October 28, 2010

proof whisky, A Toast to Halloween, Vol. 4

Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing, 
For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble." William Shakespeare

Welcome to the October 28th chapter of ‘the proof is in’. This year Halloween lands on a Sunday. In other words, Saturday night’s gonna rock. It’s time to dust off the plastic tombstones and to dazzle friends with your clever costume handiwork. If you’re starting to panic because it’s Thursday and your creative juices still aren’t flowing, let this spicy little sipper provide you with some much-needed inspiration. Good luck! If you would like to learn more about our brand, visit www.proofbrands.com

The Great Pumpkin
Cocktail size:
1 ½ oz. proof whisky
4 oz. mango juice
1 tbsp canned pumpkin
2 tsp spiced simple syrup*
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
pumpkin spice (optional)
To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 ½ oz proof whisky, 4 oz. mango juice, 1 tbsp canned pumpkin, 2 tsp. spiced simple syrup, and 1 tsp lemon juice. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice. Optional: For an extra kick, sprinkle with pumpkin spice.

Punch Bowl Size:
1 bottle proof whisky
40 oz. mango juice (5 cups)
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
5 tbsp spiced simple syrup*
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pumpkin spice
To a large container filled with ice, add a bottle of proof whisky, 5 cups mango juice, 1/3 cup canned pumpkin, 5 tbsp. spiced simple syrup, and 5 tbsp lemon juice. Shake and pour into an ice-filled punch bowl. Sprinkle with pumpkin spice.

*Pumpkin Spice simple syrup:
Combine equal parts brown sugar and boiling water, add 1 tbsp pumpkin spice (available at www.bulkbarn.ca). Whisk until sugar and spices are completely dissolved. Pour into a jar or bottle with a lid. Drop in a vanilla bean or good quality vanilla extract. Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Spruce up your Halloween bevies with these little treats:
Tru Blood – 4 pack $16 USD - Delicious blood orange carbonated drink inspired by Bill's favorite synthetic blood nourishment beverage. Tart and slightly sweet, Tru Blood pours like a regular soda but appears stormy and mysterious when poured into a glass. www.hbo.com

At Pottery Barn you can find these shakers featuring recipes for four Halloween cocktails: “Black Magic,” “Witch’s Brew,” “Red Zombie” and “Skeletini. Throw in a 4-pack of etched old-fahioneds’ to match. www.potterybarn.com
Pick up your ‘brain freeze’ ice cube trays at www.teatroverde.com. It’s My Party on the Danforth has a spooky selection of costumes and bar accents www.itsmyparty.com. Purchase your fog juice and rubber limbs at www.malabar.net.

Instead of scooping your pumpkin seeds into the green bin, spend a few extra minutes cleaning and sorting them. Not only are pumpkin seeds or pepitas healthy, but they will make a great bar mix at your spooky gathering. Here is an easy and versatile recipe for toasting your pumpkin seeds.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:
Pumpkin seeds
Cooking spray, olive oil, or butter
Salt or seasonings of choice

Rinse pumpkin seeds. Use your fingers to remove all the pulp. Drain pumpkin seeds and discard pulp. Spread out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil. Toss pumpkin seeds in olive oil, butter, or spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt, or your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat. Bake about 1 hour, tossing every 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Although we prefer the traditional oven method, you may like these options:

Place butter or
olive oil in a microwave-safe, rectangular baking dish. Heat in microwave on high for 30 seconds. Add pumpkin seeds and toss to coat. Spread seeds out evenly in the bottom of the dish. Microwave on high about 7 to 8 minutes or until seeds are toasted a light golden color. Be sure to stir every 2 minutes as they are cooking. (Microwave temperatures vary, so keep an eye on them and stir often.) When done, sprinkle with salt, or your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed, dry skillet over medium heat. Shake and stir the seeds constantly as they are toasting to prevent burning. When the pumpkin seeds begin to get golden, start to pop open, and release their aroma, they are done. Sprinkle hot toasted pumpkin seeds with
salt, or your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat.

Experiment with all your favourite seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, black pepper, cayenne and cumin.
For a sweet version, melt equal amounts of butter and sugar (brown or white) in a saucepan – add a sprinkle of cinnamon or ginger. Toss your seeds in this mixture before toasting in the oven.

