Monday, December 8, 2008

Breakfast Stout Ham and Beans

This dish came together as a challenge to match an extremely full flavored beer with a can of beans. The beer in question was Founders' Breakfast Stout, this brew is a Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout & weighs in at a hefty 8.3% abv. I started off by browning some cubed ham, diced carrots and a diced onion. Once the ham was browned, the carrots had softened somewhat and the onions had become translucent, I added a little minced garlic and a dash or two of sweet paprika and let this cook for another five minutes or so. I then added the drained can of Great Northerns and a handful of shredded cabbage and allowed this mixture to come to heat over medium flame for another five minutes or so. Next comes the stout, I added about a quarter of a 12 oz. bottle, and a table spoon of Grainy Mustard to the beans and increased the heat until the liquid came to a boil & then I reduced the heat and allowed this mixture to simmer for five or ten minutes, until the liquid had reduced into a thick sauce. Finally I folded in a little chopped fresh Parsley & served alongside a glass of the Breakfast Stout.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pan-braised Boar Roast with Duckfat-fried Potatoes & Roasted Broccoli

This Roast (from my wife's cousin) was seared in a skillet & braised in the oven with the help of some onions, apples, white wine, chicken stock, garlic and thyme. We served the roast with a little of the pan jus, roasted broccoli and some Yukon gold potatoes, pan-fried in duck fat. I really can not suggest this method for the potatoes enough. The duck fat gives a slightly sweet crispness to the potatoes that really is wonderful. Duck fat can be ordered online from D'artagnan and is a welcome replacement for olive oil in almost any pan-fried dish.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beaujolais Braised Short Ribs

This dish was inspired by my Arnold’s Farm grass-fed beef package, Harvest Moon Farms CSA and a magnum George Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages. I had never prepared short ribs before and felt that braising was my best option. I had some nice onions and apples around and had just picked up a $6 magnum of the aforementioned Beaujolais from the Discount Wine Center.
I started off by caramelizing the the diced onion in olive oil & then added a couple of cloves of minced garlic, two small apples (sliced), a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger, a tablespoon of fresh thyme, a tablespoon of ground coriander, salt and pepper.
Let this saute for about five minutes & then add 3/4 of the magnum (about a regular-sized bottle and a half). Bring the wine and aromatics come to a boil & then simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce the volume of the liquid & intensify the flavors. While the wine reduces, season the short ribs with a liberal amount of salt and pepper and sear for about three minutes on all four sides in an extremely hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Be sure not to over crowd the skillet (work in batches if you have to), so you get some really nice browning. Once the braising liquid has reduced slightly and the ribs have all been browned nicely, add the meat to the liquid, making sure the meat is mostly submerged, cover, place in a 300° oven and braise for about 3 hours - turning the meat at the half-way point.
At this point the meat should be fork-tender & the bones should just fall away from the ribs, remove the ribs and strain the liquid - be sure to press as much of the liquid as you can out of the onions and apples. Allow the ribs to cool enough to handle and then remove the bones & any large areas of fat - you basically want to get rid of all but the good stuff. wrap the meat in foil and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
I usually do all of this the day before, so the liquid gets tossed in the chill-chest as well. When you are finally ready to bring all of this together, pour the liquid into a medium pot & bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes or so. while the liquid is simmering away, pull out a pair of kitchen shears & cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add the meat to the braising liquid allow to come to heat.
Serve the meat, drenched in its cooking liquid, alongside some potatoes and veggies or over wide egg noodles. We enjoyed ours with boiled and smashed, oven browned potatoes as well as some herb-lemon roasted onions.

The Beaujolais could be replaced by any red wine or semi-sweet beer (nothing bitter though) and this beverage would be the perfect accompaniment to this meal.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ground Cherries

These little gems popped up in my CSA basket & then again at this past week's Logan Square Farmer's Market. Prior to my CSA encounter a couple of weeks before, I had never heard of this fruit. This cousin of the tomatillo (which also grows inside of a husk) is said to be similar to a Cape Gooseberry (which again I have never heard of) and is native to North America. The texture was very similar to a grape tomato, but the flavor is much sweeter - closer to a grape. So far I have used the Ground Cherries in a salsa (combined with jalapeno, onion, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper) as well as a sweet addition to a smoked trout salad. Keep an eye out for these delicious little bastards.


smoked trout salad with ground cherries and arugula

Monday, September 29, 2008

Beef Stew

I recently received a meat share from Arnolds Farm in Elizabeth, IL. I chose to go with a package of Grass-fed Beef which included quite a bit of ground beef as well as stew & fajita meat, roasts & a nice selection of steaks. It is nice to have a good source for beef that is close to home (less of a carbon foot-print), grass-fed (instead of grain - which is not good for the cows or in turn for us) and allowed to graze instead of being couped up in a pin (like most cows in the raised in the commercial farm machine). For our first meal we went with a simple stew, filled with the beef, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, peas, onion and celery. I also baked some fresh wheat bread (also pictured). Mmmm..wintery - can't wait for that first snow.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mac and Cheese with Collard Greens

