Monday, December 26, 2011

Venison Goulash with Spaetzle (A Christmas Story)

Okay, so it's not that we haven't been, not that at all ! It's just with all the holiday craziness going on there's been no time to update the poor blog. Rest assured, we've been cooking and eating just fine - and now you're going to have to hear all about it.  First up : goulash.

We've been having all sorts of culinary fun with Alex's venison, and goulash seemed like a natural step to go in - but real Hungarian goulash, not the weird American stuff with hamburger and elbow macaroni that is eerily reminiscent of one of my true kitchen nightmares - American Chop Suey (shudder). No, I wanted a real goulash - a thick meaty stew, rich with onions and peppers...and real paprika.

I've been a lover of real Hungarian paprika since I was a teen, mostly courtesy of having a real Hungarian boyfriend :). It was at his house that I found out that paprika was an actual, real, delicious spice and not just something to garnish deviled eggs with. (And I still have a serious craving for paprika paste - minced paprika peppers the consistency of tomato paste, and possibly the best thing to put on toast with cream cheese ever.) Hungarian paprika is generally stronger and richer than Spanish or American varieties...those Hungarians really know their paprika stuff, which is amazing when you consider that peppers are native to the Americas and didn't even make it to Europe until after Columbus.

In any event, when my mother went to Hungary a while ago and asked what I wanted the answer was paprika, of course - that damn paste, and the powdered form.

I love my mother :)
The best way to bring out the flavor of paprika is to heat it in oil, which was one of the early steps in this goulash. Floured cubes of meat were browned in the bottom of the pot, then removed...oil was added to the pan, and then the onions and the lovely, lovely paprika.

Alex prepping the meat
gorgeous !
onions and lovely, lovely paprika
Goulash accomplished !

With our goulash, we decided we wanted spaetzle. Spaetzle (the word means "little sparrow" in German) are small, roughly shaped sort of egg noodles...almost like small gnocchi, and pretty much the same thing as the Hungarian Csipetke, which are traditional with goulash (when made without potatoes, at least). Of course, neither of us had ever actually made spaetzle before - and we didn't have a spaetzle maker - but really, why should that stop us ? All the recipes we consulted said that one could push the dough through a colander or slotted spoon instead, and of course we had plenty of we confidently mixed up dough and started water boiling. And oh, my stars and garters...what an absolute mess. The dough absolutely refused to be pushed through anything - it just sat there all sticky and sullen. Not to be outdone by a mere mess of dough, I just added more flour and we commenced with the hand rolling...took forever, but we got there. And in a repeat of our first Christmas together when we unknowingly got each other the exact same gift (Irish knit sweaters), this year we got each other...spaetzle makers. And now you know why this is also a Christmas story. Merry Christmas, honey :)

rolled and ready to go

finished product
I see a lot of spaetzle in my future...

Hungarian Venison Goulash with Spaetzle

Yes, you can make this with beef...but if you can get your hands on some venison, by all means try it. You won't be sorry !


4 lbs venison or beef, cut into cubes
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
4 cups onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup (yes, a quarter cup) good Hungarian paprika
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp caraway seeds, ground or finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
3 oz tomato paste (half a small can)
2 cups red peppers, finely chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon of the of the oil in a large heavy soup pot. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large bag and toss the meat cubes in the mixture. Brown the cubes in batches and remove to a bowl , adding another tablespoon of oil to the pot as needed.

Once the meat is browned, add the remaining oil to the pot and heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until onions are starting to get a bit soft. Add the paprika, thyme and caraway and cook another 10 minutes or so, until the onions are translucent. Add the wine, beef stock and reserved meat, and stir well. Let simmer on low heat for about an hour. Add the peppers and the tomato paste and simmer another 45 minutes or so, until everything is done to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over egg noodles or spaetzle


This is basically the Frugal Gourmet's recipe, with a lot more flour added and hand rolled instead of pressed. Once we learn how to use the spaetzle makers, expect an update :)

2 eggs
2 Tbsp freshly rendered lard or oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 quarts water

Using an electric mixer, blend the eggs, lard or oil, water and milk. Stir the flour together with 1/2 tsp of the salt and the baking powder in a dry bowl. Blend this mixture into the liquid. Mix well and let rest about 15 minutes . 

