Sunday, April 28, 2013

Coconut Brown Ale Pancakes with Coconut Cream and Toasted Macadamia Nuts

Back in college I was fortunate to be introduced to decent local and craft beers pretty early in my drinking history.  Stevens Point Brewery was well established and well loved among the city and college.  Back then the beer list was much smaller than the current selection, with Point Special and Amber being the best know of their flagship. And their sodas!   They had just released their root beer; black cherry and vanilla cream were close on the horizon.  My second experience with a dark beer, after Guinness of course, was a dunkel...part of their Augsburger line, sadly now defunct.  Another favorite seasonal beer at the time was the Bock, not that I remember the beer so much as the event that surrounded it.  Every spring, around the first weekend on March, Point hosted a pancake breakfast to celebrate the release.  Pancakes made with Bock beer.  Sadly, this brew has also been discontinued, but the Bock legacy lives on in the Steven Point Bock Run every spring.

I've been toying with a few beer pancake a recipes for a while now.  However, an incredibly inspiring class taught by Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton finally pushed me to act.

The beer that inspired this recipe is a nut brown ale, infused with coconut--Koko Brown by Kona Brewing.  This beer is becoming more and more readily available throughout the country.  If a coconut brown ale is nowhere to be had, any brown ale would work, but do substitute coconut extract for the vanilla.

The browned butter and dry malt extract in the pancakes help to enhance the nutty quality of the ale, as do the toasted macadamia nuts sprinkled on top.  To ramp up the coconut, without overpowering the pancake, I served the cakes up with toasted coconut and whipped coconut cream.

Textures are played up as well.  The pancake is slightly thin, but still fluffy.  The toasted nuts and flaked coconut offer a lovely crunch and the whipped coconut cream calls to mind the fluffy head of the beer.

Enjoy with the remaining Koko brown or a coffee stout.

The recipe is my own

yields about 12 pancakes

The Ingredients:
for the pancakes
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp dry malt extract, dark
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla or coconut extract
1 cup coconut brown ale
3 Tbsp butter

for the crunchy topping
3 Tbsp macadamia nuts
1/4 cup flaked coconut, unsweetened

for the coconut cream
1 - 15 oz can full fat coconut milk (LITE DOES NOT WORK!!)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp sugar

 The Process:
for the coconut cream
Place the unopened can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.

Once chilled, open and spoon out the thick cream that has separated to the top.  Reserve the liquid for another use.

In a chilled bowl, whip the coconut cream with the sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Keep chilled until ready to use.

For the topping:
Coarsely chop the nuts and flaked coconut.  Place in a dry, ungreased skillet over medium heat and toast  until fragrant and lightly browned, 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and set aside

For the Pancakes:
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes golden brown in color with a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, dry malt extract, sugar and baking powder.  In another bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla and beer.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in the browned butter.

Grease a large skillet and preheat it over medium high heat.  Spoon the pancake batter into the pan, using about 3 Tbsp- 1/4 cup per pancake.  Cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes each side.

Serve warm with toasted topping and coconut cream.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Maple Apple Bacon Pork roast

 Sweet, salty, smokey and just a little bit of spice...this may be one of the best pork roasts I've concocted to date!

The recipe is my own

The Ingredients:
2-6 lb boneless pork roast, preferably a rib end roast
1 Tbsp of your favorite spice rub per lb
1 Tbsp brown sugar per lb
1 Tbsp maple syrup per lb
1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
6-8 sliced hickory smoked bacon

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 325

In a small bowl combine 1 Tbsp each of the spice rub, brown sugar and maple syrup for every pound of roast.  Mash into a thick paste and spread over the entire roast.  Place the apple slices on top of the coated roast in slightly overlapping layers.

 Lay the bacon diagonally over the top, weaving into a lattice.

