The White Rye Daiquiri

Spring in Toronto generally means stepping into our small outdoor spaces, sweeping away remnants of the previous summer’s container gardens, and scouring the blanket of grit accumulated over the last six months. Cold, damp April showers blending the old dirt with new growth and fresh topsoil is where we looked to for our inspiration in this spring cocktail shoot. Only problem is that our balconies aren’t really strewn with decaying flora right now. All we have are uncharacteristically organized stacks of empty planters and patio furniture.

Spring Cocktail

The rule of thumb for planting In Ontario is to wait until the May 2-4 weekend when we’re at last safe from overnight frosts and other plant-killing weather, so new buds aren’t exactly popping their heads up on our balconies just yet. Thankfully, Jen has a green thumb and has started many of her tomatoes, peppers and herbs from seed inside. A quick trip to Young Jong Fruit & Flower Market, along the popular strip of Avenue and Davenport florists, also helps to fill in the gaps for new and dried spring flowers. The added assistance of my cocktail-loving, and skilled set-designer friend Justine helped to put the finishing touches (and rain drops) on the scene.

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I wanted to make something refreshing and clear to mimic the spring rain pouring down on us and I really wanted to come up with something using white whisky because it’s a clear spirit that’s enjoyed in its infancy. We may be waiting a month or so before we see spring mature into summer but at least we don’t have to wait years for it to happen like whisky-makers do for their product. White whisky, also known as white dog and perhaps even more unflatteringly, moonshine, doesn’t contain any of the aged-characteristics that whisky-drinkers love. It doesn’t actually taste much like whisky, and depending on the brand, it could more closely resemble the flavour profile of tequila.

Spring Cocktail

Where I would normally never want a lime near my whisky, the rules change for its un-aged counterpart. Though I hate to do it when we’re suffering through a lime crisis, I think this spirit needs the sourness of lime. An old-fashioned daiquiri, subbing out the white rum for white whisky makes great use of a spirit better known for being distilled into bathtubs in the backwoods of Tennessee. This cocktail tastes of spring and would do well with the addition of some herbal flourishes like thyme, lemon verbena, lavender, or mint. The herbal notes will have to wait for summer though, giving time for the plants to grow sturdy and robust before I cut them down for happy hour.

Spring Cocktail

The White Rye Daiquiri

makes 1 cocktail

3/4 oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz Cointreau
3 oz white rye whisky
1 small egg white (optional)

In a cocktail shaker combine the lime juice, simple syrup, Cointreau, white whisky, and egg white. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds to ensure the egg white is fully incorporated, then fill the shaker with ice and shake again for 20 seconds or until the outside of the shaker feels very cold. Strain and serve in a chilled cocktail glass with additional ice.

Spring Cocktail

Robbie Burns Day: The Morning After

Into our second miserable cold snap of January, we’re in need of some seasonal eating that goes beyond soup. It’s part of the Crustcrumbs mandate to address eating traditions, so we weren’t about to let Robbie Burns Day pass us by and with it, the only chance to eat haggis for the year. There aren’t many other foods that have such pomp and circumstance follow them out to the table before they are formally addressed.

Minced Haggis Fry

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’a grace
As lang’s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin’, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
Gie her a haggis!

Even in the address it’s noted that haggis is not exactly something we tend to fawn over compared to other dishes but that, I think, is what makes it special. I hope it’s also what makes it okay to say that we skipped over the traditional ceremony and went straight for the leftovers.

Minced Haggis Fry

This is haggis for the morning after. A haggis is ideal to make a breakfast mince fry up because it’s dense with oats, liver and aromatic black pepper. I’d go through with the whole haggis ceremony actually, if only to have these leftovers the next day. Though pretty damned tasty on it’s own, I also can’t resist a bit of brunchery tinkering, adding a golden breaded and fried soft-boiled duck egg to top off this glorious mound so that the yolk can ooze its way through the mince adding to its gravied texture. Boiled potatoes are mandatory just as tatties were the night before.

