Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Preparations

So this may be our last post in a while. No, we're not giving up the blog, but rather we're preparing for Hurricane Irene to deliver some grade A punishment to our area. We live in in an area that tends to lose power when puppies sneeze so we're expecting that our power is going to go our sometime in the next 4-8 hours. Given the
amount of time we were without power last time we had some gentle breezes we're preparing for the possibility of being without power for the better part of a week.

Red Clap Pear Salad with Kale, Danish Blue Cheese and Sun Gold Cherry Tomato

With that sad realization I went about my work and put together this salad with the farm Red Clap pears, Danish blue cheese, farm Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Brouwerij Sterkens St. Sebastiaan Golden (Yeast Hoist)

As Jen enjoyed a gin and tonic I decided to crack open this beer from Brouwerij Sterkens. Most places call it "St. Sebastiaan Golden" but this seems to claim it's called Yeast Hoist. I don't know. It's very confusing. The beery comes with a little booklet which is filled with a bunch of mystical mumbo jumbo like: "Everything in the universe came from one point--" and "the macrocosm is the microcosm -- all is one --." There's also a lot of pressure to reuse the bottle.

For useful information on the bottle it mentioned that it had been "drawn" in January of 2010.

I don't know. It was good beer so that's really the important part. After all this strange packaging and other related collateral I would have been very disappointed if this beer had only been so-so.

Bacon Tomato Rice with Kale, Lilac Peppers, and Serrano Chilies

For dinner I continued to work through the items in the fridge and freezer. I made this rice dish using bacon, onion, garlic, the Lilac peppers from the farm, the farm serrano chilies, farm tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, butter, smoked paprika, and cumin.

The "Mean Irene" by Jen

Jen also made a drink which she dubbed the "Mean Irene" with Aperol, gin, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and champagne. This was a pretty good drink and Jen is excited to put it into the regular rotation.

The next few days may get ugly. It also may have been the grandest false alarm that has ever been sounded. Only time will tell.

As the rain begins to gently fall outside our home we are going to continue to watch the repetitive and uninformative news stories on the storm until our electricity goes out. It remains to be seen how long electricity will last. If it goes out we're going to have trouble entertaining ourselves with nothing but playing cards, games, notepads, charged up wireless electronics, 4,000 books, and enough food to sustain us for a few weeks.

No one should have to live like this.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How to Prepare for an Emergency

As the Northeastern United States prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Irene we engaged in our own preparations at home. The storm was coming and we had to take every possible precaution to make sure we were prepared.

Spaghetti with Fennel, Tomato, Spinach, Scallops, Shrimp, and Lime Basil

The last time we were without power for days it was because of a minor storm. Now as a category 2 hurricane approaches we're preparing to be without power for at least five days. That means there is a lot we need to use up for fear of having to throw away the entire contents of our fridge and freezer.

I started off by using up some of the most perishable items in the freezer: scallops and shrimp.

I sauteed them up with some of the farm fennel, onion, garlic, farm spinach and tomatoes, olive oil, butter, and salt. I tossed in a little cooked spaghetti and garnished it with the lime basil from the farm.

Berkshire Brewing Co. Hefeweizen Ale

The first beer to be used from the fridge was this hefeweizen from Berkshire Brewing Company. Since it's unpasteurized and unfiltered I figured this was a good place to start. It was a pretty tasty hefeweizen. It pairs well with the lousy local news and air of gloomy uncertainty.

Longford's Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream with Sugarplum Chutney

For dessert I scooped out some Longford's Tahitian vanilla ice cream and served it with Jen's sugarplum apple chutney from the other night. This is one of the few things that I've ever had that goes just as well with a grilled pork loin chop as it does with vanilla ice cream. Surprisingly, even considering the garlic, it was quite delicious with ice cream.

Cavalry Brewing Company Nomad Stout

As a second dessert I had this Nomad Stout from Cavalry Brewing.

As we spend the rest of the night preparing for the inevitable loss of power we're enjoying as much television as possible. Our theory is that if we watch a lot of television now we can somehow save it up for those dull hours where we are without power. That way all these episodes of Monk can be stored up and slowly used during the hours without power.

Let this be a lesson to everyone: you need to take emergency preparations seriously. It could save your life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Swiss Recap Dinner

Before we went to Switzerland we had a Swiss dinner to prepare for our trip. In Switzerland we consumed as many classic Swiss foods as we could. This meant eating a large number of veal sausages on a daily basis.

However, we didn't get a chance to have everything we had planned on. I planned on remedying this when we returned to the States by making a Swiss dinner as a sort of recap to our travels. Mostly the German part.

