**Update: Since I got so many guest posts, we’re stepping it up a notch for the month of December! Now the blog with have guest posts for The Holiday Project every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (reader, blogger, reader, blogger) until the end of the year!
Today’s Reader Guest Post for The Holiday Project:
Amanda from Davis, Calfornia and Will from Chico, California
[The first homebrew I tried was made by Will, and Amanda spoils me with some of the most delicious dinners about once a week. Why wouldn't I be friends with these two?! Oh, and they're pretty fun to hang out with too sans the food and beer. Win-win. Enjoy!]
Hello Life Tastes Like Food blog readers! I’m Amanda and I am very excited to be guest posting on Stephanie’s awesome blog because I love reading it and sometimes eating her delicious creations! I am a master student at UC Davis studying viticulture (wine grapes). I love food, wine (duh), beer, ginkgo trees, Harry Potter, and traveling. And I kinda like my co-blogger.
I’m Will. I graduated UC Davis in ‘010 and am applying for law schools. I grew up on a blueberry farm and have placed a premium on quality food my entire life. I like the outdoors, beer, and sleeping in. Amanda is okay too, I guess.
Will brews, Amanda cooks, and sometimes we help each other, and all the time we enjoy what the other makes. So when Steph asked us to write a blog post, we naturally said, “YES” and then debated what to brew/cook. After a couple of discussions, we couldn’t decide between a stout and an IPA and which one to cook with, so Amanda just decided it would be easier to cook with both while Will took to brewing a new IPA since he brewed a stout the weekend before. So now you will get 3 recipes (2 food, 1 beer) for the price of 1!
There has been a relatively recent push toward knowing where your food comes from and how it’s made. People have always swapped recipes and shared their best cooking tips with one another. Beer is one of those things that people never seem to realize is made. It shows up in a bottle, keg, or can and nobody dares question its magical presence. Like peaches in that POTUS song (“Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man, in a factory downtown…)
I first became aware of the brewing process when I took a Beer and Brewing class at UCD my freshman year. I’ll give you a brief rundown of the process before I delve into the recipe.
You can make beer with a minimum of 4 ingredients. In Germany, back in the day, they had a purity law called the Reinheitsgebot that limited the brewers to only Water, Barley, and Hops. At the time they didn’t know about yeast as it was too small to see so they didn’t include that in their law.
First you take the grain and steep it in some hot water. While the grain is steeping the starches in the kernels are breaking down into fermentable sugars. This is called the Mash.
Because the all grain method requires some extra space and gear that I don’t yet have, I brew using the partial grain partial extract method. The extract is made by using the same method as above and then removing some water through evaporation. If you remove all the water, you create Dry Malt Extract (the white stuff in the picture). The syrupy brown stuff is the Liquid Malt Extract. Both are used in combination to make beer.
When the conversion from starch to sugar is complete the brewer halts the process and rinses the grain with water. The whole process is called lautering.
The runoff from rinsing the grain contains all the necessary sugars, proteins, enzymes, and goodness to create beer. At this point you’ve got a pot full of wort. You throw it on the stove and get it up to a rolling boil. Once it starts boiling you add the hops. This is my personal favorite. I love hops. I love beers that use that crap out of hops. The smell when hops go into the boil is my favorite sensation along the entire brewing process. Hops are this magical plant that contribute a lot to a beer’s flavor, aroma and bitterness. The English discovered hops’ antibacterial properties when they were occupying India (a slightly different occupation than the one occurring throughout the country). They would make a super hoppy beer and send it off on the train. Upon arrival the soldiers would dilute it with water and have themselves a brew. The soldiers started to get a taste for the undiluted beer (which, by the way, was generally higher in alcohol content) and left out the dilution process before pouring their pints, thus creating the India Pale Ale style.
The hops added at the beginning of the boil give the beer it’s bitterness. Different strains of hops have different bitterness characteristics. The hops added in the middle of the boil affect the flavor and the hops added in the last minutes change the aroma.
