Does anyone else think that "pumpkin spice" could just as easily be "apple pie spice" and be less basic and more appetizing or are you normal? I like pumpkin just fine but if it wasn’t shoved right into my face repeatedly from August until January I’d most likely forget about it. Fall is for apple pie and wet hop beers. I’m not going to pass on a good pumpkin cheesecake but I’m also not going to cross the street for one either, which would be an odd request.
I will cross a busy highway for a beer and an apple pie tho, especially this time of year. Unless it’s raining. Or the beer isn’t a good one. Or the pie is from the freezer section of the grocery store (I know, I’m such a pie snob, don’t hate me).
I really wanted an apple pie but decided making an entire apple pie for no reason wasn’t a good use of my time, BUT making bread is just fine. And topping the bread with apple pie-like substances would also be fine. Because logic.
What are you doing to feel normal? To forget that we use phrases like "the virus" and "pre-pandemic" and "social distancing" more often than ever thought possible? For some people, it’s routine that brings comfort, and for others, it’s the lack of it. I have never been a schedule keeper, so that was never really an option for me. Cooking makes me feel normal, it just makes everything feel ok.
One-pot meals feel like normalcy, it makes me feel like I have better things to do than the dishes, even if I don’t. Because really, I don’t. This particular one-pot meal reminds me of traveling, of Spain and even of Brazil for some reason. It reminds me to trust that I will someday get on a plane again, and that the world is out there waiting for us to visit once it’s safe.
For now, this is as close as I can get to leaving town. It’s as close as I can get to travel, and it will just have to do for now. For now, we just sit back and appreciate the healthy people in our lives, and a job if you have one, and know that the rest is out there to enjoy later. For now, it’s one-pot chicken, beer, and Netflix. There are far worse fates.
8bone-in and skin-on pieces of chickenlegs, thighs
½of one large white onionchopped
1cup(180g) uncooked white rice
¾cups(6oz) low sodium chicken broth
1cup(8oz) pale ale beer
1(14oz)can fire-roasted tomatoes
1(4oz) link Spanish chorizo* chopped
¼cup(45g) chopped Spanish olives
¼cup(6g) chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl combine the paprika, garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and salt.
Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with the spice mixture, reserve any remaining spice mixture.
Add the chicken, skin side down to a large, shallow pan with a lid (off heat). Add to medium heat, add the lid at a vent or add a splatter guard. Cook until the chicken skin has browned and a significant amount of fat has rendered (cooking chicken at a lower temperature for a longer time helps to render more fat and crisp the skin much more effectively than searing in a hot pan).
Once the chicken skin has crisped, remove from pan (the chicken does not need to be cooked through). Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Add the chorizo, bell peppers and onion to the pan over medium-high heat
Once the vegetables have softened and started to brown, add the beer, stirring and scraping to deglaze the pan.
Add the broth, and tomatoes bring to a low simmer, stir in the rice.
Add the chicken back into the pot in an even layer.
Cover and add to the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the rice is softened and cooked and the chicken is cooked through.
Top with Spanish olives and parsley. Serve warm.
*Spanish chorizo is very different from Mexican chorizo. If you can’t find Spanish chorizo, a good substitute is linguica, or Andouille sausage.
Brioche French Toast with Beer Caramelized Peaches
Breakfast is my favorite meal. Mostly because I get to make and eat it in my pajamas without judgment, but also because most of it is basically dessert we eat as an entree. We should do this with more meals, dinner cake should be a thing. Lunch brownies, too.
French toast has always been my favorite, and it should always be made with brioche. It’s really the best bread for French toasting and all other breads are vastly inferior. This is a fact. Challah will also work but don’t, even for a second, think you can make this with presliced bread and get away with it, I’ll know and I’ll be sad.
Just get yourself a loaf of brioche and slice it yourself, you’ll be glad you did. Because I certainly won’t judge you for drinking beer at breakfast but I won’t make the same promise if you break out the sandwich bread to make French Toast. Just trust me.
Brioche French Toast with Beer Caramelized Peaches
There are two ways to look at the fact that I took one of the healthiest drink trends and beered it up. First, some of you might eye-roll this and wonder why I’d add sugar and delicious beer to Golden Milk when most people drink it for all the health benefits.
