Friday, October 28, 2011

The 101 on Beer

Call Me A Late Bloomer. I Am Just Beginning To Discover The Magnificent Complexity Of Beer.

I’ve never liked beer…that is until recently. Blue Moon Beer put me on a path of educating myself on the difference between a beer and a really good beer. It’s about time don’t you think?

For most of my adult life, a beer was a beer was a beer. Quite frankly, I couldn’t tell the difference between a Bud and a Miller Lite.

Complicating matters even worse, pairing beer with food is a challenge of another kind.

Generally you can pair light dishes with light beer and heavy dishes with heavy beer.

Yes, that’s the one thing I took away from my education today at the Haymarket Pub and Brewery at 737 West Randolph.

There are plenty of breweries in Chicago to go get a lesson on the 101’s of beer but this one happens to have all of the right ingredients for an excellent class: well-informed bartenders and staff, good home brews (their own Belgian IPA ‘Angry Birds’ won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival) and extraordinary food.

I really expected run of the mill bar food and instead got amazing cuisine made with only the freshest of ingredients. The key? They make a lot of what they put on your table in-house.
This white pizza with homemade bacon and blue cheese was to die for.

I was tempted to order more off the menu but I knew my limits. Beer is filling and I had mine after sipping the four brews that were suggested to me as a newbie. Pay particular attention to the fact that they did not ease me in with anything light and fizzy.

Speakerswagon Pilsner 5.8%
Buk Black Rye Rock 7%
7GA I.P.A. 6.8%
Perception I.P.A. 6.5% (this one was put on the menu just two days ago)

I enjoyed all of them but to my surprise, the beer I expected to like the least I liked the most- The BUK Black Rye Rock. It was totally smooth and not heavy like I thought it would be.

Haymarket does sell beer flights – you can order 4 ounce minis for about $1.50 each - and they are a great way to jump in and test the waters. In fact, they are likely to push you from the stage of just drinking beer to really enjoying beer and that was a huge leap for me.

I have always been a wino so here are some easy comparisons between wine and beer:

Light Body
Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Pinot Grigio
Beers: Lager, Pilsner, Wheat

Medium Body
Wines: Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah
Beers: Ale, IPA, Bock

Heavy Body
Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chardonnay
Beers: Stout, Porter, Barleywine

And with food, I learned this about pairing today…

Pizza, for example, is greasy and requires something that will hold up to the acid in the tomato and take out the greasy cheese but not overwhelm the dish. Pilsners and Lagers do the trick.

Go for stronger and fruitier flavors when feasting on spicy fare: Lighter Ales in particular

Another rule of thumb is if you're pairing a meal with different beers make sure to start with a light beer and work your way to darker beers.

So where was I through all of this when the beer revolution was quietly brewing in Portland and finally took hold in the 1980’s? Turning up my nose on the way to the wine department.

The craft beer industry grew from just a few pioneers to more than 1,700 breweries in 2010. I guess this is when I started to pay attention. Not because the brands were finally getting recognition but because I had my first Blue Moon and was hooked. Suddenly pizza, hamburgers, chili and Mexican all spoke beer to me.

These days, there are even beer pairings for breakfast – Pancakes with a Stout and sausage with a Bock. I’ll have to take this one in later because it can easily burn up another post.

An Always Rule of Thumb: If you don’t feel risky, stick with what you know. Chances are the safe bet is the one you will like the most anyway.

But…on second thought, if I hadn’t taken that risk on the Buk Black Rye Rock 7%, I would still be thinking that a beer is a beer is a beer.

Bon Appetit!

I’ve been making this Beer Cheese Soup recipe for years and have yet to find another one that I like better.

This recipe came from my mom’s high school friend Johnny Glick.The Gluek name has been part of Minnesota brewing history for over 150 years.

Gluek’s always keep in step with technology, first by using one-way (cans) containers for their beer and then by developing a ground-breaking new malt beverage called "Stite," a predecessor of today's "light beer.”

Many drinkers maintained that it had a higher than average alcohol contents and with all of the high alcohol contents I had today, I am convinced that Gluek’s was a brewer before it’s time!

Gluek’s Beer Cheese Soup
½ cup butter
¾ cup flour
1 pint half-and-half
1 – 12 oz can beer
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
White pepper, salt and garlic powder to taste

Heat butter, add flour and blend until smooth. Slowly add the half-and-half, chicken broth, beer, and seasonings, stirring after each addition.
Add cheese and stir to melt.

