I hear that all the time. Now that I’ve passed the One Year mark as a Seattleite, people assume I see the South Land the way they do, they way those who have never fallen in love with a dirty, beautiful, interesting, ever-changing, multifaceted city, look at it.
I’m not. I love the Pacific Northwest, it’s an incredible place to live, an outstanding place to explore beer. It’s the best place in the entire world to be during Hop Harvest season.
Living on the East side of Los Angeles, just a mile from where Eagle Rock Brewery, Los Angeles first tap-room, put down roots, was a once in a lifetime experience for a beer explorer. I watched as one of the worlds biggest Cities grew a beer scene from non-existent to thriving. I watch the first brew pub go up, breweries move in downtown, tap takeover taking over the city, and I was even a very small part of it.
Sure, I don’t miss the traffic, although it wasn’t really that bad. No, I don’t miss the weather, although there are days when I miss air conditioning, something that only exists in Seattle’s malls and movie theaters. Los Angeles isn’t like Seattle, for better or for worse. And I don’t compare the two. The beer is different, the people are different and the food is different. I don’t compare my friends to one another, I don’t compare a porter to a saison. I love the city I live in when I live in it, no matter how often it rains or how old the breweries are.
It’s a question get asked all the time. The problem is, it’s a trap. There is no right answer. If I talk about well-distributed beers I love, "Black Butte Porter is a great beer," or "Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar is one of my favorite brown ales," I’ve disappointed people looking for insider knowledge.
If I talk about the whales (hard to find beers), "Pliny is a great beer, but so is Heady Topper," people see me as a snob who’s just following the craft beer sheep pack. If I mention a beer they have never heard of, "Wow, Blitz Pack from Huminstat Brewing is amazing," they have no frame of reference, maybe it’s a terrible beer, or maybe I just made it up (I did).
The real issue is that I don’t have an answer, and it’s mostly a bullshit question. I don’t have a favorite food either, it changes with my mood and what I feel like eating that day. My favorite beer does the same, and I like beer that lives in harmony with the food on my plate.
When I go to a beer bar I ask the bartender what he drinks, or if there is anything exciting on tap right now. Anything special release? Anything new? There are days when I just want a stout, and during hop harvest season I want to drink all the fresh hopped beers I can find.
If I go to a brewery that specializes in a specific style, give me one of those. Maybe it’s because I’m not picky, I’m a very go-with-the-flow person. Or maybe I just believe in adventure over comfort. Or maybe I just love all the beer.
So the answer to the question, "What’s your favorite beer?" is most likely, "Whatever you want to serve me."
Because you buy the beer, and I’ll make the food. I’ll drink what you bring, and you’ll eat what I make.
In a large pot over high heat add the beer, honey, vinegar, chili sauce, garlic powder, and ginger. Bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally, boil until bubbles have mostly subsided and turned glossy and the mixture has thickened, about ten minutes.
Thread the shrimp onto metal or pre-soaked wooden skewers, sprinkle with salt, brush with glaze.
Cook on the grill until cooked through and glaze has slightly caramelized, about 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle with chopped green onions prior to serving.
I’m talking to a Hat Grabber at a party in Vegas. Hat Grabber is shorthand for a very young, very pretty, fairly vacant, girl who does things only she can do without getting punched in the face. This includes things like grabbing the hats of the heads of men she’s just met, putting it on her head, and forcing everyone to answer the question, "OH MY GOD, HOW CUTE DO I LOOK?" Hat grabbers.
I’m talking to a Hat Grabber about growing up on a farm, and she asks me if pigs smell like bacon.
"Live pigs? Do live pigs smell like bacon?" I’m a little confused and wonder if I actually heard her correctly.
"….yeah. I mean, I’ve always wondered that."
I’m mostly thinking about how quickly I can exit the conversation without hurting her feelings. "No," I answer, "They don’t smell that good. Also, cows don’t smell like hamburgers."
She laughs. She thinks I’m hilarious. I point to the waiter circulating the party with a silver tray of mini burgers. "How cute are those?! You should eat one!" She grabs her Hat Grabbing accomplice that has just returned from the bar and heads right for the cute food.
I’m relieved, I feel like I’ve been rescued. I owe the remainder of that evening to cute mini burgers. Burgers that actually do smell much more like bacon than live pigs do.
In a large bowl add the meat, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt, egg, bread crums, and beer. stir until just combined (about two of three turns with your hands). Over handling the meat will make it tough and mealy.
Place bowl in the fridge for 1 hour and up to 1 day (this will help keep it’s shape during cooking.
Using a cookie scoop, make balls just smaller than a golf ball with the chilled meat.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat until very hot. Add the meat balls, pull the skillet back and forth over the burner to roll the meat balls around in the pan. Cook until meatballs are just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add the barbeque sauce, cover with a lid, cooking at a simmer until meatballs are glazed and sauce is very thick.
Place one to two meatballs inside slider buns. Serve warm.
