Friday, September 29, 2017

Foodie Finds: Cinnamon Rolls and Coffee and Beer Oh My!

It's finally FINALLY Friday. This week has been a long one for us!

Giant Cinnamon Roll from Silver Dollar City
 Here are some of our favorite finds this week!

Preview of a recipe coming next week - Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Bacon!
Food and Drinks

So good - look for a review next week!

Even our lazy dogs are excited to go outside and do stuff recently!
Not Food and Drinks
  • Is anyone else really excited about fall, but also struggling to balance all the stuff they want to do with their schedule? We want to have a fire pit night, a game night, go to the drive in, go hiking, carve pumpkins...the list goes on and on. This planner from Commit30 is our favorite for everything from scheduling blog posts to the everyday stuff to trip planning. 
  • We ordered Movie Pass cards, and they're supposed to be here this week. Definitely going to see Mother!, probably seeing IT again, and looking forward to checking out the 9 films the BBC recommends watching this month. Anyone else have a card or good movie recs?
  • Speaking of film/TV, we just finished a full Twin Peaks rewatch and are about 2 episodes from being done with the new series. So worth it. Also, we just discovered that there is a Twin Peaks cookbook, so that's definitely going to be a thing that happens.
via Amazon.
*None of the blogs, authors, or sites mentioned here pay us - we just like them a lot!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Brewery Review: Wiseacre Brewing Company

Over the past few years, Memphis has seen an explosion of craft beer, and we're loving it! Wiseacre Brewing Company is one of our favorites - the beers available in the Memphis market are great, but for the full range, a trip to their tap room is essential.


On a recent visit, I went in with the goal of trying everything I hadn't yet tried. Of course, I had to stop by the Gourmade Food Truck on the way in. I got the Braised Short Rib Sandwich. It looks like a small sandwich, more like a grilled cheese than anything from an overhead view. But do not be fooled, this sandwich is rich. Red wine braised short rib coupled with their 3 cheese blend makes for a big meal in a small package.


Amber got the Appetite for Destruction. My god! That was an amazing pile of delicious. Mac and Cheese layered with pulled pork, fries, BBQ sauce, and BBQ spice.



Appetite for Destruction

While I was scanning the draft list, I noticed two brews that had not made it into my lexicon of beer experience yet, the King Baby Imperial IPA and the Suits and Boots Porter. King Baby was definitely brewed last year and I missed it, and I think Suits and Boots was a winter seasonal. The featured beer of the night was one of my favorites from them, Adjective Animal. It has just been released in 6-pack cans. I'm excited!

The beers change pretty frequently, but they're all top-notch.

Suits and Boots (left) King Baby (right)

King Baby is a big IPA, drier than Adjective Animal, with a somewhat piney hop profile. At 11.4% it packs a boozy wallop. In spite of the high ABV and the tinge of heat, it holds a pretty good balance. If you run across it at the tap room or your neighborhood growler station, it is well worth a try!  They serve it in their snifter.

Suits and Boots is a fun little porter. It is an American Style Porter, I think that refers to it's gentle backbone of hop bitterness. It may be dark, but as far as porters go, it is not particularly heavy. The roasted malt and caramel flavors strike a tasty balance with the hops. From the tap at the taproom it came out with relatively lively carbonation. Coming in at 5.8% you could call it a session porter. I would definitely drink it again. They serve this one in a Nonic Pint glass.

Wiseacre also has some of the coolest label art around, and they use huge images of it to decorate the tap room.
Adjective Animal was always among my favorite of Wiseacre's brews and I am really glad they have it available in six packs featuring the incredible label art.

Via Wiseacre.
Wiseacre also has a great yearly beer festival called Taste the Rarity, which Amber has reviewed on her Memphis lifestyle blog History & Pearls. It's a great way to taste some beers from all over the country in addition to some special releases by Wiseacre.

Plus, Gourmade is there sometimes!


Wiseacre's tap room is open Monday through Saturday, and they have a pretty extensive event calendar with the food trucks available each day - definitely worth a trip!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wine Spritzers 3 Ways

Everyone loves wine. But sometimes a bottle of wine just doesn't cut it - maybe it's too hot, you have too many people to serve, or you're just in the mood for something a little different. Wine spritzers can be a delicious and easy answer!

