Beer for a Year, month seven…

Rhubarb Beer Jam & dinner……

Hey beer lovers!  This months beer is Summit Sága IPA described by Summit as a beer with “Epic hop character”.  I love anything that is referred to as “epic”!  Usually I am not a fan of big hoppy beers, but this one is so clean & bright & fresh, that the first sip I had, I knew I liked it!  Further description from the Summit website says “Named after the Norse goddess Sága, drinking companion of the God Odin. With a divine tropical fruit hop aroma and clean, assertive bitterness.”  Assertive indeed!  Give it a try, it’s a great beer for summer!

In scouring the internet for recipes that contained beer, I came across this one, on the Tasting Table website but originally adapted from the Paul Virant’s cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen that had another of my favorite things…Rhubarb!  And, since last weekend I cut my teeth with my first jamming experience, I thought this would be a great idea!  But what to use this jam with?  I can’t just give you the jam, with no direction as to how to use it, can I?  So, I started thinking about dinner.  I knew this jam, no matter how much sugar went into it, would be more on the savory side.  I wanted to use it as a sauce more so than a jam.  And I wanted Pork.  We actually had some Pork Tenderloin, in the freezer, leftover from the gorgeous Crown Roast we had for Christmas dinner.  All I did to prep the Pork was tossed it in Olive Oil with salt, pepper & garlic.  I then threw it on the grill.

So I mentioned I was thinking about dinner…this week we picked up our first CSA share from Natura Farms.  In that share we had baby Rutabaga & Garlic Scapes, amongst other things.  I was super excited about the Garlic Scapes as I keep hearing about people using them for a variety of things, even pickling them!  I tweeted out the other day questions as to what to do with the Rutabaga and Garlic Scapes we had received.  The lovely Emily Anderson said I should try pesto with the Garlic Scapes (as did a couple other food friends) and maybe a Gnocchi with the Rutabaga?  Oh yes, that sounded wonderful!  So those were the two other additions to this meal, not to mention the Brown Butter Ice Cream with candied Raspberry Chipotle Bacon that I made…but that’s another post!

Okay, so first let’s talk about the Jam.  Now, I said that I wanted it more sauce-like right?  So yeah, I basically did my own thing with this one.  If you read the original recipe, you’ll see they strained the mixture, but I like texture and left mine a little chunky.  I used the same ingredients, but I didn’t can it.  I put it in a jar, planning to use it for dinner and try freezing the rest for a future meal.  So here’s my recipe:

Rhubarb Beer Jam

2 cups of Rhubarb, diced

1 cup of Summit Saga IPA beer

1 1/2 cups of Sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

The juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1 tablespoon of butter

First thing you’ll do is clean & cut your Rhubarb, into a small dice.  Place that into a saucepan and add the beer.  Get this going good and hot and then add the sugar & lemon juice, zest & butter.  The butter helps with reducing the amount of foam the mixture creates, but because I didn’t make an actual “jam” I didn’t really need to use it.  It was also not in the original recipe, but I remember doing that with my Strawberry Jam session last week.  I LOVE butter and will use it any chance I get!  Alright, moving on.  So your mixture should come to a small boil (enough to encourage the mixture to reduce, but not enough that you can’t get anywhere near it for fear of being splashed) and from there I just kept using my potato masher and smashing the mixture down and let it reduce by almost half.

This makes about a cup and a half so you really have almost three meals use out of it, if you aren’t canning it.  Otherwise, I would recommend using the smallest jam jars you can find.  That way you aren’t pulling a big jar out and then having to use it all up over the course of a week.  The original recipe also talks about the red hue in the end result.  Mine obviously wasn’t that color but I think that is because I used a more greener variety of Rhubarb.  I also thought that some herbs would be good in the jam, maybe Thyme (I love Lemon Thyme) or Tarragon?  I kept those out, the first time in, but might do that next time around.  I also think a heavier beer would work great too.  In keeping with the Summit theme, their Horizon Red Ale would be great with this.  The original recipe used a wheat beer, but didn’t say what brand.  I think this jam/sauce would be great as a base for a unique flatbread or bruschetta.  Have fun!

Okay, so let’s talk about the Rutabaga Gnocchi!  I have never made Gnocchi.  Yep, I can’t quite believe that myself! But this isn’t your usual Gnocchi.  It’s actually a very delicious way to use Rutabaga!  I found the original recipe on a food blog called Food and Passion.  I also found another recipe for Turnip Gnocchi on a food blog called Well fed, flat broke that sounds really good!  I might try that one this fall.

