In today’s busy world who has time to eat and drink? Even socially, how am I supposed to efficiently share all my fascinating opinions with a constant mouthful of whatever the kids are drinking these days? I make time to eat only because the unholy racket of my growling stomach disrupts my train of thought.
If you find that you only have time for two of the following—eating, drinking and texting—these tips can help improve your quality of life. Food and alcohol can be blended together as one for both dinner and dessert. Breakfast and lunch, you’re on your own. Maybe sip a smoothie through a straw from a glass on the table to leave both hands free?
**Tips and Tricks**
Booze your beef (and chicken). Boeuf Bourguignon (beef Burgundy) and coq au vin (chicken with wine) are two classic French dishes that simmer normally tough cuts of meat in wine for extended periods of time until they’re soft and tender and soak up that luxurious wine bath. “Tough” meat is also synonymous with “cheaper,” so put in the time and some Barefoot wine (always works fine for me) and you’ll have done pretty well for yourself financially. Stout beers like Guinness make great marinades for flank steak (another inexpensive cut), and a braising in beer or wine does wonders for short ribs.
Wine-poached fruit. For an easy and tasty fruit dessert, simply simmer white or red wine and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Add sliced peaches, pears or apples and simmer until a fork can pierce the fruit without resistance. You can continue to simmer the wine until it becomes syrupy or just eat your wine-infused fruit as is. Sangria in reverse, kind of.
Chocolate and then some. Only a tablespoon or two of liqueur can add some yum to your ganache, frosting, hot chocolate or ice cream without changing its texture or overpowering the chocolate. Brands like Kahlua and Bailey’s, which traditionally make coffee and Irish cream liqueurs, respectively, now offer more dessert-friendly flavors like hazelnut, mocha, mint and caramel. Also try Amaretto (almond) or fruit flavors like orange or raspberry. Get “nips” if you can since only a dab will do ya – no need to spend the extra cash.
Take the cake. A dash of alcohol atop each layer of sponge or pound cake in a trifle keeps the cake moist and adds an extra edge to the dessert. Many recipes use sherry as Lily does in her red velvet trifle, but you can also use rum, brandy or a liqueur of your choice. As for beer, stouts can add a bittersweet edge when included in the batter. See the popular chocolate stout cake and Cara’s own oatmeal stout cake with apples.
DIY extracts. Baking extracts such as vanilla and mint are really just that item soaked in vodka. Don’t tell little kids, though, they might not ever eat cookies again for fear of getting (whispers) drunk. Which I guess would be healthy but also sad. Mostly sad. Buy vanilla beans cheaply online and check out these recipes for both vanilla and mint extracts that will smell amazing and pack twice the punch of store-bought varieties. They require zero work but do take weeks/months to soak. Pick up some cute bottles and ribbons, and March birthdays better watch out! Or next Christmas, sorry for the untimeliness here…
Jen Cantin graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. with a degree in English and Journalism. She shares other (a)musings at Deep Fried Epiphany and, in a serious moment, dedicates this post to those blood-spattered billboards warning not to text and drive because they deserve to be gruesome; texting while driving is very dangerous. Please don’t do it.