Category Archives: Food/Drink

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Fondue is a consummately convivial dish in any season. I’ve had fondues in summer, crowded around a communal table at Le Refuge des Fondues, that long-lived Montmartre institution famous for serving barely-drinkable wine in baby bottles. Yes, baby bottles. And I’ve had plenty of fondues in winter. Fondues marked many a special occasion in my family, with mid-December and early January birthdays expanding the holiday calendar on both ends. (Maybe this is why I can’t help but associate fondues with cold and snowy winter evenings.)

For my family, there was and remains only one way to make a fondue: Zermattequal parts Emmenthal and Gruyère cheese, white wine, and a hearty dose of Kirsch. Even today, this “classic” Swiss fondue remains one of my favourites. But I remember a late spring evening some decades ago in Zermatt, the picturesque town in the shadow of the Matterhorn, an evening that awakened me to the possibilities of this rustic dish. For starters, the restaurant listed not one but several fondues. This, in itself, was a revelation. I settled on the herb fondue, a classic Swiss fondue with so much basil that the fondue was more brilliant green than its typical yellow-cream colour.

IMG_0056Since that evening, I have concocted dozens of variations on the traditional fondue for what has become an annual winter dining tradition chez moi. To keep things interesting, I began experimenting with different combinations of cheeses and ingredients. I might, on occasion, add morels and roasted garlic, or sundried tomato and oregano, or even finely diced pancetta. It was just a matter of time before it occurred to me that I could melt the cheese in a liquid other than white wine.

Following are three fondue recipes straight from the Tempest cookbook, fondues that’ll warm the guests around your dinner table and keep the conversation lively well into the wee hours. The first features hard apple cider as its base, while the second is a richer affair bolstered by Doppelbock. The final recipe may be the only fondue recipe you’ll ever need.

For all of these recipes, you’ll need some way to keep the pot of bubbling liquid and cheese warm at the table. You’ll also need long forks. A fondue set works best, but you can always rig something up. All recipes serve four to six people, depending on how much bread and other accompanying food you’ve prepared.

Gorgonzola Apple Cider Fondue

Ingredients:

  • .3 lb. Gorgonzola dolce, cubed (use Cambozola if you can’t find a less assertive gorgonzola; it’s good to have a mix of creamy and pungent cheeses)
  • .4 lb. Gorgonzola piccante, cubed
  • .5 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • 1 cup hard apple cider, off-dry
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp. Poire Williams
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • For dipping: broccoli florets, cauliflower florets (parboiled); brown mushrooms (whole); fennel (sliced); 1 loaf sourdough bread or country bread (cubed)

Directions:

Prep the vegetables. Parboil the broccoli and cauliflower, and leave the fennel and mushrooms raw. Cube the bread.

Cube the Gorgonzola and grate the Gruyère. Cut the garlic clove in half, and rub the inside of the fondue pot. Mince the remainder.

Heat the cider and minced garlic over medium heat till liquid begins to bubble, turn the heat down, and begin adding the cheeses slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon: Gruyère first, then the Gorgonzola. When it is all melted, dissolve flour in the Poire Williams and stir in. Check the seasoning, and add pinches of sea salt if need be.

Serve with apple cider, an American pale ale, a crisp northern German Pilsener, or a dry/off-dry Riesling.

Aged Gouda and Doppelbock Fondue

Ingredients:

  • .7 lb. aged Gouda, grated
  • .3 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • .2 lb. Emmenthal, grated
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup Doppelbock
  • ¼ cup Amontillado Sherry
  • ½ shallot, diced finely
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. sherry (Amontillado or Oloroso)
  • 2 tbsp. grainy German mustard
  • cayenne (pinch)
  • nutmeg (pinch)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 loaf sourdough bread, rye bread, or country bread (cubed)

Directions:

Cube the bread and grate the cheese. Mix the flour into the grated cheese. Heat the beer and sherry till it bubbles. In a separate pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallots. Add the shallots to the bubbling liquid, then slowly incorporate the cheeses. Add the pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne. Once melted, finish with the sherry-mustard mix. (If fondue doesn’t appear thick enough, dissolve more flour in the sherry-mustard mix). Check seasoning, and add sea salt if needed.

