Bitter Sweets: Cheesecake With Ginger-Lemon Bitters

My friends, the holidays are upon us! All the baking, all the cocktails, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. You know what we need? No-bake desserts. No-bake desserts with bitters. What’s the best part of no-bake sweets? The simplicity. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be up to my elbows (or down to my knees) in flour, butter, dough, pumpkin puree, spiced lattes, pecans, apples, pears, crumble and whatever else you’ll be baking this November. I’m talking cheesecake here. Cream cheese, graham crackers, a little butter, condensed milk, lemon and of course our bitters. It doesn’t get easier than this. You could go through the trouble of baking a cheesecake. I don’t recommend it. I recommend this! Let’s get started, friends.

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Ginger-Lemon [No-Bake] Cheesecake

1 8oz. Package of Cream Cheese

1 14oz. Can of Condensed Milk

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Hella Bitters Ginger-Lemon Bitters

1 Lemon Juiced

Splash of Vanilla extract

For Graham Crust, utilize the same recipe from our Bitter Key Lime Pie.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend until smooth. Your cream cheese should be at room temp. Add the cheesecake mix and refrigerate to set; at least 5 hours or up to overnight.

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Dress your cheesecake up however you like. Mixed berries, apple-pear compote, whatever you want. Just be sure to add a few extra dashes of bitters to the mix!

 

 

 

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Cooking With Bitters: Aromatic Caramel Corn

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Fall is here guys. Leaves…to rake, squash, painted pumpkins, The Walking Dead (!!!), Halloween and of course, caramel. To me, caramel is one of the most important fall flavors. It’s just wonderful. What’s not to like? A fun little snack to make is caramel corn. But, you know we have to add a twist. We’re making grown up or “adult” caramel corn by adding Hella Bitters Aromatic Bitters. The cinnamon, clove and Jamaican allspice notes work perfectly with caramel, pecans and of course, homemade popcorn. I would suggest that you make this as a treat for the kiddies but, you’ll probably want to keep this for yourself. Movie night just got 10 times better!

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You’ll need butter. Lot’s of butter!

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Aromatic Caramel Corn:

1/2 Cup Popcorn Kernels

1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1 1/2 Sticks Butter (I don’t mind using Salted here. Use Unsalted if you’d like)

1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup + 2 Tablespoons

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

3 Teaspoons Hella Bitters Aromatic Bitters

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2-1 Cup Chopped Pecans (Or your favorite nut)

Start by popping your corn. Follow your label instructions for best results. Chop your pecans and we can start the caramel. Heat your oven to 250° and coat a large baking dish with butter or nonstick foil. Add the popcorn and chopped pecans and set the dish to the side.

Over medium heat, add the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt to a saucepan.  Bring these ingredients to a boil and cook for 5 minutes while stirring. Reduce heat slightly and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the Aromatic Bitters, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda. Whisk for about 15 seconds until there’s a light foam. Immediately add the caramel to the popcorn and pecans, mixing thoroughly to coat and spread the popcorn into an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the popcorn over every 15 minutes. After baking, let the popcorn cool completely before breaking into individual crunchy bites.

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Baking With Bitters: Key Lime Pie + Citrus Bitters

Still missing that last little taste of summer? I’m not. I’m more than welcoming FALL and all of it’s GLORY!!!! The good thing about Key Lime Pie is, you get get limes all year long. And, Key Lime Pie is super easy to make. That’s why it’s one of my favorites. It’s a clean and refreshing bite that can take you back to the Florida Keys and gives a little relief from all of the heavy flavors of Fall.

We’re adding Hella Bitters Citrus to this pie because we’re just cool like that. The bitters add another dimension to the familiar pie; playing on the bright lime citrus and adding some spice undertones. Even though this pie is baked (briefly), the citrus bitters still come through. Let’s jump into the recipe, shall we?

