CookEatLive: ICANCOOK – Guacamole

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The DinKen

DSCN0838One of those times where I just mix a bunch of stuff together and it turns out all right.

If your special event doesn’t include a specialty cocktail made specifically for your event, then you, my friend, don’t know what the word “celebration” means. This is just one man’s opinion, of course, and not every word out of my mouth is applicable to every person and nor should it be. For example, the previous sentence, because OF COURSE a specially-made hand-crafted libation makes EVERY event better. And for those of you who don’t drink, well…I guess we’re just not made to ever understand each other.

If you've never been in this position, I can't relate to you whatsoever.

If you’ve never been in this position, I can’t relate to you whatsoever.

A great friend of mine that I spent two years with in a hellhole of a law firm graduated from Columbia Law School and passed the bar in Washington D.C., and I decided that I would cook her dinner in honor of her fabulous success. This dinner that comprised of Drunken Noodles and Shrimp Shumai took place around my birthday, and to celebrate that my friend bought me a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin (which is a pretty nice gin).

Also for my birthday, my girlfriend got me a sort of sexy Swiss Army Knife of bartending that came with a corkscrew, zester, knife, and a strainer, among other things.  All in one neat, little package.

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“Now if I’m ever lost in the forest, I can still whip up a mean Adios Motherfucker!”

I think I’m pretty easy to buy a gift for as I am always enthusiastic for gifts that get me drunk or that aid me in that endeavor. So in honor of two of the neatest women that I am thankful to have in my life, I concocted a drink that would use both of their gifts (and suggested flavors as my girlfriend also chose some of the other ingredients), and I named this drink after them.

DSCN0836The DinKen

(Pronounced like Dine-Ken.)

– Hendrick’s Gin
– Ginger Ale/Beer
– Cucumber Soda
– Juice of half a Lemon
– Juice of half a Lime
– Dash of Bitters

The gin doesn’t HAVE to be Hendrick’s, but it would be a shame not to use it if available.  It is a fine gin, very smooth and infused with rose and cucumber, which helps it go into the cucumber soda quite nicely. However, cucumber soda can be a little dry depending on the brand, and when mixed with gin, the flavor can get a little sharp. Hence the ginger ale, which not only adds hints of ginger to the mix but also a bit of sweetness.

  • Combine two shots of gin, the juice of half a lemon and lime, and a dash of bitters.
DSCN0847

God, using this thing gets me so hot!

 

  • Fill a glass with ice, as well as wedges made from the lemon and lime you juiced.
  • Pour in gin mixture, and then fill the rest of the glass with equal parts of the cucumber soda and the ginger ale, and mix with a swizzle stick.
DSCN0845

*sounds of culinary/sexual gratification*

The cocktail is wonderful when the weather is hot, which is exactly what it was on the day that I had been standing in the kitchen for hours making the shumai.

dimsum

And I still never got the shape right.

Unfortunately, I was not able to make the drink for my friend that night, and she has since moved to D.C. so this is the only way I have to share the cocktail with her.  It’s yummy, bubbly, and packed full of gratitude and exaltation.

Dedicated to Dynamite Dinah and Krazy Kenisha.

DSCN0839Enjoy!

Dick Figures Shots – Lord Tourettes

lt03Down right bipolar.

The people have spoken.  The voices have been heard.  The call has been heeded.

The response to the original Dickfigures Shots was tremendous, and I was given a lot of feedback.  Although a few comments doubted that the drinks would taste good.  All I have to say to those people is: 1) Don’t knock it until you try it; and 2) YOU DOUBT MY ABILITIES?!  Some of them only wanted to know when the next season was coming out (it’s gonna be soon, everybody!).   Most of the fans, however, loved the idea and couldn’t wait to try it out.  But after reading them all, I noticed that people were craving a shot based on their favorite character of the series, which was neither Red nor Blue.  Thus, I decided to create one more Dickfigure shot to thank the fans for their comments (and hits as I was able to get to 200,000 overall views the day it posted), as a challenge to create something that would match the character, and because I adore drinking anything that’s green.   And thus we have –

Just you nevermind that the bottle of absinthe is half empty.  IT'S RESEARCH, PEOPLE!

Just you nevermind that the bottle of absinthe is half empty. IT’S RESEARCH, PEOPLE!

