Finally, the dark beer season is upon us. I always look forward to fall and winter for their promise of seasonal porters and stouts. The first one I saw this past week was Left Hand Brewing's Fade To Black. I decided to give this one a try because I liked their Black Jack porter, so I figured that Left Hand knows what they are doing.
Fade To Black is very, very smokey and malty, but in a very, very good way. The nose is full of dark malt, and a hint of sweetness. Pouring Fade To Black into a frosty glass, and you realize that it is aptly named. It is like pouring a starless night into a glass. The blackness swallows what little head there is, and it is ready to drink. It is rich, and has malts all over the place. Fade To Black is a tad watery, but it is almost imperceptible. This is a smooth, easy drinking porter. For a six-pack, I have to recommend it.
Monday, October 24
Wednesday, October 19
The recipe sounded great, with an orange marmalade over grilled chops. It would pack quite a tasty punch without serious amounts of marinating, frying, or brining. The only problem was, I did not have any of the ingredients to make it. No orange marmalade, no orange juice, and no apple cider vinegar. I did, however, have ginger marmalade (that hasn't seen any action in a long, long time), lime juice and rice wine vinegar. Oh, I have a good idea!
So, instead of using the ingredients listed on Serious Eats, I decided to improvise. I ended up making Pork Paillards with Ginger Marmalade Vinaigrette. This Asian-inspired pork dish turned out awesome, and I highly recommend serving it over brown rice, and with a dash of cilantro. Again, this is a super-fast recipe, and is very satisfying. I will just strike through the parts of the SE recipe that I changed, so if you want to try your hand at the orange marmalade version, you can.
- 1 pound boneless pork chops (about 2 chops thick cut)
- 2 bunches scallions, ends and roots trimmed, left whole
- 1/2 cup
orange juice (about 1 juicing orange)lime juice
- 2 teaspoons
apple cider vinegarrice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons
orange marmaladeginger marmalade
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
|Vegans cannot unsee this|
Next, in a large bowl (or a resealable jar) pour in the lime juice, vinegar and heavy cream. Add the ginger, and slowly whisk in the olive oil. If you are using a jar, slowly drizzle the oil in, then give it a good shaking for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat up the grill to medium-high heat. Toss on the chops, and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until done to your liking. After the first 5 minutes, toss the green onions on the grill, and cook for 5 minutes, flipping about half-way though.
Once done, plate the chops on rice or couscous, and drizzle the ginger marmalade vinaigrette over the top. Toss on some cilantro for a little extra pizazz.
Tuesday, October 18
There are probably millions of recipes out there for every type of bread you can imagine. I really want to expand my repertoire in the kitchens, so bread is probably the best place to start. Plus, what better month to start baking bread? (Hint: Russian revolution + bread making Bolshevik's = awesome blog title)
The recipe that I used for my basic sandwich bread came from Bread Matters, a thorough bread baking book. Thus far, I have only made the basic bread, but look forward to trying more and more as my skill and patients grow. It is amusing, though, that the bread recipes do not start until the 6th chapter. Indeed, the fundamentals are important because bread making is quite different from any cooking that I usually do. Also, the subscript at the bottom of the chapter header is quite interesting: "Bread recipes are almost valuless, because they are so dependent on yeast speeds and the variable nature of flour."-Walter Banfield, 1937.
The recipe I used was fairly simple, and as noted, bread recipes are pretty much worthless, so I choose to simply detail how it all went down...
My bread baking took place on a cool, humid day, and I for some reason I thought it would hinder my ability to make the bread in a timely manner. It did not. The weather was perfect. I started by breaking out my oft neglected kitchen scale and measured out my ingredients. Flour (wheat and white), water, salt, yeast, honey, and salt. Easy. It is hard to believe that someone can charge 3+ bucks for a loaf of bread! Anyway, I broke out my wife's Kitchenaid mixer and attached the dough hook. I was a little trepidatious about using it, and I was not sure why. I combined all the dry ingredients, save the yeast. The yeast went into half of the measured amount of water, along with a bit of honey. After the yeast was fizzy (about 5 minutes), I fired up the mixer, and slowly added the water to the dry stuff. After it was all combined, I walked away.
I checked back on the mixer after 5 minutes or so, and everything was going along great. Shocking! I let the mixer do its thing, just checking it ocasionally, and after about 12 minutes, the dough was thoroughly mixed. I plopped it out into a large bowl, covered it with some plastic wrap, and let it proof for 2 hours.
This is where I thought the weather would be a burden. I remember hearing that cool, humid weather would increase the proof time. After 2 hours, I did not expect the dough to be double its original size, but it was. I very lightly flowered a work surface, and dumped the dough out, and started working with it.
After a bit of general kneading, the dough became pretty malleable. The recipe that I was using said to roll the dough out into a rectangle roughly double the size of the loaf pan I was using. After doing so, I folded the dough into one third toward the middle of the rectangle, then the other end in. I then flipped it over to hide the crease. It was ready to go into a well oiled pan. I decided to use butter, since everything is better with butter. I rubbed a generous amount of butter along the sides and bottom of the loaf pan, and dropped my dough in. From there, the oven was preheated to 500F, and the loaf pan went on top of the oven, covered with a large bowl (wok lid, actually).
