Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Harvest Root Vegetable Stew

Root vegetables are filler.  Peasant food.  Cheap.  Heavy.  Starchy. Sustaining.  Absolutely delicious.  And oh so plentiful this time of year.  We sadly received the last of our boxes from our CSA farm last week.  But boy, howdy was it heavy.  Three or four types of potatoes, parsnip, carrots, rutabaga, turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes,leeks, squash...

All that I love best about fall.

This recipe is sort of a garbage casserole.  Really.  Anything goes.  Particularly if it is starchy.  Throw it in.  The end result will probably be tastier than you expected.

the recipe is my own

serves 6-8

The Ingredients:
3 Tbsp butter
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 leeks, whites sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 cup apple cider (NOT hard cider)
1 1/2 cups beer
3-4 small russet potatoes,cubed or quartered
2-3 red potatoes, cubed or quartered
1 small sweet potato, cubed
2-3 small turnips, cubed or qaurter4ed 
2-3 carrots, cut into 1 inch coins
2-3 parsnips, cut into 1 inch coins
1-2 radishes, quartered
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

The Process:
In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and leeks until the garlic is fragrant  the leeks are tender, 5-7 minutes.  Pour in the  cider and beer, deglazing the bottom of the pan.

Add the vegetables and seasonings.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover Simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the liquid reduced by about  one third.

Serve hot with cheddar and ale biscuits.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Pumpkin Beer" Pumpkin Bread

Fall very, very quickly encroached upon this part of the world.  In a blink of an eye September...and soon now October... is over.  I'm well behind in posting here.  And for a brief while, we were also running behind on home brewing. But Life seems to have found a balance again...

Last year we brewed a pumpkin ale via an extract kit.  The recipe provided alternative directions for brewing the beer with added mashed pumpkin.  Still feeling like novices, Ross and I opted for the simpler route.

This year we upped the ante.  Two extract kits were purchased.  One we brewed as is.  The second batch had the additions of mashed pumpkin and 3 more pounds of grain (that's quite a bit to steep in our 5 gallon pot!)

So far both worts appear much the same.  The taste comparison in six weeks should be interesting.

After the wort was strained I was left with well over three cups of mashed pumpkin infused with barley notes from the boil.  Rather than see that all go to waste, I'm made quick work of it...turning the pulp into two loaves of pumpkin bread.

The title is perhaps a wee bit misleading, as no actual beer was used in the making of this recipe.  But, waste not, want not.  Perhaps the next batch of pumpkin bread will enjoy a little leavening from our very own pumpkin brew.

Any pumpkin puree would do in the recipe.

adapted from Elise's recipe at Simply Recipes

yields two loaves

The Ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp baksing soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 cups pumpkin puree

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Throughly grease two 9x5x3 loaf pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and whisk by hand until well incorporated.  (do not worry about over mixing if you are doing this by hand...it is a lot harder to do than you'd think!)

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in to the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool at least thirty minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Beer Biscuits

I am on a beer cooking kick at the moment.  There are a few to blame for this.  First, the Better Beer Society for tasking us, the students, with pairing a harvest beer with a meal.  Second, the breweries for continuing to release such wonderful and inspiring harvest beers.  Third, our CSA for loading our last boxes to overflowing with sweet potatoes, squash and other amzaing fall bounty.  And fourth, the Beeroness, Jackie, for continually posting such mouth watering recipes.

A perfect storm...

adapted from Jackie at the Beeroness

yields approximately 10 biscuits

The Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and mashed (about 3/4 cup)
2/3 cup ale (pumpkin, Oktoberfest or hefenweizen)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup chilled butter (1 stick) cubed
additional butter, melted, for brushing

for the maple sage butter
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1-2 sage leaves, finely minced

1 tsp pure maple syrup.

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 425

In a medium bowl, mash the beer and sweet potato together until well combined.

In a second bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon.  Using a pastry cutter or your fingers add the butter, mixing and cutting until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour and mix until just combined.  Using well floured hands, roll the dough into a ball and turn out onto a well floured work surface.  Flatten and shape the dough into a rectangle about 6x14-inches and  about  1 1/2 inch thick.  Using a floured knife, divide the dough into 10 equal rectangles.  Transfer the biscuits to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush generously with melted butter.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash remaining butter, sage and maple syrup together in a small bowl.  Form into a small pad and chill until ready to use.

