Cooking with Cocktails: 100 Spirited Recipes by Kristy Gardner is a well-written cookbook that incorporates alcohol in everyday recipes. Some of the recipes have an Italian, Spanish, or French influence which adds to the cookbook’s variety of recipes and flavours.
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I believe that every cookbook is a collection of recipes that have a story to tell, so I found the Introduction in this cookbook very interesting. It’s an insight into Kristy’s life, where she came from and how she arrived to where she is. Her story gave me an understanding of the person behind the recipes.
In the How to Consume this Book chapter, two of the guidelines Kristy lists for success are Read the Damn Recipe and Google that Shit. There was a time I didn’t read the recipe through, only to find out I had to prepare some ingredients beforehand, which ended up in frustration and total waste of time. Now, with Google at our fingertips, we can search for ingredients and cooking techniques that we’re not familiar with to help make the cooking process easier. In this chapter, there’s also a list of essential ingredients, including spirits, and a list of kitchen tools to make your cooking experience pleasurable.
The 100 spirited recipes are spread out throughout the following chapters:
- Appetizers & Bar Snacks
- Soups and Salads
- Fish & Seafood
- (Mostly) Vegetables
- Staples & Sauces
The recipes are well written and easy to follow. Headnotes follow the recipe title, with the instructions listed on the left, ingredients on the right, and a tasty tip at the bottom of the page.
Sample recipes include:
- Boulevardier, Dirty Sexy Coffee (Cocktails)
- Limoncello Shrimp with Black Pepper & Salsa, Brandy-Laced Chicken Pâté (Appetizers & Bar Snacks)
- Drunk Grilled Pear & Brie Salad, Irish Whiskey French Onion Soup (Soups & Salad)
- Grilled Flank Steak with Bordelaise Sauce, Apple Cider Roasted Pork Loins (Meaty)
- Dry Vermouth Drunken Clams, Martini Puttanesca & Seared Salmon (Fish & Seafood)
- Grappa Ricotta with Butter Wilted Greens, Mom’s Stout Beans ([Mostly] Vegetables)
- Apple Cider Pound Cake, Crispy Crunch Bread Pudding (Sweets)
- Bourbon-Soaked Cherries, Bloody Mary Jam, Spiced Tomato Yogurt Sauce (Staples & Sauces)
There are also a couple of pages following the Sweets chapter on How to Build a Wine & Cheese Plate.
Irish Whiskey French Onion Soup (Page 96)
I was curious to taste this soup made with whiskey, as I only use red wine whenever I make it. I found a bottle of American whiskey in our liquor cabinet and wasn’t sure whether I could substitute it for Irish whiskey. I took Kristy’s advice and searched Google to find the difference.
The main differences are: the primary ingredients used; taste (the Irish whiskey has a mild flavor compared to the full-bodied taste of the American whiskey); and fermenting process (Irish whiskey, three years; American whiskey, two years). I decided to take a chance and use the American whisky as I already had it on hand.
Set aside at least 2 ½ hours to make this soup from start to finish. I patiently stirred the onions for 60 minutes waiting for them to caramelize before adding the rest of the ingredients. Simmer the soup for 90 minutes before you add the toasted ciabatta bread topped with melted Gruyère cheese.
It was worth the wait. My husband and I loved the rich flavour of the broth made with whiskey. I’ll be making Irish Whiskey French Onion Soup next time we have guests for dinner. It's that good!
Apple Cider Pound Cake (Page 179)
In the headnote of the Apple Cider Pound Cake recipe, Kristy mentions that “this is the best cake I’ve ever had.” For that statement alone (and the fact that I love pound cake), I had to give this cake a try. After I had prepped the ingredients, the method was easy and quick. I chose the option of making two 6-inch Bundt cakes, one for us and one to give away. As the cakes were baking, the wonderful aroma of spices filled the kitchen (a throwback to Christmas baking).