As the weather begins to turn fallish, my belly craves warm comforting foods. Pictured above is some Macaroni and Cheese paired with braised Collard Greens (from my Harvest Moon Farms CSA). The Mac. and Cheese is simple, but quite rewarding - my favorite is the crispy bottom of burnt-cheese goodness. To make this dish I prepared 2 cups of macaroni as directed, made a Béchamel sauce (1 and 1/2 cup simmering milk whisked into a roux (2 tbsp butter & 2 tbsp. flour), slowly melted in 8 oz. of shredded Gruyere and finished with a pinch of Nutmeg, Salt & Pepper. I then lightly oiled the inside of two individual sized casseroles, tossed the macaroni with the cheese sauce and filled the dishes. I topped the dishes with a mixture of Bread Crumbs and fresh Thyme as well as a couple of small dollops of butter and baked in a 400° oven for 35-40 minutes (until the tops are golden brown). We enjoyed the mac and cheese with Collard Greens sauteed with onion, garlic and braised in chicken stock and cider vinegar.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Red Cabbage and Carrot Coleslaw with Dungeness Crab

This is simply a light coleslaw tossed with some precooked crab meat, halved Cherry tomatoes and some garlic fried plantains. I decided to toss this together when I came across some precooked Dungeness crab meat at the fish guy. I shredded about a quarter of a red cabbage, sliced half of an onion & made long "noodles" of carrot using my vegetable peeler. I folded these veggies together with about two tablespoons of fresh parsley, one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of grainy mustard, the juice of half a lemon, salt & pepper. It is best to allow the slaw to rest at least an hour before tossing with the crab, tomatoes & plantains.
To make the garlic-fried plantains, roast some garlic cloves (still in its skin) in about three tablespoons of oil over high heat until browned on both sides. Remove the garlic & add one plantain diced into quarter-inch cubes. Cook until browned on all sides and drain on a paper towel.
Enjoy with a dry American Pale Ale like Bear Republic's XP Pale Ale.

Bear Republic XP Pale Ale

XP Pale Ale is Bear Republic's "Exceptional Pale Ale" which is to say American Pale Ale. This beer pours golden brown with a thin off-white head and has a sweet citrusy smell. Its flavor is clean and yeasty with a spicy, dry malt flavor and hints of hops. This clean dry beer would pair extremely well with spicy dishes or grilled fish, but would work with almost anything.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Café Matou

This past Friday, my wife decided to celebrate some gambling wins by treating us to a wonderful meal at one of my favorite local restaurants. Café Matou is located in Bucktown (just south of Western on Milwaukee) and has consistently delivered meals that exceed my expectations. Chef Socher changes his menu almost daily, based on what the seasons provide, updating French classics at a price quite below what one would expect at this quality level. On this evening I decided I wasn’t in the mood for wine so I selected a beer from the selection of Belgians available.

Poperings Hommel Ale is a Belgian IPA, it has hints of hops flavor, but is nowhere near as hoppy as American IPA’s. The flavor is slightly earthy, with a floral quality & bread-like flavors. There is a slight bitterness, but mostly this ale is more akin to a Belgian Blonde or a Triple. Hommel Ale is very crisp and easy to drink; it also has a complex character which worked quite well with both courses from this evening.
It was a slightly warm evening, so to start I selected the Chilled Celery Soup. This soup was served in a chilled bowl with a healthy dollop of crème fraiche. As one might expect the dominant flavor here was celery, but the soup had a rich creaminess and hinted at notes of onion and garlic – the crème fraiche gave a wonderful tanginess that complimented the crisp celery flavor quite well.

For the main course I chose the Roasted Halibut. This delicious fish was cooked to perfection – moist and flaky with a wonderful golden-brown crust, which lay atop a slightly acidic, light Sherry sauce. The earthy sweetness of the Roasted Halibut worked perfectly with the acidity of the sauce. Roasted Chanterelle mushrooms and white rice completed this plate - the Chanterelles were the highlight of the dish for me, they have a delicate yet spicy flavor that really brought out the delicate flavor of the halibut. Even the rice is worth mentioning in this meal. Now generally I am not a fan of white rice, the flavor tends to be close to nonexistent & it just seems boring to me, but this evening the rice was slightly nutty and delicate; I am not sure what Socher does, but I cleaned my plate.

