Beer Or Wine – The Perfect Chili Pairing

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A recent post from The Wandering Gourmand……

The Wandering Gourmand

As a foodie and an admirer of both craft beer and fine wines, I often wonder what the perfect food pairing is.  What follows is a monthly debate on just that.  Once a month I’ll toss out a food for pairing suggestions from my fellow beer geeks and wine nerds.  Some dishes will come with a convention that popular opinion dictates a specific pairing.  Other posts will present a dish that is a toss-up between beer or wine.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions in this conversation.  Be creative, challenge norms, have fun, and check back often to read what others have to say.   

This month’s pairing challenge comes from Megs at If It Falls on the Floor and is specific to a recipe from her new cookbook.  I warn you.  This isn’t your typical, serve as a side item with a salad at lunch chili.  No, this…

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hogs and blogs

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Part II of the Beer n’ damn it’s hot Chili series.

To kick off the holiday spirit, which in my calendar, starts right around the corner from the  Día de Muertos, (come on, I live in New Mexico), Malcolm and I host a Loop Group Celebration.  We open our doors, invite the whole neighborhood and lock the dogs in their pen.  We catch up on the happenings of those that live close by and those we wave to in passing, but never see (there is a little bit of guilt-trip thinking… if they eat our food, they won’t complain about the dogs). Even house numbers bring a cold appetizer, odd numbers bring a hot hor d’oeuvre.  Malc and I supply the beverages and the main substance, usually a spiral sliced ham from the Honey Baked Ham joint down in Albuquerque.  I serve the ham with homemade cornbread biscuits (Malc is from Georgia) that  is devoured and destroyed by the night’s end, leaving a just a few ham scraps and a huge bone.  Not enough for leftovers, not enough to throw away.  And nothing for Dolce and Amore to snack on.

the perfect hog bone

the perfect hog bone

If it falls on the floor blog is a lot like our Loop Group party – everyone is invited and everyone brings something to the table.  Through “likes” and “comments”, “follows” and “views”,  we catch up on the happenings of those whom we enjoy reading.  The Wandering Gourmand is one blogger I make a point to read. I chuckle over his droll humor, his sarcastic absurdity.  I love how he can dig deep into some suds and produce a thumbs up or down on a beer.   TWG has become one of the ‘hood and If it falls on the floor’s resident beer expert.  While I pick a beer based on the cute label, TWG selects a fermented hop grounded in well-constructed depth and heart.

I had asked TWG to pair some beers with some of my cold weather chili/stews/soups.  Last week I think I sent him into a cardiac fit after he read the amount of jalapeno and chili powder in the recipe.  This week I’m hoping to lower his blood pressure…

 

Excerpt from The Wandering Gourmand  http://thewanderinggourmand.com/about/

Lately, I have become the beer pairing expert.  On a recent bachelor party in Charlestown, SC, I was tasked by almost each of the 12 partiers with picking out a beer to accompany their meal at Craftsman, a gastropub and tap house.  I’m not sure why.  (Maybe it’s the recent beard.  Beards and beer go hand-in-hand.)  Luckily, almost everyone ordered the Crunchy Dane so my job was easy.  It was only fitting then that Megs asked me to create beer pairings for a few recipes from her new cookbook.

I was stoked.  Not only do I enjoy her blog and the adorable (yes, even bearded beer experts can use that word) photos of her dogs, but I heartily support any blogger who can turn this hobby into a business.  I truly believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and love seeing the Internet allow ideas to generate household income be they products sold on blogs like Megs or artists selling their masterpieces on Etsy.

Please don’t be disappointed by the fact that the pairings are from the macro-craft breweries.  As much as I wanted to promote Natty Green’s Southern Pale (best pale known to beerkind), nobody outside of North Carolina could buy it.  Thus, you’ve heard of these beers and that’s the point.  They had to be accessible.

Mexican Ham Soup – More smoke.  I’m thinking something with bourbon– New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk.  The spice levels aren’t atomically high like the Beef Chili and Beer recipe.  A hearty, boozy beer would enhance the flavor of the smoked ham and chipotles.  In fact, the idea is so perfect that I think New Holland should brew a version with smoke chipotles added.  Just saying…   

–  The Wandering Gourmand

Huraches Ham Chili

Huraches Ham Chili

MEXICAN HAM SOUP  

I am my mother’s daughter after all…   I couldn’t bare the thought of tossing the bone, so I came up with Mexican Ham Soup, aka Huraches Ham Chili.  WOW!  Perfect for the cold weather, great for large crowds, the smoky essence adds some hidden depth to the chili and a touch of the outdoors to your dinner.

