Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What? A Job?

I got one of those! Woo! Starting on the 12th of April! WIN!

This makes me especially happy because it lets me have Easter Monday off, so I'll actually be able to hang out with The Boyfriend, who will be coming down for the ANIMAL CRUELTY CELEBRATION.

Why do I call it that? Mostly because we'll be eating foie gras and raw oysters. Personally, I don't think oysters count as animals, but bajillions of taxonomists and biologists disagree with me. Still, what oysters really are, are delicious.

Does that comma look right to you? Grammatically it's correct... but it never looks right to me. Grammatically speaking that ellipsis I just used is also crap, but then again I never claimed to be an English Major.


ANYway. Additional Good News is that I saw my cousin's production of RENT down in Charlottesville, VA the other day. Great cast, great voices for everyone. Frankly I have no idea when my cousin developed a singing voice. Apparently he's been doing stuff like this for a long time and I'm just a really terrible family member for not noticing. That's probably accurate.

None of this has anything to do with wine or other bits of alcoholism. That's because I drank so unwisely that I do not properly remember anything I drank over that weekend. I am a moron. Still, I was introduced to a lovely wine bar called Siips (oh yeah, two "i's" is how you know it's good) in the pedestrian zone of C-ville where I had a really great glass of... something. It was French and expensive and tasted like smoke and seaweed. Heavenly. Too bad I don't remember a dang thing about the name, thus making this wine journal thing pretty useless.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

St. Patrick's Day, Recipes, Pictures, and an Experience with Fermentation


No, not really. Don't kiss me, I'll hurt you. Also you're not Irish unless it says so on your passport, you nasty drunkard.

I began the day with Bulmer's, because it's delicious. Don't mind the fact that I have no chin, I donated it to help the sober kids in India. The drinking was necessary because I was engaged in making something suspiciously delicious: Irish Cake Bombs.
 Irish Cake Bombs are Guinness cupcakes filled with Jameson ganache and topped with Bailey's frosting. They are also King of Delicious, partially because they are alcoholic, but mostly because it involves nearly an entire pound of butter. Eat your heart out, Paula Deen, but first put a little butter on it. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to hide this behind some sort of cut tag, so just scroll through if you're not interested. Here's the recipe:
For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling (Updated to double it, based on many commenters suggestions — thanks!)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

Now, I did a silly thing and thought "hurr bittersweet chocolate they don't have that here unsweetened is like the same thing rite hurr." It is not the same thing and I shame the baking gods. There was improvisation and a lot of powdered sugar, but in the end I made an awesome, slightly-too-thick filling. I should have saved some of it to make truffles with, as it probably had enough sugar and chocolate in it to keep from melting... oh well.

Oh yeah baby. That is cupcake porn. Seriously you guys, you have to make these. Don't get scared by the word "ganache," it's just about the easiest damn thing in the world to make (heat milk, pour on chocolate, stir).

I brought these fine offerings to the bar, where they were appreciated by many. It is time for more Embarrassing Pictures of People I Love.
There were also plenty of Suspicious Drinks. Such as the standard Green Beer:

And the ever-present Irish Car Bomb. AngryGinger was not pleased with the development of Irish Car Bombs.
PictureTaker McDrunksalot on the other hand was thrilled:

I hate Irish Car Bombs. Can't chug fast enough. Blurgh.

Moving away from the St. Patrick's Day festivities (including the wicked awesome party in Middle Basement), today I had an Experience with Fermentation. You see, At Birthday Ball we filled up a resealable container with orange juice for mixers. We then never used it and I left the box in Captain Class's dorm room. That was a month ago. This morning I opened it in order to wash it out, so that I could put something else delicious in it.

I do  not think I have experienced that level of energy in a fruity beverage before. It exploded like a poorly maneuvered bottle of champagne. If I had not had the sense to point it away from me, I'd be drenched in fizzy orange bits. Holy science, that was unpleasant. At least it doesn't smell like rotting oranges... probably because botulism is odorless... My god.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Woo! Pictures!

I found my camera cable! It was, as Mauve Shirt suggested, in her room. How the hell it got there, I don't know, because I'm pretty sure it's not compatible with her camera. Whatevs.

Anyway, pretty pretty pictures!
Look at them strawberries. Look at 'em. Ain't they gorgeous? They were tasty too. MOST of the two pounds of strawberries ended up in the jar. The rest ended up in me. Of course, my favorite strawberries are the mutant ones. You know, the ones trying to grow an extra head or something. Like this one.

