January 31, 2013

proof whisky, pig skins & po’ boys, Vol. 118

It’s Superbowl weekend and we are spicing up our game with a Big Easy BAM! (www.nfl.com)

the jamba single 1 ½ oz proof whisky • ½ oz lemon juice • ¼ teaspoon cajun seasoning • 3 dashes hot pepper sauce • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce • 1/8  teaspoon dried thyme leaves • 1 teaspoon finely chopped celery • 1/8 teaspoon finely chopped garlic • 1 tablespoon chopped tomato • 5 oz tomato juice
Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. To serve, rim a glass with lemon and kosher salt, fill with ice and pour.

the jamba pitcher 8 oz proof whisky • 3 oz lemon juice • 1 ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves • 2 tablespoon finely chopped celery • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic • ½ cup chopped tomato • 3 ½  cups tomato juice
Add all ingredients to a pitcher and stir. Make in advance and store in fridge to allow flavours to combine. To serve, rim a glass with lemon and kosher salt, fill with ice and pour.


Let the girls serve hot dogs and veggie trays at their party. You, on the other hand, need to kick things up a notch, with some good ol’ stick to the ribs Cajun fare.

cajun shrimp po’ boys  (makes 12 small, 6 manly-sized)
cajun mayo 1½ cups mayonnaise • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme • 1 tsp cayenne pepper slaw 1 cup finely shredded green cabbage • 1 small carrot, shredded • ¼ cup finely chopped sweet pickles shrimp 2 eggs • 3 tbsp water • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour • 1/3 cup cornmeal • ¼ tsp salt • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper • ¼ tsp baking powder • 24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined • 12 slider or other small soft buns • 4 - 8 cups sunflower oil

mayo To make spicy mayo, combine mayonnaise, thyme, cayenne and salt to taste in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day. slaw Combine cabbage, carrot, pickles and ½ cup (125 mL) of the spicy mayo, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving, up to 8 hours. shrimp in a bowl, whisk together eggs and water. Add flour, cornmeal, salt, cayenne and baking powder and stir to make a smooth batter. Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (it should be fairly thick but not stiff; add a little water to thin if necessary). Pat shrimp dry and dip in batter, letting excess drip off. Carefully drop into hot oil, frying about 4 at a time, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until batter is golden brown and shrimp has curled. Using a slotted spoon, remove from oil and place on lined baking sheet in oven with fries. Repeat with remaining shrimp, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain temperature. Spoon slaw onto bottoms of buns and top each with shrimp. Spread spicy mayo on lids of buns and sandwich. You can sub out shrimp for scallops or chicken.


The best part about the next two recipes is that they are both make-ahead. You can leave them in a kettle or pot and your guests can serve themselves. The two recipes share a lot of the same ingredients, so you may want to chose one of the two and just double the batch, depending on the amount of guests you are feeding. 

cajun seafood gumbo 3 slices bacon • ½ cup all-purpose flour • 1 sweet red pepper, diced • 1 medium onion, diced • 1 large stalk celery, diced • 1 large garlic clove, minced • 1 can (796 mL) diced tomatoes • 1 box (900 mL) lower-salt chicken broth • 2 tsp  chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried • 1 bay leaf • ¼ tsp cayenne • 1 pkg (200 g) frozen snow crab • 8 oz (250 g) raw, 41 to 50 count, peeled and deveined shrimp, defrosted • 1 cup corn kernels • ½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh parsley or 2 green onions, sliced • 3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

Cut bacon crosswise into ¼-inch (5-mm) pieces. Place in a soup pot; cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until browned and crisp. Remove from heat. Skim off bacon bits, leaving fat behind. Reserve bacon bits. Return pan to heat; sprinkle in flour. Cook, stirring almost constantly for 5 minutes or until flour starts to turn golden. Then add pepper, onion, celery and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a sieve over a bowl; let drain. Mix tomato liquid with broth. When vegetables are cooked, add half of liquid mixture; stir very rapidly until well mixed. Then add remaining liquid; add thyme, bay leaf and cayenne. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If making ahead, soup can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to a day. Reheat when needed.) Meanwhile, pick out some of the larger bits of crab; reserve for garnish. Remove tails from defrosted shrimp; discard. When simmering time is up, stir in drained tomatoes, shrimp, crab, corn and bacon bits. Increase heat to medium; cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until shrimp are pink and gumbo is very hot. Stir in most of chopped parsley or green onions. If a thinner gumbo is desired, stir in splashes of boiling water. Ladle into wide soup bowls. Add a scoop of rice; garnish with a bit of crab. Scatter with remaining parsley and serve with corn muffins or bread.

