Beer of the Month - August, 2008

July 28th, 2008
Blue Moon Honey Moon Summer Ale

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Recipe of the Month - August, 2008

July 23rd, 2008

Corn Vichyssoise

4 cups water
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 ears of corn-kernels cut off the cobs and cobs broken in half
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry vermouth
salt and pepper
3 tbsp heavy cream
2 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a saucepan, bring the water and broth to a boil with the corn kernels, cobs, onion, garlic, celery and vermouth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Discard the cobs. Puree the soup in a blender. Strain into a large, clean saucepan, season with salt and pepper and whisk in the cream. Serve the soup hot or chilled; garnish with the mushrooms, cilantro and olive oil.

6 servings.

This recipe is from the August 2008 Food & Wine magazine and is also available at foodandwine.com.

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Hy's Steakhouse - Toronto

July 8th, 2008

Link: http://www.hyssteakhouse.com/

I first heard (or read) the name Hy's before I left for Toronto when I was researching places to go for a nice dinner. I read about a handful of places and ultimately settled on Hy's due to the location and its relative proximity to my hotel, but do not discount that it was one of the more highly-praised steakhouses in Toronto according to my online research and conversations with the concierge.

The restaurant itself was nice inside, but as I was traveling alone I contented myself to sit at the bar. This was a great decision because I had good conversation with the other patrons and the bartender and there was a man playing piano in the bar. And I still had access to the full menu.

The Sautéed Garlic Shrimp were a good appetizer, but expensive. I got four shrimp for $17, which I will shrug off and say that any appetizer in a downtown area will be pricey.

The Bone-In Rib Steak (which I believe to be Canadian for Ribeye) was my main course. It might be the AAA Alberta beef used, but the steak was not impressive. And the chefs didn't help when they over salted it. It even came with a side of mashed potatoes, which were UNDER-seasoned and I felt that if I ate them together they might balance but there was still too much salt.

I was hoping that the saving grace would be the Thick Cut Beer Battered Onion Rings, which looked more like donuts than onion rings. I love fried food, and a nice thick batter on an onion ring excites me. And they were good, though an order is too much for one person to finish alone.

This was my first steakhouse in Canada, so maybe this is what I should expect. Or maybe the restaurant's food is on the decline like its attendance - the bartender told me that the place used to do a lot more business. Then again, maybe if they were less heavy-handed with the salt more people would go to Hy's in Toronto.

Overall the place was decent. The food I ordered was average, but the garlic toast that comes to the table was divine. I would say that the garlic toast was worth the trip alone, and it was fantastic dipped in the sauce left over on my shrimp plate. But next time I'm in Toronto and I want a good steak I will try someplace new.

Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy

June 25th, 2008

This is definitely a "situational" beer. To drill down even more than calling this a "seasonal" offering from Leinenkugel, it would have to be a pretty particular set of circumstances to warrant the light body and citrus flavor of the Summer Shandy. This is a beer I would buy when I am serving dinner for guests on my back deck. We're eating something I just took off the grill, it's warm out (but comfortable enough to be outside), and maybe the lemon flavor will play well with the meal.

This is not an everyday beer for me. When I've been outside and want a beer that's refreshing, I'll keep reaching for my Hoegaarden.

I am not a huge fan of lemon flavor, but unlike people I have talked to, the lemon flavor in the Summer Shandy did not overwhelm me. It was certainly noticeable, but I still felt it to be relatively reserved. My expectations, based on word-of-mouth, were to be blown away by lemon flavor and that did not happen.

This is a fine beer...and I'll finish what I bought, but I'm not in a hurry to buy more.

