Skagit Brew Corner: Whistling Pig

SBCWhisPigGet familiar with a new arrival to the Co-op’s beer selection: locally brewed Whistling Pig Hefeweizen, an American wheat ale named for the whistling pig of Northwest Washington. Mild and refreshing with a slightly fruity finish, Whistling Pig is ideal for celebrating the end of a warm summer day.

Just in case you are wondering (as I was), whistle pigs are actually large squirrels known as marmots, small and furry critters that sometimes communicate with a sweet, high pitched whistle call. Marmots abound around Leavenworth, especially around Whistling Pig Meadow. (What are the odds?) So reward yourself with a bottle of this session-style beer when you feel like an industrious marmot, foraging for survival on the meadows of Northwestern Washington.

For over 20 years, Fish Brewing Company has made Whistling Pig as part of their Leavenworth Biers, a series of unfiltered beers inspired by traditional German flavors. Whistling Pig Hefeweizen is made in the south German style of a wheat beer (weissbier). It has a high ratio of wheat-to-barley malt and a yeast strain that is characterized by unique phenolic flavors of banana and spices, often with a dry and tart edge.

Typically with light hop bitterness and a moderate amount of alcohol, these beers are often unfiltered for a hazy, cloudy appearance. Classically, hefeweizens are well suited to pair with cheese. From light, creamy, soft-ripened bries to dense, waxed sharp cheddars, Whistling Pig’s sweet, fruit-forward malt flavors compliment the lactic tang of many styles of cultured curd.

Whistling Pig Hefeweizen from Leavenworth Biers, Fish Brewing, Olympia, WA. 5.4% Alcohol by volume / 22 IBU. This is a soft, grainy, sweet brew with undertones of lemon and apricot. Serve this brew with cheese plates and grilled summertime favorites such as burgers and hot dogs.

Hefeweizens have sweet, biscuity flavors that are versatile in recipes and other adventures in the kitchen. Try using hefeweizen to de-glaze a pan of roasted chicken or get adventurous and make a Honeydew Hefeweizen Beer Milkshake:

Recipe for Whistling Pig Hefeweizen Honeydew Milkshakebeermilkshake

(adapted from Eva’s Adventures in Cooking blog)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Honeydew melon
  • 3 and 1/3 cups organic Co-op vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup Whistling Pig Hefeweizen (Wheat Beer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Honeydew Slices for Garnish (optional)

Directions:

Peel, seed, and dice melon. Place the melon pieces in the freezer to chill for an hour or so; they will be cooler and add more substantial body to the milkshake. After the melon has chilled, add the pieces to a blender, and add ice cream, beer, and vanilla. Blend until smooth and serve immediately with honeydew slices for garnish. Enjoy!

The Cheese Whisperer: Bellavitano-a-Go-Go

The cheese arena stretches far and wide. Curds with varied characteristics, different aging times, and flavors abound and continue to challenge our understanding and comfort. Many popular cheeses are extra aged — typically meaning the milk curd has been cooked, pressed, and aged for over 1 year in order to develop intense, complex flavors, and firmer textures.

bellavitanosaladpic

Delicious Two Bean Salad with Balsamic Bellavitano aged cheese! Did I hear someone say “picnic”?

Speaking of such elegant and aged cheeses: the line of Sartori Bellavitano cheeses are versatile and currently on sale for $3.99 per wedge at the Co-op’s Cheese Island.

What a deal! These extra sharp specialty wedges are available as Asiago, Parmesan or flavored with Balsamic vinegar, Raspberry tart ale, and Merlot wine. These excellent aged cheeses are crafted in a style similar to a fine Parmesan: sweet and sharp with tiny crystals of crunch, also known as crystallized milk proteins (casein) that contain the amino acid tyrosine. Made from pasteurized cow’s milk, and free of hormones and antibiotics.

Each of these high quality Bellavitano cheeses are a perfect addition to cheese plates. Or try crumbling them atop salads, pasta, and soups. Or add them to scrambled eggs or frittatas for breakfast.

Raspberry Bellavitano is a nutty, creamy aged cheese soaked with handcrafted Raspberry Tart ale. It features bright notes of red raspberries as well as caramelized sugar and hazelnuts. Most recently, it won a Bronze medal in the World Cheese Awards.

Balsamic Bellavitano is a sweet, tart, and fruit-flavored aged cheese that just won a Silver Medal at the World Cheese Awards. A classic aged Parmesan-style cheese accented with a few prized drops of genuine Modena balsamic vinegar. Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski blesses this cheese with a sweet coating that makes it ideal for cheese plates and pairings with toasted nuts, fresh green Castelveltrano olives and dried fruit.

Merlot Bellavitano is created by infusing the classic golden aged Bellavitano cheese with the rich, earthy plum-like flavors of Merlot wine. The marriage of creamy cheese flavor and tangy berry notes of Merlot paves the way for fabulous entertaining, alongside some toasted walnuts, thin slices of prosciutto, and semisweet chocolates for dessert.