Pinch off pieces of the dough, and roll into cylinders about the size of a pencil. Cut the "pencils" into thirds, and lay out on a large board or platter to dry a bit.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tsp of salt. Add about 1/4  of your spaetzle - do not crowd the pan. The dumplings will float to the surface...let them cook about 4 - 5 minutes, or until done (taste testing is the best way to know - when then stop tasting like raw dough, they are done.) Rinse with cold water, and toss with oil to prevent sticking.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Duck Livers Sauteed with Applewood Smoked Bacon

Because I can. And because we're having duck for Christmas dinner. More posts coming soon, I promise. Merry Christmas, internets !

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mark's Stuffed Peppers (featuring Alex's Venison Sausage)

Top - PEPPERS ! Bottom - Alex and his deer

Stuffed peppers are one of those things that I really just never got into. Hamburger, rice, green peppers...all perfectly fine on their own, but stuff them inside each other and for some reason they just become...NO.  But I am here to tell you, readers, that I have had a pepper revelation. Even now, I am plotting how to get more of their tasty deliciousness in my mouth. I am obsessed, thanks to a new appetizer at my favorite local restaurant and an influx of what is possibly the best sausage I have ever eaten.

First, the restaurant - Fiorella's. I have written about Fiorella's before - an absolutely top-notch Italian place that is literally within walking distance of my house. They recently expanded their space (very well done - still neighborhood and homey, just a little more of it) and revamped their menu slightly. On our first visit after they reopened, we went out on a limb and tried one of their new appetizers : Stuffed Peppers Parmigiana. Red peppers stuffed with DePasquale’s hot Italian sausage, risotto, cheese...topped with their amazing marinara sauce & more cheese. (DePasquale's is a small family run sausage shop in Newton...could write a whole post about them ! No website though). These peppers were absolutely astounding - sweet, hot, cheesy, peppery goodness. Oh, man.

Second, the venison sausage. The men in my family are serious sportsmen, and my son Alex is no exception (our exploits with his wild turkey are here). This year, he got his first deer - a three point, 128 pound buck, for those keeping track. The place the guys used to use for meat cutting is now closed, but Alex was able to find a new one - Parents Meat Cutting, in Belmont NH. Venison can sometimes be gamey, but if you find a butcher that knows what they are doing (for example, NOT freezing the thing and cutting it on a bandsaw) and you have a fairly young deer, fresh venison is truly Culinary Orgasm material - and this place definitely knows what they are doing. They offered to turn some of the meat into sausage for us, and Alex wisely said yes. Oh, happy day !


We used some of this sausage in our Thanksgiving turkey stuffing this year, and I have to say...I've enjoyed a lot of sausage in my time, and this is truly some of the best sausage I have ever eaten. You can see how dark and rich it is in the picture's lightly spiced, but whatever was added to it, it was done perfectly.

A new respect for stuffed peppers, and a supply of amazing sausage...this recipe was just screaming to be made. Who are we to ignore the siren call of the kitchen ?

the goods

ready for the oven

a plate of goodness

Mark's Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4

2 tablespoons oil (olive or canola)
2 1/2 pounds sausage meat, removed from casings
2 cups fresh (soft) breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 4 - 5 good sized red bell peppers, halved lengthwise and cleaned out
8 oz block mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 - 10 slices

4 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
1 pound of your favorite pasta, cooked

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in a large skillet, and brown the sausage meat in it. Combine sausage, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan, and mix well. Stuff into peppers, and place in large baking pan to which you have spread 2 cups of the sauce in the bottom of. Bake for 30 minutes, then arrange cheese slices over tops of peppers and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thank YOU !
So many people have expressed surprise about me not having a Thanksgiving blog that I decided that I needed to have something up here - no matter how weird it feels. I'll explain. 

I absolutely love Thanksgiving, of course - don't get me wrong. All that cooking and eating - and no gift giving ? Sweet !  The truth is, though, that we do tend to go pretty traditional around here for Turkey Day...and nothing I've made here isn't something that I haven't made before. I feel sort of guilty making a new blog post out of old recipes - but you, dear readers, have asked. And so you shall receive. It is, after all, the holidays ! And I am so thankful for all of the support I've gotten since I started this blog...I've had so much fun honing my writing skills, and the positive feedback has been absolutely fantastic. I feel truly blessed, and I am so let's give thanks.

