Recipe of the Month - April, 2009

March 30th, 2009

Mushroom and Butternut Squash Empanadas

For empanada filling

* 1 cup diced (1/4-inch) butternut squash
* 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
* 6 small garlic cloves, minced
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 (2- to 3-inch) fresh jalapeño chiles, seeds and ribs discarded and chiles finely chopped
* 1 lb fresh exotic mushrooms such as chanterelles, porcini, or hedgehogs (all one kind, not a mixture), trimmed and coarsely chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup chicken broth

For sauce

* 1 dried pasilla de Oaxaca chile
* 3 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
* 1 lb fresh tomatillos, husks discarded and tomatillos rinsed and quartered
* 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

For empanada crust

* 1/3 Café Azul's pastry dough (1 lb)
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
* 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Make empanada filling:

* Cook squash in a small saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes, then drain in a sieve.
* Cook onion and garlic in oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add jalapeños and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms, salt, and broth and simmer, covered, until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated, about 3 minutes, then stir in squash and salt to taste. Cool filling completely.

Make sauce:

* Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately low heat until hot, then toast pasilla de Oaxaca chile, pressing down with tongs, 15 to 20 seconds on each side. Halve chile lengthwise and discard stem, ribs, and seeds.
* Heat griddle over moderately high heat until hot, then toast garlic until lightly blackened, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Cool garlic slightly and peel.
* Simmer tomatillos, onion, water, chile, garlic, and salt in a large saucepan, covered, until tomatillos are very tender, about 20 minutes, and cool slightly. Remove 1 chile half and reserve, then purée sauce in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), adding as much of reserved chile half as necessary to achieve desired spiciness. Return sauce to pan and season with salt.

Form and bake empanadas:

* Preheat oven to 400°F.
* Divide dough into 8 equal pieces (2 ounces each) and form each into a disk. Roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface into a 6- to 7-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Spoon about 1/3 cup filling onto center and brush edge of pastry lightly with egg wash. Fold dough in half to form a half-moon, enclosing filling, and press edges together to seal. Crimp edge decoratively and transfer empanada with a spatula to a large baking sheet. Make 7 more empanadas in same manner.
* Lightly brush empanadas all over with some of remaining egg wash and sprinkle each with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 25 to 30 minutes
* While empanadas are baking, reheat sauce. Cut each empanada in half with a serrated knife and serve with about 3 tablespoons sauce spooned around it.

Cooks' note: If your sea salt is very coarse, lightly crush it using a mortar and pestle or the back of a large heavy knife. - Gourmet.com

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Beer of the Month - April, 2009

March 27th, 2009
Leffe Blonde
Leffe Blonde

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Recipe of the Month - March, 2009

March 2nd, 2009

Chicken with Dark Beer

* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned
* 2 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
* 2 chicken drumsticks, skinned
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 3 tablespoons dry gin
* 3/4 cup chopped celery
* 3/4 cup chopped peeled carrot
* 1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 3 medium)
* 3 juniper berries, crushed
* 1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, halved
* 3 sprigs fresh thyme
* 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 cup dark beer
* 1/4 cup whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
* 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

1. Combine first 3 ingredients; sprinkle evenly over both sides of chicken. Heat butter and oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pan from heat. Pour gin into one side of pan; return pan to heat. Ignite gin with a long match; let flames die down. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

2. Add celery, carrot, shallots, and juniper berries to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms. Place thyme, parsley, and bay leaf on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth bag to pan. Return chicken to pan, nestling into vegetable mixture. Stir in beer; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the meaty parts of chicken registers 160°. (Breasts may cook more quickly. Check them after 35 minutes, and remove them when they're done; keep warm.)

