Morbid Meals – Genie in a Bottle

EXAMINATION

Cursed objects come in all shapes, sizes, and purpose. The first cursed object I could think of, that wasn’t related to the TV show Friday the 13th, was the lamp or bottle that trapped a genie inside.

While we have Aladdin and the cursed lamp from One Thousand and One Nights to thank for being the source of this legend, the idea of a “genie in a bottle” hails primarily from Barbara Eden’s TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie... which in turn was inspired by a 1964 movie starring Barbara Eden called The Brass Bottle.

As for bottles with spirits trapped inside, I naturally decided a cocktail was in order. I’ll admit that a certain cartoon genie inspired the color.

ANALYSIS

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 oz blue curaçao
  • 1 oz spiced gold rum (or light/silver, not dark)
  • 1/2 oz Arak (or absinthe or ouzo)
  • 1 oz sweet and sour mix
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • ice

Apparatus

  • Cocktail shaker and jigger
  • Hurricane glass

Procedure

  1. Into a drink shaker, add all ingredients including ice, cover and shake.
  2. Pour into a hurricane glass, or a bottle for fun.

DISSECTION

Arak is an Arabian alcohol produced in the Levant region, which does not adhere to the Muslim avoidance of liquor. It is made with aniseed and it louches becoming cloudy when mixed with water, hence my suggestion to substitute ouzo or absinthe if you cannot acquire the Arak. Plus absinthe adds to the color, especially if you can find a blue absinthe.

POST-MORTEM

After a few of these, you too will believe there is infinite cosmic power in an itty-bitty living space. Just be careful what you wish for.

Morbid Meals – Tribute to Beetlejuice – Shrimp Cocktail

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EXAMINATION

DAY-OH! Dayyyyy-ohhhh…
Beetlejuice may be the ghost with the most, but Delia can sure throw a party. It ain’t a shindig until the shrimp cocktail is served. Take my advice, however, and share your feast with your ghostly guests rather than make them angry; your shrimp cocktail will thank you.

While it is easy to find cooked shrimp and jars of cocktail sauce at the store, there’s something magical about a proper shrimp boil and fresh cocktail sauce.

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ANALYSIS

Serves 4

Ingredients

court bouillon, or use a seafood boil (Old Bay, Zatarain’s, etc.)
1 lb. uncooked jumbo shrimp (shell-on and de-veined)
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp fresh or store-bought horseradish, grated
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
the juice of one large lemon (about 1/4 cup)

Apparatus

  • Stock pot or a large cooking pot

Procedure

  1. In a large pot, bring to a rolling boil 2 quarts of water and about 1/4 cup of your favorite shrimp/seafood boil. If you want a traditional court bouillon, see the directions in the Dissection below.
  2. Carefully drop your shrimp into the boil and turn off the heat. The water is hot enough to poach the shrimp at this point.
  3. Remove the shrimp when the shells turn pink, the flesh is solid white, and they begin to curl. This is about 3-5 minutes depending on their size.
  4. Allow the shrimp to cool to room temperature (or refrigerate them if you like) and then peel the shells off. It is to your style of presentation if you want to keep the tails on or not.
  5. While the shrimp are cooling, prepare the cocktail sauce by mixing the ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Chill in your refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. Serve either on one large bowl with the sauce in the bowl and the shrimp hooked along the edge, or provide individual cocktail glasses for each guest with sauce in the glass and shrimp around the edge.

DISSECTION

I prefer to cook the shrimp in their shells and then remove the shells after cooking rather than peeling them before cooking. First, this brings a lot more flavor to the boil. If you’ve ever made stock, you know what I mean. Secondly, the shells turn from brownish-gray to pink indicating that the shrimp are fully cooked. Third, the shells are easier to remove, in my opinion, after cooking, because the shrimp shrink and curl up. I usually buy frozen shrimp that are de-veined with the shells still on but split. This marries the flavor of the shells with the convenience of cleaner, easier-to-peel shrimp.

If you do choose to peel the shrimp first, trust me when I say you should toss the shells into your boil so that you get all the flavor you can into the shrimp.

