Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baking with Beer Part 2: Beer Bread

In the words of Homer (the fat yellow cartoon dude, not the blind ancient greek dude) "MMMM BEEER!"

I love beer. There are so many different tasty varieties to explore, and on top of that, its great to bake with! The bubbles in the beer help the dough rise, so there’s no need to mess with yeast. You can use all those yummy beer flavors to make all different kinds of tasty baked goods. I am particularly fond of this recipe from Cooking Light magazine because you can used different types of beer and different add-ins to make beer breads from around the world. To make all American beer bread, stick to the base recipe with Bud and monetary jack. Add some manchego cheese and Dos Equis (hey, it rhymes!) and, HOLA!, you’ve got Mexican beer bread. Got some Peroni and sausage? Bon Journo, Italian beer bread! I’ve tried the Mexican and American versions and both are superbly delicious and surprisingly low in fat/calories. In the future I might experiment with some more flavor combos. What about Blue Moon and some orange zest? Sounds like I just came up with the idea for a future blog post.

Beer Bread

From Cooking Light Magazine pictures by Amanda


16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)


1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups) All-Purpose is essential! I used bread flour once and the bread didn’t rise enough and was very dense.

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 (12-ounce) bottle lager-style beer (such as Budweiser) I used Yuengling

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons melted butter, divided


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Once again I failed to take a good picture of the final product because I got so excited that I ate it :)

Apple-Cheddar Beer Bread: Substitute 1/2 cup minced shallots for onion. Place 1/2 cup shredded peeled Gala apple in paper towels; squeeze until barely moist. Cook shallots and apple in oil over medium heat for 7 minutes. Substitute 1 cup shredded extrasharp white cheddar cheese for Monterey Jack. Substitute 1 (12-ounce) bottle hard cider for lager. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Manchego-Jalapeño Beer Bread: Substitute 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions and 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeño pepper for onion; cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Substitute 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Manchego cheese for Monterey Jack cheese. Substitute 1 (12-ounce) bottle Mexican beer (such as Dos Equis) for lager-style beer. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice).

Sopressata-Asiago Beer Bread: Substitute 1/2 cup minced shallots and 2 tablespoons chopped green onions for onion. Substitute 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese for Monterey Jack cheese. Substitute 1 (12-ounce) bottle Italian lager beer (such as Peroni) for lager-style beer. Stir 2 ounces finely chopped Sopressata salami into batter. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moussaka: Funny Name, Yummy Food

Every summer St. Constatine and Hellen Greek Orthodox Church in Newport News has an AWESOME Greek Festival. I have fond memories of sneaking Izzy (the family dog) in the back of the tent so I could chow down on some awesomely good eats! Gyros, slovaki, spanikopita, baklava and those little honey donuts that I don't remember the name of. But what about those Greek cravings during non-festival times? I have the recipe for you. I make the most FANTASTIC Mossakka. I pronounce it (moose-ahhh-kaaaa) but I could be wrong.

If you aren't familiar with Mossakka, it's kind of like a combination of eggplant parmesan and lasagna, but of course with Greek flavors. This particular recipe is actually quite time consuming but tastes better than any Mossaka I've ever had.

from the Dean & Deluca Cookbook with comments by Amanda

serves 8 2/3 of a recipe is perfect for 3 people, but you might as well make the whole thing because the leftovers are so good

3 pounds eggplant
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon course salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin Olive oil I used italian EVOO, no big deal
3 cups minced yellow onions
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 cup white wine
14- ounce can tomatoes in puree I used diced and it worked fine
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups milk heated to almost boiling
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 1/4 cup freshly made bread crumbs
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano You can use regular parmesan, but luckily I had the good stuff on hand

1. Slice eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds and place on sheet pans. Using 1 tablespoon of coarse salt, sprinkle salt on each side of eggplant. Set aside to "sweat" for 30 minutes. Sweating and (later) frying the eggplant takes extra time but it is essential to getting the eggplant to have that meaty texture.

2. In a large saucepan (non-stick works best here) heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over moderate heat, and add onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes,
3. Increase heat to high, and add the ground lamb. Break up lamb with wooden spoon as it cooks. Cook until well browned, about 10 minutes. Removed as much fat from the pan as possible.

4. Add white wine and cook for 3 minutes scraping bottom of pan to loosen brown bits. Reduce eat to low and add tomatoes, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well, breaking up tomatoes with wooden spoon. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, add chopped parsley, mix well, and turn off heat.

5. Heat a large skillet over moderately high heat and very lightly coat the bottom with olive oil. When oil is hot, dry eggplant slices well and saute in batches until well browned about 4 minutes for side. (If it is necessary to add more oil to the skillet, add sparingly, as eggplant absorbs oil easily. Do not crowd the skillet.) Set aside cooked eggplant.

6. In a medium saucepan (yep, you need to dirty more dishes, woo!) melt 1/2 cup of butter over moderate heat. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Cook roux gently, whisking constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, without letting color change. Add hot milk slowly, whisking constantly, and cook over low heat, whisking frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has the consistency of very thick cream. Season with 2 teaspoons coarse salt and white pepper.

7. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle 1.3 cup of the bread crumbs on the bottom of an 11 inch by 9 inch by 1 1/2 inch pan/ Next, layer half the eggplant slices over the bread crumbs. Spread lamb mixture evenly over the eggplant. Cover with 3 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and 1/4 cup of the bread crubs. Add the remaining eggplant slices, then top with the bechamel sauce. Sprinl;e with remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Dot with remaining butter.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Before serving, brown moussaka under the boiler for 3-4 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baking with Beer Part 1: Beer Pecan Rolls

This recipe is from the food blog of food blogs, Serious Eats. Now, blogging about recipes I find on recipe websites, magazines, and cookbooks is one thing, but blogging about a recipe that was already blogged about always makes me feel alittle sketchy. So, I am making it crystal clear I AM NOT THE FIRST PERSON TO POST ABOUT THIS! See the original post here.

However, I do have something to say/ an improvement to make. This recipe was probably converted from metric measurements without much care. If you checked out the original post, you might have noticed my comment, which at the time of posting has remained unanswered, I guess because it’s a huge blog and an old post.

I noted in my comment that the recipe says 1 ½ tablespoon, which is kind of a weird way to measure stuff (I don’t have a tool to measure ½ tablespoon ) but easy enough to figure out (3 teaspoons in a tablespoon so 2 ½ teaspoons). But then ¼ tablespoon? Oww, my head hurts trying to figure that one out. It was easy enough with a calculator, but I don’t think I should need to get out the calculator when I’m cooking, especially breakfast.

If this was a recipe for a sauce or something, I would just guestimate by filling up my tablespoon measurerer ¼ full, but this is baking! Being off by a little bit on the salt can most certainly affect that outcome of your food.

The recipe should say ¾ of a teaspoon, and no, I don’t have a ¾ teaspoon measuring spoon either, but I DO have a ½ teaspoon and a ¼ teaspoon. And that’s math even I can do: ½ + ¼ = 3/4 teaspoon!

Anyway, my big issue with Serious Eats, and I guess food blogs in general, is that everyone comments and says "oh sounds great" "I can't wait to make this" but who actually makes it? I DO!

Beer Bread Pecan Rolls

- serves at least 6 -
Adapted from Home Cookin' by Julia Sneed. and adapted AGAIN from Serious Eats blogger Maggie Hoffman by Amanda


For the cinnamon filling:
4 or 5 strips bacon (optional)
1/2 cup raw pecan halves or pieces
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
5 tablespoons butter, melted (you may not use all of this)

For the dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder *1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons *
1/4 tablespoons salt *1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 twelve-ounce bottle Abita Pecan Ale (or other nut brown or pumpkin ale), at room temperature

For the caramel topping:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup raw pecan halves or pieces


1. Remove beer from the fridge to bring to room temperature. You can run it under warm tap water until it doesn't feel too cold. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar until well blended. Add beer and stir with a wooden spoon until a moist dough is formed. Flour your hands and a kneading surface well, then knead, adding a small amount of flour as needed, until dough doesn't stick to the board.

2. If you're making the bacon variation, cook the bacon slowly in a cast iron skillet (11 inches is ideal) to render out as much fat as possible. When crisp, remove bacon from pan and let cool on a paper towel. Crumble bacon. Add pecans to the pan (with remaining bacon grease) and toss, toasting lightly until fragrant. Remove nuts from pan with a spoon and set aside with the bacon.

Note: If you're not using bacon, toast the nuts in a dry cast iron skillet (11" is ideal) until fragrant, then set aside as above.

3. In a mixing bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients (brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) for cinnamon filling until blended.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Flour surface and rolling pin and roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Brush melted butter over the rolled-out dough. (You may not use all of it.) Sprinkle cinnamon filling over dough and top with the toasted pecans and crumbled bacon if using. Roll up like a log.

5. In the same cast iron pan, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter with remaining brown sugar to make the caramel topping. Stir until dissolved. Add remaining raw pecans and distribute caramel evenly over the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.

6. Cut cinnamon-roll log into coinlike slices about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place each roll into pan on top of the caramel topping, starting in the center and working outward in concentric circles until pan is full. Brush roll tops lightly with butter and bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes (rolls will brown slightly.) I would tend more toward the 25 minutes if you like yours gooey. Place a round platter on top of pan and invert rolls onto platter so caramel topping is on top. Serve immediately.

Final verdict? These are delicious, and I made them without the bacon. They tasted a little dry when they came out of the oven, but when I wrapped one in a damp paper towel and reheated it the next day it was moist and heavenly. Next time I will cut down on the cooking time a tiny bit. I forgot how much fun making a huge doughy mess can be, I will definitely bake some more after this.

The beer I used, I'm curious to try this recipe with pumpkin beer.

I baked them in a small pan so they all baked together. You can pull them apart pretty easily, if you bake them in a bigger pan they won't all stick together like that.

I made a satisfactory mess if I do say so myself :)