On a tall shelf in my kitchen sits my grandmothers copy of The Joy of Cooking. A thick, vintage, hard backed book with a faded red ribbon that marks the Candied Sweet Potatoes recipe on page 325 that she made every Thanksgiving. Flipping through the yellowed pages, reading her notes scrawled in the margin, I get to connect with her years after she’s left us. I get to cook with her in a way I never did when she was alive. Her note about adding sage to the stuffing, or freezing her pie crust for ten minutes before baking it, are conversations we were never able to have. If there is one type of book that I will always want in the print version, it’s a cookbook. I want to feel the pages, make my own notes, and someday pass it down to my future grandchildren. It becomes a conversation between decades, an engagement among generations, that connects people in a way that nothing other than food has the ability to do.
I’ve joined a group of fantastic bloggers to giveaway a dozen beautiful cookbooks. I own about half of these, some of my favorite cookbooks ever written. How to Cook Everything is essential, Bouchon Bakery is so beautiful it can double as a coffee table book, and the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook is a must own. One winner will win all twelve, a full cookbook library that will bring years of fantastic meals and unforgettable memories. Make the recipes, make your own notes, and keep them for generations.
Sriracha Lime Beer Corn Fritters. Perfect appetizer in just 15 minutes.
It’s been a year.
One year since I packed a moving truck full of my Los Angeles life, threw my bulldog in my car, and headed north. 12 months since I drove the length of Highway 1 through Big Sur, up into Oregon and onto a new life in Seattle. Four seasons, a comprehensive life change, a second book, several personal tragedies, two magazine award nominations, and one hop harvest season.
Hand over my heart, I can swear to you that I love it. I love Seattle more than I expected, more than I even wanted to. The SoCal girl in me was terrified of the winter, which made it even more shocking that I found it gorgeous and mild. I don’t mind the rain, and it comes much less often than I’d prepared myself for. The beer is fantastic. The produce is world class.
The people are fascinating. They’re recyclers, runners, coffee drinkers, friendly but reluctant to make friends, well traveled homebodies, locavores and craft-everything lovers. It’s a culture I feel comfortable in.
And the beer is even better than I’d hoped and the scene is expanding in a way that I can’t even keep up with. I’ll never be bored here, I’ll never run out of new breweries to visit or beers to sample. There will always be people to meet, beer to drink, dishes to cook. I’ve made my home here, I’ve found a space, and I can’t wait for more of all of it.
In a large bowl add the flour, corn meal, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, and corn kernels, stir until well combined.
Make a well in the center, add the sour cream, sriracha, pale ale, lime juice, and cilantro, stir until well combined.
Heat about 1 inch of oil in a pan over medium high heat.
Add about ½ tablespoon of batter to the oil (a small mellon baller works well), adding 6 to 8 small scoops of batter at a time. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes.
If fritters cook too quickly on the outside and the inside is still raw, either the oil is too hot or the fritters are too large. Try to first reduce the heat of the oil, then reduce the size of the fritters to fix the problem.
Beer Braised Pulled Pork Sliders with Chipotle Beer Cheese Sauce. Perfect football food!
I get to do things. Fun things, cool things. This still feels new to me, these fun cool things. I spent years working with grubby, incredible, wonderful, difficult, heartbreaking kids in South Central LA.
Then I worked behind a desk, in the pencil skirts and stilettos that I couldn’t wear in Compton, working with elderly Holocaust survivors in Beverly Hills. I social worked my way through most of Los Angeles.
Now I get to work on TV shows, and I go to Vegas for awards dinners, and cook on the news. There are times when I feel selfish, for walking away from the good work to do the fun work.
But those feelings don’t last long. I’m so grateful for what I do now that I can’t sully that with feelings of guilt. I’m lucky. I’m excited. I cooked on the news again Wednesday, I made football food, talked about beer, and made a few jokes.
It’s the same in a way, social work and beer cooking. I’m solving problems. Beer cheese sauce separates? let me help you with that. Not sure how to tell if that beer is bitter or not? I’ve got the answer. Social work was solving problems and answering questions. I do that now too, although I’m not sure I’m saving anyone’s life.
I’ll always be a person who wants to help, wants to add to your table, wants to make your life better because we came in contact. Even if the only thing you gained from me is a slider recipe or a desire to visit Fremont Brewing. Beer social work is much easier, and I’m fine with bringing my work home with me now.
Beer Braised Pulled Pork Sliders with Chipotle Beer Cheese Sauce
In a small bowl stir together the salt, brown sugar onion powder, chili powder, cumin, pepper, smoked paprika and mustard powder together until combined, set aside.
Take out your pork and stab 6, 2-inch deep holes fairly evenly spaced through the meat. Push a clove of garlic into each hole until no longer visible.
Rub the entire surface of the meat with the spice mixture, using it all.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil until very hot. Sear all surfaces of the meat, even the sides, until browned. The entire process will probably take about 10-15 minutes. Pour the beer over the meat, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 3 hours, turning the meat over about every 30 minutes, until the meat is tender and falling apart.
