Three months ago, I moved from my small Atlantic Canadian hometown to the country’s largest city. My first time ever living away from my home province of New Brunswick. Apart from learning a lot about other cultures here in the self-proclaimed “multicultural capital of the world,” I’ve also learned a lot about my own Maritime culture. Or rather, people’s perception of Maritime culture.
However, over the past three months, I have learned the stereotypes are in fact true. Us Maritimers really do love our booze more when compared to the rest of Canada. These Ontario folk have two glasses of wine on a Friday and call it a night. Meanwhile, that’s just a usual weeknight in New Brunswick!
When reading through the third challenge of Project Food Blog, I immediately became weary…
Challenge Prompt: Celebrate! You’ve made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests, you can include yourself in the 4 person count). Whether you’re an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors.
First things first, I still live like a college student. I have never thrown a dinner party. Any parties I have thrown have been far from “luxurious.”
Secondly, the majority of my friends in Toronto are all Maritimers such as myself. The type of people who blow through a case of Keith’s and end up gathered in the kitchen for a traditional “Maritime Kitchen Party” by the end of the night.
With this in mind, I decided to create a “luxurious” menu with a little bit of kick. Something that would take the class up a notch and yet make us still feel right at home.
That’s right my friends, a menu where every dish features beer as an ingredient.
Who said beer can’t be luxurious? ;)
Because I worked both Saturday & Sunday this weekend, I opted to do the majority of my food preparations Friday night. Then have everyone over after work on Saturday night. The Friday night in the kitchen was kind of fun!
I began by baking a loaf of Beer Bread with Guinness & Molasses.
Recipe found here with a few changes.
4 cups flour (I used 1/2 all purpose, 1/2 whole wheat)
2 Tablespoons baking powder
12 ounces beer (NOT light beer) (I used Guinness draught)
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
While that puppy was in the oven, I got to work on baking project number two: Guinness Stout Brownies.
Recipe found here.
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 6oz bittersweet, 2 oz semi-sweet)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
4 large eggs, at room temperature (I used cold eggs and it didn’t explode or anything)
1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer, room temperature
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/8 cup (about) confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Adding the Guinness to the brownie batter…
With the baked goods out of the way, I got to my cold salad that would sit in the fridge overnight: Pale Ale Cabbage Slaw.
I was deeply disturbed when this recipe called to boil the beer right off the bat. Boiling beer feels so wrong!
1 pound red cabbage, finely shredded
1 pound green cabbage, finely shredded
1 package (1 pound) carrots, shreddedI cheated and bought bagged slaw
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp celery seeds
1 bottle (12 oz) Pale Ale Beer I used Bud Light Lime
grape seed oilcanola oil
cider vinegarrice vinegar
1 TBLS honey mustard
1 ½ tsps salt
½ tsp black pepper
The bread powered me through the last bit of Friday night prep. I put the brownies in the oven then got started on the sauce for the Chicken & Tofu in a Peanut & Beer Sauce.
The original recipe comes from here and is meant for chicken wings. Chicken thighs were on sale and tofu is cheap! What can I say, I’m a frugal hostess.
24 chicken wings, tips removed5 chicken legs/thighs and 1 block tofu
1 12-oz can Lager Beer used Brava Lager (local!)
½ cup molasses
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon chopped parsleyForgot this step – oops!
I’ll admit, it felt very odd mixing those ingredients together all in one pot as I see them being so different. But it smelled heavenly!
I prepared the raw chicken and sauce so I could pop it in the oven come party time.
Meanwhile, I MacGyvered a tofu press to work its magic overnight.
Soon the peanut butter sauce smells were overtaken by chocolate smells indicating the stout brownies were done…
What?? You’ve got to test this stuff before you serve it to other people ;)
Dense, fudgy, rich. A definite stamp of approval.
On Saturday, I had two more people confirm they’d be coming. I started to worry that I might not have enough food. Plus, not everyone was scheduled to arrive at the same time. Thankfully, my roommie was on the ball and prepared a Cheesy Beer Dip while I was away at work.
I’m told the dip was Cheez Whiz, cream cheese, and beer. Bam.
Along with some Vodka Tomatoes.
Meanwhile, I still had one last dish to make: Cheddar and Beer Soup.
Recipe found here.
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass I used Kronenbourg – a French ale.
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups)
4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled
When buying the cheese, I didn’t really clue in to the fact that I’d be adding the whole pound to the soup.
To put it in perspective, the volume of cheese was equal to the volume of liquid in the pot!
Before I knew it, my guests had trickled in and the dishes were ready to eat!
The cheddar and beer soup was very hearty. Mostly cheesy with a slight hint of beer. We briefly discussed how many servings of cheese there were in one bowl, then decided it was in our best interest not to know. I toasted the beer bread and it made for a perfect dipper! The Guinness and molasses flavours definitely shine through.
The sauce for this was uh-mazing. You must make it. Sooner rather than later.
With the coleslaw. This was a hit as well. The flavours were very subdued and it was a nice light side dish to go with the heavier dishes. I think the Bud Light Lime was a great choice for this.
The ice cream was actually a last minute thought. After trying the rich brownies, I knew they needed to be paired with cool and creamy vanilla ice cream. You can’t taste the Guinness in the brownies at all, although I dare to say it brings out the intensity in the chocolate flavour. I saw people go back for seconds on this one!
The Cast of Characters
Megan, my roommie, hostess extraordinaire. Living together for three months and already our kitchen has turned into a foodie paradise.
Amanda, the only non-Maritimer present, but adopted as one of our own.
