Ginuary 30th: Pink Lady Sugar Cookies.

Today’s a busy one! No time to muck about! Squeeze that gin in where you can! Ah, a bit of prepared baking. Perfect. Nailed it.

Pink Lady Sugar Cookies

  • 225g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1.5 cups caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp gin (I used Monkey 47 + The Retiring)
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2.5 cups flour

Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy. Add egg and beat until well mixed. On low speed, mix in the remaining ingredients.

Chill the dough for a couple of hours. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Prepare the icing in the meantime, because the biscuits cool bake quickly.

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 1 Tbsp Grenadine
  • 1-2 drops food colouring for fanciness

Cream the butter in a mixer. Add the rest and mix slowly to combine, then beat on high for a couple of minutes until fluffy.

Back to the biscuits! Line a tray with baking paper and place tablespoon-sized balls roughly 5cm apart. Bake for only 10-15mins—until the biscuit is raised, barely browned at all. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before icing.

must… photograph… before… eating

Ooh lawd I love biscuits! As an Australian, ‘biscuit’ is a more common term for me than ‘cookie’ (while meaning the same thing) so apart from the official title I gotta stick with my roots, as well as converting some of the measures from the original American recipe.

I haven’t made a batch of biscuits for ages, so this was a real treat, even if I did finish at around 3am because time management isn’t my strongest forte. The original recipe called for an American gin, Jack Rabbit by Beehive Distilling. I don’t own any Jack Rabbit (not even sure if it’s available in Australia) but now I’ve looked it up, I would love to. Its more notable botanicals are sage and rose petals, and while I was baking and subbing I was thinking sweet thoughts of honey, thanks to the name of the distillery. I had to pick my own subs, so I went with a mix. Because I’m crazy like that. I used Tasmania’s The Retiring, Germany’s Monkey 47 and threw Bombay Sapphire through the icing.

I think the flavour of the gin gets mostly lost in the biscuit itself but has a bit more chance to make an impact in the icing, so I kind of wish I’d done my gins the other way around. Still! Biscuits are delicious! Or cookies! Whatever you want to call them! And I’m going to make lots of friends with my leftovers tomorrow.

Ginuary 27th: Baked Martini Olives.

This one’s up a bit late because I spent the day entertaining a couple of gal pals at my place! I could have served them up a cocktail or two each but instead I went with finger food. Not the best choice for card games but we polished them off pretty darn quickly, nonetheless…

Baked Martini Olives

  • 250g mixed olives (or your favourites), drained
  • 1-2 cloves smashed garlic
  • several stems of thyme/oregano/rosemary
  • 1 small lemon, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup gin
  • 1 Tbsp dry vermouth (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Mix everything together in a small mixing bowl before transferring to a small oven-proof dish deep/wide enough to hold the olives. (This mixture will bubble in the oven and you don’t want a mess.) Add more gin and olive oil if needed (the olives don’t need to be fully submerged).

Bake for about thirty minutes. Let the olives cool a little before shoving them in your gob.

   

I’d even be inclined to call these martini olives. Maybe baked martini olives. Ok, yes, I’m officially changing the name (they were originally called gin-marinated olives; the start of this paragraph is going to seem confusing now). I threw in a dash of dry vermouth because I have some beautiful Maidenii in the fridge at the moment and it almost seemed necessary, what with olives and lemons and gin. Give me a dirty martini in a bowl, right? I felt wrong not putting dry vermouth in there. 

These ginny olives feel like finality for me. Here’s the thing—way back during the first Ginuary in 2012, I actually made up a batch of gin olives from another recipe (I should mention, this one’s from Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen) and had them waiting in the fridge… and promptly forgot about them. When it was time to move house (and state) I rediscovered them, and ended up gifting them to my hetero lifemate (I think I did, anyway…). So I never tried them! But the reason I found the recipe in the first place was because I used to go to this wonderful restaurant and bar in Woolloongabba in Brisbane called the Crosstown Eating House and gin-marinated olives were one of their cocktail bar snacks. My life would never be the same after trying those.

Today’s weren’t those olives, but they were pretty darn delicious. Warm from the oven (what an excellent step) and definitely alcoholic (“Do they taste boozy?” “I absolutely wouldn’t serve them to children”), like I said—we made them disappear very quickly. 