Once the meat is tender remove from heat, use two forks to shred into pieces while still in the pot (or remove, shred and return to pot). Return to the pot to heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pot and discard the liquid.
Add all cheese sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process on high until very well blended, about 5-8 minutes.
Transfer contents to a saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk rapidly and continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Fill slider buns with pork, top with cheese sauce, serve warm.
Beer Crab Cake Balls, incredibly delicious and adictive. Perfect for game day!
We can’t over think this one. We wont.
Because if we did we would think about deep-frying, get nervous about it, wonder if people actually like crab and deep fried things as much as we do, worry about the friend who pretends to be gluten free and the guy who’s a vegetarian. And then we’d miss out on the best appetizer we’ve ever made for a football party. And that would be horrible. An actual real life First World tragedy.
Because this needs to be made for the Super Bowl. It’s crab, which can be proudly claimed with strong possession by both Seattle and New England. And so can great beer. And apparently great football teams. And amazing women (Just trust me). It’s a dish that doesn’t take sides, but it knows who’s going to win. It’s the city with the best beer. And the best women. Obviously.
Baked Buttermilk Beer Popcorn Chicken with Honey Beer Dipping Sauce. So easy and even freezer friendly!
When I was 22 I worked at a locked down level 14 facility that housed juvenile delinquents. I was only there to work with one. A baby faced 12-year-old named Tyrell with dark chocolate skin and big brown eyes. His sweet spirit and quiet voice made it impossible for me to believe that this was the kid that had been locked up in Baby Jail for 6 months due to assault, then moved to locked down half-way house before he could go back into foster care. He was just way too gentle.
Filling out the initial forms I asked him about himself. I asked him to pick three words that described himself. He didn’t hesitate, "Male. Athletic. Japanese." He might not have thought twice but I did, he was clearly African-American.
"Oh. Yeah. I’ve been in foster care since birth and no one knows who my bio parents are. So it’s possible. I could be Japanese. It’s possible. And I feel Japanese. konichiwa!" The last word was accompanied by an exaggerated bow.
"It’s definitely possible," I smiled at how completely endearing it was.
I made a deal with him. If he agreed to work with me on anger management skills, on Fridays I’d bring him something to explore his Japanese culture. He was thrilled. We tried out Origami, we went through an English-Japanese dictionary to learn words, we played mahjong and drew Japanese cartoons. Then we came to the idea of food. I explained different dishes, each of which were met by a horrified expressions. "I only been eating group home food. I never heard of none of that." Despite his completely institutionalized palate, he wanted to try some japanese flavors. After a lengthy discussion we decided to just try some sauces, sampled with his favorite food: chicken nuggets.
The following week I brought him 16 chicken nuggets along with Ponzu sauce, Wasabi mayonnaise, Hoisin sauce, taberu rayu, and a variety of other condiments. He wasn’t impressed. Other than the hoisin, he didn’t sample any more than once. He was disappointed that his taste buds rejected the idea that his relatives were from Japan, "Well," he sighed, "Maybe I’m only half Japanese."
Baked Buttermilk Beer Popcorn Chicken with Honey Beer Dipping Sauce
Cover with buttermilk and 1 cup beer, stir gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 8.
Prepare a baking sheet by covering with aluminum foil and dizzling with an even layer of 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Preheat oven to 425.
In a small bowl stir together the flour, panko, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
One at a time remove the chicken cubes from the buttermilk, toss in the panko mixture until well coated. Gently dip back in the butter milk mixture and then toss again in the panko mixture.
Place on a prepared baking sheet.
Spray gently with olive oil spray.
Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over, bake until cooked through about an additional 10 minutes.
In a small bowl stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons beer, ¼ cup honey and garlic chili sauce.
Serve the chicken bites with sauce on the side.
These freeze well. Just cook them completely, allow them to cool and then transfer to a gallon sized freezer zip lock bag. Freeze for up to three weeks.
Once ready to eat, cook for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven or until warmed through.
I use the Chili Garlic Sauce from Huy Fong foods, it can be found in most supermarkets in the Asian foods section (affiliate link).
I also use this Olive Oil Sprayer, it’s perfect if you want to avoid using cooking spray. (affiliate links)
Slow Cooker Beer Brisket Sandwiches with Horseradish Sour Cream
I learned football on the field, the way you should. Of course I didn’t play on a tradition team, I’m a 5’7″ blonde girl that never weight much more than 127lbs. I did what girls with pent up aggression and a need to please grown ups did, I joined a powder puff league in college so that I could beat the crap out of other girls in a socially acceptable way. Take a bunch of WASPY white girls who have spent their lives being told to "act like good girls," strap them up with a waist belt of tear away nylon flags, throw a ball in the mix with a huge Samoan coach and watch them tear each other up with smiles on their faces.
