Roggenfest Beef Stew

Terrence usually cooks most of our meals. Today he last minute decided to go for a hike and asked if I could handle the beef stew. Not being able to do anything easy, I decided to go crazy and concoct a more interesting stew.

I had a growler of Flagship Brewery‘s Roggenfest in the fridge and thought they would make a nice pair. I think I was right. The following recipe isn’t intended to have a strong beer flavor, I was aiming for subtle. I hope you try it… and love it. So far the critics in my house are fans.

Ingredients:
24 oz. Flagship Brewery’s Roggenfest
2 1/2 pounds stew meat (chuck / short ribs)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
2-3 Leeks, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
4 cups Beef Stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 medium carrots, sliced
3 red potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
Directions:
Dust the meat with the flour. Heat the oil and butter in the dutch oven over high heat, add the meat in small batches, remove to a plate as you finish browning. Reduce heat to low and sweat the leeks and celery in the leftover meat juices. Add the mushrooms and garlic, saute for about 3 minutes. Add back the stew meat. Pour in the beer and beef stock (add water if more liquid is needed, you want the fluids to come about an inch above the meat). Increase heat slightly, still keeping it  fairly low. Add the bay leaf, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Cover for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Increase heat to medium. Add carrots and potatoes, leave uncovered for 30 minutes (or until your carrots and potatoes are done).
Taste as you go along and adjust your seasonings as needed.
Adapted from: 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondies.

Third attempt, the defining batch.

When my girlfriends and I gather together for a night of dirty talk and television we like to have dinner and dessert. For a while we were meeting weekly and ordering up a new treat each time. On this particular night I had an intense craving for blondies, so I met up early with Amanda and went over to our favorite spot for tasty treats. You guys, they had never heard of a blondie. Seriously. After we explained it to them they still looked confused… and then offered us brownies. FIVE bakeries later, all with the same resulting interactions, not only did we feel like kicking brownies in the junk, but we were very disappointed with Staten Islands bakery community. We even called a few restaurants that we thought might have them listed on their dessert menus, they were just as confused and brownie pushing. We were getting annoyed, so we started a fruitless tour of supermarkets. Just as we were about to give up and make cookies I decided to try my hand at baking blondies from scratch.

I quickly pulled up a couple of recipes on my phone and devised a plan of action. When we finally all met up, we told the girls about our adventure. They also gave us perplexed looks… they’d never heard of blondies either. What’s wrong with society these days, blondies are AMAZING.

My first attempt that night tasted ok but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the results, after more tweaking and one more try I had settled on a recipe that I stand by. Blondies have actually become somewhat of a tradition amongst our inner circle, they’re expected. I’m even baking a couple dozen for our engagement party next weekend. My mother and I will be cooking our asses off in a couple of days, this should be fun.

First attempt, not yet perfected.

  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (I use Kosher salt crushed with a mortar and pestle)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup diced walnuts
  • Recipe adapted from here.

    Happy nomming,
    Ana

    Experimental beveraging.

    A while back I decided to experiment with coffee ice cubes. I myself do not drink coffee, so my experiments had to be done through an intermediary.

    Step one was easy, make coffee. Even though I don’t drink coffee, I’m pretty well versed in the subject. I live with a bit of an addict. I made the coffee a bit stronger than usual and I didn’t add anything to it. After making the coffee I let it sit and cool to room temperature.

    Step two, distribution…

    Step 3, freezing…

    Now would be a good time to brew up some more coffee, remember to add sugar and milk (or whatever you like to add to coffee) before cooling. If you forget to add your sugar before cooling you’ll find it a bit tough to stir in. You can also make a simple syrup (combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, simple) and add that to the already cooled down coffee, it stirs in just fine.

    Step 4, collecting…

    Step 5, dispensing…

    Step 6, serving…

    Step 7, enjoying…

    After making my first batch Terrence suggested I make the coffee a little weaker. He also began using just one regular ice cube combined with 3 coffee ice cubes. He seems to really enjoy my experiment. Although he did get a bit lazy and more than once has sent me to the coffee shop to bring home cold coffee so he wouldn’t have to make his own, he’s too impatient to cool coffee. The first time I had to order a large iced coffee, black, no ice I got the most bewildered look. It took some explaining.

    I hope this inspires you to try something new… even if you’re not the one actually “trying” it. Happy drinking!

    Summer in a glass.

