Beer Cheese Bread Recipe

Beer. Cheese. Bread.

Is there any combination of three words which can top that? I think not.

I got this recipe from the madre. I must say, I was not disappointed. On my first attempt, I used a low-end light beer (PBR? Heineken? Don’t remember). On my second attempt, I upped it to a Guinness. The flavor difference was noticeable. Surprisingly, it tasted much more yeasty with the Guinness. I still want to try using a Belgian ale sometime, but it’s very difficult for me to do anything but drink a Belgian.

Recipe:
3 c self-rising flour
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
2-4 T fresh chopped chives
1 (12 oz) bottle beer
1/4 c melted butter

Instructions:
Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Fold in the beer. (Like pancakes, it doesn’t need to be smooth. Chunky goopiness is a good thing).  Pour into a greased 9 x 5 bread pan. Bake at 350¹ for 45 min. Pour melted butter over the top and bake 10 more minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes then remove from pan and finish cooling.

(Self-rising flour is easy to make if you don’t have any. For every cup of flour add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. For this recipe add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder to the 3 cups flour.)

Possible Variation:
Skip the chives and add chili powder instead. How much depends on how much you can handle. Since this recipe liberally uses cheese and butter (which counteract the burn), I would recommend doubling the amount of chili that you would usually use to flavor something. I put my slightly more than standard amount in, and could barely feel a burn.

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September 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

Smitten Kitchen is my new favorite

It may be counterproductive to my hit count to promote another blog, but I have to share this. Smitten Kitchen is my new favorite blog.

If you know me well, you know that I’m a sucker for extravagant food. As I am unable to afford 5-star restaurants with fancy French chefs, I quickly realized that if I want luxurious food, I am going to have to make it myself. (The saffron ricotta ravioli recipe testifies to this fact). Of course, I’m interested in the economics and ethics of food, too. But every once in a while, I like to push the boundaries of the conventional kitchen by spending one fourth of my waking hours on a complex, 5-star meal.

Tomorrow the wifey is trying the root beer float cupcake recipe. Other noteworthy recipes that I’m itching to try include black bread (with 19 ingredients including chocolate, fennel and shallots!), apple cider donuts, and the frightening 44-clove garlic soup.

Head over to the Smitten Kitchen and check it out. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

July 1, 2010 at 3:57 am Leave a comment

Pressure Cooker Revolution

It may sound dramatic, but my pressure cooker changed my life.

I self-identify as a “reduced meat consumer.” For ethical reasons I have chosen not to buy meat. (Ok, I cheat from time to time. We’ll buy fish on occasion). I never reject food that someone else has prepared for me, especially in cross-cultural situations. However, when I’m cooking in my home, the food is almost exclusively vegetarian. Nuts and beans are the primary source of protein in our household.

For years, we’ve had bags of dry beans in the pantry. I can remember my though process at the grocery store when I bought them. “I hate having to buy so many cans of beans. Dry beans are cheaper to buy, and it cuts down considerably on waste. They don’t have all the added sodium either. I should cook dry beans more often! In fact, I’m going to start right now.”

I resolutely grab a bag or two off the shelf. I bring them home and put them in the pantry along with all of my great ambitions. Ambitions must be like a wine that gets better with age, because the beans usually sat unopened in the pantry for months upon months.

The problem with dried beans is that cooking them requires an inordinate amount of foresight. Ideally, they soak  overnight, then simmer for 2 hours until tender. It’s entirely impractical. I can cook, eat and do the dishes in 2 hours. I don’t have that kind of patience. Furthermore, I inevitably forget to soak them the night before. Sure, some legumes cook quicker than others. Lentils used to be a staple for this reason, but after a while I got tired of lentils. Lentils also don’t substitute for black beans or chick peas well at all.

Alas, I resigned myself to buying canned beans.

Until my wife met a family from the Middle East. They cooked beans all the time in a pressure cooker. “And it only takes like 15 minutes!” wifey exclaimed. (An exaggeration perhaps, but not an egregious one). So we asked for a pressure cooker for Christmas.

It revolutionized my world.

Skip the 12 hours of soaking and 2 hours of simmering. My pressure cooker cooks beans in 30 minutes. Even gigantic fava beans only take about 45 minutes. Brown rice cooks in 20.

Now those abandoned bags in the back of the cupboard are getting consumed in a timely fashion. We even started buying beans in bulk (15 lbs., last time).

The pressure cooker should be a vital part of the vegetarian’s kitchen. If you don’t have one, get one asap.

May 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

Corn and Bean (Burritos)

This has become an absolute staple in our house. It’s cheap, healthy, low in fat, high in fiber, delicious. We affectionately call it, simply, “corn ‘n’ bean.” For the black beans, we use a pressure cooker to cook dry beans, but you can use canned beans. The spice mix for this recipe is the key.