A wine spritzer is basically just wine mixed with something bubbly, usually club soda. Bon App├ętit notes that a good rule of thumb is 3 parts wine to 1 part club soda, and I think, in general, that's a good idea.* You want wine but...lighter than wine...but also still wine. 

Ignore my tiny alien thumb.
Here are 3 great wine spritzers to try next time you need wine for a crowd, want to drink a refreshing glass of wine, or just want to try something different!

Watermelon White Wine Spritzer

3 parts Sauvignon Blanc, chilled
1 part club soda
4-5 frozen watermelon cubes
2-3 mint leaves

1. Cut up a watermelon (this knife makes it a lot easier!) into cubes and freeze the cubes for 3-4 hours. These keep forever and are great in so many things!
2. Add wine, club soda, and watermelon cubes to a wine glass.
3. Add mint leaves and gently muddle. 
4. Enjoy!

Fall Apple Spritzer

2 parts white wine, chilled - Riesling works well here 
1 part apple juice
1 part club soda
Apple, sliced very thin

1. Combine wine, apple juice, and club soda. 
2. Garnish with a thin apple slice.
3. Enjoy!

Raspberry Red Wine Spritzer

1 part red wine - whatever you like best!
1 part club soda
Frozen raspberries
Mint leaves

1. Freeze raspberries - they're going to act as boozy ice cubes here!
2. Fill glass about half way with raspberries.
3. Pour wine and club soda over raspberries
4. Garnish with 2-3 mint leaves.
5. Enjoy - and glory in a wine spritzer for all the red wine lovers out there!

Ingredients for Watermelon White Wine Spritzer!
*"Part" just means...part. So if you're making a glass, you want 3/4s of it to be wine, 1/4 to be club soda. If you're making a bucket of spritzer, same rule applies. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

End of Summer Caprese Salad

It's still hot, but it is definitely almost the end of the summer. That means that summer vegetables are almost out of season, so it's time to use them up!


Tomatoes are one of the best summer vegetables fruits vegetables (I'm not putting them in a fruit salad, they're vegetables) out there. Tomatoes are fine in the winter, but those big, juicy, luscious ones you get in the summer - with the perfect red color and that smell that smells like the earth and summertime - can't be beat.

Look at those beauties!
We were lucky enough to get some really nice tomatoes a few weeks ago, so we made one of our favorite recipes with big, fresh, ripe tomatoes - Caprese salad!

The real secret of a great Caprese salad? Don't. Mess. With. It. You need fresh, simple ingredients and that's it - we definitely agree with all the points in this Serious Eats article. No matter how tempting it is to think outside the box, if you want a perfect, classic Caprese that showcases the end of summer tomato in all its glory, a simple recipe is all you need!


End of Summer Caprese Salad

1 large ripe tomato
1 log mozzarella cheese*
1 bunch basil leaves
Kosher salt
Balsamic vinaigrette**

1. Slice tomato into 1/4 inch thick slices.
2. Slice mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick slices.
3. On a plate, lay a slice of tomato down, then a basil leaf, then a slice of mozzarella, then a basil leaf, then a slice of tomato, then a basil leaf, then a slice of mozzarella...in a circular pattern, overlapping the slices slightly.
4. Sprinkle with 2-3 pinches of kosher salt.
5. Drizzle lightly with balsamic.
6. Serve as an appetizer for 4 or a meal for 2.

*Log may not be the correct term here - you can get a ball of mozzarella or a...log...but either way, slice it and get the best quality you can. And if you do get a log, make sure to listen to it. It may have something to tell you.

We've been on a Twin Peaks binge marathon lately. It's amazing but also results in things like this. We apologize.
**Balsamic is a divisive thing. We like it, but if you don't, get really good quality olive oil instead. The basic balsamic from Sprouts is what we use, and it's fine - you want good quality, not necessarily fancy. 

They were out of basil leaves at Sprouts so we bought a whole plant.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Foodie Finds: Fall Edition

It's the first official day of fall - unquestionably the best season - and we're so excited! Even though it's still 90 degrees in Memphis, the season of baking, fall activities, sweaters (inside with the AC turned up), and, oh, did I mention baking, is here!


