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Seasonal Ale

Chocolate Christmas Ale Cake with Dulce de leche Cream Filling

Chocolate Christmas Ale Cake with Dulce de leche Cream Filling

Do you Christmas cake or do you Christmas pie? I do both. I love this chocolate pie that’s requested so regularly I am not allowed to attend holiday gatherings without it. But I also want cake because I’m like that. Apparently, I just love chocolate and beer, along with sugar and baked goods and I’m not picky beyond that. It’s an issue. 

I decided to do a cake this year for a holiday party and since I already had way more Dulce de Leche than I knew what to do with after making these, I decided to build an entire cake around the fact that I needed to get more Dulce de Leche in my face as quickly as possible.  

The cake disappeared without a trace about 30 minutes after I arrived at the party, it’s honestly one of my favorite cakes I’ve ever made. And since I still have Dulce de Leche left, I might make it again. Don’t judge me, it’s the holidays. 

Chocolate Christmas Ale Cake with Dulce de leche Cream Filling

5 from 1 vote

Ingredients
  

For the cake:

  • 3 ounces dark chocolate
  • ½ cups (4oz) hot brewed coffee
  • 1 cup 8oz stout beer
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups (375g) sugar
  • ¾ cup (180g) vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups (360g) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups (168g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons (6g) salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 ½ cups (342g) softened butter
  • 1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (305g) dulce de leche* homemade or store bought

Frosting:

  • 1 ½ cups (342g)softened butter
  • ½ cup (114g) shortening
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (230g) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

Make the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Add the chocolate, coffee and beer to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted (this can also be done in a double boiler).
  • Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on high until light in color and well combined. Add the vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla, beat until well combined. Mix in the chocolate mixture.
  • In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients, stir until just combined.
  • Divide evenly between three 9-inch cake pans that have been greased and floured.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.

Make the Filling:

  • Add the butter to a stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy. Add the dulce de leche and the powdered sugar, mix until well combined.
  • Add the filling between each layer of cake.

Make the Frosting:

  • Add the butter and shortening to a stand mixer, beat on high until well combined. Add the vanilla, mixing well.
  • Add the powdered sugar and salt, beat until well combined.
  • Frost the cake, keep chilled until ready to serve.

Notes

Dulce de Leche is easy to make, you just need a can of sweetened condensed milk and some time. For more info about making it yourself, read this post: https://domesticfits.com/2019/12/05/chocolate-stout-cookies-with-salted-dulce-de-leche-filling-pressure-cooker-or-stove-top/

Sticky Apple Pie Beer Focaccia

Sticky Apple Pie Beer Focaccia

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. 

Sticky Apple Pie Beer Focaccia

5 from 2 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups (240g) All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons or 7g) rapid rise yeast
  • ¾ cup (170g) cups beer (plus 1 tablespoon, divided) wheat beer, pumpkin ale, brown ale,
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (114g) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 large honey crisp apples thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions
 

Make the dough:

  • In a bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a dough hook, stir together half the flour, sugar and yeast.
  • Heat ¾ cup beer to 120°F to 125°F degrees (check the temperature guidelines on your yeast, always default to that).
  • Add the beer to the stand mixer, turn the mixer to medium, mix until combined.
  • Add the remaining flour, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-high, beat for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm room until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Make the caramel sauce:

  • Add the butter, beer and sugar to a saucepan over high heat Stir until butter is melted and combined. Stop stirring.
  • Boil for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, stir in heavy cream.

Assemble:

  • Grease a 9x13 pan, pour the sauce in the bottom of the pan in an even layer.
  • Add the apples in an even layer in the bottom of the pan over the sauce. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Transfer the dough to the pan, pulling to cover the apples. Press your fingers into the dough making holes across the entire loaf.
  • Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool until warm but not hot.
  • Invert onto a cutting board or serving platter.
  • Cut into squares, serve warm.

Oven Baked Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomato Beer Pasta

 

This week is a crossover, it’s a convergence of seasons and it’s my favorite part of the seasonal Venn diagram that makes up the year. We have cozy-fall-fireplace weather but we also still have summer produce in abundance. Including but not limited to the absurd amount of tomatoes in my garden that didn’t get around to ripening until this very moment after being tortuously green for about 137 months. 

The idea of having several pounds of beautiful homegrown tomatoes in my kitchen with a ticking life expectancy countdown clock kept me up at night. I wish that was a metaphor but it’s not, because I’m that strange. You also need to factor in that it’s getting colder and the summer produce needs to fit into fall dishes in order to make sense in my current world. There are a lot of things to consider when you’re slightly crazy in food-related ways. 

Then when you factor in a beer like Odells Kindling, that tastes like summer but has a name that reminds me of a late autumn night fireplace it all just falls together. Now I can sleep in my carb-induced stupor and all is right in the world again. 

 

Fresh  Homemade Beer Pasta Recipe

 

Oven Baked Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomato Beer Pasta

Ingredients
  

  • 9 oz fresh linguine pasta* not dried
  • 3 lbs. cherry tomatoes
  • 4 large cloves garlic smashed
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • ¼ cup (2oz) good quality olive oil
  • ¼ cup (2oz) beer golden ale, pale lager, pilsner
  • 6 leaves fresh basil minced

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes, garlic, goat cheese, salt and pepper to a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tomatoes are bursting.
  • Remove from oven, stir in the beer.
  • Add the pasta, stir until well coated, sprinkle with basil.
  • Plate, serve warm.

Notes

*You can either make the pasta yourself or you can easily buy it in the refrigerator section of almost any grocery store, it’s usually near the cheese.
If you only have dried, make sure to cook to al dente first, drain, then add to the dish. 

Cuban Sandwich Sliders with Beer Pickled Peppers and Onions

Cuban Sandwich Sliders with Beer Pickled Peppers and Onions

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve made sandwiches for a crowd? Yes, yes you do. Of course you do! Because you’re a human, with eyes, who has also been a party to the past 18 months of existence in this crazy world.  We are now entering the "it’s possible that we will have the need for food to feed a crowd" phase of this post-apocalyptic world. Which is certainly something to celebrate.

You can make pulled pork just for this sandwich, but you can also intentionally make too much next time you pull pork as an excuse to make these, which is how they came into my life. I was making tacos, as you do, and decided that I would just make as much as I could possibly manage to fit into one pot. It happens. 

