Thursday, September 29, 2011

Drinking Beer in Alaska

It seems that just like the rest of the country the microbrew bug has hit Alaska. We took advantage of it the best we could while on our trip. First of all, we were happy to see our cruise ship offered two types of Alaskan Beer at their bars, we were afraid our choices would be things like Bud and Miller the whole trip. Actually, they seems to really push the Alaskan Beer at all their special events and even had a Alaskan Beer tasting which we attended.
Alaskan Beer Tasting Alaskan Beer Tasting
Here we were lead through tasting Alaskan's Amber, Summer Ale, Pale Ale and White Ale by one of the ship's bartenders. I think hands down our favorite here was the Amber, but I also quite enjoyed the white ale. It wasn't really the most informative tasting, but certainly a fun way to spend an afternoon at sea.
Alaskan Beer Tasting Alaskan Beer Tasting
Our first port in Alaska was Juneau, the home of Alaskan Brewing. Downtown they have a shop where you can purchase t-shirt, glasses and other goodie, but they can also arrange to be driven to the brewery for a tasting and "tour" for $12.
Alaskan Brewery Alaskan Brewery
Like Summit here in Minnesota, Alaskan is celebrating its 25th Anniversary which meant we were lucky enough to get to try their celebration ale, Perseverance, a Russian Imperial Stout flavored with Alaskan birch syrup. It was so good and we were lucky enough to find a couple bottles at our local liquor store when we got home.
Alaskan Brewery Alaskan Brewery
I did say this was a brewery tour, well sort of. Basically, you get about 5 - 6 tastings and then there is an informal presentation about the history of Alaskan Brewing and how they have dealt with the special issues of being a brewery in Alaska. I have to say we were really impressed with their sustainable brewing practices.
Skagway Brewing Skagway Brewing
Our next stop was Skagway where we visited the Skagway Brewing Company which has been in business since 1897. It's a really friendly brewpub that seemed to be populated by tourists and locals alike.
Skagway Brewing Skagway Brewing
Matt tried a sampler of four of their beers which he really enjoyed, but I went for the beer they are most know for the Spruce Tip Blonde. Yes, this is a beer make with the tender young tips of spruce trees. Apparently, when miners came to Alaska the lack of fresh citrus caused them to suffer from scurvy. The natives showed them how to make a drink from spruce tips which are full of Vitamin C. The miners then turned that into beer. It was surprisingly tasty with a slight floral, orange scent and flavor. It's inspired Matt and I to try our own hand at making some.
Resurrection Roadhouse Resurrection Roadhouse
Our final port was Seward where we visited the Resurrection Roadhouse. Despite being basically a hotel bar they had a wonderful selection of Alaskan microbrews and a bartender who knew something about them. Here we were able to try Moose Tooth Beer out of Anchorage, Kenai River Beer from Soldotna, Midnight Sun Beer from Anchorage, Glacier Brewhouse from Anchorage and Kassik's Brewery from Kenai. Ok, we didn't try them all, but I really loved the Moose Tooth Raspberry Wheat and Matt like the Glacier Brewhouse Oatmeal Stout. The bartender recommended we visit Glacier Brewhouse when we were in Anchorage the next day.
Glacier Brewhouse
Well, it just so happened the Glacier Brewhouse was right across the street from our hotel, fate! Luckily, he had also recommended we make a reservation, because I think everyone else in Anchorage was there too. Sure there were lots of people from tours like ours, but there were also lots of people who were definitely local. The food was great, in a warm, noisy setting. The beer was also fantastic, we especially enjoyed the special beers they had on tap while we were there.

We had hoped to make it to Silver Gulch Brewery in Fox outside of Fairbanks, touted as America's most northern brewery. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a hike from our hotel and we were tired after a long day of touring. Guess we have something to look forward to next time.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup

What could be better on a chilly, rainy fall day than a bowl of hearty soup?
Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup
Not much in our books. We really couldn't be more happy to have soup season on us again and this soup was a great way to kick it off.

This soup is super simple to make and, despite that fact it doesn't have a huge list of ingredients, it's full of flavor. The trick is to use good beans and sausage, both of which give a lot of flavor to the broth. We used Ranch Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Beans, which is a small bean that retains it shape while cooking yet still gets creamy on the inside. They have a rich, earthy flavor. You want to make sure the sausage is well spiced, some brands can be a little bland (which is why we started making our own). If yours is, add a little extra fennel and garlic with the red pepper flakes to the broth. A good dose of seasonal kale ups the healthy quotient.

Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup
(I use dried beans, but you can used can beans if you wish and cut the first simmering time to 30 minutes.)

