The November “Food & Wine” magazine showed up this past Wednesday, and it was one of those rare times when a cooking magazine and I are on the same wavelength; I flipped through it lovingly, stopping on almost every page to exclaim, “This sounds so good!” and then reading a recipe aloud to Boomer. Most of it was Thanksgivingy stuff, of course, but they had a short segment at the beginning about some retro-kitsch tiki bar that made me think less in nebulous “someday I’ll make that for an imaginary huge Thanksgiving dinner we’ll be hosting” terms and more in an “I’m going to make that this weekend” kind of way. Suddenly I couldn’t imagine a Sunday watching football without a Tiki Snack Mix to munch on while sipping my Rhum Swizzle.
To make the drink, you need:
* 7 large mint leaves
* Crushed ice
* 2 ounces amber rhum agricole
* 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
* 1/2 ounce brown sugar simple syrup
* 1/8 ounce grenadine
1. In a Collins glass, muddle the mint. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix by spinning a swizzle or long bar spoon between your palms while moving it up and down in the drink. Top with crushed ice.
I didn’t have crushed ice, because I didn’t want to clean out my dumb retro-y ice crusher that currently lives in the corner of the dining room on the floor. (It doesn’t work very well, but I bought it years ago because I thought it looked cool. For reasons I don’t understand, I haven’t given it away yet.) I also didn’t have any amber rhum agricole, so I used some cane rum. I suspect any kind of rum would work. And just because I want to brag about how totally Martha Stewarty I am, I happened to have homemade grenadine that I’d whipped up last weekend. The final result with this drink is a fantastically refreshing and delicious quaff. It’s got a nice perky freshness from the mint, but isn’t overwhelmingly so (I am not mint’s biggest fan…), and right alongside that is the tartness of the grapefruit, cut and smoothed by the grenadine and the mellow rum. And everything has a nice molasses vibe tying it together thanks to the brown sugar syrup. If I’d known how good these were going to be, I’d have made sure to have enough grapefruit to mix up about 15 more.
When I first read the Tiki Snack Mix recipe, I was all on an “oooh! I want to cook EVERYTHING in this magazine!” kick, so I totally fell in love with the concept. But in the cold, harsh light of day the next morning, I began to have my doubts. By the time Sunday morning rolled around, my commitment to it was wavering. The recipe is:
* 8 thick slices of meaty bacon
* 3 cups salted roasted peanuts
* 4 candied pineapple rings, cut into 1/3-inch triangles
* 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
* 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* Kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Drain on paper towels and cut into 1/2-inch strips.
2. In a bowl, toss the bacon with the peanuts, pineapple, sesame seeds, soy sauce, honey and cayenne. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once, until the bacon is browned. Season the mix with salt and stir occasionally until cool, then serve.
The candied pineapple was throwing me off. But I soldiered on, figuring at the very worst that I’d be able to write a post about it. I managed to have a slice of bacon overhanging the tray in the oven, so the kitchen was filled with the heady aroma of bacon grease burning on the bottom of the oven where it was dripping, and I succeeded at getting honey all over me while trying to scrape a full tablespoon from the bottom of a large jar, where it had all crystallized (imagine Winnie The Pooh with his arm submerged up to the armpit in a honey pot. Then multiply that by a million), and I didn’t have any plain sesame seeds and had to dip into my “garnishes for baking” supply of black ones. But after everything was mixed together, baked up, and cooled, it turned out to be… AWESOME.
It’s not as sticky as I feared, so we can actually eat it while stitching (very, very carefully, mind you — there’s still soy sauce in there!), and the pineapple is just outrageously scrumptious. In fact, I’d say there isn’t enough of it in here! This is bacony and salty and spicy and a little sweet, and it makes me really, really thirsty for more Rhum Swizzle. In other words, it does its job perfectly.
The only thing I’m missing now (other than enough grapefruits to make 15 more drinks) is little paper umbrellas. And maybe some tiki masks. And some ironic hipsters. But in the grand scheme of things, those are minor complaints.
(Post by Schnookie)