I was prepared to pass off this recipe as just another onion ring recipe but it was really, really, really good … so I had onion rings for breakfast this morning. Honestly, after making this I think that I have fallen in love with Guinness for cooking.

Make sure you coat them really well with flour when you take them out of the buttermilk.

That second step of dunking them in Guinness and flour was the brilliant extra that made them really crunchy.
P.S. I only use Vidalias.

Guinness Beer Battered Onion Rings

2 large Vidalia onions, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon California-style garlic pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (12 oz.) bottle Guinness® Extra Stout Beer
4 cups canola oil

Separate sliced onions into rings, transfer to bowl and cover with buttermilk.

Combine 1 cup flour, garlic pepper and salt in bowl and stir to blend.

Combine 1 cup flour and beer in bowl and whisk to blend.

Heat oil in deep heavy pan or deep fryer to 350°F.

Working in small batches; remove onions from buttermilk and drain. Dredge in seasoned flour; shake excess. Dip in beer batter; drain excess.

Carefully lower onion rings, one at a time, into hot oil (do not overcrowd) and deep fry until golden brown, turning several times during frying with tongs. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Repeat process with remaining onion rings.

Season with salt, if desired. Serve hot.

I thought that these short ribs would be so much better braised in the oven but to my surprise, they really turned out well and I loved the bath of hoisin sauce at the end.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a great bottle of red.

Braised Hoisin Beer Short Ribs
Dave Lieberman via Food Network

3 poundsbeef short ribs, about 10 ribs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 to 12 garlic cloves smashed
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
12 ounces good ale (recommended: Bass)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cup hoisin sauce

Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot with a lid (Dutch oven) over high heat. Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the ribs and pour off all but a couple tablespoons of the rendered fat.

Return the pot to the stove, lower the heat to medium and saute the garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes. Add the ribs back to the pot. Add the beer and the vinegar. Stir and then cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Pour the hoisin sauce over the ribs, move the pot to the oven, and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Remove ribs and ginger from sauce. Strain fat from the top of the pot so that you're left with just the good stuff.

This was an interesting drink and a perfect lead in for fall.

I used Apple Cider instead of the Applejack. I also used my recipe for Pumpkin Syrup from last week’s post.

Lot 49

1.5 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1 oz Laird’s Applejack
1 oz Pumpkin Syrup
5 drops Cinnamon Tincture
3 oz Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale

Shake the non-beer ingredients well with cracked ice. Pour into a rocks glass, add cold beer and stir. Rim glass and garnish with an orange wheel.

I discovered homemade chicken bratwurst at my butcher shop a year ago and haven’t had a “real” one since they are that good.

I have a really good recipe for German Potato Salad but I liked this one, too. The eggs gave it a different consistency and I used pancetta instead of bacon. I also did not mash the mixture. Somehow I just can’t imagine taking the masher to something I painstakingly put together. It looked splendid the way it was.

Remember to closely monitor the addition of vinegar and mustard to the mix as it is definitely a matter of taste.

Grilled Bratwurst with German Potato Salad
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse (via Food Network)
Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 beers, 12 ounces each
1 1/2 pounds Bratwurst links (2 to 3-ounce links)
Vegetable oil, for brushing brats
Brat rolls, brown bread or hot dog buns
Crock of whole grain mustard

Potato Salad:
2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and diced
6 ounces raw bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onions
Freshly ground black pepper
Up to 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (add a small amount at a time, and taste)
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring the beer up to a simmer. Add the brats, and cook until plump, about 6 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the grill.

For the Potato Salad: Place the potatoes in a second saucepan, and cover them with salted water by 2 inches. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and simmer the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well, and return to the saucepan to keep warm.

In the meantime, grab a skillet and cook the bacon until crispy over medium heat. Add the onions, and season with pepper. Saute for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Set aside.

Transfer the potatoes and the bacon mixture (including the fat) to a large mixing bowl. Add vinegar (to taste), mustard, eggs and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Using the back of a spoon, mash the mixture together.

Lightly brush the sausages with oil. Place on the grill, and cook for a few minutes on each side.
Remove the sausages from the grill, and serve with potato salad, rolls and mustard.
Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? This version adds the great flavor of beer and be sure to use the panko crumbs. I didn’t think I had any and the ends of my elbows got a slight bit crispy.
I found them a week later. Do you think it’s time to clean out my cupboards?