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A few extra dashes for good measure…

Citrus Bitters Key Lime Pie:

1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

3 Egg Yolks

2/3 Cup Fresh Lime Juice

3 Teaspoons Hella Bitters Citrus (A few extra dashes for good measure)

For the crust, we’re going with the standard recipe:

1 1/2 cups  finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 pinches sea salt
7 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat your oven to 350°. In a food processor, large plastic bag or bowl, blend the graham crackers until you get smooth crumbs. Add melted butter and remaining ingredients until you get a sand like texture. Fill your pie dish with the graham cracker crust. Prepare filling by first whipping the egg yolks with the bitters for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and pale in color. Only takes about 3 minutes. Add your filling to the pie crust and bake until set, about 10 minutes being sure not to brown. Let the pie cool completely and refrigerate. Top with whipped cream as you desire. Easy as pie!

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You’ll want to go a little finer on the crust than I  🙂

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One last slice of summer you can enjoy all winter long!

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A Bitter Breakfast: Buttermilk Biscuits With Orange Bitters

We’re about to embark on a journey you’ve probably never thought of before. I’m sure you’re familiar with the biscuit. Buttery, flaky and sometimes served with bacon, eggs and cheese. BUT! Have you ever thought about adding bitters to your biscuits? No. You haven’t. In this recipe, Hella Bitters Orange adds a subtle essence of orange. It gives a nice floral note to the breakfast classic.

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The idea for a good biscuit is to not overwork the dough after mixed and have ice cold butter that will melt and yield some flakiness.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Orange Bitters:

1 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 Cup Cake Flour

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Salt

3/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (1 Stick)

1/4 Shortening (Vegatable used here)

1 1/4 Cup Buttermilk

4 Teaspoons HB Orange Bitters

For the biscuits- Preheat oven to 450. In a large bowl stir together flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, cream of tartar and orange zest. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (I use my hands here). Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in buttermilk and Bitters. Using a fork stir together until moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by folding and pressing until the dough holds together. Pat or lightly roll the dough out to about 1 1/4 inches. Cut dough into rounds using a biscuit cutter. Place rounds onto an un-greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

*Recipe adapted from Southern Souffle.com*

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So, what shall we have with our biscuits? Peaches. Because it’s summer and it’s time for peaches. I suppose you could have strawberry shortcakes however, peaches are better. This peach shortcake is better than your Grandmother’s Peach Cobbler…sorry Grandma.

Sautéed Peaches:

2 Peaches [Peeled]

1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice [Or more to taste]

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon [Or more to taste]

A Dash of  Freshly Grated Nutmeg

A Splash of Vanilla Extract

A Pinch of Kosher Salt

1/2oz. Grand Marnier [Optional]

10 Dashes HB Orange Bitters

*Add sugars to a cast iron or sautée pan. Warm on medium-low heat until sugars begin to liquify. Add peeled and sliced peaches, butter and remaining ingredients to the caramel. If you want to get a little fancy and flambé the Grand Ma, feel free. Cook the peaches for 10-15 minutes or until the peaches are just soft and they’ve released some juices into the caramel. Let the mix cool (as we’ll be adding whipped cream) or serve slightly warm over biscuits.

Bitter Whipped Cream:

1 Cup Whipping Cream

1 Tablespoon Powdered Sugar

4 or 5 Dashes HB Aromatic Bitters

Whip chilled cream (a cold bowl helps, too), powdered sugar and bitters by hand or with a electric mixer until soft peaks form. Chill.

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A Bitter Breakfast: Smokey Cheddar Grits With Smoked Chili Bitters

Being that I’m from and live in the south, Shrimp & Grits are a staple. I’ve had and tried them many different ways. Creamy garlic sauce, white wine sauce with tomato and creole to name a few.  There are many many varieties out there. What’s the most important component of this dish? The shrimp? Or, the grits? The bottom line is, they both have to be perfect. The shrimp should be juicy and the grits creamy. And, any proper southerner can tell you, cooking grits is a labor of love. Everyone has their own recipe. Do you cook them with water? Chicken stock? Milk? Half water, half milk? Me, I cook mine with water. About mid way through, I add cream. Constantly stirring, adding butter, more cream and more water until it’s just right. Some things just have a feeling, you know? I don’t have any old nostalgic stories about being knee-high to grandma while she’s making biscuits and cooking grits for Sunday breakfast. I’m not even opposed to using instant grits. Don’t revoke my proper southern woman’s card.

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Today we’re going to use some “good” grits. Stone ground white grits to be exact. To these grits we shall add our accoutrements. Smoked Chili Bitters and Cheddar.