  • 2 cans pinto beans
  • 8 c chicken broth
  • 2 c chopped onions
  • 1½ c cubed smoked ham steak + a big smoked ham bone
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 bag frozen corn kernels
  • ½ c diced green chili (Hatch Chili if you have them)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 smoked chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced + 2 tbsp. sauceSour cream for garnish
    Cheddar cheese, grated

Combine beans, broth and the next 8 ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Partially cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 2 hours. Stir in the tomatoes and chipotle chili, simmer another 30 minutes.  Discard bay leaves and bone and ladle soup into bowls. Top with grated cheese and sour cream.

 

For more delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823

beef, beer, and blogs

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Part I of the Beer n’ damn it’s hot Chili series.

The blog universe is essentially the FedEx of a global cloud of words.  A big, huge cloud that covers every subject matter known to man.  The blogs themselves are a specialized international courier and delivery of tales, stories, pictures, advice, adventures, recipes, foods, wines, travel, sources, and resources.  Blogs are written about everything, anything and all things, in all languages, all styles and all formats and platforms.

At it’s best, blogs are a written handshake between fellow bloggers and devoted readers that enjoy and share a common interest.  A howdy-do amongst those that love to travel or those that share a love of food.  A wave of the hand between dog lovers, cat lovers, or animal lovers.  A wink to your fellow jokester, a nod to another great cook, a toast to the wine aficionado.  Bloggers are the ambassadors of their hobby, their crafts, their talents.

Several months ago, I started following The Wandering Gourmand, a blogger with a collective interest in foods and beverages (and perhaps dogs too!).  I appreciated his writing wit and quips, his reviews on foods, beers and wine, his notes from his travels.  I liked his style of writing, his pairing of words went well with his pairings of wines or beer.  The Wandering Gourmand blog would often question his loyal followers, “beer or wine” with BBQ? With chicken?  With steak?  Inevitably, my husband and I would grill for the weekend meal and test his theory of which was better paired with our steak, a complex red wine or a dark hearty stout?

I asked The Wandering Gourmand if he would recommend a beer or two for a few of my recipes in my cookbook, If it falls on the floor, it’s mine!  His replied “yes” brought a quick fist pump in the air and several recipes to his inbox. Below is the first of a three-part Beer n’ chili series .

Excerpt from The Wandering Gourmand  http://thewanderinggourmand.com/about/

Lately, I have become the beer pairing expert.  On a recent bachelor party in Charlestown, SC, I was tasked by almost each of the 12 partiers with picking out a beer to accompany their meal at Craftsman, a gastropub and tap house.  I’m not sure why.  (Maybe it’s the recent beard.  Beards and beer go hand-in-hand.)  Luckily, almost everyone ordered the Crunchy Dane so my job was easy.  It was only fitting then that Megs asked me to create beer pairings for a few recipes from her new cookbook.

I was stoked.  Not only do I enjoy her blog and the adorable (yes, even bearded beer experts can use that word) photos of her dogs, but I heartily support any blogger who can turn this hobby into a business.  I truly believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and love seeing the Internet allow ideas to generate household income be they products sold on blogs like Megs or artists selling their masterpieces on Etsy. 

Please don’t be disappointed by the fact that the pairings are from the macro-craft breweries.  As much as I wanted to promote Natty Green’s Southern Pale (best pale known to beerkind), nobody outside of North Carolina could buy it.  Thus, you’ve heard of these beers and that’s point.  They had to be accessible. 

BEEF CHILI AND BEER  

Holy shit!!!  3 large jalapeno chilies with seeds, 7 tablespoons of chili powder, and 2 tablespoons of canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce!?!?!?!?  At first glance (meaning first ingredients), I was thinking something along the lines of an American Strong Ale.  Big malt and big hops to match a hearty chili made with bell peppers, beef, beans, and stout beer.  Then I read the heat and suggest a fire-hose of milk to extinguish the flames.  If you are more man than me, then I’d recommend Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.  But be careful, with the heat level and the high ABV of 7.2%, it might just be an early night for you.

Bryan, The Wandering Gourmand

beer and beer chili

beer and beer chili

BEEF CHILI AND BEER   use a stout or dark beer

One great thing about chili – you may add more or less of an ingredient throughout the cooking to customize the blend of flavors to your liking.  Just don’t give your husband free rein with the chili powder!

  •  1½ tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 5 lbs. ground chuck (lean)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2½ lbs. onions, chopped
  • 1½ lbs. red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1½ lbs. green bell peppers, chopped  (make the spouse do the chopping!)
  • 3 cloves garlic (or more), minced
  • 2-3 large jalapeno chili with seeds, chopped
  • 7 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce (or more), minced
  • 2 – 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 2 – 15-oz. cans kidney beans
  • 2 bottles dark beer + one for yourself

Sauté ground beef in heavy, large pot until no longer pink, breaking up with a spoon. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions, all the bell peppers, garlic and jalapeno and sauté until they begin to soften.   Add mixture to pot with beef. Mix well. Stir in spices, chili powder and chipotle chili. Add crushed tomatoes, beans and beer.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle chili into bowls. Serve with sour cream, chopped green onions and grated cheese.   In New Mexico, everything is served with a tortilla – cornbread or biscuits are equally good.  Okay to prepare ahead and freeze.

