Hoppy Citrus French Macaron Recipe

Today’s post is a great example of how unbelievably spoiled my husband is at times 🙂

Last week, I was craving macarons. As there was nothing open / nearby, I decided to just make my own. I find that commercially made ones don’t have enough flavour, anyway.

So as I was deciding what kind of macarons I wanted to make, somehow the subject of cooking / baking with hops came up. I hadn’t done any hop recipe development in a while – the Hoppy Citrus IPA Glazed Wings and Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce recipes were the last I’d done up, and that was during the harvest last fall – our current hop growth is already starting to threaten our entire side yard, this season!

Anyway, I ended up developing two separate hop flavoured macaron recipes yesterday. These were especially made for my hop head husband, who really believes that “The more bitter, the better!”. Hops, chocolate, whatever – that’s his thing.

This first recipe uses Centennial hops, known for their citrussy notes. Cascade hops would also work well, especially if you’re less into the bitterness – Cascade has all the flavour of Centennial hops, but with less bitterness.

If SUPER hoppy IPAs aren’t your thing, you’ll probably want to cut back the hops to about 1 Tbsp worth. I’m not a huge fan of hops on their own, and these are only slightly too bitter for me – the filling really balances it out. The bitterness builds and leaves a nice aftertaste.

As a final note, I recommend you read my first post about making macarons if you are at ALL intimidated by the idea of making these: The Easy Way to Make Macarons. The only change I’ve made since then, is that I sifted the ingredients together, on account of the hop leaves. They turned out perfectly!

Oh, and I did eventually get to put on a batch of macarons for ME, after all of this hop macaron craziness 🙂

Enjoy!

Hoppy Citrus Macarons Recipe
(Makes 20-24 cookies)

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds *
2 Tbsp finely ground dried hop leaves – Centennial or Cascade**
3 large egg whites
4 tbsp white sugar
Green gel food coloring, if desired

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Mix together powdered sugar, ground almond meal, and hop powder. Sift through a wire strainer, discarding any large pieces. set aside.

Mix egg whites and sugar in a *very clean* metal mixer bowl. It is very important that not only is the bowl and whisk attachment VERY clean, but that no specks of egg yolk are included with the egg white. The presence of any egg yolk or grease on your bowl or whisk will prevent the egg whites from properly whipping up. This is the only “rule” you really need to be concerned about!

Affix your bowl to the mixer, and whip eggs on high until stiff peaks form. The whites will be pillowy, thick, and marshmallowy. When you remove the whisk from the meringue, it should leave a very definite “peak” – if the tip flips over a little, that’s ok. Add a small amount food coloring, if desired, whisk in.

Dump bowl of dry ingredients into the meringue. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently stir the mixture until everything is well incorporated and very thick.

Once mixture is fairly uniform, beat it until it’s still thick, but oozes a bit. You don’t want to beat it till it’s fully RUNNY, but you’d like it to settle back into place if you remove some and drop it back into the mix. It’s better to under-beat it than to over-beat it.

Spoon macaron batter into a pastry / frosting bag with a 1/4″ or so opening – whether a metal tip, or just the end cut off the bag.

Pipe ~ 1.25″ – 1.5″ rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If the batter isn’t running all over the place, there’s no real worry about placing them close together – I’ll leave an inch or so between the rounds.

Pick up the sheet of piped cookies, and rap it against the counter a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake cookies for 13-16 minutes, or until they lift easily from the parchment. (Undercooked macarons will stick). Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, and prepare the filling.

Orange-Lemon Buttercream Filling

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 Tbsp Orange zest – about 1 orange worth
1 tsp lemon zest – about 1 small lemon worth
1 Tbsp orange juice
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Whip butter until smooth. Add zests and orange juice and mix until incorporated.

Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar a bit at a time, until incorporated completely. If mixture seems too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar, continuing to mix until thick (but spreadable!) and smooth.

To assemble Macarons

Spoon or pipe about a Tablespoon worth of filling onto the flat underside of one cookie. Top with the underside of another cookie. (Rounded sides facing out). Holding cookies by the edge, twist gently to force frosting out almost to the edge.

* Finely ground almonds may be referred to as almond meal” or “almond flour”, depending on where you find them.

** I like to use a spice / coffee grinder to get dried hop leaves down to a fine powder – even my mini food processor doesn’t work so well, just blowing the leaves around in the bowl. Blitz to a fine powder, then measure.

