Books

I don’t just peck away at this keyboard as a blogger. I am also the proud papa of two cookbooks. Buy one (or both!) now.

Savory Cocktails by Greg HenryI mean no disrespect to Carrie Bradshaw and her crew, but there comes a point in life when sweet pink drinks just don’t keep you coming back to the bar. We are in the midst of a cocktail renaissance. It may have started in the 80s and 90s with concoctions like the Sex in the City drink of choice, the Cosmopolitan. But as this renaissance develops the trend is becoming more sophisticated and it’s taking a distinctly savory turn.

Today’s bartenders are reaching for unexpected ingredients and employing culinary techniques like infusions and purees to expand and sometimes challenge the palate. Herbs and spices are moving from the kitchen to the bar as more and more bartenders develop cocktails with a ‘from scratch’ approach– utilizing innovative ingredients and modern techniques to create a new category of beverages.

The trend towards savory cocktails had its start with the Bloody Mary and the beef based Bullshot. These brunch time favorites pack an umami punch. However, ‘savory’ is much more than the opposite of ‘sweet’. This book will introduce you to some unexpected directions you may have never considered. It’s not a good idea to just throw a cucumber and a fistful of herbs into the blender and hope for the best, you need to balance the flavor elements. Follow a culinary path as you begin building your cocktail.

As an example, Savory Cocktails features a Salad Bowl G&T that combines muddled herbs and vegetables with the botanicals in gin. All on their own this would be rather one note drink. The balance comes from garden fresh tomatoes and their sweetly acidic bite. Even a savory cocktail needs the right hint of sweet in its structure. Cocktail bitters too go a long way in ‘seasoning’ a drink or as a final flourish.

In addition to earthy herbs and vegetables, bartenders are incorporating such ingredients as ‘shrubs’ for a tangy flavor. These old-fashioned drinking vinegars are being rediscovered for the complex sweet and sour effect they can have when mixed into drinks. There’s a beet and juniper version in this book that makes a bold impact with scallions and a touch of salt in the crimson-hued Beetle Juice.

Savory touches need not be as dramatic. Subtle influences can nudge many classic cocktails towards the savory end of the scale. Tartufo with its touch of truffle infused honey maintains the thinnest veil of something dark and earthy. The pinch of smoked salt in Breeder’s Cup rounds out its flavors adding a decidedly savory boost of umami. Perhaps the most subtle way to build a savory drink involves combining some of the more naturally savory spirits such as medicinal aquavit and malty genever with interesting liqueurs like artichoke Cynar, cumin-laced kümmel and allspice dram. These and other centuries old formulas have made a comeback as bartenders look for old ingredients to provide a modern sensibility. These drinks, like Dead Glamor and Vichy Cycle, are challenging to the palate and are typically very alcohol forward, but when sipped slowly there can be no denying their savory complexity.

Savory Pies by Greg HenrySavory Pies are like a well-loved blanket; warm, satisfying, and marvelously easy to snuggle into. Which is why most cuisines around the world have some kind of savory pie. Tarts, galettes, cobblers, and even cute little hand-pies are some of the 62 creative and comforting savory pies that make an appearance in this book. The thing that binds them together is the fact that not one of these warm-from-the-oven beauties is for dessert.

Why should you wait until dessert to eat pie? Pies are comforting combinations of just about anything you can imagine. Cheese. Meat. Vegetables. Even seafood. They’re even better when wrapped, tucked, or baked inside a delectable crust. Sometimes flaky, sometimes chewy. Crunchy. Crisp. Buttery.

Cooks love savory pies because the combination of a tender, salted crust and a hearty filling is so elementally simple yet endlessly varied. There is a savory pie to fit every mood and appetite, from the traditional pub-inspired goodness of beef & Guinness, to the piping hot pot pies of suburban America, to rustic, fist-sized pasties. Savory Pies takes an international approach, including fragrant jerk-spiced pockets from the Caribbean, innovative empanadas from Argentina, French tartes made modern – even the classically molten calzone of Italy makes a pared-down appearance as a vegetarian delight. These pies highlight nearly every possible combination of beloved ingredients and presents them in perfect little packages designed to be savored.

Pies can be quick family meals or elegant preludes to a formal dinner. Hand-pies make an easy lunch on the run and are a staple in the cultures where street food rules. Pies are perfect for the holidays, of course. But what about brunch? Pies make great gifts, they travel well and are welcome additions to pot luck parties. They are perfect for a housewarming or a thoughtful gift to a new neighbor.

And best of all, pies always look spectacular. Because the pastry acts as a wrapping, it automatically elevates even the simplest ingredients. Rustic or elegant, their visual appeal is what brings people to the table.