Others of you (otherwise known as: my people) will look at a delicious tart filled with spices and beer and other such things and think how awesome it is that something this delightful also has health benefits. Glass half full, tart half healthy. It’s all in how you look at it.
I didn’t really care about golden milk for its health benefits, I care because it’s yummy. It reminds me of a vanilla churro in liquid form and turmeric is a vastly underused spice in American cooking. Also, I like to think that it balances out the beer in a way that gives me a net zero when it comes to bad stuff. Don’t question this, just pick up a fork. It’s better that way.
For this tart I really needed something malty, something too hoppy would just bulldoze those lovely golden milk flavors. I used Known Presence, a Belgian from Von Ebert Brewing out of Portland Oregon, a beer that worked well in the recipes as well as paired with the recipe. It’s all about harmony.
Golden Milk Tart with Honey Beer Caramel Sauce and Maple Whipped Cream
It turns out, you’re not alone. This week, according to the internet and science, is the most stressful week of the year. I feel it, it’s been an asshole of a week, do you feel it? I didn’t shower yesterday and I’m still in my pajamas. At NOON! This is the reality when you work at home. Actual real-life fact.
Because of all of this, I needed an appetizer that is a never-fail type. A tried-and-true type. Bacon-wrapped dates it is. Goat cheese is my go-to when stuffing these suckers because I like the tang against the sweet and rich bacon-date combo. But you do you—any cheese will work (but some cheese is super melty and will ooze out, but that’s ok, it will still taste great).
And I wanted to smother them in sugar and beer because sometimes I like to live vicariously through my food. Another actual fact.
Thank GOD for beer mail because I didn’t even have to leave my house to get this gorgeous bottle of port barrel-aged Belgian quad from Barbarian Brewing which just so happened to pair perfectly with these little nuggets. Beer makes things less stressful.
Anyway, guys, I think I need to shower and eat my weight in bacon. Not sure if it will happen in that order.
I’m glad chai is making a comeback, aren’t you? I didn’t know chai was making a comeback, you think to yourself. Maybe it isn’t "making a comeback" in the traditional sense as much as I want to chai-ify all the things right now. It’s like pumpkin spice, but without the societal eye roll. Which is just better for everyone.
These are also the result of Seattle dipping in temperature. Because I can’t make soup like a normal person, I make cookies when it gets colder. Maybe I’m just trying to fatten myself up for hibernation. This is a viable possibility. Stay tuned.
I may or may not be making cookies to bring to my book tour events, I’ll keep you posted here. Because I might not be able to decide on which cookie exactly I would want to use as my signature book tour cookie and this might make me avoid the task altogether. I can be like that, don’t judge me. These chai cookies are a strong contender since I’ve already made them three times.
Salmon in Italian Beer Cream Sauce is a simple, one pot, crazy delicious way to make dinner in under 20 minutes.
It’s fitting, don’t you think? A dish that’s both easy and transitional, an echo of the month in a way. September is the most transitional of all months, far more than January and closely followed by June. It’s changing of the weather, a realization that not only is the year mostly over but we’re nearing the holidays, it’s back to school, back from vacation, back into sweaters.
I wanted to make a dish using those last gasps of summer produce, but nodded at the chill filling the air. Something quick (because we have enough to so this month amiright?), but something you could serve to guests. Or just something that felt special even for an average Tuesday.
So I did this, and I hope you like it. I LOVED it, and I’ll make it again soon. If you make it, let me know. Getting Instagram notifications that you’ve made, loved and posted one of my recipes makes my day. For real.
¾cup6oz brown ale or Belgian ale (look for a malty beer with a low hop profile)
1cup240mL heavy cream
½cup55g fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3cups70g baby spinach leaves
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper on the salmon.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the salmon, skin side down, cooking until the skin is crispy, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until fish is cooked to desired doneness. Remove from pan, set aside.
Melt the butter in the pan, scraping the brown bits from the bottom.
Stir in the onions, cooking until starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds.
Sprinkle with cornstarch, stir to combine.
Pour in the beer, scraping to deglaze the pan. Allow to simmer until reduced by about half.
Stir in the cream.
A handful at a time, stir in the cheese. Stir until completely melted before adding more cheese.
Stir in the garlic powder and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Stir in the spinach, cooking until wilted. Remove from heat, stir in the tomatoes and basil.
