Endless Beers: Stone Smoked Porter WITH CHIPOTLE PEPPERS!



Are you surprised? Stone rarely provides a beer that anyone can consider “ordinary.” The smoked porter with chipotle peppers is anything but. I’ve had beers with peppers in them – habanero, jalapeño, you name it. However, every one of those beers that I’ve tried has been a “sipper.” Meaning…no way in hell can I even drink 12 oz of that stuff. This smoked porter is different. I had it in a large bomber bottle, and I was able to drink the whole thing. The brew gives the bold, distinct flavors of a Stone Porter (including vanilla bean), but then ends with a smokey chipotle kick that is strong, but not so strong that you don’t want any more. Here are the tasting notes…cheers!

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Chipotle Almond Kettle Corn

Chipotle Almond Kettle Corn

Chipotle Almond Kettle Corn

Only a couple days left until the ultimate sugarfest known as Halloween. If you get sick of noshing on mini chocolate bars and candy apples (do people still make/eat candy apples on Halloween anymore?) why not make a homemade snack that’s not only sweet, but also salty and spicy? Win-win-win if you ask me.

I got a pack of chipotle maple almonds from Naturebox and while they suggested mixing the nuts in a homemade popcorn, their delightful flavor combo inspired me to throw together this special chipotle kettle corn. As we all know, I love chipotle. A lot. It’s kind of weird. Anyway:

Chipotle Almond Kettle Corn

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Burns My Bacon: Running Out of Sour Cream (FOR YOUR BURRITO)

sour cream

What’s hip these days? Eating (and saying) “fro yo,” craft beer, and “fresh” fast food. I’m already sold on craft beer, will never say “fro yo”, and occasionally I will buy into getting some fast food that is “fresh.” So, this past weekend the girlfriend and I stopped at Chipotle on the way home from the shore rather than a burger place.

Got myself a pork burrito loaded with the pleasantries and of course—wanted sour cream on my pork-stuffed tortilla pocket. But guess what? The burrito artisan behind the counter said “we’re all out.” We’re all out—of sour cream—at Chipotle— for my made to order burrito. I’m sorry, usually there is some sort of tub of sour cream in the fridge ready to go for every other damn customer that asks for sour cream on their burrito.

Fine, I figured I could wait the extra two seconds (you know, because it’s FAST fresh food) for them to get the new tub of sour cream. So I told her I’ll wait. Her response: “Oh, sorry sir, we need to make some more.” Oh, that makes sense. I figured you had a couple of cows in the back of the store ripe for milking, and some other cream curdling away, ready to officially become sour cream. Because, that’s not only fresh, but also so quick – to MAKE sour cream. Are you kidding me?

Of all things…sour cream. Now I’m wondering why they keep the tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and other veggies aside in the fridge rather than in their private garden in the back by the cows.  Shouldn’t those be just as “fresh” as the sour cream? Where are the pigs, cows and chickens they slaughter? Where is the butcher? And what about the tortillas? I see them pulled out of packages – some dude can easily make the tortillas on the spot!

Well, at least the sour cream is fresh.

Smoky Southwestern Steak & Sweet Potato Chili

It’s always a bit difficult for me to surrender to the changing of the seasons this time of year; summertime is my favorite and I’m always reluctant to bid it farewell. Plus, here in Texas it’s still in the 80s most days, and I feel like I should be hitting the swimming hole rather than cozying up to the fireplace in a chunky sweater. The silver lining to my autumn blues is that I love, love, love fall flavors. I can mix pumpkin or sweet potato into practically any dish and call it an improvement.

On one of the rare gloomy, rainy days we’ve had so far this year, my roommate Dayna and I decided it was chili time. I detest canned chili (obviously) and even homemade, traditional ground beef chili gets slightly boring. My favorite chili recipe is one I created incorporating all of my favorite fall tastes. It’s hearty and comforting, yet very healthy and simple to make. It incorporates a smoky southwestern flair, thanks to the addition of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It uses steak instead of ground beef, black beans and corn instead of kidney beans, pumpkin to add richness and bulk… basically, this is not your average chili and that’s why I like it.

Smoky Southwestern Steak & Sweet Potato Chili

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Presents for Foodies: Food Network Star Book

This time of year I am always scrambling for holiday gift ideas. It’s not that I’m not a generous person… it’s just that sometimes, come on, people are hard as hell to buy for. Being a food-minded individual, I often solve this dilemma by throwing a cookbook their way and calling it good. In this case, here is something to please the masses: Food Network Star: The Official Insider’s Guide to America’s Hottest Food Show. It’s chock full of recipes and television gossip. We all know people who love Food Network, so there! One gift to cross off the list.

How good is this cookbook? Well, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser. FNS:TOIGTAHFS, as I like to call it to save time, offers a wide array of recipes, from the laughably simple (Carissa Seward’s Shrimp Puffs), to the reasonable (Eggs en Cocotte from Amy Finley), to the elegantly involved (Alex Hernandez’s Beignets with Rosemary Caramel). It’s fun because recipes from basically every cheftestant from every season of the show are featured, so it’s easy to pick a selection from one’s favorite. I, for example, eagerly sought out recipes from the Hearty Boys. Then, upon seeing that their featured item was lobster pot pie and reminding myself I was supposed to be saving money for other presents, decided to go with something a bit more pedestrian.

I would hardly call Guy Fieri my favorite “chef” but hey, he is probably the ultimate Next Food Network Star winner. This dude is everywhere! How’s his food? There’s only one way to find out, and that is to make one of the recipes that catapulted him to stardom.

Chipotle Pasta

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Earth Day Picnic: The Deviled is in the Details

While we have already spent some time on Easter and Passover here on ES, I thought I would spread some love to Earth Day and in particular Picnic for the Planet. This year on April 22nd, in addition to all sorts of Earth Day activities and media stories about kids planting trees on your local news, people across the world are being encouraged to go outside and eat. Picnic for the Planet has organized community picnics in cities throughout the world to get people outside. Heavyweights such as as Mario Batali and Alice Waters have already voiced their support by publishing picnic-appropriate recipes and PSA’s.  I assume my invitation to share recipes was lost in the mail so I decided to just share them here on ES.

I have a complicated relationship with deviled eggs. When they are good, they are divine and when they’re bad, I have to eat a few to confirm my initial opinion. They always take some time to prepare but are simple enough that they  pop up at every picnic and spring gathering  before disappearing quickly. Bite sized, tasty, and with limitless variations, here are a few ideas to spring you into action.

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Desperate for a Garnish

It’s tough goings for the garnish industry in the winter. Fresh herbs refuse to pop up until the weather warms so I’m left with spices, sauces and dried herbs to lay that finishing touch on a dish.

Earlier this year I wrote about a different type of garnish issue – I used an ingredient foreign from the dish to decorate it. I thought the beautiful black pellets of mustard seeds would contrast nicely to the orange sweet potato soup splattered with bright, white yogurt. And in fact, I think it looked lovely. I decided it didn’t matter that I hadn’t used mustard seed in the soup. I’d use it to enhance the look of the dish, without compromising the taste.

I used the opposite approach this weekend in my bean and cabbage dish. This was a simple, hearty dish combining tiger eye beans, slashed cabbage, onion and garlic, flavored with chipotle and cumin. The cabbage, onion and garlic adapted the brick color of the chipotle and adobo sauce and the tiger beans lost their stripes in the long cooking process, turning into a similar hue as the rest of the dish.

It needed some contrast. It needed some brightness. And I didn’t have a goddamn fresh herb in sight.

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