Soup, with garnish

Beer Cheese Soup Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

1lb thick cut bacon – sliced and diced

2 leeks – diced

1 medium Poblano pepper – diced

3 carrots – peeled and grated (fine grate)

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1 tbsp good prepared mustard (I recommend Lusty Monk Burn in Hell*)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp sweet paprika (get a good Hungarian one for Pete’s sake)

1 tbsp dried thyme

Dash Cayenne

1 Turkish Bay Leaf

(2) 12oz beers (Sierra Nevada Porter recommended)

1qt Chicken stock (preferably homemade)

1tbsp chicken base or similar (Better than Boullion)

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (L&P recommended)

Salt and Pepper to taste (white pepper preferred)

20oz Heavy Cream

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup all purpose flour

6oz Gouda* – shredded

6oz sharp cheddar** – shredded

chives (for garnish)

olive oil (for garnish)

reserved bacon (for garnish)

Mise-en-place:

Dice up your bacon and get it going in a heavy bottomed dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat.  While that is cooking, get your leeks and your Poblano diced (and remember to ALWAYS wash your leeks well). These two ingredients will go in together.  In another bowl, you can add your chopped garlic and shredded carrots.  Measure out your spices and have them ready to add together as well. Ditto for your cheese.

Method:

Add bacon to a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Stir frequently.  When bacon begins to brown and foamy, remove from pan to a bowl lined with paper towels to drain.  Reserve the cooked bacon for garnishing later.

Add leeks and Poblano pepper to pan.  Cook until vegetables wilt and have released most of their liquid.  (about 5 minutes)

Add in the carrots and garlic.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.

Put the bay leaf and your spices into the pot.  Toss in some salt and grind in some fresh pepper.  Stir.  The heat will wake up your spices.  Enjoy the aromas!

Pour the 2 beers in.  Stir quickly to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  That fond is pure flavor and you want it!

Return to a simmer and reduce soup by 3/4.

Add chicken base, worcestershire sauce, and chicken stock.  Return to a simmer.

Reduce by half over low to medium heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

While the soup is simmering, make your roux.  Add flour to melted butter and whisk over medium heat.  You want your roux to thicken a bit, but not take on too much color.  More color = more flavor.  I recommend a tan roux.

Add cream and return to a simmer.  Adjust seasonings for flavor.

Whisk roux into soup a bit at a time.  You may not need it all, so do not add all of it at once.  After each addition, whisk soup thoroughly to incorporate.  Continue to simmer so the roux will activate and thicken the soup.  Add roux to desired thickness.  Aim for just shy of your ideal, as the cheese will provide a bit of thickening as well.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Bacon cooking. Drool on!

Garnish:

Ladle soup into bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over soup.  Sprinkle chives over soup.  Place some bacon on top.  Serve with Crusty Herb Bread.

Notes:

* If you can find this brand and mustard, get some.  Lusty Monk is consistently awesome.

** I use Boars Head Gouda and sharp cheddar since it’s easy to find and consistently good for the price.  This combination just works great and is easy to get ahold of.

Pasta with sauce

Tarragon Pasta Recipe

Read the article here.

Tarragon Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Mise-en-place – Tarragon, garlic, and shallots

1 tbsp Unsalted butter

1 Shallot – minced

1 clove Garlic – minced

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

2 tsp dried Thyme

1/2 cup White Wine

2 cups Heavy Cream

1 cup Whole Milk

1x Bunch Tarragon (pull the leaves off of the stem)

Parmigiano-reggiano (grated)

(Get your pasta water going.  This sauce takes about 10-15 mins to prepare so you will want your pasta ready about the same time as the sauce.)

Method:

Shallots, garlic, thyme in

Shallots, garlic, and thyme have been added to the pan

Heat the pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and butter.  Toss in the shallots and garlic.  Let the shallots clarify.  Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.  This will be fairly thick, and you want to stir things rapidly.  Add the wine to deglaze.  Stir.  A lot.

