Leave it to me to take a perfectly healthy and delicious side dish, like roasted broccoli, and pour a bunch of cheese and beer all over it, effectively negating most of the health benefits.
But really, it’s for your own good. There’s a good chance you’re sitting there planning a menu, a Turkey centric, end it with pie, If I don’t eat too much I’m doing it wrong, type of late November meal. Me too.
We’ve got the main dish down, and potatoes are all set, lots of pies (probably too many), but then those wily vegetable side dishes always come last. Is green bean casserole really enough green stuff? Should I have more?
Yes. You should have some roasted broccoli, serve it with a side of cheese sauce to match the excessive gluttony level of the rest of the table.
If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen my announcement that I shot a TV show for Lifetime back in January. The premise of the show was to take people with interesting ideas for food products and develop those ideas into product lines that end up on grocery store shelves. There is a hole in the market when it comes to beer infused foods. Clearly this is something that people want that currently isn’t being offered on a large scale. The show airs June 22nd on Lifetime, my episode airs on August 22nd at 10:30pm on Lifetime, you’ll have to watch to see how it all turns out for me. Beyond my story, the show was well cast with incredible people, all with stories to tell and passion for what they make.
These biscuits, which would be a fantastic addition to a beer infused food line, are the best biscuits I’ve made so far. The technique creates these beautifully flakey layers, the beer lightly leavens the dough, leaving behind soft notes of beer on the finish. For both the sauce and the biscuits I used Mischief from The Bruery.
There are two types of breweries that I respect, those that offer accessible beer that’s consistent and well done. Solid beer that can be held up as excellent examples of their represented styles. The Bruery is the other type. They aren’t afraid to break a few rules, they make that clear with the spelling of their name. There is nothing traditional about the beer that comes out of this place, it’s innovative, experimental and exciting. It’s a place that you take a true beer lover, not someones who "like some beer, sometimes." It’s not among the beer I recommend for those who want an easy introduction to craft beer, it’s beer for beer lovers. It’s were you go when you want to see the limits of beer being challenged.
To be honest, I don’t always fall in love with what The Bruery makes, but I’m always intrigued, I always want to try what they’ve come up with because it’s clear how thoughtfully made every batch is. Mischief is one of my favorites. It’s beautifully well rounded with notes of bread, yeast, citrus, grass, with a bit of spice and apricot. It also comes in a bottle that’s a perfect fit for a champagne recorker which comes in handy when you want to open a large 750ML bottle in the morning to make biscuits and want to save the rest for later in the day. It also well distributed, I’ve even heard rumors of it making it past the Booze Guards to the North to earn spots on shelves in Canada.
Another amazing Bruery creation is Black Tuesday, available in October. If you’re near Orange County in late October, it’s worth a drive to the tasting room just for that beer.
If you can’t get your hands on Mischief (although you should try, it’s a great beer) looks for a hoppy Belgian ale or Hefeweizen for this recipe.
Honey Beer Biscuits with Strawberry Belgian Ale Sauce
Add the strawberries, sugar and beer to a saucepan over medium high heat.
Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes.
Add to a food processor or blender, blend until smooth.
To Make the Biscuits:
Preheat oven to 425.
In a processor add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Pulse to combine. Add the butter and 1 tbs honey, process until well combined. Add to a large bowl.
Add the milk and beer. Mix with a fork until just combined.
Add to a well-floured flat surface, pat into a rectangle. Using a cold rolling pin (preferably marble) gently roll into a large rectangle, about 1 inch in thickness, using as few strokes as possible.
Fold the dough into thirds as you would a letter about to go into an envelope. Roll lightly, once in each direction to about 1 inch thickness, fold in thirds again. Gently roll into about 1 1/2 inch thickness (this will give you the flakey layers).
Using a biscuit cutter cut out 6 to 8 biscuits. Place in a baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Add the remaining 2 tbs honey to a microwave safe dish. Microwave for about 15 seconds or until thinned.
Brush biscuits with honey and sprinkle with salt.
Bake at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
I don’t make a lot of sandwiches that I want to post about. But this is a sandwich I could eat every day. One that I would even serve at a party, especially one revolving around sports viewing or card playing. It’s spicy, beery, cheesy, and totally necessitates several napkins.
I used a beer that seems to be in regular rotation in my "beer cellar" (which is currently the bottom shelf of my fridge). If you live outside the Southern California area, you might not be familiar with the San Diego brewery Greenflash, but it’s hard to ignore this well distributed craft beer in these parts of the world.