Once the wort is boiled with the hops, the beer needs to cool. After it cools it is racked into a fermentation vessel (usually a bucket or a carboy – a giant glass bottle – for homebrewers). You pitch the yeast and then you have to do the hardest step. You wait. And wait. And wait. At this point the yeast have to do their job. Their job is to turn all those sugars to alcohol. Once they finish up you can bottle or keg the beer.
Recipe Numero Uno:
Filo dough IPA Chicken Pockets with Cranberry Sauce, Carmelized Onions, and Melted Brie
Ingredients (Serves 4 big eaters)
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 1 Package Filo Dough (found in freezer section)
- 1 Homemade IPA bottle/can (or your favorite brew, 12 oz)
- 1 cup melted butter (more or less)
- 1 wedge of Brie Cheese (divided into 4 portions)
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 package cranberries (not the jelly kind!)
- ½ – 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
- 1 cup water
- Salt, Pepper to taste
- 1 Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Ginger (optional spices for cranberry sauce)
- Pound the chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper to taste, and add to a large zip-lock bag with beer from one bottle of your favorite IPA. Set in fridge to marinate for a few hours.
- Make the cranberry sauce according to the directions on the back of the bag. Boil water and sugar and add cranberries, cinnamon stick, cloves, and ginger (all to taste) and set on simmer. Take off heat once all the berries have popped and set aside to cool.
- Caramelize onions. Set aside to cool
- Pre-heat oven to 350*
- Layer 1 sheet of filo dough on a working surface (while keeping the other layers under a damp towel to prevent them from drying out) and brush with melted butter. Add 3-4 more filo sheets, each time applying more butter. Then add pounded and marinated chicken breast. Top with caramelized onions, cranberry sauce, and brie cheese. Fold up filo sheets and brush with more butter. Place on a buttered baking sheet (Wow, I am starting to sound like Paula Deen). Cook for approximately 35 minutes or until the filo dough is brown and toasty!
- Serve with a nice IPA or a dry Riesling (can’t forget the wine)
Last winter (has it already been a year?) Will and I took off for a four month adventure in South America (We had a blog too, pretty amateur compared to this one! http://chicoychicaensuramerica.wordpress.com/). We saw penguins, glaciers, waterfalls, ancient dead cities, Inca dwellings, salt flats, mountains, Jesuit ruins and more. We ate a lot of amazing beef, drank a lot of great wine, drank some okay beer, and enjoyed everything from alpaca, guinea pig, ceviche, to llama, and other critters. In any case, we were inspired in our cooking by our travels, so I will share with you my version of chipa, or Paraguayan cheese bread along with some tasty beer infused pork.
Stout Infused Pork with Chipa
- For Pork Butt
- 1 8-10 lb Pork Shoulder/Butt
- 1 bottle of Homemade Pacha Mama Stout (or your favorite local stout)
- 1 bunch of cilantro (save 1/3 for garnish)
- 1 large onion
- 1 head of garlic (or less depending on your love for this stinky bulb)
- Small handfuls of cardamom, cloves, and
- 2 whole jalapenos
- Chop the onions and cilantro.
- Add all of the ingredients to a crock pot and set on low for 8 hours. Pull out bone, shred meat with a fork (it should be super tender), and serve with Chipa and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro!
- 3 ½ cups Tapioca Starch or Flour (can be found at your local Co-op)
- 3 ½ cups of Corn Meal (found in Mexican aisle at grocery store)
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup of grated semi-hard to hard cheese (I like the Mexican cotija cheese, but parmesan would work just fine)
- 1 cup butter
- 2 tsp anise seeds (This is the traditional ingredient, but if you do not like this taste, you can eliminate it, but I wouldn’t suggest it)
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 425* F
- Grease 2 or more baking sheets (depending on size of chipa)
- In a large bowl, add the tapioca starch, corn meal, and butter. Begin to knead.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and continue kneading. Add the cheese, salt, and anise seeds and continue kneading.
- Sprinkle some tapioca starch on a working surface and transfer dough. Continue to knead (tired yet?)
- Right before your hands are about to fall off, shape the chipa. This is the fun part. Shape some into small balls (for rolls for the pork). Shape some chipa into doughnut shapes and braided breadstick shapes (traditional)
- Brush with some melted butter and pop into the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Serve along side the pork and a tasty Stout!