cajun jambalaya 3 tbsp vegetable oil • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces • 8 oz cooked chorizo sausage, cut into ½ inch pieces • 1 large onion, finely chopped • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped • 1 small sweet red pepper, seeded and finely chopped • 4 cloves garlic, minced • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves • ½ tsp salt • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper • 6 whole cloves 2 bay leaves • 2 cups long-grain rice • 1 can diced tomatoes • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth • ¼ cup tomato paste • 1 lb (500 g) large (31 to 40 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined • 1/4 cup each finely chopped green onions and parsley • Hot pepper sauce

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). In a large flameproof casserole or Dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp (25 mL) oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken and sausage in batches for 2 to 4 minutes until browned on all sides (chicken won’t be completely cooked), removing to a plate as each batch browns. Add remaining oil to pot; reduce heat to medium. Cook onion, celery and pepper for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Stir in garlic, thyme, salt, cayenne, black pepper, cloves and bay leaves; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in rice; cook, stirring, for 1 minute until rice is coated with vegetable mixture. Stir in tomatoes (with their juice), broth and tomato paste. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Return chicken and sausage to pot, along with any juices that have accumulated on plate. Bring to a boil; stir well. Cover with lid; transfer to oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until rice is tender and most of liquid has been absorbed. Gently stir in shrimp. Replace lid; return to oven for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes, until shrimp are pink and just firm. Discard bay leaves. Season with salt, cayenne and pepper to taste. Spoon jambalaya into a shallow serving dish; sprinkle with green onions and parsley. Serve at once with hot pepper sauce on the side.

We found some other great cajun and superbowl recipes at Food & Wine


If you are throwing a Superbowl party, you may also want to check out Sharp’s ‘How to Throw a Superbowl Party’ feature

Congratulations to Sabrina Greer for winning the bar10der tool! Your delicious drink, 
the proof or dare, will be featured in an upcoming blog. Stay tuned!


Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -7 degrees
Sunday: Scattered flurries and a high of -3 degrees

January 24, 2013

proof rum, bar10der, Vol. 117

Looking for something cool to do this weekend? Visit the 15th Annual Interior Design Show. It starts Thursday. (www.interiordesignshow.com)

peppered rum collins 1 ½ oz proof rum • 1 oz lemon juice • 1 oz simple syrup • 5 pink peppercorns • 3 oz soda water • lemon wheel
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 oz lemon juice, 1 oz simple syrup, 5 pink peppercorns and 1 ½ oz proof rum. Shake sharply and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with 3 oz soda water and garnish with a lemon wheel

Speaking of great design – do we have the ultimate bartending gadget for you!
The Bar10der is the first and only 10-in-1 bartending tool that allows you to bring the bar home so you can mix up your favorite cocktails and mocktails whenever the mood strikes. Packed with 10 essential bartending tools in one sleek design, the Bar10der makes it easy to mix, create and serve a perfect drink. Cheers to that. It’s a muddler, stirrer, knife, channel knife, zester, reamer, jigger, bottle opener, corkscrew and strainer (https://thebar10der.com)

And it comes in three of our favourite colours! 

Give us your best cocktail recipe and WIN one of these great gadgets. Just email recipe to info@proofbrands.com


Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Cloudy with sunny breaks and a high of -5 degrees
Sunday: Mainly sunny and a high of -3 degrees

January 17, 2013

proof whisky, The Beer Academy, Vol. 116

Last week, we played host to a Canadian outdoor winter party. This time round, we are warming things up with a more comfortable indoor gathering. Our flavour of the week is – are you sitting? – Wheat Beer.

the hefeweisky 1oz proof whisky • 2oz freshly squeezed orange juice • 6oz Hefeweisen beer • 3 dashes Fee Brothers Grapefruit bitters (or plain orange bitters if you cannot find the grapefruit)
Make sure that your ingredients are cold. Pour all cold ingredients into a large glass. Garnish with orange slice. (we prefer no ice in this one)

If you are drinking the Hefeweizen on its own pale straw in colour with a hazy translucence from the unfiltered yeast and a stark white foam cap; tart and sour on the nose with hints of banana, apricot and clove. Down the hatch, the tartness washes over your tongue with an acidic effervescence that completely strips your palate of any thirst. A quick finish leaves you feeling quenched and refreshed.

food pairings the bright acidic tartness of the Hefeweizen is well suited for lighter fare. Salads will benefit from the citric acidity in the Hefe as the beer will double as your dressing, highlighting the fresh leafy greens and vegetal sweetness while not overpowering any subtle protein additions like shrimp or chicken. When considering cheese, this Hefe will harmonize with bright, tangy, fruity cheeses; Herb coated goat cheese is a must try.

