And here we are, the first of what I hope to be many posts of my boozy cooks. Just a quick intro, I love to cook. I’ll be honest, I’m not the best cook, but I love it. Being in the kitchen, knocking up delicious things with a glass or something and music really is my happy place. So much so, that during lockdown I started sharing my ‘Sunday Cook Photo’ on my personal FB page, along with a little lowdown on the week. It’s a habit that I’ve tried to keep up with, and in doing so I have fallen in love with my kitchen and that bit of time I have to myself to create and indulge.
I love spirits and incorporate them into my cooking when I can, both through followed recipes and ones I develop myself, so it made sense to me to set up a kitchen page on my site, to share some of my favourite boozy makes.
First up, a dish from the Liquorsmiths Cookbook, an amazing cookbook of boozy dishes, each incorporating one of the Liqoursmiths spirits or beers. It’s the first of two I’m making today, so expect a second post in due course. Liquorsmiths got in touch and gifted me the book, along with two of their gins. Thank you so much for that guys! The book is a great all-rounder, including everything from meat, to fish, vegetarian to vegan, as well as desserts, chutneys and of course, a few cocktails as well.
The recipe for wild mushroom and gin potato gratin appealed to me immediately. I love potato gratins, and so does my other half, and he has a particular penchant for mushrooms too, so making this was a no brainer. Full disclosure here, I didn’t spot that the recipe recommends their Old Tom 55 gin, which is an ode to aquavit, made with caraway and dill. I did however use their Old Tom 12, which is of a nordic style, made with thyme, cardamom and rosemary. I felt that being fragrant, herbaceous with a touch of spice, the flavour profile would also work alongside the recipe well enough. I should note here, that I am a nightmare for not following a recipe exactly. I just can’t help but tweak things. So I’ll include the recipe as stated in the book and note what I’ve done differently.
So firstly, I wasn’t sure where to get the dried wild mushrooms from and a quick google revealed Waitrose as the nearest place. The little tub contained 30g and the recipe suggested 20g. I could have fiddled around with it, but I just checked them all in. I also couldn’t find any shallots, maybe they’re out of season? So, I replaced them with a red onion. Shallots are gorgeous and bring a delicate, slightly sweet character (they are amazing with cheese in a toastie), so I will be making this again once I can find some.
I also picked up some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. There was no cheese in the recipe and for me at least, a gratin needs cheese. I am a self-proclaimed cheese fiend and put it on almost anything I make, and probably too much of it too. I must try and remember this when sharing recipes! I went with a harder cheese, as a little bit of punchy flavour was preferable to softer cheese which could make it oily, though you could melt a little into the cream if you so desired.
The smell of the cream infusing was just divine! I’ve not used caraway before, but it is beautiful and the balance of that with the allspice and peppercorn was wonderful. The smell permeated the house, much to my fella’s delight, and I’m now trying to work out what else I can use those flavours in. The celeriac I brought was 100g larger than the recipe called for, so I just chucked it all in too. I could have put it in the fridge with the best of intentions to use it for something else, but chances are I would have forgotten and found it looking small and sad a couple of weeks later. Waste not, want not. Again, celeriac is not something I’ve used in cooking before, but I will be using it for all sorts now. It has such a lovely, aromatic character which gives something extra to potatoes.
Once I put the dish in the oven and surveyed the chaos in my kitchen, I enjoyed a G&T using the Old Tom 12. It’s a gorgeous gin. Definitely one for those who like their gins savoury and fragrant. There is a delicate complexity to it and it makes a super fresh G&T which got me right in the mood to crank up the music and clean down.
After an hour and a half, I retrieved the gratin from the oven and was delighted to uncover it and find it well cooked and bubbling away. Some of the mushrooms had stuck to the foil, so I pulled them off and stuck them back on the top of the gratin, then popped it back in for a final 15 minutes. Just enough time for me to finish my drink (yes, I did pour another), and it was ready! Opening the oven to that smell, and pulling out a dish that was gorgeously golden was a real treat for the senses. As much as I wanted to dive right in, I remembered sage advice from the wonderful Nigella Lawson in her Lasagne of Love recipe, who suggested, “leave to stand, if you can bear it, for 20-30 minutes before diving in.” It is so very tough to do, but so very worth it. That simple bit of advice works across the board and I swear my food tastes much better for it.
So thoughts overall of this recipe? It is incredibly rich, though I do think my adding cheese contributed to that. This would work well as a side, but it does also work as main, though you would need some sort of salad to break up the decadence with some fresh crunch. I must say, this isn’t one of those recipes where booze was thrown in for the sake of it, the gin came through beautifully and really contributed to the flavour. Absolutely gorgeous, and I will definitely be making this again.
If you liked the recipe then be sure to check out the Liquorsmiths Cookbook. It contains 100 recipes that are kissed by gin, rum, whisky or vodka. It’s laid out simply and easy to understand, and there are all sorts of tricks and tips throughout.
Liquorsmiths Wild Mushroom and Gin Potato Gratin
- shallow dish
- 75 ml boiling water
- 30 g dried wild mushrooms The recipe calls for 20g, but my pot was 30g so I stuck the lot in.
- 350 ml double cream
- 6 cloves garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 whole red onion The recipe calls for 2 shallots but I couldn't find any at the shop.
- 1 tsp carroway seeds
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 1 tsp allspice berries
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 75 ml Old Tom 12 gin The recipe calls for Old Tom 55 gin, which I didn't have. 55 has an aquavit quality, with carroway and dill, so a herbaceous, fresh profile will suffice.
- 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- 400 g waxy potatoes
- 300 g celeriac The recipe calls for 200g but I didn't want to waste the leftovers so put it all in.
- 200 g Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese There is no cheese in the recipe, but for me a potato gratin just has to have cheese.
- Pour the boiling water over the mushrooms, cover and leave them to soften.
- Put the cream in the pan with the garlic, onion (or shallots), caraway, bay leaf, all spice and peppercorns. Heat slowly, stirring and taking care not to boil the cream over. Cover and leave to infuse for at least an hour, the drain through a sieve and stir the gin though the cream. Taste the cream and season it well.
- At this point, I didn't want to discard the left over bits from the infused cream, so I whipped them up in a food processor to layer through the gratin.
- Drain the wild mushrooms, snip them into smaller pieces with scissors and add them to your infused cream.
- Grate your Parmigiano-Reggiano and slice both the potatoes and the celeriac super fine. You can do it by hand with a bit of pateince, but I used the slicer on my cheese grater for ease. Careful of your fingers!
- Preheat the oven to 170C. Layer the potatoes, mushrooms and celeriac into a ceramic dish, along with a little of the blitzed onions and cheese, seasoning as you go.
- Pour over the infused cream, cover in foil and cook in the oven for an hour and a half.
- Remove the foil, turn the oven up to 200C and pop back in for another 15 mins until the top is golden.
- Once it's ready, let it sit for 30 minutes. The potatoes will soak up the liquid, making for a delicious, juicy gratin.