Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Goose Stew

(This recipe can be altered easily to use two leftover ducks, and slightly less well with one leftover turkey. If turkey is used, try to select as much dark meat as possible.)

Leftover meat reserved from one roast Christmas goose
4 oz. bacon, diced
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. butter
1 onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups of goose stock (see below)
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
4 carrots, chopped on the bias
5 small Yukon gold or white potatoes, cubed
5 sprigs Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 bottles Anchor Steam 2008 Christmas Ale

1 goose carcass, picked fairly clean
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
10 whole black peppercorns
4 springs fresh parsley
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves

1) Combine the goose carcass and all the stock ingredients, divided into two large pots if necessary. Fill pot(s) with water until the goose is just submerged. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours covered, then continue to simmer for 1 1/2 hours uncovered. Strain stock through a colander into a large bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2) The next day, use a wide spoon to scrape the solid fat from the surface of the stock. (Reserve fat for other recipes--it's divine.) Stock may be somewhat gelatinous when cold. You will likely have more than the four cups needed for this recipe; freeze the remainder and save for other soups.
3) Place the diced bacon in a large soup pot or Dutch oven and set burner to medium-high. Cook until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined surface and turn off burner.
4) In a sauce pot, melt the butter over med-high heat until foaming subsides. Add the flour to the butter and stir quickly to form a roux. When the flour is a deep, nutty brown, slowly add a cup of the goose stock, whisking to form a liquid thickener. Turn off heat.
5) Return the bacon fat pot to heat and add the onion and garlic, cooking until translucent, about 3 minutes. Open one of the bottles of Anchor Steam Christmas Ale and pour it in, scraping any brown bits of bacon fond off the bottom of the pot with the liquid. Take the mixture of stock and roux and add to the pot, stirring constantly.
6) Add thyme, bay leaves, and the remaining goose stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes on low heat.
7) Uncover pot and add the Worchestershire, nutmeg, and sugar. Grind plenty of fresh black pepper, and add salt to taste.
8) Add potatoes and carrots and simmer the stew uncovered for about five minutes. Stir in the reserved goose meat and bacon and continue to cook until potatoes and carrots are tender. Garnish the stew with 3 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley.
9) Open the second bottle of Anchor Steam 2008 Christmas Ale.
10) Enjoy together.

When you're using a beer to cook your meal, you can bet the same brew would pair well with the food. The Anchor 2008 is well-rounded and dark, the consistency of a porter, with hints of allspice, chocolatey malts, and sprucey hops. 'Tis the season to pair beer with goose! Huzzah!



1) Set the alarm for early Christmas morning.
2) Throw open bedroom window and stick head out.
3) Find an urchin. Shout down to him (or her) "What day is it?"
4) When the urchin replies, "Today? Why, today is Christmas Day!" throw the urchin a shilling and tell it to fetch a goose.
5) Await arrival of goose. When the urchin returns, don't forget to tip him or her for prompt service. (Note: this is the easiest way to procure a goose, and one of the most cost-effective. Recommended. If you live in a town without a large urchin population, see other options below.)


1) Go to the Upper West Side, to Fairway Market or Citarella.
2) Pay WAY too much money for a goose. (Put it on your credit card to get points. This will make you feel better.)
3) Carry goose home on the subway in a backpack.
(Note: this is simultaneously the most expensive and the most arduous way to purchase your Christmas goose. Not recommended.)


1) Find out where geese like to congregate nearest you. This could be the woods, Central Park, a nearby field, or even a friend's backyard.
2) Load rifle.
3) Shoot goose.
4) Pluck goose, then proceed with the roasting recipe of your choice.
(Note: this is the cheapest way to come by your Christmas goose, but it unfortunately involves the extra work of plucking and trimming the bird. It also requires that you possess accurate, steady aim.)


1) Get on the A train.
2) Go to Chinatown.
3) Ask for a goose. If they don't understand English, hold up the picture of the Christmas goose feast at the Cratchits' in your copy of A Christmas Carol. Point wildly at the image.
4) When the Chinese people still don't understand you, flap your arms at the elbow while turning in a circle. Honk vigorously.
5) After they have thrown you out, go to the next Chinese market down the block. Ask for two fresh ducks. Purchase ducks.
6) When you roast the birds on Christmas Day, post a guard at the entrance to the kitchen and allow no one inside. Plate the roast duck elegantly. When your friends exclaim, "It looks delicious! Is it duck?" smile benevolently and say, "There is nothing in the world as delicious as a slow-roasted Christmas goose."
(Note: this is an effective and inexpensive way to procure a Christmas goose. Be certain your kitchen guard can be trusted implicitly.)


1) Order take-out on Christmas Day. Tacos are nice. If you don't care for tacos, consider Beef with Snow Peas and Hot-and-Sour Soup.
2) Pay delivery man.
3) Eat take-out.
4) When asked how your Christmas dinner celebration went, and whether your goose was a success, adopt a dreamy expression and say, "There is nothing in the world as delicious as a slow-roasted Christmas goose."
(Note: this technique is fairly effortless, and lies in the lower range of cost. Recommended.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Blackberry Sauce and Endive Salad


(Original recipes by Gabe all, so expect plenty of dashes, splashes, and handfuls of ingredients. ;-p)

1 duck breast (Mine was already marinated, but I wish it wasn't. I would have dry rubbed it w/ something delicious.)
1 tbsp. minced rosemary

1/3 cup no-crust 1/4 inch bread cubes tossed in dashes of cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper
1/2 tbsp. bacon fat or butter

1 14 oz. can of white beans, rinsed
Pinch of chili powder
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of allspice
1 heaping tablespoon of tahini
Several tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon

1/2 pint container of blackberries (pureed and strained through fine mesh strainer)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Dash of cumin
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Dash of balsamic vinegar

2 Belgian endives
1 small shallot
Handful of arugula
1 Bosc pear
1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted

Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
A splash or two of balsamic vinegar
A drizzle of agave or honey
A tablespoon or 2 of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1) Toast pine nuts until golden in a dry pan. Set aside for salad.
2) Toss the bread cubes w/ spices and place in a skillet on med. with butter or bacon fat (if you're the type of person to have bacon fat laying around) and brown, tossing occasionally. Reserve for duck.
3) Thinly slice endive and shallot and combine w/ arugula. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing. Reserve both separately until right before serving.
4) Cut and core pears. Slice into wedges, then place in pan with a bit of butter or oil and cook for 5 minutes on med-high heat until they start to turn golden. Right before you remove them from the pan, pour in a tablespoon or two of balsamic. It will absorb into, and add color to, the pears. Set the pears aside on the plates to be topped w/ dressed greens right before serving.
5) Pulse the blackberries in a food processor until smooth, press through a fine mesh strainer and mix juice w/ remaining ingredients. Reserve to drizzle on the duck plate.
6) Put rinsed beans, spices, and tahini in food processor, and start blending. Slowly drizzle in oil until completely combined and smooth, scraping down side if necessary.
7) Put the beans and lemon zest in a small pot, but wait to heat until the duck is resting after it has been cooked.
8) Place duck breast skin side down in pan on med-high heat. cook 10 minutes. Flip and cook on the opposite side about 8 minutes or until a thermometer reads 135-140. Tent w/ foil and set aside to rest about 5 or 10 minutes.
9) Heat beans. Toss salad w/ dressing and plate everything. Slice duck across the grain, place atop the beans, and sprinkle with minced rosemary.
10) Open the bottle (or 8) of Jolly Pumpkin/Nogne-O/Stone Special Holiday Ale.
11) Enjoy together.

