I’ve figured something out. I have a reverse sense of fear. Is this a thing? I think so, even if it’s a term I just made up. I’m terrified of things that shouldn’t scare me, like mall Santas, commitment, and going on a cruise.
But things that should scare me like almost dying in Morocco and jumping out of airplanes, those things sound fun and exciting. The thought of having the same job for 30 years sounds frightening, but quitting my job to write about beer wasn’t (even without any certainty of income).
This all points to the same issue: I must be miswired on some fundamental level.
I’m OK with this, to be honest I prefer it. There is a long list of things I’d change about myself if given the chance, but this isn’t one of them. Maybe my life would be a bit easier if I was more typical, but clearly “easy” isn’t something I’ve ever strived for.
For now I’ll continue to do things that don’t make sense like putting beer in all the things and taking a perfectly lovely vegetarian pasta and covering it in pork. And I hope you’re OK with that, since I like you.
And I want you to stick around. Especially because of all the lovely things you said when I posted this. You’re the best.
It started as a last minute trip to chase down an assignment for a magazine I write for, and it ended up being more of a revelation.
How is it that Bellingham—one of the countries best beer cities—is less than two hours from my door and I had yet to explore it? How is it that it took an assignment from 1889 Magazine to get me up there?
It started at Chuckanut, a brewery so heavily awarded it’s shocking they haven’t been around longer. Although the owners have brewed since the 1980’s, and done so all over the world.
My recommendations: Kolsch, British Brown Ale
I ended up at WanderBrewing next, of my favorite of all the destinations of the weekend. Maybe because the owner, Chad, was more than gracious and welcoming. Carving out time in his hectic beer-making-business-running-brand-new-tiny-baby-at-home schedule to have a pint with me.
Maybe it was because I’ve been in love with the beer since the first time I had it. Either way, this place is a must when you find yourself anywhere close to Whatcom county.
My recommendations: Global Mutt Baltic Porter, Wanderale Belgian Blonde
From there, I needed food and found myself at the Bellingham location of one of my favorite breweries from my last visit to Wyoming, Melvin Brewing. I was delighted to see that not only was the food fantastic, but they are in the process of brewing beer specifically for the Pacific Northwest.
I love what Melvin is doing with Wyoming ingredients and I can’t wait until I can sample what they do with Washington ingredients. Word on the street is that there will be brand new brews made in Washington, for Washington as early as November. Which means I’ll need another visit in a few months.
My recommendations: Asterisk DIPA, Drunken Master Burger, Shishito Peppers
If you’re like me, and you travel with your dog as often as possible, I can’t recommend Home2 Suites in Bellingham more. Not only was this a gorgeous, brand new hotel with a kitchenette in the room and the best complimentary breakfast I’ve had on the road, but I’m pretty sure they were thrilled to see Chowder Jones check in with me. I often feel like hotels put up with my dog, this place adored him.
Although at this point the beers were starting to kick in, I wasn’t nearly close to being done. There are 12 outstanding breweries in Whatcom County, and I was just getting started.
Although not a brewery, nearly everyone I spoke to about beer in Bellingham told me about Elizabeth Station. It’s a tap room, it’s a bottle shop, but it’s more. It’s a meeting place, a craft beer community room, a neutral ground for all things beer. It’s more than worth a stop in for a beer or two.
My recommendation: Sit at a communal table and chat with people, order a flight and let the bartender choose your beers for you
Structure brewing was small in the way you want a tap room to be small. It was friendly and cozy.
My recommendations: No Sleep Stout, Group Think
Boundary Bay is Bellingham’s oldest brewery still in operation. The staff is friendly and the place is huge. Plenty of events in summer on the expansive outdoor patio, it’s both kid and dog-friendly and there is plenty of beer and food.
My recommendations: Galaxy Single Hop, Dry Irish Stout
Clearly I need another trip. Not just because I need more Wander beer, and I need to see what Melvin does, but I also need to spend more time at Kulshan, Gruff brewing and Stones Thrown. One trip isn’t enough.
For now, I’m leaving you with a recipe you need to make before blackberry season ends. It’s also my favorite tart crust ever. It’s a little soft and can be difficult to work with, but once it’s baked it’s the most tender crust I’ve ever made. Worth the hassle.