Here are some of our favorite fall things (both food and not food related) on this first day of fall!

Food

  • Tis the season for baking all the things. This chocolate pretzel tart from Hummingbird High (pictured above) is one of our favorite desserts - not too sweet, sort of fancy but also sort of easy, and delicious. 
  • Speaking of baking, do you have a good, everyday bread recipe? We swear by this one from The Kitchn for every sandwich and piece of toast that we make in our house. 
  • One of our favorite bloggers is talking about kitchen fails - something we know a lot about - and learning from baking mishaps on The Candid Appetite today (and making an amazing looking banana split cake!).
  • There is a whole drove of new cookbooks coming out this fall, and we're having some serious cookbook lust already. The Pioneer Woman's newest cookbook is already pre-ordered, because we have a problem. A delicious problem. 
  • Is it red wine season? It's red wine season. But it's also apple cider season. Booze up your cider with this recipe from Food & Wine
Seriously, this bread never fails.
Not Food

  • The best article ever written about fall is read aloud in our house every year on this day. Because it's decorative gourd season, motherfuckers. 
  • This is one is kind of about food, actually - keep an eye on our Instagram this weekend. Amber is going on her annual girls trip, and the amount of food eaten (and pretty pictures of fall things, not just giant cinnamon rolls and pizza and the most amazing cornbread ever made) is staggering. 
  • If you're in Memphis, check out the I Love Memphis blog for all the fun fall activities happening in the area - we'll be at quite a few of them this year!
AIya can't take a normal picture. But gourds, for real.
What is everyone looking forward to this fall? Cooler weather? Sweaters? Fall Candles? Eating all the carbs? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hog & Hominy: Brunch Magic

The weekend of Amber's birthday a couple of months ago, we decided to partake in some serious eating. We both love good food and good drinks, so we rounded out the weekend with brunch at Hog & Hominy, one of my favorite brunch spots in Memphis.


On Sunday, when the brunch menu comes out, they have great specials. When we were there, it was $5 Mimosas and $5 Bloody Marys. I couldn't resist. I tend to be picky about a good Bloody Mary. I like them to be a little thick and have a little kick. Hog & Hominy never disappoints. Their Bloody Mary has the perfect level of heat and just the right viscosity. Not only is the flavor just right, but it is a damn fine looking drink. Rimming the glass with BBQ spice is a nice touch.


Amber's mimosa was solid as well - not just orange juice, not just bubbly, just a nice mix. She's a mimosa fiend so when she's happy with one, I know it's good!


When the food came out we were ready for it. I opted for the appropriately named Gut Bomb. This beautiful monstrosity of a breakfast sandwich is grits, Porcellino's bacon, a scrambled egg, and pepperjack cheese on a biscuit. Ladies and gentlemen, this is hangover food at it's finest. For me this falls into the category of sandwiches that must be eaten with a fork.


The Gut Bomb

The lady didn't fare too poorly herself. She went for a brunch classic, Steak & Eggs! Steak and Home Fries are draped in a gorgeous fried egg and topped with hot sauce. The flavors mingle just perfectly. They use a thinner hot sauce with a flavor that reminds me of quality southern cooking. While I enjoyed the Gut Bomb, I was bordering on a case of bruncher's remorse when I tried her tapestry of spicy beef goodness.



Steak & Eggs

In accordance with our mandate of shame eating prescribed for this weekend, we followed this with one of Hog & Hominy's pizzas, the Breakfast In Bed. Spinach, fontina, red peppers, eggs, bacon, and goat cheese come together to make an unforgettable experience. We could only get through about a slice and a half each at this point in the meal, and as a side note, this pizza is not ideal for reheating. All that said, so worth it! 

The pizzas do change pretty often, so if this one isn't available, we highly recommend Thunderbird! 40 Twice! - yes, even for brunch. 



Breakfast In Bed

I can't recommend Hog & Hominy enough as a brunch spot. The food is fantastic, the drinks are even better, and while the price is not cheap, you get a lot of (amazing) food for your money!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chilling Wine and Hugel Gentil: A Scallop Story

When Amber told me she was making scallops, I had the idea to pair them with a dry Riesling. Being the absent minded individual I can be sometimes, when dinner time came, I didn’t have one chilled.

