Blue Bites


Blueberry Farm with cat

‘Tis the season for blue.  Blueberries that is.  In excitement to kick off another season of New England U-picking, J and I headed to Ipswich, Massachusetts in search of August’s ideal bursts of blue.

Ever since moving to the northeast I have not attached a more romanticized notion to something than I have with apple picking and autumnal October leaves.  Venturing beyond your quintessential trot down Fuji or MacIntosh lane, this August was all about the berries.

Winding around Russell’s Orchard farm trails, J and I caught sight of a gawking group of male guinea hens, a more peculiar fowl drenched in black and white spotted feathers and masked with cherry red, winged combs.  There were goats, hens, a curious lion of a barn cat, and mosquitos – hoards of mosquitos!

Blueberry Farm and Chickens

The two of us ventured to the inner depths of the blueberry patch with intention to seek out shrubs surely not yet picked bare by the weekend masses. A thick, cotton gray sky loomed above, giving the mossy green bushes a pale background to stand out against.  Intermittently irritated by the bugs, J and I puckered and smiled, squirmed and spat in reaction to the highly varied flavors of blueberries we picked and tasted.  With two pints worth each of the sweetest blueberries, we headed back to the city and fired up the oven to bake a classic.

Blueberries on a table

Hands down, my favorite pie has always been blueberry, just plain ole blueberry.  Reversely, to me a fresh blueberry begs to become pie.  Naturally I wanted to create a recipe that would bring out the most blueberry-y flavor that a blueberry pie could boast, as well as pass on a family mastered pie crust that would cradle the sweet, round fruit.

I recommend using the freshest ingredients possible.  The blueberries I used were still warmed from the sun as I prepped them for the pie, and a quick stop-off at another farmstand for fresh Amish butter brought the crust to a whole new level of sultry, rich goodness.

Blueberries

For the Pie Crust:
1 egg
2 sticks of butter, very cold or frozen
2 2/3 Cup flour
½ Cup ice water

For the Filling:
2 pints fresh blueberries
3 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon lemon zest

To make the Crust: Wisk egg in a small bowl and set aside. In a food processor combine butter, flour, and sugar.  Pulse until butter is about the size of peas.  Slowly and gradually pour ice water into the mixture while continuing to pulse.  Continue to pulse until the mixture comes together into a ball, or becomes a dough consistency.  Empty dough onto a lightly flour surface.  Handling the dough as little as possible, form two equal-sized disks, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Dough can also be saved in the fridge for up to two weeks.

While the dough is cooling, in a large bowl combine blueberries, flour, cinnamon, and lemon zest.

Preheat oven to 375˚

Once dough is chilled, place one disk on a lightly floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Lay the dough in a Pyrex pie dish; there should be about 1 inch of dough folding over the lip. Pour blueberry mixture on top of dough.  Roll out the second disk of chilled dough to the same thickness.  Place dough on top of blueberry mixture and thoroughly secure the two layers of dough around the circumference of the pie dish.  Make slits in dough on top of the pie, allowing for steam to release.

Lightly brush egg wash over the top of dough.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until crust turns a deep golden brown.

Blueberry Pie

For a Best Bite of this blueberry pie mix cardamom with mascarpone and dollop on top!

 

Posted in Baking, Desserts, RECIPES | 5 Comments

The Next Cheese Frontier: Halloumi

A guest blog by, Madeline McLean (sister)

Halloumi cheese on a plate

Since living in London, and traveling once to Syria, I have been involved in a some what serious love affair with a rather specific kind of cheese: halloumi.  Nicknamed appropriately as the “squeaky cheese”, halloumi is a breed of its own.  Not categorized as a hard cheese, nor a soft one either per-se, it is actually more rubbery than anything else and is characterized (and ultimately adored) for its salty taste.  Halloumi is most well known for taking serendipitously to the grill, as it is commonly prepared in the Middle East, though it can also be served au-natural in cubes or slices.  I can highlight thousands of methods for serving, which is why this cheese is so beloved by many a fromage-avore – or generally anyone for that matter.

I enjoyed halloumi (or pronounced hall-oom) in Syria for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a traditional component to the mezze spread (or mazza).  Preferred hot off the grill and drizzled with olive oil, set over a bed of fresh thyme (only in Syria, thyme is like American thyme on steroids, with long broad leaves that can be munched like arugula).  At London falafel stands, halloumi is regularly stuffed in falafel wraps amongst scoops of hummus, tahini and pickle.  Likewise, halloumi is often the representative for the vegetarian option – as it is quite hearty and satisfying – in many a pub or café, where I have seen it in a burger, wrap or sandwich guise.  Easily reproducible at home, one can pan-fry or grill slabs of halloumi, sandwich it between a couple pieces of ciabatta,  or wrap it in a pita and treat it as if it were a burger: pile on the veggies, lettuce, pickles & condiments.