3 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
¼ cup (58g) Belgian ale beer (or pale ale, pilsner, or wheat beer)
4 ½ cups (590g) fresh, ripe blackberries
2 tablespoons (28g) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1 tablespoon (8g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon (2g) lemon zest
1 tablespoon (12g) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (14g) melted butter
375F 35-40 minutes
Add flour, salt, sugar and softened butter to a food processor, process until combined. Add the cold butter, pulse until just combined, you will still be able to see some larger pieces of butter, this will create flakey layers.
Pulse in the beer until completely incorporated into the dough. Dough will be very soft.
Lay a long sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface, add the dough to the center.
Form into a flat disk. Wrap disk tightly in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 3 hours and up to three days.
In a large bowl add the blackberries sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice. Toss to coat. Allow to sit while you prepare the dough.
Knead the dough lightly in hands until dough comes together and warms slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured pieces of parchment paper to form a large circle, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough circle and the parchment paper to a baking sheet.
Pour off any liquid that has accumulated in the blackberry bowl.
Add blackberries to the center of the galette.
Fold the bare edges of the dough up over the filling, using the parchment paper if necessary.
Preheat oven to 400.
Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer, freeze for 15 minutes. Alternately you can chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes (or overnight). This will help the galette stay together when baking and help the crust to be lighter and flakier.
Brush the crust with melted butter, sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool prior to serving.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BC Ale Trail and Tourism New West, Discover Surrey and Tourism Delta. All opinions and text are mine.
Day two began how all days should begin: with fried chicken. River Market in New West is a destination all on it’s own. Fresh bread, craft coffee, homemade soap, produce, and restaurants. It’s a lovely place to get lost in. I impatiently waited outside the doors of Freebird Chicken Shack to get my hands on some of the fried chicken I’d been hearing so much about, and it didn’t disappoint.
My suggestions: Turmeric Fried Chicken, and Hot & Sour Fried Chicken Skin
Of course, after that I need a beer. I traveled a few miles to Central City Brewery, one of the most well distributed craft breweries in Canada. With award winning beer and spirits, it’s not hard to see why.
My suggestions: Sour No. 2 Sour Kriek
The afternoon was spent in one of the more unexpected locations: Crescent Beach, a charming little beach town that felt equal parts far away destination and small town quaint. I lingered over oysters, fish & chips, and beer at Hooked Fish Bar, then spent a few hours paddling around the inlet on a stand up paddleboard. An afternoon that went by too quickly and left a beautiful sun soaked memory.
The trip ended in the perfect way, a pot of garlic beer mussels and one of my favorite beers from Four Winds Brewing at Hawthorne Beer Market, a place I could have stayed for hours. The beer list was extensive, the food was fantastic, and the service was outstanding. It’s already bookmarked for my next trip up there. And there will definitely be a next trip.
Coming home I had to recreate the recipe, full of garlic, heat and beer, it was impossible to stop thinking about.
I needed a code word, a signal that it was too much. It was devised as a way to tell me that I needed to knock it down a few pegs. When I drink, I get a little less reserved and a little (a lot) more inappropriate.
The people in my life needed a code word to let me know that I needed to pull it back. The code is: “Mississippi.” Which spawned the term “Mississippied” as in: “Jackie, you got Mississippied four times last night!”
I tell you this because although I seem a bit reserved on this platform, it’s not because I don’t want to spill my guts to you. I do, but it should only take place in an arena where it’s just between us, where it won’t be immortalized in digital print.
A venue where you can Mississippi me if it gets to be too much.
Last week was a reminder to me that I can do that, if we ever do meet for pints at a pub. After a post that was uncharacteristically vulnerable, I had so many of you reach out, ask if I was OK, tell me that you’d felt the same way from time to time.
So thank you. Thank you for reading what I write, responding to it, and reaching out when you have feelings too.
As a thank you, I made you some grilled lobster, it’s one of my favorite dishes to make for friends.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, salt, and beer. Turn off heat and allow to steep for ten minutes.
Cut the lobster tails in half, lengthwise. Clean out any vein that may still be there.
Place the lobster tails in the pot of butter for ten minutes, allowing to soak in the butter.
Remove from butter (reserve butter).
Place lobster tails on the grill, cut side down, close the lid. Cook until the tails turn bright red and the flesh has turned white, about five minutes. Turn the tails over, baste with the butter mixture.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BC Ale Trail and Tourism New West, Discover Surrey and Tourism Delta. All opinions and text are mine.