Pilfered Plane Gruyere with Swiss Toasts

For an appetizer I put out these crackers which had been given to us by Gregg and Ross in Switzerland. I paired them with some Gruyere we'd stolen from the plane and some wine we'd also stolen from the plane. I think the cheese and the wine did not benefit from the sweltering trip in our backpacks from the plane but the crackers aged remarkably well. Those little toasts are fantastic!

Spinach, Orange, and Fennel Salad

For tonight's dinner I started off by making this light salad with some of the spinach, slices of orange, and thinly sliced fennel with a light drizzle of cider vinegar, olive oil, red onion, salt, and pepper.

Grilled Veal in Mushroom Cream Sauce with Rosti Potatoes

The main course was probably the most traditional of Swiss dishes: rosti potatoes with veal scallopini in a mushroom cream sauce. I tried to recreate our our dinner in Zurich at Terrase by lightly grilling the scallopini first. I made the sauce with some olive oil, butter, onion, crimini mushrooms, white wine, flour, cream, and salt.

I haven't really made rosti potatoes since the five minutes my culinary school devoted to our learning the cuisines of Switzerland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and The Ukraine. I was also surprised to not really encounter them in Switzerland or on any menu. Therefore it was time to make some!

They're extremely easy to make. Just bake some potatoes, peel the skin, grate them into a bowl, add some finely diced onions and salt, then fry them in a pan.

And there you have the most typical Swiss dinner as told to me by my culinary instructors during my 45 second training on Swiss cooking.

La Dragonne <<After Ski>> Ale

This winter I had the worst beer I've ever had. It was called La Dragonne. It was Swiss and it was awful.

While in Switzerland this summer I tried a number of Swiss beers, all lagers, and they ranged from okay to good. I was eager to try all these beers that, to my knowledge, are not available in the U.S.

Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes La Meule

The other day Jen came home from work with a beer called La Meule from Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes. I recognized the lizard on the label and knew this was from the same brewery as La Dragonne. The strange thing is that I was really excited by this. Jen gasped when she found out it was by the same brewery but I was elated.

I knew that this beer could be anywhere near as bad as the La Dragonne. In fact, I was certain it would be quite good. And it was! Jen liked it in particular because she said it had a grapefruit taste to it. It did have a slight bitterness to it but, thankfully, not to the extent of La Dragonne.

Red Clap Pear Pancakes with Whipped Cream and Cinnamon

For dessert I made a recipe based off of the Lucerne cookbook's apple pancake recipe. Instead of apples I used the Red Clap pears. The batter consisted of flour, egg, brown sugar, salt, white wine, and grated pears.

I fried these up in short little stacks and topped them with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Meginrat Liqueur from Einseideln (straight up)

As one last reminder of our trip I poured out a little bit of this Meginrat liqueur I'd purchased on our trip to Einsiedeln. I wasn't sure how to serve it as apparently there is no information at all on the entire internet about the existence of this liqueur.

I started by just pouring a small shot of it and drinking it straight. It reminded me a bit of Galliano except in a much, much shorter bottle.

Meginrat Liqueur from Einseideln (on the rocks)

I also tried it on the rocks with a little water. I think I like it better straight up but the ice does help to mask the cough syrup like taste to the liqueur.

German Lanterns

This blog entry has now become the world's greatest archive on the history, preparation, and serving of Meginrat liqueur from Einsiedeln.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


When most people hear the term shakshuka they don't often think of the Israeli dish. They usually mistake this for the 1994 Shaquille O'Neal vehicle, Shaq Shuka!. In this film Shak Shuka (O'Neal) plays a sleeping genie who is awoken by a group or children who discover that if you polish a lantern and say "Shaq Shuka!" three times, a giant, ridiculously dresed genie will come out of the lantern and play a basketball with you.

While a commercial failure this film did have one memorable scene where Shaq Shuka (O'Neal) teaches the kids how to make his famous shakshuka dish which had been shown to him by his Israeli grandmother.

I really don't know why this film didn't become a cult hit. It holds up surprisingly well.

Shakshuka Stage 1

I decided I wanted to make Shaquille O'Neal's signature dish so I started off by sauteeing crushed garlic, farm Wala Wala onions (the only kind of onions to use in this dish), farm lilac peppers, and farm serrano chilies in some olive oil. Then I did a quick concasse of some of the farm tomatoes, removing their skin and seeds, and crushed them by hand into the pot, cooking the combination down for 30-40 minutes.

Shakshuka Stage 3

After a few minutes I added some smoked paprika and cumin, cooked for a while longer, then cracked a few eggs into the pot to allow them to poach.


I served the whole dish up with some crumbled feta and chopped parsley, and fresh Italian bread for dipping.


