Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cooking with Spirit(s)!

Stephen (previously mentioned here), a cook for the Miss Albany Diner and I like to go on foodventures. 

Recently we went to Harvest Spirits and met Derek Grout the Owner/Distiller.  You can read about the interview I did on All Over Albany.  After we left, we ("we" meaning Stephen - I just watched) used some of the spirits we purchased in some recipes Stephen created.

The day we went out there for the interview was a long day.  We drove around afterwards looking for a place for lunch then by the time we got home and ready to cook it was 7 p.m.  Luckily Stephen had everything planned so we could get started right away.  He wanted to use two kinds of the spirits we had purchased, the Pear Brandy and the Cornelius Applejack.  He got started with the Applejack first.

Q:  What did he do with it?

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A:  Bacon.

He created a cure from maple syrup, curing salt and Harvest Spirits Cornelius Applejack, threw it in a bag and is letting it age. 

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His plan is to build a cold smoker and smoke the heck out of it (more when this happens).  But for now it sits curing in a bag, knowing its deliciousness is only compounding by the day.

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After we (ha ha - HE) bagged it all up he started on the second project.  This was the one that he was really excited about.  He created a pear tart with a pear brandy caramel.

Take a breath and read again.  A PEAR TART with PEAR BRANDY CARAMEL.  You may pass out now.

OK - now wake up - because here is the part where I have no information.  I turned around for what I think was about SEVEN SECONDS and Stephen had created some ridiculous looking yummy crust on a cast iron pan he brought over from the flour, butter and black pepper we had sitting in bags and containers.  I don't know how it was possible to do it that fast but I looked and stuff was wrapped up on the counter, then next thing I knew it was like this:

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then half a second later it was like this: 

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HOW GORGEOUS IS THAT?  Oy.  It took a lot of self control to not just eat the stuff raw.

He then whipped up a caramel with brown sugar, butter...

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and then added Harvest Spirits Pear Brandy...

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He then spread some of the caramel on the crust.

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Stephen happened to have a bunch of blanched pears just "laying around" (because, you know, don't we all?) so he brought them, cut them, tossed them in some flour and placed them artfully on the crust.

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I want to insert here that it is NOT FAIR that he is this talented.  NOT FAIR I TELL YOU.  He made this like I make cereal.  Without a thought and effortlessly.  This is just another testament to his brilliance in the kitchen.

Anyway - finally we baked it.  By 11 p.m. it was ready to eat.  Almost too beautiful, really - but we managed.

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And we ate the whole thing.  Do you see the burnt crust on the edges?  Yeah - we pried it off with butter knives.  It was insane and delicious and wonderful.

I look forward to more cooking (with or without spirits) and foodventures with Stephen.  And more caramel.  In my belly.

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