Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Feb 27, 2014

Fourth Regiment

Frequent readers of my blog know my deep appreciation for bitters.  Not only do I have a blast occasionally making my Bitter Revenge bitters for friends and family, but I love trying all the different flavors by small-batch producers out there.  One of the best is LA-based Miracle Mile Bitters Co. by a very un-bitter man named Louis Anderman.  He was getting ticked off that all my postings and Instagram pictures had bottles of bitters...that weren't his.  And he had every right to be ticked off because his bitters are awesome.  I use his sour cherry flavor in my Old Fashioneds.  Not only does he make traditional flavors such as orange and celery, but more out-of-the-box, fun flavors like chocolate-chili, yuzu, bergamot, and an aromatic "Forbidden" flavor.  He even works closely with local bars and bartenders to create custom-lines of bitters based on the types of cocktails served or the personality of that particular mixologist. My lack of Miracle Mile bitters has since been rectified, and I'm going to make up for lost time.  I wrote it here!

So my first cocktail I made with his glorious bitters included three flavors — orange, celery and a barrel-aged version of his Forbidden bitters. The Fourth Regiment is an old, classic cocktail that is essentially a variation on a Manhattan. Its origin isn't clear, with some citing its first appearance in 1889's 282 Mixed Drinks from the Private Records of a Bartender of the Olden Days, Drinks by Jacques Straub from 1914, and a 1931 version of The Gentleman's Companion. Let's just praise the cocktail gods that the recipe has been tracked down and now shared widely amongst us nerds.  The celery bitters add a more vegetal and herbal note, and nicely offset the sweetness from the vermouth.  If you'd like to buy Louis' bitters in LA (which you should), you can find them locally at K&L Wine Merchants and Bar Keeper.

Fourth Regiment
  • 1 1/2 oz rye whiskey (I used Templeton)
  • 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (I used Punt é Mes)
  • 2 dashes celery bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters, such as Angostura or Peychaud's (I used Miracle Mile's Barrel-Aged Forbidden bitters)
  • Lemon twist, for garnish
- In a mixing glass filled with ice, add all the ingredients and stir.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Feb 25, 2014

Bourbon Steak au Poivre

Libations used: 1/4 cup bourbon...
Libations left over: None, but make yourself a Manhattan or a Boulevardier (they're all the rage right now)...
I very rarely cook steak at home, because frankly, I'm a little nervous to.  Preparing steak has always been relegated to my dad firing up the grill at home, and now my guy friends have taken over the task. The most I've ever contributed to the process is the marinade (I still swear by this Sugar Steak with Bourbon recipe), but I started this blog for a reason, and that's to learn and constantly push myself.  I invited one of my friends over who's a fantastic cook to provide moral support and make sure I didn't light myself on fire with Food 52's Bourbon Steak au Poivre recipe.  Hey, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to go all the way and play with some flaming bourbon here.  I probably should have taken the batteries out of my super sensitive smoke detector first, but having it go off repeatedly is a right of passage.  Make sure you get those long kitchen matches so you don't burn yourself.  The sauce is oniony, sweet, rich, and smacks of delicious bourbon.  It's a quick and flavorful weeknight recipe, and a great dish to prepare for a special dinner for two.

Bourbon Steak au Poivre - serves 2
  • 2 small (6-8 oz) steaks, about 3/4-1 inch thick (I used Rib Eye)
  • 3 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Peanut oil
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow oninon
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Bulleit)
- Using a paper towel, blot the steaks on both sides, until very dry (this helps you get a good sear)
- Season both sides of the steak with the freshly ground black pepper and salt.
- Coat a cast iron pan with a thin surface of peanut oil and place over high heat.
- When the oil is shiny and hot, turn on those fans above your stove and add the steaks in the pan, cooking on each side for 4 minutes (medium-rare), or longer if you prefer more well-done.
- Remove the steaks to a plate and let rest.
- Add the butter to the same pan and melt.
- Add the onions and sauté until browned and soft (about 2 minutes).
- Turn the fan OFF and reduce the heat to low.
- With a long kitchen match, light the bourbon on fire and let the flames subside.
- When that fire has gone out, pour the sauce over the steaks.

