Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two (Die-for! Ha!) Steak Side Dishes

INGREDIENTS (both serve 4, and ideally would go best with a dark meat of some kind for the main event, such as steak or lamb):

(for the MAITAKE MUSHROOMS WITH FIDDLEHEAD FERNS--one of the best seasonal spring dishes I've ever put in my face)

1/2 pound fiddlehead fern fronds, brown stems trimmed and carefully cleaned of grit
1/2 pound maitake (also called hen-of-the-woods) mushrooms, brushed clean and separated into generous 3-inch pieces
4 tbsp. butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 medium shallot, sliced thin
salt and fresh black pepper

1) Drop 2 tbsp. of your butter into a hot cast iron over medium-high heat and wait until foaming subsides.
2) Add shallots, garlic, and fiddleheads. Saute for about 4-5 minutes, until the shallots are nicely caramelized and the fiddleheads are bright green.
3) Move the fiddleheads to the side a bit and add your reserved 2 tbsp. butter to the center of the skillet. When foaming subsides, add maitake mushrooms.
4) Season with salt and fresh black pepper. After mushrooms have wilted/browned a bit, about 3 minutes, combine them with the fiddleheads.
5) Adjust seasoning to taste and remove from heat. Serve immediately. The fiddleheads are cooked when they have been sauteed 8-10 minutes and are about the consistency of young asparagus. They should look pretty much like the above picture. Be careful to heat them past their crunch, as bacteria have been known to hide in the little heads and you should cook them thoroughly. It's a rare problem, but might as well be safe, yes?

(for the BLT STEAK POPOVERS; original recipe by Laurent Tourondel uses gruyere, but hey, we didn't have gruyere)

two cups milk, gently warmed
4 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 tbsp salt
1 generous cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
popover pan

1) Place the popover pan
in the oven, heating oven and pan to 350 degrees.
2) Whisk the eggs until frothy and then slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eg
gs). Set mixture aside.
3) Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this dry mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.
4) Once combined, remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick vegetable or olive oil spray. While the batter is still warm/room temperature, fill each popover cup 3/4 full. Top each popover with 2-3 tbsp cheese (we used cheddar; Chef Laurent uses gruyere).
5) Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking. Remove from oven, remove from pan, and serve immediately.

(further dinner instructions)

1) Cook a steak or else a lamb chop just the way you like it. Serve with these sides.
2) Open a bottle of
Tröegs Nugget Nectar.
3) Enjoy together.


I've been on an American craft- and microbrew beer tasting kick of late because Gabe has a new job. Plus his old job. He still works at Woo Lae Oak, but he's also now employed by the lovely folks who run Bar Carrera on Houston and MacDougal, and they have just opened a fabulous new location called Custom American Wine Bar in Williamsburg. They worked with Gabe to write the new hangout's beer list, which brings us to...


Tröegs is a team of two brothers by the name of Chris and John Trogner who brew in central Pennsylvania and make things that tend to be completely delicious. They explain their brewery's name in this manner:

TRÖEGS (tr?gs) *v-tröeged, -tröeg'in The act of tröeg'in, ie "I tröeged it" or {slang} "that boy is tröeg'in" -adj. An aura of complete enjoyment and contentment, ie "My you look Tröegy this morning."

I hesitate to either question or believe their regionalisms, but holy crap nuggets, the Nugget Nectar is fantastic. (To be fair, their other style are also excellent, as I don't want to give the impression that you should be stocking up on Nugget and skip the JavaHead Stout or the Sunshine Pils, to name two...) Nugget Nectar is an Imperial Amber Ale made with classic European malts that is blown through the roof by way of Nugget, Warrior, Tomahawk, and other hardcore hops. 7.5 % ABV, IBUs guessed to be "93ish" by the brewers. I don't know that many other Imperial Ambers can hold a candle to this orange-hued cup of piney goodness, but you're welcome to buy me as many as you like to prove me wrong. The nose hints at biscuits from the Munich malts but is dominated by elegant floral hops and caramelized orange peel. So go ahead and taste it.

