Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 19 CSA share

This past week's share is going to be our last for the next month, as we'll be on the other side of the planet for Aussiecon 4. Our food will be in good hands, er, stomachs in our absence, however. I'm exceedingly pleased we got to sample a huge watermelon and ridiculous corn in this last batch:

The roll call: watermelon, corn, eggs, tomatoes, nuts, zucchini, bread, potatoes, plums, peaches, and apples.

And by ridiculous corn, I mean WEAPONIZED. As in, cultivated for consumption AND combat:

I give you the Corning Star - a variant of the Morning Star that is lethally delicious.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Big Boss Blanco Diablo

While we were at ReConStruction, we discovered a mostly wonderful gastro pub called the Oxford near the convention center. I had the Blanco Diablo with a rather amazing orange duck entree.

Big Boss Blanco Diablo, cc by-nc-sa image from John Cmar on Flickr

  • Alcohol: 4.5%
  • Serving: draft pint
Scoring (in solidarity with Charlie the Beer Guy):
  • Appearance: 5 - A deep, hazy golden-amber body, with a thin white head that fades quickly with no lace.
  • Nose: 2 - Barely present - predominately wheat and bready malt notes, with a hint of spice.
  • Taste: 7 - A bitter hit upfront, seeming to be a mix of spice, low-level hops, and a sourness it was hard to pinpoint. The wheat flavor comes out strongly in the middle and persists with the spice through the end, with some neutral fruity flavors, reminiscent of apple or pear.
  • Mouthfeel: 7 - Smooth, with moderate body and low carbination.
  • Holistic: 6 - A good and quite drinkable witbier, but a bit more bitter upfront than I was expecting from the style.
Overall: 27 - A solid, if not spectacular, example of the style. It certainly works well as a summer beer, and complimented my orange duck nicely. I wouldn't specifically seek this out, but would have it again if available.

mmmm... malty...

malted barley grain, cc by-nc-sa image from urtica on Flickr

In a follow-up to his previous article on hops, the DCist's John Fleury has moved on to tackle the topic of different malt varieties. Like last time, he lists specific beers that are made with each type, and suggests local DC establishments where one can find said brews. This is a great educational series - made all the better with local pub tie-ins - and I look forward to the next logical installment: that mysterious fermenter and occasional medical infectious adversary of mine, yeast.

(Another tip o' the hat to Thomas at Living Proof for pointing this out!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

corn chowder with roasted poblanos

Upon seeing that we had been granted the boon of fresh corn a few weeks back, the Secret Lair's own Secretary of Artistic Propaganda suggested this recipe for corn chowder from the Mayo Clinic. I then made it with a few modifications, and it was good. Damn good.

  • 2 poblano or Anaheim chilies, halved lengthwise and seeded (I picked up 2 poblanos for this)
  • 2 or 3 Yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes, about 1 pound total weight, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (I used 1 pound of mixed potatoes from my share)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and diced (as Laura loathes bell peppers, I substituted a banana pepper instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 4 ears corn) or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 cup 1 percent low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat a gas grill or broiler (grill). Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.

Arrange the chilies skin-side down on the grill rack, or skin-side up on a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil. Grill or broil until the skins begin to blacken, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam until the skins loosen, about 10 minutes. Peel the chilies, discarding the blackened skin, and chop coarsely. Set aside.

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small bowl. With a potato masher, partially mash the potatoes and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer. Stir in the roasted chilies and the partially mashed potatoes. Add the corn, vegetable stock, milk, pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer uncovered until the soup thickens, 25 to 30 minutes.

Ladle into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the cilantro and oregano. Serve immediately.

This was simply spectacular - hearty and flavorful. The substitution of the banana pepper for the bell variety certainly amped up the spice level, but it wasn't overwhelming. I will definitely keep this in my rotation of dishes to do when corn is plentiful.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

cherpumple cakepiecakepiecakepie

I had not heard of the epic, gluttonous dessert known as cherpumple before this past weekend, but I am now acquainted with it's glory. Behold!

cherpumple cakepiecakepiecakepie, cc by-nc-sa image from John Cmar on Flickr

What you see on display is a three-layered "cake":

  • top - apple pie baked into yellow cake
  • middle - cherry pie baked into white cake
  • bottom - pumpkin pie baked into spice cake

This was baked by Viv and Chooch, with inspiration from J.C. Hutchins, as a way to commemorate podcasting's 6th birthday with "six desserts in one."