Feb 20, 2014

Moscow Mule

I am just absolutely addicted to watching The Olympics, and have been staying up way too late these past few nights watching curling, biathlon races, slope-style events, and figure skating.  I just can't help myself! To properly enjoy these TV marathons from home, I've been stirring up Moscow Mules.  So they're not actually Russian, and are purely an American concoction from the 1940s, created by a liquor company that had a tough time pushing their Smirnoff vodka.  But for the spirit of countries uniting, this cocktail works for Olympic drinking purposes.  I'm not a vodka fan at all, but I do love it with a generous squeeze of lime, combined with a good, spicy ginger beer, such as Fentimans.  Even if you don't have the fancy crushed ice and the signature copper mug, you can still thoroughly enjoy this libation.  Cheers and Zazdarovje!

Moscow Mule
  • 2 oz vodka (I used Grey Goose)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice (about half a lime)
  • 4-6 oz ginger beer (I used Fentimans)
- If you have a copper mug, then you are cooler than me.  If not, then use a Collins or whatever glass you have.
- Add all the ingredients into your drinking vessel with ice and drop the used half of lime in there too.
- Stir, and you're done!

Feb 18, 2014

Sherried Parsnip Soup with Hazelnut Pesto

Libations used: More than 1/4 cup dry sherry...
Libations left over: Enough to have a few glasses with friends after dinner, or make this Bittersweet After-Dinner cocktail...
It may have been over 70 degrees out here, but I know pretty much everyone else in the country is freezing their butts off, so this soup is for all of you!  My Gourmet Fresh cookbook has this lovely winter recipe for Sherried Parsnip Soup with a Hazelnut Pesto.  I absolutely adore parsnips and think it's such an underrated vegetable.  Sherry is also having its comeback, so do yourself a favor and buy a nice bottle so you can enjoy it after dinner and get accustomed to the flavor.  I'm a fan of Tio Pepe Fino Sherry.  This soup comes together fairly quickly, so it's a great weeknight dinner recipe.  The hazelnut pesto is made with parsley, olive oil, and hazelnut oil, with the latter being optional if you can't track it down.  You'll definitely have leftover pesto, so it's great to pop in the fridge for a week or the freezer for up to a month, and use on steak, fish, chicken, or pasta.  The soup itself is mild and comforting with a hint of sherry, so when you stir in that pesto, it just absolutely enriches the flavor.

Sherried Parsnip Soup with Hazelnut Pesto - serves 4-6
Soup Ingredients:
  • 1 lb parsnips (about 6 medium ones), peeled and sliced
  • 5 large shallots, sliced
  • 3 leeks, white and pale green parts sliced
  • 1 celery rib, sliced
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs dry Sherry (I used Tio Pepe)
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3 Tbs heavy cream (optional)
  • 3/4 cup hazelnut pesto (recipe below)
To make the soup:
- In a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the parsnips, shallots, leeks, celery, and butter.
- Season with salt and black pepper, and sauté until moderately browned (about 10 minutes).
- Add 1/4 cup of the Sherry and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the water and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are very soft.
- Purée the mixture in batches in a blender.
- Transfer all the soup back into your pot and stir in the rest of the Sherry, cream, and add more salt and pepper, to taste.
- Divide soup in bowls and top with a generous dollop of pesto and some crushed, toasted hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Pesto Ingredients (make 1 1/2 cups):
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 cups packed, fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs hazelnut oil (optional)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To make the pesto:
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place hazelnuts in one layer on a small baking sheet and place in the middle of the oven, toasting for about 10-15 minutes, until colored lightly and slightly blistered.
- Wrap the nuts in a paper towel and let them steam for about a minute.
- Rub the nuts in paper towels to remove the skins (not all will come off) and let cool completely.
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth. I had to add a little bit of olive oil to loosen up the mixture a bit.

