Great write up of all the goings-ons from Sean Nordquist on Tampa Bay Beer Week 2014. I will personally be hitting up, Eggs & Kegs 10: Return of the Brewers, Southern Brewing’s Moonraker release, Cycle Brewing’s 3rd Annual Barrel-Aged Beer Day, Green Bench’s Foeder for Thought,and Tampa Bay Beer Week “Wrap-Up” in Downtown Dunedin. What Are You Most Excited About?.
I know some of you are wondering what the fuck are all these initials in front of a dessert recipe. It’s okay if you don’t know and totally okay for you to catch some bourbon barrel-aged fever.
A few months ago I created a menu for a beer infusion and pairing dinner party to be held at my house. It was probably my most elaborate dinner party I have ever thrown and I loved throwing it so much that I instantly wanted to create a second menu for the next go round.
While there were many highlights to the evening, my personal favorite was piecing together my Dogfish Head Chicory Stout brownie, Kentucky Bourbon Beer ice cream with bourbon pecan pie chunks, topped with Kentucky Bourbon Beer Ale caramel sauce.
I wanted a beer that would complement the chocolate and espresso that go in my brownies, slightly adapted from David Lebovitz. This is a great beer for that. The chicory and chocolate notes in the beer fuse seamlessly in to these delicious brownies.
For the ice cream, I use the vanilla bean base from Jeni’s where the creaminess, body, and texture are represented by the cream cheese, corn syrup, and corn starch. From there it’s add in whatever the Hell you fancy. I thought a bourbon barrel aged beer would fit the bill nicely, and it did just that. It actually left some nice subtle notes of banana which was quite unexpected as this was the first time I created a beer flavored ice cream. The little sumpin’ sumpin’ I threw in there was a recipe of leftover pecan crack pie from my Momofuku Milk Bar cook book. Here is an online version from Bon Appetite. I threw in some pecans and a bit of bourbon too because I can.
Next came the topping. What is a sundae without toppings. I didn’t want to go overboard and I wanted it to stand be something special and noticeable, yet meld right in with the other cast of characters. Naturally, Kentucky Bourbon Beer caramel sauce was going to have to be created. I used this caramel sauce, adapted from one of the best bloggers and O.G. David Lebovitz. There are great tips in here and to create this sauce you will be stopping the caramel with cream and the bba beer. Here is another recipe from Simply Recipes with actual measurements to try. I added about 1/4 C of bba to the recipe. If it is too thin, simply cook it longer over medium heat until it thickens a bit more. The darker and longer you cook your caramel sauce, the stronger flavor it will produce. Be careful not to go too far though as it may get too bitter for your liking.
I hope, if you are a beer lover like I am, that you will try to create your own beer pairing party and give these recipes a shot. Remember when pairing with sweets, desserts, etc. you want an equally sweet beer. If you use an IPA or something not sweet enough, the beer will taste way too bitter and throw everything off. I paired this with Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée Stout and it was a great choice. Another awesome pairing would be a collaboration between my hometown brewery Cigar City Brewing and Terrapin Brewing, Southern Slice. This is a Doppelbock brewed with 900lbs of Vanilla Beans and Pecans. Cheers!
Sorry it has been so long since my last post. I’ve been busy with my Bob’s Kitchen: Dinner With Friends events. My latest event was an asian-inspired menu which included a ramen dish for the masses.
I have made ramen numerous times and no I don’t mean the kind from the pack with the powder. No, that stuff was strictly relegated to my college days and will stay locked away in my memory, sure to never return to the forefront.
As I was saying, I have made ramen many times, usually with a broth that I thought was sufficient enough to pass as a nice flavorful ramen broth. All that went down the tubes when I saw a Food Lab post on Serious Eats from Kenji Alt-Lopez about making Tonkotsu Ramen. While I have eaten Tonkotsu Ramen before I have never made it. After reading the article, my mind was blown and I knew I had to make this ridiculously flavorful, gelatinous, porky goodness.
It’s amazing how how much gelatin formation comes from the pig trotters and bones. This stuff totally seized up like jello when I refrigerated it for leftovers.
Here’s the link: Tonkotsu Pork Broth
I also used Kenji’s Chashu Pork recipe except I braised the pork belly without rolling it up. When almost fall-apart tender, I transferred the pork belly to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. I added some gochujang to the braising liquid, reduced it down, basted the pork with the sauce and then roasted the pork at 450ºF until crisped up a bit. I then cranked the broiler up to get the skin crisped up nicely.
