Food, Beer & Buffoonery - Hops

Cake Decorator Can’t Spell

So, last week I ordered a cake from a (normally) great local bakery for a work party. One of our co-workers was moving to Seattle and we were holding a little going away party on Friday. I called and placed the order with verbal instructions to write, “Mary, all the best in Seattle!!!” on the cake.

Well, they got close. For a $55 cake though, I expect spell checking.

Cake misspelling

All the best in Seatle?

Pasta – a little differently

I was trying to figure out something to cook a few nights ago – opened the fridge/freezer, took a quick inventory, noticed the large amount of whole wheat spaghetti on hand and decided to make pasta. I didn’t want a tomato sauce, and I was tired of the tarragon cream sauce I often made, so I decided to experiment.

After consulting my trusted cream sauce recipe and browsing stew recipes in various Italian cookbooks I have, I ventured out on my own and created the following recipe. It turned out fabulous, and my wife requested it again – the next day! Here’s the recipe:

Pasta – A Little Differently


1.5 pounds freshly ground pork
1 pound of whole wheat spaghetti pasta
3 large Carrots, sliced
3 sticks of Celery, sliced
1/2 tsp. + 1 tsp. dried Thyme
1 tsp. dried Marjoram
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Cumin
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp. Sugar
4 Tbsp. Flour
3 Tbsp. unsalted Butter
2 cups Chicken stock
4 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Mix the 1/2 tsp. Thyme, the Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg into the ground Pork.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and put in the seasoned pork. Break the pork into smallish chunks as it cooks and brown it to a nice golden brown.
3. Add the flour. Stir in completely and let meat cook for 1 minute more.
4. Add carrots and celery. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Start cooking pasta in a large pot according to directions on package.
6. Add chicken stock and stir until it has formed a sauce and has thickened. If sauce is not thick enough, use a sifter to add a little more flour.
7. Add hot pepper flakes, sugar, marjoram, and remaining 1 tsp. of thyme and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, or until carrots are just tender.
8. Add cream, stir in, bring just back to a simmer and serve over pasta.

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich and Arugula-laced Coleslaw

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwish and Coleslaw

Tonight I decided to delve into some traditional American food. After a friend who’d spent some time in Alabama said they missed the hickory smoked pulled BBQ’ed beef sandwiches, and that nothing on the West coast is quite the same as the real southern BBQ, I took up the challenge to recreate that meal — or something kinda like it.

I started out by buying a pork shoulder roast weighting just over 4 pounds. I made a dry rub for it which I got out of Bruce Aidells’ fabulous “The Complete Meat Cookbook” (p. 375). I let it sit on the meat for about an hour and then seared all sides of the meat with a couple tablespoons of oil on the stove in my large cast iron dutch oven. I then poured enough low salt beef broth in the dutch oven to cover the bottom about 1/2 inch up the sides, covered it, and tossed it into a preheated 275F (135C) oven for about 3.5 hours. The internal temp of the meat was above 190F when I took it out … well past the well-done mark for a pork roast, but since I checked the broth level every 45 minutes or so and kept it at about 1/2 inch, that long cooking time at a low temp made the meat perfectly tender and very easy t “pull” apart.

I took the meat out and let it sit, still covered, in the dutch over while I made the BBQ sauce. The BBQ sauce also came out of “The Complete Meat Cookbook”. (Yes, I like this book!) I used the Bourbon Barbecue Sauce recipe (p. 381), in which I used 1 Cup of Alaskan Amber Ale and 1/2 Cup of a decent “cheap” bourbon, Even Williams’ Black Label. It turned out fantastic, but perhaps a wee heavy on the cider vinegar, so next time I think I’ll use 1/8 Cup rather than 1/4 Cup.

Once the sauce was simmering, I pulled the pork apart with my hands. An extremely easy task as it had cooked so long and was so tender. The clumps of fat slipped right off too, and I tossed those.

To make the sandwich, I just threw some of the meat into a skillet, spooned in some of the BBQ sauce and heated till it was piping hot. I had purchased some fresh buns from the local bakery, since they’re way better than the ones from the grocery store. I just barley toasted the inside of each bun half and spooned the meat/sauce mixture on. It was the best BBQ sandwich I’d ever had. Seriously.

