Breakfast Buzz: Jameson and Baileys Irish Coffee Cake

irish coffee cake

“May those who love us love us. And those that don’t love us, May God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, May he turn their ankles, So we’ll know them by their limping.”

And so the countdown begins. It’s almost that wonderful time of year when being ghostly pale and looking amazing in Kelly green is the ultimate symbol of cool—so what if it’s only for about 48 hours.

I take it where I can get it.

Fratboymessy drinking aside, March 17th is a great day to dive head first into some great Irish food and love on freckles. Bring on the soda breads, scones, breakfast and beer laden stews—there’s nothing Irish about those damn coconut potatoes.

So…who’s up for breakfast?

Irish Coffee Cake
This cakey dream has all the elements of a warm Irish Coffee – java, Jameson and Baileys — in an edible form. It reminds me of those chocolate glazed donuts my grandma used to get from Curry Donut on Saturday mornings, just with a little more oomph. Thanks for encouraging the fat kid in me to recreate that taste, Gram.

Chocolate Coffee Cake:

  • 2 C. sugar
  • 2 C. All Purpose Flour
  • ¾ C. cocoa powder
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. strong black coffee (room temp)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 C. buttermilk or sour milk (1 T white vinegar + milk to equal 1 cup)
  • ½ C. vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, coffee, vanilla, buttermilk, and vegetable oil. Beat at a medium speed for about 2 minutes. Pour evenly into greased/floured pans. Bake 30-35 mins or until wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before you glaze.

*Time should be adjusted according to the pan you’re working with—I used 8” cake pans and cooked for about 32 mins. A rectangular or bunt pan may take a little more time. Start with 30 and go from there.

Jameson/Baileys Glaze Icing:

Melt butter and add all ingredients together. Mix until creamy. Drizzle over the top of your chocolate cake and allow to set (or not, if you can’t wait). It’s a little boozy but I’ve never heard anyone complain about a little buzz in the morning…

Wells Banana Bread Beer Banana Beer Bread (Whew)

Finished Bread

There is nothing better for my beer palate that spending a snowy Friday night with my bro. On his way home from work, Matt stops and picks up bevs for the weekend; without fail a bottle of something “interesting” makes it into the cart. Though the finds are usually so hoppy they make me want to cry or so thick, they’d stand up to being chewed (read: manly), he found a real winner with the Wells Banana Bread Beer.

Banana bread beer?” I asked, perplexed by the picture of a pint glass being born from a banana peel on the bottle. “That sounds insane.”

Exactly—it’s really bizarre. You’re going to love it.

I’ll be honest: as a beer, it is a bit insane. The toasty banana and hint of caramel were a pleasant surprise when all I expected from the UK import was banana-flavored Runts, but I’m not sure I could drink more than one. For dessert, perhaps or breakfast–definitely breakfast.

Thankfully, beer is not just for drinking. It seems almost too logical to attempt Banana Bread with Banana Bread Beer. But traditional banana bread recipes don’t call for nearly enough liquid to make good use of a whole beer.

But beer bread is a thing.

And Banana Bread Beer is a thing.

The math is simple. The recipe is even easier. And no bananas were harmed in the creation of this banana bread.

Slice 2

Wells Banana Bread Beer Banana Beer Bread

(adapted from the food.com recipe that is amazing)

  • 3 C flour (sifted: sift flour then measure it!)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 tsp. salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 ½ C Wells Banana Bread Beer (drink the rest while you’re cooking!)
  • 1/2 C melted butter (separate 2 Tbs and save for the end)
  • 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (its sacrilege to not include them)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Dough

Sift the flour and then measure. If you do not have a flour sifter, use a spoon to spoon flour into a 1 C measure. (Do not compact the flour when measuring). Mix baking powder, salt, and sugar into the flour. Add beer. Stir in 6 Tbs of melted butter and chocolate chips. Pour into greased loaf pan. Pour remaining butter over the top of the dough. Bake 1 hr, remove from pan and cool at least 15 mins.

