June 2, 2011

Upright Brewing No. Six

Sarah and I are members of a couple of the K&L wine clubs and every month they send us a pamphlet with that month's news and recommendations along with the wine. Included in every issue is a beer recommendation.  It only takes up about half a page in the 20 page volume and there are only one or two recommendations given, but they're always gems.

This bottle here was one of those recommendations...

Upright Brewing's No. Six - Rye, 6.7%
  From Upright's website: "Six is a dark rye beer with earthy hop flavors and caramel malts lending an initial full palate that finishes semi-dry. The overall balance of the Six makes it easy to pair with richly prepared meats along with many harder cheeses."

 I remember this being nice and smooth with very little bitterness and just a little bit of a sour finish.  We had it with the fava pizza and it was great.

May 23, 2011

Fava Bean Puree Pizza with Green Garlic, Chevre, and an Egg

Fava beans have been making their way into our CSA box lately.  The past few weeks I've noticed an extra bag in the swap box along with the other typical swap items (leafy greens) so have gladly accepted the (obviously) unwanted beans.  Whoever is leaving them behind doesn't really know what they're missing out on.

Granted, fava beans can be a pain.  After you've finished shucking, blanching, and peeling the beans, there's not much left over to brag about.  A busy family on the go may not have the time or gumption to sit down for a good half hour and work through a pile of beans.  I imagine some people might get a little antsy in this situation. 

The fava bean is a cover crop, as far as I can tell, used to help fix nitrogen in the soil in the times between other plantings.  Our friends Megan and Kelly took us to their place of employ, Filoli gardens in Woodside near Palo Alto, where they have a patch of favas growing in a section of the vegetable garden there.  Typically they would just plow everything back into the ground as compost, but we had the chance to take out five or ten pounds of beans a couple weekends ago before that happened.  Which is great, the more the merrier. 

This fava bean abundance has afforded Sarah and I the chance to try out an excellent fava bean puree recipe that Sarah found last year.  We've worked out that the best application for the puree is to either spread it on toast or use it in place of sauce on a pizza  What you see here is the result of our efforts...

Fava Bean Puree Pizza with Green Garlic, Chevre, and a Backyard Egg

Fava Bean Puree
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Fresh Rosemary
2 Cloves Garlic, or more, finely diced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Cups Fava Beans, shucked, blanched, and peeled
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbs. Olive Oil, for pureeing

Lightly saute the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes in oil for about a minute.  Throw in the shelled beans and saute until heated through.  In a food processor puree the sauteed beans with salt, pepper, and more olive oil to the desired consistency.  The beans can take on a lot of oil at this point, though I usually use water if I need to smooth out the mix after I've added the first bit of olive oil.

For the pizza:

Heat the oven to at least 450F an hour before baking time.  Roll out a single recipe of the pizza dough on a well floured surface and transfer to a peel or pan.  Spread liberally with the fava bean puree, top with finely diced green garlic (shallots would work well here too) and crumbled chevre.  Crack an egg whole over the middle of the pizza and toss it in the oven.  I like to cook my pizzas about 8 minutes in a 450 degree oven with a pizza stone.

April 27, 2011

Eggs on Toast

Sarah relayed to me one day that she had heard Nora Ephron say on a podcast something along the lines of, "Part of becoming an adult is letting go of the dream of either owning a restaurant or owning a bookstore." Sarah joked that becoming an organic farmer should also be on that list too.  "Boo," I thought, "I kinda want to do all of those things". 

Needless to say both Sarah and I have vague dreams of owning a business.  We've talked semi-seriously about opening a dine-in theater or moving away somewhere and opening a B&B.  It usually comes up during breakfast when we're munching on our favorite dish trying to figure out what we would serve people if we were tasked with making something.  Invariably there is always one solid stand-by that we would serve to anybody and always be proud of.  This thing is the Eggy Sandwich, or just simply Eggs on Toast.

This is perhaps the most simple thing.  An egg, fried or poached, on toasted bread with butter or cheese (or both!), and sometimes a few apple slices.  Nothing fancy, just really good.

The Eggy Sandwich is of course a staple of the fast food breakfast industry and along with burnt coffee has fueled the sad little morning fires of destitute office workers everywhere.  Though having it handed to you luke-warm, squashed, and wrapped in crinkly paper just makes you feel a little worse off once you get a good look at it.  Not a great way to start things off.