This meal further cements Café Matou as one of the best places to dine in Chicago. They consistently deliver great meals at an affordable price point and maintain a great wine list as well as an interesting beer menu – with a focus on the Belgian persuasion. Try one of the monthly five course “flights to France” which pairs five different wines with dishes inspired by a specific region in France. They also prepare a beer pairing menu quarterly. I cannot recommend this place enough.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tomato and Basil Blossom Salad

The basil I have growing on my balcony began to flower and from what I understand if I allow this to continue the plant will focus its energy on these flowers instead of the leaves, so I removed all of the blossoms. I then tossed them with some fresh tomatoes, a little olive oil as well as some salt and pepper. We enjoyed this salad on grilled bread as a late afternoon snack and of course you could use basil leaves if you do not have access to the flowers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lentils with Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Marinated Chops

Let's get the marinade out of the way first. This marinade has quite a few ingredients in there, but manages not to taste muddled. Whisk together the entire list from below & coat your chops. Let this marinate for at least two hours (two days would be better) and grill to your specifications.
Now for the Lentils. These little legumes come in many forms [brown, green, black, yellow] and are prepared in many ways from regions all over the globe. Here I use French Green Lentils and go a sort of French route, in a recipe that I feel delivers a lot of flavor, while still allowing you to taste the lentils. This should be enough for two as a healthy side.
Rinse half a cup of Lentils, place in a sauce pan & cover with about three inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, saute one half of a diced red onion in 2 tablespoons of duck fat until soft & translucent. Add one finely-diced carrot, a minced clove of garlic, two sprigs of thyme and saute for about five minutes. Add half a cup of water, two tablespoons of whole grain mustard & simmer for another five minutes. Drain the lentils and add them to the onion-carrot mixture along with another tablespoon of duck fat. Toss this well, season with salt and pepper. If the Lentils aren't quite tender enough, continue to cook over low heat (stirring frequently) until finished.

A perfect beer to accompany this meal would be Lagunitas' ode to the Frank Zappa album 'We're Only In It For The Money'. If you are not fortunate enough to have Lagunitas distributed in your area, go for any of your favorite Belgian Ales such as Chimay's red or white label.

Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink marinade:

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil, 2 Tbsp. Cider Vinegar, 1 Tbsp. Whole Grain Mustard, 1 Tbsp. Honey, 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar, 1 Tbsp. Salt, and 1/4 teaspoon. each of the following: Black Pepper, Paprika, Coriander, Ancho Powder, Chipotle Powder, Cumin, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Ginger Turmeric, Fennel Powder, Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon, Allspice

We're Only In It For The Money

We're Only In It For The Money is the fourth beer from Lagunitas' ambitious campaign to commemorate every Zappa album - 40 years after its original release. Although released a little later than originally slated, this limited brew takes form as a Belgian-style Triple Ale and is complex, yet smooth & refreshing. Culinarily speaking this is a very versatile beer and would be great with anything from Thai food to BBQ or a burger. Its delicate nature also lends it to pair well with other light and delicate flavors, but its complexity allows this ale to work well with more bold and earthy flavors as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pullman Brown Ale Braised Venison

This dish came to fruition through my quest to find great beers for cooking. Often times the beers I truly enjoy to drink do not work well in the kitchen and cooking with wine isn't exactly ground-breaking. I prefer full flavored beers that tend to be on the bitter side of things and cooking intensifies these qualities. So the first time I had the Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown Ale, I was pretty sure I found a dual purposed ale. The earthy sweetness of this unusually robust brown lends itself well to reduction, which makes it a great choice for use in sauces, poaching & braising. For this play on beef burgundy, I made use of the delicious Indiana Venison roast in my freezer (although you could certainly use beef or pork if you do not have access to fresh game).

Here's what I did. Preheat oven to 350°. Chop the meat into manageable pieces, season with salt & pepper & brown on all sides in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Work in shifts so you do not crowd the pan & remove to a plate once browned. After all of the meat has been browned, pour two 22oz. bottles of Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown Ale into the dutch oven & scrape up all of the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & allow beer to simmer for about 20 minutes. Add Venison to the simmering brown, along with one onion, one carrot and one stock of celery (all roughly chopped), as well as two bay leaves, 6 springs of thyme, one spring of rosemary & one table spoon of black pepper corn. Cover & place in the oven for two and a half hours. After the two and a half hours have elapsed, remove meat from dutch oven & strain liquid into a pan. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat & allow to simmer until the liquid has reduced to half - about a half an hour. Whisk in a table spoon of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return Venison to sauce & bring back to heat. Serve over egg noodles with plenty of the reduced braising liquid & a pinch of fresh herbs (such as thyme, parsley or basil). This could also be served alongside your favorite roasted veggies or something of the like.

