Thursday, November 15, 2018

Beaujolais Nouveau 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018.  It is World Philosophy Day.  If you happen to be in Belgium, then it is Koningsfeest or King's Feast. In Germany, it would be Feestday Duitse Gemeenschap or German Community Day.  If you happen to be in France, or, more specifically, just outside of Lyon, it would be Beaujolais day ... or, the day that George DeBoeuf releases "the first wine of the harvest."

This is not the first time that I have tried and reviewed a Beaujolais Nouveau. In that post, I discussed how the wine was made, using Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc grapes or Gamay grapes.  The laws governing the wine require the grapes to be picked by hand.  The whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment, which results in the juice being fermented inside the grapes.  The resulting wine is then "aged" for a brief period of time and bottled 6 to 8 weeks after the harvest.  This is as young as a wine can get and one of the few reds that comes with the instructions, "drink on sight." 

The Beaujolais Nouveau pours a dark berry in color, with garnet or ruby tones.  Those dark hues fade quickly toward the edges of the glass, turning a light maroon and even becoming a very light red along the edges.  

The aromatic elements of this wine start with a little tart cherry or cranberry, which subside as the wine opens.  There is a slight earthiness, trending towards slate or pebble.  There is also perhaps some pencil shaving in the nose of the wine. 

They say that the Beaujolais Noveau may change a little from year to year.  Back in 2012, I found some tart and sour cherries, which, as the wine opened, ripened into more full cherries.  The complete opposite of what may have found, such as cherries, raspberries and other light red fruits.  For 2018, the wine was not as tart.  Rather, the most prominent note was that cranberry.  The wine is kind of a reminder that Thanksgiving in the United States, which often features a cranberry dish on the table, is just one week away.  There are some other elements, such as some raspberry, that become more pronounced. As with the 2012 vintage, the tartness fades and the fruit ripens as the wine sits in the glass.  

Since it was released today and it is Beaujolais Nouveau Day, it is available at many wine stores.  I paid a little more than $11.00 per bottle.  


Monday, November 12, 2018

Smoked Ribeye Roast, Uruguayan Asado Style

I have a fascination with the country of Uruguay.  The relatively smallish country bordered by Brazil to the north and, across the Rio de la Plata, within sight of Argentina. My fascination as entirely to do with the country's cuisine.

It all began a few years ago with my personal culinary challenge to prepare a main course from Uruguay as part of my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge.  I made Chivitos al Pan, a sandwich loaded with meat, cheese and eggs. That stands as perhaps my favorite challenge to date. After that time, I have wanted to learn more about the cuisine of Uruguay.

And, this post provides that opportunity.  Uruguayan cuisine is perhaps the most meat centric cuisine in at least the Western hemisphere, if not the world. The country has a population of just little more than 3.4 million people in 2016, but consumes more than 427 million pounds of  meat during that same year.  That is 124 pounds per person that year.  With the average weight of a person around 137 pounds, that means that, on average, an Uruguayan eats as much meat as the average person weighs.  That is quite the feat.

But it is not just about eating meat, it is the grilling of the meat. In many ways it defines Uruguayan cuisine. The chicken, beef, pork and chorizo on the parilla, carefully watched and tended to by the asador. There is nothing like taming the coals and cooking ungodly amounts of meat for an asado. (If I did not have my current job, my dream job would be that of an asador.  Perhaps upon retirement, a move to Uruguay and I could start a second career as an asador, cooking untold amounts of meats while casually sipping one of Uruguay's wines, like a Tannat or a Cabernet Sauvignon.)

It is this tradition of grilling that inspired me to make a ribeye roast over coals.  To be sure, this is not the parilla true style of cooking.  I did not have the arrangement for that.  Instead, I used my smoker, with its grill (and without the liquid bowl) to create a direct charcoal grilling. The one significant difference is that I decided to use some hickory wood to add smoke to the ribeye roast.  