The best part of my year on the field wasn’t the release of pent up rage, it was a deep understanding of the game. I finally understood that what looked like a bunch of giant millionaires fighting over small oval object was actually an extremely mental game. I learned the rules, the way the stadium smells at night, the victory of a first down, the reasons you should love the game.
These days my competitive nature seems more likely to manifest itself in the pot luck throw down that football gatherings seem to incite. I want to win at pot luck in a way that seems like it didn’t really occur to me that I was competing ("Oh, this? You like it! I’m so glad."). Sliders are great at that, effortless like the perfect pair of jeans and just as delicious.
For these sliders I used a beer from a brewery that is quickly becoming a favorite since my move to Seattle, Fremont Brewing. If you’re in Seattle, it’s a fantastic place to visit. But just know that if you do happened to plan your visit on a game day you will kindly asked to root for the Seahawks. Or maybe you could just stuff your trap full of sliders. Either way it’s a win.
Slow Cooker Beer Brisket Sandwiches with Horseradish Sour Cream
Puff Pastry Shrimp Beer Cheese Sweet Chili Bites. Only 10 minutes prep!
Right out of college I got a job working with gang kids in South Central Los Angeles, like this one and this one. I was prepared to be afraid of them, bracing myself to be on the defense, even packing pepper spray in my purse. I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with them. I worked with kids as young as 5, and as old as 19, all either on probation or in foster care, sometimes both. To this day, some of the kids I met during that time are the smartest, most kind hearted, motivated kids I’ve ever met.
The first year I worked at a group home in a particularly rough part of Hollywood, I tried to make a big deal out of Christmas in a very middle American ignorant white girl kind of way. Let’s decorate the tree! Let’s make Christmas cookies! When I found out that the very small budget the organization had to cover Christmas gifts wasn’t enough to get the kids more than one small gift each, I ran around getting donations. Kids need presents.
To my WASPY surprise this wasn’t well received. The kids, all boys between the ages of 12 and 17, were mostly kind about it, although visibly annoyed. I wanted to know why, what where the traditions they grew up with, what did they miss? A few days before Christmas one of the younger kid, Jamal, offered to help me wrap some of the gifts, so I asked him.
He sighed, not sure how to proceed.
"Is this another one of my white girl questions that you guys tease me about?"
He laughed, "Nah, it’s just…a lot of us don’t got good memories of Christmas. It’s not really our thing. Some kids do. But most don’t."
He told me he didn’t get presents when he was little because they either couldn’t afford them or his mom was too drunk to buy any. For years he figured that it was because he was bad, that’s the story right? Santa brings presents to good kids, bad kids don’t get any. He also told me a story about waking up on Christmas morning when he was 5, spending it alone because his mom was on a bender. He sat in his living room hoping that Santa wasn’t real. Santa’s lack of existence was comforting, rather than the idea that he was alone and present-less because he was bad. It hit me how terrible the Santa story is for kids that don’t get gifts. My world opened up a bit that day, being taught life lessons by a 12-year-old will do that to you. I’ll never forget his face, so matter of fact, not the tears or grief you’d expect.
I can’t remember what I got for Christmas that year. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to name a dozen gifts I’ve been given over the years. But I’ll never forget Jamal and I hope he never has to spend Christmas alone again.
Pumpkin Ale Farro Roasted Asparagus Pomegranate and Goat Cheese Salad
Somehow I ended up being the girl who brought salad to Thanksgiving. Not my usual holiday offering. Spending the holidays in an unfamiliar city and not being the host for the first time in forever drove me to beer up a salad. Maybe it’s caused by the stir-crazy-work-from-home madness that’s set in, a fall that’s actually cold, or the life I’m living that looks almost nothing like it did a year ago, but beer in a salad made everything seem right. I needed a little familiarity in my world, and all of my favorite salads contain pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. You can even forget the fact that this salad is red, green, gold and white, making it more festive than it should be allowed to be for a holiday salad. This is a season for indulgences: barrel aged beers, cakes, fudge, cookies, and pie. With all of these perfectly fantastic holiday foods, I give you a salad. But rest assured it’s a damn good salad, and with beer infused grains, it definitely made the naughty list.
Pumpkin Ale Farro Roasted Asparagus Pomegranate and Goat Cheese Salad
Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers. Because the only thing that can make Jalapeno Poppers better is bacon. And beer.
I was on a reality TV show once.
By the time January rolled around and filming started, in a cold warehouse in Van Nuys, California, the idea I had been pitched by the team of producers had morphed into something that hardly resembled the original premise. I’d been sold on the idea that the team was to document the process of assisting me in developing a line of beer-infused food for grocery stores. I ended up walking into a cooking competition.
When I arrived at a hotel near the filming location I was asked to hand over my phone, my computer and all access to the outside world. The phone in the room was even disabled. I asked why, what if I need something? "You won’t" was as much of an answer as I could get.
A beat-up Dodge Caravan pulled up at 5 am the following morning as I stood shivering outside the hotel lobby. A few other TV show participates filed into the seats behind me. "Hi, I’m Jackie," I said to the girl who sat down next to me.