So the original recipe called for Spinach, but I decided to use Mustard Greens.  We have this flourishing in our garden right now and I am trying to use it as often as possible.  I’ts heartier than Spinach, so it might need to cook a bit longer than if you were to use fresh sautéed Spinach.  The original recipe used frozen Spinach.  Here’s what you’ll need to make this:

Rutabaga Gnocchi:

1 cup of finely grated Rutabaga (I used a “baby” Rutabaga about the size of an orange)

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 cup of Ricotta cheese

2 cups of fresh Mustard Greens (washed thoroughly) or Spinach, finely chopped

2 eggs

1/2 nutmeg

Olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of fresh chopped garlic for sauteeing

You’ll start by grating the Rutabaga, because it’s somewhat like Zucchini in that it will release a bunch of water, you’ll also want to squeeze it all out.  I used my box grater to grate the Rutabaga, but the original recipe said to use a Microplane if you have one.  I do, but didn’t know how to change the blade…  Set the grated Rutabaga aside once grated.  Take the Mustard Greens or Spinach and remove any longer stems.  I chopped mine up, as small as I could, so that you don’t have huge chunks of it in your Gnocchi.  Get a sauté pan going on your stove and when hot, add a drizzle of Olive Oil and throw in your greens.  Spinach won’t take but a minute or two to cook, but you’ll want the Mustard Greens to go a bit longer.  Just before you pull it off the heat, add the salt, pepper & garlic.  Set this aside for now.  You’ll want to get a big pot of water going on the stove for boiling the Gnocchi.  Once it’s up to a boil, carefully add a good handful of salt tot the water, just like you would do with pasta.

In a larger mixing bowl, add a half cup of the flour, the eggs, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and a bit of salt & pepper.  (you could even add in any fresh herbs you have like basil & chives) Now back to the Rutabaga…take a couple of paper towels and wrap the Rutabaga in it.  Squeeze to release as much water as you can.  Then place it in the bowl with the other mixture.  Once the greens have cooled, you can try to chop them up again if you feel you they are still too big.  Add this into the other mixture as well.  Once you’ve mixed everything up real good, grab a plate and put the other half a cup of flour on it.  Using a teaspoon, make small balls out of the Gnocchi mixture and place onto the floured plate.  Roll them around so they are fully coated in flour and carefully place five or so into your boiling water.  They are done when they pop to the top of the water.  Use a slotted spoon to remove them and set aside.  Looks like alot of work, but its really very easy!

The original recipe said to top the hot Gnocchi with Olive Oil and more parmesan cheese, but again, I wasn’t about the take the easy way out with this either!  In our recent CSA share I mentioned we got Garlic Scapes.  I decided to make a Pesto out of that for the sauce of the Rutabaga Gnocchi!  Many of you might be asking what Garlic Scapes are…you are not alone!  In the past, most people have thrown them away.  They are the curly tops that grow out of the garlic planted in your garden.  Don’t throw them out anymore!  Make this instead!  Anyway, I found this recipe here, on the Epicurious website, and doctored it up to my liking.  There were quite a few Garlic Scape Pesto recipes out there when I googled the name.  I found recipes made with almonds, pine nuts, walnuts…I chose the recipe here because it had Pistachios, one of my very favorite nuts!  Plus, I think it added to the bright green look to this pesto!

Garlic Scape Pesto:

10 large Garlic Scapes, diced (remove & discard the top seed pods)

Fresh Basil (as much as you want to add or leave it out)

1/3 cup Pistachios

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Lemon juice

1/3 cup Olive Oil

Salt & pepper

Place all ingredients, except Olive Oil, into a food processor and puree.  Once mixture looks like the picture above, and while the food processor is running, add in the Olive Oil.  Taste the mixture and add salt & pepper as needed.  You’ll end up with about a cup and a half of pesto that should keep in the fridge for about a week.  Now, the original recipe (man I’ve said that a million times in the post…) used this with pasta, and added about a cup of pasta water to the mixture.  I took some of the water I boiled the Gnocchi in and used that the loosen the sauce a bit.  If you use it on pasta (it would be great as a dip, or again as a base for flatbread or Bruschetta) just be sure to add a bit of the pasta water to make a sauce.  Isn’t it a gorgeous Pesto?!?!  It was really good on the Rutabaga Gnocchi!

