Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chef McHugh - Pick Me Pick Me!

I got a little giddy when I saw the Facebook post from Lüke San Antonio River Walk. 
I almost had to do a double take. Did they really just say they are hosting a contest so share our favorite beer pairing recipe for a chance to win a spot at the upcoming beer dinner? And did they also say Brooklyn Brewery? Hell Yes!

The Contest:

Do you love beer? If you answered yes, our Brooklyn Beer Dinner Recipe Contest is for you. Share your best pairing recipe on our wall for the opportunity to have your recipe featured at an upcoming Lüke beer dinner, plus complimentary tickets for you and a guest.

- Post
your recipe on our Facebook wall between May 1 and May 18

- Recipe submissions may be paired with any Brooklyn Brewery beer and can be for any course

- Chef McHugh will select his favorite recipe and use it as inspiration for a course at the Brooklyn Beer Dinner on June 7

- The winning recipe will be announced on our Facebook page on May 28

- The winner will receive two complimentary tickets to the Brooklyn Beer Dinner on June 7

- Additionally, the winner will be offered the opportunity to cook with Chef Steve the week of the event and to present the dish at the beer dinner

Need I remind anyone how much I adore Brooklyn Brewery beers? If my fridge and buying habits didn't give it away, then perhaps you might have noticed that Brooklyn Local 1 is the single beer to have appeared at all 4 of my Saucer plate parties. I once gave a bottle to a mom-to-be at a baby shower (for after the baby arrived of course!)  I adore the Brooklyn Brewery.

So my only problem with this contest would be trying to decide what to submit as I have spent a great deal of time pairing their beers with delicious food in my kitchen and at restaurants across the country.

I almost wanted to go with my Five Spice Short Rib paired with Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, or my Smoked BBQ chicken (which I dehydrate the beer for my rub) paired with Brooklyn Lager...  but I feel drawn to sticking to my tried and true first love of beers. Brooklyn Local 1

(Dear Chef McHugh - if you want either of the other two recipes above because the one below isn't what you're looking for I'm happy to share them as well - because cooking with you over Brooklyn Brewery beers would be rad)

So here's my submission to the contest... I hoping going somewhat simple will win me a spot at this dinner.  This is something I've been making for years for my family and friends. Brooklyn Local 1 paired with Japanese Squash Soup and Pâté (seriously how can you go wrong with squash and duck fat? Paired with a Belgian-inspired Strong Golden Ale? YUM!)

Japanese Pumpkin Soup with Pâté Dipper

1 medum japanese pumpkin
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion (sliced)
1 Tbsp butter
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk

Cut pumpkin into 2, remove seeds. Place flesh side down in roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes at 35 or until soft. In large sauce pan heat up olive oil and  saute onion until they start to brown and caramalize. Pour chicken stock over onions and bring to a slow boil. Scoop out squash and add to broth. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes then add butter cinnamon and milk. Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I sometimes drizzle Crème fraîche on top if I have it.

Serve with the Pâté Dipper below:

3 oz duck fat
1 large shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 duck liver, chopped
1/2 tsp herbs de Provence
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Cognac
Sliced baguette, toasted with butter

Cook duck fat in a skillet over high heat for 5 minutes or until browned. add the shallots and garlic, stir. Add the liver and herbs de Provence, stir. Add the salt and pepper and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a blender and pour the Cognac over and blend until a smooth texture has formed. Cool in the fridge for 2 hours and cover until ready to serve.

Spread the Pâté on the toasted buttered baguette slices and place on the edge of the bowl.

So there you have it - my submission with fingers crossed... I'm also going to have to go to Central Market now after work and pick up a few bottles of Local 1 for the weekend - because now I want to eat this.

I also have to mention my favorite cheese to pair with this beer only because the combination of these two things in my life is a cause for Foodgasm.
Saint Angel and the Brooklyn Local 1 with a few slices of granny smith apple is one of the most decadent things you could place on your tongue... I am definitely making a beer & food run tonight!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Greenling Quickfire Round 14

The amount of fun I have had week after week with this little challenge has been exponentially growing with each new box. And once again this week is no exception.

Upon arriving home I discovered a surprise waiting with me Greenling box. An awesome box of goodies from Greenling and an awesome note to let me know they read this blog. Totally made my night!