1 c dried yellow Indian woman beans (or white beans)
1 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz bulk Italian sausage
1/4 t crush red pepper flakes (skip if you use a spicy Italian sausage)
1 T tomato paste
1 bay leaf
5 c chicken stock
kosher salt
4 oz fresh kale, roughly chopped


Rinse the beans. Put them in a pot or crock pot with about 3 cups water. Simmer for about 2 hours until almost tender. Drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Add the sausage and cook through. Stir in the red pepper flakes and tomato paste. Add the bay leaf and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove the cover. Taste the broth and add salt as needed. Add the kale and simmer uncovered until tender, about 30 more minutes.

Makes 5 - 6 servings.

What soup is fall making you crave?

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chile Verde Sauce

This year we decided to grow Tomatillos in our garden for the first time. The plants are huge with lots of fruit on them, but with this strange summer, not a lot of the fruit has gotten very big.
tomatillos husked
Our tomatillo harvest after husking
Still with one frost warning already under our belt, we thought we'd better get as much harvested now as possible. We grew the tomatillos for basically one use, chile verde sauce. We like chile verde as a sauce for braising chicken or pork, as well as for enchiladas. It doesn't take much work other than preparing the vegetables to throw this sauce together. This recipe makes about 7 1/2 cups which we freeze in 1 1/2 cup containers to use throughout the winter.

I had to laugh while we were preparing this as our pepper selection made for quite an international chile verde. We used poblanos and japalenos, which I would consider very traditional for this dish, plus some Italian sweet peppers because they looked so fabulous. After tasting the sauce, we decided it needed a little more heat and threw in an Asian ho chi minh pepper (only one because ho chi minhs will knock your socks off).

Chile Verde Sauce

3 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 1/2 lb green peppers, seeded (make sure to mix in some hot peppers with the sweet as the sauce benefits from a little heat. The amount really depends on how hot you like things)
3/4 lb yellow onion, quartered
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
salt and pepper

Put the tomatillos, peppers, onions and garlic in a large roasting pan. Broil until everything is soft and starting to color.
Roasted
Put the roasted vegetables into a blender or food processor with the fresh cilantro. You'll probably have to do this in batches. Purée until as smooth as possible, you are going to have tomatillo seeds, don't stress over it.

Put the puréed mixture back into the roasting pan, or another large pan, and simmer for about 30 minutes until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 7 1/2 cups.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Menu and Farmers Market Finds 9/29 - 10/1/11

I think this is my favorite time of year for the farmers market. We still have the summer vegetables and all the fall vegetables are coming into the market too. I have a hard time restraining myself from buying way more than Matt and I can use in a week everything looks so beautiful.
Farmers Markets Finds 9/25
apple cider - Matt was so excited to see our apple cider vendor back
carrots
brussels sprouts on the stalk - Unfortunately, a lot of the sprouts had to be thrown away because of the amount of bugs in them, but I got enough for one meal.
Italian peppers - These got used in chili verde
honey - For my nightly Sleepytime tea
pie pumpkin - For a crisp recipe
acorn squash
green beans
edamame
tomatoes
garlic - The whole this went into chili verde
potatoes
ground beef - Starting to stock the freezer for winter
pork butt - One will get smoked the other will become Italian sausge
onions
20 lbs of salmon - Half will go to Matt's parents
mini Indian corn - We heard this made really good popcorn
bacon

We are harvesting are garden these days too. It really wasn't a great year, but we did get a huge amount of kale.
kale
This is my kitchen sink filled with two grocery bags of kale leaves. Matt had already harvest about half this much earlier in the summer. It all got blanched yesterday and frozen in 4oz packages to use during the winter in stews and soups. I think we have enough put away to be able to use one bag a week all winter.
tomatillos husked
We also harvested about 3 1/2 pounds of tomatillos which we made into chili verde, a recipe I'll share later this week.

On to Menu Planning Monday...

Grilled Steak with roasted potatoes and green beans

White bean, Italian Sausage and kale soup

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce

Edamame, red pepper and chicken stirfry

Apple cider and bourbon brined pork chops with acorn squash

Mac and cheese with brussels sprouts and bacon


If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eating and Drinking at Sea

As I mentioned on Monday, we've just returned from a two week trip to Alaska. The first week of the trip was spent on a Holland America Line cruise ship.
IMG_0274
This was our first time on a cruise and we really weren't sure what to expect. We chose Holland America because we had heard they were one of the best for cruising Alaska with naturalist onboard and had the best food. Since we've never been on another ship we can't really compare, but I can say that we truly enjoyed the cruise and thought most of the food was wonderful.