And what better beverage for accompaniment than the Pullman Brown that brought this whole dish together.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shiitake Tart

I love the flaky texture of puff pastry and feel that it is quite possibly paired best with the earthiness of sauteed mushrooms. Here I used some nice Wisconsin shiitakes from River Valley Ranch - a participant in the Logan Square Farmer's Market. To prepare this delight, cut two three inch squares from a thawed puff pastry sheet & bake as directed. While the pastries puff, saute one minced shallot & one minced clove of garlic in olive oil, until the shallot is soft and slightly browned. Add two handfuls of sliced and stemmed shiitakes a tablespoon of butter, salt & pepper to the shallot mixture and saute until the mushrooms are tender and reduced to about half of their original size. Pour in half of a cup of white wine & bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the wine is reduced by half. To assemble, lay out one of the puffed pastry squares & cover with a couple of thin slices of Gruyère. Pour the mushroom mixture over the pastry & top with the second square. Finish off the dish with some chopped herbs (or micro greens if you can find them) a drizzle of truffle oil and some more fresh black pepper.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sesame Marinated Opah with Forbidden Rice

This is a nice little Asian influenced meal accented by the beautiful forbidden black rice. The rice is prepared as directed on the package. The Fish needs to be marinated for at least 2 hours in 2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame oil, 1 Tbsp of Rice Wine Vinegar & 1 Tbsp of soy sauce. Once the fish has been marinated, just grill for about 5 minutes per side and serve. For this meal I paired the fish with Broccoli that was roasted in a 450° oven for about 10 minutes and some fennel that was marinated in vinegar, oil, salt & pepper for about two hours, then topped with a little parsley.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Scallop & Crabcake with Arugula & Mango

I cheated a little here & bought a crabcake from the Fishguy, but this still makes for a nice shared first course. The streak under the crabcake is Louisiana Hot Sauce that I spread with a basting brush. The Scallops are seasoned & seared for about 3 minutes per side. I paired them with a mango salsa & an arugula salad which I dressed with the mango salsa & topped with some chopped walnuts.

For the mango salsa, toss together: one mango (diced), one half red pepper (diced), one shallot (minced), one jalapeno (diced), one clove of garlic (minced), the juice of one half of a lime, one tablespoon of olive oil, salt & pepper and allow to rest for 1 hour.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Bacon is great. We all know that. But it is also supposedly bad for you, so one should try to keep its consumption on the modest side - I guess. Well, you shouldn't waste either, so there. Well that is the case with the following two sides. I had some bacon left over (mostly meat) from the venison burgers I had made and over the course of the following two weeks, I worked it into a couple of dishes & I must say the modest addition really made the dish.
Both of the preparations are essentially the same. You basically want to cook your veggie until just tender & then finish with the bacon.
For the beets, trim off the greens & most of the stem. Wrap in foil and roast in a 450° oven until you can easily pierce the beet with a knife - approximately 30-45 minutes. Let cool, peel & dice.
For the carrots, peel & chopped into desired size. Bring a pot of salted water boil & cook carrots until you can easily pierce a carrot with a knife.
To finish, chop bacon into thin strips & cook until well done in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Remove to a paper towel to drain of excess fat. Using the bacon drippings left in the pad, saute your veggies over high heat until browned, toss in bacon, season with salt & pepper and serve.
Above, you see the Beets (golden in this case) served with grilled Chicken & wilted Beet Greens. Below, you see the carrots served with grilled Sturgeon, wilted Rainbow Chard & a Mango Salsa.

Monday, June 23, 2008

First timers - Venison & Gazpacho

Since the wife had herself booked most of the weekend, I figured I would try a few new things in the kitchen.

Venison Burgers, Gazpacho & Plantains

#1 Venison Burgers - Over the last couple of years, as I've taken my what I eat more seriously, I have become very interested in knowing where my food comes from. This has lead me (whenever possible) to buy my food from as close to its source as possible; many times this means from farmer's markets and from co-ops, but there are also a few retail outfits that work very closely with their farmers, ranchers & fishermen. Staying close to the source means that your food is going to taste better & will last longer in your pantry - you also won't have to worry whether your tomatoes were 'processed' next to raw chicken.

So what does all of that ranting have to do with Venison? Glad you asked. I was recently fortunate enough to come along some free meat - my wife's cousin Johnny hunts & he offered me some of his bounty of Wild Boar and Venison. The best thing about all of this protein (other than being free & delicious) is that Johnny butchered all of the meat himself - meaning that no one except God, Johnny & me has touched this meat. When I was handed the ground Venison, I was informed that it contained no fat, so it wouldn't work for burgers - not without a little work anyway. So I began to look for some fat to augment the Venison into grillin' quality Burgers. I ran into some resistance trying to obtain beef fat from anyone, so I looked towards the fat of fats - bacon. I ended up trimming the bacon of all its meat & finely chopped all of the remaining fat. I then mixed 85% meat to 15% fat, formed the patties and allowed them to rest for an hour. Grilled about 5-6 minutes per side & yummies.