I’ve teamed up with World Market to bring you an easy guide to throwing your own craft beer tasting party. Complete with recipes, printable beer tasting sheets, and beer recommendations. I was able to get everything I needed, from the table side cooler, to the glassware, to the meats and cheeses at my local World Market in Woodinville, Washington.
This is a sponsored post, all ideas, words, and opinions are my own.
How to Throw a Beer Tasting Party
Invitations: Choose a diverse mix of people, but keep it on the small side, too many guests and the party isn’t manageable. Eight to ten people seem to work best. Don’t let the “doesn’t drink beer” designation deter you from inviting anyone. Tell all guests to keep an open mind, sample everything that’s poured and reserve judgments for after sampling, not before. Most likely, your guests will like something, and it will surprise them.
Beer selection. Choose a theme, pick beers that correspond. There are more beer styles in the world (over 100) than are manageable in one tasting, having a variety is important but don’t try to offer every style in existence. For instance, if you have an Oktoberfest theme, choose beers that are brewed in Germany, or in a German style and try to be diverse in what you choose to serve. Try to grab at least one beer in each of these categories that fit your theme: malty, hoppy, wild fermented, barrel aged, clean (pale lagers, pilsners, cream ale, Kolsch).
Glassware. A small but massively important detail that shouldn’t be overlooked, glassware can make a monumental difference when serving beer. Choose small glasses that offer just enough beer for each guest to sample the beer. Your goal is for each beer to be sipped, savored and considered, not chugged. I use these Teardrop tasting glasses from World Market, the shape is perfect for beer and the size works well for sampling.
Food. It’s incredibly important to any party, but essential with a beer tasting. It’s a way to balance the flavors and explore pairings. More importantly, eating is essential when drinking as a way to stay in control. You want to serve a few things that pair well with a variety of beers and that can sit at room temperate for a while. Cheese, crackers, charcuterie, and pretzels are simple staples to add to your table. Instead of trying to make everything yourself, strive to just make one or two dips or dishes to serve and plan to buy everything else. It’ll ease the stress of the party considerably.
Serve. Give each guest a glass, a notes sheet, and pour the beers one at a time. Allow the guest to sip, record notes (like with this PRINTABLE SHEET!), nibble on food and enjoy before moving on to the next beer. Have each guest pour any unfinished beer and rinse the glasses (a large bottle of water and an ice bucket will do the trick) before moving on to the next beer.
Pints. Once all the beers have been samples, pass out larger pint glasses for your guest to pour a larger amount of their favorite brew. Compare notes, linger over food, and enjoy the rest of the evening.
Add the flour, sugar and yeast to a stand mixer. Mix until just combined. Heat the beer to 120°F (always defer to the liquid temperature listed on the package of yeast, regardless of what the recipe says. Your yeast package says 105°F? Heat the liquid to that temperature) add the beer to the stand mixer, mixing until all the flour has been moistened.
Add the salt and oil, beat until the dough comes together and gathers around the blade. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in size.
Add the dough to a lightly floured surface, cut into 12 equal sized portions.
Roll each portion into an 8-inch log, add the pretzel rods to a large baking sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Add the water to a large pot, bring to a boil. Stir in the baking soda.
A few at a time carefully add the pretzels to the boiling water for 30 seconds, place back onto the baking sheet.
Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until dark golden brown.
Beer and Bacon Short Rib Tacos. SO good, and really hard to screw up!
I couldn’t decide what this was. I was certain that it was short ribs cooked in bacon fat, that was the most important part. Serving specifics and other semantics could be worked out later.
This rarely happens. Usually, I have a very well thought out, well researched and obsessed over plan prior to cracking open the stock pot. But short ribs are different, they aren’t like your usually cooking adventure.
Short ribs are really hard to screw up. As long as you cook them long, slow and low they always give up a great meal. They aren’t like tenderloins, which can be the assholes of the meat world, drying out and lacking flavor and not living up to its pretentious price tag.
Short ribs also lend themselves well to just about any serving vehicle. Over pasta? Sure! Atop cheesy polenta? Of course! On pizza?! YES, PLEASE! But when my bacon-beer-short-ribs cooking adventure came to an end, and I lifted the top of my Dutch oven, it was clear. These were tacos.
I made these beer corn tortillas, and these pickled red onions, and sat down to decide if I’d made the right call. Where they tacos, or should I have pizza’d them? It turns out, they are tacos. And not just any tacos, completely fabulous and fantastic tacos.
