Tagged With infusions

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A holiday riff on a classic cocktail is a fine thing, but the “seasonal twist” always seems to start and stop with cinnamon. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with cinnamon—it’s accessible and uncontroversial, it reads as sweet without adding actual sweetness, and it is even purportedly good for your blood pressure or something. As such, it seems to find its way into any and all holiday-specific cocktails, the first and last answer to the question of how to make a drink taste right for right now.

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Heavy cream, in its liquid form, is a fairly neutral ingredient that can be added to sweet or savoury dishes, to bring luxurious texture, rich mouthfeel, and glorious fat. But for some reason, once you whip it, it gets restricted to dessert applications, even though there is no real reason for it.

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When it comes to summer produce, nothing (besides a really good tomato) gets me more pumped for the season than corn. I will eat it grilled. I will eat it steamed. I will eat it raw. But when I see people shucking their corn in the store, leaving behind the husks and silks, I weep, for they are leaving behind flavour.

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There is a Russian restaurant in Portland, Oregon that makes the most incredible infused vodka. It is both a very good and very bad thing. The flavours, which range from horseradish to sweet pea, are fresh and clean, and the vodka, which is served ice cold, comes in grams. These two factors, when combined, make it hard to judge exactly how much you’re drinking, particularly if you’ve never memorised the density of vodka (which is 970 kg/m³, by the way).

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Vanilla beans are expensive. There is no getting around it. Vanilla beans are also delicious - yet another unavoidable truth. These hard facts make me reluctant to ever toss a pod, not matter how devoid of seeds it is. After I have methodically scraped every little speck of vanilla seed out of the bean, I gaze at its spent husk, wondering what to do with the precious, costly plant part.

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I didn’t used to believe in bay leaves. Though I felt contractually obligated to put them in all stews, soups, and (most) rice dishes, it wasn’t until I conducted this very important piece of investigative journalism that I began to truly value and cherish them. When I saw the “bay leaf martini” on the cocktail menu at Barr — you know, the place with the caviar waffle — I knew I had to have it, and I knew I would be making bay leaf gin at home.

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I love limoncello, but it is — without a doubt — a capital-L liqueur. There’s nothing wrong with the candy-like sipper, but it’s not exactly refreshing. Oddly enough, the key to fresh-from-the-garden citrus-flavored booze can be found not in the lemon, but in a mostly fleshless, uncanny-valley-dwelling citron.

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Horseradish vodka is a sneaky beast (assuming you like horseradish). The bite and burn of the horseradish obscures the bite and burn of the alcohol, meaning your brain does not really comprehend how much you are drinking. It is dangerous, and it is one of my favourite things.

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Hot buttered rum is so good in theory, but in practice, it always disappoints. Slurping a film of butter off your top lip is a bit much, even for those of us who would eat a stick of butter like a banana were society ready to accept us.

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Cherry pits may seem like one piece of kitchen refuse that has no second life, but as Stella Parks of Serious Eats points out, the little bit of fruit that clings to the stone has the ability to infuse flavour and colour into all sorts of tasty treats.

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I am completely obsessed with those fragrant, herbal, Italian liqueurs that fall under the category of "amaro." I love 'em neat, with a bit of soda, or splashed into cocktails. It never occurred to me that I could DIY the stuff, but Food 52 has come up with a method to do just that.