Mandarin Tahini Cake

I’ve wanted to write a baking recipe for the blog using tahini for forever and now it’s finally here. Tahini by itself can be kind of bitter but in baking it lends this awesome deep nutty flavor to anything, without being so transparent as its loud cousin, peanut butter. That is, it plays much more nicely with others, such as the mandarin orange.

Continue reading Mandarin Tahini Cake

4 Pickles Walked Into a Bar

You know one thing that remains under-appreciated at bars? The Pickleback. If you don’t already know, a Pickleback is a drink in which you chase a shot of whiskey with a shot of pickle juice. Usually I have to force people to do them with me. But not only are they fun, they also balance each other out well.

This got me thinking about how pickle juice isn’t utilized in cocktails enough. That’s not to say that it isn’t used at all, but it doesn’t get a wide variety of uses and the pickle juice itself rarely gets the same thought put into it that, say, selecting a liquor would. In a recent chat with Marie Teckmyer from Happy Hour Collection, we decided it would be fun to try to come up with some interesting cocktail recipes using some awesome local pickles. Okay fine, it was more like I dared her. But of course Marie is always up for a collaborative challenge.

We of course wanted to use Randy’s Pickles for this. If you haven’t had them, I recommend you try one or all of them. They’re way better than your typical store-bought jars of boring bland dill. My favorite is definitely the Sideburns ones, so that’s where I started with the drinky drinky recipes. Continue reading 4 Pickles Walked Into a Bar

Brandy & Brown Butter Strawberry Shake

I mean, do I even need to describe this one? Did you READ the title? Booze. Brown butter. Ice cream. And yes, I do realize that it is February. But just look at how awesome this would be as a shared shake for your Valentine! Or have some friends over and have a boozy shake night with a funny movie. Or take inspiration from me, who despite doubling the recipe and adding two straws for the sake of the photo, continued on to drink that whole thing as a dinner one night.

This recipe is another collaboration with Marie Teckmyer, who crafted her own version of a boozy shake. Make both and let us know whose is better! Or just love us both equally and spare me the stress of a competition. That works too.

We are both using local ingredients in our shakes. I used an awesome cocktail mix called Summer Crop by Molly’s Crafted, a local small batch mixer company here in Cleveland. As you might expect from the name, it’s like summer in a bottle, and I’ll take my summer any way I can find it right now. I’m also using the delicious ice cream from Mitchell’s, another local favorite. None of these companies are sponsoring this post, they just make great products. If you don’t live in the Cleveland area, you probably have your own great local brands you could support.

Okay, I’ll stop distracting you from shake-making. Carry on.

You will need:

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp nonfat dry milk powder
  • Half a pint of good vanilla ice cream
  • 1.5 ounces Cognac brandy
  • 3 ounces Molly’s Crafted Summer Crop
  • Chocolate, whipped cream, cookies, etc. for garnishing

To make the brown butter:

Begin melting the butter in a pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the dry milk powder over it with a spoon so that it doesn’t just form one giant clump, then whisk it through juuuust to make sure. Let that cook for a few minutes until you notice the milk solids turning brown. Those solids are where most of that toasty flavor come from in brown butter, which is why we’re using only those.

As soon as they look brown, like in this thoughtfully provided photo,

remove the pot from the heat. Pour the whole affair through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to strain out that beautiful brown deliciousness. Reserve the clarified butter part for another use. You can see me demonstrating what the separated results should look like in this second convenient visual aid.

I will say that if you don’t have milk powder, there will still be some milk solids in your butter, but to be honest, it probably won’t yield enough to really make a difference to your shake unless you’re making a whole stick of brown butter. You can omit the brown butter part entirely if you must, but only if you want a lot less sunshine in your life.

To make the shake:

Firstly, make sure you plan your garnishes ahead of time. If you’re just doing some whipped cream and chocolate shavings or something, you’re good to go. I, however, prefer shakes with as many garnishes shoved in as possible. I mean, you’re making a boozy butter milkshake, let’s not pretend this is the time for calorie restraint. Things like chocolate rims on the glass, that double-helix I piped inside of mine, etc. need to be done ahead, since you don’t want to be flipping glasses upside down once they’re full of shake.

Alright, so you’ve got that out of the way. Make sure your ice cream has softened on the counter for 5-10 minutes. Note that I called for GOOD vanilla ice cream. I used Mitchell’s Vanilla Bean, so I’d definitely recommend that if you live in the Cleveland area. If not, just get something with actual visible flecks of vanilla in it. None of that yellowish vanilla ice cream that comes in the giant tubs for middle school ice cream socials. Your brandy deserves better.

Okay, and now for the actual shake-making, which is ridiculously easy. Are you ready? Throw your softened ice cream, brown butter solids, brandy and Summer Crop into the bowl of a blender or large food processor. Blend just until smooth and clump-free but not too thin. And you’re done. Pour it into a glass immediately and add any remaining garnishes.

This recipe can easily be expanded for parties. Although personally if I were making this for a party, I’d probably serve them in smaller quantities as little shooters or something.

If you make this shake, be sure to tag me on Instagram @nhubble or use the hashtag #followthatfork so I can see your spin on it!

