Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hefeweizen Marmalade

Stir a little bit of booze into your breakfast! A marmalade has been on my "to create" list for a while now. The arrival of the Beeroness' cookbook finally prompted me to plough ahead. The chance to add beer or bourbon to a recipe is usually all the motivation I need.

Jackie recommends a hefeweizen, preferably one with notes of citrus and clove. A witbier, traditionally brewed with corriander and orange peel, would compliment the marmalade nicely, but I fear the more subtle beer notes would get lost among the sugar and citrus. Serve that one alongside for a lovely food pairing instead. Many pale ales will fit the bill, especially those with strong citrus notes. A saison would add a twist of spice. Steer clear of any uber hoppy beers, as the extensive boiling times may make for a very bitter marmalade.

I opted for Widmer's Hefe

recipe adapted from The Craft Beer Cookbook by Jacqueline Dodd

yields about 2 pints

The Ingredients:
2 - 12 oz bottles hefeweizen
1 lb (about 2) navel oranges
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1/2 lemon, juiced and zest finely grated

The Process:
Thoroughly scrub the oranges. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the oranges into 1/8-inch rounds. Remove and discard any seeds as you go. Stack the slices and cut into quarters or sixths.

Wrap the cloves in a cheesecloth bundle tied with kitchen twine.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the beer, oranges, sugar, and clove packet. Bring the mixture up to a simmer (about 190°F). Simmer for 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and let stand overnight.

Remove and discard the clove packet. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, about 180°F, and maintain for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The orange rind should be tender and begin to turn transculent. After 2 hours, add the lemon juice and zest. Return the mixture to a gentle simmer, between 185°F and 200°F, for 20-30 minutes.

Place a small plate in the freezer.
Bring the orange mixture to full boil, and stir continually, until it reaches about 222°F.  Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly and will wrinkle when touched. If mixture is thin and runs easily, continue to boil until the marmalade reaches the gel stage.
Ladle into sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Gently stir to remove air bubbles. Wipe rims of jars clean and top with lids, screwing them finger tight (not TOO tight). Submerge filled jars in a water bath of boiling water and boil for 5-7 minutes (process times may vary by elevation).

Remove from water bath and allow to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hopleaf's Beligan-Style Steamed Mussels

A few weeks back Ross and I headed to Chicago for a mini break. Highly recommended by many friends was a stop at Hopleaf, for both their extensive Belgian beer list and for their steamed mussels. We were not disappointed.

The description alone on their menu is nearly all you need to recreate the dish at home, adjusting seasoning to your personal taste. A brief search yielded two very similar recipes. Hopleaf uses Wittekerke by Brouwerij de Bradandere to steam the mussels. I opted to use the same, though many excellent witbiers and wheats abound these days. As an homage to Chicago, dinner was paired with Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

adapted from recipes at Time-out and Restaurants.com

yields 2 main course servings

The Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves, bruised
leaves of 3-4 thyme sprigs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 pounds Prince Edward Island mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
12 oz witbier or wheat beer
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

The Process:
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, celery and shallots, sauté until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaves, sauté an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the shallots and celery are translucent.

Stir in the beer, butter, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and immediately cover. Simmer 3-4 minutes, or until most of the mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels. Season broth with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve alongside a good, crusty bread to sop up the broth and a cone of piping hot pomme frites with garlic aioli.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Creole style Salmon

Last summer Ross and I ventured to Seattle for our first true vacation in a very long time. Many a beer was sample. Great times were had with friends. And pounds of fresh seafood were consumed. As a thank you to our friends who put us up for a few evenings, I agreed to cook dinner for the lot of us. Ross and I were heading to Mt. Rainier in the morning. One of our friends, who works at Pike Place Market, agreed to pick up whatever struck her fancy when her shift was up. What I was to cook would be a complete surprise.

We arrived back at their house to 3 pounds of wild caught Alaskan salmon and several snow crab clusters. Apparently she had received the cute shop girl discount...all totalled the haul came to about $40.

This recipe was born:

The Ingredients:
3 lb salmon, skin on
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
1 Tbsp Creole or Cajun seasoning
1 lemon, thinly sliced
salt and pepper

The Process:
 Preheat oven to 400

Generously oil a baking dish large enough to accommodate the salmon fillet(s). Lay the fish, skin side down, in the dish. Generously sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Layer lemon slices on top.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery until fragrant and just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add peppers and sauté  an additional 2-3 minutes. Add diced canned tomatoes along with juice to the saucepan. Add the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

Spoon vegetables over the top of the salmon. Bake, uncovered, at 400 for 15-20 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily.