When doing a simple Google search for what beer to pair with shakshuka I came up surprisingly empty. so it was that I decided to have this farmhouse ale, Vieille Provision Saison, by Brasserie Dupont. It actually worked very well. It reminded me a bit, in an odd way, of the Penny Weiz I had the other night. It had a crispy, acidic white wine type flavor that actually paired well with eggs and tomato, two items that one doesn't typically think of when pairing food with beer.

Then again, my food and beer pairing skills generally only include two factors: a beer I like and a food I like.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Tomato Peach Basil Sauce

It seemed weird to only have shakshuka so I also made this dish with the leftover grilled skirt steak from the other night and I put it on top of this hot tomato, peach, and basil sauce which had previously been a tomato, peach, and basil ice cream which had previously been a chilled tomato, peach, and basil soup. I think I finally found a use for this after three tries. It needs to be served hot!

Lockwood Vineyard 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

This 2009 sauvignon blanc from Lockwood Vineyard went nicely with the grilled steak and sauce.

I think we had too much bread tonight. Between the two of us we polished off most of a giant loaf of Italian bread mopping up sauces left and right. I think the ideal dinner results in using up a giant loaf of bread to mop up sauces. What could be better than that?

Now, it's time to settle in and have a nice private viewing of Shaq Shuka! That movie never got the credit it deserved.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sugarplum Fairy

Our fridge, once again, has become out of control. While our freezer is holding strong I have had to be somewhat creative with the items in the fridge and moving them out.

Sad State of Affairs in Our Fridge

Just look at this sad state of affairs. It's sickening. But no matter. I would just have to buckle down and start putting this stuff to use.

2011 Stone Ledge Farm Share, Week 11

Except I forgot that we had another fresh batch of vegetables arriving today!

This week we got: three pounds of tomatoes, a basket of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, a bunch of summer spinach, some more edamame, another Wala Wala onion, a bunch of carrots, two lilac peppers, three cucumbers, a bunch of lime basil, three serrano hot peppers, a bag of Red Clap pears, Ruby Queen Red Plums and Ruby Queen Black Plums.


The thing about edamame branches is that they take up a huge amount of space and yield a tiny amount of pods.

Edamame with Shoe

Here is the bunch of edamame branches with a size 10 men's shoe for scale.

Edamame Pods Separated with Shoe

And here is that same branch and shoe with the pods removed. Note that these are pods with tiny beans in them. The total yield of edible beans is probably about one cup whereas the bean pods are about enough to fill a size 10 men's shoe. Not that I tested that, I'm just estimating, of course.

The good news is that a Google search for "edamame pods separated with shoe" brings this picture up as the #1 search result! I'm figuring that is going to drive a lot of traffic to this site.

Tomato, Edamame, and Spinach Salad

I used the edamame beans, which I lightly steamed in their pods, along with slices of the farm tomato to make this salad along with the farm spinach, a drizzle of sesame oil, a little soy sauce, and some sichuan pepper.

Grilled Pork Loin Chop from Lucki7 Livestock

For the main dish I grilled up this pork loin chop from Lucki7 Livestock. I rubbed it with some of last week's farm thyme and a little Meat Magic before throwing it onto the grill.

Thyme Stems on the Coals

I also threw the thyme stems onto the grill. This was something we were always doing in restaurants. Instead of throwing the stems away we would throw them onto the grill in hopes that some minute amount of flavor would make its way to the meat. Sadly I'm afraid that the only affect it had was in making the kitchen smell like weed.

Ginger Apple Plum Chutney

Yesterday Jen made a chutney out of our sugarplums which is good because I'd somewhat given up on sugarplum creativity. She made this by boiling water, sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sugarplums and apples then added some orange peel and cinnamon.

It's so nice to have a wife that comes up with sugarplum ideas. I guess you could just always eat them plain but that's would be even more boring to read about than our uses for them!

G. Schneider & Sohn Aventinus

The beer I selected was this Aventinus from G. Schneider & Sohn. This one has been in the fridge for a while. Supposedly it goes well with grilled meats. Grilled meat sounds like a good pairing for just about any beer.

The website shows the most absurdly wonderful glass to drink it from. Unfortunately that glass is not in my arsenal so I was forced to resort to this lowly weizen glass.

However, now I know what to ask for for Christmas.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grilled Cantaloupe, Varietal Hops, and a Disgusting Ice Cream

I don't even think it's really worth mentioning but tonight it was going to rain and I wanted to grill. Go figure.


