Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tale of the Lonesome Red Stripe

I had been staring at that last lonely beer in the bottom right corner of my fridge for two weeks.  I didn't put it there, I didn't drink the others, and yet it taunted me. The crinkled cardboard six pack held only the memory of it's previous occupants.  Number six was alone, pathetic, and sad.  Nestled next to a bag of limp carrots and two onions, he yearned to be put out of his misery and I was the only one capable of accommodating.  So that's exactly what I did.  Unfortunately, drinking beer does not agree with me but with the addition of salt, flour, baking powder, and sugar the lonesome Red Stripe was transformed.  Like the ugly duckling that became a beautiful swan, that sorry little straggler from the six pack finally got his day in the sun.... and by sun, I mean oven.   

Homemade Beer  Bread
3 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Red Stripe (11.2 oz)
2 Tbsp water (omit if you use a 12 oz beer)
2 Tbsp melted butter to brush on top

Using a fork or whisk, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add beer and water to dry ingredients and fold together gently to combine.  Pour batter into a greased dutch oven and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Brush with butter and place back in the oven for 4-5 minutes. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chicken-less Salad

This recipe is crazy good.  Period.  The flavors are intense, there's a balance between sweet and tangy, and the texture has a hint of crunch. Imagine it - the pop of juicy red grapes, the power of raw scallions and curry powder, and the crunch of almonds and celery all coated in a tangy yogurt dressing.  Sounds like a delicious chicken salad, right?  Guess again.  This is chick pea salad.  Peppered with hints of curry, lemon, and mustard, it rivals any chicken salad I've ever had. Layered with fresh spinach leaves and snuggled in a sweet Hawaiian roll, it makes quite a substantial sandwich that doesn't require any additional condiments (in my humble opinion).  This is a great way to shake up your normal routine and try something new.  No, it doesn't mean that you're giving up meat. You're simply broadening your horizons. Try it... unless you're just too chicken.

Chick Salad:
2 C chick peas - quickly pulsed in food processor
1 C red grapes - halved
2 scallions - minced
1 stalk celery - minced
1/4 C blanched almonds - chopped

1 C plain greek yogurt
3 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp bavarian mustard
1/4 tsp curry power
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix salad ingredients together in a bowl.  In separate bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for half an hour to marry all flavors.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Try Something New

If you've never made your own summer rolls, go get rice papers and try it immediately... you'll feel like a culinary rock star. They are easy to make and can be customized to suit any taste buds, a great thing to remember if you have carnivores and vegetarians living under the same roof (or perhaps just a picky eater). My first attempt was a mixture of carrot, cucumber, green apple, and radicchio. I doused the apples in lime juice, giving them a crisp acidic brightness that balanced perfectly with the bitter radicchio. A roasted pepper dipping sauce laced with soy sauce, ginger and lime completed the dish. Since summer rolls are not fried like spring rolls, once they're wrapped - they're ready! While I initially thought the rice papers would be delicate and hard to work with, I quickly realized their resilience. They offered the perfect opportunity to stretch my culinary wings, experiment with different flavor combinations and really let my inner chef out to play. My challenge to you - try something new. Who knows, you may just create something amazing!

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." - Harriet van Horne