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Apples and Honey Gets an Upgrade

Posted by on September 22 2014 in Desserts, Holiday

Apple Honey 300dpi

If fall is in the air, it must be just about time to celebrate the New Year….not that New Year; the one with apples and honey.

This tasty union is a Rosh Hashanah tradition, symbolizing the hopes for a “sweet” New Year. Of course, at ES we like to do that with more than just a kids lunchbox-esque pack of sliced apples drizzled in goo. For this year’s updated Rosh Hashanah take, we’re looking at this honey-glazed Apple Financier Tart — an elevated, Francophile variation on an apple pie.

Pâtissier extraordinaire Francois Payard provided this recipe, in which the moisture of the mix and texture of the apples with the flavor of the browned butter take A&H to a new level.

Apple and Honey Financier Tart

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Endless Beers: He Said He Said

Posted by on September 19 2014 in Drinks


Not sure you got our memo yet, but: fall has arrived. Get with it. That means that pumpkin beers are nearly gone already and Christmas everything will be out in a matter of weeks. Bah humbug. Until then, let’s enjoy the fall spirit with some more BEER!

The He Said He Said is a collaboration four pack brought to you by 21st Amendment and Elysian Brewery. The four pack offers two beers: a Belgian Tripel Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices and a Baltic Porter Lager Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices.  The four pack tells the stories of how the two brewmasters/co-founders came up with their collaboration pumpkin brews. Of course, as we all would, each brewmaster takes a bit more credit than the other. The result of the clashing stories was two strong but very different pumpkin collaboration brews. Get it? He said, he said.

The first offering is the brain child of Shaun O’Sullivan of 21st Amendment: The Belgian Triple Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices. Of course, this comes from the brewery that brings us beers like Hell or High Watermelon and Back in Black IPA. Special ingredients in the Belgian Pumpkin Triple include pumpkin puree, pumpkin juice, Galangal, and Tarragon spices. Enough with the small talk, let’s discuss the taste:

ABV: 8.2 %

  • Appearance: Orange – the color of a pumpkin. A bright, transparent orange.
  • Aroma: Earthy pumpkin scents complemented by herbs, spices, and a little bit of the belgian trappist yeast.
  • Taste: Has clean and crisp taste of a Belgian Tripel, then pumpkin and spice flavor throughout. It’s a strong brew, but it doesn’t taste as much like alcohol as many Belgian Tripels. The smooth, sweet flavors take away most of the boozy taste.
  • Mouthfeel: Surprisingly creamy leaving a buttery feeling on the roof of your mouth.
  • Overall: Definitely a strong belgian with a decent ABV.  I was able to drink this without feeling full, and instead actually feeling refreshed. The pumpkin flavor is there, but isn’t intensely strong like an imperial pumpkin. Good on a warm fall day, or a Sunday while watching football.

Next up is the other side of the debate of how the collaboration began: the Baltic Style Porter Lager Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices. This is the Elysian side of the coin – the side that brings you pumpkin fests, intense pumpkin beers, and strong beers. The Pumpkin Porter includes special ingredients such as pumpkin puree, pumpkin juice, Vietnamese Cinnamon, and Caraway Seed. While it’s a porter, it is also a lager. BOOM. Here are the tasting notes:

ABV: 8.2%

  • Appearance: Black, opaque. Looks more like a thick stout than a thinner porter.
  • Aroma: Sweet coffee smell with a meaty pumpkin smell.
  • Taste: Coffee flavors along with sweet molasses, but not as strong as expected. The pumpkin flavors come through stronger but do not overwhelm. Fall spices are subtle in this one.
  • Mouthfeel: Smooth, but more crisp than expected.
  • Overall: Carbonation could be better, but other than that it has the sweet flavors of a porter complemented by earthy spices and pumpkin. Lager aspects of the brew are subtle, but it balanced out the beer a bit.

The He Said He Said is an interesting collaboration that offers a different take on pumpkin beers. The porter was good, but reminded me of other stout pumpkin beers I have had before. On the other hand, the Belgian Tripel Pumpkin offered a completely different take on pumpkin brews that I haven’t had before. The Tripel is more of an “anytime beer” than other pumpkin beers I’ve had before. Refreshing yet sweet, strong yet not overwhelming, the brew offers the fall flavors without suggesting it must be drunk after dinner or during a cold, crisp day.