This year , we actually did the Thanksgiving day meal itself with some special, special friends - at their house. Such a wonderful night, and excellent food...but all we brought were pies and cranberry sauce. Us being us, of course, we had to make our own meal too, the next day...I mean, half the fun is all the leftovers.

Here's how we got ours :

Brined Roast Turkey

As I mentioned last year on this one...don't worry, this guy is definitely not burnt. The sugar (well, actually in this case maple syrup) in the brine makes it brown up extra crispy. An absolutely fantastic way to do turkey. Save the label from your turkey so you remember how much it weighs, and after you brine it up in the following deliciousness , stuff if desired (this year's winning recipe included), and cook according to your saved label directions.

Apple-Citrus-Spice Brine

5 cups water
1 quart apple cider
1 quart orange juice
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon of whole cloves

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Bring the water, salt and sugar to a boil, and simmer until everything is dissolved. Let cool and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Seal turkey and brine in a large ziplock bag, and let it sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Stuffing with Leeks and Sausage

We used Alex's venison sausage this year...more on that in a later post. Ungodly good stuff.

8 cups 1-inch-bread cubes
2 pounds sausage, removed from casings
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 carrots, chopped (rainbow are great)
4 stalks celery, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Bells Seasoning to taste (start with a teaspoon)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the sausage and vegetables are cooking (see below), spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl.
Trim leeks, slice in half lengthwise, and rinse well. Place the leeks in a large bowl with water to cover to which you have added the cider vinegar. Soak for 15 minutes, then lift out of the water. Rinse again, and slice into 1 inch lengths.

While leeks are soaking, heat up a large skillet (medium to medium high) and add oil. Brown the sausage meat in the oiled pan, and set aside. Wipe out pan and melt butter in it over medium high heat. Add leeks, carrots, and celery to pan. Sauté until vegetables are tender 10-15 minutes or so. Season with salt, pepper, and Bell's.

Add sausage and vegetables to bowl with bread cubes, and toss well to combine. Let cool a bit and stir in eggs. Stuff into turkey, and pile any extra into a buttered casserole dish. Cook the extra stuffing at 375 for 30 minutes.

Culinary Orgasm Cranberry Sauce

1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
12 oz bag cranberries
6 oz apricot preserves
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a large saucepan, bring the sugar and the water to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes; do not stir. Add the cranberries and simmer until they all burst. Remove from heat and add preserves and lemon juice. When cool, stir in the nuts.

Makes about one quart - keep refrigerated until needed.

Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds baby potatoes (white or red), skin on and scrubbed
2/3 milk or half and half
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil, drain, and add back to the pot with the remaining ingredients. Mash to desired consistency.

Baked Acorn Squash

One of the only microwave recipes you will ever find in this blog :)

3 acorn squash, halved and cleaned
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Place squash halves, cut side down, in microwave and cook for 10 minutes on High. Flip over and add remaining ingredients, distributing evenly among the 6 halves. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until nice and soft.

Creamed Spinach

This is actually a new addition for me...usually we always have Spinach Provencal , but this year I had some cooked spinach I wanted to use up so I made the creamed. Loved it !

2 pounds baby spinach
1 stick butter
2 large shallots, sliced into rings
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cream
salt and pepper to taste

Steam or saute spinach until lightly cooked, and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a saucepan, and whisk in flour. Gradually whisk in milk, and then cream. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, whisking regularly, until no flour taste remains.

Combine spinach, shallots, and cream sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

yeah, we went there too :)

Maple Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin perfection. Highly recommend the Spiced Whipped Cream with this !

1 3/4 cups cooked pureed pumpkin (this is the amount in a standard can; I cook my own when I can)
3/4 c maple syrup
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/8 t cloves
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c sour cream
2 eggs, separated
unbaked 10" pie shell (your favorite will be just fine - my favorite is below. If you use one smaller than 10 ", you'll have extra filling for tiny graham cracker crusts, or baking up as a custard)

Preheat oven to 425

Puree all ingredients except egg whites in food processor. Beat whites until stiff, fold into pumpkin mixture. Pour into pie shell(s)

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake for 45 minutes . (Tiny pies will only need 20-30 minutes at the lower temperature)

Spiced Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream, well chilled
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Whip cream to very soft peaks, add sugar and spices, and continue to whip until it holds stiff peaks. Serve as soon as possible.

Lard Pie Crust

if you're really going for the gusto...pork fat all the way baby !

