June 2014

chocolate stout creamsicles

Posted on June 25, 2014

Chocolate Stout Creamsicles | The Answer is Always Pork

Hurray, it’s Popsicle Week! So many frozen confections taking the interwebs by storm! I wasn’t sure I was going to have time to pull something together for this year’s Popsicle Week before heading off to Las Vegas for the American Library Association’s annual convention (?!?!/we’ve got a booth for our app/I’m going to go meet thousands of librarians/Joannes Gutenberg temporary tattoos might be involved/life is weird), but when this idea came to Jordan, it was too good to pass up.

Chocolate Stout Creamsicles | The Answer is Always Pork

These popsicles are sort of like a Guinness float, but the beer is far better and so is the ice cream base. The vanilla flavor is not at all shy but the pop also has hints of chocolate and booze. The stout adds some serious depth and you get nice a cocoa powder-esque bitterness at the end. I was also picking up some bourbony notes, but maybe that’s just the stout getting to my head. In any case, these popsicles are delicious and should probably be added into your summer repertoire.

In case you hate fun and popsicles aren’t your thing, you can also easily make this as an ice cream instead. I have a feeling it would be really fantastic sandwiched between two chocolate wafer cookies.

Chocolate Stout Creamsicles | The Answer is Always Pork

Chocolate Stout Creamsicles
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
5 large egg yolks
2/3 cup chocolate stout (We used Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout)

In a heavy saucepan, combine the cream, milk, 1/4 cup sugar, salt and vanilla bean seeds and pod. Put the pan over medium high heat. When the mixture begins to bubble around the edges, remove it from the heat, cover and let the vanilla bean steep for 3o minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. After the vanilla bean has been steeping for 30 minutes, bring the mixture back up to a bare simmer Scoop out 1/2 cup of the hot milk and whisk it slowly into the eggs. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of hot milk to the eggs. Then slowly whisk the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and it coats the back of a spoon or spatula. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean tupperware container. Set the tupperware in an ice bath and stir occasionally until it is cool. Cover your container and refrigerate the base for 2 hours or overnight.

After the base is chilled, mix in 2/3 cup of chocolate oatmeal stout and stir to blend it in. Then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. If you want to make popsicles, scoop the ice cream base into popsicle molds and freeze for four hours. If you’re not in the mood for pops, just scoop into a clean tupperware and freeze for a few hours or enjoy right away!

Ps. For the full list of 40+ frozen novelties, check out Billy’s blog Wit & Vinegar.

-Emily
Chocolate Stout Creamsicles | The Answer is Always Pork

nonnie’s carrot cake

Posted on June 17, 2014

After a glorious weekend away, we had to come back to reality. Back to work for both of us. But the upside to getting back to our regular routine is that I have Sundays at my disposal. Jordan works all day Sundays and so I’m left to my own devices. I like to think of Sunday as my project day. Usually this means walking Willow, putting off showering, planning dinners for the week (or as many days I as I can figure out/carry home), going grocery shopping, cooking something, listening to a lot of 99% Invisible, walking Willow some more, and maybe blogging, but usually procrastinating by checking Instagram, cleaning algae off my shower curtain or watering my plants. It’s rather glamorous.

But really, I’ve come to love having a day to myself to work on my things, whatever those things happen to be. Usually it’s food, but sometimes it’s putzing with a camera or trying to get better at calligraphy. It’s energizing to have time to myself, though maybe not quite as refreshing as no cell phone service, fresh air and a stunning view of vineyards.

Carrot Cake | The Answer is Always Pork Carrot Cake | The Answer is Always Pork

I made this cake on one such Sunday, I think it was last weekend, but it could have been the one before. Carrot cake is one of those desserts that you only really have once a year, usually around Easter. Something about bunnies and carrots, maybe? It’s is a neglected cake flavor, up against a tough crowd. Honestly, it’s hard to be a vegetable and hold a candle to dark chocolate or vanilla bean. But I happen to really like carrot cake and think it deserves a little more time in the spotlight. It popped into my head to make it, and so I did, even though Easter is long past. Cake doesn’t have to be chocolate to be delicious, especially if it has cream cheese icing.

This carrot cake is recipe from my Nonnie, which means it is pretty much perfect. It’s moist, delicately spiced, and easy to make. It doesn’t have raisins lurking in its layers, but you do get a little crunch from the pecans. The cream cheese frosting is also divine, and good on just about anything you can think to put it on. My Nonnie usually makes this cake in a 9″ x 11″ dish, but two stacked rounds with frosting sandwiched in between are just too cute to resist. Add a few more minutes to the baking time if you prefer a single layer cake.

