The food abides…

Cullinary Experiments

Christmas 2016 Photo Wrap-Up!!!

It’s always easy to tell whether or not I’m busy during the holidays by the frequency or infrequency in which I post. If this year’s lack of even a Thanksgiving update was any indication, it’s obviously been a whirlwind of a month and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unfortunately that meant the little free time I had was spent shopping, testing new recipes and otherwise preparing the abode for holiday revelers.

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Whenever I remain in Florida for the holidays I always make a giant pot of Linguine with White Clam Sauce and host a Christmas Eve dinner for anyone close to me who can make it. This year quite a few more people than usual chose to attend so I had a packed house.

christmas-eve-table

My Christmas Eve table, complete with English Crackers. Mismatched chairs and place settings meant there were more people than ever joining us this year and that couldn’t have made me happier.

holiday-beverages

Of course my beer fridge was well stocked with plenty of holiday brews. Some of my favorites this year were the Barley Mow Tinsel, Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice and Shiner’s Holiday Cheer.

zuppa-di-pesce

Because I had such a large group this year, instead of just the Linguine with Clams, I went full Seven Fishes. One of the dishes that came out very well was a Zuppa di Pesce, an Italian fisherman’s soup with clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops that I made in the crock pot. I added a little more oomph to the recipe by including some squid ink fettuccine which really upped the brine flavor.

baked-ziti

I don’t typically eat Baked Ziti as it’s too heavy but I tried my hand at cooking one of these for the non-fish eaters in attendance. There was only one small slice left at the end of the night so I have to assume it went over well.

linguine-with-clam-sauce

And of course no Christmas Eve is complete without the Linguine and White Clam Sauce. This is a shot of the bottom of the pot where there are more clams than pasta left. What most people don’t realize is that’s the best part. Eaten cold right out of the container on Christmas morning, there is no better breakfast. The overnight refrigeration seems to have the same effect that it does on Chinese Lo Mein (also better when eaten cold the next morning).

blue-moon-gingerbreat

Once the pasta was eaten, the desert cleared away, the guests departed and the kitchen cleaned I got to sit and relax for the first time in almost a month. Took it as the right moment to crack open a bottle of Blue Moon’s Gingerbread Spiced Ale that I’ve been sitting on since last year. Time did not diminish it’s flavors and it went down well while I watched A Christmas Story about 3 times in a row.

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dogfish-head-breakfast-stout

To keep myself young at heart, I have a rather juvenile morning ritual of cereal and cartoons on the weekend. Given that this particular weekend was Christmas however, I changed it up just a little bit by cracking a Dogfish Head Beer for Breakfast Stout and tossed on the John Denver & the Muppets Christmas special from 1979. Yes, I realize a late night beer on Christmas Eve and an early morning beer on Christmas Day is a little overkill, but it’s the holidays and I worked hard this year so I cut myself some slack dammit.

christmas-dinner

Just like Ralphie’s Dad, I’m a Turkey junkie so Christmas Dinner at my very good friends’ house in Riverview was much appreciated. Turkey, mashed taters, stuffing, green beans and a beet salad. After Christmas Eve’s very heavy pasta and oil based fare I was ecstatic to have some veggies along with it. The aforementioned Shiner Holiday Cheer went perfectly with this meal.

goose-island-312-urban-wheat

While it was no where near as hot or humid as it was last year, temps in the mid 80’s during the day meant it was rather temperate so I took a break from my heavy winter brews in favor of a refreshing Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat and it scratched the itch until the sun went down and things cooled off.

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Of course we have to talk about the holiday loot. I have some great gift-givers in my circle and among some really awesome items, there were a few badass booze-themed ones that deserve mention.

miir-growler

This is a 64 oz. Miir Growler. The proceeds of one of these growlers gives clean water to one person in a developing country for a year. Given the spirit of the holidays this was something I really appreciated.

cigar-city-marshal-zhukov

I’ve had my eye on this one in my Instagram feed for quite some time now and just haven’t gotten a chance to make it down to Cigar City to pick up a bottle. Fortunately my friend had his finger on the pulse and showed up with a bomber of Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Russian Stout with Vanilla and Hazelnut. I think this badboy will be a New Year’s Eve brew.

christmas-limoncello

This same friend is also the one who makes his own limoncello which is one of my favorite after dinner cordials. This stuff does not last long in my house and I will be clamoring for another bottle by the spring.

bottle-caddy

It’s obvious that the majority of my friends are fellow zythophiles, so when I go to parties, dinners and other gatherings, I’m always bringing new beers with me for people to try. That’s why this bottle caddy, complete with opener, was a perfect gift. Tried it out yesterday and the best part is that it doesn’t tip over in car the way a regular cardboard six-pack does.

guinness-orament

My Christmas Tree is a mismatched conglomeration of vintage ornaments from my youth, geeky fare like the Walking Dead, Star Wars and Marvel superheroes and booze-themed decorations. So when my friends gave me this Guinness ornament of course I already had the perfect place for it.

kira-christmas-2016

And in traditional fashion, here’s a photo of my dog Kira on Christmas morning, holiday bandanna on, new toy in mouth and while it can’t be seen here, tail wagging about a thousand times a minute.

christmas-lunatic

So in case no one has figured this out yet, I’m somewhat of a lunatic when it comes to Christmas. I suppose a little photographic evidence of that lunacy is in order. Consider it your Christmas gift from me.

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I hope you’ve all been enjoying the holiday season as much as I have. We still have about a week before it officially comes to a close, so don’t forget to try a new dish or have a holiday beer with someone you haven’t caught up with yet.