Beer Mac and Cheese
serves 4-6

2 1/2 cups uncooked whole elbow noodles
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
8 ounces milk
4 ounces beer
8 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese
4 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare water for pasta and boil according to directions, shaving 1-2 minutes off of cooking time since pasta will continue to cook in the oven.

Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, whisk in flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add milk and beer into saucepan whisking constantly, then add cheeses and stir until melted. Turn heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for 5-6 minutes while mixture thickens.

It will most likely NOT thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but you want it to thicken a little bit. Stir in pepper, paprika and nutmeg.

Add noodles (once cooked and drained) to a casserole dish, then pour cheese over top, mixing gently to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

I saw this photo in a magazine and liked it so much that I used a biscuit cutter to make a circular design instead of the square just like the photograph.

As it turned out, the sweet little cakes make a perfect base for fruit and whipped cream…just like a shortcake.

Blue Moon Blondie Bites

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. white sugar, granulated
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. Blue Moon beer (Be sure, when measuring, that you get 2/3 cup of beer and no head.)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon extract
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan liberally with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and lemon extract.

Beat in the flour and salt alternating with the beer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once a uniform batter has formed, fold in the zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean.

Allow the blondies to cool completely before cutting. At this point you may choose to slice conventional square blondies or use a circular cutter to cut smaller, round blondie bites.

In Mexico, the first clue I had that someone drank too much the previous night was that they were eating carnitas and drinking Micheladas for breakfast the next morning.

We’ve all been there and this Michelada recipe takes the trophy for curing whatever it is that grabbed you the night before.

Makes one beer cocktail

1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice – this is roughly the juice of one medium sized lime
3 – 5 dashes of Tabasco
3 – 5 dashes Maggi seasoning
• 3 – 5 dashes Worchestershire sauce
Ice cold Mexican beer of your choice –Tecate is my favorite

If you want a salt rim, rub a lime wedge along the rim of your glass of choice and dip in a saucer of kosher salt to create the salt rim.

You can fill the glass with ice. I don’t use ice. Maybe years of being true to the warning not to drink the water.

Build the cocktail in the glass by pouring in the lime juice, hot sauce, Worchestershire sauce and Maggi seasoning.

Top with beer to desired level.

Stir gently and serve.

I don’t usually eat chicken thighs because of the high fat content but I would make this dish again. The sauce is delicious and has so much flavor.

I’ll bet you can also use this sauce over BBQ or boneless breasts.

The mustard made the sauce so make sure you have plenty because I was just shy of a Tablespoon.

I would also use a tad more flour and a little less butter to make the sauce a little bit thicker.

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs w/Beer And Grainy Mustard Sauce
from Fine Cooking, December 2010/January 2011

8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 medium shallots, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup amber lager
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 475 F, with a rack set in the lower third.

Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer. Cook until the skin is well browned, about 7 minutes. Flip the chicken and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the chicken until it is cooked through - an instant read thermometer should register 170 F, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Add the shallots to the pan and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour until combined. Gradually add the beer, chicken stock, maple syrup and thyme, whisking frequently. Raise the heat to high, and bring the sauce to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the sauce reduces to about 1 cup (or to your desired consistency), about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the mustard and the butter, then season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, dip each chicken thigh in the sauce and turn to coat. Plate the chicken, then spoon additional sauce over the top and garnish with fresh thyme, if desired.

Real Simple …You Can Tell A Lot About A Guy By The Contents Of His Refrigerator

                                                                   Photo: Elise Amendola/AP

So what was the first thing Theo Epstein did when he came to town this week?

The new Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations walked across the street from Wrigley and into the Vines on Clark Restaurant for a 75 minute lunch.

Yep, I’m placing my bet on the guy who loves to eat!

Bon Appetit!

Travelers Choice: U.S. Food and Wine Destinations

TripAdvisor has named the 2011 Travelers Choice Food and Wine U.S. Destinations.

Chicago placed third – just behind New Orleans and Napa – and ahead of both San Francisco and New York.

What sealed the deal with the user-generated evaluations? The variety and authenticity of Chicago’s ethnic restaurants.

I did a post back on Chicago's ethnic best back in 2009. A lot has changed since then and the significance of Chicago as a food city has continued to rise.

Stay tuned…

Bon Appetit!

Highwood Pumpkin Fest

Highwood officials said Saturday that the city had lit more than 31,000 pumpkins during its annual Pumpkin Fest, breaking a world record.

The unofficial count that will be sent to Guinness Book of World Records officials will be released Wednesday.