Spice mix:
2 parts cumin
2 parts coriander
1 part cinnamon

Ingredients:
4 c black beans (2 cans)
2 c corn (1 can)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c salsa
4 T corn’n’bean spice mix
Chili, salt, pepper to taste

Instructions:
In a large frying pan, saute the onion in olive oil. 3 minutes before the onions are done, add the garlic, spice mix, chili, salt and pepper. Then, add the beans, corn, salsa and simmer for 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid cooks off.

Put in tortilla with cheese, kefir, and Sriracha.

May 20, 2010 at 4:32 am 1 comment

Homemade Ginger Ale Recipe

We just popped open our first attempt at homemade ginger ale. It was good. Plenty of room for improvements, but I have some ideas. The first issue was the carbonation. It was mildly fizzy at best. I did some research and figured out that if you brew it at a higher PSI, you’ll get more carbonation. Considering I made mine in a milk jug, I suppose the flatness is to be expected. The second issue was sweetness. It probably could’ve used a tad more sugar. Then again, maybe we are all just used to having our drinks overbearingly, diabetes-ly sweet. Anyways, here’s the recipe and method:

3/4c sugar (I’ll probably try 1c next time)
4oz of fresh ginger root (Next time, I’ll use 6oz)
2c filtered water
1/2t yeast
1T lemon juice

Grate the ginger root (a food processor might be your best friend here). Put the ginger in a small saucepan with the water. Bring this to a boil and dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved and the water is boiling, remove it from the heat, cover it and let it steep for an hour. Once this is done, strain the mixture (removing all solids) and let it cool to room temperature. Once at room temp, dissolve the yeast and lemon juice. Pour this mixture into a clean, empty 2-litre. Fill all but an inch with filtered water. Set it on the counter and wait for 24-48 hrs until the bottle is very firm to squeeze (but before the pressure causes it to explode). Refrigerate and enjoy when cool.

On selecting the ginger: I grabbed a hung that was about fist size. I’ll probably go a little bigger than that next time.

A final caveat: I brewed it super spicy, because that’s what I like. It still wasn’t spicy enough for me, though. My goal was to get something like Blenheim Ginger Ale (the most absolutely incredible ginger ale ever made). I’m not quite there, but it was a respectable first try.

April 27, 2010 at 8:44 pm 1 comment

Just when you thought fast food couldn’t get worse

KFC introduces it’s “double-down.”

How does one make a double-down? Easy. Put two pieces of bacon and two slices cheese between two pieces of deep-fried chicken. Omit the bun. If, after eating one, your fingers aren’t to greasy to keep a hold of the phone, please call 9-11 and order an ambulance immediately.

This “sandwich” stomps a Big Mac with more calories, fat and sodium. In your face, Ronald. How much calories, fat and sodium? 540 calories, 32g of fat, and 1380mg sodium. Eating two puts you over your daily limit for saturated fat and sodium, so make sure to skip breakfast. (Is it really worth it?)

Don’t worry, according to the Indy Star, KFC is giving away all the extra buns that they’re not using. According to their VP of Marketing, “thousands” of buns will be donated nationally. Thousands, huh? Not tens or hundreds of thousands? Let’s be optimistic. Let’s say they donate 9,000 buns (on the high end of the “thousands” category). That means each state gets about 180 buns. Talk about generosity! We can all learn a valuable lesson from KFC… and that lesson is, if you can’t give everyone a heart attack, try starving them to death.

April 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm 2 comments

Four-chile Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Ingredients:

2 dried guajillo chiles
4 ancho chiles (dried poblano)
4 dried chiles de arbol
1 habanero chile

3 T whole cumin
2 T whole coriander
1 T whole allspice
2 bay leaves

2 cans kindey beans
1/2 c french lentils
1/2 c red lentils
1/2 c bulgar

4 c vegetable broth
1 large onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
4 T tomato paste
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toast separately: cumin, coriander, red lentils, and bulgar. To toast, heat a large, ungreased skillet over medium-high heat. Add an ingredient to the hot skillet, stirring continuously to keep from burning. Remove the ingredient from the skillet once it has become toasted (spices will become highly aromatic, lentils will start popping, and the bulgar will smell like toast). Set aside.

Crush cumin, coriander and allspice using a mortar and pestle. Cut dried peppers open, and remove seeds and remnants of stems. Grind peppers into a powder. (A coffee grinder or food processor works well for this).

Chop onion and saute with olive oil in the bottom of a large pot over medium heat. Mince the garlic and habanero pepper. Thoroughly wash anything that the habanero touches. Do not touch your eyes until you have thoroughly washed your hands. After the onions have sauted for 5-6 minutes, add the garlic and habanero. Allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add pepper/spice mixture and tomato paste. Mix vigorously quickly, then add remaining ingredients except for one can of fire-roasted tomatoes. If the chili becomes too thick, add a little water. Cook until green lentils are soft (30-45 minutes). Add remaining can of tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes.

February 25, 2010 at 8:36 am 4 comments

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