Thursday, August 11, 2011

Egg Noodles with Shittake, Napa Cabbage, and Szechuan Sauce

INGREDIENTS (serves 2):

1 22-oz. bottle Abita Andygator

1 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 large yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup mirin
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1/3 cup Szechuan sauce (any brand--I used House of Tsang)
1 tsp. preserved Szechuan peppercorn (this is available in Chinatown--toasted Szechuan pepper in oil with bits of peanut and spice)
dash of white pepper
6 oz. shittake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
3 cups thinly shredded Napa cabbage
1 8-oz. can of water chestnuts, sliced
8 oz. Chinese-style cooked egg noodles
3 scallions, minced
salt and black pepper to taste

1) Heat oil and saute the onion until well sweated, about 8 minutes.
2) Add minced garlic and stir to toast, 1 minute.
3) Add to your pan the mirin, soy sauce, Szechuan sauce, preserved peppercorn, and white pepper. Allow to reduce slightly, 3 minutes or less.
4) Stir mushrooms, cabbage, and water chestnuts into your pan; cover and reduce heat for four to five minutes, or until cabbage is wilted and mushrooms are cooked.
5) Uncover and adjust your seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with minced scallions.
6) Open Abita Andygator.
7) Enjoy together.


So, we were in New Orleans.

I can't even. I just. WOW.

You know when everyone tells you you're going to love something, and I mean actually every person to whom you speak, and you're like, "That's cool. Yes, I'm excited to see this movie/city/play/concert/mime/cricket match. Yes, I bet I'll love it too. No, sure, I get it, I'll love it more than that." And then it's so talked up that you almost think we'll see, suckaaaaas, and you start thinking nothing could possibly be that much fun?

Yeah, New Orleans is that much fun.


I can't even. I just. WOW.

Tales is an event for bartenders, industry, liquor and mixer companies, and "enthusiasts" (me). It showcases every year the best of American bartending--new techniques, old techniques revisited, high standards, new products--by encouraging everybody there to taste the best of American bartending.

And taste it.

And taste it. Over and over and over again.

(A Note from the Liver: Hi! *waves* This is Lyndsay's liver. Lyndsay seemed really to enjoy Tales, and since it was her birthday and all, I wasn't going to begrudge it to her. She's been working hard of late and reasonably well-behaved, not drinking much while she's writing and all. But...I would like to lodge the complaint that I was waving the white flag by the end of this trip, and Lyndsay carried on with the cocktailing like Sherman marching to Atlanta. It got ugly in here, scorched earth and salted fields and scenes of chaos and destruction, and anyway look at that picture up there--that beer is the size of her effing HEAD, who in their right--)

*loud sounds of scuffle*

Sorry about that, I told my liver we weren't interested in her drama.

So, Andygator is an actual big beer from Abita Brewing Company. The best Abita, I think, and done in a Helles Doppelbock style. It's super drinkable, malty but with a very dry, crisp edge to it. I think that it'll pair nicely with Szechuan peppercorn, as the spice from--

(HA! You think a liver who goes through as much as I do would go down without a fight?! Look at this! Look at this picture! THIS is what I am talking about! This sort of behavior! They were pouring amazing liquors and Krug champagne into punch trash bags with single giant ice cubes! How can one behave oneself when surrounded by such debauchery, such utterly hedo--)

*louder sounds of scuffle, followed by muffled thump*


Yeah. The Abita Andygator was good. You should try it. It might be a local thing (I can't source it in NYC yet), but then again, maybe they just don't distribute the big bottles to the Northeast. Fingers crossed for you.

And if you ever go to Tales of the Cocktail, it might be a good idea to give your liver a solid pep talk first. As Niccolo Machiavelli was at pains to remind us all those years ago, it works to be feared. And it works to be loved. But to be feared and loved is best, and that's the relationship I urge you to have with your own liver.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garlic Scape Risotto with Poached Egg

INGREDIENTS (serves six):

1 bottle Ithaca Flower Power India Pale Ale

two cups of arborio or other risotto rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
approx. six to eight cups of best quality vegetable stock, warmed (better to have too much at hand than not enough)
1 pound of garlic scapes, cut into half-inch lengths
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup grated aged Prima Donna cheese (it's a Gouda style cheese; any nutty Gouda will do)
1 cup mixed fresh herbs (we used chives, lemon thyme, and Italian parsley)
salt and fresh black pepper