The resulting bread is the perfect combination of tastes—buttery, flakey, and crunchy on top with a lightly banana flavored, lightly sweet and soft middle. If you’re not big into sweets, this might be the one to change your mind.

Bread in pan

Sauce in the Sauce: Cranberries

Here we go again, Thanksgiving, just a few short days away. I love you…I adore you… so, can I ask? What happened to the fall and when-the-heck did you get here? I never seem to arrive in the middle of November well prepared. It’s like I left October without my house keys, a pair of socks or a contact case, Thanksgiving arrived early, my house isn’t clean and I have no food.

Don’t know what I’d do without family to invite me over!

When going to a big family function—foreign or domestic—it’s important to wow the judges. On holidays, we go all out. The table is set with carefully starched and pressed linen napkins and cloth, bone china, antique silver flatware and cut crystal. Everything–the cheese, the bread, the wine, the vegetables and meats–is the freshest, most beautiful that we can find; brought to the table like little gifts.

But while sipping from a glass that costs more than I spend on food in a week, I’m left to wonder: how the hell did that can shaped, gelatinous blob of cranberries get deemed acceptable?

Aside from the fact that they’re delicious and more hysterical than the turkey shaped butter mold that my dad insists on lopping the head off as soon as we sit down, how does the red viscous can-mold manage to make it under the radar every year?

This year, I said I’d take on the task of reinventing the cranberry. Much easier than the wheel…Here are some fun ways to add some sauce to the sauce: that boring canned cran will never be the same!

First comes first: breakfast cooking cocktails! Thanksgiving is always served more as a lunch, so starting early is necessary. In order to stand in the kitchen while others lounge in front of football, a little morning bev is needed. Again I’ll say: it’s a holiday!

 

Poinsettia

  • 4 oz. Champagne
  • 1 t. Jellied Cranberry Sauce (the canned stuff)

Place cranberry sauce in champagne glass and top with chilled champagne. Now, you may enter the kitchen…

Cape Codder Cran

  • 1 14 oz Can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • ¼ C Vodka

Just like the cocktail! Mix all ingredients in medium sauce pan and heat on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, serve chilled. Lime wedges optional.

Jager Spiced Cranberries

  • 1 14oz. can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 Persimmon, diced
  • ¼ C Jägermeister

Mix all ingredients in medium sauce pan and heat on medium for 5 minutes, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, serve chilled or warm with dinner or along with cheese platter! This pairs beautifully with Brie, Camembert, Gouda and mild Swiss cheeses.

CranMarnier Sauce

  • 1 12oz. bag Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 C Water
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 Navel orange zest and segments, pith removed
  • 1 Persimmon, diced
  • ½ C Pomegranate seeds (click link for tips on cutting & seeding!)
  • ½ C Grand Marnier

In medium sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and add fresh cranberries, orange segments, orange zest and persimmon. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add pomegranate seeds and Grand Marnier. Serve chilled or hot (according to your preference) with the holiday bird.

Don’t forget about dessert…

Vanilla Vodka Whipped CranDip

  • 1 14oz. container Cool Whip,
  • 1/4 C Crème fraîche (cheat & buy it…)
  • 2 T Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 14oz. can Whole Berry Cranberries

In large bowl, combine all ingredients and whip with electric mixer until evenly combined and fluffy. Serve chilled with cut fruit or in a pre-fab graham cracker pie crust (frozen or chilled) for dessert.

Thanksgiving cranberries will no longer be the laughing stock of the table. That butter turkey is another story…Happy Thanksgiving!!

It’s Pumpkin Season…

There is a time and place for every beer. Like seasonal produce, beers appear as the weather changes to match up with the early sunsets, hay rides and naked tree branches that come every fall. But let’s face it: even with fantastic Oktoberfest specials, Harvest ales, and ESBs (Extra Special Bitters)—we all know its pumpkin season.

Breads, pies, cakes, cookies, candles, seeds, soups—you name it. For the next few months, everything will be inundated with the sweet, orange richness of everyone’s favorite squash. With spices like ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice dancing through the fall brews in different proportions, pumpkin beers replace dessert with the liquid version of pumpkin pie.