I’m actually marinating a second batch overnight (or longer; who knows with me) to see if I can get a stronger flavour seeped into them. I imagine the baking helps to cook that flavour in but I’m stubborn. And curious. It’s a lifestyle. 

Ginuary 22nd: lemon rice pudding with gin syrup.

You wanna know something I love? Yes, ok, gin. But also rice pudding. My nanan used to make the best rice pudding ever when I was little, and now I live in a beautiful cold climate (well, in winter, anyway) I find curling up on the couch with a blanket and a bowl of rice pudding a real treat. Finding a recipe that gave me an excuse to curl up on the couch (sans blanket, it is the middle of summer) with a bowl of rice pudding for Ginuary? Consider me sold.

Lemon Rice Pudding with Gin Syrup

  • 700ml full cream milk
  • 3/4 cup risotto or short grain rice
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 Tbsp floral gin (I used Hendrick’s)
  • 3 Tbsp toasted almond slivers

Put the milk and rice (and a sprinkle of salt) in a saucepan and bring to the boil gently. Simmer for 15-20mins, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked (you may need to add a little more milk).

While the rice is cooking, zest the lemons and set aside. Cut off the peel and segment the flesh in a small bowl, saving any juice.

In a small saucepan, make a 2:1 sugar syrup with the caster sugar and 2 Tbsp water. When the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and stir in the gin.

When the rice is cooked, add the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar to the pudding, along with the lemon zest, any juice, and half the gin syrup. Stir well. Put the segmented lemon in the remaining gin syrup.

Spoon the rice into warmed bowls, add a drizzle of lemon syrup and a sprinkle of almonds. Scoff with great abandon.

Dessert… or breakfast.

I’m very good at not reading ahead with recipes. As the pudding was near the end of its bubbling, I realised that I had a bit more work to do regarding the syrup and lemons. Luckily I had some 2:1 sugar syrup already made up, so I just heated that and added the gin, then frantically segmented the lemons as mid-cook my boss texted to ask where I was because I totally got my start time at work wrong. FRANTIC.

I threw the pudding and syrup into a container and took them to work for a very luxurious work lunch, but this did mean I had to sacrifice toasting my almond slivers. Scandalous. What even are almonds if they’re not toasted, I ask you? Look, it doesn’t really matter in the end because I had a delicious rice pudding with a smack of sour lemon and a drizzle of beautiful gin, so really, I won in the end anyway.

 

Ginuary 13th: Tomato Jam.

What? That’s not gin, that’s tomatoes. Ah, see… but gin cooks so well with tomatoes. I remember this well from one of my all-time favourite gin foods, the perfect and simple gin penne pasta. This year’s recipe obsession has been this one. This one right here.

Tomato Jam

  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups/1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1/3 cup gin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves and/or flowers, rough chop

Heat the oil and butter over med-high heat in a pan until it foams. Add shallots over medium heat. Next, add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes or so. As the tomatoes start to break down, add sugar, gin, salt and chilli. Cook for another ten minutes, pushing down the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to smash them (FUN). The sauce will begin to thicken. Add the red wine vinegar and oregano, stirring to incorporate. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes and then turn off the heat.

Store in a clean glass container until ready to serve. If you aren’t eating immediately (it will be hard to resist), it will keep in the fridge for a week or so but make sure it’s served at room temperature.

  

Why room temperature? I don’t know, I don’t argue with original posters. Except for sweetness. I found two tablespoons of brown sugar just a little on the super sweet side, and while I haven’t yet made another batch (YET because I TOTALLY WILL), next time I’m planning on halving the sugar amount and seeing how that goes. I also got a little heavy handed with the chilli flakes (they just look so sweet and not potent except they are actually a little bit potent) so I’ve got me a SPICY JAM, FRIENDS. It’s not really jam, though, it’s more like a… chutney relishy thingy.

You know what it definitely is, though? Delicious. After reading the suggestion of eating with a slab of soft cheese I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. It’s been haunting me all month. I couldn’t resist any longer. I think finding the perfect soft cheese up at my local deli didn’t help my resistance. Good grief, so tasty. So happy. It’s tomato season so people have tomatoes fit to burst, and I will be happy to take them off everyone’s hands if it means I can keep making this delightful treat. I want to eat this forever. I’m sure that will be ok. I think I’m gonna eat my leftovers over scrambled eggs for breakfast. Or dessert. Either way.

Ginuary 9th: G+T iceblocks.

