Jameson Irish Whiskey For the Holidays

Nov 21, 2014 by

If you’re looking for a good blended Irish whiskey to serve this holiday season, Jameson Irish whiskey may just be the elixir for you.

I’m frequently asked to recommend a whiskey to serve out of town guests who are visiting for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Although I’m partial to smokey, peaty Scotch whisky like Laphroaig, sometimes an all purpose whiskey–which in no way implies ordinary or cheap— that can be sipped with pleasure or added to a cocktail (such as Irish coffee) is the way to go.  One of the best known Irish blended whiskies in the world, Jameson Irish whiskey is my choice for a Celtic holiday gathering: smooth enough for sipping, flavorful enough for cocktails, reasonably priced, and available at most liquor stores.

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Jameson Irish whiskey makes a wonderful gift for the host or hostess of a party, as well as a stocking stuffer or under the tree surprise for a whiskey aficionado. In addition to the original, there are several other vintages of Jameson Irish whiskey from which to choose.  Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve, Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve and Jameson 2007 Rarest Vintage Reserve are all mature blends with more refinement and different flavors than the original, but you will pay a significantly higher price. Click HERE or HERE for reviews of these specialty vintages of Jameson Irish whiskey.

By the way, in case you were wondering about my changes in spelling,  Irish whiskey is spelled with an “e”, while Scotch whisky has no “e”.

 

 

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A selection of Jameson Irish whiskies to peruse

One of the most popular uses of Jameson Irish whiskey is as an ingredient in recipes for cocktails and food.  I use it in Irish coffee, a simple, but delicious treat on a cold night by the fire.

There are hundreds of variations on Irish coffee, with many calling for whipped cream on the top of the drink.  Here’s the original recipe, which I prefer–the cream is not whipped, just carefully poured on top:

Ingredients (serves 2-3 people)
1 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 cups hot black coffee–I like it strong, but brew to your preference
3/4 cup fresh heavy cream–do not use half and half or your recipe will fail
1 TBS sugar–I use turbinado, but you can also use brown sugar or white sugar**

Directions
Pour coffee, whiskey and sugar into large pan and heat over medium -high heat til sugar is blended. Do not boil.

** The tablespoon of sugar is NOT optional; if you leave out the sugar, the cream won’t float on the top. If you don’t want to use sugar, buy a can of good whipped cream and use that as a topping instead of the heavy cream.

Pour equal amounts of mixture into two Irish coffee glasses (click HERE to see the type of glass preferred), leaving an inch or two of room at top.

That was easy, right?

Now comes the tricky part. There are two methods for getting the cream to float on top of the coffee; both require a wee bit of skill and practice.

1) Take a metal teaspoon, hold just above the surface of the coffee and then gently and carefully pour the cream over the BACK of the spoon, gradually raising the spoon until you have about an inch or so of cream on top. This is my preferred method (learned it from a bartender back in my college days) and is easy to master after a few tries. I promise–if you added the sugar as indicated, the cream WILL float on top of the coffee.

2) Using a teaspoon, hold the spoon facing up and just touching the surface of the coffee. Carefully and slowly, pour cream into spoon until it overflows, raising the spoon gradually as needed to keep it just touching the surface of the coffee. Again, the dissolved sugar will allow the cream to float atop the coffee mix.

Now that you’ve created your masterpiece, drink your Irish coffee by sipping it through the cream layer.

The experience is heavenly!

 

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Guinness and Bailey’s and Whiskey– Oh, My!

Apr 9, 2014 by

 

I’m always looking for yummy desert recipes that include the Holy Trinity of Irish libations–Guinness Stout, Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur, and Irish whiskey.  This rich recipe from Allrecipes.com for Chocolate Beer Cupcakes with Whiskey Filling and Irish Cream Icing--sorry, I didn’t pick the lengthy name– has it all,  plus dark chocolate,  in  a lush (no pun intended) combo sure to please the Celtic palate.

 

Of course, these little chocolate whiskey cakes are perfect for St Patrick’s Day, but why serve them just once a year?  A taste of the Irish “spirits” is good for the soul any time of the year.

 

For a a video link showing how the cupcakes are made, click HERE.

 

 

Ingredients:
1 cup Irish stout beer (I always use Guinness stout )
1 cup butter (unsalted)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (the more cocoa content, the richer the chocolate taste–I use the 85% dark chocolate )
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Irish whiskey, or more to taste-I always use a wee bit more ( it’ll be GRAND! ) and Jameson’s or Redbreast whiskey

1/2 cup butter, softened (unsalted)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, or more as needed
3 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur (such as Baileys®), or more to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. I love the new parchment cupcake liners–gives the cupcakes a polished look.

