I’m not sure when it started, but folks in DC like to give our snowstorms nicknames that spell doom. Snowmageddon. Snowpacalypse. And now . . . Snowquestration. See what I mean? Mention snow, and we run to the store to hoard toilet paper and bread. Schools close. Home Depot sells out of snow shoves. Lines form at gas stations. And Minnesota mocks us. But we can’t help it. There’s just something about a snow day that triggers a survival instinct. My survival instinct says EAT! The sky is falling . . . COOK FOR YOUR LIFE!!
Snoquestration morning started with Snow Day Beignets. This is a super-secret family recipe, and very tricky to pull off, so take notes. Go to the store and buy a bag of 12 frozen dinner rolls. Dump them into a lightly greased 9 x 11 casserole dish, and put them into a (cold/off) oven overnight. They will rise. A lot. Tear off pieces and roll into 1-inch diameter balls. Fry them in a deep fryer, or on the stovetop. Your choice. Let them cool off for a spell. Then . . . put some powdered sugar into a brown paper grocery sack. Toss in some beignets. Fold over the top of the bag. Twice. (I can’t stress that step enough. It’s critical. Unless you enjoy cleaning powdered sugar dust off of every surface in your kitchen). Shake vigorously. Serve. Eat. Enjoy!!
For the record, that’s hot chocolate in the mug. Plain hot chocolate – sans fortification of any kind. Should you happen to need/want fortification for your hot chocolate . . . add a jigger of butterscotch schnapps. You can thank me later.
And then it was time for bread baking. Homemade bread baking. I’m not usually much of a baker. I love to cook, hate to bake. Baking is kitchen chemistry — everything has to be so exact and precise. It’s really very unforgiving. But earlier this week, I was reading a lovely blog post about Bread and Amarone (you had me at Amarone, Talk-a-Vino), and the bread recipe sounded too good to be true. This is a bread that you bake in a dutch oven . . . or a Crock-Pot. Yes, I said Crock-Pot. Anything you can make in a Crock-Pot is already genius in my book. The recipe is called The Best Bread Ever, and you can find it over at one of my new must-read blogs, She Wines Sometimes. Bonus: There’s beer in this bread! Only six tablespoons, which means you have to finish the rest of the bottle once you open it. It would be wasteful otherwise. And that was enough to incentivize me to put on my baking apron.
But first . . . I ran to the store (before the storm, with all the throngs of panicky people) and bought medieval bread flour, flax meal, and yeast. No need to buy beer. I always have beer. And I mixed and covered and kneaded and baked. I used a dutch oven for my loaf (my Crock-Pot was busy . . . read on). And this bread . . . is über-yummy!! I’m digging the flax meal, too. My kids love it, and they have no idea they’re eating something healthy. Do NOT tell them! The outside of the loaf is perfectly crusty, and the inside is irresistibly soft and chewy. I feel like I’m in Europe!! Ahhh.
And all day long, I was brewing Corned Beef & Cabbage in my Crock-Pot (which is why I made the bread in my dutch oven). I love corned beef and cabbage. It’s so simple and hearty. And delicious. But I’m the only one in my house who thinks so. Cue the inevitable, ego deflating comments like, “What’s that smell? and “We’re not eating that for dinner, are we?” Luckily, my family knows how to reheat pizza for themselves. FYI . . . that’s not the Best Bread Ever in the pic with the Corned Beef. That was gone before dinner. That’s Wegmans Miche bread.
I paired the Corned Beef & Cabbage with a beer I’ve been wanting to try for months, but haven’t been able to find anywhere . . . until last week. Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot. It’s been sitting in my fridge just waiting for a food partner.
Beer Notes: Dogfish Head Noble Rot is made with the must from botrytis affected Viognier grapes, and the must from Pinot Gris grapes. You see now why I was so curious. A surprising, but pretty, pale color in the glass. Very Michelob-Ultra-esque. The nose reminds me of a German drink called Radler (half beer, half limonada). Radler is one of my all-time favorite summer drinks, so I got pretty excited when I stuck my nose into the glass and got a whiff of Radler. It’s a burst of fresh lemon citrus. And then I tasted it. It’s not what my nose expected. It’s not bad, just not what I expected. And I’m a little let down. This is a beer with an identity crisis. It can’t decide whether it wants to be beer . . . or wine. It’s really kind of cider like. There’s a tangy sourness right upfront that pulls my focus. I’m really glad I finally got to try it, but I’m also glad I didn’t buy more than one bottle.
Everyone is full and happy. Doomsday averted. For now.