Dear God, this was a good pairing. This holiday collaboration is brewed with a 25% rye malt, white sage, juniper, and chestnuts, with very well-balanced pie spices and piney hop tones, so it went fabulously with the duck and rosemary white bean puree. A pairing worth remembering, and also a fine addition to our holiday beer lineup--not over-spiced, very balanced and full, bitter and sweet without ever getting syrupy, and as one blogger on put it, "packs enough of a punch to make some serious sea donkeys look like catches." Well, God bless us, and especially--at this festive and welcoming season of the year--the sea donkeys. God bless us, every one.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Spanish Lentils with Mushrooms, Chorizo, and Thyme-Scented Rice

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
6 oz. dry hot Spanish chorizo, diced into small cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups brown cap mushrooms, sliced
1 cup lentils of your choice--red, green, yellow or brown, soaked if necessary (small ones won't need it)
1 bay leaf
2 dry star anise pods
1 tbsp. paprika
1 cup white rice
1 tbsp. dried thyme
3 1/2 cups water, divided
Salt and fresh black pepper
Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor

1) Heat 2 tbsp. of the olive oil until shimmering, and add spicy chorizo. Stir to brown, allowing chorizo to release some of its fat.
2) Add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat for 3-4 minutes.
3) Add garlic, paprika and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are just wilted, about 2 minutes more.
4) Add the lentils, along with the bay leaf, star anise, salt and pepper, and 2 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked. If the water is absorbed into the lentils before they are done, feel free to add more.
5) Meanwhile, heat the remaining tbsp. oil and saute the rice until opaque. Add thyme, salt and 1 1/2 cups of water, bringing to a boil; cover and turn heat to low for 15 minutes.
6) When rice is done and lentils are tender, spoon some rice over the lentils and serve with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.
7) Open Grand Cru of the Emperor.
8) Enjoy together.

Whoa. This is the thickest bloody strong dark Belgian-style ale we've had in a spell of time. It's very sweet, like figs-and-dates sweet, with a deep mahogany purple color and not much in the way of carbonation. The alcohol, predictably for such a malty brew, is eleven percent, and unfortunately you can taste it in the finish along with a more pleasant hint of pepper. Plenty of raisin and clove here, all dark fruits and pie spices, not the most balanced beer we've ever tasted in our lives, but if you're into the strong Belgians and don't mind ingesting beer with a knife and fork, this Cru is for you.

This is our monster; his name is Grendel. We just figured it was about time he made an appearance on the blog, since he spends a great deal of time in the kitchen, watching us cook from the top of his stepladder. This is his resting position. It's also his please-brush-my-spine position. Grendel has a lot of strong opinions about cooking, particularly when bacon, lunchmeat, or fried chicken are somehow involved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Macaroni and White Cheddar with Artichokes


8 oz. of small dry pasta (I prefer cavatappi)
3 tbsp. butter
3. tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed, set aside in a small bowl
6 oz. shredded white cheddar
3 oz. shredded Gruyere
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
14 oz. diced artichoke hearts
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
12 oz. bottle Kasteel Cru Lager

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole or glass pie dish.
2) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions for its shape, being very careful to drain when just al dente, or still firm. Toss with a little oil to prevent sticking in the colander and set aside.
3) Melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming subsides; add flour, whisking quickly to form a roux.
4) When roux is golden and nearly done (about 2 minutes), add minced garlic, whisking constantly for about 20 seconds (the roux is extremely hot).
5) Carefully add the milk and bring to a simmer. Add cayenne and chili powder. Stir constantly.
6) When mixture has thickened slightly, about 4-5 minutes, add 3/4 of the shredded mixed cheeses, stirring constantly. When cheese has dissolved into the sauce, add salt or pepper to taste.
7) Add pasta to the saucepot along with artichoke hearts, and stir to coat.
8) Pour mixture into baking dish. Combine the remaining 1/4 shredded cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top. Season with salt, pepper and dried parsley. Bake for 20 minutes or until top has formed a golden, crisp crust. Cool for 5 minutes, and serve.
9) Open Kasteel Cru.
10) Enjoy together.

Kasteel Cru is a French lager--I know, I know, generally that's just an all-around terrible idea, akin to a vintage Jersey City pinot noir methode champagnoise, granted, calm down, settle yourselves. Crack one open anyway. It's brewed with Alsace spring water (largely irrelevant) and champagne yeast (surprisingly tasty and surpassingly refreshing). A great beer for a rich dish, and this sucker is comfort food.

Thanksgiving was a blast, but as Fate would have it, Gabe and I spent the Monday and Tuesday prior watching plumbers tear out all the pipes in our kitchen and bathroom at our landlord's behest. Then on Wednesday we watched sewage drip through the hole in our bathroom ceiling onto our toilet, making the prospect of using it rather less than usually desirable. Thanksgiving Day (we're up to Thursday now, yes?) the emergency plumber arrived, but alas! was sent away by our charming upstairs neighbors, who are apparently very kinky and like to dump waste on people's heads, but semi-anonymously and without consent or bothering with ads in the Village Voice. That's right, they wouldn't let the man in. Well, at long last the problem was resolved, right after our landlord told our upstairs neighbors that if they still weren't in the mood to let in an emergency plumber, he was going to find himself in the mood to shut off their water. Sometimes moods align themselves like that, I suppose.

So on Thanksgiving, when we had twelve people at the apartment, what did we do? Gabe took a page from MacGyver's book and made a plastic drainage system, while I composed a sign stating WE ARE THANKFUL FOR INDOOR PLUMBING. BATHROOM IS SANITIZED; IGNORE CEILING. And we made merry anyway. Purple doesn't look as merry as she could in that last picture, but that's just because she didn't know the camera was on.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three Vegetarian Pizzas


This dough recipe makes 2 pizza crusts; for four, make two separate batches in the food processor. We didn't bother to buy a pizza peel--instead, find a rimless cookie sheet, and be careful about pulling the pizza off the stone, since the cookie sheet lacks a handle.

