Thursday, March 20, 2014

Beer Onion Relish and Lemon Thyme Butter New Potatoes (BBQ Dishes Part Two and Three)

I posted part one of this bbq dish series last year during grill season and I'm only finally getting around to posting it! The onion beer jam makes a fantastic hostess/host gift, but only if you're making it within 48 hours of gifting. I'm hoping one of these days I'll find a recipe that can be preserved in mason jars, but for now the possibility of the wrong types of bacteria are too intimidating.
Neither of these is a main dish, but by the end of this post I hope none of my readers will mind all that much. I discovered the Beer Onion Jam nearly by accident while preparing a fancy-ish meal to bring on a foodie camping trip. When I made it up I didn't realize how similar it was to a French dish, confit l'oignon, until I stumbled across a post on one of google+'s food-loving communities, in fact my main community, foodies+. The confit stores very well if poured into a sterilized jar and I have to admit I'm still tinkering with a version of my onion jam recipe that will do better in the long term. As for the word, the fluffy baked-in-butter potatoes have my vote for side dish of the year! Lemon zest and Thyme add a lovely combo of citrus fragrance and smoky herbaceous-ness, and the absolute best potato to use in this dish hands down is yukon gold. A really good dark beer is required for the Onion Jam; the few times I've tried to use a cheap beer the liquid in the jam tasted sort of dirty and very salty.
I'm sure you're wondering how a dish is made up "by accident"; well, while planning the meal I wanted to complement the flavor of some delicious organic pork sausages I planned to grill. I came across a recipe suggesting a beer-onion-garlic marinade for pork sausages. According to the recipe the sausages would be simmered for awhile in beer. The cooking liquid smelled so delicious while cooking that it made me realize reducing the liquid and bottling the result would make for a fantastic relish. As it turned out, it was a big hit! It lent an amazing flavor to our grilled sausages. We ended up with a lot more relish than we could use, so I'd recommend using the liquid to braise some sausages for you and your family the night before attending or hosting a big bbq, then reducing the simmering liquid, pureeing the results and serving it up at the next day's bbq alongside your other hot dog/sausage/hamburger condiments. It tastes amazing with a little mayo on a grilled pork sausage.

Beer Onion Relish

2 slices uncured, thick cut bacon, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
18 - 24 ounces good dark beer (a stout or a porter from a brewer whose beers you enjoy)
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium flame, cook bacon until crispy and fat has been rendered.
2. Add onion, garlic and black pepper, and stir to coat. Add beer to just cover all ingredients.
3. Add in bay leaf and mustard powder and reduce heat to low.
4. Simmer, uncovered over low heat until liquid reduces by at least half.
5. Once liquid has reduced, remove from heat and allow jam to cool before pureeing mixture. Serve as a condiment with grilled sausages and burgers. It is amazing on the same bun with mayo, particularly mayo with a little horseradish mixed in!

Lemon Thyme Butter New Potatoes

12 - 14 smallish new yukon gold potatoes
2 sprigs with of thyme leaves (strip leaves off and discard woody stems)
Zest of 1/3 lemon
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
Salt, to taste (I use around 1/2 teaspoon, but I much prefer potatoes that aren't lacking in it)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (3 or so twists of the grinder into your mixing bowl ought to do it)

1. preheat oven to 42 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl combine butter, thyme, salt, pepper & lemon zest. Add in scrubbed whole potatoes and toss to coat.
3. Spread in a single even layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 - 35 minutes, or until fork tender.

Enjoy alongside your grilled mains.*

*If you want to cook these on the bbq alongside your grilled mains, spread them out in a sing layer on aluminum foil, then cover with foil and crimp top & bottom foil together to seal in steam escaping from potatoes. Depending upon the size of the potatoes they'll need to cook on the grill in their foil packet for 45 - 55 minutes. If you're going to grill I'd highly recommend grilling up some olive, salt & pepper rubbed spring onions (all one piece, but white & light green parts only--discard dark green rougher top parts) until tender and somewhat more translucent and then slicing them and adding them to some mayo to make an unbelievable dipping sauce for the potatoes.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and I welcome your feedback!

