Beer Muffins with Molasses Crumble

I woke up on Sunday morning craving a beer. Maybe it was the lack of beer from the night before or maybe I was dreaming about drinking… I’m not quite sure. What I do know is that these muffins turned out so gosh darn tasty that I ate 3 of them. and then I slipped into a 10am food coma while watching the Food Network. Let’s just say it was one glorious way to start the day.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups + 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado/raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil such as vegetable or canola
  • 12 ounces of a malty beer; think stout, porter, or brown. Or maybe even pumpkin?
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Steps
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Sift together the 3 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Beat the 2 eggs together in a separate bowl; add the beer and oil.
  4. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix together; do not beat or over stir!
  6.  In another bowl, add the molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and remaining flour.
  7. Cut the ingredients together with a fork until the mixture is homogenous and crumbly.
  8. Grease a muffin tin or use cupcake wrappers to prevent the muffins from sticking.
  9. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, but only fill them halfway.
  10. Use half of the crumble mixture to divide evenly amongst each muffin.
  11. Fill each tin with the remaining batter.
  12. Use the remaining crumble to top each muffin.
  13. Bake in a 350F for 25 minutes or until done.
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Filed under Breakfast, Cooking with Beer, Recipes

Peacemaker.

If you’re reading this blog, support craft beer, and live in Texas, you likely know 4 Texas breweries took home medals at this year’s GABF, an incredible win for the Lone Star State and its growing craft beer scene. One of those breweries was Austin Beerworks; they received a silver medal in the English-style summer ale category for their Peacemaker.

I met one of the owners, Michael, at a Craft Beer Tweet Up and he was kind enough to invite us on a tour; uh.. yes, please! We took him up on the offer and visited the brewery a couple of weeks later. The guys who work there were all awesome – welcoming, informative, passionate about what they do, and they answered all of my I’m-a-lightweight-and-two-drinks-in questions.

In honor of that win, and because we now had a 6 pack in our fridge, we created this tasty snack based around the Peacemaker:


And while I typically will not endorse or promote a particular product, well, let’s just say the corner store next to my work can hardly keep Austin Beerworks on the shelves and, when they do, I’m usually heading home with more beer than I probably need…

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Homemade Ricotta

Ricotta makes my knees go weak. It’s really that simple.

As a kid my mom would let us choose what we wanted for dinner on our birthday. For years, without fail, my dinner of choice was cheese raviolis. I was a picky kid, perhaps the pickiest, but there was something about ricotta that I simply could not get enough of. To this day it’s one of my favorite foods.

When I found out it’s one of the simplest foods to make from scratch… I just about keeled over in disbelief. But it’s true. Oh, sweet Jesus, is it true. There’s truly no reason not to make it yourself. The ingredients are inexpensive and the result is fresh, creamy, cloud like deliciousness.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • a pinch of salt
  • fresh lemon juice
Steps
  1. Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth. A clean dish towel will also work, but can impart a soapy flavor if washed in scented detergent. I’m a hypoallergenic kind of gal, so we use one towel strictly for cheese and rinse it thoroughly before straining the milk curds.
  2. Bring the milk, cream, and salt just to a boil over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk from burning on the bottom of the pan.
  3.  Turn the heat to low and add the juice of one lemon.
  4.  Stir constantly until the curds separate from the whey, about 2 minutes.
  5. Once fully separate, turn the heat off and strain into the lined colander.
  6. Allow to sit for 1 hour until fully drained.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and mix in any additions. For this post, I used lemon zest and fresh thyme.
  8. Add some olive oil (optional), serve with a good crusty bread (also optional), and try to save some room for dinner. Can’t lie… this has been my dinner on more than one occasion. It really is that good.
Beer inspired variations:
  • Steep fresh hops in the milk & cream overnight. Proceed with the recipe, but after the mixture comes to a boil, strain the milk & cream into another pan before adding the acid.
  • In step 6, allow to strain until most of the moisture is gone. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 2-3 tbs. pale ale, in addition to the lemon zest and thyme (latter two ingredients still optional). The cheese will be more spreadable and just as, if not more, delicious.
Now the question is how can I make this a part of every meal…

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A Better French 75

The French 75 seems to be showing up on cocktails menus in Austin more and more lately. I’ve seen happy hour specials on them, an event booth that taught you how to make your own, and a competition between Texas bars to see who could sell the most. I’m not usually one to drink gin, but I do have to say… they’re tasty. It’s a drink that feels fancy while still being approachable and refreshing. There’s only one thing that it’s lacking: beer. We can fix that, though….