I did decide that pulled pork must absolutely be made in giant batches and is unequivocally the best leftover food on the planet. Sorry Thanksgiving, but you are now second in my leftovers book, but you have pie so you’re still the overall winner. 

Recipe for Beer-Braised Pulled Pork 

Cuban Sandwiches with Beer Pickled Peppers and Onions

Ingredients
  

For the peppers:

  • 12 oz of IPA beer
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs black peppercorns
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 lbs small sweet peppers, sliced
  • 1 red onion sliced

For the sandwiches

  • 12 dinner rolls sliced into buns
  • ¼ cup brown mustard
  • 1 lbs. sliced ham
  • 1 lbs. pulled pork
  • 4-6 slices swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions
 

  • In a pot over medium-high heat add the beer, vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer, stirring just until the sugar and salt dissolve, remove from heat.
  • Add the peppers to an airtight container, add a few sprigs of dill.
  • Add the onions to a separate container, add a few sprigs of dill.
  • Pour the cooled brine over the onions and the peppers, making sure all vegetables are submerged.
  • Chill for at least 24 hours prior to using.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Add the bottom portion of the buns into a baking dish. Spread with mustard.
  • Top in an even layer with ham, pulled pork, peppers, onions, then cheese.
  • Place the top on the buns, brush with melted butter.
  • Place another baking dish on top of the buns, press down firmly. Keeping the second pan on top of the buns, place the entire thing in the oven.
  • Bake until the cheese has melted, about 12-15 minutes.

Notes

 

Cherry Ale Ricotta Crostata

I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at this thinking, "Why you say crostata when this is clearly a galette?"  No? You weren’t thinking that because you’re normal and not a huge nerd like me? Sorry. But now I have to address this issue. This is what happens when I create a problem that didn’t exist. 

You see, it’s like crisps and chips. Or pants and trousers. Or The Rock and Dwayne Johnson. They are the same thing, it’s just different people call them different things. Specifically French people and Italian people. The French like to say galette ("guh-let", in case you wondered and googled it so you won’t sound like an idiot at the dinner party you brought what you thought was pronounced a "gal-lay" but it isn’t and then you’re super relieved you looked it up because you were already embarrassed for yourself. Just me again? Geesh). And the Italians like to say Crostata (which is pronounced exactly how you’d think because I looked it up too because I was scared to make the same mistake twice). 

So why, you ask, did I choose crostata instead of galette? Because I liked the way it sounded with "ricotta" and if you don’t believe that is a 100% true story, you clearly don’t know me well enough. Come on! Ricotta Crostata is just way more fun that Ricotta Galette. You know this to be true. 

And your final question is OBVIOUSLY "what beer did you use" because you always have the best questions. The answer is Firestone Walkers Cherry Barrel Blossom, a super-rich and drinkable barrel-aged-cherry-bitters-infused beer. It’s also a great dessert beer. You can use which ever beer you want, pretty much any beer will work when you’re making beer ricotta, as long as you like it, the flavor will come through. I will advise against anything too hoppy because those hops don’t mess around once you boil them, but it’s your world. If you want a hoppy ricotta crostata, who am I to stop you?

 

Cherry Ale Ricotta Crostata

Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

Crust:

  • 1 ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) sugar
  • ½ cup (114g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup (48g) ice-cold beer (pale ale, Saison, wheat beer)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sanding sugar or granulated sugar (optional)

Ricotta:

  • 3 cups (24oz) whole milk pasteurized is fine but do not use Ultra-Pasteurized, it won’t work
  • ½ cup (4oz) heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (2oz) beer* Plus 2 tablespoons divided
  • 3 tablespoons (36g) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cherries:

  • ¾ lbs (12oz) pitted fresh dark sweet cherries (such as Bing, Jubilee, Chinook)
  • 1 tablespoons (12g) lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions
 

Make the crust:

  • Add ¾ cup of flour (reserve the other 3/4 cup), salt and sugar to a food processor, pulse to combine. Add the butter, process until well combined.
  • Add the remaining flour and pulse 6-8 times or until all the flour has been combined.
  • Add the beer, pulse until just combined. 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.

Make the ricotta:

  • In a pot over medium-high heat (do not use an aluminum pan) add the milk, cream, salt, and 1/3 cup beer.
  • Clip a cooking thermometer onto the side of the pan.
  • Bring the liquid to 190°F degrees, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching. Keep a close eye on it, the liquid reaches and passes 190 very quickly and you don’t want it rising above 200°F.
  • Remove from heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons beer and then the lemon juice, and stir gently once or twice. It should curdle immediately. Allow sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes.
  • Line a large strainer with 1 or 2 layers of cheesecloth; place the strainer in the sink over a large bowl.
  • Pour the ricotta into the strainer and allow to drain for 15 to 30 minutes and up to an hour (the longer it drains, the firmer the consistency).
  • Place in an air-tight container, Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract, and store in the fridge can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Prep the cherries:

  • Add the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and cornstarch to a large bowl, toss to coat.

Assemble to Crostata:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • On a well-floured surface roll the crust out into a large circle. Add the crust to a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. In the center add the ricotta, leaving about 3 inches on the edges bare. Top with cherries in a large pile. Fold the edges of the crust up over the filling.
  • Brush the edges with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Notes

*Any beer will work for the ricotta, but the ricotta will take on the flavor of the beer. A more intense beer will bring a more intense flavor. If you want a more mellow beer flavor use a Hefeweizen, Pilsner, or pale lager. I used Firestone Walker's Cherry Barrel Blossom barrel-aged ale. 

Overnight Maple Beer Pecan Croissant Bread Pudding Muffins

Overnight Maple Beer Pecan Croissant Bread Pudding Muffins

Let’s talk unpopular opinions again, shall we? It’s fun when we pretend to fight. I’ll start off this holiday edition of UO with these little gems: Love Actual is a terrible movie. It’s about people who hardly know each other and aren’t really in LOVE but just horny, it should be called Lust Actual or Let’s Be Honest I just Want to Be Naked With You, and I hate it. Also, this one:  Die Hard is a feel-good Christmas movie about complicated family dynamics and bad things happening to bad people and I think that we can all relate to that. 

Bread pudding and French toast casserole are the same thing. Muffins are unfrosted cupcakes. Cinnamon rolls should be served for dessert as often as they are for breakfast.  Are these unpopular opinions or a rarely spoken truth? It’s a toss-up. What do you think?