#2 Gazpacho - Ever since summer began I have had the taste for a nice Gazpacho. This cold tomato soup is quite refreshing on a hot summer day, plus it is very healthy and extremely easy to make. All you do is take the list of ingredients below, puree and chill in the fridge for at least two hours. You can omit or replace any of the spices as you see fit or feel free to replace the sherry vinegar with any other vinegar you fancy (except for white vinegar, it is only good for cleaning windows). As for a garnish, you could go a couple of different ways. I had it twice Sunday, once with some garlic fried plantains (method below) and another time with an Avocado-Corn Salsa. You could also serve it as a sauce under some grilled shrimp, or simply sprinkle a little herbs on top (like parsley, cilantro or chives to name a few).

#3 Plantains, I love these things whenever I get Puerto Rican food, so when I saw some at the local mega-mart, I grabbed one. I had trouble smashing the bastards, so I ended up dicing them. I then browned them in some garlic oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper & garnished them with a little chopped roasted garlic.

[To make the garlic & garlic oil, simply roast 2 cloves of garlic (still in their husks) in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a pan until browned. Remove the Garlic and use the oil for sauteeing. Let the garlic cool before handling.]


1-1/2 lbs. Tomatoes (peeled, cored, seeded & diced - liquid reserved)

1 large Cucumber (seeded, peeled & diced)

1 medium Red Pepper (seeded, ribbed & diced)

1 small onion (diced)

1 Jalapeno (seeded and diced)

2 cloves Garlic (minced)

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Juice of 1/2 Lime

2 tsp. Sherry Vinegar

2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 tsp. Sweet Paprika

1/2 tsp. Coriander

1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

salt & pepper

Venison Burger photo by DROOO

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three Floyds Blackheart English Style India Pale Ale,

Although Three Floyds calls Blackheart an English Style India Pale Ale, this little brew definitely tastes like an American IPA. Just in case you need to be brought up to speed here; the India Pale Ale was first conceived when the English colonized India. They created a beer with an abundance of additional hops to preserve the brew during the long ship voyages to India. The English version of the IPA isn't quite what the American craft brew movement tends to produce. Although the IPA as we know it was inspired by the Brits, our version tends to have a much more hop-forward flavor with a biting bitter finish and usually a high alcohol by volume (abv). IPA's from the UK tend stay on the malty side and are more medium bodied. The Blackheart does use English hops, malt, & yeast and has been aged slightly in oak for a "19th century taste", but the flavor comes across hoppy & earthy with slight grapefruit notes. Not sure about the abv., but this is definitely a bottle to keep your eye out for - further cementing Three Floyds as a world-class brewery.
The extremely eye-catching art was provided by Tim Lehi & Jeff Rassier.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Market / Brunch

Ah, this almost makes it OK to be back from Paris - The Logan Square Farmer's Market. It is so nice to be able to walk to a Farmer's Market & with all of the awful spinach & tomatoes with E-Coli & what not from the industrial farm machine it is even more important to know where your food comes from. Buying food from local farmers also helps eliminate a lot of carbon emissions that come along with shipping food from California or Chile. But most important is the taste, the less time the food is out of the ground before it hits your tongue the better its flavor. The season is still young, but there were a plethora of deliciousness to choose from. I found the springtime treat, Kohlrabi (almost like a mix in flavor between a turnip & cabbage), some extremely flavorful Arugula, bright and juicy Strawberries as well as plenty of herbs, heirloom lettuce & even some Garlic Scapes. I also picked up some farm-fresh organic eggs, a loaf of locally baked multigrain bread (from golden rise bakery) & a bouquet of flowers for my wife - who was a little below the weather this morning.
When I returned, I made myself a little Farmer's Market Brunch of Fried Farm-fresh Eggs with Gravlax (salt-cured salmon), Toast & a Strawberry - Arugula Salad. I am so glad summer & its fresh vegetables has returned to my hood.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Seared Sea Bass with Pimenton, Asparagus & Tarragon

Inspired again by the fabulous markets here in Paris, we create this simple dish. Preheat the oven to 450°F (235°C), place the Asparagus on a baking sheet & the Sea Bass on a plate - season with salt & pepper & drizzle with olive oil. Place a little butter & olive oil in a large saute pan & heat over medium-high flame until the butter starts to turn brown. Place Asparagus in the oven (roast for 5 to 8 minutes until desired doneness) & the fish in the pan (sear for about 7 minutes on the flesh side & about 3 minutes in the skin side). To plate, whisk together about a tablespoon of Pimenton (Sweet Paprika), 2 tablespoons of olive oil & a dash of salt - divide between two shallow bowls. Place one fillet in each bowl (on top of Pimenton sauce), garnish with finely chopped Tarragon, a little fresh Lemon Juice & lay Asparagus over top.