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Like mentioned before, cooking grits is a labor of love. I’ll list the specs below but, you really have to feel your grits. Taste as you go adjusting the levels of water, cream, salt and butter.

Smokey Cheddar Grits:

3 Cups Water [Add more when needed]

1/2 Cup Cream [Add more when needed]

1 Cup Grits

1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese [Shredded, add more to liking]

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt [Add more to taste]

25 Dashes Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters [Yes…25 Dashes]

Butter

Yields ~4 servings

SN: I can’t tell you how much butter to add. Take the approach of the old white-haired lady from Georgia who was on a network that is all about food but is no longer on food televisions’ approach.

Whisk the grits into salted boiling water and immediately reduce heat to simmer. Once the grits start to thicken, whisk in cream, cheese, butter and bitters. Cook for 20-30 minutes on medium low heat, stirring, adding water and cream as needed until grits are tender. You want your grits to be smooth and creamy. Not stuck in your pot like cement.

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For our shrimp, we’re bringing back the BBQ rub from our smoked chili wings. This rub will be equally as good on a nice piece of salmon, charred to perfection atop the cheddar grits. Thank me later.

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Dust the shrimp with the BBQ rub and pan sear the shrimp until just cooked through. Remember, we want them to be juicy. No rubber with the grits please!

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And, for the final touch, take your favorite BBQ sauce (something spicy and sweet) about 1/4 Cup and add ~8 dashes of the smoked chili bitters and a dash of water. Heat and drizzle over your shrimp and grits. Adorn the whole thing with chives. Enjoy!

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A Bitter Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes With Ginger-Lemon Bitters

That’s right. We’re cooking with bitters!! Really fantastic bitters. I don’t know about you but, I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect pancake recipe. I’ve tried to create my own, tried other’s recipes, and, they’ve been…ok. Now I know what’s been missing. Bitters. Ginger-Lemon Bitters. This is a nice and straightforward recipe for buttermilk pancakes. To take it up a notch, we’ll be adding bitters (duh), fresh blueberries and some lemon zest. They’re light and super delicious.

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These will easily become a new brunch favorite.

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Let’s jump right into the recipe. It’s adapted from a standard buttermilk pancake recipe. The one thing you have to have is the bitters. The Ginger-Lemon Bitters is what gives these pancakes the punch of flavor. Of course we all are used to adding bitters to our cocktails. You can do that too. Add a few dashes to your mimosa.

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

4 Teaspoons Ginger-Lemon Bitters

3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

2 Eggs

3 Cups Buttermilk

4 Tablespoons Melted Butter [Unsalted]

Whisk together the dry ingredients and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together the bitters and wet ingredients. Bring both wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Some small lumps are okay.

Heat griddle or pan to a medium. It’s okay to cook them slowly. We don’t want burnt pancakes. Think light and fluffy. Grease your cooking surface  and ladle in the pancake batter, as evenly as possible. Once you see tiny bubbles, add fresh blueberries. As many or as little as you’d like.

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At this point, you’re ready to flip.

Let us not forget about the syrup! Before you make your batter, add 8 ounces of real maple syrup to a saucepan with 1/2 cup of blueberries, 10 dashes of Ginger-Lemon Bitters, the juice of half a lemon and a pat of butter. Bring to a light simmer, careful not to boil and crystalize. Give the blueberries a mash and keep the syrup warm while cooking pancakes.

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The only way to make these better is with a side of bacon 🙂

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Use Bitters To Amp Up Your Late Spring [Non]Alcoholic Drinks

DSC_5706Bitters are a fun and easy ingredient to add to your non-alcoholic drinks. Especially in this heatwave we’re having. They bring a nice little bite to whatever you’re drinking. Try some in a homemade soda or with lemonade (like we’re doing here!) I don’t know where you are but, here in North Carolina, we’re scorching!! We’ve been hitting 99º every day!!! In the late Spring and Summer, there’s nothing better that sipping a tall glass of lemonade. As for now, I’ll be sipping my lemonade near a large window. It’s just a little too hot for my liking outside. However, don’t be afraid to break out that citrus juicer. Fresh lemonade is the way to go and, the combinations of flavors for lemonade are endless. Beet, mint, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, basil…I could go on. And, I will. We should probably start a whole mini series for lemonade this Summer. Our first installment is this Rosemary Lemonade with Hella Bitters Citrus Bitters. Rosemary and citrus compliment each other so well. It’s a no-brainer.