    A few weeks ago during Terrence’s parents Memorial Day BBQ, I was introduced to the perfect Summer beverage. It took me some time but I managed to remember to ask Terrence’s dad how to make it. Last Sunday we concocted this amazingly fruity beverage for our weekly ladies night… and it was heavenly.

    It’s pretty simple, here’s what you’ll need.

    • Ice
    • Lemonade
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries

    Its optional whether or not you want to add the ice to the blender beforehand, its also optional if you wish to make the lemonade from scratch… I’m lazy and bought mine. How much of each ingredient you add is subjective, I eyeballed it and corrected the balance after a quick taste test. In case you’re curious to know… I added about 1/2 of my raspberries and 3/4 of my strawberries, once I was done throwing in the fruit I filled the blender nearly to the top with lemonade and then blended.

    You definitely want to make sure to have a lot of ice on hand for this drink, it’s at its most delicious when its as cold as can be. So even though we added ice to the blender we also added loads of it to the glass after.

    We have lots of fun making homemade treats for each of our ladies nights, its a fun way to tie the evening together and make it more involved. Its good to mix it up so we don’t spend the entire night just talking about boys.

    Try it, you’ll like it.

    A slightly less beautiful dessert.

    For years now my girlfriends and I have been having on and off again movie nights, although usually less movie and more gossiping. We generally also end up watching television series rather than movies. The last two months have been spent throwing a weekly Game of Thrones night (sometimes bi-weekly), and we decided to add another tradition to the mix, desserts. We decided to make our evenings slightly more special by having a home-made treat.

    Inspired by recipes found on A Beautiful Mess, these are our last two food experiments.

    Our first dessert was the frozen hot chocolate, I messed it up a bit. Since the girls are behind on the show I made this one on my own, I was impatient and didn’t let the chocolate cool long enough, I also should have crushed the ice first. Man, I made the BIGGEST mess. Next time we also have to be sure to have straws, it was kind of hard to drink. I do want to try this one again, it was close but I think I can do much better.

    Last night we tried the mini banana split. This one worked out perfectly, not as pretty as the originals, but delicious. We improvised a bit and added sprinkles, because really, whats a sundae without sprinkles.

    I love our new tradition, mostly because it’s so damn tasty.

    Make a pie entirely from scratch.

    Over the holidays I knew it was time to do this. When I first imagined making a pie from scratch I thought about apple or cherry. They seemed like the go to filling for homemade pies. But I don’t like either pie, so why make something I won’t enjoy. Given the time of year I decided to go with the holiday standard, the most delicious of all the pies… pumpkin.

    Apparently this was a particularly unpopular choice of pie. Not that baking pumpkin pies isn’t a holiday staple… but people generally don’t bake these from scratch. Finding a pumpkin that wasn’t intended for carving was pretty much impossible, actually in late November finding any pumpkin at all was impossible. Thankfully Terrence had bought a pumpkin back in October for us to carve or possibly eat, it wasn’t my first choice but given the circumstance it was going to have to do. According to Alton Brown, pumpkins have to shelf life of two months… so I was safe. But just in case I bought some butternut squash to back me up.

    Don’t let anyone tell you cutting a pumpkin in half is easy… it’s not. It might have been if I had the proper knife, but since I didn’t I’m gonna be a big baby about and say that halving a pumpkin is bullshit.

    The recipe I used called for a gingersnap crust, but I much prefer graham cracker crusts for pumpkin pies.

    This pumpkin pie business was a difficult and long process. My friend Amanda came over and we were both supposed to bake pies from scratch. She was originally going to make an apple pie, but felt tired and instead got the above pictured cans of blueberry pie filling and some frozen crusts. She was done in an hour… it probably took me that long to crack open my pumpkin halves. It was after midnight when she left and the pumpkin halves weren’t even close to done baking yet. Next year we’ll have to remember to start this bake fest in the day time instead of after dinner.

    We made the pies the night before Thanksgiving, Amanda had work the next morning (she works in a hospital) so she couldn’t stay with me until the bitter end. Also, Terrence went out to party hard with all the other kids in bars, so I was left all alone to bake. In my down time from assembling the pie I kept myself busy, and awake, by prepping other Thanksgiving sides. When it came time for the last stage of the pie, the baking, I had run out of busy work. I set the timer for 40 minutes and sat on my bed to watch some television… next thing I knew I was awakened by the scent of burning an hour and twenty minutes after the timer had gone off. FML.