We enjoyed a Les Clavieres Muscadet Sevre Et Maine, but any light bodied to sweet white would work. You could also serve this with any light-bodied American Ale such as Pride and Joy, from Three Floyds.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Au Pied de Cochon

Last night for dinner Jen & I ate at Au Pied de Cochon - literally translated, this means foot of the pig. And these guys are not kidding, menu items included some of the uh, less desirable parts of the pig; for example: Trotter, Brow, Tail & Ear. Neither Jen nor I ventured too far into the more exciting menu options - the only pork that made its way to our table was in the form of Rillettes. For those of you that might not know Rillettes is a slow cooked dish that results in a spreadable deliciousness. We found our way to a two-course menu option for the low price of 22 Euros each. I had the aforementioned Pork Rillettes & Steak Frites, Jen had the traditional Onion Soup & a grilled Salmon with a Beurre Blanc. Quite a delicious meal, we enjoyed a nice Bordeaux (the exact wine escapes me) as our beverage.

pictured above (clockwise fom the top left): Pork Rillettes, French Onion Soup, Steak Frites & Grilled Salmon.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Market Fresh - Pork Chops, Carrots & Green Beans

Ah, today we found our market. It was an amazing array of some of the freshest fruits, vegetables, seafood & meat that I have ever seen. We were somewhat overwhelmed with the selection , but did our best to overcome that feeling & grab only what we could eat today - tomorrow we shop again. We decided on some delicious pork chops, carrots & green beans - augmented with some thyme & shallots. To prepare this simple dish we roasted the carrots & beans at 450° for about 10 minutes. The chops were sauteed over medium high heat with olive oil, butter, thyme & shallots for about 5 minutes per side.

This meal was served along side a wonderful 2006 Chinon from Domaine des Petites Roches.

check out the shots of the market here

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Paris - Hors D’oeuvres

Well, we finally made it. After quite a long flight, a metro ride & a nap, we made our way around our neighborhood [in the 3rd dist.] & grabbed a few snacks. Here you see both a young and a slightly aged Chevre (Goat's Milk Cheese), a country pâté (made of pork) and a fresh tomato - we served this spread with a baguette, olive oil, Fleur de Sel, fresh ground black pepper & some fine herbs. This was our first "meal" in Paris & I must say it was delicious. There is nothing quite like hitting a couple of shops & bringing home a tasty starter. The accompanying beverage was a 1997 Bordeaux Superior from Chateau Les Bouygues.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Grilled Salmon with Lemon Vinaigrette, Roasted Broccoli, Butternut Squash Puree & Jamon Serrano

This is a great healthy meal, that is pretty easy to prepare. The Salmon could be replaced with any fish that'll stand up to the grill. The Jamón really is a great addition to the squash, but if you can't find it, Prosciutto would work.

Serves 4:

4 6 oz. Salmon fillets

4 cups Broccoli flowerets


1 large Butternut Squash
1 head Roasted Garlic
1 Tbsp. Butter
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1 1/4 Lb. slice of Jamón Serrano (diced & crisped in hot pan)


1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Zest of one Lemon
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. fresh herbs (Tarragon or Parsley would be great)
1 small Shallot (minced)
Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper & Olive Oil.

Preheat oven to 450°

To prepare the Butternut Squash Puree, cut the squash in half (long ways) & scrape out the seeds. Season both sides with Salt & Pepper & drizzle with olive oil, place cut side down on sheet pan & roast for 20-25 minutes (or until fork tender). Remove & let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scrape the pulp away from the skin. Add roasted garlic, butter and cream to the squash and puree until smooth. Season with salt & pepper & keep warm over double boiler.

To prepare Vinaigrette, place lemon juice, zest, olive oil, herbs & shallot in a blender & blend until smooth. Season with salt & pepper & set aside.

Season all sides of Salmon with salt & pepper, drizzle with olive oil & let sit out until at room temperature (approximately 20 minutes). Turn grill on high & allow to warm up (at least 10 minutes). Grill Fish until flaky. I like to cook the fish for about 3-4 minutes on each the flesh & skin sides & then 1 minute each on the sides if the salmon is cut thick, but the time will differ depending on your grill, the shape of you fillet & your preference of doneness.

To prepare the Broccoli, place the washed & trimmed flowerets on a baking sheet, season with salt & pepper, drizzle with olive oil & roast in the 450° oven for approximately 10 minutes.

To plate, spread out some of the squash on one side & the vinaigrette on the other. Place Salmon over vinaigrette, divide broccoli between plates, sprinkle Jamón over Squash Puree & garnish with fresh ground black pepper & a drizzle of your finest olive oil.

