Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Sometimes the shoe actually fits

nectarines, rhubarb, pistachios
Here’s something I regret all the time: the name of this blog. 

Back when I started out, I gave zero thought to the fact that I was linking my identity to mild drunkenness. Shame! But if I had to go and do something foolish like that, why didn't I just use the word itself rather than a coy, girly euphemism? 

Too late. 

I neither bake nor drink anywhere near as much as I used to. This past week, however, I did. 

Drinking. I reconnected with various friends after the separation of the summer and that called for alcohol. During the course of the merriment, I mastered the pisco sour. I started out mixing the classic Peruvian cocktail in a shaker, but could never work up a significant head of foam. Then, on Saturday I mixed pisco sours for my friend Melanie in the Vitamix and they were nearly perfect. (Any blender would work, I just like to type the word Vitamix as often as possible.) These drinks were pale, pale, pale creamy green and atop the otherworldly liquid floated a layer of snowy meringue. Showstopping.

Last night Mark and I carted the Vitamix up to our friend Hilary's house in Petaluma and made pisco sours for her and her husband, John. I decided these pisco sours might be a little too tart. After leaving Hilary's, we drove the four minutes to my father's house where I made pisco sours for my sister and her husband. (My father tasted one and went back to his martini.) We added more sugar to the pisco sours and now they really were perfect. It had been a long, hot day, I was thirsty, and perfect pisco sours are dangerously refreshing. Everything after the second pisco sour is a blur. Back home, I fell asleep on the couch still wearing my clothes, setting a wonderful example for my impressionable adolescent children. There will be no more pisco sours anytime soon.

For me, that is. You should try one. Here's my recipe, adapted from the recipe in Boozehound which was adapted from the recipe at Hotel Mossone in Huacachina, Peru. The author says to be sure to use key limes, but I didn't and these were outstanding pisco sours.

Into a blender: 3 ounces pisco, 4 teaspoons powdered sugar (more to taste), 1 ounce fresh lime juice, 1 egg white, a generous handful of ice. Blend until the ice is demolished and the drink foamy. Pour into a highball glass. Top with a dash of bitters. Serves one.

Now, baking.

Yesterday I baked the rhubarb peach kuchen from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee, a Korean-American chef in Louisville, Kentucky, and took it to my father's as my contribution to that blurry steak dinner. Smoke and Pickles is
 full strange, intriguing dishes like tobacco cookies, a chilled squash soup garnished with pickled strawberries, rice bowls that contain kimchi and remoulade.  I didn't have peaches so I used nectarines in the kuchen and didn’t peel them, but otherwise stuck close to the recipe.  I wish it had been slightly more exciting as I want this book to amaze me. The kuchen was a good. I want this book to be better than good.

Also, I baked another batch of brownies, this time using a recipe that calls for cocoa powder rather than chocolate. These brownies are decidedly inferior to the brownies I made from The Essential New York Times Cookbook but still tasty enough that Owen ate ten in under ten minutes. Exaggeration, but not much of one.

Having read some of your comments, I compared the ingredient ratios in the Essential New York Times  brownie to those in the Joy of Cooking and Katharine Hepburn brownies. Adjusting for pan size, the Essential New York Times brownie has twice as much chocolate and butter as Joy's. Otherwise it is identical. It contains the same amount of butter, but twice as much chocolate and flour as Katharine Hepburn's brownies. It calls for the same amount of sugar, but the KH brownies contain unsweetened chocolate so this would indeed make the Essential New York Times brownie sweeter. I don't know what any of this means except that there's lots of leeway in the making of brownies. I shall continue testing brownie recipes until we get sick of eating brownies.

That's a Russian tea cake on the left. I rolled it in powdered sugar that I made in the Vitamix. A cup and a half of granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Blend until powdery. Supercool.

I can’t wait to see where this Slate series on entertaining goes. 


  1. Loved the Slate article and looking forward to more. Personally anxious about the party I am throwing this Saturday though.
    I could never tire of brownies--if I were stuck on a deserted island and could only have one baked good it would be brownies and, hopefully, mint chocolate chip ice cream.
    Smoke and Pickles has potential--the remoulade is delicious. Even Sophie, an avowed mayonnaise hater liked it. Of course, I didn't tell her it had mayo in it.