Until the following day when I turned the leftovers into breakfast hash and topped them with an egg.
Pink Peppercorn Crusted Sous Vide Pork Loin with Caramelized Pan Sauce
I need to tell you about this, and then I’m going to give it to you. Imagine a Keurig, or a bread machine, but it makes beer. PERFECT beer, with just a few steps. It can even make an exact clone of a beer you already love, with just about 30 minutes of your time.
I got to test drive a PicoBrew for the past few weeks and it’s pretty fun, for those who love to get their hands dirty but fear failure. It’s not for everyone, obviously, nothing is.
It’s not a great fit for a hardcore homebrewer, although breweries use them quite a bit to test flavor combos. It also may not be for some who just wants to buy their beer and has no interest in how the sausage is made.
But for someone who has an interest in the process of brewing, wants to get their feet wet (figuratively but not literally), this is a great little machine. It’s also a great way to have a keg in your fridge of a beer that you can’t get.
The PicoPacks (the stuff you use to make the beer) are pretty exact replicas of beers from all over the country. Such good clones, in fact, that the breweries themselves have to make the PicoPack, taste test, and sign off on the authenticity of the flavors. You can also make your own, if you are so inclined.
And it does more than brew beer, it’s also a sous vide machine. Because I’m me (and I have a fridge stocked full of free beer and a curiosity on all things food related), I was hooked on the sous vide feature.
So easy, just fill it with water and push a couple of buttons and I had (literally) the best steak I’ve ever made.
The awesome people over at PicoBrew are letting me give one away. For you or for that beer lover on your gift list, enter below. Good luck, this thing is a lot of fun!
Sprinkle the pork loin on all sides with salt. Add to a freezer safe Ziplock bag, add the beer. Seal the bag removing as much air as possible. This can be done by sealing the bag but leaving just the last inch unsealed and carefully rolling the bag and sealing as the liquid reaches to the top, or by sealing the bag but leaving just the last inch unsealed and slowly submerging the bag in water until the bag is submerged to just before the top, then sealing the last inch before remove from the water.
Sous Vide according to manufactures instructions at 147° F for at 1 ½ hours and up to 3 hours.
Remove loin from bag, reserve bag juices. Pat dry with paper towels or clean kitchen towels.
Add the peppercorns, thyme and paprika to a clean, dry, plastic bag. Using a rolling pin or heavy pan, crush the peppercorns, add to a large plate.
Roll the loin in the spices until well coated.
Heat oil in large skillet until close to smoking. Roll the loin in the pan until the well seared.
Remove the pan from heat, add the butter, stir until melted. Return to heat, add the liquid from the sous vide bag. Bring to a boil, boiling until thickened, stirring frequently. Strain the sauce into a pan, removing and discarding the solids.
Slice the loin into 1-inch medallions, drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.
It started as a last minute trip to chase down an assignment for a magazine I write for, and it ended up being more of a revelation.
How is it that Bellingham—one of the countries best beer cities—is less than two hours from my door and I had yet to explore it? How is it that it took an assignment from 1889 Magazine to get me up there?
It started at Chuckanut, a brewery so heavily awarded it’s shocking they haven’t been around longer. Although the owners have brewed since the 1980’s, and done so all over the world.
My recommendations: Kolsch, British Brown Ale
I ended up at WanderBrewing next, of my favorite of all the destinations of the weekend. Maybe because the owner, Chad, was more than gracious and welcoming. Carving out time in his hectic beer-making-business-running-brand-new-tiny-baby-at-home schedule to have a pint with me.
Maybe it was because I’ve been in love with the beer since the first time I had it. Either way, this place is a must when you find yourself anywhere close to Whatcom county.
My recommendations: Global Mutt Baltic Porter, Wanderale Belgian Blonde
From there, I needed food and found myself at the Bellingham location of one of my favorite breweries from my last visit to Wyoming, Melvin Brewing. I was delighted to see that not only was the food fantastic, but they are in the process of brewing beer specifically for the Pacific Northwest.
I love what Melvin is doing with Wyoming ingredients and I can’t wait until I can sample what they do with Washington ingredients. Word on the street is that there will be brand new brews made in Washington, for Washington as early as November. Which means I’ll need another visit in a few months.