There you have it!  I was a whirling dervish in the kitchen today and managed to use four new recipes, that’s a first for me!  I hope you’ll try at least one of these!  Today I will finish up that Brown Butter Ice Cream with candied Raspberry Chipotle Bacon that you’ll see in a post next weekend that highlights my #OinkOuting adventure earlier this month.  If you are liking what I am making these days, post a comment and share this blog with your friends!  I am going to be adding a Facebook Page for my blog later this week as well!

Until then,

Shawn

Beer for a Year, month three…

Greetings beer lovers!

This month’s special brew is Summit’s Horizon Red Ale.  The brewmasters at Summit Brewing call this beer “an inspired hybrid that blurs the boundaries between IPA and Amber styles. The exceptional blend of American hops (including the harder-to-find Horizon variety) gives it an intense pine, citrus and earthy character in the nose and on the tongue.”  Read more about Summit Horizon Red Ale.

As I mentioned in the first blog post about my beer winnings, I am not a huge beer drinker normally, but if I do drink it, it’s gotta be something I can “chew” on if you know what I mean.    I was excited to try this Red Ale, as I usually like Red beers and it definitely showed it’s character right away!  However, I knew I would have my work cut out for me, because, as with the Summit Extra Pale Ale, there was a bitter note I would need to overcome when cooking with it.  So, we talked and talked (the hubby & I) about the options we had.  We talked about making a batter out of it, which we will still may do, but then I stumbled upon this recipe from Taste of Home for Swiss Beer Bread.  Then the hubby said he could make Beer Cheese Soup.  I know what you are thinking, but you said you wouldn’t go there?  And you are right, I hadn’t planned on it, but I thought would be a perfect compliment to the bread!  I usually try to stay away from bread (gluten) whenever possible but I am weak when it comes to freshly baked bread…..so, let’s get started!

This is what you’ll need to make the Swiss Beer Bread:

4 ounces Swiss cheese-grated

1/4 cup caramelized onions-finely chopped

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 bottle (12 ounces) Summit Horizon Red Ale

2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Stir beer into dry ingredients just until moistened. Add the caramelized onions and almost all of the cheese, keeping a small handful aside to put on the top as soon as it came out of the oven.  Transfer to a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Drizzle with the butter. Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from oven & sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. 

What I love about this bread, besides the fact it is delicious, is that you can add pretty much anything you want to it.  You could swap out the Swiss cheese for Cheddar, you could add crumbled bacon to the batter, chives or other herbs.  I slathered it with butter while still slightly warm, but it would be delicious with honey or even a fruit butter.

Now let’s talk about the soup……this took a bit more of our patience and perseverance, but the finished product is amazing!

Here is what you’ll need for the Beer Cheese Soup:

1/2 small sweet onion, finely diced

1 small carrot, finely diced

One 12oz. bottle of Horizon Red Ale

3 tablespoons of Worchestshire sauce

4 cups of milk (we used 2%)

1 cup of half & half

3 cups of chicken stock plus 2 tablespoons of chicken base

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

16 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese

4-6 thick-cut bacon, cooked & crumbled

olive oil at the ready and salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup of butter & 1/2 cup +/- of flour for roux*

Preheat your large stockpot or Dutch oven on the stove top.  Once heated, add a good coating of olive oil and sweat the onions & carrots.  Then add the Worchestshire and reduce the liquid until just about syrupy.  Add your beer and continue to cook  for a bit.  Add your stock and once up to temp, add a tablespoon or two of your roux.  Using a whisk at this point, you’ll want to slowly add the milk and then the cream.  Tasting along the way and adjusting the flavors as you go.  Continue to add the roux to thicken.  Once you feel you are where you want to be flavor wise, add the cheese and continue to whisk until smooth.  Turn off heat and ladle into soup bowls.  Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and any other items you’d like to add!  (you won’t ever see me putting popcorn on as a garnish….I have never understood that, but feel free to do it if you like it that way!)

One thing I need you to be sure to do, is to taste this as you go along.  Recently, a question was posed to a group I belong to, the Minnesota Food Bloggers about what advice you’d give a novice cook or baker.  My answer should have included-taste as you are cooking!  It’s so important.  You’ll want to keep the awesome beer flavor while toning down the bitter aspect of it.  We got three meals out of this soup, (nice large bowls we ate with bread or a salad) meaning one batch will either feed 6-8 or split up like we did.

*To make the roux, melt butter in a small sauté pan.  Slowly add the flour, using a whisk, cooking until the mixture has thickened and is caramel in color.

Enjoy & see you next month!!

Cheers,

Shawn