Smoother than you expected, yes? Creamier? With a lingering sweetness? Nothing a bit overpowering and everything neatly lined up like an OCD's medicine cabinet?

Go buy this beer right now, it's seasonal. Then eat it with STEAK and STEAK SIDE DISHES. You will not be sorry. If you are, call me, and I'll finish the bottle.


My friend Dahlinger mentioned gardening today, so I'm going to rant about it here for a minute. I love my garden like I love secondhand designer dresses, and the garden this year is--largely--no longer a seething hotbed of Jacobean political intrigue. It has its quirks, to be sure, and abandoned animals, and the odd crackhead who takes up half an hour or so of my time on any given Thursday May 20th yesterday in mid-afternoon when I wanted to be watering the shoots and the leaves. But that's pretty much every space in New York, so why quibble.

And anyway, I'd imagine we'll do a redux of the EXTREME SUMMER GARDEN series on this blog, so some context is good. This is my garden plot midsummer last year, and here's my opinion of what to put in a garden bed with limited space.

HERBS, and reasons to plant them: herbs are so expensive at the grocery store that sometimes I'd like to ask them what just a couple of basil leaves instead of the whole bunch costs. And they have a very short fridge life, which is maddening. Here's my inner monologue some mornings:

(warning: this is a perhaps mentally stultifying example of just how boring my inner monologue can be--proceed with caution...)

ME: Hungry. Not many options in fridge. I have plenty of noodles in the pantry. Hey, I could put that basil on them and some frozen peas. (opens fridge, finds that basil is brown when it wasn't yesterday) S** of a bitch, ten-dollar-basil!!! My nemesis. My love.

Something like that. Plant herbs, and plenty of them. Then when you want two parsley sprigs, go pick two parsley sprigs. Problem solved. I have this year (this is my 2010 garden during last month's rainy spell):

Italian sweet basil
Mexican cinnamon basil
Thai basil
Wild arugula (the crazy patch in the upper right)
Jamaican thyme
English thyme
Lemon thyme
Chocolate mint

VEG, accompanied by veggie warnings: everybody likes a nice zucchini frittata, or a yellow squash soup, right?


If you have an estate, plant squash. If you have your own island, plant squash. If you live in Dakota Territory and the nearest town ain't got no law to speak of and the last neighbor you had was a fur trapper who was gone the next morning and you tend to "disrecollect" things instead of forgetting them, plant squash. If you have a plot, like I do, then don't, unless your car runs on zucchini bread instead of gasoline. The yield is terrific, the space expended monstrous.

Caution: the byword of the man who encounters a pumpkin seed.

In my opinion, you want to plant things that either 1) cost less to grow yourself; 2) look too cool to pass up, or; 3) need to ripen on the vine to taste good. This means you will probably be planting tomatoes. Several kinds, preferably heirloom. It means you really ought to plant lettuce heads, because you can pluck the nicest leaves off for your fresh-from-the-elements salad and your plant will keep growing.

I have this season (we skipped the peppers we did last year only because they're so cheap in my hood):

"Pink lettucy mustard" (pictured--it's a hybrid green, and is fantastic raw in salads)
Red leaf lettuce
Yellow tomatoes
Little tomatoes I forget what kind
Big tomatoes I forget what kind
Purple broccoli
Red Falstaff Brussels sprouts

So that's the size of it, folks. I'm in favor of things that make it easier to cook dinner, essentially, when you're planting your garden. I'll be doing plenty more garden updates as the weather finally improves and the flora starts fawning at the sunshine, so stay tuned and eat well in the meantime.

