Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Cheese Stands Alone

As cheesy as an old school pick-up line
Beer goes extremely welll with cheese, be it macaroni, nachos, pizza, or any other carbohydrate-rich vessel for melty goodness.  However, your beer should NEVER taste like cheese on it's own.  Enter the last beer defect I will mention in a while.

5) A cheesy flavor in beer is caused by isovaleric acid.  The presence of this chemical means something in the brewing process has messed up big time.  The taste threshold is approximately 1ppm in beer, but there are variations in perception between individuals.

Isovaleric Acid (3-methylbutanoic acid)

There are two major causes of this defect, the most common being improper storage of hops. An alpha acid with an isovaleryl group can become oxidized if the hops are old.  The wild yeast Brettanomyces can also cause these cheesy aromas, and are responsible for other undesirable flavors.

One day my partner-in-crime devised a diabolical scheme.  Indeed, a diabolically delicious scheme.  He was determined to create the ultimate selection of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
The menu was as follows:

Steakhouse Grilled Cheese - Steak, blue cheese, and horseradish.  Blue and rare.

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese - Cream cheese, cheddar, and jalapeno peppers.  Just like what you get at the bar.  Except better.

Mac n' Grilled Cheese - Boxed KD and bacon between two slices of bread.

Sushi Grilled Cheese - Smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado and wasabi.

Breakfast Grilled Cheese - Bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg between two waffles.

Not surprisingly, the jalapeno-popper grilled cheese evolved to include bacon.

And for dessert...

Not yo' mamma's grilled cheese.
Strawberry Angel Grilled Cheese - Strawberries and brie between two slices of angel food cake.

Black Forest Grilled Cheese - Cherry pie filling and chocolate cream cheese between two slices of chocolate cake.

The worst thing about grilled cheese is that it's difficult to have several ready (and still hot) at the same time.  This makes cooking for a large party difficult.  However, the finished product is worth standing over a hot grill in a crowded kitchen for several hours.  Why bother with Kraft singles when there are so many more possibilities.

Black Forest Grilled Cheese

Equally delicious with peanut butter and banana
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup stout beer (room temperature)
1/3 cup oil or melted butter (unsalted)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp vinegar

For the sandwich:
1 (250g) package chocolate cream cheese (Philadelphia)
1 can cherry pie filling
Butter or margarine for grilling

To Make Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda) together in large bowl.
  3. Make three depressions in the mound of dry ingredients.
  4. Pour oil or melted butter in one depression, vanilla in another, and cider vinegar in the third.
  5. Pour stout all over ingredients and stir until blended.
  6. Pour batter into lined pan and bake until a tester stick or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing cake from pan by carefully lifting the parchment.
  8. Allow to cool for an additional 15 minutes.  Transfer to fridge and cool, uncovered for several hours or overnight.  It will be easier to add fillings if the cake is slightly dry.
  9. Cut loaf into approximately 12 slices.
Assembling the Sandwich:
  1. Spread one slice of chocolate loaf with the cream cheese.
  2. Top cream cheese with a scoop of cherry pie filling and another piece of chocolate loaf.
  3. Spread a thin layer of margarine on each side of the sandwich and gently place on in a heated frying pan or panini grill.
  4. Grill until loaf is slightly crispy and cheese has begun to soften.
  5. Cut in half and serve.

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