    I was so angry, I tossed the burned pie onto the stove top and stormed back to my bedroom defeated. Thankfully I had enough puree to make one more pie. I set my alarm and went back to bed. Bright and early before all the other holiday crazy started I went back to work on my pie. After I blind baked the crust and took it out of the oven I foolishly set it down on the stepping stool beside me. Without thinking I kicked the oven door shut and it hit into the baking sheet tossing the crust into the air and butter side down onto the floor. I began screaming obscenities, this was in fact the Murphy’s law of pies. After Terrence calmed me down, I picked myself and my pie pan up off of the floor and began working on my third pie crust. This time things finally went smoothly.

    That night both of our families had shared the pie. Terrence was across the street with his family while I was in our apartment with mine, we crossed back and forth and ate way too much as usual. I was at home when Terrence and his kin were having dessert, my phone began exploding with text messages with single word exclamations… apparently the devil pie was a hit. So much in fact that Terrence ran over with the other half for me and my family to enjoy. Everyone was pretty floored by it, being my own worst critic… I thought that the Libby’s pumpkin pie from a can version I usually make were better. Terrence called me crazy.

    Both of our families told me that I had to make this evil pie annually. So now I have a new job, hopefully next year I won’t fall asleep on it.

    ***

    Oh and for those curious about Amanda’s blueberry pie… here’s her quick and painless baking experience.

    She never even ate it.

     

    An Asian labor of love.

    This passed labor day weekend we stayed at home. Saturday night we had a few friends over and BBQ’d in the backyard and the next evening we had a family dinner. Terrence, who writes for Engadget, recently had a weekend retreat to get to know his co-workers better. At the retreat one of fellow writers showed them how to roll your own sushi. Terrence was inspired, especially after seeing how simple it was, and decided that we would do this at home soon.

    After a few trips to our local Asian food market, we were ready. They had a slim selection of sushi grade fish, so we only made salmon rolls and tuna rolls. Terrence and his sister Beth had added some cucumber and scallions to some of their rolls. We had avocado but it wasn’t good, sadly. I made a plain salmon roll sprinkled with sesame seeds, yum.

    Rolling was a bit of an annoyance at first, the rolls kept coming undone… but Terrence figured it out in no time. We also cut the seaweed too big and ended up with a lot of double layered rolls at first. It was a learning process.

    My only critique, after all the other issues we came across were fixed, was the rice. Terrence isn’t all that great at making rice in the first place, but the rice was a bit too watery. Next time I may try to make the rice instead. But otherwise a very tasty first attempt. Not THAT hard.

    Eat lobster in Maine.

    Whenever Terrence asks me what I want to eat for dinner, it’s safe to say that 50% of the time I will say lobster. Out of that 50%, about 5% of the time he’ll say yes. Terrence thinks lobster is too decadent to eat all the time, too much time to cook or too expensive. Clearly he is mad. When we went on our vacation this year we trekked north to Maine and all the places in between. We were gone 4 days, out of those four days I had 5 lobsters… it was AMAZING. I was on vacation and I was allowed to be as decadent as I wanted, yay me. I had lobster for lunch and dinner while in Maine for that day and a half… and that lobster dinner will haunt me until I go back. It was the best fucking lobster, OF ALL TIME.

    We drove up to South Harpswell, ME to go to Estes Lobster House, it was large but quite empty, right on the water and beautiful. The lobster was sweet and soft, the shell just fell apart and the juice poured out. My biggest regret was not getting the lobster dinner with 2 lobsters, I thought it would be too much, so instead we got the lobster and clams… Fuck those clams. I considered getting a lobster for dessert… but my inner fat girl felt shamed and resisted. Stupid shame. It’s a 7 hour drive, give or take, I’ll be back… even if it’s just to eat and come home.

    This lobster ruined all lobsters for me. It was my first of the trip — not counting the lobster roll I had for lunch — and every night after that glorious night, the lobsters kind of blew. Sorry Massachusetts, but your lobsters ain’t shit compared to Maine’s lobsters.

    I was on vacation for 2 weeks, and on the last day of my fortnight of solitude I took my mother out for lunch at my favorite local lobster house — Lobster House Joe’s. It was the best lobster I’d had since Maine, I was afraid that I’d never be able to love another lobster again… and I only had to drive 15 minutes to get to it. It’s good to be home.

    P.S. Joe’s serves $9 lobsters until 4pm M-Th’s, it’s their lunch special… nothing decadent about that, just plain tasty. Get it steamed, you won’t regret it.

    Carambola, Cherimoya and Pepino… oh my?