To underscore the Uruguayan inspiration, I prepared a classic Uruguayan chimichurri for this ribeye roast. Like its Argentinian neighbor, this chimichurri is full of fresh parsley, garlic and oregano, mixed with olive oil and vinegar to create what is perhaps the most amazing accompaniment for grilled beef.  The vinegar helps to cut through the fat of the ribeye roast.  The crushed red pepper flakes, along with the freshly ground black pepper and the peppery nature of the oregano, add a slight hint of heat.  These additional layers of flavor create an artistic masterpiece on the canvas that is the beef itself.

I have cooked a lot with ribeye roasts, and some of the recipes have made it on to this blog.  However, this is perhaps my favorite ribeye roast that I have done. Maybe it is the effort to draw inspiration from Uruguayan cuisine.  Maybe it is just that I love beef.  Either way, I am going to make this recipe again. 

Recipe adapted from Saveur
Serves several

Ingredients (for the ribeye roast):
1 ribeye roast (5 to 6 pounds)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Hickory wood chunks

Ingredients (for the Uruguayan chimichurri):
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup finely chopped parsley
3/4 cup finely chopped oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.  Prepare the roast.  Combine the salt, black pepper, oregano and garlic powder and mix well.  Spray some olive oil over the roast.  Apply the salt and pepper mixture to all sides of the roast.  

2.  Prepare the smoker.  Soak the hickory chunks in water for 1 hour.  Prepare a fire for a 300 degree smoker.  Once the temperature is right, oil the grates and add the roast.  Smoke for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours until the temperature in the roast registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the roast from the smoker and let it rest, covered, for about 15 to 30 minutes. 

3.  Prepare the chimichurri.  Bring 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 cup of water to a boil in a 1 quart saucepan.  Let cool.  Whisk parsley, oregano, chile flakes, oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper in a bowl.  Stir in salt water mixture.  Let chimichurri sit for at least 30 minutes.

4.  Finish the dish.  Slice the ribeye roast and serve immediately with the chimichurri.


Thursday, November 8, 2018


As the story goes, "there is a 3m x 3m square in our Richmond, VA brewery with these three words painted on it.  What three words?  Exactly.  For the uninitiated, that's What3Words." I guess I am one of the uninitiated. The story continues, "It is a global addressing system to bring locations to the previously unlocatable.  Inspired by the positive impact of this system, we decided to name this IPA after a 3 meter square in the brewery where it was created.  Check it out."  I did, and learned that you have to be very exact.  ///Fear.Movie.Lions. puts you in Montrose, Virginia, where Stone Brewing has a production facility.  Switch the "s" to ///Fear.Movies.Lion and you find yourself outside of Scunthorpe, England. Switch that "s" again to ///Fears.Movie.Lion and you get transported to the middle of the Detroit River in the downtown of Motor City.  

Back to the beer, ///Fear.Movie.Lions is Stone Brewing's version of a New England-style IPA.  It is an unfiltered IPA that, according to the brewers, packs "a massive tropical and citrus notes."  That's quite a claim for an New England-style IPA, because I have found (in my humble opinion) that many of the IPAs of this style are usually more subdued when it comes to the traditional citrus notes of an India Pale Ale.  So, I was gladly willing to to verify the brewers' claims.

Before I do, however, just a few notes about the NE IPA style.  Apparently, just a few months ago, it was the style.  Some even went so far as to call it the "hottest style" that "conquered America." Yeah, right.  For me, NE IPAs always seemed like "Adult Alternative" music, as opposed to "Alternative music."  It is as if you are looking on a jukebox for Soundgarden songs and all you can find is Crowded House songs.  It is just not the same.  That is how I view NE IPAs ... it is not just the same as an IPA.  I expect an IPA to have a hop-forward profile, with that resinous, piney, citrus fruit punch in each sip.  The NE IPAs that I have had prior to this beer have been a hazy, mellower experience that just ordinarily does not appeal to me when I am looking for a hoppy beer.  (And, don't get me started about "session" IPAs, that is like the jukebox is filled with Air Supply songs.)

