Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Roast beef beer bread sandwiches with Independence Brews

With the Superbowl just days away, you might need some finger foods to feed a crowd.  Here's an combination that I haven't mentioned much before (online anyways).  When I used to do water rescue training heavily in the Summers, I frequently brought these roast beef sandwiches to the lake.  Because of that, these sandwiches are a bittersweet memory of my late trainer, Dick Shumer.  Tasting them again reminded me not only of my great mentor, but also of why beer makes things a thousand times better.  Hearty roast beef and mild baby Swiss cheese sandwiched with malty beer bread and spicy, pungent mustard not only makes a great picnic snack, but also a great (and easy) dish for football watching.  I hope you enjoy these sandwiches as much as I have. 

Beer bread roast beef and baby Swiss cheese sandwiches (makes ~8 sandwiches or ~16 sandwich triangles)
  • 1 loaf of beer bread (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound of thinly sliced roast beef (more if you like more meat)
  • 1/2 pound baby Swiss cheese thinly sliced
  • Beer mustard (recipe follows)
I feel awkward writing out steps on how to assemble a sandwich.  Nonetheless, here it is.  Slice bread, dress with mustard (be conservative as my recipe is very spicy), arrange roast beef and cheese on top.  Cover with another piece of bread.  Stuff into your face.  Also, the thinner you slice your bread, the more sandwiches you get to make. 

Beer bread recipe (self-rising version) makes 1 small loaf:
  • 1 cup beer (I used Independence Bootlegger Brown and Austin Amber, separately. Both loaves were soft in texture and malty.  The Amber loaf had a slight hoppy finish.)
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) self-rising flour
  • 1/3 cup of malt extract (extra pale)
  •  It is okay to substitute honey, molasses, or agave nectar. 
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add more or less self-rising flour to achieve a fairly thick batter.  It should be less thick than bread dough, but more dense than cake batter.  Humidity might also play a role in how much flour you need.  Pour into a greased loaf pan or into a 9x11 inch pan.  This recipe doesn't need to rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the center is no longer jiggly. Cool and slice with a serrated knife.    

Independence Bootlegger Brown Beer Mustard (very spicy, will blow your panties off)
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1 cup yellow mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon Oriental mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon malt extract ( I used extra pale)
  • 3/4 cup Independence Bootlegger Brown
Soak the mustard seeds in the beer for at least two hours or overnight in the fridge.  Then add all the other ingredients and mix until it has a smooth paste like consistency (with the grains of mustard seed still intact).  The malt extract can be difficult to mix in, however a fork will help with it.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes so that the flavors can begin the bloom.  Serve immediately or store in a tight jar, refrigerated.  As this recipe is pretty spicy, the Oriental mustard powder can be substituted with the yellow mustard powder to decrease the spiciness.  These powders can typically be found in higher end grocery stores or specialty food stores.  I purchased these spices in the bulk section for less than $4 total at Central Market in Austin, TX. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vote Team Mark on the #wineride

Reluctantly crouched at the Uchiko line, engines pumping and thumping in time. The green light flashes, the glasses go up.  Sipping and tasting, they yearn for the cup. We're going the distance.  We're going for the #wineride.  Join Mark Sayre of the Trio at the Four Seasons, John Knox (@windaddict/@hopsafari), Rachelle King (@blindedbite), and myself (@misohungry) for a fabulous wine ride journey.  Photos and video by John Knox (@windaddict).

Hordes of food and wine lovers amassed at Uchiko for the #wineride was about to begin.  With five sommeliers and five different pairing challenges, it was unsure just how the day would unfold. Each sommelier had only ten minutes to taste wines and food, and then make a decision as to which ones paired the best.  In addition, a captive audience would be seated at each location to observe the sommelier work.  The over-arching purpose of the event was education - how to make wine and food pairings easier to understand and apply.  The winning sommelier earns a spot to compete at Somms Under Fire among other education and fun trips.  The team posts that wins earns all access badges to the Somms Under Fire event.  If you want to send Mark onto the next challenge with the support for Team Mark, show us some vino love.  Vote for Mark hereVote for the Team Mark's bloggers and photographer here (@windaddict/@hopsafari, @blindedbite, and @misohungry). Grazie!

