hop henge

a few weeks back I mentioned that I went to the Deschutes in The Pearl. the place was packed and the food was great, and I especially enjoy the beer. Deschutes has some pretty spectacular seasonals, aside from their regular year round beers. the Bond Street Series is a collection of seasonal beers inspired by the original Deschutes Brewery & Public House on Bond Street in downtown Bend. the series highlights a handful of beers that began at the original pub and are brewed in small batches a few times a year. with great names like Hop Trip, Hop Henge, and Broken Top, the beers are quite good and quite original.
last night dlb and I tasted Hop Henge, a big aroma wafting imperial IPA. I was preparing dinner when dlb opened and divided the 22 ounce bottle into two glasses. I was amazed at how intensely floral it smelled, from even 3 feet away! the flavor was just as pleasant as the aroma, complete with hints of citrus, honey, pine, and sweet flowers. at 8% abv, the alcohol is well hidden. I rated this one a 4.2 out of 5 and can't wait to taste it again.

:: pairing suggestion ::
hops tend to be pretty over powering on your taste buds. they can cut through most foods, so when looking for a perfect pairing, drink an IPA or Imperial IPA with spicy Indian food or food prepared with cajun or jerk spices. if spicy isn't your thing, pair an IPA with something good and greasy, like fried seafood.

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sunday morning granola

good morning and welcome back from a nice long weekend. I hope everyone had a chance to relax and take full advantage of having three days off from work. I still worked... but, I also baked, and baked, and baked some more.
my favorite meal of the day is breakfast. during the week I eat oatmeal every morning with a combination of things mixed in it. this morning I had peaches, vanilla, and honey. however, while I love my oatmeal, my favorite thing about the weekend is being able to prepare a nice, big breakfast. pancakes, scones, biscuits, vegetarian breakfast sausage, fruit tarts... granola.
I've been on the quest for finding the perfect granola. I'm always a big fan of bulk store bought granola, and since it's easier than whipping up a big batch, I tend to stick to that. but making a big batch of the most tasty perfect delightful granola has always been on my mind. so I searched and searched until I found something that I felt was just right, and here it is:

Sunday Morning Granola
serve granola with milk
or yogurt and sliced fresh fruit.
the recipe is totally adaptable. substitute any combination of nuts or dried fruits for a completely different experience.
makes about 6 cups

:: for granola ::
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup whole pecans, halved
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup pumpkins seeds
1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tbsp honey
1 cup (packed) dried
organic cherries, cut into quarters

• preheat oven to 300°F.
• mix first 7 ingredients in large bowl.
• melt butter with honey in heavy small saucepan over low heat. pour over granola mixture and toss well. spread out mixture on baking sheet.
• bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• add cherries; mix to separate any clumps. continue to bake until granola is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes longer. cool.
• can be made 2 weeks ahead. store airtight at room temperature.

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salmon with red wine butter

it's a dreary day here in Portland. that kind of day where you just want to curl up inside on the couch with a good book and all the windows open so you can hear the rain dancing on the streets. the kind of day that begs for an outstanding meal, or at least something to satisfy your belly and linger on your tongue. the kind of day that begs for a nice, big glass of red wine.
I can not even remember the last time I purchased and cooked any seafood at home. it's always a little over my budget to pick out a few nice pieces of fish, therefore we usually save seafood for special occasions or when we're eating out. but yesterday while I was making the big list for our trip to the grocery store, I decided I really wanted to cook some fish. and salmon it was.
when I first discovered this recipe, I half intended to make it exactly as it was written. though, when I went to the grocery store, I didn't make it home with some of the vital ingredients, therefore I had to substitute with what I had on hand. I substituted cranberry juice for the orange juice and regular chunky tomato sauce for the tomato paste. and to be perfectly honest, it turned out fantastic. next time I'll allow for left overs, as I sit here, mouth watering, eating my boring PB&J.

Salmon with Red Wine Butter
adapted from Gourmet, September 2004
makes 4 servings

:: for red wine butter ::
I halved the original recipe because I ended up with a LOT of left over butter.
1/2 cup full-bodied dry red wine. I used an extra dry Cab from Sonoma.
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (3 to 4)
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

• combine wine, shallots, juice, vinegar, tomato paste, and bay leaf in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan and boil over moderately high heat until mixture is thick and jamlike and reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 20 minutes.
discard bay leaf.
• transfer mixture to a small bowl set in a bowl of ice and cold water and stir until cold to the touch, about 5 minutes.
• remove from ice water and stir in zest, butter, salt, and pepper with a rubber spatula until incorporated.

