Archive for the ‘Cook With The Wench’ Category

As you may recall, I recently had the honor of being flown to Charleston, SC to attend an all-expense-paid, super special beer dinner co-hosted by the Culinary Institute of Charleston and Samuel Adams.

beer menu

Prior to the actual event, I was sent the invitation above — which listed the various courses and pairings for the beer dinner. Other than knowing the tentative list of food & beers, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the evening.

And any expectations that I might have had, were completely blown out of the water.

There were several highlights of the night –one of which included meeting and conversing with the phenomenal team of chefs from the Culinary Institute of Charleston.

Two such chefs were Chef David Vagasky and Chef Ben Black — the brilliant talent behind the fantastic appetizer spread.

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The Wench & Chef David Vagasky

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The Wench & Chef Ben Black

At the end of the evening, I got the opportunity to interview the main chef behind the entire orchestration of the Samuel Adams beer dinner, Chef Michael Carmel. Chef Carmel is the Department Chair of Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of Charleston-Trident technical College. He is a Culinary Institute of America graduate, 1978 as well as holds a bachelor’s degree from Long Island University, master’s degree at National-Louis University and he is currently pursuing a doctorate degree.


The music in the background of the video is fairly loud, which makes the interview difficult to hear. This is only my second use of video on my blog, so I will note this for future posts. Oh and disclaimer number two, this interview was unplanned and completely off-the-cusp. So if I stutter, sorry 🙂 Either way, I hope that at least some of it is entertaining and informative.




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This recipe is short of brilliant. Promise me.

At first, I had no intention of cooking with beer tonight. But a series of “unplanned” events resulted in a culinary creation unlike anything I have ever heard of or seen of before!


The recipe was inspired by my cravings for salmon. Lucky for me, I found some “wild caught” Alaskan salmon on sale. Consequently, peaches were also on mega sale and I picked up a bunch to have around as snacks.


My pairing choices depended on the method in which I cooked the salmon. I heavily favored grilling it, until the skies completely opened up and unleashed a furious thunderstorm upon Tampa. And so I was forced to take the operation in house. I found some brown basmati rice and decided that it would suffice as a side dish.


But then the wheels started turning. I looked at the ingredients for the rice: rice + water. “Hmmm,” I said to myself, “Self. What if we used beer instead of water?” Many people substitute stock or broth for cooking water … so why not beer?

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I looked in the fridge to see what I had. And there it was – Dogfish Head Festina Peche. She smiled coyly at me and I swear the Dogfish winked at me.

And the idea was born.

I decided that I was going to boil the rice in Festina Peche beer. But that was not enough. So then I thought … what else could I add? Mmmm sauteed peaches! But what else? My mother used to make an amazing peach and blueberry cobbler. And as luck would have it, I also had dried blueberries on hand. Throw in some toasted almonds for texture … and the recipe was ready for experimentation.

The Wench’s Peachy Summer Ale Rice

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(featuring Dogfish Head Festina Peche)

1 c. brown basmati rice
3 bottles of Dogfish Head Festina Peche Ale
2 firm peaches (not too ripe)
1/4 c. dried blueberries
1/4 c. toasted almonds (sliced are easiest but any type will work)
1 clove of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Brown sugar to taste
Cinnamon – optional

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1. The first step is always the same. Open up one bottle of beer, pour into a glass, take a big sip & take in life. Ahhhh life is always better through looking through a beer glass!

festina peche
2. Add cup of rice + 2 bottles of beer to a 3 quart pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, simmer for 45 minutes (or as long as the standard recipe on the box recommends).

3. Prep additional ingredients: Toast the almonds until golden brown. DO NOT BURN. Dice the peaches and mince the garlic. Heat a small saute pan on the stove. Add olive oil. Briefly saute garlic on medium heat. Then add the peaches and the blueberries. Saute for 30 seconds to one minute – just enough to heat the peaches and the blueberries. Remove from heat immediately. If the rice is NOT ready, remove the mixture from the pan so it does not cook any further.

4. Mix the toasted almonds and Festine Peche rice with the peach and blueberry mix. Taste. Then add brown sugar till desired sweetness is reached. (Festina Peche does have a moderately hoppy bite. I like this bite and prefer not to kill it with too much sugar. This is why I encourage everyone to taste the rice mixture PRIOR to sweetening it.) If you are adventurous, add a pinch of cinnamon and even a few cracks of black pepper.

5. Serve with your choice of protein and beer. In my opinion, this is an excellent side dish to a simple piece of salmon. Naturally, my beer of choice is Dogfish Head Festina Peche.