6 eggs, cracked into ramekins
1 pot of water splashed liberally with white vinegar

1) Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and add onions, sweating 1-2 minutes.
2) Add rice and dried thyme and toast until fragrant, about 4 minutes. This affects the consistency of your risotto; do not skip.
3) Stirring constantly, add white wine; keep stirring 1-2 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
4) Add about a cup and a half of warm broth to the pot; bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Again, stir constantly, until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
5) When nearly all the liquid is gone, add 1/2 cup more vegetable stock. Continue this process, stirring constantly, adding broth as needed, for six minutes. Meanwhile, heat your water and vinegar mixture for poached eggs until lightly boiling.
6) Add garlic scapes to rice. You should have about six to eight more minutes of stirring/broth adding/cooking left for the rice to be done, and meanwhile the scapes will turn tender and bright green.
7) After about 15 minutes total cooking time in the liquid, taste your rice. If it is too firm, continue adding liquid, tasting frequently. When the rice is done, stir in the cheese and turn off heat.
8) Slide eggs from ramekins into poaching liquid and simmer for exactly four minutes.
9) Meanwhile, add most of your herbs to the rice, adjust your seasoning, and plate the risotto into six bowls, each with a slight dip in the center for the egg.
10) After simmering for four minutes, use a slotted spatula to remove your eggs from the liquid; plate them in the center of the risotto, season, and sprinkle with remaining herbs.
11) Open Ithaca Flower Power India Pale Ale. Enjoy together.


The beer is so freaking good. If you can get your hands on this brew, do so at once. Gabe and I love it when the locals really slam one out of the park--Ithaca is a New York brewing company, and we can very often find this on draft. Flower Power is both hopped and dry-hopped, and five different times to boot, which makes sense when one takes in the layered but extravagantly fruit-forward nose. Go ahead, take a sip of it. Let hints of pineapple and pine horse around with each other in your mouth. You could never regret such a thing. And they bottle, so do you have an excuse? No. Just pull up your bootstraps and drink this utterly delicious beer.


Think about making brunch, and the way the perfect oatmeal coats your palate in the early morning. Think about eggs, and the way that their insides gooze when poached, spreading their buttery justice all over whatever else you have on your plate. Think, for a moment--if you'll pardon me--about mornings following long nights and delightful acquaintances, perhaps even particularly delicious acquaintances, and then think about what you might want to cook for any...stragglers. Think about your loved ones...your family staying over, your best friend from out of town. What's the sexiest food possible? THIS FOOD. This food right here. Sexiest. Food. Ever to have. I made it with my husband Gabe, but I now consider it free game.

Fiddlehead Fettucine with Wild Arugula Cream Sauce

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

1 12-oz. bottle Sierra Nevada Summerfest

1/2 pound fresh fiddlehead ferns, carefully washed and trimmed
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp red chili flake
1/4 cup apple brandy (or regular brandy)
8 oz. chicken stock
8 oz. half and half
3/4 pound mixed fresh egg noodle and spinach noodle fettucine (bicolore!)
2 large handfuls wild arugula (regular is fine; ours is from the garden)
1/2 cup fresh minced parsley
salt and fresh black pepper

1) Heat oil in a large skillet; meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
2) Add onion, garlic, dried thyme, and red chili flake to skillet; sweat the onions, 3-4 minutes.
3) Pour brandy into pan, followed by stock and half and half. Season with salt and pepper and then bring to a simmer.
4) Cook, stirring often, until the sauce begins to thicken and the flavors blend, 8-10 minutes.
5) Immerse fiddleheads in the cream sauce and cover, turning down heat, cooking for approx. 6 minutes or until tender.
6) Meanwhile, cook your bicolore fresh pasta noodles for three minutes in rapidly boiling water. Drain.
7) Add arugula to skillet just before incorporating noodles. Toss the noodles into the cream sauce, which will wilt the arugula. Adjust seasoning to taste and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
8) Open Sierra Nevada Summerfest. Enjoy together.