Carrot Cake | The Answer is Always PorkCarrot Cake | The Answer is Always Pork

Nonnie’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup crushed pineapple in juice (seems strange, but it’s the magic ingredient)
1 cup carrot, grated (about two large carrots)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2/3 cup neutral-tasting oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat an over to 350 degrees. Butter, line with parchment paper, butter again and flour two 8″ round baking pans. Experience has taught me that taking the extra time to add a layer of parchment really does make it easier to extract cakes from their molds.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pineapple, carrot, pecans, oil and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix to combine.

Divide into the two pans. Bake at 350° F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Take care to not over-bake this cake, the moistness is spectacular if you don’t overdo it. Cool on a rack and frost when cooled.

Carrot Cake | The Answer is Always PorkCarrot Cake | The Answer is Always Pork

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
dash of salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (especially if you live in damp SF)

Cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Frost just about anything and I guarantee you’ll love it!

-Emily

shrimp salpicon

Posted on June 9, 2014

A few weekends ago to celebrate finishing another semester of graduate school for Jordan and launching version 2.0 of our app for me, we went up to visit our friend Katie. Katie and I were roommates in college. She was the first person I met at Georgetown and one of the big reasons I stuck around. She embraced my California quirks, somehow tolerated my insane homesickness and was generous enough to bring me along when she’d hang out with her older brother Chris and his friends. Georgetown was a much friendlier place because of knowing Katie, and there’s no way I would’ve made it through the first semester if we hadn’t met.

When we graduated, I moved to San Francisco to live with Jordan, and after year or two in DC, Katie also succumbed to California’s siren song. Now she works as a chef at the Boonville Hotel Restaurant, after working for a few years at the Philo Apple Farm, all just a few hours north of us in the Anderson Valley.

Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork

Our weekend in Boonville was perfect. I almost don’t want to write about it, and just keep it as a secret to savor all to myself, in case writing somehow makes the whole thing seem a little less magical. But this shrimp dish is too good not to share. So here goes.

We stopped in at the restaurant to say hi to Katie and tour the kitchen, ate an ice cream cone, went hiking in an old growth redwood forest, gave my new-old 4×5 camera a spin, were treated to the best of meals at the hotel, stared up at a star-filled sky while standing next to a fire, ate breakfast with new friends on a patio with breathtaking views, got a personalized tour of The Apple Farm and its many plants and animals, drank hard cider under a canopy of mulberry trees, sat in the sun tasting wines and catching up.

The weather was wonderful, clear and warm. Jordan and I spent two whole days off in a row together. There wasn’t cell phone reception. We got to hang out with one of our most favorite people and see the beautiful life she’s built for herself first hand. We left Boonville more relaxed than we’d felt in months, our bellies full and hearts fuller.

Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork

This shrimp dish was the first course of our meal at the Boonville Hotel. It’s a perfect dish for late spring or early summer when it’s starting to get warm and the corn is coming in. The charred flavor of grilled shrimp goes wonderfully with the creamy aioli, and that’s offset by the tangy vegetable salad. Grilled bread soaks up all the juices from the salad, and yet still has some chew to it. If you’re worried about the pickles being weird, they’re not. It all just works.

Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always PorkShrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork

Shrimp Salpicon, adapted from the Boonville Hotel Restaurant
Serves four
For the shrimp
2 lbs fresh shrimp, peeled
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons pimente d’ville or a pinch of paprika and bit of cayenne
salt

For the salsa
1 cucumber, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 – 3  bell peppers, diced
2 ears of corn, cut off the cob
1/2 cup cornichon, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
juice from a lemon
salt and pepper

To assemble
12 slices of crusty bread
aioli, thinned with a little more lemon juice

Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork

Clean the shrimp and put them in a bowl. Add the lemon zest, oil, pimente d’ville and season with a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate.

Dice up the vegetables and put them in a big bowl. Add the olive oil and vinegar and stir to combine. Season well with salt and pepper. The salad should be pretty tangy and have extra dressing pooling at the bottom of the bowl.

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange them on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Under the broiler or on a grill, toast both sides of the bread.

Shrimp Salpicon | The Answer is Always Pork

After your bread is toasted, grill the shrimp. We cooked ours in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. At the hotel they cooked them on the grill. Do whichever is easiest for you, but be sure not to overcook the shrimp. They only take 2 to 3 minutes per side.

To serve, put a few slices of toasted bread on a plate. Mound the salad on top, making sure to pour some of the extra dressing onto the bread. Top with the grilled shrimp and drizzle the whole thing with aioli. Enjoy!

-Emily