Fan of hops? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Hedonistic Hops!

Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Miruvor Recipe

Well, this is fun. As I started to blog this recipe, I realized that I probably need an “Elvish” category. 🙂 I nested it under my Ethnic Foods category, LOL!

Anyway. A couple months ago, I started work on a recipe for as-legit-as-possible Miruvor. I’d seen recipes out there for cocktails called Miruvor, but nothing that seemed really canon. So…

Miruvor (or MiruvĂłrĂ«) is an elvish drink, from Tolkien’s writings. “Miruvor” was mentioned in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as “Cordial of Imladris”. Made by the Rivendell elves, its purpose in the stories is to revive those who drink it… sort of an elvish energy drink.

“As soon as Frodo had swallowed a little of the warm and fragrant liquor he felt a new strength of heart, and the heavy drowsiness left his limbs. The others also revived and found fresh hope and vigor.” – Fellowship of the Ring

Elrond gave it to Gandalf, who shared it with the Fellowship – in small doses – explaining it to be precious.

Miruvor was based, in-world, on MiruvĂłrĂ« – a drink created and imbibed by the Valar, in Valinor. MiruvĂłrĂ« was made from flowers grown in Yavanna’s gardens, and has been referred to as “A kind of nectar” by Tolkien, and as a sweet mead by Galadriel. So, enough information to use and build on, but still fairly vague.

While my *serious* Miruvor is indeed a mead recipe, next week’s “One Last Party” seemed like an ideal occasion to break out a bottle of Miruvor… but my brewing batch will not be ready for several more months. I decided to do a “quick” version: liqueur, rather than mead. So… Miruvor, rather than MiruvĂłrĂ«. As with the in-world beverages, my Miruvor will similarly be inspired by my upcoming MiruvĂłrĂ« 🙂

So, as I do not personally have access to flowers from Yavanna’s gardens in Valinor – and because pretty much no information was ever created in terms of the actual FLAVOUR of said flowers, I had to get imaginative. In my mind, it would be a light floral flavour, almost fruity. I didn’t picture it as anything heavy, like rose or lavender, for instance.

In running through my knowledge of edible flowers that were also readily accessible, and deciding whether any were suitable as what I was picturing, it hit me: ELDERFLOWERS. Not only is their flavour pretty much exactly what I was picturing, the name is perfect. Elder flowers… Eldar flowers!

Ok, yeah, Rivendell elves aren’t technically “Eldar” elves, but Elrond WAS captured and raised by Maedhros and Maglor, who WERE Noldor, and therefore “Eldar”, so … Whatever, it’s headcanon now. Elderflowers = elvish.

For this recipe, I decided to use elderflower syrup, as it’s available year round and just a few clicks away on Amazon. You can use IKEA’s Elderflower syrup for a budget version, but I find the D’Arbo White Elderflower Syrup to be vastly superior in taste. Plus, you know… it’s SUPPOSED to be a precious drink, go ahead and spend the extra money to get the really good stuff!

Miruvor

500 ml Elderflower syrup (IKEA or D’Arbo)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
Peel of 1/2 lemon
peel of 1 orange
1 vanilla bean, split
Pinch salt
2-3 cups (500-750 ml) GOOD vodka

In a large pot, combine Elderflower syrup, honey, water, citrus peels, vanilla bean, and salt, whisking until well combined. Bring JUST to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir about 2 cups of vodka into the cooled syrup mixture, and taste. Continue adding vodka, to taste, until desired flavour / alcohol level is reached.

Strain through fine cheesecloth or a coffee filter, discarding peels. Funnel into clean wine or liqueur bottles.

After bottling, you should let it age for about a week in a cool place before drinking it – IF you have that kind of patience! Aging results in a smoother, more mellow flavor.

Hoppy Citrus IPA Glazed Wings

Eek, it’s been over a week since I posted my Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce Recipe… guess I should get to posting the other deliciousness that resulted from that day in the kitchen!

While the BBQ sauce was kind of a last minute “Ooh, you know what we should try making?” thought, these wings were a recipe idea I’d been tossing around in my head for a WHILE. We were actually in the grocery store buying ingredients to make these, when having the idea to make BBQ sauce!