For more delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823

Victoria’s Secret

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How do you break the news to your wanna-be-dog-model that she is not quite ready for the runway?  That those angel wings all the VS models wear at the fashion shows are going to other bitches? That jowls are not cheek bones, the dog paw crawl is not a cat walk and cleavage on a dog is so very unbecoming?

How do you enlighten your canine that dog shows are not fashion shows and she plays chase with Ralphie at the community dog park not Ralph Lauren.

How do you explain to your precious pet that sharing the cover of a cookbook is not the same as flying solo on the cover of Elle, Cosmo or Marie Claire  (however on that note, I highly disagree!)?  Try telling your beloved dog that while her body size is perfect for Purina, it’s not a size 2.  Nor is her deep-chested frame svelte enough, tall enough or waif-like enough to be a Ford Model (although it is perfect for counter-surfing and crumb-chasing).

But, boy is she cute!  You should see all the adorable pictures of her in her debut modeling portfolio called If it falls on the floor, it’s mine!  a newly released cookbook found on Amazon.

DSC00205P.S.  Dolce would love to sign your cookbook – with a little mud, a few drops of dog drool and a big paw print!

For more delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823

 

our paper boy

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I’m of the belief that dogs, especially those that belong to the Working Dog Group,  need to feel important.  They need to know they have a valuable function within the family dynamics, a job to perform  that is essential to their caretakers.  Dogs such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, were bred to pull small farm carts loaded down with heavy milk cans for the dairies.  Their deep barreled chest made them an ideal breed to work on a farm, driving goat herds to and from their pastures and drafting farm supplies from the villages.  While we don’t have a dairy for the girls to work on, I have tried to find appropriate chores for them to perform to feel useful.

On that note, I looked no further than our own paper box. newspaper-graphic-for-web

Tiamo was barely a year old when she started to fetch the daily newspaper.  At first she would just walk up the long drive with me to get the morning paper.  She would prance her way up the driveway, excitement shining in her eyes, hoping for a glimpse of a cottontail or a low flying bird she could chase.  I’d call her back, reprimanding her for leaving my side.  She’d hang her head, giving me her sorrowful look that was just shy of forgiveness and pretend to be good for the rest of the walk to the paper.   With the misbegotten belief that she was exonerated for misbehaving, Tiamo would try to play the “grab the paper and run” game on the return trip back to the house.  I had a habit of tucking the rolled up newspaper under my arm, leaving my hands free, usually in my coat pockets to keep warm.   Thinking of the paper as the golden prize to be had, Tiamo would jump high to nip at the paper under my arm, hoping to grab it and sprint her way to triumph.  She recognized my hands were otherwise occupied, staying warm beneath the folds of my jacket.  On the days Tiamo was able to lock onto the paper, she would run a victory lap around the house, many times dropping her precious load somewhere in the back forty, where I would have to go search for the paper under wet, dew soaked weeds  and stickers – not so much fun at six in the morning.  I knew I had to teach her respect for the printed word or we would have shredded bits of paper throughout as she tore into her prize.

And so our training began…..

Our paper usually arrived wrapped in a plastic sleeve to protect it from the elements, I figured the plastic would also shield the paper from Tiamo’s drool, if I could just teach her to carry the paper back to the house.  Using a leash to keep her close and her favorite treats to reward her, I trained Tiamo to carry our newspaper from the paper box at the end of  the drive, down to the house and drop it on the floor by the couch.  It took one week.  She had such a gentle mouth, she never tore the plastic protector, keeping the rolled paper pristine.  After a successful month of transporting our paper, I started unleashing her.  Tiamo never once strayed away from my side.  Fun and games was over, she knew she had a job to do.  A few more weeks of free range paper hauling and I taught her to reach into the bright yellow paper box, pulling out the newspaper herself.  I was no longer allowed to remove the paper from the plastic holder – that was Tiamo’s responsibility.  Doing so would result in a barking frenzy and a strong nose nudge under my arm to release the paper.  I was forever banned from getting the paper, nobody was going to do Tiamo’s job.  It didn’t take long before I didn’t even have to walk up the driveway with Tiamo.  I’d let Tiamo out the front gate and stay behind, keeping an eye on her as she ran up the drive, grabbed the newspaper from the box and jog back down to me, the paper gently clutched between her jaws, pride sparkling in her eyes.