Now for the coleslaw. I first checked out a few recipes. Nothing really made me excited, so I created my own. I didn’t have any buttermilk (a traditional coleslaw ingredient), so I decided to try yogurt, as it’s the closest thing I had on hand. It worked out quite well. I can go into more detail here on the coleslaw as it’s my own recipe. So here goes… 😉

Greg’s Arugula-laced Coleslaw

1/2 head of green Cabbage, shredded or chopped fine
1 large Carrot, grated
1 red Apple, grated
1/3 medium Onion, minced
1/2 Cup chopped Arugula
1/4 Cup chopped flat leaf Parsley
1/4 Cup raisins
1 tsp. Poppy seeds
1/2 Cup plain non-fat Yogurt
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Milk
1/2 tsp. Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp. fine Sugar
1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

There’s not much to it. Just mix all the “wet” ingredients in a large bowl and add the dry ingredients, one-by-one, stirring them in. This was the first time I made this particular recipe, but it turned out quite well. The arugula was a nice touch – gave the coleslaw a nice little sharp kick.

British Fish ‘n’ Curry Chips

Good fish ‘n’ chips are almost a delicacy. Problem is, finding really good fish ‘n’ chips. Even more rare in many parts of the country is finding curry chips.  So, tonight I set about making some fish ‘n’ curry chips right here at home. Also in an effort to make this a little healthier, I only pan fried the fish and a did over roasted chips. I know, you may scoff. Real Fish ‘n’ Chips must be deep fried!  Well, I partly agree, and in addition the “healthier” aspect, most people simply don’t own a deer fryer.  So, here we go…

Curry Sauce

I based this off a couple recipes I found on the internet…

2 Tbsp. vegetable Oil
1 small Red Onion, diced
1 small Apple, peeled and diced
2-3 Tbsp. Curry powder
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 small Tomato, diced
15-20 oz Water
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and apple, and saute until soft. Add curry powder and stir. Add flour and stir in completely, letting it “cook” a couple minutes. Add diced tomato and tomato paste. Stir. Slowly stir in water while stirring. Add enough to make a thick sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Ok, there we have the curry sauce. Then chips don’t require much of a recipe. Just cut some potatoes into thin slices and toss with some oil in a large bowl. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on a large cookie/baking sheet. Bake them in a pre-heated 450F oven for about 30 minutes.

Now we need the fish. Good Fish’n’Chips requires a good beer batter made with Real Ale.

Beer Batter

5oz (140g) Self-Rising Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
a pinch of Turmeric
1 beaten Egg
150 ml Real Ale (Fuller’s London Pride, for example)

Mix the flour, salt and turmeric. Add the beaten egg and whisk in. Slowly add the beer, whisking the whole time. You should end up with a fairly thick batter. You want it quite thick, as you’re not deep frying and don’t want it to run of the fish too easily. Let sit for 30-60 minutes before use.

Get some nice fresh Cod, preferably some from a sustainable fishery (see Seafood Watch). Rinse it in cold water and pat dry. Before dipping it into the batter, coat the fish entirely with seasoned flour. You can buy seasoned flour, but making your own is easy. Just weigh out about 1.8oz (50g) of flour. To it, blend in a large pinch each of the following: salt, pepper, turmeric, paprika, dry mustard. Then a small pinch of dry ground sage or oregano. And finally a couple shakes of lemon pepper.

Once the fish is coated in the seasoned flour, dip it into the batter, coating thoroughly, and drop it into a cast iron skillet filled with enough oil to cover the bottom plus a little more, which has been heated to 350-375F. The right temp is very important! Once the fish has browned on one side, flip over. Hopefully you made the batter thick enough that it hadn’t run off. 😉

When fish is done, remove from pan and “de-grease” on a paper towel. Get your fries out of the oven, sprinkle with salt and a dash of malt vinegar and pour on the curry sauce.  Hopefully you’ll have something just as good as can be found at the local pub.

Homemade Enchiladas

Just made some enchiladas. My first in quite some time. This time though I made my own enchilada sauce rather than using store bought. The results were better than expected. Here’s my recipe:

Homemade Enchiladas

For the Sauce
3 Tbsp Chili Powder
3 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Onion powder
2-3 Cups Chicken Broth (for thinner or thicker sauce)
1 – 14 oz can diced (or whole peeled) Tomatoes, pureed
1 – 4 oz can of green chilies (optional)
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all dry ingredients. Add about 1/4 cup of cold water and blend to make a thin paste.  Add broth.  Stirring constantly, heat mixture until it begins to simmer and thicken. Add tomato puree. Simmer 5 minutes and remove from heat.