Serve the biscuits warm with flavored butter.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ginger Cardamom Chicken Marinated with Pumpkin Ale

This recipe was served alongside yesterday's curried squash as part of a beer paring assignment.  While the curry was stellar on its own, I rarely turn up the opportunity to actually COOK with the beer.  Upping the ante a bit for the homework, I incorporated the beer of choice directly into the recipe.

Brooklyn's Post Road Pumpkin Ale:

The beer has a wonderful spice aroma that I wanted to play up in the chicken.  As the poultry was paired with a curry for dinner, I opted to keep the spice palate fairly tight.  Instead of using  broader more complex flavor of the garam masala blend used in the curry, I choose to focus on the cardamom and ginger.  The beer does not contribute much flavor, but played a key role in tenderizing the meat.  In the end the flavor was fairly simple...only a subtle hint of spice with a warmth from the ginger...but it was by far one of the juiciest and most tender boneless, skinless chicken breast recipes I've tried to date.

I used whole cardamom pods in this recipe, but feel free to substitute the ground spice instead.  Start with 1 1/2 tsp and adjust to your liking.

the recipe is my own

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 - inch knob of fresh ginger, minced
1 black cardamom pod
6-8 green cardamom pods
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
10 oz pumpkin ale

The Process
Dry roast the caradmom pods in a small skillet over high heat, until lightly toasted and very fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Once cool, coasrely crush with the side of a knife or with a mortar and pestle.  Combine all of the marinade ingredients into a gallon-sized zip-top bag.  Add the chicken.  Refridgerate and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour (mine bathed in the beer for almost seven).

Preheat the broiler or grill.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, discard the marinade.  Grill the chicken for 10-15 minutes, or until no longer pink, turning once (internal temperature should read 170F).  Serve.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Curried Squash

This past week I was tasked with pairing a meal with a harvest beer.  I'm not quite sure they realize the potential monster they released with this charge...

At our last beer session, we were treated to five samples.  The one that struck me the most was Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale.  As with most pumpkin ales, a heavy spice hit the nose first.  I braced myself for another cloyingly sweet, wannabe pumpkin pie concoction and was humbled and shamed by what I actually tasted.  First the spice hit my tongue, but not the typical pumpkin pie spice...it was warm, and familiar.  The flavor lingered and danced on the tip of my tongue, toying and teasing...not quite being placed. Another sip in...cardamom.   Oh, cinnamon and nutmeg joined the pas de trio, but the cardamom was star.  Supported by a dry, malty backbone, I was in pure heaven.  And had a serious craving for curry.

Thus this recipe was born.

Sadly, Weyberbacher was not to be had.  However a similarly spiced and not overly sweet ale found its way into it's place...Brooklyn's Post Road Pumpkin Ale.

I had many squash on hand to choice from.  A buttery and tender acorn squash.  Robust, but mild pumpkin.  Slightly sweet butternut.  Nutty and melt in you mouth red kuri...

As fall seems dominated by pumpkin and butternut, and as I did not want the sweeter notes these to squash tend to lend, I chose the red kuri and a smaller acorn to create the dish.  The result was buttery and nutty, with a hint of sweetness from the coconut to balance the dryness of the inspiring beer and a complex dance of warm spice from the garam masala.  The ginger lingered in the back.

Served on its own, or with a hearty piece or two of naan to sop up the sauces, this dish makes for a wonderful fall meal.

the recipe is my own

serves 6-8

The Ingredients:
2 Tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1 red onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2" knob of fresh ginger, minced
2 Tbsp garam masala
1/2 vegetable or chicken stock
1 - 15 oz can coconut milk
8 cups dished squash (pumpkin, acorn, red kuri, butternut and delicacta ...)
salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
Heat the oil or ghee in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.   Add the onions, garlic and ginger.  Saute until until soft and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garam maslam and stir until well combined.
Add the cubed squash, broth and coconut milk.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer on low for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  Uncover and simmer and additional 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
 Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tempting Tomato Sauce

The tomatoes are here! The tomatoes are here! Well...were here.  During that long break I took I was blessed with several pounds...POUNDS...of tomatoes from our CSA farm.   In the end I believe I handled nearly one hundred pounds of the bright red fruit.  Sixty pounds of romas were crushed, canned and put up for the winter.  Several beefsteaks and heirlooms were sliced up and enjoyed with just a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  A creamy tomato bisque graced our dinner table another evening.  But still the tomatoes kept coming. 