HINT: If you like your toasted pumpkin seeds extra-salty, soak overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup salt to 2 cups of water. Dry an additional day, then proceed as above.

The Cheese Boutique is tucked away at the base of a South Kingsway residential are. The first time we visited, we were certain that mapquest had let us down. It wasn’t until we made that sharp turn onto Ripley Avenue that zowee! We had found it. There is nothing subtle about the exterior of the shop, with its cartoon mouse, moose on the roof and bronzed statues and flags. But when you step through the embellished brass doorway, you realize that this is no Mickey Mouse operation. Although the owner has a sense of humour , he is serious about his food – especially cheese. The boutique has its own temperature controlled room or humidor created for the affinage – aging of cheese. Some of the top restaurants in town keep their rounds here. The Cheese Boutique is a culinary gem, one that cannot truly be captured until experienced firsthand.  www.cheeseboutique.com Check out their Fall 2010 tasting series.

True Blue:
For Halloween, we thought that it would be appropriate to talk about moldy cheeses. And so, we went to the experts. At The Cheese Boutique we headed directly over to the cheese counter, (It’s so easy to be seduced by the room of balsamic vinegars, oils and dried pastas.) where Carmelo, a friendly cheese expert came to our assistance. He took us through a flight of four blue cheeses, starting with the youngest.

1. The first French, Bleu De Bresse was first made in the area of Burgundy following WW11. Made from whole cow’s milk, it is whipped and has a fine edible coating, which is white in colour and has the aroma of mushrooms. The interior is smooth and creamy – a similar texture to Brie.
2. Next we went local with a Benedictine Bleu, produced and cured by monks in St.-Benoît-du-lac, Québec. When it reaches Cheese Boutique it is aged in-house for another 6 months. The aroma was reminiscent of mushrooms had a creamy, delicately salted flavour.
3. Then, we visited Spain for a wonderful Cabrales. This cheese is produced in limited quantities using traditional farmhouse methods. Named after the region, the cheese utilizes raw cow’s milk, goat milk and ewe’s milk. Unlike some blue cheeses the blue mold is not artificially injected. It occurs naturally from two to six months in natural caves in the nearby mountains. It had a stronger, spicier flavour.
4. Finally, we were treated to the Roaring Forties from Tasmania. The name derives from King Island Dairy’s geographic position, on the 40th degree latitude said to have the roughest waters in the world. Its buttery smooth earthy qualities finished with a spicy aftertaste – it is definitely a vey special cheese and well worth trying.

Carmelo recommended this sweet limited edition Beemster extra old and a three-year-old parmesan (aged in-house) for pairing with The Great Pumpkin Cocktail. He also suggested the Pumpkin Butter from clearbrookfarms.com as a perfect finishing detail. And to ward off any creatures of the night we picked up these zesty garlic scapes at Ciboulette et Cie www.cibouletteetcie.ca

Beemster: Butterscotch and toffee flavours predominate over smoky undertones followed by slightly bitter coffee-like notes towards the rind. The texture is incredibly flaky, hard, and initially dry, then creamy, almost like fudge. Scattered crystals of milk protein offer a surprising, yet pleasing crunch. Best eaten at room temperature.

Thanks Carmelo, what a treat! May the Great Pumpkin be extra good to you this Halloween.

Meatatarian’s party platter:
It’s pretty easy to slap together a cold cut platter, but the perfect ‘assiette de charcuterie’ requires some extra legwork and a little help from an expert. The friendly guys at The Cheese Boutique counter are not only cheese experts – they really know their meat. Visit the shop for their wonderful selection of cured meats and pâtés.

Mad for glassware:
We were feeling a bit experimental this year and wanted to serve our guests something other than the usual highballs, snifters and shot glasses, so we set up a ‘mad scientist bar’ and headed north to Efton Science for the appropriate glassware.

Efston Science, is located at 3350 Dufferin Street, across from Yorkdale Mall (on subway line).  www.escience.ca

As a final touch visit the iceman for dry ice delivery www.the-iceman.com or www.dryiceandgases.com and you are good to go.

Thanks to all those who stopped in to see us at Whisky Live on Friday. We had a great time!

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday – Cloudy with showers and 10 degrees
Sunday – Sunny with cloudy periods! And 9 degrees – hooray!

Happy trick-or-treating!

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