For the Filling
You can, of course, fill an enchilada with just about anything, but I decided to make veggie enchiladas today. I sautéed:

1 Zucchini, diced
1/2 large Onion, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 small bunch of Baby Chard
a few Mushrooms, diced
1 small bunch of Agretti, chopped
1 cob of Corn, cut the kernels off and toss in the mix

Sauté the above with a little sunflower oil for about 5 minutes, then add:

1 can Black Beans, drained

Putting it all together

Using small corn or flour tortillas, fill a bit of the mixture into each tortilla, add a little grated cheese, and roll it up, placing them side by side in a casserle dish. Once done, pour the enchilada sauce over the “rolls”. Top with grated jack cheese, cover the casserole with foil, and place in a preheated 350°F (175°C) over for 30-35 minutes.


It’s Spring, BBQ Time, California Style

bbq_porkSo, we’ve had a couple BBQs so far this year already.  I’ve tried some great new recipes.  A couple weeks back I hickory smoked a tri-tip that I had rubbed with a southwestern spice mixture.  It was wonderful. Today I used that same spice mix on some boneless top-loin pork chops. I topped them with fresh mango salsa.  Here is what was on tonight’s menu:

Southwestern BBQ Pork with Mango Salsa

I pounded two boneless top-loin pork chops down to 1/2″ thick with a meat hammer and rubbed them with a blend of chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, light brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. This spice blend was based on one found in The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks back.

I cheated on the mango salsa. I didn’t make it myself. But it was a freshly made salsa containing mangos, red bell peppers, red onion, vinegar, lime juice, serrano chillies, cilantro, salt, pepper and sugar.

I simple BBQ’ed the pork chops on the grill on each side and tossed on the salsa. Next time I might try putting a little salsa no the pork chops while still on the BBQ to heat the salsa up a little.

BBQ’ed Zucchini

Simple, yet never fails. Just drizzle a little olive oil over some zucchini sliced lengthwise, sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground fresh pepper, wrap in foil, and toss on the BBQ for a few minutes on each side.

Broiled Fennel, Carrots and Agretti tossed in Olive Oil and Garlic

I’ve done the fennel tossed in olive oil and garlic in the broiler before, but since I had them on hand, I added some carrots and agretti to the mix. Simply pour some olive oil into a large bowl, and add several cloves of crushed garlic. Add the sliced fennel bulb, carrots sliced lengthwise, and some chopped agretti. Tossed all ingredients, and then distribute the mix, evenly across a baking sheet. Broil on low for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the fennel and carrots are just turning brown.

T’was a fine meal indeed. (Unfortunately accompanied by a very so-so beer from the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. I hope their others are better.)


I also made a plain green leaf salad. I made an experimental dressing that turned out really well. I mixed some honey, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, water, coarsely ground fresh pepper, salt, a pinch of garlic powder, a tablespoon of mined red onion and some minced fresh mint.  The honey, vinegar/lemon, and mint combo was quite interesting and worked really well.

Hearty German Rolls

We had some day-old left over pizza dough (uncooked, still sitting in a bowl on the kitchen counter) and my wife decided to improvise some rolls.  These turned out sooooooo good, that I thought I’d post the recipe here. I don’t have a good name for these, so I’ll just call them Hearty German Rolls, because they’re based on a German style of roll.

These are hearty rolls. They are equally good to eat at dinner along with some soup, or have with breakfast with your favorite omelet or other egg dish.  Eat warm though!  And cut in half and spread some butter on.


2 Cups Flour
2/3 Cups hand-warm Water
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. dried Yeast

1 small onion, diced (or half of a medium-large onion)
3 strips of Bacon
small handful of shelled Sunflower Seeds
2-3 Tbsp. diced Chives
1/4 tsp. each, salt and pepper
some 10 Grain Cereal, ala Bob’s Red Mill
some coarse salt (rock salt)


Mix flour, oil, water and yeast. Knead for 5 minutes. Let dough rise 30 minutes in a warm place.

While the dough is rising, dice the raw bacon and mince the onion. Heat up a skillet, no oil, and put the onion and bacon in together and saute until the bacon is cooked and the onions are starting to brown. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil.

After dough has risen 30 minutes, punch down and add the cooked onion and bacon, along with the diced chives, sunflower seeds and salt and pepper. Knead in thoroughly.  Divide the dough in 8 equal portions and make slightly flatten balls. Press some 10 grain cereal into the bottom of each dough ball.  Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt on the top of each roll. (A good method is to have the seeds and salt on two small plates and just press each side of the dough ball into each plate).

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Place dough balls on a pizza stone and let rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place. Dough balls will be about 50% larger when ready.

Using a sharp knife, cut a single slit in the top of each dough ball. Place dough balls (rolls!) in oven.

