Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hank's Gin Fizz

This recipe came from my father. It was a staple at Sunday Morning Football Parties, New Years Day Parade or pretty much anytime a before noon cocktail is appropriate.

He called it a Gin or Ramos Fizz but I have never seen anything like this in a bartenders recipe book. I include both his original version and my revised recipe.

Hank's Gin Fizz:

In a blender, combine:

1 cup Gin
1/2 cup Half and Half
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
6 Tbsp Cocktail (superfine granulated) Sugar
1 Raw Egg
1 cap full Orange Flower Water

Fill with ice and blend until smooth then serve in flutes.

My current recipe substitutes 1/2 cup Orange Juice for the Lemon Juice and Sugar.

love and bacon,

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chili Colorado

I originally found this recipe on chili-heads and adapted it to my own taste and methods.

This is a low and slow recipe simmering covered on the stove-top, in the oven or a crock-pot. 2 Hours is minimum.

3-4 dried pasilla or similar mild chili pods
1-2 dried Chili de Arbol or use a jalapeno
2 cups Beef Broth ( I use Pacific in the quart box)

2lbs Stew Meat in bite size pieces ( I cut my own from boneless chuck roast when it goes on sale)
1/2 Onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped

1tsp Cumin
1/2tsp Mexican Oregano

Start by covering the dried chilis in very hot water and soak for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, dredge the beef in flour then salt, pepper and brown in oil. Work in batches so you don't just steam the meat. Set the browned beef aside and saute first the onion and then the garlic, scraping up the fond. return the meat to the pan and add some of the beef broth.

Drain the chilis throwing out the bitter soaking water and puree in a blender with 1 cup beef broth. Now strain the puree into the pot using a rubber spatula to force it thru the mesh. Stir in the cumin and oregano and the rest of the beef broth.

Stir and simmer for 2-4 hrs, longer and lower is better. After a couple of hours taste the sauce and add salt if necessary.

love and bacon,

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Tale of Two Tortellini (Or Was It Tortelloni..?)

Ever since I've known Brett, he's had a food crush on the dish we've come to know as tortellini (tortellini Alfredo, tortellini soup, tortellini with parmesan etc. - the sky's the limit!). Brett's tortellini fixes can come in any cooking style or flavor and it will always hit the spot. As a child, Brett's answer to the classic "what's your favorite food?" question was always "tortellini!" A response that would leave many stunned, and somewhat confused. 

Well, you can only imagine Brett's excitement when we found out that Bologna, a city about 6 hours north of Naples, is actually the home place of all things tortellini (we even saw tortellini shaped chocolate!). Bologna is specifically known for their Tortellini en Brodo (Tortellini in Broth)- a dish we knew we had to try. 

Without much other motivation, we set off on a road trip to Bologna with the one goal of trying authentic tortellini dishes. (On a side note: on the way to Bologna, we stopped in the spectacular town of Orvieto. We wanted to check out their underground tour and cliff face views. I would recommend this side trip to anyone wanting to explore one of Italy's many mountain top towns.)

Back to the story, Brett had two specific restaurants in mind that he wanted to try while in Bologna. One restaurant is in the actual city of Bologna (La Traviata), and the other is half an hour from Bologna in Castelfranco (La Lumira). Although Bologna is known for being the home place of tortellini, the restaurant in Castelfranco is touted as having "the best tortellini" in the area. Of course, we were intrigued and had to try both. 

This is what we learned: tortellini as we know it, is actually (wait for it...) Tortelloni (GASP!!!!). This revelation was shocking to us too- haha. Tortellini, as is classically made in Bologna, are tiny in comparison to the tortellini we know in the U.S.
Brett eating his first Tortellini en Brodo from La Traviata.
Notice the size!