I started to fall in love when I saw they’d named their fermenters after the Golden Girls. Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sofia stood in the corner of Steel & Oak Brewing Co., protecting the beer as the yeast began to work it’s magic. The beer, most of which are traditional German lagers, is fantastic. It was my fourth stop on an out-of-the-way tour of a small section British Columbia that I’d otherwise never go to. A small part of the country, just minutes from Vancouver, that I’m glad I was able to spend a few days exploring, glad to find the hidden gems that haven’t crossed my awareness until now. Steel & Oak left an impression and gave me a reason to drive the two hours north again soon.
My suggestion: Black Lager
As an off-the-beaten-path sort of traveler, I was thrilled to discover the places otherwise left off the touristy agendas. The places you remember far after you’ve returned home, the people and experiences that weave themselves into your traveler’s soul.
My two-day journey along BC Ale Trail’s New Westminster/Delta/Surrey Ale Trail began at a brewery that’s rapidly collecting awards and taking names, a force to be reckoned with in the BC beer scene: Four Winds Brewing. As an LA girl and self-proclaimed Taco Snob, I side eyed the offerings before I was completely blown away with how outstanding the tacos actually were, and how well they paired with the well-crafted beer.
My suggestions: Prawn Mousse Tostada and a Nectarous Dry Hopped Sour.
From there I followed the river, past rolling fields, to end up on a delightful little farm in Delta. Westham Farms is a stones throw but a world away from the busy city center of Vancouver.
My suggestions: raw honey, and ask what produce is in season.
I spent the evening inNew Westminster, a section of town that’s had an inspiring rebirth that spawned a charming river front park. Just a block away from the adorable Westminster PierRiver Front Park I wandered through Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival, the largest one-day food truck festival in Canada, a great place for any food lover to spend a few hours. Craft beer? Homemade ice cream? Wood fire Pizza? Curry and Naan? Yes, yes I will have all of that.
Sitting at a table along the sidelines of the festival, sipping a beer and enjoying the food truck offerings, the city seemed to meander past me. The heat of the day had died a bit, and the warm breeze became a beautiful soundtrack to one of my favorite traveler activities: wandering through a new City.
Want to know what happened on the second day? Come back next week, I have so much more to share with you.
Until then, I decided to make a scone I’d found in a little café on the second day, and make it with Steel & Oak’s Royal City Ale I’d stowed away in my suitcase.
The way the past few months have unfolded has shaken me awake. I’ve had to face the things about myself that I kept hidden like jewels in a wall safe. What I do for attention and what I do to push people away, the masks I wear and the image I project.
There are times in your life when you come face to face to what you’ve been avoiding, like realizing you’ve inadvertently chained yourself to a rabid tiger, and you have a choice to make: it’s kill or be killed.
I’m learning to kill the tigers in my life, I’m trying to face them all regardless of what it stirs up from the dredges of an otherwise calm lake.
I’ve made a decision to put more focus and value on what I’m good at, what I want people to like me for in my head, rather than what my heart that’s still a damaged teenager wants. I want to write another book, another project I can throw myself into and hone the abilities I’ve curated in myself that remind me of that value of what I am, what I want people to see.
The first book revealed who I was, and what I was avoiding in myself. The night before it was due was one of the hardest of my life when I came face to face with a tiger who’d eaten throw his cage.
The second book was a life raft keeping me afloat as I dealt with the fall out from putting that tiger down. This book, the next one, won’t spring from trauma but growth, moving forward and becoming better.
In honor of this decision, I’m giving you the Osso Buco Recipe from my first book: The Craft Beer Cookbook. And I’m reminding you to slay some tigers this year, face it, kill it and become better. We can do it together.
My phone rang Tuesday morning, 4th of July, at 6:30 am. Seriously? Who died? Why would anyone call me (late sleeper, night person that I am) at 6:30 am? The area code triggers a memory in the fog of my early morning brain. Then it hits me, then I realize that I’d committed to a radio interview in Chicago during drive time, live on air. Damn it. I forget to set an alarm, Monday night had been hideous, and I’d fallen asleep before I was able to wake myself up in time for coffee and the requisite half hour to clear the sleep from my brain.