Mark's wine pairing philosophy rests on several factors: flavors, textures, and experience.  Oftentimes, complimentary or contrasting flavors drive pairing choices, but texture also play a large role.  The texture of the food should enhance the texture of the wine. The mouth feel, body, and tannins of the wine should hold up to the food.  Overall, the food should enhance the wine, and the wine should enhance the food.  Lastly, the food and the wine should take you on a journey.  When a pairing takes you back to a memory of snacking on anchovy toast on the Gold Coast of Spain or a memory of enjoying a warm casserole with family, then the pairing has done its job.  It has taken you on a journey to re-live a past experience.  

Video Summary
CHALLENGE 1: The first stop for Team Mark was Antonelli's Cheese Shop.  With their photos and accolades plastered over traditional and new media, John and Kendall Antonelli have effectively made a name for themselves in Austin as the go-to-cheese-mongers. From the beginning, Mark expressed that cheese and wine pairings were some of the most difficult challenges for a sommelier.  Unlike other types of foods, the flavors and textures of cheese are pretty difficult to gauge simply by looking.  Mark calls these types of pairing challenges experience based.  One must taste the cheese and the wine together before one knows that the pairing is successful.  Mark dutifully tasted, smelled, and pondered the selections for a few minutes, and he decided that the creamy coupole was the perfect match with the N.V. Thierry Massin Brut Champagne.

Mark says, "Cheese and wine prove to be very challenging because experience is necessary to determine the pairing.  Coupole being from goat's milk has a fantastic tangy flavor that begs for crisp white with mirroring citrus tones, as well has having a creamy, cloud like texture.  This sounds like sparkling wine to me!  The Thierry Massin had the required brightness and a strong mineral presence that paired nicely with earthy bloom of the goat cheese."

Wines at Antonelli's:
  • 2008 Domaine d'Ardhuy Ladoix Rouge Les Chagnots Monopole
  • N.V. Thierry Massin Brut Champagne
Cheeses at Antonelli's:
  • Tomme Crayeuse
  • Ossau Iraty
  • Pleasant Ridge Reserve
  • Majorero
  • Coupole
  • Dante

CHALLENGE 2: The next location on the Team Mark list was Fino. O' lovely, lovely Fino. Mark's perfect pairing here was the slow braised black angus short rib with mushrooms and the provone style 2008 Chateau St. Jean de la Gineste Corbieres Vieilles Vignes (blend of carignan and grenache grapes).  The reason why Mark chose this pairing was because it was magical.  One part cold and drizzly weather, one part sinfully rich slow braised ribs, and one part wine transported him to to France.  That's a winner.

Mark says, "Some pairings can be telegraphed just by looking at them.  Seeing the braised short rib and the potentially lush fruit and rusticity of the Corbieres made my mouth water.  Basically, it was either that pairing or the Bourgogne Rouge (burgundy) and the pork belly.  But the sauce on the pork belly ended up being a little to sweet that made the burgundy turn tart.  As expected, the Corbieres won with the Short Rib.  Proof that not only flavor, but texture is so important in food and wine pairing.  Braised meats are heavy, rich, and viscous, so a wine needs to be able to stand up to those sensations.  The corbieres delivered with its fruit intensity and mouth coating feel matched with its old world flavors of stones, leather, and earth.  Truly a great pairing for the dreary cold weather."
Wines at Fino:
  • 2008 Chateau St. Jean de la Gineste Corbieres Vieilles Vignes
  • 2008 Domaine d'Ardhuy Bourgogne Rouge
Food at Fino:
  • Richardson's Farm Pork Belly with Mustard
  • Local Chicken Ballantine with Herbs
  • Black Angus Short Rib with Mushrooms
  • Jamon Serrano Croquettes with Smoked Salt

CHALLENGE 3: We took a short drive down to Central Market Cooking School, where we met with Chef Christina who presented an array of complex dishes.  Complex dishes can pose a problem when pairing wines.  While the main ingredients might meld perfectly with wine, the addition of contrasting flavors and textures in the sauces and garnishes can make the pairing more challenging.  After tasting and tasting, Mark picked the pork tenderloin with mushroom ragu and the 2008 Dominique Mugneret Bourgogne Rouge (Burgundy).