Place the roast in a roasting pan and cook, uncovered, for about 25-30 minutes per pound or until the interior temperature reaches 145 (160 for well done), and the bacon has begun to crisp.  Remove from the oven and loosely tent with foil.  Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Nectarine and Cashew Cream Tart *gluten and mostly dairy free*

Spring, where have you gone?  No where near Minneapolis by the look of the snow outside.  Such a shame too...right around this time every year the need for fruit tarts hits.  Something about the hopeful warm breeze of a pending summer, I suppose.  Not so much this year.  But when it comes to sharing this need for a light summer-kissed dessert with co-workers, I run into two obstacles.  Gluten and dairy. 

Gluten is actually a fairly easy obstacle to work around.  A good nut crust goes a long way.  The dairy was a little trickier.  I love a thin schmear of cream cheese whipped with honey and a bit of spice layered on top of my tart crust.  Not an option here.  However, I while back I came across a sour cream substitute that consisted largely of soaked and pureed cashews.  After a bit of searching, I found this lovely cream spread substitute.  I was thrilled by how much it thickened up over night!

The tart below does make use of butter in the crust, however margarine would work in a pinch.

This recipe is not a last minute project.  The tart itself does not take much time to assemble, but a lot of the recipe is spent waiting for nuts to soak, creams to thicken, fruit to soak up a boozy syrupy goodness and crusts to cool.  Plan accordingly...

crust adapted from Krissy's Creations
cashew cream adapted from Tasty Eats at Home

serves 12

The Ingredients:
for the crust
2 cups blanched almonds
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar

for the cashew cream
1 cups cashews
1 1/2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp almond butter
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

for the nectarine topping
2 nectarines, thinly sliced
1/3 peach or nectarine jam
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp bourbon

The Process:
recommended timeline:
Day one: soak the cashews for the cashew cream
Day two: make the crust, cream and topping
Day three: assemble the tart

for the crust
Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Sift through a wide sieve to sort out any remaining large bits.  Place the ground almonds in a small bowl and combine with the  butter, sugar, and salt.  Massage until the mixture will resembles wet sand.  Press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-10  inch tart pan or pie plate.

Loosely tent the crust with aluminum foil and  bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the crust turns golden brown, about 10-15 more minutes.  Remove the crust from the oven and allow  to completely. 

for the cashew cream
In a medium bowl completely cover the cashews with clean water.  Soak, covered, overnight.  Drain the  cashews and combine with the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Refrigerate for at least four hours or preferably overnight.

for the topping:
Place the nectarines in a shallow bowl and set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine the jam, bourbon and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Pour the jam mixture over the the sliced nectarines. Cover and chill overnight.

to assemble the tart:
Spoon the cashew cream into the crust and spread into an even layer about 1/2 inch thick.  Arrange the nectarine slices in concentric circles on top of the cream.  Drizzle with the syrup the fruit was soaking in.  Serve immediately.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Martha Stewart's Scalloped Potatoes

Ham dinners wouldn't be complete without a side of scalloped or au gratin potatoes.  I've had mixed luck with these dishes in the past.  Often, towards the end of baking the sauce will begin to clump or congeal instead of keeping its creamy consistency.  The lack of flour and short boil in milk helps resolve these problems in this version.

Almost any cheese will work as well, though I opted to stick with this mild Gruyere.  I love the slightly funky smell of the cheese, and the slight nuttiness it offers.  Gruyere isn't quite as pungent as Swiss, it melts and browns beautifully, and the flavor blends right into the smooth, creamy base.

Recommended beer pairing: a funky saison or spicy witbier.  The Gruyere in the potatoes has a distinct nuttiness that is complimented by the crisp wheat backbone and spicy yeast character of these beers.  Saisons will often lend a grassy or hay-like finish, while the witbier leans towards coriander and citrus spice.  The crispness of both will help cut through the richness of all of that cream...

adapted from Martha Stewart

serves 10-14

The Ingredients:
3 pounds Yukon  potatoes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cups milk
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp butter, softened
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

The Process
Preheat oven to 325.

Peel the potatoes and slice them paper thin.

In a large saucepan set over high heat, combine the sliced potatoes, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 3 minutes

Place a colander over a large bowl and drain the potatoes, reserving about 2 cups of the milk.

