Any upperclassmen out there looking to flex your new kitchen? Instabrag about your iron-chef skills by sourcing local and boozing it up.
If you’ve spent more than 10 seconds in Athens, it’s obvious that people take the farm-to-table connection seriously. Many restaurants partner with the 30 Mile Meal program and boast menus primarily sourced with the abundant food resources that the Athens area has to offer. Read up on 30 Mile Meal and the partner businesses in Athens at the Athens County Conventions and Visitors Bureau site.
People here take their boozin’ seriously, too. Beyond the ungodly amounts of Natty sold each weekend, local alcohol producers such as Jackie O’s and the West End Ciderhouse have put Athens on the map for craft libations. Breweries from all over Ohio converge here each summer for Ohio Brew Week.
With a little creativity, you can combine these two sources of local-pride into some mouth-watering dishes. Check out some of these surprisingly simple and highly photogenic meals made almost entirely from local eggs, produce, hard liquor and beer.
This is a direct rip-off of a cocktail at the new West End Cider House, using local Fifth Element Elderberry Brandy. Except they make it better there and add house-made bitters. Egg-white cocktails are fancy, tasty and really easy to make. No, it doesn’t take a whole set of old-timey cocktail shakers, either. I made this one in a protein shake blender bottle.
1. Make a simple syrup. Simple is the name, so obviously it’s not hard. In fact it’s just sugar and water. Ratios differ but usually 2 or more cups of sugar to 1 cup of water works well. Boil it down until it’s syrupy but still thin enough to pour, and let it cool before using. Or you’ll cook the egg whites when you mix it. Maybe.
2. Separate egg whites. You can do this by cracking the egg in half and pouring the whole yolk back and forth between the shell halves, letting the whites fall into a bowl or something. Or you can crack the egg into a bowl and remove the yolk with a spoon or that suction water bottle trick. But I’ve never done that so who knows. It takes between 1/2 to 1 egg white depending on size and your preference, either works well. Keep a yolk for the vinaigrette!
3. Take the egg white, 1 oz simple syrup, 2 oz lemon juice (or citrus of choice) and 2 oz. of whatever alcohol you’re using (Use whiskey for a whiskey sour, Pisco for a pisco sour…etc. etc.) and put all that shit in your blender bottle with some ice and shake vigorously for a good half minute. Pour it out the top and into some drinking receptacle, or drink that fancy drink right from the bottle like an awesome protein shake.
Microgreen salad with Hop Ryot vinaigrette
This is about as simple as it gets. You can find all sorts of great lettuces and more unique greens at the farmers market. Microgreens are something between “baby” greens and sprouts. There’s a wide variety of flavor depending on what plant you’re getting, but they also look really cool. The main thing here is the IPA vinaigrette. IPA vinaigrette recipes are all over the web now, for good reason–shit is tasty.
For the Hop Ryot vinaigrette, adjust amounts as you see fit, this is for a larger batch that you can save for a bit in the fridge and use on all sorts of things like grilled shrimp(!) and fish.
1 Can Hop Ryot (or any IPA, try them out!)
1 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic
pinch o salt
bit o pepper
2 oz lemon (or other citrus) juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 egg yolk (remember those yolks?)
Fresh hops if you can get them, 2 cones should do it. I used Cascade once, turned out great.
1 cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor or blender, then pour in oil in increments slowly while or between blending. And there ya go! Put that shit on everything.
Eggplant Frittata with beer and butter mushroom sauce
Truth be told, there are probably better things to put in a frittata than eggplant. But there are some crazy cool eggplants at the farmers market so I couldn’t resist.
A frittata is one of the easiest things to make, ever. It’s just a bunch of egg with awesome stuff in it, baked in a cast iron skillet or baking pan.
6 or so eggs
parsley or other fresh herbage
bacon or ham or sausage
pretty much any roasted veggie (make sure it’s cooked first because this stuff only takes a little bit of time)
Whisk all of those things together. In the meantime, heat up a skillet or pan until it’s pretty hot and melt some butter in there. Pour the mixture in and cook it in the pan for about five minutes, then place it in the oven on broil for another few minutes. It will be lightly brown and fluffy in texture. Slice like pizza and enjoy!
You can top it with a little extra somethin’. I made a really simple sauce-gravy with butter, flour, beer and mushrooms, some beautiful little oyster mushrooms from the farmers market, and a beer from Moerlein Brewing Company in Cincinnati. If using a bitter beer, add some citrus and sweetness to counteract.
Imperial stout-soaked peaches on sweet cornbread
These peaches are so frikkin’ easy and can be used on anything. They go great with ice-cream, sweet cakes, yogurt, whatever.
Halve a bunch of peaches and put them cut-side down in a baking dish, in one layer. Pour a bottle of your favorite really dark beer over them and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, turning as you see fit to make sure they all get soaked with that stuff. I used Siberian Night, an Imperial Stout from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company in Akron.
I admit it, the cornbread was from a box I had lying around. So I won’t include a recipe except for the fact that we added a ton of honey and fresh local sweet corn from the cob.
So there you go– pretty, easy and boozy food made mostly from local ingredients and Ohio alcohol. Go show off.
Words by Isaac Noland, photos by Evan Chwalek.