Fondues aren’t for those watching their waistlines, and this one’s at the far end of the richness scale. I find that Doppelbocks aren’t the best accompaniment – too much of a good thing. Try a Hefeweizen, or a lighter Weizenbock like Weihenstephan’s Vitus. A glass of Amontillado complements this dish wonderfully.

Swiss Fondue (Family Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • .5 lb. Emmenthal, grated
  • .5 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • 1 cup dry and fruity white wine
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbsp. Kirsch
  • freshly ground nutmeg (pinch)
  • freshly ground black pepper`
  • 1 loaf french bread, cubed

Directions:

Cube bread. Grate cheese, and mix with flour. Rub fondue pot with garlic. Heat wine in fondue pot over medium heat till it simmers. Reduce heat. Slowly stir in the grated cheese.

Image Source: www.switzerlandcheese.ca

Image Source: www.switzerlandcheese.ca

Once the cheese has incorporated into the wine, add the kirsch. (If the fondue appears runny, dissolve a bit of flour into the kirsch beforehand). Stir in freshly-ground black pepper and nutmeg, then transfer to fondue burner. Et voilà.

Beverage choices for this kind of fondue are fairly wide open. White wine from Swiss, German, Austrian, or eastern French regions are typical accompaniments, but you could also opt for a red wine like a Beaujolais, even a lighter Pinot Noir. As for beer, try an aromatic and lower-IBU American IPA, or a southern German Pilsener.

Guten Appetit!

Related Tempest Articles

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

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Zermatt Image Source: Wikipedia

Fondue Pot: F.D. Hofer

© 2014. F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Accoutrements and Provisions for the Classy Imbiber

Aside from puzzling over gifts for those of my friends who scorn the pleasures of barley and hops, holiday shopping for me is fairly straightforward: buy beer. Beyond the eminently sound gift of beer, however, lies a whole realm of possibilities. Part One of this short series on holiday gift ideas is sure to keep the Bookworm Beer Enthusiast occupied between sips. (For those of you who missed Part One, it’s here.) Part Two of the series puts some of those ideas to work.

As with Part One, so too with Part Two: I’m going to assume that not all readers are avid homebrewers. But why not become one? Homebrew kits come in all shapes and sizes. Most kits will get you started for just shy of $100, sans ingredients. Chances are there’s a homebrew shop near you, but if not, a number of reputable outfits will ship to you, including Midwest Supplies, Northern Brewer, Austin Homebrew Supply, MoreBeer, High Gravity, and Brooklyn Brewshop.

If cash and space are restricted commodities, you can get friends and family members brewing up batches of IPA in a Manhattan-sized studio apartment with some of the one-gallon kits available on the market. One-Gallon Kit 1If the recipient doesn’t like the hobby, at least the person will have a cool one-gallon jug and a batch of beer to drink. But these kits generally suffer from one very major drawback: no hydrometer. I began my brewing adventures on just such a kit, and promptly brewed up a batch of bottle rockets. Hubris had gotten the better of me. If I can cook, surely I can brew. Who needs a hydrometer? Let’s just say it wouldn’t hurt to read up a bit – especially about the importance of hydrometers – before whipping up your first batch. (See the Papazian gift suggestion from Part One). If vendors of these otherwise convenient little kits are reading, just stick a hydrometer in with the package! It won’t make the kit any less affordable. And it might keep someone from losing an eye.

For those who like to experiment with food and beer pairings, Lebkuchen from Leckerlee in NYC makes a unique addition to the epicure’s repertoire. Lebkuchen is a seasonal baked good that originated with the Franconian monks of the Middle Ages. Somewhat akin to gingerbread, regional bakers keep their wares distinct with honey, aniseed, coriander, cloves, allspice, almonds, or candied fruit. Leckerlee LebkuchenLebkuchen is a fixture of many a Christkindlmarkt stall across the Germanic countries at this time of year, where the aromas of Lebkuchen mingle with mulled wine. The baker behind Leckerlee’s Lebkuchen went straight to the Franconian source for inspiration, spending a year developing her recipe for Nürnberger Lebkuchen. Now those of us on this side of the pond can find Lebkuchen that complements the rich, caramelized fruit-accented malt notes of a German Doppelbock. Barley wines and Scotch ales from the other side of the North Sea also make nice drinking mates for Lebkuchen.