I answer, using the voice I know you’ve used before, too. That one that is so pathetically trying to pretend that it isn’t still dreaming. You try, as hard as you can, with all that you are able to muster, and it’s nowhere close. It’s still so shockingly obvious that you’ve answered the phone still tangled in sheets, your words still as pillow-creased as the side of your face.
This was me. On air. Live. Luckily I’ve been given a gift that has served me well over the years: an unparalleled ability to bullshit my way through just about any situation. I once faked an entire presentation in college. I’d forgotten about it and was called up with three minutes to prep. I grabbed my folders and strutted to the front of the class. The presentation (I decide on the ten steps up to the front of the class) was on the psychological impact of confidence, that pretending that you know what you are doing convinces people that you actually do. I had statistics (faked), terms (I made up on the spot), and real-world scenarios. I ended the presentation with, “And for the most convincing evidence of this: I just made that all up. And you believed me because I acted as if it was all entirely true.” Because although I’m great at navigating my way through conversations in which I know little to nothing, I’m not a liar. I got an A. Which only further reinforced the use of this skill set.
Tuesday morning this came in handy. The part of my brain that’s good at talking me through just about anything took over, and I went on autopilot. To be clear, I didn’t make anything up, I spoke truthfully about a topic I know quite a bit about. I just did so while nearly asleep at dawn.
It seemed to work out, the host sent me an email saying he loved the segment. Thank God. I hate letting people down, and I love talking about beer. SO I decided that a celebratory dessert was in order, no bullshit, just great beer.
I used Inspired Belgian Wit from War Horse Brewing out of New York. The orange and coriander flavors are beautiful in this tart, and the beer was brewed to support the Women’s Hall of Fame, which is probably full of quite a few women who are able to think quickly on their feet. Or in their bed at 6:30 am.
I used this Kitchen torch, because it’s amazing, easily one of my favorite kitchen tools. (affiliate link)
9 full sized chocolate graham crackers (1 full sleeve)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup melted butter
1 large naval orange, juiced
3 large limes, juiced
4 egg yolks (reserve whites)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Belgian wit beer
2 reserved egg whites (from the filling)
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup Belgian Wit beer
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350F.
Add the graham crackers and sugar to a food processor and process until just crumbs. While the food processor is running add the melted butter and process until well combined. Add to a 9-inch tart pan. Starting with the sides, press into shape. Press the crust very well until even and compacted.
Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
In a saucepan off heat combine the orange juice, lime juice, egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, heavy cream, cornstarch, salt and beer, whisk until well combined.
Add to medium heat, whisking until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly.
Pour the filling into the crust, refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours.
Place a small sauce pan with a few inches of water over medium heat. Add a large metal or glass bowl over the top, check to make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
Add 2 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup beer, cream of tartar and salt, beat continuously with a hand mixer until the mixture has thickened and tripled in size. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. The mixture should be thick and marshmallow like but still spreadable.
Pour evenly over the top of the tart, refrigerate until chilled.
Brulee the topping with a kitchen torch if desired.
I never really know where my day will take me. One day I’m trying to figure out how to make a bacon rimmed cocktail, the next day I’m trying to find sour cream in Panama (by the way, it’s hard to do). Somedays I want to make you something easy, something you’ll want to make for dinner. And some days I want to eviscerate a stone fruit and fill it with hot cream as if George R. R. Martin is writing my recipes.
This is falls in the “sounds super fancy and hard but its really easy,” which is my all time favorite recipe category. Ever made duck confit? Or rum whipped cream? Then you know these tricks too.
These hollowed out peaches aren’t a one trick pony, that can do many, many delicious things. Grill ’em and fill ’em with ice cream. Poach a few and fill with whipped cream. Whatever you do, tell me about it. I can’t get enough peaches this time of year.
I used this Kitchen torch, because it’s amazing, easily one of my favorite kitchen tools. (affiliate link)
½ cup beer (Lambic, fruit Gose, Saison, or wheat beer)
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 large ripe peaches
sugar for brûlée
In a saucepan off heat whisk together the cornstarch, salt and cream. Add the vanilla bean pod and the scrapings from the inside. Add to medium heat until bubbles start to appear on the outside, remove from heat.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the egg yolks, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the warm cream.
Return the mixture to the pot, add the beer, simmer until thickened, stirring frequently.