Feb 13, 2014

Pomegranate Gin Fizz

Perhaps you're hosting a gathering for your single gal pals on Valentine's Day, or maybe you're a guy reading this blog and trying to figure out which drink to serve your lady before or after a romantic, home-cooked dinner.  I posted this recipe for The Red Rooster cocktail earlier this week, but if your friends or lady love aren't bourbon fans, then this Pomegranate Gin Fizz from The Kitchn might set the mood straight.  It's simple, fool-proof and hey, pomegranates do have aphrodisiac qualities.  Just pick yourself up some PAMA liqueur, a bottle of gin (I'm a fan of No. 3 London Dry Gin) and some club soda, and you're done.  It's a little bit sweet and a little bit bitter, so it won't overpower any dessert you have planned.

Pomegranate Gin Fizz
  • 2 oz gin (I used No. 3 London Dry Gin)
  • 1 oz PAMA liqueur
  • Club soda, to taste
- In a glass filled with ice, add all of the ingredients and stir.
- Yeah, that's it...

Feb 12, 2014

The Red Rooster Cocktail

Stressing out about making a creative cocktail for your honey on Valentine's Day? For a special evening, you don't want to be fumbling around with something complicated, so impress your lady or man with an innovative twist on a classic Manhattan.  The Red Rooster cocktail, which was created by mixologist Aja Sax from her days at the Drake Hotel, is red and sexy.  It's not to be confused with the cranberry vodka Red Rooster.  Yeah, totally different here.  I found this recipe in Food & Drink magazine, and it has so many of my favorite spirits — Italian amari like Averna and Aperol, bitters, and bourbon.  I opted for the smooth and mellow Four Roses' Yellow Bourbon, because roses are romantic, right?  Even if you're observing Singles Awareness Day like I am, you can still stir this up for your best friends and celebrate how fabulous you all are.

The Red Rooster
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon (I used Four Roses' Yellow Bourbon)
  • 1/2 oz Averna
  • 1/2 oz Aperol
  • 3 drop orange bitters (I used Fee Brothers' West Indian Orange Bitters)
  • 1 drop Angostura bitters
  • 1 Luxardo cherry for garnish
- In a mixing glass filled with ice, add all the ingredients and stir, stir.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with a cherry and give your honey a smooch or say cheers to your friends.

Feb 4, 2014

Caramelized Onion & Shallot Dip

Libations used: 1 cup dry white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so treat yo' self with a glass while those onions are caramelizing...
I had some friends hosting a Super Bowl party this past Sunday, and I wanted to bring some nosh to contribute to their massive barbecue spread.  I also knew there was going to be a large crowd, so I wanted to make sure I brought enough of whatever I was preparing.  This Caramelized Onion & Shallot Dip from Bon Appetit makes like a vat of dip.  Okay, just a really big bowl, so it's perfect for parties.  Apologies that I didn't have this posted BEFORE the Super Bowl, but there are plenty of opportunities to host a get-together in the coming months — the Olympics, the Oscars, just because...This dip does take a little more effort because of the attention given to caramelizing the onions and shallots in the oven, but it's absolutely worth it.  Use a cheap white wine for the caramelizing, and feel free to make this at least three days in advance.  Serve with pita chips, crackers, pretzels or raw veggies.

Caramelized Onion & Shallot Dip - makes a lot (aka 16 servings)
  • 2 lbs of large yellow or white onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used some really cheap Quail Creek chardonnay)
  • 2 Tbs Sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Add the onions, shallots, thyme sprigs, and olive oil in a large roasting pan or baking dish.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the onion mixture, stirring and scraping down the sides every 10 minutes for 45-55 minutes, until everything's golden brown.
- Discard the thyme sprigs.
- Add the wine and vinegar, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom.
- Return to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes, stirring after 10.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the sour cream, chives, yogurt and onion powder.
- When the onions are done, spread them on a baking sheet to cool.
- Once the onions have cooled, transfer them to a cutting board and mince.
- Transfer them to your large bowl and thoroughly combine.
- Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.