FOR THE DOUGH (loosely adapted from Cook's Illustrated, March 2007):
1 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 cup water, room temperature
2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. table salt
2 tsp. sugar
Cornmeal, for dusting

1) Whisk the yeast into the water until dissolved.
2) In a food processor, blend sugar, flour, and salt until combined, about 5 seconds.
3) With machine running, slowly add liquid through feed tube, processing until dough forms a sticky, satiny ball that clears the sides of the workbowl, about 2 minutes or less. If dough remains too dry, add 1-2 tbsp. extra water.
4) Divide dough in half and form into smooth, tight balls. Place on floured surface at least 3 inches apart, and cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with olive oil or nonstick cooking oil. Let rise until doubled in volume, approx. 1 hour.
5) Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Set a pizza stone (they're 20 bucks at Bed, Bath and Beyond) on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees, allowing stone to heat through, at least 40 minutes.
6) When dough has doubled, dust with flour and move to smooth work surface dusted with the cornmeal. Press one ball into an 8-inch disc, then gently stretch it with flattened palms into a 12-inch circle. Sprinkle the rimless cookie sheet with more cornmeal and transfer dough circle to cookie sheet.
7) Add toppings of choice.
8) Slide pizza onto hot stone and bake until edges are crisp and brown, 12-18 minutes depending on your oven. Peek at them, and when they look right, remove from the oven with the cookie sheet and place on a breadboard to slice.


Pizza con Verdure:

1) Tomato sauce, simmered until relatively dry and spread thinly.
2) Four-cheese blend, sprinkled evenly.
3) Sliced red bell pepper.
4) Sliced sweet white onion.
5) Quartered fresh yellow cherry tomatoes.
6) Red pepper flake, to taste.
7) Sliced fresh basil, added after baking and just before slicing.

Pizza with Pumpkin, Shittake, and Thai Choo-Chee Sauce:

1) A cup of coconut milk, simmered with Thai Choo-Chee paste curry base (according to package or to taste). After curry paste is blended into coconut milk, add 1 tbsp. fish sauce, 1 tsp. sugar, and salt if necessary. Cook curry on low until it thickens into sauce consistency, and spread over pizza.
2) Sliced pumpkin, sauteed with butter until cooked through.
3) Sliced shittakes, sauteed with butter until wilted and tender.
4) Sliced green onion.
5) Chopped toasted peanuts.
6) Fresh beans sprouts, if desired.
7) Chopped fresh cilantro, added after baking.

Pizza with Pecans, Gorgonzola, Dates, and Rosemary:

1) 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.
2) 6 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese.
3) 6 ounces minced dates.
4) 3 springs of fresh rosemary, minced fine.
5) 2/3 cup toasted pecans, minced.
6) Fresh grated nutmeg.
7) Cracked sea salt.

Southern Tier Krampus Imperial Helles Lager; Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron Malt Beverage; Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale

If you're cooking pizza, you best be drinking some beer.

Where to start? It was a party, so the usual tasting rules don't apply. The Krampus is a beautiful amber-colored, deep, hoppy lager, with 9% alcohol that you quite simply can't taste, this beer is so smooth. Strong grapefruit (not too bitter, though) caramel, and pine. The Palo Santo is a crazy rich, brown concoction with 12% abv. brewed in handmade Paruguayan Palo Santo wooden vessels--vanilla, dark malt, and toffee. Bifrost is a very drinkable winter brew, with a heavy body and a nice orange peel/coffee lingering bitterness. Tasty stuff. All three are good beers, and we drank them with pizza. No further pairing explanation necessary.

This here is Gabe and his co-worker Brady, testing the acidity of the tomato sauce (or something like that). And to their right is One-Punch Hernandez, alias DeathLisa, who can break your spine just by looking at it. Her fist really is that big compared to her face, by the way--you might think it's depth of field in this shot, but that's an optical illusion. Her fist is on an even plane with her jaw. She has hands the size of Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder, which she brought to the party to prove to us that she isn't the only one with meat paws of this heft. There are others.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Croque Madame

INGREDIENTS (for four people):

3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, warm
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh black pepper
1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated white cheddar cheese
8 slices sandwich bread
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 pound thinly sliced honey or maple turkey
4 large eggs

(Salad is optional, but did you know your main course contains fewer calories when accompanied by a small salad or side of greens? Well, it does. That's science. This recipe is *liberally* adapted from a March, 2007 offering in Gourmet magazine.)

1) To make the sauce, melt 3 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, then whisk in the flour and cook roux until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly add milk and bring to a boil; continue to whisk occasionally at reduced heat for 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/2 a cup of cheese and whisk until cheese has melted into sauce.
2) Remove sauce from heat and cover directly with wax paper to prevent it forming a skin.
3) Spread 1 1/2 tbsp. of the sauce over 4 slices of bread, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese.
4) Spread mustard on other 4 bread slices, topping with the turkey. Combine both kinds of bread to form sandwiches.
5) Spread half the warm butter on the top of the sandwiches, adding half the garlic powder, thyme and oregano. Toast the sandwiches butter-side down in a warm skillet while spreading the remaining butter and spices on the other side. Flip and toast until golden on both sides, 3-4 minutes total.
6) Preheat the broiler. Spread remaining sauce on top of the sandwiches, coating evenly. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and golden in spots.
7) Crack eggs into a heated skillet and season them with salt and pepper. Fry eggs, covered, until the whites are set but the yolks still runny, about 3 minutes. Top sandwiches with eggs, and serve with a light salad to reduce the calories in the sauce.
8) Open bottle of champagne and pour into flutes with 2 oz. orange juice. Enjoy together.

All right, all right, it isn't a beer. But you know something? We're a big fan of beverages in general, particularly effervescent beverages, and those belonging to the category our friend Mark terms "sauce." Mimosa is one hell of a tasty sauce, and since we were having brunch, after all, the usual beer evaluation was deferred for next time. (I should point out here that Gabe will readily tell you, if you ask him, that the ideal brunch pairing of all time is a draft glass of Leffe Brun and a plate of blueberry pancakes.)

We happened to be entertaining a Canadian diplomat when this brunch took place; there's Nicole Joy-Frasier (wife of Jeff Teerlink, if you follow Longview, Washington's Flemish exchange student culture) on the couch. She had a very successful week at the Native Theater Festival downtown at the Public, and here we feature her in slippies, sipping a hot and comforting beverage. The back of Lisa Hernandez's head is showcased to great advantage by her teal v-neck, as I smugly anticipate the moment when she realizes Gabe is about to swing onto her back from the chandelier.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sesame Chicken Salad with Napa Cabbage


1 small head of Napa cabbage, sliced thin
3 spring onions, white and green parts, sliced thin
1 large chicken breast, cubed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp. sherry
1 package of Top Ramen (chicken flavor)
1 tbsp. tahini
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. brown sugar
Black pepper to taste
Rogue Double Dead Guy

1) Toast the Ramen noodles, crumbled into small pieces, until golden brown and combine with the cabbage and spring onions in a large salad bowl.
2) Heat the olive oil in the same skillet and add minced ginger and chicken. Saute until browned and chicken is tender and cooked through. While skillet is still very hot, add the sherry to the pan to scrape up any browned bits and ginger remaining. Reserve this liquid in a small bowl.
3) Add to the sherry and ginger the last 6 ingredients listed, and whisk into a dressing along with the chicken seasoning from the Ramen package. Toss with the salad and serve.
4) Open Rogue Double Dead Guy.
5) Enjoy together.