Cut the peaches in half, remove the seed. Scoop out the center with a melon baller, leaving about ½ inch of peach intact on all sides.
Place the peaches in serving bowls to keep them stable. Pour the mixture into the center of each peach. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Sprinkle with a thin layer of sugar, Brulee with a kitchen torch until golden brown. Serve immediately.
This was been a woodwork year. One of those years when people from my distant past, from a time when I was a person who doesn’t exist anymore, come out of the woodwork to jump back into my life. They feel equal parts foreign and comfortable, like a warm bath in the middle of the day.
My favorite side effect of the woodwork people is that I get to tell the stories my everyday friends are sick of, and I get to feel impressive. I get to tell the story of when I almost died in Morocco, and the time I was asked to do porn. And if you and I meet, and you get me drunk enough, I’ll tell all the stories of my life running around LA with rock stars that I won’t ever immortalize in digital print.
There is an element to recounting my weird past that I need right now, a reminder that when your life isn’t exactly what you want it to be, it might be what you need. It’s a reminder that it’s an evolution, a journey and that the rocks have been fewer than the oasis’s. Sure, things are weird right now, but I’m not done. Not even close. Check back in another 10 years and I’ll have more weird stories for you. At least that’s the goal. Who knows if I’ll have a bigger house, or a fancier car, but I can guarantee you that I won’t be boring. I’m just hanging my hat on that being the better end of the deal.
In a past life I was a social worker for gang kids in South Central Los Angeles, I’ve told you this. I’ve also told you how grateful I am to have this weird job I invented for myself, but I don’t think I’ve told you that I miss it sometimes. I miss helping, doing good work, being a part of something that made the world better.
I don’t regret leaving, the world of beer is filled with good people, golden souls that I’m glad I’ve met. And every once in a while, beer does good work too. Beer gives back to the community in a way that reminds of of why I spent so much time in the world of social work.
When I find a beer that gives back, it’s like a merger of my two world. A little of each to remind me that good beer can do good. Proceeds from Brother Thelonious by North Coast Brewing, this gorgeous Belgian Abbey Ale, support Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, an organization that provides music and education to jazz programs for kids around the world. All of these programs are offered free of charge to the students and schools. It’s a good reason to buy a good beer, and if that’s not enough for you I also have a recipe for Churro Plantains infused with Brother Thelonious. So, what are you waiting for?
Recipe courtesy of North Coast Brewing, slight adaptions have been made.
3 tablespoons honey
½ cup Belgian abbey ale beer (such as Brother Thelonious from North Coast)
1 cup full fat coconut milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon Ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
2 Green plantains
Canola oil for frying
1 cup sweetened Shredded coconut
In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine belgian ale, coconut milk, vanilla extract, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 Tablespoons of honey. Whisk and reduce for 25 minutes stirring occasionally, until reaching a syrup consistency. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
With peel on, cut each plantain in half lengthwise, then widthwise, then remove the peel.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until reaching 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fry plantains for 4 minutes until golden brown. Drain, and place in a large bowl.
In a large bowl, using a pastry brush, coat the plantains evenly with sauce, and fry again for 2 minutes.
Place on a serving platter, drizzle with additional sauce, sprinkle liberally with coconut.
This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated in any way for this post. I was given free beer, but to be honest, I get a lot of free beer and I only write about a small fraction of it. And only the beer I really want to write about. So, obviously, all opinions are my own.
Grilled Stout Steak Sandwich with Charred Poblanos and Blue Cheese Sour Cream. My new favorite sandwich!
Of all the things I love about this weird job I invented for myself, I have a favorite. A hands-down-favorite aspect of it all: the people. It sounds trite, saccharine, melodramatic, but it’s true. The people you meet in beer are the best kind of people: kind, open, creative, generous. These are people you want to root for.
Over pints a few weeks ago a group of Seattle Beer People and I decided it was about time we did a beer and food event. In part because we love beer, and we love food. But really because we want an excuse to hang out with more Seattle Beer People. We want to pour pints, eat some food (made by me!) and hang out all afternoon.