Instead, take five minutes and make it for yourself at home.  Toast, check.  Poached egg microwave style, check.  Slice of cheese, check.  An apple for the road, and we're done. 

How to Poach an Egg in the Microwave

I used to poach eggs in the microwave when I worked at the old Beckmann's Bakery coffee shop in Santa Cruz.  This is how it was done:

Crack and egg into a microwave safe bowl, pour in about 2 Tbs.of water.  If you like your egg whites more firm add about 1/2 tsp. of white vinegar as well.  Cover the bowl with a small microwave safe plate before putting it in the microwave.  Cook everything for about 60 seconds at 80% power.  Check the egg.  If it is not as done as you'd like it, microwave it at 80% power in 15 second intervals until it's finished.  Spoon the egg out of the water and enjoy.

I've noticed that the egg yolks end up overdone when the whites are well finished.  So to get the runny yolk like you're supposed to you'll have to have whites that are a bit more squishy than is ideal. 

April 19, 2011

Tofu Egg Salad

You'll notice that we've changed the title of our kitchen's menu for this (last) week from "The Ugly Ducking Specials" to "The Dweed Diner". The reason for this is because of our monthly tradition of having our friends Megan and Kelly over for dinner. We call the event "Dweener" when we have it at our place and "Kegener" when we have it at their place. You know, "Dwiggins-Reed Dinner" or "Kelly-Megan Dinner" depending on the location...

The compound noun "dweed" comes from the combination of Sarah's maiden name, Dwiggins, and my bachelor name (?), Reed.  Early in our engagement Sarah and I discussed whether or not she should change her name from Dwiggins to Reed.  As we had just finished our academic careers we knew it was common for published researchers to not bother changing their names when they get married to reduce future confusion. So not changing her name at all was one option. Hyphenating her name, Dwiggins-Reed, was also an option.  I mentioned half jokingly that we should just combine the two and then we could both change our names to Dweed.  Big joke, ha ha...the family gave us funny looks whenever we brought it up.  Anyway, Sarah and I adopted it informally just between the two of us.

This week we will be using up some of the bread hunks in the freezer as well as the turnips we got from the CSA to make another panade.  We'll be making a pizza with roasted garlic, egg drop soup with green onions, carrots, and spinach and will also be making Tofu Egg Salad for our weekly potluck with the Olins.  Despite the fact that we get a ton of eggs every week, we still make fake egg salad to cut back on the cholesterol.  This stuff is great:

Tofu Egg Salad

16 oz. Block Extra Firm Tofu
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
Salt and Pepper
Finely Diced Veggies (I like carrots, celery, and dill pickles)
Anything else you might like in egg salad...

Wrap the tofu in a paper towel and weight it to drain.  When ready mash the tofu into little bits using your hands (I've tried using the stand mixer with the paddle attachment to do this, it doesn't work out that great).  Mix in the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, turmeric, salt, pepper, and the diced veggies.  Taste for seasoning, adjust as necessary.  Enjoy.

April 7, 2011

Spaetzle with Lentils and Spicy Tomato Sauce

My brother's wife Monika turned Sarah and I onto spaetzle when we visited them in Portland last year.  Spaetzle is a type of fresh pasta that you cook by spooning dollops into boiling water.  They're similar to gnocchi except that it's so much easier.  I've seen spaetzle makers that look a lot like potato ricers; I'm assuming they work well though I haven't tried this method yet.

The recipe we're using is one we found in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Spaetzle with Lentils and Spicy Tomato Sauce

Cook the lentils in advance if you can.  Having a jar full off cooked lentils in the fridge makes and easy side or a good addition to a salad or pasta dish. Rinse the lentils thoroughly while watching for rocks, then cover with about an inch or two of water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add a bay leaf.  Reduce the lentils to a simmer once they come to a boil and check them in about 30 minutes.  They should be soft but not squishy when done, add more water if necessary.  Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste and remove the bay leaf before serving.

Prepare the tomato sauce.  For this recipe we just used some of our pizza sauce from the freezer; great in a pinch.

For the Spaetzle:

2 cups Flour (all purpose or a mix)
~3/4 cup Milk, more if needed
3 Eggs
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Salt
Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed.  Add more milk to make a smooth batter if necessary.  When the water is boiling spoon tablespoon sized dollops or smaller into the water.  Depending on your pot size you may be able to fit in six or seven at a time.  