Greenflash has an unapologetic love of the hops, wielding the bitterness with brute force. Which suits the hop frenzied California craft beer crowd. I’m a little choosier about my IPA’s than the average Los Angeles beer girl, and Greenflash gets it right when it comes to hopping the hell out of a beer. The Imperial IPA is really solid example of a West Coast IPA, well bittered, notes of pine, citrus, grapefruit, pineapple and a mild malty finish.
All of those flavor notes balance well with the spicy sauce I covered this giant sandwich with. A sandwich that also pairs very well with a nice cold IPA. But be careful, alcohol intensifies heat so that spicy sandwich may end up hotter than you wanted because of that same beer. And, please, get the good bread, none of that hot dog bun nonsense.
¼cupfresh shredded or fresh grated parmesan cheeseplus additional if desired
4crust Italian sandwich rollssplit
1ball whole milk mozzarellasliced into 4 slices
In a sauce pan cook the onions in the olive oil over medium high heat until softened. Add the tomatoes, cook until the skins starts to peel, about 5 minutes.
Ad the garlic, cook for 30 seconds.
Add the beer and tomato paste. Allow to simmer until most of the tomatoes have broken down, about 10 minutes.
Transfer to a large food processor or blender along with the chipotle pepper, basil, salt, smoked paprika and oregano, process until smooth. Taste the sauce at this point, add additional chipotle peppers for a higher heat level, if desired. Sauce can be made up to three days in advance (If the sauce is too watery, return to the stove and simmer until it has reduced and thickened).
Preheat oven to 400.
Filet the chicken breasts in half, creating two thin slices per each chicken breast for a total of four, pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet, heavy rolling pin or heavy skillet.
Pat the chicken dry. Place eggs in a bowl, beat well. Place the flour in a separate bowl. Mix the bread crumbs with the parmesan in a third bowl.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat until shimmery but not smoking.
Sprinkle chicken with salt on all sides.
Dredge in the flour shaking off excess.
Dip in the egg bowl, turning to coat, then dredge in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
Fry chicken in hot oil until golden brown on the underside, about 3 minutes, turn and cook until cooked through (try not to turn the chicken more than once).
Place rolls on a baking sheet, spoon generous amounts of sauce into the rolls. Cut the chicken fillets in half lengthwise so they better fit into the rolls.
Fill each roll with chicken, top with mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired.
Cook in a 400 oven until cheese has melted, serve immediately.
I’ve started to think about dishes that have made an impact on me over the years, a salt roasted whole fish I ate in italy, curried soup I had in New York, even pancakes from my Grandfather. I didn’t grow up in a culinary family, I grew up in a defrost-and-feed family and decided I wanted to figure out this cooking thing when I was in High School. I met a guy who was older than me, SO old, in fact, that he had his own apartment. I wanted to impress him, so I offered to cook him dinner. Newly licensed, I drove to the grocery store all by myself for the first time. I had planned to buy steak and try to figure that out, but a combination of seeing these tiny chickens and realizing how expensive good steak was made the decision easy. Two "tiny chickens" were only $4, and I peeled the price tag off so that he wouldn’t know how cheap I was.
I just rubbed them with butter (probably margarine, to be honest) and salt and pepper, and cooked them until I thought they were done. They turned out amazing, I think I was more impressed than he was. It was my first official Kitchen Win, Roasted Cornish Game Hens at 16 years old, in the kitchen of a crappy post war era apartment off George Washington Way.
I haven’t made them since (until now), and I can’t even tell you why. I make roast chicken all the time, and this is just as easy, and if you are having a dinner party, it’s really impressive, everyone gets their own tiny chicken. You don’t even have to tell them how cheap they are.
A beer brine is incredible, the combination of the subtle flavors and the meat tenderizing properties of beer give you a fantastic final product. I usually use brown ale, I love the notes of molasses and nuts that are easy to find in brown ales. I remembered Brother Thelonious from North Coast, a strong, dark, Belgian Style Abbey Ale . The notes of nuts, fruit, malt, brown sugar and cherries, along with a relatively high ABV of 9.3%, it was exactly what I was looking for. North Coast is a stellar brewery out of Northern California, that has brought us such hits as Old Rasputin and PranQster. North Coast has been preaching the craft beer gospel for 25 years, producing beer that is diverse and on point, you’ll never hear anything but praise out of me for North Coast.