Guinness officials will look over the city's photos and videos of the thousands to pumpkins to determine whether Highwood will be the new title holder for the most jack-o'-lanterns lit at one time -- an honor currently held by Boston, who, in 2006, lit 30,128.

It was an absolutely beautiful Indian summer day and the crowds were determined to put Highwood in the record books.

I loved all of the added booths and activities to the Festival this year.

If anyone does it right, it’s Highwood.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Changing Season

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Purple Pig Revisited

The Pig’s Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Fried Egg has always been my favorite dish at the Purple Pig…that was until last week.
Fall-off-the-bone turkey leg confit was a match but you had better grab it before it goes off the menu. They change it up often.

I’ve never had a miss at this restaurant. It has been consistently brilliant since the day they opened.

Bon Appetit!

Back From Green City Market...

This was such a pleasant surprise for me. No game plan and two hits! 


I headed into Perennial Virant at 1800 North Lincoln Avenue for a quick bite on my way home from the market.

Part of the Boka Restaurant Group, founded by Bob Katz and Kevin Boehm (the other restaurants in the group include Fish and GT Oyster and the Girl and the Goat), this gem had all the makings of the market across the street…fresh, organic and directly from the farm to the table. I was again reminded of the importance of fresh ingredients. It’s interesting that when I eat fresh ingredients, I eat less.

I had the Classic and classic it was. The bread, the jam, the sausage were made fresh in the restaurant…somewhere in the basement.

The Homeboys – fried potatoes - were tiny, crispy and had a topping of Brunkow cheese curds. I made a mental note to come back just for the potatoes.

The eggs were so fresh I remember thinking that I would never buy them at the grocery store ever again. The difference in taste was truly astonishing.

I saw so many terrific things on the menu I have to come back…if for nothing else, just to see what they are cooking up downstairs in that basement.

My Secret Garden

I’ve been in Chicago going on three decades and it took me this long to uncover my favorite spot… a secret garden.

I would keep it secret but it was so fantastic that I want you to discover it too.

The New Leaf Studio and Garden at 1818 N Wells St is a drop me off spot. Kind of like St. Maarten – and once you hit their interior garden, you don’t want to ever leave. It’s so powerful and peaceful it left me speechless.

The garden was overflowing with iron furniture, magnificent plants and pots and so much sunshine you would be adamant that summer was never going to leave you ever.

The tranquil environment showcases so much floral and artistic substance it was incredible.

The space is multi-level  and you’ll discover  treasures both downstairs (the visual effects of what is in the basement really took me back) and up (a collection of antiques – of course this place has its revered treasures, too).

There are small work stations where staff were putting together stunning works of art that you swear are going off to a royal wedding.

Go down there and take a look or yourself because it’s going to take me at least a couple week s to process this find.

Bon Appetit!

Fall...Cooking Dishes I Thought I Never Would

Coming off of the Farmers market this week – one of the last ones of the season  - you definitely noticed a change of produce.

Instead of the normal summer fare (although I did see some tomatoes), dried corn, pumpkins and celery root had made their way into the line-up and there was no turning back for a grasp of summer. Even the peaches were gone.

Don’t know that I am mentally ready for fall but I am up for some of the great recipes that takes us into the season.
Bon Appetit!
That ugly, unattractive root that you see at the farmer’s market near the turnips and rutabagas has a subtle flavor and a velvety texture. You would never guess by looking at it.
In this recipe a Yukon Gold is perfect and becomes another way to enjoy mashed potatoes.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would enjoy celery root but incorporated into mashed potatoes, I would definitely do this recipe again.

Potato and Celery Root Purée

1 medium sized celery root, the size of a grapefruit, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup of water
4 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup milk
1-2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

In a medium sized saucepan, put the celery root, and the water. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the milk and bring to a boil. Season with salt, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook with the lid of the saucepan partially on for 15 minutes. Remove the lid entirely, and continue to cook for 5 minutes. It is okay if milk gets frothy. Celery root and potatoes should be softened at this point, and the vegetables should be falling apart.

Remove from heat and with a hand-masher, mash the ingredients well. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Upon serving, top with additional tablespoon of butter, if desired.