Serve with crusty bread, or alongside rice and a fresh salad dressed in vinaigrette.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

My first attempt at a Gingerbread House and 
one of our last projects of 2013.  Keep and eye out for the post next winter!

I apologize, dear readers.  Thank you for sticking out this lengthy dry spell with me.  This blog began as a New Year's resolution to push myself to try new recipes, step out of my comfort zone, and play more in the kitchen.  I have continued to do so with fervor.  Unfortunately, as life caught up the blog fell by the wayside.

Despite that, 2013 yielded some incredibly tasty treats.  I found myself playing around more with beer in recipes as I learn more about brewing and beer styles.  Seafood became the highlight of my week this spring and early summer, as Ross would stop by a fish monger to procure the challenge for that evening's dinner.  A mere 61 recipes were posted.  A far cry from the 100 I set out for.  Some of the highlights:

Beer Pretzel Toffee
Clams in a Green Curry Coconut Broth
Hawaiian Rum Punch (a Pinterest favorite it would appear!)
Lemon Parmesan Orzo with Seared Scallops
Coconut Brown Ale Pancakes with Coconut Cream and Toasted Macadamia nuts
Osso Bucco Sea Bass
Plum Semifreddo 
Sour Braised Beef with Polenta Fries

No major misses this year, though a few dishes came out a little uninspired.  Baking certainly seemed lacking this past year.  As did sides and salads.

The first few months of 2014 will be a little slow to get under way as I continue to juggle far too many tasks in the air.  But there will always be time for cooking.  As the snow melts away the posts should become more frequent.  

What will 2014 bring?  Beer ice cream in several variations is in the works.  And some baked goods using spent grains from brewing.  More seafood.  And hopefully several more quick bites and snacks.

Thank you for sticking around!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins with a Streusel Topping

Our CSA continues to delight us with more berries than we can keep up with!  While I love the thought of frozen berries to enjoy later this year once the summer bounty diminishes, it seems such a shame to not use up as many as possible while at their peek of freshness.  With a double batch of berries in hand, I could think of no better idea than to play around with a few muffin mixtures.

The end result is a hodge podge of three recipes I tinkered with.  The batter is thick, almost the consistency of co

okie dough.  At first I found this a bit frustrating, particularly when I attempted to fill the muffin tin.  But in the end the thick batter resulted in muffins evenly studded with fruit, instead of a mess of berries submerged at the bottom.

A sprinkle of sugar spiked with lemon zest makes a bright wonderful topping, but I am a sucker for a good streusel.  Nothing really beats the Better Homes and Gardens version...

Inspired by Alton Brown, Confessions of a Baking Queen the BHG cookbook and Smitten Kitchen

The Ingredients:
for the muffins
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sliced or quartered strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries

for the topping
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter

The Process:
preheat the oven to 380

Line a 12 ct muffin tin with paper liners or generously mist each cup with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Beat in the egg until well combined.  Mix in the yogurt, milk, vanilla and zest.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix in half of the dry into the wet until well combined.  Sift in the remaining dry ingredients in to batter, until just mixed.  Fold in the berries.

For the topping, in a small bowl combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, fill the cups of the muffin tin approximately 3/4 full.  Sprinkle with topping.
  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pan once while baking.

Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sour Braised Beef with Polenta Fries

Some mornings I spend the entire bus ride to work day dreaming about what to concoct for dinner.  I have taken to carrying a notebook about with me (finally) lest I be hit with an idea unprepared. The inspiration for this dish first came about after an amazing beer dinner at Stout's Pub in Roseville, featuring the skills of chef Daniel Parker and the wonderful ales of Ommegang.  Five courses and several drinks in, we were served an amazingly fork tender mound of meat accompanied by bacon fried potatoes and sweet and sour onions.  The beef had been braised in Curvee Brut to compliment the sour cherry hints in the Three Philosopher's that was paired with the course.  Daniel lamented the lack of tartness to come through in the braising process.  Thus the sweet and sour onions served alongside.  Daniel truly had little to lament.  The dish was the highlight of the dinner for me.

Vamping off that...and out a desire to have a bit of leftover beef for a recipe down the road...I turned to a classic beef carbonnade, but with a much, much more sour beer.  The cooking time can be reduced slightly by cutting the beef down into smaller chunks, but I opted to stick with a full roast.  Look for a cut of meat with a lot of fat marbled throughout.

