Archive for January, 2012

January 29, 2012

IPA Chicken Stuffed Poblano Pepper

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of beer on this blog, but I’ve usually kept my food blogging and my beer blogging separate.

No longer.

There’s nothing new about bringing beer into the kitchen, but it’s typically darker brews that are incorporated into dishes – from Steak with Porter Reduction to Corned Beef slow-roasted in Guinness to Brown Ale Ice Cream Floats. That’s all well and good, but being a hop-head I wanted to take a run at incorporating IPA (India Pale Ale) into a recipe.

Different kinds of beer, just like wines, pair well with different foods. IPAs tend to fit best with spicier cuisines, such as Thai, Indian, Cajun and Mexican. Because I’ve been on something of a Mexican kick lately, I opted to try integrating an IPA into a classic dish – stuffed poblano peppers.

So, should hop-heads rejoice?

I wouldn’t. To be honest, the IPA flavor didn’t really permeate the chicken as well as I had hoped. Only on occasion did faint notes of hop come to the fore. The dish still tasted great – tender, flavorful chicken, roasted poblano, sharp cotija and refreshing salsa – but the beer just wasn’t a force in the palette.

The fundamentals of this dish are strong enough that I’d just recommend combining all the spices into a dry rub and saving the IPA to drink with dinner. While you’re doing that, I’ll continue searching for the perfect way to serve up IPA on a plate.

IPA Chicken Stuffed Poblano Pepper

  • 2 chicken tenders
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled

Marinade

  • 1 bottle of India Pale Ale
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Salsa

  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 10 cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of one lime

 

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag or tuperware container. Add the chicken tenders and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferable overnight.
  2. Using a barbecue, toaster oven or oven on broil, roast the poblano pepper for 4-6 minutes or until slightly tender. Make a lengthwise cut in the poblano and remove the seeds.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a chicken tender into each pepper, the peppers into a baking dish and the baking dish into the oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove the stuffed peppers from the oven and plate. Sprinkle cotija cheese and salsa on top and serve.
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January 15, 2012

Deep Fried Waffle Salad

“You cook adventurous things? So like, a waffle salad or something?”

I do now. Culinary Challenge accepted.

The star ingredient in this dish, the deep fried waffle ‘croutons’, are absolutely delicious; delightfully crunchy on the outside with tender interiors. They’re sweet and doughy and buttery – honestly, they’d make a pretty perfect dish all by themselves.

But the challenge was a waffle salad, so I contrived a supporting cast to make the pairing of waffle and mixed greens less awkward. The balsamic vinegar, maple syrup reduction takes the place of dressing in this recipe, giving the dish tartness tempered with sugar. The walnuts provide texture and neutral notes to give context to the other flavors. Finally, the chèvre provides a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the other ingredients with it’s saltiness and creamy texture. All these different elements help bridge the gap between waffle and mixed greens.

So, does it work?

Considering that it’s a waffle salad – Yes. Yes it does. It tastes delicious, and the sweet elements of the dish actually pair well with the spiciness of the argula and other greens. The oddity of what you’re eating does interject at times, but that doesn’t make it any less tasty.

Make this dish for brunch and blow someone’s mind.

Deep Fried Waffle Salad

  • 2 freezer waffles, lightly toasted (I recommend blueberry)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 4-6 walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chèvre
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
  1. Cut or tear the waffles into 1/2 inch squares. Break the egg into a wide bowl and beat until mixed together. On a plate, combine the flour and brown sugar and mix until evenly distributed. Add the oil to a cast iron pan and heat to medium-high.
  2. Add the waffle sections to the beaten egg and toss until evenly coated. Remove and dredge in the sugar-flour mixture until lightly coated. Drop each waffle section into hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from heat and set on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  3. In a small pot or sauce pan, combine the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and corn starch. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce by half, roughly 6-8 minutes. The resulting mixture should have a syrupy viscosity.
  4. Pile the mixed greens on a small plate and top with the deep fried waffles, walnuts and chèvre. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top and serve.
January 13, 2012

The Pint is Mightier: Fremont Brewing Co.

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

Nestled in the heart of the center of the universe, WA, our next review is none other than…

Fremont Brewing Co.