According to the Beer Certification Judge Program, a NE IPA is supposed to be a smoother, hazier, juicier version of an American IPA. Straw or yellow in color, hazy or opaque, with an intense hop aroma and an intense hop flavor.  The good people at the BCJP also note that there may be a bready, grainy, lightly sweet flavor in the beer as well.  Except, as I noted above, none of the NE IPAs that I have tried in the past ever had the hop intensity that the BCJP would expect.  

As the photos show, the Fear.Movie.Lions is a hazy unfiltered beer, with the golden, yellowish color one would expect from an India Pale Ale.  When the hazy beer is poured into the glass, there is a thick foam that clings to the sides of the glass, and, floats around like thin cirrus clouds occasionally overtaken by a cumulus cloud.  

The aroma is very well defined.  There is a definite citrus fruit note in the aroma, perhaps mango or melon, or a mellow orange.  The orange carries through into the taste, which carries a more modest form of the bitterness for which Stone is known.  That bitterness is, unlike other Stone offerings, expertly balanced with a malty, almost sweet character that makes this beer very drinkable. The brewers note that "lingering lime peel and tropical fruit derived from the hops stand out on the finish, begging one to seek out more." I think that is an adequate description of the beer.

Although I am a skeptic of the New England-style IPA, I have to say that Stone's ///Fear.Movie.Lions is the best one of the style that I have had to date. It makes me want to buy more of that style, which will probably be another six pack of ///Fear.Movie.Lions. 

As for What3Words, if you want to find me, you could check out ///waveguides.unsteady.treehouse. (Actually, you won't find me there, but you will be standing on a beach on the Mauritian isle of Vingt Cinq with a lovely view of the Indian Ocean.)


Friday, November 2, 2018

Angel Cruz Beef Skewers

After the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, thousands of Cambodians sought refuge in the United States.  It is estimated that, by 1994, approximately 158,000 Cambodians had legally entered the U.S., most of those were refugees. The United States settled these refugees across the country; and, over time, Cambodian communities began to emerge. Communities such as those in Lowell, Massachusetts (which is the second largest in the United States); Jacksonville, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio, along with Los Angeles and Stockton, California.

And, in Stockton, there is Angel Cruz park, a local gathering site for the Cambodian Community.  Families gather together at the park to "hang out, grill, and eat."  I have never been to Stockton, California, let alone to Angel Cruz Park.  Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, I can still get a sense of what happens there. If one were to Google "Cambodian Angel Cruz Park," like I did, he or she would find videos of cooks grilling and preparing a variety of Cambodian foods. 

If you want to get a sense of the kinds of food being prepared, this video provides an example of the experience: 

While I may not be in Stockton, and, I am not Cambodian, that does not mean that I can't try to bring a little of Angel Park out my way.  I found a recipe from Nite Yun, the owner and chef of Nyum Bai (which means "Let's Eat!" in Khmer).  According to Eater, Nite Yun was born in a refugee camp in Thailand.  At age 2, her parents made their way to the United States as refugees. While her parents had been sponsored to go to Texas, they settled in California, Stockton to be exact.  Although her parents were thousands of miles away from their home, they brought their culture, and their food, with them to the U.S.  Yun remembers, "sitting on the floor, chopping lemongrass, peeling garlic, washing veggies and herbs."  She loved that work, and she eventually learned how to cook on her own.  

As her interest in food grew, Nite Yun realized that the food of her family and culture, Cambodian food, was unrepresented.  There were no good Cambodian restaurants.  During a trip to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, Yun was at a noodle stall when she decided that she would start her own restaurant.  A restaurant focused on her culinary and cultural heritage.  That moment led to Nyum Bai. The menu is graced with dishes such as Naim Chien Chrouk (crispy rolls filled with taro, cabbage, glass noodles, pork, garlic and onions), Kuy Teav Phnom Penh (rice dish with minced pork and shrimp served in a 7 hour pork broth with herbs and crispy garlic) and Chien Trey & Ngoum Mango (crispy catfish topped with tangy and tart green mango salad, shallots and red pepper).

