Tag Archives: cheese

Williamsburg you old dog you.

1 Nov

This past weekend I traveled to Hampton, Virginia to see Disco Biscuits and String Cheese Incident for Hulaween 2010. As an added bonus I got to visit my brother a bit too which meant we had some great food. Before stopping at his house I picked up a 750 of Allagash Black, the brewery’s new Belgian style stout (they’re based in Portland, ME and I haven’t seen their bottles anywhere in Ohio yet). Some Terrapin Hopsecutioner and Hop Karma IPAs out of Athens, GA and a smoked cheese and another great creamy and nutty cheese called Pyreness. Scrumdiddlyumptious to say the least.

This was all a prelude to lunch with my brother at The Blue Talon Bistro – a French comfort food restaurant in colonial Williamsburg with Redmarker Ale on draft and a reasonably priced and decent wine list with a very nice Malbec by the glass. Paired that with a delicious brandade – think artichoke spinach dip in steroids and but no artichokes or spinach but instead … SALTED COD, ohhhh yes please. To follow a delightful green salad and a blackened fish Reuben.

Needless to say, when I ran out of crostini to scoop up the brandade, I started slathering on my sandwich. Thanks to colonial Williamsburg for yet another delicious meal.

Nostalgia Beat: Tuna

15 Sep

Tuna is a crazy overfished…fish.  It’s enormous.  Way bigger than the little tin can or convenient foil pouch you scratch the flakes out of, this fish has dominated American life from cradle to grave.  As a kid, I loved eating the sandwiches on hikes with my Dad and at home for a change from PB&J (a life partner) with my mom.  High school provided the warm cat-food smelling tuna casserole that I actually adored and devoured.  At college, Middle Ground Café made a zesty refresher course of traditional mayo/celery/chicken of the sea by replacing mayo for vinaigrette and opting for ginger instead of celery.

Coming back from the whirlwind of graduation, I found myself sleeping for a week, watching Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and listening to 90’s songs.  But I also was eating a lot of tuna.  Was it the protein I was so lacking at school for 4 years or a shameless wallowing in nostalgia for the good ol’ days?  Frankly I don’t care, and I can’t stop eating the stuff.  It’s become my on-the-go snack on my road trips to Chicago so I don’t have to kill myself with McDonald’s or the incredulity of the KFC Express/Pizza Hut.  I love it plain from the pouch with a fork, in salads, in lettuce wraps, on English Muffins, in a bowl with Miracle Whip and a hefty portion of mace or on a sandwich with my own arugula/radishes/blueberries and cheese.

Whichever way you cut it, the world and I are going to have a hard time if this great fish disappears and yellowfin isn’t going to be the answer.

Hot Chip Din

13 Mar

To be a whizz kid at creating homemade pasta is a blessing, one I sadly lack so far.  To compensate, I used Bertagni porcini mushroom tortellini — only my favorite style/shape of pasta ever.  The sauce was on a whim and happily turned out AWESOME.  The usual shallots and garlic with olive oil and butter browned in a pan but with the added bonus of a tablespoon of red curry paste, about the same amount of balsamic vinegar, quick squeeze of a lemon and heavy whipping cream.  Once the tortellini  were ready they joined the sauce in the pan for a quick coating and then topped with a pinch of shredded gruyere.  The curry isn’t overwhelming but mellow, interesting and gives the dish nice color.  I paired this with a Southern Tier Gemini — kind of a sweeter, less hoppy version of most IPAs, what they call a “blended unfiltered ale”, which played nicely off the bite of the shallots and sweet spice of the red curry.  I think it took 15 minutes max, to the beats of Hot Chip and La Roux (hipster version of Tilda Swinton?).