The Strong flavors in the Salmon & Jamón allow this dish to stand up to stronger beverages. I enjoyed a Lagunitas Maximus with this dinner, but an Imperial IPA might be too strong for many pallets. A standard issue IPA, like Bells Two Hearted or Alpha King should work for most. If you elect for a lighter flavored fish, then light Belgium (or Belgium Style) Ale should work beautifully. For wine, I would recommend a full bodied white such as an Oaky Chardonnay or a fruity red such as Pinot Noir or a Cote du Rhone.

Monday, May 26, 2008

yummy yummy fish cakes

This is the ultimate pantry raider's lunch or a great way to use leftovers. These cakes can be made with anything from leftover cooked crab or fish from last nights feast, to canned tuna or salmon. Additionally, the supporting cast can vary vastly depending on the flavors you like & what is kickin' around your kitchen. You need a filler (bread crumbs or crackers); a binder like mayonnaise or an egg (just the white will do if you are watching your cholesterol intake); an acid like lemon juice or vinegar; plus flavor enhancers, like mustard, onions, garlic, spices & herbs. Today's recipe included canned salmon, crushed crackers, almonds, shallots, red jalapenos, capers & dried cherries to list a few ingredients. This batch got a little over cooked, but were still a nice lunch. I served the cakes with a small salad, a walnut-parsley pesto & some Louisiana hot sauce.

Wash it down with a light-bodied beer (like Brooklyn Pilsner) or any range of whites, from Champagne to a crisp Sauvignon Blanc .

Summer Beer Extraordinaire: Brooklyn Pilsner

On this beautiful 82° day [after spending the previous evening drinking & eating with friends], I came across, a crisp delicious beer that I am expecting to be a summer staple. Whilst cruising the beer aisle, a tough decision lay itself before me. Should I grab the tasty Centennial IPA from Founders (a beer I was just recently turned onto by a good friend) or the old standby, Pride and Joy? Actually, wasn't I reminded of the surprised pleasure of a Brooklyn Lager just last night? Oh wait, I have been meaning to try Brooklyn's Pilsner. Well it is just to hot for the IPA & I could use something a little lighter & more refreshing, so the pils it is.
Pilsners are light-bodied Lagers that are popular all over Europe, as well as in America. Pilsner Urquell claims to be the original & hails from Czechoslovakia, other extremely popular European examples include Becks (Germany), Stella Artois (Belgium) & Heineken (Netherlands). America's most popular beers are pilsners (Budweiser, Coors, Miller), but as we know, popularity doesn't necessarily mean good taste. While these giganti-breweries pump out watered-down rice-supplemented shwill for the masses, the craft brew nation has reclaimed this style. Borrowing from the styles of Europe, these brewers take on the tough challenge of bringing dignity back to the term 'American Pilsner'.
Brooklyn's foray has the sweetness of a Belgian pilsner but also the light smoothness of a Czech style. It has a complex flavor that can stand up to many styles of cuisine, while maintaining a slightly sweet smoothness that pairs well with spicier dishes & proves to be a perfect companion for a sweltering summer afternoon. For another delicious American Pilsner try Lagunitas' Czech-Style Pils

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bacon & Goat Cheese Penne

This dish is inspired by two of my wife's favorite things, Goat Cheese & Bacon.

serves two:
4 slices Bacon
8 oz. young Goat Cheese
2 servings Penne (prepared as directed - 1/2 cup Pasta water reserved)
2 Shallots (diced)
1 Clove Garlic (minced)
4 Sprigs Thyme (chopped)
1/4 cup white wine
juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 tsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 bunch Kale (rinsed and chopped in large pieces)
1/2 Tomato (diced)
olive oil kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat with a little olive oil & cook bacon until done. Remove bacon & place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the Bacon drippings. Add Shallot, Garlic & Thyme & saute until shallots take on a little color (approximately 10 minutes). Add Lemon Juice, zest & White Wine, deglaze & simmer for 5-10 minutes. Wisk in Goat Cheese until completely incorporated. Fold in the Kale & cook for 5 minutes or until wilted. Fold in Pasta & enough pasta water to reach desired sauce consistency. Season with salt & pepper.

To serve, divide the pasta between two plates, crumble bacon over pasta, garnish with diced tomatoes & drizzle with your finest olive oil.

Serve with an American IPA like Hop Ottin, a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or a nice Bordeaux.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baby Eggplant Parmesan

Classic Italian - American meal here, the only slight difference is that I used baby eggplant instead of the full-sized version.

feeds two:
2 Baby Eggplant (ends discarded, sliced into 1/4" pieces)
2 Egg Whites (lightly beaten with a few drops of water)
2 Cups Marinara (recipe follows)
2 Servings of Angel Hair (prepared as directed)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme (chopped)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano (chopped)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil (chiffonade)
Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper & Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 200°

Mix Parmesan, Breadcrumbs, Thyme & Oregano, season with salt & pepper and spread out on a plate or dish. Spread flour out on a plate or dish. One at a time, dip Eggplant in flour (shake off excess), then into the egg wash, and then into the Parm.-herb mix. Finally set out on drying rack or plate to rest for 5 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with a drying rack and place in preheated oven. Place a heavy frying pan, cast-iron skillet or dutch oven over med-high heal, place about 3 Tbsp. of oil (enough to sufficiently cover the bottom of pan) and heat until almost to the smoking point. Place the slices of Eggplant into the pan and fry approximately 2-3 minutes (until golden brown) on each side. Work in shifts, being careful not to crowd the pan & place the finished pieces on the rack in oven, to keep warm while frying the batches.

