Friday, June 26, 2009

The Blob

From my previous entry, I just about doubled the honey, nuts, and dried fruit, while nearly eliminating the flour. I ended up with a Honeylicious blob...I attempted to cut it into bars, but, as you can see, they didn't really hold up. It makes a great ice cream topping and Alex has been enjoying it for breakfast with milk like granola. I asked my pastry chef co-worker what baking magic holds bars together and beyond honey or eggs the only advice she had was to chop everything in a food processor and then physically press the mix into the pan before baking. So, hopefully 3rd times the charm!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Bar, trial #1

Alex and I are going backpacking across the Olympic Mountains over July4th weekend and I've decided to make our own hiking bars. I LOVE Clif bars, but since they're involvement in the tainted peanut-butter scandal this past year, I've been a bit grossed out by the thought of what exactly goes into all these "high energy" "high protein" hiking-bar type, I'm making my own. Here's my first try, I basically had no idea what I was doing, I started with the Joy of Cooking's basic oatmeal cookie recipe, and with the magic of a pen and paper turned it into this:

2 cups AP Flour
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Honey
1/4 cup Brown Rice Syrup
2 sticks Butter
4 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 cups Oats
1 cup Hemp Seeds
1 handful Almonds, chopped
1 handful Cashews, chopped
2 handfuls Date Pieces
2 handfuls Raisins
1 handful Chocolate Chips
couple good shakes of Cinnamon
large dash of fresh grated Nutmeg

Cream the butter and sugars together, add the rest of the ingredients roughly one at a time.
Spread evenly over a half-sheet-pan with a Silpat on the bottom and bake at 350degrees F for about 35minutes.

So how are they? They're addicting, but not quite what I was going for...they're sort of a glorified cookie, I want something dense that will withstand being forced into a full bear-barrel with maximum nutrients per cubic centimeter (not that I have any way of measuring). In short:

Things to change for the next batch:
-Less flour, more stuff!
-Leave out the baking powder entirely
-Less butter?? (the baking chemistry properties of butter confuse me)

Things that rocked this batch:
-Brown Rice Syrup!! (added a unique nutty/toasty flavor)
-Hemp seeds have hella protein
-One word: Silpat. I would give my soul to the man that invented these things.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Allagash

Allagash Confluence Ale with fresh pasta in a white wine butter sauce with morrels, Skagit River Ranch Italian Sausage, and sea beans. Also, a salad! The picture doesn't do it justice, but I was more concerned with eating than being a photographer at the moment. This meal was a religious experience; my kitchen is my church.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Beer of the Gods

This past Friday's beer tasting was from Allagash brewery in Portland, Maine. I was completely blown away, I had no idea beer of this caliber existed. I can't quantify it, but there was something about all their beers that I tasted that was absolutely high quality. I could only compare it to the type of culinary magic worked by Daniel Boulud, Maria Hines, or Thomas Keller. The Confluence Ale was first, it filled my mouth in a way no beer ever has before and I was instantly overcome with a great deal of respect the brewer. It was full bodied, malty but not too sweet, and silky smooth. Next was the Victoria Ale, brewed with Chardonnay grapes in addition to barley and hops which gave it a distinct and perfectly executed fruitiness. It was light, crisp, and fruity like chardonnay, but also sweet and bitter like a good ale and all the flavors were in perfect harmony. Next came Victor Ale which is the counterpart to Victoria, Victor was brewed with red chancellor grapes giving it a beer-bordeaux-esque flavor. The grand finale was Curieaux - a triple ale aged in whiskey barrels. This beer had a depth and intense complexity to it that is unmatched. I've been dreaming of these beers since I had them and long to pair impeccable foods with them. Allagash has won my heart.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bitter Beet Saison

I've had this problem lately of really intending to make a traditional style of beer, say for example a real farmhouse saison. However, I get to the brew store, start munching on grains, realize hop selection is never guaranteed, and I get struck with many creative bolts of inspiration. Next thing you know, I'm about as far from a traditional saison, while still using saison yeast, the WyYeast saison yeast strain to be exact. Here's what happened:

US 2-row, German Pilsner, Dexatrin, Belgian Caravienne, Belgian Aromatic, Oatmeal, and 1 medium-sized red beet. Bittered with Centennial and Tettnanger hops, then finished with Tettnanger hops.

Original Gravity: 1.080 / Original Sugar Content: 19.5%
Finishing Gravity: 1.004 / Finishing Sugar Content: 1.0%

Alcohol: 9.97% !!!!!!

Surprisingly and unfortunately, this beer lost it's bright pink hue pretty quick...I'd be interested to know the mechanism behind that since beets are traditionally used to permenantly dye things. Also due to the beet, this beer is amazingly high in alcohol and I'm definately going to need to let it age a bit longer. It has an exhilarating bite to it at the moment - from both alcohol and hops. Once you get past the bite though, I think this will be a really delightful, refreshing, complex beer!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This aint your grandma's burger!

Puff pastry hamburger "bun" smeared with bechamel, Skagit River Ranch burger marinated in their own burger seasoning and barbeque sauce, Bacon, Golden Glen salsa-cheddar cheese, sauteed sweet onions and king boletes, sea beans, green onion, and salad mix from Port Townsend.

This is the most indulgent, gluttonous, messy burger I think I've ever had. Perhaps next time I'll use brioche instead of puff. And to add to that, I might have to try making brioche with bacon grease instead of butter...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Left overs better than the meal they were left over from!

Berry Syrup(strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, pear) + Barbeque Sauce + Pork stir fry = incredible!

sweet, spicy, fruity, savory, mmmmm.