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.
I’m going to wager a bet that your weekend may be spent, in part, gathered around a TV, screaming at millionaires fighting over an oval object. Only, of course, if you’ve decided to watch the Super Bowl. Maybe you’re rooting for one of the teams, or just rooting against the other. Maybe you don’t really care either way as long as the food is good.
That’s why I’m here. To make both the food and the wagering more interesting, especially for that last set. For those of us whose teams have long since packed up their away game jerseys and started their vacations. You can still get in on the head-to-head beating action.
I’ve teamed up with Kettle Brand to bring you a bet that no one loses, inspired by the two remaining football teams.
For the New England Patriots I made some sliders inspired by both their hometown and their team colors, and I’ve paired it with a beer that plays perfectly with the flavors.
For the Atlanta Falcons I drew some Southern inspiration to bring you a slider like no other I’ve seen before, a re-imagination of one of my favorite dishes from the South. I’ve paired it with a beer that packs a punch, perfect for the sliders.
So here is your game day challenge: Make the sliders, pair them with the beer, and have your guests pick the best match. Will the winning sliders be the same team that wins on the field? Who knows. But I’m certain that unlike what will happen on the field, there will be no losers on your food table.
Shrimp and Grits Sliders made with Maple Bacon Kettle Brand Chips
Yield: 12 sliders
For the IPA grit cakes:
1 ½ cup (12oz) milk
12 ounces IPA beer
¼ cup (56g) butter
1 teaspoon (6g) salt
1 teaspoon (3g) pepper
3/4 cup corn (117g) grits
1/3 cup (33g) grated Cheddar cheese
¼ (30g) cup flour
oil for frying
For the shrimp:
1 (8.5 oz) Maple Bacon Kettle Brand Chips
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (60g) flour
1 lbs raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
oil for frying
For the sliders:
½ cup (119g) mayonnaise (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon (3g) hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon (.5g) smoked paprika
1 tablespoon (2g) chopped parsley
12 slider buns
In a pot over medium high heat bring the milk, beer and butter to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Stir in the salt, pepper, and grits. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the grits have softened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cheese.
Line a 9x12 pan with parchment paper. Pour the grits into the prepared pan. Allow to cool to room temperate, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to overnight (can be made a day in advance).
Remove the grits from the pan using the parchment paper. Lay the parchment with the grits onto a flat work surface. Using a 2-inch, round, biscuit cutter, cut out 12 circles.
Add the flour to a shallow bowl. Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
One at a time lightly coat the grit circles in flour, add to the hot oil, cooking on both sides until golden brown. Remove from oil and allow to drain on a stack of paper towels.
Add the potato chips to a food processor, process until just crumbs remain, add to a shallow bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together the milk and egg.
In a third bowl add the flour.
Heat about ¼ inch of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
One at a time dredge the shrimp in flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then place in the bowl of chips. Sprinkle with chip crumbs, pressing to adhere.
Place in the hot oil, cooking on both sides until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from oil, add to a wire rack to cool.
In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, hot pepper sauce, paprika, and parsley.
To assemble the sliders add one grits circle to the inside of each bun, top with one to two shrimp, drizzle with sauce.
This post was sponsored by Kettle Brand. Partnerships with The Beeroness and outside companies are rare and only occur when the company’s products are ones I use and enjoy myself. All ideas and opinions are my own
Three Cheese Jalapeno Skillet Beer Cheese Dip, made in a skillet, warm and bubbly
I’ve hit a benchmark of sorts. A way of measuring if I’m actually becoming successful at this weird chosen profession that I, essentially, just made up.
Money has never been much of a benchmark for me, other than in a “can I pay my bills and still have at least a little left over” sort of way. To this day, the time in my life when I had the most money, I was the least happy. Measuring quality of life by the quantity of money is like judging how good your meal was by how much was on your plate. Sure, money’s great, but it’s the icing, not the cake.
My benchmarks aren’t normal, but I’ve never really been a “normal” sort of person. The first time I was paid to go on a trip was a giant step upwards that I’ll never forget. The first time I was contacted by someone wanting to hire me, rather than having to chase down a lead, I felt like I was standing in the center of podium hearing a cheering crowd. The day I was able to make the leap from part-time-normal-job/part-time-weird-beer-cooking-writing-photography-job was a gigantic leap that I almost didn’t believe would stick.
