Hummingbird Down

Hummingbird Down cocktail

Jon’s gotten into making honey syrup-based cocktails, something that seemed difficult until he actually tried it. Now he just whips up a little when he needs it by whisking honey and water together. Simple.

My favorite honey-based drink so far has been the Gold Rush, really just a whiskey sour with honey instead of sugar, and it was the best thing ever when I had a sore throat a few weeks ago. Jon wanted to do a bit of experimentation with other drinks, of course, and I was quite happy when he presented me with a Hummingbird Down last weekend. Bright and tart, the honey is just a lurking warmth in the drink, which is mostly a vehicle for the unusual flavor of green Chartreuse (which I happen to love). It was a hit. Continue reading

a slight pie mishap

bosc pears

There’s a box of lovely bosc pears from the Wenatchee Valley that are just ripening in our basement. Pears are a real use-it-or-lose-it sort of fruit, so I thought I’d make one of my pear custard pies to take on a visit to a relative. A good idea, but a few problems in the execution.

The pie baked up beautifully, with a golden crust and pretty browned-sugar spots on the top, but of course it hadn’t set up completely (I could probably have left it in the oven a little longer). Generally custard pies will finish setting up on their own, so I didn’t worry about it. But instead of letting the pie cool on its rack in the kitchen, we impatiently packed it up in a cake carrier and took it off in the car.

Lesson learned: do not transport a hot, unset custard pie in an enclosed container. Between the jiggling of the moving car and the heat trap of the carrier lid, the pie completely liquified on the trip down, becoming instead a pie crust filled with sweet pear soup. I put it in the fridge when we arrived, but it only congealed slightly. Aargh.

However! Once we had polished off our lovely takeout dinner from Szechuan Bistro (if you’re anywhere near that neighborhood, and you haven’t had their dry-fried string beans with tofu, go get some now), we felt able to face the wreck of the pie. There was vanilla ice cream in the house, so I simply scooped the pie filling out of the shell and dumped it all over ice cream. It tasted wonderful.

But next time? I’ll make sure it stays pie.

A duck dinner

Duck, bell peppers & cauliflower gratin 

A few months ago we were given a gift: a whole duck breast, wrapped and frozen. One of the goals written on my “things to cook in 2007” list is “More Duck!” so I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile – I love duck in restaurants but have only once tried cooking it.

 Things did not go swimmingly. When J. got home he took the duck out of the meat drawer where it had been defrosting, to find that the bag it was in was not leak-proof and there was raw duck juice all over the place. He was cleaning up the mess when I got home. I took the duck out of its packaging and poked at it a bit – it still had a chunk of rib cage attached. Every recipe for duck breast that I have is for boneless. Sigh. I tried to debone it, but I am utterly hopeless – a previous attempt to cut up a whole chicken resulted in tears and recriminations against various cookbook authors who said it would be easy. So J. deboned the duck, showing a level of patience and persistence which is obviously beyond me. Continue reading