maple & thyme whiskey sour

Last week I made a cake with bourbon, and this week I thought it might be fun to use whiskey in a different way. I thought I’d try drinking it.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was in college I worked as a waiter at a restaurant on Main Street in Lake Placid, and one winter I caught a nasty cold and lost my voice. Trying to wait tables in a busy restaurant with no voice is not an easy feat, but like most waiters, I needed the money and couldn’t get my shift covered.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

At the time my usual drink of choice was a gin and tonic, and I thought whiskey was the nastiest diesel fuel known to man. Next door to the restaurant was a ski shop and a few times a week the guys working there used to come by for a drink after work. They saw me sipping hot tea and lemon at the end of the bar and told me that if I put a shot of whiskey in my tea I’d be able to talk for the rest of the night. The bartender poured me some Crown Royal and I gave it a shot (literally).

I choked it down but my throat immediately felt better, and my voice improved enough for me to get through my shift without incident. I actually think it was probably the hot tea that helped my throat, but at the time I was sure the whiskey did the drink. I started three more shifts that way and by the end of the week I’d developed a little bitty taste for whiskey.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

At first I was a strict Crown Royal man, but it didn’t take me too long to start trying other whiskeys. Shortly after college I got into bourbon and have been hooked ever since. Lately I’ve been drinking a lot of rye whiskey though, and I’m becoming a really big fan. While I think bourbon is my favorite whiskey to sip straight, I think I may actually prefer rye for cocktails and mixed drinks.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

The main difference between bourbon and rye is the ratio of ingredients that make up the mash. They share many ingredients but corn must be the main ingredient in Bourbon, while rye is made with, you guessed it, rye. Bourbon usually tends to age a bit longer as well. Flavor-wise, I think bourbon tends to be a bit smoother, sweeter, and more balanced while rye is a bit of spicier and more assertive.

I think the smooth subtle flavor of bourbon can get a bit lost in cocktails, but rye has enough backbone to hold its own against bitters and citrus and mixers.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

Lately I’ve been in the mood to make a whiskey sour the old fashioned way, with egg white shaken into the drink to give a smooth foamy texture. The combination of superfine sugar, fresh lemon juice, and egg white blows bartenders sour mix out of the water. If you’ve never tried a whiskey sour made this way, you don’t know what you’re missing.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

The only small twist I made to make this bright summery cocktail more appropriate for the fall is to substitute real maple syrup for the superfine sugar, and add some fresh thyme to green things up a bit. If you’re a whiskey fan, you’ve gotta try this.

If you’re worried about drinking raw egg, you can use pasteurized eggs or egg whites from a carton, but I feel completely safe in knowing that I buy high quality eggs from small farms and don’t need to worry.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

This cocktail is bright and fresh and satisfying. The rye whiskey and fresh lemon juice play off of each other perfectly and the addition of egg white gives the shaken cocktail a smooth, creamy, almost silky mouthfeel. Adding maple and thyme to this classic drink give just a hint of Autumnal earthiness without being too blatant. The flavors are the perfect subtle compliment to the lemon and whiskey. Thyme adds an herbal woodsiness, and the maple is a wonderfully sweet and smoky replacement to the superfine sugar traditionally present in a whiskey sour.

maple & thyme whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

Maple & Thyme Whiskey Sour

  • Servings: 1 cocktail
  • Print
2 to 3 big long sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 oz real maple syrup (grade B preferably)
1 dash orange (or citrus) bitters
1 oz fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
2 oz good rye whiskey (or any good American whiskey)
1 egg white
ice
1 small thyme sprig to garnish

Using a cocktail muddler, muddle the long sprigs of thyme with maple syrup and orange bitters in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Smoosh ‘em and smash ‘em and stir ‘em up real good.
Add lemon juice, whiskey, & egg white and close the shaker. Shake and shake and shake and shake and shake like you’ve never shaken a cocktail before. If this were 2003 you might want to shake it like a polaroid picture.
Remove the lid, add a good handful of ice, and close it back up. Give it a few more good shakes, just until the cocktail is niiiiice and cold.
Strain into a martini or coupe glass. Most cocktail shakers have a built in strainer, but you may want to use a small mesh strainer to catch any loose thyme leaves. (I didn’t. There were a few but they didn’t bother me.)
If desired, garnish with a cute & dainty little thyme sprig.

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze #bundtbakers

It’s the third Thursday of the month y’all! You (probably) know what that means!

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

Bundt bonanza baby! #bundtbakers is back and this month’s theme is BOOZE!!!

Now that’s my kinda theme! I knew when I joined the bundt bakers that booze was bound to turn up as a theme sooner or later, and I’ve been waiting patiently since day one. When I hosted a few months back I almost chose it myself, but I decided that I shouldn’t force it. Thankfully I didn’t have too long to wait!