Spinach ricotta tortelloni, exactly what I thought Tortellini would look like.
Also from La Traviata. SO, so good :)

Our experience with the food in La Traviata was delicious! After trying Tortellini en Brodo in both places, Brett decided that although the tortellini from La Traviata was super tasty- that the broth from La Lumira was the best. The broth was somehow more flavorful and heartier- a perfect warming-up wintertime dish.
Brett excited to dig into his final tortellini dish of the weekend.
(I swear these eating events were on two different days, despite Brett's repeat shirt performance...)

I couldn't wait to eat my dish so much
that I forgot all about taking a picture before I messed it up!
This was pumpkin stuffed tortelloni
in a cream and balsamic sauce from La Lumira.

All in all, I'm pretty sure we gained a total of 10 pounds between us this weekend (all. the. carbs!!!). BUT- besides a few extra pounds, we gained a far better cultural understanding of what tortellini (or tortelloni) means to the people of Italy (and Bologna specifically). Totally worth the tight jeans!

A typical pasta shop window in Bologna.
Tortellini galore! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kahlua, by the Numbers

There are many recipes on the web for home-made Kahlua, a rum and coffee liqueur originally from Vera Cruz Mexico. The ratios for these recipes are all over the place, so I decided to take a more analytic approach.

First, we know from product labels that Kahlua was originally 53 proof but is currently down to 40. Further it has 11.2 grams of sugar in a 1 oz serving.  Many recipes use vodka for the alcohol but 80 proof vodka is 60% water, so after you account for the water, alcohol and sugar, you only have 0.4 grams left for the coffee. Using 100 proof vodka only gets you to 3.7 grams. Some recipes use instant coffee to offset this but neither sugar nor coffee dissolve very well in vodka.

The solution is to use 190 proof Everclear which leaves room to dissolve the sugar in fresh brewed coffee. We will use brown sugar as it contains molasses, like in rum, to give it a more authentic flavor. Finally, instead of using a vanilla bean and waiting a month or so, we will use vanilla extract. After all, vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol!

You will need four screw-top wine bottles for this recipe.

1 750 ml bottle 190 proof Everclear
2 lbs brown sugar
8 tsp vanilla extract
8 cups freshly brewed coffee, we used french roast

Divide the Everclear equally into the four empty wine bottles (a little over 6 fl oz each).
Add 2 tsp vanilla extract to each bottle.

Repeat the following for each bottle:
Put 8 oz of brown sugar into a 1 quart measuring cup and stir in brewed coffee up to the 18 fl oz line.
Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved then allow to cool below 140 degrees.
Pour the coffee/sugar mixture into the wine bottle, then cap and mix gently.

That's it! You now have 4 bottles of 47.5 proof Kahlua, at a cost of less than $7.50 per bottle.

For our first batch we made 2 bottles with light brown sugar and 2 with dark. Further, we tried almond extract as well as vanilla. Our preference was for the dark brown sugar and the vanilla.

Dark vs Light Brown Sugar
This is all you need

love and bacon,

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rummy Bears (because Boozey Bears didn't sound very classy)!

After a rather long absence I return with this:
a post on the wonders of gummy sweets, vodka, and rum (who would've known??)!

In this collaborative Hoyer and Swearingen Experiment (Hoyingen), 
we present you with the all-too-scientific findings of what we currently call, Rummy Bears. 

This experiment was originally hatched with a couple of simple questions:
has anyone ever tried out the Pinterest pin known as Vodka Bears
(See pin here [one of many])
is it any good?
(Of course, Pinterest was somehow involved.)

We, of course, decided that getting to the bottom of this quandary
required some of our own scientific exploration.

Before we began:
*We first decided to create two sample groups.
One with vodka and one with rum.
*We chose Stolichnaya Russian Vodka and Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum.
*We also decided to take a Pinterest suggestion of using Haribo gummy bears
over any other brand. Apparently, other brands get gross.

 We couldn't find a regular sized Haribo bag
so we bought 5 or so snack sized bags.

 Kjersti, modeling with a pack of Haribo.

 Originally, we planned to put all the bears in one container
and with one single alcohol type; but the more the merrier!

Our first alcohol type, Stolichnaya Russian Vodka.