Coffee and Lebkuchen sometimes find themselves dining at the same table, too. If that’s the case where you reside, a mug from Planet Beer will signal to others that you haven’t given up on the malted fermentables.

And what’s a good lager or ale without a decent drinking vessel? Normally I’d recommend proper glassware, but a glass-bottomed tankard introduces a sprinkle of historical legend into your pintly partakings. Tankard - Classic PewterThe glass bottoms ostensibly played a role in avoiding military conscription in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. As legend has it, recruiters pressed the unsuspecting into service through a number of subterfuges, including placing a shilling in the bottom of a tankard. This “King’s shilling” was a form of earnest payment (a deposit of sorts) given to potential recruits who agreed to enlist in the Royal Navy. If the drinker drank deep of the draft, he “took the King’s shilling,” unwittingly sealing his agreement to enlist. The glass bottom allowed the wilier denizens of the dockside taverns to “refuse the King’s schilling.” Alas, I don’t yet have a logo for A Tempest in a Tankard, but check back next year for tankards festooned with something fitting. In the meantime, Amazon lists plenty of purveyors of these prized drinking vessels.

© 2013. F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Gift Ideas for the Craft Beer-Drinking Bookworm

In many a craft beer-drinking clime, falling snow and frosted windowpanes herald the coming of the holiday season. If you’re a craft beer enthusiast or homebrewer, chances are you’ve filled up your holiday wishlist with beers to carry you through the winter season and gadgets aplenty to augment your home brewhouse. But maybe you know a kitchen virtuoso who could round out his or her repertoire with some beer-themed dinner pairings, or maybe you have a friend who needs a little encouragement to take plunge into homebrewing.

Since I’m a loyal devotee of the printed word, the first in this short series on holiday gift ideas is geared toward the Bookworm Beer Enthusiast.

Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont’s coffee table book, The World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World (2012), fills the void left by Michael Jackson (no, not that Michael Jackson) with an aesthetically appealing journey through the wonderland of contemporary beerdom. The World Atlas of Beer, by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont. (Supplied)Opening with a salvo of useful tips on buying, storing, serving, and tasting beer, the authors introduce readers to the origins of beer, the different styles of beer, and the elective affinities between beer and food. Thus provisioned, the journey begins, making calls at familiar harbours of brewing before setting off for distant shores. Rounding out the images of landscapes, breweries, labels, and posters is a judicious selection of beers to slake the traveler’s thirst.

As the quality of beer offerings has begun to rival wine, that consummate friend of food, it’s no surprise that craft beer types have begun to pay more attention to pairing the tastes and aromas of beer with what’s on the plate. Brooklyn Brewery maestro, Garrett Oliver, obliges those who want to go well beyond beer and bratwurst, offering up a cornucopia of pairing possibilities in his The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food (2003). Books - BrewmastersTable 2Got a Rodenbach Grand Cru you’d like to feature with dinner? Oliver lets you know why this particular beer complements game, “especially wild wood pigeon and partridge.” Rodenbach is round and sweet on the palate, “with caramelized malts quickly countered by firm acidity. Sherry, fruit, and oak play through the juicy center to a long sweet-and-sour finish.” No wild wood pigeon in your neighbourhood? No problem. Gamey liver patés will do just fine, as will tangy dishes like ceviche and pickled herring.

North Americans have developed of late a salutary penchant for savouring beer as part of those special moments with friends and family, but fewer have paused to ask where all these fine ales and lagers came from. Maureen Ogle’s Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer (2006) takes us back to the summer of 1844 and a bustling, growing city in Wisconsin Territory to trace the humble beginnings of Schlitz and Pabst. Books - AmbitiousBrew 1From Milwaukee, her tale travels down the Mississippi to the St. Louis home of Anheuser-Busch, setting the stage for the dueling ambitions of nineteenth-century industrial brewing magnates. In what amounts to a Hegelian narrative, we read about the rise of the temperance movement and learn how Prohibition intersected with anti-immigrant sentiment directed at the predominantly German-American brewing community. The Prohibition beast vanquished, a new antithesis arrives on the scene in the guise of the intrepid craft brewer who does battle with the corporate brands grown fat and bland off the post-Prohibition feeding frenzy of consolidation. No reservations in giving away the ending, for we drinkers of fine beverages already know how the new heroes – tenacious innovators like Fritz Maytag (Anchor), Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Jim Koch (Boston Brewing Company/Samuel Smith) – touched off the craft beer revolution.