My recommendations: Asterisk DIPA, Drunken Master Burger, Shishito Peppers
If you’re like me, and you travel with your dog as often as possible, I can’t recommend Home2 Suites in Bellingham more. Not only was this a gorgeous, brand new hotel with a kitchenette in the room and the best complimentary breakfast I’ve had on the road, but I’m pretty sure they were thrilled to see Chowder Jones check in with me. I often feel like hotels put up with my dog, this place adored him.
Although at this point the beers were starting to kick in, I wasn’t nearly close to being done. There are 12 outstanding breweries in Whatcom County, and I was just getting started.
Although not a brewery, nearly everyone I spoke to about beer in Bellingham told me about Elizabeth Station. It’s a tap room, it’s a bottle shop, but it’s more. It’s a meeting place, a craft beer community room, a neutral ground for all things beer. It’s more than worth a stop in for a beer or two.
My recommendation: Sit at a communal table and chat with people, order a flight and let the bartender choose your beers for you
Bellingham is very dog friendly
Structure brewing was small in the way you want a tap room to be small. It was friendly and cozy.
My recommendations: No Sleep Stout, Group Think
Boundary Bay is Bellingham’s oldest brewery still in operation. The staff is friendly and the place is huge. Plenty of events in summer on the expansive outdoor patio, it’s both kid and dog-friendly and there is plenty of beer and food.
My recommendations: Galaxy Single Hop, Dry Irish Stout
Clearly I need another trip. Not just because I need more Wander beer, and I need to see what Melvin does, but I also need to spend more time at Kulshan, Gruff brewing and Stones Thrown. One trip isn’t enough.
For now, I’m leaving you with a recipe you need to make before blackberry season ends. It’s also my favorite tart crust ever. It’s a little soft and can be difficult to work with, but once it’s baked it’s the most tender crust I’ve ever made. Worth the hassle.
3tablespoons28g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
¼cup58g Belgian ale beer (or pale ale, pilsner, or wheat beer)
4 ½cups590g fresh, ripe blackberries
2tablespoons28g sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1tablespoon2g lemon zest
1tablespoon12g fresh lemon juice
1tablespoon14g melted butter
375F 35-40 minutes
Add flour, salt, sugar and softened butter to a food processor, process until combined. Add the cold butter, pulse until just combined, you will still be able to see some larger pieces of butter, this will create flakey layers.
Pulse in the beer until completely incorporated into the dough. Dough will be very soft.
Lay a long sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface, add the dough to the center.
Form into a flat disk. Wrap disk tightly in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 3 hours and up to three days.
In a large bowl add the blackberries sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice. Toss to coat. Allow to sit while you prepare the dough.
Knead the dough lightly in hands until dough comes together and warms slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured pieces of parchment paper to form a large circle, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough circle and the parchment paper to a baking sheet.
Pour off any liquid that has accumulated in the blackberry bowl.
Add blackberries to the center of the galette.
Fold the bare edges of the dough up over the filling, using the parchment paper if necessary.
Preheat oven to 400.
Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer, freeze for 15 minutes. Alternately you can chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes (or overnight). This will help the galette stay together when baking and help the crust to be lighter and flakier.
Brush the crust with melted butter, sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool prior to serving.
Want to know more about my trip to Bellingham or read my beer column? Follow 1889 Magazine on Instagram or Facebook.
My phone rang Tuesday morning, 4th of July, at 6:30 am. Seriously? Who died? Why would anyone call me (late sleeper, night person that I am) at 6:30 am? The area code triggers a memory in the fog of my early morning brain. Then it hits me, then I realize that I’d committed to a radio interview in Chicago during drive time, live on air. Damn it. I forget to set an alarm, Monday night had been hideous, and I’d fallen asleep before I was able to wake myself up in time for coffee and the requisite half hour to clear the sleep from my brain.
I answer, using the voice I know you’ve used before, too. That one that is so pathetically trying to pretend that it isn’t still dreaming. You try, as hard as you can, with all that you are able to muster, and it’s nowhere close. It’s still so shockingly obvious that you’ve answered the phone still tangled in sheets, your words still as pillow-creased as the side of your face.