Second alcohol type, Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum.

We let these babies sit in the refrigerator for a few hours
before testing them.

Upon testing them, we discovered two things:
*A few hours isn't nearly enough time
*Sailor Jerry's Spiced Rum and gummy bears are horrid together. Yuck.

After the first round of tastings,
we took the following measures before sticking our bears back in the fridge:
*We replaced Sailor Jerry's with Malibu Coconut Rum.
*We let them sit overnight and didn't try them again until the next evening.

It was worth the wait,
our second tasting the following day was a success!

The final outcome, after some tweaking, was delicious!
The gummy bears perfectly soaked up their respective alcohols,
making them taste like treats rather than alcoholic booby traps.

Although, we replaced the spiced rum late in the game with the coconut rum,
it worked out well; despite the lingering spiced rum flavor.

I personally preferred the vodka bears;
but overall, it was 3 to 1 in favor of the Rummy Bears.


-The Hoyingens

Monday, September 3, 2012

I never liked meatballs...

... when I was a kid.

My mom made Swedish Meatballs, whatever that means. They were dense and tough and flavorless. Basically over-cooked hamburger.

Then a while ago I picked up a Bon Appetit which featured Italian classics and I decided to give the meatball another chance. Spaghetti and meatballs, they were pretty good.

I kept experimenting and found that a panade, milk and bread, was a good method for making moist tender meatballs (it also works for meatloaf). Then with a bit more experimentation I made...

Meatballs to die for!

No, really, it's the texture that makes these so good. And there's no better way to experience this than the deli classic; Meatball Sandwiches!


2 lb hamburger 80-85% lean
1 lb italian sausage
2 cups panko
1 cup milk
1 egg

Stir the milk and egg together then add to the panko, set aside. Spread the hamburger out and insert plugs of italian sausage thruout. Then add the softened panko mixture to the meat and mix with your hands thoroughly.

Shape into about 24-30 meatballs onto a baking sheet with a little olive oil. Then broil until well browned on both sides and let them cool. They will not be completely cooked, that's fine.

At this point, I bag them 6 to a bag and freeze them for Spaghetti and Meatballs or...


You probably noticed that the meatballs have no aromatics or spices, except for the italian sausage. I used to use sauce from a jar, but it always tasted like a bunch of stuff that had been together for too long. So I switched to:

Simple Marinara

You can make this in any quantity, but it's always best freshly made.

Saute some chopped onion in olive oil, then add minced garlic. Sprinkle some italian seasoning onto the hot oil and let it bloom, then add canned tomato sauce, that's it. Red pepper flakes may be used to give it some kick.

Simmer for at least 30minutes. This is the base recipe, it's perfect for Meatball Sandwiches. If I want to do something more up-scale I add mushrooms, red wine, fresh basil, you get the picture.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and let simmer for another 30 minutes rolling them around in the sauce a coupe of times.

On to the sandwiches!

Get some decent bread, don't waste these on hot dog buns. The picture shows mini-baguettes.

Any way, hollow out the rolls a bit to make room for the meatballs. Either toast the rolls open face or nuke them with a slice of provolone on the bottom for 10-15 seconds.

place the meatballs onto the rolls, then spoon the sauce over. Top with grated parmesan and serve with a green salad.

love and bacon,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Asparagus Files

I used to think asparagus was a less
than likeable vegetable (one might say inedible).
This all changed last Christmas when I ventured to try asparagus. 
It was simply made with butter (ha, ha- can go wrong with butter),
salt, and pepper. Since then, I have been looking for more ways
to incorporate asparagus into my life. 
For this reason, I was excited to try:

This meal combined three of my favorite ingredients:
shrimp, gnocchi, and pesto.
It truly lived up to my expectations of how tasty it would be.

Chef's Notes:
We always find that the gnocchi is always best when it is freshly cooked. 
Our meals always seem best when we wait till the last minute
to boil and drain the gnocchi.
We recommend Parmigiano-Reggiano for this meal.