:: for salmon ::
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 (1-inch-thick) salmon fillets (each about 1/2 lb)
2 tablespoons olive oil

• preheat broiler. line rack of a broiler pan with foil.
• pat fish dry, then brush both sides with oil (2 tablespoons total) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• broil fish about 5 inches from heat, turning over once, until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes total.

• Top each fillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons red-wine butter.

• serve with the same wine you cooked it with.
• if wine isn't your thing, or you're like me and you'd rather wash down your meals with a beer, I paired this last night with Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop Ale. and it was pretty darn tasty.

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my fridge

Rachel of Black Eiffel originally asked me to participate in her Cribs Fridge post on her blog, and between getting the pics to her and her over flow of emails, somehow my pics were missed! so, I thought I'd share with you a little bit about my fridge and my absolute essential food items.
both my boyfriend and I are Pescatarians, meaning we are Vegetarian but occasionally we eat fish. I really enjoy cooking, so I like to keep a stocked fridge with a lot of options for dinner. every two weeks, my boyfriend and I make a big trip to the market and come back with loads of food for two weeks worth of meals. I usually pick fruits and veggies to make pastas, salads, and soup.
now that the farmer's markets are open for the season, I enjoy making trips up there on Saturday. I usually come home with some fruit - apples and pears are big right now, and some fresh herbs - basil, rosemary, and thyme.
whenever I am picking out menus before our big grocery run, I make sure to pick things that will make easy left overs. left overs = easy lunch. I love soup, and I make it at least once a week, if not more. it's great, because I'll make a big batch that will last a few days. so that being said, I always have a few things of broth in my pantry.
some things that are always in our fridge are mushrooms, a variety of cheeses, and a few good beers. mushrooms are like meat for a vegetarian. and I believe mushrooms to be one of the most versatile vegetables. I find more often than not, I can always whip something up, spur of the moment, with a handful of cremini mushrooms or two large portabello caps. I'm a huge huge huge fan of cheese. it's an easy appetizer and I love adding cheese to my meals. pizza is one thing that I also make quite often, at least once or twice a week and I enjoy putting different cheese on it, to mix it up a little. and of course, beer. I'd consider myself to be a bit of a beer snob, and have tried close to 300 different beers. 300 may sound like a lot, but when there are 1000s of beers out there, I'm only just beginning.

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strawberry walnut salad

do you ever eat something that leaves you completely full but totally wanting more just so that you can keep that taste in your mouth? this salad did that for me.
I'm a huge salad critic. as I mentioned in my first post here, I knew more about Caesar salads when I was a kid than most people. I knew which places had the best, which spots made the dressing table side, and which served them with olives or other weird things that didn't belong. my love for salad has transfered to my home cooking quite often. I love to make a big salad in a big bowl, mix up some homemade dressing at the bottom, throw in some veggies, nuts, or fruit, and toss lightly with spinach, fresh herbs, and greens. just as I like to experiment with pizza, I like to play with salad too.

Strawberry Walnut Salad
makes one large salad
enough for 2 dinner sized salads or 4 side salads.

:: for dressing ::
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
splash of cranberry juice {I use 100% cranberry juice with no sugar added because it's tarter}
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

• whisk all ingredients in bottom of bowl until combined.

:: for croutons ::
2 slices of bread, cut into 1" slices
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese

• arrange croutons on a baking sheet.
• drizzle olive oil on croutons and using your hands, toss them on the sheet to cover completely with oil.
• sprinkle oregano and Parmesan on top.
• broil for 5 mins or until golden brown.

:: for salad ::
5 large strawberries, sliced thinly

1 link smoked sausage, sliced and cooked*
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
about 4 cups of fresh salad greens, I use the fresh herb mix that has dill, parsley, and other herbs mixed in it.
Parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper

*I use Field Roast smoked apple sage vegetarian sausage, and I slice it then cook it on medium heat with a little bit of olive oil until the edges are browned, about 5 minutes.

• in the same bowl that you prepared the dressing in, mix together the strawberries, sausage, walnuts, croutons, and greens and toss lightly to cover with dressing. divide onto bowls and top with Parmesan cheese and fresh pepper, then serve.