Our ES Suggested Pairings (dare I say…for BOTH?!):

  • Meals: Chicken Tacos (for the tripel) and juicy steak (for the porter)
  • Cigars: Macanudo Maduro or CAO MX2 (for the tripel) and Drew Estate Naturals English (for the porter)

Just Give In: A Pumpkin Spice M&Ms Review

Posted by on September 18 2014 in Rants & Raves, Trends

Pumpkin Spice M&Ms Flavor Taste Test

So, the internet has collectively decided that liking pumpkin and pumpkin spiced flavored things makes you a basic white girl. There have been many online thought (well, “thought”) pieces written about this, including one fairly accurate Buzzfeed list. If you’re really interested in the history of being basic, the truth is that everyone has taken a phrase coined a few years ago and twisted it into something completely different meaning ordinary/boring. New York Mag has a pretty good piece on it, and over on The Awl they have an interesting 2013 read about the fetishization of pumpkin and pumpkin flavor. If you’re interested into delving into this weirdly specific trend/topic.

Anyway, whatever. If liking pumpkin shit and football and boots makes me basic, then basic it is. Pumpkin is delicious, football is an amazing justification for day drinking, and boots keep your feet warm and dry.

All that being said, what up with all the pumpkin-flavored stuff in stores these days! It’s getting borderline ridiculous. Apparently these limited-edition Pumpkin Spice M&Ms debuted last year, but I never experienced them in-person until this year, the year of our lord 2014. SUPPOSEDLY there are also Pumpkin Spice Oreos out there now, but I have yet to see them in stores them despite a semi-intense search at Target last week. But let’s rewind a sec to the M&Ms.

I was in said Target purchasing my new Crock Pot (one more step in my quest to be the most basic white girl in the fall, I guess) when a garish display of seasonal M&Ms caught my eye. Nestled among the Halloween-themed regular flavors were Pumpkin Spice and White Chocolate Candy Corn varieties. Clearly the powers above were sending me a message, and that message was: you must sacrifice your pre-vacation crash diet and sense of pride. You must taste test these cheap, bandwagon-y limited edition candies.

I decided to save the candy corn flavor for a later unfortunate date, but purchased the pumpkin spice kind and tore into them in the car ride home (obv, why would I delay this flavor experience longer than necessary?) To the disappointment of my friend and myself, they were barely pumpkin-tasting at all. If anything, I would describe these M&Ms as “Mexican chocolate,” that is, regular milk chocolate infused with a tiny bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and generic “spice.”

When I got home, I introduced them to Rob in a BLIND TASTE TEST and he thought I was just feeding him regular milk chocolate M&Ms. Another failure.

But… something strange started to happen. The longer the weekend went on, the more we snacked on these little nuggets of dubious seasonality. And the more we snacked on them, the more we liked them. Soon we were saying things like “You know, maybe I CAN taste the pumpkin spice” and “Well, I actually really like these, they taste like fall” until we were full-on making conversation with each other about how we might be borderline addicted to Pumpkin Spice M&Ms.

What does this all mean? I suppose if the summary of my review is “They don’t taste that great at first, but just keep eating them and eventually you’ll think you can taste the difference, start to like them, and eat way more than you meant to in one sitting” that might not be high praise. But, this is kind of how I feel about pumpkin spice and fall in general. You resist at first, you think you’re better than it, but you’re not. Just give in.

Endless Whiskey: Hop-Flavored Whiskey (Part II)

Posted by on September 17 2014 in Drinks


If you recall, during the ridiculous winter storms of February, I tried the 2013 SOL Hop Flavored Whiskey. Well, here comes the 2014 version. Founder and owner Mike Reppucci said that the award-winning 2014 version is more hoppy than last year’s and potentially even more mellow.  The single malt whiskey from the north continues to provide the basic flavors of an IPA style beer in the form of whiskey.  After the wash is fermented and completes the distillation process, the whiskey is dry hopped with Citra and Sirachi Ace hops (grassy and citrus hops).

