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: