Archive for November, 2011

November 28, 2011

Microbrew Micro-review: Twelve Bar Brews

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

There are a variety of reasons that we don’t do a full brewery review. Sometimes the spot is out of too many beers to do a proper evaluation. Sometimes we don’t take sufficient notes – for an unknown reason that definitely has nothing to do with the number of beers under our belts. Sometimes, though, we manage to find a new brewery before they’ve really even had a chance to get off the ground – or finish brewing all their beers.

It’s for this exact scenario that we’re launching our latest blog segment, the Microbrew Micro-review. When we only have the chance to check out one beer, but one that is particularly noteworthy, we’ll do a short review in these new segments. First up, from the latest brewery in our hometown of Woodinville, WA…

Twelve Bar Brews

We strolled into Twelve Bar and were immediately greeted by Jim, the assistant brewer/distribution manager. A friendly guy with a serious passion for beer, Jim proceeded to tell us all about Twelve Bar. He laid out how everyone came together, told us about their plans for brewing and expanding, and gave us a tour of their facility. He explained how they had enjoyed a successful soft launch two weeks ago, but were still finishing up some of their beers. All the while he was showing us around, however, he was eager for us to try the beer they did have on tap.

We both had a double sample of the Twelve Bar Dry Hopped IPA (remember, a small sample is not sufficient to accurately judge a beer). This brew had a golden hue, a light, white head and a faintly hoppy aroma to it. Sipping on it yielded mild malty notes that immediately gave way to powerful and complex hop flavors. Despite the intense hoppiness it had a surprising lack of bitterness, a testament to masterfully executed dry hopping. The different hop notes played into one another in the aftertaste and finally faded back into the light malt flavors.

The Twelve Bar IPA was a very well crafted beer, and we plan on revisiting this spot to conduct a full review once they have their hard launch in December. We’re very excited to have another brewery in Woodinville to give the ubiquitous Redhook a run for their money. We recommend that you keep an eye on Twelve Bar, they’re going places.

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November 25, 2011

Slow-Roasted Espresso Chicken

I know what you must be thinking.

Quinn, you haven’t cooked a single Thanksgiving dish!  I’ve been waiting ever so patiently to no avail. And you call yourself a food blogger? Shame on you!

Apparently I envision all of my readers as pretentious food critics with vaguely British accents, but that’s besides the point. The point is no, I have no Thanksgiving dishes for you. Thanksgiving recipes are ubiquitous in the food blogosphere, and since my family does a very traditional meal every year I would have nothing unique or adventurous to contribute to the mix

What I will be doing in the following weeks, however, is posting recipes for what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers you undoubtedly have in your refrigerator. You’ll learn soon enough that you don’t simply have to make turkey sandwiches until you reach the borders of your culinary sanity, so fear not.

In the mean time, however, allow me to share with you a delightful little dish I whipped up a few days ago: Slow-Roasted Espresso Chicken.

This dish was inspired by Starbucks. Well, sort of anyway. A month or two ago Starbucks sent me a free packet of Via as part of a promotion. Now, I don’t drink instant coffee (unless I’m camping) or Starbucks (unless I’m desperate), so I was tempted to just throw this away, but a little part of me was curious to see if I could incorporate it into a recipe. So instead of the trash, it wound up sitting in the back of my shelf.

I finally got around to using it, and boy am I glad I kept it. Coffee isn’t frequently thought of as an ingredient in savory dishes, but it can really bring unique complexity and roasty flavors. In this recipe, the bitterness of instant coffee is the perfect counterbalance to the sauce’s sweetness, derived primarily from the brown sugar and cherry tomatoes. A combination of varied spices and flavors – soy sauce and cumin!? – round out the flavor profile.

When the steam settles you’ll have tender shredded chicken in a one-of-a-kind sauce that is perfect with rice/over vegetables/in a taco/whatever your heart’s desire.

Slow-Roasted Espresso Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons pepper
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts


  1. Heat the olive oil to medium heat in a coverable pan. Add the onion and saute until they begin to get translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue to saute for another 3 minutes.
  2. Add all the ingredients except the chicken breasts. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken breasts. Cover the pan and cook the chicken for at least 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it using a fork. Add back to the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Serve with rice, roasted vegetables and/or with pita bread.
November 20, 2011

White Chocolate, Rosewater and Hazelnut Mousse

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big dessert guy. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and baking is often too much of a science and not enough of an art for my taste. That said, I do have a certain fondness for mousse. It epitomizes many of my favorite culinary philosophies: it isn’t unduly complicated but does require hard work; it’s easy to learn but requires skill and effort to master; and, most importantly, it can serve as a canvas for a variety of creative flavors.

This mousse recipe brings that final philosophy to bear by combining several unique ingredients to create a winning dish. It starts with a base of white chocolate that provides a delightfully sweet canvas for the rest of the flavor palette. It doesn’t have a particular strong taste in and of itself, but it does resist being overpowered by the real star of this dish: rosewater.

Rosewater is a byproduct of producing the rose oil used in perfume. It has very little flavor by itself – only a slight bitterness really – but smells powerfully of roses (duh). It’s most commonly used in Iranian cuisine, but as far as I’m concerned it ought to be commonplace all over the globe.

The rosewater provides a strong, floral aroma that makes this a strikingly unique dish, while the sweetness of the white chocolate conceals any hint of bitterness. The texture and flavor are rounded out with a sprinkling of hazelnuts over the top. They provide a nutty, lightly roasted and slightly sweet taste while adding the perfect crunch to offset the creaminess of the mousse.

Although delicious under any circumstance, this dish is best served at the end of a cozy dinner for two. If you really want to impress a date, skip the restaurant and serve up this mousse instead!

White Chocolate, Rosewater and Hazelnut Mousse

  • 2/3 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 egg, separated into whites and yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup rosewater
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped


  1. Set up a double boiler by placing a stainless steel bowl over a pot with 1 inch of water in it. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Bring to a simmer at medium-low heat and place the white chocolate chips inside to melt. Watch them carefully and stir them regularly to ensure they don’t burn. Once they have melted, remove them from heat.
  2. While waiting for the chips to melt, place the egg whites and sugar unto a bowl together. Whisk vigorously until the eggs double in volume and reach soft peaks.
  3. In another bowl whisk the heavy cream until it thickens and doubles in volume. Add the egg yolks to this bowl and fold them into the heavy cream. (It is important to be gentle during this process and fold rather than stir the mixture by scooping under to the bottom of the bowl and moving the contents to the side, up, then back over. Simply stirring it will result in the mousse losing its characteristic fluffiness.)
  4. Add the whipped egg whites, melted white chocolate and rosewater to the heavy cream mixture and fold until evenly distributed.
  5. Empty the mousse into a vessel of your choosing and allow to chill for at least three hours, preferably overnight. To serve, sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the top.
November 15, 2011

The Pint is Mightier: Diamond Knot Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

On our way back from Scuttlebutt Brewing we made a pit stop in Mukilteo, WA to cross another brewery off our list. Today we bring you the ales and tales from…

Diamond Knot Brewing Co.

Located on the Mukilteo waterfront no more than a dozen paces from the ferry terminal, the Diamond Knot brewery is something of a local institution, having been around for more than 20 years. When we entered we were greeted by a brewpub full of warmth and character; the brick walls and wooden ceiling beams fit perfectly with the homey aromas wafting out of the kitchen and broken peanut shells on the floor.

Eric’s first beer was Diamond Knot’s Scottish Ale. It was light bodied and possessed a hint of caramel and relatively no aftertaste. The scotch flavor was subtle and included a hint of pleasant smokiness. The carbonation was light, but well suited for the style of beer. Making the most of his supreme rhetorical gifts, Eric described this beer as ‘pretty good,’ deeming it superior to Pike’s Scotch Ale, but not quite as good as Boundary Bay’s or Black Raven’s. If you don’t like Scotch Ales, skip it. If you do, definitely try it out. And if you don’t know? Try it anyway, live a little.

