Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dogfish Indian Brown Ale Beer Scones:

Something odd is happening to me. I was unsure on how to admit it at first. It took me a few weeks to realize, but now I can say for sure: I have a problem, my friends. I have a serious addiction.

I have a fever.

And the only cure for that fever is more baking....baking with booze.

After my successful muffin venture, I decided to up the difficulty level. I wanted to make something unique, something that a more casual beverage like beer would be an innovation, or at least a surprise ingredient too. Something more highbrow than a beer bread. Something more complicated than a muffin.

After spending a good portion of my lunch hour on recipe searches, I decided that I would make beer scones. There are a few beer scone recipes out there, but none that I thought would produce what I wanted. So I improvised on my own. Because I am an adventurous baking risk taking machine.

I selected Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale as my beer to complement the nuts and raisins in my scones.
The trick to baking with beer, I am learning, is to add enough dry ingredients to your batter or dough, creating a product that is not too goopy/dry without losing the beer flavor or compromising the other flavors. I managed to get it right.

Dogfish Indian Brown Beer Scones with Raisins and Pecans:

1 and ¼ cup raisins
1 cup nuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup beer
4 cups self rising flour
3 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp cold butter cut into chunks
¼ cup heavy cream

1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar

after mixing in the dry ingredients, cut in the heavy cream, then lastly, the butter. Do not overmix, or the scones will be little bricks and you will be sad.

Cuttin' in the butter

Form the dough into a large ball. You can add more flour if you think the mixture is too soggy or sticky. Trust your instincts. I think a good consistency is a little bit stickier than a biscuit dough. Flatten the dough into a pizza-shape about ¾ an inch thick. I used a pizza cutter to make triangles. Use more flour on the pizza cutter if the dough gets too clingy.

Glaze the tops of the scones once cut and about and inch and a half on a greased baking sheet; and bake at 425 for 20 minutes or longer, until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool. You can sprinkle with sugar immediately after taking out of oven if you want more sweetness.

These scones have a very nice cinnamon raisin flavor. They are not as flaky as some scones you might purchase at the grocery store, but are still pretty light. I took them to work to test them out, and people that professed they did not even like raisins enjoyed them. I couldn't ask for a better endorsement.

Monday, August 24, 2009

BBC Bourbon Barrel Braised Beef and Sweet and Savory Beer Breads:

A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at braising. I'd seen the word often, and grasped the general gist of it, to cook tougher cuts of meat on high heat for a short amount of time, then place under low heat for a few hours until tender.

I was inspired by this post at the Hungry Mouse. Boil meat in beer for a few hours, you say? Sure. I can do that. I pretty much followed her helpful instructions step by step.

I set out to the store with a vague idea of what I wanted. Short ribs, and a tasty stout to boil the short ribs in for a few hours. When I arrived at the meat counter, I noticed that the bottom round roast looked pretty tasty as well. The solution? To get both.

I picked up some bay leaves,as well as peppers and mushrooms to pan roast in the oven, short ribs, the round roast, and then faced the difficult choice of what beer to assist me in my braising adventure.

Not Guinness, not Stone, or Bells. I briefly contemplated a porter; but when I saw the BBC Bourbon Barrel Jefferson's reserve stout, the decision was made. David and I have said before that it is, in our opinion, the best of BBC. I figured the bourbon infused stout would impart a tasty flavor to my braised beef.

But what about the accompaniments? Other than the peppers and mushrooms, I wanted to make beer bread.

I decided to let my choice in beer dictate my bread direction. We have two loaf pans, giving me the option of making both sweet and savory beer breads. I selected Founder's double trouble and Cerise as my beers or choice, picking up the additional ingredients at the store to compliment the imperial IPA and cherry ale.

For the Cerise loaf:
dried cherries, almonds, white chocolate morsels, a little vanilla extract.

for the Double Trouble loaf:
fresh chives and cheddar.

I used a basic beer bread recipe, which is 3 cups self rising flour, 1 tsp salt, a bottle of beer, 2 tsp sugar. I used more sugar for the sweet loaf, upping it to ¼ cup. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350. The add-ins I did not measure, just trusted my instincts.

The adventure was mostly peril free, other than the short moment of panic when the short ribs glued themselves to the hot bottom of the pan I was using for the super hot part of braising and required some skill to dislodge. The breads were a success as well, though I now recommend you check the IBU's on a bottle of beer for beer bread. Double Trouble's healthy hop dose imparted a little bit of bitterness into the bread.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I went to the doctor a few weeks ago to get some blood tests. Turns out my cholesterol is fairly high, but I guess it is to be expected with the amount of cheese that I consume. I love cheese. I am like the Paula Deen of cheese. We have a special drawer designated (and usually full) of aged goudas and cheddars in the fridge. I'd say 5 % of my yearly paycheck has gone towards supporting my cheese problem.

stylin. why do I have to wear this thing again?

But I digress.

As I was chatting with the doctor, we figured out that I was overdue on a few of my boosters. So, in addition to getting blood taken, I got vaccines in each arm, including a tetanus shot.

After such trauma, there was only one destination that is an acceptable lunch. An oriental buffet. With sushi and fried rice. And ice cream.

Already deep in the suburban sprawl that is Fields Ertel, we headed to Kyojin for their lunch buffet. David was very pleased that he was able to eat all the sushi that he could fit into his belly.(see "Exhibit A") He started with a salad, and made several trips. His assessment of the sushi? He thought it was very tasty, but a little hastily made, so some of the rolls fells apart a little. I think that this is unavoidable when a restaurant is trying to supply sushi, which takes time to construct, in mass quantities.

