Posts Tagged ‘sweet’

This years Adventures in Food special Christmas beer comes from the Belgium brewery De Dolle and is called Stille Nacht. Apparently Christmas fire sales do not apply only to holiday decorations, apparel, and other Christmas themed items normally found in department stores. I walked into Binny’s to pick up some good wine for my holiday party and found their entire display of Christmas themes beers on sale on an end cap display. I had recently read about Stille Nacht as a faux holy grail to beer lovers around the world and felt that I was never going to get a better price.

Stille Nacht pours a beautiful cloudy, tangerine orange. This is another one of those impossible beers to pour and the head far outweighs the liquid and quickly fills your glass. What I did love, though, was that the head resembled fluffy mounds of snow. I’ve attached a movie below to show the sheer amount of carbonation that lifts from the glass after pouring only 6 ounces into a pint glass. The head is snowy white, but sticky and does not disappear for some time. I  wound up drinking several mouth fulls of head before I ever got to the beer itself. The aroma bursts of sweet malts with bananas, cloves, and tangerines. The first sip immediate burst of sweet malty goodness with a tinge of heavy orange syrup. The spice notes quickly take over and tantalize different parts of your palette until finally a taste of banana takes over before beginning to fade from existence. This is not a gulping beer, in fact, I’m embarrassed that I even poured this into a pint glass at all. This would be a fine sipper drunk straight from the bottle or poured into a snifter.

I want you to know that words cannot accurately describe everything that is going on with this beer. De Dolle clearly has an understanding of what it takes to make a good beer and this is near perfection. I have no complaints, nor any critiques. Any mistake in pouring to create too much head is my own fault. If this beer cheated on me with my best friend at our wedding, I would probably still take it back. It’s that good. However, perfection comes with a pricetag that many might be scared of. You can purchase a 12oz bottle of Stille Nacht only around the Christmas season for around $6 ($4 if you wait for the fire sale). The 12% ABV is prevalent while drinking this beer, but by no means is it overwhelming. I can tell you that you will feel it by the end of your bottle. You probably shouldn’t plan to drink more than two of these in one sitting. Stille Nacht is a perfect beer in my world and should be heralded and replicated year round. It receives the highest rating in my book.

Grade: A+

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I think bacon makes nearly anything taste better and with Thanksgiving shortly coming, I wanted to inspire people to make one last attempt to enjoy Brussels sprouts as an accompanying side dish. Brussels sprouts are incredibly healthy and contains sulforaphane which is believed to have tremendous anticancer properties as well as indole-3-carbinol which boosts DNA repair in cells and blocks the growth of cancer cells.

If you’ve tried Brussels sprouts before in the past and didn’t particularly enjoy the flavor (or lack thereof), I encourage you to try this recipe as a last-ditch effort.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 4 or 5 rashers of thick sliced bacon
  • salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set four or five pieces of bacon on a sheet pan and cook until crispy. Remove and lower the heat to 350 degrees. Crumble the bacon in pieces and set aside.

     

2. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and add to a large mixing bowl. Tilt the sheet pan slightly and collect  2 tbsp bacon fat. Add it to a bowl with the Brussels sprouts.

     

3. Toss the brussel sprouts with the bacon fat until well coated.  Spread the brussels sprouts out on a clean sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Cook for 15 minutes and then turn the Brussels sprouts over. Some will have begun to caramelize and others may just begin to show signs of wilting greens. Cook for another 15 minutes.

5. Serve the Brussels sprouts hot with the crumbled bacon pieces on top.

Garlic has gotten a bad rap. Vampires and people on first dates have uniformly tried to stay away from garlic for centuries because of its harsh, pungent flavor (or death inducing side effect). Garlic has even been linked in Islamic myths as the fruit left behind from the left footprint of Satan after he left the Garden of Eden (the onion was the fruit of his right). I have hopes of persuading some of you to look upon this root vegetable a little different, I want to showcase garlic in a new light. Like most vegetables, when roasted, garlic takes on a completely different flavor becoming more sweet and mellow and becomes a perfect compliment to foods.

