Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cinderella's Coach

I can see the pumpkin up ahead, hurtling down the road like a rickety jalopy driven by Mr. Toad, lantern light screaming into the forest darkness.

"Faster!" I declaim. "We gotta catch it this year! We've been trying to get this recipe out the door since 2012!" "And don't say it! We don't have room for an Emilio Rivera cameo in this vignette!"

MoD, ever the bombshell waiting to go in her diaphon and plum-paired mask, conductor's jacket, and boots, revs the throttle and looks down at my sidecar. "You better drink that down to a stable level then."

"Since when have I ever been stable?"

"Good point. I still don't know why we have to follow this coach though."

"Because," I cry, gripping the short windshield. "THE CHAISE IS ON!"

The four white horses are no match for four cylinders, and steady-up to a stop as my partner-in-crime and I keep pace aside.

As the bike's motor clips to a halt, whose face should appear at the gilded glass window but that humble lass, pearl hairnet spritzed with gold pins, growing more ashen by the moment. "No! Not now!"

My partner leans back to not obstruct and tilts me an "Ok, let's see this" eye of bemusement. Seizing the opening, I tip my coupé at a jaunty angle and lift my wind-goggles. (with the bomber jacket and long whiskers I'm sure I could be mistaken for Clark Gable) "Pardon me, mademoiselle. Do you have any Brain Poupon?"


My partner's not liking how I start, but I lean in, letting the candlelight catch my eyes so they light up like a hungover jack'o'lantern. "BRaInSsss......"

A squeak comes from inside the coach, and I'm not sure if it's the maiden. "Sacre bleu! I ran him through once! I vill do eet again!"

"Come out from behind her skirts, Remy, and say it to my face, why don't ya?"

From around the flaxen-haired beauty pokes the snout of my old enemy: same empty black stare, same dumbo ears, same overbite that could cut cigars, just a lot more human this time. "You're supposed to be dead!"

"I am dead, ya mook. Doesn't mean I still can't get work. I see you've been playing coachman again, eh?" I grab my bamboo cocktail skewer. "Come on out, I want a rematch!"

Remy just chuckles. "And what do you intend to do avec ça? Pick my teeth? You are just a little undead dwarf hamster. Go away and stop bothering us."

"That's loaded undead dwarf hamster to you, bucko! You might be towering now, but in a few minutes it'll be an equal mano-a-mano. And I know drunken boxing! Hoowah!"

"Just like last time, a drunken lout who knows nozzing of ze finer methods in life. Excuse-moi madam-- Oh no, leave ze coach mademoiselle, hurry!"

He's right, everything's beginning to shrink back to its old self. Why the old dame kept doing this year after year is beyond me. Maybe by now it was her one night out from the great beyond. How many of us coachmen had attended her... Ooh, peanut, for me? *stuff* Anyway..

The fading lady throws herself to the ground, but Remy's not so lucky. A dim squeaking and clawing echoes from the beach-ball-sized gourd. "Don't worry. The bugger'll claw himself out pretty quickly."

MoD gapes askance. "Should I have sought more references before hiring you?"

"Probably so. I mean, that's why you made me head of HR, right?"

"The blog doesn't have HR! You're an admin!"

"Adding additional responsibilities outside the role description! Workplace abuse! I'm reporting you to HR! Hello, me? MoD's at it again. What can we do about this?"

"I'd like to contest these charges."

"DENIED. Consider yourself suspended, missy!"

With that, MoD rises from the bike, aghast. "Hey, Cinderella-bella." The ol' lass looks towards me.

"C'mon, ma cherie. Hop on. I know a nice place where we can get drinks.."

To be continued...

Cinderella's Coach
1 1/2 oz cognac
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Gran Gala
1/4 oz orgeat
1 (rounded) barspoon pumpkin butter
mist Galliano

Shake the first 5 ingredients on ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail coupe misted before and after with Galliano.


I had originally started with a base of pumpkin-infused cognac, but, well..try as I might, it just didn't turn out. It doesn't last long if made with puree, and pie pumpkins can be hit-or-miss for flavor.

The difference in switching over to pumpkin butter was stark: pumpkin butter is rich, deep and fruity -- an excellent match for brandy. I've tested using off-shelf Kozlowski Farms (delicious, and a beautiful almost-red color - imagine the caramelization here) which is a great guarantor of consistency, and also homemade pumpkin butter (see below for the recipe, which comes close to the off-shelf). If you've got good pumpkins, more power to you. With the lighter flavors in the cocktail, making from-scratch will also let you fine-tune the flavor profile away from allspice and clove to match the anise and vanilla.

But while the pumpkin butter may be bouncy with the flavor, this is where the orgeat and Galliano really come in, pulling the drink in lighter and more elegant directions, fit for a Gran Gala (yes, I pun, it's a way of life). Though a mist generally functions better on top of egg white foam, Galliano's anise comes through well, diverting the pumpkin aroma from the nose so that pumpkin becomes a prominent though not dominant flavor.

Homemade pumpkin butter (just enough for a small jelly jar)
Half a 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1/4c apple cider
1/4c water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all in a small pot (butter warmer size if you got it), cover mostly with some opening for evaporation, and let slow cook on the stove on the lowest heat possible for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Let cool and store in a jar in the fridge.