Grilled Stout Steak Sandwich with Charred Poblanos and Blue Cheese Sour Cream
Yield: 6 sandwiches
2 tablespoons (28g) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (14g) Worcestershire sauce
2 large cloves garlic, grated with a microplane
2 lbs flank steak
4 poblano chilies
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla), cut into ¼ inch rings
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (120g) sour cream
1/3 cup (35g) crumbled blue cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 hoagie rolls, split
¼ cup green onions, chopped
Stir together the stout, soy sauce, Worcestershire, and garlic in a large glass bowl or baking dish. Add the steak and allow to marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes or in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours.
Heat the grill to high.
Brush the peppers and onions with olive oil. Grill until the onions are soft and have prominent grill marks, and the skin on the peppers is charred and starting to peel away from the pepper.
Add the peppers to a brown paper bag, rolling to seal in the steam. Set aside while you grill the steak.
Remove the steak from marinade, pat dry, sprinkle liberally with salt.
Grill on both sides until medium rare, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from grill, allow to rest.
Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the charred skin, cut the soft pepper into strips.
Thinly slice the steak.
Stir together the sour cream and the blue cheese.
Fill the rolls with steak, onions, peppers and cheddar cheese. Return to the grill, close the lid and cook just until the cheese melts (if the bun starts to burn, move the sandwiches to the upper rack of the grill).
Remove from grill, top with sour cream and green onions. Serve immediately.
Stout Smoked Ribs with Easy DIY Smoker. Once you make ribs this way, you’ll never go back!
I’m having one of those days. You have them too, I know you do.
When you feel like you’re failing at everything, like you aren’t where you’re supposed to be, like if people really knew you weren’t as sparkly as your Instagram feed suggest they may run away screaming. I don’t even think this feeling, these days, are necessarily bad. It’s just a reminder that we can do better, that the average days aren’t the summation of who we are, that we are capable of more. I heard this quote and decided to just be OK with these days:
“Only the mediocre are always at their best” –Jean Giraudoux
For some reason, this made me feel better. Being at a low just means that there is a high. We just need to figure out how to be more open about these days, instead of forcing all the focus on the highs and disappearing when the low hits. It’s OK. We are all here more often than we admit. I am, and I know you are, too. The highs are easier to share, the pictures take themselves. Let’s just learn how to share a bit of the average, just to make sure that we all see that we aren’t as different as we think we are.
Chocolate Stout Mousse Tart with Bourbon Stout Cherries.
Just a few ingredients and 20 minutes! So good, and so easy!
Growing up poor in America has its advantages. They are obviously less sparkly, with a much lower marquee value than growing up rich, but bear with me. You learn things you’d never learn if you had options to do otherwise. You earn a masters level education in problem-solving.
You learn that there are almost no limits to what you can do with needle nose pliers and duct tape. Your first instinct isn’t “I need help,” it’s almost always, “I can figure this out.” Like when you’re a teenager, stuck in Ireland without a ticket home and you’re so sick that you’ve resorted to throwing up in trash cans in the airport terminal and find yourself suddenly alone (that’s a story for another day), you go to your default mode of “how can I fix this?”
The same goes for cooking. You look around your kitchen and think, “what can I make with this?” rather than “I need to go to the store, or order pizza.” You become a master of a slim pantry. Which, more or less, is where this recipe came from. What do I have and what can I do with it? This is a skill everyone needs to hone, a conservation of resources that draws out creativity.
I believe everyone should also know how to make a dessert in under 20-minutes without a recipe. Something that leans towards the homemade side.
So here it is, this Chocolate Stout Mousse Tart in cooker terms: “Make a graham cracker crust. Then slowly pour some melted chocolate into whipped cream. I like to melt the chocolate with some stout, and I add powdered sugar to the whipped cream because it’s a stabilizer. Add it tot he crust. Then just chill it for an hour or so and you’re all good”
But if you’re the type that needs a bit more than that, the full normal-person recipe is below.
Chocolate Stout Mousse Tart with Bourbon Stout Cherries
Yield: 8-10 servings
1 sleeve (9 full sized) chocolate graham crackers
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
10 wt oz dark chocolate
½ cup stout beer
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup Bourbon Stout Cherries (recipe link above)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Add the graham crackers and sugar to a food processor and process until just crumbs. While the food processor is running add the melted butter and process until well combined. Add to a 9.5 inch tart pan. Starting with the sides, press into shape. Press the crust very well until even and compacted.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Add the chocolate and beer to the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the cream and powdered sugar, building up speed beat on high until medium peaks form. While the mixer is running slowly drizzle the chocolate into the mixer. Once all the chocolate has been added, stop the mixer and remove the bowl. Using a wooden spoon or spatula gently fold until the chocolate and cream have been well combined.