This situation left me with two options:

Option 1: Rapid Chill

There are several ways to rapidly chill a bottle of wine. The most common one is to use a bucket with ice and salt water, submerging as much of the wine as possible. I like this method for how quickly it works, but my fridge doesn't have an ice maker and I would have had to use my entire supply of ice to pull this off.

My other favorite way to rapidly chill a bottle of wine is a little simpler but it uses some of the same principles.

Step 1: Take a few paper towels and fold them over into a double or triple layer. Make sure the length of these paper towels is long enough to wrap around the entire bottle of wine.

Step 2: Moisten the paper towels and wring them out to remove any excess moisture

Step 3: Wrap the paper towels around the wine bottle forming a wet paper towel cocoon. You want to cover as much of the surface area of the wine bottle as possible.

Step 4: Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, and voila! Unwrap, uncork, and serve your rapidly chilled bottle of wine!

Option 2: Pick another bottle that I do have chilled

If someone asks me what the best pairing for a particular meal is, I could wax poetic about some particular combination. But when it all comes down to it the best bottle of wine is:

A) The one you have

and

B) The one you like!

Luckily I happened to have a bottle that not only met these 2 criteria, but it even is considered a classic companion to seafood!
Via Hugel.
Hugel, the Alsatian producer responsible for this bottle, is seriously old school! They have been making wine in Alsace for generations. They started making wine from this iconic region in 1639. The winery is still owned by the same family and they take their craft seriously.

Via Recana Masana. 
The bottle I had in the fridge was Gentil, their classic white blend. Many people hear the words “white blend” and think of the slightly to moderately sweet aromatic wines that one sees from  American producers, but this wine is miles away from that. It uses a kitchen sink approach to Alsace wine, blending most of the major grape varieties commonly grown in the region. If someone asks me what Alsace wine is about, this is usually one of the first things I show them. It is not the most spectacular bottle from the area, but it shows some common characteristics shared by wines from almost every major Alsatian producer.

For those of you who don’t know, Alsace hangs out right on the border of Germany and France. Due to territorial disputes in the region throughout history, the culture of the region leans more toward German than French. Their wines are so interesting in part, because like the culture of this region, their style and the grapes they use tend to be more typical of Germany. That’s not to say there’s no french influence in the wine-making process, but these don’t taste like whites from any other part of France. They are truly unique.


This wine has a lot going on to be a simple and inexpensive bottle. Notes of elderflower, lime, citrus, pear, and just a hint of that distinctive aroma of muscat grapes entice you into taking the first sip. While bright and refreshing on the palate, it has more weight than one might expect from the nose. It is nice and dry, with just the right balance of acidity. It finishes with no fuss, quick and to the point, but the first time I tried it I was intrigued. It has become something I regularly have in the fridge for the accidental “forgot to chill the bottle I meant to” scenario.


Don’t hold this wine’s low price tag against it. It really delivers. The list of grapes in it - Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, and Muscat - are rarely all blended together anywhere else in the world, and some of them are viewed by the wine drinking public as only being good for sweeter wines. Leave it to Hugel and Alsace as a whole to shake the haters off and make an amazing and inexpensive dry white with fantastic structure and balance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Easy Seared Scallops

Scallops intimidate a lot of people, but they're really very easy to make, and once you master cooking them, you can make a ton of easy but impressive dishes!


The main problem, in our opinion, with scallops is that they're so expensive and they really don't keep long - you need to find them on sale and then cook and eat them basically that day to really enjoy then.

Luckily, our local Sprouts Farmers Market had scallops on sale a couple of weeks ago, and we snatched up a pound for dinner.

Actually, let's backtrack for a minute.

Aiya is a picky eater, and neither of us are, so we're always on a quest to find new stuff she'll eat. She LOVES fish, so while we were picking out salmon one day, and she said "what's a scallop?" I (Amber) was all about it. Since scallops were like $19/lb that day, and we're not millionaires, I asked the guy at Sprouts for 3 scallops. Not 3 pounds.