Rub a 9 x 13 baking dish with 1 Tbsp butter. Arrange sliced potatoes and onions in the baking dish, sprinkle generously with  pepper. Dot with remaining 2 Tbsp of butter.  Pour the reserved milk and heavy cream over the top.  Sprinkle evenly with Gruyere.  

Bake, uncovered, until cheese toasts to a deep golden brown, the potatoes are tender and sauce has thickened, about 80 to 90 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tangerine-Glazed Ham

Ham is an interesting meat.  Hickory smoke and salt overwhelm the flavors.  A mighty powerful glaze is needed to cut through all of the fat and salt to compliment and play off of the whole.  Sweet pairs well with the smokey.  And citrus manages to cut through the rich smokey flavors to bring a bit of balance.  It's a fine line.  One I truly enjoy playing with round about this time every year.

Sage brings a nice burst of earthy fragrance to the super sweet tangerine glaze.  I adored the carrots sopping up all of the flavor as they simmered below during the last half hour of cooking.   And the tangerine rings are absolutely edible.

Recommended beer pairing: a Belgian Tripel or strong Pale Ale.  The high carbonation will help cut through the richness of the meat, while the citrus-y spice from the yeast will compliment the tangerine. 

adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe

serves 10-12

The Ingredients:
1 - 8 to 10-pound smoked ham, bone-in, skin on  
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut in chunks 
4-6  tangerines
1 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves 
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 pounds baby carrots

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 300

Place the ham on the rack of a roasting pan, fat side up.  Score into the fat, about 1/4-inch deep, in a diamond pattern.  Sprinkle generously with pepper.

Coarsely chop 8-10 large sage leaves. In a small bowl, or with a mortar and pestle, combine the chopped sage and oil until a thick paste is formed.  Rubbed all over the surface of the ham. 
Bake, on a lower rack in the oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Meanwhile for the glaze:
Juice 3-4 tangerines, yielding about 1 cup of juice.  Strain out any seeds and pulp.  Thinly slice the remaining tangerines, removing seeds.  In a medium saucepan, combine the juice and fruit with the butter, brown sugar, water and spices.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Continue to cook at a simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture has reduced to a thick syrup. 

After 1 1/2 hours of cooking, moving the ham and coat with the tangerine glaze, studding the top with the sliced fruit.  Return to the oven for an additional hour.  Remove and add the carrots around and under the ham.  Toss to coat with the glaze.  Return the ham to the oven and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

Allow to rest 10-15 minutes before carving.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Buried Cherry Almond Cupcakes

Hello Spring!  We've missed you!  How about a cheery cherry cupcake to celebrate?

Cherries and almond extract blend together beautifully in this wonderfully, but not overwhelmingly sweet cupcake.  And as I'm a sucker for good frosting, and lots of it, I halved the cake recipe, but kept the frosting proportion the same.  Twelve cupcakes is really more than enough for a small dinner party anyway...the full 24 would have just gone to waste.

adapted from BHG

yields 12 cupcakes

The Ingredients:
for the batter:
1/4 cup butter
2 egg whites
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz buttermilk
2 1/2 Tbsp maraschino cherry juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
12 maraschino cherries

for the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp maraschino cherry juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1-3 Tbsp milk

12 maraschino cherries with stems

 The Process:
Allow butter and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper liners.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. In a small bowl combine buttermilk and cherry juice; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until combined. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to batter, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about half full.  Gently press a cherry into the center of each cup.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the frosting:

Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in maraschino cherry juice and almond extract. Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in additional juice or milk, a little at a time until frosting reaches spreadable consistency.