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to try any of these dishes, all of which sound delicious.  I did find a recipe from Nite Yun's for beef skeewers.  The name is Angel Cruz Beef Skewers, a nod to the gathering of Cambodian families at Angel Cruz park. The recipe calls for the beef to be marinated in a very tasty paste of lemongrass, kaffir lime and fish sauce.  The end result is so good that I am seriously thinking of trying this marinade with chicken or pork skewers. 

Recipe from Saveur
Serves 2-4

6 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, 
     soft inner cores thinly sliced
6 kaffir lime leaves finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and minced
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of honey
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

1.  Prepare the beef.  In a food processor, combine the lemongrass with the lime leaves, garlic, shallots, ginger, and turmeric, and pulse until a smooth paste forms.  Scrape the past in a large bowl, and add the beef, honey, oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce and paprika.  Toss the beef until evenly coated and then cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 

2.  Grill the skewers.  Light a grill.  Thread the beef on to wooden skewers and then grill, turning as needed until charred and cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a platter and serve while hot.  


Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Oysterfest

Author Hector Bolitho once wrote, "Oysters are the most tender and delicate of all seafoods.  The stay in bed all day and night.  They never work or take exercise, are stupendous drinkers, and wait for their meals to come to them." The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum brought these words to life on August 27, 2018 at its annual OysterFest

It was a very rainy and windy day. The gray pallor of the clouds that moved overhead.  However, it did not tamper down the enthusiasm of thousands of people from all around Maryland and beyond who came to the small town of St. Michaels, Maryland to celebrate, and more importantly, eat oysters.   Amongst the thousands were myself, by beautiful Angel, our two little kiddos and my Angel's parents.   

As one entered the OysterFest, he or she could see one of the major events at the festival: the Oyster Stew Competition.  There were six competitors: (1) Sunflowers & Greens of Easton, MD (which won the competition last year); (2) Milestone Catering of Easton, MD; (3) Bistro St. Michaels of St. Michaels, MD; (4) Theo's Steaks, Sides and Spirits of St. Michaels, MD; (5) Crab N Que of St. Michaels, MD; and (6) General Store of Royal Oak, MD. I got to be one of a few hundred who would judge the oyster stews.  The competition was blind (labelled A through F); however, so judges did not know which stew was being made by which competitor. 

Here is the thing about oyster stew, at least from my experience: there are generally two types or styles.  The first style is more like a cream colored soup, with a thinner consistency that gets its off-white color (tinged by the fat used as part of the soup's base) from the use of half and half. The other style is more like a chowder, with a whiter color and thicker consistency with heavy cream. Regardless of the type, an oyster stew should have minced vegetables (celery, shallots), potatoes and, of course, oysters (either whole, which I prefer, or chopped).    

Both types of oyster stew were on display at this competition.  To be sure, all six of the contestants produced some very tasty oyster stew.  When it came to my judging of the stews, I needed something, either in terms of texture or taste, that it the stew apart from its competitors.  Right out of the gate, the Contestant A set itself apart, with a lighter oyster stew that had a very smoky taste.  That flavor is most likely due to the use of smoked bacon as the base of the stew.  As someone who loves a smoky taste (just check out the Savage Boleks BBQ posts on this site), the stew got my attention.  Admittedly, the smoky taste may be off-putting for someone who does not like barbecued or smoked meats, but I liked it.  Contestant D also had a smoky flavor, which was more subdued.  The taming of the smoky taste is most likely because, unlike Contestant A's lighter stew, Contestant D's stew had more of a light chowder consistency.  The use of heavy cream can tamp down the smokiness of the bacon.  In the end, it came down to Contestant A and D in my mind, with Contestant A winning my vote.  (As of the date of this post, I don't know who actually won the contest, but I will update the post when I find out.)

UPDATE: The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum announced the winner of the oyster stew competition: Bistro St. Michaels.  It was Contestant F.  Contestant D -- Sunflowers & Greens -- won second place and Contestant A -- The General Store -- won third place.