My favorite halloumi dishes are typically salads, where the options are literally endless.  Jamie Oliver’s strawberry with speck & halloumi is incredible. It is also great over a bed of lentils or quinoa and grilled vegetables, with slices of beefsteak tomatoes and basil, or in the place of feta in a Greek-type salad.  Below I made a simple summer salad in about 15 minutes using cherry tomatoes, Armenian cucumber and a basil mint & caper dressing.  For me, it’s all in the dressing when in comes to such a simple dish ­– plus, halloumi takes very well herbs and spices.

chopping herbs

Halloumi Summer Salad

Makes 4 servings

Slice 8 ounces of halloumi into about 8-10 pieces (you want them to be thick slices so as to withstand grilling).  I like the brand Mt. Vikos Halloumi from Cyprus.

If pan frying: over medium heat, place the halloumi in a non-stick frying pan with just a touch of olive oil.  Be frugal with the olive oil as the cheese naturally sweats therefore leaving a fair amount of liquid, leaving the oil mostly futile.

If grilling: the cheese will stick, so lightly dust the grill with olive or vegetable oil before placing the halloumi on the grill rack.

Cutting halloumi cheese

For both methods: wait until each side is relatively browned before flipping—the crispier the better in my opinion.  Once the slices are finished, set aside.

Once the halloumi is cooked using either method, chop about 1 cup of whole cherry tomatoes and about the same amount of cucumber (if you are using another sort of cucumber, de-seed first).

Place the chopped tomatoes and cucumbers in a medium salad bowl.

Halloumi Summer Salad with tomatoes

Dressing:

Finley chop several stalks of each: basil, mint & chive (here, it is fine to be inaccurate, as long as you end up with at least 2-3 tablespoons of the chopped herb medley). Next, roughly chop about 1 ½  teaspoons capers. Combine herbs and capers in a small Mason jar or Pyrex measurer. Add the zest of 1 lemon, plus a splash of lemon juice.

Then, drizzle about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (or to taste).  Finish with a hefty crack of pepper & a sprinkle of sea salt and mix all together to finish the dressing.

You can either tear your halloumi into bit-sized hunks, or roughly chop into squares to add to your mélange of tomatoes and cucumber.  To finish, pour the dressing over the top and mix.

This salad is not noteworthy for its creativity, but it sure brings out the flavors of summer veggies and the all-too-lovable taste of halloumi, the squeaky cheese.

 

 

Posted in RECIPES, Sides, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Jim’s Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos and Garlic

This delicious and very green (and I mean the color not the fad) recipe was passed on via my great uncle, Jim.  It’s a must try this time of year when tomatillos are in the height of their ripening.  Interestingly, when buying the ingredients at the farmer’s market the stand’s owner informed me that tomatillos actually grow like weeds—the farm doesn’t even necessarily ‘grow’ them, tomatillos just show up!

So here’s to another great way to eat local and seasonal foods…enjoy and thanks Jim!

1 quart ripe whole tomatillos, pureed
2 whole anaheim peppers, seeded, cored, and cut in quarters
6 cloves garlic
4 shallots, halved
½ bunch whole, fresh cilantro
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
Juice of 1 lime
2 ripe avocados, removed from skin and pitted

1. At a low heat, simmer tomatillo puree, peppers, 4 cloves of garlic, 3 shallots, and about 6 whole sprigs of cilantro.  Add white wine, olive oil, salt and pepper.   Remove cilantro when it starts to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Cook the rest of the mixture until liquid is reduced to a syrup (about 35 minutes).  Cool the liquid enough to handle.  Remove half of the garlic cloves and shallots.

2.  Add remaining 2 raw cloves of garlic and 1 shallot (finely chopped), 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, lime juice, and 2 ripe avocados to tomatillos in food processor and blend well. salt and pepper to taste. Great as a dip, taco sauce, over rice, etc.

Tomatillo Salsa cooking

 

 

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Home on the Front Range

Ricotta and pizza

Like for many, when I am home I am grounded. I feel centered by the mountains, relaxed by the clement air, excited by the company of family and of course the food we make together.  I can’t conjure up many other ideas that are as spell-binding as the feeling I get from Colorado winters and summers, and…wait, why did I move to Boston again? At least the short stint of getaways back home have me appreciating those things I love most about the Rockies, friends and family, and the one thing that I do best while around both, cooking.

