It’s a cool, rainy day. We are in the wilderness, hiking through bushes and trees, noses down, eyes scanning the forest floor, hunting. In my pocket is a knife, a net bag and hopefully, my car keys. It’s not big game we are after, it’s morels.
Seems everyone is crazy for Nutella; that chocolaty, hazel-nutty spread that goes so well on a spoon at 2am. But Nutella is to sweet for my taste. I needed an alternative that’s loaded with real nuts & chocolate, but goes easy on the sugar.
Foraging for burdock root has been on my radar for a while. I’d heard that burdock is a tasty root vegetable, but had never tried it. I see cultivated burdock at my co-op, but at $6.29 a pound, foraging in a vacant lot is much more appealing.
American ginseng is all the rage. I had the good fortune to meet a Wisconsin ginseng grower, and make this fabled root into a classic bitters tonic. What better way to get those health benefits than to enjoy it in a cocktail.
Feta is one of my favorite cheeses to make at home because it is so easy. Folks think you need goat or sheep’s milk for feta, but that's not the case. Cow’s milk makes lovely feta, you just need to add an enzyme called lipase for that piquant flavor.
I’ve been a little hard on kefir. At first I didn't care for the sour, yeasty tasting milk made from funny little grains. But one taste of pancakes made from the stuff and I was hooked! And kefir is very simple to make from scratch.
The sweetness of kumquat peel mixed with the tartness of its juice makes for a wonderfully tangy jam, while bitterness takes a back seat. This simple marmalade recipe doesn’t require days of soaking, boiling & straining like many versions.
Juniper is a classic flavor for bitters. I combined it with fresh rosemary, thyme, black peppercorns & vodka, making a super intense infusion that heightens the profile of your cocktails, like my Cranberry Juniper Twist.
A good Bloody Mary can be hard to find. In this Vodka Infusion, you get all the power and kick of the whole Bloody Mary Bar in one clean shot. Add it to plain old tomato juice and there you have it. No chunks or bits to get stuck in your straw.