If you’ve been around these here parts long enough you’ll know that I love to cook with alcohol. My love for cooking with alcohol has little to do with it’s intoxicating effects and comes from the excitement on how a small addition of alcohol can add so much complexity to accent a dish. Adding a bit of scotch to a stew to add smoke or deglazing a pan that was used to cook game with the flavors of juniper that come in the liquid form of gin or increasing the acidity of a pasta sauce by adding a few glugs of red wine is near and dear to my heart.
My love for using booze as an accent is what had (and HAS) me so excited for “Cooking with Cocktails”, a new book by our friend Kristy Gardner from British Columbia. Instead of using booze as an accent to a dish she based an entire book on creating dishes that were inspired by cocktails. Imagine Rob Roy Braised Short Ribs, a Mojito Watermelon Chopped Salad, Mezcal Pan Asparagus with Perfect Poached Eggs and more! If you’re a little less adventurous there are some classic dishes such as Mussles with white wine (she uses Gerweurztraminer), Chocolate Chip Cookies with Amarula and a kick-ass recipe for baked beans that includes 2 cups of stout. Being a competent preserver Kristy also features a few easy preserves including quick-pickled onions, a booze beet shrub and bourbon-soaked cherries (an absolute staple in our house).
Good recipes are the cost of entry of any good cookbook – and Kristy has plenty of great recipes, knowledge and inspiration in her book. I love the concept, her photography is gorgeous and find the book extremely easy to use and all-around fun. But that’s not why I think you’ll LOVE it. I think you’ll love it because Kristy is one of those rare writers who has such a unique voice that reading her book makes you feel as if you’re sitting with her over a drink and she’s sharing some of her inspiration with you. Some of the sub-headings in her introduction include, “Read the Damn Recipe”, “Google That Shit” and “Season Everything.” The writing is punchy (and not at all condescending) and fun and light and exciting and feels as though the reader is getting an unfiltered view of her passion and love for what she does.
As I read through parts of the book I found myself responding to some of her encouragement, questions and anecdotes with a loud inner voice. Reading this book wasn’t a passive experience – I found myself laughing at some of her jokes and sarcastically quipping back at some of her wit.Like a good work of fiction I found myself transported into Kristy’s world and felt as though I had a seat at her table – or her bar.
The book features 100 recipes and is full of wonderful photography and easy-to follow recipes. It includes recipes for cocktails, apps, starters, meat, fish, veg, sweets and staples. It also includes some great tips to make you think about pairing food and has recipes that can used year-round for the seasonal readers amongst us.
To grab a copy check out your local independent book seller or buy online.