It holds true in my family that foodies beget foodies.  For my Dad it was love at first sight when he met my Mom, as she, shaking his hand with one hand, cradled a robust jar of fresh, homemade pesto in the other. (My dad grew up with full-blooded Italian Mother and Grandparents).  Naturally, my sister and I found no escape from nightly family meals thoughtfully prepared and blooming with freshness and seasonality.

During my last trip home we prepared a number of classic favorites as well as a few newbies: see below for my Dad’s famous, cracker-thin crusted pizza, and next, Mom’s mastered beer can chicken, and pour moi, an effortless summer post-meal sweet.

Herbs and Pizza

 

Gordy’s Favorite Pizza
By Gordon McLean

I prefer really thin pizza crust. Like the style that originated from Napoli, Italy. Almost a chewy, crispy, cracker consistency. When you roll it out you can nearly see through it. That also makes it somewhat frag

ile and tricky to handle. It helps if you use two pizza peels each generously coasted with corn meal, which acts as ball bearings. I use two peels especially because the first pizza will be immediately inhaled, so you’d better have the second one ready to shove in the oven the second you pull the first one out to start the pizza-fest. Pizza and cat

Anyway here goes (with an assist from American Pie by Peter Reinhart):

Combine in electric mixing bowl with dough hook:

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¾ plus 2 tablespoons cool water

Mix on low for 4 mins., let rest for 5 mins. Then mix again on medium for 4 more mins. Dough should be tacky but consistently balled up. Remove and work on floured surface, pressing the edges into the middle for two minutes. Form into a ball and place into an olive oiled prep bowl big enough for the rise. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter.

After 1 hour, punch down. Place into refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Take dough out of bowl and place onto floured surface. Cut in half, then each half into thirds. Each one of the six pieces will become a canvas. Flatten a piece with the palm of your hand and then begin to run the dough through your fingers, round and round letting it hang down to stretch evenly. Once you’ve gotten it to take on a circular shape, place on the peel and finish off using a  rolling pin to get dough as THIN as you can without it ripping. Lots of flour underneath and a little corn meal helps. Shake the peel to ensure it will readily release when placing into the oven.

Next, brush shaped dough lightly with olive oil then load up with your favorite ingredients, but not overly so. I love, but not limited to, a little sauce, garlic, herbs, fresh greens, olive pieces, anchovy, roasted red peppers, pancetta, homemade ricotta (see recipe below) or bits of other interesting cheeses, and whatever else you might find in the fridge. Finally, into the oven on a stone as hot as you can get it, 500-550˚F. Depending on your altitude you’ll want to closely watch this living, bubbling creation. It’ll transform into a sublime meal in a matter of 12-18 mins. Meantime, you’d better have gotten that second one ready to go!

And now the last, most important step…Pour a glass of Italian red wine and dig in. Boun Appetito!

Mountain Flowers in forest

With one fabulous meal already conquered, we made our way from Denver’s Front Range up to the Vail Valley for a few days of mountain gallivanting. The weekend was dotted with such activities as morning hikes up both Beaver Creek and Vail mountains—where yellow bellied marmots, blue bells, and remnants of beaver dens were spotted—and afternoons spent lounging beside water and watching as all but two microscopic clouds filled the perfect, periwinkle-shaded sky.  Thoughts of work as a gardener back in Boston were at a distance, and for one of the first times all summer I felt, even just for a bit, I that I could fully and effortlessly enjoy the blooming wildflowers.  This mountain getaway was a treat for all the senses, with one beaming highlight, beer can chicken.

Chicken and deer

Beer Can Chicken
By Heidi McLean

Beer can chicken is a funny sounding, silly looking dish, but the results are worth the snickering. A hen squatting on a can of beer inhaling its malty liquid and sizzling on a grill can be one of the more delightful and delectable ways to cook this small fowl. For the purist, you perch a whole chicken atop a can of any ‘ole beer and roast away.

But the cheating cook that I am, I found a slick but less classy workaround to the sometimes awkward chicken-on-a-can method. At the local cooking store, in this case Kitchen Collage in Edwards, Colorado, I found a small contraption – an oval grill pan with holes with two can-sized cylinders attached. This pan not only allows you to use another liquid, like wine, but you can roast a variety of vegetables in the chicken drippings. Yes, it’s quite good.