"No talking!" A 23-year-old from Kentucky snapped at me from the driver’s seat.
"Wait…what?" I was confused and dangerously under-caffeinated.
"You can’t talk to anyone except the producers unless we say you can."
I didn’t push back, I just gave a look of shock to the other 5 passengers that was mirrored by their own reactions to this news.
After arriving on set, and a brief orientation to the show premise, which wasn’t even a distant cousin to the show vibe I was sold a few months prior, I was hustled to a makeshift "room" which was no more than a large plywood box constructed on one end of the warehouse. Each contestant was put in a separate box, with nothing more than a folding chair. I sat there for three hours, re-reading the copy of Blood, Bones & Butter I luckily had in my bag. When it was my turn for shooting I was handed a plate of the bacon jam that I’d made for the shoot and given a few directions. "Walk to that podium, set down the plate, smile at the chefs." "Now do it slower" "Now do it faster" "Introduce yourself" "Do it again." After a few scripted back and forth segments, I went back into the box. Starving, unsure of the time, bored to tears, to wait another three hours.
Late in the day, well past dark, it was time to shoot a mock cooking battle. The count down clock was faked. As soon as each participant was finished with the dish, the producers came over to shoot the "five…four…three…two…one…hands up, time is over" segment. We each did this three or four times, well after each of us had finished our dishes.
Close to midnight, exhausted, hungry, a bit jittery, the battle was over. I had made it to the top two. I wanted sleep, I didn’t care that I hadn’t been cut, I just wanted to sleep. Before I could go, I was taken to a dark room, sat in a chair, a bright light in my face obscuring the camera filming my responses to a young producer’s questions. It quickly became clear what she wanted. She wanted me to trash talk the other girls. I refused. Two hours later, the interrogation continued. "Aren’t you annoyed at how bubbly she is? Isn’t she ugly? Doesn’t it seem like she’s faking it all for attention?"
I thought of the people who admit to murders they don’t commit just to be left alone, just for sleep and food. "Listen," I finally said, "I won’t do it. I’m not going to shit talk girls I genuinely like and hardly know just for some sound bites. You have to take a different direction."
"Can you act scared of them?"
"Fine, they scare me."
I was finally able to sleep. At least until 6 am when I had to do it all again. Another day of shooting, another day of the box. Another day of getting scolded for talking to people. We faked conversations about things that hadn’t happened for the sake of the camera. We filmed the "if you win" scene and the "if you lose" scene. They missed the genuine moments, the good stuff went on off-camera.
After the final round, close to 3 am, the last remaining contestant and I presented our dishes to the judges and a grocery store buyer. We had already filmed the "post judges, waiting for the results" banter, which we had to fake given that it took place 3 hours before the judges even showed up. She started to cry, no cameras around, no one but her and me.
"My whole life is in this product. I mortgaged our house, I depleted our savings. What if I fail? I think they like you more. I think they’ll pick you." She sobbed.
For me, it was a whim. It was something fun. It was her life. I was rooting for her, she was the one who should win.
My pitch had gone well, really well. They pressed, I had answers. "Bacon jam? Isn’t jam supposed to be sweet?" I explained that plenty of jam was savory, onion, tomato, even garlic jam. With plenty of applications. Bacon jam could be both. It can go on brownies or vanilla ice cream, or it can be spread inside a pork loin roulade or on biscuits. When the show finally aired, however, my monologue was cut in favor of a shot of me staring blankly into space. As if I had no idea what the question meant.
Hers hadn’t gone well. She had been rude, combative, hostile. Mostly because she was exhausted, emotional, and desperate to win.
At 3 am we were back, both of us rooting for her, both of us desperate to sleep. And then the answer came:
"And the contestant who is cut tonight is….Jackie"
I smiled. I was happy. We had to reshoot and I had to fake a sad face. But I was thrilled. The right person won.
Ten minutes later I was back in the interrogation room and I knew what the producers wanted. They wanted tears, they wanted me to be upset. I was just glad it was over. "Do you think the wrong person won? Did they make a mistake?"
"Nope. She should’ve won. She deserved it."
"Isn’t she rude? Mean? How can you want a mean person to win?"
"Look, I know it would make great TV if the blonde white girl shit talks the 60-year-old Jamaican woman, but that’s not going to happen. Maybe she’s a bit rough, but I like her. She’s tough, she has a great product, she put her entire life on the line for this. She deserves it. They picked the right person."
She didn’t like that. But it was 3 am and she finally just let me go back to the hotel.
By the time the show aired, it was full of petty, forced, artificial drama that had never really occur. You missed the heart and soul of good people, you had no one to root for. And even my competition, the woman whom even I wanted to win, came off as someone you wanted to root against. I looked sad, stupid, and vacant. You wanted to throw Prozac at the screen every time I was on. Needless to say, the show did not return for a second season. People want someone to root for. They want to see the heart and soul more than the drama and the tears. Especially when it comes to food, give us a hero, someone to root for.
Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers
These peppers are best made in stages. They are time consuming and tend to be too much work for the day of an event. It’s best to prep the peppers, make the jam and the cream cheese ahead of time, storing in the fridge until ready. Just fill, coat and fry when it's time to serve. (they can also be filled and stored in the fridge for 24 hours, just make sure to coat right before frying)
In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon, working in batches if necessary. Remove the bacon from the pan and allow to cool and then roughly chop.
Drain off the bacon grease from the pot, leaving only about 1 tbs bacon drippings in the bottom of the pot.
Return the pot to heat and cook the onions until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup beer and both vinegars, scraping to deglaze the bottom of the pot.
Add the brown sugar and the bacon, reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Place the lid on the pot at an angle, allowing to vent the steam.
Cook until reduced to a thick and syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a food processor along with remaining 1/4 cup beer and pulse until most of the large pieces have been chopped. Bacon jam can be made up to a week ahead of time.
In a food processor add the cream cheese, mozzarella, and 3 tbs IPA beer, pulse until well combined.
Cut the top off the jalapenos, use a paring knife to scoop out the seeds and membrane inside the peppers.
Pipe the cream cheese mixture and the bacon jam into the pepper in equal portions. I used a dual piping bag for this. You can also slice the pepper ¾ the way down one side, spreading the jam on one side and the cream cheese on the other.
Sprinkle the peppers on all side with flour.
Add the eggs to a small bowl, beat until well combined.
Add the bread crumbs to another bowl.
One at a time dip the peppers in the egg mixture, allowing the excess to slide off before rolling in the bread crumbs. Place back in the egg mixture and then back in the bread crumbs. Set the pepper on a wire rack for about ten minutes to allow the coating to set.
Add 3 to 4 inches of oil to a pot over medium high heat, bring to 325 degrees using a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust heat to maintain this temperature. It’s important that the oil stays close to this temperature. If the oil is too cold the pepper will take on too much oil, if it’s too hot the breading will cook and the pepper will still be cold and vegetal. Cook the peppers for 5 to 6 minutes in the hot oil, return to a wire rack to cool. Serve immediately.
I used this multi-color piping bag set for the filling. It also works great if you make cupcakes for football games, you can pipe two colors on at once. (affiliate link)
Porter Braised Beef Short Ribs Sandwiches with Jalapeño Beer Cheese Sauce #beer #recipe #tailgating
On the way to making quick chicken tacos I decided to make a burger. One that takes a couple of hours, one that I decided to call a sandwich instead because I felt like it. One that I decided to spice up with jalapenos. Because things that take a few hours need to be made. There’s a feeling of accomplishment, of unguarded control, a way to push back against the restraint of the rest of your life, the parts that you can’t govern as you want.
But you deserve a little control, a little bit of your life that you have total say over. A little bit of something that goes right, and no one is pushing you around, or taking advantage of you, a space where your work doesn’t go unnoticed. No matter what great things you’ve done this week, and I know there have been plenty, you won’t be getting a parade. Or a Congratulations card. Or even a confetti shower when you walk in the door. But you should, because I’m sure you’ve done something to deserve those things. But with these, all that hard work won’t go unnoticed. You might not get a piñata and a present, but you will get some delicious sandwiches. Even though I’m sure you deserve much more.
Porter Braised Beef Short Ribs Sandwiches with Jalapeño Beer Cheese Sauce
Sprinkle the salt on all sides of the short ribs. In a small bowl stir together the flour, chili powder, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin and brown sugar. Sprinkle the ribs on all sides with the flour mixture.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the short ribs, browning on all sides.
Add the broth and beer, bring to a low simmer. Add the lid at a vent, cooking until short ribs are tender and falling off the bone, about 2 ½ hours, remove from heat. Using two forks, shred while still in the pot. Allow to sit in braising liquid for ten minutes, remove from braising liquid.
In a pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the jalapenos, cook until softened. Sprinkle with flour and cornstarch, whisk until well combined, allow to cook until a light brown color.
Add the beer and the milk, bring to a low simmer. About ¼ cup at a time, whisk in the cheese, making sure all cheese is melted before adding more. Keep warm while you make the burgers (sauce will thicken as it cools, add additional milk or beer and add to heat if the sauce thickens too much).
Add the ribs into rolls, top with cheese sauce. Serve warm.
When I was 17 I decided to sell vacuums door-to-door. It was a great plan, I’d met a guy who had made a few thousand dollars in just one day, it seemed like easy money.
After a quick intro seminar in an office park in a bad area of town, they loaded up a floor model into the back of my car and gave me a folder of pre-screened targets that I had appointments with. My first stop was a nice apartment overlooking the water. I nervously waited for the door to open as I practiced my opening line in my head a few times.
The door swung open and an attractive 22-year-old guy was on the other side of the door. The look on his face mirrored my own: you’re not what I was expecting. He eagerly invited me in, offering me a drink, clearly unaware of my underage status. I declined, trying to stick to the script. I didn’t get paid unless this guy buys an overpriced cleaning machine, and I needed money.