The dumplings are nearly ready when they pop up from the bottom of the pan; once this happens give them another minute or two so the insides are well done.  Some of the dumplings may stick to the bottom, use a slotted spoon to detach them so they float to the top. 

When the dumplings are done, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water to a separate bowl.  Coat with olive oil so they don't stick to each other.  Continue cooking the rest of the dumplings.

For the dish, mix some of the lentils in with the spaetzle and serve topped with tomato sauce and grated cheese. 

March 25, 2011

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I believe (I don't remember 100% because it's been a few years) that this soup was introduced to us by our friend Bridget Piculell (we miss Bridget, she's now in Mississippi getting her Ph.D. in Biology, we hope she comes home someday) way back during our college years. It's the nuttiest thing because this soup has a green apple in it and that just weirded me out back then. Now I know better: apples can go with everything.

This soup is super easy, especially if you roast the butternut in advance some night when you're already using the oven for something else. Sarah has been making a habit of roasting one or two big ones before cutting them up and freezing them. We really need a bigger freezer, ours is bursting and it's a pain to get things out of the back when we need them. If we had the space I'd get one of those chest freezers. Maybe we should really take up canning instead, we've been meaning to. So much to do.

Anyway, the soup:

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Olive Oil
1 large Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1 Green Apple, diced
1 tsp. Curry Powder (more or less depending on your taste, or use your own mix)
1 large roasted Butternut Squash, seeded and peeled
2-4 Cups Stock (or a mix of stock and water)
1/4 soft nuts like Pine Nuts (expensive!) or Cashews
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cilantro or Parsley for garnish

Caramelize the onion in olive oil over low heat until well browned and soft. Add the garlic and the apple and continue to cook until the apple begins to soften. Work in the curry powder, the squash, and the stock. Bring to a boil and cook until the apples are good and soft, maybe five minutes. Everything is pretty much cooked already so the soup doesn't have to go for long.

Add the nuts and puree with a stick blender. Salt and pepper to taste before serving. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

March 13, 2011

Chickens (1)

I have had this sitting on the back burner for months and months.  And now, sitting at the computer, on the weekend, watching it rain, I am ready.

We have chickens.  That is to say that Sarah, myself, and our landlords Ken and Celise have chickens.   We got them almost a year ago, back in April 2010.

I believe I remember it being Sarah that first mentioned the desire to begin our journey  into chickendom but Celise was immediately on board.  Ken had reservations; thinking back on it I think he thought that we were just going through a phase, as if we were like children asking for a pony or a giant dog.  We would get the things and then about 6 months in would say something to the effect of, "Ok, we're bored, you take care of them now".  Heck, I've done things like that to my parents in the past, I wouldn't have put it past me if I were him.

Eventually though, successful arguments were made and the project was begun.

This was to be the site for the main run and the hen house.  It's just on the other side of the fence separating our small back yard from our landlords much larger back yard.  Originally Sarah and I were committed to putting the whole mess in our yard, but Celise was so excited about the prospect of having chickens that she and Ken agreed to put the bulk of the living space in their yard.  All of us came to the agreement that there would be a pathway for the chickens to get through the fence and into our yard, a portion of which we would block off for the chicken's use.  

The arrangement was to be that Ken and Celise would provide the living quarters (supplies and space, etc.) while Sarah and I would provide upkeep (feed, bedding, and cleaning).  We would both share in the spoils (eggs!).  This more or less has been the case.  We all ended up sharing in the cleaning however.  Chickens are prolific poopers and diggers and it's a lot of work trying to keep everything in ship shape on your own. 

While the hen house was coming together, Sarah and I went to find chickens.  It's not hard to find just any chicken, pet stores will usually have something.  But finding a particular breed of chicken can be a challenge.  Sarah wanted a New England Red and two Plymouth Barred Rocks.  This isn't what we got.  Instead we got a New England Red and two Black Sex Links (we think).  Still cute though...

March 10, 2011

Asian Style Noodles with Kale and Cashews

Sarah, wishing to stick with our new massaged kale discovery was rifling through our ream of loose recipes and pulled a variation of this dish out of the pile.  

I believe the recipe is from one of Molly Katzen's many cookbooks.  After preparing this dish we came to the realization that the dressing for this is fantastic on things like grain or bean salads or on top of other noodle dishes.  It's super tasty.

Also, I'm not a fan of nuts.  Raw walnuts in particular make me itchy and cut my tongue to pieces.  Cashews however, I like.  They're soft and just melt when you chew on them.  So we've been trying cashews on different things because Sarah really likes nuts and wants to eat them.