Lemon-Thyme Olive Oil Cupcakes with Balsamic Glaze


(for the Lemon-Thyme Cake--this recipe was lovingly stolen and marginally simplified from a very pretty blog called The Cupcake Project)

*Makes 12 cupcakes. I couldn't find the cupcake paper, so this looks like a muffin. Shut up, shut up, it's a cupcake.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (not regular olive oil--use a nice, grassy extra virgin)
1 tbsp. lemon zest
3 large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

1) Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
2) In a second mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Add olive oil slowly and mix on high speed until completely combined.
3) Beat in the eggs singly, mixing well after each addition.
4) Add 1/2 the flour mixture, combining well.
5) Add the lemon juice, combining well.
6) Add remainder of the flour. Beat until smooth.
7) Stir in the thyme.
8) Fill cupcake liners or muffin tins.
9) Bake at 375 degrees for twenty minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when touched.

(for the Balsamic Glaze, which is MINE, baby!)

1/2 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
a touch of fresh ground black pepper

1) Heat the sugar and balsamic vinegar in a small candy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
2) Stirring constantly, continue to reduce the mixture until it thickens to a syrup--about 5 minutes.
3) Remove from heat. Working before the glaze cools too much, paint your cupcakes with a brush or drizzle over the tops.

(for the beer)

1 Woodchuck Draft Cider Dark & Dry

Open beer.
Enjoy together with lemon thyme cupcakes for your high tea.


Well, it's not, of course. It's cider.

You absolutely can drink beer with your high tea, and high tea is what I called it every time I ate one of these killer cupcakes. But maybe you want to class it...I dunno, not UP a notch exactly, but class it...laterally. Yes. Have a cider, then.

I have chosen, for educational purposes, to also picture an actual woodchuck here for your edification and amusement. Woodchucks are awesome.

Woodchuck Draft Cider is a Vermont cider company that makes several varieties of tasty quaffables including an Amber, Pear, Raspberry, and Granny Smith. The Dark & Dry is called 802 (for their area code) and is made with deeply caramelized sugar instead of white sugar, which gives it a beautiful rich color and a better depth of flavor. It's still quite sweet, but this is your f***ing high tea, right? You deserve a treat.


I have believed throughout my adult life in the following principles, a simple list of Things Which Best Be Avoided:

Running, unless pursued by bears. (*NOTE: this is a turnaround from when I was little and thought adults were stupid for not running, because running gets you places faster. I also make exceptions for jaywalking across busy intersections and sudden April rainstorms.)



Non-alcoholic beer and decaf coffee. Because...why?

Cooking anything I can't taste multiple times throughout the process and thus save from heading over a cliff if it is going in the wrong direction, and thus: all effort to make baked goods.

I really thought that unless you got the exact perfect number of grains of baking powder in a batch of cookies (is there baking powder in cookies? or is that baking soda? what is the difference??? does it matter? I can't stop crying...I can't feel my lips...) then you would end up with an inferior product and people would laugh at you and point and call you Loser McFail-Baker. I thought they would refuse to ever hang out with you again even when you wore really cute glittery pumps and instead they would give you a steely look as if to say, "Your butter was improperly softened. I disdain you." I thought that acquaintances and friends, after sampling tepid, limp biscotti, would erect a sign above my apartment door that read HERE YOU MAY SEE LYNDSAY, WHO FLEW TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN AND MADE ASSY CINNAMON ROLLS.

PICTURED: the haunted visage of a man whose muffins turned out dry.

Actually, it turns out that baking is easy.

This isn't going to prove as big a problem as it could have been because I don't care for sweets particularly (open a bag of potato chips, however, and I will eradicate it for you). But expect to see bakery offerings on Beer Meets Food now! Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cambodian Glass Noodles


*(optional) 6 oz. leftover shredded pork shoulder
6 oz. Thai bean thread or "glass" noodles
1 tbsp. rendered pork or bacon fat (can use olive oil)
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, minced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 small heads broccoli, stems peeled, chopped
1 egg, beaten and seasoned
salt and fresh black pepper

