Friday, May 30, 2014

Asparagus Risotto


Love going to the farmer's market to get fresh vegetables?  Do you always come home with WAY TOO MUCH?  I do, every time!  I just get so excited at all the cool things there that I just can't help myself.  Then I get home and think, now what?  Asparagus is one of my big weaknesses, and when it's in season here in Michigan, I go a little crazy.  We will eat it every single night during it's short season, so I need lots of recipes to go along with all of those spears.  Here is a favorite of mine, which of course, also uses beer.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Risotto

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed, and cut into 2 inch pieces

6 cups chicken stock
olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bottle beer, wheat, pilsner, or kolsch
1 lemon
2 tablespoons parsley
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons salt.  Prepare a bowl with ice water in it and have next to the stove.  Also get a colander and place in the sink.  When the water boils,  add the asparagus and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until bright green and slightly tender.  Drain in the colander, then plunge the asparagus into the ice water to stop the cooking process.  When cool, drain from the ice water and set aside.

Place the chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Have a soup ladle ready by the stove.

In a large pot, saute the onion in some olive oil until soft and translucent.  Add the rice and cook until the rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.  Add the nutmeg.  Pour in the beer, and bring to a simmer, stirring.  When the beer is absorbed, start adding the broth a ladle full at a time. Stir after each addition until the liquid is absorbed.  You may not use all the broth, you want to cook the rice until it is creamy and slightly al dente.  This process will probably take you at least 30 minutes.  When the rice is done, grate the lemon zest into the dish, then squeeze in some juice.  Add the parsley, butter and parmesan cheese and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brewery Vivant Zaison Release

One of the (many) things that I love about craft beer are the seasonal releases that breweries put out.  I have many “go to” beers that I habitually grab off the shelves and am always happy with those choices.  But the beers that get me really excited are the ones that are only available at certain times during the year, the ones I look forward to, the ones I have to search out.  This week, Brewery Vivant, a Grand Rapids brewery, releases their spring seasonal, Zaison.

Zaison follows all of Brewery Vivant’s beers by being “Belgian inspired”.  Saison style beers are traditonally brewed in the southern region of Belgium as a way to welcome spring.  Vivant’s version is an Imperial Saison, meaning not only does it have that distinct Belgium taste from the yeast used, it’s also higher in alcohol. The term “imperial” in American brewing is used to imply big, bold beers, usually brewed with double or triple the amount of grains and or hops.  All this malt means more alcohol, and in the case of Zaison it clocks in at 9.0% ABV (alcohol by volume).  Which means watch it!  It’ll pack a punch!

Enhanced with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel, this is a delicious beer, especially with food.  Try it with barbecue for a Belgian twist on a classic American dish, or go simple and let it shine with a well curated cheese plate.  And be sure to use a tulip glass for this special beer, it will concentrate all of those amazing esters and really bring out the flavor.

You can grab a four pack of cans of Brewery Vivant’s Zasion starting Tuesday May 20 at D&W Fresh Market.  There are also tons of fun release parties all around the state:

May 20th - ZAISON RELEASE at Brewery Vivant on Cherry Street & statewide!
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Speak-EZ, Grand Rapids
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Hunter's Ale House, Mt Pleasant
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Clubhouse BFD, Rochester Hills
(leading into a week of funk including special tapping of Escoffier ('11) and Coq D'Or (Golden Bretta Ale)
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Alamo Draft House, Kalamazoo
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Zingerman's Roadhouse, Ann Arbor
(rumor has it the Zaison recipe was concieved right here while enjoying delicious roast beast!)
May 21st - Zaison launch party & tap takeover @ Crunchy's, East Lansing