Instead of my usual “the food abides” I will close with a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Beer


Tomato & Mozzarella Caprese

tomato-and-mozzarella-caprese

Made a little Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Caprese to bring over for a dinner with some friends this weekend…


Baked Lemon Pepper Tuna Ventresca Croquettes

I’ve made fried croquettes before but after a long day of sampling local Oktoberfest beers I wanted something a little lighter. Tweaked my normal croquette recipe by both baking and using Tuna Ventresca (marinated tuna bellies) instead of pouched or canned.

tuna-ventresca-croquettes-1

For this dish I combined 2 eggs (beaten), 2 finely chopped green onions, 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs, 1 heaping tbsp of Dijon mustard, 1 tsp of kosher salt, 2 tsps of freshly ground black pepper and a 7 oz. jar of Tuna Ventresca making sure to reserve the olive oil it was packed in. Formed that into patties, dredged them in more panko bread crumbs and placed them on a sheet pan prepped with cooking spray. Took the reserved oil and brushed it on top of the patties, then baked at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Flipped the patties and brushed the other side with the oil and baked for another 14 min.

tuna-ventresca-croquettes-2

Served the croquettes on a spinach and romaine salad and paired them with a Kona Big Wave Golden Ale which was a nice lighter ale to go along with the fish. The olive oil gave them a good brown and the panko a great crunch that went well with the greens. The best part was that since the Ventresca was marinated it didn’t dry out during the baking like normal tuna would have.

This is a good recipe to keep in my arsenal for entertaining. I’d imagine these can be prepped early and the patties refrigerated right on the sheets then tossed in the oven when it’s time to bake with only a minor adjustment of the baking time.

Have a favorite croquette recipe? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…


Jalapeno Peach IPA Shrimp & Smoked Gouda Grits

Jalapeno Peach IPA Shrimp and Smoked Gouda Grits 1

So I’ve come back for different takes on Shrimp & Grits multiple times. There’s just something I love about this dish and I enjoy tinkering with it. This latest visitation started when I took some out of town coworkers to the Cigar City Brewery for some craft beer. They happened to have an amazing Habanero Peach IPA which we really enjoyed and we discussed how it would probably make a good marinade.

Fast forward to today and while I tried to obtain a growler of the Habanero Peach IPA it was unfortunately a limited release and no longer in production. Not letting that stop me, I attempted to recreate the flavors in a marinade as best as I could.

Since it was the first time trying this I dialed down the heat just a little by going with sliced jalapenos instead of habaneros. Added a bottle of Castaway IPA from Kona Brewing and then mixed in some peach nectar. Finished it off with a pinch of kosher salt and a couple of healthy grinds of black pepper.  I let the shrimp soak in that for about 2 hours before sauteing in a little olive oil and lime juice with just a little more salt.

Served them over a bed of grits but where I would typically use shredded cheddar,  this time I subbed in a little smoked gouda. That smokey flavor went with both the heat of the peppers and the sweetness of the peach and lime quite well.

Jalapeno Peach IPA Shrimp and Smoked Gouda Grits 2

I was pleased with how this one turned out. This is an insanely easy dish which I intend to utilize when having guests for dinner because I won’t have to spend much time in the kitchen.

Have a favorite Shrimp & Grits recipe? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…


Pineapples on Acid!

Pineapples on Acid

Made these as a little treat for all of the grown-ups at a BBQ I recently attended. This idea comes from my old college roommate and its simplicity is genius. Pineapples soaked in Jagermeister and Coconut Rum then chilled in the fridge four about 4 hours just to let everything absorb and the flavors to meld. Just put out some toothpicks and let everyone spear their own fruit. If you’ve ever had a cocktail called a Surfer on Acid, this tastes just like one.

Oh and don’t waste any of the liquid at the bottom; it’s the best part. Pour that into a couple of shotglasses and enjoy the goodness!

Have a favorite alcoholic cuisine? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…


Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille Chicken Sausage Jambalaya

With some remaining Abita Louisiana Spiced Ale left over from New Beer Friday I wanted to steer dinner towards something spicy that it would pair well with and I’ve been thinking of Jambalaya for a while now.

Jambalaya 1

This Jambalaya is extremely simple. You just put everything in the pot and let it do its thing. And since I don’t eat red meat, the Andouille Chicken Sausage is a perfect substitute if you can find it. I have tried this in the past with uncooked chicken added at the beginning but I didn’t like the result because you had to cook it longer which dried everything out. Cooked chicken added at the end with the shrimp seems to work better and its still plenty of time for the flavors to meld.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups of water
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves of garlic minced
1/2 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 Andouille Chicken Sausage sliced on the bias
1 cooked, chicken breast sliced into short strips.
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined.

Add oil, water, stock, sausage, parsley, bay leaf, cayenne pepper and rice into a large non-stick saucepan and stir well. Bring  mixture to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and chicken and cook for another 5 minutes. Take off heat and let stand with the cover still on for another 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with a little more cayenne pepper and some salt or a little bit of hot sauce (I’m a fan of Frank’s Red Hot).

Jambalaya 3

It’s that easy folks. This is a very low maintenance recipe so it’s perfect if you’re entertaining. Next time I may try my hand at some seafood gumbo but this worked rather well with the beer, so I’d consider it a successful pairing.

Have a favorite Jambalaya or Cajun recipe? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…


Christmas Eve 2015

Whenever I’m not in Connecticut with my family for the holidays I always host Christmas Eve dinner for my friends down here in Tampa.

Christmas Eve 2015

A table full of great people, a gigantic pot of linguine and white clam sauce, some holiday tunes and a good craft beer. That’s my Christmas Eve. Hope everyone is enjoying theirs as well!

And remember… the food abides…