I also did a mango infusion this afternoon. What I know about mangoes can be counted on the fingers of one elbow, so these were selected and broken down pretty inexpertly. There were gonna be three of 'em, but...
I sort of assumed that that's not a good way for mangoes to look. QuasomodoMango was not used in the making of this infusion, though I did involve him in making a mess of the kitchen. GOD mangoes smell like flowery ass. I'm not entirely certain about the quality of this infusion, so I didn't make all that much of it.

Finished products!

Oh yeah, check out that bidniss. When I went downstairs to put the mango infusion away with the others, I made sure to give them all a good shake. The coffee was already turning a delightful color, as seen below.
That is going to be delicious. CRAZY delicious.

Of course, I've got about a quarter liter of vodka left, and I'm wondering what I should do with it. Any recommendations?

Monday, March 15, 2010

I keep misplacing my camera cable...

Which means I don't have any good pictures of the infusions I made. LAME. It's a damn shame too, 'cause these ones look particularly delicious. First is a strawberry infusion, made with two pounds of strawberries and enough vodka to fill the jar. Mr. B gave me two old whisky bottles, nice glass ones with a cork. One of them is now full of vanilla bean infusion, and the other with coffee bean. My vanilla-coffee infusion was so successful that I really wanted to make more, and I figure that these two can be combined in all sorts of delicious ways, or taken alone.

Now, these particular infusions have a purpose: they are bribes. Before I move out, I will decant and sweeten them (except the vanilla, it keeps its bean in and takes no sugar). They will be served as bribes to those who help me move in, likely along with cupcakes.

I know beer and pizza is the traditional bribe, but I figure this is more my style.

In wine news, I had a delightful Malbec with the Boyfriend. Naturally I can't remember the name. Luckily, when I got home, I found a bottle of Chateau du Cleray Muscadet Sevre et Maine. I don't... I don't know what those words mean. It's French and I'm not very good at this. The grape is Melon de Bourgogne, which is typically used in Muscadet, which I thought was its own grape. Learn something new every day.

It is a very dry, minerally white, which surprised me, since I see "Muscadet" and think "honey sweet." This is really good, and I'd love to have it with oysters. I'll be getting the chance for tasty, tasty slug rocks soon, since for Easter this year we are having a Foie Gras and Oyster Dinner. Oh yeah. It doesn't get much better than that.

...I'm also just happy because I have flowers. I got a shamrock plant named Padraig. Also the Boyfriend got me some yellow roses and they are beautiful.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nerd Weekend!

Hooray for nerd weekend!

Last night I met up with BeerSnob, Kaiser TNT and MetalChef to run a tabletop roleplaying game. It was based on the Fate system, which is really great for pick-up games, one-shots, and intense roleplaying. It is super flexible, and because a large portion of character creation is based around putting together shared backstories, it makes jumping into the game really easy. It's wonderful.

My homebrew setting (featuring the Matu'Ashak) was complemented by a tray of brownies and a bottle of Westport River Chardonnay that MetalChef gave me for my birthday/christmas/thing. It was an estate grown wine from Southeastern New England, and it was really, REALLY tasty. Very balanced acids and sugars, citrusy without tasting like juice. It was easy to drink and highly enjoyable, even out of Red Cups while pretending to be monsters. I highly recommend this wine if you get the chance to try it, it's the style of white wine that got me interested in whites in the first place.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Embarassing Pictures of People I Love

Along the path to liver destruction, I have met many wonderful people and said many stupid things. I have also taken many a blackmail picture, and have many a blackmail picture taken of me.

The weekend before last was Birthday Ball, as I'd mentioned before. I showed up as the creepy alumnus, you know, like you do. It was interesting how my photography progressed. Observe.

Captain Class and Cashew 

This was early in the day, right after my first sip of Mojito inna jug. I do not recommend Mojito inna jug. Make your own damn drinks, folks. Still, if you like Gatorade and getting drunk, I suppose it would work.

After that, some tequila shots, and a few jars of champagne (couldn't find flutes) My pictures started coming out like this:
Ghost-deco Princess of Scones

Everyone did look lovely that night, and apparently I had a moment of swearing inanely at a camera. And by a moment I mean three full minutes. My god I had a hate in me that night. A hate and a lot of drink. College is bad for you.

Anyway, the rest of these pictures are going up on facebook as soon as I can manage it. I have a *lot* of pictures on this camera, especially since I haven't uploaded anything since Smarmy of One and Hootie McBoob got married. My word.
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