Alton Brown Adventures: Good Eats Company Punch

We’re always looking for fun drinks to make on our weekends, and Andrew *loves* punch, so when we watched an episode where Alton Brown showed us how to make legitimate punch that was used by pirates, we knew it was only a matter of time before we were going to make it.

Basically, it follows the recipe of:

1 part sour
2 part sweet
3 strong
4 weak

We ran into a few snags while making it, which almost always happens when embarking on a new cooking adventure. The first was that we couldn’t find the alcohol suggested. Alton Brown makes his with Batavia Arrack, which is a golden rum, but it just wasn’t at our local Mariano’s, so we substituted with cachaca. Since Batavia Arrack is partly made from sugar cane, I figured it would be a good enough substitute and hoped that it wouldn’t change it too much.

The second is that we couldn’t find a container big enough to do the whole recipe in, so we halved it and made do with a large plastic bowl that we use for any big adventure.

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Lots of limes!

 

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Make some black tea and put in some sugar
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Cachaca!
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We made spherical ice by freezing water balloons!
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We strained it into the punch bowl and grated some nutmeg over it

Overall, it turned out delicious, and it’s more than a little dangerous. We really weren’t able to taste the alcohol in it, and it was POTENT. Definitely more of a party punch rather than a two-people-hanging-out-on-the-weekend punch. Also, we are now converts to freshly grated nutmeg — it really made a difference and made it so much more delicious.

Want the recipe? Get it from the Good Eats page on the Food Network website!

Alton Brown Adventures: Meatloaf

I have a confession to make: I’ve never had meatloaf before. It just wasn’t a thing in my household. Hamburgers? Totally. Steak? Yup. But meatloaf? My mom just didn’t make it. She and my dad both had horrible experiences eating tasteless, dried up meatloaf, so they chose never to subject themselves and their children to it ever. So, when Andrew told me that he was craving meatloaf, I was a little taken a back. He was craving that terrible food my parents always complained about, really? But, he swore it was good, so I believed him.

As always, we turned to Alton Brown to see if he had a recipe we could use, and he sure did.

It wasn’t Andrew’s favorite, but I personally really liked Alton Brown’s meatloaf recipe. As someone who grew up hearing about the horrors of dried up, unflavored meat, I was really nervous going into this, but the sauce and spices he use are absolutely wonderful and create a flavorful crust around the loaf that just can’t be beat. I’m a huge fan. But, the reasons for me liking it are the reasons for Andrew not liking it so much — it has a little too much flavor for what he likes in meatloaf. So, I guess it depends on personal preference and taste, as always.

In terms of making it, the process itself was fairly easy and it wasn’t a huge time investment. It also held up well for leftovers, which you know if you’ve read one of these food posts before, is huge for us. We love taking our homemade food for lunch. All in all, I recommend it, but not if you’re looking for something mildly, simply flavored.

Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s Website.

Alton Brown Adventures: Shepherd’s Pie

I am a fan of the Shepherd’s Pie. Everything in it just feels so comfort food/homey to me — ground beef and mashed potatoes? Yes please! The problem is that some recipes might be bland, but when we took a look at Alton Brown’s recipe, we knew that definitely wouldn’t be a problem.

As always, we had a little difficulty in the actual cookware department. The only pan we had that would work for this dish was a little too small for what the recipe called for (we registered for a bigger one, though!), so there was some smushing and rearranging involved, but that was really the only difficulty. That, and being super hungry while the meat filling cooked because it smelled so good.

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Mmmm. Meat filling.
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We maybe should have also drained some of the grease out. So much smushing in the pan!

It turned out delicious, and it lasted a while, which is nice for two working people who like eating homemade food for lunch. We haven’t made it again, but I’m looking forward to when we do!

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FOOD!

Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s website!

Alton Brown Adventures: Alton Brown Live!

While I hate the winter weather, it is wonderful to live in a city that actually has interesting things to do and is a draw for entertainers, celebrities, authors, plays, etc. When we found out that Alton Brown would be hosting a live show at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, we just had to buy tickets.

As mentioned Wednesday, we had a lovely (and filling!) brunch before the show, and then walked over to the theatre. While they didn’t allow photography during the show, I do have some beautiful pictures of the theatre that I took while we were waiting.

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Sitting in the theatre
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Sitting in the theatre

 

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Alton Brown Live!

