Dining Outside the Home: Nom Kauai in Kapaa, Kauai. When your husband wants breakfast and you’re ready for lunch, head over to Nom Kauai where you get the best of both worlds. It’s not uncommon to see other couples doing the same thing. Perhaps that’s the secret to a popular eatery with Southern roots: Keeping the peace. The burgers, like the Hella Hottie, are made with locally sourced beef, stacked a mile high with fresh ingredients, and then sandwiched between buttery toasted brioche buns. Go ahead and poke the egg. Who can resist a runny yolk? Golden Belgian waffles, served with pineapple-bourbon butter, can be ordered with buttermilk fried chicken and maple syrup. Because things are made from scratch, menu items are available until sold out. You know what that means. Come back again tomorrow.
Dining Outside the Home: Michael Mina Pub 1842 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tucked away in the MGM Grand is a hidden gem inspired by a celebrity chef. Pub 1842, named for the year Pilsner was invented, offers a nice selection of craft beers, but that’s not where it ends. Check out the great selection of unique whiskeys and specialty cocktails. Happy Hour features a pair of Brisket Sliders worth nibbling on. Feast your eyes on the tender black angus beef prepared Kansas City-style, drenched in savory bbq sauce slathered over a bed of kale slaw. Spear a gherkin and it’s ready for that first bite. Add an order of Fries in a Can to balance things out. Chef Mina knows what he’s doing. Try not to drool.
Dining Outside the Home: Kauai Beer Company in Lihue, Kauai! Crafted beers aren’t the only things being served up at this hip neighborhood brewpub. Every Wednesday night, at dinner time, you can treat yourself to an aged boneless sirloin prime rib roast that has been in the smoker marinating in its own juices all day long. Talk about tender! Order a large cut to share; it’s perfect for two, especially with the generous side dishes. The atmosphere is kid-friendly, even down to the family dog. Water bowls and back rubbing for furry pets comes naturally to the wait staff. So, kick back, sip on a flight of brews, and let the good times roll.
Dining Outside the Home: Roscoe’s Coffee Bar in Richmond, Indiana! For a nice stop on the east side of town, go for impressive organic coffees, fruit smoothies, and gastronomic food. Although the atmosphere might be laid back, the menu compensates with imaginative options. Take a seat inside at one of the warm wood communal tables while sipping on a nitrogen-infused cold coffee or perhaps an imperial brown ale. Friendly strangers might join you for a little conversation. The food is locally sourced, using a quality blend of fresh ingredients. Overall, Roscoe’s East Side is pretty down-to-earth and easy on the pocketbook.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup! Not only is this soup perfect for those chilly evenings ahead, but it is also more fun to eat simply because instead of saltine crackers, fresh popcorn is used. That’s right, you heard me…popcorn. It really doesn’t matter if you use the air-popped variety, microwave movie popcorn, or slightly sweet kettle-style popcorn. I know, right!?! More and more you may discover this quirky dish on a restaurant menu, even outside the state of Wisconsin. It actually dates back to when German immigrants came to America. Beer was readily available and often used in soup. Over time, more veggies, spices, and cheese were added turning supper time soup into the comfort meal it is today. If you’re up for an adventure, read on.
WISCONSIN BEER CHEESE SOUP
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
1 rib celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups light cream or milk, warmed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
16 ounces beer
Popcorn for garnish
In a large skillet, warm olive oil. Add chopped carrots, diced onions, chopped celery, and minced garlic. Sauté until vegetables are tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. In a 4-quart pan, melt butter on low heat. Do not burn. Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle in flour. Stir constantly while cooking. The flour mixture will turn a light brown. Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper, and dry mustard. Mix well. Gradually pour in warmed milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps or scorching. It will thicken nicely. Add Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle in shredded cheese, stirring constantly to melt the cheese. Slowly add beer and bring to a boil. Stir until foam disappears. Reduce heat to low setting. Add vegetable mixture to the cheese soup. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve with popcorn garnish.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Jamaican Jerk Chicken! I admit, I tend to take the path of least resistance. By the time I decided I was making this dish for dinner, all I had on hand was frozen chicken. Solution: Slow-cooker to the rescue. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my crockpot? Honestly, some days I’d be lost without it. Not only is the chicken tender and moist, but the citrusy-sweet-spicy glaze made it a perfect accompaniment for steamed sticky rice. Win! Win!
