Lost Weekend…Or How I Got Trapped in Stars Hollow

*Warning, if you haven’t watched Gilmore Girls-A Year in the Life, this post contains spoilers!

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No really…that is how I lost most of last weekend…binge-watching the entire four 90-minute episodes of the new Netflix reboot of Gilmore Girls. My fellow “Movie Chicks” (aka Rina and Laura) and I were, like all Gilmore Girl fans, giddy with anticipation for the premiere of A Year in the Life, gobbling up every morsel of information on social media about possible new storylines, sharing trailers on Facebook, taking Gilmore Girl quizzes.  We were primed for the epic reunion/love fest with our favorite characters.

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Did the Netflix revival live up to our expectations?  Meh…not so much. While I am nowhere near as incensed as Rina over some of Rory’s incomprehensibly idiotic life choices…such as her affair with Logan…I am disappointed that my favorite character, Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) made only a brief (though memorable) appearance.  I was beyond thrilled when I heard Melissa McCarthy was indeed reprising her role in the eleventh hour.  Although I have to admit, if I wasn’t a diehard Sookie fan I would’ve balked at her over-the-top multi wedding cake extravaganza because, let’s face it, I of all people know it’s pure fantasy. No one, not even the amazingly talented uber chef Sookie, could’ve pulled off that many elaborate creations in such a short of time by herself!  Do people know how long it takes to wrap a cake in fondant, let alone sculpt one?!

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We are equally dumfounded and dismayed that Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) didn’t figure more prominently in the storyline, whereas Logan had way too much screen time, when Jess was clearly the more compelling love interest.

And we can all agree that Paris (Liza Weil) needs her own spin-off…

…and “Stars Hollow, The Musical” should be an actual musical.

I don’t think any of us necessarily thought revisiting Stars Hollow would tie up all the loose ends left dangling (like an annoying participle) when the series ended back in 2007. But come on, those “last four words” made me (and probably everyone else watching) scream “Whaaaaat?!?!” (followed by a few choice expletives) at the television screen.  Six hours of viewing and that was it??  Just enduring Rory and Logan’s ridiculous “steampunk” adventure alone was enough to send me reaching for a strong cocktail.  I was so confounded by the ending I decided to binge-watch another series on Netflix just to take my mind off of it…which led to my “lost weekend.”

I did, however, manage to make it to the Sunday Farmer’s Market, where I found some lovely tangerines…which I subsequently turned into a fragrant homemade Mandarincello Liqueur.  Now had I been sipping this deliciously potent nectar while viewing Gilmore Girls, maybe I would have been less critical of its shortcomings…but then again, I could’ve just woken up with the hangover.

The old school way of making citrus liqueur is to take the peel from the clean, washed fruit (minus the bitter pith), put it in a tight-sealing glass jar, cover the peel in a clear neutral alcohol like vodka (or Everclear), and let the mixture sit undisturbed for about 6 weeks to draw out all the flavor and essential oils from the skin of the fruit.  The deeply scented liquor (strained of the peel) is then combined with an equal amount of syrup made from a 50/50 blend of sugar and juice of the fruit that has been brought to a boil.

Since I am in possession of a stainless steel whipped cream dispenser (courtesy of Whip It!) I opted for the modern method of rapid infusion through the use of nitrous oxide.

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To draw out more of the flavor and essential oils from the tangerines I used a microplaner to finely zest the peel…

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which I then placed inside the stainless steel canister along with 2 cups of vodka.  I injected two N2O cartridges into the sealed canister and gave it several good shakes.

While the N20 worked its magic on the tangerine zest and vodka, I juiced enough tangerines for 1-1/2 cups of juice, which I then combined with an equal amount of sugar and brought to a boil.

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To make the liqueur, I simply strained the syrup into a large glass pitcher (or measuring cup), then whisked in the strained infused alcohol.  *For instructions on how to make rapid infused alcohol please refer to my previous post “Better Cocktails Through Science.”

