Tag Archives: beer

Cider-Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage

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After spending the past few days in sun-soaked beachside paradise, I have returned to the brutal realities of 15-degree weather. Yes — hopefully for the last time in a long, long time (but probably not, since I see yet another little snowflake in next week’s forecast) — i am yet again complaining about the weather. I’m boring, I know. I’ve accepted it.

During this week’s search for comfort food, I turned to the Irish. No stranger to long, bitterly cold winters, the Irish have a plethora of hearty fare to warm you right up: lamb stews, shepherd’s pie, colcannon and corned beef. While I had originally planned to make a lentil-based vegan shepherd’s pie (inspired by one I had at Nice Matin during Restaurant Week a few weeks ago), Fresh Direct had a sale on corned beef and I was extremely intrigued.

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So, 3.5 pounds of meat later, I’ve learned a few things. A) Generally not a good idea to order 12-14 servings of meat when you’re cooking for one. (In other news, does anyone have any recipes for corned beef beyond hash and sandwiches? Anyone? Bueller?)

B) As it turns out, corned beef and cabbage isn’t traditionally Irish. The traditional dish is bacon and cabbage, using thick slices of back bacon (aka Irish or Canadian bacon). Corned beef is a New England thing, and became popular among Irish-Americans in the mid-19th century.

C) Corned beef is produced by brining a cut of beef, usually brisket, for 7-10 days. Common brine ingredients include mustard seeds, peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves, bay leaves and, of course, salt (“corns” are large grains of salt, hence the name). After the meat is cured, it is again braised, with cabbage, potatoes and other root vegetables.

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Since boiled meat sounds blecch, I decided to braise the corned beef in cider. Last month, the lovely Alex of Chez Sasha invited me to a dinner hosted by Plated and Stella Artois, to launch their new hard cider, Cidre (so Belgian). Alex wrote about the event in more detail on her blog, but the moral of the story is that we got to bring home bottles of Cidre. Since most of my home drinking is exclusively reserved for red wine, I thought the cider would be nice with the corned beef — a slightly tart sweetness to balance the salty meatiness of the beef.

When Googling around for recipes, I also stumbled across Suzanne Goin’s genius idea of roasting the corned beef once it’s braised. A few minutes in the oven caramelizes the fat and crisps up the meat, creating a delicious crust that adds some texture to the otherwise soft-as-a-pile-of-feathers beef. (In case you don’t remember, braising is my absolute favorite way to transform tough cuts of meat into impossibly flavorful bites of heaven.)

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What really makes this corned beef and cabbage sing is the addition of mustard. Goin’s recipe calls for a mustard-parsley sauce, but even my lazy squirts of spicy brown were perfect: a sharp edge to cut through the rich, salty meat.

Which brings me to my last lesson: D) If you’re not a cabbage person (these two dishes aside) and you don’t like salty things and you hate lunchmeat, maybe not a good idea to make a huge batch of corned beef and cabbage on a whim … St. Patrick’s Day party at my house, everyone? Continue reading

Asparagus and Ricotta Flatbread

Remember that time I admitted to my fear of yeast and then resolved to get over it? Two-plus years later and it hasn’t happened … I still cringe every time I hear the word, and have yet to make a yeasted bread.

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My excuse? There are plenty, most of which are exceedingly flimsy:

a) I don’t have time to sit around kneading and rising and kneading and rising. (Since I’m still sick and watching episode after episode of The League resting, this is mostly untrue.)

b) There’s zero counter space for me to actually knead anything, which is why I haven’t made any pies or pizzas recently either. (This kitchen is actually bigger than my last one, as 1-1/2 people can fit in it at the same time.)

c) It’s starting to get warm out, which means keeping the oven on for hours is slowly losing its appeal. (As evidenced by this recipe, that’s not really stopping me.)

d) I’m trying to cut back on my bread eating, as part of an overall effort to shore up my diet for summer. (Trying and failing would be more accurate.)

e) There’s an abundance of bread recipes out there in the world that don’t require yeast, and a lot of them look pretty awesome.

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That last reason is pretty compelling, as it turns out you don’t need any fungus to make a wide array of good bread. The Irish are all over this with their soda bread, but there’s also this gorgeous seeded bread, Mark Bittman’s beer bread, and this amazing flatbread recipe, which in its original form requires only three ingredients and three steps.

The recipe, from Top With Cinnamon (and courtesy of Nila), is amazing heavenly perfection and all the other superlatives in the world. It’s so easy that it is literally foolproof (trust me, I tried hard to break the recipe and still couldn’t) and can be gussied up a million ways — cinnamon sticks, pizza breadsticks, cheddar beer bread, rosemary-garlic focaccia … SO. MANY. IDEAS. In its almost-original form, it’s got a crisp and craggy exterior and a plush interior, with a nice balance between the malty, caramelly flavor of the beer and the savory herbs.