Hot dang, am I glad I made these up last night or what! This afternoon was warm, and I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more. I polished one off for the photoshoot and then strolled to work eating a second one, because summer is here.

G + T Iceblocks

Or G + T Popsicles. Or G + T Ice Lollies.

  • 2 cups of tonic (I used Blood Moon Tonic)
  • 30ml gin (I used Hendrick’s)
  • a handful of cucumber slices
  • juice of 1/4 lime

I had eight moulds that this amount fitted perfectly for, but it’s very easy to adjust for more (or drink leftovers). Set your slices in the moulds (they won’t stay, they’ll float, but let’s pretend they’ll stay) and mix the liquids together before pouring into each mould.

Freeze overnight, at least. Just chill out. Enjoy on a hot day.

I was honestly going to save these for a little later down the track but today they hollered at me so loudly I couldn’t resist. Frozen cucumber sure has an interesting texture! It’s fine, it’s fine. I love these. Grown-up iceblocks for grown-ups. No real sweetness to them (unless you class tonic as sweet, I guess it’s got its own weird sweetness), literally just a frozen gin and tonic. If you can resist drinking your gin as soon as it hits glass, I highly recommend freezing it. Because of the booze, the iceblock is still that crunchy, shattering kind of frozen… which, I’m gonna be honest, is absolutely my favourite kind of frozen. Apart from the Disney movie. Let it go, Mem, just finish the post. Ok.

Ginuary 7th: gin-pickled zucchini rainbow salad.

More food! What can I say, I’ve got a lot of gin food recipes up my sleeve at the moment and they’re the ones I’m most excited for this year (or week, at least).

Gin-Pickled Zucchini

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1 Tbsp gin (I used Tanqueray)
  • 1/2 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • a generous pinch of sea salt

Finely slice the zucchini (a vegetable peeler will work). 

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a mixing bowl and muddle the seeds (or you could do this bit with a mortar & pestle to be fancy). Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl (apart from the zucchini) and mix well. 

Add the zucchini to the bowl and lightly toss through the mix. Leave to pickle for at least half an hour. 

HEALTHIEST GIN EVER?

Then add to this salad.

Ok, yes, there’s a bit more to this recipe! I just didn’t want to take things too overboard in the recipe list. This pickled zucchini isn’t as stand-alone tasty as the fridge pickles from the other day, I think it needs a fresh salad to balance it out. 

The rainbow salad is very simple and easy. Just chop up a quarter of a small (YMMV) red cabbage nice and fine, combine with a segmented orange, another sliced up zucchini, and half the seeds of a pomegranate. The dressing is simple too! Half a cup of natural yoghurt, the juice of half a lemon, a Tbsp of EVOO and some sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

After your pickling time is up, toss the pickled zuke through the rest of the salad, then plate up with a drizzle of dressing. Garnish with the rest of the pomegranate seeds and a sprinkling of toasted almond slivers. These quantities will make around 2-3 decent servings. Double your salad (but not necessarily your dressing or pickled bits) for a larger audience.
Today was the first time that I, as a thirty-two year old adult, de-seeded a pomegranate. I think that may have been one of the main things that drew me to this recipe actually—an excuse for pomegranate. I’ve always loved it in salads but never brought one home. I found an easy trick for de-seeding, which is just to slice the fruit into quarters and then hold a quarter at a time underwater in a bowl and pull the fruit apart. The seeds all sink and the skin floats. Skim the skin off, strain the bowl and voila! Oodles of delicious pomegranate seeds! Now I know that trick, I can’t be stopped.

This honestly felt like the healthiest day of Ginuary I’ve ever done. I had to photograph the salad near something green because it just felt right. It was crunchy, fresh and tasty, and the gin-pickled zucchini added an interesting welcome element to the mix.

Plus I’ve now got lunch for tomorrow. 

Ginuary 6th: gin & lime cake.

Here it is! What I meant to post yesterday, but it was literally still baking at 10:30pm last night (like I said yesterday, I was a fair bit birthday lazy) and you gotta let a cake cool to ice it, so instead of birthday cake last night I had birthday cake for breakfast. Living the dream. Bless you, Ginuary.

Gin & Lime Cake

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp freshly zested lime rind
  • 1/4 cup gin (I used Hendrick’s)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 175°C. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Cut the butter into chunks. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for a couple of minutes, until creamy. Add in sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy (about five minutes). Add in each egg one at a time, making sure each is mixed in well before adding the next. Add in vanilla and lime zest, and mix.

