Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Tip of the Hat

It’s come to my attention that today was Derby Day, the first Saturday of May on which the Kentucky Derby is run, and more importantly, the day on which over 120,000 Mint Juleps are gleefully consumed. Now the Mint Julep is quite a fine old (very old in fact) libation - brilliant on a hot day – and any decent drink that’s imbibed on so grand a scale surely deserves a tip of the hat. Trouble is, I can’t find a derby hat anywhere (just a battered old pork-pie), I’m fresh out of Bourbon & I happen to like my music with a touch more trumpet than the eight-bar “call to post”. So what’s a fellow to do..?

Tip the pork-pie, crank up the
Bad Manners & break out the Pimm’s of course…

A fairly-unique spirit,
Pimm’s No.1 Cup is a mildly-bitter aperitif ‘liqueur’ of sorts, first concocted by James Pimm, a British oyster-bar proprietor, in the early 1840’s. It is quite the odd bird: built on a base of gin, colored reddish-black with caramel, embittered by quinine and flavored with a secret blend of herbs. The beverage which Mr. Pimm devised to advertise his bittered sling, the Pimm’s Cup, is considered one of England’s first true ‘cocktails’ which, history-aside, is quite the delicious brew...

Still popular in the UK, it is estimated that well-over 40,000 Pimm’s Cups were served at Wimbledon (the British event-equivalent to the Kentucky Derby) last year – no Julep but a respectable quantity nevertheless. The recipe is quite simple: a measure of Pimm’s topped by fresh sparkling lemonade (or ginger ale) and is at least as refreshing as the Julep on a hot day. Much like its U.S. counterpart, the Pimm’s Cup overflows with greenery - typically either borage or cucumber – which only adds to its cooling properties. Pimm's can also be used as a creative additon to loads of other drinks - anyone else have a good Pimm's drink?

Incidentally, the French have an equally marvelous (non-alcoholic!) cooling draught, Lemonade d’Orgeat, made with (you guessed it) fresh lemonade & the delicate almond-flavored Orgeat syrup - but more on that in a moment…

Now all this is well and good you say, but isn’t it only early May? And don’t I live in New Jersey – neither of which gives me cause to complain of heat and thereby proffer cures for the same? True on both counts - it was quite rainy & cold today – the remedy for which brings me to the second topic of this post - a tasty, if spicy, bit of food: Curried Baba Ganoush. My slight variation on the classic Middle Eastern appetizer uses a fair quantity of red Curry, white Pepper & Cumin – the combination of which mandates an accompanying tipple with sufficiently-cooling characteristics, like an Almandine Pimm’s Cup. [Many apologies for the photo quality]

Curried Baba Ganoush
1½ lbs. Eggplant (~1x large)
2x cloves: Garlic
⅛ Cup: fresh Parsley
⅛ Cup: blanched Almonds
2 Tablespoons: fresh Lemon juice
2 Tablespoons: Tahini (sesame paste)
1 Tablespoon: E.V. Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon: Red Curry powder
½ Teaspoon: ground white Pepper
½ Teaspoon: ground Cumin
¼ Teaspoon: ground Paprika
¼ Teaspoon: smoked Sea Salt
1. Clean & Grill whole Eggplant for approximately 20 minutes over medium heat until tender with flaky & charred skin (Alternately bake in oven at 400º for 35 mins - I chose to grill mine in the rain). Set aside to cool.
2. Combine remaining ingredients except Olive Oil in food processor. When Eggplant is cool enough to handle safely/comfortably, peel skin and remove ends. Coarsely chop into several pieces & add to the food processor.
3. Process until mostly smooth, adding Oil gradually (you may need to use a spatula to incorporate all ingredients between pulses of processor).
4. Garnish with a light dusting of Red Curry & a drizzle of Olive Oil. Serve with grilled/toasted Pita or Lavash bread & an accompanying tall glass of:

Almandine Pimm’s Cup
1½ oz. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
1 oz. fresh Lemon juice
¾ oz. Orgeat syrup
¼ oz. Simple Syrup
2 dashes Spiced Lemon bitters #1 (Angostura or Regan’s OB work fine)
Club Soda
Combine ingredients over ice in a highball glass, fill with Club Soda (4-5 oz.) Stir & garnish with a twist of (any) Citrus & a sprig of Mint. Savor.

In commemoration (yes, of my dinner) I dedicate May 4th “Pork-Pie & Pimm’s Day”, henceforth to be observed through the consumption of spicy food & Pimm’s cocktails! Stay tuned for more to do with that curiously-delectable French syrup, Orgeat.
Cheers & Happy Derby Day everyone!


Tiare said...

LOVELY recipes Chris! Thanks for these!

Well, my 1st of may didn`t involve neither Julep nor Pimms..i`m out of mint and have no Pimms..

But i made a dish which i want to share:


Makes 2 serv

2 large Fish fillets of white fleshed fish
1 small Pineapple
5 cm Fresh Ginger
1 Lime
2 tblsp Butter
Salt, Pepper
1 red Chili
2 small Zucchinis
1 Sweet Potato
1 Ognion
2 garlic Cloves
Cinnamon powder
Honey – liquid
Coconut Milk
Olive oil

Start making the Polynesian mash.


Mash one small pineapple: cut in small cubes and mash
1 red chili – cut lengthwise and deseeded - then chopped
2 tbsl butter
5cm piece of Ginger – chopped

Mash it all together and add a squeeze of lime over. Put the mesh on top of the fish fillets and roll them together, secure with a pick. Put in a lightly buttered oven dish.

Peel the sweet potato and slice in appr 2 cm thick slices.

Pre grill the fish rolls and the sweet potatos until you get grill marks. Sprinkle some powdered cinnamon over the sweetpotatos and then drizzle some honey on top.
Put the fish rolls and sweet potatos back in the oven dish.
They now go in the owen for about 15 mins, the fish might be ready a bit earlier than the sweet potato so keep an eye.

In the mean time, cut theZucchinis in thin slices lengthwise and fry them lightly in olive oil, add salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Finely chop the ognion and garlic cloves and fry in olive oil, add 3 tblsp Mustard and then squeeze a half lime over. Mix together. Add cream and coconut milk after taste. Whisk together until you get a creamy sauce.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Tiare said...

I forgot to mention that i think a tblsp of dark rum would be nice to add to the Polynesian mash.

BTW: Your dish and drink is very nicely presented.

Chris "Rookie" Stanley said...

Thanks Tiare!
As per your usual fare - this sounds incredible!!

Think the Polynesian Mash (I agree re: adding Dark Rum) would fare well with Pork or Chicken too?

Thanks! Figured I'd doll the plate up a bit for everyone. Granted I'm no photographer, but I'm just not sure why food never photographs well...


Tiare said...

Quote:Think the Polynesian Mash (I agree re: adding Dark Rum) would fare well with Pork or Chicken too?

Yes i do! and even though i don`t eat pork (never liked it) i can just "feel" its good with that as well as with chicken.

But as soon as i can i`ll try your Curried Baba Ganoush!

I believe food may be a bit hard to photo, i think you need much colors in the food.