Swine Flu Pie

7 Jan

After much harranging by my mother, I decided to get the swine flue vaccine today.  I was so NOT going to get it after watching this video…which admittedly made me laugh uncontrollably for a short time before I freaked out a bit.  The news story triggered my friends to respond to any comment with “I’m just cherishing every step”.  So, when I got home today after tokyo driftin’ my way through ridiculous snow filled streets, I decided to make sorbet and pie for the first time ever.  Since I have to wait 10 days to figure out if I’ll be rendered insanely disabled from a shot, I’m gonna live it up with some sweet food.

For the past 4 hours, I’ve been watching VH1’s 100 Most Shocking Music Moments while cooking.  I started off with George Jones getting a DUI for driving raving drunk on his John Deer lawn mower down a highway and my great grandmother Grace’s pie crust recipe.

All mixed up in a bowl:

2 cups flour

6-7 tablespoons of butter

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

a little salt (and probably a little sugar)

enough ice water and extra flour to make a nonsticky dough

Rolled out and then draped in a butter lined pie pan

Then I layered pretty slices of Beckwith Orchards Jonagold apples, fontina cheese, Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder, more apples and crushed up baking chocolate.  I think next time I’ll layer the very top with sugar before placing the top crust.  I gotta say it’s kinda weird because the cheese gives the slightest chewiness to the other textures but fontina isn’t a particularly strong cheese so it doesn’t overpower the other tastes.  Definitely more sugar next time.

I pulled the pie out after 15 mins @ 400° and then a half hour @ 350° and with the shocking music moment of John Lennon saying the Beatles were more famous than Jesus.  Amen brother.

IdiditIdiditIdidit!!!

27 Dec

Every year, the day after Christmas is my immediate family’s opportunity to have our extended family over to our house for Boxing Day.  People get to unload their leftovers and bring horrendous white elephant gifts and I get to make yummy hors d’oeuvres to round out the table.  My creations included crostini with a peppered salami/spiced green olive tapenade I blended up in the Cuisinart and a slice of creamy Danish havarti.  Popped them into the oven for 15 minutes @ 200º to melt the cheese.  If you don’t have a baguette or even an oven, repeat the recipe but with crackers (I prefer Bremner) and a microwave.

Pancakes slathered in my homemade jam and topped with homemade whip cream.  They were so cute and little you could eat ’em like cookies.

I only made a few of these next ones and they disappeared in maybe 15 minutes.  Rolled out some philo pastry dough very thin, then used a snowflake cookie cutter to make some shapes, placed a few bleu cheese crumbles in the middle, a half of grape tomato on top, sprinkled with black pepper and cayenne pepper.  Into the oven @ 350º for 10-12 minutes.  Cayenne pepper doesn’t faze me anymore so I totally forgot that others in my family might still have taste buds, so basically tonight I made my aunt cry and slightly choke.  But they were REALLY yummy.

One of the perks of being the cook is you are allowed to demand drinks.  So while I juggled the pancakes and the snowflakes, my brother poured me a snifter full of La Trappe Quadrupel from De Koningshoeven.  It has a light cognac colored pour with very little head.  The aroma is lovely: a very refined banana scent that isn’t artificial but mellow. The flavor is a lighter version of the aroma and boozier and smooth but not slick over the palate.  As I quenched my thirst and danced around the kitchen to some motown tunes amongst the swirl of culinary activity, I started delighting from the trickle of yummy sounds coming from the dining room.  I already knew the pancakes were good but I hadn’t really known how the crostini or the snowflakes would come off.  My excitement about personal creations increases exponentially when I get feedback from people other than myself.  My dancing got a little funkier after the positive reviews and was accompanied by a little chant of “I did it! I did it! I did it!”.  Honestly, there is nothing in this world that makes me happier than feeding people and giving them yummy things to drink.  I leave the calming effects of speeding in a happy-making category unto themselves.

ALS Beer Dinner Fundraiser

19 Oct

I’m coming up to the last few days before my ALS Beer Dinner Event goes down and things are getting down to the wire in a fun and slightly overwhelming way!  Luckily over the summer I secured awesomely generous donations from three incredible local Ohio microbreweries:  Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing and Hoppin’ Frog.  These guys really blew me away with their donations, encouragement and enthusiasm not to mention they are my favorite Ohio microbreweries.

