Sunday, August 2, 2009

Escolar and Warm Green Bean Salad

Here we have some Escolar from the Fish Guy. I pan-seared the fish on all five sides in a combination of Olive Oil and butter, with Garlic and Thyme resting in the fat to lend it's flavors. I paired this with a recipe I stole from the amazing Spanish chef, Jose Andres. Judias Verdes con Tomate y Cebolla or Green Beans with Tomatoes and Pearl Onions takes some great ingredients and simply brings them together for a wonderful side. Start by blanching the Green Beans for about three minutes (until tender) and then shock them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Meanwhile saute about four pearl onions until soft and slightly browned. Remove the onions and add a slice of Jamon Serrano (tore into small pieces) as well as a couple of peeled cloves of garlic. Once the Garlic is soft and the Jamon has crisped, add a handful of halved Cherry Tomatoes and cook for another five minutes. After the Tomatoes have softened and given up some of their liquid, return the Onions and Beans to the pan, along with some Thyme and a little more Olive Oil. Bring the Green Beans back to heat, season with Salt & Pepper and serve.

We enjoyed our meal with a Sofie from Goose Island, but any Saisson or light Belgian-style beer would be awesome with this light dish.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kobe Cheese-steak

So, I had a little Kobe beef left from the steaks from last week and thought I would toss together a quick meal for this Monday night. I caramelized some onions in a little butter and added some sliced green pepper towards the end - just softening and browning the peppers a little. Once the veggies reached the desired consistency, I removed them from the pan and added the kobe -which I had cut into half inch strips. I cooked the steak over high heat until just medium. Next I returned the pepper and onions back to the pan and made two even piles of meat and veggies. I shredded a little Gruyere over each pile and allowed the cheese to melt. The buns were warmed in a 200 degree oven for about 10 minutes, split and then topped with the meat, peppers, onion and cheese. We rounded out this dinner with a couple of ears of corn from the Dailey farm in Kokomo - care of my mother.kobe before the dice and heat

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Well, I have been quite the slacker here recently. While I have not really been updating here in the last few months, I have been busy consuming delicious treats. I have been enjoying beers from across the US with a fury, due to a new hobby (addiction) - trading. The US has many craft brewers through out nation and most only distribute to their immediate areas. I have linked up with like-minded beer geeks around the planet to trade for beers unavailable in our areas.
Also in the past few months I have continued to home brew - some recent batches have been a Back Alley Black IPA, Double Conjugal Imperial IPA and a Chocolate Molasses Imperial Stout that currently resides in a 2ndary fermenter with some meediuam toast American Oak cubes that were soaked in Templeton Rye for four months.
Culinarily, I have just recently had my mind blown by Schwa. Jen and I enjoyed a nine course dinner at this amazing BYO - which actually turned out to be eleven courses. Standout of the evening for me included a Ravioli filled with a Quail Egg as well as a Iberco Pork Collar dish that I will crave every day of my life.
On the home kitchen front, Jen and I recently made a nice dinner for one of our closest friends drooo's birthday. The evening included a nice progression of (mostly traded) amazing beers, such as Russian River's wild ale Consecration, a couple of selections from Duck-Rabbit, as well as a Rye Squared from Terrapin brewery out of Athens, GA. The Rye Squared was paired with our dinner: a rare grilled Kobe Sirloin along side Truffle Mashed Potatoes and Swiss Chard. The assertive bitterness and floral Hop flavors helped to cut throught the fatty richness of the Kobe. The steaks were grilled over high heat for about seven minutes and were seasoned with only salt, pepper and olive oil - purchase from the Fish Guy.

all photos by drooo check out more here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Grilled and Braised Boar Rib Ragou with Wide Egg Noodles

The title really says it all. I came across some Wild Boar ribs at the Fish Guy and grilled them with a light rub. Had some left over, so later that same week I pulled all of the meat from the bones and braised them in some white wine, onion, garlic, grainy mustard and chicken stock. I then wilted in some red shredded cabbage and tossed it with some egg noodles and fresh basil.

grilled and braised boar rib ragou with wide egg noodles

Burton Baton - Oak Aged Imperial IPA

I've seen this around many times the past several years, but never realized what it was (Oak-aged 90 minute IPA). I noticed what I thought was quite a good hop aroma for a beer that has been aged and the flavor is smooth, but assertive. Based on my run-ins with other DFH beers, I would assume they probably dry-hopped in the barrel. This is a seasonal brew, so I suggest you get it while you can.
In related news I have heard DFH is going to start selling IPA 12 packs with 4 each of 60, 90 & 120min. It should be interesting to see the price though, since 120 sells for anywhere from $8-11 for one 12 oz. bottle.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stout Weekend

Although the weather wasn't quite on the same page (unusually warm for St. Patty's weekend), these last few days have turned out to be quite a stout filled run (and a nice 4-day weekend for me). It is almost as if the stars had aligned for this one - My wife's sister and her husband came up for the extended weekend and knowing that they had just found the love for craft brew, a few trips to some of Chicago's brew destinations were in order; Founders released their Kentucky Breakfast Stout on Saturday (3/14) at their Grand Rapids brewery and Three Floyds (of the Munster Floyds) were releasing tickets for the opportunity to purchase their Dark Lord Imperial Stout at the upcoming festival of the same name.