Double Dead Guy is a "strong ale" from Rogue, and interestingly enough, despite their reputation for extreme beers, this is a pretty mellow copper ale. It has a nice, floral and honey nose with very low bitterness. It's drinkable, not memorable, and despite its marketing it's certainly not a doppelbock style. The taste is good, but it didn't stand up to the bright flavors of the salad ideally. Drink this beer with the knowledge you'll get a smooth, chill brew and not much else to say about it.


We are so proud of our country, and so proud to be Americans. This video is footage of our neighborhood, on 160th and Amsterdam, just after the major networks announced Obama's victory. Everyone grabbed their biggest pots and loudest spoons and poured out of their apartments to dance in the streets. All the cars going past were rolling down their windows, honking and cheering, while a bunch of Dominican schoolkids raced up and down the street waving American flags. The resolution isn't so hot, but I'm in the hat and the yellow dress.

Then this morning I was flipping through a slideshow on Huffington Post about reactions to the election and I found this picture. It's a shot of the Obama campaign site on 52nd and Spruce in West Philadelphia, where I canvassed all day last Saturday. I tell you something--when you knock on somebody's door in an all-black suburb, and the next house down is abandoned because sometime in the last week it was strafed in a drive-by, and they're giddy at the prospect of voting--that's powerful. Yes, we can, people. Yes, we did.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Winter Risotto with Sweet Potato, Brussels Sprouts, and Blue Cheese


1 large sweet potato, cubed small
10 oz. Brussels sprouts, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
6 oz. Danish blue cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup Arborio, Carnaroli, or other risotto rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Approx. 2 cups chicken stock, more if needed
Salt and pepper
Bear Republic Brewing Co. Hop Rod Rye

1) Heat olive oil in a medium pot. Sweat shallot, carrot and garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2) Add sweet potato and rice to the pot and toast for 2-3 minutes until rice is slightly translucent.
3) Add chopped rosemary and half a cup of chicken stock and stir constantly until the stock is absorbed.
4) Continue to add stock, half a cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more when the liquid is nearly absorbed into the rice. It should take approx. 13-15 minutes for the rice to be cooked as the liquid is incorporated; if more liquid is needed, add more stock or water.
5) When the rice and sweet potato are nearly cooked (after about 10 minutes), add the chopped Brussels sprouts.
6) When rice is tender but still slightly firm in the center, add blue cheese and season to taste. After the cheese has melted in, spoon into bowls.
7) Open Hop Rod Rye.
8) Enjoy together.

Oh, yum. Caraway and dark, sticky notes from the 20% rye used in the malt, a very well-balanced caramel sweetness against bitter orange rind hops, and a hint of fresh bread yeast. Bear Republic is in Healdsburg, California, and damn do they ever make a fine beer. If you're a fan of the rye IPA style (and when it's well done, it's one of our favorite beers of all time), this brew gets it exactly right. There's a reason this beer has won major gold and silver medals in festivals and competitions. Pairing a rye IPA (especially one of this magnitude and bittersweetness) with ANYTHING to do with blue cheese is a very, very good idea.

You know what? Risotto is Italian comfort food, and comfort food is what's needed when the weather turns all crispy, and the leaves begin to fall, and you start grabbing a pashmina on your way out the door. No adventure here, kids. Predictably delicious, toothy, wholesome, and all around good. I (Lyndsay) used to work at a great Italian place called Osteria Laguna, and that's where I learned of the glories of risotto. Our chef Christina (an eighty-pound Venetian with a Rambo-style hair kerchief) made glorious risotto--beet and gorgonzola risotto, smoked mozzarella risotto, shellfish and tomato risotto, and it was always giddily perfect. The woman makes freaking beautiful food. I can't cook risotto like she can (I also can't yell nearly as loudly or project her levels of utter scorn), and so I salute her! She lives in Berkeley now with her wife and baby, but here she is posing like a rock star by our pizza oven and antipasto bar.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chicken Mulligatawny, Cauliflower with Fenugreek, and Scented Rice

All recipes in this posting are from the book Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India by Lachu Moorjani. His curries require an output for Indian spices to start with, but the dishes are authentic, amazing, and you will make a ton of them. We are even planning on dining at his restaurant when we visit the Bay Area.

The other picture is of our Nashville cousins. Aren't they genetically fortunate? Left to right, I present Shari, Bradley, Bailey and Madison. Shari was visiting us here in NYC for this Indian feast, so I thought it only right to introduce them formally.

Chicken Mulligatawney (slightly altered from book):
3 tbsp. oil
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
6 - 8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 dried red chili peppers, broken in pieces
3 onions, cut in quarters and thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 to 2 tsp. hot chili pepper powder
2 1/2 tsp. fennel powder
2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup curry leaves
2 tbl. lime juice
1 tsp. Garam Masala

1) Heat the oil in a 6 to 8 quart saucepan. When hot, add ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. Fry for 10 to 15 seconds.
2) Add onions and saute over med-high heat, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly brown, about 10 minutes.
3) Turn to high heat. When pan is hot, add chicken and stir until all the chicken pieces are nicely browned. Continue browning until most of the moisture has evaporated.
4) Add cubed potatoes and all the spices; cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add coconut milk and water, bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and add curry leaves, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Mix in lime juice and Garam Masala to finish.

Cauliflower with Fenugreek:
1/4 cup oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. hot chili pepper powder (substitute all or part w/ paprika to make the dish mild)
3 tsp. coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. dried fenugreek herb
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp. lemon juice

1) Heat the oil in a 6 quart saucepan. When hot, add garlic and ginger. Fry for 10 to 15 seconds. Add onions and saute for 8 to 10 minutes over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
2) Add chopped tomatoes. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add all the spices, salt and dried fenugreek. Stir and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
3) Add potatoes and cook partially covered for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Add cauliflower and continue cooking, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes. If there is too much moisture, cook with lid removed. If there is too little moisture and the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pot, cover and reduce the heat. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, adding the peas for the last 4 minutes of cooking.
4) Add lemon juice.