Lord Tourettes Shot

This one took me awhile before I was able to get the right mix.  The inherent traits of the character mean that the drink had to be loving and batshit crazy all at once.  I wasn’t sure how to do that at first.  Should I use something spicy?  I thought about using Red Hots to signify the rage (being both spicy and red), but felt that people would just end up swallowing the candy like a pill when they took the shot which is a waste of good confectioneries, and if that isn’t punishable by law then what use is the legal system?

"I once sent a man to the chair for not finishing his jawbreaker."

“I once sent a man to the chair for not finishing his jawbreaker.”

I didn’t want to use hot sauce as that would probably fuck up the greenness of the thing.  Luckily, the fans provided some insight on what could be done and the solution is extremely pleasant.

Ingredients:

– 1 part Absinthe
– 1 part Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
– 1 part Red Bull: Silver Edition
– Whipped Cream
– Green Food Dye

Fuck, absinthe is expensive.

I used absinthe because it’s green and it’s alcohol (cocktail – liquor = soft drink, and I don’t play that kind of shit), Red Bull: Silver Edition because it brings that high-energy aspect and because I used it in the other two shots, and the juice from one lime to represent the crazygonutsrage LT can’t stop himself from flying into.  Add whipped cream to the top to represent LT’s sweeter nature (and his hat), and lo, you have your drink.

Do I need to write directions?  I sort of told you how to make it with the last paragraph.

ltgagFine.  FINE.  JEEZUS.

  • Take a room temperature lime and roll it in your hands and on a table to release the juices.  Cut it open and juice that sucker into a glass.  I would recommend doing this through a sieve to filter out the pulp.
  • Fill your shot glass (a tall or double shot glass if you got it) with equal parts of the juice, absinthe, and Red Bull.
  • Top with whipped cream.
  • Add a few drops of green dye to the whipped cream.

Could I have made the whipped cream myself, thereby allowing me to dye all of it green?  Yes, I could have done that.  Why didn’t I?  Because although homemade whipped cream is delicious, it’s no where near as fun as the stuff in the can; the process of tilting your head back and instantly filling your mouth through a gar-powered funnel with that soul-satisfying “HHHKHKHOOOOOO” sound simply cannot be beat.  Plus, it’s easier to build a tower for a hat.

  • Drink.

The drink is shocking, much like Lord Tourettes.  The anise in the absinthe isn’t as overpowering as you would think.  In fact, the absinthe takes a backseat to the sour power of the lime juice.  It’s not too sour, though, for the Red Bull: Silver Edition (which is lime flavored) and the whipped cream takes the edge off.  It’s a drink that makes you happy and a little taken aback at the same time.

lt04Enjoy!

Here is the recipe card for the Lord Tourettes Shot.  Meanwhile, stay tuned for the latest season of Dick Figures, or better yet, check out Dick Figures The Movie.  You can also go and get the audiobook Zack Keller’s first novel The Success of Suexliegh, available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.  Or stroll around to ZackKeller.com to see more information on his other literary works, such as the second part of Meet Me At The Falls, and his sophomore novel, Penwell.  You can also take a gander at the work of Ed Skudder, the other creator of Dick Figures, on Tumblr and YouTube.  Massive kudos to Jess, whoever you are, for chiming in with an idea for this shot!

Dick Figures – The Shots

DFTHAPPY HOLIDAYS!  As a gift to all you loyal readers/drinkers out there, I have decided to try and squeeze one more cocktail in before the year’s end.  While talking with my friend and colleague Zack Keller about narrating his first book The Success of Suexliegh we segued into discussing Dick Figures (a web series about two idiotic stick figures doing moronic exploits amongst equally deranged characters) that he co-created.  Since it’s impossible to have a conversation with me where I don’t mention alcohol somehow, the following exchange took place:

Me: Ooh ooh!  Someone should make a Dick Figure cocktail.
Zack:  Haha, that would be stupendous!
Me:  All it would have to do is be red and blue.
Zack:  Totally.
Pause.
Me:  It’d be really easy.
Zack:  Yes.
Pause.
Me:  I’m gonna have to do it, aren’t I?
Zack: Since you were the one who lent word to thought, I would have to say, “Duh.”

