Tag Archives: alcohol

The Moogarita: A Beef Cocktail

1 Feb

Beef cocktail

Jenny and I love cooking shows based around secret ingredients, like Iron Chef and Chopped. So I was intrigued when I discovered Kitchen Play—a website built around that very concept—earlier this year.

The site invites food bloggers from across North America to participate in monthly “progressive menus.” Bloggers are assigned to develop a recipe for a particular course, using ingredients from a sponsor organization. We were excited and up for a challenge when Casey at Kitchen Play contacted us to be part of the February menu. But we never could have expected just how challenging this particular challenge would be.

Our course: a cocktail. Our secret ingredient: Beef, courtesy of sponsor Canadian Beef. Translation: Make a beef drink.

Our research quickly uncovered the fact that there aren’t too many alcoholic concoctions containing beef, aside from variations of the Canadian classic, the Ceasar, which incorporate beef stock. Then Jenny had a revelation—tamarind, the sour-sweet fruit common to Mexican, Thai and Indian cooking. We’d had a tamarind tequila in Mexico a couple years ago, and knew the flavour would complement the rich, earthy taste of beef.

And so, after a bit more thinking, testing and drinking, the Moogarita was born: a combination of tequila, pure beef stock, tamarind, and lime-ginger syrup. And to beef it up even more, we garnished the drink with sticks of homemade jalapeno and lime beef jerky.

To make the Moogarita, we set out to find the purest beef stock and found some at a local market made from Canadian beef bones and water. That’s all there is to it—no added salt or flavourings, which makes for a very pure and clean tasting stock that doesn’t overshadow the other flavours in what turned out to be a delicious drink. With its tart citrus taste, the Moogarita is similar to a classic margarita, but with a richness from the beef stock and a sweet-sour bite from the tamarind and ginger-lime syrup.

If you can’t find tamarind paste or concentrate (widely available in Asian and Indian food stores, as well as in ethnic food sections of many grocery stores), we’ve discovered that HP sauce—which actually contains some tamarind—is a reasonable substitute.

Check out our recipes for both the Moogarita and the beef jerky garnish below—and read on to find out how you can win $100 from Kitchen Play by recreating this recipe or others from the February menu!

The Moogarita (makes 1 drink):

1 oz tequila
1 oz good quality beef stock (unsalted and as pure as possible)
½ oz ginger-lime simple syrup (see recipe below)
½ oz thinned tamarind paste*
Ice cubes

To thin tamarind paste, put about a tablespoon of it into a bowl and whisk in about a tablespoon of warm water, a little bit at a time until you get a smooth, thin, syrupy consistency. Set aside.

Put 3 or 4 ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, beef stock, ginger-lime simple syrup and tamarind. Shake well. Pour into a highball or margarita glass and garnish with jalapeno-lime beef jerky and a slice of fresh lime.

*Tamarind paste can be found at many specialty stores and ethnic grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can substitute ½ oz of HP Sauce, which is similar in flavor with a bit more spice and bite to it.

Ginger-Lime Simple Syrup:

½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

Bring lime juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Add sugar and ginger, and lower heat. Simmer and stir for 5 minutes, or until sugar dissolves and ginger infuses syrup. Let cool.

You can strain the syrup to remove pieces of ginger, but we decided to keep them in to add more flavour to the drink.

Makes about 2/3 cup of syrup. Syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about two weeks.

Jalapeno & Lime Beef Jerky

3/4 lb flank steak
1 jalapeno, half of seeds discarded, chopped
1/3 C fresh lime juice
1/2 C tequila
¼ C tamari soy sauce (or regular soy)
4 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Slice beef against the grain, into long, thin strips. (Tip: put your meat in the freezer about an hour before cutting it. It’ll be easier to slice.)

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, tequila, tamari soy, brown sugar, salt and pepper until the sugar dissolves. Stir in jalapeno.

Place beef strips in a glass baking dish (or other non-reactive receptacle) and pour marinade overtop. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours (overnight is best).

Preheat oven to 175 C. Remove marinated beef from the fridge, and place slices on paper towel. Remove any jalapeno seeds stuck to the beef if you want a milder beef jerky. Using more paper towel, pat the pieces dry to remove excess liquid.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Arrange beef slices flat on sheet without overlapping. For a more stylish-looking jerky, twist the slices of beef before placing them on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in oven.

After 1.5 hours, remove the baking sheet and flip each piece of meat over. Put back in the oven for another hour.

After another hour, check to see how dry the beef is, flip slices again, and put back in the oven for an additional half an hour if needed. The goal is for the jerky to be as firm and dry as possible, without getting too brittle.

When sufficiently dried, remove jerky from oven and let cool. The beef will dry further as it cools so make sure not to overcook/over-dry in the oven.