Recipe of the Month - July, 2008

June 20th, 2008

Roasted Garlic White Pizza with Garlic Sauce

1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 to 4 heads Roasted Garlic, recipe follows
2 to 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling on baker's peel
1 recipe Parmesan Pizza Dough, recipe follows
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
4 ounces grated fontina
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Gently heat milk in a small saucepan, just until barely simmering. Remove and keep covered.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter. When foam subsides, add flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Do not allow flour to color. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking to combine. Add the salt and cayenne and increase the heat to medium. Cook the mixture, whisking continuously, until the sauce comes to a boil and is thickened. Remove from heat and add 10 of the roasted garlic cloves. Pour the hot mixture into a blender, cover tightly, and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and cool slightly, placing a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F.

Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the yellow cornmeal on a baker's peel or baking sheet. Place the rolled out pizza dough circle on the prepared baker's peel or baking sheet.

Spread the cooled sauce over pizza dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border. Place sliced mozzarella on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining roasted garlic cloves (whole) over the cheese and top with the grated fontina. Bake the pizza for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and cheese is melted and bubbly and golden brown in spots. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chopped herbs over the top. Serve immediately.

Roasted Garlic:
3 to 4 heads garlic, upper quarter removed
4 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the garlic on a foil-lined baking sheet and rub 1 teaspoon of oil into the top of each head. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and place, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake until the cloves are soft and golden, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Carefully remove each clove of garlic from the head. Squeeze each head of garlic to expel any cloves that you cannot remove individually. Set aside until needed.

Parmesan Pizza Dough:
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
Pinch salt
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15-inch circle.

Yield: 1 (15-inch) pizza

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Beer of the Month - July, 2008

June 20th, 2008
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

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Magic Hat #9

June 11th, 2008

I have now had this beer a few times and I keep encountering what I believe is a relatively common issue with craft beers: it never really tastes the same. The good news is that I have liked it every time I've had it, which is directly linked to why I've had it more than once.

What is funny to me is that the first time I tried #9 I felt like it was two different beers in one bottle. At first it carried the weight of a darker beer, but finished like something VERY light. Since then I have had a bottle that was heavy start-to-finish, and one lighter throughout. Each has been good, but it's hard to get a read on what this beer is really supposed to taste like. Though I do know that it is supposed to taste (at least somewhat) like apricot, which they add at some point in the brewing process. I wasn't sure how I would react to the apricot flavor, and while I didn't love it, it wasn't bad.

I've seen #9 range from $7-10 per 6-pack. When I find it for $7-8 I will continue to buy this beer when I'm in the mood for something crafted. And if I can find it on tap I will order a #9 to have with a meal.

Beer of the Month - June, 2008

May 22nd, 2008
Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy

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Recipe of the Month - June, 2008

May 21st, 2008

Grilled Parmesan Polenta Crostini

1 cup polenta
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
3 cups water
Extra virgin olive oil

1. In a large, deep-sided saucepan, combine the polenta, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper along with 3 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to low. Cook until polenta is soft, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching on the bottom. Add the parsley and half of the cheese. Stir to blend. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Scoop the polenta onto the sheet and spread it out into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick, smoothing the surface with a spatula dipped in water. Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

2. Remove the polenta from the pan. Cut the polenta into 2-inch squares. Pat dry with paper towels. Generously brush or spray the polenta on both sides with oil and grill over direct heat until they are very well marked, crispy, and they release easily from the grate, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once with a spatula. Serve warm with the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese scattered over the top.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Recipe taken from Weber's Real Grilling by Jamie Purviance.

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Recipe of the Month - May, 2008

May 4th, 2008

Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_27978,00.html

Fiery Cajun Shrimp

2 cups (4 sticks) melted butter
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons ground pepper
2 tablespoons hot sauce (recommended: Texas Pete)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
5 pounds unpeeled medium shrimp
2 lemons, thinly sliced
French bread, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together the butter, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, pepper, hot sauce, garlic, and salt. Pour half this mixture into a large heatproof dish. Layer half the shrimp and half the lemon slices in the dish; then form a second layer with the remaining shrimp and lemon slices, and pour remaining sauce into the dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink, stirring twice. Pour off the sauce into individual serving dishes. Serve the shrimp with plenty of French bread for dipping in the spicy butter sauce.

Yield: 8 servings

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