Thusly was I sent forth by the creator himself to concoct the official tipple of the Dick Figures web series.

df01The Dick Figures Double Shot

My original intention was to create a layered drink, but all my experiments were more embalming than they were delicious and had a tendency to actually make me act like a dick.  While that might be more in the spirit of the show, I concluded that it would be better for the drink to taste good with less douche-creating effects.  So I ditched my “single drink” concept for a simpler “two shots of equal measure” idea.  I just had to make sure each shot met certain criteria: they had to represent the main characters’ personalities; they had to match the zany, high-energy motif of the show; and they had to be red and blue.

df02

Red Shot
– 2 Parts Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
– 1 Part Jägermeister
– 1 Part Red Bull: Red Edition

df03

Blue Shot
– 2 Parts Peppermint Schnapps
– 1 Part Any Overly-Sweet Blue Liqueur (Kinky Blue, Hypnotiq, etc.)
– 1 Part Red Bull: Blue Edition

To my luck, Red Bull has created a red and a blue version of their drinks that are cranberry and blueberry flavored, respectively.  Each shot gets a dash of Red Bull to give the imbiber enough of a boost to go out a kill a stegosaurus.  Red’s is made with Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey to match his spicy and vivacious attitude, along with some Jägermeister to represent his fratboy mentality and backwards hat.

df04

Blue is, by comparison, the smarter and calmer of the two, so he gets a good dose of chilly Peppermint Schnapps.  He’s also kind of a pussy, so he gets a dash of whatever sickeningly sweet, always-goes-into-those-so-called “Girly Drinks”, bright blue liqueur you can get your hands on (I used Kinky Blue, but Hypnotiq would work just as well).

df05

After making each shot, flip a coin to see which one you drink first.  Then comes the “stupid” part of this cocktail:

  • Drink one.
  • Immediately drink the other.

If you want to add a bit more foolhardiness, you’ll down the rest of the Red Bulls, along with two beers, and then steal a cop car.  Those aren’t necessary, though.

The shots are vastly different, but because they each have some fruity, berry action from the Red Bull, their flavors don’t clash at all.  Drink, turn on those Intarnets, sit back, and let Red and Blue engross you from both the inside and the outside.

df06

Enjoy!

Here are recipe cards for Red and Blue.  Meanwhile, stay tuned for the latest season of Dick Figures, or better yet, check out Dick Figures The Movie.  You can also go and find the first ten chapters of Zack Keller’s The Success of Suexliegh audiobook, head over to Amazon where you can buy paperback and ebook copies, or stroll around to ZackKeller.com to see more information on his other literary works Meet Me At The Falls, and his sophomore novel, Penwell.  You can also take a gander at the work of Ed Skudder, the other creator of Dick Figures, on Tumblr and YouTube.  Massive kudos to the people at Dick Figure Wiki for their extreme attention to detail, which made finding examples for this article so easy.

Khan’s Wrath

khan's wrath (3)

The embodiment of vengeance.

Twas the opening weekend of J.J. Abrams’s latest Star Trek film, and my two compatriots and I decided to have a drink and go witness the movie firsthand.  To have a normal drink would not be suitable enough, so we agreed to create our own cocktails under a few fun guidelines.

  • They needed to be Star Trek themed;
  • They needed to be shots; and
  • They needed to contain rum.

We each came up with our own and did so quite successfully, if I do say so myself.  One guy came up with The Fuzzy Trible, a sort of Mai Tai with peach.  Another made The Spock Shot, a drink that consisted of two kinds of rum, blue curaçao, and peppermint schnapps.  You had to pick up the blue shot with the Vuclan salute, drink it, slam the glass down and then scream something logical.

IMG_20130526_114526_564

“THE SKY ONLY APPEARS TO BE BLUE!”

Since the new Star Trek II had a revision of Khan, I found it only appropriate to pay homage to the original Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  It needed to be fierce, bold, and full of rage.  Thus I present you –

khan's wrath (1)

Khan’s Wrath

– Spiced Rum
– Bacardi 151 (Warning – Fire is involved)
– Tapatio Hot Sauce

Don’t run away!  I know this drink screams “danger”, but it’s not that scary as long as you’re careful.  Trust me, I put a lot of thought into this drink: Spiced Rum to represent Ricardo Montalban, with his tanned skin, smooth demeanor, and being comfortable enough to wear this –

The Tapatio represents Khan’s intensity and Do-what-I-want attitude, and the blazing 151 to symbolize “The Wrath”.  So relax and have some courage; everything is thought out.

  • Fill ⅓ of a tall/double shot glass with the Tapatio.

I told you to relax, dammit!  This works, I swear.  You could just put in a drop, which would certainly look pretty, but doesn’t add enough flavor to the party.  Pour that shit in.