Bake for about 40 minutes. After 15 minutes, and every 10-15 minutes thereafter, open the oven and brush the tops of the rolls with water.  When ready, tops should be just starting to turn light golden brown.

Makes 8 rolls.

Super Duper Turkey Meatloaf

We had a ton of vegetables sitting around and a couple pounds of ground turkey in the freezer.  So using a couple recipes as a foundation I whipped together the finest meatloaf I’ve yet had.  As I was just winging it, the below recipe is a very close approximation of the meatloaf I made tonight. Let me know if you try it!

Super Duper Turkey Meatloaf


2 lbs. (900g) ground Turkey (half breast meat, half thigh meat)
1 tsp. olive oil
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
1 large carrot
2 stalks celery
1 large zucchini
3/4 lbs. (340g) cremini mushrooms
1.5 cups (350ml) fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 Tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. chicken base (or equivalent bullion that would normally make two cups of broth)
3 Tbsp. beer (hoppy ale)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. worcester sauce
1-2 tsp. malt vinegar
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/4 tsp. black pepper
dash yellow mustard powder
dash cayenne pepper
dash mace
salt to taste (remember, there’s salt in a few of the ingredients above already!)


Finely chop all vegetables and mushrooms (keep the separated!) in a food processor.  Combine the bread crumbs with the milk and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).

In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic in the oil for a couple minutes until onions begin to soften.  Add the carrots and celery and saute for a couple more minutes. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes until all vegetables are just a bit soft. Do not over cook.  Place vegetables in a large metal bowl.

Add the milk/bread crumb mixture to the sauteed vegetables. Mix. Use you hands, its more fun. Add the eggs. Mix more. Now add the beer, tomato paste, ketchup, chicken base (I use Better Than Bullion brand), soy sauce, worcester sauce, malt vinegar and all of the herbs and spices. Mix more. The mixture should be pretty soggy.

Add the turkey to the mixure. Mix more. Again, hands are more fun. When everything is thoroughly mixed, it should be extremely moist, but just “together” enough to keep its form if you shape it into a flat sort of ball. If it’s too moist, add a few more shakes of bread crumbs.

Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Divide the turkey mixture into two equal portions and make two flattened oval loafs on the baking sheet. Squirt some ketchup over the top of the two loaves and spread around with a brush – or your fingers.

Bake at 400°F (205°C) for about 50 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 170°F (77°C) when inserted into the center of the loaves. Remove from oven. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting (it’ll stay together better).

I served this with a side salad made of red leaf lettuce, some dried bing cherries, some home toasted sunflower seeds, some freshly grated parmesan cheese and topped with my own home made buttermilk ranch dressing.

When I make this again, I’ll take some photos and add to this post.

A Fine British Curry

A British Curry

A British Curry

Searching the net for something to cook tonight, I ran across a recipe for a British Style Curry.  The author of the recipe states, “I can close my eyes after eating it and hear the patter of rain on the streets of London.” Sounds good to me. I’ve only been to London once, and I didn’t have any curry while I was there … but I can imagine.

It’s just about done as I type and it smells fantastic.  I tasted a little with a spoon, and it tastes as good as it smells. Though the author of the recipe may not appreciate me cutting down on the oil…  Sorry, I just couldn’t do it!!!  Two cups?!?!  😀

I was thinking of ways to make this recipe just as rich as the “two cups of oil” version, but without the, you know, two cups of oil. So upon serving, in by bowl, I added a dab of honey for a slight hint of sweetness. This seemed to work well. I think I might also try adding a couple spoons of yogurt next time and see how that fares.

Anyway, I thought this recipe should be shared.  And I’ll be perusing through the rest of when I get a chance to see if there are more recipes hidden there. She does mention beer…

I’d suggest feasting on this with a nice 55°F (13°C) pint of Fuller’s London Pride.

The British Curry Recipe

(Oh, and I just had to cheat and bake some beer battered fish to go with it.  Fish and Curry.  Why not?)

Backyard Food

I just read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a company that will come make a vegetable garden in your back yard, maintain it, do your composting, harvest and give you the food.  They’re called MyFarm. Sounds like an interesting idea, so I thought I’d give it a little promotion here.  I couldn’t find a web site for MyFarm, but I did find a web site for a company doing this in Portland, OR — Your Backyard Farmer.

The SF Chronicle article notes that there are other businesses doing this in Santa Cruz, Boston, and Washington D.C.

If you’re a entrepreneurial gardener, perhaps your city is ripe for this type of business too. Or if you’re a potential customer, look out for one in your area…

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