Category: beer

Whiskey (or bourbon) caramel & a Guinness ice cream float.

Shamrocks on the windowsill.

God bless shamrocks that signal it’s spring. God bless Guinness. God bless whiskey. And… God bless the Irish.

I don’t believe in (a) God, per se. I’m more of an Agnostic myself. But if I did I’d ask him to bless the Irish- the people who make the best whiskey, make (some of) the best beer, have the best sense of humor, & who know how to have a good time. I mean… GUINNESS, PEOPLE. GUINNESS.

Oh what the hell. Hey, universe: bless the Irish.

And bless me, because I made this:

Guinness ice cream floats with vanilla ice cream & whiskey caramel.

Oh, what’s that, you ask? That’s just a Guinness ice cream float.

Just like it says. Yup. Oh and it’s topped with whiskey caramel. Mmm hmm. Yes. Ohhhh yes.

Guinness floats with whiskey caramel.

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Hearty spent grain French bread.

Just a few days ago I posted about bagels, now it’s bread. I know, it’s crazy. But winter time is time to bake a lot of warming, comforting things. And bread is definitely one of those, don’t you think?

Back in August I told you all about my friend Pete, and his home-brew supply store, Homebrews & Handgrenades. I told you all about how he gave me a ton of spent brewing grain to bake with, and I made that bread.

Well things have been a bit busy around here since then. I remodeled almost the entire place, had no appliances, and then there was Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. It hasn’t been conducive to insane recipe experimentation like is required when you get something brand new, like spent grain. So whatever I haven’t used yet is sitting in jars in my freezer, waiting for me to decide what to do.

What is spent grain?
Spent Grain is a byproduct from brewing process. The chemical composition of wet spent grains is given below:
- Water, 80%
- Protein, 5%
- N-free extract, 9%
- Fat, 2%
- Cellulose fibres, 4%
- Minerals, 1%

- source

Spent brewing grain, drying in the oven (click through for cracker recipe).

First, I dried out a bunch of the grain by laying it out on a cookie sheet and baking it at my oven’s lowest setting (170° F) for 7 hours or so, basically “overnight.” This was important because the grain was wet when I got it, and I froze it immediately. That means there was a lot of moisture trapped in there!

Once it was dried (and a little toasted, ’cause I raised the temperature a bit for the last hour), I let it cool completely. Then I used my KitchenAid grain mill attachment to grind it into a flour. I used a somewhat medium grind, it wasn’t too fine but not too coarse. And then- voila- I had spent grain flour! Which, by the way, you can store in your pantry in sealed container for as long as you like.

Spent brewing grain French bread.

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Spent grain bread: grain, keep us together.

When I was a kid, maybe 11, I spent an entire summer listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Every single day. In my room, in the backyard on a Walkman, at the beach on a Walkman, in the car, etc. For whatever reason that album just did it for me that summer. Because of that, it’s always a “summer album” to me; whenever I hear it I think of summertime. Or at least, that summer. Even when I saw Fleetwood Mac live a few years ago, every song from that album just made me think of summer.

So it’s only natural that when I sat down & started typing about grains as the summer is waning, I somehow inserted the word into a Fleetwood Mac song.

“Graiiiiiin, keep us together… Run in the shadows… Graiiiiin, keep us together…”

Baking bread with spent brewing grain.

Ahem. Anyway, yes, today I’m going to be talking about grains. Specifically the kind left after you make beer, called “spent grains,” which are pictured above.

Back a few months ago, Pete, (a friend of ours for ages- however he’s been Jay’s friend way longer than mine, admittedly), messaged me on Facebook & offered me some of his spent brewing grain to bake with. He’s a home brewer & makes a variety of beer, as well as a new business owner. He has a business in Baldwin, NY called Homebrews & Handgrenades where he sells all kinds of grains for home brewers like himself. Turns out, this grain is largely wasted after the brewing process, because it’s served it’s beer-making purpose. But it’s still perfectly good grain. Yes, some people do bake with it. And others use it as animal feed or as fertilizer. But I’m willing to bet a large portion of it is just a waste.

Brewer’s spent grain (also called spent grain, brewer’s grain or draff) consists of the residue of malt and grain which remains in the mash-kettle after the mashing and lautering process.[84] It consists primarily of grain husks, pericarp, and fragments of endosperm.[85] As it mainly consists of carbohydrates and proteins,[85] and is readily consumed by animals,[86] spent grain is used in animal feed.[86] Spent grains can also be used as fertilizer, whole grains in bread,[87] as well as in the production of biogas. Spent grain is also an ideal medium for growing mushrooms, such as shiitake, and already some breweries are either growing their own mushrooms or supplying spent grain to mushroom farms.[88] This, in turn, makes the grain more digestible by livestock.[89] Spent grains can be used in the production of red bricks, to improve the open porosity and reduce thermal conductivity of the ceramic mass.[90]

- Wikipedia

Beer-making is actually a fascinating thing, one I’d like to learn more about eventually.