I want to say a big big thank you to our host, Lauren of From Gate to Plate, and remind everyone to keep scrolling down after the recipe to see all of the beautiful booze based bundts everyone baked this month!

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wanted my bundt this month to have a nice assertively boozey flavor, but also wanted the cake to be seasonally appropriate with some kind of Autumnal produce.

After weighing several options I decided on an apple spice cake with a boozey glaze. I love the flavor of apple cider spiked with a bit of whiskey so I figured I couldn’t go wrong turning that into a cake. I opted for bourbon because it has such a nice sweet caramel-y flavor, but in a pinch you could use other whiskeys. Scotch might be a bit too smoky, though that actually could be an interesting addition.

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

As fate would have it, I’d have a few stumbling blocks before I’d end up with a finished cake to slice into.

Early on I had a feeling that the batter was too liquid, but I’d gotten the recipe from a trusted source so I powered through and put the cake in the oven. The minute it came out of the oven I knew it wasn’t good. The cake seemed like it had hardly risen at all, but within minutes it managed to start to sink in the center. I waited for it to cool a bit before un-molding, but the minute I lifted the pan off of the cooling rack I knew something had gone very wrong. The texture was dense and rubbery, almost flan-like, and not in a good way. I think the addition of a small amount of bourbon to the batter may have made things even worse, but I hadn’t made any serious changes or substitutions so I still don’t fully understand what went wrong.

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

Not being one to accept failure, especially in the face of a #bundtbakers deadline, I asked Russell to run to the store for me while I washed the pan and took out more butter to soften.

The second time around I decreased the amount of liquid and apple and increased the amount of flour. Before the batter even went into the pan I knew things were going to be okay.

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

Aaaand then I went to make the glaze.

I thought a brown sugar bourbon glaze would compliment the flavors in the cake really nicely, but when I tried creaming the brown sugar with butter it refused to dissolve and the resulting glaze had a terrible gritty texture. Ugh. Seriously?

So, that batch went in the garbage along with my first cake. Next I tried melting the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan to get rid of the grit factor, but again, disaster. I don’t know if my brown sugar was old or something, or if I was just having an off day. Either way, two cakes had been baked and I was about to make a third glaze.

Thankfully the third time really was a charm, and the glaze was perfect both in texture and flavor. Phew!

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the end, this cake was worth all the effort and frustration.

It’s unbelievably moist and wonderfully tender with loads of fresh apple flavor and plenty of spice. Like apple pie in cake form, with a hint of sweet bourbon to round everything out. It doesn’t get much better than that, especially this time of year. Bourbon has such a rich caramel-y flavor that the buttered bourbon glaze perfectly compliments all that apple and cider and spice. The glaze does have a kick to it, but you get such a small amount in every bite of cake that it feels really well balanced. None of the alcohol gets cooked out of the glaze though, so this cake is strictly for adults. Sorry kiddos!

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

Spiced Apple Cider Bundt Cake with Buttered Bourbon Glaze

adapted from Serious Eats

1 stick unsalted butter, softened (plus more for pan)
1 medium firm apple (I used Braeburn), peeled and grated (about 3/4 cup grated apple)
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz) bourbon whiskey
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Generously butter and flour a non-stick 10 cup bundt pan and refrigerate until ready for use.
In a medium bowl, mix together the grated apples, apple cider, buttermilk, bourbon, and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and white and brown sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating fully between each addition.  Mix in canola oil until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding 1/2 of the liquid mixture. Mix to combine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining flour and liquid, ending with flour.
Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool for 20 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack to remove from the pan. Cool completely before drizzling with glaze.

Buttered Bourbon Glaze:
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoon bourbon
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To make the glaze, melt and slightly cool the butter. Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar and bourbon until smooth and free of lumps. If too thick, you can add a few more drops of bourbon until it reaches the desired consistency. Drizzle or pour over the top of the completely cooled cake and allow the glaze to dry before serving.

spiced apple cider bundt cake with buttered bourbon glaze | Brooklyn Homemaker

Check out this bounty of boozey bundts! They all sound amazing, and I can’t believe how much our group is growing!

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks

I tend to go a little crazy around Thanksgiving every year.

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

Not only is it one of my favorite holidays, one that I take VERY seriously, but it’s also the beginning of the busiest season of the year where I work.

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

No matter how much planning and thinking ahead I do to make things easy on myself, the chaos at work and the perfection pressure I put on myself always starts to overwhelm me in the week or so before the day of the big bird.

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

This year I’ve been poking around the internet for tips and ideas on the best way to host a stress-free Thanksgiving; and make sure every aspect of the day, from the shopping and prep work to the serving and cleaning up, goes as smoothly as possible.

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

This ain’t my first time at the rodeo, so a lot of the information I found wasn’t entirely new to me. One tip that I realized would actually make a big difference though, is not testing out any new-to-me recipes when I have a million other things going on in the kitchen.