1 tbsp. sugar or agave
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce

2 fresh chives, minced
a handful of cilantro, minced

Hitachino Nest White Ale

1) Place glass noodles in a mixing bowl and heat enough water (to just below boiling) to cover. Soak noodles (5 minutes is enough).
2) Heat pork fat until smoking in heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron. If using leftover pork shoulder or shredded pork, add meat to crisp.
3) Add to the pan minced jalapeno, garlic, red pepper flake, and onion. Saute 2 minutes.
4) Stir in broccoli and ground white pepper. Season cautiously with salt and black pepper and pan-fry 3 more minutes over high heat.
5) Move the contents of the pan to one side. If empty side is dry, add a touch of oil. Fry the beaten egg, then mix all together.
6) Add sauce to pan and scrape any fond off the bottom. (If at any point during this recipe something is burning or sticking, feel free to splash in a little chicken stock, water, or soy sauce--just be careful not to oversalt.)
7) Your noodles should be quite soft. Snip them with kitchen scissors in the bowl until they're a nice bite-sized length. Drain and add to pan, turning off heat.
8) Stir the noodles into the stir-fried veggies and pork, adding your chopped herbs. Check seasoning and adjust with sugar, salt, or fish sauce if necessary.
9) Open Hitachino Nest White Ale.
10) Enjoy together.


We've sorta sorely neglected to talk abut Asian beers on this blog, which is a shame. Gabe is the mixologist at Woo Lae Oak, and thus has a hand in picking which beers go on the list there, and Hitachino Nest White is one of them, because people should only drink beers that are awesome and Hitachino Nest White Ale is made of awesome and drinks like liquid awesome.

(Brief anecdote: I don't recall precisely what the beer list was at "the Woo" before Gabe and his GM Dan sat down and did an Awesomeness Enhancement, but it looked pretty much like this: Kirin. Kirin Light. OB. Sapporo. Heineken. Corona Light. Water With Beer Flavor Additives. Water With Beer Flavor Additives Light.)

This is a mean pairing with glass noodles. Hitachino White is a chilled-out Witbier at 5% alcohol, brewed in Japan, a lovely pale golden cloudy color. It has a delicate but vibrant nose on it. Super floral and ginger and cloves and citrus, lemon edges, a faint whiff of yeast. Sip it. It's incredibly complex for a Witbier style, with a Granny Smith tang at the front of the tongue and a depth of bittering balance that you don't often find with brews of this sort, which can lean toward banana and bubble gum pretty easily. This doesn't--it's a medley ofIndian spices with a backbone of lemon and bread. Outstanding. Drink it with glass noodles.


Photo caption: Lyndsay Pairs Beer with Food in Asia.

By the way, if you were ever to stop by Woo Lae Oak, you'd do well by yourself ordering the glass noodles and a Hitachino Nest White. Korean glass noodles are called Jap Chae and are made out of sweet potato instead of mung bean like the Thai/Cambodian variety I used here.

So this dish is inspired by my hometown dining experiences. There are not a lot of exotic places to eat on Longview, Washington. One might even be tempted to say boldly, ON THE CONTRARY! and drive to Portland, OR or Seattle, WA, which both have absolutely killer restaurants. But in Longview itself, unless what you want is some outrageously good Mexican food, ethnic dining is pretty much confined to Hart-C's Thai-Chinese Food and Steak Burger.

Yep. Great name. This from the town that also brought you Cleopatra's Grizzly Bear Casino.

Anyway, #58 is a dish called Glass Noodles with Pork and Eggs. The nifty trick about the Thai plates at Hart-C's is that the family that owns Hart-C's (I went to high school with their kids) isn't Thai. They're Cambodian. The food is similar to Thai, but I've never had another glass noodle dish in a genuinely Thai restaurant precisely like this one. Hart-C's is bloody delicious (they have an out of this world black pepper and garlic fried beef), so as a tribute to them I tried to recreate their glass noodles with some leftover pork. I'm pretty stoked by the results, and it's considerably cheaper than a plane flight.

I took a cooking class in Thailand, when we were in Chiang Mai. I could cook Thai food every day. So tasty. So healthy. So good with BEER.