We purchased our Hefeweizen at the Beer Academy, but you can find it at www.lcbo.com. (Granville Island Robson Street Hefeweizen #289215) The Academy is Canada’s first multi-functioning space dedicated to sharing the knowledge, passion and diversity of beer. Nestled in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Beer Academy features a small-batch craft brewery, a tasting room and beer shop, and an inviting beer café where guests can relax with their favourite pint. The venue also features an experiential event space that includes a sensory tasting bar, a beer-lover’s library, and a tribute to the history of the world’s greatest beverage.
Through the tasting room and beer shop, all of the beers brewed on-site are available to sample and take home in quart-size bottles and growlers. Unique to Toronto, the growlers are filled to order at an innovative counter-pressure growler station that ensures the beer tastes fresh – right from the brewery. Guided tours of the brewery are also available upon request. (http://www.beeracademy.com)

The Beer Academy also sells its own line of specialty glassware. Check out the website for styles and info.

Here are a couple of beer-inspired recipes to go along with your hefeweisky.
Fondue has a fun retro appeal that is perfect for winter party atmosphere. Dust off your fondue set and try this great recipe.

beer fondue 4 tbsps butter • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour • 12 oz beer • 12 tsp worcestershire sauce • 14 tsp dry mustard • 14 tsp cayenne pepper • 4 cups shredded cheddar • bread, chunks for dipping

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes while stirring constantly to make a roux. Add beer and bring to slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Add Worcestershire, mustard and cayenne, stirring thoroughly. Add cheese 1 cup at a time, melting cheese after each addition. Stir fondue until it is smooth. Turn into fondue pot and serve with cubed Cracked Wheat Beer Bread.

beer bread (yields 1 loaf) 3 cups bread flour (all-purpose will also work) • 1 tbsp baking powder  • 1 1/2 tsps salt • 1/4 cup granulated sugar • 12 oz can or bottle of beer • 1/4 cup (4 tbsps) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour in beer and mix until just incorporated. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Pour melted butter over the top of the dough. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is browned. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before serving. (photos and recipe http://www.pastryaffair.com)

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Wet snow and a high of 3 degrees
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of - 3 degrees

January 10, 2013

proof whisky, bring on winter, Vol. 115

Happy New Year! We had a lot of fun over the past couple of weeks. One of the greatest moments was partying al fresco, right after a heavy blizzard. Just because the holidays are over, it doesn’t mean that you have to hibernate for the rest of the winter. Grab a shovel (or umbrella, with this week's sudden warm weather), dig out your party zone and host a winter backyard get-together.

 toasted orange 4 cups apple cider • ½ cup fresh lemon juice • ½ cup Cointreau • ½ cup proof whisky
1 cinnamon stick • oranges

Pour cider and one cinnamon stick into saucepan, cover and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in juice, proof whisky & Cointreau. Pour into glasses and garnish with singed orange peel.

singed orange peel Cut a thumb-size slice of fresh orange peel, retaining as much of the white pith as possible. Hold the shorter end of the orange peel between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand and gently brush the flame of a lighter against the orange peel. Pinch the peel over the glass and flame, releasing the oils. The spray will ignite and give your drink a burned citrus burst.

If you are hosting an outdoor winter party, make sure that your guests know that it is actually taking place outside and that they should dress for it. Also make sure the theme of the night is something warm and comforting. (in other words, don’t go with a tropical luau theme) 

We put a twist on traditional Canadian flavours with these appetizers: mini tourtière pies, vegetarian mushroom poutine, pea soup shooters, smoked salmon, crème fresh crêpes, mini back bacon sandwiches, okra and berry crostini and a couple of others.

For activities, we roasted marshmallows, lit sparklers, and chatted around the fire. If you have a spunky group of friends, you can have sled races, start a snowball fight, have fun with it!

Okay...and if you are looking for some outdoorsy accessories, Chapters has a great selection. Check out the new après ski collection. We especially love the Creuset mugs. 

Make sure to join Tina Fey and Amy Poehler this Sunday for the 70th Golden Globes.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 11 degrees
Sunday: Light rain and a high of 6 degrees