You always hear about the the amount of food available to eat on a cruise and how it is non-stop (apparently an average person gains 9 pounds per week on a ship). Here's what a typical days worth of eating would include; breakfast buffet or dining room breakfast, coffee and pastries in the cafe, lunch buffet or dining room lunch plus usually some type of lunch buffet by the pool, afternoon taco bar, tea with sandwich and pastries at 3:00, hot appetizers at 6:00, dinner buffet or four-course dinner in the dining room or in one of two other restaurants,
Baked Alaska
(Baked Alaska table side service at the Pinnacle Grill)
late night snack buffet at 11:00pm plus 24-hour cabin service. Oh, and I forgot the grill at the pool that served burgers and pizza. The buffet was huge with lots of choices, but we preferred eating in the dining room to standing in line, carrying your own plate and searching for a table, plus we were a lot less likely to get seconds (though the waiters often offered a second entrée at dinner!).
6162976774_2e9d9d7d47
To tell you the true, I took almost no pictures of food on the ship, though it was beautifully presented. I did get a tour of the ship's kitchen which makes about 8,000 meals a day! It was spotless and calm during the tour, but I would imagine it's a little different during meal times. So, the rest of the pictures in this post will be of that.
Zaandam Kitchen Zaandam Kitchen
It seems the popular thing to do when cruising these days is "Anytime Dining" where you don't have a specific table or time you have to eat dinner in the dining room. You either make a reservation or just show up and get the first table available (you could always eat at the buffet too). We chose instead to have a set dining time and table for dinner. Our dining time choices were 5:45 or 8:00. We went with 8:00 which seemed a little late some nights, but 5:45 was just too early (plus we always played Pub Trivia at 6:00). The nice thing about this was we always had the same two waiters and wine steward. They got to know us and our preferences which made for really special service. We would order a bottle of wine one night and whatever we didn't finish was on our table the next when we arrived. You really felt warmly welcome.
Zaandam Kitchen Zaandam Kitchen
It's hard to tell you exactly what the food was like because it was so varied. The buffet always had a salad station, sandwich station, Asian station, sushi and hot entrées plus a dessert buffet. In the dining room breakfast selections were the same everyday. On top of your basic American breakfasts they also served a Japanese breakfast, English Breakfast, Scandinavian and a Dutch breakfast. Matt and I loved the Dutch breakfast which was a thick bread topped with cheese, ham and an egg. Lunch and dinner menus changed every day with soups, salad, entrées and dessert. Dinner also included an appetizer course. You could order as many things as you wanted in whatever order you wanted (one night Matt's mom had a soup course for dessert, it was a chilled fruit soup). Formal nights offered a slightly higher end meal with choices like escargot and surf and turf with lobster. Of course, since we were in Alaska there was always lots of good seafood on the menu, especially salmon. There were always a couple vegetarian options as well as a full vegetarian menu if desired. We found everything to be almost always perfectly cooked with lots of very interesting combinations.
Vegetarian Menu for the Dining Room Making sweets in the Zaandam Kitchen
One night we ate dinner in the higher end restaurant on the boat, The Pinnacle Grill. While all the rest of the food on the ship was free, dinner here required an additional payment of $25 a person. Eating at The Grill was like eating in a very high end steak place. Service was exceptional with lots of table side service.
Look Book Me & the chef
As I mentioned above there were often buffets around the pool, mainly at lunch time. During our cruise there was a barbecue, a salmon and crab cook, an Indonesian rijsttafel and an Indian buffet. I have to say this was one of the few places we were disappointed. We were excited about the rijsttafel and sharing it with our parents after having one in Amsterdam, but we took one look at it and decided to eat elsewhere. Both it and the Indian buffet had few choices and look quite unappetizing. The salmon and crab cook was good, but they could not keep up with the demand for the crab legs and many people walked away without. There was also a grand dessert buffet around the pool one night was the boat was rocking and rolling that night and I suffered my one bout of seasickness.
IMG_0294 Departure bubbly
All the food on the boat was free, but drinking will cost you. Water, tea and coffee are the only free beverages. The prices were pretty reasonable though and the choices were plentiful. I can be a bit picky when it comes to wine and the choices by the bottle were really good plus I even liked the house wine by the glass. Matt and I figured we spent about $35 a day for the two of us. This included espresso drinks at the cafe, sodas, drinks at happy hour and wine at dinner (we drank a lot more on the ship than we normally would, that is for sure!).
Alaskan Beer Tasting
One cool thing about the Holland cruises is they offer cooking and beverage classes everyday as well a food and drink trivia contests. The boat even has a culinary arts center on board for teaching. The only one we attended was the Alaska Beer Tasting. It was certainly popular with a whole bar full of people trying four types of the local beer. I'll have more about Alaska microbrews in another post.

