The Hot Vermoddy

“It was a really good idea. Your writing was witty, and I’m disappointed that you gave up on it.”

– My husband, re: my blog, this blog, trying to be funny/encouraging and achieving 50% of his goal. Like, half of encouraging, and half of funny.

So…here is a new recipe! Sorry I failed you, internet. This will make you feel better.

I’m no doctor, but, given any given illness this glorious Winter of ’15, this delightful spin on a classic has made me feel much, much better, if only because of the dueling warming effects of microwaved water and booze. Did I mention that my apartment has crap heating? I might as well just leave the windows open, it’s been so cold. No matter, I have my friend Woodford to keep me company. Oh, and my encouraging husband, obvi.

In all seriousness, this drink is a delight, and might have some benefits when you are sick (again though…not a doctor). Maple syrup contains a bunch of minerals  including Zinc, which is recommended for fighting a cold. Then you got your Vitamin C from the lemon, so no, it’s not a health food, but it couldn’t hurt.

I’ve seen versions with tea, but since I tend to want one of these bad boys right before bed, I omitted the tea. There are also variations with whole cloves, which would be lovely. Things to play with. Note also that proportions are to taste. I like this cocktail like I like my herbal tea, fairly sweet and sour.

The Hot Vermoddy
based on the classic Hot Toddy

Bourbon/Whiskey/Rye – 2oz (or to taste, some might do less, but I wouldn’t suggest too much more, unless you are just really into alcohol. And that’s cool.)
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons pure, real maple syrup. Mine is almost always from Vermont. Sorry, Canada.
Hot water

Mix. Drink. Fall in love with Winter all over again.

Or, just know that it’s February, and you’re in the home stretch.

Hot Vermoddy

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Food Review: Liddabit Sweets, Beer and Pretzel Caramels

Hello ya ol’ blog, and Happy New Year! It’s been a while. I have been cooking, but I have been really slow to post. The truth is, I was using my cell phone to post pictures of the food I was making, but then it died. I am using a borrowed phone until my iPhone dreams come true (February 2012??), and the pics on my current phone just won’t cut it.

But with the new year comes new ideas, and I am happy to present my first food review. While holiday shopping this year, I went to a store in Carroll Gardens called By Brooklyn. As the name implies, everything in the store is made in Brooklyn, my favorite borough, and there are many lovely things there, including food. I was looking for some stocking stuffers, and came upon my new favorite, albeit too-pricey-for-daily-consumption, confection.

Image from Liddabit Sweets

These caramels are a dream. Lending it an ever-so-slight bitterness, they are made using Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale and East India Pale Ale, and crunchy bits of perfect pretzels from Martin’s Pretzels. The caramel is soft and buttery, not the stick in your teeth and pull out a filling variety. It’s also not too sweet. The pretzels give the caramel that saltiness that is so fashionable and delicious, and the butter from the caramel seems to get sucked into the pretzel a bit, leaving the once hard pretzel to have more of a light, really satisfying crispiness.

They run $7 for about 7 caramels, which makes them a bigger investment than a Sugar Daddy. As an occasional treat, I can totally justify the purchase. They also make a great stereotypical dude candy, since it’s a stereotypical dude quality to like beer, and they aren’t too girly.

So for you, the stereotypical dude, or anyone in your life that likes quality sweets, I highly recommend these addictive caramels. You can get them at the Liddabit Sweets website, along with another favorite, their Pumpkin Pie bar (there’s pie crust IN the bar. What?!?!?).

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Ebelskiver, meet my thighs.

First of all, excuse the poor images taken on my borrowed blackberry. I couldn’t find my camera before we needed to gobble up these little pancake pillows from heaven.


Not familiar with this delightful morsel? Well, according to Wikipedia:

Æbleskiver (Danish meaning apple slices (singular: æbleskive)) are traditional Danish pancakes in a distinctive shape of a sphere. Somewhat similar in texture to American pancakes crossed with a popover, æbleskiver are solid like a pancake but light and fluffy like a popover.

According to me, they are 100% the best idea ever.  I have been coveting an ebelskiver pan since I learned that ebelskiver existed, and whilst strolling through my local Target, I happened upon an inexpensive one (if you can call $22 for a one-purpose pan inexpensive…but oh, the ebelskiver possibilities!) Here is an example that is nicer than mine:

But since I needed to justify my purchase by making dinner with it, I needed to make savory ebelskiver, rather than the traditional apple-filled ones (although those will be next…). So a little research and a few random elements from my kitchen later, and voila! Pancake balls for dinner!