Saint Angel

I discovered a new cheese today. Well, new to me. It is a triple creme cheese called Saint Angel. Jen's favorite cheese tend to be triple creme cheeses. I had it on good authority that this cheese may be her new favorite if she were to try it. So, before dinner, I put it on a plate and we had it with some baguette. It turns out it is now Jen's new favorite cheese.

Damn, I'm good.

Konrad Sauvignon Blanc

To go with the triple creme cheese we poured some of this sauvignon blanc from
Konrad in New Zealand. It was extremely fruit. I guess it went with well with the cheese.

I don't know. I don't really do food and wine pairing.

And that, my friends, is where dinner stopped being "safe."

Grilled Cantaloupe and Shellfish Salad

I had to do something with the leftover cantaloupe from last night so I figured I would try grilling it to see what happens. It turns out that it grills pretty well. It gets a nice burnt marshmallow flavor. However this was not enough for dinner. I had to serve the grilled cantaloupe with something.

So it was that I cleaned out the fridge and freezer by grilling up some sea scallops, shrimp, and a red bell pepper. I served them over a bed of kale with lemon, salt, pepper, olive oil and cayenne. On top I put some thinly sliced red onion.

This was an interesting salad. I think I'll just leave it at that.

Southampton Keller Pils

What does one pair with grilled cantaloupe and shellfish? Well, clearly it's this Keller Pils Southampton Publick House in Southampton, New York. It's an unfiltered variety hop pilsner!

Whatever that means.

Tomato Peach Basil Ice Cream

The other day I ran our leftover chilled tomato and peach soup through our ice cream maker. I wasn't particularly thrilled with this as a soup so I figured: why not give it a try as an ice cream?

Well, it didn't really work that way either.

I guess it's not that surprising. I think my next step with these leftovers will have to be in trying to turn them into some sort of hot dish. Cold just isn't working out for this recipe. This is where most people would give up and just toss the whole batch into the garbage can. That's just now how I do things. It's much more sporting to try and try again until you've either found something delicious to make with the leftover or until you've consumed it all up in waves of unsatisfying dishes.

That, my friends, is the stubborn dedication that makes me so . . . successful?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Like Dinner But Outside

Jamie Oliver likes to talk a lot about "being brave" when you're cooking. This usually involves chopping up some red chilies. I've never really considered this bravery but perhaps I am just without fear.

Tonight we had to be brave as well and, against the weather forecast's prediction of rain, have an outdoor barbecue. It really wasn't a big deal to me since it has rained every single time I've grilled this summer. I was just afraid that our guests wouldn't be as willing to sit out in the rain to eat their food.

Okay, I guess that's not that brave either. Maybe I should go get some red chilies.

Olde Burnside Brewing Company Penny Weiz

As I grilled, I enjoyed a beer from this growler of Penny Weiz from Olde Burnside Brewing Company.

Jen also made some ginger syrup this morning to make dark and stormies to accompany the weather prediction but we ended up not using it. Apparently we're going to have to make a large amount of ginger beer in the coming weeks to use it up.

Cantaloupe and La Quercia Speck

We started off with cantaloupe and prosciutto, lemon olives, nuts, and the pickles Jen had made on Monday.

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Feta

It was a melon heavy evening as I also made this watermelon salad with feta, mint, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper.

Jen's Bread and Butter Freezer Pickles

The pickles were fantastic. We went through an entire jar in about twenty minutes.

I also slow cooked some St. Louis pork ribs for four hours in the oven at 250 degrees. This is the second time I've done slow cooked ribs this month but today I had a little time so I doubled the oven cooking. This made for some really tender ribs but I've got to recommend not slow cooking in an oven in August. It's an unhappy maker.

Also on the menu: grilled corn with cotija, lime, and cilantro and grilled chicken wings.

In other news: I discovered some sweet potatoes are liars.

Let me explain.

There are sweet potatoes that look just like regular sweet potatoes but when you peel them you discover their flesh is white and not a beautiful orange color. Now, I happen to like white sweet potatoes. I find them to be sweet and delicious, however, for this sweet potato salad I had hoped to get a beautiful color contrast between the orange of the potato, green of the vegetables, and purple of the onions. Instead I got white sweet potatoes which kind of turn into a grayish-green mess. Albeit a delicious grayish-green mess.

Jen is also a liar because she told me she would take a picture of this sweet potato mess but she did not. It's probably better that way.

Wychwood Ale King Goblin

A dinner guest also brought this King Goblin from Wychwood Brewery. That's two beers. Two beers in one night!

We finished off the evening with some berries, whipped cream, and angel food cake. The crowning achievement of this meal was that we ate it all outside! This is a rarity to apartment dwellers such as ourselves. It's rare that we get to treat ourselves with mosquito bites, lugging tables and chairs in and out of doors, and generally being very negligent in our photo-taking.

