Damage Assessment

    
The sign of a good night…

    
…is having to examine your lemons the next day to see how many strips were taken off…

  
In order to work out how many martinis you made.

   

If it’s more than two per person it will explain why your kitchen is destroyed and everyone in your household is hungover.

  
It could be time to take some action.

  
A detox breakfast perhaps? You could use the leftover lemon in a smoothie for example.

  
Alternatively you could also use the lemon with some hot water. Apparently this is good for the liver.

And let’s be honest, your liver probably deserves some tlc.

  
Maybe try some exercise?

Otherwise, I’m giving dry-January a go. The festive period was fairly intense.

I’ll see you on the other side.

Happy New Year!

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Bamboo Charcoal Peanuts

  

I think I’ve previously mentioned my interest in black-coloured food, prompted by the 1989 Peter Greenaway film “The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover” in which the chef declares that he charges double the price for black-coloured items on the menu because they resemble death. To eat death is therefore to cheat death, thus giving the diner an additional sense of pleasure and defiance than when eating any other colour of food.  

So naturally, when I saw black-coloured peanuts for sale in a shop in China Town I instantly bought them as a possible martini accompaniment. A recipe attributed to Taiwan, they are made with the ash of bamboo burnt at high temperatures.

 

An unusual combination of savoury and slightly sweet, with a peculiar outer texture I definitely like them. The ash coating wasn’t at all distasteful as some people might expect. I would definitely recommend trying them.

They make an unusual nibble to accompany a martini, as well as a conversational piece. They go nicely with tea as well.

Green Tea-infused Gin

Here is a quick guide on how to infuse gin (or vodka for that matter) with green tea for you to use in a martini or an unusual gin and tonic.

Simple, perfect, temperature-dependent, conducive towards mindful introspection… Am I talking about green tea or martinis here?
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I’ve previously made one or two gins infused with tea, such as Earl Grey but I wanted to try it with green tea, something I drink regularly.

While powdered matcha green tea is exquisite for making a cup of tea, I wanted to use something that wasn’t powdered to infuse the gin so that it didn’t leave a lot of sediment, so I picked a high quality sencha green tea, which involves dried green tea leaves that haven’t been ground into a fine powder.

Given that better quality green tea tends to impart it’s flavour very readily the infusion process was simple.

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For every 100ml of gin you want to infuse, use one tablespoon of green tea for a really strong flavour.

Add the tea to a jar, top up with gin, seal it and give it a really good shake – and I mean it: be really rough! In a traditional Japanese tea ceremony the host will use a whisk to stir up the tea and infuse it. You need to partially replicate this process with the jar.

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Once your arm starts to hurt from the shaking, leave the jar to infuse for 10 minutes, giving it a rigorous shake once or twice more. However, don’t leave it too long or it will become bitter.

Strain the liquid and either discard the leaves or use them to make a gin-flavoured cup of tea (although I tried this and it tasted pretty nasty so feel free to leave this stage out). Put the strained green gin into a container and store it in the freezer.

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When it’s time to serve you can make an earthy/grassy green tea gin and tonic. Alternatively serve it as a martini. You can either follow the classic martini recipe and replace the gin with your green tea infusion, or you can do as I do and replace half of the normal gin with your green tea infusion to keep it subtle.

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However, I would like to make a confession: I am not completely satisfied with this whole concept. While the thought of combining green tea and martini works very well in theory, the traditionalist in me simply prefers to have a good cup of hot green tea, followed by a clean, cold classic martini later in the day.

Perhaps we shouldn’t try to improve two separate things which are already simple and perfect in their own right. Or maybe I’m just a traditionalist. You decide.

Another selection of recent martinis

Here are some I made earlier…

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A frosty classic.
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A lemon drop martini with foam.

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An earl grey martini LINK with foam.

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A spicy Sriracha martini LINK

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A dirty Mr. Gibson (combining this with this)

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A tribute to the God of dirty martinis.

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A frosty classic with mixed nuts.

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A Gibson with olives and sliced pickled gherkins.

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Here’s a classic martini I made for my grandmother at Christmas.

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A dirty martini by the fireside.

Earl Grey Gin & Tonic

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I previously made Earl Grey infused gin which I’ve used to make one or two martinis.

However, for a highly refreshing (and less alcoholic alternative) I would also recommend this infused drink for a nice gin and tonic (yes, I drink tonic water sometimes). Right now it’s in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere but if you’re in Australia, Chile, South Africa, the tropics, the equatorial regions or anywhere else currently enjoying warming weather this might be a nice drink to enjoy at the end of the day.

Otherwise you can wait until spring and summer if you’re in the northern latitudes, although so long as you’re wearing enough warm clothing it’s quite a nice drink for any time of year

If you keep the gin and the glass in the freezer prior to drinking this it will be even more refreshing.

* Take the glass and add some ice.
* Squeeze a slice of lemon peel over the inside of the glass so that the lemon oil is sprayed in over the ice
* Pour in a measure or two of the Earl Grey Gin
* Top up with tonic to your taste
* Use the lemon peel to stir the drink then drop it in the glass as a garnish
* As an alternative garnish to lemon, you could use a slice of fresh cucumber. It gives the drink a fresh grassy start, which is followed by the longer, slower more subtle arrival of the smoky earl grey flavour.

The Lemon Iced Tea Martini with Foam

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While I first made this during the winter, I think it will make a better summer cocktail. It involves a similar preparation technique to the Lemon Drop Martini with Foam but uses Earl Grey infused gin as an additional ingredient.

Leave out the egg white and the frothing process in this recipe if you want a simpler drink. For two martinis you will need:

* The juice of 1 lemon
* The white of 1 egg
* Sugar
* Sweet Vermouth
* Earl Grey infused gin
* Standard gin or vodka
* Chilled martini glasses

– Pour the lemon juice and 2 measures of vermouth into a large cup
– Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until dissolved
– Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg white
– Beat well until the mixture is thoroughly blended and a thick, velvety foam has formed on top of the liquid
– Rim the martini glasses with sugar
– Using a spoon or fork to hold back the foam, pour the liquid into the martini glasses, about half way up.
– Fill up the rest of the glasses with a half-and-half mixture of Earl Grey infused gin and standard gin or vodka, leaving a space of around 3-5mm at the top of the glass. Lightly stir the mixture.
– Pour over the foam until it has covered the top of the drink and reached the rim of the glass

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– If you like, you can sprinkle some grated lemon rind over the top of the foam to add even more zest, although I preferred it without.

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Earl Grey infused gin

I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while, but I have to admit it’s been a bit of a challenge. But I take heart that even Heston Blumenthal has been having difficulties with the concoction, so I have persevered.

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In theory, the delicate citrus tones of this tea should go perfectly with a gin martini, garnished with a freshly peeled strip of lemon, but it has taken several attempts and there’s a real risk of over-brewing the gin, which will make it taste bitter.

Use 1 teabag for every 100ml of gin you intend to produce.

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I used 2 teabags and added them to a jar, then filled it with gin.

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Give it a shake then leave it to stand for around 40 minutes.

Don’t leave it too long or the gin will impart a taste of tannin.

Remove the tea bags (squeeze the last of the gin out) and discard. Transfer the gin to the freezer and chill until it’s time to serve.

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As I said, this one was quite a difficult one to put together and took quite a bit of experimenting.

When completed, serve as a normal martini, with one measure of sweet vermouth and 4-6 measures of earl grey gin (or to taste).

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The finished product was zesty and smoky, with a touch of bitterness counteracted by the sweetness of the vermouth.