The Fremont Brewing Co. is a quaint, quirky place to grab a pint. It has an “urban beer garden” complete with concrete floors, florescent lights, benches made out of kegs, etc. The atmosphere is colorful and inviting – and more than a bit cold, prompting one of us to remark “I think they keep it chilly in here so you’ll drink more beer to get warm.” (The December winter and lack of insulation may have also been contributing factors)

The first beer up was the Dark Star Oatmeal Stout. This incredibly dark beer poured blacker than the blackest black – times infinity. It had exactly the aroma one would expect from an oatmeal stout, pungently roasty. It wasn’t particularly carbonated, and interestingly enough it was not nearly as heavy-bodied as other stouts that we have tasted. The malts were well toasted and brought out notes of coffee that lingered in the aftertaste. The beer also had a good amount of yeastiness to it, which helped build on the complexity of flavor. Overall the Dark Star was a pretty good beer, and if you are fan of stouts, or dark beers in general, we recommend it.

The Sisters Imperial IPA was our next brew. Almost rubyish in color, quite cloudy and served in broad-topped snifter, this definitely didn’t look like your daddy’s IPA. One taste revealed that it didn’t taste like it either. The Sisters possessed a perfect balance of bitter, citrus and floral hops, but the most unique element was the way the flavors intermingled. Normally, different flavors of beer proceed in a linear fashion – that’s why you always see us use the words ‘precede’, ‘follow’ and aftertaste – but in this beer the flavors shifted in and out so many times that we lost track. Neither us have ever had an IPA, or any other kind of beer, like it. The Sisters is a must-try, bottom line.

We moved on (begrudgingly) to the Universale Pale Ale. It was a golden, translucent pint of beer with very little aroma to it. This beer had firm, malty base that was balanced by a lightly bitter hop finish. The most interesting element of the Universale Pale was the mildly filtered taste of it, almost like a lager. The flavor was firmly grounded in the Pale camp, but this gave it some depth and complexity compared to other Pales that we have tried.

We finished the evening with the Interurban IPA, a Fremont mainstay. The first thing we noticed was the pleasant hop aroma wafting into our nostrils as soon as the bartender handed it to us. It was golden in hue and had a low opacity for an IPA. The base of this beer was a light malt taste, but the real flavor came from the hops. The profile leaned towards bitterness, but the citrus hops emerged strongly in the aftertaste. Overall the strongest element of this beer was the balance between the variety of different flavors. After some discussion we both agreed that it doesn’t hold a candle to The Sister Imperial IPA. It’s not the Interurban’s fault – it’s a damn good beer – the competition was simply too fierce.

Fremont Brewing Co. is a fun, unique brewery in one of Seattle’s most upbeat and interesting neighborhoods. More importantly, they have some damn good beer and a good variety of it. It’s definitely one of Seattle’s top microbreweries, and we highly recommend checking it out – although it wouldn’t hurt to wait until it’s a bit warmer out.

January 8, 2012

Seared Mushroom and Green Onion Spread

I generally try to create dishes that balance a variety of different flavors together – I’m fairly certain that my average use of the word “balance” is more than once per post – but this spread is really about one thing: Mushrooms.

The other ingredients do their part of course. The sour cream is largely responsible for the texture of the dish, the Parmesan cheese brings important nutty, salty notes and the onions provide a little kick and visual appeal.

Ultimately though, the spotlight never strays far from the star of the show. The sear intensifies the flavors and creates an excellent crispy texture, and roughly chopping them afterwards makes each little piece melt in your mouth. This spread is a distillation of the essential nature of mushrooms: rustic, earthy, and hearty without being overly rich.

The best part of this dish is that it’s the perfect appetizer no matter what the occasion. It’s upscale enough for a nice cocktail party, but fits in just fine in front of the TV on game day. If there are going to be more than three people at your house or apartment, you have a reason to make this dish.

(As though you really need a reason)

Seared Mushroom and Green Onion Spread

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 medium-sized mushrooms, cut into 1/8 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 bundle of green onions, white and green sections diced and separated with stems reserved
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Crackers, to serve

 

  1. Heat a skillet to high heat. Add the butter and allow it to cook until it just begins to brown. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and garlic powder over the mushrooms and add them to the skillet, tossing until evenly coated with butter. Cook until one side of the mushrooms are seared, approximately 3 minutes, then toss and repeat for the other side.
  2. Add the diced white section of the green onion and continue to sear for another 2-3 minutes, tossing intermittently. Mushrooms should be golden brown on both sides when done.
  3. Remove the mushrooms to a cutting board and dice. In a large bowl, combine the diced mushroom, onion mixture with the sour cream and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until evenly mixed.
  4. To serve, empty the spread into a large bowl and garnish with chopped and whole green onion stems.
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