The show itself was wonderful — a great mix of cooking/food humor and actual cooking and some science explanations as to how cooking works the way it works. We think that the first non-science portion went on a bit too long — as always, he’s at his best when describing the science behind food. We especially liked the part of the show where he had an audience member spin a wheel to see what sort of cocktail she was going to get (Vodka + Campari + Cough syrup. Blech!), and then see how Alton Brown tried to fix it so that it would be somewhat drinkable. Very fun. I think it was just the right length for it to feel as though we got our money’s worth but have it still be enjoyable, and we loved the random musical performances throughout the show.

A nice thing he did at the end was answer audience questions that were asked through Twitter. Our question didn’t get picked ūüôĀ but it was a fun way to try to include people and make sure we got what we wanted to see. I would definitely consider going to see him again if he decided to do another live show.

 

Alton Brown Adventures: Red Velvet Cake

Andrew’s favorite cake is red velvet cake. Also, Andrew hates frosting, except for cream cheese frosting. So, it comes as no surprise that when his birthday came along, I had no choice but to make him a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. The only tough part: finding a decent recipe that I could reasonably make. To Alton Brown, I turned!

I love how easy to follow Alton’s recipe was — I don’t know why, but we were both a bit daunted by the prospect of making a red velvet cake from scratch. Maybe because it’s thought of as a fancy, decadent treat, but we were a bit scared, though we didn’t need to be. To be fair, Andrew did most of the work, even though it was *his* birthday cake, but he loves cooking, so what better gift to give him than the challenge of making a new dish?

Sidenote, we finally bought a hand mixer, because I didn’t have confidence in our abilities to make a cream cheese frosting by hand. Yay for one step closer to true adulthood!

It was surprisingly easy to make, however. A bit messy and quite a lot of steps, but overall, fairly easy. And, if we do say so ourselves, it turned out to be delicious. It was a little silly making the full recipe for only the two of us, but we did okay with finishing it, considering

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Beautiful cake, all baked!
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It’s supposed to say, “Happy Birthday, Andrew!” but I didn’t have any colored icing on hand, and we were hungry and wanted to eat it at this point.
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Mmmm! Happy birthday, Andrew!

Want the recipe? You can find it on Alton Brown’s Food Network Page, Here!

 

Alton Brown Adventures: Grenadine

When I first introduced this thing we’re doing with Alton Brown’s recipes, I mentioned that what got us started was his alcohol episode. That was for two reasons: Andrew and I love a good drink; making great cocktails is actually rather simple if you put in some time. So, we finally took the plunge and made ourselves homemade grenadine.

I actually don’t like store-bought grenadine very much. As long as it’s just a splash or two, it’s fine, but the stuff is way too sugary and sticky for my taste. Turns out, grenadine isn’t supposed to taste like just sugary syrup — it was originally made from pomegranates! In his “Good Eats” episode, Alton Brown goes through the origin of the name “grenadine,” and it actually comes from the French word “granade” which means pomegranate. Having taken a lot of French, I was embarrassed to have never thought of that, but in my defense, store-bought stuff tastes very little like pomegranates.

Basically, to make a homemade grenadine, you take some pomegranate juice, add some sugar, and then reduce it into a syrup. So simple! Alton Brown recommends that you get juice not made from concentrate, but we found that too difficult to accomplish and couldn’t find any anywhere, so we just bought some Pom and went with it.

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Mmmm Reduction.

Overall, it was a success. I don’t think it reduced as much as it should have, and that could have been a cooking error or due to the fact that we used stuff made from concentrate. I hope to repeat the experiment once we’ve used up all the grenadine (which might take a while, honestly). But, overall, a success! We made ourselves some mimosa sunrises (I know it’s not a thing, but we didn’t have tequila), which were surprisingly good. Highly recommend trying it out for yourself.

Alton Brown Adventures: Sirloin Steak

Now that Andrew is no longer a vegetarian, he’s always looking for new ways to cook meat and new kinds of meat to enjoy. So, when he saw this for sale at the grocery store, he bought it and researched to see if Alton Brown had a recipe for it. Luckily, he did.

This is kind of a funny story, actually, because cooking this calls for a broiler, which neither of us has ever really used. We could see that our oven definitely had the broiler option, but it took a little bit to figure out how to use it. It turns out, the broiler is that bottom thing on the oven that looks like it might be some sort of storage area. Who knew?!

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A little boring color-scheme wise, but this was DELICIOUS.

For such a delicious dinner, this steak (especially with this recipe) is ridiculously easy to make. Combined with a nice side (we chose mashed potatoes and a spinach salad), this turns into a pretty classy dinner fairly easily. Pair it with a nice wine and you have a fancy dinner for not too much effort.

Want the recipe? Check out Alton Brown’s Food Network page!