Mark says, "Many times, simplicity is key to food and wine meeting up in magical synergy.  If dishes have too many profiles on the plate, which do you pair with the wine?  My eyes headed straight for the beautifully roasted pork loin topped with pan roasted mushrooms.  After tasting all wine and food combinations, I reconfirmed that the combination was truly making both the food and the wine better.  The pinot had elegant bright red fruits, floral tones, and this fantastic earthy forest floor like sensation that matched so well with delicate pork and rustic mushrooms.  This was also a study in eating foods that you would find in those winemaking regions.  Burgundy (the region) and Mushrooms was perfect!  Burgundy prides itself on mushrooms (especially truffles) as well as beautifully simple country dishes that are meant to enjoy with the wines they produce.  This combination literally transported me back to Burgundy.  It was magical."
Wines at Central Market:
  • 2008 Simon Bize Bourgogne Blanc Les Champlains
  • 2008 Dominique Mugneret Bourgogne Rouge
Food at Central Market:
  • Oven Roasted Salmon with Smoked Gouda Panko Crust
  • Halibut with Chive Buerre Blanc
  • Roast Chicken with  Polenta-Corn Cake
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Chef Christina's Lasagna with Cream Swiss Chard Rabbit Confit
  • Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Ragu

CHALLENGE 4: Finally, Team Mark made our way to Foreign and Domestic for the final two pairing challenges.  For the savory pairings, we were also presented with complex dishes. For this particular challenge, Mark chose the parsnip puree ravioli in fennel broth with roasted grapes with the 2007 Domaine Michel Lafarge Bourgogne Aligote Raisins Dores (the other white from Burgundy).

Mark says, "A great challenge was that the dishes were the most complex.  At first, I felt like the quail and red burgundy (pinot nior) were going to be the best combination, as I’ve made that pairing a hundred times before.  But in all fairness to the dish and needing to taste it in its entirety, I couldn’t get there because of the vegetal tones of the grilled celery and the bright herbal tones of the mint overpowered the wine.  I felt the same about the chestnut soup and the Aligote.  The soup was fine on its own, but the spicy peanut garnish just drove over the wine like steam roller.  Surprisingly, the parsnip ravioli in fennel broth and roasted brussels, a dish that looked heavy, was very elegant and mirrored the richness of the aligote.  I noted that aligote normally produces a lean, austere wine without much character—but this wine was from the great Lafarge.  It was a cuvee produced from older vines AND was actually a year older than most of the wines we had tasted.  These factors equal a wine of great pedigree and depth that helped pair with such a winter inspired ravioli.  That is what food and wine are all about!"

Wines at Foreign and Domestic:
  • 2007 Domaine Michel Lafarge Bourgogne Aligote Raisins Dores
  • 2007 Jean Noel Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet L'Estimée
Food at Foreign and Domestic:
  • Chestnut Soup with Fried Peanuts
  • Lacquered Quail on a Potato Purée with Grilled Celery
  • Parsnip Purée Ravioli in Fennel Broth with Roasted Grapes

CHALLENGE 5: For the dessert pairing at Foreign and Domestic, Mark chose the blood orange sorbet with hazelnuts and the N.V. Paul Berthelot Champagne Brut Reserve Premier Cru.
Mark says, "Dessert is difficult because the rule of thumb is that the wines NEED to be sweeter that the dessert itself—otherwise, the wine ends up overly tart and you can’t taste the dessert.  It is like drinking orange juice in the morning after brushing your teeth—YUCK!  This was very challenging as we only had brut champagne and Bourgogne passetoutgrains (a blend of pinot noir and gamay)  Right away, I ruled out the rice pudding and caramel.  It was super delicious, but it was too cloyingly sweet for either wine.  I even ruled out the burgundy red (pinot noir and gamay) as the flavors were too lean and crunchy to match with anything sweet.  I ended up choosing the champagne and sorbet because their textures were so similar, and the sorbet itself was not overly unctuous (soapy).  The nutty, oxidative note in the champagne married well with the crunchy hazelnuts on top of the sorbet. They worked so well together that I felt as if you could pour the champagne on top of the sorbet and create and entirely different dessert---that’s what I call a good pairing!"