  2. Sounds like you are making good use of your new Vitamix. I think I'll give your method for pisco sours a try.

    I've been cooking out of Smoke and Pickles, and it's a really fun book. It is COTM over on chowhound, so you can look there to see what people are loving. The remoulade is terrific, and I think the pickle recipes are great. My better half is gobbling up the caraway seed pickles as fast as I can make them. I loved the corn pancakes with sorghum-lime drizzle (not sure why he called it a "drizzle". It's a syrup, and a delicious one that you will want to pour, not drizzle, on everything).

  3. I haven't had a Pisco Sour in a while so I will try your Vitamix version. My recent dangerous drink of choice - the caipirinha. Muddle 1/2 of a large juicy lime (cut into quarters) (or 1 smaller lime) with 1 scant tablespoon demerara sugar, add 2 oz Leblon cachaca (available at BevMo) and shake with ice.

  4. My brownie recipe is huge, but if I made it like a normal person it would have 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, 4 oz butter, 3 Tbs dutched cocoa, 3 eggs, 1 1/4 c sugar, vanilla, salt and 1 c flour. Where does that fall in the range? Loved the entertaining article.

    1. That sounds like fudge! More chocolatey, I believe, and less buttery than the others.

  5. I think we have a winner with the 1943 NY Times brownie recipe...

  6. You are always full of surprises--I would think that your lackluster enjoyment of chocolate would make you not a brownie lover. I had some brownies on Monday that were the only unfrosted brownie I would ever care to eat. They were called Harmer's brownies--have you ever heard of them? Delightful.

  7. The KH brownies seem a lot like Cooks Illustrated. Those are the only brownies I make and I always get compliments on them. Brownies!!

  8. I am giddy that you are posting about your VITAMIX and hope you continue for years. I am so hoping you let us know how you use it and what works! I also adore the name of your blog; please don't regret it. Tipsy is such a fun word and an understatement at that for most. It conjures images of someone really fun and unafraid to have a great time. Like the way Nigella always eats with such relish, as opposed to the way 99% of American women approach their plate. I encourage you to barge ahead. We'll be out here loving it.

  9. 1. I named my blog "The Clothes Make The Girl" because I thought it was funny, my mom and I were my only readers, and I didn't know I was going to eventually focus on fitness and nutrition. Oops.

    2. Russian Teacakes are my favorite cookie in the world.

  10. Your blog name is MEMORABLE; I have had to "switch" computers a few times, and because I remember it so easily, I don't freak out when I have to "google you" to bookmark. I told you a long time ago (you probably don't remember) I actually *bought* your cookbook, and then read it during Thanksgiving after dinner while we were collapsed thanks to the Turkey - I kept laughing because you have such a fun, witty style of writing, and reading it out loud to my husband and mother-in-law. I get *annoyed with you* when you don't post as often as I want you to (a couple of times a week for this free entertainment would be lovely, but apparently you also have a life - lol!), and you make me feel like "a friend" even though we have never met. We are really "total strangers" but I sympathized the loss of your mother, admire your husband, think your children are AMAZING (your daughter and the chocolate chip cookies - SO IMPRESSIVE! and your son and the animals - BEST KID EVER!), and I really want you to finish the cob oven, please!!! (If you can't, it means I'll never even start, even in my dreams!) Yes, you have evolved and grown (that *is* what people do), but the fact you are a warm, funny, creative sharing person hasn't changed, and it is why I keep coming back to read. :) Best, Ida

  11. Agreed! Tipsy Baker is someone I want for my best friend. Great blog name, no regrets! I am not sure what is the allure of brownies, but I never tire of them. I make those cookies every Christmas, but we call them almond snowballs. What can go wrong with butter, sugar, flour and ground nuts? I am thinking of branching out and using cashews or pistachios this year. I always enjoy your posts, no matter what the subject. You have a way with words that always appeals.

    1. These snowballs were made with macadamias and they were fantastic!

  12. Sending additional support on the blog name. Your blog is the only one I'm dedicated to. So refreshing and I am entertained by your travels, farm animals, pets, family and thoughts on whatever, so don't worry about always limiting your posts to cooking/food!!

    I took a cheese making class at 18 Reasons in SF and now have a Camembert ripening in my fridge... how are your cheese making experiments going?

    P.S. The pisco sour recipe had too much pisco/alcohol in it for me...

  13. I made that peach and rhubarb kuchen and thought the same thing - the combination of fruits was fantastic, but the cake party was pretty "meh." I think I wanted the cake to be more fantastically buttery and fine-textured, and it wasn't. I also made the togarashi cheesecake- and again, "meh," even though it's full of goat cheese and should be delicious.

    Honestly, now I want to make a peach and rhubarb pie - now THAT would be amazing.

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