    I haven’t been doing a good job at keeping you all posted on my Life List achievements, but I assure you I’m doing them.  All the ones to do with food are seriously being taken care of, mostly with the help of Terrence.  The Boy has always encouraged me to try new things, and since I made it abundantly clear that I was ready to be more food adventurous he has been pushing me all the way.  He brings home a strange fruit or cheese every time he goes shopping.  Saturday mornings he wakes up early and heads over to our local farmers market and returns with arms full of treasures.  He usually enjoys them more than I do but I’m putting in the effort.  I keep forgetting I’m supposed to be photographing most of these things I eat… but here are a few from a while back that we found in our local supermarket.

    Carambola or Start Fruit as it’s better known. I thought these were delicious, but I couldn’t finish one. Terrence also didn’t enjoy eating them in any larger quantity than about 3 slices. The carambola were crisp and watery, I honestly don’t remember the exact flavor though (maybe why I should post these sooner after consumption). All in all they were weird, but tasty. Thankfully Dutch LOVED the star fruit and ate all that I gave him.

    Cherimoya fruit was my favorite to look at, but not my favorite to eat.  It was weird… the texture was very creamy. Terrence loved it, but found it a bit overwhelming to eat the whole thing.  Thankfully we live across the street from his foody parents, who are always more than willing to try whatever weird shit we bring over.

    The Pepino Melon I really disliked, but to be fair… I think we waited too long to eat it.  This one definitely deserves a second chance. They were very juicy though, but made me scrunch up my face and do a little shake.  But I’ll still try another one if I ever come across them again.

    Now I’m all sorts of hungry.  Wish me luck on finding more oddity fruits, maybe I’ll hit up the Asian Food Market later and score some.  They’re very instrumental in my fruit eating over there. Yum.

    Attack of the navy beans.

    It took some time but I finally began the overwhelming life list task of 1080 Recipes.

    Terrence and I have been working on some things in our relationship lately, with the recent embarking of our 6th anniversary, it was time to review our innards and make some tweaks to keep us going smoothly.  One of the boys requests is that I cook more.  Terrence is a phenomenal cook, he enjoys baking from scratch, inventing food concoctions and scouring cookbooks/recipe sites.  IT’S WHAT HE DOES! Why would he want me to take that away from him?  As the years have flown by I’ve been entering the kitchen less and less… it was only right.  I guess I was wrong and now I’m righting my bad behavior, as per his request.

    Last week I looked into the freezer to see what meats we had on hand, I came across a leg of lamb. I then perused ‘1080 Recipes ‘  for a good leg of lamb recipe, I decided on number 785 (Roast leg of spring lamb).  This recipe suggested teaming up with 221 (Navy bean garnish) + 230 (Mashed potatoes), who was I to argue.  After a quick trip to the grocery store and a day of defrosting, I now had a meal to create.

    The lamb was my first priority, it required about an hour and a half in the oven so I tried to plan everything around it’s cooking time for a photo finished meal.  I usually have a hard time getting all the parts of a meal done at the same time when I’m not familiar with making it.  I thought I was doing a good job here.  The navy beans, however, had this ridiculous section of cooking that was 2 hours of boiling and water swapping.  All I remembered was the 2 hour part, it stuck in my head and then thirty minutes after I started my beans I put in the lamb… perfect timing here I come.  Only one thing, the navy beans total cook time wasn’t two hours… it was three.  And I didn’t notice that until the lamb had about thirty minutes left in the oven. Stupid beans. For a garnish they sure were ruining everything.

    221: Navy Bean Garnish

    I’m no good under pressure, I started freaking out that my dinner was ruined.  I kept whining to Terrence about how I just wanted to make him a fancy dinner and now it was ruined.  The meat was going to be cold, COLD.  Now Terrence isn’t a very patient man and in order to deal with me he really has to break out every bit of strength sometimes not to shake the shit out of me.  He told me to relax and began helping me to make sure the beans and potatoes would be done as soon as they could so the meat wasn’t all coagulated and cold.

    785: Roast leg of spring lamb

    I had invited my friend Amanda over to help us eat the feast for six, so she was standing by distracting me from my stress of ruined meat. Thankfully she kept me a occupied while Terrence kicked me out of the kitchen and took control of my disaster.  We had to put the lamb back in the oven and it was more well done than medium rare and a bit coagulated but all in all the meal was edible and a tasty. I want to take another shot at the lamb so I can get it perfectly pink and delicious… but next time the navy beans aren’t invited to my food party.

    3 down, 1077 to go.

    Next time I open this book in the kitchen I hope I don’t cry.  🙂