3. Discard cheesecloth bag. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Place pan over medium heat; stir in yogurt. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated (do not boil, as the yogurt may curdle). Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Place 1 chicken breast half or 1 drumstick and 1 thigh on each of 4 plates; top each serving with about 3/4 cup sauce and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. - Cooking Light

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Beer of the Month - March, 2009

February 26th, 2009
Tetley's English Ale
Tetley's English Ale

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Shrimp with Garlic Cream Sauce Over Linguine

February 13th, 2009

* 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
* 12 large shrimp, peeled
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
* 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
* 8 ounces fresh linguine, cooked and drained
* Salt and pepper

Directions

In a saucepan bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Using a small paring knife, remove the vein along the back of each shrimp and rinse under running water. Add garlic to water and boil for two minutes. Add the shrimp to the water and cook with the garlic for 2-3 minutes. Drain the shrimp and garlic. Peel the garlic and finely chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until cream begins to thicken. Stir in parsley, Parmesan and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over linguine in a large bowl and toss to coat. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan. - Foodnetwork.com

This seemed like an unconventional recipe to me because I do not have much experience in the kitchen. I know only some very basic techniques. But I found this to be a very easy recipe. I know it is cliché, but make sure you have everything prepped and ready to go before you start. With some very short cook times (especially with the shrimp - DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR SHRIMP!) organization is your friend.

This recipe is a shell, as far as I am concerned. It needs something. It is like a cheese pizza - plain is good for some people, others need toppings. Right off the bat I added mushrooms to my linguine. I cooked them separately and added them at the end when I tossed everything together. Roasted tomatoes might be good for this dish. Try some zucchini if you want another veggie.

Instead of 12 large shrimp I got 18 medium shrimp. I like medium shrimp in pasta. That is simply a personal preference. But be sure to shorten your cook time if you use smaller shrimp!

I loved this dish with shrimp, but I look forward to trying this recipe with chicken next time. Aside from how I cook the chicken, it will be a seemless transition into this recipe and good if you have guests who don't like seafood.

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Anchor Steam Liberty Ale

February 6th, 2009

As far as beers go, Ale is a territory into which I have seldom traveled. I traditionally have enjoyed lighter beers - Wheats and Lights. I really enjoy a few Lagers, but that is basically the end of my beer resume. I have tried a little of everything else, but I have liked very little. Due to trying a lot of new foods and wines my palate is beginning to develop as is my curiosity for new things. The Anchor Steam Liberty Ale is a very interesting beer. It has a beautiful light orange hue that might suggest a lighter flavor than is delivered. The top-fermenting brewers' yeast gives it a slightly citrus flavor. There is a nice light carbonation to the beer, too. This is certainly an interesting drink, if you have the opportunity to enjoy one. As I write this, my Liberty Ale is only a memory, but I will have this again. This is a great happy hour beer -- when you will just have 1-2 and you don't feel the pressure to get the cheapest beer and you want something you will be glad you ordered.

Recipe of the Month - February, 2009

January 30th, 2009

Shrimp with Garlic Cream Sauce Over Linguine

* 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
* 12 large shrimp, peeled
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
* 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
* 8 ounces fresh linguine, cooked and drained
* Salt and pepper

Directions

In a saucepan bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Using a small paring knife, remove the vein along the back of each shrimp and rinse under running water. Add garlic to water and boil for two minutes. Add the shrimp to the water and cook with the garlic for 2-3 minutes. Drain the shrimp and garlic. Peel the garlic and finely chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until cream begins to thicken. Stir in parsley, Parmesan and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over linguine in a large bowl and toss to coat. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan.
- Foodnetwork.com

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Beer of the Month - February, 2009

January 28th, 2009
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
(Thanks Ryan)

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Wendy's kicked me right in the nuggets!

January 12th, 2009

It is a sad day any time the honeymoon is over. Consoling words never help. "It was a good run...while it lasted." "You will always have the memories." "It is better to have had $0.99 5-piece chicken nuggets and lost than to never have had $0.99 5-piece chicken nuggets at all." The tough economic times have finally trickled down all the way to the house that Dave Thomas built. Sure that redhead on the sign is cute, but she no longer shines like a $0.99 5-piece chicken nugget beacon in the night.

I know that each Wendy's location has the option to play along with various price initiatives. That is what gives us the "at participating locations" disclaimer. And I know that not every Wendy's offered 5 tasty chicken nuggets for $0.99. But mine did. And now it is gone.

Beer of the Month - January, 2009

January 2nd, 2009
Anchor Steam Liberty Ale
Anchor Steam Liberty Ale

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