Kale with Cashews and Noodles

1 lb. Asian Style Noodles (Soba, Udon, Rice noodles, etc.)
1 bunch Kale, Massaged with salt
1/4 cup toasted Cashews
1 Tbs. Honey
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. diced Ginger
1 tsp. Miso Paste
1/2 tsp. toasted Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 tsp. Chile Oil or Red Pepper Flake, or to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sesame Seeds (if you like)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally.  While the pot is on the heat prepare dressing by whisking together the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, miso paste, sesame seed oil, and the hot oil or red pepper flakes if you decide to use them.  I've found that microwaving the honey briefly makes it much easier to bring the dressing together.  Set aside when finished.  Cook the noodles according to their directions while you prepare the kale.  Toast the cashews either on the stove in a dry pan until just beginning to brown, or in a toaster oven (much easier). Drain the noodles and mix in the kale, cashews, other optional additions like sesame seeds, and the dressing.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is great either hot or cold the next day for lunch. 

March 3, 2011

Pappa al Pomodoro

This weeks menu is all about being simple.  Because I've busted my foot and have a harder time getting around the house than I usually do Sarah has been looking for recipes that are easy to make and are not too time consuming. 

The broccoli and mushroom soup is super straight forward: just some onion, garlic, red pepper flake, sauteed mushrooms in olive oil and steamed broccoli in stock, liquefied with a stick blender and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Have this with some toasty buttered bread and you're golden.

In previous posts I've mentioned that we take part in a CSB through IRise Bakery. Of course as it's just Sarah and me it's difficult to get through a full loaf of bread in week and we're left with a good hunk of old bread come delivery day.  Pappa al Pomodoro is a soup based mostly on stale bread, tomatoes, and stock, and is delicious hot off the oven.  Sarah adapted this recipe from one found in the Il Forniao Baking Book.

Pappa al Pomodoro

12 Oz. Crusty Bread
Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic
Oregano & Basil, fresh or dried
2 15 Oz. cans Crushed Tomatoes
4 Cups Stock
Salt & Pepper
Pesto or more Olive Oil for Garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 Degrees.  Cut the bread into cubes and lay out on a baking sheet.  Toast in the oven at 5 minute intervals until crisp and toasty. 

Saute the garlic, oregano, and basil in the olive oil briefly before adding the tomatoes and stock.  Bring this to a boil then add the toasted bread.  Return to a boil, then reduce the heat so the soup simmers gently.  Allow the soup to cook until the bread is well softened and the soup has thickened.  If the soup gets too thick, add more water to maintain the proper consistency.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with pesto or olive oil before serving.

February 21, 2011

Lavender Snickerdoodles

These are the Lavender Snickerdoodles referred to in the previous post.  They are always a crowd-pleaser and are quickly devoured at parties.

The recipe below is an adaptation of the normal snickerdoodle recipe (in which ground cinnamon is used).  The difference is that ground lavender has been substituted into the recipe on a 1:1 basis.  So, if you don't like lavender, sub back in the cinnamon and you have the standard classic.

Lavender Snickerdoodles

3/4 Cup granulated sugar
2/3 Cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 Cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground lavender (grind lavender flowers in a clean blade coffee grinder, works wonders)
1/4 tsp. salt

For Rolling:
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground lavender

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  

Cream together the granulated sugar, the light brown sugar, and the butter.  Ideally an electric mixer would be used as the creaming method takes a lot of elbow grease if done by hand.  You are looking for a consistency of something approaching cake frosting, and it should take a good while, probably around 5-10 minutes of constant mixing.

Beat in the egg and vanilla until well incorporated.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground lavender.  Add this mixture to the butter/egg mix until just combined, do not over work it.

Sarah and I prefer to chill the dough at this point as it makes it easier to handle, but it isn't completely necessary.  Roll bits of the dough into 1 inch diameter balls and roll in a combined sugar/ground lavender mix until completely coated.  Lay out on a lightly greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for about 10 minutes until the bottoms are just lightly browned.  Remove and cool on wire racks.

Note that it is a good idea to cool the cookie sheet slightly between bakings.  This way the hot cookie sheet won't start heating your cookies through before you're ready to put them in the oven.