Now, I have a new one. I was given a column! A beer column for a magazine. An actually, real life, feel it in your fingers, print magazine. It’s not a lucrative gig, but that was never the point. Maybe for some people there are other things I’ve done that seem better, more impressive, “bigger”. But for me, this is huge, it feels validating.
I won’t be writing about cheese dip or food for that matter, it will be beer-centric. Local Washington beer, to be more specific. But that doesn’t mean food isn’t involved. I did eat this entire pan of cheese dip while I was finishing my last essay. That counts, right?
Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, cooking until just starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir in the jalapenos, cooking until softened, about 5minutes.
Stir in the garlic. Sprinkle with cornstarch, whisk to combine.
Whisk in the beer and cream, reduce heat to a very low simmer.
Add the gouda and fonitna cheese, a hand full at a time, stirring until the cheese is well combined before adding more.
Stir in the salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Remove from heat.
Preheat the broiler.
Sprinkle with the white cheddar, place the skillet under the broiler until the cheese is lightly browned.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with green onions, serve immediately (take care when serving, the pan will be very hot).
That’s what bagel people will tell you if you listen long enough. That New York bagels are obviously the best because of the magical properties that the water contains. That’s also, coincidentally enough, what beer people will tell you. That different regions of the world have gravitated towards different styles over the centuries because of the water in their area.
It’s also a great pairing. Sure, bagels and coffee have had a long-standing relationship and who am I to get in the way of that, but bagels and beer have something special. Try an Everything Bagel with a hoppy pale ale, or a cinnamon raisin bagel with a Belgian quad, or lox and cream cheese bagel with a Witbier and you’ll get it.
Beer really does go with everything. Even more beer.
1 teaspoon red pepper sauce (i.e. Tapatio, Tabasco)
1 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
4 large everything bagels
3 tablespoon canola oil
Add the chicken to a large bowl or baking dish. Sprinkle with salt. Pour 1 cup buttermilk (reserve the other cup for the coating), beer and red pepper sauce over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours and up to 8 (can be done in the morning for dinner in the evening).
Break the bagels into 4 to 6 pieces each. Place on a plate, uncovered, to dry out while the chicken brines.
Remove the chicken from the brine, add to a plate and allow to sit at room temperate for 10 minutes while you prepare the dredge.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Add 1 cup of flour to a small bowl.
Add the remaining cup of buttermilk to another bowl, whisk in the egg until well combined.
Add the bagels to a food processor of blender, process until just crumbs remain.
Add to a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake at 350F until slightly toasted. Add the crumbs to a large bowl, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Increase oven temperature to 425F.
Place a wire rack over the baking sheet, spray the wire rack with cooking spray.
One at a time roll the chicken legs in flour, then dredge in the buttermilk, then roll in the bread crumbs. Add to the prepared pan. Drizzle with canola oil.
Bake at 425 for 40 minutes or until the internal temperate of the chicken reaches 165F.
As biased as I am, I can pretty solidly affirm that beer needs to be your adult beverage of choice for Thanksgiving. The flavors of your fall Holiday table will run around much better with the malt, spices, and carbonation that beer has to offer than any other alcoholic concoction. I have a few tips to get you started as you begin your thanksgiving-beer-offering search.
I know you love hops, but let them rest for today. Choose a malty beer.
Don’t forget the carbonation. It will aid in palate cleansing between courses.
You have enough to do, don’t worry about pairing to each dish. Just pick a beer that plays nice with everything.
Don’t be afraid of a higher ABV, these beers can be the best fit (and please, if you’re driving splurge on an Uber)
A few style suggestions:
Witbier (or white ale): These are the crowd pleaser, the beers that are hard to argue with. They have a low IBU’s (low bitterness), a nice carbonation and flavors of orange peel, coriander and cloves that go well with everything on the Thanksgiving table. Even Grandmas Jell-O salad. A few to seek out:White // Allagash Brewing, White Rascal // Avery, Witte // Ommegang
Belgian Abbey Ales (Belgian Dubbel): These are rich, malty beers with enough hops to keep them from being overly-sweet but not enough to linger. They have rich flavors of dark fruits, caramel, nuts and an active carbonation to help you cleanse the palate between bites. A few to seek out: Abbey Ale // Ommegang, Lost & Found Abbey Ale // The Lost Abbey, Prior 8 // St Bernardus
Seasonal Ales: Most of the time, these are beers that are brewed to feel like the season. With ingredients that are starting to show up in the farmer’s markets and on our tables, making these a great choice to pair with your holiday meal. Just make sure to choose something with low hop bitterness to compliment, rather than compete with, the food you are about the share. A few to seek out: Autumn Maple // The Bruery, Christmas Ale // Schlafly, Sleigh’r // Ninkasi
1/2 teaspoon salt (more if you used unsalted broth)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 375.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Pour in the beer and the honey, stir until just combined.