The sauce can be made with what you have "leftover" from the beer brine, but let’s be honest, it probably won’t last that long. You can also use a lighter wheat beer, or a pale ale. Just a warning, alcohol intensifies heat so the higher ABV you use, the higher the heat level will be. Removing the seeds from the pepper gives you a greater control over the sauces final heat level. Most of the heat of a pepper is found in the seeds, with almost no flavor.The flesh of the pepper still has significant heat, but also contains the flavor of the pepper. If you are worried about the heat not being high enough, reserve some of the seeds and add them into the sauce as needed.
Beer Brined Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Orange Chili Sauce
In a pot over medium high heat, add the wheat beer, salt, sugar and cloves. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove from heat. Add the ice, stir until dissolved.
Rinse the game hens inside and out, place together in a large bowl. Pour the brine over the hens, refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 425.
Remove hens from brine, rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
Place in a roasting rack of a roasting pan or on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Cut lemon into quarters. Place one quarter into each hen, place the remaining two in the roasting pan beneath the hens.
In a small bowl combine melted butter, salt and pepper.
Brush the hens liberally with the butter mixture.
Roast at 425 for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165.
While the hens are roasting, make the sauce. Using gloves remove the seeds from the habanero, discard seeds and stem, chop remaining pepper.
Add habanero, orange juice, cornstarch and white sugar to a saucepan over high heat, whisk frequently until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, add beer and vinegar, bring to a boil just until re-thickened, stir in about half (1-2 tsp) of the 1 tbs chili flakes. Taste sauce, add additional red chili flakes for a higher level of heat.
Serve the orange chili sauce in small sauce dishes along side the hens for dipping.
This recipe makes an abundance of sauce, enough for 4 to 6 servings. If you make more Game Hens, you won't need to double the sauce unless you make 8 or more servings. If you are worried about the heat not being high enough, reserve some of the seeds and add them into the sauce as needed.
Have I told you yet that I finished my book this week?
Well, mostly finished. There are still a few more stages, a back and forth that is still yet to be had, but I sent the manuscript with 65 photos to my publisher. I’m still dealing with momentary panics, the nightmares of ingredients left out of instructions and egregious spellings errors (I do that, a lot), but I am happily back to cooking more "normal" food.
I also made this pasta again. I love the ritual of homemade pasta and even though I own Kitchen Aid pasta rollers, I still like the no-roller method. I like getting my hands covered in raw dough, my shoulders aching with the repetition of dragging my bench knife across the counter, turning a dime size slice of dough into a little canoe shaped sauce vessel. I even like that it takes me all day, working in fifteen minute spurts, to get enough for dinner.
The pesto, in complete contrast, takes about 15 minutes. You can keep it just pesto, store it in the fridge, it keeps pretty well, or you can cook it up with some cream and smother your pasta with it. I’m not sure how long it lasts, because in my kitchen it didn’t even make it through the day.
There is a good chance I’ll make it again really soon. And this pasta, too.
Creamy Kale Pesto Pasta
2 cups roughly chopped black Kale, packed
1 large cloves garlic, chopped or smashed
¼ cup parmesan, shaved or shredded
¼ cup hazelnuts
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
4 servings of pasta, cooked (recommended: cavatelli, orecchiette, fusilli)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped
salt & pepper
Yield: 4 servings
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. Add the kale to boiling water, cook for about 3 minutes. Remove kale from boiling water and immediately plunge the kale into the ice water (This is called blanching, it stops the cooking process and blanching will make kale less bitter).
Lay the kale on a stack of papper towels to dry. It does not have to be completely dry.
Add kale, garlic, parmesan, hazelnuts, and black pepper, to a food processor, process until well combined.
While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil and the lemon juice. Process until well combined.
In a saucepan over medium high heat, add the pesto and cream. Cook until warmed, and just starting to bubble. Toss with pasta and tomatoes just prior to serving. Salt and pepper to taste.
But that being said, I ate it at 3 in the afternoon (mostly because I wanted to make it for you, and I refuse to photograph using artificial light, necessitating a mid-day desert for picture taking purposes).
Breakfast in my land, is savory. Although I occasionally indulge in sugar loaded calorie bomb in the morning hours only because for some reason it’s socially acceptable, but if we step back and look at it objectively, this is dessert.
Since I put beer in your breakfast on multiple occasions (Like this, and this and don’t forget about this), I would never judge you for eating this pre-noon. BUT, it’s dessert. And it needs to be served with a stout that’s almost warm. Maybe a sipin' stout that’s been aged in a bourbon barrel, or a smokey porter.
