Beer Makes Everything Better

by Cate on August 9, 2005

My friend Gwen’s motto is “Bourbon Makes Everything Better.” Usually I’d agree, but tonight, beer was the star.

I made Beer and Onion Brats … the brats cook in 36 oz of beer for about 15 minutes, then are finished on the grill. SO, SO good, tender and delicious. I’ll definitely do them again this way. I still had some ground beef leftover from my burger-recipe-tinkering on Sunday, so I made a few more burgers to go with the brats. I asked Nicholas what he wanted for dinner, and he promptly said, “Macaroni and Cheese, please,” pulling Kraft’s Mac & Cheese from the pantry. Although it’s his favorite, I tried to steer him towards homemade mac and cheese, since I had already bought the ingredients for the recipe from the Endangered Recipes cookbook my sister gave me. After much resistance, he relented. Of course, a full recipe of the stuff later, he didn’t even touch it, focusing instead on the brats. Of course, The Husband doesn’t eat macaroni and cheese, so needless to say, I know what I (and Nicholas, once he comes around) will be eating the next few days. I’ve put the recipe below, but it includes some of my changes, based on making it tonight.

And lastly, to round out the meal, I made Tyler Florence’s Coconut Shrimp Ceviche. I happened to catch his Mexican food episode the other night, and he made this and a few other dishes with the lead singer from Smash Mouth. Very, very simple to make, and quite tasty. One of the other dishes he made was Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Chili Mayonnaise. He served it wrapped in a lettuce leaf with fresh cilantro and sliced avocado. Think that might make the Christmas table when we do the Feast of Seven Fishes.

I have a bunch of pictures to add here, but since I don’t have my computer back yet, they’re going to have to wait. But coming soon, I promise!

My new dishwasher came Saturday and finally got installed Sunday. Based on Consumer Reports’ research, and recommendations from friends and visitors here, I ended up getting the GE Profile and am LOVING it. The tall tub is a tremendous help, making it a cinch to fit my largest platters, pans and cookie sheets. The dishwasher is so quiet, you can barely tell it’s on. And best yet, every single item comes out spotless. Can’t want for more than that. Before buying this one, I really did my research, particularly important after being unhappy with the GE Triton. On Consumer Reports’ web site, you can pay $4.95/monthly, and have access for however long you want, making it very easy to get all sorts of statistics on whatever you’re shopping for. Definitely worth it.

Last night, we took Nicholas to get his 3-year-old pictures taken, and he posed like a champ. One of the pictures from last night, they suggested we enter into their photo contest — not too shabby, considering you can win $5k and $10k savings bonds.

Because we had an hour to kill before the pictures were ready, we popped into Build-A-Bear Workshop. We’ve never been there before, but thought it was time that Nicholas make his very own teddy bear. Very reasonably priced, customers can pick their own style of bear or other animal, then an associate helps with the stuffing. Nicholas got to press the foot pedal to make the stuffing fill up the bear, even adding a small heart inside before the back got stitched up. Not being able to resist stuffed animals, though I have gotten much better, we also got Elmo. They’re retiring him, so he was on sale, and even came with free sound, “Elmo loves you!” So, so soft, Nicholas was a happy camper last night. Today at school, his class had a Teddy Bear Picnic, so he got to bring in his new teddy bear and show it off to everyone, explaining that he made it himself. He was quite pleased with himself.

Anyone follow Hell’s Kitchen? Finally caught the finale the other night, and am really glad Michael won. Although Ralph was probably equally talented, Michael had such a great attitude throughout the entire competition. Congratulations to him on a job well done! I loved the show and hope they do it again. Anything about restaurants, cooking and seeing the inner workings of a restaurant kitchen, and I am there!

Have an appointment tomorrow night, so think it might be a take-out kinda night for dinner. I am planning, however, to do some baking, so tune in to find out what’s cookin’.

Until then…

P.S. Just gotta say this … Martha, what WERE you thinking? Martha Stewart was due to get her ankle monitoring device off tomorrow, but because she violated the probation restrictions of it, they extended it another three weeks. She attended a hatha yoga class, which was definitely not allowed. Surely she has enough money that she could have had her very own, personal yoga class at her house, no? Geesh. I love Martha, but come on already! Ok, vent over. :)

Beer and Onion Brats
1 package (19.76 oz) Johnsonville Fresh Original Bratwurst
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 bottles (12 oz each) beer
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the brats, onions and beer in a pan and heat to boiling. Cover, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the brats to a covered plate. Strain the onions into a colander. Turn drained onions into a pan with a little olive oil and slowly cook until well caramelized (about 20 minutes). Grill brats on low to medium heat for 10 minutes, turning the brats so they are browned on all sides. Serve on your favorite bun. Spread a little mustard and smother brat with the cooked onions.

Coconut Shrimp Ceviche
Tyler Florence
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, halved
3 bay leaves
8 peppercorns
Sea salt
1-1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup lime juice (about 6 to 8 limes), plus more for drizzling
1 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 bunch freshly chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

Make the ceviche: Put a large pot of water over high heat and add the lemon, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt, to taste. When it comes to a boil add the shrimp and turn off the heat. Let the shrimp poach just until they are cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a sheet pan and refrigerate. When they are cool slice them in half lengthwise. Combine the coconut milk, lime juice, onion, chiles, and cilantro in a large bowl and season it with salt. Add the cooled shrimp and let them marinate, refrigerated, for about 1/2 hour.

Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
1 lb yellow cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×17 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cook macaroni according to package directions until just barely cooked, about 7 minutes. Rinse and drain and spread evenly in the prepared pan. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat evaporated milk almost to a boil. Remove from heat and add the Cheddar cheese, stirring until melted. Add salt and pepper. Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni and mix well. Mix the bread crumbs and Asiago together and spread over the top of the casserole. Top with a little more Asiago. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is brown and the cheese bubbles. Let set for 5 minutes before serving.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe August 10, 2005 at 2:47 am

I know what you mean about Martha – get real lady! Oh well – I will till check out her new show this fall and see how it comes out.

I’m glad that Michael won too. I thought it was an interesting twist to have him go to london rather than getting his own place. I bet fox was pleased they only had to pay for relocation rather than a new restaurant!

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Jeff August 10, 2005 at 4:13 am

Beer & brats – are you sure you’re not from the mid-west? Ha ha. Ditto on the Michael win on Hell’s Kitchen – was a fun show to watch.

Post pictures of the bear!!

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