With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients. Add in gin, milk and lime juice, mixing until combined (always scrape the bowl!). Add remaining dry ingredients and beat until just combined.

Pour into a greased dish (9×13 baking dish recommended), bake for 40-50 minutes depending on what your oven is like—you’re looking for a golden top and no jiggles in the centre.

Remove cake from oven and immediately poke holes over the top with a toothpick or fork. Pour over the gin glaze (1 3/4 cups icing sugar, 5 Tbsp gin and the juice of one lime) and then let the cake cool completely. Once the cake is cooled, ice with a mixture of 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar, 2-3 Tbsp gin and a drop of vanilla extract.

N.B. you can sub tonic water in for the gin/milk portion of the recipe if desired.

 

GIN CAKE

Best accompanied with a G&T.

Ok, I’m no baker, but this was… a piece of cake (I went there). I still made some errors, like my oven was (I think) a bit too hot and maybe (I think) I cooked the cake for a bit too long—the edges of my cake are a little brown rather than golden. I think it’s mostly because I went rogue with the tins, actually. I recently threw out the baking dish that would have likely been perfectly sized for this recipe, so I was left with a loaf tin and a round cake tin. I reckon I poured a bit too much into the loaf tin and not enough into the cake tin. There is a fair bit of rise in this batter, particularly noticeable in the loaf tin! I burnt the cake’s butt a little bit and the loaf lost a bit of its butt (so many butts), perhaps we blame my shoddy grease job or perhaps we blame the baking duration (I tend to overcook rather than undercook), but either way, it’s on me and not the recipe. The batter was epic. So fluffy and delicious! I totally 100% licked the bowl clean, I’m not even going to try to deny that.

It’s true that I had a piece for breakfast, yes. It was still delicious, despite my minor overcooking (I actually enjoy a cake crust, mmm yeah) and the glaze definitely helped to soften it up. As far as booze goes? GIN! I do somewhat regret using Hendrick’s, despite the original recipe poster advocating for it, because Hendrick’s isn’t going to dance with your lime flavours quite as amazingly as a punchy London Dry will. I ended up using Tanqueray in the icing for this reason, because by that stage I’d thought about it a lot. Cake. Speaking of the original poster, they call this a gin and tonic cake, but I’m not prepared to do that unless there’s actually tonic in the cake, and I stuck with the original recipe and used milk. Plenty of gin, though. Buckets of gin. Ok, not buckets, but yes… if you don’t notice the gin in this, maybe you have a problem and maybe you should talk to a professional about it.

So yes, I baked my own birthday cake this year. Then I realised I didn’t have anyone to share it with at home, so I brought in pieces for my workmates. They haven’t texted in dead to work yet so I think the cake must have been ok? I’m looking forward to eating the rest of it (ok maybe just another slice, let’s savour this) when I get home tonight. Because cake.

Ginuary 4th: Gin & Tonic Fridge Pickles.

All day in a beautiful location in Tasmania… with no ice. What was I going to do? I couldn’t just wait until I got home to do my daily gin, I needed to get The Shot. It was time… to crack open the fridge pickles.

Gin & Tonic Fridge Pickles

  • a handful of small cucumbers
  • 1 Tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 3/4 cup gin (I used Gordons)
  • 30ml tonic syrup (I used Blood Moon Tonic)
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 Tbsp lime cordial
  • soda water

Wash and trim the stem tips from the cukes. Slice in half lengthwise and half again. Trim to the length of your jar (hopefully you have perfectly sized cucumbers you don’t need to do this with, or maybe I’m just super lucky)—you want the cukes to be completely submerged in liquid once you’re finished.

Mix the gin, tonic, lime juice and cordial with a splashing of soda.

Fit the pickle spears into your clean glass jar. Fill the jar but don’t cram the pickles in too tightly!

Add the crushed berries, then the liquid mixture. Top off with soda water to fill the jar and make sure the spears are completely submerged. Cap the jar tightly, give it a li’l shake, then refrigerate!

N.B. Let the pickles do their thing for at least a couple of days before eating. They will keep for at least a month in the fridge.

gin and tonic fridge pickles @ maria island national park

Pickles on location!