So for the recipe, whether you use a can of beer or the ready-made grill pan, first prepare your chicken. I like to put thin slices of lemon and sprigs of thyme under the skin, and then our favorite Bobby Flay coffee-ancho rub under and on the skin. Place chicken carefully but firmly on the opened beer can so it does not tip over and make a mess of your countertop, grill or oven. Roast for an hour or so until the skin is a lovely, crispy brown and the legs a little wobbly.

A few cautions: do not substitute a beer bottle. Do open the can of beer before settling the chicken on top. If roasting in the oven, put the chicken carefully in a roasting pan allowing enough head room for the standing fowl.

A hard act to follow, Mom’s beer can chicken could have easily been the soul dish on this night’s menu.  Instead though, divine inspiration (if you believe in that kind of thing) is the only explanation for the dessert we enjoyed afterwards.  A cherries atop fresh, homemade ricotta (see recipe below), atop hazelnut brittle (not so homemade this time, but come back during the holidays!).  The fleshy and tart summer cherry became smooth by the creamy, salty ricotta, but then deliciously punctured by the sharp, candied hazelnuts.

Cherry Dessert

Home never tasted so good, or so I always leave thinking.  The reality is, nothing ever tastes as good as when it’s made at home, with friends and family, and set against the backdrop of the most stunning mountains west of the Mississippi.

To make homemade ricotta:
2 quarts whole milk
2 cups buttermilk
1 pinch salt

In a sturdy pot slowly bring the milk and buttermilk almost to a boil, stirring or whisking constantly. Stir over heat until the mixture begins to separate and curds form on the surface. Add salt. Use slotted spoon to remove curds and place immediately into a small colander lined with two layers of cheesecloth.  Once all curds are transferred to cheesecloth, bring corners of the extra cheesecloth together at the top and secure with a piece of twine or a twisty-tie.

Leave to drain for several hours, or refrigerate overnight.   Ricotta is ready to eat when most of the liquid is drained.

 

 

Posted in Condiments, Desserts, Dinner, FOOD CHRONICLES, Poultry, RECIPES | 6 Comments

The Magical Fruit


Spiff up your pantry and your meals with the protein-packed heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo.  We know by now all the wonderful benefits of supporting heirloom varieties of produce such as tomatoes, carrots, or apples.  The same perks apply to beans too–you’ll enjoy tastier, heartier flavors while supporting small, agro-business.  You’ll also help keep traditional and native species from going extinct and forgotten, and most importantly, un-eaten!

And not just beans, Rancho Gordo also offers the option to purchase dried corn varieties, chiles and chile powders, grains & rices, herbs & spices, and more.

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Minted Milk

mint and milk in jar

Simplicity is summer’s adjective.  From where I sit typing in my kitchen I see the bottom hem of a blue and white striped skirt through slats in a deck one story above my own apartment.  Green herbs and other various plants poke their leaves through these weathered, wooden slats meanwhile drinking up the cool hose water the skirted woman pours atop their blossoming heads.  I see mint, its curvy, slender vine-like stalk curling in and out of the wood planks.  I sip on iced coffee as I type, iced coffee spiked with minted milk.

Mint, a summertime staple and one that screams simple pleasures, grows like a weed in summer.  Even my untended and overgrown back patio is covered with this its sweet, herbal leaves.  It’s an ingredient that inspires me in the kitchen every summer, and this year my afternoon latte craved its mellow freshness.

Break off 4-5 stalks of mint and heat in a saucepan with a quart of whole milk.  Heat the milk until it just barely reaches a boil.  A skin will form on top of the milk, remove it and the mint.  Refrigerate.  Makes for the perfect and subtle accompaniment to coffee, scald heavy cream with mint instead of milk and whip to make a minted whipped cream, or simply pour atop cereal and fresh berries.

 

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Homemade Granola and its Cameo in a Summer Dessert

Granola with yogurt and berries

Granola is one of those foods that you never think, “hmm, I could make that.”  Granola, or any cereal for that matter, is simply one of those things you always just buy.  While buying granola is the fastest way to cure your quick breakfast meal fixes, the grocery store-bought brands always seem to fall flat–too many raisins, not enough CRUNCH, filled with additives, etc, etc, etc. Instead of grumbling down the aisle tediously reading ingredients and flavors, skip right ahead to the bulk food section (cheaper too!) and pick out all your favorite nuts, berries, grains, and seeds.