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Fresh lemonade is pretty simple to make with just a few ingredients. Lemons, sugar, water and whatever fruit or herb (and in this case, Hella Bitters) you want to add. All you’ll need is a little manpower.

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One bag of lemons should do you for one batch O’ lemonade.

Rosemary Lemonade:

1 1/2 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Cup Rosemary Syrup

4 Cups Water

Mix all ingredients together, bottle and allow some time for chilling.

*For rosemary syrup: add 2 Cups of water and 2 Cups of sugar to a saucepan with 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer and dissolve sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool, leaving the spring in the mix. This makes more than 1 Cup of syrup. You can adjust the sweetness of the lemonade to your taste and use the leftover syrup for gin cocktails in the future. I’m thinking rosemary gimlets with a few dashes of Hella Bitters Citrus Bitters.

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For each tall glass of rosemary lemonade, add 2-3 dashes of Hella Bitters Citrus bitters, stir, throw a fresh sprig of rosemary in the mix and enjoy. Just try to find a nice piece of shade to relax under 😉  Cheers!

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Cooking With Bitters: Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Expression

That’s right, we’re cooking with bitters. And, not just any ol’ bitters, Smoked Chili Bitters. The wonderful team over at Hella Bitters has rolled out some new flavors: Orange, Smoked Chili and Ginger Lemon. Today, we’re going to incorporate the smoke flavor into some chicken wings. “The level of smoke in these bitters is a game changer”-FoodieTails. No liquid smoke necessary, no woodchips, no poly-sci smoker. All the smoke and spice you need is right in this bottle of bitters. There are plenty of food recipes out there that include bitters. This recipe will get you ready for all of your backyard BBQ’s. It is Spring after all; it’s time to light up that grill! For this recipe we’re going to make our own dry rub that you can use any time on more that just chicken.

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This rub is super easy with only one slightly obscure ingredient: Active Charcoal seasoning. I picked mine up from my local spice shop. For those who do indoor grilling, this is a really cool ingredient to have in your arsenal. It gives that “grilled” taste to your indoor BBQ’ing. The charcoal seasoning includes kosher salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, black pepper, activated charcoal, cumin, Mediterranean thyme, chipotle, Greek oregano and hickory smoke flavoring. There’s a lot going on in there so we’re just using a small amount to compliment the smokey-spicey flavor of the bitters.

Dry Rub:

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika

1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic

1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Active Charcoal Seasoning* [Optional]

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Mix the spices together and your ready to cook! For the chicken, we’re using 12 wing pieces. Feel free to use whatever pieces you’d like. *Be sure to use you “non-chicken” hand to distrubute rub over chicken to avoid contamination. You’ll want to use this rub again. Place in a holding container or an old spice jar with a sprinkle cap.

To prepare the wings, place the wing pieces into a bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt (because there’s already salt in the rub) and toss with 4 teaspoons of Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters. I threw in a few extra dashes 😉

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Sprinkle dry rub mixture over wings to coat, tossing a few times. Cover with plastic wrap and let the flavors marry with the wings for at least 45 minutes-1 hour (in the fridge).

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These wings were roasted in the oven. I believe they would be just as good on the grill or even fried. It is still NBA season, right? Game night wings anyone?!

For even cooking, let the wings come back to room temp before roasting. Place the wings in an oiled glass baking dish (lined with foil if you don’t want to scrub dishes) being sure to space the wings at least 1-2inches apart. They won’t get that crispy skin we all love if they’re crowded in the dish. Roast on 450° for about 35 minutes or until crispy and browned. This isn’t a Sunday stew…wings don’t take long to cook.

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A little smoke, a little spice with just a touch of sweetness. It’s time for you to enjoy!

Recap:

*Dry Rub

12 Wing Pieces

4 Teaspoons Smoked Chili Bitters

Marinate and roast at 450°

*SN: I made a smokey BBQ sandwich with this rub and smoked chili bitters a few days later with pulled chicken, BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon. Simply amazing. It was on BBQ/Beer Fest status. The recipe will soon  be on the blog!