I was unable to attend the Kentucky Breakfast release party, but reports came in that the allotment sold out in under an hour - my dreams of tasting this elusive double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels were fading. At about the same time we were making a trip to one of Chicago's mega-liquor emporiums and found that they will be receiving two cases of KBS on St. Pat's - the dream is coming back into focus.

Sunday evening we made the mandatory stop at Goose Island's original Clybourn location. Here we were introduced to their new menu (standouts for me including amazing Duck Rillets, Pork Sliders topped with Pickled Cabbage and Sriracha Aioli) as we were informed that they had ran out of their Dublin Stout - no worries they still had their Imperial Coffee Stout as well as their Night Stalker Stout.

Monday morning I found out that West Lakeview Liquors would be receiving one case of the KBS and allowing the public one bottle each. We added WLvL to our itinerary and headed to Piece brewery and pizza joint. Here we were treated to their delicious "New Haven style" pie and their Burn-out Smoked Stout - the flavor complimented the smoky quality of the roasted red peppers as well as the earthiness of the sauteed mushrooms on my pizza. Later that day I was able to obtain a couple bottles of the KBS at West Lakeview and found out that Whole Foods would be getting in a case on Tuesday as well & allowed me to reserve a 4-pack - the dream has been realized.

To complete the circle of stoutness, I awoke this morning at 6am to grab my two "golden tickets" for the opportunity to purchase a guaranteed allotment (yet to be announced) of Dark Lord bottles come April 25th. I am very much looking forward to Dark Lord Day. This will be my third year returning and if it is half as fun as the last two years, I am in for one hell of a day (no pun intended).

All this black-gold goodness and Goose Island's Stoutfest 2009 isn't until next weekend - $30 for 0ver 30 craft brewed stouts, I can't wait. And as I write this blog, the first KBS is opened, cheers!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More fun with Truffle Pate

So, you went ahead and shelled out the $22 for that Truffle Pate to make that Porcini Soup from a couple days ago. Now what are you supposed to do with the rest of it? Well easy enough, just dice some potatoes (Yukon Golds in this case) into about a 1/4 inch dice. Toss the little cubes into a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, season with salt and pepper, a little olive oil and then give them a good toss to coat. Make sure the potatoes are in an even layer, lid-up and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Take the lid off, toss again (doing your best to get all of the brown sides up) and continue cooking until tender and brown (prolly another 5 to 7 minutes). Once you are satisfied with the potatoes, add a healthy dose of the Truffle Pate, toss to evenly distribute the deliciousness & plate. In the picture, these delightful spuds are served next to a pork chop and some asparagus (both seasoned only with salt, pepper and olive oil; the asparagus was roasted at 450 for about 3 minutes - the pork, grilled over high heat for about 12 minutes).

p.s. If you have any left, try the Truffle Pate in some scrambled eggs.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Porcini-Truffle Soup

This is a really rich soup I made after my wife noticed an abundance of dried mushrooms in our cupboard. I used about 1 cup of dried porcini mushrooms & probably 2 and half cups of a dried mushroom blend. Both were steeped in hot water for about a half an hour and then strained - the liquid was reserved. I then placed a few sage leaves, a couple of sprigs of thyme, half of a sprig of rosemary, and a bay leaf in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. I brought this to a boil and then reduced the heat to low and allowed these herbs to steep for about 10 minutes. The herbs were removed and I sauteed one sliced onion, one sliced shallot and two sliced cloves of garlic for about 5 minutes in the herb-infused oil. Next, I dropped the mushrooms, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed for about 15 minutes, added a cup of white wine and boiled until reduced by half, then added the reserved mushroom liquid, about a quart of beef stock, the herbs from the oil infusion and brought this mixture to a boil. Once boil was reached, heat is set to low and the mixture simmers for a half an hour. After the time is up, remove as much of the herbs as you can (especially the bay leaf) and puree. Follow up with a half a cup of plain yogurt, season with salt and pepper, then continue to simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve with a healthy dollop of
white truffle "pate" (see below), a drizzle of white truffle oil and a little fresh thyme.

*Side note - I know these truffle products are expensive, but they really do add an amazing flavor. You could certainly make this soup without the truffle additions, but then it wouldn't be as big a treat. You can get this stuff online or if you are fortunate enough to have some nice specialty gourmet food shops around, support those bastards and keep them in business.