My daughter thought it was super cool and so did I. Even better was the yummy treats waiting for us inside this week's box. Last week we had turnip greens - this week we got the full turnips! Golden turnips to be precise!
My first thought was to make a redo of the braised turnip greens from last week because they were so delicious, but then I had an idea. I decided to make 2 dishes, one with the turnips themselves, based on an old Julia Childs recipe and the other with the turnip greens.The Julia Childs recipe for caramelized turnips is something I have made for years. Basically you peel and chop the turnips and caramelize them in a brown butter and sugar sauce. For this meal I decided to take that a step further and make a Turnip Hash
The first step in the turnip process is to parboil the turnips in salted water for about 5 minutes. This helps soften them. Once the five minutes is up, you remove them from the water and cool them down and pat dry. Once dry you can add them to a saucepan with butter and sugar and all sorts of yummy goodness until they turn a beautiful golden brown.
While the turnips were boiling I chopped up a yellow onion, zucchini, and the greens from the Greenling Box. My trick with turnip greens it to remove as much of the steam as possible from the leafy part.

I decided to give my new Calphalon Unison Fritatta pan a spin and what better way to use up the delicious vegetables!

Once my parboiled turnips were cooled and dried I placed them back in the pan with this awsome combination of sugar and spice. And a generous helping of butter of course.

A gift from my Mom that she picked up from a local vendor back home in Florida, I am never without a fun way to spice up a dish. These spice blends are fun - although I've never used them for what they were originally intended for. Who want's pork chops when you can have turnips? The sugar in this one was perfect for what I needed.

I sauteed the greens and onion in butter as well as the turnips (with the added sugar rub). While those cooked I boiled up some organic chicken apple sausage for the hash. The benefit of having the fritatta pan is that the two sides can be used independently or together and they are both super easy clean up.

Here's a pic of the beautiful results of the new magical pan. A perfect fluffy fritatta with no mess and no fuss!

I topped off the fritatta with some fresh grated parmesan and romano cheese and served along side the turnip hash.

I paired the dinner with Abita's SOS. An awesome beer that benefits an even better cause. For every bottle sold Abita will donate 75¢ to the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry and individuals fighting to survive the disastrous oil spill in the gulf.

My other favorite part about last night? That's easy - in addition to Paul winning the Top Chef elimination challenge and making it into the finals he also won a Prius V. As if He wasn't awesome enough already he and I now have matching cars!

I've been Team Paul from the start and I'm crazy excited to see him go for the win!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Greenling Quickfire Round 11-13

I know... I know...  I was supposed to be doing this every week and keep up with each episode and make a corresponding dinner using my weekly Surprise Me ingredient from Greenlingand then the holidays happened and then vacations...

So what's my excuse this time? Trust me it's a good one. I was out of the country on a cruise with the band Weezer!

But this week I'm finally getting caught up and what better way to celebrate than with a yummy treat?

This week's Surprise Me ingredient was turnip greens!
 My favorite family recipe for any type of greens is "bacon and butter".

So that's just what I did! The secret I use is to boil the bacon first - this allows you to easily remove the fatty pieces and leaves you with a delicious pile of smoked pork.

I only boil the bacon for a few minutes, just long enough to cook off some of the white. Then I let it cool off in the liquid and let the fat separate and float up to the top.  Once cooled it easily pulls apart and from there I just chop it up.

Throw the bacon meat in the pan with a heavy helping of butter and some chopped onion.

Stir until the onion is caramelized and the bacon starts to crisps up.

This will also make your house smell like heaven.

Just as the bacon starts to crisp throw in your greens, remove from heat and stir until they are wilted. For turnip greens I also threw in a pinch of sugar and a dash of Maldon seat salt for good measure 
 For this meal I also chopped up one of my tomatoes from my Greenling box and an avocado.

tossed them in a bowl with some fresh lime juice, sea salt and fresh cracked black peppercorn for a quick and refreshing avocado salad.

And not that it really goes with turnip greens, but I had a flank steak marinating in the fridge in orange juice, orange zest, habanero pepper and honey so I pan grilled it up medium rare.

The finished meal? A mismatched habanero orange honey steak, avocado salad and southern style turnip greens.

I was a little off in the pairing of these 3 - but each on its own was pretty damn fantastic.

I could have eaten an entire plate of just bacon and butter turnip greens, but I had a dinner guest and had to share :D

And Paul Qui is rocking the Top Chef competition! Life is good!

And just in case you didn't believe my excuse - Here's a pic of me and Weezer!

Best Vacation Ever!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Greenling Quickfire Round 10

Tonight's Greenling Surprise Me item was Watermelon radish! I love this veggie and pick them up any time I see them at farmers's markets or at the grocery.

Round and encased in a pale green, thin skin, the watermelon radish has pinkish-red flesh, with a mild, sweet flavor.  

I love to pickle these radishes, but since I had already used that approach with the breakfast radishes on a previous challenge I opted to take a different approach. I once had a really great radish tempura. So why not deep fry them and make chips?
 This week I also decided to switch up my beverage selection from wine to beer. And since this is Top Chef Texas - I opened up a few of my favorite Texas beers.

Texas has so many great brews to choose from but Shiner is almost always at the top of my list as a great Texas standard. 

