Sunday, November 1, 2009

Roast lamb and beer bread!

A week or so ago, Chris and I wanted to cook a roast on the weekend, so we got a venison roast out of the back of the freezer and tried to defrost it, but in the process it got a little warm so we decided to be safe, rather than sorry, and threw it out. Fortunately we had a boneless lamb roast sitting in the freezer too, so I started defrosting it on Friday, and Chris took over that part of supper. He used a sauce that he had cooked a venison roast in last year - Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, onion soup mix powder, worcestershire sauce, etc. It end up making a very tasty gravy, very easily. He also stuffed the roast with slivers of garlic, which is never a bad thing! This was all added to a crock pot and slow-cooked all day. At the end he took the meat out, added some Greek red wine (Kouros brand) to the crock to lift the fond and add a little more flavour, and made a gravy with the help of a little corn starch. Along with this he made some delicious garlicky whipped potatoes, and cooked up the last of the asparagus (a little too long, admittedly, and it was cold by the time supper was served, but it was still good...I just plain love asparagus).

Well meanwhile I did laundry all day (from 11am until...3?) - eight loads all told. Don't look at me like that, I haven't done laundry in two weeks, it's not that we make an inordinate amount of laundry! Anyways, when I was bringing the last load up it occurred to me that it would be awesome to have some nice crispy bread to sop the gravy up with. It was a little late in the game to whip the bread maker out, but there was just enough time to go to Sobey's before it closed and get a foccacia which I could crisp up in the oven. Well, I came in, hung up my laundry, and relaxed by grabbing my laptop and checking Facebook (there's three flights of stairs between me and the laundry room!) Anyways I saw that Heather had posted a link to a recipe for beer bread from Ezra Pound Cake. I was curious, because 1) I had a bottle of beer in the fridge, 2) I wanted to make some quick bread, and 3) I'd had beer bread before, and was fairly sure I liked it.

Well, it turns out beer bread is a "quick" bread which doesn't require yeast, which is fine by me! It is definitely closer to a biscuit than a bread though, so keep that in mind. Also, it doesn't taste much like beer - I used a locally-produced (Moncton NB) Pumphouse Scotch Ale, which, ironically, was the beer I was drinking at the Pumphouse while I was trying beer bread for the first time! It's really quite tasty and smooth - a little bit sweet, a little bit bitter, and a little bit smokey, I thought it would be a perfect candidate for this experiment (although next time I might try something heavier).

Here's the recipe, from Ezra Pound Cake .com!

Beer Bread
From Rebecca Crump (
Makes 1 loaf
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (Note: Feel free to reduce to 1/4 cup.)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-x-5-x-3-inch loaf pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer into the dry ingredients until just mixed.
4. Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.
5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Ok, so there's the beer fizzing away on top of the dry ingredients...I maybe should have had a slightly bigger bowl? I also had a hard time getting all of the flour to mix in, I felt the mixture was a bit dry.

My other concern was the amount of butter. I used a frozen stick of President's Choice organic unsalted butter which I melted in the microwave, but it wasn't a full stick - it was like, 4/5s of a stick. And once I poured half of it on the bottom, I was thinking "this is probably too much butter"; by the time I was pouring it over the top I was thinking "Holy sh*t, this is WAY too much will either be crispy and delicious, or a soupy mess". you see what I mean about the excessive amount of butter (the oregano and freshly-ground black pepper were my own special touches)? I just found out about 2 minutes ago that Heather used the 1/4c. of butter, and I think next time that's what I'll do. The one step I don't have pictures of is the FIRE! Yes, that's right, as the bread was rising and the butter was sizzling, the butter was flowing out of the loaf pan and drizzling onto the element below...and started to catch fire! Flames, in my oven! Eeek! Chris had the good sense to snuff the fire out with a cookie sheet, and took it out. I suggested that maybe the pan could sit on the cookie sheet so it could catch the drips...and it worked! No more flames! Of course, this wasn't as impressive as the time someone I know opened up a toaster oven and a foot-long flame shot out, but still, a little scary!

Fifty minutes later I finally got to meet my bouncing baby beer bread! And it wasn't swimming in butter! Yay! I thought it was tasty-looking and crispy, but I still didn't know what the texture was going to be like - the beer bread at the Pumphouse was fairly bready, as far as I could recall...when I tried this, it was more like a homemade biscuit, which was and wasn't dissapointing at the same time. I like biscuits, and this is the closest I've ever come to making them, but it's not what I was expecting. Still, I'd do it again, just...with less butter next time. Speaking of butter, I noticed something interesting when we turned the loaf out to cut it...

OMG LOOK AT THAT CRUST!!! It's like somebody deep-fried it...which they pretty much did. Chris told me that he could feel butter oozing out of it...I believe him!

Also, next time I'm going to put some herbs and spices into it, just to give it another taste dimension...cumin might be nice?

Anyways I'm looking forward to snacking on some of this tomorrow morning for breakfast...maybe I'll warm it up and spread a little goat cheese on it? ;)

Thai green curry with pork and green beans over rice vermicelli

I made this curry a week or two ago and haven't had a chance to post it, but I wanted to make a point to, if only to remind myself that:

1) Yes, there is such a thing as "too much fish sauce". I kind of went from "hmm, kind of bland" to "flavour overload" fairly quickly.

2) If you have enough sauce in the pan, you can rehydrate rice noodles in it and they will taste AMAZING.

This is made from two pork chops I deboned, frozen green and yellow string beans, store-bought green curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce and Vietnamese rice vermacelli noodles. I would definitely make it again but next time, I would maybe add more paste, not more fish sauce....