For my finished product, I spiked the broth with a touch of tare (a concentrated soy and chicken bone sauce), I also added braised leafy yu choy, enoki mushrooms, little fried quail eggs, of course the braised and roasted pork belly, and a sprinkling of toasted black and white sesame seeds. I made the original bowls with Japanese marinated soft-boiled eggs, but to be honest with you it was a pain in the ass, so I subsequently used fried quail eggs for the leftovers which is what is pictured below. The entire process is quite daunting and not for the faint of heart, but for anyone who loves ramen it is worth the journey. Isn’t that what food is all about?
It had been a while since I had made one of my favorite breakfast dishes, glorious french toast. The thing is I usually don’t make it for breakfast though, it’s usually relegated to one of my breakfast for dinner dishes.
On this most recent occasion I decided I needed to ramp things up a couple notches. As I perused the pantry, I came across some unsweetened dried coconut flakes that I had used for a crisp tempura batter (the flakes add some great extra crunch and nooks and crannies to fry up). I also remembered that I had a couple of gallon bags of blueberries still frozen and left over from last year’s blueberry crop.
I thought to myself, the coconut would add another layer of flavor and the blueberries would make a great base for a nice rustic sauce. I had some red wine left over from one of my Bob’s Kitchen Dinner Events and I knew that would be a great tool to give my blueberry sauce some legs. I served it with some Sriracha glazed bacon. So without further ado, I bestow upon you my Coconut French Toast with Red Wine Blueberry Compote.
♥For Coconut French Toast:
- 1 loaf day old challah or bread of your choosing, sliced about 3/4 in. thick
- 6 eggs
- 2-3 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cups brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup Unsweetened dried coconut flakes, plus more if needed
♥For Red Wine Blueberry Compote:
- 18 oz. blueberries, fresh or frozen
- a few good glugs of red wine, or about 8 oz., plus 3 Tablespoons
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used left over pods that I had stored in my sugar jar)
- zest and juice from one orange
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
To Make The Coconut French Toast:
Preheat oven to 250°F
In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the french toast except for the bread. This will create a nice custard-like mixture to soak you bread.
Lay out a couple wire cooling racks and place some aluminum foil underneath. This will catch any custard that drips from your bread. Soak each bread slice in the custard for a minute, the more stale the bread the better it will soak up the custard and it will hold together better as well. Place each custard-soaked slice of bread on the wire racks this will give the custard enough time to really soak into the center of the bread so it is fully saturated with custard. Sprinkle dried coconut flakes on both sides of the bread slices and push down gentle with the back of a spoon just to make sure the coconut adheres.
Heat a large skillet (I use cast iron) over medium to medium-low heat. Use enough butter to fully coat the skillet. Places soaked bread in skillet, two slices at a time if you can fit them. An alternative would be to use an electric skillet also. Let each piece brown up as much as you like on one side, then flip bread over to brown up the other side. Place finished slices on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven while finishing the remaining slices of bread.
In the meantime, toast up some extra coconut flakes in a dry skillet over medium heat until the flakes are lightly browned. This will serve as garnish for the finished plate.
To Make The Red Wine Blueberry Compote:
Put all ingredients, except the cornstarch and the extra 3 Tablespoons of red wine, in a medium sized sauce pan, set over medium heat. Reduce contents down until the blueberries have given up some of its liquid and has thickened slightly. After this has happened mix 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch with 3 Tablespoons of red wine and dump this into the blueberry mixture. Raise heat to medium-high, wait for some bubbling action to let the cornstarch do its thing and thicken the compote.
To Assemble Coconut French Toast:
Place french toast on a plate. Top with blueberry compote. Liberally sprinkle toasted coconut over the whole thing. Serve with some Sriracha glazed bacon.
Loved this series of portraits.
If there is one go to cocktail for me personally it is the Paper Plane, a creation by mixologist Sam Ross. It received its name because he was jamming out to Paper Planes by M.I.A. while mixing this up.