2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup lard, cold, cut into cubes
about 1/4 cup ice water (see directions)

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade until mixed. Add lard, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Keep pulsing, and dribble ice water in until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl and you can ball it up. Remove from bowl and divide into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Makes two single crusts or one double crust.

If you have scraps left over (as I did above), roll and cut or stamp into decorative shapes. Brush with beaten egg and bake alongside the pies for 10 - 15 minutes or so, until done. Place on pumpkin pies when cool.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dark Chocolate-Pecan Bread Pudding

I'm so sorry for the lack of posts...I know, I'm a slacker :(. In my semi-defense, I've been home alone most of the last few weeks - which deprives me of my favorite foodie victims audience. Other than a new found fascination with BLT's (seriously, universe, why have you been holding out on me all these years and denying me the deliciousness that is the BLT ? Oh, yeah, it's because I don't like tomatoes and lettuce on sandwiches), I've barely been cooking.

Also, I don't want you to think that all we eat around here is bread pudding. I know I talk about it a lot...again, not really my's that damn bread fairy. What else can I do when inundated with loaf after loaf of delicious artisan bakery bread...for free ? . There's too much Scots and Yankee frugality in me to let all that delicious bread go to waste. Good thing none of us have problems with gluten.

Basically, this is just a variation of the Blueberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding that I make all the damn time (and everyone still seems to love). I do this all the time, and you should too - adapt for what you have around, or just what you like. Trust yourself !

Dark Chocolate-Pecan Bread Pudding

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 cups 1/2-inch cubes day-old bread
1 12 oz bag bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 10 X 14-inch baking dish with the room-temperature butter.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the bread, chocolate chips (reserve 2 tablespoons of the chips) and pecans and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.

Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about 1 hour. About a minute before it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on the top.

Cool on a wire rack until just warm, about 20 minutes.

Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (pictured with Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato...great stuff !!)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Extra Stout Extra Chocolate Cake

mmm cake
Chocolate Stout Cake. Chocolate, and stout. Two of my very favorite things, in convenient cake form. That's just bliss, right there. Gaze upon the blissness :


With an impending Snowpocalypse primed to hit Boston yesterday, we decided to hunker down with some good comfort food - specifically, Mark's Pasta Bolognese . (As for the snow...we would have barely noticed it in February...but in October, it's kind of a big deal). Mark always craves chocolate after Italian food, we happened to have some Guinness Foreign Extra Stout around (it's like regular Guinness, but even more Gunniess-y...dark, luscious, gorgeous flavor...definitely look for this if you can find it) and I've always wanted to tackle a stout cake...serendipity is a beautiful thing  !

Deb at Smitten Kitchen had a very promising looking entry (as always), which itself was a Bon Appetit adaptation of a cake from the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington, MA...definitely a lineage I could get behind. Of course, me being me, I have to do extra everything...extra stout , extra dark cocoa powder, and bittersweet chocolate ganache - for that extra chocolate flavor. That's me, extra crazy...sometimes I wonder if I can ever do anything at a normal level :)

By all means, if you have regular stout and cocoa power and chocolate (or your like your chocolate delivered with more sweetness and not so much darkness) and still want to make this cake - go for it. I think it would still be absolutely fantastic, and you won't have that moment of panic that I did when I took it out of the pan and thought I had burnt it. This is by far the blackest cake I have ever seen in my life : this where black holes come from ???

I promise, it really was baked perfectly and not at all burnt..and it has the most delicious, deep chocolately flavor you've ever experienced. If you use a less dark stout and/or chocolate, I suggest adding the 3/4 tsp of coffee powder to the ganache from the original recipe (and some wouldn't go amiss in the cake either) to enhance the chocolate flavor.

The one thing my testers all agreed on is that it needed more of the ganache, so I have upped the amounts below. And for god's sake, don't get scared off by the term "ganache" like it's super advanced ninja foodie's just melted chocolate mixed with cream. Like super thick, spreadable hot chocolate :)

Have some fun in the kitchen, and get down with your bad chocolately self !!

Extra Stout Extra Chocolate Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen, et al.

1 cup Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (or regular stout)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder (or any unsweetened cocoa powder), plus extra for dusting pan
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (or just chopped from a bar), or semisweet chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray a bundt pan really well, then butter it again. Seriously, can't be enough butter here...this cake does not like to let go :). Dust the inside of the pan with some cocoa powder too.

Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Let cool somewhat, or you'll end up with scrambled eggs in the next step :)

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. (I suggest adding about a third of the stout mixture first, to temper the eggs - then add the rest). Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 - 40 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto rack for drizzling ganache.


For the ganache, melt the chocolate and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle / spread over the top of cooled cake.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Facebook Foodie Freakout 3

Bloody Screwball

As I write this, I'm of course watching football (hello, Sunday !) and the Google Chrome ad just came on...the one with the guy writing emails to his daughter. The catch line of the ad is "the internet is what you make it"...and that perfectly sums up how I am feeling this afternoon.

I've been fortunate enough to hook up with a truly awesome group of people via Facebook...well, more than one group actually. The group I'm talking about today, though, are my foodie friends. It's a not-uncommon story for Facebook - you and your friends are commenting on each other's posts, and you end up in discussions with like-minded friends of your friends. Well, of course, in my case, most of those posts are about thing leads to another, and you end up with a bunch of crazy (in the best way) foodies trying to out-cook each other. Fun people who get overly excited about food...people that can wax poetic about everything from corn smut to the best uses of lard. In short, my kind of people :) .

The best thing about this group - aside from the people all being wonderful - is that we all get so excited about each other's dishes. We all ate so much that even after a few laps around the block, we all ended up laying about on couches like Romans of old.

Feast your eyes upon this menu, and you'll see what I mean...

Smoked Shrimp and Oysters with Cajun Remoulade
Eggplant Dip with Crackers
Goat Cheese
Hangar 18 Focaccia (or, as I called it, Alien Flatbread - flatbread with salmon and capers)
(mind you, this was all before dinner, hanging out in the kitchen!)

Steamed Mussels in a wine/garlic broth
Artichokes Remoulade
Couscous Salad
Hand Loaf (a hand-shaped bison meatloaf with Scotch Bonnet mashed potatoes. As in shaped like a hand.)
Sole Farcie (stuffed with crab, scallops and shrimp)
Pasta with tuna, roasted eggplant, mushrooms, black olives, onions, tomatoes...and other things I can't remember
Vegetable Risotto
Beef and Oyster Pie with Guinness

Cranberry Sorbet
Maple Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream
Blueberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Irish Knot Truffles

and of course, the drinks...Bloody Screwballs (blood orange martinis with gummy eyeball ice cubes), Apple Pie in the Sky (cider with spiced rum, cinnamon schnapps, and whiskey), various beers including a surprisingly good one with jalapenos, and of course wine....good lord, I'm surprised I'm even conscious today !

Most of our contributions were dishes we have already blogged about - recipe links are below the pictures. I am including a recipe for the Apple Pie drinks, as well as an updated Cajun Remoulade (I'm always tweaking that one). As for my friend's dishes...well, I'm hoping to get those recipes at some point, but I'll let them write about the dishes themselves :)
Hangar 18 Focaccia (Alien Flatbread)

Smoked Shrimp and Oysters

Cajun Remoulade

Artichokes Remoulade

Hand Loaf

Vegetable Risotto

Pasta with Tuna

Beef and Oyster Pie

Blueberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding, crockpot version

Maple Pumpkin Pie
(Spiced Whipped Cream : )

Irish Knot Truffles

Apple Pie in the Sky

Ah, Apple Pie in the named because you'll be sky-high after drinking one :). Inspired by a similar drink at the West End Pub in Shelburne Falls...but without the 7Up, and with the addition of  one of my most beloved spirits, The Knot. What is the Knot ?

Well, it's usually found with the whiskey, though it doesn't actually say "whiskey" on the bottle. There's definitely whiskey involved, but it's also sweet and smooth and caramel-like. "Whiskey Liqueur" is probably the best description...along with "mmm", "oh yeah baby", and "omg YUM  !!". Delicious enough just in a glass by itself, it also makes the best Irish Coffee, Truffles (see above)...and mixed drinks. To wit, Exhibit A : 

Apple Pie in the Sky

4 oz apple cider
2 oz Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
2 oz The Knot
1 oz cinnamon schnapps

Mix and serve over ice - makes one good-sized drink, as shown.

Cajun Remoulade (update)

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tsp Dijon mustard  
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chipotle powder (or more to taste if you like it spicy)
2 scallions, minced  

Whisk everything but the scallions together well. Stir in scallions, and serve.