  • Fill up the rest of the shot glass with the Spiced Rum, stopping at least ¼” from the top.
  • Gently layer by pouring the Bacardi 151 down the side of the glass, leaving at least ⅛” empty.  You don’t want the rum to burn away before you can drink it, but you don’t want it to reach the rim of the glass either.  Liquid fire sounds badass, and it is, but it is not so much fun if you spill it all over yourself.

I think it’s kicking in.

  • Making sure the 151 is capped, and that the glass and any spills that might have occurred are wiped down, turn off the lights, and let the fires rise.
  • Take a picture.  It’s the law of the land now that you have to photograph your food if it’s on fire.
  • Smother the fire either with a dish or your hand (depending on what level of FUCK YEAH I’M AWESOME you are).
  • This part is a little tricky.  Instead of simply drinking it, you have to throw this drink at your mouth as the rim of the glass might be too hot for human lips.  You may want to keep a damp cloth nearby to cool the rim to a comfortable level.
  • Scream “KHAAAAAAAAN!!!”

The drink is like a mini-bloody mary, except instead of vodka you have rum, and instead of celery you have a tiny piece of inferno.  It’s got some kick, both in spice and alcohol content, so be forewarned.  As for my friends and I, we had a couple of rounds, went swimming, watched the original Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, ordered a 3’ wide pizza, had another round, watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, went swimming again, and then . . .

You know what?  We never saw the new Star Trek movie that day.  I guess the thought will have to do.

Enjoy!

khan's wrath

Grit-Filled Polenta (Polengritsa)

polengritsa (3)So warm, soft, crispy and cheesy it’s almost stupid.

With every single recipe I create, I am positive that I have just cooked the most ridiculous thing I could have ever concocted.  But oh, how time makes fools of us all.  Sometimes what I make doesn’t really pan out (I’m so close to make a cooking pun here, but I just can’t get a grasp on it).  Sometimes the recipes aren’t original enough.  I don’t want to simply post my version of chocolate cake of chicken carbonara because it’s boring.  You don’t come here for a boring, nouveau-fusion, “let’s add mango to our salsa!” recipe; you come here for exciting, out-of-left-field, “let’s fill this mango with salsa and then cover it in maple syrup!” recipes.  Most of the time, however, the ideas I come up with have already been created by others.  Just last weekend, I thought I had an original idea of bacon-wrapped bananas until I discovered that not only are there a slew of bacon-banana recipes, but some of them did things with the dish I would never have dreamed of (such as making chocolate-covered, maple bacon bananas).  So it’s not surprising that my recipes are absurd to the point of being grotesque; after the failures, other people getting there first, and my own crazed creative standards, the ridiculous is all that’s left.

Case in point: this goddamn recipe.  I’ve been making Shrimp n’ Grits ever since my girlfriend incessantly bugged me to make it for her about a year and a half ago.  Earlier this year, my girlfriend started bugging me to make her polenta.
Hmmmmm.   Maybe I’m not innovative, but rather my girlfriend just annoys me a lot.
Upon producing said polenta, I realized that grits and polenta are pretty much the same thing.  Each uses cornmeal, each go well with shrimp, each can be chilled and fried –

And thus a recipe was born!  Prepare yourselves for the insane meeting of Italy and the American South which, if going by racial stereotypes alone, would be one of the rowdiest, drunkest, sexiest, and delicious weddings ever!

polengritsa

Fried, Grit-filled Polenta, or Polengritsa for short

I even stuffed the word “Grits” into the word “Polenta” . . . I’M BANGING ON ALL CYLINDERS OVER HERE!

– 2 cups of Cornmeal
– 4 cups of Chicken Stock
– 2 cups of Whole Milk (After drinking whole milk, I shall never go back.  It’s the rare steak of milk.)
– 2 cups of Water
– 1 stick of Butter
– 6 oz of Cheddar Cheese
– 6 oz of Parmesan
– 3 tsp of Salt
– 4 thick strips of Bacon
– 4 thick strips (or equivalent) of Prosciutto
– ¾  cups of Red Onion (chopped)
– 1 tsp of Black Pepper
– Paprika
– 1 – 2 Jalapenos (chopped)
– Olive Oil
– Vegetable Oil
– Fresh Parsley (chopped)
– Garlic

Once again, I used Alton Brown’s recipes for making the actual grits and polenta.  They are both insanely easy to make as long as you have some patience, a little focus, and a whisk.  I did do some things differently, however.  When tasted side-by-side, grits and polenta are similar and yet distinct; grits are creamier while polenta is more porridge like.  Yet when they are smashed together and fried in bar-form, it can be a challenge to distinguish the differences between the two, so I decided to modify them each a tad.
I used more cheddar and parmesan than the recipes state, although you’ll want to save some of each for later.