Making your own breakfast munchies allows you to have exactly the tastes you crave.  Here is a recipe for one that I like to make, but do note that the proportions are easily changeable and adaptable to your palate.  Add flax instead of sesame, drip in some honey or maple syrup instead of brown sugar, or even make it a savory cereal by adding more salt or spices like ginger root, ancho chili or dried rosemary.  Be creative and experiment!  And, oh yeah, make a LOT so you can enjoy your concoction for weeks.

Read on to see a summer recipe that utilizes your humble homemade granola.

Simple (& adaptable) Homemade Granola

2 Cups oats
½ Cup sliced almonds
¼ Cup of each of the following:
Sliced dried cherries, roughly chopped
Pine nuts, roughly chopped
Sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375˚.  Mix all the ingredients together on a large baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes) or until the oats and nuts turn a toasty, golden brown.

Serve with your favorite kind of milk (cows, soy, oat, hemp, almond, rice…) or dollop Greek yogurt mixed with raspberry jam for a sweet, and fruity combo.

Fresh Strawberries

Summer Berry Crisp with Wild Strawberries and a Polenta Granola Biscuit Topping

As per a propt from friend J who recently gifted me a crunchy bag full of her self-made granola I remembered how fun and satisfying it is to make your own breakfast cereal.  But granola doesn’t just boost up a morning meal, but the seed and berry-filled mixture can also be a great addition to other homemade handiworks.

A recent trip to B’s ranch in the Adirondacks got me scavenging for the tiny, wild, red juice-bits that were perfectly at their peak.  Whether it was the mountain air or the feeling of knowing that a vegetable patch was growing right outside the cabin’s door, the blooming strawberry plants around the property had my mouth watering with exceptional sweet delight.

Upon returning back to my urban, Boston abode I craved the sweetness of the sun-warmed, pink lanterns. Prompted by J’s granola and inspired by wild, June strawberries my brain blossomed the idea of baking an early summer berry crisp.

Warm, bursting berries sit beneath a crunchy layer of granola and polenta-pumped biscuits.  With J by my side to taste test the first batch, we both agreed that this dessert more than hit the summer season spot!

Berries for berry crisp

For the Biscuits
1 Cup flour
2/3 Cup Polenta or course-ground corn meal
¼ Cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut roughly into chunks
2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/3 Cup homemade granola (see recipe above)

For the Filling
1 ½ pints wild strawberries
1 pint blueberries
½ pint blackberries
1 Tablespoon flour
1. For the biscuits: In a medium-sized bowl, wisk the dry ingredients together.  Add the butter and use your hands to combine with the dry ingredients until the mixture begins to resemble a loose dough.  Add cream and granola, stir just until combined.  Gather the dough together and form into a log.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge or freezer until ready to use.

2. For the crisp: Preheat the oven to 375˚.  In an 8×10 ceramic or Pyrex baking dish combine the berries with 1 tablespoon of flour, stir with hands until berries are evenly coated.  Slice biscuit dough into 9 equal-sized rounds and place on top of berry mixture.  Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the biscuits are golden-brown.

Summer berry crisp

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Kookoo for Kookoo Café

Kookoo Café–a cozy little den of a coffee spot that’s steps from the D line in Brookline Village, Brookline, MA.  The eye-rollingly delicious petite pastries and baked goods as well as the strongly-brewed coffee make the trip to Kookoo a well worth it jaunt away from the main drag of town.  Magnetic poetry, Christmas lights, and funky-framed mirrors dazzle the walls of this homey café–the perfect place to lose yourself for hours with your nose in a book or typ-typing away on your laptop keyboard.

 

Posted in BEST BITE ADVICE, Cafes | 1 Comment

Crafty Brews

It’s always been a foodie theorem of mine that if you know how to eat well, then you know how to drink well.  Craft beer is one such genre of libation that I eagerly awaited to study once I turned that anticipated 21.  For the past year and a half, and perhaps a few years before that (shh) I have tried to be as adventurous as possible while traveling through the immense world of beer.  I’ve even had the opportunity to engage in the chemistry myself, as a roommate of mine last year brewed a large and highly boozy batch of hard cider.  Never though have I had the opportunity to witness the bubbles and flowing of hundreds upon hundreds of craft beers and ciders all under one roof.

Last week that fantasy for beer-lovers around the nation came true at Boston’s American Craft Beer Fest. From blondes, to bocks, ales and stouts, to all that’s in-between and akin–500 hundred different brews were there for the tasting, and man, were swarms of bearded and plaid-clad attendees not ashamed to test as many as guts can tolerate.  Not to dumb down this jubilant crowd to the likes of frat-party goers, but the enthusiasm for beer (good beer!) could not be ignored.