This was me. On air. Live. Luckily I’ve been given a gift that has served me well over the years: an unparalleled ability to bullshit my way through just about any situation. I once faked an entire presentation in college. I’d forgotten about it and was called up with three minutes to prep. I grabbed my folders and strutted to the front of the class. The presentation (I decide on the ten steps up to the front of the class) was on the psychological impact of confidence, that pretending that you know what you are doing convinces people that you actually do. I had statistics (faked), terms (I made up on the spot), and real-world scenarios. I ended the presentation with, "And for the most convincing evidence of this: I just made that all up. And you believed me because I acted as if it was all entirely true." Because although I’m great at navigating my way through conversations in which I know little to nothing, I’m not a liar. I got an A. Which only further reinforced the use of this skill set.
Tuesday morning this came in handy. The part of my brain that’s good at talking me through just about anything took over, and I went on autopilot. To be clear, I didn’t make anything up, I spoke truthfully about a topic I know quite a bit about. I just did so while nearly asleep at dawn.
It seemed to work out, the host sent me an email saying he loved the segment. Thank God. I hate letting people down, and I love talking about beer. SO I decided that a celebratory dessert was in order, no bullshit, just great beer.
I used Inspired Belgian Wit from War Horse Brewing out of New York. The orange and coriander flavors are beautiful in this tart, and the beer was brewed to support the Women’s Hall of Fame, which is probably full of quite a few women who are able to think quickly on their feet. Or in their bed at 6:30 am.
I used this Kitchen torch, because it’s amazing, easily one of my favorite kitchen tools. (affiliate link)
9full sized chocolate graham crackers1 full sleeve
1large naval orangejuiced
4egg yolksreserve whites
¼cupBelgian wit beer
2reserved egg whitesfrom the filling
¼cupBelgian Wit beer
½teaspooncream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350F.
Add the graham crackers and sugar to a food processor and process until just crumbs. While the food processor is running add the melted butter and process until well combined. Add to a 9-inch tart pan. Starting with the sides, press into shape. Press the crust very well until even and compacted.
Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
In a saucepan off heat combine the orange juice, lime juice, egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, heavy cream, cornstarch, salt and beer, whisk until well combined.
Add to medium heat, whisking until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly.
Pour the filling into the crust, refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours.
Place a small sauce pan with a few inches of water over medium heat. Add a large metal or glass bowl over the top, check to make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
Add 2 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup beer, cream of tartar and salt, beat continuously with a hand mixer until the mixture has thickened and tripled in size. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. The mixture should be thick and marshmallow like but still spreadable.
Pour evenly over the top of the tart, refrigerate until chilled.
Brulee the topping with a kitchen torch if desired.
But maybe not in the way you’d expect. I watch the outage map light up all around my town as the lights start to flicker off. I hear the light footsteps of rain on the roof and the cold wind slither through the trees. It’s charming. As much as it can be for a California girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest.
I worry about not being able to take the photos I had planed for the day, about getting cut off from the Skype call I have this afternoon, and about the fate of the sourdough starter in my fridge.
It also helps me to take a giant step back. All of this is just an inconvenience, a minor disruption that changes my plans of working into fireside book reading. I’m grateful. Breathlessly, disgustingly, grateful that it isn’t more, that the "first world" problem that is making my neighborhood panic and make plans to flee the city isn’t anything more than just sort of uncomfortable.
Sometimes we all just need a little perspective. Just take a step back, pour a beer, eat some cake and tell yourself how lucky you are. Not in the good moments when it’s easy, but in the hard ones when it could be much worse. MUCH, much worse.
Have a safe weekend. Eat some cake. Drink some beer.
In a saucepan off heat whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt and cornstarch until well combined.
Add the milk, 1 cup cream and 1/3 cup beer to a container and warm slightly (not hot, just body temperature).
Whisk the egg mixture continually while slowly poring the warm liquid into the saucepan.
Add the saucepan to medium heat, whisking until thicken. Remove from heat, add to a storage container and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 400F.
Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Trim uneven edges and cut into even thirds. Place on a baking sheet, Poke all over with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
In a medium bowl add the remaining 2 cups cream and powdered sugar, beat with a hand mixer on high until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons beer, beating until whipped cream firms.
Add one of the puff pastry sheets to a serving platter. Top with about ½ the pastry cream, then add another puff pastry sheet, and the remaining pastry cream. Top with the final puff pastry sheet (if the stack starts to slide around, chill until set before frosting).
Frost with whipped cream. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
Garnish with berries before slicing and serving (a sharp bread knife works well for slicing).