JAMAICAN JERK CHICKEN
2-3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks
12 ounces nonalcoholic beer
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup puréed Habanero peppers
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons natural honey
2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
Place frozen chicken in crockpot. In a measuring cup add nonalcoholic beer, orange juice, lime juice, and Habanero purée. Stir to combine. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice, thyme, and garlic powder. Add soy sauce, agave nectar, kosher salt, and olive oil. Pour over meat. Cover and cook 4 hours on High setting. After chicken is cooked, using a tongs, carefully transfer meat to a platter. Chicken will be very tender. Transfer drippings to a heatproof bowl. Add red pepper flakes and honey. Mix well. On the stovetop, heat an iron skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil. Transfer the chicken to the skillet. Add half the marinade to the skillet. Cook until the skin is crispy and deep brown or charred in places. Turn chicken over and repeat, adding more marinade. Reduce heat and simmer the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes longer. Brush over the chicken as it thickens.
Dining Outside the Home: Playwright Celtic Pub in Manhattan, New York City, New York! On a beautiful night, head up four flights of stairs to the rooftop in the heart of NYC’s Theatre District for a classic Irish pub experience. This is Playwright Celtic Pub in Hell’s Kitchen, where patrons rave about the best Fish ‘n Chips in the city and the brews to match. The beverages are ice cold, the music is loud and lively, and the skyline is unbelievably Manhattan. Absorb the ambiance. Appreciate the tradition. Wet your whistle. Grab dinner under the stars. It’s all about the journey.
Sometimes it’s nice to sit on the edge of a party. Minutes after we settled in, a couple of mobile restaurants pulled up to the curb. Food Truck Stop Thursday at Kauai Beer Company typically offers two choices of food venues in lieu of their regular menu. George of da Jungle versus Scorpacciata are the featured chefs of the night. Street musician, guitarist Lara Brady of Epiphany, sat poised a few feet away from the wrought iron patio crooning tunes from 40 years ago when she was still a teenager. “Do you mind if I take your photo?”, I inquired. “Sure”, she replied. “It’s like a Stradivarious”, she went on, “the style of wood in this guitar. You can’t find it anymore.” I dropped a buck into her guitar case. Her toothless grin smiled in appreciation. About that time, the sky opened up and spilled forth a deluge of rain. Everyone scrambled for cover under the sidewalk awnings and sipped on a flight of eight specialty brews until it blew through. As suddenly as it began, the downpour ceased like the man upstairs turned the water spigot off. Larry, the event coordinator, looked up to the heavens, spread his arms wide, and grinned from ear to ear. “Life is good,” he exclaimed. “Let’s get this party started!” Grills fired up, high intensity pizza ovens were set to 800°, and the lines began to form placing food orders for the duration. The place was abuzz with noise and clatter. As fast as the servers could deliver, piping hot menu items were exchanged for table numbers while conversations lingered and new friendships were being made.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Iowa Loose Meat Sliders! If you’ve ever taken a road trip through Iowa, or are fortunate enough to live there, you’re already familiar with its popular loose meat sandwich found at local diners. Made of 100% freshly ground beef, the Midwest tradition began around 1926. Bypassing the form of a patty and omitting the sauce of a sloppy joe, what you saw was what you got—all loose meat. The steaming technique plus the combination of spices remain a trade secret. But if you’re willing to come pretty close, give this recipe a try. Just remember to hold the ketchup.
IOWA LOOSE MEAT SLIDERS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups beer
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
6 slider buns
Sliced dill pickles
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add ground beef. Cook until brown and crumbly. Add yellow mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Stir in beer. Bring to boil. Add beef bouillon. Reduce to low heat. Simmer uncovered until all liquid is absorbed. Serve on toasted slider buns. Top with dill pickles, mustard, and minced onions.