Tag Archives: Bell’s Brewery

Charcuterie Board: Meat and Cheese!

10 May

The topic of a homemade Charcuterie Board has been bouncing around our house for about a week. Why? Because have you ever had one? They’re delightful. Various cured and spiced meats sliced thin, paired with cheeses of varying textures (hard AND soft??), laid next to pickled vegetables and strong sauces. All these friends are preparing for their journey to the mouth, hopping on a fresh crusty baguette to serve as their vessel for deliciousness. The downside of making one at home? The amount of cheese you inevitably end up consuming. At a restaurant at least it’s pre-portioned, but at home…ooooh at home, your ravenous instincts are the only things keeping you from “I just ate $45 worth of product”.

So anyhoo, we deiced to embark on this task to cap off one of the greatest weekends of 2013 to date (I said the words “…and so began the craziest summer of my life” at least 4 times that weekend. I was in the moment). So how do we complete a task such as this? You head to Plum Market and get ready for expert advise and quality product.


The general run-down:

  • Proscuitto (thinly sliced, almost to a melt-on-your-tongue thickness)
  • Black Pepper Hard Salami (rich and salty with the perfect bite from the black pepper)
  • Zingerman’s The City Goat Cheese (the texture is a bit lighter than other Goat cheeses, and has a deliciously sweet tang to it. And it’s rolled in fresh Tarragon, which I didn’t think I’d like, but yowza it was the perfect accompaniment to this creamy gem)
  • Vella Golden Bear Dry Jack Cheese (described as “The Grandfather of Jack Cheese” with a texture similar to Parmesan, this hard Jack has amazing nutty and earthy flavors. The rind is also a mixture of cocoa powder, oil, and black pepper, so you can eat it!)
  • Olives (all different types, pit-in of course. My favorite ended up being the bright green kinds)
  • Oil-Packed Artichoke Hearts (I could eat 2 lbs of these, no problem)
  • Marinated Peppadew Peppers (the vinegar gives the perfect tang to balance out the natural sweetness of the cute little peppers)
  • Lemon-Parsley Chickpeas (while these were good, they were more of a “let’s get some deli salads and have a picnic” item, not so much a “this complements my meats and cheeses on my Charcuterie board” item)
  • Cornichons (small pickled Gherkins–Cornichon is actually the French word for “Gherkin”.  I already had some from Trader Joe’s, they’re delicious and reasonably priced seeing as a jar of these can run you up toward $6)
  • Pickled Garlic Cloves (yes, they were quite pungent)
  • Orange-Fig Spread (this ended up being the runaway hit of the evening. The key to any good board–whether cheese or otherwise–is having a nice balance of flavors, hence the sweet counter-part. Everything went well with this spread: cheese, meat, even anything marinated or pickled)
  • Whole Grain Mustard (a classic Charcuterie staple)
  • Bell’s Oarsman (full disclosure: I used to hate this Berliner Weisbier. It’s not your average Wheat beer, it has sour notes that many people may not be accustomed to, but if you’ve got the palate for it, this session beer is a real delight)
  • An Assortment of Crackers and Sliced Baguette

This shot is nice and blurry (too much Oarsman?) however it offers a better idea of the set up (the key is rolling up your Proscuitto for extra fanciness)

PlateAnd the vessels…

BreadOh, not quite full enough yet? How about a mini carrot cake to share!

CarrotCakeWho needs a plate when you have a capable plastic clamshell to eat out of?

Needless to say, we all ate WAY too much, and sat awkwardly and uncomfortably on the couch trying to watch “World Wackiest Water Parks” (or something along those lines) to take our minds off the massive amounts of items of the pickled and dairy persuasion that were currently setting up camp inside of us. I was so full and tired that I blew off my normal Game of Thrones viewing party and opted to go to bed at 9:30pm. Would I do it all over again? 1000%.

MidAssemblyLook at how innocent they look. They have no idea they’re mere moments away from total consumption












…And Moses Said Onto Thee “Let There Be Sephardic Bread and Beet Normandy”

26 Mar

I’ve had quite the week. My birthday was last week (March 19) and since then I’ve had about 50 different celebrations. After this week of non-blogging and ruining my body from the inside out (particularly my liver), I’m ready to get back in the kitchen and nurse myself back to health. (Sidenote: John got me tickets to Book of Mormon in Detroit for my birthday, and it was literally the most entraining 2.5 hours of my life)

And hey, not only is it Passover, but it’s Oberon day! Being from Kalamazoo, Bell’s Oberon release day is somewhat of a city-wide holiday. Want to know more about Oberon? Check our A2GastroBoy’s post last week about this sun nectar. I vowed to take a week off of drinking, until I was honest with myself, so hey, I’ll catch up with that wagon eventually. But back to my Jewish roots. What to make for Passover? I didn’t have time to execute a soup (of the Matzoh-Ball persuasion), and I didn’t want to purchase a big ol’hunk of meat (Brisket) so let’s go a different route: Gefilte Fish? Well, not exactly, but a fish terrine seems to fit the bill. Pair that with a raw beet tartare, and throw in a new recipe for Challah, I’d say you’ve got yourself quite the meal.