Brandy & Brown Butter Strawberry Shake

  • Prep Time: 10h


  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 pt good-quality vanilla ice cream
  • 1 1/2 fl oz Cognac brandy
  • 3 fl oz Molly's Crafted Summer Crop


To make brown butter:

  1. Begin to melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle dry milk powder over the butter and whisk to break up any clumps that form.
  2. Continue to cook for a few minutes, whisking as the milk solids color. Once they are lightly browned, remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Pour brown butter through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to separate the solids. Set aside the solids to use and reserve the clarified brown butter for another use.

To make the shake:

  1. Let the ice cream soften on the counter for 5-10 minutes before dumping it in the bowl of a blender or large food processor.
  2. Add the brown butter solids, brandy and Summer Crop mix to the ice cream. Blend just until combined, making sure there are no big lumps of ice cream.
  3. Pour into a glass, garnish and serve immediately.


Caramel Apple Cider Bread

Almost exactly 2 years ago, I posted a recipe I created in order to use up extra hard cider, and to satisfy my love of bread. I would still recommend you try that recipe, since it remains one of my favorites. But I have now updated it with a sweeter variation, fitting of the candy-centric Halloween holiday.

I once again worked with the wonderful Marie Teckmyer of Happy Hour Collection to bring you a collaborative food and cocktail pairing. We wanted to do something to combine the ideas of candy, apples, and a fun, darker element that would really work well for any Halloween parties you may be hosting, as well as for the fall season in general. Both of our recipes begin with the same homemade caramel sauce.

Continue reading Caramel Apple Cider Bread

Cucumber Mint Cooler

As usual, the recipes I share are based around the ingredients I have been hung up on lately. This time, it is the humble cucumber.

You know how cucumber water is somehow like a thousand times more refreshing than normal water? I’ll assume you do. I wanted to make a spring/summer cocktail with that same freshness, but of course with the important inclusion of alcohol. Summer cocktails are right up there with watermelon and barbecue in my book.

I will admit that this isn’t the simplest of cocktail recipes. That, for the most part, is because I only halfway believe that muddling is the most effective way of incorporating flavors into a drink. So instead of just squishing a chunk of cucumber around in a glass, this recipe does require a puree. That said, it still takes around 5-minutes to make, it just won’t be ideal for guests to have to make themselves at any grilling parties.

The minimal effort is also well worth it, when you can sit back and beat the heat with cool cucumber and a refreshing fizz to your cocktail.

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup chopped cucumber (peeling is up to your preference)
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • 1 Tbs simple syrup
  • Around 6 mint leaves
  • 3 oz cucumber vodka*
  • 8 oz club soda

*Due to my aforementioned cucumber obsession, I actually own a huge bottle of cucumber vodka. If you’re interested, I use the Effen brand. If cucumber vodka isn’t something you want to commit to, you can always just infuse vodka with a few cucumber slices for a few hours, or even just use plain vodka.

The quantities in this recipe, like in a lot of my recipes, don’t need to be followed exactly. Drinks at home are pretty easy to eyeball or to adapt to different quantities. These quantities are for a large glass like the one in the photo.

After you’ve chopped up your cucumber, add it, the lime juice, simple syrup and mint leaves to a blender. I’ve also found that it saves me the trouble of washing my entire blender if I just use my immersion blender and a separate cup. Blend until smooth, then strain to remove any solid bits. You should be left with roughly 2 oz of liquid.

If you were to make these for a party, you could just increase the amounts and      do this part in advance. You could just fill a pour bottle with the cucumber liquid and include it and a little instruction card at your bar. Although, do people, really have cocktail parties with a “house cocktail” anymore? Or is that just something cooking shows and magazines have convinced me is something real adults do? Either way, you do you.

For the cocktail assembly, add 2 ounces of the cucumber mint puree to a glass, followed by ice, the vodka and the club soda. Since the club soda is fizzy I usually don’t see a need to shake or stir the components together; it kind of does it on its own.

You’ll see in the photo that when I make this drink I like to add even more cumber in the form of extra slices and a garnish. Extra sprigs of mint also make for nice-looking garnishes.


P.S. That pulp that you strained out of the puree? I used to just throw it away, but if you are a stickler for food waste, you can add some olive oil to it and use it as a sweet and tangy cucumber mint salad dressing.


Asian Spiced Cashews

I introduce to you, my obsession of the last few months of cooking. Gochujang. If you have encountered it, it was probably in the sauce on the bibimbap at your local noodle house. This is most likely not going to be the only recipe utilizing the ingredient that you see from me. But I thought it was a good recipe for those who have never tried or even heard of gochujang.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. What I do know is that gochujang is a fermented hot chili paste. It is already in most grocery stores (I get mine at Target, for example) and you may have just not noticed it. In the states you can usually find it in its sauce form, rather than the thick, scoopable paste. It is cut with soy, brown sugar and other ingredients to give it a depth of flavor that I dare to say the much-hailed Sriracha does’t come close to. Gochujang is not just spicy; it is sweet, spicy, salty and…asian-y? Just try it.

In this spiced cashew mix, the gochujang is definitely a star but is not overpowering, which is what makes it a good introduction to the ingredient. It also helps the cashews bring only that small amount of after-burn heat that makes snacks so addictive. Continue reading Asian Spiced Cashews