Thursday, June 27, 2013

Martha goes Meatless

The July VegCookbook Club selection has been announced already and I have yet to post about June's pick. Here goes.

It took awhile for my library hold for Meatless: More than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes to arrive. This glossy new book is surprisingly hefty. It would add a thick chunk of meatless recipes to an omnivore's bookshelf.

I thought that the book was authored by Martha Stewart but, in fact, she only penned the very brief forward. (Which has a gruesome anecdote about butchering the family pet sheep and serving it to her daughter Alexis as "pork chops." Her daughter was not fooled and chose this moment to start eating "meatless." Go Alexis!)

The many excellent food photographers get credited in the back pages but the recipe authors themselves are ghosts in the Martha Stewart machine. The recipes are largely repurposed from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Publications. So I imagine that if you subscribe to the magazines or other arms of brand Martha Stewart, then some of these recipes might be repeats.

The book has an appealing design, although the index could use some work. I was particularly thrilled to find the "V" symbol for vegan recipes. (Although, the ghost writers seem to think that honey is vegan. I recommend subbing agave.) Truthfully, as I paged through the cookbook, I ended up skipping the non-V recipes, which are largely cheesy.

Below are the three V recipes that I ended up trying. I was looking for recipes that required little or no cooking, due to the summer heat.

Fancy presentation
Avocado Salad with Bell Peppers and Tomatoes
This easy, fresh, and attractive "salad," is really a chunky guacamole with tomatoes, peppers, scallions, garlic, and fresh cilantro. Presentation is key, as it is served in the scooped-out shell of an avocado. I actually just filled a single half for the photo and dumped the rest into a bowl, which was messier but equally satisfying. I forgot the extra cilantro garnish because I'm not Martha Stewart.
How it was really served
Fresh Pea Hummus
Who'd have thought that I would be making a "Martha Stewart" hummus? I scored fresh peas at our local farmers' market and used them in this inventive green hummus recipe. Some cooking is required here but only boiling water, which I could it handle. This recipe reminded me of an edamame hummus that I used to make. As with the edamame version, the look of this dip is surprising and delightful. The fresh green peas were sweet and paired well with the cilantro.
Martha Stewart hummus
Fresh green peas
Chipotle-Avocado Sandwiches
Finally I made these smoky mashed kidney bean sandwiches. I subbed curly kale and fresh broccoli for the suggested escarole and sprouts. I did use avocado and radishes as called-for in the recipe. This meatless combination was excellent in a pita. However I think it might be harder to eat with sliced bread. I did add spicy mustard for extra flavor, as the recipe only uses one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. You could probably add even more peppers, according to taste.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chocolate City Beer

Today's A.Word.A.Day is zymurgy, which is where this blog has been focused of late, as DC has been too hot and humid for cooking. How about we continue the study of fermentation instead? By drinking beer and eating pickles, natch.

While conducting our "highly scientific" summer tour of DC breweries, some friends and I recently visited Chocolate City Beer. Located at 2801 8th St NE in the Brookland neighborhood, this brewery is actually convenient by Metro! It's about a 10-minute walk from Brookland-CUA Station. It is also handy by bus and by bike, if you can brave the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Wow, this is a small brewery, located in the basement of an old railside industrial building. Chocolate City is larger than a homebrew operation but tiny compared to DC Brau. It almost feels like visiting a friend's garage, although it smells more malty than musty.

Because of the size of the operation, Chocolate City doesn't bottle or can their beer. It is only available in barrels, kegs, and sixtels. And, of course, in to-go growlers. Chocolate City's constant batch turnover means that the brewery always has fresh products.

There is no official tour but you are free to roam about as you enjoy a free tasting. When we visited some of the brewers were on hand to answer questions too. They had only one beer ready to taste, the Cornerstone Copper Ale. This "foundational beer" is a mild amber ale, which is not really my bag. I'll be on the lookout for their other offerings.

Luckily, you can find Chocolate City beer on tap, all around town. Growler sales are every Saturday, from 12:30pm-4:30pm, at the brewery proper. I do love the Chocolate City Beer logo, which also adorns the glassware and other merchandise available at the brewery store.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kale-chi from Number 1 Sons

I've found a new summer love at our neighborhood farmers' market, 14th & U Farmers' Market. A pickle stand has arrived on the Saturday morning scene. (Making some amends for the sore loss of the mushroom vendor). Number 1 Sons, a family-run operation, offers a variety of barrel fermented favorites, including one I've never heard of before.

"What do you want pickled?"
Behold, kale-chi, a kimchi that features kale. What a great idea! Number 1 Sons' tumblr page asks, "What do you want pickled?" Kale is an awesome answer to that question because it is a nutritional rockstar. Kale-chi is a delightful take on classic kimchi. It's nice to have locally-made kimchi without fish sauce or shrimp in it too. This spicy, crunchy pickled dish is excellent as a condiment or eaten straight out of its tub. I even put it on my salads for kicks.

Number 1 Sons' products are available at farmers' markets and in stores around DC and VA. I'm eager to try more of their offerings, including their kraut and salsa. Plus, the majority of their fermented foods are vegan. (The "Kimchi Cukes" do contain honey.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

DC Brau Brewing Company

The Corruption IPA
Last month some friends and I began a slow summer tour of Washington, DC breweries. The District of Columbia has had its share of antiquated and downright Draconian laws, what with the struggle for statehood and the lack of basic political rights for its denizens. Happily, things are starting to change on the beer law front, thanks largely to DC Brau.

Founded by Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock in 2009, DC Brau Brewing Company was the first local brewery to exist in the District since the 1950s. DC Brau's motto is "Fermentation Without Representation"and they promote DC Statehood and going green. These beer champions have paved the way for things like tasting tours and growler sales. Clearly, DC Brau had to be the first stop on our tour.  
Strip mall that houses DC Brau's brewery 
Their small but rapidly expanding brewery, located at 3178-B Bladensburg Rd NE, is well-worth a visit. We took public transportation to the nondescript New Town Center. (The handy B2 bus from Stadium Armory Metro is a direct 20-minute ride and avoids Maryland). However other thirsty folks were arriving via bicycles and cars. The entrance to the brewery is around back of the strip mall. Look for a loading dock area and people with growlers.

The free tours happen on most Saturdays at 1, 2, and 3pm, during the brewery's 12pm - 4pm hours. When we visited co-founder Brandon Skall led the brief, informative tour himself. As is standard with brewery tours, Skall covered Brewing 101 topics and showed off their new walk-in refrigerator and the shiny and impressive canning system.

Canning system

My favorite part of the tour, besides the colorful murals throughout the brewery, was that Skall said DC Brau's beers are all vegan! The brewery doesn't use isinglass (fish bladders) or other animal based fining agents. He said that just didn't fit with their style of beer. Plus they didn't want to "give vegans a complex." (Please take note, Magic Hat and other unnecessarily "fishy" beers.)

As part of the visit, the brewery gives you four tasting tickets for their brews. We sampled the Penn Quarter Porter, The Corruption India Pale, The Public American Pale, and The Citizen Belgian Pale. The Corruption was my favorite as I enjoy hoppy, bold beers but all the beers were tasty and unique.
Free tastings held under US and DC flags
The brewery sells growlers and six-packs to-go. They also sell all sorts of cool merch, including stemware. DC Brau is currently brewing a beer for our local football team, DC United, which will be available at RFK Stadium. You can find their brau all over town--at restaurants and bars, at our art house movie theater, and in many a summer picnic basket.