Pour into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Pour melted butter over the batter.
Bake for 50 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Allow to cool, remove from pan (this can be done a day in advance).
Cut the bread into cubes. Reduce oven to 350F.
Add the chopped bacon to a pan off heat. Add to medium heat and cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered (this method of starting bacon in a cold pan and cooking on a lower heat is the most effective way to render fat and crisp the bacon).
Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving the pan and the bacon grease.
Turn the heat to medium high and add the bread cubes. Cook until the bread is lightly toasted. (If your pan is too small to accommodate, place bread cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with bacon fat, and bake at 350F until toasted, about 10 minutes).
Add the bread cubes to a 4-quart (or 9x13) baking dish along with the bacon and the dried cherries.
Melt the butter in the pan, add the onion, celery, and carrots, cooking until softened. Add the sage, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic powder stirring to combined.
Add the chicken broth, simmering for 3 minutes.
Pour the broth, vegetables and herbs over the bread cubes. Toss gently to combine.
A few months ago I sat at a table with a mess of brewers and beer people. The conversation turned to the water shortage, and farming practices. The debate went back and forth, what we can do, what we need to be careful of, and even how to move to a zero waste facility. The inspiring take away from this roundtable conversation was that although the ideas varied, the feelings of wanting to move towards sustainability and environmental responsibility was unanimous.
The heart and soul of good beer has never been ruled by a traditional bottom line. The concerns are quality, taste, community, and responsibility. If it costs more, then that’s just how it has to be.
Craft beer, as we know it today, is still in its infancy. With a constant stream of articles showing a struggling industry, a bubble on the verge of bursting, the beer business is still pushing forward with sustainability and responsible practices. There isn’t another industry that puts those needs in such a priority, even in the midst of a difficult phase.
Long Root Ale —a collaboration between HUB and Patagonia— is exciting evidence of the soul of this movement. It’s made with Kernza, an ancient grain that few have even heard of, but as it turns out, makes great beer. It also requires much less water and land, without the need for pesticides, and it assists in the reduction of land erosion. All that and a flavor that rests somewhere between wheat and rye. If that wasn’t enough, a portion of the proceeds goes towards environmental issues.
Just in case you needed a good reason to drink great beer.
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 can of beer
Preheat oven to 450, lowering the rack to the bottom most position (all other racks may need to be removed for space).
Rinse the chicken inside and out. Dry very well with paper towels until all the moisture is gone.
Sprinkle the inside cavity with 1 tablespoon salt.
In a small bowl stir together the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, chili powder, onion powder and baking powder (this will help crisp the skin).
Rub the outside of the chicken with the spice mixture.
Pour about ¼ of a cup of beer out of the can (or drink it). Place the can on a flat surface.
Lower the chicken down onto the can until the can is well inside the chicken cavity. Set the chicken and can upright (use the two legs and the can to create a tripod) in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Gently transfer to the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F on a meat thermometer.
The truth is, I only use the cultural intrigue over Oktoberfest as an excuse to do things like this. Because in any reasonable persons mind, this is a bit too far. One too many. Coco Chanel is telling me to take something off before I leave the house with these things. In a way, I did. I wanted to add crumbled bacon to the top. And jalapeños, although I’ll even admit that would be one too many. Just a bit too far, pushed too far over the edge for enjoyment.
In reality, there are two ways to look at these: extreme and ridiculous displays of overt glutton lust, OR as a concerted effort in indulgence moderation. I’ll choose the later. And I’ll choose a beer, and I may choose to have two.
I fully aware that in most parts of the world, it’s still summer. There is still frolicking in flip-flops and water activities to be done in the two weeks before fall officially sets in. But where I live, the rain-soaked-90’s-music-mecca, I already have the heater on and the wellies out.
Soup is my consolation prize for rainy days in early September. To be honest, that’s not the entire truth. I like it more that I thought I would, more than I even wanted to. The Los Angeles girl who dreaded moving here is shocked at how much I like the weather. Officially, I miss California. That’s the bi-line when I talk about how much I love Seattle. I do harbor a love for the rainy days that punctuate an otherwise sunny week in August. I’m in awe of the fall, the drizzly days, the morning mist, the leaves changing color by the hour. It’s magical.