But how did it taste? Somewhat obviously, like three pies and three cakes mixed together. The pumpkin pie in the spice cake was a wonderfully complimentary flavor blend, however. That bottom layer is worth making on it's own.

But, what of next year, when podcasting turns seven? Deep fried cherpumple... cherpumple with a cheesecake hat... the possibilities are manyfold. Disgusting, but manyfold.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Brother Ilchester's Summer Highball

Brother Ilchester's Summer Highball, cc by-nc-sa image from John Cmar on Flickr

The past few weeks have seen a robust crop of peaches and nectarines from our CSA shares. In pondering the latest fruits, and what to do with a forlorn bottle of triple sec, I came up with the following refreshing concoction:

Pit and slice the fruit. Place slices on a paper towel, and freeze for approximately 60 minutes. Mix triple sec, gin, and tonic water over the frozen fruit instead of ice.

This turned out quite well, and perfect for the ridiculously hot and humid weather of late. Having the cool fruit to munch on toward the end of the drink was wonderful.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12 CSA share

We're back in the saddle, baby. (Noone says that in Baltimore... UNTIL NOW.)

The roll call: potatoes, cantaloupe, eggs, corn, tomatoes, peaches, apples, honey wheat bread, eggplant, squash, garlic, and onions.

Mmmm... garlic...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

damn you, Otakon... ReConStruction, less so

cc by-nc-nd image by Tasayu Tasnaphun on Flickr

I'm looking forward to our CSA share this week, mainly because we've missed the last two. Last week, we had a planned out-of-town stint for ReConStruction, and so had friends pick up and enjoy our share in our stead.

Two weeks back, however, I missed the pickup by 15 minutes, much to my chagrin. Given work schedules and Baltimore traffic, I knew this was bound to happen sooner or later... but this time, the delay was from an unexpected source. As I attempted a shortcut through downtown (it may sound ridiculous, but it usually works well) two Thursdays back, I found myself mired in traffic, road closures, and costumed people. I had forgotten that Otakon - the annual convention for all things Japanese pop culture, 25-30,000 people strong - had taken over the Inner Harbor.

I was pleased to see freakish geekery on display. I was not pleased that the traffic snarl made me miss our foodstuffs. That said, it all evens out... and in two days time, more produce will be mine. MWA HA HA H-*cough*

a new libation destination in DC

cc by-nc image from squidpants on Flickr

I just got wind of a new brew destination in DC to add to my future visitation list - the Meridian Pint. From iDine's description:

While new to the Columbia Heights bar scene, this haven of hops from John Andrade (Think Asylum!) is already topping the charts. This, thanks to lovers of creative pub fare washed down with fresh local and Mid-Atlantic craft brews. You see, Andrade considers the product of American craft brewers to be far superior to their European counterparts. What's more, as an environmentalist and "Eat Local" proponent, he knows "Drinking Local" by tapping kegs only, conserves energy while delivering the freshest possible flavor. Beyond being a brainchild born of high standards and lofty ideals, Meridian Pint is just a comfy place to grab some great food and suds. The interior makes use of reclaimed timbers and re-purposed materials, including carved wood from an old Pennsylvania church, and a 7' wooden gear from a turn-of-the-century New York factory. Offering more refined dining on the ground floor, Meridian goes rec-room casual in the basement, where patrons can watch sports; play pool, shuffleboard or darts; and, of course, enjoy the establishment's full roster of food and drink. That lineup includes upscale meat, seafood, vegetarian and vegan-friendly options for lunch and dinner, plus a super brunch on Saturday and Sunday. NOTE: AT LEAST 25 DRAFT BEERS AND 2 CASK BEERS ARE AVAILABLE AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

What this leaves out is that the Pint is one of the first bars in the area to adopt digital beer taps at the customers' tables, which falls into one of the Cmar Formulae: beer + technology = WIN.

cc by image from pthread1981 on Flickr

I need to plan a field trip. Not that I don't already have enough reasons to.