But it’s definitely dessert. Even if you eat it in the middle of the day.
Chocolate Stout Waffle Sundae with Chocolate Stout Fudge Sauce
Sometimes it’s in small ways, like keeping my size zero jeans from my modeling days that I will never fit into again. Ever. Ever.
Sometimes it’s by spending hours looking at photos, like these, that are so good I know I will never be able to grace the world with images that perfect.
Lately, because I’m about knee-deep in the cookbook I’m writing, the stress of my rapidly approaching deadline has somehow convinced me that I need to read Amazon cookbook reviews. The bad ones. Always the bad one.
And it terrifies me. Although, it should makes me feel better. If people can find ridiculous faults with gorgeous cookbooks, I have no chance of pleasing everyone, and that will put me in good company. The company of every other person who has ever written a book of any kind.
Although I did learn something: People Suck.
-One lady left a nasty 1-star review on a cookbook she didn’t own and had never even seen in real life because she hated the POSITIVE reviews. What the hell?
-Several people left angry 1-star reviews because the cookbook in question had too many "hard" recipes.
-One lady left an irate review about a cookbook called "Savory Pies" because it wasn’t a dessert cookbook. SAVORY!!
-One guy left a 1-star review of a cookbook because he didn’t think the color of the cover went well with his kitchen.
-One lady left a bad review because the author said, "too many common sense things" Apparently the absurd and irrational cookbook wasn’t available for Kindle.
So, I have no chance. I can’t please everyone, that just needs to be a fact that is accepted. Like how it rains in Los Angeles from time to time, or that you will have to replace the tires on your car at some point.
I wish I was OK with this idea that someone will inevitably pay money for my book and hate it, but it happens to keep me up at night.
I worry that someone will try to make the Stout Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Porter Ganache and confuse weight ounces with fluid ounces and blame me when her husbands birthday cake doesn’t work. (BTW, whomever decided that two completely separate units of measurement, that have nothing to do with each other, should have the same name, is an A-Hole.)
I even worry that someone who can’t drink alcohol will leave me a nasty review about my Cooking with Beer book about how he can’t make any of the recipe, due to the fact that they ALL contain beer.
Instead of looking away from the train wreck of the ignorant spewing hatred at other people’s hard work, I stress ate pasta.
It was great, and even my Avocado averse husband loved it.
Avocado Alfredo Pasta with Spicy Shrimp
4 servings of pasta of choice
For The Sauce:
2 large avocados
½ cup cream
½ cup parmesan plus ¼ cup
½ cup + ¼ cup whole milk
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
For The Shrimp:
½ lb shrimp, raw, deveined and peeled
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¼ t salt
pinch cayenne (plus additional as desired)
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup arugula
Yield: Four Servings
Cook pasta in lightly salted boiling water until almost cooked through (just before al dente).
In a food processor add the flesh of the avocados, cream, ½ cup parmesan, ½ cup whole milk and process until smooth. Transfer to a pot over medium high heat. Simmer until warmed, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, plus additional to taste. Add the noodles into the sauce, simmering until noodles have finished cooking, about 3 additional minutes (add remaining 1/4 cup milk if sauce becomes overly dry and thick).
In a bowl stir together the black pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder salt and cayenne. Add additional cayenne for a higher level of heat. Add peeled shrimp and toss until shrimp are well coated.
Heat olive oil until hot but not smoking in a pan over medium high heat. Add the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
Plate pasta, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese, top with arugula and then shrimp. Serve immediately.
I’ve always wanted to go to Chile. Since I started traveling, I’ve had a deep love for Spanish speaking countries, I want to visit them all. Although, other than language, they seem to have little in common. Other than maybe a shared love of food and family.
I spent some time in Spain, missing my flight home for an extra day in Madrid.
I took my husband with my to Costa Rica, and I didn’t want to leave. I just kept begging to head further south, even telling him I’d allow as much Van Halen signing as he wanted once we hit Panama (PAAAAAna-ma-ah!). But he wanted his own bed and some clean clothes. Weirdo.
And Chile has been there, long and lean, just sitting there on my list. I want to go and visit this place, so gorgeous, and with it’s incredible food.
Maybe I’m not going to get on a plane and head south just yet, but I can eat some Chilean salmon, with some Chilean avocado cream sauce, and of course, the Chilean wine. And dream about the day I actually get my passport stamped in Santiago.