I like my croissants used in things like bread pudding or as sandwich buns rather than plain. Unless they are filled with chocolate and I’m in Paris, which rarely happens. 

Overnight Maple Beer Pecan Croissant Bread Pudding Muffins

Ingredients
  

  • 6 large croissants day old or dried out in the oven
  • 1 cup (240g) milk
  • 1 cup (240g) cream
  • ¼ cup (2oz) beer Holiday ale, pale ale, hefeweizen, pale lager
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup (85g) real maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup (60g) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (46g) chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Syrup or powder sugar for serving

Instructions
 

  • Chop the croissants into bite-sized pieces.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, whisking until well combined.
  • Stir in the croissant pieces.
  • Spray the wells of a muffin tin or add cupcake papers.
  • Scoop the croissants into the prepared wells until just below the rim, making sure the liquid is evenly distributed between the wells.
  • Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight, up to 24-hours.
  • Pre-heat oven to 325°F.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the muffins have puffed and no longer look wet (if they are removed too early, they will deflate while cooling, but will still be fine to eat).
  • Serve warm with syrup or powdered sugar.

Beer Bacon Cranberry And Cream Cheese Bites

Beer Bacon Cranberry And Cream Cheese Bites, the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer!

You guys, you have to give me a break. I just got back from here and now I’m having a hard time functioning in the rain with my residual mild sunburn. I know, I know,  you don’t feel bad for me AT ALL. I don’t blame you. But it’s jarring to jump from a nearly deserted island into Thanksgiving prep in rainy Seattle, it’s a hard transition. I’m hosting this year and I’m probably more excited about it than I should be, I never get to host so I may be going a tad bit overboard. What? me? SHOCKING!  I already have turkey legs confited (confit-ing?) in the fridge and I’m making this and these

 
 
As for the appetizer, I’m making these little bites. Because I can double the bacon cranberry sauce to serve with the meal, as well as make these cute little appetizers. Yes, they’re cute, that’s important. 
I’m also putting out a big bowl of pitted black olives because is it even Thanksgiving if no one puts olives on all of their fingers? 
 
 
 

Wanna make your own puff pastry? Check out my 10 Minute Pale Ale Puff Pastry

Beer Bacon Cranberry And Cream Cheese Bites

5 from 1 vote

Ingredients
  

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon chopped
  • ½ cup (115g) holiday ale
  • 1 ½ cups (173g) fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 sheets puff pastry thawed
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

Instructions
 

  • Add the bacon to a pot over medium-high heat, cook until crispy and the fat has rendered. Pour off most of the fat.
  • Return the pot to heat, add the beer, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the cranberries, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 10-minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut each sheet into 12 squares.
  • Lightly spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
  • Press the puff pastry squares into the wells of the muffin tin.
  • Cut the block of cream cheese into 24 squares, add one square to each well. Top with a spoonful of cranberry mixture.
  • Bake until the puff pastry has turned golden brown, 12-15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, plate, and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Beer Steamed Mushrooms

Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Beer Steamed Mushrooms (perfect appetizer for thanksgiving or vegetarian main!)

You guys, it’s here. IT. IS. HERE!!

After two years of working and waiting I finally have an actual, real-life, physical copy of my book LUSH in my grubby little paws. It’s gorgeous and by far my favorite book I’ve ever written, I hope you love it as much as I do. 

Wanna get a beer with me and celebrate? The answer is yes. YES, YOU DO! Are you going to be in Seattle or New York in October? Then you have no excuses, not one. 

To entice you into joining me I’ve made you some stuffed mushrooms. I will, however, eat all of them before either event so don’t be counting on eating any, they’re all mine. But you should make them for yourself. Especially as an appetizer for Thanksgiving. Or a Halloween party. Or just a Tuesday because you feel like it. 

Stuffed mushrooms was one of the first recipes I ever developed on my own and I still love them. Do you have a veg-head coming over for Thanksgiving and are at a loss for what to serve them as a main? Just swap the 24 cremini mushrooms with 8 portobello mushrooms and they will have more than enough food to be as stuffed as the rest of us. 

So there you have it. A perfect appetizer that doubles as a vegetarian main dish, and you’ve already decided to come out and have a beer with me next month. Not a bad Thursday.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Beer Steamed Mushrooms

5 from 1 vote

Ingredients
  

  • 24 cremini mushrooms baby bellas
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onions
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 3g
  • 1 cup (50g) chopped fresh spinach, packed
  • ½ cup (120g) marinated artichokes, chopped
  • ¼ cup (2oz) plus 1 cup beer (8oz) Oktoberfest, Marzen, brown ale, divided
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup (56g) shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup (30g) Italian bread crumbs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Wash the mushrooms well, removing the stems. Chop the stems, set aside. Add the mushroom caps, hole side up, to a baking dish (or dishes).
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems and onions, cooking until onions and mushroom pieces have softened. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the garlic, then add the spinach, cooking until the spinach has softened and wilted, stir in ¼ cup beer and the artichokes. 
  • Add the cream cheese, stirring until it has melted and combined with the rest of the filling ingredients. Stir in the cheese until melted.
  • Add heaping spoonfuls into the holes in the mushrooms.
  • Stir together the melted butter and breadcrumbs. Add a teaspoon or so to the top of each mushroom.
  • Add the beer to the pan around the mushrooms (if using two pans, divide the beer between the pans).
  • Cover the pan and bake for 18 minutes, remove the cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the top has browned.

Notes

  • To make this entree-sized portions, substitute the cremini mushrooms for 8 portobello mushrooms. 
  • To make in advance, stop at step seven (right before you pour the beer into the pan, just drink it instead!), cover and refrigerate for up to 36 hours. 

Beer Ricotta Raviolo with Egg and Herb Butter Sauce

Beer Ricotta Raviolo with Egg and Herb Butter Sauce, time to get fancy!

Plus a book giveaway! 

It’s somewhere North of 3 am and we’re walking the winding back country roads of Big Bear, California. Thin dresses swishing in the cool August air as we try to walk back into town from the wedding Linda and I are in the mountains for.

Giggly and drunk on wine and still love-high from the touching vows we’d witnesses, we realize that we’re only "sort of" lost as we try to navigate the dusty walk back, void of any sidewalks or street lamps. Our ride had left hours before we did, and since this isn’t the sort of place that Uber inhabits, we decide that walking back down the mountain is our only option.