If I’m being honest, this soup is less of a consolation for a lack of sun, and more of a celebration of the next season coming and how it’s forced me into a love for the Pacific Northwest weather.
1 cup (8oz) pilsner beer (or summer ale, wheat beer)
3 ears of corn kernels
1 large (390g) garnet sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 cups (16oz) chicken broth
½ cup (100mL) half & half
1 teaspoon (4g) garlic powder
1 teaspoon (4g) chili powder
1 teaspoon (6g) salt
½ teaspoon (1g) smoked paprika
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
5 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy.
Remove from pan, pour off all the bacon grease except 2 tablespoons.
Once the bacon has cooled, chop and set aside.
Add the onions and carrots, cook until softened and starting to caramelize, about ten minutes.
Add the beer, scraping to deglaze the bottom of the pot.
Add the corn (reserve one cup of kernels for the end), sweet potatoes, and broth. Bring to a gentle simmer, cooking until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.
Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Stir in the half and half, remaining corn, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and smoked paprika. Stir over medium heat until warmed. Adjust spices to taste.
Ladle into bowls, top with cheddar, green onions, chopped bacon, and jalapenos.
When I was in high school I was a lifeguard on a lake in Northern California for a summer doing a steady rotation of pool watch, lake watch, and zip-line duty. The last of which was my least favorite. I was there for the water, not to stand on a platform in the top of a Redwood tree, hooking pre-pubescent campers and their just-slightly-older-than-me counselors up to harnesses and watch them careen towards the lake below.
Occasionally there would be a kid, always a boy, always with a group of other kids who talked him into climbing up the rope ladder to get to the platform, who would freeze. He’d stand there in his harness, shivering in the shade with his still-wet swim trunks clinging to his body, his harness double bolted to the cable, unable to jump. I was always able to get him to let go, to trust, and to jump. Except once.
He wasn’t a camper, he was a tall, very attractive, early-20’s counselor with thick wavy black hair and an ego to match. He was showing off as he climbed to the small wooden space at the top of the tree to stand beside me as I clipped him safely to the cable that would bring him to the sun-warmed lake below. As I finished he turned towards to opening of the wooden tree-house like structure we stood in, and froze. He took a step back, his eyes wide, and muttered, “…I can’t….I can’t”
At first, I tried to calm his fears. Tell him how safe it was, how every kid had gone down safely and there has never been an injury in the history of the camp. It didn’t work. I tried to tease him, letting him know that the 70-pound 12-year-old girl in line behind him had been down three times. It didn’t work. I asked why he was hesitant, he wasn’t sure.
After 20 minutes or prodding, I told him he had to get down, one way or another. That he had to jump off the platform or go back down the rope ladder. He moved closer to the edge, slowly putting one foot over the 30-foot drop, then he slipped. In one motion he was free of the platform and then both of this long arms reaching backward grabbed the railing and pulled himself back towards me on the platform. He couldn’t do it. He scrambled back up next to me, begging me to unhook him. Shaking. He slowly, shamefully, made his way down the rope ladder, past the 12-year-old girl with pity in her eyes.
Sometimes, I think of him. When I’m too scared to move forward with something I feel ill-equipped to manage. How do I do this thing? Where do I start with the thing? What if I can’t do the thing?
Just jump, I think to myself. Don’t be that guy, don’t stay on the platform. I remember thinking, as he made his way down the ladder, that he would regret it. He would wish he’d have jumped and wonder what he was so afraid of. So I tell myself to jump because I have nothing to be afraid of and I’ll regret it if I don’t just do it.
I’m jumping into making videos for some of my recipes. It may sound benign, but it’s a learning process. I’ve spent the past year trying to talk myself into jumping into figuring it out, and it’s daunting. It’s a process. Learning a little at a time, something new for each one, something I hate and will change the next time. But, you can’t stay on the platform forever, you just have to jump. Learning a little each time.
The patio is always full of people who don’t just know the beer, they know the story. They know the owners, the jobs they held before the lure of the frustration of brewing on a tiny system in the middle of an ocean pulled them into an uncommon life. The beer is always brewed on a system that looks to be just a tick bigger than a home brew system, and it’s running around the clock.