Wines at Foreign and Domestic:
  • 2007 Domaine Michel Lafarge Bourgogne Passetoutgrain
  • N.V. Paul Berthelot Champagne Brut Reserve Premier Cru 
Desserts at Foreign and Domestic:
  • Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Ganache & Sea Salt
  • Rice Pudding with Caramel Topping
  • Blood Orange Sorbet with Hazelnuts

While Mark has an experienced palate, what's a diner to do if there's no Mark handy?  Mark suggests that diners should first select their wine, and then ask for the sommelier to select dishes that pair with the wine.  Choosing a wine after the food has already been ordered may propose a dilemma if there isn't a wine on the menu that pairs well.  However, if the food is prepared after the wine has been selected, the preparation of the food can be altered.  At establishments with limited wine list (Trio Austin has 260 wines on hand), this is a great way to increase your chances of enjoying a pairing that enhances both the wine and food. 

When entertaining at home, Mark offers five wines to have one hand.  If you're hosting a pot luck or serving many styles of food, these five are great choices for pairing with different types of dishes. 
  • Sparkling wine (champagnes) are great in general because they have a cleansing effect with the effervescence and higher acidity.  Higher acidity is the backbone of pairing.  Start, continue, or end a meal with a lovely glass of bubbly. 
  • Pinot Nior/ Burgundy are second on Mark's list.  The elegance and brightness of these wines can make them quite versatile.  For some excellent new world wines, Oregon is produces wonderful pinot noir.  My personal favorite is from Elk Cove.
  • Mark also recommends looking for something from Peidmont, Italy.  These wines are built for food.  They are structured and have more tannins and acids giving great texture for pairing with food. 
  • Reds from Washington State have the fruit and power that is complex and food friendly.  These new world wines are also typically a great value.
  • And lastly, Mark recommends white Burgundy (otherwise known as chardonnay).  These aren't like the American chardonnays as they tend to be more elegant, not heavy or viscous, and less oaky.  To find white Burgundy in stores, look in the Italian wine section and ask the staff to point you to white Burgundy as they won't be labeled as chardonnay. 
The #wineride may be over, but the pairing of food and wine activities are just getting heated up.  When deciding on what to pair with your meals, don't worry about the details or make it overly complicated.  Every palate is different, and you might enjoy pairings that are very traditional or not at all traditional.  At the end of the day, the most important mission is that you are enjoying your wine and your food.  Bon Appetit and Sip Away!
Don't forget to send us your love in the form of votes! Vote for Mark hereVote for the Team Mark's bloggers and photographer here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Troubleshooting the Macaron

You might have noticed that I've grown quite fond of making macarons.  These airy sweet treats are limitless when it comes to flavor combinations.  They are made with ingredients that aren't as calorie loaded as other desserts, keep for longer periods of time, and easier to store.  With these advantages, I decided to take it upon myself to attempt to master the art of macarons.

Macarons are not easy.  They have been called the pastry that turns your hair white.  They make even well-experienced bakers scream in horror.  And it is rumored that even the best pastry shops throw out about 25% of their macarons.  I've made about 30 batches of macarons now, and I've mostly figured them out.  I still have batches that I feed to the dogs, give to the homeless, and dump into the bokashi bin.  This post is a tutorial for trouble-shooting macarons.  I won't be posting or talking about recipes as there are plenty of them floating around, and I follow the same base recipe regardless of flavors anyways.  The posts I found to be the most helpful are from (unfortunately seems to be down now).  Here's a link to a pdf file that has been kind of the cliff notes version of the macaron bible. 