Don't be afraid to try other seasonings.  The generalized recipe always produces cookies with a consistent crumb so mix it up.  Maybe try lemon and rosemary, or cinnamon and cayenne pepper, maybe cardamom and nutmeg.  Lots of different options.

February 17, 2011

Superbowl Sunday's Menu - A little late

The week of Superbowl Sunday's menu is a combination of some staggering successes.  

The lavender snickerdoodle is one of Sarah's more brilliant cookie creations.  We have always been fans of snickerdododles in general but Sarah had a brain wave when we experienced 515 Kitchen & Cocktail's drink called the Norma Desmond, which has a lavender sugar rim.  It was a simple enough step to apply the same lavender sugar to the surface of snickerdoodle cookie dough.  Amazing.

The other wonderful success was the Broccoli-rabe pasta carbonara with truffle Romano cheese.  Broccoli-rabe isn't my favorite vegetable, I think it's too bitter.  But it worked well in this pasta.

Broccoli-rabe Pasta Carbonara with Truffle Romano Cheese

1 bunch Broccoli-rabe
1 lb. dried pasta
3 small eggs, lightly beaten
Olive Oil Vinaigrette 
  -Olive Oil
  -Lemon Juice & Zest
  -Green Garlic
  -Salt & Pepper
Truffle Romano Cheese (or Truffle Oil & Romano Cheese)

Bring a substantial amount of water to a boil and salt liberally.  Add the pasta.  When there are about 3 minutes left on the pasta cooking time, add the broccoli-rabe and cook with the pasta until the pasta is finished.  Strain both and return to the the pot.  Slowly drizzle in the beaten egg while stirring the pasta.  Drizzle in the Olive Oil Vinaigrette to taste and serve with grated Truffle Romano.

February 11, 2011

Massaged Kale Salad, Carrots and Arame, and Pepper Rice

I have always considered kale to be a horribly ill flavored and ill tempered vegetable.  I've found it bitter and chewy, and it loves to roll around in the dirt and come home filthy.  However, Sarah has discovered that if you douse the stuff in salt and give it a good rub then it just melts.  It's whole rough and spiky exterior falls away and leaves behind a tender and pleasant salad green.  Flavored with a little bit of lemon juice and sesame seed oil and it's practically scarfable.

Lay the kale salad over a bed of rice heavily seasoned with pepper and top with stir fried carrots and Arame (seaweed) and you end up with a hardy vegan meal.

Massaged Kale Salad

1 Bunch Kale
About 1 Tbs. of Salt

Olive Oil
Sesame Seed Oil
Salt & Pepper
Lemon Juice/Mirin/Rice Wine Vinegar
Red Pepper Flakes
Sesame Seeds

Wash the kale thoroughly to get off all the dirt and grit.  Put the kale in a large bowl and douse liberally with salt.  Rub it between your hands and work it with your fingers until it begins to soften and release water.  You're going to want to rinse it after it is soft to get all the salt off so you can start with a "fresh" green.

Flavor with olive oil, sesame seed oil, salt and pepper, some kind of acid (lemon juice, mirin, rice wine vinegar, or a little of all three), red pepper flakes if you like it spicy, and a good helping of sesame seeds.  This is all by taste of course so if you want to mix it up and make it taste like something else, go for it.

Deborah Madison's cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone introduced Sarah and I to a dish humbly labeled "|Carrots and Hijiki".  It is just a simple stir fry of carrots and sea weed flavored with ginger and sesame seed oil.  It was great the first time we had it.  When we tried to make it the second time we ran into a bit of a problem: when we had first bought the Hijiki at our local grocery store the cost per ounce was about two dollars (pretty expensive already, I know) but when we went back the second time we didn't notice that the price had been increased to $10/oz.!  Bah!  We tried to get half a pound of the stuff.

It wasn't until we got to the register and the cashier rung the seaweed in at a total of $80 that we noticed.  It catches your eye when your grocery balance jumps from $20 to $100 after having rung up a single item.   Needless to say we were a bit put out.  Luckily there is a different type of seaweek called Arame that works just as well.  The flavor isn't as smoky as the Hijiki, but for the price I think it's not something to get worked up over.

Carrots & Arame

1 Cup Arame or Hijiki

1 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Julienned Carrots
2 tsp. freshly diced Ginger
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sesame Seed Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Soak the Arame in cold water for about 5 minutes until soft.  Drain.  If using Hijiki soak the seaweed in boiling water for about the same amount of time, until soft, and drain.