Chilean Salmon with Avocado Cream Sauce
For The Salmon
4, 3oz salmon fillets
1 to 2 tsp salt
1 to 2 tsp pepper
3 tbs olive oil
For The Avocado Cream Sauce
1 large avocado (about 2/3 cup)
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs chopped shallots
1/3 cup coconut water
pinch chili powder
pinch smoked paprika
¼ tsp cumin
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs chopped chives
Place salmon fillets on a plate, squeeze lemon juice over salmon and allow to sit for five to ten minutes. Sprinkle filets with salt and pepper just prior to cooking.
In a good quality heavy sauce pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking, swirling the olive oil to evenly distribute.
Add the salmon and allow to cook until golden brown before carefully flipping, about 4 minutes. Cook on the other side until cooked through.
In a food processor add the sauce ingredients and puree until smooth.
As Americans spend the day thinking of little else, wedged firmly between Barack and a hard place, I wanted to give you a little motivation to get through this day.
We will soon find ourselves at the end of this exhausting Election Season, our feelings of separatism from those who disagree with us will fade. We will find Facebook to be a friendlier place, and those Someecards of a political nature will ebb.
Regardless of the outcome, you have a reason to grab your favorite beer. Either in celebration of your guy winning the mad race to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, or as a way to console yourself over the fact that the other guy came out ahead.
Given that you may be too distracted to spend all that much time in the kitchen tonight, this meal only takes about 20 minutes.
And, I’m pretty certain it has bipartisan support.
For this recipes, I like a brown ale, a blonde, a pale or a wheat beer. Be aware that using an IPA will kick up the beer flavor considerably and may be too bitter in the end.
In a pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle chicken thighs on all sides with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan and cook on both sides until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan.
Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic and mushrooms, cook until mushrooms are soft and have darkened, about 5 minutes.
Add the beer, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pan.
Reduce heat to medium, add the cream and stir.
Add half of the cheese, stir until melted. Add the remaining half, stir until combined.
Add the chicken and allow to cook until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, serve over rice or pasta.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might have taken one look at this title and wondered if I had flashbacks to the Moroccan Mint Experience. The answer, of course, is yes.
And I’m going to bet that my sister who accompanied me on the guided tour of Middle Atlas headed by a man who was surely a Moroccan drug dealer, had a similar flashback, and possibly a shudder, just reading the title of this post.
But I still really want to like mint. It’s an amazingly fresh and bright flavor that I want to enjoy. I want to be able to drink a Mojito if I ever make it to Cuba, and when I someday go to The Kentucky Derby, I am most certainly going to order a mint Julip and enjoy it under my huge hat. And if I ever find myself in the "living room" of another hospitable cave dweller on the other side of the world, I want to be able to drink his tea with a smile.
So I’m subjecting myself to some Exposure Therapy. And I am enjoying it immensely. Other than the involuntary gagging when I chopped the mint (I know, that totally makes you want to run right out and make this chicken), I am completely in love with the end result of this dish. Even the Wasabi Mint Cream Sauce. It was a fantastic balance of flavors that I enjoyed much more that I had imagined. And I can now say that I am well on my way to recovery. I see more mint in my future.
Speaking of chicken, I have some great news. As I’m getting all the details for my participation in the 3rd Annual Foster Farms Fresh Cooking Contest all in order, the wonderful people over at Foster Farms have given me 5 pairs of tickets to the event to give away to my readers. I’m so excited about that. This is an invite only event, and tickets are very limited. I would love for some of you to go with me.
Mojito Chicken Wings With Wasabi Mint Cream Sauce
12 Foster Farms Party Wings
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
¼ cup cornstarch
2/3 cup ponzu sauce
2 tbs honey
¼ cup white rum
1 tsp red chili sauce (such as sriracha)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs sesame seeds
6 oz Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp wasabi powder
1 tbs cilantro, minced
2 fresh mint leaves, minced
1 tbs lime juice
Preheat the oven to 425.
Rinse the chicken wings in cold water and dry well.
Sprinkle chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cornstarch and rub to coat.
In a separate bowl, add the ponzu, honey, rum, chili sauce, garlic powder and sesame seeds, stirring well to combine. Add the chicken, toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for ten minutes.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Arrange the chicken wings on the baking sheet and bake at 425 for ten minutes.
While the chicken is baking, add the remaining marinade to a pot over medium high heat,stiring frequently, reduce until thickened and syrupy, about 8-10 minutes.
Once the marinade has reduced, remove the chicken from the oven and brush with the thickened marinade, turn them over, brush with marinade on the other side.