I used a Autumn Maple Belgian Ale from The Bruery. If you can't find it, use a malty, sweet beer like a Belgian Quad, a pumpkin ale, a gingerbread ale.
Let’s say beer is a rock band. Hops are the loud front man that gets all the attention. The ingredient that everyone talks about and no one can ignore. Yeast is the rowdy, wily, drummer who’s hard to control but sets the tone for what’s going on, without him you have nothing. Barley is the bass player. It’s the backbone and deep thread that runs through it all. Barley is the John Paul Jones, the Flea, the Bootsy Collins. Barley drives the van, and books the shows and rarely gets the credit deserved.
I rode around Wyoming and Idaho with Let’s Grab A Beer for a Barley Field Trip to learn more about barley, see where it grows and to make it the star of the show, even if just for a few days.
So, what does barley do in beer? Barley gives you a little sugar, which is more important than you realize and allows two other main players to do their jobs. Hops are loud and awesome with their kick-you-in-the-teeth bitterness, but barley provides the sugar that balances that bitterness into something you actually want to keep drinking. The sugar in barley is also what yeast feeds off of in order to do it’s job. Without barley and the sugar it gives off, the yeast would die and the beer would have no alcohol in it. Barley is also nearly 100% responsible for the color of your beer. A light-colored beer uses barley that was very lightly roasted, whereas that blacker-than-your-ex-wife’s heart stout is made with barley that has been roasted to a deep, dark brown.
So, how does it work? Barley, right from the field, doesn’t have any developed sugars yet. Throw it into your beer-makin’ and you’ll be outta luck. It first has to sprout (also called germinate, or chit), and that takes a little water. Once it starts to sprout, you have to stop that chit right away. This is a delicate process, too much or too little and it’s no good. It’s stopped with heat more than 90°F. From there, it can be roasted for additional flavors or colors, but it can also be used right away.
Barley can also be eaten. It’s a versatile little sucker, something you may not have thought a lot about before now. I made a dessert using barley and beer, an homage to the sweetness it brings to the beer in your glass. I also toasted the grain before using it, a nod to the heat used in the malting process. It gives off a nice nuttiness in the topping. I hope you’re able to see how one ingredient can offer a substantial range of flavors depending on how it’s treated. From beer to dessert, this grain can do so much.
Brown Sugar Barley and Belgian Ale Peach Skillet Crisp
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add the barley, cooking until the barley is toasted and golden brown (it should smell nutty). Remove barley from heat. Add to a small bowl and chill until ready to use (barley must be cold before it’s used in the topping or it will melt the butter and prevent the topping from cooking properly).
Make the filling while the barley cools. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, peaches, brown sugar and salt to the same skillet you used to toast the barley. Bring to medium-high heat, stirring until the butter is melted and the brown sugar is well combined with the peaches. Add the beer and bring to a strong simmer. Simmer until the liquid in the pan starts to thicken and become syrupy, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a food processor add the toasted and cooled barley, flour, salt and brown sugar. Process on high until the barley starts to break up, but some chunks still remain.
Add the butter and pulse until just combined. Add the topping to the top of the skillet in small handfuls until the top is mostly covered. Bake at 425°F until the top is golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm, topped with ice cream if desired.
Goose Island Sophie is easy to find and will work well in this recipe.
Let’s Grab A Beer sponsored this post. They have a mission to educate the public and raise the consumer knowledge base about beer. All ideas, words, recipes, photos and opinions are my own.
Belgian Ale Brined Lamb Rib Rack with Goat Cheese Polenta. We’re getting fancy because I believe in you.
I made this because I believe in you.
I used to skim recipes, across cookbooks, websites, and magazines, looking for a few things. Of course, my eyes always went right for the recipes with the photos, because I had a hard time imagining the final product, and if I’d want it in my face, without that visual. I’d look for words I recognized, ingredients I was familiar with, techniques I’d preformed with previous success.
And then something happened. A bit slowly, a bit all at once, mostly just a rebellion from what I was used to. I started to seek out the recipes most distant from what I was used to. Ingredients I’d never used, equipment I had to buy, recipes that I didn’t even know how to pronounce. I’d drive to three stores looking for an ingredient only to discover I was just looking for in the wrong section of the grocery store.
A few things happened.