Deglazing

Wine going in. Stir!

 

 

 

 

 

Next, add the cream and milk.  Stir.  You will want to taste the sauce at this point to check the salt and pepper concentrations

Cream and milk added

Cream and milk added.

and adjust to your preferences.  Keep in mind, you will be adding parm at the end – typically a salty cheese – so do not overdo it.

The sauce will begin to boil as it comes up to temperature. Never fear, you want this! (*See notes.) Now is the time when you will add in your tarragon and stir to incorporate.

Tarragon input

Tarragon going in!

It should get very fragrant at this point. Enjoy!

Turn the heat off, and grate your parmigiano into the sauce.  Taste.

To finish, you will toss your pasta with the sauce and some more parmigiano.  Use some of your pasta water (ALWAYS save your pasta water!) to thin things out if things seem too thick.

 

Sauce simmering

Sauce simmering before cheese and pasta are added.

Pasta with sauce

Sauced and eat to eat!

Notes:

*What you are looking for is called nappe,

Nappe!

a fancy french term meaning the sauce

will coat the back of a spoon.

I generally serve this with a nice hunk of my garlic & cheese bread.

See the article about this post for some protein variations I recommend.

I usually make this in the my wife got me for Christmas a few years ago.  It works great, and I can add my pasta to the pan and finish the dish without having to dirty something else up.

Pasta with sauce

Tarragon Pasta

 

Pasta with sauce

Sauced and eat to eat!

Get the recipe here

There are plenty of evenings where you need to whip up something in a hurry.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice flavor for speed.  This is not one of those types of recipes.  This one gives you the best of both worlds – it’s fast as well as delicous.  And did I mention, flexible?  I call it my Tarragon Pasta.

This recipe comes from my college days.  I wanted a dish that I could play with, was cheap, and flavorful.  I also wanted to try something that would let me experiment with herbs, cream, and wine.  The sauce itself is fairly basic – cream, spices, fresh tarragon, and some wine if you have it handy.  Add some pasta, and you have a quick dinner that you will enjoy immensely.  Add some sausage, chicken, or shrimp and you have something to be proud of.  And the basic version is easy to make in less than fifteen minutes.  You can have the sauce ready before your pasta water even comes to a boil if you start them at the same time!

I apologise for the addictiveness of this recipe.  Once you have made it once, you will find yourself craving it again a week or two later.  If you like tarragon at all, or are looking for a chance to try the herb then this is the dish for you.

Variations:

My wife loves this dish with chicken.  When I make that variation, I generally pan sear the chicken and just slice it over the top of the pasta.  I have also cooked the chicken with cajun blackened seasoning with very enjoyable results.  As with all my recipes, I recommend you go with what you like!

Personally, my favorite variation involves using italian sausage.  I take a bit of sweet italian sausage and cook it in a skillet.  Then I remove the sausage from the pan and allow it to drain.  When the tarragon cream is thickened, I add the sausage back into the sauce with some finely chopped spinach and toss everything together.  My children love this version.  They happily devour every bite.  Part of this is my children’s absolute love of sausage.  Also, the tarragon and sausage mask the spinach – a boon to any parent trying to get healthy green veggies into their little one.

At some point, I would love to try this dish with shrimp.  I think I would cook the shrimp in butter with garlic and maybe some parmesan.  Nothing fancy, just delicious.  Then I would put the shrimp over the top of the pasta.

Pasta Choices:

I have made this dish with spaghetti, fettucini, bowties, and ziti.  The sauce is fairly thick and clinging so it will stick nicely to longer noodles.  You could probably get away with using gnocchi as well.  When I make the sausage version mentioned above, I generally go with the bowties.  The kids love them, and we don’t have to slice them into smaller portions for the boys.

Wine and Pairing:

Personally, I like this recipe better with wine.  I like to use it in the dish itself, and I particularly enjoy drinking a glass of wine while I enjoy the pasta.  I recommend a nice Riesling or a Pinot Grigio.