What kind of dinner doesn't get photographed anyway?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Going Rogue

I can predict the weather. Tonight, I knew it was going to rain. Meteorologists should really just call me every morning and see if I'm planning on grilling or not. If I'm grilling, it's raining. That's just a fact.

However, I'm on to Mother Nature's games and I know how to get one over on her.

Kale Salad with Peach, Tomato, and Shallot

Firstly, I started by trying to psych out Mother nature by pretending to only cook indoors. I made this salad with kale, peaches and tomatoes from the farm, kale, lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper, and farm basil.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Leeks with Blue Cheese

Now I had to act quick! With thunderstorms about to rip into the evening air I had to spark up the grill and throw something, anything, onto it quickly. I had intended to do a "dirty steak" with some skirt steak but there just wasn't any time. I threw on the skirt steak, some of the farm leeks until just done then ran back into the house. That was pretty much all I had time for.

Rogue Anniversary Ale with Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese

After dinner, with flashes of lightning igniting the night sky, we sat down for an unorthodox dinner: a beer and cheese pairing. I'd purchased this bottle of Anniversary Ale from Rogue Brewery a couple of months ago. However, this beer was intended to be paired with a cheese (this blue cheese) from Rogue Creamery which hasn't been available for some time.

The beer and the cheese were delicious together. I don't know if my palate is refined enough to understand how they worked together other than that both were delicious on their own. Therefore, they were delicious together.

And that, my friends, is the secret to beer and cheese pairing.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Like Yuppies For the 2010s

I'm not sure what kind of terrible people we are but there should be a word for it. In the 1980s they were called yuppies. I don't think there is really a 2010s equivalent word but there should be. Do you know what I'm talking about? No? Well, the next sentence should put a fine point on what we have become. And it goes a little something like this:

I used the fruits and vegetables from our CSA to make this recipe from Mark Bittman that I saw in the New York Times.

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. I don't know if it's better or worse that I feel a tremendous amount of shame in the fact that I am now that person. However, I do genuinely enjoy the philosophy of Mark Bittman. It's just unfortunate that as much as I am happy about the things in the statement that I have just made my instinct would be to hate anyone who said the same thing until they gave me a reason to feel otherwise.

Okay, I modified the recipe slightly but it would have been harder to make my previous point if I'd added that fact. Oh, and I didn't measure anything because measuring is for suckers.

Chilled Tomato and Peach Soup with Tarragon

Still, the soup was interesting. I cooked some of the farm onions in a little butter until they softened then added the chopped tomatoes and peaches (also from the farm). After they'd cooked for a while I seasoned with salt and pepper, a splash of hot sauce, and a dash of cream before pureeing and serving chilled with some strands of tarragon.

Sausage and Pepper with Copper Bell Light

Since I am not a huge fan of green peppers I used them all up with some garlic, onion, olive oil, and a whole lot of sweet Italian sausage. Sausage can do wonders for my lack of interest in peppers. I also poured a little bit of Copper Bell Light beer into the pan. It was the only beer I felt that I could sacrifice with a clear conscience.

Sausage and Pepper Grinders

I served up the sausage and peppers in a whole wheat roll because I'm really looking to start eating healthy.

And because the store was out of white rolls.

Dijon Potato Salad with Shallots and Dill

I also made this potato salad. I boiled up some chopped Red Bliss potatoes then tossed them while warm with some Dijon mustard, fresh dill (from the farm), shallot, olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Tonight's beer decision was tough. While I know the theory behind which beers would pair best with tonight's sausage I usually choose my pairing based on only one criteria: what beer do I want right now? If you want to read a blog by someone who has a much more refined sense of proper beer pairings and actually seems to give more than five seconds' consideration you should read The Beer Cook.

Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale

For beer I chose this Belgian Pale Ale from Harpoon Brewery. I was suspicious that this beer would be more like an IPA than a Belgian ale and my suspicions turned out to be right. In fact, I think this could have pretty safely been called Harpoon IPA. It didn't really highlight the "Belgian ingredients" it touted on its label as much as I would have liked. However, since I love Belgian ales and mildly dislike IPAs it is not surprising that this was not my favorite all time beer.

I have to say, the choice to make a chilled tomato soup instead of salad was interesting and tasty, but I'm not sure chilled soup is the appropriate precursor to a sausage and pepper sandwich. Both are delicious but should probably be reserved for enjoyment separately.

That being said the beer could have been more harmonizing as well. All in all this kept with my normal pairing philosophy pretty well: things I like with other things I like.

Now, I just need to find some cotton candy, lemon rind, and white chocolate and dessert will be on its way.