Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beer review: Futhermore

While I love food--there is nothing that compliments a great meal like a glass of wine or a beer. Over the last year especially, I have really developed a taste for craft brews.  I have really enjoyed it and have came across some great brews. The other night I went to a "Meet the Brewer" event at Common Roots and was pleasantly surprised by Furthermore's tasty creations.  I had the privilege of trying two of them: Knot Stock and Fatty Boombalatty. Now keep in mind, I am not an expert in beer and I do not claim to be. I simply like to drink them and I hope at the very least my post encourages you to try something new!

Fatty Boombalatty: This is Furthermore's summer/spring beer. I was skeptical because generally I think spring beers are okay, but I am hard pressed to think of one summer beer that I enjoy (besides one which shall remain nameless).  Anyways--I was pleasantly surprised by this Belgian White/India Pale Ale.  As I understand it, Belgian Whites are usually a bit sweeter and often have a citrus-like taste to them. India Pale Ales tend to have a sharp taste that hits you and is pretty bold. The neat thing about a beer like this one--it took the best of both worlds and combined them in one beer. When the brewer told us about this beer--I thought it would be awesome or awful and it was definitely awesome. It is definitely more crisp than it is sweet, but there is still that sweet taste that lingers a bit. I really enjoyed it and this beer will be great to break out during the lovely summer BBQs that I am looking forward to.

Knot Stock: I was instantly intrigued by this American Pale Ale which is infused with black pepper. I love flavor and spice and was really excited to taste the combination of hops and black pepper.  The first sip was mostly hoppy and then all of the sudden it was like "Holy black pepper!" I loved it. While I would not call the black pepper subtle by any means, it also was not overwhelming.  I feel like the other flavors in the beer balanced the pepper out a bit, but still allowed that taste to come through.  While I really enjoyed this brew--I can imagine it might be love it or hate it. Regardless of that though--I would recommend at least giving it a try.

Furthermore has some other great brews I am looking forward to trying. I highly recommend giving their beers a try!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kitchen tools that I love!

Every cook has a few kitchen gadgets they just cannot live without.  I can't wait to have a kitchen that is bigger so I can have all the gadgets I want.  In the meantime, my favorite tools tend to be the ones that have multiple purposes because of my small space.  A good gadget should also save time rather than waste time.  For this reason, I have tossed things like my veggie chopper because it is a total pain to put together and to clean.  Here some of my favorite kitchen tools:
Microplane-- I love this tool.  I use it for zesting lemons, limes and oranges and also for grading small amounts of cheese.  It is small, does not take up a lot of room and it easy to clean.
Over-the-Sink Strainer--  What a great invention! This basket is great for straining pasta or cleaning vegetables over the sink.  What did I do without it?
Kitchen scissors-- This might seem like a no-brainer, but I find it essential to keep a pair of scissors in the kitchen.  They are great for cutting bacon, herbs, and certain veggies.  This scissors have to remain in the kitchen though. You do not want them used for anything other than cutting food.
High-carbon stainless steel knife--  I would LOVE a set of gorgeous German knives, but they are pretty expensive, so such a purchase must wait.  In the meantime, I get by with this great knife that is durable, low-maintenance and great for chopping veggies.
Slow Cooker-- This winter I have learned to make some really tasty food in this thing, and I don't know what I did without it! Nothing like coming home to a delicious dinner already done.
Food Processor-- I am the lucky recipient of my cousin's hand-me-down (in near perfect conditioner) Cuisinart food processor.  I love it! It makes chopping and blending things a breeze.
Pyrex liquid measuring cup-- This might seem like a no-brainer, but I cannot emphasize its utility enough.  Do not cheap out and buy a plastic one because they are not nearly as nice, they do not clean as well, and the Pyrex just does much better with hot liquids.
Measuring boats-- I don't know what else to call these, but I love them! They are in the lower left hand corner and the big one is 2 oz and the little one is 1 oz. They have tablespoon and teaspoon markings along each side. I find them extremely convenient for measuring small amounts of liquid. 
Herb mincer-- I was not convinced I needed this, but the price was right and it sounded like a good idea. I thought it would be hard to clean, but it is really really easy and it is a great way to chop up herbs quickly. Love it!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crispy Oven Greens

I always see kale, collard greens and turnip greens in the grocery store and up until recently I had no clue what to do with these greens. This winter, I took a cooking class at Cooks of Crocus Hill and even though we made coq au vin, beef short ribs and a fantastic wintery salad--the crispy oven greens were my absolute favorite. They also happen to be incredibly quick and easy--no more than 20 minutes.

1 lb of cooking greens cut into bite sized pieces and spread on a cookie sheet
1 tbs of Sricha sauce
1 tbs of soy sauce
1 tbs of vinegar
1 tbs of honey
1 tbs of sesame oil

1) Preheat the oven to 450 degree. Mix the spices in a small bowl and then drizzle over the oven greens. Toss well until the greens are coated.
2) Bake for 10-15 minutes, tossing once. The greens are done when they are slightly crispy.

The spice formula I used goes like this: one part spicy, one part salty, one part sour, one part sweet and one part fat. You can do the same thing using other things like tabasco, agave nectar, olive oil, Worcestshire sauce, white wine vinegar, sugar, brown sugar, kosher salt etc.

If you don't want the greens spicy, I recommend cutting the spicy part down by half or more depending on your audience.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Citrus Marinated Shrimp

As spring settles in, it is out with the heavy stews and soups and time to start eating a little more light. To me there is nothing that fits the "light" bill more than seafood. On Good Friday, in the tradition of my parents, who always went out of their way to make an extra delicious seafood dish on Good Friday, I made a fantastic shrimp recipe.  It was quick, easy and healthy and definitely something I will do again in the near future--but maybe next time on the grill!

1 lb. of raw shrimp (peeled and cleaned)
3/4 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or italian parsley
splash of EVOO
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1) In a medium bowl, combine the peeled and cleaned shrimp with all of the ingredients. Let is sit for at least 30 minutes, but no more than an hour.
2) Heat a pan on medium heat and add a splash of EVOO. Add the shrimp, a splash of the marinade and cook for 3-5 minutes until pink.

The shrimp can be served as a main course with a couple of sides or it would also be great tossed in a salad with some fresh veggies.

Monday, April 11, 2011

You Don't Win Friends With Salad?

However, I beg to differ. This salad is light, crisp and refreshing and tastes great without adding all of the ingredients that defeat the purpose of eating salad. It was also pretty simple to quickly put together.

1 1/2 cups of fresh spinach
1/4 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped red/green/yellow peppers
1/8 cup chopped jalapenos (I used them from a jar because it is what I had on hand)
2 chopped hard-boiled eggs
3 tbs salsa verde/avocado mixture (from Trader Joe's)
(I added a tablespoon of cheese, but I would just pass on it next time)

One thing I have learned--salad dressing does not always have to be the oily stuff out of a bottle. You can use salsa, Greek Yogurt with a little seasoning, cottage cheese, or corn relish. It is a great way to make your salad a bit more healthy and often does not involve sacrificing flavor.  Also, if you load your salad with veggies, you are not going to miss the croutons, cheese, and other things that mitigate the health benefits of a salad.