[FHCx110] National Garlic Day/National Amaretto Day

Graaaalic.

TODAY IS NATIONAL GARLIC DAY AND NATIONAL AMARETTO DAY!

If SPAKville was a TV show, garlic would be in the main cast. Not a recurring character, but like a full-fledged, contracted-per-season actor. And he’d be the one that everyone liked working with. A lot.

We put garlic in and on everything. Pizza, pasta, stir fry, burgers, vegetables, everything. And we should definitely make a nod to The Stinking Rose, our favorite garlic-based restaurant, located on the West Coast. Everything from their Bagna Cauda to their garlic ice cream is fantastic. We wholly recommend you go sometime.

Tonight we celebrated twofold: with some homemade pizza, and with some home-roasted garlic thanks to cousin SPamy’s Chanukah gift for AK.

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Garlic should go on top of the sauce to stay put, but under the cheese so as to give happy garlic surprises.

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Add cheese, mushbooms, umyums, and some Hormel turkey pepperoni

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Peepza!

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This contraption is amazing.

We finished up dinner and somewhat begrudgingly dragged ourselves to observe today’s alcoholiday. SPom supplied us with some Disaronno and we made a Bailey’s Vanilla Silk.

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As usual, SP thought it was not that great and AK thought it was okay. Movin’ on.

Tomorrow is National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day and National Lima Bean Respect Day!

-SPAK

[FHCx31] National Brandy Alexander Day

Is today’s booze gonna be good?

IT’S NATIONAL BRANDY ALEXANDER DAY!

Since our last attempts at alcoholic “food” holidays haven’t been completely successful, we were nervous going into today. First off, we needed to know what a Brandy Alexander was, and everywhere had a different take on it. It’s not even really clear where it gets its name! It is the brandy-based version of a different cocktail just called an Alexander, but the source of its name is disputed.

The actual official recipe is 1 part heavy cream, 1 part cognac, and 1 part creme de cacao. Lots of people were doing things like ice cream and chocolate syrup, but we felt it necessary to go with2016-01-31 18.42.51 the original in an attempt to get the full Brandy Alexander experience.

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Remy Martin V.S.O.P., some cream, and a local creme de cacao (from Princeton, MN)

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Shaken and poured into a chilled martini glass!

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Garnished with nutmeg. It smells really good on its way into your face.

The initial taste is good. Chocolatey, nutmeggy. Then the alcohol becomes incredibly apparent. For booze lovers, I’m sure this would be just fine! As for us, we give it a resounding “meh.”

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See you tomorrow for Baked Alaska Day!

-SPAK

[FHCx17] Hot Buttered Rum Day

It’s still negative degrees outside! What a perfect time for…

HOT BUTTERED RUM DAY!

After the Hot Toddy debacle last week, we were a teeny bit scared of hot buttered rum. Neither of us drink very often so, before looking at any recipes, we were intimidated by the potential of a huge rum-to-everything-else ratio. But, it turns out the “butter” portion of the name rings incredibly true! Besides, rum is a lot easier to handle than whiskey. Most of the time.

Our original plan was to make grog, but then we found out that it’s not supposed to contain butter, thereby disqualifying it from Hot Buttered Rum Day. So, onto the next plan. First, there was the challenge of picking a recipe from probably thousands floating around on the internet. At first we were leaning toward an Emeril Lagasse recipe, but his called for an entire bottle of rum and we didn’t want to commit to that. In the end, we went with Rachael Ray’s recipe.

 

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We followed the recipe for the most part, except for a few minor changes — we left out the cloves and cinnamon sticks because we didn’t have any and they seemed fairly nonessential, and rather than using regular unsalted butter we used the Land O’ Lakes light butter that we tend to use for most things.

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Pretty decadent stuff.

SURPRISE, it’s delicious. With all that sugar and butter, though, how could it not be? They are still pretty boozy but the rum itself is in the background compared to all the sugar and spice. While the recipe says it yields four servings, we just split it into two because we have really big mugs. We only ended up drinking about half, anyway, because it was just so sweet. Actually, thinking back on it, it tasted a lot like how I (AK) imagined butterbeer would taste. I know that butterbeer exists now because of Harry Potter World and whatever, but I always conceived of it as more of a smooth cocktail since beer is weird and carbonation hurts. Yeah yeah, I’m wrong and weird.

Tomorrow is Peking Duck Day!

SPAK

 

Whose house?! Icehouse!

We’ve been dormant! Mostly because we’re moving. Part of this moving business includes getting the new kitchen remodeled (into an extra-new SUPERKITCHEN!) which, of course, means more excuses to go out to eat! Yay. This time, we chose Icehouse. It’s kind of toward uptown Minneapolis, but isn’t that not technically uptown? It’s south of downtown. The neighborhood might be called Whittier but also we might have made that up. How’s this: Icehouse is on the Eat Street bit of Nicollet.

And the inside is real purty. Photo credit: heavytable.com

SP fancied himself a cocktail and decided to forego his usual citrus-focused drink choices for what Icehouse has dubbed the “Little Richard,” which is described on the menu as “zesty jazzberry phosphate rum-punch with vanilla cream foam.” Slightly obscure Mary Poppins references aside, it looked like this:

"HOOOOOO! Shut up." - Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard

“HOOOOOO! Shut up.” – Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard

As a bonus, it makes your burps taste like Jolly Ranchers!