Rarely seeing this style on the taps even at craft breweries, I was compelled to give their ESB a try. I will put this bluntly: do not make the same mistake I did. Rarely are either Eric or I hyper-critical of a beer – brewing is a hobby, art and passion of the people who make it – but sometimes a little tough love is necessary. The ESB arrived looking normal enough, pale brown with no head, and even tasted fine at first sip, malty and slightly sweet. However, when the aftertaste hit I know something was wrong. The flavor turned musty and dirt-like, finally concluding with a vaguely manure-like note. Diamond Knot had many fine beers, this just wasn’t one of them. Do not get the ESB if you go to this brewery.

Eric’s beer was the Brown Ale. It was medium bodied and had a somewhat crisp taste to it. The beer had a nutty malt flavor to it was quite pleasant, with an aftertaste was faint but unequivocally malty. Characteristic of the style, thus brown ale had no bitterness to it. Though not typically the biggest fan of brown’s, Eric thought this one was good, certainly better than the ubiquitous Newcastle. Overall this beer was straightforward and enjoyable; a solid, dependable brown ale good for someone looking to break into the style.

Somewhat wary after my first pint, I decided to go a different direction with the Steamer Glide Stout. When it showed up at our table it was dark and opaque, with a small, but thick, white head.  The profile belied a surprisingly lightness to the beer. It was feathery and dry with a hint of sweetness to it. The beer was akin to an American Guinness, but with more complexity and depth in the flavor profile. The Steamer Glide Stout was a very good example of a lighter, drier stout, as well as a solid Diamond Knot brew.

With local charm and a stellar location, Diamond Knot has more character than perhaps any other brewery we have visited. The walls are adorned with old posters and advertisements for the brewery from back in the 80’s and 90’s and peanut shells line the corners of the floor. The beers, though not exemplary, are, with one exception, very solid brews. If you find yourself nearby or are looking to kill some time waiting for the ferry, this is the place to go.

November 2, 2011

Mushroom, Leek and Spinach Risotto

There’s nothing quite like the beginning of fall.

All those dishes that were too hearty, too heavy, too rich for summer are finally back on the market. My first autumnal foray? One of the most delicious dishes around – Risotto.

Risotto is a rice dish that originated from northern Italy. What differentiates it from more traditional styles is the method of cooking. Instead of steaming in a pot, stock is added in small amounts and cooked uncovered. The result is a more flavorful, creamier, richer dish that is filling – and a perfect fit for the chilly evenings that have arrived in Seattle.

Pairing risotto with well-seared, earthy mushrooms, rustic leeks and hearty spinach, this recipe epitomizes the spirit of fall. The addition of a bit of white wine in place of chicken stock towards the end provides a little bite – a nice counterpoint – to the richness of the other ingredients.

This dish pairs perfectly with a wide variety of entrees, a nice white wine, and nearly any fall/winter seasonal beer. Serve it and fall into the bliss of autumn!

Mushroom, Leek and Spinach Risotto

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 mushrooms, cut into 1/8 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 packed cup of spinach, lightly chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat a pan to medium-high. Be sure to allow the pan to heat fully before proceeding. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and melt evenly in the pan. Just as the butter begins to brown, add the mushrooms to the pan. Toss every minute for two minutes, add the remaining butter, and continue to toss every minute until the mushrooms are seared on either side, approximately 5 minutes. Set the mushrooms aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil to medium in a large pan or pot. Add the leeks and garlic and saute until partially cooked, between three to five minutes.
  3. Add the rice, toss until evenly coated and allow to toast for five minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the chicken stock to the pot/pan and stir quickly to ensure the risotto does not burn. As the chicken stock nears complete evaporation, add another 1/3 cup. Continue this process of adding liquid 1/3 cup at a time – switching to white wine when the chicken stock is exhausted – until all the liquid is used up. Remove the pan from heat.
  5. Add the mushrooms and spinach and mix evenly into the risotto. Allow to sit for a few minutes to lightly cook the spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, pack the risotto into a small bowl or cup and overturn onto the plate. To garnish, roll a spinach leaf and slice into thin ribbons; place the ribbons on top of the risotto with a slice of mushroom.
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