Return to the oven and allow to cook for an additional ten minutes, basting again.
Allow chicken to bake until cooked through, an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
To make the sauce, add the Greek yogurt, wasabi, cilantro, mint, and lime juice to a bowl and mix to combine. Serve the sauce along side the wings as a dipping sauce.
(Note: the total cooking time for the chicken will be approximately 25-35 minutes, requiring basting every ten minutes)
Barbecue debates rage on all over the south, even as we virtually speak. The most sweltering of all topics is Sauce versus Rub. Rub people claiming that good meat doesn’t need to be drowned in sauce, and sauce people attesting to the holy balance of flavors between sauce and meat, and then there is the apathetic middle who just shrug and use both.
And even when you eat your way across the Barbecue Belt, sampling the best of both slow cooked worlds, and finally take up residence in a meat preparation camp, the disputes don’t end. If you decide to consort with the rowdy sauce crowd, you have more decisions to make. Are you a vinegar based sauce person or tomato based? Molasses or brown sugar? Mustard sauce or chili sauce?
I’ve decided I’m a sauce girl, but I will never turn away good Slow Cooked BBQ Rubbed Spare Ribs. And although I prefer a deep sweet tomato sauce with a kick of spice, I’ll eat every last bit of a Golden Mustard Pulled Pork Sandwich.
Whether you decide on sauce, or just a great marinade, beer is an ideal addition. Beer is a natural meat tenderizer and a deeply flavored stout is a great way to go.
I used Bear Republic, Big Bear Black Stout. A fantastic stout, and as Beer Store Beer Guy told me last week, "Bear Republic’s Stout is one of the most consistent beers I’ve ever had. It always tastes the same, no matter what batch it came from." Hard thing to accomplish.
In a pot over medium heat, add the oil and allow to get hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and stir until you can smell it, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Allow to cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
The first time I made marinara was a complete accident.
Just a few months after I nearly accidentally graduated college, I got a job working with teenage gang members in South Central Los Angeles. You are free to laugh at the idea of a very white girl, who grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington, working in South Central. With gang kids.
I sat on one side of a light oak dining table in a small Group Home, a transitional respite for kids who had been released from jail but who were still on probation, to talk with Dominick. He was from a rough area of Compton, and had found his way to the seat across from me via a GTA charge and a hot temper. But to me, he was a baby faced 14-year-old who secretly liked Whitney Houston. This was our first meeting, and part of my job was to compile a list of his "Triggers." Anything that made him angry enough to lash out, to do something that could land his ass back in jail. We both had the same goal: get him back home. Most kids, in my short 4 months of experience all had a very similar trigger. This usually centered around someone "talking shit" about them, their mom, or their crew. Maybe a handful of other miscellaneous and understandable offenses.
When I asked Dominick what triggered him, what drove him to a rage that welled up in him a feeling of violence that once caused him to send a chair on a journey through a class room window, his face fell flat.
"What?" I was so curious, "What makes you that mad?"
He took a deep breath and lowered his voice, "When those mother fuckin' girls make human pyramids."
I laughed so hard I felt bad about it. His young face broke open into a sweet smile, "Jackie, I’m not gonna lie.." He started to giggle, "Pisses me the fuck off, I have no idea why. I want to push those chicks right over."
Fair enough. My job was to teach him how to deal with his anger, no matter what triggered it.
He wanted to learn how to cook, and he wanted to make Spaghetti. He thought that cooking might help him channel his anger. We didn’t have any sauce, but his group home staff had just come into ownership of 10 pounds of tomatoes, so we made do.
Because of Dominick, and his human pyramid hating ways, I will always love a good, homemade, can free, marinara.
Rub the head of garlic until about half of the papery white skin comes off. Cut a small amount of the tip off the head of the garlic, just enough to expose all of the cloves. Place on a small piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with about 1 tbs of olive oil. Fold the foil tightly around the garlic, place on a baking sheet. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place them on the baking sheet along with the garlic packet.
Roast the tomatoes and the garlic at 400 for 20-30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the skin starts to peel back from the flesh. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
The skin of the tomatoes should be very easy to remove at this point, peel the skin off the tomatoes and discard. Place a fine mesh sieve or strainer over a bowl. Scoop the seeds into the strainer and place the remaining part of the peeled and seeded tomato into a bowl, repeat until all of the tomatoes have been seeded. Allow the seeds to continue to drain while you make the rest of the sauce.