I’m amazed that there aren’t more bartenders in the Tampa Bay area that know about this amazing concoction and stash in their back pocket. Too often I go to a nice restaurant only to find that three-quarters of their cocktail menu is composed of vodka-based drinks. Vodka is the Chili’s of the cocktail world, it simply has no soul. There are so many other spirits that have bountiful character and backbone. If you want clear stuff, go with a nice gin for God’s sake.
The Paper Plane is so easy to remember as it is a quattro-proportioned drink and has such a great balance of sweet, sour (citrus), and bitterness. I dare you to fill a coupe glass with this magic and find someone who doesn’t enjoy sipping on this fresh reboot. Anyway, being a bourbon drinker is so much cooler than being a vodka drinker. Cheers!
♥For Paper Plane:
The Amaro Nonino is the most expensive and difficult liquor to find out of this lot, but is well worth grabbing a bottle.
- 3/4 ounce bourbon
- 3/4 ounce Aperol
- 3/4 ounces Amaro Nonino
- 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
To Make The Paper Plane:
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. Serve.
For your listening pleasure, Paper Planes by M.I.A.
So there we were. Betty, our friends Chad and Kathy, and Chad’s father, all partaking in a few craft beers from 7venth Sun Brewing. The beverages were going down nice and smooth on this particular evening and by the end of the night I was feeling just dandy. We took advantage of the delightful Florida weather and conversed at the storefront high tops. Being Floridians, it doesn’t take much of a temperature drop to lure us to a warmer atmosphere. Needless to say the temperature probably dropped to a whopping 68°F and all of us ended up inside the comfy confines of the brewery. Warming up with all the other patrons and enjoying some more conversation.
I could tell Kathy was feeling good because she turned the talk to food and kindly volunteered me to cook for her family one evening. Which is fine and all, but she mentions that I should cook some authentic stuff that her mother would just love. Her mother is Bolivian and I knew next to nothing about their culinary history. Kathy lets me know that I can’t just whip up some carnitas for tacos and call it a night. Shit, “What have I gotten myself into?”, I thought to myself. Apparently, salteñas are pretty big in Bolivia. Kathy told me that her family loves them, but her mother, Sophia, doesn’t make them because she has a difficult time with the dough. This does not sound promising for me, a newbie to this cuisine. We agreed on a night when the whole family would
bombard grace the Beck household and I was committed to making a salteñas dish that would be adequate enough to get me through the evening and not receive a slap in the face for bastardizing this beloved dish.
Research ensued the following day and I found a salteña recipe that sounded authentic enough. Come to find out I would need to use gelatin in the savory filling, which I thought was odd. Come to find out it helps thicken and hold the mixture together better. I forged ahead with locating all the ingredients. I had everything except the aji amarillo, a yellow chili paste that is unique to this dish. So I picked up the lone brand at my local Whole Food grocery store and I was “all in”.
The evening arrived where I was to present this unsung Bolivian dish. Two of Chad and Kathy’s daughters couldn’t make it, they were probably as scared as I was and wanted no part of this mess, but everyone in attendance really enjoyed the salteñas and the alfajores (a South American cookie) that I prepared. There was a quiet sigh of relief from me once people started biting into the golden Bolivian empanadas and the room was soon filled with sounds of approval. Sophia brought some pan-fried plantains and some yellow rice to accompany my dishes. The evening was a success and I’m happy that I passed the salteña test with flying colors. Now I need a beer, but not with Kathy. I’ve run out of tricks up my sleeve.
♥Click here for the adapted salteñas recipe from Dulce and Salado
- I braised chicken thighs instead of boiling chicken breasts, this will produce a more flavorful filling.
- Use a bit of vinegar when boiling potatoes, this will help them hold their shape and not fall apart
- My dough was pretty wet after adding all the ingredients. If this happens to you, just add enough flour until you get a cohesive mass that doesn’t stick to the bowl or cut back on the water and don’t add all of it at once.
- The recipe says “In order to obtain the traditional color for our salteñas we use a natural colorant from Bolivia called Urucu.” I used annatto pebbles that are popular in Mexican food for coloring. I boiled a couple tablespoons of these in the water.
- I added golden raisins to the filling and a quarter of a hard-boiled egg to each salteña.
This is sure to be a great time. Come out and support your local brewery.
I made it and I am better for it. This holiday season has been one hell of a ride and one that I am sure to look back on with gratefulness. Betty and I made the trek from sunny Tampa, Florida to the depths of hell, aka bone-chilling northern states, specifically New York (Buffalo), Michigan (Frankenmuth, Saginaw) and Ohio (Athens).