Rice with cardamom and cinnamon:
1 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon

1) Heat oil in a pot until shimmering, then add cardamom seeds. Cook for 30 seconds. Add rice. Toast rice for 3 to 4 minutes, until aromatic and opaque.
2) Add cinnamon stick and water, bringing liquid to a boil.
3) Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes covered, then fluff with a fork.
4) Open He'brew Lenny's RIPA.
5) Enjoy together.

A spectacular rye-based double IPA, He'brew's Lenny's RIPA is brewed, to quote its makers, "with an obscene amount of malts and hops," and is "the straight dope for the growing minions of our nation's Radical Beer junkies." Sign us up! They're on to something. In addition to being brewed with Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Crystal, Chinook, Amarillo, and Centennial hops, it's later dry-hopped with Amarillo and Crystal. Thus you get great pine and citrus in the nose, followed by thick, malty sweetness for mouthfeel. This is beer that drinks like a meal--a rich, 10% alcohol treat with hints of pumpernickel, toffee, grapefruit and pepper. Indian food has big flavors, and this beer can go three rounds swinging.

Shari-Lynn Sample and her fine upstanding young man Robb were visiting us the last time we made this dish! Just look at them. I stole their picture from Shari's myspace page. Aren't they cute? Isn't it kinda sick? Cousin Shari is one of our favorite houseguests, whenever she visits, because she's definitely pretty enough to take outside and show to your friends, and she can walk all day, and she's super fun and nice, and she's friends with Grendel Puss-Gato, and you never know when she'll fall asleep. It's like an endearing form of narcolepsy. Awesome. And this time she brought Robb, so that's a major bonus.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

This beautiful (if I do say so myself--don't you just want to put your face in it?) salad was inspired by a similarly simple recipe in Donna Hay's gorgeous Off the Shelf: Cooking from the Pantry. We changed several elements, but a shout out to Donna in any event; her food is visually striking, healthy, and simple. Woot woot!

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Thai roasted chili paste OR harissa OR Italian red pepper tapenade
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. honey
Salt and fresh black pepper
Avery Brewing Company's Ale to the Chief American Pale Ale

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
2) Toss cubed sweet potato in the regular olive oil, seasoning if desired. Roast the potato on the baking sheet in the oven, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes depending on how large your cubes are. Remove from oven when cooked through and well browned, and set aside in a large bowl.
3) Place quinoa in a mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly--there is a substance called saponin that coats the outside, and can taste bitter if not rinsed off.
4) Combine quinoa and vegetable stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes until water is absorbed.
5) While quinoa is cooking, blanch green beans in boiling salted water until tender and bright green. Rinse with cold water and set aside with sweet potatoes.
6) Combine the last five ingredients, along with salt and pepper to taste, in a small mixing bowl or dressing shaker.
7) Fluff the quinoa and add it to the vegetables. Toss with the dressing.
8) Open Ale to the Chief.
9) Enjoy together.

This beer is gorgeous. It's a lovely pumpkin orange color when poured, with resiny hops balanced by caramel-cereal malts. They brewed it as a special tribute to the lucky man who replaces Still-President Bush in November, and what a fine gesture it is! The floral sweetness rocks with the slightly spicy dressing of the salad, and the pine-bitter finish does well by the honey-tossed quinoa. Ale to the Chief indeed, and may he sip this fine vintage for solace while sitting in the Oval Office pondering how to get us out of this small fiscal snafu.

Donna Hay's books inspire great one-dish meals that can come together using practically anything in your refridgerator and shelves. Of course, I AM assuming that your refridgerator contains more than ketchup, Pabst, and month-old celery, but really, this recipe would work just as well with a can of chickpeas instead of sweet potatoes, rice instead of quinoa, and chives for mint. Go to town. Actually, no--don't go to town. That's the point: stay at home. You've ingredients enough.

Can we just vote tomorrow and know which guy Ale to the Chief is hailing? Would it be ok to corrall all the "Undecideds" at this point and build a nice compound for them where they can wander around trying to decide whether or not to take a shower, or whether they prefer to wear socks on their hands or their feet, or whether they should keep breathing? Vote for whomever you want. Seriously. But can we just get it over with now? Listen: you have two options. There's an old white conservative and a young black liberal. There you go. As Dave Sedaris put it, being undecided right now is like having this conversation on an airplane:

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Hi. Would you like the chicken, or the pile of excrement with shards of glass in it?
UNDECIDED MAN: Hmm. Well, how is the chicken cooked?

Seriously, what are these people waiting for? Do they want McCain to come over to their house with Joe the Plumber and clear their clogged toilet? Do they want Obama to bring Bill Ayers to their backyard and punch him in the face? Are they waiting for either candidate to come back triumphant from an epic quest to find George Bush's Magic Wand? Do they know the Magic Wand doesn't exist???

My head hurts.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spicy Turkey Corn Soup

INGREDIENTS (can easily be halved, as this makes a *very* large batch, suitable for freezing part or serving to around 8-10 guests):

1 pound raw turkey breast meat, OR 1 pound leftover turkey meat--either way, diced bite-size
2 oz. (1 link) hard Spanish-style chorizo, diced small
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 ears fresh corn, shucked and cleaned
2 large yellow (Yukon gold is nice) potatoes, cubed
6 cups good chicken stock
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 heaping tsp. turmeric
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp smoked Hungarian sweet paprika (can substitute regular paprika, totaling 3 tbsp.)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flake
1 tsp. chipotle pepper power
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp sugar or agave syrup or honey
1 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Oskar Blue's Breweries' Dale's Pale Ale

1) Cut the ends off the fresh ears to provide a flat surface and stand them upright, shaving the kernels off. I get about 5 total knife strokes per ear.
2) Heat the oil and cook the diced chorizo until crisp and its fats are released, about 3 minutes.
3) Add onion, celery, and carrot, stirring until sweated, 4 minutes.
4) Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
5) Add tomatoes and all the dry spices and herbs, toasting for 2 minutes.
6) Stir into thickened sofrito and spice mixture the potatoes, red bell pepper, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil; then cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
7) When potatoes are nearly done, add corn and either raw or leftover turkey. (If using diced raw turkey, I suggest adding it with the corn because it will poach in the boiling liquid only briefly, not getting tough. If using leftover turkey, feel free to add it at the outset to enrich the stock.)
8) When corn and turkey are cooked and tender (about 4 minutes), turn off heat. Add sweetener of choice and vinegar, adjusting to taste and adding salt and pepper as needed.
9) Open Dale's Pale Ale.
10) Enjoy together.

I think Dale's Pale Ale is about the best drinking canned beer around. It's super hoppy; they add Centennial hops after boiling, so the nose is very herbal, and it tastes as much like an IPA as it does an American Pale Ale. Nice rich copper malts and a killer finish. All in all a great beer, and how rocking is it that it comes in a can?