3. Bring Irish stout beer and 1 cup butter to a boil in a saucepan and set aside until butter has melted, stirring occasionally. Mix in cocoa powder until smooth.
4. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
5. Beat eggs with sour cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low until well combined. Slowly beat in the beer mixture, then the flour mixture; beat until the batter is smooth.
6. Divide batter between the prepared cupcake cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full.
7. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 17 minutes.
8. Cool the cupcakes completely. Cut cores out of the center of each cupcake with a sharp paring knife. Discard cores.
9. Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat; stir in bittersweet chocolate until melted.
10. Mix in 2 tablespoons butter and Irish whiskey until butter is melted; let mixture cool to room temperature. Filling will thicken as it cools.
11. Spoon the filling into the cored cupcakes.  Set aside to cool.
12. For frosting, whip 1/2 cup butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
13. Set mixer to low speed and slowly beat in confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Beat in the Irish cream liqueur; adjust thickness of frosting with more confectioners’ sugar if needed.
14. Spread frosting on filled cupcakes.  Lick the leftovers off the beaters. Well, that’s what I do.

 

Garnish Suggestions: cocoa powder; colored sugar; chocolate drizzle; caramel drizzle; crumbled bits of the cupcake you scooped out of the centers; cherries; coarse Demara sugar; cinnamon powder.

 

Recipe from Allrecipes.com, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2014 Allrecipes.com.

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Whisky Wednesday With The Butler

Feb 26, 2014 by

Wednesday is a good day to try a dram or two of a new whisky or whiskey, depending on your preference.   You won’t appear as desperate as you might on a Monday night (the week has barely begun), and you’ll have more time to properly savor the taste results than you would on a Friday night (TGIF–just gimme a bottle!).  While you’re at it, you may as well invite a friend over to share in your Celtic heritage appreciation event…but which whisky will make the cut?

 

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Personally, I love single malts, preferably with peaty smokiness, paired with a hint of sweetness.   I’ve read reviews of the newest release from Highland Park,  Scotland’s northernmost single malt distillery, and it may be a good match for me.   Distilled in an area that was once a Norse stronghold in Viking Age Scotland, HP’s new 15 year old whisky is named after Freya, the Norse goddess of love, and is said to taste of lush fruitiness and smoky earthiness, closing with a spicy finish.

Sounds like the perfect uisge beatha to share with my favorite Scottish Butler.

Not sure which whisk(e)y you should try?   I recommend consulting  Whisky For Everyone , a wonderful blog for all whisky lovers, whether you’re just starting to appreciate this much-loved elixir of the Celts or you’re a long-time whisky drinker–they always have a list of the latest whisky releases.

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Dark Chocolate Brownie Sundae With Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Dec 9, 2013 by

This yummy Celtic dessert is one I adapted from  Robin Ove’s recipe on her blog  What About The Food?.  Chocolatey, gooey brownies are always a big hit, but adding the Irish whiskey caramel sauce elevates this standard brownie recipe to new heights of lusciousness.  Perfect treat to wow your guests at Christmas or for any holiday!

 

Brownies

2 ¾ oz (80 g) bittersweet chocolate (at least 85% cacao–I just saw a 90% bar at the grocery-wow!)*
2 ¾ oz (80 g) semisweet chocolate ( 70% cacao)*
1 1/3 cup (300 g) unsalted butter–I use Kerry Gold butter from Ireland
2 ½ cups (500 g) granulated sugar-I use natural unbleached sugar, but white sugar is fine.
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsps vanilla–I also add 1-2 tsps more of espresso extract or extra strong brewed coffee, but leave out if you don’t want the coffee taste.  I’ll try not to cry.
5 large eggs
1 ½ cups (180 g) sifted all purpose, unbleached flour (sift before measuring)
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans, walnuts or a mix of both (I’ve used hazelnuts and macadamias and they work well also)

* Always use the best chocolate you can find–it does make a difference. If you don’t like the darker, more bitter chocolates with higher cacao content, try combining regular semi-sweet with a high quality milk chocolate (German brands are usually better, I’ve found). The brownies will be lighter, but still delicious.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 15 ½ X 10 ½ x 1-inch (38 X 27 x 2-cm) jelly roll pan–line with parchment paper to make removal easier.