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For some time now I have been longing to divide my blog posts into 5 different themes:

  1. Drink With The Wench (tastings & reviews)
  2. Cook With The Wench (recipes with beer – both created myself and others)
  3. Travel With The Wench (brewery tours, bar adventures etc.)
  4. Brew With The Wench (home-brewing & guest brewing – this category is still in beta)
  5. The Wench -Uncensored (name is in beta, this is the section in which I will detail my non-beer-yet-beverage-related passions such as wine, scotch and cigars)

Beer Will Change The World

Tonight marks my first ever Cook With The Wench post. And it is about damn time. Those who know me well know that I’m a devil in the kitchen. I love food, I love cooking – and I can pretty much out eat anyone I’ve come across (just ask my friend Matt from A Good Time With Wine).

mussel & beer

I originally wanted to make mussels in a beer sauce. Not one single store (including a seafood market) had fresh mussels … so I scratched the plan and went with what I am calling The Wench’s Drunken Shrimp Scampi.

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The greatest part about cooking is that there is no science to making food taste good.

As long as you have quality ingredients and treat them with the respect they deserve – the end result is almost always pleasant. BUT then again, I take for granted the fact that I am very knowledgeable about food, ingredients, herbs, classic pairings and culinary techniques. Despite that, though, I still believe that anyone can be a wizard in the kitchen.

So on to my recipe, eh? Oh but wait. I need a disclaimer.


WARNING: This is not your mother’s shrimp scampi. In fact, it is probably unlike any shrimp scampi you have ever had in your life. Many chefs will probably “spit in my general direction” (note: Monty Python reference). This recipe is not for the faint of heart … or the faint of palate. No sir. The Wench’s Drunken Shrimp Scampi is for hopheads … and those who do not like hops should stay far, far away. The recipe is bold, bitter and insulting … yet adventurous and deliciously satisfying.

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Featuring Dogfish Head 60 min IPA

1 lb. large fresh shrimp – whatever kind you want – shelled, gutted & deveined
1/2 stick of unsalted BUTTER (real butter you sissies)
1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic – minced, sliced, or chopped to preference
1/4 yellow onion – diced
3 (firm) Roma tomatoes
Juice of one lemon
Flat leaf parsley – finely chopped
2 12 oz. bottles of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper (if you are like me and need to kick EVERYTHING up a notch)
A loaf of FRESH baked bread

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The first instruction is vital. It must be followed EXACTLY as written or the whole recipe is a big FAIL.

  1. Open the first bottle of Dogfish Head 60 min IPA. Pour into a brandy snifer, tulip glass … oh hell … pour it into a freaking glass and take a big long sip. Ahhhh. Isn’t that nice? Thought so … but don’t get soft on me now. There is still work to do here. dogfish-head-60-ipa
  2. Fill a super big pot – the bigger the better – with water. Salt the water. Put it on the stove and bring it to a boil. While you are waiting you can either:
    1. Shell, gutt and de-vein the shrimp
    2. Mince the garlic, chop the onion and dice the tomatoes
    3. Continue drinking the 60 Minute IPA as you watch family members and/or friends complete the previous tasks.
  3. When the water reaches a boil – add the pasta. Cook until is is “al dente” – aka slightly undercooked, with a bit of a “bite.” Strain pasta at the point and set aside. boil pasta
  4. At the same time the pasta is cooking … Heat the EVOO in a large skillet heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté the shrimp, until just cooked through. Takes approximately 2 minutes. This is a good time to open another beer. Once the shrimp is cooked (ie: turns PINK) … transfer those bad boys over to an adequate sized bowl with a slotted spoon (we want to retain as much oil as we can in the pan so a regular spoon esta no bueno).MISC Beer 067
  5. Add the garlic to the oil remaining in skillet. Heat for a hot minute (i.e: just long enough to release some juices, yet not burn). Add the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, salt, pepper, lemon juice and (optional, yet HIGHLY suggested) red pepper flakes. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is reduced down to desired thickness. According to The Wench, this will take around 10ish minutes. Add butter to skillet, stirring until melted. THIS IS A CRUCIAL STEP. The fat in the butter helps to cut the intense flavor of the IPA. Stir in the shrimp. Remove skillet from heat.
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Somewhere in this process, either you or your sous chef (aka – child, friend, random guy off the street) will have chopped the flat leaf parsely. This, my friend, is the opportune time to add the parsley to the garlic butter beer shrimp mixture. Toss the pasta into the skillet with all of the other ingredients and ….

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VIOLA! There you have it … The Wench’s Drunken Shrimp Scampi. Don’t forget to slop it up with some fresh baked bread (garlic bread if you feel ambitious). And I would be utterly insulted if you did not pair this dish with a beer – preferablely the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. But I would not be insulted if you paired it with and equally delicious IPA … or craft brew of some sort.

NOTE: If you do NOT like to drink IPAs, you will not like cooking with them either. This dish definitely has a BITE. I do not suggest using the DFH 60 minute IPA unless you love the flavor of the beer, otherwise the meal will be a disaster. Feel free to substitute the IPA with your favorite beer – I suggest a Hefeweizen or Belgian-style white ale.

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Any questions? EMAIL me at – drinkwiththewench@gmail.com

Otherwise, enjoy! And, as always … CHEERS!

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