Post Script: Sorry for the low quality photo; those potatoes were make, then gobble!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Roasted Artichoke Bisque with Spicy Crab Meat, Lemon Infused Olive Oil and Parmesan Crisps

When I originally wrote this recipe a huge banner over my local health food chain proclaimed it to be "crab season", which got my creative juices flowing, although inside the store the price per pound was less than inviting: 35 USD/pound for lump Dungeoness Crab meat (separated). I purchased the smallest amount I thought I could cook with and prayed my roasted artichokes would step up to their daunting task and serve as a satisfying star of the dish alongside the figurative scene chewer--fresh crab meat. If you also live in a place with extremely expensive crab meat I suggest structuring the soup the same way I have and perhaps planning to serve it while entertaining, since the finished product is impressive and not inexpensive to make! If you live in an area where crabs are abundant and cheap I suggest flipping the main ingredients and googling how to make crab stock. Had I "world enough and time" (to make the hour plus drive to the area where an abundance of small family seafood markets drive the price of crabs down to a more manageable one) I would have made the dish this way; sadly, seafood prices in my area are conspiring against this possibility.
Roasting the artichokes in lemon infused olive oil and serving the finished soup with droplets of the infused oil really allowed the flavor of the artichokes to shine. The parmesan crisps also added a sort of golden umami--a richness and depth of flavor. I used Ina Garten's recipe for the crisps, which can be found here: (thank you, Ina--you rock!)

Roasted Artichoke Bisque with Spicy Crab Meat and Lemon Infused Olive Oil

Makes 4 - 6 servings

3 Tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil, plus >1 Teaspoon for drizzling*
3 globe artichokes or 4 violetta artichokes (globe tend to be larger), cleaned, trimmed and halved (leave on the stems, but trim off the dried up ends; face them, essentially)
1/4 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
1/2 Teaspoon sriracha
1/4 Teaspoon smoked paprika1/4 Teaspoon regular paprika
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns, gently crushed
1 sprig fresh thyme, just the leaves stripped from the stems
1/2 Teaspoon sriracha, or hot pepper sauce of choice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 Tablespoons butter
1 shallot, pureed
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 leaf of fennel bulb, pureed
1/2 cup mirepoix
(Optional) 1/2 a baby leek, cleaned and sliced finely
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Faranheit. In a wide pot of boiling water squeeze lemon juice and parboil cleaned, trimmed artichokes for 5 minutes. Remove artichokes from water, toss in 3 Tablespoons infused olive oil and roast in hot oven for about 30 minutes, or until outer leaves fall away from the stem with little resistance, when tugged, or when the flesh of the heart is fork-tender. Since you'll be pureeing the artichoke flesh, you'll want them to be slightly overcooked when they're done roasting. Remove leaves and set aside to cool. If you can keep from scraping the delicious artichoke from the leaves they make a cute garnish. Set artichokes aside to cool. When artichokes have cooled, remove hair from chokes with the tip of a spoon and set artichokes aside.

2. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter and 2 - 3 drops of infused olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot (this will be your soup pot) and add fennel, mirepoix, shallot, optional leek, 1/2 bay leaf, thyme leaves and half of the crushed peppercorns. Sautee over medium heat until tender. Remove the half bay leaf.

3. Puree cooled artichokes and add to pan with mirepoix & etc. Add in vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and add cream and turn heat off when the cream has reached the same temp as the other ingredients and is incorporated. Taste and add additional salt, if needed and freshly ground black pepper.

4. To finish soup: in a smaller heavy-bottomed saucepan pan melt the remaining butter along with 2 - 3 drops of the infused olive oil over medium heat. Add paprika, smoked paprika, half a bay leaf and the other half of the peppercorns. Stir to coat and cook for 90 seconds to toast spices. Mix in sriracha, then add crabmeat and stir to coat. Cook until crabmeat is heated though, less than 4 minutes, then remove the half bay leaf. Ladle bisque into bowls and top with 1/4 to 1/6 of the spicy crabmeat (depending upon how large a serving you want). Rest parmesan crisps vertically along the edges of the bowl (see photo), or use them however you like as garnish. Drizzle each bowl with just a few drops of lemon infused olive oil and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*the kitchn has an excellent article on how to make infused olive oils, which can be found here:; I accomplished mine the quick 'n' dirty way, by adding lemon zest to a lovely Italian extra virgin olive oil I had on hand (this method won't keep for more than 24 hours, so if you're planning to use this oil for more than one recipe I suggest going about it the traditional way, as in the link above).