Okay, okay, Sierra is not the most obscure choice of beers for us all to geek out over here at Beer Meets Food. But this is a very respectable pilsner, and it won the gold medal at the California State Fair in 1999 for that reason. It tastes like early summer, and so do fiddlehead ferns, and thus are we determined to match them up in our bellies. The Summerfest goes through an extra-long lagering period, according to Sierra's website, which is the time when the yeast re-absorbs ester compounds, sulfur compounds, and tannins, mellowing the flavor of the brew. It leaves this particular pilsner with a nice fresh cut grass aroma that blends very smoothly with bready malts and an active, crisp mouthfeel.


Gabe bought a Canon T3I. As you can see above, our recipes will now be looking MUCH sexier. I have nothing to say regarding this purchase, however, because when Gabe starts talking about cameras with knowledgeable people like my friend Melinda, I start hearing things like, "It's a twenty-ex-three-Mach-niner Millenium Falcon model, with Bravo chrome zoom and eleven o'clock aperture range, and the lens is a seventy-two degree deadeye with curvature of LALALALALALALA."


Know what I DO know about, though? Obscure veggies. The most magical ingredients on earth are always the ones with a very narrow period of availability, such as the powdered unicorn horn only harvested during the the intersection of the full moon and David Bowie's birthday. Fiddleheads taste like the green forest floor and are around for about three weeks, end of May into early June. Technically, it's an Ostrich Fern frond, with the delicate light brown casing carefully removed by the folk who are kind enough to forage for them in the Northeast woods. Clean them very carefully in cold water and then treat them just as you would an asparagus tip or a French bean. They are delicious and sexy and pretty and I love them.


Wow, but this blog needs updating.

I can haz book cover for The Gods of Gotham (!).

I can't show it to you yet. I wish I could. It is very sexy and very shiny. But the marketers have to have a meeting to launch it first, and so instead of showing you my book cover, I will cruelly taunt you with the fact that it exists.

It is sexy like this, except that the picture looks really nothing like this, and neither does the font, and I can't wait to show you, and the book is not by Stieg Larsson, it is by ME:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vegetable Tempura


2 12 oz. bottles Pretty Things Hedgerow Bitter

(for the tempura)

10 oz. green beans, trimmed
3 carrots, halved and then sliced into thin, bite-sized sticks
1/2 small head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup soda water
1/2 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup chickpea flour (you can sub 1 cup cake flour if you like)
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
salt and fresh black pepper

enough neutral oil (vegetable, sunflower, or corn) to deep-fry

(for the sauce)

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cold water
1/8 cup rice vinegar
2 tsp white sugar
salt to taste

1) Blend the sauce ingredients with a fork and set aside.
2) Whisk the soda water into the egg in a medium bowl and put in freezer to chill for 5 minutes. The batter must be kept as cold as possible.
2) Heat your fry oil (we used a cast iron skillet). Your goal is 340-350 degrees, approximately. You can test with a candy thermometer, or by dropping in a "test bean."
3) Stir your dry batter ingredients into the chilled egg and soda--a few lumps are perfectly fine. Return to freezer until your oil is ready.
4) Batter your veggies in small batches with your fingers and drop them into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd. We did the carrots, then the beans, then the cauliflower. Each batch needs about 3-4 minutes, until the batter is lightly browned and the veg is cooked. As you take each batch out and set the fried pieces on a paper towel-lined plate, lightly salting them as they're done, return the batter to the freezer and allow the oil to come back up to temperature before continuing.
5) Plate your veg. We served them with toasted sushi rice, but regular rice or a noodle broth would also be lovely.
6) Open Pretty Things Hedgerow Bitter.
7) Enjoy together.


We've gotten turned onto Pretty Things relatively recently--they're a Massachusetts operation, and we find their work to be pretty damn tasty. Our buddy Kirk (of Amsterdam Ale House and 4th Avenue Pub, among other Elysian watering holes) recently hosted a Pretty Things event in Brooklyn, and we got to chatting with their rep. It turns out that they don't yet have the funds for their own brewing equipment, but would prefer to keep producing contracted brew with their own recipes than invite any investors on board who might have pedestrian beer opinions. This makes them sort of beer vigilantes, which is unquestionably tight.