For the beer, Flanders red and oud bruins are a good place to start. I found myself looking towards the Rodenbach Grand Cru.
 This is a sour I can never seem to get enough of. The result was amazing.  Because of the acidity of the beer, there was no need to add vinegar as many recipe variants recommend.  The sour dissipates to an earthly, slightly tart flavor that perfectly compliments the sweet caramelized onions and rich fat of the bacon.

The cooking process generated far, far more jus than I was anticipating.  But you know what?  After dinner is done, skim the fat off of the remaining juices and transfer it--onions, bacon bits, and all--to the fridge.  The next day, heat it up, ladle it into a ramekin and top with a bit of crusty bread and some Gruyère.  After a quick trip under the broiler, you'll be treated to an amazing twist on French onion soup...

beef carbonnade adapted from chef Charlie Palmer and Saveur
polenta fries adapted from Epicurious

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
for the beef
3 lb beef chuck roast
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
4 Tbsp butter
4 slices of bacon, coarsely chopped
3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cup sour beer such as a Flanders red ale
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf

for the polenta fries
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 Parmesan (optional)
additional salt for sprinkling

The Process:
 Generously season the beef with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.

 In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and brown, 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer beef to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Add the bacon to the same pot and cook until most of the fat renders, 6-8 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining butter, along with the onions and garlic.  Cook until the onions have caramelized, about 30 minutes (long, low and slow is key).

Add half of the ale to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced slightly.    Whisk together remaining beer, broth and sugar.  Return the beef to the pot.  Add the herbs and pour the beer mixture over top.  Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

Slice or shred to serve.

for the polenta fries:
Combine the milk and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the mixture comes to a simmer, whisk in cornmeal and salt.  Cook the mixture until thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the butter and Parmesan.

Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with a coat of non-stick cooking spray.  Once the polenta has thicken, pour in to prepared dish.  Spread into an even thickness, smoothing the surface out as much as possible.  Cover and chill 30-45 minutes, or until the polenta has set.

Preheat the broiler and place the oven rack 4-6 inches from the heat.

Carefully turn out the polenta onto a large cutting surface.  Cut crosswise into four even rectangles.   Cut each rectangle into 10- 12 even strips.  Line cut polenta onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bring the fries with oil and generously sprinkle with salt.

Broil, flipping once, about 10 minutes per side or until evenly browned.

Serve immediately with beef and juices.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Plum Semifreddo

Dear lord, the heat!  After the torrential rains of late June, the sunny skies are a blessing, but how I wouldn't love to be on a lake most days right now!  A vacation to slightly cooler, Northwesternly climates is just around the bend.  So in the meantime we make due with some chilly desserts to beat the heat.  A batch of beer ice (recipe coming soon, I swear...) left me with several egg whites to use up.  And this semifreddo recipe had just happened to catch my eye a few days earlier.

I have a soft spot in my heart for plums and plum jams.  For years, Gramma made the most amazing jam out of fruit from her backyard.  The nostalgia was worth the brief time standing over that simmering fruit in a scalding hot kitchen.

Everything comes together wonderfully quick; the rest is all self control as the dessert freezes.  With its healthy dose of heavy cream and sugar, this dessert is by no means light, but the texture will deceive you.  This semifreddo is a cloud spike with ribbons of tart plum. 

adapted from bon appetit

serves 8

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds red plums, pitted and cut into chunks
1 black cardamom pod, crushed
1 cup sugar, divided
Kosher salt
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy

The Process:
Mist a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang on all sides. Chill until ready to use.

Combine plums, cardamom, 1/3 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until plums release their juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until plums soften and start to fall apart, 6–8 minutes longer. Let cool slightly. 

Purée the plum mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender until very smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much pulp as possible. Chill. Set aside 1 cup purée for serving.  The rest will be folded into the semifreddo.

Whisk egg whites, a pinch of salt, and remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a double boiler or a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Heat, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 4 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan. Add vanilla and, using an electric mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment set on high speed, whisk until mixture is tripled in volume, glossy, and completely cool, about 10 minutes.

In  another medium bowl whip the chilled cream until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of whipped cream into the  egg whites mixture until just combined. Fold in remaining whipped cream until just combined. Fold in plum purée, leaving large streaks throughout mixture.  The mixture will continue to mix and marble when poured in to the loaf pan. 

Transfer mixture to prepared pan and smooth top. Fold plastic wrap overhang over top and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.

Unwrap semifreddo and using plastic overhang, gently lift from pan. Invert and slice into 1" portions.

Spoon reserved plum puree over top and serve