ICSA Firewater, or why no, I didn't already have enough booze at home!

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ICSA Firewater, or why no, I didn’t already have enough booze at home…

Let’s go get more, just for ICSA! Actually I’m glad someone picked booze, because I was thisclose to picking it when I sponsored ICSA. Anyway, I’m glad I could participate, because I had a somewhat legitimate excuse to pick up more booze.

On the menu: Red wine and fig jam


Sherry and mushroom soup


Sake-poached black cod with sake-soy-miso glaze, plus udon noodles and gingered carrots http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Cod5d8.jpg

Amaretto cake with cherries and kirsch cream


Pear brandy and ginger truffles


Red Wine and Fig Jam

I made this first at Christmas to go with a pork loin and it’s really delicious. It has a great deep, figgy flavor. I don’t like it too sweet, so use a dry red wine. If you use a sweeter-tasting red, then decrease the amount of sugar by a few TB. This is good served with pork, cheese and bread, and I bet it would be good over ice cream or pound cake.

Ingredients: 24 figs, diced 2 cups dry red wine 2 cups water juice of ½ a lemon ¾ cup sugar http://content.imagesocket.com/images/FigJam1b78.jpg

Chop your figs. Finer than this, actually – about 8 pieces per fig would be good, I think. They swell up. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/FigJam241a.jpg

Put everything in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/FigJam3759.jpg

Cook uncovered over low heat until thick, about 1-2 hours. Stir it occasionally. That’s it. Makes about 2 cups. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/FigJam4d48.jpg

I served mine with a sharp cheddar and a dense European style bread. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/FigJamcdc.jpg

Sherry and mushroom soup

12 oz mushrooms (I used 8 oz crimini and 4 oz post-soaked weight porcinis) 1 medium sized shallot 1 tsp Herbs de Provance (this is just a mixture of savory herbs; you could use thyme and a little rosemary) ¼ cup plus 2 TB sherry 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth Cream Pepper Chives Oil and butter for cooking http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Soup1b22.jpg

Finely dice your shallots.


Chop half your mushrooms coarsely,


and the rest finely. If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak for 20 minutes in enough hot water to cover. After mushrooms are rehydrated, chop as necessary but strain and save the water. Sweat shallots and coarsely chopped mushrooms in a medium to large pot in 1 TB olive oil and 1 TB butter over low heat until it starts to caramelize a bit. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Soup49af.jpg

Add the remaining mushrooms and herbs; cook for another 10-15 minutes until mushrooms have released their liquid and everything has cooked down a bit. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Soup5489.jpg

Add sherry and stir and cook until sherry has evaporated. Add broth and let simmer for 15-30 minutes. Add another 2 TB sherry and mix to combine. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Soup789b.jpg

Ladel into soup bowls, top with a bit of cream and chives. Serve with toasted baguette slices. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Soupcc4.jpg

Sake-poached Black Cod with Sake-Soy-Miso glaze, udon noodles and gingered carrots

24 oz black cod, portioned into 4 pieces, bones removed

For poaching liquid: 1 cup dashi stock ½ cup mirin ½ cup sake few cloves garlic, smashed (not shown) few coin-sized pieces of fresh ginger (not shown)

For sake-soy-miso sauce: ½ cup sake ½ cup soy 2 TB miso ¼ tsp dried ginger or ¾ tsp fresh grated ginger TB or two of brown sugar, to taste Sesame oil


Make sauce: combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir and bring to boil. Reduce and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened. Taste for sweetness and adjust as necessary. Sorry I didn’t really take any pics of this in action; I had all 4 burners going at once!

For cod: Simply combine poaching liquid ingredients in a straight-sided skillet.


Bring to simmer; add cod pieces and simmer gently, covered, for 7-10 minutes. This was my first time poaching fish; I think my cod fell apart a little bit because I had it bubbling too rapidly, so be gentle. Pic below.

I also boiled up some udon noodles and tossed it in the sauce.

I also peeled some top-on carrots,


tossed them with butter, fresh ginger, a little water, salt and pepper and let them steam in a skillet until the water was dry and the carrots were tender.

Everything going.


Spoon sauce over fish and serve.


Amaretto cake with Kirsch cherry preserves and kirsch cream

Let me just say that I love cherries, and I love almonds, and I adore marzipan. This dessert was like heaven for me. Also, Bonne Maman brand preserves are the best. They just taste like fruit and sugar. Great, bright true flavor and no corn syrup.

For the cake:

3/4 cup sugar 1 stick unsalted butter at room temp 7 oz almond paste (buy the stuff in the jar if you can, just don’t use the whole thing) 3 large eggs 1 TB plus 2 TB amaretto 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the cherries: ½ jar Bonne Maman cherry preserves (other brands are ok, but these are the best) 2-3 TB kirsch (all the liquor store had was Monarch. Definitely get better stuff if you can.)

For kirsch cream: ½ TB whipping cream 1 TB kirsch 2 tsp sugar

Sliced almonds (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl (stand mixer if you have one), cream butter and sugar. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/cake2fa4.jpg

Add in almond paste in little tiny pieces, one at a time, beating after each addition until it’s combined. Yes this will take a while but this is really the hardest part so it’s all easy from here. If you don’t have a stand mixer and you’re mixing it by hand, grate the almond paste before hand and just add it in little bits. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/cake3372.jpg

Add eggs one at a time, mix until just combined.


Add 1 TB amaretto. Add flour, baking soda and salt mixture; mix til just combined.


Spoon batter into a VERY well greased and floured 8” cake pan (you may also line the bottom with parchment paper if you wish) – the cake will stick if you don’t get every little spot.


Spread the dough around so it’s even.


Bake in the middle of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake is nicely golden brown. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove cake.

While the cake is baking, mix the preserves and kirsch in a saucepan. Bring to simmer and cook until slightly thickened, just a few minutes. Reduce it too much and it will be too sweet. Let it cool and set it aside (or put it in the fridge) for when you’re ready to finish the cake. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/cake9c3a.jpg

When ready to assemble, brush the 2 TB amaretto on the cake, letting it soak in.


Top with the cherry preserves. Whip the cream with sugar and kirsch, and top. Garnish with almond slices. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Cakee2e.jpg

Pear brandy and ginger truffles

8 oz semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped 1/2 cup heavy cream 3 tablespoons pear brandy 1 TB crystallized ginger, very finely chopped

Powdered sugar, cocoa powder and ground ginger for dusting


Chop chocolate with your largest, heaviest knife and place in a medium to large heatproof bowl. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Truffles3203.jpg

Chop your ginger very fine.


Heat cream until just starting to boil. Pour cream over chocolate; cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes. http://content.imagesocket.com/images/Truffles4801.jpg

Stir until combined. If chocolate is not fully melted, microwave at medium heat for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Add brandy and crystallized ginger; stir to combine. Refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight to let chocolate harden.


Sift together powdered sugar, cocoa, and ground ginger. The measurements are up to you, depending on how cocoa-ey, sugary, or spicy you want the coating.

You can either coat your hands in cocoa powder and roll little balls in your hands, or you can use two rounded measuring spoons to make balls, like I did.


Once the chocolate ganache balls are shaped, roll the balls around in the sugar until coated. Keep in fridge (or freezer) until ready to eat. Because of the alcohol, they will melt very easily (and admittedly are a little messy, but delicious!)