After hours in the library or at the end of an awful work day all you want to do is meet up with a friend at the bar or run home, put on your pajamas and pour yourself a glass of wine. Don’t worry,you are not alone on this one, a drink at the end of the day is sometimes the only way to ease yourself out of stress mode. For me, the way I let go of it all is through cooking. There is nothing like inviting some friends over, cracking open the fridge and creating a delicious meal. Now add that leftover bottle of wine or the brandy you save for special occasions and you’ve got yourself a excellent way to forget about those everyday worries. There are some things that when combined just make sense, and this is one of them. No one questions the perfection that is peanut butter and jelly so try out these alcohol infused recipes for yourself before you question my weekly stress relief antidote.
Gnocchi with Grape Tomatoes, Capers and Thyme in White Wine Beurré Blanc
When you are cooking classic Italian dishes, or any dish for that matter, it is important to pair it with the right beverage. In some cases you just need to go right on ahead and dump a little into the mix. White wine is always a good thing to combine with any food staple, including pasta. Gnocchi is one of my favorites and is always kept in stock on the shelves in my house. It is quick and easy to make and goes with almost anything. Add some fresh vegetables and you have yourself a perfect meal. Don’t forget to to save some wine for dinner!
1 package of Gnocchi
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
3/4 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
3 oz butter, sliced
1 tbs capers, drained
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
7 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tbs fresh grated parmesan
Cook gnocchi according to directions on package, strain and set aside. Add olive oil to pan on low-medium heat and saute shallots and garlic for 3-5 minutes. Add wine and 3 thyme sprigs to pan, increase heat and reduce until there is only about 1/4 cup of wine left. Add stock and cook another 5 minutes on medium-high until reduced by half. Turn heat to low. Add butter one square at a time. Swirl around pan until it dissolves then add the next square. The sauce should not come to boil while you are doing this. Remove from heat if it gets too hot. Turn off heat. Add capers, tomatoes and gnocchi. Mix together. Remove thyme sprigs before serving. Plate and add parmesan and thyme. Enjoy!
Chocolate Whiskey Tart with Whiskey Whipped Cream
Everyone loves a Whiskey Girl! That is what I hear every time I go out for a drink because anyone can tell you, I love my whiskey! But what I love more is cooking with it. Last week was my good friend’s birthday and he too loves his whiskey. I was short on time and needed to make him something special so I pulled out one of my favorite recipes. You cannot find a more simple dessert to make in a pinch and did I mention, it has whiskey in it!
8 oz shortbread cookies
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup Heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
5 oz good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
4 oz good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 Large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp good-quality whiskey
Whiskey Whipped Cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 to 2 tbsp good-quality whiskey
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Lightly spray a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse the cookies intovery fine crumbs. If you do not have a food processor place cookiesinto a sealed ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. (You should have approximately 1 3/4 cups.) Place the crumbs into a bowl, add the sugar and salt, and stir to combine. Pour the butter over the crumbs and mix until combined. Pour the mixture out into the prepared pie pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides using your fingers or the bottom of a metal measuring cup. Place the pan in the freezer for about 5 minutes, then place on a baking sheet, and bake until the crust is just dry to the touch but not browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the cream and milk. Bring the mixture just to a low simmer (bubbles will start to form around the edge of the pan) but do not scald or boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add both types of chocolate and whisk very gently until the mixture is completely smooth. Continue stirring to release excess heat. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture is only slightly warm. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, egg yolk, flour and whiskey.(you may add more whiskey if you choose to.) Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until completely blended. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are slightly set but the middle slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Carefully remove the tart from the pan and let cool completely. Serve either at room temperature or directly from the refrigerator with a big dollop of Whiskey Whipped Cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Pour the cream into a chilled metal bowl and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute or so until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the sugar and whiskey on top and continue whisking vigorously until stiff peaks form. Serve immediately.
French Toast Soaked in Brandy with Apple Compote
Sounds fancy, I know! But thats the best part of cooking. You can take
simple ingredients and make them into something special. One of my
favorite things in the world is breakfast partially because you can
eat it at anytime of the day. When all you have in your fridge is
bread, eggs and milk the best option is always french toast. Add a
little brandy left over from the night before and you have yourself a
½ loaf challah bread or egg bread
5 cups diced granny smith apples or pink ladies
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
¼ cup water
? teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cardamom
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups milk
3 tablespoons brandy
? teaspoon salt
For the compote:
Sauté apples in butter over a medium high heat until they begin to
soften, about five minutes. Add brandy and cook until almost
evaporated. Add in the sugars, water, and spices. Cook the mixture
until the apples are cooked through and start to break down, around eight
minutes. The apples should be soft, but still have a little crunch to
them. Keep warm over a low heat while preparing the french toast.
For the french toast:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice Challah bread into thick slices.
Whisk milk, eggs, brandy, and salt together in a large shallow dish
until combined. Place the bread into the custard mixture. Soak the
first side for two minutes then turn it over and let the other side
soak for two minutes. Heat a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add
one tablespoon of butter to the pan, swirling to coat the entire pan.
Cook bread until the first side is golden brown, about two to three
minutes. Flip over and cook another 30 seconds. Transfer the pan to
the oven and bake for five minutes. Serve with the apple compote over
french toast. Add maple syrup if needed. Enjoy!