Big Sound Braised Beef Brisket

This was my entree for the beer dinner we had last week and it turned out amazing. It's beef brisket braised for four hours with Big Sound Scotch Ale from Cigar City. I don't know if it was the Big Sound or what but it was just so rich and tasty. Once again, I did not remember to write down the amounts of everything I put in it. I suck at doing that. I guess it is a bit of a shame because I think it was as perfect as it could be. (Oh well, I try to encourage people to use recipes more as suggestions anyway.) But just add a bit of all these ingredients and it will definitely turn out great.

Here's what you'll need:

beef brisket
brown sugar
garlic powder
Worcestershire sauce
soy sauce
Big Sound Scotch Ale (or other beer)
beef bouillon

Rub the brisket with soy sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat some oil in a large pot and brown the brisket on both sides on high heat. Chop the onion, tomatoes, and mushrooms into a few pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including some more soy sauce. Use the first half of the beer at the beginning and then add more a few hours in. Cook for about four hours until very tender. You can add the mushrooms a few hours into it if you don't want them to be all mushy. Taste it as you go along and adjust it until it's just right. At the end I took out the brisket and added flour to the broth in the pot to make it a little thicker. That way you can pour it on top of your brisket and get the most out of all those flavors. Serve with mashed potatoes or veggies.

Here is a terribly blurry picture from the beer dinner. (The one at the top of the page was from when I practiced before the dinner.)

Butternut Squash Soup / Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse

Okay, this is the soup that I used as the appetizer at the beer dinner. Honestly, it's been a week and I didn't write down exactly what I did so I'm going to give you some estimates. You really can't go too wrong with this soup. You can go the sweeter route and use a lot of brown sugar and cinnamon, or you can keep it saltier with more garlic and butter. Just taste and test until you're happy. Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse is a nice complement to the sweet squash and cinnamon flavors. Such a cozy pairing! Not that I really need cozy in Florida in the summer, but this is nice any time of year. Also, the first time that I made this I cooked some shallots in butter and then added everything to that. For the beer dinner I didn't do that, but I think it actually tasted better with the shallots.

1 medium sized butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1 apple
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cube chicken bouillon
2 tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste

First is the most annoying thing. Peeling and chopping the butternut squash can be a bit of a pain. Cut it in half and then cut those pieces in half. Scoop out the seeds, then peel each piece and cut them into chunks. Peel and chop the apple as well. Put the squash and apples in a pot filled with water and bring it to a boil. Cook them until they are tender. Transfer to a blender and puree. You may have to do this in batches. Return to the pot and to medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust to your taste.

Beer Dinner

Helloo.. I just wanted to write about the beer dinner some friends and I had on Friday. We had one over a year ago at our friend Tyler's house and we had been meaning to do another one for a while. We finally got around to it this week. I cooked the five courses and Brian was in charge of beers. I spent a lot of the day cooking and I was a little nervous I wouldn't be able to pull it all off but I was very happy with how the dinner turned out. All the pairings were wonderful and the portions were just right. I'll tell you a little about each course.

1. The first course was a butternut squash soup. We paired it with Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse. The soup had apples and cinnamon and nice cozy warm flavors. We wanted to pair it with something that had some interesting spice flavors but that wouldn't overpower the subtlety of the soup. The hints of clove and spice from the Bavarian yeast strain in the beer complemented the soup pretty nicely. I'll try to post the recipe for the soup later this week.

2. The second course I already have a recipe for on here:

It's creamy shrimp and scallops cooked in coconut milk and beer, served with a mango and papaya salad. I cooked the shrimp and scallops with Hitachino Nest White Ale and it turned out delicious. Definitely one of my favorites. We also paired it with the the same beer. All the components worked so well together. The sour dough bread with the tartness and wheat flavors of the beer.. and the subtle coconut milk flavor in the seafood.. and the mango and papaya.. mm good stuff.

3. The third course: Ceviche with Stone Cali-Belgique. Ceviche recipe here:

I've read around to see what people pair ceviche with and it's often a sour beer to go with the sour flavors in the ceviche. We didn't want to take that route and since I had already had success in pairing it with an IPA, we decided to try that again. I'm glad we chose this beer. The brightness of both the beer and the dish worked really well together.And of course I have to serve my ceviche with some buttery and sugary sweet potato. Yum.

4. On to the fourth course. The main course, and I think the highlight of the dinner. Big Sound braised beef brisket and mashed potatoes paired with Cigar City's Big Sound Scotch Ale. This pairing was just perfect harmony. I braised the brisket for four and a half hours in the Big Sound along with brown sugar, soy sauce, veggies, and a bunch of other flavors that I will talk about when I post the recipe. It was so tender and delicious. The rich flavors of the brisket just flowed wonderfully with that delicious scotch ale.

Here is a picture from when I practiced with Old Chub from Oskar Blues:

5. At this point everyone was on their way to getting full but we still had two desserts to go. While my apple pastry was in the oven, we had a dessert that Anavictoria made: cheesecake cupcakes with Ghirardelli chocolate and a sugar cookie crust. We paired that with Mokah, a delicious chocolate and coffee imperial stout from Southern Tier. It was a great complement to the cheesecake. The roasty flavors of the beer balanced the sweetness of the dessert.

6. Lastly we had my Aventinus apple pastry with blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

I love the blue cheese in this dessert. It makes it so much more interesting and it's a nice balance to the sweetness of the apples. If you haven't tried blue cheese with desserts or fruits, you're missing out. It's magical :) The apples were cooked in Aventinus with brown sugar and cinammon. Aventinus is perfect for this because of its dark fruit flavors. The filling is really tasty, and I had a lot of it left over so we've been eating it with ice cream and cooking it into crescent rolls. Good stuff :)

And that was the end of it. So thanks to the Landis family for hosting the dinner and thanks to everyone who came. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves. I can't wait for the next one! ^.^

Spinach and Five Cheese Tomatoes

Here's a little snack I made. Yay for more stuffed veggies! (Well, I guess technically fruit but whatever..) I don't remember exactly how much I used for everything in this so I'll just tell you what I did.

I cut a few plum tomatoes in half, scooped out the seeds, salted them, and arranged them on a baking sheet. Then I melted butter on a pan and sauteed some chopped onions. To that I added goat cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. (I used more goat cheese than the rest because I really wanted that flavor to come through.) I suppose I could have added some blue cheese since I had that on hand but five is enough right? Anyway, I seasoned that with garlic powder and salt and let it melt along with some milk. Once it was nice and melty, I combined it with the spinach and stuffed the tomatoes with the mixture. I put that in the oven for about 15 minutes and that was it!

Pranqster Beer Cheese Soup

Everyone loves beer cheese soup at restaurants, and it's super easy to make at home with your favorite beer. I was craving some of that tangy beer and cheese flavor and happened to have all the ingredients to create it at home. Well, my soup got eaten up so quickly that I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the final product. So you get a picture of when the cheese was being added :) Here's my recipe:

1/3 cup minced onion
1/3 cup minced celery
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 and 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 cup regular milk
12 ounces beer
1/2 cube chicken stock
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup flour
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a pot. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook until tender. Add the flour and half a cup of the evaporated milk, stirring until it starts to thicken. Add half the beer, the rest of the milk, and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the cheese slowly, stirring as it melts. Add the rest of the beer and season with cayenne pepper and salt.