Colleen’s Chicken, Spinach and Cheese filled Ebelskiver

Ingredients for the Filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, sliced thin (diced onion and garlic will work well too)
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
4-5 ounces cooked chicken, diced (I used Boarshead low-sodium chicken)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar or your favorite cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled up
Salt and Pepper

Heat a pan on medium, and add the olive oil. Cook shallots, and when they start to brown add in spinach (if you are using a small pan, put in a handful at a time until it cooks down and you have room in your pan. It WILL cook down, a lot.)

Add the chicken and cook until heated through. Add the rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the mixture is cooled, stir in the cheese (you don’t want it to melt in the pan, I recommend making the filling first, and then after you make the batter, it should be cooled enough).

For the Batter:
(I got this recipe here. Some people seem to be using instant pancake batter, but these are not supposed to be like typical American pancakes. They are super moist and a little eggy, like the insides of a popover, a really thick crepe, or a Dutch pancake. I don’t see why you would wanna mess with that…)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 room temperature eggs, Separated
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

Preparation for batter:
In large bowl whisk together dry ingredients. In a small bowl whisk egg yolks, then in whisk in milk and butter. Add yolk mixture to flour mixture and stir till blended. It will be lumpy.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in thirds into batter until there are no white streaks. (Note: eggs separate easier when cold but whites whip up better when room temperature)

Making the Ebelskiver:

I could type it up, but just watch this instead:

I didn’t have skewers, so I used some mini-silicon spatulas. I also just used Pam to grease the pan, of course do that away from the flame of your stove top (no ebelskiver emergency room visits, please!). I also used a handy pancake batter squeezy bottle, also purchased at Target.

These were just delightful. Future combinations will include a pear and apple compote with cinnamon sugar, nutella and bananas, and pizza-flavored, because I am a 12 year old boy.


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One Fish, Two Fish, Eat My Bluefish (and Green Beans…)

One Spring eve, my dad brought home what he thought would be an unappreciated addition to the family table – bluefish. My sister and I were both under the age of 10, and he assumed that we would turn up our noses and turn down our thumbs at this fatty, fishy-fish. My mom cooked it with garlic, ginger, green onions and soy sauce, and to their surprise, we gobbled it up, and wanted more.

Bluefish is magical. It is dense and soft when cooked, and it holds its own against strong flavors (like my mom’s version). My personal favorite is smoked bluefish, which I have found at fish monger stands in NYC markets, usually around June. My sister and I would eat smoked bluefish like candy. We were a little weird, but it was damn good. A pound of the stuff would not last long at our house.

I made this recipe for the fish, which I think came from a Real Simple recipe. As it was cooking, I got a hankering for my mom’s version, so I made some asian-inspired green beans to go along with it. It totally satiated my craving, and it was probably a healthier approach.

Bluefish in a Herb Blanket with Ginger Soy Green Beans

For the Bluefish:
1 large bunch fresh parsley
1 large bunch fresh dill or basil
1 bunch fresh thyme (I used lime thyme from my herb garden. Aren’t I quaint?)
2 pounds bluefish, in 4 pieces
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (my sea salt came from a salt farmer in Bali. True story. If you are not fortunate enough to take the 52 hour round-trip journey from NYC to Indonesia, generic sea salt will do. I suppose…)

Preheat the oven to 400°F for 15 minutes. Rinse the herbs and chop off their stems. Rub the fish with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Set the fish in a foil-lined pan and cover with the herbs.

Ssshhh...they're sleeping.

Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Discard the herbs before serving.

For the Green Beans:
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
A touch of sesame oil

In a large sauce pan, boil the water. Put the beans in the pan and steam, covered, about 5 minutes (or until cooked but still crisp). Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Drain the beans, and set aside. Heat the oil in the dry pan, and saute the garlic and ginger about 1-2 minutes.  Add the beans and soy sauce mixture, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil.

One fish, two fish, eat my bluefish.


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Cookbook Club: Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, via Alton Brown and Josie

This recipe came from here, and was made by Josie when she heard I was making Vegetarian Chili for our last cookbook club. I have a deep appreciation for Alton Brown. I love how much he knows about the food he makes, he’s like the Mr. Wizard of the kitchen. (Did Mr. Wizard ever do stuff in the kitchen? I can’t remember…)

In any case, I usually trust an Alton Brown recipe, because there is science behind it, and Josie decided to trust him too.

