Dining Outside the Home: The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana. When a stay-cation makes sense to remain close to home, wander down the road a piece to The Sherman. Nestled in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, step over the threshold of this quaint inn and eatery. You may be taken aback by the lively music and intermittent laughter coming from the Black Forest Bar. Peek around the corner. Rub your eyes and look again. The deep dark interior almost resembles a magical forest where fairy tales come true. Do the walls have eyes? Enter if you dare. Check out that giant pretzel. The couple with their heads huddled together are nibbling on it as though they were Hänsel and Gretel. This is just one of many appetizers for dipping pleasure with gourmet mustards and bier cheese. The crafted cocktails and extensive beer selection complement house-baked specialties with Bavarian leanings. Go early, stay awhile, and above all…share dishes. The German-style food is so spot on, you’ll want to eat your fill…and then some.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: No Yeast Beer Bread! Never in my wildest dream did I ever realize there would be a shortage of all-purpose flour and yeast. Yet, the grocery store shelves were bare. I don’t know if it had anything to do with panic-buying during the coronavirus quarantine or if people were baking up a storm in isolation. Homemade bread is a comfort food, after all. Kneading dough can be a distraction from stay-at-home kids and social media rants. Plus the incredible aroma of bakery bread is soothing and rewarding. So, the obvious answer was to go to the fridge and open a can of beer. Beer acts as a leavening agent, as long as baking powder is included in the recipe. For those who wonder, the alcohol does burn out and evaporate. Now the results are a more dense and heavy bread with a thicker crust, just so you know. Personally, I like the crunchiness of toast better that way. Then again, it could be the result of “bathing” it in butter before baking. Let’s jam with beer bread!
NO YEAST BEER BREAD
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
12-ounces beer, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and sea salt. Stir until mixed. Add the beer, stirring until the dough forms. Set aside. Warm the butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Brush the parchment paper on bottom and sides of the loaf pan. Spoon the dough into the buttered loaf pan. The dough will have a rustic appearance. Brush the remaining butter evenly over the top of the dough. Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. The bread will be a golden brown. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Invert pan to remove the beer bread. Slice and serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Rum-Topped Ginger Beer Float! I gotta tell you, there are some fantastic-tasting nonalcoholic ginger beers on the market right now. One of my absolute favorites is made with organic agave and extracts of chili pepper, coriander, cardamom, lime, and orange. Don’t get me wrong, ginger is still the star attraction. These flavors go extremely well in a Mexican Mule with chile pepper-infused tequila. But that’s another story. I went with a much lighter version of ginger beer for a refreshingly light twist on an old favorite. Granted, with a dark rum floater, it definitely has a boozy punch. Obviously, this is an adult beverage and should not be served to anyone under the age of 21.
RUM-TOPPED GINGER BEER FLOAT
3 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
6.8-ounce bottle ginger beer, chilled
1.5 ounce spiced dark rum
Lime wedge, for garnish
Place ice cream in a glass or mason jar. Slowly pour ginger beer over ice cream. Squeeze a touch of lime juice into the glass. Top with a spiced dark rum floater. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve with a spoon. Cheers!
Dining Outside the Home: Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse in Nashville, Tennessee! The name alone is a mouthful, which means this place is a nonstop party all day long. The music is loud, the steak is amazing, and the drinks are icy cold. Since the entertainment can be heard a half a block away, it draws thrill-seekers like moths to a flame. From street level to rooftop, five floors, four stages, and six bars make this joint the biggest, baddest honky tonk downtown. Grab a seat and settle in for awhile.
Dining Outside the Home: Scoreboard Bar and Grill in Nashville, Tennessee! For a winning Nashville tradition, this must-see hotspot grabs your attention. The bar food is over-the-top with seafood appetizers, loaded burgers, smoked barbecue, and specialty pizzas made fresh-to-order. But there’s way more on the menu. Live music on the deck highlights bluegrass, rock, karaoke, and organic country. Wet your whistle, chow down, and be entertained at The Scoreboard.
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.
Dining Outside the Home: Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern in Mystic, Connecticut! For perfect al fresco dining in the heart of Mystic Seaport Museum’s seafaring village, choose a table outside under the trees. Take a breath of fresh air as you gaze at the flagship, Charles W. Morgan, an American wooden whaling ship built in 1841. She’s a National Historic Landmark, you know, now docked in Chubb’s Wharf. That’s quite a view. But back to the tavern. For those who may not be familiar, the tavern is named after one mentioned in Melville’s “Moby Dick”. The Museum re-created it as a working exhibit in 1956. As for lunch, I highly recommend the Lobster Roll, served on a split bun with chunks of fresh lobster meat practically overflowing onto the plate. Add a bottle of Mystic River IPA for a mild, earthy, citrus flavor that will go down like a welcome treat for the palate.
Dining Outside the Home: Old Town Tavern & Beer Garden in Key West, Florida! When the heat becomes stifling on a humid island day, duck inside the threshold for cooling shade of Old Town Tavern. This is real southern hospitality. Crafted cocktails and other nice drinks invite relaxation and conversation. Mixed greens and hearty portions encourage shared plates, if you’re into that sort of thing. The friendly staff makes this location a stopping point on a busy street. Drop in and stay awhile.
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.