Here's some fun photos of macarons.

This one is a togarashi lemon with truffle oil.

Some pumpkin spice chocolate and mint chocolate.  You can see that some aren't covered yet.

And now they are covered.  Perfect macarons.

This is often how I transport them.

These are Tipsy Ispahan -raspberry, rose, lychee, and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. Those were the pretty pictures.

Now let's get down to some not so pretty ones.  Here's a quick reference chart for various macaron problems along with photos of some at the end.  I'll keep updating this post from time to time with more information and more fails.  Please keep in mind that these are methods that work for me in my kitchen with Texas humidity.  They may/may not work for you or in your kitchen.  Enjoy and if there's anything that you think I should add, email me at Jennie at misohungrynow dot com or @misohungry on Twitter.

Problem Possible Issues Fix
Egg whites don't seem to stiffen Egg whites have too much water Age egg whites at least overnight.  I leave a tupperware of egg whites in the fridge at all times. 
Added flavorings or coloring too early.  Never add any flavorings or color until the very end. Not even spices as some have oils. 
Egg whites seem to flatten or liquefy when mixing in the powdered sugar and almond meal Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source.  Don't add so much! Easy does it! If my flavoring has oil (often does), I add just a few drops just prior to piping.
Beating too hard.  Fold the egg whites gently. After adding coloring and flavorings, I fold no more than 10 times. 
Egg whites weren't whipped long enough.  Whip egg whites until very stiff peaks. Then whip for another three minutes. 
Egg whites sat without movement for too long.  Don't waste time between steps.  Get a move on it. 
Top of Macaron seems bumpy or blemished.  Too many chunks of almond meal or flour  in the batter.  Sift the almond flour before using. 
Too many chunks of almond meal or flour  in the batter.  Process the almond meal in a food processor for a longer period of time. 
Macarons maintain a stiff peak after piping and baking.  Batter too stiff.  Fold a few more times or add just a few drops of liquid (flavoring, coloring, or water).
Batter too stiff.  Rap the bottom of the pan on the counter to flatten.  I heard macarons are particularly fond of Sir-Mix-A-Lot. 
Macarons liquify after piping.  They can also run into each other and hold hands.  Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source.  Don't add so much! Easy does it!
Beating too hard.  Fold the egg whites gently. After adding coloring and flavorings, I fold no more than 10 times. 
Egg whites weren't whipped long enough.  Whip egg whites until very stiff peaks. Then whip for another three minutes. 
Batter got warm or over-handled with piping Pipe macarons quickly taking care to not hold the piping bag in your hands too often. 
Piped batter too closely.  Pipe macarons further away from each other. 
No feet develop.  Batter is too wet.  See the liquefying problem.
Air was beaten out of the batter. Gently fold the batter.  Quit messing with it!
Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source making the batter too wet to rise.  Don't add so much! Easy does it!
Luck.  Sometimes, things just happen.  
Macarons crack on top when baking.  There are two types of cracks.  1. Macaron is too delicate. 2. The foot develops on top creating a large bubbly crack.  Shell too delicate because the batter was too wet.  See fixes for egg whites flattening. 
Macarons did not dry to form a shell on top prior to baking.  Allow macarons to dry for longer periods of time.  Heat up the oven to dry out to the room or use a hair dryer to dry the macarons.  Or turn on the heater or air conditioner to dry out the room.  The top of the macarons should be very dry to the touch prior to baking.
Temperature too high when baking in humidity.  Humidity kills.  Lower oven temperature when higher humidity levels. In dry weather, I bake for 11 minutes at 350. In medium humidity, I bake for 12 minutes at 325.  In wet weather, I bake for 13 minutes as 305 degrees. 
Macarons stick to the bottom of the pan.  Perfect ones will pop off cleanly.  Baking surface was a bit dirty. Make sure baking surface is thoroughly clean prior to piping. 
Silpat is old or cheap.  Go for the gusto and buy the expensive stuff. Some people use parchment, but I'm a huge believer in the silpat. 
The bottoms are not fully baked.  Bake for a while longer. Check every 45 seconds. 
The tops of Macarons come off, but the bottoms remain stuck to the pan.  Baking surface was a bit dirty. Make sure baking surface is thoroughly clean prior to piping. 
Silpat is old or cheap.  Go for the gusto and buy the expensive stuff. Some people use parchment, but I'm a huge believer in the silpat. 
The bottoms are not fully baked.  Bake for a while longer. Check every 45 seconds. 
Luck.  Fill the tops with extra filling and stick them together anyways. Scrap off the bottoms and eat them. 
Macarons are inconsistent. Some are perfect, some are terrible.  Uneven airflow. Bake only one pan at a time. 
Uneven airflow.  Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.  
Uneven airflow. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door cracked. 
Temperature change in batter or over-handling in piping.  Work quickly and don't mess with the batter. 
Luck.  Sometimes, things just happen.  
Macarons rise and then deflate.  Removing from heat before fully baking.  Leave them in the oven until they are done. I've accidentally taken macarons out of the oven when they are only needing to be rotated.  That's how I learned this lesson.  Re-baking them does not fix the problem. 