The above story was probably not included in Grimm's Fairy Tales for....reasons.

Related recipes:
The Pumpkin Pie: by Erick Castro; cognac-pumpkin butter sour but a straight Sour/egg white formulation (not a New Orleans Sour as one Mr. Regan would term it)
Charante Hessian: by Rhett Williams; Hot pumpkin-buttered cognac
Pumpkin Patch Julep: page has a bad certificate so I'll spare you: not a Julep (has lemon juice); whiskey Cinderella's Coach, without the Gran Gala or Galliano
Also, probably too many others since it's 6 years later, but the heck with that. Unless there's a really distinctive ingredient apart from all the rest (including pumpkin), it all kinda blends into one another.

That said, from all these years ago I must shout-out @dagreb, because this is the proper way to present the recipe.

Bonus recipe!

Cinderella's Coach Royale
1 1/2 oz cognac
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Gran Gala
1/4 oz orgeat
1 (rounded) barspoon pumpkin butter
3 oz brut sparkling wine/Champagne
mist Galliano

Shake the first 5 ingredients on ice and double-strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Add wine. Mist with Galliano

The dryness of the bubbly makes this truly magical. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Casa delle Streghe

There are an untold near-infinite number of pumpkin or butternut squash-and-something cocktails at this point gathering up on the interwebs.* Which seems downright anti-foodie, frankly. There are dozens of winter squash varieties out there, all with varying flavor profiles (no, they are not interchangeable, the flavor pairing guide you're reading is just frickin' lazy). You have yellow-colored squashes that pair with lemon, basil, nutmeg, and ginger notes. Next are medium-colored/light orange squashes that get mellow and nutty, and a bit of orange juice or cinnamon wouldn't be amiss. Finally you have the darker colored squashes trending borderline red which do dip into full-on savory territory (think Thai or Mexican or African flavors).

*The lone exception of course being the elegant pumpkin-buttery Mai Chai served in a delicata squash. Big muse-favor for that one!

Or rather, the above doesn't do it justice. Honest to goodness, folks, wouldn't you prefer a world where seasonal flavors were more integrated with what's going on outside? Where flavor changes weren't dictated by quarterly earning statements? Where your pumpkin spice fatigue doesn't start in late August? [insert rant on short-term thinking corporate artificialization of all culture]

Get out of that cubicle! Don't let life pass you by! You're stressed because you live a life that doesn't coincide with Mother Nature and is drowned in light pollution that makes you forget there are billions of stars in the sky! Yaaaaaaawwwwwwppp!!!!!!!


Ok then, class, let's turn back to the blackboard and go over the details for the new fall flavor regime management plan guidance..

MoD's rules for fall flavors

September: hazelnuts, fresh apples, banana bread ebbing over from August, light lemony squashes like Acorn, Carnival and Delicata; light hints of maple; granola
October: full-on tart red apples like McIntosh; medium squashes like Kabocha, Butternut, Buttercup; Pumpkin late month extending to Thanksgiving; walnut and rosemary (to bring back around at Christmas for Jupiterian symbolic reasons); start bringing in the spice cake flavors, perhaps blended with squash to begin integration
November: pecan and heavy maple, heavy squashes like red kuri (which extend into January flavors), smoke, sage and darker flavors with an eye towards maced fruitcake and game meats at the holidays

Don't blame me, blame my synaesthesia and affinity for assigning colors to months based on the visual calendar scheme from the end of that one Richard Scary book when we were all 3. 
Simply put, September: yellow-fading-tan, October: robust red-orange, November: bare tree and roasted turkey brown. Voila!

But now then, frankly this is much more of a September recipe than on October one, but time has not been on the blog's side of late. (though then, I also wanted to do this recipe back in 2012 - perseverance!) You should still be able to get carnival squash at the grocery store, though.

Please your palate! Give it a new flavor beyond pumpkin or butternut! (and follow the link to get the recipe for Carnival squash syrup, plus a bonus recipe for Carnival squash mash)

Casa delle Streghe
1 oz reposado tequila (Herradura)
1/2 oz brandy (Spanish)
(short) 3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz Strega
lemon ring for garnish

Shake, strain, garnish.

The tequila shines through, rounded and deepened by the brandy, with an added lilt of vanilla. The squash syrup adds a gentle lemony creaminess, accentuated by Strega's untamed herbaceous mix. Perfectly witchy.

Just don't overdo the lemon, the squash syrup gets a little shy with the sweetness.

I'd reference the tequila-Strega Acapulco #2 cocktail on Difford's Guide, but the ratio on that with an ounce of lemon juice shows that could have been thought-through better.

My original idea was something along the lines of a Squash Flower Sour. Except squashes and squash flowers don't coincide seasonally for some strange reason.

[Boomer: And you were going to go on a rant about non-local artificiality?]

Oh. Yeah. So we had to make our own fun do.

I tip the hat to Kythera, for sending her dove to let me know the recipe was finished as-is, then to Eriounes (Mousagetes!) for sending me the perfect name as soon as I asked. Casa delle Streghe: the ghost mansion.