  • For the grits, I cut up four strips of bacon, cooked them, and then threw in the jalapenos and sauteed it all together.  This helped make the grits spicier to contrast the polenta.
  • To the polenta, I added some finely chopped parsley, paprika (to taste), and prosciutto.  I was able to find cubed prosciutto (which I crisped up in a pan) so it came out more “hammy”.  If you can’t find cubed prosciutto, just get the equivalent of four strips of bacon.  Tip for thin Prosciutto – If you bake it, it’ll easily crumble into the polenta.

It’s still tough to tell them apart in the final dish, although everyone I served it to didn’t seem to mind; some didn’t really know the difference between grits and polenta, some had never had either, and some slipped into a food coma before they were able to say anything.  I’ll take my success where I can get it, ignorance and incapacitation be damned.

  • Make the grits first, and do it in the morning for breakfast.  Eating a single bowl takes away enough volume so as not to make it difficult when covering them with the polenta, but it leaves enough to make a substantial layer.  Could you just change the amount of grits at the beginning so you weren’t forced to eat grits?  Sure.  You could also sacrifice a lamb over the dish in the name of the ancient god Ba’al; just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  Besides, if you have to be forced to eat grits, why the hell are you cooking this thing?
  • In a baking dish (8”x8” or 6”x9”) that is lined with parchment paper, pour the remainder of the grits in.  Smooth it out with a spatula until everything is even and then refrigerate until completely firm, which should take most of the day.
  • Go for a twelve mile hike, watch the entire The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition trilogy, stake out and rob a bank; anything that will get you out of the house for eight hours.
  • Make the polenta.  While that’s cooking, go ahead and cut up the firm grits into bars.  My cuts were about 2”x4” and I was able to get about six bars out of it.  There will be scraps leftover, but those are called dinner.
  • When the polenta is done, take another 8”x8” baking dish lined with parchment paper and pour about ⅓ of the polenta in.  Smooth it out with a spatula until everything is even.
  • Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the polenta.  We’re not looking for full coverage here, I’d say maybe one handful or less.
  • Place your grit bars on top of the polenta and cheese.  If you leave enough parchment paper coming up over the sides, I would take a marker and give yourself some guiding lines on the edges of the paper so you know exactly where to cut once everything is covered.
  • Pour another ⅓ of the polenta over the grits.  Take the spatula and gently push the polenta into the spaces around the grit bars, all the while softly shaking the baking dish.
  • Spread another round of cheese over it all, and then pour in the rest of your polenta.  Like before, smooth, even, and shake.
  • Place this in the fridge and wait.  You could go rob another bank to pass these second eight hours, or maybe just go to sleep.  Only you can decide how badass of a cook you want to be.
  • In the morning, cut the polenta-grit bars using the guidelines you drew earlier, and prepare for heating.
  • Deep frying isn’t really an option as the suckers are just too big and dense; they’ll fall apart in the oil before heating all the way through.  If you must deep-fry, you’re gonna have to batter and/or cover with lots of breadcrumbs first.  For me, I put olive oil on the bars themselves rather than in the pan, took some parmesan cheese and sprinkled it on each side and sauteed them.  The crust was crispy and tasty, and it added some symmetry because of the cheddar that was layered into the bar.

Once finished, this thing is pretty outrageous and embodies the word “Contrast”.  Light, crispy, and cheesy on the outside, and dense, creamy, and soft on the inside.   Sweet and spicy bacon bits in the middle, salty prosciutto on the edge.  The parmesan crust and the gooey cheddar layers.  The thing is quite heavy, so I wouldn’t go building a meal around it.  If anything, maybe a small salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  I might try these again but make them smaller and more manageable, but for now I say, “Go big or go home.”

Enjoy!  (FYI – Be on the look-out for that salsa-filled, maple syrup mango.)

polengritsa (4)

Thanks to my friends Dan Forcade and Elliot Grossman for acting as taste-testers!