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces of a light beer*
  • a strip of lemon rind to make a twist if you feel particularly fancy

*I used an Austin Beerworks Peacemaker, but I’m also a fan of the High Life in this recipe. I mean, it’s the Champagne of Beers. That must make it the perfect substitute for real champagne, no?

Steps
  1. Combine the gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake the bajeezus out of it.
  3. Strain into a chilled glass.
  4. Top with the beer and garnish with a lemon twist.

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Filed under Cooking with Beer, Mixed Drinks, Recipes

Mustard… with Beer!

I’m a huge fan of making food from scratch. I’ll also be the first to say that it doesn’t always make sense to do so. Time constraints and food costs all too often get in the way. But then there are things like mustard. There’s really no reason not to make it yourself. It’s quick, absurdly cheap, and the flavor is worlds better than anything you’ll find in a squeeze bottle at the grocery store. And did I mention you can customize it to your taste with little to no effort? It’s definitely a recipe worth experimenting with. Heck, now that I know just how simple it is, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll have two to goodness knows how many flavors on hand at any given time.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbs yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tbs brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup + a glug of light, non-hoppy beer
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Steps
  1. Grind 1 tbs. of yellow mustard seeds to a powder.
  2. Mix with the remaining mustard seeds (yellow & brown) in a small bowl.
  3. Chop the garlic and shallot very finely. Large pieces of garlic in mustard doesn’t seem like it’d seem that appetizing in turkey sandwich…
  4. In a small, non-reactive saucepan combine the beer, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, shallots, honey, turmeric, allspice, and salt (aka the rest of the remaining ingredients). Bring to a boil, then gently simmer for about 15 minutes or until the mixture reduces by about half.
  5. Pour the mixture over the mustard seeds, cover, and leave in the fridge for 36-48 hours.
  6. Pulse the mixture in a food processor or grind with a mortar and pestle until smooth. If you prefer grainy, pulse a few times just until the mixture comes together.
  7. The mustard is now delicious and fully sandwich ready and it’ll be even better in another 24-48 hours as the flavors meld and the acidity mellows out a smidgen.
Do you prefer honey mustard?
Mix the honey in the recipe and add honey at a 1:1 ratio with the final product.

Do you prefer your mustard more pungent and strong?
Use black mustard seeds instead of brown.

Do you prefer spicier mustard?
Increase the amount of brown mustard seeds and/or add a chopped serrano pepper with the garlic and onion. Or add tabasco or chile powder to the final product.

Do you prefer a more robust mustard?
Use a porter or a stout instead of the pale ale and replace the tablespoon of honey with a tablespoon of molasses.

Even the above is just a starting point; play around with mustard seed varieties, types of vinegar, and spices. The possibilities are truly endless. And if you fully sanitize the jar and lid beforehand, it will keep for several months in the fridge, that is if it lasts that long…

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Filed under Cooking with Beer, Recipes

Pink Peppercorn Panna Cotta with Kriek and Macerated Cherries

Chris Cosentino is one of my culinary heroes. His restaurant, Incanto, introduced me to the wonder of duck head, pig trotters, and all things offal. This recipe is based on his with the addition of Lindemans Kriek, a tart beer that reduces incredibly well. The result is a dessert that’s tart, creamy, floral, and just sweet enough with an underlying pepper note.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbs. pink peppercorns depending on your taste
  • 2 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 12 oz. fresh cherries, can use frozen & thawed
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 or 2 bottles of a kriek or other lambic (raspberry maybe?)
  • You will also need 10 five-to-six-ounce ramekins. And.. this recipe can be halved (10 servings is a whole lotta panna cotta).
Steps
  1. Crush the peppercorns
  2. Bring cream, 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup kriek or lambic, 3/4 cup sugar, and peppercorns to a boil in a large saucepan until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour remaining 1/4 cup milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes.
  5. Set a strainer over a large pitcher or bowl.
  6. Bring the cream mixture to a simmer; stir in softened gelatin and vanilla. Whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Let stand for ~5 minutes.
  7. Pour cream mixture through strainer.
  8. Coat ramekins with nonstick spray and divide the cream mixture amongst them.
  9. Cover and chill until they firm. It’s best to prepare them the day before as they can ~6 hours to properly set. Keep them chilled until eating time.
  10. Stir cherries with remaining 2 tbs. sugar and pepper. Let sit until sugar dissolves and juices form; stir occasionally.
  11. In a saucepan, add the remaining kriek/lambic and reduce until it reaches a syrup consistency.