Finally, just a word about the food and beverage servers on the ship. Most of Holland America's come from Indonesia or the Philippines. You could not have asked for a friendlier, hard working group of people. The people who served us daily made a point to know all our names, from our dinner waiters to the server in the lounge where we typically hung out. These were the people who really made out cruise special.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Red Pepper Sauce

When we got home from vacation we discovered our garden was full of ripe sweet peppers, one of the few things that has done well in the garden this year.  Since there were so many of them, I decided to turn them into a flavorful sauce for pasta.
Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce and Sausage
This is such a great change from your run-of-the-mill tomato sauce for pasta. The color and flavor of the sweet red peppers are definitely the star of this dish. We used a sweet, fruity, Italian pepper called Jimmy Nardello's, but I think regular red bell peppers would work just as well.

We love Italian sausage with red peppers, so we added some cooked bulk sausage to the sauce before pouring it over the pasta. It would be just as good without it though. Make the dish completely vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Red Pepper Sauce


1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 c)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
9 - 10 oz sweet red peppers, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 c chicken stock
2 T tomato paste
2 t lemon juice
1/2 t dried basil
1/4 t dried oregano
2 - 3 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 c half and half

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic and peppers. Sauté until everything is tender and the onions are just starting to brown, about 30 minutes.

Put the onions, peppers and garlic into a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. Purée until almost smooth. Return to the skillet.

Add the remaining chicken stock, tomato paste, lemon juice, basil, oregano, pepper flakes and salt. Let simmer for 30 minutes stirring from time to time.

Stir in half and half. Heat through.

Serve over warm pasta.

Makes 2 servings

Thoughts for making this again: Next time I might try roasting the peppers, onion & garlic in the oven before puréeing them to see if that give it even a deeper flavor.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Monday, September 19, 2011

We're back and weekly menu 9/19 - 9/23/11

We are back from a two week adventure in Alaska, did you miss us? We spent a week cruising the inside passage aboard a Holland America cruise ship and then a week on land traveling from Anchorage to Denali National Park to Fairbanks. IMG_0274 DSC_0036
We had a wonderful trip and really enjoyed the beauty of Alaska. We'll have a couple of posts about it throughout this week, after we get through a couple thousand photos!

On to Menu Planning Monday...
(you mean we have to cook for ourselves again edition) 

Vegetarian Chili

Red Pepper and Sausage Pasta - The peppers in our garden all ripened while we were gone

Brats with Kraut

Smoked Salmon Pizza - No, we did not get enough salmon in Alaska

Something vegetarian, but not sure what yet - We're feeling a bit of a vegetable deficit after the trip

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smoked Salmon Spread

Continuing the use of our smoked salmon, this spread is one Matt whipped up to have as a mid-afternoon snack on rye crisp crackers. It's creamy, smoky and just a little salty. It is super simple to make, but I think is good enough to serve as an appetizer for a party.
 Smoked Salmon Spread

 Smoked Salmon Spread

3 oz cream cheese, softened
3 oz smoked salmon

Purée until the salmon is incorporated into the cream cheese. Best served softened a little at room temperature.

Makes about 2/3 cups.

This is the basic recipe which is really tasty on its own, but you could add a lot of different things to take it into different directions. Make it a little spicier by adding tabasco, cayenne or Sriracha. Give it an Asian twist by adding some soy sauce or sesame oil. Or go Scandinavian and add some fresh dill and a little lemon juice.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinsk

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gazpacho Chicken

The other night we were having chicken thighs for dinner, but I hadn't really planned on how I was going to prepare them. Then as I was looking through the fridge I noticed some leftover gazpacho. Suddenly, it hit me that gazpacho would make a great braising sauce for chicken. Gazpacho Chicken
My inspiration was right on. The gazpacho made for a great light, summer tomato sauce and bonus, got one more container of leftovers out of my fridge!

There is no real recipe here. Just heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pieces of boneless chicken on both sides. Add enough gazpacho to just barley cover the chicken. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover and let simmer until the chicken is cooked through about 30 minutes. Remove the cover and let the sauce boil until reduced and thickened a bit. Serve over hot rice.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Apples of my Eye

We are starting to see the first of the fall apples in the farmers markets here in MN. Apparently, local growers are expecting a bumper season with 50% more apples than usual! That is a lot of apples. Sweetango Apple
With that in mind we thought we'd share some of our favorite apple recipes from the last couple of years to get you ready to use these fall favorites to their fullest.
Stuffed maple burger with spicy apple bacon compote Stuffed Maple Burger with Apple Bacon Compote Baked Apple with Currants Baked Apples
Apple Waffles Apple Waffles
Maple-glazed sweet potatoes & apples with bacon Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Apples with Bacon
#308 - Applesauce three ways Applesauce Three Ways
Apple Galette Apple Galette
caramel apple crisp Matt's Caramel Apple Crisp
Apple Turnovers Easy as Pie Apple Turnovers
#308 - Cheddar, Apple & Bacon Tart Cheddar Apple Bacon Tart
Apple Bread Pudding Apple Bread Pudding

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski
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