Stir fry the carrots in oil for about 2 minutes.  Add the ginger and stir fry for a minute more.  Add the seaweed along with the soy sauce and stir fry until the soy sauce has been cooked off.  Take off the heat and season with sesame seed oil, salt, and pepper.

Lay down a bed of rice seasoned well with black pepper.  Stack the kale salad on top of the rice and top it all with some of the carrot and sea weed stir fry. 

February 2, 2011

Strawberry Vanilla Sorbet

I am tempted to talk about the differences between Ice Cream, Sorbet, and Sherbet; so I will.  Ice Cream is essentially Creme anglaise frozen while agitating; cream (or cream and milk, or just milk) and sugar heated until sugar is dissolved, combined with egg yolks via liaison, heated again until thick, flavored and frozen in an ice cream maker.

Sorbet of course does not use dairy; in this dessert the flavoring compound (fruit, fruit juice, melted chocolate, etc.) takes center stage and makes up the bulk of the ingredients.  I've found that pureed fruit is the easiest to work with.  Sorbet is sugar heated in water until dissolved then blended with enough flavoring (fruit, etc.) to make a thick pourable liquid and frozen in an ice cream maker.

Sherbet is half way between the two and uses no egg.  Sugar is heated in milk until dissolved and is combined with flavoring as in sorbet to make a thick liquid that is frozen in an ice cream maker.  All three variations are of course delicious.

Sarah and I have had a couple bags of frozen strawberries in the freezer since summer time and felt it was prudent to make a sorbet.  Our friend Jackie gave us the idea for the strawberry vanilla combo and also provided the whole vanilla beans.

Strawberry Vanilla Sorbet

1 Vanilla Bean, split and scraped
2/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
2 pints Strawberries, fresh or frozen, stems removed

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the insides using the edge of a knife.  Add the vanilla (both the insides and the bean hull) to the sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Hold the syrup at a boil for up to 4 minutes.  If using frozen berries strain syrup into a blender.  If using fresh berries strain the syrup into a separate container and chill.

In a blender combine the strained syrup and berries until well blended.  Chill the mixture before placing in the ice cream maker.  This step is greatly reduced in time if using frozen berries to begin with.

Once chilled freeze in an ice cream maker according to the directions.  Place in the freezer and let chill and extra 12 hours before serving.

January 26, 2011

This Week's Menu

This is last week's Menu as planned by Sarah:

Sarah has taken to writing out our weekly meal plan on a chalk board hung in our kitchen.  Partly it's because I kept asking her, "what's for dinner tonight?", even though she had already told me about three or four times that same day.  The chalk board helps me remember when I get home from work.

Last week we had a Chard and Onion Panade based on the recipe in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.  We get a full loaf of bread every Thursday delivered to Sarah's work from iRise Bakery up in  Ben Lomond.  They're big loaves and we don't always finish them off in a week.  The leftovers go into a freezer bag and once we have enough we usually make a break pudding.  The Panade is a variation that we finally tried out. 

Borscht is on the menu, a good standby.  The black bean burgers we made ourselves based on a recipe from the Veganomicon using some of the left over rice meal from homemade rice milk.  We only got about 5 burgers out of the recipe, which isn't great, but it can be scaled up.  Ravioli didn't happen but we did make crepes for breakfast on Saturday with the blueberry peach sauce and we did end up finally making Strawberry Vanilla Sorbet, which I will post soon.

All in all, a good week.

January 21, 2011

Sour Beer Tasting

Sour beers are Sarah's favorite.  Our first introduction to this style of beer was at the 14th (?) Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Fest.  It was a rainy weekend and we got pretty muddy and pretty sloshed.  It was a good thing there was a shuttle to take us from the fairgrounds to our campsite a few miles outside of town, I don't think we would have been able to make it back otherwise.  I think I may have pictures from the fest somewhere, I'll have to pull them up and post them for posterity.

Anyway.  In celebration of this oft misunderstood beer style, our friend Renny put on another beer tasting geared specifically to sour beers.  The format for the event was the same: everyone brings a bottle and something to eat, and we all share.

This tasting was back this last Summer or early Fall (2010, ages ago) so I don't quite remember the order of the tastes, but that's ok.  I have a vague memory of us all having pizza to go along with the beers.  A good choice I feel.