A court bouillon is a French term for a broth used to poach food, usually seafood. It can be anything from salted water to a mixture of water, wine, lemon juice, and spices. A standard version uses mirepoix (which is one medium onion, one carrot, and one celery stalk, all roughly chopped), along with the juice of one lemon, and a couple bay leaves. You would bring that to a rolling boil then let it simmer for about 30 minutes before you add the shrimp.

While a court bouillon is the traditional way to poach shrimp for a cocktail, being a low-country boy at heart, I personally prefer a good ol’ shrimp boil like Old Bay. The point is to give the shrimp some flavor and not just boil in plain water.

Regarding the cocktail sauce, I know some people like to add hot sauce to their cocktail sauce. That is cheating to my mind in order to cover up for not using good horseradish or not enough. Most stores sell jars or tubes of grated horseradish and they are quite effective on their own without peppery assistance. Feel free to kick it up a notch if you really must.

Finally, to use fresh or frozen shrimp? Frankly, unless you are catching the shrimp yourself, the shrimp were sold to you frozen. If your fishmonger sells you “fresh” shrimp, they are really thawed previously frozen shrimp. You can thaw your shrimp at home before cooking, but tossing in frozen shrimp adds only a few seconds of cooking time in boiling water, versus spending hours properly thawing your shrimp.

POST-MORTEM

Bubba Gump might like his shrimp prepared many different ways, and I admit I do as well, but I always prefer a simple yet fresh Shrimp Cocktail. Like Lydia, Delia, and the gang, it makes me wanna get up and dance! Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch! Daylight come and me wan’ go hoooooome!

Morbid Meals – Zombie Punch

EXAMINATION

Over eighty years later, the undead grandfather of tiki cocktails, the Zombie, is still quite popular today.

Created by legendary mixmaster Don the Beachcomber in 1934, the original Zombie Punch was a closely guarded trade secret in his day. Because of this, it is one of the most replicated, often poorly so.

It was painstakingly researched by “Beachbum” Jeff Berry, and detailed in his excellent book, Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari. SippinSafari_cover

ANALYSIS

Makes one 12 oz drink

Ingredients

3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz Falernum
1 1/2 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
1 1/2 oz aged dark Jamaican rum
1 oz 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara Rum
2 tsp white grapefruit juice
1 tsp cinnamon syrup*
1 tsp Grenadine
dash Angostura Bitters
6 drops (1/8 tsp) Pernod or Herbsaint
3/4 cup crushed ice

Cinnamon syrup

3 cinnamon sticks
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Apparatus

  • Blender
  • Tall chimney/zombie glass (or anything that can hold at least 12 oz total)
  • Saucepan with lid (to make your own cinnamon syrup)

Procedure

Cinnamon syrup
  1. In your saucepan, crush or grind the cinnamon sticks. Add the sugar and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Reduce the heat, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 2 more minutes.
  4. Remove the saucepan from heat and let it sit for 2 hours, with the lid still on.
  5. Once finally cooled, strain the mixture into a bottle or jar. This syrup can last a month in the fridge.
The Zombie
  1. Put all of the ingredients into your blender.
  2. Flash blend on high speed for about 5 seconds.
  3. Pour into a tall zombie glass. (Yes, the glass is named after the drink!)
  4. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

DISSECTION

The only thing harder than avoiding a hangover from this drink may be the acquisition of the vital ingredients. Unless you’ve been knocked out from too many zombies (drinks or undead, as the case may be), you may have noticed it ain’t 1934 anymore.

The cinnamon syrup is hard to find, and when found, it can be very expensive. Luckily it is easy to make. If you find one you like, you can of course use it and skip the procedure above to make it.

Falernum is another tricky one. This is a ginger-lime syrup from the West Indies. This can also be made at home, but it uses many ingredients and is more complex than a simple syrup. I’d recommend buying this one rather than making it yourself.

Finally, the 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara Rum. Gasp, a name-brand! A hard one to find in the states, as well. This is considered the real secret of the original Zombie. No other rum can match its smoky, rich, sweet flavor. If you cannot find it, all is not lost. You could substitute another top shelf dark 151 proof rum and mix in a 1/2 tsp of molasses. Then maybe you can pretend that approximates the flavor, but you’ll likely be so drunk you probably won’t notice or care.

POST-MORTEM

The warning at the bar used to be that you would only be allowed TWO of these. That’s how mind-numbing the concoction is. The fruit juices deceptively hide the very potent rums.