First, I realized that I had no business skipping steps or deleting ingredients. Second, I found that most of these recipes, even the fancy sounding one and sometimes especially the fancy sounding ones, were really quite simple. Like creme brûlée, and duck confit. I’d found recipes that I’d fallen in love with, that made me so excited about cooking I couldn’t stop talking about them like a love-sick teenager.
If you haven’t done this fall-in-love-with-food thing yet, it sometimes has less to do with the food and more about your own ability to produce it. Stepping back, so amazed at what you were able to do you feel the need to announce the dish and introduce it to the table.
Do this. Find a recipe, or a couple, and fall in love with them.
Belgian Ale Brined Lamb Rib Rack with Goat Cheese Polenta with Crispy Sage
Right after I made the big move from Los Angeles to Seattle, I spent the better part of last year holed up in my tiny wooden house writing my second cookbook,The Craft Beer Bites Cookbook. It’s the follow-up to my first book, The Craft Beer Cookbook (affiliate link),
This new cookbook is a book dedicated to the community that craft beer creates.
Craft Beer Bites is 100 recipes for appetizers and party food all made with craft beer. It’s a book made for gatherings, for sharing great food and hard to find bottles. For bringing people together and reminding us what made us all a community in the first place.
Craft beer is built in community, in pubs and bottle shops, small packs of people just as excited to be together as they are to explore the beer at the center of the table. We need food for these get-togethers. And that’s what this book is about.
I hope you love it as much as I do.
Chocolate Belgian Ale Pull-Apart Breakfast Loaf
A delicious breakfast loaf that can be made ahead, and the perfect dish for brunch get togethers.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook add the flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar and yeast.
Add the beer to a microwave safe bowl, microwave on high for 20 seconds, test temperate and repeat until beer reaches between 120F and 130F degrees.
Add the beer to the stand mixer, mix until most of the flour has been moistened.
Add the vanilla then the yolks, one at a time. Add the cream and salt.
Building up speed, beat on high until the dough comes together and gathers around the blade. The dough will be very soft.
Add dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Add dough to a lightly floured surface, roll into an 18 x 24 inch rectangle.
In a small bowl stir together the softened butter and the remaining 1 tablespoons sugar.
Spread the dough with the butter.
Cut the dough into strips about 3 inches wide. Cut each of the strips into 4 to 5 rectangles, each should be about the size of a deck of cards. You should have between 12 and 15 pieces. Sprinkle the pieces with the chopped chocolate, then stack up each one on top of another in a tower. Lay the stack into a loaf pan, like placing books on a shelf.
If making the loaf the night before, cover and allow to rise in the fridge for 12 hours. Reheat the oven to 350F, allow the loaf to come to room temperate while the oven is pre-heating. Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.
If making the day of, preheat oven to 350F, allow to sit at room temperate until doubled in size, about 20 minutes .Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from loaf pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar prior to serving.
I’m going to confess to you the least foodie thing I’ve ever done.
A few years ago I was in Spain, I’d missed my flight out of Madrid because of an ill-timed visit to the Prado, some churros, and a bullfighting poster and I was stuck for an indefinite amount of time. I wanted some comfort food.
I wanted something familiar to help me deal with the fact that I was stuck half way across the world, dealing with an airline that was refusing to help, and all the budget hotels and hostels were sold out for the night. So I went to McDonald’s.
I was in one of the most culinary rich countries in the world and I went right past all those great markets and family run cafes right to the American capital of sub-mediocre food to order a milkshake and some french fries.
And it worked. It was bland, and salty and creamy and reminded me of my processed food childhood and made me feel like everything was going to be OK. I’m not proud of myself, I could have had cured meats and cheese and fresh bread.
But I don’t care. Sometimes, you just need a milkshake.
I’d give up most of the cooking equipment in my house in exchange for my grill.
I went two years without one and once I bit the bullet and bought a new one, even I’m amazed at the sheer magnitude of food that can grilled. Clearly cake is a good illustration of that. But I’m also fairly smitten with grilled corn with sriracha butter, and grilled salad (for real), and even pizza (especially pizza).
Because grilling isn’t just about the food, it’s about the process, it’s about the atmosphere, and it’s about the fact that you can. Winter has lifted, you are now free to cook your food outdoors over an open flame. It’s healthy, but that’s not the point. And of all the beer related food, grilling just demands beer.
Grilled Angel Food Cake with Beer Macerated Strawberries