Three. Scallops.

I made one with salmon for each of us and Aiya went crazy over them. So when they went on sale, I knew we had to get some more.

There are a ton of ways to make scallops, but ours are easy, quick, and don't take any special equipment or skills except being able to leave them alone while they sear!

Easy Seared Scallops
loosely adapted from Alton Brown

1lb scallops
1 tablespoon butter or clarified butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt*
black pepper

1. If any of your scallops have small side muscles still attached, remove them (none of mine did either time I bought them from Sprouts)

2. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. You want them to be matte looking on top and bottom.

3. Get your pan hot. I mean really hot. Add butter and olive oil - you want to add both so that it gets hot but doesn't burn.

4. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper, then add to the skillet in batches, making sure they aren't touching each other, which will keep them from searing and make them just steam.

5. Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side and most importantly, don't. touch. them. until you flip them.

6. Serve immediately.

We like a little less of a crust, but you could do them in a cast iron skillet for a thicker crust, wrap them in bacon, put them on pasta - once you've got the basic recipe down, the possibilities are endless!

We served these with fresh green beans that we steamed and then sauteed with garlic, bacon, and crushed red pepper, with a little butter sauce, and they were amazing!

Looking for the perfect wine for scallops? Check out our recommendation here!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Foodie Finds: Cold Brew at Home

We love coffee, and can pretty much make it any way you can make coffee at home - percolator, drip, espresso, French press, Keurig. We've got this.

But cold brew can be tricky. You don't want to just pour cold coffee over ice cubes because sometimes it's bitter, and most of the time it's watered down. Plus, one of the perks of cold brew is you don't have to wait for coffee to brew - it's instantaneous.

Cup.
Ice.
Coffee.
Sweet caffeinated heaven.
Repeat.


We've cobbled together the best way to make cold brew with as little effort as possible, because coffee = life. Loosely adapted from one of the best methods we've run across, from The Pioneer Woman, this requires only 4 tools, besides coffee and about 8-10 hours of doing nothing with your coffee before drinking it:

A big ass bucket/container (like this one)
A pitcher
A mesh strainer
Some cheesecloth/paper towels

Easy, right? Let's make some cold brew.

1. Pour 1lb of coffee (we're partial to darker brews, but any good, strong coffee will do - we've used fancy stuff and the $5 Target brand and both were good) into the big ass container.

This one works nicely. And it's cheap.
2. Fill your pitcher with water, then pour it over the coffee.

3. Stir so that all of the coffee is wet - it'll all get soaked, you just want to make sure you don't have a dry layer of sadness on top tomorrow.

4. Put the container in the fridge and let it sit for 8-10 hours. You could do 6, but it won't be as strong, or you could certainly let it sit longer - just remember, it's already basically rocket fuel at 8 hours. Think of your heart.

5. When you're ready to take it out, put strainer over the pitcher and put some cheesecloth or a paper towel in the strainer. You may not need it, but crunchy coffee is no good.

6. Pour the container into the strainer - this may take a few minutes - and watch as your pitcher fills up with glorious coffee.

7. Chill your coffee in the pitcher in the fridge. It lasts about a week at our house, and still tastes fine by the end of that time.

We actually take any leftover drip coffee and make ice cubes with it, then fill our cups up about 1/3rd of the way with ice cubes, then add a tablespoon of water, then coffee up until about a quarter of the way from the top, then add the best creamer ever, Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half.*

*If you're not able to make cold brew, or run out, STOK is our favorite. Also Califia Farms doesn't pay us - neither does Target or Amazin - but we buy a LOT of it and love it!
This coffee is not for the faint of heart, but it's so good, and easy to make and drink!

Via Pinterest.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cookbook Review: Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

We get a LOT of cookbook recommendations.

And have what some might consider an excessive amount of cookbooks. 

But every once in awhile, someone we really trust about food makes a recommendation for a great new cookbook and we have to get it, even though our shelves are already overflowing creatively arranged.


Our friend Ashley loves food and wine just as much as we do, so when she raved over Chrissy Teigan's cookbook Cravings, we knew we had to get it. 