Brouwerij Fonteinen Oude Geuze (6%) - Blended Lambic
   From Fonteinen's website (translated from Dutch, and changed to make sense): Oude Geuze is a completely natural geuze comprising an assembly of 1, 2 and 3 years old lambic beer aged in oak barrels.  This Geuze is a natural, unfiltered beer, which is bottled and undergoes spontaneous fermentation in the bottle for at least 6 months.  Fonteinen's Oude Geuze can be stored in cool cellar for 10 years after bottling while it's acidity softens and it becomes more complex.  

This was one of my favorites.  Reviews on Beer Advocate describe tastes of lemon, straw, and tart apples.

Jolly Pumpkin Artizan Ales' Oro de Calabaza (8%)
  From Jolly Pumpkin's website: Oro de Calabaza (The Golden Pumpkin) Brewed in the Franco-Belgian tradition of strong golden ales.  Spicy and peppery with a gentle hop bouquet and the beguiling influence of wild yeast.

Brasserie Cantillon's Rose de Gambrinus (5%) - Raspberry Lambic
  From Cantillon's website: I was preparing a barrel of raspberry beer. The beer coming out of the small hole in the middle of the stave was marvelous.  "It has the colour of onion skin", said a voice behind me.  It was Raymond Coumans. He was admiring the colour of the raspberry lambic reflecting in the red copper of the buckets used to empty the barrels. At that time (1986), "Raspberry-Lambic" already was synonymous with a sweet, artificially flavoured beer. This is why we decided to distinguish our beer from the other raspberry beers. Raymond proposed to call it a rosé, dedicated not to Bacchus but to Gambrinus.  The process to make this beer is identical to the one to make Kriek. When young, the Rosé de Gambrinus will still present its full fruity taste. Later on, the lambic taste will become dominant at the expense of the fruit taste. 

This thing is crazy.  Supper fresh raspberry aroma and amazingly tart and zingy on the palate.  It is almost, almost, too sour.

Rodenbach Grand Cru (6%) - Flanders Red Ale
  From Rodenbach's website: It is claimed that "character matures over time". This wisdom applies in every respect to RODENBACH. Since 1821 RODENBACH has been brewed according to a method that requires passion and time. Just like fine wines, RODENBACH develops its unique character and unrivalled taste range through the two-year maturation process in oak vats. RODENBACH, the unique Flanders Red-Brown beer.

(The above is more of a sales pitch than a description.  One reviewer on Beer Advocate says of the Grand Cru, "Grand Cru is probably the most famous of the West Flanders red ales. It's made with Vienna malt and 5 yeast strains. It's then aged in massive unvarnished oak casks for over 2 years. Then, it's blended with other 2 year old ales, no young ale addition. There's no fruit in this beer. All fruit flavours are imparted by its unique house blend of yeast strains.")

Mmm.  The Grand Cru is nice and caramely without being too sickenly sweet.  And at only 6% you can drink a lot of it without being knocked for a loop.  This is one of my and Sarah's favorites.

HaandBryggeriet's Haandbakk (8.5%) - Vintage Flanders Oud Bruin (2006)
  From HaandBryggeriet's website: This is our new Haandbakk Vintage 2006 (our sour ale) and it was bottled 22 march 2008. This is an historic moment for us as this is the first time for more than hundred years or much longer that a brewery in Norway has made a sour beer using wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria. This beer was brewed in sept. 06 and has since then been aged in oak barrels until bottling day. The beer is blended for roundness but is still very sour and a little bit acetic. We think our first attempt has  been a great success and we will definitely try this again. 8.5% alc. 20 ibu. Serve at 8-12C. This beer is not pasteurised and will develop further with aging. Haandbakk is a beer with a rustic style rather than a smooth and polished product.

I liked this one the best out of all we had that night.  Similar to Grand Cru in that it is not too sour and not too sweet but is much more complex.  Deep caramel and balsamic vinegar aromas and flavors.  Yum.

Russian River Brewing Company's Consecration Ale (10%) - American Wild Ale/Oak Aged Belgian Style
  From Russian River's website: ...not much to say for itself.

Consecration was the beer that convinced Sarah that she wanted to carpool up to Anderson Valley, sleep in a wet campsite, and spend the day with a bunch of muddy beer guzzlers.  Russian River brews this and ages it in oak barrels for up to six months with currants.  It is distributed locally (100 miles or less) so is difficult to get a hold of it in Santa Cruz.  We typically have to go up to the City Beer Store in San Fransisco to get any, or hope that Renny has made a weekend trip up to Sonoma and is willing to share a bottle.