The cake was a tad sweet for me. Nevertheless, it was so delicious that between my husband and me it was eaten in no time. I kept the second cake.
Apple Cider Roasted Pork Loin (Page 108)
I chose to make the dish featured on the front cover of the cookbook because it looks delicious and the picture gives an ambiance of warmth and tranquility. Although I’m not a fan of pork, I enjoyed the taste of this dish. The longest part was chopping the vegetables, which I placed in my roasting pan and topped with the seared pork loin and the apple cider. After roasting for 45 to 50 minutes the pork loin and vegetables were cooked to perfection. The apple cider and fresh spices make a rich, flavourful gravy to pour over the dish.
Apple Cider Roasted Pork Loin is a dish I will add to my meal menu plan and serve to dinner guests.
Apple Cider Roasted Pork Recipe
- 1 ½ pounds pork loin
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
- 2 cups chopped carrot (1-inch pieces)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
- 2 celery sticks, chopped (½ cup)
- 2 cups chopped waxy potatoes (1 ½-inch pieces)
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups dry hard apple cider
- Remove the pork loin from the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook it so the center isn’t supercold and it cooks evenly.
- When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Mix together the Brussel sprouts, carrot, yellow onion, celery, potatoes, garlic, thyme, and rosemary in a roasting pan. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Bash the coriander seeds and cumin seeds with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder). Spread out over a cutting board. Set aside.
- Gently pat the pork loin dry of any excess moisture, using a paper towel, and season all sides generously with sea salt and pepper. Roll the pork through the cracked spices, making sure all sides get evenly crusted.
- Set a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When sizzling and hot, place the prepared pork loin in the center and sear well on all sides. Don’t worry if the meat is longer than the pan; just curve it so it fits. When well browned on all sides, place the pork on top of the prepared vegetables.
- Deglaze the sauté pan with the apple cider, scraping any stuck-on bits off the bottom, and allow to reduce by about half. Gently pour over the meat, cover the roasting pan, and place in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes. At that mark, remove the lid and roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through and the internal temperature of the meat at its thickest area reads 145°F.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Set the meat on a wire rack and cover with tinfoil to rest for 20 minutes, and transfer the veg to a serving platter. Cover to keep warm.
- While the meat rests, pour the drippings into the original sauté pan. Place over medium-high heat and reduce to about ½ cup of liquid. If your pork didn’t have a lot of drippings, you may not need to reduce it too much. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and season to taste.
- Cut the pork into ¼ to ½ inch-thick slices and serve with the roasted veg and sauce. Enjoy!
If you really want to play up the apples in this recipe, sauté a few apple slices as the meat rests. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, toss in cored, ½ -inch-thick apple slices and warm through—you may even get a bit of caramelization happening on them. Serve alongside the sliced pork loin and sauce.
When I make three successful recipes from a cookbook that I would also serve to dinner guests, I keep it on my bookshelf. This cookbook has many recipes I want to make bookmarked with yellow sticky notes. Kristy has a unique and humorous style of writing that puts you at ease and makes you want to cook. I only cooked with wine before, so what I learned from Cooking with Cocktails is how to incorporate alcohol into dishes to enhance their flavour. That’s not a bad thing.
Cooking with Cocktails: 100 Spirited Recipes
Author: Kristy Gardner
Photography: Kristy Gardner
Hardcover: 255 pages
Publisher: Countryman Press
Excerpted from Cooking with Cocktails: 100 Spirited Recipes by Kristy Gardner. Copyright © 2017. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.
The Cooking with Cocktails cookbook review was written by Liliana Tommasini, author of the aptly named blog My Cookbook Addiction. Her passion for baking and cooking began at an early age. Liliana grew up in an Italian household where each meal was made from scratch with fresh ingredients and Sunday family lunches were always a celebration. She has a passion for collecting and reading cookbooks as she really believes that every recipe tells a story. You can connect with Liliana on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.