Their Holiday Cheer seasonal is a fantastic mix of peaches and pecans and always a winter favorite in my house. The bottles are labeled with a cute gift tag and make great gifts.
 Back to tonight's dish. I decided to tap into one of my favorite secret ingredients to finish off the radish chips. 

Truffle salt

This amazing jar is filled with some of my favorite spice ever. I picked up the jar based on a foodie recommendation at Central Market from my favorite resident foodie Mimi. 

She made duck fat fried potatoes with this salt and I've used it on every chip made in my house since.

 To go with the chips I pulled out a giant loaf of sourdough bread from my Greenling farmstead box.

Sweetish Hill makes some of the most fantastic baked goods ever. This bread is no exception.

I also had some leftover lobster tail in my fridge from last night's dinner of trufled lobster mac and cheese - sometimes I really love my fridge :)

As a native New Englander these ingredients can only mean one thing - Lobster Roll!
 My basic lobster roll recipe has a slight twist of Sriracha - then again, most of my recipes have that same twist. I must go through a bottle or more of this stuff a month.

I also added some chopped sweet onion, a tiny bit of fresh mayo, chopped celery, salt and pepper.

Mixed all of that up with the lobster meat in a small bowl and then topped off the amazing sourdough, and squeezed a bit of fesh lime on top of the lobster meat mixture,
 The result?

Possibly one of my new favorite dinners of all time. My daughter downed hers in record time and asked for seconds.

Luckily greenling sent two gigantic watermelon radishes and we had an entire pile of chips to finish off (which we did)

The watermelon radish chip was absolutely fantastic - slightly sweet and super savory.
I'm now watching Top Chef and it's Restaurant Wars! One of my favorite episodes each season.

Paul Qui is making roasted pork belly - OMG yum!

My favorite beer to pair with pork belly? Texas's own Real Ale Lost Gold IPA

Cheers to all the cheftestants!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Greenling Quickfire Round 8-9

So once again a holiday interferes with my Top Chef Quickfire Greenling Challenge - well sort of. I spent the holidays in Dallas, TX this year. And as of Dec 2011 there was no Greenling service in the DFW area. So I had to drive my box of fresh awesomeness to my amazing hosts's house to make my weekly dish. I used the russet potatoes and local kale to make my family's favorite passed down recipe for Portuguese Kale Soup - and sure enough Emeril announces that would be his family pass down favorite the same night on episode 8. I nearly died :)

My gracious hosts are vegetarian so I made a modified version with Soyrizo - and it was a hit!  And then upon my return I was thrilled to see Greenling is starting service to DFW in 2012! Score!!!  

 My other distraction for the holidays would be my baking obsession. After baking over 1600 cookies, I embarked on the red velvet birthday cake to end all red velvet birthday cakes. 

This tower is made of red velvet thumbprint cookies, red velvet Krispy Kreme doughnuts, red velvet cupcakes, red velvet cake balls spiked with Peppermint schnapps and topped in a red velvet whoopie pie. 

Oh and yes, those are chocolate mustaches decorating the cake. Why? Because Why not? And the birthday girl deserved an awesome cake :) 
So back to tonight's challenge. In my Greenling box tonight I got a bag of turnips.

At first I was all "YAY turnips" as I love turnips, then I realized I had never cooked them. Ever.  So I sat and stared at them for a while.

Then I reconsidered the whole challenge thing and thought about skipping tonight.

Then I opened a bottle of wine from the fridge and stared at the turnips some more and then poured some more wine... 
 So turnips were just not inspiring me, so I did what I do with most things I don't really know what to do with.

I added butter.

I chopped and peeled them and added to a sauce pan and poured some more wine while I tried to figure out what to do with this vegetable that was stumping me. Then I turned to the rest of my Greenling box and I figured it out!

I had an awesome corn and blackbean salsa as well as some amazing looking southwest tortillas in there. A turnip burrito was in order!

I decided to spice them up with sea salt, cumin, and a pinch of celery salt for good measure and Ta-Da! Instant Yum!

 The finished product, a fantastic veggie burrito alternative (usually bean and cheese in my house) and instant hit with my daughter. She finished hers and was asking for seconds before I even got halfway through my own.

Who knew turnips would be such an interesting and challenging ingredient for me?

I enjoyed the challenge and enjoyed tonight's episode as well. Especially with Paul Qui taking yet another win. Way to go Paul!  He's up to $35,000 in winnings. I'd love to see him take it all! Uchi and Uchiko are two of my most favorite places in the country. I need a bacon steakie fix!

And with that I'm going to relax and enjoy the rest of my evening. Cheers to all the Top Chef contestants and to Greenling for adding the new DFW service!

And like my wine glass, Everything is Bigger in Texas!