Anyway it sounded like an awesome opportunity for me to try something new, so I of course said yes. And I promptly ended up with around 10 lbs. of frozen spent brewing grain in my possession. After defrosting it overnight, I put it into different containers & jars so it would be easier to store.

Spent brewing grain, ready for storage. If you've got some, why not make an easy yeasty bread with it?

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Some stout pie shenanigans.

The Irish (and English, for that matter) love their pies. And I don’t mean fruit pies, I mean meat pies. Hot, cold, warm or room temperature, they love them some meat pies. It’s a famous pub dish; a flaky pie crust or puff pastry topping over a beef-stew like filling. You can make them in individual pie plates or as one big pie. Similar concept to Shepherd’s pie, except this pie actually has a crust on top, whereas the former has mashed potatoes.

meat pie is a pie with a filling of meat and/or other savoury ingredients. Principally popular in EuropeAustraliaNew ZealandCanada, and South Africa, meat pies differ from a pasty in the sense that a pasty is typically a more portable, on-the-go item, as opposed to a more conventional pie.

-Wikipedia

A few weeks ago, I went to a pub that Jay’s friend opened in Brooklyn, and somewhere around the third or fourth Guinness we decided to have a beef & stout pie. It was just a simple little pub with no kitchen, so the pie was an instant microwaveable one. But it gave me an idea: make your own, Marilla!  And at some point, in between then and now, I picked up this book, which conveniently had a recipe listed on the cover for beef & stout pies. SCORE.


How perfect is that?

Anyway, I decided I’d give ‘em a try this week, and they turned out pretty amazing.

And quite easy, actually. In the opinion of the Irish (according to the book), the only stout suitable for cooking with beef is Guinness. If you have another stout you want to use, then so be it. I stick with Guinness for this kinda stuff though- it’s sweet, but not too sweet. Perfect for a stew.

IRISH BEEF & STOUT PIES

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless chuck steak or eye of round steak, cut into 1″-inch pieces
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups meat stock
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 or 5 large carrots, peeled & sliced into “coins”
  • 4 or 5 medium/large potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 pound store-bought puff pastry or store-bought pie crust
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, then toss the (patted dry) beef in the mix until evenly coated.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, in batches, and transfer to a flameproof casserole dish or dutch oven. Deglaze the skillet with 1/4 cup of the stock, and add the liquid to the casserole dish.
  3. Heat another 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet and cook the onion and carrots for 6-7 minutes or until onions are soft.  Add to the casserole dish with the tomato paste, thyme, stout, potatoes and remaining stock. Heat the casserole dish or oven over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer gently with the lid slightly askew for around 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Check the seasoning, and add salt or pepper as needed. Drain the meat mixture in a strainer set over a large bowl. Reserve the liquid, letting rest until cool. Preheat the oven to 425° F and put a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
  5. Divide the meat mixture among four individual pie plates or 5 -5 1/2″ ramekins. Pour in enough liquid to not quite cover the filling. Dampen the rims of the plates or ramekins with water.
  6. Cut your pastry into four pieces, each one large enough to cover the tops of the pies including a 1″ hangover.  Make holes in it or two or three slashes to allow air our and place them on top of the filling, pressing the edges down. I used a fork to push the dough onto the rim. Brush with egg yolk.
  7. Places the pies on a the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 400° F and bake for 5 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving so no one burns a tongue!

It isn’t the most attractive looking meal, but trust me. It’s way better than it looks! Potatoes, beer, beef, carrots… how can that be bad!?

If you wish, you can lessen the amount of carrots & potatoes, but add in some cremini mushrooms (just the caps, quartered- no stems). I’m not a big mushroom lover. I left them out. If you do choose to add mushrooms, add them with the onions and carrots in step 3. Also, I used frozen pie crust for the tops. Puff pastry will be puffier, obviously. You can also use homemade, if you’ve got a great recipe you like. For the sake of time I went with frozen. Sue me. 

I also made four ramekins, each one measures about 5″ across and 3 1/2″ high. I actually bought them at Pier 1 Imports, so here they are, the larger size. Vintage embroidered Irish linen napkins not included.

And that, my friends, is that. Serve with a hearty bread, or a bit of Irish soda bread, and a pint of Guinness! Or Harp. Or whatever. It doesn’t really matter what you pair it with, just so long as you enjoy yourself.

I hope you all have a happy & delicious St. Patrick’s Day!

Ye olde Irish dark chocolate Guinness pudding.

Nothing I am about to show you today is traditionally Irish.

guinnesschocolatepudding

Nothing.

Actually… I’m lying. The Guinness is. Other than that, it’s a conglomeration of the Americanization of Irish culture; throw something green in there & it’s automatically Irish! But that’s okay with me, really. Look at how we celebrate the Chinese New Year with orange chicken & fried rice. Or how we go to an Italian restaurant & eat “chicken parmigiana.” None of that is realistic or authentic. That’s just how we roll in America, and as someone of Irish descent who knows better (and corned beef isn’t really authentically Irish either, folks), I’m still okay with it. I like green cupcakes & bagels. It’s fun. Better to be celebrated in that way than overlooked, right? America was built on the backs of immigrants, many of them Irish, so in whatever way we choose to celebrate them, it’s better than ignoring them. Do I wish that it was more to people than just a day to get drunk? Of course. But look at the 4th of July or Memorial Day- most people use them as excuses to have barbecues & get hammered.