People who love pumpkin pie may be surprised to learn that not everybody feels the same way. For years, I was one of those people who refused to eat pumpkin of any kind.
What changed it for me? Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. It was indisputable love even at 380 calories and 13 grams of fat. I was addicted and still am to this day. Is it worth every calorie? Absolutely!
The pumpkin recipes that follow took me beyond latte and into the celebrated taste that only pumpkin can provide...a taste that I discovered way too late so I have to make up for lost time.
Getting my pumpkin fix will be far too easy once I go home and get into my sister’s pumpkin dip. Look for it there on my recipe page.
Bon Appetit!
These easy parfaits make for a simple, fall dessert. I used Anna’s gingersnaps because they are so rich and I actually piled on double of what it called for. I’m into the crunch!
Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfaits

1 15-ounce can Pure Pumpkin
4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ginger
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Sugar
12 Gingersnap Cookies
Crush 8 of the gingersnap cookies. Beat together the pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar, and spices until evenly combined. In a separate bowl, beat together the heavy cream and sugar until thickened.
To assemble the parfaits, divide half of the pumpkin mixture into four cups. Sprinkle half of the gingersnap crumbs over the pumpkin. Spoon about half of the whipped cream over the gingersnaps in the four cups. Sprinkle with the remaining gingersnap crumbs. Spoon the remaining pumpkin over the gingersnap crumbs. Top with the remaining whipped cream. Garnish each parfait with a gingersnap cookie.
Serves 4
Now you’re talking dessert. I love bread pudding and this variation is the perfect complement to any fall meal.
Next round: I would change this out and add some really great apples for variation.      I will also use croissants or brioche as it produces a much richer pudding.
I used Kahlua instead of the Grand Marnier.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet, October 2007
Yields 6 servings

5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread*
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
1/2 cup pecan, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Whipped cream, caramel sauce, and more chopped pecans, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss bread cubes with butter in a bowl and set aside.
Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in another bowl, then pour pumpkin/cream mixture over the bread. Toss to coat the bread well.  Let it sit, covered, for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator to let the custard absorb into the bread.
Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, for individual servings, divide and transfer to 6 ramekins.
Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of chopped pecans.

No peaches at the Farmers Market so I had to use frozen peaches… but they were just as good in this fall preserve.

This would also be a nice gift to give for the holidays.

2 large peaches (They were gone from the Farmer’s market so I used frozen and adapted)
3 cups water
1 cup sugar (it seems like a lot but adding unsweetened pumpkin will need a little sugar), divided
3-4 pieces fresh or candied ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried ginger powder
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
Wash and remove the pits from the peaches and chop into large cubes – about 1″ or so.
Put in a medium saucepan and add the 3 cups of water and 1/2 cup of sugar and the fresh or candied ginger.
Bring to a boil and boil for about 20 minutes until the peaches are very tender.
Set aside for a few minutes to cool.
Using a wire mesh strainer add some of the peaches, remove any ginger pieces in there, and push through the strainer into a clean bowl. You want as much of the peach pulp as possible but want to discard the skins.
Repeat, being sure to keep the liquid from the pot, until all the peaches are used up.
Scrape the bottom of the strainer and add the peach pulp, pumpkin, extra 1/2 cup of sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and dried ginger to the pot.
Note: With frozen peaches, I combined all with a cup of water and slow cooked on top of the stove. I used a hand masher to mash the peaches as they softened.
Stir to combine then bring to a boil on the stove over medium-high heat. You’ll want to boil for about 10-15 minutes, stirring very constantly, until the mixture has reduced by about half and is very thick.
You want the mixture to thicken and turn a deep brown, but not burn. As with other preserves if you put a little dollop of the mixture onto a cooled plate it should be thick enough to not run.
You’re talking my kind of coffee. I can think of a few dozen variations of this drink so the possibilities are endless when it comes to mixing it up.
Pumpkin Mocha Frappe
Cold strong coffee.
Chocolate milk
Whipped cream
Pumpkin pie spice
In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups of ice cold coffee, 1 cup of chocolate milk, 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and few ice cubes. Blend.
Pour mocha mixture in a glass. You will start to see a foam at the top. Scoop whipped cream on top.
Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.
I love anything Vietnamese and this Iced Coffee is no exception.
I especially loved the flavor of the pumpkin spice syrup and you can use it to put in other drinks as well. It will store in the fridge for up to 2 months.


Pumpkin Spice Vietnamese Iced Coffee


6 ounces freshly brewed coffee, chilled
1 ounce pumpkin spice syrup – see below
4 ounces half & half
1 ounce sweetened condensed milk

Fill a tall glass with ice.
Pour the chilled coffee, pumpkin spice syrup, half & half and sweetened condensed milk into the glass, and stir well to combine.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 whole cloves
7 whole allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla, or 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.
Stirring occasionally, allow the mixture to come to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
When the syrup is cool, strain into a clean jar through a fine mesh sieve.

