Monday, September 17, 2018

A Beginner’s Guide to Making Mouthwatering Cocktails

You do not know how cocktails are done unless you have already visited Regent Cocktail Club, my favorite cocktail lounge in Atlanta. The place is known for their exquisite concoctions using only the finest ingredients that are available, including premium alcohol bases. The recipes are top secrets, of course. However, if you want to make cocktails that will be at par to what the club serves, keep on reading and we’ll share some tips.

Know the Basics

You must first know the rules before you break them. Therefore, you have to initially gain mastery of the basic cocktail recipes before you can make tweaks and ingredient swaps. If you are a novice in cocktail making, stick to the basics. Some of the simplest and easiest drink that you can make include martini, margarita, mojito, Old Fashioned, and gin and tonic, among others.

Invest in the Tools of the Trade

If you visit a rooftop bar in Atlanta and sit next to the bartender, you can see that making a drink requires having the right tools needed. These tools are important for a number of reasons, such as for making sure of using the exact amount of the ingredients that are needed. With this, some of the basics that you must have include jigger, cocktail shaker, strainer, mixing spoon, juicer, and muddler.

Know when to Shake or Stir

Shaken or stirred? This is one of the questions that you have to ask yourself when making a cocktail. Knowing when to shake and when to stir can instantly up your cocktail game and make your drinks taste like they have been mixed by an expert. Generally speaking, you have to shake when the cocktail involves the use of thick or strongly-flavored ingredients such as egg, fruit juice, and dairy. On the other hand, shaking is recommended if you are using only light mixers, such as soda.

Master the Techniques

It is not enough that you know when shaking or stirring is the better option. The right technique will also matter. For instance, when you are shaking the cocktail mixer, you should do it in a circular motion. When it is properly shaken, the edge of the cocktail should be a bit frothy. When stirring, do this carefully to not aerate and dilute the drinks. Otherwise, the flavor will end up weaker. 

Pick the Right Base

If you think that top-shelf cocktails are the best, you are wrong! There are liquors that are made for cocktails. Their flavor is enhanced by your choice of mixer. Premium alcohol brands are too strong and better consumed on their own for you to appreciate its fuller flavor and aroma. For cocktails, especially if you are still in the experimenting stage, it won’t hurt to go for cheaper alternatives.

In sum, you do not need to be an experienced mixologist to create mouthwatering concoctions. Take note of the things that have been mentioned above and you can easily make cocktails like a pro!

This is a guest post. The author wishes to remain anonymous

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Egyptian Fruit Tartlets

These Egyptian Fruit Tartlets are a variation on my favourite fig newton recipe, and are perfectly sized for a two bite treat!

Egyptian Fruit Tartlets

Well, I'm more or less back to everything after this busy, busy Summer! Apologies to those of you who enjoy my writing but I needed to take the break to deal with both school and personal commitments. At any rate, I will do my best to at least get one post a week out, and what better way to start than with these delicious tartlets?

These tartlets are different from the standard pastry shell variety in a couple of ways. First, the casing is more of a shortbread style of dough, relatively soft and pliable. Second, the fruit is in a paste form, rather than fresh or "pie filling" format. The filling has to be my favourite part of the whole treat, since it is almost identical to the filling I use for date squares. My inspiration for these tarts came from the Middle Eastern pastry maamoul, and since I needed to make a dessert for one of the school plays that kept to the Arabian / Egyptian / etc theme it seemed to fit the bill nicely. To keep the filling from being super sweet, and since a few of the kids hate dates (I can't believe it, they are nature's candy!), I added some dried figs which lent a delicate texture and floral note. Those of you who have been following me know I love figs, and especially fig newtons, so I could definitely polish the spread off with a spoon.

I mentioned it earlier but the dough is very soft, even after chilling. I didn't want to add too much flour at the onset and had nothing but a paste on my hands, but I gradually added flour until I got a shortbread dough texture. for me, 27 oz worked well, plus the flour I dusted with when rolling. You may also need to tamp down the middle of the shells after baking to keep the depression intact. It's all worth it - I promise! While the recipe makes a fair amount of tartlets, it does scale well, and you can freeze leftovers as well without issue.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Gluten Free Cheddar Garlic Biscuits #BreadBakers

I made these gluten free, egg free Cheesy Garlic Biscuits for a friend of mine. PACKED with cheese and peppered with parsley, they're reminiscent of that famous restaurant appetizer but with a lower price tag!

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

I'm not going to lie, those cheesy garlic biscuits from the famous seafood restaurant are insanely addictive. However, for those needing to avoid gluten due to either celiac or a gluten intolerance, the dreams of those rich, flavourful treats are often far in the distance. Since a friend of mine is avoiding gluten as a treatment for eczema and loves the famous biscuits, I decided to give making a gluten free version of them a shot.

I was extremely pleased at the outcome - soft and slightly flaky, packed with aged Cheddar cheese, parsley and of course garlic, they were a home run right out of the oven as well as reheated gently until steaming. If you're not going to polish them off within a day or so, freeze the leftovers - an oven re-warming is perfect treatment.