I’ve said it before… I’m not a fan of drinking beer, but I do LOVE it as an ingredient. That BBQ sauce was amazing, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle is probably my favourite brittle ever, and I frequently use beer as an ingredient in soups, fondues, sauces, etc. In these wings? Completely fantastic! The flavours went together so well, complex but coherent, and definitely unique. It was sweet and savoury with a little heat and a little bit of bitter hop bite – perfectly balanced, and so, SO good.

Let me share what the hop heads had to say about it, though:

“I would first like to say, I love hops, the more hoppy the beer the better. I however have never had anything really made with hops beyond a hop candy sold from my local brewing supply shop. I was excited for my first dive into cooking with hops, also nervous, I had never really heard of anything besides a tasty beverage made with hops.

Hop wings! These little treats were deep fried chicken wings and drummies, they were covered lightly in a light orange glaze, they looked really good. My first bite was a great crisp feel followed by first a nice honey taste, followed with the fresh taste of citrus from an orange, it was then all combined at the end with the bitterness from the hop. Very much like a very good beer the taste had the distinct front, middle and end tastes you would expect. It was truly delicious!”Trevor

“These hop wings are delicious! The flavors explode in your mouth, with sweet honey and orange popping up first and the slightly bitter citrus finish with a little bit of spice. I tore through my wings super fast, this is an addictive sauce! It’s not simply a variation of another sauce or a replication of a commercial sauce, this stands out on its own so well. I love trying new flavors of wings, but this is one where I’d keep coming back to it over and over, it quickly became my favorite.” – Porter

An interesting note about my husband: He has some weird “top of the food chain guilt” thing going on. He doesn’t mind eating meat, he just doesn’t want to be reminded that it used to be an animal… so he hates eating food off the bone, etc. I think this is the first time I’ve seen him seem totally OK with eating non-boneless wings!

A note about hops: While we used fresh hops – as that’s what we had readily available – you can also use dried. Use about half as many, if you’re going with dried. Dried (and sometimes fresh, too!) hops are available from home brewing supply stores everywhere.

Hoppy Citrus-IPA Glazed Wings

Vegetable Oil for deep frying
4 lbs chicken wings & drummies
Salt
1 cup IPA of choice
1/2 cup fresh hops, divided (We used Centennial)
1 cup liquid honey
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
Juice and zest of 1 orange

Heat oil 375 degrees F. You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, use a deep, heavy pot, filled to at least 3″ deep. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt, allow to air dry while preparing glaze.

In a medium saucepan, bring IPA and 1/4 cup of the hops to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low, simmer until it has reduce to about half the original volume. (Just eyeball it!).

Once IPA has reduced, add honey, jalapeno, cloves, orange zest/juice, and a pinch of salt. Bring back up to a simmer, simmer for about 10 minutes. Add remaining hops, simmer for 5 more minutes. Pour glaze through wire strainer, discarding solids left behind. Return to pot and keep warm while preparing chicken wings.

Fry chicken wings in batches of about a dozen pieces each – allowing oil to come back up to temperature between each batch – until golden brown. (About 10-15 minutes per batch). Transfer fried wings to a large bowl, toss with glaze, and serve hot!

Fan of hops? You’ll LOVE my latest cookbook, Hedonistic Hops!

Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Homemade Blueberry Wine Recipe

Last summer, we happened upon an AMAZING deal on fresh blueberries at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. As we looked at the cases upon cases of blueberries that were available at that ridiculous price, Porter and I had the exact same thought: We should buy a TON of these, and make wine!

We had made a batch of blueberry wine from frozen blueberries a few years ago, and that was amazing – fresh could only be better, right?

RIGHT!

We made something like 10 gallons of this, but I’ve pared our recipe to be done “by the gallon”, so you can adjust for how many blueberries you have to work with.

No fresh blueberries? No problem, just substitute an equal weight of frozen blueberries! I would put them through a food processor, rather than squish them by hand – freezing and thawing berries breaks them down well.

As is, this batch ran pretty dry at the end, so we sweetened it up with a bit of sugar at the end. We like our wine pretty sweet, though.

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

Fresh Blueberry Wine Recipe

Ingredients, per gallon of water
3-4 lbs fresh blueberries
2 lbs white sugar
1 gallon spring water (will use slightly less)
1/2 tsp acid blend
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp wine tannin
1 packet Red Star “Pasteur Red” yeast
Wine stabilizer of choice (optional)

Equipment:
Large pot
Fermenter bucket and lid
1 or 2 lass carboys & stoppers
1 air lock
Siphon, siphon tubing.