"Exhibit A"

I tried the fried rice, short ribs, and various other non sushi items on the buffet table. I thought they were very good for lunch buffet Chinese-style foods. I would definitely go back, and the lunch buffet is not that expensive. There are also coupons on their website, and the option of a “non-sushi” buffet (also cheaper), so if you are like myself, and are not too hot on the sushi, you're not paying for something you won't partake of.

I also tried the dessert, and made myself a little mint and chocolate ice cream chip wheelie. Open question: does anyone know why Oriental buffets always feature Jell-o jigglers on the dessert bar?

Kyojin Japanese Buffet on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Take the Cake Cafe:

We've been hearing about Take the Cake (and its biscuits) for quite some time now.

Take the Cake also posts its daily changing menu on its twitterstream, which is both good and bad. It's good because yesterday morning, when the menu was posted, David and I thought it sounded delicious and headed over to Northside.

It is bad because during the week when we are stuck in the office, the delicious items practically jump up and down, cruelly taunting us.

We walked into Take the Cake and ordered the top four items on the menu (out of five.) Yes, we were little piggies. But we regret nothing.

We ordered the buttermilk biscuit, which is usually featured on Saturdays, which was served with asparagus, poached egg, lemon aioli and ham, a cup of minestrone soup, chicken salad on flat bread with Gorgonzola, pecans and bacon, and the local tomato salad with fresh mozzarella, bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

We don't know where those tomatoes came from, but whoever grows them must have some sort of voodoo tomato growing magic. They are the best tomatoes that we've ever had.

I really liked my minestrone. David said it was the only minestrone he had ever had that he actually liked. It was a little spicy, which we both enjoyed. The biscuits are indeed flaky, buttery and delicious.

David loved his poached egg and I almost thought he was going to start licking the empty plate after he devoured it. We'll be back!

chicken salad on flatbread

delicious tomato salad


the biscuit

yummy minestrone

Take the Cake on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Expanding my spritual horizons:

Last Friday, we were contacted with the following press release about this event on Wednesday at Bootsy’s. David and I occasionally get press releases about current events in Cincinnati, but this one especially caught my eye. David and I have tried lots of vodkas, bourbons, whiskeys, scotches and beers, but we have always shied away from gin. I’ve actually never had the stuff, if you can believe that.

Angus Winchester, career bartender and now the Tanqueray London Dry Gin Global Brand Ambassador, has made his life work searching for the best T&T. He has criss-crossed the globe, visiting dozens of countries in search of “the perfect T & T” and now he’s coming to Cincinnati to check in on the local bartenders to see who makes the best in downtown.

Angus will be in Cincinnati on August 5th at Bootsy’s - 631 Walnut St. – from 5:00 – 6:15pm. Not only will he be looking for the best T&T but he will also be giving colourful demonstrations on some of the most interesting twists on the T&T to hit the market like the Spicy T&T and the Bitter T&T.”

I’ll be bringing awesome-partner-in-cocktails, Janelle, who enjoys a good Pimm’s cup, down to Bootsy’s with us to talk to Angus on Wednesday. I’m pretty curious to see what he has to say, and find out more about gin in general.

Readers: Help me out! Are there any must-try gin cocktails that I should sample? Avoid?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Banana Butterscotch Matilda Muffins:

This is the first installment of the Nomerati series “Cooking with booze”. Whenever the mood strikes our fancy, David and I will be cooking with beers and various spirits, covering food items from baking to barbecue. We love food. We love booze. It was only a matter of time until we combined the two.

Last night we decided to make beer breads. David went the savory route, with Gruyere cheese, chives, and a saison ale. You'll have to wait to find out about his. This post is about my choice, and how hard I rocked it in the kitchen last night.

It didn't take me long to decide what I wanted to make. I have a thing for banana bread. Our relationship is very serious. I prefer it with nuts, though I will eat it without them. I also wanted to try making muffins, as opposed to David's loaf.

We arrived at the store, and gathered our various baking items. As we were walking past the baking aisle, I picked up a bag of butterscotch chips to add.

When it came to choosing the bananas, I became enamored with the smaller, red bananas that were next to the large ones. I decided to use four of those in lieu of the yellow variety. A quick wikipedia search said they were sweeter, which I though would work nicely.

Last stop was the beer. We had previously seen Well's banana bread beer, and I thought to use that, but upon searching the beer section, it had disappeared. That left me staring at the beer varieties to come up with a contingency plan.

After staring at the selection for about five minutes, I spied the Matilda bottle from Goose Island. It was larger than a regular bottle, but as David pointed out, I could always drink the rest.
My decision was made when I recalled our tasting notes on this year's Matilda batch at the Goose Island Burgers and Beer. David and I both tasted strong banana notes. Perfect!

Basic beer bread recipes vary, but commonly use 3 cups of self rising flour, a bottle of beer, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. I decided to modify this recipe on my own. I am very excited to report that I may have possibly created the best banana beer bread muffins on the entire planet. I'm not kidding. All the ingredients work together to create a shining beacon of banana bread muffin deliciousness.

Here's the final recipe:

Banana Butterscotch Matilda Muffins:

3 cups self rising flour
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 red mashed bananas
12 fluid ounces of beer
¾ cup sugar
1 cup butterscotch chips
1-1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Notes: a little more beer and flour won't really hurt. Whenever I'm in the kitchen, measurements are never exact.

I had a lot of fun mashing the bananas

I decided that a struesel topping would make it extra tasty, so I whipped that up:

Struesel topping:

1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup of pecans
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Melt the butter in the microwave and stir well.

I baked the muffins at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, checking on them often.

I made some naked and without struesel for quality control

I also made a small loaf, which I baked on 375 for about 40 minutes.