And that very revolution sent many of us back into our kitchens and garages, feeding attempts at concocting our own steady supply of fresh beer. The books on homebrewing are by now fairly legion. Some serve particular niches (like Stan Hieronymus’s graceful Brew Like a Monk dedicated to trappist, abbey, and Belgian strong ales), while others (such as Jamil Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles or Ray Daniels’ Designing Great Beers) elevate homebrewing to the next level. But I’m going to assume that not everyone reading Tempest is a homebrewer. Or it might be that you know a homebrewer who just purchased his or her first kit. Whatever the case, the book that set many a brewer down the path of no return is Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Books - JoyHomebrew 1The third edition (2003) of this classic contains many useful – and some positively quaint – DIY suggestions, with recipes for several beer styles that will help launch your brewing career. Just enough of the science behind this mad alchemy assures that you won’t brew too many bottle rockets, and a light touch runs throughout, epitomized by Papazian’s motto: “Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a Homebrew.”

I think I’ll do just that.

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Next up: Accoutrements for the Classy Imbiber

© 2013 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Dining Down the Holiday Homestretch: Choucroute à la Gueuze

Sauerkraut is one of those dishes that can assume multiple incarnations, some on the light side, and some with enough goose fat to sink the Bismarck. After three solid days of eating rich foods over the course of that American holiday of sublime overindulgence, I’m feeling very much inclined to look to the lighter end of the spectrum and to the west of the Rhine.

For this variation on Alsatian-style sauerkraut, Choucroute à la Gueuze (or just plain sour beer sauerkraut, if you prefer), I use gueuze in place of white wine for a zesty crispness that’ll cut through all that turkey and mashed potatoes. I also bundle up a slightly different spice blend than I do when making my soporific duck fat German-style sauerkraut, spices that come together in a flavourful ensemble with the citric tartness of the gueuze. The amounts are approximate – spice as conservatively or intensely as you like.

One of my many sauerkraut variations - this one made with Boulevard's Harvest Wheat Wine

One of my sauerkraut variations – this one made with Boulevard’s Harvest Wheat Wine

Versatility is the hallmark of this dish. You can serve it up with sausages and ham, or you can opt instead for a seafood variation using scallops and halibut. Prepare these simply: salt, pepper, and a quick sauté in a mixture of olive oil and butter before garnishing the platter. You can also add mussels near the end of cooking to echo that other great beer accompaniment, moules-frites. Boiled young potatoes add just enough heft, and sliced, parboiled fennel bulb rounds out the dish.

Vegetarians need not feel left out in the cold either. For depth of flavour, substitute one pound of mushrooms for the bacon and skip the butter if you’re vegan. Crimini mushrooms work well, but chanterelles or oyster mushrooms add a finer touch. Caramelize the mushrooms in a separate skillet, and then combine with the rest of the ingredients when adding the sauerkraut.

The humble cabbage is, of course, the star attraction. You can use canned sauerkraut in an absolute pinch, but a bag or jar of fresh sauerkraut will flatter the dish all the more. Better yet, make your own. All you need is some advanced planning, a little time, and a sharp knife. (Details follow the recipe).

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. fresh sauerkraut, rinsed
  • ¼ lb. slab of bacon, diced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green apples (peeled, cored, and diced)
  • 1 cup gueuze or lambic (a light-coloured beer like Lindemans Cuvée René works well)
  • 1 tbsp. juniper berries
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. tarragon, chopped (keep a few sprigs aside for garnish)
  • sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • cheesecloth and cooking twine
  • sausages, meats, seafood, potatoes, and vegetables of your choice

Directions

Preheat oven to 325º F. Rinse the sauerkraut and prep the onion and apples. Tie the juniper, cloves, coriander, fennel, cumin, and bay leaves in cheesecloth to make a spice bag.