Soup rocks Lyndsay's world. Soup is delicious. There's hardly anything she likes quite as much as eating soup. There will be many more soup offerings to come in this blog, she suspects. Tremble at the forbidden delights of bisque and chowder! Feel the might and the glory of soup.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thai Basil Beef with Chili Rice

Serves four--by the way, the ground beef can easily be replaced with ground pork.


1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut bite-size
3 tbsp. nam pla or Thai fish sauce
3-4 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1-2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. (to taste) ground white pepper
1 bunch fresh Thai basil OR regular basil OR (despite the title of the recipe) mint works well, chopped rough

1 cup white rice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp. naam prik pow or Thai chili paste
1 3/8 cups chicken stock
1/8 cup fish sauce (you should have 1 1/2 half cups liquid total, combined in a measuring cup)
1 small bunch fresh chives, minced
Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale

For Beef:
1) Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce in a bowl with the brown sugar. If you desire more sugar, add to taste. Set aside.
2) Heat oil and cook the onion until sweated, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3) Place ground beef in pan and saute over gentle heat 10-15 minutes, stirring and breaking constantly, until all the beef has cooked.
4) Drain any excess liquid.
5) Raise heat to med-high. Add the beans and the liquid and stir frequently, allowing the beans to cook until tender and bright green as the liquid absorbs into the beef.
6) When beans are done and liquid absorbed (more or less), turn off heat. Add the chopped fresh Thai basil and sprinkled white pepper, stirring both into the beef.

For Rice:
1) Heat oil and sweat onion, 2-3 minutes.
2) Add tomato. Cook until most of the liquid has been lost, about 5 minutes.
3) Add white rice and Thai chili paste to pot and stir (adding a little oil if necessary) until rice is opaque and coated with the other ingredients, 3-4 minutes.
4) Pour liquid into rice and stir, bringing to a boil.
5) Cover and cook for 15 minutes with the heat on very low.
6) Fluff before serving, incorporating the fresh chives.
7) Open Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale.
8) Enjoy together.

So Stone is doing ten years of beer, all to be tried in a vertical tasting on 12.12.12. They are all different and created to age. Sadly I've only been collecting since 06.06.06; so, I'll be missing the first four. This years was a delicious hoppy Belgian-style beer. The aromatics had some notes of strawberry with a light pine scent. On the palate you really get the floral and berries from the belgian yeast, but the citrusy hop flavors really cut through the banana. The florals and hop bite really balance out well against the strong Thai spices and the richness of the beef. The licoricy notes of the Thai basil accented the hops nicely.

I (Lynds here) want to point out a potentially deadly activity when cooking both the beef and the rice dishes, to be avoided with all your power as you would avoid a Tijuana street dog who seems to have just brushed his teeth and finds water disturbing.

--Generally salt your onions while they're sweating? Don't.
--Like to put a bit of salt in the beef as it cooks? Not this time.
--Feel tempted to salt the green beans as you add them? Eat a Lay's.
--Often salt your rice before popping the lid on? DROP IT. Put the little girl with the umbrella down. Nice and slow-like. That's it.

See, we're dealing with fish sauce here. We're actually dealing with quite a bit of fish sauce, and whenever that happens, oversalting is as easy as breathing. So just don't touch the salt until the end, when you taste both. If they need salt, knock yourself out. Or amp the soy sauce a notch, which is also nice. Thai cooking is very heavily influenced by the Chinese.

Jerry and Gail were here when we made this dish! Huzzah! We had a great time wandering through NYC steadily eating and drinking things, which is what generally happens when we have guests in town. Gail has two new dresses, a closet of shoes, and Jerry found an Italian suit for $45. I tell you, it's worth the price of a plane ticket for the shopping out here. Look at them. They dressed up all pretty for the 50th Street subway station. (It was for a Broadway play with my friend Mackenzie in it, actually, A Tale of Two Cities, but they look much more industrial-couture urban-decay chic in the subway. All formal wear looks better in the subway.) Anyway, we had a great time. I don't know when Gabe missed his parents more profoundly: when they left, or when he went to take a picture of the twice-baked potatoes without Jerry's new camera and SLR lens.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Broccoli-Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

(The parenthetical amounts are completely guessed at. The written amounts are how we actually cook, throwing in whatever's in the fridge and the cupboards. But Lyndsay thought people wouldn't make this without measurements. So I put some in there just for you anal careful folk. Remember, have fun with cooking.)

Two medium sized russets
A handful of sharp white cheddar, grated (1 cup)
A similar amount of diced broccoli (1 cup)
A decent splash of milk (2 tbsp.)
Mustard powder to taste (1/2 -1 tbsp.)
Some chopped chives (2 tbsp.)
Two pinches of cayenne
A tiny splash of apple cider vinegar (1/2 tsp.)
A little extra-virgin olive oil (1 tsp.)
A sprinkling of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Red Hook ESB

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Wash, poke several holes, then oil potatoes. Put in oven on foil lined baking sheet until cooked, about 45 minutes-1 hour. A fork will pierce them easily when done.
3) While potatoes are cooking, steam broccoli 1-2 minutes, remove, rinse in cold water, and squeeze out extra liquid. Finely dice.
4) Remove potatoes from oven, let cool enough to handle, then cut off the top 1/4. Scoop out the insides except for a 1/4 inch shell all around.
5) Put shells back in oven to crisp while mixing the stuffing. (No more than 15 minutes.)
6) Mash potatoes (dice the skin if you'd like to include it), then combine with the remaining ingredients. Remove shells from oven and stuff. Return to oven for 20 minutes, turning oven up to 450 during the last five to brown if necessary.
7) Top with more chives and paprika if desired.
8) Open Red Hook ESB.
9) Enjoy together.

Red Hook ESB is not amazing, but it is a nice, solid session beer. It has good caramel malts and finishes with just a hint of the hops near the back of the palate. We thought the subtle sweetness would match well with the simplicity of a baked potato. Also, Red Hook ESB and Long Hammer IPA are only $6.99 a sixer at the grocery right below our apartment, that never hurts.
That's one of the few good things about our grocery store. They must be compensating for the inedible meat products.

This post is dedicated to our good friend Lish, who requested more veg options. Nice one, Lish. We enjoyed it. Requests rock, and we're not sad there isn't any meat in this latest invention. (It would taste even better with BACON. Shhhh.) But nice one, Lish. Good on ya.