Grateful that one of the grooms insisted we wear flats—the more appropriate footwear choice for a mountain wedding over the heels we both reluctantly left in the hotel—we realize that running may be necessary when the only vehicle we’ve seen so far suddenly takes notice of us.

As the semi-truck pulls to a stop near us the driver climbs out of his cab to make his way towards us,  and we bolt. In unison, we run towards town and around the bend in the road. Like a desert oasis, we see the hotel. Sprinting towards the doors, we finally stop to catch our breath once inside. We look at each other and burst out laughing. Not sure if we were in any real danger, or if the wine had turned a guy just checking on a flat tire into a sure-threat, we don’t care. We’re safe, slightly drunk, and happy.

Since that day Linda has steadily become one of the most important people in my life. Helping me in ways she can’t even understand through two of the most difficult points in my adult life. From frantic texts at midnight to long talks over bottles of wine, she’s the sort you always want to find solace in when the storm hits, or celebrate alongside when the moments are perfect. Although meeting her, years before the Big Bear wedding, I was immediately intimidated.

At a food conference in Los Angeles, she seemed to just appear in front of me. Tall, beautiful, wickedly smart, and incomprehensibly talented, she’s the sort you should be intimidated of. With a rapidly growing following and several TV shows and appearances under her belt, she’s the type that can pull of being pretentious and snobby. She could even get away with it, if she wanted. But the thing about her, possibly the most endearing part, is that there isn’t a trace of that in her, not one bit. She has a heart of gold, a passion for social justice, and she connects with damn near everyone. She won’t just remember you, she’ll remember the story you told her three years ago about your mom being in the hospital and she’ll ask you about it. She is just so likable. She’s also charmingly inappropriate, and wildly unpredictable. Which just makes you like her more.

She’s spent the better part of the past two years pouring herself and her immense knowledge of pasta into her new book, Pasta, Pretty Please, and it’s beautiful. If you don’t follow her on Instagram, you’re missing out, it’s the most impressive feed you’ll see.

I’m giving away a signed copy of the books that won’t just teach you how to make pasta, it will make you fall in love with it. You can enter on Instagram. Don’t have an Instagram? Share this post on Facebook (make sure it’s public so that I can see!) and post a link to your Facebook post in the comments below.

Linda has offered to sign the book for you, or Linda has also offered the option for her to sign your boobs, or both if you’re up for it.

Beer Ricotta Raviolo with Egg and Herb Butter Sauce

Yield: 6 servings

Adapted from Pasta, Pretty Please by Linda Miller Nicholson

Ingredients

    For the Green Dough*:
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 punch flat leaf parsley
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups “00” pasta flour
  • For the Red-Orange Dough:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¼ cups “00” pasta flour
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • For the Ricotta:
  • 3 cups whole milk (do not use Ultra-Pasterized, it won’t work)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Saison beer, Plus 2 tablespoons divided
  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (you can also use lemon juice, or a combination of the two)
  • For the Filling:
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • For the Sauce:
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large leaves sage, minced
  • Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, chopped
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt to taste (the amount of salt you need will be dependent on the broth you use)
  • ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan

Instructions

    Make the ricotta:
  1. In a pot over medium high heat (do not use an aluminum pan) add the milk, cream, salt and 1/3 cup beer.
  2. Clip a cooking thermometer onto the side of the pan.
  3. Bring the liquid to 190°F degrees, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching. Keep a close eye on it, the liquid reaches and passes 190 very quickly and you don’t want it rising above 200.
  4. Remove from heat, add the 2 tablespoons beer and then the vinegar (or lemon juice) and stir gently once or twice. It should curdle immediately. Allow to sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes.
  5. Line a large strainer with 1 or 2 layers of cheesecloth; place the strainer in the sink over a large bowl.
  6. Pour the ricotta into the strainer and allow to drain for 15 to 30 minutes and up to an hour (the longer it drains, the firmer the consistency)
  7. Place in an air-tight container and store in the fridge, can be made up to 3 days in advance.
  8. Make the green dough (skip if you aren't making the decorations):
  9. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the salt, baking soda and 8 cups water to a boil. Add the parsley and boil it for 15 seconds, remove it and place in a strainer, run under cold water to blanche. Drain and press out the water.
  10. Add the parsley to a blender along with the eggs, blend first on low speed, then increase the speed and green liquid until smooth.
  11. Strain the puree with a fine mesh strainer, reserving the green liquid and discarding the pulp.
  12. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour and puree. Mix on low speed until a ball of dough forms. Raise the speed to medium and continue to knead for 3 minutes (or by hand for 6-8 minutes) until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the ball of dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (you can also refrigerate the well-wrapped dough for up to three days).
  13. Make the red-orange dough:
  14. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, eggs and tomato paste. Mix on low speed until a ball of dough forms. Raise the speed to medium and continue to knead for 3 minutes (or by hand for 6-8 minutes) until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the ball of dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (you can also refrigerate the well-wrapped dough for up to three days).
  15. *(skip to step 17 if you aren’t making a decoration) Cut the green dough into four equal sized pieces. Roll one piece out several times to make it thin enough to pass through your dough roller (wrap up the remaining pieces so they don’t dry out).
  16. Pass through your dough roller on the widest setting, then again. Close the dough roller one more stop to make it thinner (one away from the widest setting), pass the dough through twice. Fold into thirds, like a letter going into an envelope. Pass through your dough roller again with the folded ends on the sides (this will make the sides of the dough sheet straight rather than jagged).
  17. Continue to pass through the dough roller stopping down to a thinner setting every two passes until you reach halfway between the thinnest and thickest setting.
  18. Using a cookie cutter, cut out 6 of your desired decoration shapes, set aside while you work on the rest of the Raviolo.
  19. Cut the red-orange dough into four equal sized pieces. Roll one piece out several times to make it thin enough to pass through your dough roller (wrap up the remaining pieces so they don’t dry out).
  20. Pass through your dough roller on the widest setting, then again. Close the dough roller one more stop to make it thinner (one away from the widest setting), pass the dough through twice. Fold into thirds, like a letter going into an envelope. Pass through your dough roller again with the folded ends on the sides (this will make the sides of the dough sheet straight rather than jagged).
  21. Continue to pass through the dough roller stopping down to a thinner setting every two passes until you reach two stops away from the thinnest setting.
  22. Repeat for one more piece of red-orange dough.
  23. Make the Raviolo:
  24. Lay the pasta sheets on a flat surface lightly dusted with flour.
  25. If using a decoration, brush the top of one sheet of pasta with water. Brush the bottom side of the green pasta decoration with water. Place the decorations evenly spaced every 6-8 inches on the sheet of dough. Gently roll with a rolling pin to press together and adhere.
  26. Add the ricotta to a piping bag or a Ziplock bag with the corner cut off.
  27. Make circles of ricotta (a ricotta “nest”) on the blank pasta sheet evenly spaced every 6-8 inches. Nests should be about 3 inches across with a well big enough to just nestle an egg yolk into.
  28. Place one unbroken yolk into each nest. Brush the pasta with water around each nest.
  29. Carefully move the sheet of pasta with the green decorations on top of the sheet with the ricotta nests. Line the sheet up so that the green decorations are directly above the egg yolks.
  30. Press firmly to adhere the top sheet of pasta to the bottom, taking care to remove all the air and seal the dough together.
  31. Cut each Raviolo between each nest making 6 individual Raviolo. Allow to dry for about 15 minutes, flip over and allow the bottom to dry for about another 10 minutes.
  32. Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water.
  33. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, sage and rosemary, cook for about 5 minutes.
  34. Stir in the broth, cooking until warmed, salt to taste. Allow the sauce to simmer gently but not boil.
  35. One at a time gently add the Raviolo to the boiling water, boil for 2 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon or a Spider, gently remove and allow all the water to drain off. Add to the sauce, cooking for an additional 3 minutes in the sauce while gently spooning the hot butter on top of the Raviolo.
  36. Add to a plate with a spoonful of sauce, top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, serve immediately.