After some kick-ass pumpkin pancakes, I developed a taste for pumpkin in the morning. Naturally, I want my pumpkin (beer) for breakfast. Starting a day off with the best fall has to offer helps ward away the 9-5 blues.

Breakfast beer poses significant issues for most—especially on weekdays when getting to work sober is more than a bit important. There’s something about having an adult beverage before heading out in the AM that is (understandably) socially unacceptable. Though I’m not sure many people could tell the difference between my beer buzz and my coffee buzz, I’m not looking to find out any time soon. But–of course there is a but–if beer is added to a recipe that’s cooked, it will lose most of its punch.

Most pumpkin beers will range from 4-7% ABV (Check out Beer Advocate for some great notes on loads of Pumpkin Beers), and when simmered for 30 minutes, according to this 2003 study by the USDA’s Nutrient Data Laboratory, only 35% of the alcohol will remain. So even with a stronger beer as an ingredient, that’s nowhere near enough to do any real damage.

I sat down with a pumpkin bottle and a can of pumpkin puree for about an hour to chat about how they could help me have a lovely, pumpkin filled breakfast experience. My beer of choice was the Schlafly Pumpkin Ale for its sweetness and well-rounded spice without going overboard on the nutmeg like some others. It’s a great representative of what a pumpkin beer should taste like. The canned pumpkin puree was there for moral support—in case the pumpkin flavor got lost in the mix.

They didn’t say much.

In the end, it came down to me diving into the can of pumpkin, while drinking the beer—same mouthful, very strange—but I came up with this little beauty: an homage to the jars found lining the “shelves” at farmers markets that are increasingly populating the streets of Philadelphia. Was there a sale on street permits, or what?

Schlafly Pumpkin Beer Butter

…your toast will never be the same

  • 1 Can Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie mix…there is a difference)
  • 1 C Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
  • 1 C White Sugar
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 2-3 dashes cayenne pepper

Combine pumpkin, beer, sugar and spices in a saucepan and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes –the mixture will be thickened in the end. Be sure to stir frequently.

Chill in the refrigerator before serving. Great on toast when you’re running out the door and (almost) late for work every day!

Apple Jacks Sauce

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times: South Jersey is a great place to grow up. We had the option of going to the ocean, the mountains, open fields, major cities, farms, lakes, zoos, museums–you name it, I day-tripped it and was home in time for dinner.

My parents are both originally from the North East PA so it was important to them that my brothers and I liked to be outside because they grew up outside–climbing trees, getting dirty and hanging my little brother from a make-shift game hoist in my grandmother back yard were all a part of childhood.

My mom loved to take us to the farms just outside of the Pine Barrens to pick blueberries in the spring, corn and tomatoes in the summer and apples in the fall. We’d spill in the front door after a long day of running between the rows of plants, covered in dirt and juice with stomach aches from stuffing our faces with the ripe, fresh fruit and more in bags than we knew what to do with. My mom and I would pick out the best looking specimens to save for fresh snacks and set to work on the rest — peeling and chopping for pies, sauces and jars.

The apple sauce was my favorite.

We only ever picked McIntosh Apples so that’s what made up our sauce — tart, juicy white flesh cooked down to a soft, caramelly brown mellowed with the addition of grated cinnamon sticks, some lemon zest and just a touch of sugar. Since it was a pretty healthy snack, and my mom made it in vats, I ate it to the point of near combustion on more than one occasion.

And I miss it. My sweet tooth craves a taste of fall afternoons long past, when a bad day meant I had too homework or got in trouble for staying too late at the playground.

So I set out to make my own. On the odd side of New Jersey apple season.

Braeburn, Rome, Cripps Pink, Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, Pacific Rose and Fuji all ready for action.

With McIntosh apples not looking so hot, and too many other options to pick just one, I decided to compromise: I bought one of each. Working with Betty Crocker and her guide to Apples-and-Their-Uses, I found a good combination of sweet and slight tart apples that are good in sauces and made a well-balanced mashup.