This recipe would be great for a lunch, or a nice light dinner with a side salad. Feeds two.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Simple Paella


2 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 oz. (2 links) Spanish-style hard chorizo, halved and sliced
8 oz. cleaned raw shrimp, thawed or fresh
2 onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 red bell peppers: one chopped, one minced
1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (Muir Glen is best), minced, liquid reserved separately
1 cup chicken stock
8 oz. frozen (or fresh!) green peas
1 cup long-grain white or basmati rice
8-10 strands of saffron
3 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Legacy Midnight Wit

1) You should have about 3/4 cup tomato liquid from the can; place this in a large liquid measuring cup. Add chicken stock (about 1 cup) until your total liquid comes to 1 3/4 cups. Set aside.
2) In a wide skillet, heat oil and saute chorizo until the edges crisp and the oil is colored with chorizo spices.
3) Add garlic, and saute 1 minute.
4) Add celery, onion, and minced red pepper, stirring until softened, about 4 minutes.
5) Add diced tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, paprika, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
6) Add rice to skillet and stir constantly 3-4 minutes, to season rice and brown it in oil before the liquid is added.
7) Add the combined tomato juice and chicken stock. Add chopped bell pepper and bring the mixture to a boil, scraping any bits off the bottom.
8) Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 15 minutes.
9) Uncover and add peas and shrimp to the cooked rice. Stir to incorporate, re-cover, and leave at low heat for 2-3 minutes, just until the shrimp have turned pink and the peas are tender.
10) Open Midnight Wit.
11) Enjoy together.

Drinking one now, just to remember right....
Lyndsay says foamy. And also, soap (a common [but not {necessarily} bad] ailment of the wit bier style)... lemon... bready... dried coriander... unripe apple. The citric notes cut very effectively through the richness of the chorizo, and the floral yeastiness complements the saffron, garlic and shrimp. Mmmmm.

P.S. Lyndsay
(with serious reservations and spelling adendums) wants to make it clear that Gabe wrote this section.

I love America. I love America so much that I will stand flat-footed in front of you and say that Portland, Oregon is the Vice Beer Chancellor to Brussels, Belgium's Commander-in-Brew (and yes, we have been to both Belgium and Germany, and Germany gets Secretary of Heady and Pleasant Frosted Steins as Lofted by the Barrel-Shaped.) So when Gabe and I went to Barcelona, Spain, I expected to enjoy myself. I did not quite expect it would ruin me on everywhere else. Here's an example of a typical day in Barcelona:

11:00 am: Waken. Wonder whether to have Spanish or Catalan food for lunch.
1:00 pm: Have Spanish or Catalan food for lunch.
2:00 pm: Remove the champagne flutes Gabe purchased on the second day from his bag, and taste a new variety of cava (methode champagnoise Spanish sparkling). Drink outdoors. Laugh that no one can stop you. Laugh along with the locals who are laughing at you for drinking out of a glass champagne flute outdoors because no one can stop you.
3:00pm-7:00 pm: Stare at Gaudi exhibits and Modernista art.
9:00pm: Decide whether to eat Spanish or Calatan food for dinner.
& etc., etc., etc.

So the point has been made, and Spanish food is just bloody excellent, and making it (especially in this way simplified yet very tasty fashion) makes me want to go back to Spain. Except...then where would I find delicious beer?

Spanish beer: NOT OK. Some palatable lagers, but how good can it be when half the time you're mixing it with lemon tonic water?

Suffice it to say that the pairing of non-Spanish beer with Spanish food shouldn't daunt us. And if you get a chance, go to Barcelona. And then stay there.

Baked Shells Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese


6 oz. (about 1/2 a box or 20 shells) jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente

2 tbsp. olive oil
14 oz. goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted dry breadcrumbs
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. fresh spinach, stems removed and finely chopped
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 walnuts, toasted and minced
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Heat the olive oil and cook garlic until it releases its aroma, about 1 minute.
3) Add spinach and saute, removing from heat when spinach is wilted and bright green, approx. 2 minutes more.
4) Stir hot spinach and garlic into goat cheese in a medium bowl--the spinach should melt the cheese enough to soften.
5) Incorporate remaining ingredients, season to taste, and set aside.

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. can tomato sauce (for both of these, I prefer Muir Glen brand)
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake (more if desired)
1/4 cup vodka
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup whole milk
Handful fresh basil, torn
Salt and pepper
Boulder Beer Company Cold Hop

1) Saute garlic in the heated oil until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.
2) Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper flake, sugar, and vodka.
3) Simmer the sauce while stuffing the cooked shells with the pasta filling, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
4) Add milk to sauce. With a hand or standing blender, puree about half the sauce and return it to the pot.
5) Season to taste (the salt will balance the sugar), and add basil off heat.
6) Line a casserole, jelly roll pan, or baking dish with the stuffed shells. They should nestle closely. Cover with the vodka sauce.
7) Tent with tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes.
8) Open Cold Hop.
9) Enjoy together.

Beers coming out of Colorado, long a bastion of the microbrew community, can tend toward the daring or the mainstream at will. This one happens to lean in the latter direction, but it's still a good beer--the combination of English-style malts and cold hops isn't nearly as daring as it might sound, but it does taste very mellow and refreshing on the palate. Not a lot of bitter hops, but the floral quality melds very nicely with the golden, full flavor profile of British malts. It's clean, it's high gravity, it's not something you necessarily want to serve with a pasta this rich, but in the end we liked the simplicity of the well-balanced brew (even though it finished rather swiftly) with the acidity and savory cream of the pasta.

Moments of great alarm abounded for me during this seemingly calm Italian comfort food recipe, which I--Lyndsay--really did write myself. I was super proud that I came up with it, and then the shadows fell over the darkening world. Moments of quiet, stationary (we only have a one-bedroom apartment) panic ensued. Terrifying, soul-searching, agonizing moments like:

What if the cooked pasta sticks together?
Answer: toss it in a little olive oil, or EVOO as that Food Network gnome puts it.

What if there isn't enough stuffing for the shells??
Answer: throw some shells away. And calm DOWN. Really, what do individual shells cost? 10 cents?

What if I die from salmonella after tasting the stuffing to see if it's well seasoned???!?
Answer: how many times have you tasted raw cookie dough, you smacktarded dumbass? Also, if one were more intelligent than I am, one could taste the pre-egg confab and get a pretty damn close guess.

I hope this little Q&A settled any fears or doubts you may have about this recipe, which is really very satisfying and could serve four with a side salad, as written.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Berkshire Pork Chops with Green Beans, Homestyle Potatoes, and Sweet Pan Sauce


2 Nieman Ranch Berkshire Black pork chops (preferably 1 1/2 inches thick, mine were only just over 1)
2 tbsp. goose fat, or other high heat oil
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 cups water

2 plum tomatoes
2 small minced shallots
2 cloves garlic
2 tbls. balsalmic
1/4 cup bianco vermouth
dash of agave syrup or sugar
Salt and pepper

3/4 pound green beans
1/4 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 large red potato, julienned
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. goose fat
Salt and pepper
Green Flash Le Freak

For Potatoes:
1) Heat goose fat.
2) Add julienned potatoes.
3) Cook over medium to med-high heat until potatoes brown, about 10 minutes.
4) Add onions, minced garlic, thyme, salt & pepper.
5) Cook until onions are done to your liking.