I start the routine I’d been taught, demonstrating the equipment, quoting stats and specs, and trying to get him to pay more attention to the vacuum than my jeans. Mid-pitch, he stops me, "I have an Ikea couch and my TV is held up by a shipping crate, do you really think I can afford a $600 vacuum? It’s not going to happen."
I explained that I had to call my boss to tell him how it was going, but I had to wait at least 30 minutes after my arrival. I asked him to give me more time. He hesitated. "Look, how about this. We’ll play one game of poker, if I beat you, you buy the thing. If not, I’ll leave before I have to make the call."
A few minutes later he emerged from his kitchen with a pack of cards and a box of matchsticks he wanted to use as poker chips. Due to a lack of furnishing, we sat cross-legged on the floor of his living room as I dealt hold ’em and watched him suck down a second scotch. Fifteen minutes later, I had all the match sticks. For a second time.
"I just beat you twice," I said as I motioned towards the overpriced vacuum.
"I still can’t afford it. But can I take you out this weekend?"
"Are you going to buy a vacuum?" Which was really a poor choice of words, I just wasn’t sure how to respond to his advance.
"You’re making me buy that thing before I can take you out?"
"No, I’m not going out with you either way. But….it’s a really good vacuum."
He laughed. "Look, I’ll help you load it up. There really is no chance that I’ll buy this thing. How about we walk over to that cafe across the street and I’ll buy you dinner for your trouble."
I hesitated, I didn’t want him to think it was a date, he clearly noticed.
"It’s not a date! I owe you something for your time and the fact that you’re oddly skilled at poker, and I feel bad just sending you away. Just let me buy you dinner."
I agreed, but I also ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, cheese fries, to remind him that there wasn’t any chance this was more. They were fantastic. I canceled all other vacuum-related meetings, returning the stupid thing in the morning. Cheese fries and winning at poker isn’t a bad night, but it never earned me any money.
I always a nice girl, polite, maybe a little shy in a way that made me seem unapproachable. Always a go-with-the-flow, don’t-rock-the-boat kind of person, never one to cause a riot.
Until you put me in a red swim suit and give me a whistle, then I’m bossy and loud. The summer after high school I got a job as a lifeguard at a summer camp protecting pasty white teenagers from the depths of a murky lake. One of the stations I worked was this 30 foot long inflatable rectangular pillow that extended out into the deep center of the lake called "The Blob." Kids would climb up on the large platform that was positioned over one end of The Blob, jump down and climb out to the other end of this multi-colored launching device. When the next kid would jump off the platform on the near end of The Blob, the first kid would be flung high into the air, right into the lake.
We had a weight limit, for safety reasons. Only a 100 pound weight differential between Blobbers was aloud or the launch would be too extreme for the the one who was being flung. A late afternoon, just a few minutes before the end of the afternoon swim session, a camp counselor came to me asking to bend the rules. He wanted to launch the smallest girl off the end of The Blob, just to see what would happen.
I said no, "You are huge, she is tiny. That doesn’t end well."
He resisted, telling me I wasn’t being cool, "Why are you being so lame?!"
"You easily have 200 pounds on her, she’ll get hurt. Don’t do it."
Two minutes later I see her on the far end of The Blob, hands gripping tightly to her lifejacket. Knees curled. I look up at the platform, a small kid was about to jump. But my relief turned to hot white anger when I saw Big Guy Dumbass Councilor push him out of the way and cannon ball onto the blob. Tiny Girl was sent so far into the air that everyone in line gasped. She flailed, her tiny arms windmilling. After a ten story descent into the water, she landed flat on her back with the loudest slap I’ve ever heard, it echoed across the lake. She lay in the water, frozen without moving. I immediately jumped in and swam out to her. She was in shock, but ok. She was silently sobbing, limp as I pulled her back in. I put her on the dock without saying a word, took off her life jacket, she had giant welts on her lower back and was having a hard time moving.
I looked up at Dumbass, who was still on The Blob. "Dude…" was all he said. I shot him the nastiest look I could muster and yelled to everyone in line that The Blog was closed early.
At dinner that night, we had sliders. I was still in my swimsuit, with white shorts, hair still wet after barely making it to the dining hall after filling out the Incident Report. I sit at the staff table, with a clear view of Dumbass. I stared at him, eating my sliders with a vengeance. Another lifeguard, who’d been working the pool that afternoon noticed my wrath, "Jackie, what the hell? What did those sliders do to you? Jesus, you look pissed." Something about eating small little burgers that makes me feel powerful, in an "I’ve got this" sort of way. Don’t mess with me when I’ve got a whistle. Or sliders.
In a medium bowl add the sausage, 3 tablespoons beer, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir until just combined.
Form into 8 small patties, about 2 ½ inches wide by ½ inch tall.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Cook the patties on one side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and add ½ cup beer to the pan. Simmer until patties are cooked through, about 6 additional minutes.