{ Martha Stewart – Halibut and Salmon Terrine }

{ Food&Wine – Jessamyn’s Sephardic Challah }

{ Mark Bitman – Beet Tartare }

*Deep Breath* Let’s do this thing. Let’s start with the bread since there are about 4 steps that involve letting it rest and rise (great, it only bakes for 30 minutes…oh, that’s AFTER it rises for about 2.5 hours, splendid). Now, I’m no stranger to the Challah-d Arts, but this recipe really intrigued me. No eggs in the dough, toasted sesame seeds, and savory spices? I’m in. You Sephardic Jews are alright in my book.


Working on this bread made me thirst for the day I get a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.


Doesn’t it hurt your arm just looking at it?? For this dough it called for proofing the yeast in about 2 Tbs of warm water while you mixed the other ingredients together, and then you add the yeast mixture. Well since I DON’T have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, I like to do a little mixing in the bowl, then transfer everything to a flat surface and just mix it by hand. When you’re adding liquid to a kind-of-already-formed dough ball on a flat surface, a lot of it just pours off and starts to roll across said flat surface. And a lot of times this causes one to freak out since the yeast is the best part of bread (perhaps this is where my beer love comes from?). After frantic scooping and the addition of some more flour, our dough came together. This recipe calls for Bread Flour, and since I have tons of All Purpose flour, I decided to keep my money, and obsessively look up what the difference is online. The answer: gluten content. Bread flour will give you a denser dough, but do you know what kneading does? It forms the gluten particles together, so by giving a good old fashioned knead-down, you’re setting yourself up for some (hopefully) great bread. But enough of that, it’s part 1 of it’s 2.5 hour nap.

It’s Fish time now. I decided to make this because it’s not quite Gefilte fish (which I’ve never had a good one of, I’m sure it exists, and I like both pickled things and fish, but yikes, not this pickled-hamburger-fish monstrosity that is served to the chosen people), but still fits in with the theme. And who doesn’t want a fish meatloaf on a Monday?

To begin we need to chop up carrots and Parsnips. Have you ever noticed how phallic parsnips are? Because holy-jewish-holiday they are. And as I peeled these long pale bad boys, I felt I was performing another Jewish tradition: The Bris.

5_Seinfeld_Bris Parsnip


Tee Hee Hee [sorry]. Anyhoo, after you have your root veggies cut and some onions sautéed, you want to mash up Salmon and Halibut in a food processor, which just kind of feels wrong. 2 Beautiful pieces of fish, ripped into a strange chunky fish paste. Hm.



So at this point you mix the veggies, fish paste, and all the other ingredients to make a fishloaf (I’m ashamed to admit that I used Panko breadcrumbs for the matzo meal since I didn’t want to buy it. What kind of Goyum have I become?), push it into a pan, put that pan into a bigger pan, and fill the bigger pan with water. And now we cook.FishMixture



While it’s cooking, let’s check on our bread.

DoughBallAwwww yeahhhh. When I poured it out of it’s napping bowl, it landed with a sound that was a mixture of shunk and thud {thunk? shut?}. We cut it in half and wait, roll it out and wait, roll it out again and coil it up.

DoughRollAnd now we’re just about read to bak–damnit it needs to rest for another hour?? Ok, well let’s check on the fishloaf.

TerrineThat’s right, it was too big for any of my plates, it had to rest on my cutting board. That looks tasty….well, it SMELLS tasty at least. And hey, I can nibble on this while I’m waiting for the brea–it needs to cool in the fridge for at least an hour? OH COME ON.

Fine, I’ll work on my Beet tartare. Chop everything up and mix together. Well, that took up about 4 minutes. I have 56 minutes to kill until it’s bread bake/fishloaf go time.


BeetMix{the colors Duke, the colors!}

I’ve actually made this Beet Tartare before, and I really love it. It has a lot of flavor, and if you can put up with the next 30 hours of pink Beet pee and the ravaging of your digestive system, it’s a great [vegan] meal in itself.

Let’s fast forward to the bread being done:

ChallahIt’s worth being a Jew just for that. Half the seeds/sesame seeds are in the bread, the other half are on the outside. I added some coarse KOSHER salt to the topping mixture, and wowza, just delightful. AND it makes 2 loafs, so bring one and brag about it at work the next day while everyone is picking seeds out of their teeth.


The Terrine (read: fishloaf) was cooked through and chilled thoroughly, but never quite kept it’s shape when cut. Unfortunately it looked a bit like wet cat food, but hey, bygones.