As the perpetual filling of tasting cups ensued it was easy to become overwhelmed and therefore overlook subtle details that each brew boasted.  However, I did learn two things that bubbly night: 1. I will nearly lose my lunch to so much as a mention of bacon-brewed beer (I won’t name names).  And, 2. I am a sucker for summer and blondes (ales that is!).

For those attracted to light, bright, and often citrus-infused beers here is a list of some of my favorites that I tasted:

Anderson Valley Brewing Co. | Boonville CA avbc.com
Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema (Cream Ale | 5.6%)
Notes: sweet, but a pinch of spice to add depth.  Drinkable well into the autumn.

Beer Works – Fenway | Boston, MA beerworks.net
Blonde Faith (Belgian Pale Ale | 6.5%)
Notes: Almost like a deep chardonnay, winy, and lacking effervescence, but cool & refreshing.

Cape Cod Beer | Hyannis, MA capecodbeer.com
Cape Cod Beach Blonde (American Blonde Ale) | 4.9%
Notes: your ultimate summer beer–as it’s name suggests, perfect for the beach! (one of my favorites of the evening).

Maine Beer Co. | Portland, ME mainebeercompany.com
Peeper Ale (American Pale Ale) | 5.5%
Notes: Favorite beer of the night, and the nicest, most enthusiastic crew!  A sophisticated twist on a pale ale.  Bright and lemony, yet bold in texture and depth.

Paper City Brewery Co., Inc. | Holyoke, MA papercity.com
1 Eared Monkey (Peach Lager)
Notes: a surprise favorite. Even for foes of the flavored beer, this one isn’t to be missed–subtle notes of peach sing through this light, drinkable lager.

Wormtown Brewing Co. | Worcester, MA wormtownbrewery.com
Blonde Cougar (American Blonde Ale) | 5%
Notes: Balanced and more dry than sweet.  Refreshing. A crowd-pleaser.

…And for those of you who enjoy darker, stronger brews here are some suggested porters, stouts, and dark ales:

Ithaca Beer Co. | Ithaca, NY ithacabeer.com
Dark Humor (American Porter) | 7%
Notes: Toasty and smoky.  A bit overwhelming to the palate.

Lake Placid Pub & Brewery | Lake Placid, NY ubuale.com
Ubu Ale (English Strong Ale) | 7%
Notes: This red-in-color ale has a great balance of hops and malt.  Although stronger than your average ale, this one will bode well alongside burgers at your next BBQ.

Mercury Brewing Co., Inc. | Ipswich, MA ipswichbrewery.com
Ipswich Oatmeal Stout | 7%
Notes: Strong, but a very drinkable oatmeal stout.  Toasty with hints of dark chocolate.

The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery | Farmville, NC duckrabbitbrewery.com
Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter | 9%
Notes: High A.B.V and almost too strong to put down.  Intense toasty and mocha flavors.

From this large list I hope you can pick-up a few of these tasty brews this summer to help support small, local, and unique craft breweries.  Even is you’re not much of a malty-hopper, beer isn’t just for the drinking, it is also a great accessory to any cook–from brining and braising to marinating and baking, beer, especially interesting and multi-layered ones, can add a new dimension to your food.

 

Posted in FOOD CHRONICLES | 1 Comment

When Life Hands You Limes…

 

 

…You make margaritas! As summer is encroaching like a warm, sunny, and rapidly-moving tidal wave, some of the few happy thoughts zigzagging across my mind include al-fresco happy hours and fresh, light, summer meals.  To address the former here is a simple yet oh-so refreshing drink recipe for the tequila fiends out there (you know who you are!)

A recent trip to Martha’s Vineyard inspired the need for a zippy cocktail.  Zippy because the sun was shining mightily, and a cocktail to celebrate my recent graduation from Boston College. (Not that I really need an excuse anyhow).

This twist on the classic packs an effervescent punch with crisp ginger beer as a main ingredient, and for a citrusy spike, a dash of orange juice.

You need:
A good quality Tequila (I use Patron Silver or Sauza Commemorativo)
Your favorite ginger beer, non-alcoholic (I use Ithaca Soda Co. brand)
Orange juice
Fresh lime

To make:

Add 1 part tequila to 2 parts ginger beer.  Add a splash of orange juice and the juice of one lime.  Stir. Serve over ice.

 

Posted in Drinks, RECIPES | 1 Comment