And I alone can’t change that. So I keep these holidays in my way, and you can keep them in your way. And I like to keep them in a fun way, even if it isn’t 100% authentic.

And naturally, there’s really nothing that screams ‘SAINT PATRICK’S DAY” in America more than Guinness stout.

Dark chocolate Guinness pudding with creme de menthe whipped cream!

Guinness (pron.: /ˈɡɪnɨs/ gin-is) is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. It is brewed in almost 60 countries and is available in over 100.[1] 850 million litres (1.5 billion imperial or 1.8 billion US pints) are sold annually.[1]

A feature of the product is the burnt flavour that is derived from roasted unmalted barley, although this is a relatively modern development, not becoming part of the grist until the mid-20th century. For many years a portion of aged brew was blended with freshly brewed beer to give a sharp lactic flavour. Although the Guinness palate still features a characteristic “tang”, the company has refused to confirm whether this type of blending still occurs. The draught beer‘s thick, creamy head comes from mixing the beer with nitrogen when poured. It is popular with Irish people both in Ireland and abroad, and, in spite of a decline in consumption since 2001,[2] is still the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland[3][4] where Guinness & Co. makes almost €2 billion annually.

Guinness stout is made from water, barley, hops, and brewer’s yeast. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and characteristic taste. It is pasteurised and filtered.[citation needed]Making the product requires knowledge in the sciences of microbiology, mycology, bacteriology, and thermodynamics.[26] Despite its reputation as a “meal in a glass”, Guinness only contains 198 kcal (838kilojoules) per imperial pint (1460 kJ/l),[27] fewer than skimmed milk or orange juice and most other non-light beers.[citation needed]

Until the late 1950s Guinness was still racked[clarification needed] into wooden casks. In the late 1950s and early 1960s aluminium kegs began replacing the wooden casks; these were nicknamed “iron lungs”.[28]

Draught Guinness and its canned counterpart contain nitrogen (N2) as well as carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy.[citation needed] The high pressure of dissolved gas is required to enable very small bubbles to be formed by forcing the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic “surge” (the widget in cans and bottles achieves the same effect). The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to its low level of carbon dioxide and the creaminess of the head caused by the very fine bubbles that arise from the use of nitrogen and the dispensing method described above.[citation needed] “Original Extra Stout” contains only carbon dioxide,[29] causing a more acidic taste.

Contemporary Guinness Draught and Extra Stout are weaker than they were in the 19th century, when they had an original gravity of over 1.070. Foreign Extra Stout and Special Export Stout, with abv of 7.5% and 9% respectively, are perhaps closest to the original in character.[30]

Although Guinness may appear to be black, it is officially a very dark shade of ruby.[31]

Bottle conditioned Guinness Extra Stout was available in the UK until 1994, and in Ireland until early 2000.[32]

My idea here was that there’s really nothing more fun than a good chocolate pudding. So why not make it a grown-up pudding? I thought of doing Jameson at first, but then I decided Guinness would go so much better with the chocolate. And I had some Lindt semisweet baking chocolate here just dying to be used up. So I really had to make this.

What? I did.

Dark chocolate Guinness pudding topped with creme de menthe whipped cream. Originally made for St. Patrick's Day but would also be great for Christmas! Substitute a chocolate or cream stout if desired.

So you’re remembering that ginger cake, or whatever, and you’re sitting there thinking “This bitch really loves Guinness.” And you’d be right. But even if I didn’t, it’d still be an easy to find stout that just works. It’s flavor just lends itself perfectly to baked goods, but it’s reasonably priced and can be found ANYWHERE. However I will say this: a chocolate or cream stout would work just as well. If you’re workin’ with the Irish theme then obviously I’d stick with Guinness. But in theory any rich, dark, thick, sweet stout would knock this pudding out of the park.

DARK CHOCOLATE GUINNESS PUDDING

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Guinness stout (I used extra stout, feel free to use whatever you want… like I said, a chocolate stout would work well too)
  • 1ounce very good semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Pour the Guinness into a measuring cup, and set aside. Let sit until the foam subsides.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and thick in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed. On low speed, add the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring the milk & Guinness to a boil in a medium saucepan and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the chocolate mixture. Combine well, then pour the mixture back into the pan.
  3. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, until thickened. If the mixture begins to curdle, remove it from the heat and beat it vigorously with a wire whisk. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, butter, vanilla, and heavy cream, and mix until the chocolate and butter are melted and fully incorporated.
  4. Strain through a sieve if desired or needed.
  5. Pour into serving bowls or glasses (or jars!). Place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding, and chill thoroughly. Serve with whipped cream… if desired, the creme de menthe whipped cream below…

CREME DE MENTHE WHIPPED CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons good quality Crème de Menthe
  • 1 drop green food coloring (if you want the color brighter)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the first three ingredients together with the whisk attachment until they’re thickened. Check the taste, add more sugar or Crème de Menthe as needed, by the 1/4 teaspoon.
  2. Continue beating until the whipped cream is the proper thickness, but don’t whip too much… you’ll get mint-flavored butter! Ew.
  3. Add a drop of green coloring to brighten the color if needed or desired.