The other contest was the oyster slurping contest.  After having eaten one and one-half dozen oysters, I had the chance to fill out the second dozen by trying to be the fastest person to slurp six oysters.  I was part of Round 3, along with my beautiful Angel and a third person named Jack.  To make a long story short, I lost the contest, coming in last. I won't post any excuses.  If I have any other career ahead of me, it will not be as a competitive food eater.  That was made clear after about the twenty or thirty seconds of the competition.  

The biggest event at the Oysterfest was the re-lauching of the Edna E. Lockwood, the last existing nine-log bugeye.  John B. Harrison built the Edna in 1887 -- the seventh of the eighteen bugeyes built by Harrison.  The purpose of the Edna, as it was it all bugeyes, was to dredge oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.  With its shallow draft, the bugeye could reach parts of the Bay that were not as accessible to schooners and pungies because of their deeper draft.  The bugeye's lower bulwark, as well as its less complex rigs, made it easier to engage in dredging with less crewmembers.   While a typical bugeye could be expected to be in service for about 20 years, the Edna continued in service until 1967. It outlasted not only the other seventeen bugeye built by John B. Harrison, but also the many skipjacks that were built long after the last bugeye.

The Edna had been gifted to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum with the expectation that it would be restored and used to educate the public about a true Chesapeake tradition.  The latest restoration began in 2016, with volunteers working to restore the log hull. That work continued until it was completed earlier this year, and the vessel was moved to the marine launch for the OysterFest.  

This was the first launching of a vessel that I have witnessed.  There was the traditional opening remarks, along with the thanks to all of those individuals who helped to restore the Edna.  (The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum contains its own shop where the work was performed.) This was followed by the traditional breaking of a champagne bottle -- or, in this case, three champagne bottles -- on the bow of the vessel.  After the initial ceremonies, the vessel was slowly lowered into the water, a couple of feet at a time, until the vessel could float on its own.  At that point, the Edna was immediately moored and the celebrations concluded. The Edna will eventually begin a tour of the Chesapeake Bay

Not only is the the first time that I witnessed the launching or relaunching of a vessel. This was also the first time we went to the OysterFest, or, for that matter, any oyster festival.  It was a lot of fun, even with the wind and rain.  To be sure, the weather probably depressed the turnout, which made it a little easier to navigate all of the attractions, vendors and events.  At this point, I have just realized that I did not take any pictures of any oysters from the festival.   

But, I did take some pictures after the OysterFest. We went to a local restaurant where I could sample some Maryland oysters.  This time, I remembered to take a picture so that I could remember the oysters that I tried.  I tried four different oysters.  Two are farmed: (a) Wild Ass Ponies, described as having "good salt content, briny"; and (b) Fisherman's Daughter, described as having "mild salt content, sweet finish.  The remaining two are wild: (c) Deal Island, described as "medium salt, smooth, mild brine"; and (d) Wild Divers, described as "medium salt, full-bodied, buttery."  

All of the descriptions were on the spot and demonstrated the range of Maryland oysters, from salty to smooth, briny to sweet.  The oysters are even better with a local brew, such as the St. Michael's Ale from Eastern Shore Brewing Company (it is photobombing the picture of the oysters).  A red ale with a good malty backbone, the beer was a great complement to the full range of oysters that I tried. 

A great festival, great oysters, great beer and, of course, great company.  This festival has inspired me to make my own oyster stew.  Stay tuned for that.  Until next time ...


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Five Spice Smoked Beef Ribs

It is known as the "wonder powder," a concoction whose five ingredients bring together the five flavors: namely, sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. It is a fixture of Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine, finding its way into many of the dishes.  it is Chinese Five Spice powder.

I have always had a jar of the spice mix, but it has rarely found its way into any of the dishes that I have cooked.  To be sure, I used it when I make Larb (which I love) or Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid (which is good too).  I just measure out an amount of the five spice, or I eyeball it, but I never gave much thought as to what makes up the wonder powder or how that powder even came about.

Those questions gave rise to this blog post.  The post is a story about five spices brought together to help propel some beef chuck ribs into a tasty dish.