*Beer note - I drank a Bell's Hop Slam with this and they played well together. The aromatic hop quality of the beer almost mirrored the aromatic truffle aspect of the soup and the richness of the porcinis worked well with the bitterness of the Hop Slam.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

English Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Here is a variation on the Mac and Cheese I wrote about back in September. For this one I made use of some English Cheddar we had left over from a cheese plate. The Asparagus was roasted in the oven at 450 for about five minutes with just a little salt, pepper and olive oil. To finish the dish, I tossed a little thinly sliced Jamon Serrano over the Asparagus.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

...And Beer is King

A few weeks ago, my attention began to shift here a little. While I have been extremely interested in craft brew for over a decade, as of Inauguration weekend I have begun brewing at home. So as another creation of the kitchen (for now anyway), beer will find its way onto the pages of this blog more and more. To bring you all up to speed on where I am with the brewing process, here are the details. I have a few brewing partners - I met this crew while in Munseetown and all of us currently live in glorious Logan Square. Munseetown is of significance because this small Indiana college town is where I first found the amazing flavors of craft brew, thus beginning this passion. So far we have brewed an IPA, Inauguration IPA to be specific. This brew contains 6 different types of hops (8 oz. total in a 5 gallon batch) and currently resides in bottles (at 7.2%abv.) awaiting a couple more weeks of conditioning. The second brew we have attempted is a riff on Great Divide's Yeti Imperial Stout. While possibly close to the brewer's concoction, this recipe was pulled together from a few different ideas & I feel like it is our own Imperial Stout and not really connected to the Great Divide brew except through inspiration. This batch is currently in my closet - split into two secondary fermenters (one filled with 3 0z. of American Oak cubes that have been soaked in Templeton Rye). We have yet to decide on a name for these two stout cousins, but I don't think they will be ready to consume for at least another month (probably more like 4 months on the oaked portion).

Also in brew news, I have decided to start cellaring some select beers. This practice has been around for ages when it comes to wine, but is a relatively new idea regarding beer. While some wines (such as Bordeaux from France) age well for decades, it is widely believed that only the
fullest of beers can be aged much past a couple of years. Aging beer (as with wine) causes the beer to mellow out some of its astringent qualities, allowing one to taste its complexities more easily. So here is an introduction to my beer cellar (pictured above, from left to right):

Bells 2009 Hop Slam - This is a really hoppy Double IPA sweetened by the addition of honey. Usually a beer of this hop stature would be best drunk young to capitalize on the fresh citrus-quality of the hops, but I have read that this brew will mellow over time and become closer to a barley-wine style ale & I have a crap-load of it right now.

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard - While already somewhat mellowed compared to its non-oaked counterpart, I still believe this will develop pleasantly over time (this brew was reviewed earlier on this page so feel free to go back for a refresher).

New Glarus Iced Barley Wine - This is drinking great right now, but I think the heavy alcohol flavor will begin to sweeten with some cellaring

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - SN's Barleywine was my first of this style (I believe it would have been the '97 or '98). This year's tastes a little closer to a Double IPA to me, but then again there is a lot of debate regarding the differences between American DIPA's and American BW's. Again this is great right now, but my thoughts on cellaring are the same as the New Glarus BW.

Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA - This huge beer is absolutely wonderful, but at 13% the alcohol can be a little overwhelming so we will see how it goes down next fall. I am also very interested in seeing how this compares aged to a fresh one next year.

Now we enter stout country. To many, these are the beers that can benefit most from time in the cellar and there a couple of pretty huge beers here.

Victory Storm King Imperial Stout - This beer is so tasty, it has a great hop aroma and flavor that you just don't get too often in a stout. This also reminds me of how wonderful Sierra Nevada's Stout used to be. It will be tough to let this one sit.

Founders Breakfast Stout - I have also written about this beer in the past and again I am interested in trying a year old version of this versus next year's freshness.

Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout - This hefty brew weighs in at 18% abv. and because of this I am sure that a year or two will do a lot for this brew, but it'll be tough letting it sit because I have yet to try this in the bottle.

Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout - I just picked this one up on a recent trip to Madison, WI. Like the Bourbon County (see below), this is a large beer aged in Bourbon Barrels. The Barrels lend a vanilla flavor to this brew along with bourbon and chocolate flavors as well as a hefty alcohol flavor, but unlike Bourbon County this beer is easy to drink (almost too easy), but again I think a year will bring out some new flavors.

