
~ Cleo

To download the following drink recipes in a free PDF format that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Cleo Coyle,
sipper of shooters,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
These sweet, delicious digestifs bring an elegant and relaxing end to a meal, especially with coffee or espresso. The instructions and tips below will help you pour the drink in layers for a pretty presentation. 

TIP: The reason drinks can be layered is Science 101. Certain drinks are heavier in density than others, and a bartender can float the lighter drinks on top of the heavier ones. 

My first layered drink recipe is one I created with Marc, my husband (and partner in crime writing), for our next Coffeehouse Mystery: Billionaire Blend. The drink is, of course, based on the traditional Orgasm shooter.

Hazelnut is a popular flavor in coffeehouse culture, and we’ve married it to coffee liqueur with a splash of hazelnut milk for amazing results. If you can’t find hazelnut milk, almond milk is a good substitute. 

TIP: Because nut milks are thin and light, they make
fantastic and flavorful toppings to layered shots.

TIP: For the home bartender, a measured shot glass
helps with accuracy. If you're not sure where to purchase,
click here to see one of many you can buy online.

Cleo Coyle's
Hazelnut Orgasm

(Layered Shooter)

Makes 1 serving

TIP: Use a tall shot glass to really show off your layers.

Ingredients: Coffee Liqueur (such as Kahlua); Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur); Hazelnut Milk; Whipped Cream; stick of cinnamon or Mexican canela

Method: Fill 1/3rd of your shot glass with Kahlua (1/2 ounce). 

TIP: Place a chilled spoon face down into the glass at an angle. The tip of the spoon should lightly touch the opposite side of the glass. This spoon will diffuse the pouring of the next liquid, reducing the impact and impeding mixing. 

Slowly pour the Frangelico (1/2 ounce) over the top of the chilled spoon. Wait for the Frangelico to settle. Using the same method, slowly pour the Hazelnut Milk (1/2 ounce) over the spoon and into the glass. Wait for the layers to settle, add a spot of whipped cream at the top, and serve with a stick of cinnamon or Mexican canela for the drinker’s option to stir and sip (rather than shoot).

*Variation: Almond Orgasm - replace the hazelnut milk with almond milk and the Frangelico with Amaretto.

To watch my short, little how-to video, 
click the white arrow in the image below...



As mentioned, you can serve the drink with a cinnamon stick or even a chocolate-covered cinnamon stick. 

To download an easy "how-to" recipe for
chocolate-covered cinnamon sticks, click here.

* * * * *

Orgasm Shooter (layered)

Makes 1 serving

Here is the traditional drink recipe on which we based our Hazelnut Orgasm. This shooter can be mixed up in a cocktail shaker with ice and strained into the shot glass, or poured in layers right into your glass. Marc and I prefer those pretty layers, which is why we serve the drink in a tall shot glass with a stick of cinnamon or Mexican canela on the side for stirring. Thus, this drink can be "shot" in one gulp or stirred and slowly sipped. 

Ingredients: Coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua); Amaretto; Irish cream (such as Baileys)

Method: Fill one-third of your shot glass with Kahlua (1/2 ounce). Place a chilled spoon down into the glass at an angle. The tip of the spoon should lightly touch the opposite side of the glass. Slowly pour the Amaretto (1/2 ounce) over the top of the chilled spoon, allowing it to trickle into the drink. Wait for the Amaretto to settle. Using the same method, slowly pour the Irish Cream (1/2 ounce) over the spoon and into the drink. (Top it off if you like with extra Irish cream.) Wait for the layers to settle and serve.

*Variation – Add vodka to the top, in equal measure, and you’ve got a Screaming Orgasm.

TIP: The spoon method, which we use, is only one way to slow the pour in a layered drink. To see a bartender's "thumb method," watch this video on YouTube by clicking here.

* * * *

Cleo Coyle’s
Cloudy Dream

This is another beautiful layered "sipping shooter" we created for our next Coffeehouse Mystery: Billionaire Blend

(An "M&M" shooter uses Kahlua and Amaretto, but not whipped cream or this layering method. As far as we know, our "Cloudy Dream" is a new invention.)

Ingredients: Coffee Liqueur (such as Kahlua); Whipped Cream (from an aerosol canister or pastry bag); Amaretto; Stick of cinnamon or canela

Method: Fill one-third of a tall shot glass with Kahlua (1/2 ounce). Add whipped cream to the shot glass using an aerosol canister. Do not fill to the top. You must leave some space because the next addition will float the whipped cream higher. (If using homemade whipped cream, use a pastry bag.) Slowly pour 1/2 ounce Amaretto over the top of the whipped cream. Wait for the Amaretto to settle and serve. The drinker can sip the layers of alcohol through the cream or use a stick of cinnamon or canela to stir up the ingredients before drinking.

*Variation: Cloudy Dream (Hazelnut) – substitute Frangelico for the Amaretto and you have the hazelnut version. 

Click the arrow in the window
below to see my little video
on how to pour a Cloudy Dream, and...



Drink with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here



If you missed Sunday's Guest Post here at 
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, be sure to check it out.

Pattie Tierney turned her passion for mystery
into the business of creating wearable literary art,
To read the post and enter the contest
to win gift credit it Pattie's online jewelry store,
click here
and good luck, everyone! 

~ Cleo