Bourbon Maple Syrup

Blis maple syrup may very well be the most amazing incarnation of this breakfast staple. Unless I'm mistaken it is simply premium maple syrup that has been aged in bourbon barrels. I first found this while working at Norman's about five years ago. At the time you more or less had to be connected with a high-end restaurant to get your hands on a bottle, and it was very expensive.

It's still expensive but can be purchased online. I wondered how close I could come to creating a good bourbon syrup and came up with this recipe. This recipe does taste good but can't stand up to Blis; it is just not nearly as smooth or balanced. It is cheaper and easier to aquire on short notice, and it requires you to keep a bottle of Maker's Mark on hand. That's always a good thing.

Buying Blis is like buying a $60 bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Yes, it is amazing but how often does your dining occasion merit such extravagance?

Bourbon Maple Syrup
.25 cup good boubon, I use Maker's Mark
1 cup real maple syrup
  1. Boil bourbon and burn off alcohol.
  2. Add maple syrup, simmer gently for a few minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, serve warm.

Red Beer

My constant curiosity about a.m. libations has led me to explore the infamous Red Beer. I've been avoiding this drink for years. It just doesn't sound good at all.
The basic recipe is just beer and tomato juice.

Yesterday I made a connection...Maybe this recipe isn't bad, just incomplete. I was making a sangrita when the idea struck me. Sangrita is tomato juice with citrus juices and hot sauce; citrus is a great garnish on lighter beers. Why haven't I noticed that before?

So here are some experiments:
Red Beer+How to Fix It(rear/left in picture)
12 oz lager
3 oz tomato juice
This is very boring and bland. Do not use a special beer for this; the beer is lost and the tomato flavor is blah. To fix this reach for the chipotle-based hot sauce. I threw a few dashes in and found drastic flavor change. The smokiness from the sauce complimented both the beer and tomato. The sodium seemed to increase both flavors as well. I would compare the difference to listening to a CD on the freeway and listening to the same CD with headphones in a quiet room. This would be great for a brunch. It will pair nicely with eggs and various cheeses.

Sangrita/Red Beer(front/right in picture)
12 oz lager
3 oz sangrita
This works but only in a utilitarian sense. It's tasty, with more body and much higher acid than the plain lager. On a very hot day this would be nice with a sandwich at lunch but I don't think it has much more purpose than that. It may also be good for people who want a lighter Bloody Maryish drink without the hard alcohol. I do like this drink but I'll probably only use it when I'm bored and need some variety in my glass.

Banana Caramel

Very easy!
This weekend I made a banana caramel french toast casserole. The casserole served about eight people and was very easy. The banana flavor was so intense that it almost tasted fake. I didn't measure but these amounts should be very close...

French Toast Casserole
1 loaf bread, large dice
2 bananas, small dice
1.5 cups milk
.5 cup sugar
3 eggs
.5 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a large bowl, mix the milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add bread and bananas then toss well. Once the bread is saturated, press into an oven safe dish and bake at 350F until the eggs are set.
Banana Caramel
.75 cup sugar
water as needed
2 tablespoons butter
4 bananas, small dice
  1. Add sugar to a stainless steel pan and enough water that is becomes damp, about a few tablespoons.
  2. Lightly caramelize the sugar then add the butter and bananas. Gently toss until the butter is melted and the caramel is smooth.
That's it. I put the banana caramel over the casserole and there you go.