Friday, January 21, 2011

Candied Orange Peels

These candied orange peels are an easy-to-make treat for any occasion, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. I picked up a bag of organic oranges for this, as I wanted to avoid using peels that may have wax or chemicals on them.

Martha says to take off all of the white pith of the orange rind before blanching and boiling in the sugar syrup. While it's a good idea to get as much of it off as you can, it's fine if some of it is left on. The slight bitterness of the bit of pith actually pairs very nicely with the sweetness of the sugar.

If you really want to go all out, you can dip the candied peels in melted dark chocolate (to create "orangettes") instead of rolling them in sugar.

Candied Orange Peels

4 oranges (organic are best)
4 cups sugar plus extra for rolling
4 cups water


1) Using a paring knife, make 6 slits along curve from top to bottom of each orange, cutting through peel but not into fruit. Using your fingers, gently remove peel. Reserve fruit for another use. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Again using a paring knife, remove excess pith from each strip and discard.

2) Place the strips in a large saucepan, and cover them with cold water. Bring them to a boil, then drain. Repeat this twice.

3) Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring the mixture occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Then stop stirring and wash the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Add the strips to the boiling syrup, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the strips are translucent (about 1 hour). Remove the pan from the heat, and let the strips cool in the syrup. (The strips in syrup will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.)

4) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the strips to a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe off any excess syrup with paper towels and then roll the strips in sugar. Arrange them in a single layer on a wire rack, and let them dry for at least 30 minutes. The sugared peels will keep, covered at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beer of the Week: Carlsberg Pilsner

Carlsberg Pilsner
Beer of the Week 1/8/11 to 1/14/11

The girl and I popped into Grendel's Den in Harvard Square recently for a pint. Grendel's can get pretty crowded with students and tourists, but there are a few tables tucked away in the back by the bathrooms (and we managed to grab one of them). The bar has a wide selection of beers, both in bottles and on tap. I was in the mood for something light, so I decided to order a pint of the German pilsner-style Carlsberg. My only previous experience with this beer was seeing its name on the front of a Liverpool jersey, but the girl recommended I give it a try.

It pours a golden color, with a slight haze and a thin white head that quickly disappears. I immediately was hit with the smell of yeast, hops, and a bit of citrus. It's easy to assume this beer is going to be bland in flavor because of its color, but I was pleasantly surprised. Carlsberg is a very good example of a German pilsner, as the flavor was malty and hoppy but neither was overpowering. It would be easy to have a few pints of this as it has a fairly low ABV (anywhere from 3.8% to 4.6%), with only a slight bitterness. If you're looking for a lighter beer that still has good flavor, give Carlsberg a try.

My pint...I guess it's a half pint at this point!

A bottle I picked up at the store

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beer of the Week: Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale 2008

A new feature of the BostonFound blog in 2011 will be a Beer of the Week. I will be checking in to different liquor stores around the city to try to find unique and interesting beers to highlight. I will tell you up front that this will not necessarily be a 'review' of the beer. I am not going to pretend to taste all the subtleties of every beer that I post and there won't be a rating. Think of it more like an introduction to something you maybe have never heard of or seen. Or, if you have seen it, it may be a reminder that you should pick it up again. With that disclaimer out of the way, I bring you the first Beer of the Week!

Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale 2008
Beer of the Week 1/1/11 - 1/7/11

On New Year's Day, the girl and I decided to stop into the Blanchard's Liquor store in Allston. This place has everything a classic Allston hipster casual beer drinker could want. They have also have a ridiculous selection of liquor and wine as well. We were only there to look, but with such a large selection, I couldn't go home empty-handed.

Normally, I'm not a big fan of Christmas or "winter warmer" beers because I find that they usually have way too much spice. I've tried a few over the years but have never really found anything that I've completely enjoyed. I can now gladly say my search is over...maybe: Anchor Brewing Company puts out a new Christmas Ale each year. The recipes are different (and top secret) for each one.

The beer pours very dark brown with a light head. Since this is an ale, the head is not as thick as you might see in a porter or stout.
It's a medium bodied beer, with mild carbonation. The smell is that of roasted malts with a little bit of spice - think ginger or nutmeg. Taking a sip, you immediately get a raisin-y flavor with more spice (but not "spicy"), and a little vanilla. While the beer is only 5.5% ABV, you still need to drink this slowly as the finish is very dry.

Anchor says that with proper refrigeration, the beer will stay good for years. I picked up the 2008 vintage at Blanchard's and, I have to say, it is still good. I wish I had tried it when it originally came out for comparison.

All in all, this is a good beer and I am definitely making a note to try this every year (and maybe even pick up an extra to let age for a year or two). Whether you are a fan of Christmas/"winter warmer" beers or not, I would recommend giving this a shot!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Candy Cane Marshmallows

Photo Courtesy of The Girl

As part of the Christmas food making, I made some candy cane marshmallows adapted from Martha Stewart (I kicked up the peppermint flavor!). The girl and I made some vanilla marshmallows last year and they were so easy to make. Try one of these in a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, it's to die for!

Candy Cane Marshmallows
Adapted from Martha Stewart

These can be made by one person but I found it easier to have a second person helping (thanks to the girl's Mom!)

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1 cup confectioners sugar (for tossing cut marshmallows)

1) Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray; line bottom with parchment paper. Coat the parchment with cooking spray, and set pan aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring; let mixture come to a boil. Raise heat to medium-high; cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2) Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in extract; set aside.

3) Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture; with mixer running, gradually add to egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, 12 to 15 minutes.

4) Pour mixture into lined pan. Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallow. Using a toothpick, swirl food coloring into marshmallow to create a marbleized effect. Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

5) Cut into squares 1 to 1.5 inches square. Toss the cut marshmallows in confectioners sugar to keep them from sticking to each other.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Spicy Guinness Mustard

Photo Courtesy of The Girl

Do you love mustard? Is it on or in everything you make? Well as I found out, making your own mustard is really pretty easy and tastes much better than what you get from the store! I found this recipe in Saveur Magazine and decided to make a batch for my Dad for Christmas (and of course some extra for myself!). It was really simple and was delicious with the day after Christmas ham sandwiches!

Spicy Guinness Mustard
Adapted from Saveur Magazine

1/2 cup Guinness Extra Stout
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 tbsp. kosher salt
1/3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1. Combine ingredients in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1–2 days so that the mustard seeds soften and the flavors meld. You can leave this in the refrigerator for another couple of days and it won't be a problem.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more vinegar (I used some malt vinegar). You can process this to whatever consistency you like. We left it very thick as we like that texture but you could certainly grind it down to a smoother consistency. Transfer to a jar and cover.

3. Refrigerate overnight and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 months. (The flavor of the mustard will mellow as the condiment ages.)
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