While the flagship whiskeys produced by Sons of Liberty offer either a sweet or smokey taste that many of us liken to whiskey or scotch, the hop-flavored whiskey has more of an “in your face” but refreshing profile. The warming and sweet malt flavors come through at first, suddenly cut by a strong bitterness from the hops and complemented by our good friend ethanol. The citrus and grassy flavors of the hops complete the taste.

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Southwest Slow Cooker Hatch Chicken Chili

Posted by on September 16 2014 in Fowl, Recipe

Hatch Chicken Chili

I finally gave in and got a crock pot this past weekend. (I say “finally” because I feel like slow cookers are really experiencing a renaissance in my generation, thanks to Pinterest and other domestic-y sites – I’m one of the last 20-something girls I know who didn’t have one.) It was perfect timing because for the first time since, oh, March, Austin was cold (aka, in the low 70s) and wet. Pair that gloomy, stay-inside weather with a weekend full of football, and you’ve got yourself an ideal slow cooker combo situation.

This recipe is just something I threw together on Sunday morning, and it turned out so well. The bonus: unlike a lot of football snacks, it’s completely healthy. Take about 10-20 minutes to prep this in the late morning or early afternoon, leave it on high for 4-5 hours, and you’ll have a hot, spicy meal just in time for the evening game.

If you don’t have a Crock Pot or other slow cooker, guess what? You’re in luck. You can achieve the same results by cooking low and slow in a stockpot on the stove. Just make sure you’ve cooked your chicken breast most of the way through and add ingredients from there.

Note – this recipe uses hatch chiles, grown in New Mexico, which are really popular in the southwest this time of year. If you don’t have them in your neck of the woods you can feel free to use whatever chile pepper you prefer. Canned chipotles are always a favorite of mine, and they’re easy to find in practically any grocery store.

Southwest Hatch Chicken Chili
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MAPLE Gone Wild! Top 10 Ways to Use Maple

Posted by on September 15 2014 in Lists

Yes, it is fall. Try to say otherwise and somewhere out there a fall enthusiast will crucify you with a caramel apple or pumpkin flavored something. But deep down in the roots of the fall season is the poor flavor of maple. Somehow the poor guy doesn’t get the spotlight nearly as much as his apple and pumpkin counterparts. But wait, there are TONS of recipes bringing maple back to the forefront of fall. You may know that I have a special place in my heart for pumpkin, so don’t be surprised if pumpkin is included in some of these recipes. Also notice that I’ve included some cocktail treats in this roundup as well. Let us know if you have any favorites!

10. Cinnamon Maple Bourbon


This cocktail seems to be able to get anyone into the mood of cold crisp fall nights while offering a pleasant means of “spicing up” a night cap.

Recipe: So Lets Hang Out

9. Maple Glazed Apple Doughnuts


Ever have an apple cider doughnut? Now add a sweet and creamy maple glaze. On your way to work? Pass on the Dunkin pumpkin donuts and make these the night before to grab on the go. OR make these fresh after dinner for a nice hot treat. Really, you could have these any time.

Recipe: A Pumpkin and a Princess

8. Maple Pumpkin Cake Roll


Who doesn’t love pumpkin roll? The moist pumpkin cake with delicious cream cheese filling is already a treat that I yearn for every fall. But this thing looks like an “amped up” version of pumpkin roll. Just look at it! I’m trying this out for sure.

Recipe: Le Creme de la Crumb

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Endless Spirits: Dogfish Head to Expand with Distillery!

Posted by on September 11 2014 in Drinks


Big news from the Dogfish Head campus in Milton: they are adding a small batch distillery to that large complex I’ve spoken of. If you’ve been to the brew pub and went upstairs, you noticed the tiny distillery they have on the second floor. The distillery produced spirits that were pretty much exclusive to the brew pub and a few select places in Delaware. Well, once Dogfish Head opens up the bigger distillery, many of us will benefit from a larger distribution plan.

It only makes sense that Sam Calagione and his crazy “off-centered” partners take some of those off-centered brews and turn them into interesting spirits. We can still expect the highly touted Brown Honey Rum and hop-infused gin, but also hipe to see some new and crazy spirits to be released next spring. The distillery will be headed by Graham Hamblett, who is apparently a horticulturalist with experience running a winery and distillery. Of course, he has won various awards and I’m assuming he’s a grizzly man with an awesome beard.  continue reading…

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