Scotch Caesar

A Scottish-Canadian beverage seems only too appropriate for a haggis breakfast. Enter in the Scotch Caesar. This is especially tasty if you happened to have any remnants of single malt scotch at the bottom of a formerly beloved bottle from the previous night. Since that’s an unlikely case though, I’d suggest trying a blended scotch for this cocktail, such as Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend Scotch. It’s excellent in cocktails and if you wanted to get fancy, you could infuse it with shiitake mushrooms, though it would be a far cry from being Scottish.

So lets toss in a Scottish prayer and get to the food.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

Minced Haggis Fry

Minced Haggis Fry

Enough for 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small (approximately 150g) yellow onion, finely diced
1 leek, sliced into thin half moons
1 large carrot, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1lb cooked haggis, casing removed
100ml red wine
4 whole tomatoes from a can, crushed with your hands
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large white potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thickly
salt to taste

Slick a large heavy-bottomed frying pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add in the onion, leek, carrot, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat for 5-10 minutes until the carrots just begin to soften. Slice the haggis into large rounds and add to the pan with the vegetables, breaking it up as it softens. Add the wine, tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 5 minutes more until everything holds together in a cohesive mix. Adjust the salt to taste.

In a medium saucepan filled with cold water, add the potatoes and bring to the boil. Add a generous amount of salt to the water and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.

To serve, mound the the mince on a plate with the boiled potatoes tucked up alongside.

Breaded and Fried Soft-Boiled Duck Eggs with Haggis

Breaded and Fried Soft-Boiled Duck Eggs

Makes 6

6 duck eggs, at room temperature
946ml sunflower oil
50g all-purpose unbleached flour
1 large chicken egg, beaten
65g panko or other fresh coarse breadcrumbs
salt to taste

Lower each duck egg carefully into a medium saucepan of gently simmering water and cook for approximately 6 minutes depending on the size of your eggs. Immediately plunge the eggs into cold water and leave to cool completely before peeling. Be very gentle when peeling the eggs as the whites will be just set and will break if handled roughly.

Begin slowly heating the oil in a medium saucepan until the oil reaches 375°F.

While the oil is heating, roll each egg separately in the flour, then dip into the chicken egg, then coat in the panko. Deep fry the eggs in the oil for approximately 20 seconds until the coating is a light golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel and serve warm.

Scotch Caesar

Scotch Caesar

Makes 1 cocktail

2 oz scotch
1/2 oz bottled clam juice
4 oz tomato juice
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes tabasco
pinch of fine sea salt
pinch of celery salt
grating of fresh horseradish
grating of black pepper
fennel fronds, for garnish

In a tall glass filled with ice add everything except the horseradish and black pepper. Stir thoroughly to combine, garnish with a grating of horseradish and black pepper, then the fennel fronds.

A Hot Chocolate to Skate With

The Christmas season lulled us into an artificial sense of winter cheerfulness what with its sparkly lights that brighten those initial dark winter nights. But with the cold, harsh reality of New Years Day, it’s now clear that really, what we’re left with when Christmas is all packed back away, is that it’s January. It’s a long cold winter month without Christmas lights, office parties, cookies or trifle.

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A lot of us stuck in this horrendous situation, with winter heavily bearing down, go into a stage of denial, telling ourselves that we can find fun winter activities to keep us busy until spring. At the top of this “winter fun” list is ice skating.

Woman pouring hot chocolate from vacuum flask
Though I don’t especially like ice skating, like most situations I can be coerced if there’s food involved.

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Besides, when I tell myself I want to go skating, what I’m really saying is I want to go to the pub after skating. A nice dark pub with a fireplace, where I can drink a porter or stout, something that’s black like motor oil, accompanied by another something, heavy with fried cheese. I also love the idea of bringing a flask to the rink, to repel the cold and make the activity a bit more entertaining but I don’t think it’s such a great idea to impair my motor skills in any way when I’m on the ice. When it comes to rink snacks, I think it’s fair to stick with simple hot chocolate and whatever fried thing they’re selling nearby. In our case, the french fries were the best option.