Rinse and pick through blueberries, removing any that are moldy, etc. Place in a large pot, along with the sugar. Using a potato masher or VERY clean hands, stir and mash blueberries.

Add water, stir well. Heat to ALMOST boiling, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir in acid blend, enzyme, nutrient, and tannin.

Pour mixture into a freshly sanitized fermenting bucket. Cover with sanitized lid and air lock, allow to cool to room temperature (overnight).

The next morning, give the mixture a quick stir with a long, sanitized spoon, and – using sanitized equipment – take a gravity reading of the liquid (strain out any blueberries). Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)

Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized cover and air lock. Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go!

After a week or so, use your sanitized siphon setup to rack the must into a freshly sanitized carboy. Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.

Using sanitized equipment, rack the blueberry wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.

Rack one more time, leave it for another 3 months or so.

When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling.

Follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!).

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Homemade Cranberry-Cuties “Christmas Wine”

I’ve mentioned our holiday homebrewing tradition before. Rather than deal with crowds, traffic, people, and the kind of over-stimulation that drives us both nuts, we use holidays as a bit of quiet time at home, enjoying each others’ company… while brewing up something tasty.

A few days before the holiday, my husband clears space in the brew room, while I design our recipe. For our Christmas day brew, we try to do something holiday themed, both to remind us of our “holiday”, and so that the final wine will be something appropriately themed for future holiday consumption. You know, being labeled as “Christmas wine”!

The first year of this tradition was when we designed the recipe for “Cuties” Mead, which has since gone on to become a favorite not only with us, but with other homebrewers. Cheers, guys!

As I’d mentioned last Christmas, our 2010 Christmas Wine was a cranberry-Cuties wine. Oh MAN, did it ever turn out amazing! 1 year to the day we brewed it, we were serving this up at a friend’s “orphan’s Christmas” Dr Who marathon. (Having moved our traditional holiday brew day up 1 day to accommodate such a worthy event!).

home brew cranberry orange wine recipe

This turns out a gorgeous light red, fruity wine. The Cuties oranges work beautifully with the cranberries, and the result is a smooth, festive libation. We really love the use of “crack oranges” to flavor our holiday brews… and they certainly didn’t disappoint in this recipe. Don’t wait til next Christmas to put a batch of this on – those Cuties oranges are at peak season for another month or so!

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

(more…)

How to Make Homemade Banana Wine

Homemade banana wine is an interesting thing, in a few ways.

For one, by the time you’re ready to add the yeast to get the product started… well, you’re working with a liquid that just looks revolting. Muddy brown-grey dishwater looking stuff. You add the yeast, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Then, the yeast starts acting on it. Oh BOY does it ever! I’ve never seen such violent fermentation before! It really was a sight to behold.

One day, you walk by your carboys, and you think “Hrm. My orange mead looks really yellow for some reason”… and then you realize that you’re looking at your banana wine. All of a sudden, that ugly, milky looking mixture clarified at some point. It left you with a gorgeous, brilliantly golden yellow and crystal clear wine.

… and it tastes like heavily banana-flavored Everclear! Yes, we’ve termed our banana wine “Banana Jet Fuel” for good reason – it comes in at a whopping 20% ABV!

No worries though – let your finished wine age for about a year after bottling, and you’ll be rewarded with a smooth, flavorful wine that packs a punch! The harsh “Everclear” flavor will age right out.

Banana wine is very easy – and very CHEAP – to make. Also, it finishes a unique color, which will make a beautiful addition to your wine rack – or gift.

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

(more…)

Caturday: Brew Day!

In late May, we had a “brew day” scheduled… I think it was for May 29th. On brew days, we rack our wines, bottling if needed, and generally take care of the many carboys we have brewing. Wine making involves a bit of “babysitting”.

Well, it’s now September 18th. Not only did the May 29th Brew day not happen – we haven’t had a brew day since. We DID check the carboys right after the May 22nd tornado – they survived, even if the kitchen IMMEDIATELY above them did not! – so we know that much at least.

Anyway, in the interest of NOT losing all that hard work – and as a result of the rainy forecast today – we’re having our first post-tornado homebrew day!