In a small bowl stir together the sour cream, cilantro and sririacha.
Add the patties to the split rolls, top with sour cream and lettuce.
Maybe it was because I’m a people pleaser, or I’m detrimentally curious, but she was able to talk me into it. I took headshots and a few weeks later I was on a catwalk in Culver City modeling high waisted jeans, and a mesh top with no bra, with vines and flowers drawn on my face.
Backstage I was so nervous I felt like I was going to throw up. At 5”7’ and 118 lbs, I was the “short, fat” model that needed the 7-inch heels to make the $500 denim inseam work. I was in a world that didn’t belong to be, in an ill-fitting role. A seasoned model, one with dead eyes and the purse full of cocaine walked by and gave me a smirk, “First show? Good lucky, honey” in a voice as nasty as garbage.
A switch flipped. I’ve never been the mean girl, I’ve never been the center of attention girl, and I was learning how not to be push over. I smirked back.
I walked out on the long black stage, lights from all sides. Camera bulbs flashed. I was acutely aware of being nearly topless, and I owned it. I got to the end of the runway, I knew it was going well. When I got halfway back, I saw Dead Eyes at the other end, she’d paused. I put my hand up, forcing her to stop. I turned back around and did another pass, walking back to the end of the runway. For some reason, the crowed cheered at my double pass. Dead eyes had to wait, she was furious at the back of the stage. When I finally exited the stage, I did so with a death glare at my back. I very quickly changed my clothes, grabbed my things and left, vines and flowers still painted on my cheeks. I didn’t get paid for the show and I never did another, but it was worth it.
I’d much rather run around a kitchen that a runway. It was a reminder that sometimes when you don’t belong somewhere it’s not your loss. Sometimes, with a little luck, we just end up where we are supposed to be. And it fits really well.
In a food processor add the cream cheese, sour cream, old bay, garlic powder, chili powder, hot pepper sauce, corn starch, beer, worchestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarealla, process until smooth.
Stir in the onions and crab meat.
Add to an oven safe serving dish.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until warm and golden brown.
Fried Beer Chicken Sliders with Beer Pickled Peaches and Jalapeños. Fried chicken is SOOOOO good with pickled peaches!
Slider has always been one of those skeevy words that I’ve tried to avoid. Like, well, the word "skeevy," or the unfortunate times I’m forced to use the word "moist." Like the way "wooded area" is almost always followed by "dead body" or how the word "penetrate" should never be used outside a seventh grade health class as a way to horrify kids into keeping it in their pants for a few more years.
I need a viable replacement word, something more appropriate for a miniature version of a delightful sandwich. I also need replacement words for the multitude of swear words I use on a daily basis, but one thing at a time. I’m much more motivated to find replacement words for "slider" and "moist," those are much less fun to say than my drunken sailor vocabulary.
Fried Beer Chicken Sliders with Beer Pickled Peaches and Jalapenos
In a pot over medium high heat add the vinegar, sugar and salt, stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved, remove from heat. Stir in the beer and ice cubes, allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Add the peaches to a bowl, pour the pickling liquid over the peaches, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to three days.
Add the chicken to a large bowl or baking dish, cover with beer and buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
Heat 4 to 6 inches of oil in a large saucepan, using a deep fry thermometer, adjust heat to maintain 350 degrees.
In a shallow bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, onion powder, black pepper and cayenne.
One at a time remove the pieces of chicken from the buttermilk, toss in the flour until well coated, dip back into the buttermilk mixture and then toss again in the flour until well coated. Drop gently into the hot oil, frying until golden brown and the center reaches 165 on a meat thermometer, about 6 minutes.
In a small bowl combine the jalapeno, green onion and red onions.
Split the buns, add a piece of fried chicken, one to two pickled peaches and 1 tablespoon onion jalapeno mixture.
I’ve always been a bit of a heat freak. I’ll always order the spiciest version of any dish on the menu, and then add hot sauce. I’ve had to tamp down the fiery ingredients when writing recipes for mass consumption, but when it’s just me and a few other capsaicin worshipers, I’ll triple the power of the chiles.
When it comes to peppers, there is no way to look at them and tell how hot they are. Jalapeno’s for instance can range for a semi-mild heat level to a knock your socks off fire that can be three times the socville units of their milder counterparts. The scoville scale measures the heat level in chiles, giving them a number that correlates to how spicy those little devils are. Other than the peppers that earn no units (like the bell pepper), most peppers get a range rather than a specific number. For instance, the jalapeno ranges from 2,500-8,000. But you’ll never be able to tell just by looking at them if that pepper is mild or wild.
If you want to temper the heat a bit, most of the heat is held in the seeds and that white membrane that keeps the seeds attached to the inside of the pepper. Remove some or all to control the heat a bit. Too mild? Add beer. Alcohol intensifies heat so adding a high ABV brew will kick that heat up a notch of two. Adding another kick of heat to my spicy food is just another reason for me to love beer.