Notes

The green pasta decoration is optional. I used a hop flower cookie cutter, but any cookie cutter will do. Feel free to skip this step, it's mostly asthetic and skipping it will not diminish the overall flavor of the dish.

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Beer Eggnog Ice Cream

Beer Eggnog Ice Cream

I’m here to change your mind, to flip your vote. I know, I know, eggnog is gross, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Then I realized that it’s not. It’s actually quite amazing, it’s basically boozy, drinkable ice cream. IF you make it right.

Most importantly: back off the nutmeg. Because the difference between a teaspoon of "fresh grated nutmeg," with its big, fluffy, air-filled piles, it’s about one quarter the amount you’d use if you just scoop it out of the McCormick bottle (jar? tin? container? What the heck do you call those things, anyway?)

Tl;DR: if a recipe calls for "fresh grated nutmeg" and you pssshhh all over that because you just want to scoop it out of the pre-ground tub (is that the word?), use 1/4 of what it calls for or you’ll wreck your dish.

Now that we’ve discovered why you didn’t like that one batch of nutmeg juice your aunt used to make, we can all agree that eggnog is amazing. Oh, and so is ice cream, and beer, obviously.

What beer should you use? Great question! I’m so glad you asked, let’s talk about that. Malty. Always a malty beer (back away from the IPA’s). I’ve done this a few times, this beer-ed up nog situation (I know, you’re shocked by this news, I’ll give you a second to recover).

Here are the undisputed reigning champs of beer-nog: Winter Ales (as long as it isn’t one of those winter IPAs), and Barleywines. Both are heavy on the malt, and full of those clove, cinnamon, spice notes that go so well in our boozy ice cream.

Sure, you can use a pre-made version. Or a leftover eggnog from your last nog endeavor. For an ice cream base, it’s completely fine.  Want my scratch beer-nog recipe? Here it is: Pub Nog. 

Just use a beer you love, a beer with high ABV and tons of malt. You’ll love it.

Beer Eggnog Ice Cream

Serving Size: 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (730g) prepared eggnog (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 cup (240g) heavy cream
  • ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (6oz) winter ale beer or Barleywine

Instructions

  1. Stir together all ingredients.
  2. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufactures specifications until it reaches a soft serve consistency. This can take up to 20 minutes; the ice cream base should more than double in size (of all the ice cream recipes I make, this one takes the longest to reach this stage. Just keep allowing the ice cream to churn until it’s more than doubled in size).
  3. Place in an airtight container, freeze until set, about 3 hours.
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IPA Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Beer Candied Pecans

 IPA Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Beer Candied Pecans

I know, I get it. You’re already sick of pumpkin things and the season hardly started. I hear you, for me fall is all about hops. Spending last week running around the hop fields of Yakima, my love for hops has never been stronger (I’ll tell you all about that trip soon).

But it occurred to me, as I’m pints deep in hops, that although pumpkin isn’t the reason for the season when it comes to a true craft beer devotee, it’s a flavor that goes remarkably well with hops.

I’ve spent years meh-ing pumpkin beers when really I’m just averse to a boring, overly malted pumpkin ale. Once you brighten it up with hops, clean malts, bright flavors and minus the hell out of the overly cinnamon spice mixtures, you can get yourself a really lovely beer.

I understand if you want to walk out the fall squash door and never look back, but maybe you just want a brighter, cleaner beer. Pumpkin or not, this IPA Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar recipe is great to try your hand at baking with an IPA, a feat much more difficult than it appears. Hops are fussy and aggressive and can be a bit too much at times. But the sugar and dairy give them a nice balance, this is a recipe that can take a punch.

I used Stone Vengeful Spirit, if you want to look for some yourself they have a handy Stone beer locator on their site.

IPA Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Beer Candied Pecans

Yield: 24 squares

Ingredients

    For the beer candied pecans:
  • 1/2 cup Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups pecan pieces
  • For the cheesecake:
  • 9 standard sized graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 16 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA
  • 1/4 cup flour