Dark chocolate Guinness pudding topped with creme de menthe whipped cream. Originally made for St. Patrick's Day but would also be great for Christmas! Substitute a chocolate or cream stout if desired.

The flavor of the whipped cream reminds me of that infamous “Shamrock Shake“- so if you’re not a fan of that, you probably won’t like this. It’s a very straightforward mint flavor. If you’re unaware as to what it is, or you’ve never had it:

Crème de menthe (French for mint cream) is a sweet, mint-flavored alcoholic beverage. Its flavor is primarily derived from Corsican mint. It is available commercially in a colorless (called “white”) and a green version (which obtains its color from the mint leaves or from the addition of coloring, if extract and not the leaves are used to make the liqueur). Both varieties have similar flavors and are interchangeable in recipes, except where the color is important.

Crème de menthe is used as an ingredient in several cocktails, such as the Grasshopper and the Stinger, and is also served as an after-dinner drink and can be used in food recipes as a flavoring (see Mint chocolate).

The traditional formula involves steeping dried peppermint leaves in grain alcohol for several weeks (creating a naturally green color), followed by filtration and the addition of sugar.[1]

I’m a fan of anything mint, especially when paired with chocolate, so I love it. But I will agree that it’s an acquired taste. Another idea is to use peppermint extract & green food coloring, you can also just make regular whipped cream and color it green with just a drop of food coloring. And ANOTHER idea? Make it a Bailey’s Irish Cream whipped cream by substituting Bailey’s for the Crème de Menthe. The pudding recipe can be halved, but it doesn’t make such an exorbitant amount that you’d need to, unless there’s only two of you. Or one of you. I still don’t understand that because I can eat two 16-ounce jars of this all by myself… but oh well.

It would be super cute to tear off little shamrocks from a shamrock plant and use them as garnish for this! Not edible, but sure as hell cute. Damnit. Wish I’d thought of that before.

And Guinness in no way provided me with anything nor did they ask me to write this recipe up. Oh how I wish I was gifted with a gigantic case of Guinness stout! But alas, no. All ideas/recipes/opinions/etc are mine & mine alone, apropos of nothing but years of delicious Guinness imbibery (is that a word?).

Speaking of hearty…

(…not that anyone was… or wait…)

For Christmas 2011, it seemed like everyone gave me a stack of cookbooks. One of the ones Jay gave me was the Williams-Sonoma Bread book. I haven’t made many things from the book yet, just a few. Give me a break- I have a bajillion cook books I’m trying to get through! But one of the things I keep making over & over again from the book is the beer bread. And it became Jay’s favorite thing ever the minute it came out of the oven. Trust me- that’s a big deal. He’s a picky one, and he BARELY eats any of my goodies! (side note: feel free to tell him in the comments that he’s crazy, and remind him how some would kill for that opportunity)

I’m telling you, though, once you make a good beer bread, you never want to stop. You want to just keep making it using all kinds of beer, any kind of beer you can get your hands on; all of a sudden it’s “Mmm this beer is good… I bet it’d make a great beer bread!” I’ve tweaked some of the amounts of things just a bit, based on my experience making it, so that’s the version I’m giving you. It’s such a rustic bread, it always reminds me of old fashioned pioneer breads or Colonial bread, so it’s only fitting I used Samuel Adams beer.

Either way, no matter what beer you use, it’s so incredibly SIMPLE to make and it’s always a hit.

Also, just a note: I’ve made this bread with Samuel Adams Summer Ale, Blue Point Oktoberfest, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Harp Lager, Guinness stout and now, Samuel Adams Winter Lager. Every single beer gave the bread a totally different flavor, and yet every single one made it delicious. I haven’t hit on a bad one yet!

JAY’S FAVORITE 5-INGREDIENT BEER BATTER BREAD (adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Bread book)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle beer, (12 fl oz/375 ml), unopened and at room temperature*
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (I use unsalted, but if you’re using salted just use half the amount of salt in the recipe), plus more for greasing the pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F. Grease (with softened butter) a 9″-by-5″-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt together. Open the beer and add it all at once; it’s going to foam up. Stir briskly just until it comes together & everything is combined (the book says 20 strokes). The batter will be a little lumpy- that’s okay. It might even be a big ball of dough (like a regular bread dough), and that’s fine too.
  3. Pour (or scoop) into the prepared loaf pan. Tap the pan on the counter to even it out, and pat it down if it needs it. Drizzle with the melted butter.
  4. Bake until the top is crusty and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, roughly 35-40 minutes. Let the loaf rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature the day it’s made. Cut into thick slices and serve with plenty of butter.

*Avoid using an overly bitter beer; you’ll get very unsavory results.

