Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making a nip

We still have some of the Chipotle Pork Loin Sandwich with Strawberry Salsa Panini. I had it for lunch yesterday and it's tasty, if a bit messy. The meat is spiced with chipotle (which is smoked jalapeno pepper) and honey and that hot sweet really complements the sweet tangy of the strawberry salsa.

Kasey has made another batch of the guacamole that so many of you like. We're offering it two ways; the Greenhouse is hummus, guacamole, sprouts, cucumbers and havarti and the Turkey Guacamole - roasted turkey, guacamole, tomato and havarti.

Do you ever look at those big glass jars and bottles at Pier One and think "pretty, but dust collectors"? Here's an idea on how to put them into use. A few weeks ago, in the flush of cherry season, I started a Cherry Liqueur. For the past two weeks the jar has sat in a large covered pot near an AC vent in my kitchen (a "cool dark place") and everyday or so I gave it a shake to make sure the fruit didn't settle or clump.

I removed the cherries yesterday and put the hooch back in the pot where it will remain undisturbed for 2 or 3 more weeks. The last step is rack or filter the liqueur into bottles.

You can see in the photo how much of the color has leeched out of the cherries (but oh are these little pale beauties delicious!). Raspberries are still in season and blackberries will be ripening in August, both of which would make delicious libations. Make several batches. Homemade liqueurs are very welcomed gifts!

Fruit Liqueur
1 1/2-2 pounds fruit, cherries (sweet or tart), raspberries or blackberries are all good choices. Cherries should be cut but do not remove the pits.
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups 100 proof vodka (I use Absolute® in the black bottle)
1 cup brandy (I use Christian Brothers®)
lemon zest, 3 long strips removed with a vegetable peeler
1 tablespoon fruit protector or citric acid (optional)

NOTE: the staff at the Wine Source in Hamden were very helpful in identifying which vodkas were 100 proof. They have an amazing selection (make sure to nibble at the cheese counter) of spirits, beer and, of course, wine.

Bring the water and sugar to a boil stirring constantly. When sugar is completely disolved and the syrup is clear remove from heat. Put the clean fruit in a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid (half gallon or larger). Pour syrup over the fruit and add remaining ingredients. Cover and let stand in a cool dark place for at least two weeks.

Strain fruit out of the liquid and return liquid to a clean container and allow to stand for an 2 weeks. Filter liqueur into bottles and seal. Note: the dollar store is a great place to find small glass bottles inexpensively so you can share the love!