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Cooking with Bourbon for Father's Day or Anytime

By Anne Hattes
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In Bourbon Curious (Zenith Press) Fred Minnick groups bourbon into four main flavor profiles: grain, nutmeg, caramel, and cinnamon. While many bourbons boast all four flavor notes, one sensation typically overpowers the rest.

Bring the flavor of bourbon, a uniquely American spirit, to your special occasion dining table with light bites, entrees, side dishes and desserts. The Jim Beam Bourbon Cookbook (Thunder Bay Books) offers a collection of over 70 simple, delicious recipes from Eggs Benedict with Easy Bourbon Hollandaise, and Smoky Steak with Bourbon Butter, to Sticky Bourbon Wings with Asian Slaw, Bourbon Roasted Vegetable and Cheese, and Easy Chocolate Bourbon and Raisin Ice Cream.

For a sweet-and-spicy meal that can be whipped up without much notice, try Shrimp Burgers with Bourbon Mayonnaise. The shrimp can be used straight from the freezer since they defrost so quickly. Serve with sweet potato chips and extra mayonnaise on the side for dipping, or with potato wedges. Bourbon and chocolate make a fantastic combination, so try the Bourbon Cherry Brownies for a sweet fix.

As bourbon becomes more ingrained in the culinary world, foodies and drink enthusiasts alike can turn to Bourbon Curious (Zenith Press) by Fred Minnick. He groups bourbon into four main flavor profiles: grain, nutmeg, caramel, and cinnamon. While many bourbons boast all four flavor notes, one sensation typically overpowers the rest. Using the same tasting principles he offers in his Kentucky Derby Museum classes, Minnick, in this easy-to-read interactive tasting journey, helps you choose the right bourbons for your flavor preferences.

When think snacks, sesame seeds are one of the most ancient foods on earth. Sesame plants are the oldest known plant species to be grown primarily for their seeds (pods) and oils rather than for their leaves, fruit or vegetables. The seeds help boost energy levels and are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Much lower in calories than many other bars, TahiniBars are available in three varieties – cocoa nibs, pistachio and vanilla.


Shrimp Burgers with Bourbon Mayonnaise

(Courtesy of Jim Beam Bourbon Cookbook, Thunder Bay Books). Serves 4.

1/2 cup bourbon

3 shallots, minced

1 & 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 lb. 2 oz. raw shelled jumbo shrimp, defrosted if frozen

1 small garlic clove

Pinch of salt

1 hot red chili pepper, thinly sliced

4 brioche burger buns, split

2 teaspoons canola oil

(Handful of peppery lettuce leaves, such as arugula)

Put the bourbon, shallots, and soy sauce into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool, then divide the mixture into 2 equal portions. Combine one portion with the mayonnaise and set this aside. Set aside the remaining portion.

Place the raw shrimp in a food processor with the garlic and a pinch of salt and pulse a few times until the mixture is coarsely combined. Tip it into a bowl and stir in the remaining cooked bourbon-and-shallot mixture and the chili.

Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions. With wet hands, shape each portion into a patty. The mixture may seem wet and sticky but it will firm up while cooking.

Toast the brioche buns lightly, then let cool.

Heat the oil  over high heat in a large nonstick skillet that has a lid. Add the patties and fry for 3 minutes on each side. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with the lid, and cook for another minute.

While cooking the patties, spread the toasted buns with the seasoned mayonnaise. Place a cooked patty on half of each bun and cover with lettuce. Serve immediately.


Bourbon Cherry Brownies

(Courtesy of Jim Beam Bourbon Cookbook, Thunder Bay Books). Makes 16.)

1/2 cup bourbon

3/4 cup dried sour cherries

3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

5 &1/2 oz. dark chocolate (minimum 70 % cocoa solids), coarsely broken up

2 large eggs

1 cup superfine sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour sifted with 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

Put the bourbon and dried cherries into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid, and set aside until needed, to allow the cherries to absorb the bourbon.

Place the butter and chocolate pieces in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and melt them together, stirring from time to time. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and let cool a little.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick parchment paper.

Put the eggs and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld electric mixer for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth, glossy, and almost meringue-like. Add this to the cooled chocolate and butter mixture and continue to beat until well combined. Fold in the flour and baking powder mixture, the cocoa powder, and salt.

Drain the cherries, reserving the liquor. Fold the cherries into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it well into the corners. Level the top evenly using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the surface begins to crack but there is still a wobble in the center. When baked, pierce the surface with a skewer and drizzle with the reserved liquor (this will dampen the top, but it will soak in and make the brownies even better). For optimum flavor, set aside for a few hours so the brownies can absorb the liquor.