Balsamic Bellavitano Two Bean Recipe (from Sartori website)

The following recipe makes for a delightful warm weather salad for outside entertaining or a simple family meal. It’s loaded with tangy, sweet, and fresh flavors sure that are sure to please. Read more The Cheese Whisperer: Bellavitano-a-Go-Go …

Skagit Brew Corner: Cooking with Kölsch

haleskolsch

Hale’s Ales in Seattle is an institution that produces consistently good quality beer. And as the Springtime inspires the brew masters to lighten their malts, Hale’s releases a fresh batch of their award-winning Kölsch ale. Gold Medal Winner at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival, this ale has wonderfully crisp, clean, and refreshing flavors of Pilsner and Torrefied Wheat malts. Slightly sweet and herbal Saaz and Sterling hops impart an old world elegance and medium body to this pleasant and refreshing brew: Kölsch Ale from Hale’s Ales of Seattle, WA. 5.1% ABV / 10 IBU

What makes a Kölsch ale? Traditionally Kölsch is a light, thirst-quenching German ale with low bitterness and a golden color. Originally from Cologne, this pale beer is fermented with an ale yeast, and then later conditioned at cold temperatures that are typically used to make lagers. The result is a gently bittered, versatile beer with a slightly fruity flavor, relatively low alcohol content, and superbly drinkable light texture. Serve it ice cold, along with a snack tray of smoked, spiced, and sweet foods. Or use to to cook up a batch of delicious roasted snacks, see the following recipe.

Kölsch Glazed Almonds, Seeds & Fruit Read more Skagit Brew Corner: Cooking with Kölsch …

The Indian in the Cupboard: Palak Paneer

SkagitValleyFoodCoop_IndianintheCupboard_Paneer_3.31.14SkagitValleyFoodCoop_IndianintheCupboard_PaneerFinal_3.31.14

If South Indian cuisine is the Washington fare of India (fresh, light, lots of fish and seafood), then North Indian food is down-home Texas (rich, creamy and heavy). Most Indian restaurants you’ll find will be North Indian and boast menus of buttery, starchy goodness. Butter chicken, tikka masala, jalfrezi, biryani, roti, naan – it’s all enough to drive a girl mad with food-lust. But, of course, there is one North Indian dish that shines on a pedestal of deliciousness in my heart, far above the rest: Palak Paneer. Creamy, sweetly spiced spinach surrounds chunks of soft paneer (a mildly flavored Indian cheese). Its dangerously delicious flavor is capable of sending anyone into a proper comfort-food coma. But I like to live dangerously, so let’s cook.

Ingredients
2-7 oz. Packages of Paneer (cubed)
2 Bunches of Spinach (blanched and finely chopped)
5 Tbsps. Olive Oil (vegetable oil or ghee would also work)
½ Large Jalapeno (finely chopped)
1 ¼ tsp. Turmeric Powder
½ tsp. Cayenne
Salt
1 Clove of Garlic (minced)
½” – 1 ½” Piece of Fresh Ginger (peeled and minced)
1 Medium Onion (finely chopped)
2 Medium Tomatoes (large dice)
¾ tsp. Garam Masala
Pinch of Asafoetida
Pinch of Red Chili Powder
1 Bay Leaf
1 Curry Leaf
1 Heaping tsp. Coriander (ground)
1 Scant tsp. Cumin (ground)
2-3 Tbsps. Heavy Cream or Yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Mix 1 tsp. turmeric, cayenne, salt and 3 Tbsps. oil in a large bowl. Drop in cubes of paneer and gently toss. Set aside.

    SkagitValleyFoodCoop_IndianintheCupboard_FriedPaneer_3.31.14

    Fried Paneer!

  2. Rinse spinach well. Boil about 6 cups of water in a large saucepan with ½ tsp. of salt. When water is boiling, turn off heat, and drop in spinach leaves. Cover pot with lid and leave for 2-3 minutes. Extract spinach from boiling water, using a colander, and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water. Leave in ice water for a minute or two, then drain the leaves.
  3. At this point, it may be easiest to toss your spinach into a food processor and blend into a coarse puree. I, however, live sans food processor and thusly get to do it the old fashioned way! Huzzah! – Finely chop the aforementioned spinach by hand, using only your sharpest kitchen knife and the will to laugh in the face of modern technologies.
  4. We’re ready to cook! Heat a large frying pan on medium high. Carefully add marinated paneer to hot pan. Toss cubes until all sides are a light, golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Add about 2 Tbsps. of olive oil (or ghee) to your pan. Add onion, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. Sauté ingredients until they are a deep, golden brown. With a cup of water at the ready, add the remaining spices. Splash mixture with water, as needed, to keep spices from burning. A thick paste will form. Keep it moving for a few minutes, until spices permeate the air with a distinct, strong aroma.
  6. Add spinach to pan with ½ cup water. Add tomatoes. Simmer for 4-8 minutes, adding water as needed to keep mixture moist.
  7. Slowly add cream, stirring constantly, and salt to taste. Cover and let simmer for about another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Serve over basmati rice, with naan, paratha or roti. Enjoy!

*For all my vegan buddies out there, replace paneer with 1 package of extra firm tofu and cream with canned coconut milk. The substitutions will totally still work with the recipe. Yay!

In the Kitchen with Jill

20120613-DSC02484The task at hand for me this New Year is to stretch the ole mighty dollar. Oh I could tell you that this is because I want to save money and pay off credit cards, but the truth is I want to take a vacation. A real vacation where I have to buy a bathing suit and new flip flops.  I want to sip on a tropical drink and read a book, while my feet nestle in the warm sand.  Looking at my biggest expenses, I realized that there were two that I could reduce without feeling a great deal of sadness or loss.  One is my food budget and the other is my unbudgeted earring spending. No, I am not giving up delicious food, or beautiful mercantile adornments to wear, I am just re-evaluating what I spend, and how I use it. Read more In the Kitchen with Jill …