~In a large double boiler(pot over simmering water) over medium heat, melt the chocolates and butter together, stirring up from the bottom so it melts evenly and quickly. Remove from the heat while some of the chocolate and butter are in small chunks and stir until everything melts.  This process allows the chocolate-butter to begin cooling as it melts. Allow to cool slightly.
Using a whisk or wooden spoon, stir the sugar, salt and vanilla/coffee into the chocolate-butter mixture. It may be slightly grainy–we’ll fix that soon.  Next, using a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs, one at a time, just until smooth and blended after each addition. The batter will turn from grainy to smooth and creamy.

~Stir the flour and coarsely chopped nuts into the batter just until blended and smooth.

~Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth to even out and make sure it fills all the way into the corners. I like to give the pan a couple of hard taps on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes (depending on your oven–always set timer for shortest amount first) until puffed and shiny (it may begin to crack) but still moist. Don’t forget that it will continue to bake a bit after removing from the oven and you want moist brownies!

~Cool the brownies in the pan on a cooling rack before cutting and serving.

 

Jameson's Irish Whiskey

Jameson’s Irish Whiskey

Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce  (adapted from an Epicurious recipe here)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
6 Tablespoons Irish whiskey–I use Jameson’s or Red Breast
1/4 cup heavy cream (not half and half)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pints good-quality coffee ice cream–you can use vanilla, butter pecan, whatever you prefer.  If you can find cinnamon ice cream, it is delicious with the brownie and sauce!

To Make Sauce:
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 2–quart heavy saucepan over medium–high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring, but washing down any sugar crystals with a brush dipped in cold water, until syrup begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Continue to boil, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is a deep golden caramel.

Remove pan from heat and carefully add whiskey, cream, and salt (mixture will bubble up and steam and caramel will harden).
Return pan to heat and simmer, stirring, until caramel is dissolved and sauce is smooth. Cool to warm.

To Serve:

Place one brownie per serving plate, top with a scoop of ice cream, drizzle whiskey sauce over top and serve immediately. If you are feeling generous, pour some of the whiskey sauce into a creamer or small gravy boat and allow guests to add extra sauce to their brownie sundaes. You will instantly attain Best Hostess Ever status and be spoken of with awe  in years to come.

Sauce can be made 4 days ahead and chilled, covered. Re-warm to serve. Any leftover sauce will keep, chilled, at least 1 week.  Ha–not really, but you can try to keep your family from eating it all!

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Whisky: The Original Celtic Curative

Nov 25, 2013 by

It is an old and commonly accepted Celtic maxim that if whisky can’t cure it, there is no cure for it, whatever it may be.  Wise words for the holiday season…

Whisky Drink for Surviving  the Holidays

Whisky: The Celtic Cure for What Ails Ye    Image by Jamie Chung http://ti.me/1fEkDvt

 

We all know that big family holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas bring on stress, and stress, in turn, makes us more susceptible to coughs and colds and other icky illnesses.  Our Celtic ancestors played host to visiting relatives, too, and knew full well the perils of gathering the clan all in one confined space, especially when those clansmen and women were packing heat, or at least swords and axes.
Luckily for you, beautiful Celtic people, your ancestors created a magical elixir to settle frayed nerves and ward off potential nasties brought by relatives on their holiday visit.  I’m speaking, of course, about uisge beatha,  the water of life,  better known as whisky (Scotland) and whiskey (Ireland and the US).  In fact, the word “whisky”(with or without the e) is an anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic word  “uisge” and the Irish Gaelic word “uisce”, meaning water.  Uisge beatha roughly translates as “lively water” or ” water of life.”

When I’m feeling ” a mite peaked “, as we Southerners say, I add just a little hot water to my Lagavulin  and sip it in front of the fire or while I’m reading–always make me feel better. If you aren’t in the mood to take your whisky neat, however, try this clever cocktail created by New York bartender Sam Ross. It combines the curative properties of lemon, honey and ginger with the bracing properties of a good single malt.

Sláinte–to your health!

The Penicillin:

Muddle fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker, add 2 oz of scotch (lightly peated, such as Bunnahabhain ), 3⁄4 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz. honey syrup(I use pure honey with equal parts hot water), and shake with ice.

Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, and pour 1/4 ounce of Islay single malt scotch (such as Laphroaig or Lagavulin) over the back of a bar spoon so that it floats on the drink.
 Garnish with candied ginger.

 

Need to know how to pronounce all those glorious Scottish whisky brand names?  Scots actor Brian Cox and Esquire magazine created a group of very short videos to help you speak whisky with the best of them.  Here’s Brian’s pronunciation of Lagavulin, one of the best and most famous whisky brands:

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Mar 31, 2012 by

Inspired by Ireland’s ancient distilling traditions of drying malting barley over peat fires, Connemara is Ireland’s only Peated Single Malt.

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