Jay likes to eat his either right out of the oven or warmed up in the toaster oven, with salted butter. Depending on the kind of beer you use, I think it can be spectacular with soup, especially an Irish potato soup. However I do find it’s best when warm, so if you have leftovers be sure to heat them up a little, or even toast them slightly. Unlike the Guinness ginger cake, which keeps for days, this doesn’t keep well over long periods of time. It’s best to eat it within one to three days (three days being tops). It won’t go bad after that but it just won’t taste as good… it gets a bit rubbery.

It’s absolutely best the day it’s made, however.

Like I said, with this batch I used Samuel Adams Winter Lager. It came out wonderful (again), ironically with a kind of banana-y note to it. I cannot stress the following enough: Be very careful of the beer you use! A bitter beer will make a really nasty bread. A sweet beer will make a sweet(er) bread, etc. For example: a dark, creamy porter or stout will make a bread better for dessert or breakfast, whereas an ale or lager will make a better savory bread. Beware of IPA’s & pilsner’s; they can be a bit too bitter or hop-y. Very crisp beers aren’t suited for this, really, because there’s very little else in the bread to help flavor it. If you use a chocolate or cream stout or maple pecan porter or something, you could probably add some chopped nuts to the bread too, or mix a little brown sugar into the melted butter before you drizzle it on top. If you’re not sure of the different styles of beer & what they’re like, try checking out this website. I’d also recommend using a fancier (read: better quality) beer than, say, Coors Light or Budweiser. Those don’t have much flavor to impart, and the bread probably wouldn’t turn out very good.

If you’re a beer lover, I’m serious; you need to try this bread. Start out with a sweet beer & ease into the experimentation. Soon you’ll hit on one that’s your absolute favorite!

In need of something stout & hearty.

Argh. I know I’ve been repeatedly saying this, over & over again. But let me reiterate: it’s f*!%ing cold.

Early Sunday Morning on Orchard Street, by Vivienne Gucwa

Pardon my French, but really. It’s freezing. And one of those eerie signs of a cold day in New York? A white sky. When it’s just stark white or a very pale milky grey, my grandma used to say it was a sky full of snow. When it looks like that, I have no desire to do anything other than stay under the duvet in a warm, dark room, playing around on my MacBook listening to music while the wind whistles outside & frost patterns form on the windows. Screw interacting with society. I’m better off indoors, warm, with my four-legged companion(s) and my kitchen. There goes that Lisbeth Salander tendency again- good thing I got rid of the mohawk.

And good thing I love New York, & I was born here… or else this shit would get really old, really quick. I’m used to it… but that doesn’t make a 19° degree temperature any less shocking.

Anyway, this cake is warming. And really easy- which means I don’t have to be out of bed for very long to make it.

The best part? It’s made with beer.

Guinness stout, actually. It’s a delicious… cake. Bread. It’s more like… I don’t really know. It teeters between a bread and a cake, and just when you think it’s one thing, it’s another. Just when you’re thinking it’s a great dessert it jumps up and slaps you right in the face, saying: “I’d be excellent for breakfast, too.” And if you’re thinking that a cake with beer in it wouldn’t work for breakfast? Well then you’re not Irish/Polish/German and you’ve also never had this cake. It isn’t sweet, it isn’t savory. It’s an enigma. It’s like gingerbread, just not as sweet. And it’s like a brown bread, but moister and not as savory. And when I say moist? I mean it. It’s not something you can gorge on- one small slice at a time is plenty. You can add some diced candied ginger to the batter, or you can add a little fresh grated ginger, just to up the gingerbread-y-ness of it… or you just can top it with some whipped cream & then put some candied ginger on top. Speaking of whipped cream? I think if you put a whiskey whipped cream or a bourbon whipped cream on it, you’d knock your guests right out of the chairs. On the other hand- it would be good toasted (or baked twice) into an almost biscotti-like texture and paired with a soup that borders on the sweet side, like a creamy chestnut soup. It would even be good toasted, with butter, but you just can’t imagine how good it is plain, at room temperature, with just a bit of mildly sweet, homemade whipped cream.

But then again, everything is better with whipped cream, no?

I know, it doesn’t look like an enigma, does it? But it is. It’s a cake-bread. A bread-cake.

Anyway. It is what it is. You make it & figure it out.

All I know is that it’s spectacular with a simple whipped cream and a smidgen- just a sprinkling- of confectioner’s sugar, accompanied by a hot cup of Irish coffee made with Bailey’s Irish Cream.

GUINNESS GINGER CAKE (adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Guinness Irish stout*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan, and set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the Guinness to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir occasionally. Take off the heat and add the baking soda (mixture will froth). When the foaming subsides, stir in both sugars & molasses until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients. In another large bowl, pour the Guinness mixture. Then whisk in eggs & oil until thoroughly combined.
  4. Whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture in thirds, stirring until completely smooth between each addition. DO NOT OVERMIX/OVERBEAT: less is more.
  5. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and gently tap it on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is just firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve.

*If you haven’t got Guinness, any stout will do. Samuel Adams cream stout would work wonders too, I imagine.