Chrissy Teigan is, for anyone who doesn't know, a supermodel. A hilarious, married to John Legend, social media loving, outspoken supermodel who loves to cook and eat and say bad words. 


Cravings is a gorgeous - and hilarious - book, but also, the food is incredible. Gimmicky cookbooks, or cookbooks with funny stories, are great, but if the food isn't up to par, we're not interested. Teigan manages to combine wit, humor, storytelling, and appearances from her family and dogs with some seriously good food. 

We've tried several dishes from this book, but two real standouts that we've made over and over are the Spicy Italian Sausage Meatloaf and Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe.


Sloan loves meatloaf, and we both love spicy things, so this definitely fit the bill. Mushrooms, hot Italian sausage, and a super spicy/sweet ketchup on top make this so tasty - the easy prep and clear instructions make it a repeat meal in our house. 


We also love the Cacio e Pepe - out of all the pasta dishes we make, this one is probably the easiest and fastest, plus most delicious. We try to use homemade pasta (which Aiya is in charge of) but this isn't one of those "find organically grown artisan angel wings, but if you can't, store bought will do" types of recipes. 


We've thrown this together with homemade pasta, with spinach instead of arugula, with mozzarella instead of Parmesan and whatever, it's still amazing. 

You're basically making a bacon sauce, so it's hard to screw that up.


You can tell how well we love a recipe by how disgusting the cookbook pages are. 


This pasta was even good with zoodles instead of spaghetti! That's the true test - can we sub out delicious delicious pasta and still not hate our lives? 

Yes. Yes we can. 


Teigan's book is filled with recipes, like Spicy Tomato Skillet Eggs with Prosciutto, that I know we'll be trying for years to come. She's got breakfast, sides, pasta, toast, Thai, and so much more all crammed into a really accessible and beautiful book - we definitely recommend!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pisco: Cherub's Wings and Lost Masterpieces

Rudyard Kipling (colonialist and paternalist that he was) had some very powerful things to say about Pisco calling it, “the highest and noblest product of the age… I have a theory it is composed of cherub’s wings, the glory of tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset, and fragments of lost masterpieces by dead poets.”

Pisco is the declared national spirit of both Peru and Chile. It's a brandy, but not what the average person thinks of when they hear the word, “brandy." For one, it's a clear spirit. Poured in a glass it looks more like vodka. However half a second with your nose above a glass of Pisco will immediately dispel any notion of similarity to vodka. It’s aromas could come from no other spirit from no other corner of the world.


Pisco Production Map (via Wikipedia)
Pisco has a long history riddled with conflict and identity crisis. Peru and Chile have had their conflicts and rivalries over the years, and libations fit right in with the pattern of these tiffs. Peru and Chile both produce spirits they call Pisco, but it is considered a crime in some circles to treat them as the same thing. Peru has a directly traceable history of Pisco production dating back to the 16th century. When wine grapes were first distilled into brandy in Peru, they were stored in clay jars called Piscos.

The production of Peruvian Pisco is by law required to be a much more delicate process. It takes a truly skilled distiller to produce a spirit under this set of conditions. There are skillfully produced Chilean Piscos as well, but the legal requirements are less limiting. The Chilean model leaves more room for mass production and lax quality control.

In the Memphis area the Piscos you typically find are Capel from Chile and Porton from Peru. However you can occasionally find Barsol's line of Pisco in a variety of styles.


So after all this talk about Pisco, you may be wondering, "what the hell can I do with Pisco?" 

Pisco Punch is the most famous Pisco cocktail. At the Bank Exchange Bar in San Francisco, Pisco Punch became one of the most sought after cocktails in America in the late 19th century. Bartender Duncan Nichols created this drink, and he took his secret with him to the grave, so another great cocktail, the Pisco Sour, is a more practical and accessible drink to make at home.



Image

Pisco Sour


2oz Pisco
.5oz simple syrup
1oz fresh lime or key lime juice
1 egg white
a dash of Angostura Bitters

You simply put all the ingredients except the bitters into a shaker and shake vigorously. The drink pours with a nice thick layer of foam on top from the egg white. This is where the bitters come in. A dash of bitters in the foam makes a colorful and aromatic garnish!