We, as a SPAKtastic unit, love few things more than we love mushrooms, onion, and garlic (in any configuration or combination, really). That said, it of course follows that we ordered the Cast Iron Mushrooms as a starter. It’s a gorgeous varied heap of squishy shroomy goodness, topped with goopy burrata cheese. According to the internet, “burrata” means “buttered” in Italian; hopefully that’s an effective indication of how perfect the texture is. You’d think that exquisite cheesy mushrooms in a cast iron dish (as promised!) would be enough, but it also comes with a side of crostini AND roasted garlic in a sort of oily paste form. No onions to be found in this dish, but that’s not a letdown. Just imagine: delicately grasping a crostino between your thumb and forefinger; trying to contain yourself as you use your butter knife to scoop up some garlic paste and gingerly spread it on the roasty toasty bread; fumbling with your fork to gather up enough mushrooms to adequately adorn the layer of pure garlicky heaven; and, finally… the euphoric crunch resonating throughout your skull as the savory symphony plays on over your tastebuds.

Cast Iron Mushrooms with Crostini and Roasted Garlic

Cast Iron Mushrooms with Crostini and Roasted Garlic

Pure fungal heaven.

SP has spent a couple months coveting the Icehouse Burger from afar, ever since he saw it in a local magazine. One of the things that makes it special is the option of adding a slab of foie gras to it, and we saw to it that this opportunity was seized. Some burgers are the type you cannot possibly avoid getting all over you, and the Icehouse Burger is no exception. Rather than excess ketchup and mustard, what drips down your arm is a veritable stream of fatty duck and even fattier beef juices — plus, a truffle demi-glace, which was poured over the meat as it was served. When you bite into it, it’s like biting into a meat cloud bursting with rain-juice.

“So good. There were onions, it was buttery, sweet, salty, and… **indistinct satisfied muttering**… The fries were so good, too. Restaurant-style, hand-cut fries. They know what they’re doing. **more muttering** Crispy outside, fluffy inside, salted correctly. No way they’d ever let anything sit under a warmer to get soggy and stale. The tomato aioli that came with the fries was nice and smoky. **a sound that might be characterized most closely with “nnnnph”** A burger you won’t regret.” – SP, in a burger-induced haze

The top bun practically bounced right back off after SP put it on. A burger not to be trifled with.

The top bun practically bounced right back off after SP put it on. A burger not to be trifled with.

Meanwhile, across the table, AK chowed down on some Hanger Steak. It arrived on a bed of greens and wild mushrooms with sherry, topped with veal sweetbreads, and a croquetta on the side. Our server explained that the steak is served at a default of medium to medium-well as a result of being cooked sous-vide, which usually isn’t preferred (medium rare is the SPAK way), but the meat came out a beautiful, dark, and ultimately irresistible pink. It was tender, juicy, flavorful, and everything it should have been. It’s unclear what exactly was in this particular croquetta, but whatever it was, it was awesome. The insides were moist and salty, while the outside had a lovely crunch. The thought of what goes into sweetbreads usually gets us both feeling a little skeevy, but once you can get past the inherent rubberyness, the taste is rich and enjoyable. Neither of us remember what the sauce on the plate was, but it paired nicely with any of the other items in the dish. Some kind of remoulade, maybe?

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Lest we forget the sides. This time around we decided to get two to share: 1) Beer Battered Eggplant, and 2) Bacon, Egg, & Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

Beer Battered Eggplant with basil pesto, saffron, and giardiniera dollops for dippin'

Beer Battered Eggplant with basil pesto, saffron, and giardiniera dollops for dippin’

The batter didn’t taste that beerish, but not in a bad way. Nor in a way that makes you feel cheated. It was a very light batter that melts in your mouth without ever separating from the eggplant treasure within. The eggplant doesn’t come out of the battering/frying process too squishy or overly salty, either. Yum!

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The mac & cheese is one of the items we were most looking forward to but, sadly, also the one the ended up being our least favorite. Not because it was bad! It was very good! But something always has to place last. If you tend to enjoy white cheddar mac & cheese with thinner and not so much of the in-your-face types of thick melty cheese, this one is perfect for you. The bacon pervades the dish pleasantly, and the goo from the poached egg on top is a welcome addition (eggs over easy is a SPAK breakfast favorite!). Lastly, the smattering of roasted tomato and rosemary was a very present taste without being too pungent.

And then… there was dessert. We love chocolate. We love chocolate so much that we got both of the chocolate-centric desserts available to us: the Dark Chocolate Torte, and Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Each came with either a sorbet or ice cream, the freshness of which managed to dampen the heavy richness of all the chocolate. We’ll let them speak for themselves:

Dark Chocolate Torte with apricot ice cream, raspberries, and sunflower seeds

Dark Chocolate Torte with apricot ice cream, raspberries, and sunflower seeds. Plus, some sort of vaguely brown butter-esque sauce.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with chocolate sorbet, ganache, oreo crumb, and cinnamon. Although, I could swear there was also a vanilla sorbet. You can kind of see it behind one of the pieces of cake in the middle. But maybe that was just the ganache.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with chocolate sorbet, ganache, oreo crumb, and cinnamon. Although, we could swear there was also a vanilla sorbet. You can kind of see it behind one of the pieces of cake in the middle.

We’re full.

AK