Woman pouring hot chocolate from vacuum flask
The hot chocolate is easy to put together and so much better than whatever the nearest vending machines are turning out. When I was coming up with this hot chocolate, I essentially started doing what I thought Nigella Lawson might do and as such I’ve ended up with a few British ingredients in my recipe. Nigella knows her chocolate desserts. She has full respect for chocolate and I find that many of her chocolate recipes are reminiscent of biting into a bar of pure chocolate. That’s the reason for both the dark chocolate and cocoa powder as they both provide their own special depth to this drink.

Woman pouring hot chocolate from vacuum flask
The bourbon-soaked vanilla bean is completely optional. Whenever I use a vanilla bean I add it to a jar that’s been filled with bourbon, a bit like feeding a homemade vanilla extract. The flavour of bourbon is so welcome in my baking that I thought I’d enjoy a vanilla extract with it as its base. The bourbon, of course is strong and competes with the vanilla so it’s not a pure vanilla extract though it is a satisfying ingredient to have on hand. At any rate, recycling one of these bourbon-soaked beans to infuse into this hot chocolate only makes sense to me if you happen to have it on hand. Otherwise you could add in a teaspoon of vanilla extract or simply leave the vanilla out all together.

Woman pouring hot chocolate from vacuum flask

Hot Chocolate

Makes enough to fill a 750ml thermos

150g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 bourbon-soaked vanilla bean (optional)
500ml whole milk (3.25% M.F.)
2 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
Fat pinch of Maldon salt

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk over medium-low heat until silky smooth. Decant into mugs or a thermos.

Woman pouring hot chocolate from vacuum flask
Thank you Sarah Wright for being our favourite Crustcrumbs model and recipe influencer.

Christmas Cocktail Roundup

I was out of town last week, so I missed getting drunk with all our Crustcrumbs readers during our 5 Days of Cocktails.  Allow me to reminisce with you all by rounding up all five of our Christmas cocktails.

5 Days of Cocktails

The first beverage in our week-long Mad Men themed office Christmas party was a County Nog.  The County Nog was modeled by Lynn, who later passed out under her desk.

County Nog

Next, we have Sarah drinking a Black Manhattan, garnished with bourbon-soaked cherries.

Black Manhattan

Sara joined us to drink a Widow’s Kiss, John’s twist on an old classic.

Widow's Kiss

A flashy Bourbon Sour was fourth, topped with a snowy froth and a swirl of bitters.  The Bourbon Sour was modeled by the lovely Mika.

Bourbon Sour

And last but not least is Michelle drinking a classy and elegant Bijou.


That’s it!  We hope you enjoyed our office Christmas cocktail shenanigans.  Maybe drink a few glasses of water on your way out.

5 Days of Cocktails


5 Days of Cocktails – Day 5: Bijou

Like a sparkling glass Christmas ornament, the Bijou shines bright with little extra adornment. Well put-together, it’s a cocktail that makes use of a combination of spirits with colours representative of precious diamonds and emeralds, immediately putting the drinker in a place of grace and elegance as its gleaming green hue illuminates from the glass.

It’s a polished cocktail for those looking to appreciate sophisticated flavours and aromas  such as juniper, anise, and orange.


This jewelled cocktail is traditionally made with three spirits: gin, green chartreuse, and sweet vermouth. I’ve changed the formula for the Crustcrumbs office party because I wanted this cocktail to be completely emerald in colour so as to better embody the unabashed sparkle of Christmas. It’s a joyous alteration. The Lillet Blanc is a little less sweet than the vermouth would be and adds its own pleasant aromas of orange. I’ve opted for no garnish in our version, though a cocktail cherry or orange peel (not both, please) would be a welcome addition.



makes 1 cocktail

1 oz Plymouth gin
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the gin, Chartreuse, and Lillet. Stir to chill. In a chilled coupe add a dash of orange bitters to the empty glass then pour the cocktail over top.

The Ladies of Crustcrumbs

That brings us to an end of the 5 Days of Cocktails and we’re feeling completely polluted. Soon it’ll be time to get the turkey in the oven! Thank you to all of our incredible Mad Men models – we obviously couldn’t have made it through the week without you.