Aug 112010

The summer of infusions continues with a trip to exotic locales…….in our martini glasses at least.  Searching through my pantry the other day resulted in the discovery of not one, but three, containers of saffron.  My first question was how on earth did I end up with three containers of saffron?  My second question- what to do with all that golden glory.   As someone who has no interest in either cooking or eating paella, I was stumped.   A lovely risotto will take care of some of it, but I had somehow acquired the motherload and hated the thought of it going to waste.   So how does Shaker One dispose of most things in her kitchen?

Why, they become martinis!  I did a bit of googling and came up with a long list of martinis using saffron infused vodka and gin.  Wow, I had no idea it even existed!  I infused some vodka and brought it down to test drive with Shaker Two.

First we tried a Classic Saffron Martini

The saffron vodka has a gorgeous almost glowing color and the smell is really unusual.  A few shakes later and into the glass it goes……..

Well, Shaker Two doesn’t hate saffron vodka as much as she does Campari, but it is close!  This was aggressively unpleasant.  Scary even.  No olives.

Undaunted, we plowed ahead with The Saffron Ginger Martini

Um, better but still not really something we would choose to drink.  Being generous- 2 1/2 olives.

Shaker One has not given up on saffron martinis……..I shall need to search out some better recipes and get back to you.  Now where is that rissotto recipe?

Aug 042010

This summer Shaker One has been experimenting with vodka infusions at home.   Every summer I make a ginger infused vodka for my ginger lemonade martinis, but this year I decided to branch out and try other ingredients.  I started with some familiar friends from my kitchen:

-cinnamon, blueberries, roasted cherries, pineapple and of course ginger.

But I wanted to try something different.  Our experiments with both the chai tea and Earl Grey tea infused vodkas were such a success, I looked towards other flavors like spices.  Right now I have pink peppercorns marinating, and saffron……..I have plans to go get some cardamon as well.    A trip to Penzys should keep me very busy for the rest of the summer.

Of course this means I shall have to find/create recipes to showcase all these fine new friends.  But I think I am up to the challenge.

Just a note on infusions:   Some ingredients, like fruits, can infuse just about indefinitely without over-flavoring the vodka.  however, beware of leaving things like cinnamon in for too long.  A few weeks and you have the perfect cinnamon vodka…..any longer and it becomes overpowering.  Tea infusions only need to steep a few hours….any more than that and you get a marked bitterness.  I recommend that you gently shake the infusion every few days and taste about once a week.   Once you reach the desired level of flavor go ahead and remove the solids.  Even better, strain the liquid through coffee filters to remove any cloudiness.  You can now keep the resulting infused vodka indefinitely.  Which generally equates to a few weeks at the Balcony Bar.

Now go infuse something!


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