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I topped the flatbread with a shaved asparagus salad and my new favorite discovery: goat’s milk ricotta. It has the creaminess of ricotta plus the tanginess of goat cheese, and paired nicely with the grassy, crisp asparagus. I bought it through Fresh Direct, but if you can’t find it, either regular ricotta or softened chevre will work too. The end result is a lovely spring lunch, no yeast necessary. Continue reading

Beer-Braised Bratwurst

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There are so many things I could say about this beer-braised bratwurst, but they’re so juvenile that I shouldn’t. For one, the name: bratwurst. Tee-hee. I’ve taken to dropping it here and there in sentences, just so I can hear it out loud. (I am actually a 5-year-old child. It’s fine really.)

I made this on a whim, after spying some bratwurst (HA. still funny.) on sale ahead of that little game on Sunday. Braising the sausage in beer gives it a slight tangy flavor, but it’s really just an excuse to drink beer while you cook. The onions are the real star of the show — they soften and caramelize and absorb the sausage’s saltiness and the beer’s zip and are just so heavenly and delicious that I want to eat them on top of everything.

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While I didn’t go the traditional route of making these bratwurst into sandwiches, you could easily do so (this might be the way to go if you’re throwing a Super Bowl party — guests can just help themselves). Instead, I paired it with Balsamic-braised red cabbage, which was just as delicious as I remembered. Plus it was an opportunity to eat pork on pork on pork, which is never a bad thing.

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Either way you serve it, please promise me you’ll make extra onions. I’d like a second helping of those and a second helping of this on Sunday. (And maybe some of this too, please?)

Note: If you’re looking for more Super Bowl ideas, I’ve got a list over here (including plenty of vegetarian options!) Continue reading

Beer Cheese

My second favorite day of the year is upon us. (We all know Thanksgiving is my number one.) Not-so-oddly enough, the Super Bowl features many of the same desirable attributes as Turkey Day, namely food and football, in that order.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good game and this year promises lots of drama. I suppose since I’ve lived in NYC for over 5 years (WHOA.) I should root for the Giants, though as a longtime Redskins fan it pains me a little to support a division rival. But I also avidly dislike Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Classic rock-and-a-hard-place situation.

So instead, I’ll focus on the food. And thankfully, there’s a lot of amazing-ness to go around. Wings, nachos, dips, burgers, fries — all of it coronary-inducing and yet so.friggin.good. Seriously, I have worked out every morning and walked the 5 miles home from work every day this week, just so I can gorge on everything almost guilt-free.

Since last year’s wings were a huge success, I had to go big or go home this year (in a repeat of last year, I will be going home for the big game again this year, but definitely not because I’m a big disaster in life and need to get a new driver’s license). Since beer and cheese are two pillars of Super Bowl staples, I decided, inspired by one of my favorite neighborhood bars, to make beer cheese.

The beer cheese at Earl’s is one of my favorite cheap eats in New York. Six dollars buys you plenty of warm buttered toasted baguette slices, which you rub with a garlic clove and then top with tangy, creamy, garlic-y, slightly spicy cheddar-y goodness — god I love this stuff.

Making it at home proved to be difficult and first and then embarrassingly easy. There aren’t a ton of recipes out there, but thankfully I found one at Mighty Appetite, a food blog of the Washington Post. I also learned that beer cheese is a Kentucky Derby staple — who knew?

Grating the cheese was also a chore, but once that’s done, the entire process takes zero effort. Simply dump a bunch of ingredients into a food processor and let the machine do all the work for you. The best part is, it tastes better a day or two after making, so you don’t even have to work on Super Bowl Sunday. Tell me that’s not the best thing you’ve ever heard.

Also, the most exciting part of all of this was that this beer cheese tastes almost exactly like Earl’s. So I’ve also now saved you a trip to NYC/the Upper East Side! You can thank me by making me some beer cheese. Continue reading

Micheladas: Mexico’s Answer to Summer

Micheladas seem ubiquitous this summer. They showed up in the New York Times magazine last week and quickly appeared on the Huffington Post’s food blog soon after. They were on the menu at my graduation dinner at Rosa Mexicano and have been a part of the brunch deal at Roots & Vines, the coffee shop around the corner from Keith’s apartment, for as long as I’ve gotten my iced coffees there.

The michelada’s omnipresence makes sense: a spicy beer cocktail is a great way to cool off when it’s hot. Traditionally, micheladas consist of some form of beer (to keep it traditional, the Mexican Tecate), tomato juice, a few drops of Worcestershire or Tabasco, lime juice and some mix of cayenne or jalapeño powder, with a seasoned-salt rim. There’s a million ways to make it, which makes it all the more perfect for a sweltering summer day. Continue reading