The Cesar. It Hits You Right in the Skull.

As a present, my little brother recently gave me a glass skull shot glass and a blank composition book titled, “People I Want to Punch in the Face.”  We Gelsomins are not a violent bunch.  But we do have a sick sense of humor.

I mention this because I finally had the chance to use my new morbid barware last Sunday.  Turns out, one and a half ounces of vodka fills up to the skull’s would-be procerus—the booze hits right underneath the eyebrows.

But right.  I am not here to talk faux-skull anatomy.  No.  I am here to discuss a better Bloody Mary.  A lighter, more whimsical Bloody Mary.  If you allow my use of whimsy and blood in the same sentence. 

To complicate matters a tad, this cocktail is technically called a César.  (And I will henceforth leave figures with murderous undertones out of this.) The drink is essentially a Canadian version of the standard aforementioned brunch cocktail. 

This recipe comes from the brains behind Joe Beef and Liverpool House, Frédéric Morin and David McMillan.  Brilliant men.  The two have mastered the art of fanciful, nostalgic food.

They do things like serve Hot Oysters on the Radio.  (Or on bags of sugar, erotic novels, albums, whatever.)  They’ve been known to bring their own foie gras on train trips.  And their own vintage glassware when ice fishing.

They also subscribe to extreme cocktail garnishing.  Which is fine by me.  A mutiny of accoutrement is precisely what I’m after.

I recommend a lemon and lime slice for starters.  The obligatory celery stalk, of course.  Perhaps a pickle, an olive or two, and preferably at least one type of shellfish.  Dave and I decided a plump oyster crown would do.

The cocktail is spicy, savory, and skillfully employs Clamato juice as a vodka transporter of sorts.

And they go down easy.  So watch it.  You don’t want to end up on anyone’s face-punching list.
The César
Adapted from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, and Meredith Erickson


Old Bay seasoning (for garnish) (or you could try this)
1½ ounces of vodka (up to the eyebrows in a skull shot glass, or one shot)
dash of Worcestershire
few dashes of Tabasco
½ tsp grated horseradish, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
4 to 6 ounces Clamato juice
at least one lemon and lime wedge or slice
2 olives
1 pickle spear
1 celery stalk
1 raw oyster


Place the Old Bay or seasoning mixture on a plate.  Dip the edge of a pint glass into water or rub it with the wedge of a lemon.  Turn the glass upside down and press the edge into the seasoning, moving it gently in a circular motion to help the spices stick.

Fill the glass at least halfway with ice.  Add the vodka, Worcestershire, Tabasco, horseradish, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Fill the glass up with Clamato to the top (allowing a little room for garnish displacement).  Stir, taste, and adjust the seasoning, as needed.

Add in the citrus, olives, pickle spear, and celery.  Top with an opened oyster, or seafood garnish of your choice.

Makes one cocktail.

-In a pinch, I used ground piment d’Espelette and a little salt in place of the Old Bay.

-A lobster claw would be a keen addition.  Other pickled vegetables, such as dilly beans, would be wonderful here, as well.

-You can see both the subtle skull shot glass and Bostonian Bully Boy vodka bottle in the background.  This is just an aside.

-Don't have Clamato?  Try one part tomato juice to two parts clam juice, as suggested here.


Dark Chocolate Crescent Ginger Oat Biscuits (The Beginning of Your Oat Experience)

No matter what I say from here on out, I assure you these biscuits are, in fact, cookies.  Purely a matter of semantics.  I may suggest they are virtuously cluttered with oats.  Or contain enough ginger to pass as a digestive aid.

A certain chef I know likened them to granola bars.  And he has eaten several under this premise.  The British have termed such things biscuits.  I do not have data on their intake.  But based on the information that follows, I suspect they consume their bloody share. 

Theresemble an oversized, chewy ginger snap with pliable bits of softened ginger root.  The oats stand their ground supported by brown sugar and butter and take a crescent-shaped dip in dark chocolate.

The original recipe came to me accidentally.  I had seen a riff on the famed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage digestives made gingery and chocolatey by the cookery writer himself.  But somehow, somewhere signals got crossed and I wound up with Chocolate and Ginger Oat Biscuits from the BBC instead of Gingery, Chocolatey Oat Biscuits from The Guardian

No matter.  The oat-ginger-chocolate combination is winning. This recipe also containthat buttery Lyle's golden syrup that the Brits love so much.  It relies on a suspicious amount of ginger, as well, both powdered and fresh The root itself becomes nearly caramelized by sheer proximity to sugar and provides a nice counterpoint to the slight bitterness of the moon-shaped dark chocolate edges.

What does matter, however unfortunately, is that both British recipes use weight measurements instead of volume.   Which I did not realize until this precise moment. 

So please forgive me.  But if you’ve been toying with getting a baking scale, now is your chance to use cookies as rationalization device.  Or circle-shaped chewy “granola bars” with chocolate rims, if you want to play it that way.

I’ll just stick to calling them oat biscuits. Because it makes me feel better about eating thefor breakfast.  And because, as Fearnley-Whittingstall says, “breakfast should be just the beginning of your oat experience.”

Dark Chocolate Crescent Ginger Oat Biscuits
Adapted from the BBC, inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall


225g (8 ounces) unsalted butter
100g (3½ ounces) golden syrup
200g (7 ounces) dark brown sugar
150g (3½ ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
400g (14 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 eggs, lightly beaten
40g (1½ ounces) peeled ginger, minced (the ginger root will be about the length of 1½ thumbs)
85g (3 ounces) dark chocolate (I used 55% dark chocolate from Taza), roughly chopped


Set the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, syrup, and brown sugar over medium-low heat until well combined, stirring occasionally; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and spices; add in the salt and oats and stir to combine.  Pour in the melted butter mixture; add in the eggs and ginger and stir everything together with a rubber spatula until fully combined.

Scoop the mixture into semi-composed heaps about 2 to 2½ inches in diameter.  You should be able to fit 9 per sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes, until the cookies have spread, are firm to the touch, and the centers are no longer liquidy.

Allow to cool long enough so they can be transferred to a wire rack.  Once they have cooled completely, pour a little water into the bottom of a saucepan and place a heat-proof bowl above it (the bowl should not be touching the water).  Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir occasionally, until the chocolate has fully melted. 

Dip the cookies into the warmed chocolate just enough to create a crescent shape spanning roughly one-third of the edge of each cookie, working quickly so the bowl of chocolate does not cool (and then start to thicken).

Place the cookies back on the wire rack until the chocolate has set.  (To speed up this process, I placed the cookies in the fridge.)  Store at room temperature for up to two days or for a number of weeks in the freezer.

Makes 18 cookies

-The chocolate was taking a very long time to harden, so I placed the cookies in the fridge to speed up the process.  I’m sure a proper tempering would create a very lovely, shiny chocolate but I don’t think it’s necessary.

-For better or worse, these can pretty much be eaten straight out of the freezer.

-If you can get your hands on the spiked eggnog flavor from Taza, it’s quite the chocolate pairing for these cookies.