This weekend, on a small island, I stumbled upon Island beer. True to form, the patio was full of the people who run the line between patron and family. The system was on display behind the counter, in a stage between cleaning and brewing, and the beer was beautiful. Earlier this year I was on a tiny Island in the caribbean and found the same sort of beer-island-family that welcomes you in, serves you beer and wants to know your story.
Island beer is different. It doesn’t want to take over the world. It doesn’t seek a buy-out. It doesn’t concern itself with mass distribution. It’s a bit like life on the island. There is always a story of hard it was the get even that small system onto the island, a bigger one is just a far reaching fantasy. Island beer wants to be there for the locals, a backdrop to the stories they tell and the life they lead. It’s consistent, and memorable. It’s worth seeking out, pulling up a seat in the tap room and asking the owners to tell you about how they got started. You might find yourself being treated like part of the family before the end of the night.
Next time you’re on an island, look for the beer. Then find out the story.
oil for frying (canola, safflower, or peanut work well)
1 cup (240g) sour cream
1 tablespoon (15g) sriracha red chili sauce
1 long French baguette, cut into 3 inch slices, split to resemble buns
2 cups baby arugula
2 large tomatoes, sliced
Cut the fish into 1-inch strips, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.
In a medium bowl stir together the buttermilk and beer. Add the fish to the bowl, making sure all fish is submerged. Allow to sit for ten minutes while you prep the dredge.
In a separate bowl stir together the cornmeal, flour, creole seasoning, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
Add 3 to 4 inches of oil in a pot. Clip a deep fry thermometer onto the side. Heat the oil to 350F, adjusting heat to maintain that temperature.
A few at a time, remove the fish strips from the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip off. Add fish to the cornmeal dredge, tossing until well coated. Add to the oil, frying until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from oil and allow to drain on a wire rack.
In a small bowl stir together the sour cream, and sriracha.
Spread the sour cream on the insides of the sliced baguette. Fill with a few pieces of fish, arugula and sliced tomato. Serve immediately.
Probably a bit too curious for my own good, but I’ll take it over safe, and timid. Lately, It’s been gluten-free beer that’s had me wondering (wait, don’t go! Let’s talk about gluten-free beer just for a second!).
It’s not so much the “gluten” part that I’m curious about, as far as me (and my guts) are concerned, gluten is awesome. It’s more of a curiosity about a growing segment of the market that is focused on brewing with different grains. Barley is the only ingredient in beer that has gluten, and brewers are experimental and curious by nature, so what does beer taste like if you brew it with millet instead of barley? What about brown rice? It’s not so much the gluten part that has me interested, it’s the beer being brewed in a different way. It’s one grain being swapped for another. What does that do? The brewing process is the same, what does the end result look like?
To satisfy my curiosity I’ve teamed up with Heather Christo and Allrecipes and we’ve decided to do a LIVE Facebook taste test. This means I have never sampled any gluten-free beer and I will do so live, for the first time, on camera. Also, it bears mentioning that I have a complete inability to hide my feelings. So if a beer isn’t good, you’ll be able to tell right away.
So join me on the Allrecipces Facebook page on Thursday, August 11th at 2PM PDT to watch me sample all the gluten-free beer I can get my hands on. It should be fun. Then, maybe, we can eat this gluten-filled cake to celebrate?
1 cup (150g) fresh blueberries (for frozen, see note)
1 cup (125g) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons (16g) lemon juice (or beer for a larger beer flavor)
Preheat oven to 350.
Add the sugar and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high until light, fluffy and well combined.
Add the egg and vanilla, beat until well combined.
Stir in the buttermilk and beer.
Stop the mixer, sprinkle with flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until combined.
Stir in the blueberries.
Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, about 55 minutes. Allow to cool completely before icing.
Stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice (or beer). Pour over the cake, slice and serve.
For frozen blueberries, rinse well until the water runs clear. Add to paper towels to dry, do not stir into batter. Layer loaf pan with 1/4 of the batter, sprinkle with berries, top with more batter, then blueberries, repeat until all the berries and batter have been used. This will avoid smashed berries and a purple cake.
One pot, thirty minutes: Chicken in a Creamy Parmesan Bacon Beer Sauce
“It’s because you’re entitled!”
I heard the agent at customs yell through the window. She spits her words at an English woman in front of me, waking up the weary crowd in line to enter Stockholm. I was running on the fumes of two hours of sleep (because of this), and the outburst shook the grip exhaustion had on my brain.