Check out all the Gluten Free Breads from the #BreadBakers this month:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Friday, June 8, 2018

5 Food Items That Are Dangerously Toxic to Dogs

Making delicious home cooked meals is one of the many simple joys of being a parent to a dog. Most pet parents believe, and the experts agree, that meals cooked at home are much healthier than store-bought dry dog food. There are also plenty of pet-friendly recipes out there to keep those canine taste buds guessing. Now, a lot of dog parents try and add what they believe are healthy ingredients in an attempt to pack the meals with nutrients and phytonutrients. However, the problem with that approach is that a lot of human food can potentially make your dog sick. This is why it’s a good practice to seek out pet health advice from experts before adding any new ingredient to your dog’s diet. Now, we are not talking about chocolate, which is a well known toxin. If you are a pet parent, you probably have read several articles about the dangers of chocolate. In this post, we highlight the ingredients no one really talks about. So, next time you are looking for recipes for your dog be on guard for these 5 ingredients.

Avocado: Avocado toxicity in dogs is a very real threat. This completely healthy human food contains a chemical called persin. If consumed in high quantities, persin toxicity can lead to heart attack and even death.

Grapes: If you are having a bowlful of grapes and you feel tempted to toss one up to your dog then refrain yourself. Both grapes and raisins can lead to toxic reactions in dogs. As a responsible pet parent, you need to keep your dog away from food that contains grapes and raisins. This includes grape juice or mixed fruit juice with grapes and bakery items with raisin.

Artificial Sweetener: Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener and is completely safe for human consumption. While sugary food is not good for your dog, you should never to try to replace sugar with xylitol. Xylitol is a downright poison when consumed by dogs. To be safe, don’t give your dog any kind of artificial sweetener.

Garlic: Garlic is a kitchen essential and it’s also highly used in herbal remedies. While their benefits are plentiful when consumed by humans they are toxic to dogs. When consumed, garlic can lead to drooling, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, excessive weakness, and sudden collapses. Garlic poisoning damages red blood cells in dogs. Garlic in small amounts may not result in symptoms, but if your dog consumes a garlic-heavy recipe, then it’s best to rush him to the nearest vet. Apart from garlic, all veggies part of the allium family (chives, garlic, onion, and leek) are toxic to dogs and cats.

Macadamia Nuts: No one really knows why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. There is also a debate on how much macadamia nut a dog needs to consume to feel the toxic effects. According to ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, symptoms may arise by consuming anything from 2.2g to 62.4g for every kilogram of the dog’s body weight. That’s a mammoth range. To be safe, it’s best to avoid giving your dog macadamia nuts all together.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Cooking’s Next Big Thing is In Your Kitchen

It’s an exciting time to be a foodie, as modern chefs are revolutionizing the industry on a seemingly daily basis, but dining out can be expensive and Canadians are expected to spend an additional $208 each this year at restaurants. Julia Child said of cooking, “this is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.” That applies to the fun you can have by taking the hottest trends in dining out and learning to make them in the comfort of your own home. From elevating common foods to something greater to the excitement of performative cooking you can learn from the pros and save money at the same time by making your own chef-inspired meals.
Get Hot with Hibachi Grilling
A night at a hibachi grill is guaranteed to be full of entertainment and delicious foods, as chefs dazzle patrons with their cooking techniques. You can create your own hibachi experience by purchasing a portable griddle or a griddle range for your stove top. With hibachi-style cooking you cook your whole meal on the flat top allowing for the creation of tasty Asian-inspired dishes to enjoy with your friends and family.

Take Pub Food to the Next Level
No trend is currently hotter than gastropubs. Combining the comfort foods of your favourite hole-in-the-wall with the refined touch of fine dining you get delicious and unique takes on everyone’s top dishes. As Ryan Hibbert, CEO of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, explains, at a gastropub “the quality of the food, service and entertainment is exponentially better than what you get at other places.” To get started making your own gastropub-inspired meal, pick out your favourite late night bar order and then imagine how a Michelin Star chef would make it. Use high-quality ingredients and creativity and you’ll end up with a tasty meal that’s one of a kind.

Keep It In the Neighborhood
The value of fresh ingredients cannot be understated, and from that principal has developed the hyper-local cooking movement. At a hyper-local restaurant, not only will you be guaranteed that all of your food is being made fresh, but also that it contains only ingredients grown right on the premises. Hyper-local cooking is something you can do at home, too. If you have a yard with some free space you have the ability to begin cultivating your own source of hyper-local ingredients. From tending to your home garden to raising animals like chickens for meat and byproducts, there is a special level of satisfaction which comes from cooking a meal and knowing that you made it all on your own.
There are so many options available to a home cook looking to incorporate new tips and tricks, and the only limit is your willingness to push your limits and try something new. Find a cooking style that speaks to you and sounds fun then get started. The sooner you make your first hyper-local, hibachi or gastropub style meal, the sooner you can taste it, learn from it, and get to work thinking about the second and third ones. Give yourself the gift of a delicious dinner by taking your favourite restaurant home with you, and enjoy the tasty fruits of your labour.

This is a sponsored post approved by Sarah Reid