Cooking with Vanilla: Thunder of Zeus

December/January 1995

This is our adaptation of a recipe that first appeared in Herbally Yours, a cookbook published by the Southern California Unit of The Herb Society of America. We use it with meats, poultry, sauces, fruit, desserts, and as an aperitif.

• 1 quart very good brandy
• 2 tablespoons whole coriander seed
• 1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
• 6 whole cloves
• 1 two-inch piece cinnamon stick
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups water
• 1/2 vanilla bean, split
• 1 bottle very good dry white wine

1. Carefully warm the brandy to 115°F. Bruise the seeds and spices and add them to the warm liquid. Pour the brandy into a bottle and seal it; store in a cool, dark place to age for at least one month.

2. Dissolve the sugar in the water and add the vanilla bean. Combine with the aged brandy mixture, add the white wine, bottle it, and let the entire mixture age another month. Strain the liquid and pour it into bottles. Seal them and store in a cool, dark place.

Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay are a well-known pair of longtime chefs and herb gardeners who make their home in the tiny town of Round Top in central Texas.

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