I repeat: it is NOT a sweet cake. It’s not a chocolate fudge caramel drizzle cake that’s going to make your teeth ache just looking at it. And it’s NOT a full-on bread, because it’s too sweet to be. It is nothing like a beer bread at all, and it’s not like any cake you’ve ever had before. Seriously. Maybe if you use a more chocolatey stout, or maybe Samuel Adams Merry Mischief stout, it’d be a bit sweeter (and also stronger! That Merry Mischief stuff packs a wollop!)… but that’s up to you to experiment with, if you so choose.

I’m secretly giggling at that little peak that formed in the whipped cream… (!) It almost looks like a middle finger, doesn’t it?

Yeah. You’re welcome.

Now I’m crawling back into my warm bed, with a full plate & hot mug of Irish coffee, of course.

Sources & credits: Bailey’s mugs; vintage, silverware; vintage.

Hop pickles!

What with this being Can-It-Forward Day, it’s pretty much mandatory I post something canning-related. I know I mentioned it before, briefly, in a previous post. Can-It-Forward Day is, and I quote:

National Can-It-Forward Day lets everyone share the joy of fresh preserving. If you love garden fresh produce, we would love to show you how easy it is to preserve it to enjoy throughout the year. Whether you’re new to canning or are a Master Canner, we have recipes, tips and tricks to help make fresh preserving easy and fun!

Set aside some time to learn simple ways to preserve the fresh food you love and share your canning knowledge with friends and family. Whether you watch us on-line, host a home canning party or join us in person, we hope you’ll share your stories. Like us on Facebook then post your Can-It-Forward Day stories and photos on our page and in your status updates. And, join the conversation on Twitter with #CanItForward. No matter how you participate, we want you to enjoy fresh preserving and Can-It-Forward Day.

So consider this post my encouragement for you to get canning. As it goes, I’ve had some pint jars laying around just waiting to be filled. I decided to use up two of ‘em to make some pickles, beer pickles, to be precise. And yes you read that correctly: beer pickles. Or Hop-pickles!

If you remember, back in March, I recreated two of Brooklyn Brine Co.‘s most unique & awesome pickles: the Maple Bourbon pickles and the Spicy Maple Bourbon pickles. They were massively popular, both Jay & his dad are big fans. As if those bourbon pickles weren’t cool enough… Brooklyn Brine recently paired up with Dogfish Head Ale to make what they dub “the Hop-Pickle.” It’s essentially pickles made with Dogfish Head’s 60-minute IPA.

I know. More geniusness from Brooklyn Brine! Now, in my research, I saw that the actual Brooklyn Brine version there’s not only IPA, but Cascade “hop oil.” I could’ve done that too. The website sells it, so I could’ve bought my own, yes, but instead I chose not to. I decided to just go with the beer & see if I could achieve a good flavor without the oil. My first idea was to do the same thing that I did with the bourbon- just add it to the jars, then pour in the hot brine. But then I did some more investigative reporting and saw that they add the beer to the brine itself. Hm. Interesting.

So that’s what I did. I created a brine, packed my jars with cucumbers & spices, and then added the beer to the brine once it was boiled. Then I poured the hot beer brine into the jars.

And after that I was pretty much done!

I also didn’t use Dogfish Head IPA, instead I used Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA. Samuel Adams is my favorite beer, actually. The Summer Ale & Noble Pils are to die for in the spring/summer, and I can’t let a winter go by without the Cream Stout, Chocolate Bock or Winter Lager. I never met a bottle of Sam I didn’t like (except that Cranberry Lambic- that wasn’t a hit around here). Besides, I made these on the 4th of July so what better beer to use than a Sam Adams? Anyway, as far as the IPA goes, according to the Samuel Adams website:

Samuel Adams® Latitude 48 IPA is a unique IPA brewed with a select blend of hops from top German, English, and American growing regions all located close to the 48th latitude within the “hop belt” of the Northern Hemisphere. The combination of hops in this beer creates a distinctive but not overpowering hop character. The beer is dry hopped with Ahtanum, Simcoe®*, and East Kent Goldings hops for a powerful citrus and earthy aroma. The hop character is balanced by a slight sweetness and full body from the malt blend.

Sounds pretty good to me. It’s a nice tasting beer (I’m not really an IPA fan for the most part) so I figured, why wouldn’t it make nice tasting beer pickles? It’s a different kind of IPA than Dogfish Head’s, but I didn’t really want to make these too much like Brooklyn Brine’s pickles. They just inspired me, and the Sam Adams one is what I had on hand. If you like a different IPA- try it. Bluepoint, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Smuttynose, Lagunitas, Anchor… whatever. What’s the worst that can happen? They taste horrible? I doubt it. Beer + pickles pretty much = awesome. Just like the bourbon + pickles = awesome.

I made one jar pickle chips, and the other spears. I like to do that when creating a new pickle recipe so I can see which one is a better cut for that flavor. Some pickles scream to be put on sandwiches, others are just for a side dish or snacking.