Instructions

    Make the pecans:
  1. Preheat oven to 250F.
  2. In a large pot (it will bubble up furiously) over high heat add the beer and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Bring liquid to 235F degrees, remove from heat.
  4. Add the butter, stir until combined.
  5. Add ½ teaspoon salt and pecans; stir until the pecans have all been coated.
  6. Pour pecans on to a baking sheet that has been covered with a silicon baking mat (or parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray).
  7. Spread pecans evenly over the sheet.
  8. Bake at 250F for 15 minutes, stir and bake for an additional 15 minutes (if the pecans look foamy, stir until the bubbles have dissolved) remove from oven and sprinkle with the remaining salt.
  9. Allow to cool to room temperature, break apart. (Can be made up to 4 days in advance, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place).
  10. Make the cheesecake:
  11. Lower the oven temp to 300F
  12. In a food processor add the graham crackers and brown sugar, process until only crumbs are left. While the food processor is still running, add the melted butter and process until it resembles wet sand.
  13. Line a 9X13 pan with parchment paper making sure the parchment comes up and over the sides of the pan. Press crust into the bottom until well compacted.
  14. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar, white sugar and cream cheese. Mix until well combined. One at a time, add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined, scraping the bottom, before adding more.
  15. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon nutmeg and salt, mix until very well combined.
  16. Add the beer and stir until combined.
  17. Sprinkle the flour over the bowl, stir on medium speed until just combined.
  18. Pour over the crust.
  19. Bake at 300F for about one hour or until the center no longer sloshes when gently shaken but just slightly jiggles (The secret to a great cheesecake is not to over bake it, it's better to slightly under bake it for a smooth mousse like texture).
  20. Chill until set, about 3 hours.
  21. Remove from pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares, top with pecans.
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Crab Tarts with Saison Béarnaise Sauce

Crab Tarts with Saison Béarnaise Sauce

Crab Tarts with Saison Béarnaise Sauce

This is because I don’t care. I don’t care that "blogging is dead," so says everyone who spikes higher on SEO than I do. I don’t care that this is not a very googleable recipe, therefore it won’t earn me much incoming search engine traffic.

Your capacity to care about all the things is limited (also known as: how many fucks you have to give), so I really have to limit what I care about to the things that matter most, and let the rest lie like Chowder Jones in the sunlit patch of my living room.

I do, however, care about you. I care that you like what I’m doing, probably far more than I’d ever let on. I care that you make my recipe, post them on Instagram and tag me.

Honestly, it makes my day (unless your setting are set to private and I can’t see it). I care that you drink beer that you like, and I care a LOT when that beer does heart-melty things like give a portion of the profits from ALL of their beer to nonprofit organizations like The Chicago Women’s Health Center.

Middle Brow, a brewery out of Chicago does this. The remarkable thing, if you don’t know much about beer, is how hard this is.

Craft beer has a remarkably low-profit margin, some newer craft breweries hardly break even. It’s hard enough when you just have to worry about your own bills, but then to factor in giving some of that small margin away; it’s truly philanthropic. They’ve been doing it for years, so clearly they have somethings figured out.

When making these tarts—and freeing myself from all the things I don’t care about—it was easy to focus on the things I do. I did, after all, spend my first few years post-college as a social worker for gang kids.

Once you’re immersed in the world of non-profit-helping-people-organizations, it’s stick with you. And so does this beer. Chicago, you’re lucky to call this place a local spot.


Crab Tarts with Saison Béarnaise Sauce

Ingredients

    For the tarts:
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 oz lump crabmeat
  • 1 ear of corn, grilled or roasted, kernels cut off
  • ½ of 1 large red bell pepper, small chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onions (plus additional for garnish)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup pilsner or wheat beer
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 12 circles, each about 3 inches across.
  3. Add to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil, pierce all over with a fork.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. While still warm, use the back of a small, round, spoon (like a tablespoon) to press the center in to create a hole.
  5. In a bowl stir together the crab, bell pepper, corn kernels, lemon juice, green onions, salt and pepper.
  6. Plate the tart crusts, fill with the crab mixture.
  7. In a small pot stir together the shallots, vinegar, beer, and tarragon. Bring to a boil, cooking until reduced by half, about 8 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  8. In small food processor or blender, add the yolks, salt, and pepper. While the processor is running, slowly add the vinegar reduction and melted butter, process until thickened (if you’re having a hard time getting the sauce to thicken, add to a sauce pan, heat slightly until thickened).
  9. Drizzle the tarts with Bearnaise sauce, sprinkle with green onions, serve.

Notes

*To make ahead: make the tart crust, store in an airtight container. Make filing, store in a separate container. Make the sauce, store in an airtight container. To serve: reheat the sauce in the top of a double boiler, add 1 tablespoon beer, whisk until warmed. Plate the tarts, fill with crab mixture, top with sauce and serve!

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Fiery Thai Kettle Chips and Sweet Potato Burgers with Beer Sweet Chili Cream Sauce

Fiery Thai Kettle Chips and Sweet Potato Burgers with Beer Sweet Chili Cream Sauce

I was a vegetarian for 3 years. Mostly because I grew up on a farm, and I saw how the sausage was made. It didn’t stick, but what did stick is my true and complete love for non-meat burgers (and yes, I still love burgers of the meat-based variety, I just see them as two different things).

The flavors you can get from a patty made with a bowl full of produce is rather staggering, and this burger is easily my favorite.

Fiery Thai Kettle Chips and Sweet Potato Burgers with Beer Sweet Chili Cream Sauce

I’d love to take credit for the depth of flavors, but it’s due in no small part to these chips. Even when turned into crumbs and buried in a ton of other bold flavors, you can taste the heat and the lemongrass from the Kettle Brand Fiery Thai potato chips!

The burger also just so happens to pair beautifully with a winter ale. The malt and spices of a good winter ale will taste fantastic with the flavors of sweet potatoes, smoked paprika, and lemongrass.

I’m not going to lie to you, you can always see right through me. I ate these burgers for three meals in a row. I even put an egg on a patty, added some avocado and sweet chili sauce and ate it for breakfast. And I’m not even sorry about it.

Fiery Thai Kettle Brand Chips and Sweet Potato Burgers with Beer Sweet Chili Cream Sauce

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

    For the Burgers
  • 1 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided (plus more as needed)
  • 1 (4.2 oz) bag of Kettle Brand Fiery Thai Potato Chips
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup quinoa (red or black), cooked (1/3 cup pre-cooking volume)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons beer (winter ale, rye, Bock)
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Additional potato chips for garnish, if desired
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon beer (winter ale, rye, Bock)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes, then cut into cubes. Add to a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes (boiling the potatoes will add too much moisture to the filling).
  3. Add the potato chips and the oats to a food processor, process until just crumbs remain.
  4. In a large mixing bowl add the chip crumbs, sweet potato cubes, cooked quinoa, black beans, cilantro, onions, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and beer. Mix until well combined. Form into 6 large patties, about ¾ inch tall.
  5. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, cook the patties until golden brown on each side, adding more olive oil to the pan when it starts to dry.
  6. In a small bowl stir together the sauce ingredients.
  7. Plate burgers in the buns topped with avocado slices, tomato, sauce and potato chips (if using), serve immediately.
  8. To make in advance, make the burger patty mixture, add to an air tight container, chill for up to three days before using.
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Salt Roasted Mini Potatoes with Garlic Sage Beer Butter

Salt Roasted Mini Potatoes with Garlic Sage Beer Butter. The most delicious appetizer you can make with just ten minutes prep! 