For Green Beans:
1) Cut trimmed green beans on the bias into thin slices. (This is great for making large, tough beans more tender.)
2) Heat the oil and cook onions and sliced garlic for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
3) Add beans and cook for a few minutes until crisp-tender and bright green; season to taste.

For Pork Chops:
1) Mix salt and sugar in a gallon zip-lock bag with the water.
2) Add pork chops and brine for about 1 hour. (Maybe slightly more, but not less.)
3) Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with a baking sheet on the bottom rack.
4) Remove pork chops, pat dry, and season.
5) Heat goose fat in pan until smoking; add pork chops, browning 3 minutes each side.
6) Place pork chops on heated baking sheet to finish cooking in the oven, until meat thermometer reaches 125 to 127 degrees.
7) Remove, tent, and let rest for about 5 minutes.

For Pan Sauce:
1) Add minced shallots and garlic to pork pan; cook for about thirty seconds.
2) Add 1/4 inch diced tomatoes and balsalmic, cooking for 1 minute.
3) Add bianco vermouth and scrape bottom of pan to remove all browned bits.
4) Reduce liquid in pan by half.
5) Garnish pork immediately with potatoes, green beans, and pan sauce, and serve.
6) Open Le Freak.
7) Enjoy together.

A crazy beer. It blends Belgian yeasts with big west coast hops... not an easy task. The flavors will often clash like a Euro-American showdown over a Burberry sale rack. Both give off strong herbal notes, but banana and bubble gum rarely blend well with straw and pine sap. They actually go very well together, but it's like drinking two different beers at the same time. First the hops nose, then you taste and get the malty spice, followed up by the bitter IPA finish. I wouldn't have paired this with pork except that the pan sauce was a sweet balsalmic reduction, which I thought would stand up to this beer. This beer, however, might just be enjoyed most on its own, savoring the subtle undulation between styles.

Lyndsay here, and let me just say that one- or two-pot meals are really my cup of tea, lacking a dishwasher as I do, and being in my soul of souls the kind of (lazy) person who figures it all tastes good in a dogpile together anyway, right? Gabe is a lot more likely to make separate sides, separate sauces, separate fish and meat courses for God's sake, so this was all him. It's a Tuesday night meal for the ambitious, or the second-date hosting, or the rabid brining enthusiast, and to my mind a fine-ass spread for American fare small-scale dinner party. Pork chop and pan sauce recipes were stolen with shameless pride and affection from America's Test Kitchen (linked through our site, or pick up The New Best Recipe).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thai Cashew Chicken


2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
1 red onion, sliced thick
1 carrot, sliced thick on the bias
5 cloves fresh chopped garlic
1 generous bunch chives, chopped
1/2 cup cashew nuts
2 tbsp. dried red chili
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
3 tbsp. good chicken stock
2 heaping tbsp. Thai roasted chili paste (naam prik pow)
1 can water chestnuts
2 tbsp. cooking oil
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Accompaniment: white jasmine rice
24 oz. Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, 2007 Edition

1) Heat cooking oil, preferably in either a wok or a cast iron skillet for high heat.
2) Add minced garlic and dried chili and cook 1 minute.
3) Add chicken and brown on all sides.
4) When browned, add soy sauce and oyster sauce to season. Cook 2-3 minutes.
5) Add carrots, onion, water chestnuts, and chicken stock, stirring occasionally.
6) When vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, add cashews and 2 large tablespoons of naam prik pow. Stir into sauce, which should thicken nicely.
7) Turn off heat and combine with fresh chives.
8) Serve with white jasmine rice.
9) Open Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop 2007.
10) Enjoy together.

The 2007 is the 11th Edition of Chico, CA based Sierra Nevada's Harvest Fresh Hop annual line. What the hell? Why the devil would anyone age a beer with "Fresh Hop" in the title? Well, when 24 oz. is lingering at the back of Morton Williams, and miss-marked for $3.50 instead of $5.99, that's when you drink a year-old fresh hop beer. The hops still emit a nice woodsy/marijuana hop aroma, very herbal, and the hops on the palate veer toward the pine end of the spectrum. Still some nice malts in there, good caramel color, and beyond worth the asking price.

THE ADVENTURE: First of all, I learned this recipe at a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and the sweetness goes like gangbusters with a nice hoppy brew. Finding naam prik pow may sound like an impossible and tiresome quest to folks who lack neighborhood Thai grocery stores, but I'll just pass on the advice given me by my Thai cooking instructor. "Let's say I live in the States, and I run a Thai restaurant, and you come ask me where you can find naam prik pow. What am I going to say to you?? NO!?" (Maniacal Thai laughter--which for the record doesn't come off as very evil.) So, um, they'll probably hook you up at your local Thai joint, because it's an essential ingredient.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Midnight Salad


1 large vine-ripe yellow tomato
6 fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
cracked sea salt and pepper
22 oz. He'brew Jewbelation Eleven

1) Cut tomato into bite size pieces.
2) Chiffonade the basil.
3) Drizzle olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.
4) Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
5) Open He'brew Jewbelation Eleven.
6) Enjoy together.

THE BEER: First of all, it's from He'brew, which is made in Saratoga Springs, NY and is the ale/other category of the Shmaltz Brewing Company, whose lager beers fall under the Coney Island label. It's dark, velvet chocolate with a good dose of coffee, brown sugar, vaguely smoky, not too strong on the tobacco end, with hints of fruit (primarily prune) and just a tiny trace of tar. Very meaty, strong beer, which Gabe matched with an acidic, vinegar-lightened dish. Why? It tastes delicious. The darkness of the beer was offset by the strong light tones of the salad.

THE ADVENTURE: It can be a dicey proposition, one fraught with self-recrimination and heartache, to pick a tomato when There Be Bandits About. After all, they know you want the ripe tomato. The thieves long for the same heightened flavor. They will wait until the last moment possible, just before you pick it, and abscond with your tomato. They will not look back. Except to check for other near-ripe tomatoes. Oh, sure, you could pick an unripe tomato. You could also buy hydroponically-genetically-fundamentally-spiritually altered tomatoes from the great tomato beds of Mars, and eat them after they've gone through re-entry. But why do that? One's timing must be perfect to preempt these Lawless Community Gardeners.

THE RECIPE IS GOD-AWFUL SIMPLISTIC BUT DELICIOUS: Also, it was a literally post-midnight snack. One does what one can, after all. And the tomato was begging to be picked. If I'd been a Tomato Bandit, I'd have marked it days ago as "ripe" for the "plucking."

Our departed Belgian comrade in beer drinking (he didn't die--he has merely determined to live in Belgium) left us with some lovely Delirium Tremens glasses, from which the He'brew done got drunk from when it got drunk. Forgive us. We just watched Tropic Thunder.