This is a UK-style pale ale, which isn't an easy thing to pull off to the satisfaction of hophead American beer dork palates without unnecessarily becoming an IPA instead of a classic English bitter ale. And interestingly, not a single American hop varietal is used to brew Hedgerow. The hops in play are Pioneer, First Gold, and Sovereign, which as the brewers acknowledge give an entirely different flavor profile to the bitter grapefruit or piney scent of US hops. According to the makers, these Brit hops "are leafy weeds, very bitter and less aromatic. The overall impression left is a slightly-roasty, special bitter with an aggressive and quite 'wild' bitterness with a substancial (sic) dryness that lends to its drinkablity."

In any event, it's quite a drinkable quaff when paired with food, and there's a clean fresh biscuit aroma to the malts that makes it delightful next to a fried morsel. So fry yourself some morsels and crack a brew. No better way to spend an afternoon.


WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: I got invested in the Baker Street Irregulars, and my investiture name is Kitty Winter.

[The above announcement was made with--or so I hope--all necessary simplicity, poise, and gravitas, the sort of quiet and staid declarative befitting a person newly invested in a historied literary society, one who knows the value of elegant understatement and gracefully puts that minimalism into best effect.]



I feel moderately justified in assuming that I will be forgiven the above outburst, as I distinctly recall the word "enthusiasm" being a key descriptor of my Sherlockian ethos just before Wiggins (Michael Whelan) gave me a shilling (the symbol of BSI investiture). And believe me, when it comes to Sherlock Holmes, I have the enthusiasm of the Portland Trailblazers outside a medical marijuana clinic. When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, I have the enthusiasm of John Boehner passing a spray-tan salon.

Here you see me pictured in the dress that Susan Dahlinger declared a fashionable inter-species arranged marriage between a parasol and a red velvet cupcake. She didn't seem to think miscegenation of the cupcake/feminine accessory variety in any way troubling, for which I was grateful. More pictures of this dress are probably forthcoming, as it was recently the star of one of our Let's Play Pretty Princess While Drinking Manhattans photo shoots.

I more or less feel as if I won an Academy Award, if the Academy Awards were a clubbable group of erudite people who inexplicably find your presence charming and want to continue chatting with you forever. It's a crazy, crazy thing. To my knowledge, I'm currently the youngest, though not the youngest ever invested by a very long shot. And they even let me in despite the fact I write pastiches, and comic books, and set up shameless games of Pin the Pillow on Robert Downey Jr, and refer to Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch as:


(He's gonna get wind of this title one of these days, I just know it, and then I'll have to face the music. I know how small the hardcore Sherlockian world is. It's not impossible that I might one day be called upon to explain why I think it's okay to affix laperine nicknames to perfectly respectable leading men.)

(Yes, I said laperine.)

(It means "like a bunny.")

(Shut up. Because it's more fun than typing a portmanteau such as "rabbitlike.")

But, I mean to say...look at that. Just...hmm? Who is he? Ah, he's the very talented actor currently playing Sherlock Holmes in BBC's new adaptation Sherlock. You've never--what are you doing reading my blog, then? Go watch BBC Sherlock at once, and try not to overdose by mainlining awesome, or trip over Martin Freeman's Afghan War vet badassery, or pass out at the unprecedented Mycroft levels, or cut yourself on the Cumberbunny's cheekbones.

Seriously, all due caution. They're very sharp.


I could read lists of British names all day. Doubtless, I am the person for whom The Awl posted 68 Fantastic British Names Gathered While Watching BBC Credits Over the Years (and the Glorious Cumberbunny isn't even on it!). But they're really magical, the proper British names. They make everything better. They can make terrible writing vastly entertaining, in fact, which is my secret, in case you were wondering. Watch me type a terrifically dull passage using Brit names picked at random from The Awl's list:

One morning as Fionnula Tambling-Goggin took a turn about her garden, she spied her dear friend Prunella Scales approaching from the lane beyond on the arm of her cousin Mervyn Pinfield, recently arrived from East Kent. It occurred to Fionnula that she ought really to ask Prunella to tea that afternoon, as both Lulu Popplewell and Imogen Millais-Scott had promised attendance, and the two were notoriously set against one another ever since competing for the heart of Nigel Humphreys the year before. It would take more than the giddy invective of Royston Farrell and good old Pip Torrens--himself a cousin of Lulu's, as everyone is getting to be cousins these days--to provide a distraction, and so Fionnula ran to the gate with Prunella's name upon her cherry lips.


That just wouldn't work with Jill, Bob, and Jessica, now would it?