Basically I used a regular, basic pickle recipe and added a bottle of beer to the brine once it was boiled. If you want to make it more like Brooklyn Brine’s, then add some caramelized onions & a bit of sliced up chili pepper to the cukes when you pack the jars. I didn’t do either of those things, mainly due to availability. I had onions, I just didn’t feel like caramelizing them, and I didn’t have any chili peppers around. I’m adding them into the recipe, you can do as you like.

MARILLA’S HOP-PICKLES MADE WITH IPA

Makes about 4 pints

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 cups white vinegar, 5%
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill, 4 dill heads or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice (divided into fourths)
  • a little sprinkle of mustard seed per jar
  • half of a medium sized white onion, caramelized (done beforehand, allowed to cool & patted “dry”)
  • 1 chili pepper, seeded & sliced
  • a dash of cumin seeds
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, each cut in half
  • 1 bottle Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA (or the IPA of your choice)

Directions:

  1. Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. This prevents a “mushy” pickle, as the ends of cucumbers contain an enzyme that makes them mushy. Place jars in canner to sterilize them and place lids in hot water to soften seal. Keep jars hot.
  2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bottle of beer (you will end up with leftover brine, it’s almost certain).
  3. Remove hot jars from canner. Divide the fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds, 1/4 teaspoon pickling spice, chili peppers, cumin seeds, onions and garlic among the jars (they should be still hot); pack in cucumbers.
  4. Pour the hot beer brine mixture over cucumbers to within ½ inch of rim (head space). Place lids, then bands, turning only to fingertip tight. Let sit in a cool dark place for 24 hours. Check seal. If not sealed, put the jar in the fridge and enjoy right away! If sealed, allow jars to sit for one week before opening for optimal flavor.

Before anyone gets on my ass, no I didn’t process them. I figured the salt & vinegar was enough to ensure safety, not to mention the fact that I had a feeling they’d be opened & eaten fairly quickly. If you want to process them, then go right ahead. An experienced canner should know exactly how long, etc (as a general rule it’s 10 minutes for pint jars, 15 for quart). However there are a lot of pickle recipes (like this one) that don’t require processing, the lids seal as soon as the liquid/jars cool. I’ve never had a problem with doing pickles this way now & then, but obviously you need to make sure all of your produce is 100% clean and that your equipment is 100% sterilized, and that you’re using white vinegar with 5% acidity. Yes, yes, yes, I know the USDA would have my head for that. But whatever. I’m nothing if not a rebel.

And of course… I get a little creative sometimes with the labels. Heh.

Now I’ll sit back, let my dad & Jay (well when he comes back from Ohio/Illinois, anyway) enjoy their new batch of pickles, and wait to see what other genius pickles Brooklyn Brine Co. will come up with. Then I’ll see if I can match their genius (again) myself. In the meantime- go explore canning! It’s easy, fun, useful, constructive and it’s pretty much a cheap thrill. Here are some excellent canning resources:

Latitude 48 IPA Pickles! on Punk Domestics

Beers & barbecues.

It’s that time of year again. When everyone starts to grill their meats, when the sun sets later and when corn on the cob becomes the staple side dish. It’s been an unusually warm winter and an early spring, despite the temperatures dropping quite low at night lately (which has threatened crops that started to grow far too early when it was 80° degrees in March), it is indeed only a few weeks from the unofficial start of summer: Memorial Day.

I saw this recipe at The Black Peppercorn and I knew I’d have to make it myself. I’ve made Guinness cupcakes, Guinness jelly, even put Guinness in macaroni & cheese. Why not Guinness barbecue sauce? Beer & barbecues go together like… rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong. Or peanut butter & jelly. I love me a good beer. Don’t you?

This was my first attempt at a barbecue sauce. I was a bit nervous, actually, but I think it all worked out just fine in the end.

GUINNESS BARBECUE SAUCE (adapted slightly from The Black Peppercorn)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, minced (I used one very large white onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 cup Guinness beer
  • ½ cup white distilled 5% vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 “shakes” Tabasco sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 18-oz. can tomato paste

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, and garlic to the saucepan and saute until they are tender and beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the molasses, beer, brown sugar, both vinegars, salt, pepper and cayenne . Bring to a boil. Let it cook with a low rolling boil for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the saucepan.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste & Tabasco and lower the heat. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool slightly. Puree, I did so right in the pot using an immersion blender.
  5. For shelf-stable sauce: pour into hot sterilized jars to within ½” from the top. Process in a waterbath for 20 minutes for pint jars, 15 for half-pints. Allow to cool overnight, then check the seals. As always, if the top pops up and down, the seal is damaged and you have to put it in your refrigerator and use right away. If you’re using the sauce immediately or don’t want to make it shelf-stable, you can pour into any container and either use right away or put it in the fridge.

There’s no end to the possibilities for this sauce. You can make it hotter, make it sweeter, do whatever you want. You could even totally alter it and use some Jack Daniel’s or Jameson, or a lighter beer. Play with it, tinker with it. Come up with your own sauce! And the best part? It doesn’t have to be a “canned” recipe. You can use it right away or put half in the fridge in a Tupperware. But if you do decide to jar it up, just know I got 5 half-pint jars and I would’ve had enough for a 4 oz. jar as well. And also know that in order to “can” it, the acidity has to be of a certain percent, so do your research before you tinker with it!