Yes, it’s partly to get to work on cleaning out & organizing the basement – which needs to be done before my husband can start building the kitchen cabinets. Yes, with the amount of wine that was left THAT long, it’ll be a lot of work. (We have a TON of small 1 gallon batches in different flavors!). You know what though? I’m going to consider it a “day off”. Yesterday was a long day of exterior work. Porter worked on caulking all of the small cracks in the stucco and bricks, also re-laying a handful of bricks, while I started painting the garage. It’s pretty! Anyway, I digress – I think that convincing ourselves that this brew day is some sort of a vacation would be a good thing.

What does this have to do with Caturday (Catunday!)?

Well, I think it inspires a great Caturday theme!


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Homemade Hard Apple Cider

After a long, overly hot summer… man, did it ever feel good to wake up to 44 degrees!

At this point, we lost our entire summer to the tornado – it happened May 22, and we’ve been busting our butts ever since. Any outdoor activities have been long hours of removing debris, hauling bricks, or construction. Sunburns all around, a heat stroke… Yeah, I’m about ready to commit the summer 0f 2011 to the books – complete write off.

I love fall. I love the smell of the air, the feel of it against my skin, the colors… everything. I love being able to go outside without worrying about the possibility of overheating. I love that fall means that winter is right around the corner. It’s like this perfect, happy, and drawn-out reward for surviving summer.

You know what else autumn brings? Apples.

It was actually an abundance of apples at our last home, that led to our home brewing hobby. (Read all about our first homebrewing attempt!).

We’re probably not going to have time to put on a batch this year, because… really. We still haven’t racked our wines that were due for it back in early June! It sucks, but by posting our recipe, we can live vicariously through you, my awesome readers!

If you haven’t attempted making hard cider or wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

(more…)

How to Make Mint Wine – Mint Wine Recipe

The other day, I posted our recipe for Homemade Watermelon Wine.. While this is an excellent wine to make – and drink! – in the summertime, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share our other big favorite summer wine recipe.

Mint Wine.

I’m not kidding. It sounds a bit odd, and you’ll question the outcome at various stages along the way. Looking at our notes, we actually wrote “Don’t bother making again” in the notes! A year after starting the wine, however, we’re really glad we made it. This is a light, sweet, unique wine.. great served chilled. If you have some patience, you’ll be glad you stuck it out. This wine ferments lightly and sloooowly.

Other than that, mint is easy to make, and SUPER cheap if you – like a lot of people I know – have a patch of mint that’s bent on taking over your yard. A great summer project!

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

Ready?

Homemade Mint Wine Recipe

5 cups mint, washed and packed
1 gallon water
3 lbs granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp wine tannin
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 packet Red Star “Champagne” brewing/wine yeast

Place mint in a large pot, add as much water as will fit in the pot (while still allowing for mashing!). Bring to a boil, remove from heat, steep for an hour.

Strain out mint leaves, pressing well. Reserve leaves. Add sugar to mint water, bring to a boil once again, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, cover with sanitized pot lid.

Once mixture has cooled to room temperature, add wine tanning, acid blend and yeast nutrient. Using a sanitized funnel, transfer cooled mixture to a sanitized 1 gallon carboy.

If you weren’t able to get a full gallon of mint “tea” out of the first batch, cover reserved mint leaves (or fresh ones, if you have plenty to spare!) with more water, and repeat – without adding any more sugar or additives. Use fresh mint/water mixture to top up the liquid in the carboy, until it’s almost full.

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading. Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)

Sprinkle yeast into (fully cooled!) carboy, cover with sanitized air lock. Let sit, undisturbed, overnight.

Within 48 hours, you should notice a little fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go! Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or two.

Using sanitized equipment, rack the clarified wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized 1 gallon carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.

Repeat racking process every few months. By 1 year in, your wine should be very clear, and VERY tasty!

When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling:

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading*, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!).

Serve chilled.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Homemade Watermelon Wine

Apparently today is “National Watermelon Day”. I had today’s recipe all ready to publish, but I have the *perfect* recipe for watermelon day, so…

You know, one of these days, I’m gonna make a calendar of all of these “days”, and keep them in mind ahead of time. Sounds like a much better plan than ending up distracted at the last minute!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a homemade wine recipe. Watermelon wine is not only tasty, it’s easy to make and a unique choice for summer imbibing. Also, we’re a little overdue on putting on this summer’s batch. What can I say, the tornado screwed with our summer brewing schedule when it turned our lives upside down!

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

This recipe uses few ingredients, but it’s important to make them the right ones. Most importantly: (more…)