Well, Hello There

Still check this blog, eh?

Cool. My plate has been a bit full lately, but here are some of the things that have been on it. Thanks for checking in :)


Beer Lessons: Beer And Cheese Are Better Friends Than Wine And Cheese

Everyone knows that wine and cheese are best friends.

What everyone doesn’t know is that beer and cheese are pals. Yep. They go way back, too.

Beer and cheese is actually a more natural pairing than wine and cheese — many wines tend to wash out the subtle flavor notes found in cheeses, but beer allows the cheese flavor to cut through. Neither one is overpowering; they work together to enhance the flavor impact of the other.

I learned about this fabulous beer-cheese friendship from Marc Stroobandt, Master Beer Sommelier (Can we talk about how much I want his job?). He put together a cheese plate and poured some Stella Artois, and pretty much turned my preconceived ideas about beer upside-down.

It makes total sense, too: beer is made from grains and water. Cows eat and drink grains and water. This kind of link just doesn’t exist between wine and cheese. Your new beer and cheese mantra: if it grows together, it goes together. I’m interested to see how much this link is strengthened when beers are paired with cheeses made in the same region as the brewery.

Different beer-cheese combos are just like different sets of friends. Stella Artois likes to let the cheese be the star, and opens up some of the subtle undertones that aren’t always easy to taste. Leffe, which is normally a very sweet beer, steps back and lets the cheese temper some of its sweetness. The cheese transforms the beer, and the beer transforms the cheese. Kind of like how your friends complement your personality and bring out your best qualities.

Learn by doing — next time, instead of a wine & cheese night, try a beer & cheese night. Taste the cheese. Take a sip of beer. Taste the cheese again. I promise you’ll notice something new!

Muy Delicioso

I love Mexican rice. It’s one of those nice, carby side dishes that I have no problem consuming in mass quantities, and I’ve been known to order Mexican food with 2 extra sides of rice and then forget about my entrée. I snagged this recipe from Annie’s Eats, where it was co-opted from Dinner and Dessert, who found it in the September 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. And presumably, the editors of Cook’s Illustrated found it somewhere, which means that, long story short, a lot of people have made and enjoyed this recipe. Good enough for me.

I was also super excited to find a recipe that I could use to test out my new food processor.

The Recipe: Mexican Rice
Serves: 3-4
Time: 45 minutes

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 medium white onion
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp minced garlic
3 medium jalapenos, ribbed, seeded and minced
1 can (2 cups) chicken broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

Do This

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Purée the onions, diced tomatoes, and one of the jalapenos until you have a soupy, dark red pulp. Transfer the mixture a liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (or maybe a little more — mine filled my 2-cup measure past the line).

Place the rice in a large fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes. If you’re nervous about the mesh, put a paper towel underneath to catch any stray grains that might fall through. The original recipe says to shake the rice vigorously in the strainer to remove all excess water, but I found that it’s just as easy to tip it from side to side and drain off the water slowly. Shaking vigorously = rice falls out.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan (or a wok, if you have neither) with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the garlic and minced jalapenos to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 1/2 minutes.

Stir in the puréed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste, and salt. Turn up the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. If you’re like me and lost the lid to your pan while moving (oops), you can transfer the mixture from a wok into a large casserole dish. Bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro (if you like cilantro, that is) and serve with lime wedges. Eat until you’re about to burst.

This rice is good. The Boyfriend and I enjoyed it as an entrée, with a side of citrus-marinated grilled chicken breast and some strawberry margaritas. And more rice for dessert, because it’s good.


Shrimp Scampi. Recipe to follow.

Shrimp. Lemon. Butter. Oil. Garlic. Mmmm.

I took the photo sans parsley garnish, but if it makes you feel better to see some green on your scampi, just imagine that it’s there :)

Camera Battery Charger, Where Art Thou?

I promise, I’m not dead. And I am, in fact, still cooking. I just don’t have a charger for my camera battery. I’ve narrowed the location down to one of nine remaining moving boxes, so with luck there will be some treats posted this week (and maybe some backdated ones, because I really did cook in January!).

Hey! Where Did You Go?

I know…not a lot of posts lately. I’m currently visiting family in Florida, and then I’m on my way to St. Louis.

Check back in the new year for more recipes. And maybe if I can steal some wireless signal from the neighbors here, there will be some surprise posts this week :)

Some Food From Fakesgiving Past

I thought I’d post a little collection of photos from the first Fakesgiving.

Day-of turkey thawing. Not the brightest idea, but a couple of hours in a hot water bath did the trick. This year, we planned ahead and thawed her in the fridge.

Foil strips for easy lifting. This was one of the smartest things we did.

Our turkey, naked as the day she was born.

Basting action shot. Not pictured: the burns on my arm from pulling the oven rack too far out and trying to catch the roaster pan so the turkey wouldn’t hit the floor.

Ready to take the turkey out of the oven.

Stick a fork in her, she’s done! (We didn’t really know how to carve all that well, either)

Fakesgiving ’07 was a bit more formal. There were place cards. Place cards that weren’t hand turkeys.

This year, I’m a little bit more handy with the camera. And I know how to make a turkey. Hooray!