And while I was slicing and peeling, I remembered that my I used to love buttered noodles, white bread, and I thought that dark chocolate tasted like dirt — my childhood palate was pretty boring. I need spice. Some kick. Some heat.

This stuff needed whiskey.

So instead of water and sugar, I added Jack Daniels…and then a little more. The oaky blend pulled the spice from the cinnamon out of hiding and gave my apple sauce a slap in the face. It was a mouthful of crisp fall evening, a faint fire burning somewhere — it even lingered in my nose the same way.

Apple Jacks Sauce

  • 3 lbs of Apples
  • 1/4 C Jack Daniels Whiskey
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 2 T Cinnamon

Peel, core and slice all apples and place in a large stock pot with water and whiskey. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Add cinnamon. Cover and continue to cook on low heat for another 30-40 minutes.

This is fantastic when served warm over vanilla ice cream or spooned over a pork tenderloin and roasted. Or you can eat it like I do : out of tupperware without even closing the refrigerator.

“Miles Away from Ordinary” Shrimp

With 80 degree days in the middle of March this year, my itch for bare feet and beers in the sunshine is strong — and the bizarre flip back to normal chilly, rainy spring days has me looking for summer anywhere I can find it. Wearing flip flops on days when my toes turn blue is not working out so well though.

So I started looking for summer at the market. Reading Terminal Market is my go to for great meats, fish and vegetables — and I get a student discount on Wednesdays to boot. I like to go in the morning, after the 9-5’ers rush in and out for breakfast — it’s quiet, everyone is still happy since their days’ haven’t had much chance to be bad yet, and navigating the stalls is managable. Forget about going at lunch time.

With my craving grumbling, I made my way over to John Yi Fish Market and eyed up their case for some ideas. And there they were…

Glorious piles of shrimp. I was raised on this stuff. Pink foods were my thing for a while — shrimp and salmon were all I wanted. When picking my poison, I asked why some were pink and others blue. The answer: different species–but they all will turn pink when cooked. I’ve worked with both before and find that it’s easier to tell when the tiger shrimp (read: blue shrimp) are cooked because they turn pink…so I ordered a pound and headed home.

With the shrimp split up the back and cleaned, and Corona in hand — because I deserve a beer after that process — I readied my double boiler and jumped up on the counter in search of some Old Bay. I spotted red lid, caked with remains of crab boils past and muscle memory took over; the salty, peppery chili spice watered on my tongue.

I grabbed the can and jumped down, excited that in a few minutes I would be feasting…but something was off — the can was too light.

The Old Bay was gone. Why else would it be in the back of the cabinet? This is what living with your little brother is like.

I had to try something else. So I dumped the remains of my beer into the bottom pot of the steamer in place of the water, squeezed the juice of half a lime and crossed my fingers.

Like shrimp, Corona and lime make me think of summer time.This might just work, I thought to my self as I placed the top pot with the shrimp over the beer and set my timer for 8 minutes.

And work it did. The green, citrus cut the fishiness and gave most of the flavor (kind of like it does with the beer) but grain and corn flavors from the pale lager just made it to the meat. My intention was to put these shrimp onto a salad, take a new beer out to the back deck and listen to the hum of I-95 — which, if you close your eyes can be confused with the sounds of the ocean — but I never made it.  My brother came home and we ate them all out of the pot, right off of the stovetop. Just like we used to in the summer when we were kids.

Miles Away from Ordinary Shrimp

  • 1 lb Fresh, Raw Tiger Shrimp, cleaned and de-veined (if possible)
  • lime, cut into slices
  • 1 bottle Corona

If you are able to get cleaned and de-veined shrimp, do it! Otherwise, cut the shrimp along the back with a paring knife or pair of kitchen scissors and clean the black vein out. In the top/steamer pot of a double boiler, rinse all of the shrimp well. In the bottom/sauce pot, pour the beer and juice of 1/2 of a lime. Stack pots, cover and cook on med-high heat for 8 minutes. Shrimp will be completely pink when they are finished. Remove from heat and serve, squeezing extra lime to taste.