Sometimes those unfamiliar recipes on Pinterest may look perfectly delicious on the screen but can actually turn out to be a big fat flop in reality. You don’t need to add that flop possibility, or any extra time figuring out a new recipe, to the already lengthy list of chores and worries you have when people are on their way for the biggest meal of the year.

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

Even when the tips I’ve found haven’t been entirely new to me, I’ve tried to do my best to share them with you on facebook and pinterest. I hope you’ve been learning (and making your lives easier) right a long with me.

If you don’t follow me on social media, you totally should. Not only does it make me feel warm and fuzzy to get new “likes” and “follows”, but you might learn something too! I try to share as much information as I can right here on the blog, but I can only do (and write) so much. When I find something interesting or helpful on the internet that I don’t have the time or expertise to blog about, I try my best to the share the wealth on social media so you don’t feel left out.

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

This Thanksgiving I’ll be making the same (life-changing) turkey recipe that I made last year, along with some pies that I’m completely comfortable with.

In the name of not testing new recipes with so many other projects in play, I’ve been working on a few things ahead of time to make sure I know what to expect and don’t need to work out any kinks. Last week a good friend was visiting from out of town so I used her as a guinea pig for my new sweet potato gratin recipe and this here apple walnut dressing (or stuffing, if you prefer, though technically it’s not stuffing unless it’s actually stuffed in something).

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

This recipe has everything I want to see in my dressing. Yeasty artisan bread made tender with rich stock on the inside with a crispy craggy buttery golden top. The variety of flavors and textures going on here are the perfect compliment to any roasted poultry (or pork), no matter what the occasion. Tender sweet apples, crunchy bitter walnuts, chewy savory sausage, and rich caramelized leeks all brought together with plenty of autumnal herbs and a mixture of chicken stock and apple cider. I seriously cannot get enough of these flavor combinations this time of year, and I think you and your friends and family won’t be able to either.

This can easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the sausage and swapping vegetable stock for chicken. There are more than enough other elements and flavors at play here that the dressing will still be amazing, and truth be told, it looks like I’ll be leaving the sausage out myself to accommodate my guests.

apple walnut dressing with sausage and caramelized leeks | Brooklyn Homemaker

Apple Walnut Dressing with Sausage and Caramelized Leeks

Inspired by thekitchn

One 1 1/2 to 2 pound loaf artisan bread
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (spicy works too)
2 cups thinly sliced leeks or 1 cup finely diced onion
3 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 large firm apple, diced (I used Braeburn)
3 large eggs
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup apple cider
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 tablespoons butter

Heat the oven to 350°F. Slice the bread into small cubes, removing the crusts if desired, and spread the cubes in a single layer on two baking sheets. Toast for ten minutes, stir up, and add the chopped nuts. Continue toasting until the bread is completely dry and the walnuts are toasted, approximately another 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. If you like to think way ahead, you can toast your bread and store it up to a week before moving on with the next step.

To prepare your leeks, slice the white and tender green parts in thin disks, and slice each disk in half. Discard the deep green leaves. Place all the sliced leeks into a bowl and top with cold water. Leeks are very sandy so this is important. scoop the leeks out being careful not to disturb the sand at the bottom of the bowl. Repeat twice, and set aside to drain dry.

Brown the sausage with a sprinkle of salt over medium heat, breaking it up into crumbles as you cook, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl and drain off all but a few teaspoons of the fat.

In the same pan over medium heat, cook the leeks with a sprinkle of salt until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 or 10 minutes. Add the celery and continue cooking until the celery is softened, another 5 minutes. Add the apples and the fresh herbs. Cook until the apples are just starting to soften, another 1-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove the pan from heat.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

Combine the sausage, vegetables, apples, bread cubes, and nuts in a large mixing bowl. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs, and add in the salt, cider and chicken stock. Whisk to combine and pour over the stuffing. Gently fold or stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated, being careful not to mash down or squish the bread cubes.

Pour the dressing into the baking dish and try to even it out. If you have a bit too much you can mound it a bit in the center, or bake some separately in ramekins (or you can make it into stuffing by filling it into the hollow cavity of a turkey). Dot the top with butter and cover the dish with aluminum foil. If you’re trying to make things a day ahead, you could stop here and refrigerate the whole shebang to be baked the next day. Just make sure you take the dish out about an hour before baking so you don’t crack your baking dish by putting a cold dish into a hot oven.

Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crispy and golden, another 15-20 minutes. Let cool briefly before serving.

sweet potato gratin

Sweet potatoes are seriously the best.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

Though they’re not technically in the same family, a sweet potato can do almost anything a regular potato can, and can probably do it better. They can be french fried, mashed, baked, roasted, you name it. You can even turn these puppies into dessert! Take that, potatoes!