“You have an expired visa, an expired passport, and a warrant! I’m not letting you into the country!”
Seemed startlingly angry for such a passive country. The woman fought back, her words getting lost in the commotion of the airport. Two minutes later guards came to escort her to wherever it is that you take an entitled English woman without proper documentation.
There was, I guess, a relief. That she wasn’t American, that her brash self-importance didn’t speak for me. Relief that it was my turn. And I defaulted, as I do, to an overly nice and accommodating tone as a way to apologize for the previous interaction the agent was asked to endure. I’m sorry, I won’t give you any trouble, all my paperwork is in order, I want my smile to speak at her.
I move on, through the airport, past my short layover, trudging through the waist-high mud of exhaustion and jet lag. Three hours down, 15 more to go before I’m home. And even longer before I can cook again. It’s really the only thing I miss when I travel. I miss cooking. I miss my kitchen. I miss making food and losing myself in the process of it all. Before I get back to the kitchen I’ll need to endure another day of travel, and another customs line. Possibly smile-apologizing for an actual American to another Customs agent.
When I get home, I’ll make chicken the way I do when I want it to taste like comfort, in a cast iron pan with a creamy sauce.
Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in a cold cast iron skillet. Place over medium high heat until the skin has browned, turn over and cook until chicken is cooked through. Remove from skillet.
Add the bacon to skillet, cooking until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Pour out most of the fat in the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon still in it.
Stir in the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds, sprinkle with flour stirring until the flour has been cooked, about 1 minute. Pour in the beer, scraping to deglaze the pan. Add the cream and reduce heat to medium.
A hand full at a time stir in the cheese until well combined.
Add the chicken back into the pan, cooking until chicken is warmed.
Sprinkle with crispy bacon and basil. Serve immediately.
A few years ago I sat in the back of a press dinner failing at my attempts to hold back tears in the midst of the biggest personal life crisis I’ve ever faced. Talking quietly with Heather Christo, explaining to her what I’d been keeping so private, the tears came fast. At that moment, she was exactly what I needed. This woman with endless talent, an old Hollywood glamor that makes her seem unreachably beautiful, is also incredibly kind hearted with a realistic matter-of-fact approach to life, and a mouth like a sailor. She was exactly who I needed to talk to. Although she’d never faced the same storm that was tearing through my life, she somehow had an empathy that made me feel understood.
After the topic shifted off me, she told me what she’d been dealing with. Her daughter was facing a health condition that had been the source of many sleepless nights, ER visits and panicked phone calls to the doctors as she watched her little girl writhe in pain. Once the problem was finally diagnosed, the solution was dropped in Heathers lap like a grenade. Debilitating and potentially hazardous food allergies. It seemed like her little girl was allergic to nearly everything, the list of foods she could eat seemed smaller that what she couldn’t. Looking back, I realize that I never heard her complain about it once, she seemed to immediately go into problem solving mode.
She didn’t just solve the problem, she attacked it right back. First up: recipes. Not just a few recipes, an entire book of incredible dishes that anyone can eat. Next up: she developed a line of allergy friendly food, now being sold at Costco, called Heathermade. After all, she isn’t just a food writer, she’s also a trained chef.
Pure Delicious is a must for anyone facing food allergies. The food is so delicious, none of the recipes feel “without,” exploring so many culinary options it’ll never occur to you that there is anything missing. It’s also a resource for tackling the issues people face when the problem of food allergies enter their lives. I just hope I can tackle my next life crisis the way Heather handles hers. Or at the very least, I find myself at dinner with her in the midst of it.
Recipe used by permission from Pure Delicious, by Heather Christo
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup beet sugar
½ cup rolled oats*
2 cups gluten free flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¾ cup beer**
Vegan ice cream (see note above)
Preheat the waffle iron.
Add the coconut milk and vinegar the bowl.
In a separate bowl stir together the sugar, oats, flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the coconut milk, coconut oil and beer to the flour mixture, stir to combine.
Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray (I used coconut spray). Cook the waffles according to manufactures specifications (I found these cook best at a higher temp setting).
Serve topped with ice cream.
*While oats are inherently gluten free, many companies use machines that are contaminated with flour. If you need gluten free waffles, make sure the package states the oats are gluten free.
**Use gluten free beer for gluten free waffles.
***Waffels can be frozen easily. Add to a large ziplock freezer bag, freeze for up to two weeks. Bake at 350F on a baking sheet until warmed, about 10 minutes.
