Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Actual Beer Float

One day, I will come up with a brilliant idea like this.  Until then, I will scam them off my friends and pretend like they are my own creation.  I heard about this from my beer loving boyfriend, who heard about it from our friend Bobby, who heard about it from a buddy…you get the idea.  Now, it was suggested that one could enjoy An Actual Beer Float by combining Peach Lambic and vanilla ice cream.  Upon hearing this, my eyes literally popped out of my head, because this was, by far, the best dessert idea that I’d heard about in a very long time. 

Although we were unable to locate the Peach Lambic at our local Whole Foods, we decided to try this little combo with Saint Louis Kriek (Cherry), which was particularly festive for our Valentine’s Day dessert because the red beer turned pink once poured over the ice cream.  Adorable!!  Still, I can’t get over how delicious it was, especially doused with a little hot fudge.  What?  You say that’s crazy?  I did too until I tried it.  Again, I wish it was my idea!  Ugh, one day I’ll have one of those…

Cost: It was a little on the pricey side because the beer and ice cream came in around $11.00 but it was Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t feel too guilty about the splurge.  So, whenever you want to enjoy this delicious treat just make up a special occasion… Like, it is a TUESDAY!  Weeeeee!! 

I feel like there are so many more options to try, which is an exciting adventure that I will gladly embark upon!!  My mission: to find out which beers make the BEST Beer Float!!  We’ve already tested the Saint Louis Kriek, so now we will move to the ones next on the docket:

I’ll keep you posted…  and let you know which one is the best.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Let's Get Our Chicago On!

Pre-baked, homemade, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

What better way to celebrate the Chicago Bears Super Bowl victory than with some delicious, homemade, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza?  Oh wait, what?  They didn’t quite…?  You mean Green Bay…?  Hmmmm, interesting.  Ok, let’s start over.  What better way to celebrate Chicago’s temperate winter weather than with delicious, homemade, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.  Better.

I found this recipe at America’s Test Kitchen  and it is absolutely amazing.  You have to sign up to print out the recipe and there is a $4.95 monthly fee if you want access to all of their recipes on file, but as of right now, the deep-dish pizza recipe is free of charge.  Although, if you do have to pay the fee, I still think it is totally worth it.  Just make sure that when you print it off, you cover it in fire/water/wind resistant laminating sheets A.S.A.P. 

To be honest, when I first looked at the recipe I was a little intimidated by the dough making part.  But after sitting down and having a good heart to heart, the dough and I came to the conclusion that we were going to friends, not enemies.  I’ve dabbled in bread/crust/dough making before and I’ve never found a recipe where the dough did everything the recipe said it would, every single time.  I felt like the best chef in the world but truth be told, the instructions are really easy to follow, when you break them down.

Now, to gauge this recipe from a time suck stand point, it is a little challenging.  It takes a good chunk of your day to proof and laminate the dough, but I dug down and found my motivation when I focused on these little facts:
Large Lou Malnati’s Cheese Pizza: $17.25
Large Giordano’s Cheese Pizza: $19.25
Large Gino’s East Cheese Pizza: $23.95
Large Homemade Cheese Pizza: $7.00

For me, this was extremely cheap because I already had most of the items that I needed in my cupboard.  Also, I did substitute my go-to pizza sauce (6 in 1 which I've been able to find at Fresh Farms) instead of the crushed tomatoes they suggested, but everything else was the same. 

Now, even though I think this sauce is perfect, my perpetually overachieving boyfriend thinks we can find someway to make it better.  So, stay tuned for “Sarah’s Test Kitchen” where we will taste test different sauces to see which ones are chosen as a favorite, by my test panel.  Space is limited, so sign up today to claim your spot :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beer Pairing of Champions

The thing is, I love going to wine tastings.  Learning how to hold your glass and swirl the wine around without spilling it, the way to stick your nose into the glass and sniff your wine in a way that doesn't seem creepy, the way certain wines bring out the flavors in certain foods…it simply fascinates me.  But while I love this knowledge, I never retain it, I hardly use it and when asked to show off my sommelier skills, I usually turn to the waitress and ask her to bring me the cheapest bottle of Cabernet they have.  Not all the time, but sometimes… ok, most of the time.  It’s just too expensive to be a wine connoisseur.  Maybe that's why I don’t put any of my wine education to use.  I refuse to pay more than $20 for a bottle and can’t justify getting only one good bottle when I can purchase 4 so-so bottles or one giant jug instead.  It is definitely quantity over quality. 

When I was invited to a beer pairing event, I was more than intrigued by the idea of beer “going with” certain foods.  Honestly, I never really thought beer to be a diverse beverage, more like one that goes extremely well with hot wings and football.  However, that night, my point of view changed forever.  The presenter stopped me in my previously-only-Miller-Lite-consuming-tracks when he said, “For $20, you can get the best bottle of beer out there and still get change back, while a good bottle of wine could cost you several hundred dollars.”  Preach!

After some extensive research and the opportunity to test out my findings for a friend’s engagement party, I came up with a pretty fun list of beer/food pairings that ranges from classy appetizers to some more down home dishes.  Because it was a party and people would be walking around, I decided to use small plastic cups, with informative labels (which you can find when you click on one of the foods listed below) that listed the name of the beer, the brewery and the type, so you always knew which beer you were drinking.  Plus, you didn’t have to commit to a whole bottle so less wasting...

Some of the pairings we tried were: 
Camembert Cheese: Shakespeare Stout, Great Lakes Burning River Ale
Cheddar Cheese: La Fin Du Monde, Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner
Sushi: Gumballhead, Hacker Pschorr Weisse
Brie: Jinx, Chimay
Mini Bratwurst: Hofbrauhaus Original Munchen, Pabst Blue Ribbon
Mac and Cheese: Munsterfest, Rustic Ale
Pizza: Budweiser American Ale, Fat Tire Amber Ale

CLICK HERE for the complete list of beers and foods.

The best part, which we didn’t even realize till the end of the evening, was that everyone was able to take home a mix n’ match 6 pack with the leftover brew.  Door prize fan favorite if you ask me!! 

What you’ll need: Small plastic cups, labels (any of these should work), beer and accompanying foods.  

Cost: Varies on the amount of beer you purchase and how many pairings you want to have, obviously.  However, all beers (said to be available at Binnys.com but might not be in- stock at your local Binny’s…just fyi) on the list ranged between $2.49 and $16.99.  Other materials: small plastic cups, labels and printer ink, all total around $15.00.  
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