Josie made the right choice.


It’s fatty and creamy, crunchy and smooth, cornbready and regular-bready, and just plain wonderful. It was the hit of the party. I think it was a hit elsewhere too, because it was delivered slightly altered…

Can’t blame the person who stole a slice. I would have.

Alton Brown’s Sweet Corn Bread Pudding

1/2 onion, diced fine
1 ounce unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 (15-ounce) can creamed style sweet corn
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, whole grain, stone ground
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground black pepper
2 cups cubed French bread

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sweat onions with butter and herbs in an oven safe skillet until translucent.
Combine corn, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add cubed bread and fold to combine. Pour batter into skillet, right on top of the onion mixture. Bake 50 minutes, or until set. Cool slightly before serving.

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Simple, Cheap and Wonderful Vegetarian Chili

This chili is a staple at my dinner table. Modified from Joy of Cooking Vegetarian, it’s satisfying, healthy and cheap to make. Honestly, I’m not a huge meat-eater, and I usually lean towards vegetarian and often vegan foods. For my last cookbook club, I was responsible for the entree, and vowed that it would be a vegetarian offering. It was also the same week of my beer bread discovery, meaning I didn’t have the funds to make anything other than what I could with what I already had in my cupboard.

Luckily, like any good hobo, I always have plenty o’ beans, and this recipe is tried and true. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike are always super pleased, and it couldn’t be easier. I believe one vegetarian who was a bit hungover at the meet said it “saved her life,” well, the chili and Josie’s Cornbread Pudding, which I will discuss next week. For now, on to:

Colleen’s Simple, Cheap and Wonderful Vegetarian Chili


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium/large sweet potato, peeled, and diced small
2 seeded and chopped bell peppers (use any color you like. I usually use green because they are generally the least expensive and offer some color contrast)
1 medium onion onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (depending on your taste, I usually go for 3)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (2 if you really like it spicy)
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
28 oz. tomatoes, canned, coarsely chopped (fire-roasted are especially good), with their juice
1 16 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 16 oz can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
1 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups tomato juice, or 2 cups tomato puree with a little water, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste with 2 cups hot water.
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add sweet potato, bell peppers, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add chipotle pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, beans, tomato juice, and salt.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adding more tomato juice or water if needed, until the flavors are blended, about 45 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream, cheese, chopped cilantro or green onion.

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Cheddar & Beer Cornbread

There was a week, recently, when the cupboards were bare, and the bank was account low. We were hungry, but needed to save our pennies for rent. How bloody sad is that? Well, we’re young, so we can be irresponsible. Thankfully, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and with the help of my husband’s home-brewed beer, we had a delightful loaf of Beer Bread that night. Ah, bread. Feeding the peasant’s for ages with its fine, filling goodness.

Ever since that pathetic night, I have been making beer bread pretty much once a week, with different flours, beers, and add-ins. It’s a very versatile recipe. The basic recipe is 3 cups of self-rising flour, (or use all-purpose flour, but add 4.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 1.5 teaspoons of salt), a 12oz bottle of beer, 1/3-1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet you want it) and that’s pretty much it. My first and favorite loaf was with my husband’s beer. He made the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Chocolate Maple Porter, but since we ran out, I have since made many other loaves, one notable one was with Blue Moon and lemon zest. The bread always comes out like a buttery biscuit kind of bread, and it’s so easy to make, that it’s hard not to make it over and over again until your 6-pack runs out.

Below is my recipe for the loaf pictured above. I used Guinness since it was St. Patrick’s Day last week. It does make the bread a little bitter, which I liked. If you don’t dig that, use what you have!

Cheddar & Beer Cornbread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
4.5 teaspoons of baking powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cabot Cheddar)
1 12 oz Guinness, or other dark beer
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted.
Sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar and cheddar cheese. Add beer to the mixture, mix until combined, but don’t over mix. The dough will be sticky. Pour dough into a greased loaf pan, and bake for 50 minutes.

Remove from oven, and pour melted butter over the loaf, and sprinkle with a little sea salt (this is optional, but I love the salt on the bread). Return to oven, and bake another 5 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

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