Thursday, December 8, 2011

My First Real Beer

A romantic entry for the end of the year...

Beer. Yes, that's right, the magical brew that warms your belly, dissolves your social inhibitions, and satisfies the soul. It's a big deal for many foodies including myself, and is an equal contender with wine and spirits in the gourmet sprint to pair food and drink (and of course, be merry!).
The first beer I tasted was Rolling Rock. The first beer I got drunk to was either Miller or Bud. I don't know for sure, I was drinking Smirnoff Ice at the same time. Watered-down with adjunct grains like rice and corn, it was a tasteless fizzy beverage that I knew was cheap and American. And so went adolescence, with a bit of Corona and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale mixed in.
The first beer I fell in love with (my coup de coeur) was a Samuel Adams Winter Lager. My senior year of college, on a cold February night in Allston, the dirty hip neighborhood in Boston, I went to the local dive The Silhouette. (They serve movie popcorn in baskets and you'd be a sore thumb if you weren't wearing flannel.). It was after a dance performance across town, and a group of us went out to celebrate and discuss. After a few sips it all changed. It was like a spell. It wasn't just "beer" like I'd thought. It turned into adjectives and feelings: warm, happy, spicy, chocolaty, satisfying, smooth. It was the point of no return. From then on, I would never go out of my way to buy PBR and the like.
We all have our firsts, that was mine. Since then, the love affair hasn't stopped. With Black Butte Porter, New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, and most recently Saison DuPont, I am happy to drink chocolaty and dry, fizzy and earthy, or just plain hoppy when I'm in the mood.
What to open next?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beer Tasting at Home pt 1

On my way home from work in Silverlake, I always make sure and spend some of my hard-earned cash tips at Cap'n Cork Jr. Market at the corner of Hillhurst and Prospect. I've bought many a beer here, especially for lunch at Best Fish Taco in Ensenada down the block. A wonderful, friendly staff of guys, with a smorsgasbord selection of domestic brews, including a vast Belgian beer fridge.

Today I found...

Bruery / Elysian / Stone La Citrueille Céleste de Citracado
Check out the promo video from Stone's Youtube channel:

Ruby Brown in color, hoppy, spicy and very lemony, with a low carbonation, and a lingering sweetness on the tongue from the pumpkin and yams.

It's a collaboration beer between Stone Brewing Co. in CA, Elysian Brewing in Seattle, and The Bruery of Orange County, CA. Much like its brother Cherry Chocolate Stout which I had a few weeks back, it is a special treat you should spend your extra dollars on. Now that's the spirit. Makes me want to get in the kitchen and start up my wort...

beerly yours,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

granola bar desperation

It's been a while, dear foodies, and I am desperate to update, so much so that sitting at Starbucks I think is the best thing to mention. What did I get today? A grande decaf Americano. Special? Not so much. What was better? This KIND Fruit & Nut Delight Bar. Love em. Ten times better-tasting than anything Nature Valley can grind into a bar. A grownup's granola bar.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sour Cream Cake with Ginger-Lime Glaze

Sour Cream Butter Cake
from The Everything Vegetarian Cookbook

Back in high school, somewhere during my super health-conscious phase, I went on a 4-month stint of vegetarianism. One night, at the end of a casual home dinner of baked chicken and vegetables, I spent too long staring at the empty carcass, and made too many personal associations with my own flesh and bones to continue eating animal flesh. It was all vim and vigor, with a pledge to do it for health reasons, and learn of slaughterhouse practices, and the amount of corn in our beef and poultry. That would mean I had to eat spinach and other green vegetables for iron, and eat the elusive garbanzo bean as a staple. At that point I could count the number of times I had eaten hummus on one hand.

So my Mom gave me The Everything Vegetarian Cookbook, and I must confess, after only sampling a recipe for salad, it has sat on the shelf all these years. It has a very friendly layout, like the Moosewood Cookbooks, with some health and cooking tips along the way.
But I was in the mood to bake a cake, and wasn't feeling fancy enough to do a Meringue pie, but wanted to make a cake other than my go-to dark chocolate and orange. I also wanted an excuse to have a tub of sour cream in my fridge.

4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 c sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan, dust it with flour, and line the bottom with waxed paper. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, ¼ of the sour cream, and the vanilla. In a large, separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk vigorously to combine.

Add the butter and remaining sour cream to the flour mixture, and mix well until flour is completely moistened. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in 3 separate additions, mixing between each addition. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, usually about 35 to 40 minutes. Start checking at 25 minutes, since oven temperatures and ingredient characteristics vary, and it might be done quicker. Cool 10 minutes, then take out of pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

To frost, cut laterally in half and frost both sections, then stack smooth sides, and refrigerate to set.
Unfortunately I had to break the rules on this one. First of all, I used an 8-inch souffle dish because I took one look at my grody old cake pans and said "No cake deserves this pan." Secondly,as I am only now aware, I used 2 oz too much butter, (so a full 2 sticks instead of 1 1/2). I guess I was too happy to throw two sticks of butter into the bowl. The consistency of the batter looked more like a bread dough, and didn't taste very much like sour cream.
I increased the baking time by 20 minutes on top of the 35. Because the increased height of the souffle dish, and the amount of butter, my test knife wasn't coming out clean.

Despite the slightly crumbly crust, I was quite pleased. Now I have a pseud0-recipe for a good breakfast cake.

Jay Weinstein suggests serving it with homemade Butter-Cream Frosting, but I couldn't go that far. And since what I ended up making was more the consistency of pound cake, the glaze was the way to go.

Ginger-Lime Glaze
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
6 tbsp lime juice
6 tbsp water
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
To cut the pungency of the ginger, I decided to let it cook on low heat in 2 tbsp of lime juice and 2 tbsp water for about 15 minutes, stirring as I went until it reduced. Pour glaze evenly over top of the cake, and spread with a knife or spatula and allow to set. Slice and serve with a dollop of sour cream.


Birthday cake: always delicious, especially after spicy Thai Food.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers

11660 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Neighborhood: Brentwood

Saturday lunch, we concluded after a cup of coffee and a stroll that we were hungry for burgers. We sat outside. After perusing the large menu which includes Starters (Fried veggies, Sweet potato and regular fries, Onion Rings), Salads, and the Multitude of Meats to choose from.
Grilled Chicken, Ground Turkey, Beef, and a few Vegetarian options, C went for the Cajun Grilled Chicken and I for the Portabello Mushroom burger.

Grilled Chicken is light and clean, just dressed with lettuce, tomato, onion. Mushroom burger includes a whole roasted red pepper, tomato-pesto, swiss cheese and raw spinach leaves. Excellent! The mushroom was perfect, and I need to steal that tomato-pesto sauce. Exactly what I wanted. We split an order of steak fries with fresh minced garlic, and threw on lots of cracked pepper and Dijon mustard. On the tables are little metal caddies with napkins, forks, knives, ketchup, mustard and Salt and Pepper grinders from Trader Joes. I appreciate they don't try and hide the fact that they went to TJ's.

A vast menu, but unlike The Counter, they frown upon the build-your-own burger tactic. Classy.

a 2nd visit that will most likely turn into a 3rd