First up on the agenda was visiting Betty’s family and friends in Buffalo. After a 22 hour drive, I made it to my first ever Bills game. Right from the outset we met some great Canadians from Montreal who supplied us with some great conversation and equally good whiskey and rum. At this moment I couldn’t feel my toes, but the beer, whiskey, and wings kept me warm.
My brother-in-law, Aaron, supplied some wings from Duff’s. Though I was a bit preoccupied with consuming
some lots of craft beer, which in turn, led me to the heated bathrooms, from what I remember the wings were quite tasty. After a monstrous gust of Buffalo wind landed a tent on Aaron’s car hood we decided it was high time to get our asses inside the stadium. After three quarters of freezing rain, very little offensive fireworks, and other shenanigans, we decided to call it a day. It was great to meet up with family and friends and it also made me appreciate football games and tailgating in warm climate. Back from the depths.
We don’t have any Szechuan restaurants in Tampa, so it was a real delight to find out that Betty and I would be visiting with a couple of her college friends at a newish Szechuan restaurant in the area. After getting the specials menu rundown from the manager, I relayed some of the specials to my table-mates and the chilled pigs ear dish was one that everyone wanted to try. While it was not anyones favorite, it was interesting in texture and had really good flavor. We ordered a ton of food, which is what usually happens in these instances because everyone wants to try everything. In hindsight, it was a good thing that we ordered so much because it was a three hour lunch, which is also what happens when you get girls together when they haven’t seen each other in years.
The best dish of the bunch was the tea tree mushroom dry pot. It came with smokey sliced pork belly, tea tree mushrooms, sautéed onions and peppers. If I could eat this dish once a week I’d die a happy man. Fiery goodness to help keep me warm. Back from the depths.
Following our six days in Buffalo, Betty and I made a slight detour on the way back to Florida. We thought,”why not head on over to Frankenmuth, MI. I hear it’s beautiful this time of year.” While that is not really why we decided to head there, it was quite beautiful in its own right. Frankenmuth is a small Bavarian town where a childhood friend of mine lives. On short notice, Tom and his wife Jennifer were kind enough to let us stay three evenings at their residence and I have to admit that it was the highlight of my entire vacation. There were many parts of this stay that just made me so happy.
Before heading out on our long journey, Tom let me know that he would be hosting a Festivus party where he would be breaking out some great bottles of beer and encourages others to do the same. Needless to say, I tasted some of the best beer of my life that evening and I have a new-found fondness for Michigan craft beer scene. Tampa is home to Cigar City Brewing, which is one of the finest microbreweries in the country and there are many other microbreweries trying to follow suit in the area. It just doesn’t stack up to the likes of Michigan’s sheer numbers though.
Some of the Michigan breweries I got to try were Founders (we get it in FL now, but not this variety), Short’s, Dark Horse, Odd Side, Tri-City, Greenbush, Arcadia, Jolly Pumpkin, and Right Brain. I also had some great beer from Three Floyd’s which I had never had before because they basically don’t leave Indiana. I did my part by bringing some beer with me as well such as Cigar City’s White Oak Jai Alai, a sour Guava Grove, Smoked English-Style Imperial Stout (which I later gave him to keep) and their Kalevipoeg At The Gates Of Hell Baltic Porter (which we didn’t get to). I also brought an Alchemist Heady Topper to share with the boys and my lady. All in all it was a great night to get reacquainted with some old friends and get acquainted with some new beers.
In the following days, as we toured the town, the cold wind cut right through me and left me wondering how I ever dealt with this weather for the 14 years that I lived here. It was fun ducking into all sorts of stores and shops, beer stores, bakeries, meat shops, distillery shops, bead shops, pizza joints and such just to avoid the freezing temperatures. I know my nose appreciated it. The whiskey, beer, and pizza helped to keep my body warm as well as my soul.
That final evening, the four of us went out for an evening where we gorged on a monstrous mediterranean sampler platter for four that fed like a platter for six to eight. There were more kabobs, wraps, stuffed things, sauces, dips, breads and spreads than I care to even count. We were all full, but not stuffed because we all knew we had to save room in our bellies for there was one more stop to be had, The Michigan Tap Room in my hometown of Saginaw, MI.