These pickles were the first proper Ginuary prep I did, almost a month ago! I just happened to see the perfect pile of baby cukes at Woolworths and I couldn’t resist snatching them up—the rest was too easy.

I’m not a huge fan of pickles, I’ll admit it right now. When I was in New York a couple of years ago, a couple of times we got burgers and they came with a big chunky pickle like these and I tried it for the sake of it but I wasn’t too stoked. I was one of those kids that always pulled their pickles off their Maccas burger (and once got caught flinging one at a window at Maccas, and was rightly told off). I’ve grown more fond of them in my adult years but not to the point where I’ll actively seek them out.

So I had my doubts about these. I wasn’t even planning on eating them this soon, I was going to save them for a lazy day! But I forgot about my sister and my voyage to Maria Island National Park, leaving at the crack of dawn and trekking over the beautiful island all day. I knew I wanted to take my Ginuary treat with me, but I’d left it too late to prepare anything else easily packable… and the pickles were right there in the fridge… so I threw them in my bag.

I cracked them out at lunch time, to go with the chicken and mayo sandwiches my sister had prepared for us (“NO WONDER YOUR BAG WAS SO FLIPPING HEAVY,” she proclaimed, staring at my full jar of pickles). I remained hesitant… right up until I slapped a pickle on top of my sandwich half and bit into the combo.

UM, YUM.

HOW WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO EAT A CHICKEN AND MAYO SANDWICH WITHOUT A G&T PICKLE TO GO WITH IT? BECAUSE I DON’T EVER WANT TO, EVER AGAIN.

Ginuary 21st: Watermelon with Gin.

Margaret Fulton, you huge filthy cop out.

This isn’t a recipe. This is chucking gin at some watermelon balls and leaving them in the fridge for a few hours, then shoving a couple of mint sprigs in it.

No, I refuse to post your “recipe”, Margaret Fulton.

But also thank you because this was just right on a 30°C day when I didn’t feel like doing much else. I’m proud to say that I made those watermelon balls using a shot measure, and I’m not proud to say that I momentarily regretted not having been invited to more Tupperware parties at this stage in my life as I’d probably have a free Tupperware melon baller by now if I’d been to more and sat in the right place to get a decent pick at the freebie stash.

image

I’m watching you, Margaret Fulton, you old biddy.

Ginuary 20th: gin-dressed oysters two ways @ Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed.

Fortune favoured me with today’s gin. First let me show you a lovely photo of it, then let me tell you a tale. I promise it’ll be brief. Brief-ish. What you’re looking at here is, as the title of the post will tell you, gin-dressed oysters two ways, with two kinds of gin, even, because Tessa at Bangor is that great.

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Clearly just an awful day.

See, I had a couple of gin-flavoured oyster dressings on my to-do list, but I’ve literally never had oysters in my kitchen before (despite eating a few in my time) so I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about the prospect.

Enter fortune in the form of a drive-by visit to the newly-opened Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed in Dunalley the other weekend (on the way to the gin workshop!). I’d finished my morning coffee by the time we got out of the car and so my brain was working enough to have a cunning plan, and a very decent excuse to visit the picturesque grounds of Bangor again.

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Even overcast days are ridiculously stunning.

I think my proposal was basically along the lines of, “How about YOU do it FOR me?”, so I must be a pretty smooth talker, because Tessa agreed willingly. I forwarded her the couple of recipes I’d tagged, for inspiration, and then she blew them out of the water with her own takes.

Firstly, a chilli and lime vinaigrette with McHenry Classic Dry Gin. The combination of flavours here was kind of exceptional, and the chilli kick didn’t hold back.

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Zings aplenty!

Secondly, a cucumber and grape granita with Hendrick’s. The granita had mostly melted by the time I got to photographing and devouring but the coolness was still present and it was an awesome dessert-y follow-up to the vinaigrette (though I’ll admit I kept jumping back and forth between the two).

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Sweet and fruity, great for the gin choice.

The oysters themselves were beautiful and fresh, as they come from literally down the road. Tasmanian seafood is above average at the best of times and at a lovely new business here you can expect everything to be on point, from the seafood to the bubbles to the scenery, both inside and out.

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Both lounging and dining, but don’t miss that deck.

Like I said, today was really just an excuse to visit again, to sit and enjoy the stunning views, the lovely tunes and the charming hospitality at Bangor. I’ll be back again, I just need another excuse.

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See you again soon, you stunner.

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