Here's a batch of cracked macarons.  This batch cracked because the shell wasn't strong enough (crack type 1) which is often caused by too much liquid in the batter.  Notice that there is a single perfect macaron with feet in the photo among all the other cracked ones.

I knew that the batter for that batch was ruined so I let someone make shapes out of the batter.  Goldfish-shaped macaron, anyone?  Ironically, all these macarons had feet!

Another photo of some perfect looking macarons, and some not so perfect ones.  This batch was pumpkin spice, with too much pumpkin (liquid) in it.

Here's a photo of some trays of macarons drying before baking.  The batter on these were a little too stiff and thus the peaks on the macarons.  However, if I had to choose, I'd choose too still over liquifying macarons.  You can also see which ones I piped last.  Look at the very far back right pan.  Half of the macarons have peaks and the other half don't.  The ones that don't have peaks were piped last and un-stiffened from the warmth of my hands and the handling.

Here's a better photo depicting the peak of the macarons when piping.  They should slowly flatten out and then dry.

Here's another photo of some perfect macarons, and some crack (type 2 crack) macarons.  You can't really tell in this photos, but many of these had feet.

A close up of the same photo.

Here's another photo of the same batch pre-bake.  I lived life a little too close to the edge, and I piped them too close to each other.  Oopsie.

This is a crack (type 2) because the macaron did not dry out enough.  Typically, a macaron should dry so that the top has a skin.  When the macaron bakes, the skin holds the top together as the macaron rises and develops feet.  The skin on this macaron was not dry enough to keep from cracking as it rose.  I call this type of crack a foot on the top.  If this type of crack was on the bottom, we'd call it a foot.

Here's another photo of a macaron from the same batch. You can see that this crack/foot started to develop on the bottom but wasn't quite right.  The crack also traverses around the macaron and towards the top just to the right of the point.  The point is there because the batter was too stiff when piping.  It didn't quite flatten when drying.

Here's a photo of various problems.  1. Crack (type 2, also called foot on top). 2. They are stuck together. 3. One has a pointy top.

Now here's some photos of pretty macarons.  See how the foot rises from the bottom? The top is smooth (sprinkled with coconut though).  No cracks on the top.
Here's another photo from a macaron from the same batch.

Now here's a photo of a macaron from a bakery (not in Texas) that looked very peculiar.  I have a strong suspicions that these feet were......FAKED!  You can see that there is a round smooth bottom with defined edges on this macaron.  The "feet" sticking out and only around the outsides of the macaron.  They did not rise from the bottom.  Also, the macaron has uneven bits from using grainy almond meal.

I shift my dry ingredients after weighing.  My scale weighs to 0.1 of a gram.

I use a glass to hold up my piping bag so I don't overhandle the batter.

I use bobby pins to keep the bottom closed.  The batter will spill all over the place without it.

And here's a bobby pinned filled bag.  I better get to piping before the batter starts to act funny.