So how did it taste?

Right before I put it on the grill!

e…

Delicious. I had it on a steak and it was just great. Not too sweet, not too tangy, not too overpowering. It’s a subtle taste, and you could taste the actual steak, not just the sauce like can happen with some sauces. And it actually mellowed more in the jar, after processing. Initially it was a bit tangier, after a day or two it was much mellower. I can’t wait to try it on chicken next. Actually, I can’t wait to try my hand at making more barbecue sauces & dipping sauces in the future. Thai hot & sweet dipping sauce, anyone!?

I like a little beer in my jelly.

I’ve made tea jelly, & champagne jelly… both with excellent results. so really, the only jelly left for me to make (aside from coffee jelly & whiskey jelly- and trust me, I’m working on it) was beer jelly.

Yup. Beer jelly. Not just beer, but stout. Guinness stout, to be exact.

I know you purists are turning your noses up. But for the rest of us- COME ON. IS THIS NOT AWESOME?! I think it’s insanely awesome. When I found this recipe my heart skipped a beat. I was wondering if anyone had tried it before & I was not only happy to know I wasn’t the only freak wanting to make jelly out of beer, but also that someone had a successful beer jelly-making experiment for me to follow. Let alone one that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Guinness (play /ˈɡɪnɨs/ GIN-is) is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. Guinness is directly descended from the porter style that originated in London in the early 18th century and is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries and available in over 100 countries.[1] 18,000,000,000 US pints (8,500,000 m3) are sold annually.[1]

A distinctive feature is the burnt flavour which is derived from the use of roasted unmalted barley (though this is a relatively modern development since it did not become a part of the grist until well into the 20th century). For many years a portion of aged brew was blended with freshly brewed product to give a sharp lactic flavour (which was a characteristic of the original porter). Although the palate of Guinness still features a characteristic “tang”, the company has refused to confirm whether this type of blending still occurs. The thick creamy head is the result of the beer being mixed with nitrogen when being poured. It is popular with Irish people both in Ireland and abroad, and, in spite of a decline in consumption since 2001,[2] is still the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland [3][4] where Guinness & Co. makes almost 2 billion annually.

The company had its headquarters in London from 1932 onwards. It merged with Grand Metropolitan plc in 1997 and then figured in the development of the multi-national alcohol conglomerate Diageo.


GUINNESS STOUT BEER JELLY (thanks to grow it cook it can it; recipe is hers exactly)

Makes about 7 half-pints; I halved the recipe & got exactly 3 half-pints & one 4-oz. jar

Ingredients:

  • 2 12-ounce bottles of stout beer
  • 1 package powdered Sure-Jell pectin
  • 3 ½ cups sugar

Directions:

  1. Bring canner to a boil. Wash jars and lids. Put lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water with the canner.
  2. In a large, non-reactive pot, bring the beer and powdered pectin to a rolling boil. It will be very frothy, that’s normal. Stir in sugar and bring back to a rolling boil. Cook on high heat for two full minutes.
  3. Pour hot jelly into jars. It will still be very frothy. I decided to leave a thick layer of foam on top of the jellies to imitate the way dark beer looks in a glass, but you could certainly skim it off with a spoon if you like. I only wanted a little froth on top, so I ladled the jelly into jars and led the air bubbles rise to the top for a few minutes before I screwed the lids on.
  4. Wipe rims clean, screw on lids, and process half pint jars for 5 minutes.

Crazy talk. It’s absolute crazy talk that I have jelly made from stout in my presence. But I do, my friends, I really do. And this makes me really happy. It should make you happy, too, because it’s really easy & quick to make. The coolest part is the foamy top! It really looks like a glass of just poured Guinness straight off the tap. I should warn you though, the more you pour or ladle it the more it loses it’s foam. What I did was I filled the three half-pints first, then the quarter pint jar. By the time I got to the tiny 4-oz. jar, there wasn’t much foam at all. But that’s okay because I wanted the larger jars to look more like beer glasses. The littler jar was just an added bonus! Also, the longer it sits without a lid, the more the foam dissipates and the lower the “level” of the jelly gets. So get on that shit! Don’t wait too long to lid them.

It’s a loose set jelly, so don’t expect it to be as firm as most, but it’s firm enough.

I wouldn’t try using a liquid pectin with this, reason being powdered & liquid pectin act very different. I stuck with what the original recipe author suggested & it came out perfect. Although if you’re rebellious, let me know how it works out for you. And here’s the deal: it’s amazing on Irish soda bread, whether you use my recipe or your own. It’s also great with the Irish soda bread muffins I made last year. It’s also great on a cracker with a piece of Irish cheese, like Dubliner, or on a thick ol’ piece of toast slathered with Kerrygold butter. But… true to form, it’s also great on scones. Specifically a plain scone.

And of course I had to “dress ‘em up” to make them more festive.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is genius.