Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lazy Holiday Yumminess to Blow Your Taste Buds' Mind!

Tis the season for jolly yummy foods.  Two of my faves were inspired by two things:  1) the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and 2) a blow torch.

I had the distinct pleasure of staying at the Fairmont a couple of weeks ago.  It was all aflutter and aglitter with Christmas.  I love that bar, so I had a light dinner thoere.  And, I had to try one of the special drinks "Vanilla Hot Toddy."  It was divine.  It felt like a velvety wash of vanilla rushed over the roof of the my mouth at the very same instant a melange of orange and whiskey and spices washed over my tongue and rang a bell at the back of my throat that said spice heaven.  What a glorious drink, particularly since I was just finishing up the battle against a flu. 

I sashayed up to the bar -- because this drink makes you sashay -- to tell them the drink was genius.  And, the bartender I told lit up like Rudolph and said "It is MY creation!"  I bowed at his feet, and perhaps because I offered him the respect that he deserved he told me the recipe:

Hot Water
Rye Whiskey (apparently very, very important that it be rye)
Slice of Orange
Whole Cloves
Cinnamon Stick
Vanilla Syrup 

I asked if he used whole vanilla to make the syrup.  He hadn't made the syrup, but admitted it would probably be even better if made with whole vanilla.  He didn't give me measurements but it came out great so here's what I did:

4 cups of water
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1/2 vanilla bean scraped and then dropped in water

Simmer for a little while until it is fully infused with vanilla.  Add small handful of cloves and two sticks of cinnamon.  Simmer a little while longer.  Then add a couple slices of orange.  Simmer a wee bit more.  While it simmers, put a slice of orange in a mug or brandy snifter.  Pour some of the vanilla "stew" in glass and rye whiskey to taste or tolerance.

Then, if you want to have some fun with a kitchen blow torch this is a delicious way to meet that need.  My mom loves chocolate, but I wanted to make something to torch...so that means Chocolate Creme Brulee.  I used Paula Deen's richer-than-sin-but-that's-ok-cause-it's-the-holidays recipe:

My twist on it.  I soaked a pint of blackberries in the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur for several hours.  Then I whipped up some cream, using a touch of the liqueur to sweeten.  So, after you torch the sugar topping to create that crackle top, arrange blackberries on top and then dollop with cream and top with one crowning berry.  DELICIOSA!  No kidding.  Possibly best creme brulee ever!

This is what they look like pre-torching and topping.   They would be yummy naked as well, but take the extra few minutes to kick it up that final notch!  

Buon Lazy Natale Appetito!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Snap! No More Cold!

    My dad was a genius for oh so may reasons, but one of the things he taught me was a really cool cold remedy.

    I started feeling wonky on Monday night, but thought it was due to an intense three hour workout.  Of course, I'd be wiped out after that!  But by Tuesday night I felt like I might be getting sick.  I started taking my go to remedy, Astra Isatis, which usually kicks these things out of my system.

Product Details

It kept my symptoms at bay until last night when I started to get chills.  So, I pulled out my dad's trick:  super hot bath while drinking super hot tea (or hot water with grated fresh ginger) -- until you can stand the super-hot no more.   THEN, wrap yourself in a big warm robe, get under a bunch of layers of blankets, and sweat it out.  I sweat for about an hour and a half, went to sleep and woke up in the middle of the night with a piercing sore throat.  

Yes, sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.  Felt wonky all day, chills until just now.  Another round of hot house therapy and the feverish chills are now gone.  Sore throat is now also magically gone.

So, give it a shot next time you have a cold.  And, I highly recommend Astra Isatis to keep on hand for when your immune system takes a dip for any reason.