Billy and Jer, keeping up the “luxurious” standard.
Tom, always ready with an inappropriate comeback.
Colin, who says “no” to mix or ice.
Me! After pulling off my first ever “luxurious” dinner party for my decidedly un-classy group of friends from back home. We ate, we drank, we ate what we drank. Proof that we Maritimers may like our drink, but damn it, we know how to do our drink well. Thank you to Foodbuzz for inspiring this gathering. My lush friends and I had a blast!
Voting for the third challenge opens Monday, October 4. Vote for my booze-infused dinner party here!! And remember to keep it classy blogland!
I shouldn’t have waited so long to try banana soft serve. It really does taste just like banana ice cream.
“Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.” Something my mom told me when I quit my radio job. Something I only just learned can actually happen. Even with the crazy hours, my job never feels like work to me.
I really, really just can’t get into buffalo wings. I tried!
Calories burned during a workout shouldn’t matter if I’m not counting calories to begin with. Ditching my gadgets and going zen has shifted the way I look at fitness while increasing my enjoyment of it.
Moving to Toronto was the best decision I’ve ever made, even if it was also the scariest.
I don’t have to be embarrassed by the label “blogger.” Especially when there are so many opportunities that come with it.
Jager bombs do not give you the ability to defy gravity.
It’s not about the quantity of sleep I’m getting, but the quality. What’s the point in obsessing over getting 8 hours every night when they’re of poor quality?
Vegemite is really good on toast with butter. Those Aussies are onto something!
After my Nutrition & Wellness Course, I’d like to go on and do my group instructor training.
I am really happy spending time all by myself. Which makes it imperative that I take the initiative to socialize with other people sometimes too.
My only long-term life goal is to have a dog and a yard it can run in. Preferably with a house attached.
When all else fails, there’s always curry.
As much as I pretend to be a grown up, I still don’t have that many responsibilities. I need to take advantage of this more often.
Question of the Day: What did you learn in September?
Aahhh… you know what is even worse than a Sunday evening? The Monday after a long weekend. Three days is enough to completely check out of real life. Having to face it again on a Monday night is always a rude awakening!
Another bummer is the fact that I am out of Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter. Sound the alarms. This is an emergency situation.
I stuffed the near-empty jar with cottage cheese, peaches, raisins, cinnamon, coconut flakes, raw oats and sugar-free syrup. I ended up putting my finger in there to ensure no seed butter remained. Then shed a single tear *sniff* Trader Joe’s needs to come to Canada.
I ended up spending aaallll morning in bed watching MTV shows on my computer and catching up on a few blogs. It was grand. Even though it’s a holiday, my gym is still open and I had a client who wanted to work out this afternoon. Not quite a holiday for me! Lunch before work:
Pan-fried ham slices with swiss cheese, sautéed red pepper, spinach, on an english muffin. Then squashed and melted in the hot pan. Not pictured is the plethora of baby carrots and salsa that accompanied this. Yum.
Thank goodness I had that client today though because it got me to the gym! I was definitely bit by the lazy bug today, but I still managed to squeeze out a decent back/biceps workout. I am really enjoying my new lifting split! I feel like my workouts are a lot more efficient. It’s easier to wrap things up in an hour when I only have two muscle groups to focus on.
Even though I am officially on a Buffalo detox, my day did involve a little more Blue Moon beer. (brought back across the border)
But not straight up. I had some flour and sugar with it.
Not separately, ohno.
Mixed all up in my roommate’s Kitchenaid mixer.
And placed into a bread pan.
You know where this is going ;)
3 cups of self-rising flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 can or bottle of beer
mix ingredients and put in loaf pan
melt 1/2 stick of butter and pour over top
bake at 375 for 45 minutes!!
I used 1 cup all-purpose flour and 2 cups whole wheat, then mixed in 3 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt because I didn’t have self-rising flour. Also, I definitely did not use that much butter – maybe like 2 tbsp ;)
Avec du beurre…
It turned out very dense and sweet.
I of course tried a piece right away with a little smear of Lori’s pear cranberry jam.
Good!! And SO easy!! Baking with yeast admittedly scares me, so the idea of pouring beer in sounded a lot more appealing. You really can’t pick up that much of a beer taste because of the sugar. Next time I want to try Guinness for the beer and molasses for the sweetener. So many possible combos!
I wasn’t just baking beer bread for the hell of it though. Something this good needs to be shared!
BBQ. Labour Day style.
This is not my backyard. My backyard is a parking lot. And there is a definite lack of bbq back there.
What is happening in these photos? I do believe it is a foot high five.
That girl on the left was in Schindler’s List. True story!
Seeing as I’m on a Buffalo detox, I made a point of keeping my bbq grub somewhat healthy.
Earlier in the day I threw together a pound of ground chicken with some chopped red pepper, spinach, a couple scoops of salsa and a few shakes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. I formed the mix into patties and brought one of them to the bbq with me.
For veggies I put a chopped sweet potato on the ‘cue but I couldn’t finish it all. My chicken burger was too huge!
But there’s always room for dessert ;)
My roommie Megan brought chocolate crinkle cookies that her mom always makes. They were deeeelicious. Kinda like a cross between a cookie and fudge. Rolled in icing sugar. The perfect little chocolate treat.
And for those of you fretting over the start of your work week or school year, don’t worry…
As seen outside an Indian restaurant on Queen West in Toronto ;)
As Madeline would say – make it a good one!!
Question of the Day: What is your favourite thing to grill? Mine is bread!! We used to go to this restaurant when I was a kid where you could pick flavoured butters, different kinds of bread, then grill it yourself. Amazing.