    Allow to cool before serving or it will melt the panna cotta (as can be seen in my picture at the bottom of this post; I was kind of sort of overly eager).
  12.  invert panna cotta onto plates. Spoon cherry mixture over top and pour kriek/lambic syrup around in a big delicious puddle.

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Filed under Cooking with Beer, Desserts, Recipes

NY Craft Beer Lunch at Birreria

Coincidentally, my vacation to New York City fell on the same week as Craft Beer Week. Huzzah! I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was when I found. It was a moment better embodied in victory dance than words.

I purchased the “Passport” application for my iPhone and had a list of bars, events, and discounts for the week conveniently at my fingertips. The best part: $3 pints at most beer bars. Umm… yes, please!

Perhaps the best event that we attended: lunch at Birreria with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head.

Birreria is a restaurant and brewery on the rooftop of Eataly, an Italian market/grocery store, in the Flatiron District. It’s a collaboration project between Dogfish HeadBaladin and Del Borgo and it is simply amazing. Their brew system is, simply put, gorgeous and filled the rooftop restaurant with the sweet smells of boiling wort.


All of their beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated and served through traditional hand pumps at the ‘perfect’ temperature.

The lunch started with a tour by Sam Calagione and the head brewer, Sam Brookes. Of course, no brewery tour is complete without a pint and so we started with the Sophia, a traditionally brewed Belgian Wit with long black peppercorns selected by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich & Birreria Brothers.

One of the great components of the restaurant is the retractable glass roof. Outside the rain came down in sheets, but provided a welcome background to a very hearty lunch.

The lunch kicked off with a few platters of salumi and glasses (?) of pretzel sticks.

A few minutes later the cheese followed.

And then came the wonder that is the beer battered fried shiitake mushrooms.

The Antipasti was paired with Birra Del Borgo Genziana, a saison spiced with gentian root (which is known for its earthy bitterness and coriander notes). The beer had something to offer for the entire first course. It was dry, crisp, and stepped up from the wheat beer we started with. There was no shortage of pours, either… a half full glass meant a top off was on its way.

Before the second course, Sam stood up and let us know that the glasses were limited and they only had enough for one per person. Then came my favorite quote of the day: Beer drinkers spit and wine drinkers swallow, so let’s all drink at a beer drinker’s pace. I guzzled my fourth pour to empty my glass for the next beer. It was hardly the end of the first course and I was drinking the equivalent of a third beer…

The second course: MEAT. And lots of it. First came the grilled quail, beef short ribs, fried pork ribs, and smoked lamb sausages.

These were paired with a Dogfish Head 2010 Bitches Brew, a bold, dark beer that’s a fusion of three threads of imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root. 

About ten minutes into the second course they brought out a few small bowls roasted root vegetables. We all had a good laugh at how the healthy portion of the lunch was more of an afterthought and left the buttered carrots alone.

Before the last course, Sam introduced Christian DeBenedetti, author of The Great American Beer Trail and the beer ‘curator’ whose name escapes me, but both shared their passion of beer and how they have turned it into a career.

The last course was a forgettable tiramisu that was paired with a not-so-forgettable Italian Beer, Baladin Super, an amber strong ale with hints of cinnamon.

To end the meal: an absolutely unforgettable beer. Sam introduced a new Dogfish Head collaboration, Urkontinent. He let us know we were the first after an initial group of 8 to try it. Over a week has passed and I’m still thinking about this beer… it’s an interesting dark ale that’s relatively light in body with unique floral and spice notes from the Australian waddleseed, myrica gale, and African Rooibos tea that are added to the brew.

After the lunch, Sam walked around and introduced himself to everyone. His excitement for the beers and food never wavered and he seemed genuinely interested every time someone would ask him about something. I’m not going to lie – I was impressed. When he stopped by our table, ee talked about different Texas brewers he knew, the Alamo Drafthouse, and the explosion of the Austin beer scene. Very cool.

I had high expectations for the lunch and the experience surpassed those expectations. If you ever find yourself in Manhatten and you enjoy really good craft beer – go to Birreria and order a flight.


Above is our table, which included @OneHopAtATime – a fellow homebrewer. I love meeting fellow craft beer enthusiasts. As Hunter S. Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, “Good people drink good beer.” All in all, it was a pretty f’ing fantastic way to spend the afternoon.

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