Add the mousse to the tart pan in an even layer, refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Chocolate Stout Fudge Sauce. Three ingredients and SO good. Win at ice cream.
This is because I know you, and I know you need this.
You’re like me, I imagine. You like to give things to people, and when you do give the things, you want them to be interesting. You want to go visit your friend on the other coast and you want to bring something, something different. You want to bring something to the party, and you want to make it unique. Me too.
This is great for your own Netflix and Chilled Dairy Products consumption, but it’s also good to give away. A way to one-up that Mother’s Day present, or add something a little special to a hostess gift, or just a way to use what you already have to make yourself look like the Super Star that we both know you are.
It’s also a way to feel less creepy about opening a stout when you’re alone. Because you’re not creepy, you’re awesome. Because you give away boozy chocolate sauce, and everyone likes that.
Beer and Bacon Biscuits, the flakiest, most addictive biscuits ever!
I know what you’re thinking.
It’s Cinco de Mayo and I’m posting about biscuits. But bear with me, this makes sense. This isn’t just hangover food. It’s THE hangover food, it’s carbs, and greasy bacon, and hair of the dog, all in one. It’s like a delicious magical hangover elixir, masquerading as brunch food.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, one that always surprises people: I’m a total lightweight. I don’t drink nearly as much as people think (the beer goes into the food!), and I get drunk quicker than most. Which sparked my love affair with session IPA’s, it was out of necessity not trend.
I’m also not a party when I’m hungover, I get a bit surly. I will, however, make some killer biscuits, using the fold-and-roll technique I learned a decade ago. It makes the most insanely flakey and light biscuits, you’ll want to steal it and pass it off as your own. That’s fine. Just make sure to buy me a beer for showing it to you. And make me biscuits the day when I’m hungover.
8 tablespoon (88g) cold bacon fat or unsalted cold butter (114g) cut into cubes (or a combination of both)
1/3 cup (80g) sour cream
2/3 cup (5.5oz) wheat beer
2 tablespoon (28g) melted butter
6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
Preheat oven to 425F.
In a processor add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Pulse to combine. Add the bacon fat (cold) or the cold butter, and sour cream, process until well combined.
Add the beer, process until just combined.
Add to a well-floured flat surface, pat into a rectangle. Using a cold rolling pin gently roll into a large rectangle, about 1 inch in thickness, using as few strokes as possible.
Sprinkle with chopped bacon.
Fold the dough into thirds as you would a letter about to go into an envelope. Roll lightly, once in each direction to about 1 inch thickness, sprinkle with bacon, fold in thirds again. Gently roll into about 1 1/2 inch thickness (this will give you flakey layers).
Using a biscuit cutter, cut out 6 biscuits. Place in a baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Brush biscuits with melted butter, sprinkle chopped bacon.
Bake at 425F for 10 to 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
BBQ Beer Tex Mex Chicken Sliders in just 20-minutes
Hi, my friends. I made something for you, something that seemed a bit of a necessity this week. A repurposing of things we’ve made in order to make it new. After those Beer Pickled Jalapeños we made, and the beer BBQ sauce, it just felt like I needed something that brought it together.
Two seemingly unconnected elements making sense in a new context. For reasons I have yet to pinpoint, I feel like I need that somehow. Like this is an obscure min-sandwich-metaphor for my life right now. I know, you can eye-roll that, I won’t hold it against you. I just needed to make order out or randomness, to connect dots, to make peace with two opposing forces.
I’m getting too deep for a sliders post, I appreciate that you’ve stayed with me in the midst of that, and for your graciousness, I have a recipe for you. A 20-minute-slider-metaphor to remind you that sometimes things don’t seem to connect, until they do. And then you wonder why you never saw it before.
Make some sliders, drink some beer, and let life fall into place this weekend. And then report back, I could use a little good news right now.
She told me what it takes to be really lucky. To live a life that helps you slip quietly into content satisfaction once you’ve finished it.