In the meantime, render the bacon fat in a heavy casserole set over just shy of medium heat. Swirl in the butter, raise heat to medium-high, and sauté the onions until they turn translucent. Add garlic and apple and sauté another minute or two.

Raise heat slightly, deglaze the casserole with the gueuze, and add the sauerkraut and spice bag, letting everything come to a gentle boil. Check salt and add if necessary, then cover the casserole and place it in the oven.

You could easily let this dish cook for up to three hours for a very tender, nearly melting sauerkraut, but since we’re going for a light touch, an hour will yield sauerkraut with some crunch. You could also braise the sauerkraut on the stove top over low heat, but cooking it in the oven frees up the stove top so you can prep the other fine foods that will garnish your dish.

Remove from the oven and stir in the tarragon. Cover and let sit for another minute or two before garnishing the casserole or turning the contents out onto a platter.

Serve with gueuze, lambic, Flanders red ale, or Oud Bruin. White wines like Rieslings or Gewürztraminers are perfect accompaniments as well.

Turning Cabbage into Sauerkraut

Find a dense cabbage (go for purple cabbage if you’d like some added colour), remove the outer leaves, core it, and then slice it thinly. You could use a food processor, but the result comes out like watery coleslaw. For every five pounds of cabbage you’ll need about 3.5 tablespoons of salt (roughly 2-3% of the weight of the cabbage).

If you own a crock, great. If not, this fermenting fabrication works just as well: two food-grade containers of equal size.

IMG_9497Simple, eh? Just fill the bottom container with alternating layers of cabbage and salt, then fill the top one with water to weigh it down. Top it off with a clean pillow case, draw some whiskers on it, and you’ll keep the ambient critters at bay. Store the container in a cool, dry place and wait about three weeks.

© 2013 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

’Tis the season for rich dishes that combat cold evenings. If you’re looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous turkey (or if you just plain like pork), this dish echoes the flavours and aromas of the bourbon barrel-aged beers I featured last weekend. It would also accent the maltiness of English-style barley wine quite nicely. Serve your favourite kale dish as a side so that you don’t feel too bad about eating and drinking such an ample combination.

Maple-Glazed Bourbon and Apple Cider Pork Belly

IMG_6394

Ingredients

  • 2.5 to 3 lbs pork belly, rubbed generously with coarse sea salt and pepper
  • 1.5 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 pinches salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp mixed peppercorns
  • ¼ cup dry vermouth
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup for the glaze

Directions

Rub pork eight hours beforehand or, preferably, the night before. Remove from fridge about twenty to thirty minutes before cooking and preheat oven to 300 degrees. While the pork is coming up to room temperature, prepare the vegetables and the braising liquid (apple cider, bourbon, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves).

Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a heavy casserole. Cut the slab of pork in half, and brown each piece over medium-high heat, one at a time, until golden brown. Drain fat, reserving 1.5 tbsp.

Add the vegetables to the reserved fat and sauté. Scrape all of this to the side, and deglaze with the pot with vermouth. Gently score the fat side of the pork belly slabs, return to the pot, and  add the braising liquid. Bring up close to a boil and, if need be, adjust salt level before placing in the oven.

Cook in oven for 2 hours, and then turn the oven down to 200 degrees for the next 1.5 hours or so.

Remove pot from the oven, and remove the pork slabs. Strain and de-fat the sauce, and then begin reducing it. While the sauce is reducing, add the maple syrup. Continue Reducing until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Cut the pork slab into large cubes, and crisp each fat side in a skillet or stainless steel pan over medium-high heat. Place on a plate, and spoon the glaze over the cubes.

Wine complements this dish just as well as beer. A lighter red wine would do just fine, but don’t forget about the compelling possibilities of white wine. Try an aged Chenin Blanc from the Loire region of France – an excellent match with the maple and bourbon in the glaze – or even a crisp sparkling wine from California or the Finger Lakes.

Bon Appétit!

Related Tempest Articles

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Bourbon in Michigan: Barrel-Aged Beer along the Great Lakes

A Trio of Barrel-Aged Imperial Stouts: Prairie’s Pirate Bomb, Goose Island’s Bourbon County, Victory’s Dark Intrigue

© 2013 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.