From Thirsty Dog: Raspberry Ale, Labrador Lager, Lunar Lager and Old Leghumper Porter

From Buckeye: Zatek Old Ale, 76 IPA, Old Mammoth Stout

From Hoppin’ Frog: Wee Heavy Scotch Red Ale, BORIS Oatmeal Impy

As for the menu, I’ve been striving for all local and all donated which is a little tough as it turns out but I’ve had some great feedback and donations from local businesses in terms of food donations and raffle prizes.  Sometimes I feel like I need a permanent assistant to follow me around while I dictate my insanely long To-Do Lists and navigate the web of email responses.  Luckily I have a great team of volunteers selling raffle tickets, helping prep food and awesome friends keeping my brain from becoming an addled mush.

To the meat of the issue, here’s why I’m doing this fundraiser: this dinner is for the benefit of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (aka Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research. This is a cause I’ve supported for 5 years since the disease claimed my father. In memory of the 5th anniversary of his death, I thought he’d especially appreciate an event featuring our two favorite things, beer and food. Funds raised will go directly to Project ALS in the hopes that continued, proactive research will find a cure for this terminal, neuromuscular degenerative disease.

The event features a 5 course meal paired with samples of 9 different beers.  There will be a raffle where you can win prizes like a Pumpkin Beer gift basket donated by Rozi’s Wine and Liquor House, a custom made cake from local baker extraordinaire Liz Keeney, gift certificates to the Village Deli and Middle Ground, beer steins and a Kenyon blanket from the College Bookstore.

The Menu:

Fettunta

Grilled hot italian sausage with lemon and cilantro

Sweet potatoes Anna

Osso Bucco

Local cheese plate with local chocolates, Beckwith apples and cider

Mini BORIS pancakes with honey

*sorbet palate cleanser in between courses of Thirsty Dog’s Raspberry Ale

me and Poppie

the whole reason

Grill Mistress

1 Sep

So ok, my girls and I just put together our grill with no man help and then grilled some mad delicious burgers, dogs (Hebrew National all beef franks are great) and zucchini.  Real talk.  We used lamb for the burgers — and may I just say that these beat bison burgers any day.  Delicious.  And knockin’ em back with a Fort Collins Big Shot brown ale wasn’t so bad either.  Grilled up some zucchini and made the RAG salad and s’mores to finish.  Life isn’t so bad as a senior in college right now…until I realized that I actually have work.  Wee womp.

Happy Dogs and Burgs

7 Aug

Growing up as the baby of the family, 5 years younger than my sibling, I looked to my brother for almost everything.  When I was 6, I went through a phase of wearing umbros and giant t-shirts.  So somehow his pattern of food research became engrained in me at an early age.  He went on a caesar salad kick for a few years trying to hunt down the perfect combination of salad, cheese, dressing and croutons.

This summer has been my excursion into burgers and dogs — a staple of summer food and a personal favorite.  From my childhood, burgers were a home-cooked thing and McDonald’s/Swensons was a rare treat reserved for “Junkfood Fridays”.  The standard: thick, medium rare, small burger, bun with ketchup, grey poupon and pickles.  As I got older, I drifted to the cheeseburger, eventually the bacon cheeseburger, the triple cheeseburger.  But I didn’t realize the vast array of condiments I was missing until this summer when I had a burger at the Beer Engine and ordered the Southwestern Burger.

happy burgs

Oh my god. Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod.  Pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, roasted red peppers and chili sauce?!  I am completely hooked on this burger but more to the point, I’m in love with the idea of jalapenos on a burger.  My favorite little trick is tucking them in under the cheese when I make them at home so they don’t slip out.  Number one rule:  ALWAYS TOAST THE BUNS.

