Martinis

I just made the most outrageous martini ever. But before we get to that, a bit of background. As you may know, martinis were originally made from gin, with a hint of vermouth. In modern times, as gin fell out of favour, it came to be replaced with vodka. So basically, a “martini” to most people these days is just a vehicle to consume a large amount of vodka in a fancy glass. Boring.

Not being a huge fan of either plain gin or vodka, I experimented with olives, olive juice, and various other garnishes. But it was still basically just a shot of booze, in a fancy glass. Then my former cow-worker Scott made me his version, and it was a revelatory experience. He used a regular low-ball glass, with large hand-cracked ice cubes, with a jigger each of vodka and gin, and a twist of lemon peel. Smooth, silky, elegant, and refreshing, and easier to handle than those stupid top-heavy fancy glasses. Who’s idea was that anyway?

I took his idea, and ran with it. Thus was born the Aardtini:

Aardtini

    Ingredients

3/4 oz dry vermouth
1-1/4 oz Tanqueray gin
1-1/4 oz Crystal Skull vodka (or preferred brand)
2 pimento stuffed manzanilla olives
A splash of olive juice (about 1/2 tsp)
A twist of lemon peel

    Directions

Chill a martini glass by filling with ice cubes and cold water.
In a cocktail shaker, add the booze and olive juice, then fill with ice.
Shake well, until frosty on outside.
Strain into chilled martini glass, garnish with olives and lemon peel

This has been my standard martini, and still my favourite. The best I ever had was at a club in Baltimore, prepared by an actual bartender per my directions. I guess it helps to know what you’re doing.

My friend Dawne (handle Tree, mine is Aardvark hence the “Aardtini”) makes a martreeni:
“Ice, splash of vermouth, vodka to the top, 3 olives. I recommend tito’s”
I’ve never actually tried it that way, but figured that she might be on to something.

So I just made a hybrid between the Aardtini and the martreeni, with the goal of being the best of all possible worlds. I came pretty damn close.

Aardtreeni

    Ingredients

3/4 oz dry vermouth
1-1/4 oz tanqueray gin
2-1/2 oz Tito’s vodka
3 green olives, stuffed with feta or blue cheese
A dash of olive juice (about 1/4 tsp)
A twist of lemon peel

    Directions

Chill a martini glass by filling with ice cubes and cold water.
In a cocktail shaker, add the booze and olive juice, then fill with ice.
Shake well, until frosty on outside.
Strain into chilled martini glass, garnish with olives and lemon peel

Warning: This is a lot of alcohol, and will render you numb. Do not attempt to drive, or operate any heavy machinery, or text your ex, at any time after or during consumption.

The verdict: the cheese stuffed olives were novel, and the salt from the cheese helped balance the flavour, but so does olive juice, which is more evenly distributed. Not to mention the hassle of cramming crumbly cheese into a non-cooperative olive. The extra shot of vodka went straight to my head, and just seemed to dilute the flavours. Fun eperiment, but I think I’ll stick to my Aardtinis.

Aardtreeni:

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Banana Chocolate Pudding

I was inspired by watching MasterChef to make a quick dessert with a banana. I wanted a banana pudding, or a banana cream pie, but also something light, and easy. So I made a basic blancmange with cornstarch (the traditional Fanny Farmer recipe), then dumped in a couple of big handfuls of chocolate and sliced bananas soaked in rum. No added fat or eggs, and can easily be made parave or vegan. Not the same as a real Southern-style ‘nana puddin’, but delicious and so much more healthful.

Ingredients

  • 3 TB cornstarch
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3.5 oz (100 grams) Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 oz dark or spiced rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 2 ripe bananas

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix cornstarch and sugar with hot coffee, stir well over medium heat.
  2. Gradually add milk, stirring continuously to incorporate without lumps.
  3. Add chocolate chips and stir to melt.
  4. Cook until thick, about 10 minutes, stirring often to keep from burning.
  5. Slice bananas, and sprinkle with rum.
  6. Remove pan from heat, season with extracts, and stir in bananas.

Notes

  1. Cow’s milk can be used instead of the coffee and almond milk.
  2. Amount of sugar can be adjusted to taste. Add 1-2 TB if bananas are less sweet.
  3. Unsweetened baking chocolate or regular semisweet chips can also be used, adjust sugar accordingly. 

Sausage & Peppers

I  made authentic sausage and peppers for the first time tonight.Not the best I’ve ever had, but really tasty. I used more tomato than appears below (750ml box of Pomi) and it was a bit much. The peppers also should have been seared a bit more to simulate grilling, make sure the heat is high. And turn the sausages frequently to brown evenly on all sides.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sweet italian sausage
  • 1 lb hot italian sausage
  • 500 ml Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • oregano
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. brown sausages in large skillet in 1 TB of olive oil over medium heat, until browned on all sides but not cooked through
  2. Thinly slice onions and cut peppers into strips.
  3. Remove sausage from pan and drain off excess grease if necessary, reserve 1 TB and increase heat to high
  4. saute onions until starting to wilt, then add peppers and cook quickly until slightly soft. 
  5. Add garlic and cook for a minute.
  6. Deglaze pan with wine.
  7. Add 1 TB tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and spices. Stir well and adjust seasonings.
  8. Add sausages back to pan, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  9. Stir and cook 5 more minutes uncovered if necessary.
  10. Slice each sausage into 4 pieces, 1 mild and 1 hot per serving
  11. Pile onto Italian rolls or Greek pita