My fall back became to roast them with garlic, peppers and onions and blend the mixture into an wonderfully rich sauce.   I got into the habit of slicing up as many tomatoes I had to fill up two baking dishes.   Whatever vegetables I deemed worthy would join the  mix...usually onions, peppers, once or twice a carrot.  The occasional small eggplant. Maybe some zucchini.  Herbs I played fast and loose with too.  And the wine?  Usually a dry white, but a red occasionally made a nice change of pace.  And in the end I stopped bothering with that whole seeding and skinning business.  The immersion blender blade did a fair job of getting the skins stuck up in it, so I never bothered trying to strain out the few that didn't managed to get jammed.  And the seeds?  Well, I'm lazy and the texture and flavor they added didn't bother me in the slightest.  The only thing I made certain to do was salt it well.  I had a tendency to go a little to easy on the salt early on...

 I believe I needn't worry about open a store bought jar of sauce for many, many more months...

adapted from Alton Brown

yields about 4-5 cups

The Ingredients:
15-20 fresh tomatoes.  Romas work best
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
several sprigs of thyme
several fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
1 cup dry white wine

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and cram into two 9x13 inch pans.  Divide the onions, peppers garlic and herbs evenly between the two pans.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about two hours.  Increase the oven temperature to 400 and bake an additional thirty minutes. 

Scrap the roasted tomatoes and veggies into a large stock pot along with the wine.  Heat over medium-high heat, bringing to a gentle simmer.  Cook, stirring continually, for 10 minutes.  Blend to a puree using an immersion blender directly in the pot, or transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Season to taste with addition salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with your favorite pasta, ladle into plastic to freeze for later, or jar and process in a pressure cooker to preserve in the pantry.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Boozy Vanilla French Toast

This recipe is so stellar I've tried it twice over all ready.  

You can thank Jackie at the Beeroness.  I adore her so....

As per usual, I attempted to track down her beer recommendation, but only with moderate success.  She based the French toast on Stone's Vanilla bean Smoked Porter

 Ross and I hit up our favorite local liquor store and their stellar craft brew selection.  We were mildly let down.  On hand was a bottle of Stone's Smoked Porter, but not the vanilla bean edition.  (after poking around a little more I discovered this same porter was also brewed with chipotle...oh the fiesta we could have!)

I grabbed the bottle, my mind a whirl about how to up the vanilla essence without detracting from the smoky beer notes.  Lost in thought, I almost passed up the vanilla imbided beer sitting next to the porter...Abita's Vanilla Doubledog...a 25th anniversary beer based on their Turbo dog.  I almost squirreled the beer away to enjoy by myself, french toast be damned!

I'm glad I didn't

Each beer offered a unique taste, and I am wary to pick a favorite.  You'll have to decide for yourself. The Stone offered a deeper more rounded flavor...calling to mind campfires and toasted marshmallow.  The Abita was a sweeter variation.

adapted from the Beeroness

serves 6-8

The Ingredients
1 cup milk
2/3 cup porter or dark ale with caramel notes
1/2 cup vanilla sugar*
3 eggs
1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract**
2 tbs butter (plus additional as needed)
1 large loaf of crusty Italian bread, cut into 1 inch thick slices

*vanilla sugar is simply sugar that has shared a container with a vanilla bean or two.  cooking with vanilla pods, instead of tossing the spent pod, I allow it to dry and then stick into an mason jar full of sugar.  Within a few days the sugars takes on a wonderfully rich vanilla flavor

**if you do happen to find a beer with vanilla essence, reduce the extract to 1 tsp.  

The Process
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and add enough oil or butter to well coat the surface.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, beer, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

One at a time, dip the bread into the batter, thoroughly coating both sides.  Add to the skillet and fry, flipping once,  until golden brown, (2-3 minutes per side).  Keep warm in a pre-heated oven and repeat with remaining bread.  Serve warm.   With Bacon.