Brouwerij Fonteinen Oude Kriek (6%) 
   From Fonteinen's website: (translated again) Oude Kriek results from ripening cherries (both the flesh and the pips) in young Lambic. This process takes between 6 to 8 months after which the beer matures for at least another four months in bottle where spontaneous fermentation occurs.  The head of Oude Kriek is very sensitive to the concentration of oil in the cherry pits, and its color may vary from year to year.

This is not really similar to Fonteinen's Oude Geuze; the cherry just pops out of this one.

Oud Beersel Oude Geuze Vieille (6%) - Blended Lambic
  From Oud Beersel's website: Oud Beersel Oude Geuze is one of nature’s miracles. Oude Geuze is a blend of lambic from different years. One year old lambic is still readily fermentable. Two year old and three year old lambic main contribution is to the taste. Blending the lambic produces a sparkling beer that is made in accordance with time-honoured traditions. Oud Beersel Oude Geuze notable hop and fruit character is much appreciated by beer fans.  The taste of the Oude Geuze of Oud Beersel combines from way back a pleasant bitterness with a sour yet smooth character. The first mouthful refreshes the tongue and opens the way to the wondrous world of the spontaneous fermentation with its complex subtleties.

Blahdy blah...I don't remember much about this.  Middle of the road maybe?

Leireken Wild Berries Belgian Ale (5.2%) - Belgian(esque) Ale
  From Leireken's website: Leireken Wild Berries has a unique, slightly hazy, raspberry red body with a long-lasting foamy tan head and a racy nose packed with fragrant wild berries. (among other statements).

This one was unpleasant.  As one reviewer on Beer Advocate says, "Ew."  First, beer should not be made with "natural flavors" as is stated on the bottle.  In the food industry this usually means that some kind of synthetic chemical is being used; because "natural" doesn't mean anything legally.  Once you look at the ingredient's list you notice that they're not using "natural flavors", they're using fruit juice (fruit juice?).  I'm all for putting fruit into beer during aging, but fruit juice?  All you get is the sticky sugary sweetness, none of the tannin.  Bleh.  And they put sacharose in as well (extra sugar!).  Needless to say, this was sickeningly sweet and was just unbearable.  On top of all that it smelled like feet, rank and heavy, which was awful.

Here is Kate McDevitt's opinion immortalized in color:

You said it.

Last up:  
Brouwerij Verhaeghe's Duchesse De Bourgogne (6.2%) - Flanders Red Ale
  From Verhaeghe's website: (translated) 'Duchesse de Bourgogne is a sweet, fruity beer with a pleasant fresh acid-oak finish.  [Duchesse] is brewed with deep-roasted barley malt and hops perennial with a low bitterness level. After the primary fermentation and the second bearing the beer undergoes third bearing of approximately 18 months in oak vats. The tannins present in oak give the "Duchesse" the fruity character. After this bearing the "Duchesse" is blended with younger beer that is 8 months old. The result is beer with a full, sweet flavor and slight zing. A ruby red jewel of 6.2% vol. alc. that best served between 8 and 12 ° C. A perfect beer!

Definitely a dessert beer.  It has the tangyness of of less sweet flanders red but the residual sugar in this is still really high.  Some people may call it cloying, but I like it in moderation. 

Sorry for the super long post.  But I had to get it all in.

January 16, 2011

Roasted Zucchini Dip

Sarah made this dish way back in summer time...when it was warm, and dry.  We had gotten in a bunch of zucchini from the CSA and from Sarah's work and were looking for something to do with some  of it.  This is the result of that adventure.  The recipe is a modified version of a Baba Ganouj (eggplant dip) recipe we've tried in the past and liked.  It is also very similar to our standard Hummus recipe.

Roasted Zucchini Dip

3 medium or large zucchini or other summer squash, split and roasted
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 or 3 cloves Garlic
Lemon Juice to taste
1/4 Cup Tahini (sesame see paste)
1/2 - 1 tsp. cumin

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Split the zucchini hot dog bun style down the middle and place into a roasting pan on onto a cookie sheet.  Brush or drizzle with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper.  Roast until tender and starting to brown on top. 

Puree in a food processor the roasted zucchini, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and cumin.  Salt and Pepper to taste. 

For a nice appetizer smooth some dip into a shallow bowl and mound slightly in the center.  Drizzle olive oil around the outside and dust with fresh pepper.  Serve with thin toasts or crackers.