Tiamo kept her job, even after her litter was born and Dolce and Amore became part of our household.  That was her task.  I never tried to teach the girls to fetch the paper – I always considered that Tiamo’s duty.  Besides,  I know for a fact, Dolce and Amore would have fought big time over who got to carry the newspaper.  With Tiamo’s passing, I walk the drive alone, grabbing the morning paper out of the now-weathered yellow paper box.  I’m back to tucking the roll up under my arm, my hands warm in my pockets.  Sweet memories of Tiamo attempting to snatch the paper out from my control often come to mind.  I miss our morning ritual – now a-days, the paper just doesn’t read the same.

Reading the newspaper with a strong cup of coffee seems to go hand in hand, and perhaps a slice of freshly baked coffee cake to sweeten the news.

RASPBERRY CREAM COFFEE CAKE
  • 2 1/4 cups All-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. Amaretto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1 pkg. 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom of a pie pan or springform pan.

Mix all the cream cheese filling ingredients until smooth and set aside.  Mix flour and sugar in large bowl.  But in butter, using a pastry blender until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Reserve 1 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside.  Stir the next six ingredients in with the crumb mixture.  Spoon batter over the greased bottom of the pan and up the sides 1-2 inches.  Pour cream cheese filling mixture over the batter.  Carefully spoon the raspberry jam over the filling.  Mix the reserved crumb mixture and the chopped macadamia nuts and sprinkle over the top.

Bake 50 minutes or so, or until filling is set and the crust is a deep golden brown.  Let cool 15 minutes and removed from the pan.  Serve warm or cool.  Keep in the refrigerator to store.

Enjoy your morning!

 

For more delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823

clean sheets

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Fall is always a busy time for me.  The just-starting-to-turn-nippy months on the back side of the calendar are penciled in with conferences, meetings and annual conventions.  All requiring travel. This past week I attended the CMLS Conference in Boise, Idaho – land of the potato and the famous blue field.  A State enriched in western history and culture, Idahoans have earned the right to boast about their beautiful state.  From the Snake River that weaves it way throughout Idaho, leaving rich, fertile farm lands in its wake, to the mountainous peaks in the pan-handle, Idaho is an enchanting parcel of land.

Away for a full week, it goes without saying that I missed my husband and our dogs while I was gone.  A lot.  A lot, a lot.

But not on the first day.  Day one was reserved for enjoying the huge king-sized bed all to myself – no dogs pinning me under the covers, no dog hair adhered to the down pillows, no cat stretched out along side of my back hotter than a furnace cranked on high in the middle of summer.  Nope, day one was spent luxuriating between clean 600 count Egyptian cotton sheets with my toes curling and flexing under the crisp freshness that comes with a four-diamond rated hotel.  Its pure bliss just to stretch out without being blocked by a dog.  Pure heaven to have a minimum of four down pillows to pick from.  Yep, on the first day, I didn’t miss one single dog hair.

And I didn’t really miss ‘back home’ too much on day two and three and sort of on day four.  These days were just extensions of the first day – Egyptian sheet heaven.  These were the days I kept busy with meetings, speakers and sessions, starting early and ending the day late.  By day three I realized I hadn’t once used the ‘dog-hair-lint-roller’ brush I always carry with me.  I’d been dog-hair free for three whole fantastic days.  My white sweaters were still white, my business dress pants were drool free.  I didn’t smell like dog.  I didn’t have to wipe my hand on my pants legs before I shook hands with an acquaintance.  And best of all, I had the king to myself.

On days five through seven, the scales started to tip.  My 600 count utopia was losing its charm.  I had stayed some extra days to enjoy Idaho with some old friends who summer in Boise.  I was missing Malcolm, laughing over silly things, commenting over the day’s events, kissing him good morning, his welcoming hug in the evening.  I was missing my girls, their sweet love, their tender nudges, their crazy antics. I was missing the dogs on the bed – on their backs, paws in the air as they sleep, gentle snores washing over them, their weight leaning against my legs.  Good gawd!  I was missing dog hair!

I flew home on day eight, asking Malcolm to bring the dogs when he came to pick me up at the airport.  I embraced the thought of knowing I’d be covered in dog hair in a nano second once I climbed in the car.  I knew I would have two dogs clamoring to hug me, paw me, lick me,  once I had my seat belt buckled.  And I couldn’t wait!  Crisp, fresh clean sheets were just a dim memory.  The love waiting for me in the car far out-weighed and out-counted my 600 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets.

potato

In honor of my travels to Idaho….

The Best-Ever Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup chopped fresh chives (or green onions)
  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Fill a pot with water high enough to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes and cook until fork tender but still firm.  Drain the water and return pot to the stove over low heat to dry for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Add butter, Parmesan cheese, Chives, cream cheese, buttermilk, garlic and salt and pepper to the potatoes.  Using a potato masher, mash the potato mixture until smooth.  Serves 12.

For more delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823