Sweet potatoes have more flavor and are (obviously) sweeter, but what you might not consider is that they’re also packed with beta-carotene and calcium, and have almost 300% of the vitamin A you need in a day. Now that’s what I call a superfood.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

One thing I’m not crazy about when it comes to sweet potatoes though, is the tendency to make them even sweeter while serving them with dinner. I mean, if you want to make a dessert, go ahead and make a dessert. There’s nothing better than a good sweet potato pie. But if you’re serving sweet potatoes as a side dish I really don’t get the desire to cover them in marshmallows. I guess its just not for me. You wouldn’t cover a radish or a green bean in brown sugar and marshmallows would you? Well, I don’t know, maybe you would. I wouldn’t though!

I know some people really dig candied sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, but it’s just not for me. Sorry.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

Anyway, because I’m a lunatic forward-thinker, I’m already planning my Thanksgiving menu. You already know this, but I take this holiday pretty seriously. I really want to highlight sweet potatoes on my table this year, but I’ll be damned if a marshmallow comes anywhere near my little orange beauties. I love mashing them just like potatoes, with lots of butter, but this year I want to do something special.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

It didn’t take me long to decide on some type of layered casserole. A gratin is the perfect solution. Rich and satisfying, with a touch of cream and cheese to gussy things up.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

Most gratin recipes call for a salty hard cheese like parmesan, but I thought the sweet potatoes called for something a bit creamier and nuttier, so I opted for Jarlsberg. If you’re not familiar, Jarlsberg is a mild cow’s milk cheese from Norway. It has large holes like swiss, but it’s more buttery and nutty. If you can’t find it I think Gruyere would work really well too.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wanted to pack as much savory flavor into this gratin as possible, so I poked around the internet until I found a recipe that sandwiched a layer of caramelized onions between the sliced sweet potatoes. Yes please. To take the flavor even further I went and added a few thing; some thyme and parsley along with the sage in the original recipe, as well as a bit of dijon mustard, some ground cayenne pepper for kick, and some smoked paprika for a nice hint of smoky depth.

This is not only the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving, but really any large gathering or dinner party. On top of being crazy delicious, I think it’ll travel really well too, and could easily be prepared ahead and reheated.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

As soon as I took my first bite, I knew I’d reached sweet potato perfection.

If you want to know how good it tastes, let me just say this. Russell is spoiled by my cooking. While he absolutely loves and appreciates everything I make, most of my cooking gets little more than a “thank you” or “yummy”. This though, he couldn’t shut up about. He went on and on about how delicious and perfect it was. He ran out of words. And frankly, I don’t think there are enough words in the English language to properly describe this gratin. A few that come to mind though are creamy, savory, spicy, smoky, cheesy, buttery, tender, rich, delicious, satisfying, hearty, flavorful, heavenly and amazing… Oh yeah, and Bow-chicka-wow-wow.

sweet potato gratin with caramelized onions & Jarlsberg | Brooklyn Homemaker

Sweet Potato Gratin

  • Servings: 8 to 12-ish (depending on serving size)
  • Print
adapted from the kitchn

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus more for pan)
2 medium onions, sliced into thin half circles
3 pounds sweet potatoes or yams (3 to 4 large)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder (optional)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Topping:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (or plain, unseasoned bread crumbs)
3/4 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese (or Gruyere)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finesly chopped

Heat the oven to 350°F and butter a 9×13 casserole or gratin dish. In a heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter to a foam and add the sliced onions. Season them with a bit of salt and slowly caramelize them over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. To get them nice and brown (but not burned) should take about 20 or 30 minutes.

While the onions sizzle away, peel your sweet potatoes and slice them into 1/4-inch thick disks. Getting thin and even slices will be easiest with a mandolin, but is totally possible with a sharp knife and a steady hand. Layer half of the slices in the buttered dish, overlapping them in tight rows or spirals. Season the layer with salt and pepper.

Once the onions are soft and caramelized to your liking, add the sage, parsley, thyme, dijon mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper, and cream. Bring to a simmer, stir well, and cook until the cream is thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Do your best to remove the onions from the cream with a slotted spoon. Spread the onions evenly over the first layer of sweet potatoes. Layer the remaining sweet potatoes on top, in the same rows or spirals as before. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, and evenly pour or spread the cream over the top. The cream will not cover the potatoes completely or fill the dish and you will think there’s isn’t enough. Don’t add more! Too much will make the sweet potatoes mushy.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 or 15 minutes more, or until the potatoes are just tender. (Note: If your sweet potato slices are thicker than 1/4 inch- baking time is likely going to take longer.)

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and let cool a bit. In a small bowl, pour the butter over the bread crumbs, grated Jarlsberg and chopped parsley, and toss well to combine. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the gratin and return to the oven (uncovered) for about 15 minutes or until brown and crispy. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.