Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Minister's Red Currant Rum

In order to explain this recipe, I must admit something here: I love love love the Harry Potter

Complete. Total. Sucker.

A few years ago, after I'd read the actual books, L gave me the audiobooks. When I am in the mood for a comfortable, familiar voice and story, when I want to zone out, or when I want to hear something calming as I fall asleep (audiobooks are great for shutting up a racing brain at bedtime), I put on one of those recordings. I think it must drive L nuts- or maybe it's so far past that now that he can just tune it out!

Pumpkin pasties and butter beer aside, every time I hear the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge order red currant rum, I've thought about how superbly delicious that sounds. Alas, as it so often is with things you crave (nevermind the fact that I'd never actually tasted it), I could not find a recipe for red currant rum anywhere. Not in cookbooks, not online, and not in the hands of fellow cooking-obsessed friends.

So in the end- poor poor me- here was a ready-made excuse to invent and test and try and taste and play around in the kitchen! As you can imagine, I was thrilled!

I originally wanted to drink this rum neat, and I do like a little sweetness in my straight-up-booze, so I made multiple batches of the red currant rum with a few different natural sweeteners. As usual, I preferred the particular flavour and sweetness of honey, perhaps because it reminds me of mead, and certainly because it's a perfect, earthy foil for the bright, tart currants.

If you don't like honey, I don’t know if I can be friends with you you can use sugar, keeping in mind that honey often tastes sweeter than sugar, so measure accordingly. I generally use a 3:4 ratio of honey to sugar. Drink sweetness is such a personal thing that I suggest you play around- start with a little and add in small increments- until you find a level that you like best. This rum ages well, so experimenting in this way is easy.

And before you go all, "why are you posting this now? currants aren't in season until late summer!" on me, just consider how much time you now have to plan!

The Minister's Red Currant Rum

1 cup fresh or frozen red currants
1 liter white rum
3 tablespoons honey (double or triple this if you want something more like a liqueur)

You will want to make your red currant rum in a glass (not plastic) container so that you can safely use a bain-marie, or water bath, to release those yummy currant flavours. I also believe that, in general, glass is a safer container for storing foods.

To prepare your bain-marie, heat a few liters of water in a saucepan large enough to accommodate your rum container.

If your currants are fresh and on the vine, pick them off. Wash the currants gently in cold water and let them drip dry in a colander or on a clean towel.

If your currants are frozen, just defrost them in the rum.

Drop the currants into your glass container (or pour them in, if you didn't insist on using a bottle with such a tiny mouth- argh), drizzle in the honey, and then add the rum.

At this point, carefully check your bain-marie. The water doesn't need to be boiling or just-boiled, but steam should be rising from the surface. If you're using Pyrex, you can keep the water at a simmer; if you're unsure about the quality of your glass, make sure the heat under the saucepan is turned off.

Put your rum container into the bain-marie and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, remove the rum from the bain-marie and let it sit at room temperature until cool.

Seal/stopper/cover the rum and let it sit in a cool, dark place for at least six months and up to one year. Give the container a good shake every month or so. I like concentrated flavours, so I try to keep myself away from the rum for as long as I can!

When you're ready, strain the infused rum into a clean, sterilized container.

Enjoy your red currant rum neat, in your favourite cocktail recipe, or after aging, well-sealed, in a cool, dark place for up to a few years.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A hopeful return and thank you!

Thank you! Thank you so much for all the sweet comments asking about this blog.

Alas, at the end of the semester last year, my busy life and crazy job kicked in with a vengeance and I dropped off the face of the earth... at least, where this blog is concerned. Well, actually, I think some of my friends would agree here, too, as I haven't seen them nearly as often as I'd like.

Now that I feel a little bit less like I've been holding my breath and racing along for a year, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things here.

I will try to pull myself away from the cookbook reading that is such a nice diversion from shoveling miles and miles of snow!