I was alone on a train and she sits down next to me, assigned seats that are little more than a formality but beg us to behave and sit where we’re told even with a healthy sprinkling of empty seats nearby. She’s much older than me, much older than even my mom, and in a reflective state that makes me wonder if she feels like she’s nearing that quiet satisfaction.
“If you’re lucky,” she pauses to adjust the oversized bag on her small lap, “you’ll live several lifetimes before you’re done. I have.” She starts to list them, ranch kid, dressage prodigy, rebellious teen, ballet dancer, waitress, society wife…. The transitions are always accompanied by a happenstance rebirth. It makes me wonder if you always know the rebirth when it happens or only when it’s over?
I’m feeling on the brink of rebirth at the moment, for no particular reason. Things always tend to shift in my life, I’ve already had so many lives, more than someone my age should have been allowed. My stories are just a consolation from the journey.
Maybe it’s just the way you feel when spring shows up, always late to the party and overdue. Maybe it’s just because I can’t wait to shed the winter and slip into something warmer. I want to cook outdoors, slather everything in barbecue sauce, drink session IPA’s and run around barefoot. If that’s the only rebirth I have waiting for me this year, I’m OK with that. As long as it’s accompanied by this sauce. and a cold beer.
Beer Cheese Burger with Onion Rings and Beer Pickled Jalapenos
Don’t make this. I’m warning you.
But here you are, still reading, contemplating making this. So let me tell you how this will go down. First, it’ll seem like a lot of steps, you’ll hesitate. Then you’ll realize that the jalapeños can be made weeks in advance (and they only take a few minutes to begin with), and the beer cheese sauce is made in ten minutes in the blender and you know that’s a pretty simple win for a burger, and you’ll decide to proceed.
Then you’ll make it, maybe when you have a few friends over. You’ll plate it like a boss, drizzling the cheese sauce from theatrical heights, to evoke the “OOOHHHHS!” from your friends-turned-audience-members. You’ll serve them all these gloriously, ridiculously drool-worthy burgers, and then the problems will start. You’ll ALWAYS be asked to make THAT burger. Your friends will give it a nickname, and you will never be able to go to another backyard cookout without the pleading eyes of your friends who want the cute-nicknamed-burger.
So, you’ve been warned. But if I know you, you’ll just do it anyway, consequences be damned.
Beer Cheese Burger with Onion Rings and Beer Pickled Jalapenos
Yield: 4 servings
Beer cheese sauce (link above)
Beer Pickled Jalapenos (link above)
For the onion rings:
2 large yellow sweet onions (Maui, Walla Walla, Vidalia) sliced ½ inch thick
canola oil for baking
2 cups flour divided in half
½ tsp chili powder
2 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt, divided
1 cup IPA or pale ale beer
2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 tbs melted butter
For the burger:
1 lbs 80/20 ground chuck beef
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 large tomato, sliced
4 kaiser rolls, sliced
Make the onion rings:
Preheat oven to 450F.
Slice the onion into ½ inch slices, separate the rings. Place in a large bowl of ice water. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes (this will take the harsh “bite” out of the raw onion and help them cook better).
On two large baking sheets drizzle with about 1 tablespoon canola oil, set aside.
In a large bowl add 1 cup flour (reserve the other cup), chili powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt, stir to combine. Stir in the beer to make a smooth batter.
Add the remaining flour to a small bowl. Stir together the panko, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and melted butter in a separate bowl.
One at a time remove the onion slices from the water, dredge in flour until well coated, dip in the batter allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl, then add to the panko to gently coat (if panko bowl becomes too saturated with the dip, toss it and fill the bowl with fresh panko).
Add to prepared sheets in an even layer, making sure the onion rings aren’t touching (smaller rings can be place inside large ones as long as they don’t touch).
Bake at 450F for 8 minutes flip, bake until golden brown on all sides, about 10 additional minutes.
Make the burgers:
Form the beef into 4 equal sized patties, wider than the bun (it will shrink as it cooks) and fairly thin. Add to a plate, refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour (can be done up to 24 hours in advance).
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the patties liberally on all sides. Add to the skillet, cook on both sides until the meat is medium rare, about 3 minutes on each side.
Plate the burger with tomatoes, onion rings, jalapenos, and drizzle with beer cheese. Serve immediately.
There is more than 4 servings worth of jalapeños and cheese sauce, if you double the recipe, don't double those ingredients.