Goose Island 2008 Bourbon County Brand Stout - You couldn't ask for a better beer to age. This Imperial Stout is aged in Bourbon Barrels (Jim Beam for the 2008 batch I believe) and has one of the most complex profiles of any beer I have ever tasted. The pour is somewhat oily in consistency & the mouthfeel gives you an idea of just how huge this monster is. At 13% abv. this delight is bursting with Bourbon, Chocolate and Vanilla flavors plus a healthy alcohol flavor. I have four of these put away and plan on having one a year until this batch is gone. I also plan on adding vintages for years to come to the cellar. This is another beer I am really excited about tasting against vintages to come. I would love to eventually have vertical tasting from Bourbon County (a vertical tasting is when one has the opportunity to try out several vintages of a beer [or wine] back to back), but I will have to wait a few more years for that. I am pretty sure that this beer will continue to mellow & be drinkable for many years to come. I'll let you know. Cheers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

lemon honey ginger vinaigrette

This is another really simple meal - Salmon (grilled, seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil), Asparagus (roasted at 450 for about five minutes, seasoned with the same as above), and Mashed Potatoes (shoot me, we were in a hurry, they're from a box). The real star though is the salad and its vinaigrette. For the vinaigrette, I whisked together olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, honey, ground ginger, crystallized ginger, salt and pepper. I used this dressing for a frisee salad mix and added walnuts & dried blueberries.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pork Loin, Green Beans and Parpadelle

This is about as simple as it gets. The Pork Tenderloin is seasoned with salt pepper & olive oil, then grilled over high heat for about 12 minutes. The Green Beans were seasoned the same way then roasted at 450 for 8 minutes. The pasta was just dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil & freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Scallops with Mushroom-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Scallops are about the most rewarding thing to make at home. As long as you have access to quality Scallops, very little is needed to make an extremely delicious meal in very little time. For this small plate I made a Mushroom-Balsamic Vinaigrette by sauteing some sliced Shiitakes with a little shallot, salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms were soft and slightly browned, I reserved a few slices and added a tablespoon of balsamic. I allowed the vinegar to cook for about five minutes or so to sweeten up. I then added a couple of tablespoons of olive oil & pureed into a smooth vinaigrette. The Scallops are seared on one side over high heat for about three minutes and finished on the other side for about a minute. To bring the plate together, spread the vinaigrette across the plate, place the reserved shiitake slices and scallops on top of the balsamic and finish with some diced tomatoes and bitter greens - I used frisee.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pulled Pork?

I didn't mean to make pulled pork, but that's what happened. I browned some chunks of pork roast in one pan, while I caramelized onions in my dutch oven. Once the onions were well browned, I added a little smoked paprika, diced jalapenos and garlic. Once the garlic and peppers began to soften I added about a half a gallon of apple juice, brought to a boil, then reduced the heat to a simmer and allowed the liquid to reduce by about half. Once the liquid is reduced and saucy, I added the browned pork, covered & placed in the oven at 350 and braised the pork for about two and half hours. I plated the pork with a little of the braising liquid and topped with some green beans that were roasted in the oven ( 450 for about 8 to 10 minutes),

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mortadella presents

I stole this little snack from Mario Batali and talk about a rewarding theft - this dish is simple and pretty awesome. Mortadella is basically Bologna from Italy (or made in the same manner as one would in Italy). All you do is place a little chevre (young goat cheese) in the middle of one slice & fold over the sides to form a little envelope-like package. Then place the packet fold side down in a hot non-stick pan (or a grill) over medium-high heat . Once the Mortadella is browned on one side (and subsequently sealed), turn over & brown the other side. Serve over a small mixed salad - I made a mustard vinaigrette and topped with sliced almonds and some dried cranberries.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Oaked Arrogant Bastard

This beer continues to cement California's Stone Brewery as one of the best brewers in the US. Arrogant Bastard Ale, is an American Strong Ale that has a rich and complex flavor. There is a sweet caramel maltiness that is balanced by an aggressive amount of hops. The Oaked version of this classic, tends to have a more mellow quality due to the aging and slight oak flavor. The hop presence is toned down and the complexities become more apparent allowing one to taste the beer's earthy quality. The Oaked Arrogant Bastard also seems to be a lot smoother and much more drinkable. Stone has just recently decided to make the Oaked Bastard available year-round, but we here in Illinois will have to cross state lines for ours - Stone still does not distribute to IL (write 'em a letter).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Black Grouper Crudo

This is a very simple snack that I made to taste the Black Grouper that I had bought at the Fish Guy. It is important when consuming raw fish that one is sure of the quality and freshness. The Fish Guy only carries the finest and freshest fish and seafood and is patronized by esteemed Chicago chefs such as Charlie Trotter. For this dish I simply rinsed and dried the Grouper then roughly chopped it into small bites. I laid this out and squeezed some fresh lemon juice over top to firm up the flesh while I chopped some capers, quartered a couple of grape tomatoes and finely diced some shallot. To bring the plate together I sprinkled the shallot, capers and tomato around the plate; topped with a few choice pieces from a "mixed herb salad" and finished with salt, pepper & olive oil. Again I must stress the importance of quality when assembling a simple dish like this.