Alton Brown Adventures: Leek Potato Soup

ALYSSA

I found an “ultimate” potato soup recipe online, and while it was good, it called for a pound of bacon. When I first made it, Andrew was still a vegetarian, and¬†even with some substitutes, it didn’t quite work out. So, we were in the market for a more flavorful potato soup that had no need for a pound of fatty meat. Of course, we turned to Alton Brown to solve our problem, and we found it: Leek Potato Soup.

Honestly, I feel like the hardest part of this soup for us was doing the shopping for it — none of us had actually ever seen a leek before. Ha. We’re babies. Sorry. We had to Google a picture of it to actually find it in the store. Oops. But, we found it! And now, we’ve cooked with it, and it was delicious.

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Letting that soup simmer!

ANDREW

Leek¬†potato soup is one of my¬†favorite winter meals. It’s warm, filling, and just tastes so earthy and delicious. Best of all, it’s really easy to make. (We like soups exactly because we’re able to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, let it simmer for a while, and then have a fully cooked meal out of it.) Every day I ate this in the cold, Chicago winter, it warmed my soul.

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Oh, yeah. Delicious.

Like we said, soup is usually pretty simple to make, and this is no different. (Although, we highly recommend getting an immersion blender for it if you don’t already have one. It makes everything so much easier.) This was delicious and such a treat to look forward to every day. Highly recommend.

Sound good? Find the recipe on Alton Brown’s Food Network page!

Alton Brown Adventures: Mayonnaise

Andrew and I both hate the mayonnaise you can buy in a grocery store. It seems way too goopy to be good for you and, on top of that, it doesn’t even taste good. It has to be one or the other, right? Jarred mayonnaise just doesn’t cut it.

Sadly, a lot of yummy things require mayonnaise, like tuna salad, or deviled eggs, or really well-made sandwiches. It’s not fair! I’ve tried substitutes like a mix of mustard with just a dollop of mayonnaise, but it really isn’t the same. So, when Andrew said that he’d never had tuna melts before (I mean, seriously. What?), and we had some nice sourdough bread for them, we decided to go one step further and try our hand at making our own mayonnaise. Worst case scenario: we confirm that we don’t like any form of mayonnaise.

However, that didn’t happen, because, as it turns out, homemade mayonnaise (Alton Brown’s version, at the very least) is delicious. Andrew was a little wary of it, because the recipe does call for a raw egg — seriously, what is that jarred stuff actually made out of, because it certainly isn’t a raw egg — we also didn’t have a neutral-flavored oil, but we were making it specifically for some tuna salad, so we thought that using olive oil would be perfectly acceptable.

Lesson learned: get a low speed hand mixer, or at least a full-sized whisk. Have we mentioned that we’re living our first year together? Yeah. We have a whisk attachment to an immersion blender. That’s what we have for a whisk. (We can’t wait to upgrade our kitchen supplies, seriously.) Needless to say, whisking it took some effort. Andrew is a hero.

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We tried it — and it was delicious.

When we first saw how much we made, were both on the same page: it’s good for a one-time try, if we don’t like it, dump it out. But that absolutely did not happen. It was so good, we ended up using all of it even though it’s only good for a week. So, what I’m trying to say is that we lived off tuna salad (made with homemade mayonnaise!) for a week. And it was amazing.

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Andrew’s first tuna melt — he was not disappointed.

Want the recipe? Find it here!

Alton Brown Adventures: Southern Biscuits

So, Costco has an amazing deal on Red Lobster biscuit mix, and we get it basically every time we go there. They’re pretty easy to make and there’s just something about mixing together some biscuits as a late night snack or for breakfast in the morning that is super satisfying.

Neither of us has any Southern roots to speak of, so when it comes to biscuits, our standards may not be the high standards of people who might live in Georgia, or something. (Obviously, I mean, we love that Red Lobster mix.) But, we will say that found these biscuits to be absolutely delicious. Even better than the Red Lobster mix, if you can believe it. (Okay, you can. I know.)

Almost every weekend breakfast has something to do with eggs, and as delicious as eggs are, that sometimes gets old. So, when we looked through some Alton Brown recipes to try for the weekend, we decided that it was time to take a break and try some genuine Southern biscuits.

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How did we get such perfectly circular biscuits? Andrew used a rocks glass, which worked surprisingly well.

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The finished product — with butter, of course

Andrew thinks we might have rolled our dough a little too thin, and I’d personally like to see if using a cutter instead of a whiskey tumbler would improve them somehow, but this is definitely a recipe we’re going to come back to when we have time to make these from scratch instead of just a mix.

Want the recipe? Find it on Alton Brown’s website!