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better than Deschutes

so when I told you before that I loved to make pizza, I was far from lying. and I'll tell you right now, since pizza is such a big thing in my house, you may see a few of my experiments pop up right here. this one was an excellent experience at a new brewery in town - turned excellent pizza making experience at home. I call it the "better than Deschutes" pear, goat cheese, and hazelnut pizza.
friday night, dlb and I walked to the newest brewery in The Pearl, Deschutes. if you've never heard of Deschutes, they are an established brewery out of Bend, OR with some pretty outstanding beers. {if you got a chance to experience what all the hype was about over The Abyss, you know what I mean.} we got lucky finding a seat at the overly packed bar, and ordered a few beers and the Pear Pizza.
after one bite, I immediatly took note that I would need to recreate this at home. dlb was so impressed with the pizza, he questioned whether or not I could do it. {side note: all of the food at Deschutes is local and seasonal, and from the looks of the menu, pretty darn good.} so with a trip to the Farmer's Market to get some fresh pears and a trip to Whole Foods yesterday to get some other ingredients, I set about to re-create that oh so good Pear Pizza.

Better Than Deschutes Pear Pizza
makes one 14" round pizza

pre-heat oven to 425˚

:: for dough ::
3/4 cup and 1/2 cup separated
unbleached white flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup very hot water

extra white flour for dusting
1/8 cup semolina flour for bottom of crust

• whisk together 3/4 cup white flour, yeast, and sea salt in a large bowl.
• mix water with flour/yeast mix until smooth. pour left over white flour into mixture and mix until just blended.
• place dough onto a floured surface and knead until blended and soft, about 15-20 times.
• form dough into a ball and cover with bowl. allow dough to rise at least 30 minutes.

:: for pears ::
non stick cooking spray
1 medium sized pear
fresh ground black pepper to taste

• spray baking sheet lightly with non-stick spray.
• slice pear to make round slices. remove any seeds or tough spots in the middle of the rounds.
• grind pepper on top of each pear round, and spray again lightly with cooking spray.
• cook pears for 10 minutes or until the edges are slightly crispy.

*if you are using a pizza stone - after the pears have cooked, raise the temperature of your oven to 510˚, if not, leave oven temp at 425˚.

:: for pizza ::
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup
1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese
2 tbsp goat cheese
1/8 cup chopped hazelnuts

• after dough has had enough time to rise, gently pick it up to make sure that none of the dough has stuck to your surface. spread out semolina onto your surface, then place the dough back in the center. carefully roll out the dough until it's about 1/4" thick.
• spread olive oil evenly in center of dough, leaving about a 1" border on the outside.
• sprinkle Monterey jack cheese over pizza, making sure to cover the dough.
• place pear rounds around pizza, concentrating on covering.
• smear dollops of goat cheese on top of pizza, leaving them chunky.
• sprinkle hazelnuts evenly on pizza.

• if using a pizza stone, place pizza directly onto the stone and bake at 510˚ for about 5 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese has melted.
• if using a baking sheet, line with a sheet of parchment paper and
and bake at 425˚ for 15 minutes or until crust is golden.

{*note: I raised the temp of the oven and it created a more crisp crust on the bottom, while allowing the top to stay soft. they say, the trick to creating a fantastic pizza is all in the timing of when the crust cooks and when the cheese melts. I thought I'd try a little something different}

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since I'm an avid beer lover, I thought that I'd share my tastings and knowledge with you. every friday I'll highlight a new beer I've tasted, a particular brewery that catches my eye, the how to's of beer tasting and rating, beer and food pairings, proper glasswear, etc.
today, I want to tell you about a style of beer that I've had quite a few times lately that I really really love. coffee stout.
quite literally, it's a stout brewed with coffee or espresso. brewers will take pounds and pounds of coffee and pour it right into the beer while it's brewing. the final result is quite perfect. the aroma is roasted. the flavor is malty. and it's filled with mocha goodness. there's just something about the combination of roasted flavors in a stout and the rich taste of coffee that makes these beers so darn good. if you're like me, and you love a good cup of coffee or a nice rich stout, you'll really appreciate a good coffee stout.

here's a few I've tried and loved:
Hopworks Survival Seven Grain Stout - if you're local to Portland and haven't been to this gem of a brewery, go. now. all of their beers are quite incredible with their Survival Stout easily toping the charts. brewed with seven different grains, this coffee stout is finished with 15 lbs of Stumptown Coffee's Hairbender espresso. beer + Stumptown = bliss.
Bells Java Stout - from a brewery that produces five stouts a year, you'd expect nothing less than a fantastic coffee stout. it's creamy and chocolaty while being spicy and roasted at the same time. the flavor is perfect, lacking nothing. if you have a chance to get your hands on this Java Stout, it's superb. if not, pick up anything from Bells. it's sure to be a treat.

see you here next week for some good eats!