I have a confession to make.

Or possibly more of a reminder.

It occurred to me, when I was posting this on instagram, that if you just stumbled upon this weird life that I decided to curate, that it may appear to you that it’s always looked like this.

To you maybe I’ve always existed in this space, always been given money in exchange for taking photos and writing down words and recipes. So, my friend, I’m here to show you the origins. The beginning of the journey to give you context.

This is the first food photo I ever took. I took it, and posted it on the internet for humans with eyes to actually see:

That’s the place I started. I’m telling you this so that you know that you have a shot. At whatever you want, at that dream you keep ignoring. The girl who took the above photo now gets paid to take photos for real-life magazines, if that’s possible, you aren’t too far away from what you want.

I’m probably not more talented than you, or smarter, or more organized (definitely not more organized), my life wasn’t more amenable to a career shift,  but I didn’t stop. I worked what was essentially two full-time jobs before I was able to make this one work. I clung to the idea like it was the sole thread to pull me away from a life that made me feel like I was drowning. I didn’t hear "no", I heard "Someday I’ll wish I’d said yes to you." I didn’t care if no one responded to my emails, or that I was spending more money than I was making. I didn’t know if it was all futile, I didn’t know if it would ever lead me anywhere. I just kept moving.

There are still days I feel like a fraud. Days I wonder why anyone would actually pay me for this. Days when I feel like the box filled with what I don’t know about photography is far bigger than the one full of what I do know. But I’m still moving, still going forward. Still trying to figure out what’s next. Because, like I said last week, the goal isn’t to be perfect, it’s to be better than yesterday.

Salt Roasted Mini Potatoes with Garlic Sage Beer Butter

Yield: 4 servings

Salt Roasted Mini Potatoes with Garlic Sage Beer Butter. The most delicious appetizer you can make with just ten minutes prep!

Ingredients

  • 1 (3lbs) box Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs mini potatoes
  • ½ cup salted butter (or unsalted butter plus 1/8 tsp salt)
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon malty beer (Oktoberfest, Bock, Belgian)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Sprinkle a layer of salt in the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Scrub potatoes, pat dry, and poke a few holes into each, add them to the pan on top of the salt.
  3. Pour the remaining salt over the potatoes until mostly covered.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly. Break the salt pack, remove the potatoes, add to a serving dish.
  5. Add the butter, garlic and sage to a pot over medium heat until the butter has melted, remove from heat, allow to steep for 10 minutes (this can also be done in the microwave).
  6. Add the melted butter, garlic, and sage to a small bender or food processor along with the beer, blend until well combined. Re-heat the butter if it starts to congeal. Serve potatoes along with melted butter.

Notes

*Add more beer, if desired. If the beer butter is too bitter, add honey a teaspoon at a time to counterbalance the bitterness.

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10-minute Beer Bread Cinnamon Rolls

10-minute Beer Bread Cinnamon Rolls: Takes ten minutes to get these in your oven! 

It started years ago, when, for a brief moment, I was trying to be less weird and figure out if "normal" was my bag. For some reason, cinnamon rolls seems like something normal people did on Christmas. I grew up with a weird family, I had a weird job before I started my current weird job that necessitates that I do things like this.

It was during a conversation with my older sister (the one I was with when I almost died in Morocco), in the midst of a life crisis. For some reason, the answer seemed to be cinnamon rolls. It seemed to me, at the time, that normal-people traditions would mend a part of me that I figured was broken. She, being the type of person to love others more than she has ever found a way to love herself, sent me a cinnamon roll pan in the mail along with a "secret ingredient" which turned out to be dry milk powder. The pan broke during a move when I was living in Los Angeles, but the milk powder still finds its way in my traditional yearly cinnamon rolls. In fact, that conversation was the basis for the first recipe in my first cookbook.

I’ve messed with the recipe for cinnamon rolls a few dozen times, mostly because Christmas and cinnamon rolls feel like home to me. This recipe doesn’t use the milk powder that I reserve for the versions that use a yeast dough, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a quick and easy way to get that fix that brings me an odd comfort.  Even though there is no longer a part of me that seeks to change any of my abnormal qualities, I seek out the odd in other people. But it doesn’t matter who you are: cinnamon rolls and beer are just good.

10-minute Beer Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 10-12 rolls

Takes ten minutes to get these in your oven!

Ingredients

    Cinnamon rolls:
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus additional)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces winter ale (or wheat beer)
  • For the filling
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • Icing:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, and beer until a ball of dough forms. Add to a lightly floured surface, (if the dough is excessively sticky, cover with a generous amount of flour, kneading until it's no longer sticky, adding more flour when needed) knead lightly until the ball comes together. Gently roll into a large rectangle.
  3. In a small bowl stir together the butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown and white sugar until a paste forms.
  4. Spread the paste in an even layer on top of the dough rectangle. Roll along the long edge to form a long log.
  5. Cut into 10-12 rings. Place cut side up in a baking dish that has been lightly greased.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  7. In a small bowl beat together the butter and cream cheese until well combined. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, beat until well combined.
  8. Pour the icing over the cinnamon rolls in an even layer, serve immediately.

Notes

*To make ahead: make the cinnamon rolls, place in the pan, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake, up to two days. Do not bake until ready to serve, cinnamon rolls do not keep well. The icing can be made up to three days in advance, keep refrigerated until ready to use.

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Mascarpone Winter Ale Stuffed French Toast

Mascarpone Winter Ale Stuffed French Toast

mascarpone-winter-ale-stuffed-french-toast-8

Winter ushers in a new crop of hard-to-get-your-hands-on beers, and they are just starting to poke their heads out the pumpkin saturated beer crowd.