To assemble, add 1 Cup of Marinara to pasta & toss to coat, divide pasta between two plates. Spread 1/2 cup of Marinara on each plate & place Eggplant slices against pasta. Garnish with Basil, Fresh ground Pepper & a drizzle of your best Olive Oil.
Serve with an American Pale Ale like Pride and Joy, a good Pilsner like Lagunitas Czech Style Pilsner or a light-bodied Red Wine such as a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.

8 Plum Tomatoes
1 Medium Onion (diced)
2 Shallots (diced)
1 Large Carrot (diced)
3 Cloves Garlic (broken)
2 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme (chopped)
3 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
pinch Dried Oregano
heavy pinch Red Pepper Flake
1/2 Cup Red Wine
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 cup Vegetable Stock
Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper & Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 450°.

Slice Tomatoes in half & place on baking sheet, sprinkle with Thyme, season with salt & pepper, Drizzle with olive oil & roast in oven for 20 minutes.

In a Large saute pan, sweat the Onion, Shallots, Carrots, Garlic & Fresh Oregano over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add Tomatoes, Wine, Vinegar, Stock & Red Pepper Flake, bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer to sauce pan & puree. Add Dried Oregano & season with salt & pepper.

Consume immediately or let cool & refrigerate for up to a week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lagunitas' Luck 13

I was at the beer spot today and came across Lagunitas' Luck 13. I checked the site and it appears to be one of their seasonals available from June to August, although I am not to sure how much stock you can put in their time table - the 4th installment of the Zappa series was said to be available from April to June and has yet to arrive (I have been assured it is coming soon though). Anywho, this beer is quite tasty. The label calls it "a mondo large red ale', so I guess it is basically an imperial red & with an 8.3% content, the alcohol flavor brings to mind thoughts of IPA's. This is another example of why (while I enjoy most of this companies beers) I really get excited about their seasonal & limited releases.

Smoked Sturgeon Salade Lyonnaise with Diver Sea Scallops

Due to some nice looking Frissee at Stanley's & the chance encounter with the last 6oz. of some House Smoked Sturgeon from the Fish Guy, I decided to make this play on the french classic. The smokiness of the Sturgeon takes the place of the traditional Lardon (Bacon) and The addition of Diver Sea Scallops (also from the Fish Guy) elevates this dish from mere salad to Lunch status. Here's the Recipe:

Serves Two:
2oz. Smoked Sturgeon (sliced on the bias)
4 Large Diver Scallops
1 head Frissee (chopped into large pieces)
2 Large Eggs
1 Shallot (minced)
1 slice of bread (chopped into small cubes & browned in the oven or a dry pan)
2 Tbsp. Sherry Vinegar
1/2 Tomato (diced)
2 Tbsp. Sliced Walnut
1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon
Olive Oil, Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

Place the Frissee, Smoked Sturgeon & Croutons in a large bowl. Saute the minced Shallot in
some olive oil until tender and slightly browned, add the Vinegar and simmer for an additional minute. Using a spatula, transfer all of the Vinegar-Shallot mixture over the Frissee, Sturgeon & Croutons. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the Frissee mixture, season with Salt & Pepper, toss & set aside.

Sear the Scallops by placing about two tablespoons of olive oil in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Rinse & dry the Scallops, season with salt and pepper & drizzle with olive oil. Place the scallops upright in the pan & sear for about three minutes or until nicely caramelized, turn over & sear for an additional two minutes or until the scallops reach your desired level of doneness. Remove the scallops, add a little more olive oil & fry the eggs until over easy (poaching the eggs would be more traditional, but I went with frying for speed & one-pan usage).

To assemble the dish, divide the dressed Frissee, Sturgeon & Croutons between two plates & make a mound with the ingredients, top each mound with an egg. Place the Scallops to either side of the salads, garnish with the walnuts, tomatoes & tarragon.

Serve with Champagne, Chimay Triple, Three Floyds' Gumballhead, or anything of the like.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have decided to start a blog to share the delicious food & drink that I see & eat. I will post pictures and comments of food I make at home as well as grubbage I enjoy while out. For the meals made at home I will try to include a recipe & will be as specific as possible about the origin of ingredients. I will also try to post a drink pairing when appropriate.