At Inspired Occasions we are constantly searching for new and innovative dishes to wow and amaze our client's and their guests.
This website is designed to take you on a journey by bringing you into our kitchens to observe our culinary creative process from conception to final presentation.
As we create each new dish we will define our inspiration, discuss challenges, present our solutions and post some great pictures along the way.
So join us in the Inspired Occasions Research and Development Test Kitchen for some amazing new dishes! I guarantee an amazing journey!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Black Strapped!!

Rum, the drink that built America, the drink that “inspired” our fore fathers to take up arms and start a revolution has been dethroned.  This historical spirit has been relegated to the super sweet frozen cocktails of spring breakers in Miami, Mexico or the Carribbean,or the first drink of 21 year olds mixed with a coke.  This is a sad state my friends and we here at Inspired Occasions have found the new champion of Rum, the bad boy in black that will bring rum back to the forefront of your mind and your palate.

Black Strap Rum is the darkest cousin in the rum family, made from black strap molasses. It is a deep in color and it’s complex nature takes your taste buds on a cruise not soon forgotten.  We jumped on that cruise and now we present you with the souvenirs of our journey.

First settle in with our newest Island Cocktail, “The Left Lane”, a bright and refreshing drink made with Inspired Occasions famous gingered orange juice, Meyers Rum, and then a float of Black Strap bringing the contrasting rums shoulder to shoulder.  Each sip is preceded by the powerful bouquet of dark molasses, coffee, chocolate, and spice but then followed by the bright bite of the gingered orange juice and the sweetness of the Meyers.  Served chilled over ice this cocktail transports you to your favorite beach, lying in a hammock caressed by the gentle fingers of a soft tropical breeze.

Cocktails are only part of the “rum” story; the real winner here came from a simple amalgam of salt, sugar, water and rum.  This brine is the flavorful elixir that made chicken juicy and plump, swordfish moist and tender… but I am getting ahead of myself, let me introduce our first creation blackstrap brined and grilled chicken sliders with black strap rum BBQ sauce and seasoned tomatoes.  The brine added a dark and complex flavor to the chicken which was accentuated by the spicy and rich BBQ sauce, while the tomato added a perfect sweetness, acidity and freshness to every bite. 

Now I must preface our next discovery with a bit of a disclosure, culinary research is all about mixing flavors that are harmonious and balanced.  Some days you play with the classics, but other days you dive headfirst into the deep end of the crazy pool!  Introducing the newest addition to the grilled chicken slider, caramelized banana butter and sliced scallions!  This sweet and buttery spread tamed the spice in the sauce, enhanced the “Hint of rum” in the chicken while the scallions added an extra crunch and fresh onion bite.  I am still in disbelief over how amazingly well this combination worked; you never know what you will discover.

The grill may be a great medium for a brined breast of chicken chicken but the fryer is where a brined bird sings, and wow did this bird have some golden pipes!  Introducing the Pan fried black strap brined chicken slider with a fresh grilled mango salsa and a dollop of Rum BBQ sauce.  This cocktail sandwich soars to a  whole new level: The crispy fried chicken yields to the bright sweetness and smokiness of the grilled fresh mango and dances with the diced jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice thereby boosting the dark rum taste. and all the while toning tone down the spice of the BBQ.  A moist and tender cut of white meat, exploding with the spice and flavor of the rum. 

It is common knowledge that brining is the way to keep lean pork and juicy and succulent but why can’t other meats play in the salty solutions?  Take a look at our new summer .  The Cous Cous is dressed with a roasted garlic vinaigrette accentuated by caramelized black strap rum onions and blistered sweet peppers.  The swordfish was quickly brined then introduced to the grill resulting in a beautiful lightly smoked and chared serving of fish bursting with all of the rich dark flavors of the rum.  The warm cous cous provided a perfect a balance to the fish.  The sweet rum bite from the onions rounded out the profile while the sweet blistered peppers added a final note of sweet, heat and savoryness.  This dish will heat up any event with a “Hot and Trendy” taste of the tropics!

For something on the lighter side take taste test our newest creation, a fresh spinach salad topped with shaved red onion, toasted pepitas, green chili cornbread croutons, fresh strawberries, whipped herbed goat cheese; Dressed with a sweet, spicy and sassy mango and black strap rum vinaigrette.  The contrast of flavors, textures, sweet and spice are perfectly balanced while dancing delicately on the bed of crisp and flavorful spinach.  The whipped goat cheese crowns the salad heralding a creaminess to contrast the crunch of the pepitas and the crispiness of the cornbread croutons.  The black strap rum and mango vinaigrette was finished with finely diced fresh mango providing an added texture.and touch of tropical sweet. A perfect salad for a night on the beach with a mojito or at home with friends and a good bottle of wine!

Enough about the savory side lets dive taste buds first into my favorite course, dessert!  The Black   Presenting our new classic, Black strap rum Ice cream topped with caramel corn, homemade caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of grey sea salt.  This creation is over the top, the ice cream tastes of the best butter pecan ice cream you have ever had but with a rich complexity behind the scenes making it so much more.  The crunch and sweetness of the caramel corn intensifies the experience while the salt and the velvety caramel coat every bite in sweet warmth like the tropical sun on a morning beach.
Strap Rum just screamed ice cream from the very first sip. I was not going to say no to such a persuasive taste.

Black Strap Rum may be new to us, but the dishes developed taste like pure classics.  Stay tuned for more inspired dishes from Lon Lane's Inspired Occasions Research and Development Department!

1 comment:

  1. You hit the nail on the old rum keg with this post Stewart :) I'm not sure which direction I'm going to play around with Black Strap Rum, as both the sweet and savory dishes you created sound equally delicious.