In a brewery, doing my best to learn how to turn what some see as an ugly industrial space with bad lighting into beautiful photos. Mostly, I’m a self-taught photographer. I took classes, read books, watched a decades worth of YouTube videos, sat in online workshops, and even joined an online photo mentorship group. But I always feel behind, always feel like I’m not quite there.
I’ve often wondered if I’ll ever be where I want, if “arriving” in a creative sense even exists. I’ve worried that I’ll never be able to give people the images I want to shoot. But I’ve never once thought about giving up. Not once.
It’s easy to get pulled into the undertow of comparison. It’s easy to see more clearly how far we have to go rather than the long road we’ve already traveled. In those moments I tell myself, “Keep your head down and keep going.” It works. It moves me forward. I get closer all the time to the place I want to be.
At the end of the day, that’s all we have. We have the ability to move forward, to drive closer to the life we want and the people we want to be. Perfection is a dangerous myth that robs us of contentment. Let’s just be able to sit here, in the gratitude that we are moving forward.
Let’s take a few minutes each week, grab a beer, grab some food, and just be content. Harder than it sounds, but we can do. Even if we need a few beers first.
In a large pot over medium heat add the beer and 2 cups of warm water. Bring to a simmer and slowly add the grits. Cook over a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and tender. Add water ¼ cup at a time when the grits begin to dry out.
Once the grits are cooked stir in the cheddar, butter, cream, salt and pepper.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat (don’t turn the heat too high, medium heat will render more fat than high heat) until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon, set aside. Pour off all the bacon fat except about 1 tablespoon. Return pan to heat, melt the butter in the skillet.
Add the shrimp and spices, toss to coat. Pour in the beer, cooking until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Add the grits to serving bowls, top with shrimp, bacon and chives.
This, in one form or another, is my go-to dinner. It’s a pantry recipe and one of the main reasons I always have coconut milk on hand. I’ve made it with every imaginable protein, and even mushrooms when I’m the mood to only consume plants. I’ve replaced the chard with spinach, arugula, basil and even cilantro and it holds up. It’s reliable and filling. It’s a way to make dinner when I don’t have the energy to think. I can double the shallots or the curry paste and it still gives me what I want. I can add tomatoes or jalapeños and I still love it. I can make a triple batch and have it for next three days and It’s still a favorite.
Sometimes, in the midst of trying to give you a recipe that will be clink-inducing-share-worthy I forget that you also need the solid standby recipes that won’t let you down. The culinary equivalent of the faded Levis that you’ve been wearing since high school and that friend that always drives you to the airport even if it’s 5 am. So here it is, my faded-Levis-airport-guy recipe.
Walking in the bay doors, they all seem to look the same. There are always the mingling smells of hops, malt and fickle high-maintenance yeast hard at work. There’s a brewer in rubber boots nearby, working out a problem behind a furrowed brow. There is inevitably a tank being cleaned, water from a thick hose being sprayer to cleanse the vessel to ready it for the next batch.
Music played from unseen speakers. Drums and bass melting into the sounds of the equipment, mostly being ignored. I’m always greeted warmly, always welcomed in and offered a beer. In the past year most of my visits to breweries have been to write a story, or take photos. You can make the argument that there are more beautiful subjects than fermenters and bright tanks. You can tell me how shitty the yellow fluorescent light is in a brewery. You could, but I’d tell you how much I want to show you the beauty in what is there.
Have you seen fresh hops right from the bine? Have you seen the look on a brewers face when sampling wort? Have you seen how gorgeous the color of beer can be? Maybe I’m starry-eyed over the craft beer community, maybe I focus more on what’s right than what’s wrong, but I won’t stop. Maybe it was the years of teaching anger management to gang members in South Central Los Angeles but I’ve learned that people tend to repeat the behavior you focus on. Let the others tear down people, behaviors, and semantics, I’m here as much for the people as I am for the beer. Of course there are changes that can and need to be made, we are, after all, a bunch of humans who drink too much. But let’s do it together. And let’s talk more about what we’re doing right. Because, craft beer, I love you. Flaws and all.
Have some cake, drink a beer, and let’s talk this out. I won’t stop loving craft beer, and I won’t stop focusing on how much I love the people here and what they are doing right.
6 tbs (83g) unsalted butter, cut in cubes, softened
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
1/3 (74g) cup pale ale
2 tbs (26g) olive oil
1 tsp (4g) vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 325.