Mandarincello with Sparkllng Water
Mandarincello with Sparkllng Water

Mandarincello Liqueur

Yields:  approximately 1 quart

  • 1/4 cup fresh tangerine zest
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed tangerine juice
  • stainless steel whipped cream dispenser
  • 2 N2O cartridges

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheeseburgers, badass chicks and cocktails

Rainy weekends always give me a great excuse to do two things–cook and watch television–not that I necessarily need a rainy weekend to do either.  In fact, I often find inspiration for my culinary experimentation just from channel-surfing.  A case in point, the other night I happened upon an episode of Best Bars in America (Esquire Channel) in which comedians Jay Larson and Sean Patton, in one of their cross-country pub crawls, end up in L.A. at a restaurant called Father’s Office where they indulge in the signature Office Burger–a savory masterpiece consisting of a perfectly grilled medium rare burger, topped with melted Gruyere and blue cheeses, sweet unctuous caramelized onion bacon jam and peppery arugula served on a toasted soft roll.   Chef/Owner Sang Yoon explains that what he was trying to recreate in the burger was the flavor profile of French onion soup–beef broth, caramelized onion and Gruyere cheese.   Brilliant!  So, of course, I immediately had a mad craving for that Office Burger.  I knew I had some 80/20 ground beef in my freezer and onion in the pantry.  All I needed were the other components.  But when I got to Trader Joe’s, it occurred to me that while the burger would no doubt be delicious, it seemed silly for me to buy an entire package of rolls for one burger when I could just as easily come up with another variation on this “French onion soup” theme by making focaccia dough and using some of it to make a kind of cheeseburger pinwheel roll (like the one I made in a previous post) that would last more than one meal.

Instead making the bacon-onion jam, I just flavored my caramelized onions with some fresh thyme and dry white wine.  However, I did cook the ground beef in a little rendered bacon fat.  I substituted some sauteed Kale and spinach for the fresh arugula and used a mixture of shredded Fontina and Gruyere cheeses.  The end result was a richly satisfying, savory mouthful of deliciousness that just hit the spot.  And, best of all, I had lunch for next couple of days!

The Office Burger Reimagined
The Office Burger Re-imagined

With my “cheeseburger” craving satiated, I settled in for some screen time with some badass chicks.  Now while I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy (hell, I’ve even been sucked into some mediocre ones), I also love watching action flicks featuring strong kick-ass women, particularly those who can stand toe to toe with (and sometimes triumph over) the men–like Michelle Rodriguez in the Fast and Furious movies or Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, or more recently Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road and Melissa McCarthy in Spy

In the predominantly male George Miller universe of Mad Max, Theron’s Furiosa stands as warrior capable of taking down even the most loathsome testosterone-warped muscle head.  Overlooked and underestimated by her superiors at the CIA, McCarthy’s Susan Miller foils every attempt to put her in a box with her sharp mind and even sharper tongue.   Although the two women are miles apart in terms of circumstances and physical prowess, they share a quality all badass chicks possess–a fierce determination that overrides all fear, even in the face of overwhelming odds.  More importantly, they remind us that women are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves (and the world) thank you very much!  No need to cue that chorus of “I Need a Hero”…though we can definitely use a badass cocktail, preferably one that starts with a healthy dose of tequila.  To add some vibrant color and complexity (because a badass chick always makes a statement), I threw in some dark cherries and pomegranate liqueur, along with a red wine syrup (made by simmering dry red wine with sugar, vanilla bean and dark cherries), orange liqueur and fresh lime juice.  Think of it as cross between a margarita and a sangria.

A girl can get mighty thirsty saving the world!
A girl can get mighty thirsty saving the world!

Badass Cherry Margaria

  • 2 oz. Tequila (Silver or Gold)
  • 1 oz. Pomegranate Liqueur (e.g. Pama)
  • 1 oz. Orange Liqueur (e.g. Triple Sec)
  • 1/2 c. Frozen Cherries
  • 1-1/2 oz. Red Wine Syrup*
  • 1/2 oz. Lime Juice

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a slice of lime.

*Red Wine Syrup

Simmer 1-1/2 cups dry red wine (e.g. Merlot, Pinot Noir) with 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean (split), and 1/2 c. frozen dark cherries for about 10 mins. Liquid should be thick and syrupy.  Transfer mixture into a mason jar and cool.