Cooking with Beer…Cooking with Beer Log…B Log…Blog

According to a recent article in the Herald-Leader, “Two years ago, Lexington had one brewery and two or three nice places to get a craft beer. Today, there are three    breweries, a fourth about to open — Blue Stallion Brewing Co. at 610 West Third Street — several others in the planning stages, and more than a dozen places to enjoy a craft beer.”
To celebrate this growth, Lexington is hosting it’s first ever Craft Beer Week. As part of Craft Beer Week, Joe and I decided to take a class on cooking with beer hosted by the chef of one of our favorite food trucks: Fork in the Road. Read about some of the other food trucks in Lexington in the post I wrote about the Athenian Grill food truck.

The class was hosted by Country Boy Brewing and used beers from their menu.

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Our class was set up in the back of the brewery and surrounded by fermenter tanks. There were only about 30 of us which made it seem personal and allowed us to see everything and ask questions. We sat on kegs and enjoyed the show (and the food!)

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Our first course was a pan-Asian inspired marinated and braised pork belly slider with slaw, marinated veggies, pickles, and cilantro.

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Next, we had buffalo sauce infused hollandaise sauce on beer brined wings with chopped celery and blue cheese. To top it off they used a torch to create a smoky flavor for the wings.

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Third, we were served a beer and lamb stew that was reduced and mixed with beer hops. This lamb and beer mixture was encased in pasta and served with tomato sauce and mint chimichurri.

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Our final dish was a hops and citrus jello. While it was very creative, I liked the other dishes much better.

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If you are interested in other craft beer events this week, you can find the schedule here. Or, if you are interested in other cooking ideas that involve beer, check out this page on the Food Network.

This was a wonderful and fun event that I hope they’ll repeat in the future (and not just during Craft Beer Week!). I’m inspired. I’ll have to try my own hand at making some culinary creations with beer.

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French Cheeses: Part I

We took a class on French cheeses tonight. Wait, did you say cheese? COUNT ME IN. Did you say French cheese? EVEN BETTER.

A local business, Wine + Market, prides themselves on selling local products, good wines, and good cheeses. The cheese classes are relatively new for them, but apparently they are a great success. In tonight’s class, we learned about 6 different French cheeses.

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We learned lots of random facts like:

Although France has the most kinds of cheese, it is not the largest producer of cheese. The United States is the largest producer, followed by Germany, and then France. Many of the best cheeses of France are not available in the U.S. because of the guidelines about pasteurization. Even though France is not the largest producer, the cheese they produce is valued at a higher price. Additionally, the French cheese market is on the decline, but artisan cheeses in the U.S. is rapidly growing.

Here are the six types we tried and the most interesting fact(s) about each type…

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1. Comte – It is the #1 seller for France; they produce 40,000 tons per year. There is a strict rule that if you grate it, it is no longer called Comte.

2. Gruyere – This is a Swiss version of Comte. It has won the International Cheese Award 4 years in a row. In case you are curious, the International Cheese Awards are given in July in England. Vacation, anyone?

3. Morbier – don’t let this ruin your appetite because it was amazing, but this cheese includes a layer of ash and a mold that is also found on the human foot… That line you see in the middle of the cheese (third one from the top) is the ash that is placed between two layers of cheese curds.

4. Delice de Bourgogne – this is a triple cream cheese. What does that mean? It means that it has cream added to make the cheese 75% fat:solid ratio. Double cream cheeses are defined as 64-74% butter fat. This was by far my favorite cheese of the night.

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5. Brie de Meaux – surprisingly, this cheese is mostly industrial. And technically, it is the same thing as Camembert but made in a different location. Our instructor also called this the “Prince of Cheese.”

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6. Roquefort – This is the #2 seller for France. To be considered Roquefort the milk must come from only three species of sheep (out of over a thousand breeds) who are only fed grass from the region and the cheese must never leave that region during aging (which happens in a cave with breads). There are only 7 producers of Roquefort.

When in France over the summer, our favorite cheese, which was not featured in the class tonight, was Pont l’Eveque. I can’t wait to have that cheese again.

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What a delicious evening! Looking forward to the Part II class in May!

 

 

A Messy Kitchen Means You Had a Good Time

“A messy kitchen means you had a good time.”

~Carolyn Gilles

Tonight I attended an event called “Soups On” hosted by a great local organization called Seedleaf. At “Soups On” local produce is brought into a kitchen where volunteers and community members work together to turn the produce into a meal, usually a soup. The community members get to try the soup and help out others in need; the rest of the soup goes to a local feeding organization.

Tonight was a special event for two reasons. First, we had a guest chef, Carolyn Gilles, from Wholesome Chef. Wholesome Chef is a team of culinary specialists who offer cooking classes in Lexington. Second, not only did we make and eat soup, but we cooked and ate a three course, all local, all vegetarian meal!

First Course – Mixed Vegetable Salad

Chop green tomatoes, red tomatoes, and yellow squash. Add grated carrots. Toss the veggies with olive oil, lemon juice, and a little salt. Voila!

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Second Course – Sauteed Beet Greens

Simply chop the greens off the top of the beets, add garlic, olive oil and a tiny bit of water. Saute until the greens have cooked down.

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Third Course – Roasted Beet and Garlic Soup

Put washed beets into foil with a drizzle of olive oil and roast for 1 hour. Chop entire bulb of garlic in half, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil to roast for 45 minutes. After roasting, remove skins from the beets and the garlic. Saute onions in olive oil. Stir beets and garlic into onions. Throw it in a blender and serve! I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of beets, but this was really good! We also had nice bread to go with our soup donated by Sunrise Bakery.

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Overall, it was a fun and tasty night thanks to some great community partners. The kitchen was definitely a mess, but it was a good time and a good cause.