For anyone you know who loves cinnamon rolls, this is the recipe. It’s safe to say that includes almost every kid under the age of 10.
It looks complicated but worth it in the end…especially when they take their first bite.
I’m not a huge fan and even I enjoyed them for a change.
I also served them with maple syrup.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Yield: 8 large pancakes - Adapted from Recipe Girl

For the cinnamon swirl:
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the cream cheese icing:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pancakes:

1 1/2 cups 1% milk
1 cup pure unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2/ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

Prepare the cinnamon filling:
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, heat butter for 40 to 60 seconds, just until butter is melted. Whisk in brown sugar and cinnamon and let the mixture sit on the counter to thicken while you work on the next steps.
Prepare the icing:

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat butter and cream cheese 30 to 60 seconds, just until butter has melted and cream cheese has softened. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla and combine until smooth. Pour the icing in a sandwich-size ziplock bag and set aside.
Prepare the pancake batter:

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vinegar. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt and brown sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until all is moistened.
Check on your cinnamon filling:

Whisk up the cinnamon mixture again if the butter has separated at all and pour into a sandwich-size ziplock bag. The mixture should have thickened to about the consistency of toothpaste (throw it in the refrigerator for a few minutes if you need to - the swirl won't work if it is runny). Snip off a small piece of the corner of the bag and set aside carefully so nothing leaks out.
Cook the pancakes:

Preheat a large skillet or griddle to medium. Use a ladle or an ice cream scoop to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or ladle to spread out the batter into a nice, even circle. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pick up your cinnamon filling baggie and squeeze the filling into the corner. Starting at the center of the pancake squeeze the cinnamon filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl. Cook the pancakes 3 to 4 minutes, or until bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it is golden brown on the bottom.
Slide a thin spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling.
Just before serving, cut the tip off of the bag with the cream cheese icing and drizzle it on top of the pancakes. Serve pancakes hot.

Chili With A Kick

Why didn’t I ever think about putting Prime Rib into chili? 
I love Prime Rib and this chili has such a great taste, it’s unquestionably- with a little work- going to win a chili cook-off or score a few with the date who thinks you can’t really cook.
I was lucky enough to meet Denise of Leaning Shed Farm this week, one of the vendors at Green City market, and she loaded me up with the chilies that I used in the Chili Powder recipe below.
The Chili powder stores in an air tight container for up to 4 months. You can use fresh chilies and dry them in the oven or over an indoor grill as I did for the recipe.
It would be fun to develop your own special blend so experiment and change it up a little. That’s what will put your signature on this recipe.
You can make this chili with rib eye, too. Like prime rib, rib-eye is a cut of beef from the rib section.
Interesting because I thought that the secret ingredient of this chili was the prime rib but the real kick behind is the bold taste of the Chili Powder blend.
Bon Appetit!

Prime Rib Chili
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2.5 hours


3 pounds cubed beef prime rib
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion diced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1/2 cup Chili Powder (see recipe, below)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon grated unsweetened chocolate
Chili Powder:

2 Ancho chilies (Dried pablano peppers)
2 tablespoon coriander
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Chili Powder Recipe:

Seed and hand-tear 2 ancho chilies (these are dried pablano peppers). Toast chile pieces and 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds in a dry skillet over low heat until fragrant, shaking the skillet so they don't scorch. Put the chilies and coriander seeds in a blender and pulse until you have a fine powder. Add 2 tablespoons purchased chili powder, 2 tablespoons sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Process until well combined and you have a fine powder.


Season the beef with salt and black pepper. Set a large, French Oven over medium-high heat and add in extra-virgin olive oil. When the pot is very hot, add the beef and stir until brown.

Add in the onion, garlic, and chipotle peppers. Stir in chili powder. Stir in tomato paste and the entire can of tomatoes with their liquid into the pot. Stir in chocolate.
Add enough water to just cover the meat and simmer over medium-low to low heat, uncovered, until the meat is fork tender, about 2 hours.

When the meat is fork tender, use a slotted spoon to remove the beef to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the beef into pieces and return it to the pot. At this point, taste the chili and season with salt and black pepper. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

This cupcake recipe is the defined way to cure your sweet tooth and your craving for an at home fall recipe.