It all began with a desire to smoke some beef chuck ribs.  I had made smoked beef ribs a few weeks earlier, and, I liked the result so much that I wanted to make them again.  And, this time, I wanted to try some thing different.  I purchased a couple packages of ribs and headed home.

The first effort at smoked beef ribs kept it simple.  Just a rub of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I needed a new rub. Something that would work with beef ribs.  I started looking through jars of different spice mixes for ideas.  That is when I saw it, the jar of Chinese five spice powder.  The eureka moment so passed and I put the jar back.

Picture from Instructables
But, that was not the end of the story.  I then went to the Internet to do some research.  Simple is great, but I did not want this to be easy.  I began researching recipes to make my own Chinese Five Spice powder, and, in the process, learn about the sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty aspects of this mixture. The "sour" and "salty" comes, presumably, from the Sichuan peppercorn.  The peppercorn is not actually a peppercorn at all.  (The Sichuan peppercorn is unrelated to black peppercorns or chiles; instead, it is the pinkish, outer husk of a prickly ash shrub of the genus Zanthoxylum.) The bitterness comes from star anise and fennel seeds, both of which also provide a slight licorice note to the powder.  The sweetness comes from cinnamon sticks, which are ground and added to the powder.  Finally, the pungency comes from cloves, which are perhaps one of the strongest spices that provides a definite sense of warmth the powder.  Together, those five spices and the powder they create is known as Chinese Five Spice Powder.  

Just like that jar of Chinese five spice powder, I set aside the internet recipes.  I decided to use a recipe from a tried and true source: Steven Raichlen.  His book, Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades, contained a recipe that followed those I read on the Internet, bringing together star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and Szechuan peppercorns.  So, instead of one jar of five spices, I pulled out five jars of individual spices and created my own mix.

There is something to be said about making your own spice.  Apart from the fact that you can tweak the recipe, as many do with Chinese Five Spice (making it six or seven spices), it just seems to always taste better than the pre-made stuff.  The homemade spice definitely made these Five Spice Smoked Beef Ribs a great success, one that, lasted long after eating them (thanks to the slight numbing properties of the Szechuan peppercorn, but that will have to be left for another post). 

Rub recipe from Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades, pg. 43
Serves 4

4 pounds of beef ribs
3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches each)
3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
Sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Vegetable oil
Few chunks of alder or apple wood

1.  Prepare the rub.  Heat a dry skillet over medium low heat.  Add the spices and toast until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer the spices to a bowl and let cool completely.  Break the star anise and cinnamon sticks into pieces, grind the spices into a fine powder in a coffee grinder or spice mill.  

2.  Prepare the ribs.  Brush all sides of the beef ribs with a little vegetable oil.  Apply the five spice rub to all sides.  Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to a few hours. 

3.  Prepare the grill.  Soak the wood chunks in water for about 1 hour.  Prepare the fire and coals in the smoker until you have a temperature of around 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oil the grate and place the ribs in the smoker.  Cook until you get an internal temperature of about 185 degrees Fahrenheit, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  Remove the ribs from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes.

4.  Finish the dish. Using a brush, dab the top of the beef ribs with the sesame oil.  Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the ribs.  Serve immediately.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Troegenator

The Troegs' Troegenator.  I have had this double bock -- or doppelbock -- beer in the past.  After all, I like beer. I like beer. And I like this beer. I could have sworn that I have reviewed the Troegenator in the past.  I checked the beer reviews page on my blog.  None. To be sure, there were other reviews of Troegs' beers. I have a review of the Pale Ale. I also have one for the Flying Mouflan.  But, no review for the Troegenator.  So, here it is.

The Troegenator is brewed using a combination of chocolate, Munich, and Pilsner malts, along with German northern brewer and magnum hops.  When it comes to a doppelbock, the objective is to brew a darker, stronger beer than an average, everyday bock beer. A beer style that has been described by some as "liquid bread."  Monks at the Paulaner monastery brewed this style during Lent because of its bready nature, providing calories to the brothers during their fast.  The monks added a suffix of "ator" to their beers, an abbreviation of Salvator  or Savior.