Plate1I’m not going to lie, this was a very time-consuming meal, but making bread from scratch AND putting beets into a food processor all in one night isn’t too shabby. And Mr. Oberon Sun was there to tell me “baby, you’ve done such a good job, I’m so proud of you. Let’s make this a Passover we’ll never forget” and I said “you’re right Mr. Oberon Sun, let’s never fight again.” And we never did.

John came home right after I made the Beet Tartare, and all I heard from the kitchen was “It looks like Beet Normandy in here” because I didn’t do the best job of cleaning up my beet mess (read: beet skin peels were everywhere with pink smears all over the counter, and I assume there was a tribal-like red beet handprint somewhere on the cupboards).

Happy Passover/Happy Oberon Day! I wish it would stop snowing!







Beer’s The Word

15 Mar

I spent the majority of my morning and afternoon researching Michigan Craft Stouts/Porters/Irish Reds for a St Patrick’s blog piece for work (which you can view here) which made me think: Sweet Jesus I want a beer.

I’m normally a fan of the big, hoppy beers–(sidestory-I used to hate hops, just HATE them. I attribute that to someone buying me a Bell’s Two Hearted on my 21st birthday, and it was the last thing I drank before I started puking. Traumatizing. Coincidentally, Two Hearted has become my “go to” beer when I’m out because bars with the worst tap line ups full of watery mass-produced garbage will usually somehow have this, or at least feature it in bottles. When in doubt, Two Heart-it)–but after my hours-long trek behind the bar of the internet I’m in physical pain based on how badly I want a smooth and comforting stout. And soon that turned into just a hard wanting for a beer…ANY BEER.

Admittedly, I am one lucky gal living in Michigan, a state that is just lousy with great beer. Someone complimented me on my choice of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale the other week while I was out, and it took every fiber of my being not to say “ehhhh yeah, this registers low on my spectrum, but, uh, thanks.” Not to say it’s a bad beer, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a go-out-of-your-way-to-acknowledge-how-great-it-is kind of beer. I swear I’m not THAT big of a beer snob, I just want to make sure the right breweries are getting their acknowledgements.

There is so much rich history in beer. The pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock because they ran out of beer, and therefore ran out of clean, drinkable liquid (true story). Monks brew beer (Trappist Ales) as their major monastery fundraising. Hops were originally used as a preservative to keep beer good on it’s long sea voyages from England to India (that’s how we got the India Pale Ale, or IPA). Erica once wrote a post about beer in her critically-acclaimed blog Now Entering Flavor Country (eh? eh?).

I’ve been fortunate enough to work on Kalamazoo Beer Week, be part of the planning for amazing Beer Dinners and Beer Events, attend various beer festivals throughout Michigan and even the Great American Beer Festival, have met many brewers of my favorite beers, and even have my own little “cellar” of fancy 750s and rare bottles. While I myself may not be a beer reviewer, I will take you on a trip down memory lane as I reminiscence about some recent beer travels and experiences from the past 2 or so years.

Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, MI

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, MI. Boy did I take for granted that this was a few miles from me while living there. Everytime I go back home, I make sure to stop here. I’ve been assured the abv listed for the beers on tap are accurate, but I always feel it 2x. Maybe it’s just my giddy quick-consumption?

Taking in the local color of National Bohemian Beer in Washington DC (I realize it's from Baltimore, but hey, potato-potato)

Taking in the local color of National Bohemian Beer in Washington DC (I realize it’s from Baltimore, but hey, potato-potato). I believe this night they were $1 along with $0.50 wings.

Cans of PBR...er-Rainer in Seattle (tip: don't make fun of this beer or the bartender will tell you to "go the fuck back to Michigan")

Cans of PBR…er-Rainer in Seattle (tip: don’t make fun of this beer or the bartender will tell you to “go the fuck back to Michigan”)

At Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, CO...clever eh?

At Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, CO…clever eh? This was our 3rd brewery stop for the day, so I’m SHOCKED the camera is this steady.

At New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO being an "IPA Ranger"

At New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO being an “IPA Ranger”. I was almost too short to reach my head into the face hole.

At the Great American Beer Festival on Denver, CO being...mature

At the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO during the Brewer’s Session being…mature

The most expensive beer I've ever purchased: $30 for this bottle of Russian River at Monk's Kettle in San Francisco, CA

The most expensive beer I’ve ever purchased at a bar: $30. Russian River Temptation at Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco, CA. Worth it.

Silverado Brewing Co (because we needed a break from wine for an hour) in Napa, CA

Silverado Brewing Co (because we needed a break from wine for an hour) in Napa, CA…I’m behind the camera, classy shot.

A fancy flight from Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, OR

A fancy flight from Hair of the Dog in Portland, OR

A recent gift package I got from a friend on the West coast...I still owe him a package of Michigan beers

A recent care package I got from a friend on the West coast…I still owe him a package of Michigan beers

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some clocks to stare at until I can quench my thirst. 


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