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.