The Troegenator pours a very dark amber color, which one would expect with a doppelbock.  There was little to no foam when the beer was poured, which was a little unexpected.  However, the still liquid surface allows for elements of caramel, bread and dried stone fruit to greet the nose.

Some of those elements find their way into the taste of the Troegenator.  There is a definite caramel flavor to the beer, which is accompanied by raises, brown sugar and some molasses.  There is also a slight alcohol note, which reminds drinkers that this beer has an ABV of 8.2%.  There is just a slight hop bitterness, which is only present on the finish of the beer.  Such a secondary role for hops is to be expected with a beer that is so malt-forward.

A six pack of the Troegenator costs between $12 to $14 dollars.  It is well worth it as the days get shorter, while the air gets crisper and cooler.  Until next time ...


Friday, October 12, 2018

Around the World in 80 Dishes: Ghana

Maya Angelou once said, "while the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of man's humanity to a man."  There perhaps is no better example of this saying than Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian born diplomat who served as United Nations Secretary-General from January 1997 through December 2006.  While his tenure was not without its criticism, there is no doubt that, overall, Secretary-General Annan's made a significant contribution to world peace, but that is a subject for a different blog.

My personal culinary challenge, Around the World in 80 Dishes, takes me to the country where the former Secretary-General was born and raised.  My latest challenge is to prepare a main course from the Republic of Ghana.  This country has a long, documented history going back to at least to the fifth century B.C.  This history is one of organized states, such as the Ashanti, the Akwamu, the Bonoman, the Denkyira and the Maskessim. Those independent states were eclipsed by colonialist powers, namely the British Empire. While I am a big fan of history, this aspect of Ghana's past is not the subject at hand.

Rather, I want to focus on the history of Ghanaian cuisine, which seems to be a rather elusive subject.  There are a lot of websites that talk about Ghanaian foods, but very little about the history of those foods.  As much as I want to learn about fufu, bofrot and red red, I want to know how those dishes and others originated and evolved over time.  And, that has proven to be quite difficult.

After spending a lot of time looking for that elusive history, I have decided to make two dishes: Chichinga and Jollof Rice with Goat.  These dishes touch upon two aspects of Ghanaian cuisine: street food and staple foods. 


According to Lydia Polgreen, "few countries reward the sidewalk chowhound like Ghana.  The good street food is where then Ghanaians converge, such as bus stations, markets, interchanges, and construction sites. Vendors are present, selling a wide range of foods, including kebabs, such as Chichinga (or kyinkyinga). These kebabs are small pieces of meat covered in peanut flour and spices, grilled with vegetables over charcoal.  Chef Zoe Adjonyoh calls it Ghana's answer to the shish kebab.

For this dish, I decided to use goat for the meat. Goat production provides a ready source of protein and their adaptability means that they can be raised in different climates. Given the number of government websites providing instructions on how one could raise their own goats, it would seem that goat production is encouraged.  I don't have to travel far to get goat, because I have a lot in my freezer at home.  So, with some vegetables that are vaguely reminiscent of the red, yellow and green of the Ghanaian flag, I made these tasty skewers.

Recipe adapted from The Guardian
Serves 4 -6

3-4 tablespoons of the suya spice mix (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons rapeseed or groundnut oil, plus extra for brushing
2 pounds of goat, cubed
2-3 bell peppers, cored, deseeded, cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into quarters and separated
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Prepare the goat.  Mix the dry spice mix with the rapeseed oil in a bowl.  Add the goat to the bowl and massage the mixture thoroughly into the meat.  Thread the chunks of pepper, onion and beef onto skewers.  The longer the skewers can marinate, the better.  Lay the skewers in a dish, cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 1-2 hours, but preferably overnight.

2.  Prepare to cook the skewers.  Take the skewers out of the fridge and leave them to sit at room temperature for a few minutes while you prepare a charcoal or gas grill, brush the meat with ground nut oil, and season with the salt and pepper before adding to the grill.