In a pot over medium high heat, add 2 tbs olive oil. Add the onions and carrots, sauté until carrots are soft and onions are translucent. Add the beer, seeded and peeled tomatoes and whatever juice has accumulated in the bowl beneath the tomato seeds. Discard the seeds. Remove the head of garlic from the foil packet and squeeze the soft head until the cloves comes out and into the sauce. Add the salt, pepper and basil.
Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer, allow to cook and reduce until thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you want a smoother sauce, add to a food processor and process until smooth.
We had this little talk last week about Chipotle, and how much I adore it. I gave you a list of really great things you can make once you open an entire can.
And you all give me a bit of a sideways glance and said, "Or, you could just freeze it."
Turns out, you all are much more brilliant than I will ever be. And that lead me to wonder what other things I let go to waste when, had I asked you all, I would have know that I could just freeze it and use it when I need it. So here is a list, you probably can tell that I love lists. Quick, organized, and to the point. LISTS! Here is another one for you:
Things You Didn’t Even Know You Can Freeze
(and by YOU, I really mean ME)
1. Fresh herbs. Seriously, who have even thought? Oh, that’s right, you. Not me, I never would have thought to chop a few chives, make sure the rest was dry, put it in a ziplock bag and then freeze it for later use. Brilliant.
2. Citrus. Why didn’t I think about this durring my love affair with blood orange season? You need to break the citrus down, but you can freeze the juice in ice cube trays and then freeze the cubes in zip lock bags. You can also freeze the zest in zip lock bags. I would love to have a bag of juice when I make more of these.
3. Tomato Paste. This will come in handy. I only need about a tbs at a time, and freezing the rest will help me avoid the "do I toss the rest now, or put it in the fridge and then toss it when it inevitably goes bad?" Mental debate that goes on in my head.
4. Strawberries! I knew that one. or more accuratly: I’ve seen them frozen at the grocery store, and I know how quickly fresh ones go bad so WHY have I never just put those berries on the verge of going bad into freezer bags and store them in the freezer?? I will now.
5. Rice & Grains. Make one huge batch of rice or quinoa at the beginning of the month and then portion them out into small containers or zip lock bags for use through out the month. Such a time saver.
So please, if there are any "You Can Freeze That??!" Foods that you want to add to my list, just let me know.
This sauce went on nearly everything I ate for about 3 days. Including, steamed artichokes, grilled chicken, mexican quinoa salad and tacos. There would have been more had I not run out.
Chipotle Blender Béarnaise
2 tbs chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup white wine
3 egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, canned
2 tsp adobo sauce from can
Add the cilantro, shallots, vinegar, and wine to a pan over medium heat. Allow to simmer and reduce until about 2 tbs of liquid remain, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a food processor add the reduction, egg yolks, chipotle and adobo sauce, process until well combined. Melt the butter until very hot and just starting to bubble. Remove the stopper from the top of the food processor lid. Turn on the food processor, allowing to process for a few seconds before beginning to slowly pour the melted butter into the food processor while it is still running. Allow to process until well combined and frothy, about 3 minutes.
Serve over every possible savory substance in your kitchen, chicken, steak, vegetables, shrimp, a spoon.
Let’s start by talking a little bit about steak, and how to cook it at home. Before you even start your meal, you need to know how to buy steak and what those stickers on the package mean.
If you are lucky enough to be cozy with your local butcher, you can disregard this next bit of trivia. If you buy your steaks at the grocery store, you’ll need to know this in order to get an amazing steak on to your dinner plate.
While I’m the first in line to let everyone know that cheap cuts of meat can turn in to fantastic meals, this is not a dish that will give you memorable results with low quality beef. You must spend on steak.
That being said, the most expensive cuts of meat aren’t always worth the price but knowing how to decipher the labeling will help you balance price vs quality.
Prime, Choice, and Select.
Prime is the best meat for that cut and will, most likely, taste the best once cooked, but it almost always cost the most.
Don’t even bother with Select, it’s the lowest quality of meat. Unless you are a "well-done" steak person, then it doesn’t really matter, an overcooked piece of meat taste the same regardless of quality.
Choice is a great option and a middle ground between price and quality if you are on a budget. It’s far better than Select, but not as expensive as Prime.
Don’t fall for the “Inspected by USDA” sticker, all meat is inspected by the USDA and that sticker just means that quality was so poor, it didn’t even qualify for a "Select" sticker. If there is no indication if the meat is Prime, Choice or Select, the odds are that the meat didn’t meet standards for any of those categories. In other words: don’t buy an unmarked steak.
