Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Southern Tier and cookin' with Beer!

I'm entering the time of the year where the kids are home all the time ( A L L  T H E  T I M E ), and the weather is finally getting better. Usually I would have some school work to do or some other activity but this year I find myself without any real need to do anything. There will be some of you out there that will say that I am blessed and enjoy it. Sit back, have some fun with BBQs and kids and a couple beers.

Bitch, please.

But I do like food and I love beer. (Those that know me personally will appreciate how much of an understatement that is).

Now as a caveat to this, for my readers that don't know me personally or are more temperate than I, I am not an alcoholic, nor do I drink everyday or large enough quantities to do damage. I'm a craft brew junkie; pure and simple. So don't go running off sending me emails with attachments about how to recognize if you have a problem with booze. I most likely will respond with a snarky comment. So lets save ourselves the aggravation, shall we?

So here I was, nothing to do and I had this beer peeps get together I was getting ready for, and I wanted something special to bring with me. What to do?

After some very nice sampling recently, (with some lovely new friends, I might add) I am reminded how versatile beer is. There are a million and more flavor profiles that can be used and adapted to cooking. There are seasonal beers, dark, light, bitter, sour, etc. Lots to try and explore. And don't be intimidated by the craft beer scene. There are those that are die hards out there but they were assholes before they got into beer, so it isn't a direct result of the beer. The fact that they become more obnoxious after drinking the beer is correlational. Go to a microbrewery, and just try stuff. Most of us are really into sharing what we know and love to talk about it. Especially you ladies! The craft scene is a rather male dominated market, and they appreciate a woman who likes beer. I was told recently that women that know beer, love beer and like to talk about beer are like unicorns; very rare. Lets change that, shall we ladies?

I suppose the whole point of this commentary is that I was bored, and had a thing I was going to and wanted to impress.

How many of you remember that bread pudding thing I did at Christmas time? If you want that recipe click here. Its a great and simple recipe that requires very little fiddle-farting around with.

That was the basis for this creation. You see, the second day after that stuff is cool, it sets and you can cut it into bar cookies. So I thought to myself that beer is just liquid bread right? So I turned my kitchen into Dr. Frankenstein's lair and messed around for many hours. Thank goodness the beer I was using was expensive, so I didn't want to drink it and run out. That, and I would have been loaded before the cooking began, because I bought 4 bottles. One of these days I'll do a post on the process of creation I use in the kitchen and the basics of kitchen chemistry. It involves a lot of swearing in different languages and talking to yourself in a rather angry way until you turn into Lewis Black.

Now the beer I used is one of those things that I like to highlight on its own. Southern Tier Brewery is in Lakewood NY, Hubby's old stomping grounds. It is in the vicinity of Jamestown NY. They have a variety of wonderful beer creations and one of these damn days I will actually go and visit the place while visiting but I just don't get out of town much anymore. They are a great place, so I hear through the hop vine with some phenomenal people. Here is a link to their website for more information. Really good stuff, I promise. The beer is called Mokah, a stout brewed with coffee and chocolate. That's right, I said chocolate.

Do I have your attention NOW ladies? Just be careful, this beer packs a punch at 10% alcohol by volume (ABV).  No worries, after this is cooked the kids can eat it too, the alcohol cooks off.

So here is Southern Tier Brewery Mokah Bars.

1 Large loaf of dense, crusty bread, preferably one that is stale
1 Quart Heavy Cream
1 stick SALTED butter (Seriously, use the salted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup coffee
3 tsp vanilla
1- 22oz Bomber of Southern Tier Mokah Stout (Give or may want to drink a little)
4 large eggs beaten and tempered
1 bar of dark chocolate (NOT cooking chocolate!)

First cut up the bread in chunks. If you're smart you'll do this the night before and let it sit out to get stale. If you're not, you will be like me and get fresh because you forgot. You can always toast it too. Again, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer I didn't do that either. Put your chunks of bread in a deep 13x9 pan. Set this aside. The size of your loaf matters and this is going to seem like a lot of liquid. When I say large, I mean a good 16 inch long by 4 inch wide loaf here. I have been told not to put "size" jokes in here. I am sure you all will manage coming up with your own.

In a saucepan over low heat, add the heavy cream and butter and heat until the butter is melted. Why did I say use the salted? Here is the deal. Although this thing is a dessert, it is not a typical one. You need a savory element to it, and the salt highlights the sweet. Ever wonder why salted caramels are so in right now? The adult palate can appreciate depths of savory and sweet and the more you play them off each other, the deeper and more complex the flavors. So I said the kiddies COULD eat it. I didn't say they would like it. If you don't have salted butter (to which I say why the hell not?) add about a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to the butter after it is melted.

Whisk in the sugar.

Add your coffee, vanilla and the beer.

This stuff was so good all on it's own I could have gotten naked
and swam in it. 

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and temper them with the hot mix in the saucepan and add the egg mixture to the saucepan. I hope you all know what I mean by tempering, yes? We've been through this. Review your notes or Google it. You cannot skip this step. If you don't temper there will be scrambled eggs in there and that blows. If you skip the eggs altogether you will just have hot wet bread. Continue to stir over low heat until it just starts to thicken.

Pour this yumminess on the bread chunks, gently fold to fully incorporate.

Now throw it in the oven at 350 for approx 45 minutes. Now you all know by now that all of this is totally arbitrary. You more than likely have some liquid left over. Bread loaves are like people; Sometimes the bread is more dense than others and sometimes the loaf is bigger, etc. You are looking to make the bread sopping wet with liquid just pooling in the low spots. Err on the side of less rather than more, we are making bars here, not pudding.You can always add more liquid while cooking but if you blow it all up front, and it doesn't come together you're pimped and have to start over, and eat that one as pudding.

I know, the things I do for my recipes.

What a BEAUTIFUL thing!

Just grate some dark chocolate over the top, or make a drizzle. I really could give a flying duck about how you put the chocolate on top, just don't over do it. But don't skip this either. There is coffee in the bars like in the beer but there is also chocolate in the beer you want to highlight. Just a touch.

I never got a chance to take pictures of the bars all done, as I was kind of in a hurry. They didn't last long, trust me.

As a side note, I have decided to spend this summer documenting beer events and recipes that include beer. It should make for an interesting series. I am bouncing around like a hipster on crack at the prospect, let me tell you.

So there ya go. Enjoy them and I am going to go try to find something else to put beer on.

Cheers, darlings!

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