3.  Cook the skewers.  Turn the grills after 3-4 minutes on each side depending on the size of the goat pieces.  Remove from heat and let rest for 2-3 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Suya refers to the style of cooking, but it is a spice mix that incorporates chiles, peanuts and a range of spices.  It is what makes chichinga.

This was the first time I used roasted, ground peanuts for a spice mix.  The thing to keep in mind is that the peanuts still have some oil in them, which results in clumping.  That just requires a little more work to smooth out the spice mix before applying it to the goat.  

Recipe from The Guardian

Ingredients (for the suya spice mix):
1/2 cup of peanuts, ground and roasted
2 teaspoons ground hot or cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients for the spice mix together in a bowl.  Transfer to an airtight container in a cool, dark place.  Store for up to one month.  If you've added fresh ingredients, store in the fridge and use within a week.


For the main course, I made Jollof Rice with Goat Meat.  There is some debate about whether this dish is truly Ghanian, as Nigeria lays claim to the dish, as do several other African countries.  Nevertheless,  for my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge, I am making Ghana's version of the dish.  The base of Jollof rice is, besides the rice, the use of tomatoes, tomato paste, scotch bonnet peppers, salt, spices and vegetable oil.  The tomatoes and the paste give the dish its signature red hues, while the scotch bonnet peppers provide the spicy kick.  The remaining spices round out the flavor of the dish.

This challenge produced not just a main course.  Eating one dish of Jollof Rice with Goat Meat felt like eating an entire meal.  That makes sense, since the word Jollof comes from the Wolof people.  The word means "one pot," a common term that we today associate with one-pot meals.  

Recipe from Biscuits and Ladles

Ingredients (for the marinade):
1/2 pound bone-in goat meat
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1 scotch bonnet
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 onion
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Salt, as required
Hot water

Ingredients (for the Jollof):
1 large onion
1 tablespoon turkey berries (optional)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste or puree
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups of long or medium grain rice
Stock from cooking of goat meat
Salt, as required
1 teaspoon shrimp substitute for shrimp stock or chicken stock cube
Water, as required
Salt, as required

1. Prepare the goat meat.  Wash and clean the goat meat and put in a sauce pan.  Blend the garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet, green bell pepper, onion, anise and cumin seeds together.  Pour over goat meat.  Add salt and curry powder and cook under high heat.  Add hot water as and when necessary to tenderize the meat.  Meanwhile, blend the onions, scotch bonnet and turkey berries (if you are using them) together and set aside.

2.  Brown the goat.  Pour oil in a heavy bottom saucepan with a tight lid and place on medium heat.  When hot, add the meat to fry, reserving the stock for later.  Remove the meat from the sauce pan and set aside.  Add additional oil if there is not enough oil in the saucepan.

3.  Continue making the stew.  Add tomato paste or puree and stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Add the blended onions, scotch bonnet and turkey berries.  Add chopped tomatoes and stir.  Add nutmeg and cover the lid.  Simmer on high heat for about 5 minutes until cooked through and not tasting raw.

4.  Prepare the rice.   Rinse the rice until the water is clear.  Add the rice to the stew, reserved goat meat stock from the cooked meat, ground shrimp or chicken stock, taste for salt and just enough water as needed.  Cover tightly and bring to a boil.  Once it starts boiling, remove lid, use a thin wooden ladle or a long for to stir from the bottom to top.

5.  Continue to cook the dish.  Cover tightly and let simmer on low heat for 10-12 minutes.  after the time has elapsed, remove lid, stir again  Stir in fried goat meat at this point.  Cover tightly and let simmer for 10 more minutes until it is well cooked.  Serve alone or with fried ripe plantains and coleslaw as desired.

*          *          *

In the end, this challenge was my second attempt at cooking goat (technically my second and third attempt, but who is counting anyways).  Both the Chichinga and the Jollof Rice were very good.  The only issue that I had was that goat in both of the dishes was not tender enough (especially in the Jollof Rice dish).  I will need to work on my goat cooking techniques.  Until next time...

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