Another important step in pan-searing a steak at home is removing excess moisture from the outside of the steak. I know that it seems counter-intuitive to remove moisture when the goal is a juicy steak, but this is the only way to get a good sear and avoid gray meat. Pat the steak dry with paper towels before seasoning it.
Salt is another essential component in making steak, regardless of the cooking method. Salt the outside of your meat generously. This will tenderize the steak, brighten, and enhance the natural flavors. Without it, your meat will be slightly tougher and have much more of a "flat" taste to it.
A hot pan and a 350°F degree oven is the combination that you need to achieve a crust on the outside and the perfect amount of pink on the inside of the steak.
Doneness is a hard thing to explain, but there are several ways to know if your steak is where you want it to be without the dreaded slice through the middle that will compromise your overall results.
First, there is the temperature check, but this does require a stab to your meat which will allow some juices to flow out, but far less than cutting it open. Get out an oven-safe thermometer and push it halfway through the middle of your steak. Keep in mind that your meat will continue to cook an additional 5 degrees once remove from the oven so keep that in mind when your test the temperature, removing the meat about 5 degrees before it reaches the level you want it.
131°F Medium Rare
154°F Medium Well
The second way is the feel test. This is what I use, and if you cook enough steak, you will be familiar with how your steaks feel once they are done. Here is an old line cook secret to understanding how a steak should feel once it’s done:
Put your thumb and forefinger together. With your other hand, feel the fleshy part of your palm, just below your thumb. That is what a rare steak will feel like. Then put your thumb and middle finger together. The fleshy part of your palm will now feel medium-rare. Thumb and ring finger: medium-well. This is a way to get the doneness you want without having the unsightly cut marks in your beautiful steak.
Here is a great article about the feel test, with pictures of what I’m talking about.
Allow your steak to rest for five minutes while you finish the sauce.
Top each steak with mushroom sauce, serve with stout beer.
In a pan over medium heat, melt 3 tbs butter. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft and dark brown, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil if the pan starts to get dry. If you add the beer before the mushrooms are cooked through, they will absorb too much of the beer flavor.
Reduce heat to medium and add the beer and broth, allow to cook until reduce by more than half, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. You can cook the steaks while the sauce is reducing (see below).
Once the sauce has reduced, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel, and season all sides generously with salt. Sprinkle liberally with pepper.
In a sperate pan, heat 1 tbs butter until melted and the pan is very hot but not smoking. Add the steaks and cook on each side until a brown seared crust has formed, about 2 minutes per side. Don't crowd the pan or the the cooking temperature will fall below what the steaks need for a good sear. Cook in two batches if necessary. Move steaks to a sheet pan or baking dish.
Cook in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until desired level of doneness. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.
The phrase, "If I had a gun to my head, and was forced to choose between [A. non-imporant thing] and [B. non-important thing]…" is hilarious.
Maybe it’s because I’m all hopped up on caffeine and DayQuil, but the thought of some masked man running around with a fire arm demanding that someone choose between Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds fills me with the giggles.
The image I have is of a cartoon man, a hybrid of The Hamburgler and a bank robber from Ducktales running rampant through a mall, guns flying: "EDWARD OR JACOB!?!" It’s like a real life game of Would You Rather? with disastrous consequences.
So lets say that I someday meet this striped shirt, leather newsboy cap wearing, eye-masked character and he forces, yes, FORCES me to choose between chocolate and caramel…my choice would be caramel. * Sigh * I’m so sorry chocolate, but I had a GUN to my HEAD.
Coconut Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
In a pot over high heat, melt the sugar and corn syrup. Stir until melted, then stop stirring, allowing to boil untouched. You will start to see the edges of the sauce turn a dark amber, while the center is still clear. Swirl the pan, without stirring, to redistribute the sugar so the edges don’t cook faster than the middle. Once the entire pot is an amber color and you can smell the caramel flavors, remove the pan from the heat (about 8-10 minutes). Stir in the butter, the sauce will bubble up furiously. Add the coconut milk and stir until well combined. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Store in the fridge in an air tight container.
There are food and activity parings that strongly associate in our minds, food that will always be linked to a specific occasion. Crab cakes remind me of weddings, Ritz Crackers and Cheddar Cheese squares are paired with trips to the river, Chicken Salad Sandwiches are for bridal/baby showers and Buffalo sauce is for sports watchin'. Can you even hear that word and not want to put on a team jersey?