Pipe or spread the frosting on to the cooled cupcakes.  Top with a stemmed cherry.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sweet Ginger Soba Noodles with Shrimp

Shrimp, soba noodles and a delectable sauce.  Quick, simple and absolutely packed with flavors.  When I first read over the recipe, I had my reservations about the amount of scallions compared to the amount of liquid in the sauce.  In the end it came together beautifully.  

adapted from Reem Rizvi recipe at Simply Reem

serves 3-4

The Ingredients:
for the sauce:
1 1/2 cup scallions, diced
2 Tbsp ginger, minced
1/4 cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper

for the pasta
12-16 large shrimp, raw and thawed if frozen
1 large broccoli stalked, juilienned
1 carrot, juilienned
9 oz soba noodles
2 Tbsp sesame seeds

The Process:
Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl.  Adjust soy sauce, honey and pepper flakes to taste.  Cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions.  Set aside.

Heat about 2 Tbsp sesame oil a large skillet set over high heat.  Add the shrimp and sear until browned and opaque, 2-3 minutes per side.  Set aside.

In a small skillet, dry roast the sesame seeds until toasted.

In a large bowl, toss together the noodles, juilienned vegetables and sesame seeds.  Top with shrimp.  Serve warm or cold.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Vegetarian Smoked Porter Chili

The Beeroness strikes again.  I tagged this recipe a while back, waiting for the ideal smoked or chipotle beer to come my way.  Amazingly the two came together in one collaboration between two of our local breweries: Indeed and Northbound Smokehouse.  Northbound smoked the malts and peppers.  Indeed brewed the beer.  The result was a rich smoking imperial porter with a slight burn on the back end.  I'm not a huge fan of Indeed's other beers, but this beer was stellar.  And perfect for this chili. 

Thank you again Jackie.

adapted from the beeroness

serves 6

The Ingredients
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 oz mushrooms, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 - 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 15 oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 15 oz can stewed diced tomatoes
1 or 2 large chipotle peppers in adoboe, minced
1/2  cup quinoa
1/3 cup bulgur wheat
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups smoked porter

The Process:
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and red pepper.  Saute until the garlic is fragrant and the veggies are tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the broth, tomato paste, beans, diced tomatoes, and chipotle peppers.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until beans have heated through.  Stir in the quinoa, bulgur and spices.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes . The quinoa should be tender and the chili should begin to thicken.  Stir in the porter, and heat through, but do not bring to a boil.

Serve warm with garnishes as desired.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Balsamic Pot Roast

Is anything quite as satisfying as a fork tender roast and a heaping pile of garlic mashed potatoes?  Of course there is.  But on a night like tonight, this pot roast takes center stage.

I adore pot roasts in the crock pot.  This one had a lovely tang from the vinegar.  And the roast shredded just lifting it out of the pot.  During dinner the meat needed a little drizzle of juice to keep it moist.  Magically, the next day, the meat retained most of the moisture.  I love when dishes are even better the next day around...

adapted from In a Pinch

serves 6-8

The Ingredients:
1 3-4 pound boneless roast beef
1 cup beef broth
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, crushed

The Process:
Place the roast in the slow cooker.  In a small bowl or measuring cup combine the remaining ingredients.  Pour liquid over the roast.  Cover.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

Slightly shred the beef and transfer to a serving dish.  Ladle about 1/2 cup of the juice over the meat, serve hot.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ginger Curried Chicken with Leeks and Lentils

This recipe caught my eye for the combination of curry, leeks and oranges.  I was very excited.  And about halfway through I realized I could have sent the dish a little more through the roof had I vamped on the curry powder instead of relying on the turmeric-heavy store blend.  In the end, the lentils sort dominated the dish.  And the citrus didn't add as much as I had hoped. 

So lesson learned...better curry powder and orange juice instead of wine.

Still, this was a satisfying dish.

adapted from BHG

Serves 2-3

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds meaty chicken pieces
2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced 
2 leeks, halved lengthwise
1 tangerine, cut into wedges
1 cup lentils
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup white wine

The Process
In a gallon zip top bag, toss chicken with salt and 1 Tbsp of the curry powder.  Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium- high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides.  Remove from pot. Add ginger, leeks, tangerine wedges, and remaining curry powder. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until leeks are tender and ginger is fragrant.

Stir in lentils, broth, and wine. Return chicken pieces to pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 55 to 60 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter.  Serve along side lentils.