This is one of the easiest appetizers you can make for guests or for yourself on a cold winter day, in addition to the insane health benefits that have been found from the consumption of garlic including prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

1. When picking a head of garlic, you want to make sure that the white paper is tight and in tact. Squeeze the garlic gently; it should be firm and not yield easily. It should be heavy for it’s weight and should not have any black powder (usually found near the root). This is mold yet most grocery chains will put it out anyway. And stay away from “elephant garlic” as this isn’t garlic at all, but a cousin of the leek/onion family.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the garlic about a quarter of the way from the top making sure you cut through each clove held within.

3. Place the cut garlic on a piece of aluminum foil big enough to enclose the head completely. Pour the olive oil over the cloves. Season with salt and pepper.

    

4. Wrap the garlic up tightly and place on a sheet pan or other baking dish. Place the pan in the oven for 55 minutes.

5. Let the garlic head cool for five minutes on the stovetop before trying to unwrap. The individual cloves will easily pop out of their skin when given a gentle squeeze. Serve warm mashed over bread, in salad dressings, or anyway you desire.

In the spirit of April Fools Day, I wanted to experiment with making food in disguise. The first part of this recipe was inspired from my favorite Top Chef contestant, Richard Blaise (correction, recently crowned winner of Top Chef All Stars, Richard Blaise). Although molecular gastronomy is way over my comfort zone as a home chef, and foie gras ice cream is well beyond anybody’s comfort zone, I can’t help but admire his passion for cooking and enjoyment of his profession. Besides, a 38 year old with a faux-hawk has to be commended.

As for more serious cuisine, cardamom custard is a traditional dessert from North Africa and other parts of the Persian Gulf. Cardamom is best when purchased in pods and ground fresh. If fresh spices aren’t available to you, you may want to check out The Spice House. They have everything and anything you would ever want to cook with. I cannot recommend a business more highly in regards to the quality of their products.

By the way, trust your eyes at step 6. You read it right the first time. Blow torch.

Ingredients

  • 1 large, fat banana
  • 1 orange
  • 1 1/4c whole milk
  • 2/3c granulated sugar
  • 12 green cardamom pods, bruised (cracked open, but not broken)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (or substitute 3 or 4 whole cloves)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • chocolate sauce (for garnish)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start your custard by heating the milk, 1/3c sugar, cardamom and cloves in a small sauce pan over medium heat (a 5 on your dial). Continue to stir until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.


2. Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Strain the milk mixture to remove the whole cloves (if used) and the cardamom pods. While continuously whisking, pour milk mixture into egg yolks.


3. Pour egg-milk mixture into four oven proof ramekins. Place the ramekins into a baking dish large enough to hold the ramekins. Fill the pan with enough water to reach halfway up the ramekins. This will give the custard a luxurious, creamy texture.


4. Cook for 30 – 35 minutes in the oven. Remove and set on the counter to cool. If you wish, you can cover the cooled ramekins in the refrigerator with plastic wrap and chill overnight. This will allow the cardamom flavor to develop.


5. Before serving, preheat a flat top grill pan over high heat. Put the remaining sugar in a plate. Peel and slice an orange horizontally. Dip in sugar and grill for 5 minutes per side or until the sugar has caramelized. Set aside.

Note: I used a grill pan for the oranges and determined it wasn’t such a good idea afterwards. The sugar as you can see melts into the grooves the pan and never caramalizes onto the oranges. To remedy this, use a flat top grill pan, or a non stick saute pan.

 

Do not attempt step 6 unless under the supervision of an adult or are an adult. Using an open flame in the kitchen may result in a house fire.

Take all necessary precautions.

6. While the oranges are cooking, slice the banana into 1 inch thick slices “scallops”. Place the banana slices in a heavy pan. Pile 1/2 tsp sugar on top of the banana and spread to completely cover the top. With a blow torch, direct the flame over the sugar until it boils and caramelizes. The bananas should resemble seared sea scallops. Once cool (about 10 seconds), turn the bananas over and repeat with the other side.

Note: I use a blow torch here for two reasons: 1) a creme brulee torch is nice, but three times as expensive, relatively underpowered, and a unitasker. Why buy this when I already have a blow torch in the house? But more importantly, 2) you reach rock star status when you use a blow torch into the kitchen.

7. Build your dessert plate by brushing chocolate sauce on one side. Set the scallops on top of the sauce. Place the custard ramekin at the end of the chocolate sauce. Top the custard with the grilled orange slice.