In a small bowl stir together the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter. Add the flour and cornstarch, stir to make a soft dough, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking soda and salt. While the mixer is running add the butter mixing until the butter is cut in and the mixture resembles coarse meal with no uncombined lumps of butter.
Add the eggs, yolk, beer, olive oil and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy and well combined.
Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper with the paper hanging over the sides. Pour batter into prepared pan in an even layer.
Crumble the topping and gently sprinkle it over the batter in an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for ten minutes, remove from pan using the parchment overhang. Cut into squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean and Beer Chicken Soup
“You’re not reactionary, you’re rebellious but intentional. You think before you jump off the bridge.”
Someone I know well said this to me once. I was the kid your parents warned you about, the one who jumps off the bridge and your parents ask if you’re going to follow me into the cold waters of Lake Washington. “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” My mom never asked me that questions because she knew I was always the first to jump. But the fact is, I only jump if I know with reasonable certainty that it’s safe. When I was homeless in Hollywood at 19, I had a cell phone, a savings account, and a craigslist ad to house sit for free, as long as it was a nice neighborhood.
When I decided to quit my job as a social worker to pursue my dream of being a writer and photographer, I first spent a year doing both. 80 hours a week doing both my day job and my dream job. Then a year part-time at my day job (which, to be fair I still loved), and full-time hustling to work in writing. I jumped, and it seemed brave, but I had a backup plan.
Maybe it comes from a non-traditional upbringing that required several backup plans, but I’m not afraid to jump. I just need to know what my options are. I can be stranded in a coastal Spanish town at 3 am, or lost in the center of a Moroccan city, my mind will start to formulate a plan, “You’ll be fine, you can figure this out,” will be my first thought. I’ve jumped before and it hasn’t gone well. I’ve lost, I’ve failed, I’ve done things I shouldn’t have. But I more regret the things I didn’t do than the things I did.
You’ll never hit the ball if you don’t swing the bat. So, as this year hurdles forward, that’s what you should do. Swing the bat. Jump off the bridge. Maybe you need a backup plan for failure first, but you can do it. It’s better to fail at doing what you want than succeed at doing what you don’t. Grab a beer, make a plan, and swing the bat. Best thing I ever did.
We talk a lot of pairing beer and food. About the sensory experiences of flavors, textures, and ingredients that compliment each other. We’ve known since the accidental and unfortunate childhood pairing of toothpaste and orange juice that some flavors are a combative train wreck once they comingle in our mouth. We know that espresso and chocolate cake are magical in partnership, and that greasy cheese pizza is made that much better with a highly carbonated pale ale.
What we don’t talk enough about is pairing beer and experiences. Because if you and I are in a deep fireside chat, late in the evening, warming our bones near the fire of a ski lodge, I’d want to share a barrel aged beer with you, the boozier the better. But if we’re hiking through the woods on a hot August afternoon, tank tops sticking to our backs and dust from the trials clinging to our legs, a crisp Kolsch would be awesome (but the boozy bourbony beer would not).
We are right around the corner from a shared experience that most of us will take part in one way or another. Football lover, casual fan, or just along for the commercials and the food table, you’ll likely find yourself in a room with sports fans screaming at the TV on Super Bowl Sunday. I have just the beer for you, sports fan, wagering enthusiast or just-there-for-lack-of-anything-better-to-do guy.
This is a day filled with intense emotions, highs, and lows, and the beer should match. You’ll also need to take into consideration the food as to avoid the aforementioned combative train wreck possibility. Food at these gatherings tends to be intense as well: hot wings, buffalo beer cheese dip, jalapeno nachos; that sort of primitive bar food that you love more than you’d probably ever admit to. Another consideration: time. You’ll be drinking all day, several hours and several beers, and when you’re done it won’t even be night yet.
In summation, these are the considerations when pairing The Super Bowl with a beer: intense flavor, pairs well with spicy and greasy food, can be consumed for long hours. The conclusion we come to is a session IPA.(Quick Beer 101 lesson: “session” means lower ABV, usually 5% or lower). You’ll get the intense flavor to match both the food and the emotions, you’ll get the nice carbonation for the greasy cheese and meat, and since the ABV is lower you’ll avoid becoming a cautionary tale.
Here are some Session IPA’s that will pair well with the Super Bowl. These are a few that I’m personally excited about, let me know what your favorite is.