This is a gem of a bar started by a young man who wanted to harvest some of Michigan’s best brews all in one tap list. The kicker is that it is…in a bowling alley. Yes, tap after tap of phenomenal beer in a bar in a bowling alley. After numerous paddles of 4 oz samplers and some great conversation we called it a night.
This portion of my trip made me realize a couple of things. One, that it is never too late to stay in touch with friends. Two, visiting up north is fine but just don’t live there. In all seriousness, Tom and Jennifer were fabulous hosts and I look forward to their company in the near future whether it be in the comforts of my warm backyard sipping some great local beer and eating smoked pork sandwiches or from the comforts of Tom’s taproom eating sausage from Kern’s and drinking great local beer. Back from the depths.
For the final leg of our trip we made a short six-hour jaunt down to Athens, OH to celebrate the New Year with brother-in-law Aaron and his wife Shannon. Being a die-hard Michigan Wolverine fan, it pains me to even drive through Buckeye country, so to my dismay I drove like a bat out of hell right through Columbus until we hit the small town of Athens.
I find NYE a very overblown event. It has good intentions and depending on how you play it, a joyful evening can be had. I find by staying in, there are fewer headaches and worries. When you actually sit back and think about all the party-goers that are out on the road, it’ll make you cringe (this holds true for me for any major party-like holiday really). Then when you add in the fact that you usually need to buy some sort of special ticket to get in somewhere or pay an admission and the evening can be a financial bust, especially if there is a blip on the radar and not everything goes as planned.
I was pleased to learn that Shannon would be cooking up a standing rib roast and some roasted potatoes while we enjoy the comforts of their home. Their was a bit of celebrating with the giant blow up penguin out front while freezing my tookus off, but all is well when enjoying a great coconut porter. While sipping said coconut porter, I could almost lean back in my chair, while all bundled up and close my eyes and pretend like I had been whisked back to warm and sunny Florida. In due time, in due time. Happy New Years! Best wishes from sunny Florida, I’m Back from the depths.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in something that you anoint it “the best ever”. It’s a nice and tidy way to sum up something that you just love. I try not to get into this situation, but there are instances for me that it just has to happen and I have to praise it to the high heavens. I had such a moment last night while making a kale salad adapted from Smitten Kitchen, one of my all time favorites.
This particular salad has it all, a hip element (every who’s who of restaurants has some sort of kale salad these days), slight tartness from the lemon juice and also the vinegar soaked raisins, sweetness from those very same raisins, crunch from the nuts and bread crumbs, and saltiness from the grated cheese. Visually it may not look like much at first glance, but pile it up high on a non-fussy plate and marvel at its green elegance. All of this occurs within a salad that takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. The most time consuming aspect is tearing the green ribs away from the stems and then giving those greens a good chiffonade.
I’ve been waiting to give this one a go ever since SK posted this recipe. I figured with the holidays fast approaching, what better way to fit in a nice slimming salad to make myself feel good, and Betty will be satiated as she is always dying for me to mix dinner salads into the fold.
The only changes I made were that I upped the bread crumbs a bit, upped the raisins a tad, used red wine vinegar (because that’s what I had), and I used toasted pine nuts instead of walnuts (mainly because that’s what I had on hand and I love them when they’re toasted).
I present to you the best kale salad ever and I just gave you the chance to up your hip meter as well all in one shot.
♥For The Kale Salad:
4 small servings or 2 main servings
- 1/2 cup (105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces) pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) golden raisins, I threw in a some extras
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/3 cup panko (or slightly coarse homemade dried breadcrumbs)
- 1 small clove garlic, minced (I like to use my microplane)
- Coarse or kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch (about 14 ounces or 400 grams) tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale; this is the thinner, flatter leaf variety), washed and thoroughly patted dry
- 2 ounces (55 grams) pecorino cheese, grated
- Juice of half a lemon, (I used meyer lemons from my yard)
- Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
To Make The Kale Salad:
Prepare pine nuts: Toast pine nuts on stove top over med-low heat making sure not to burn them. Keep an eye on them!
Prepare raisins: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer red wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside.
Prepare crumbs: Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.
Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. Tear the ribs away from the stems with your fingers. Stack several sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise (chiffonade).
Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins, lemon juice, then remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs and, if needed, a final drizzle of olive oil.