After 20 minutes, I popped the loaf in, and set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I turned the heat down to 375F, and let it bake for 30 more minutes. Remember, your mileage may vary! After the timer went off, I took the bread out, gave it a few taps, and tried to turn it out onto a cutting board to cool. It did not want to drop out of the loaf pan. After some finagling, I got it out, only losing a bit of the bread to the great bread goddess.
The bread turned out fantastic, and made great sandwich bread. It was surprisingly easy to make, and I felt great for doing it. I plan to make some more bread in the coming weeks, I just need to keep my enthusiasm for it up. It should be easy because that bread was so damn tasty.
Monday, October 17
The stew turned out okay when I served it, but left it on the burner for an additional hour, and the beef got so tender and delicious that I had to brag about it the next day at work. The chile may have been a little spicy, but, isn't that the point? I plan on making this several more times while the weather permits, in addition to some of my favorite New Mexican meals. Chile Rellenos, enchiladas, NACHOS! It is truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Stone Brewing, one of my all-time favorite breweries, does big, bold beers. I am a fan. So it is with some regret that I have never tried their Ruination IPA. I love IPAs. I love Stone. So what was the hold-up? I guess I was always more interested in picking up one Bastard or another to be bothered. For shame, because this IPA is delightful.
The tale on the back of the bottle suggests this beer will be a ruiner. More to the point, Stone claims that Ruination will, in fact, have a ruinous effect on my pallet. Well, I decided to see how it stacked up to my green chile turkey burgers to find out. One or the other should ruin my pallet.
Ruination is nice and hoppy, of course, but not pungently so. This beer is rated at 100+ International Bitter Units (IBU's), so I thought it would be quite bitter. It is not. The malt is present, but the hops are the star of the show here. I am not sure what kind of hops Stone used, but they provide balance. There is a subtle taste of apricots, and hints of light fruit, but the main flavor is hop. This is a very good West Coast IPA. It is not bombastic as some, but I find Ruination quite a drinkable beer.
The reason why I decided to give it a try was this recipe, which you should see reposted on this blog sometime in the near future. I figure start at the top with the IPA, and work my way down to Stone's Pale Ale.
Monday, October 3
Serious Eats a few days ago. It looked like something that I could make fast, so I decided to make it for Sunday supper.
Ah, Sunday. A day for sports. Chili and sports goes together almost as well as sports and grilled sausage. While my sport of choice might not have been, hmm, "traditional," I still watched my MotoGP race from Motegi. Sadly, my hero, one V. Rossi crashed out before the first lap, so, like so many NFL fans seeing their favorite quarterback taken out early in the game, I was less than thrilled. Anyhow, the race was still amazing, and I was totally jazzed about making chili!
This recipe is pretty much the same as on Serious Eats, although I ditched the green and yellow bell pepper halves, and just used one red. Also, this recipe didn't have much seasoning. I am a firm believer in the principle of season as you go. Every time you add something to the pot, you need to season, at least with salt and pepper. This way, you are building your meal, and not just adding a dash of seasoning at the end.
The pumpkin was what drew my attention to this recipe. I have done turkey chili with some regularity before, but the thought of adding pumpkin blew me away. I thought for sure this recipe would call for pumpkin chunks, and so I was prepared to buy a whole pumpkin, but no, all you need is a can of pureed pumpkin. It adds a lovely, earthy flavor, and helps bulk up the chili.
Lastly, this recipe is pretty fast. After chopping, it took less than 40 minutes to put everything together. The timing is easy to get down too: 10 minutes for veggies, 10 minutes for turkey, then 20 minutes once everything else is added. Simple. The only things I would do different, and plan on doing the next time I make this, is to use cayenne instead of generic chili powder. Also, I would use more green chile. This chili was not spicy enough to really thrill me, and those two adjustments would have been perfect.
Note that the Serious Eats recipe calls for a 4oz can of green chile, in case you cannot find any frozen ones.
Pumpkin Turkey Chili
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 green chiles, chopped
1 lb ground turkey (I used 85% for a more flavorful chili)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can pumpkin puree (14.5oz)
1 can kidney beans
salt and pepper
dashes cayenne and cumin
Chopped cilantro (1/4 cup) + Cheddar + Sour cream for toppings
Heat up a medium or large pot to medium-high heat, and drizzle in some olive oil. Toss in the bell pepper, onion, garlic and chiles, and season with salt and pepper. Keep on medium heat, stirring somewhat frequently to keep it from sticking. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until bell pepper and onion are soft.
Add the ground turkey, and stir in. Season lightly with salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 10 minutes, or until turkey is almost cooked through.
Add in the tomatoes, pumpkin and kidney beans, and season lightly with salt and pepper, and generous dashes of cayenne and cumin. Give the chili a good stir, and bring to a solid simmer, then turn heat down to low, and let cook for another 20 minutes, checking occasionally.
Before platting, toss in the quarter cup chopped cilantro, and give it a few good stirs. Plate, and top with cheese and sour cream. Serve with corn bread.