Winter ales have flown under the main-stream-beer-radar for a while, getting a bit lost as beer drinkers trample from the squash-spice section over to the barrel aged section, but they deserve their time to shine. Every pocket of beer lovers have their own set of winter ales they wait for, counting down the days until the Holiday Ales start to show up in bottle shops. In my circle of beer nerd (based mostly on the distribution zone I’m in), this is what we are waiting for:

Fremont  // Winter Ale (and then the BBomb version that’s barrel aged)

Sierra Nevada // Celebration (a classic, and a reminder that hops are invited to the holiday party)

HUB // Abominable  (Malty and hoppy, well balanced and full of flavor)

Deschutes // Jubelale (Tastes like Christmas: notes of cocoa, toffee, spices)

Avery // Old Jubilation (A crowd pleaser, warm, malty, with nut and candy notes)

21st Amendment // Fireside Chat (they describe it as: "a kick in the ass and a hug at the same time")

Widmer // Brrr (robust red ale with candy notes and a nice balance or malt and hops)

The Bruery // 12 Days of Christmas Series 

Maritime // Jolly Roger

What are you looking forward to? Any Winter Ales that you’ll pick up that I can’t get my hands on?

mascarpone-winter-ale-stuffed-french-toast-4

Mascarpone Winter Ale Stuffed French Toast

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

    For the Filling:
  • 8 wt ounces mascarpone
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons winter ale
  • pinch salt
  • For the French Toast:
  • 1 large loaf French bread, Brioche, or Challah
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup cream
  • ½ cup winter ale
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl add the mascarpone, powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons winter ale and salt. Beat with a hand mixer until well combined.
  2. Slice the bread into 3-inch slices (about 8 total).
  3. Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the center of the bread slices, forming a pocket for the filling.
  4. In a medium bowl add the eggs, cream, ½ cup winter ale, vanilla, and sugar, whisk until well combined.
  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  6. One at a time spoon the filling into the bread slices. Dip in the egg mixture, making sure to coat well. Remove from the bowl allowing the liquid to drain off the bread.
  7. Place the French toast in the hot pan, cook on each side until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
  8. Serve warm.
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mascarpone-winter-ale-stuffed-french-toast-7

Puff Pastry Cake with Maple Ale Pastry Cream

Puff Pastry Cake with Maple Ale Pastry Cream

Puff Pastry Cake with Maple Ale Pastry Cream

It’s storming in a way that makes me nervous.

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.

Puff Pastry Cake with Maple Ale Pastry Cream

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup, plus 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons beer*, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Berries for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan off heat whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt and cornstarch until well combined.
  2. Add the milk, 1 cup cream and 1/3 cup beer to a container and warm slightly (not hot, just body temperature).
  3. Whisk the egg mixture continually while slowly poring the warm liquid into the saucepan.
  4. Add the saucepan to medium heat, whisking until thicken. Remove from heat, add to a storage container and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  5. Heat the oven to 400F.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. Frost with whipped cream. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  11. Garnish with berries before slicing and serving (a sharp bread knife works well for slicing).

Notes

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.

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I used Autumn Maple  from The Bruery

puff-pastry-cake-with-maple-ale-pastry-cream-94

Lemon Garlic Beer Butter Cod

Lemon Garlic Beer Butter Cod

Lemon Garlic Beer Butter Cod100

You have to jump, sometimes.

When I was in high school I was a lifeguard on a lake in Northern California for a summer doing a steady rotation of pool watch, lake watch, and zip-line duty. The last of which was my least favorite. I was there for the water, not to stand on a platform in the top of a Redwood tree, hooking pre-pubescent campers and their just-slightly-older-than-me counselors up to harnesses and watch them careen towards the lake below.
Occasionally there would be a kid, always a boy, always with a group of other kids who talked him into climbing up the rope ladder to get to the platform, who would freeze. He’d stand there in his harness, shivering in the shade with his still-wet swim trunks clinging to his body, his harness double bolted to the cable, unable to jump. I was always able to get him to let go, to trust, and to jump. Except once.

He wasn’t a camper, he was a tall, very attractive, early-20’s counselor with thick wavy black hair and an ego to match. He was showing off as he climbed to the small wooden space at the top of the tree to stand beside me as I clipped him safely to the cable that would bring him to the sun-warmed lake below. As I finished he turned towards to opening of the wooden tree-house like structure we stood in, and froze. He took a step back, his eyes wide, and muttered, "…I can’t….I can’t"

At first, I tried to calm his fears. Tell him how safe it was, how every kid had gone down safely and there has never been an injury in the history of the camp. It didn’t work. I tried to tease him, letting him know that the 70-pound 12-year-old girl in line behind him had been down three times. It didn’t work. I asked why he was hesitant, he wasn’t sure.

After 20 minutes or prodding, I told him he had to get down, one way or another. That he had to jump off the platform or go back down the rope ladder. He moved closer to the edge, slowly putting one foot over the 30-foot drop, then he slipped. In one motion he was free of the platform and then both of this long arms reaching backward grabbed the railing and pulled himself back towards me on the platform. He couldn’t do it. He scrambled back up next to me, begging me to unhook him. Shaking. He slowly, shamefully, made his way down the rope ladder, past the 12-year-old girl with pity in her eyes.

Sometimes, I think of him. When I’m too scared to move forward with something I feel ill-equipped to manage. How do I do this thing? Where do I start with the thing? What if I can’t do the thing?

Just jump, I think to myself. Don’t be that guy, don’t stay on the platform. I remember thinking, as he made his way down the ladder, that he would regret it. He would wish he’d have jumped and wonder what he was so afraid of. So I tell myself to jump because I have nothing to be afraid of and I’ll regret it if I don’t just do it.

I’m jumping into making videos for some of my recipes. It may sound benign, but it’s a learning process. I’ve spent the past year trying to talk myself into jumping into figuring it out, and it’s daunting. It’s a process. Learning a little at a time, something new for each one, something I hate and will change the next time. But, you can’t stay on the platform forever, you just have to jump. Learning a little each time.

Lemon Garlic Beer Butter Cod101

Lemon Garlic Beer Butter Cod

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cod fillets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup beer (wheat beer, summer ale, lower hop pilsner)
  • 2 cups (285g) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs (such as basil, rosemary, or oregano)
  • Pasta, couscous, rice or other grain for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet.
  2. Sprinkle the cod fillets with salt and pepper.
  3. Sear cod on each side, cooking until just cooked through (do not over cook, cod should still be slightly translucent in the center).
  4. Remove the cod from the pan. Add the tomatoes, cooking over high heat until blistered and soft.
  5. Add the garlic, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and beer. Cook over medium high heat, breaking up and smashing the tomatoes. Cook until reduced and thickened.
  7. Stir in the herbs and additional salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Plate the cod with the tomato sauce.
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