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monterey jack asparagus pizza

what better way to start off Milk + Eggs + Chocolate than with one of my favorite things ever... pizza. I often tell my boyfriend, dlb, that if I were to do one more thing with my life, that I'd open a pizza shop/bakery. I love being experimental with pizza and throwing all sorts of unexpected things on top of it. I enjoy using all different types of cheese, rather than limiting myself to simply mozzarella. I also prefer to make my own dough and let it rise, though many pizza places will let you buy a round ball of dough. you can also find many perfectly good organic pre-made pizza crusts or doughs at the supermarket.
for this pizza, most of my inspiration was during my trip to the Farmer's Market last weekend. to be quite honest, pizza has become sort of a "fall back" dinner in our house. if nothing else, we usually have cheese, flour, yeast, and some sort of topping. so while browsing the food and flowers at the Farmer's Market, I asked dlb what he wanted for dinner. immediately, he replied pizza. so as soon as we bumped in to a massive pile of asparagus at one of the vendors, I instantly began thinking of a white pizza with long bright green stems of asparagus neatly arranged on top. that night, the Monterey Jack Asparagus Pizza was born.
and it was so good, I baked it the next night too.

Monterey Jack Asparagus Pizza
makes one 14" round pizza

pre-heat oven to 425˚

:: for dough ::
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup very hot water
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
extra white flour for dusting
1/8 cup semolina flour for bottom of crust

• whisk together white flour, yeast, and sea salt in a large bowl.
• mix honey and hot water together in a heat proof cup and pour into flour mixture. mix water with flour until smooth. pour wheat flour into mixture and mix until just blended.
• place dough onto a floured surface and knead until blended and soft, about 15-20 times. I tend to knead my dough until it "feels right", so after a few times creating this pizza dough, you'll know what I mean.
• form dough into a ball and cover with bowl. allow dough to rise at least 30 minutes.

:: for topping ::
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sized shallot, about a 1/4 cup chopped
about 15 stems of asparagus
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese

• heat olive oil on medium heat in a heavy skillet. add shallots to skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
• snap the hard ends off of the asparagus by holding one side in your hand and gently pushing down on the other side until the stem naturally snaps. add to skillet and mix with shallots. cook for about 10 minutes, or until shallots are browned. separate asparagus and shallots in skillet so that adding them to the pizza is easiest.

• meanwhile, after dough has had enough time to rise, gently pick it up to make sure that none of the dough has stuck to your surface. spread out semolina onto your surface, then place the dough back in the center. carefully roll out the dough until it's about 1/4" thick.
• spread ricotta cheese evenly in center of dough, leaving about a 1" border on the outside.
• arrange spinach on top of ricotta.
• place asparagus stems artfully around pizza, concentrating on covering. sprinkle shallots on top.
• lastly, generously top pizza with Monterey jack cheese, making sure to cover all open spots.

Al's note: I find that when I bake pizzas that have heavier or larger toppings they are often difficult to transfer from the prep surface to the stone. for this pizza I used a baking sheet and prepared my pizza on the baking sheet for easy transfer.

• if using a pizza stone, place pizza directly onto the stone and bake for 10 minutes.
• if using a baking sheet, line with a sheet of parchment paper and cook for 15 minutes or until crust is golden.

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milk eggs chocolate

it's finally here. a place where I can share my passion for cooking with you!
welcome to milk, eggs, chocolate!

so, let me tell you a bit about myself. when I was a little girl, one might say I was a bit of a finicky eater. hamburgers consisted of only a meat patty, no bun and a bit of ketchup, I knew more about the chicken Caesar salads offered at any restaurant than most kids my age, and I turned up my nose at green peas, cheesecake, and anything with pie crust. ask me why I didn't eat seafood until I turned 23 or why my Thanksgiving dinner plate was so bare with only turkey and potatoes, and I'll tell you that my taste buds just weren't adventurous yet. ask me why I hated mushrooms or what grossed me so much about brussel sprouts and green beans, and I'll just say, thank goodness I got over that!!!
I'm a busy girl, working a day job and a freelance job from home, while also trying to enjoy a bit of my own time. so, cooking isn't something I want to spend all night on. I'm sure most of you already know a bit about me if you're followers of unruly things, but one of the things that I don't quite get around to talking about too often is food. one of my favorite things about cooking is the look on someone's face when they taste something so delicious that I prepared and cooked for them. I love trying new things, especially new recipes.

so with all the smog of recipes out there, I'm going to give you a little insight on what I'm cooking and what works for me. I'm a Pescetarian, which means I do not eat chicken, pork, or red meat, though I do eat fish occasionally. so these recipes shared with you will be mostly Vegetarian with a bit of seafood. I'm also a bit of a beer snob, so when I try something new, I might let you know about that too.

so sit back, enjoy, and bring your appetite!