New Burger Adventures:

Srichacha in place of ketchup

Beets instead of tomatoes (if you love beets this will be your new favorite –  sweet, slightly firmer consistency than a tomato)

Worcestershire sauce and chopped onions worked into the burger meat (so much juicier and flavorful)

happy dogs

And as for hot dogs, my taste is undeveloped and seeking new ideas.  For some reason, in my household, hot dogs are always cooked in a skillet with water…this I detest — mostly because the water turns an icky color and the dogs look pallid and unhappy.  The happiest dog I have found is on a grill or in a skillet without water.  The skin crackles a bit, gets some nice color and then when it’s all done I take a knife to the top and score the meat on top, releasing the flavor and the color contrast is actually sort of beautiful in its own way.

Another trick I learned early on was putting the sparse condiments I use (ketchup and grey poupon) inside the bun first and the dog on top making it easier to eat.  As for most foods cooking away on a grill I really love a good old-fashioned IPA.  Recently I tried Green Flash West Coast IPA and found it to be a nice little hop bomb with a good amount of bitterness in the finish.  IPA’s that are not too floral I find are a good combination when eating grilled meats.

Sempre

1 Aug

It’s one of my all time favorite Italian words, right up there with carina (precious, cute).  It literally translates as forever or always.  I’ve heard and used it in the sense of good food and drink, when exclaiming about something yummy.  For example: “Mi piace questa birra!” another will say “Oh, semmmmpre.”

I fell across another delicious idea worthy of the praise filled word sempre.  Shopping around my local grocery store in Milan, Pam, I was looking for an alternative to the usual caprese starter for my next dinner party.  The decision was very easy:  I had pears, prosciutto and a chunk of parmesan cheese the size of my face from the original factory.  No way could I polish it off by myself in the next month and a half so I shared it.

And speaking of beer, this dish goes unbelievably well with Birrificio Lambrate’s idea of a belgian strong ale, Lambrate Bricòla.  Oof.  This stuff is so delicious and a great take on the usually too sweet for me belgian strong ale.  A smokey first sip baited my interest for further sips that grew into a dark cherry and light honey flavor.  You feel supremely decadent munching on the smokey, salty cured prosciutto with the sweet and tangy cheese/pear combination all while washing it back with this gem.

This one is so simple:  fresh prosciutto crudo wrapped around a thin slice of pear and long chunk of parmesan cheese.  Serve on a plate and watch it disappear.  I served this again at a student art exhibition and had friends come simply because they heard I was in charge of the food and specifically was serving up this dish.  I will always be in love with the simple uses of a pig leg.

prosciutto the barcelona way

Cheesin’

29 Jul

Over my birthday weekend, the program I was studying with in Milan took us to Parma for a Culture/Cuisine Trip where we toured the Parmigiano Reggiano factory and watch the magic unfold.  I bought a solid 5 lbs. of cheese but the only thing that was missing was a good tart sour ale like Jolly Pumpkin PerseguidorRodenbach Grand Cru or perhaps an impy like Victory Storm King Imperial Stout.  Here’s a quick run through of the process that goes into parmesan cheese:
parma whey

The head cheese of the Parmagiano Reggiano factory, separating extra whey to be fed to the piggies.

Skimming the cheeseSkimming the cheese with a wooden rod to check consistency.

Bag it Up!Bagging the cheese in cloth to drain before being pressed into the molds.

Brine BathBrine bath where the proteins and little fat basically cure and harden until aging begins.

CHEESE!Cheese cheeeese gloriousss cheeeeeeseeeeee!!!

Back in the States, I’ve had some very good cheese from La Cave du Vin and Whole Foods.  At La Cave I ordered a bleu and brie board with a Great Divide Hercules IPA.  The maximum hoppy happiness of the pint worked well against the funky and very sweet smooth cheeses.  From Whole Foods I enjoyed a beautiful smoked creamy gouda with a Cantillon Gueuze.

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