Enjoy as a garnish for the Moogarita—or on its own!

* Special thanks to our friends Sue & Chris Pink for the beautiful photography.

Up for a challenge of your own? Want the chance to win $100? Recreate this or any of the other recipes from February’s Kitchen Play menu, then post about it. Read the full contest rules at kitchen-play.com/contest-rules.

How to Make Store-Bought Fruitcake Taste Delicious in 5 Easy Steps

9 Dec

Fruitcake alcohol cheesecloth

I love Christmas. I love the traditions, and the fact it involves hanging out with family. And, of course, I love the food – with one exception: fruitcake. I know I’m not the only person who shares a hatred of fruitcake. There are many of us fruitcake haters. And yet, there it is every year at Christmas, sitting there, taunting us. Dry, mealy doorstops, or moist, overly sweet doorstops, filled with little gross bits of candied who-knows-what.

I’m sure that, somewhere, there is a 12-step program for fruitcake haters. But I’ve looked, and I can’t find it. And until I do I know I’m going to be faced with Christmas after Christmas of bad fruitcake being offered to me by good people. I could continually refuse every offered piece of fruitcake and risk offending some of the people I love most. Or, I could take matters into my own hands. I’ve decided to try doing the latter this year.

My problem with fruitcake isn’t so much fruitcake itself. I have actually enjoyed a few homemade fruitcakes. But mostly, the omnipresent fruitcake at Christmas is the store-bought type. Most of these are terrible, but this year I thought ‘what if I could take a terrible product and actually make it taste reasonably delicious?’ This got me thinking of the fruitcakes I’ve enjoyed, and what made them taste so good. The answer, I’m convinced, is alcohol. And so, last weekend I decided to take two store-bought fruitcakes and, using alcohol and some tips and tricks picked up through various online sites, turn them into tasty, alcohol-soaked treats.

Here are my 5 easy steps for making store-bought fruitcake taste delicious:

Fruitcake brushed alcohol

    1. Brush: Unwrap your store-bought fruitcake. Place it on a work surface and, using a toothpick or another thin, sharp tool, poke small holes all over the surface of the cake – top, bottom and sides. The holes, apparently, will help the fruitcake absorb all the delicious alcohol you’re about to douse it with. After you’ve covered your cake in holes, pour a small amount of alcohol into a bowl; I used about 1/3 of a cup for a small cake. As for what alcohol, rum or brandy is pretty traditional for soaking fruitcake, but almost anything will work. I had two cakes, and used madeira on one and marsala on the other. Dip a pastry brush into the bowl of booze, and brush alcohol across all surfaces of the cake. You’re glazing it more than soaking it at this phase.

Cheesecloth soaked in alcohol

    1. Soak: Measure a length of cheesecloth long enough so it can be wrapped around your fruitcake two or three times, then immerse the cheesecloth into the bowl of alcohol. Soak the cheesecloth thoroughly in the alcohol.
Cheesecloth

Trying to tame the cheesecloth…

    1. Wrap: Pick up the soaked cheesecloth and gently squeeze out some of the alcohol so that the cloth is wet, but not dripping. Lay soaked cheesecloth out on a work surface, then wrap the fruitcake in the cheesecloth, folding the cloth around the cake as many times as you can (two or three times). Wrap the cheesecloth-covered cake tightly in aluminum foil. If you’re doing several fruitcakes in different kinds of alcohol, make sure to label them by alcohol type. Store the fruitcake in a cool, dry place.

Fruitcake wrapped in cheesecloth

    1. Reapply: Every week or so, unwrap the foil and sprinkle the cheesecloth-covered cake on all sides with more alcohol. Any of the websites and recipes I’ve looked at have said you can repeat this step weekly for up to several months – the longer you age the fruitcake, the deeper the flavour. I started my fruitcake experiment on December 4 and I want to eat them by Christmas, so I’ve decided to apply more alcohol every 5 days or so until then.

Fruitcake labelled Madeira

  1. Wait: From everything I’ve read, this seems to be the key step. As mentioned in step 4, the fruitcake apparently tastes better the longer you wait. Makes sense: more alcohol applied, more alcohol soaking-in time, more delicious alcohol infused cake.

I’ve just hit step 4 for the first time today. When I went to apply more alcohol to my fruitcakes they already felt fairly moist, which makes me think that the alcohol is soaking in nicely. It also makes me worry that after two or three more alcohol applications, I could end up with logs of alcoholic mush. Time will tell, I suppose.
I’ll follow up this post in a couple of weeks with the end results of my fruitcake experiment. Until then, if you have a good method for making store-bought fruitcake taste better, let me know in the comments section below. Or, if you have a good homemade fruitcake recipe, feel free to leave it here. I’m not much of a baker, but given the right recipe I might be persuaded to make my own fruitcake next winter.

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