Tuesday, August 12

Cooking with beer

Last week was an International Beer Day. 

I started to love beer late in my life. In my twenties, beer was too bitter for my taste and I really disliked it.
I think that I started to love beer when I tried some locally crafted, here in Vancouver. I was almost shocked when I found out that beer doesn't have to be bitter, and can actually have very pleasant aroma and  be very refreshing on these hot summer days. Some of the breweries in Vancouver are just factories of beer, but some of them became more like a hip spots with a variety of handcrafted beers, where you can actually taste variety of beers before filling your authentic store crafted bottles to take home or enjoy your beer right there at the brewery. 
Main Street has today more than few good breweries and beside the beer, atmosphere and ambient, is something worth checking out. Some of them also serve some original snacks that nicely pair with a beer. Beer is probably one of the oldest drinks on earth that humans created, as it was derived from the oldest food - grains. I learned there that beer is brewed mainly from malted barley, hops, yeast and water although other sources of fermentable carbohydrate (eg. maize, wheat ..) and other natural ingredients may be added to create different styles and flavours. Today, we can choose from over 100 different styles of beer covering every imaginable flavour. This includes pilsners, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley wines etc.. Lager is probably world's most popular beer and its style varies from the pale gold of a classic Czech Pilsener, through yellow to the deep golden color of the German and Belgian beers. Ales are fruitier and fuller in flavour than lagers due to a higher fermentation temperature and colour can be pale to to the jet black like Guinness.
In some places and cultures, like Czech, Irish or German, beer is part of lifestyle and cultures, like a gastronomy.
Cooking with beer can also bring some extra flavor in your meals. I tried to check what's cooking around the world with beer and was quite surprised with creativity. I was cooking with beer before, but sweets are something new for me.

If you have some extra beer in your fridge, here are some ideas how to use it in your cooking.

Some of the recipes are adopted and modified from the Guinness page.

Lager soup

1 blond roux (3 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp flour)
2 cups of beer
1 handful of sugar
2 or 3 deciliter cream

slices toasted bread

1 pinch ground cinnamon
Egg yolks
Salt and pepper

This soup is a classic dish of students in German universities. Make a roux with flour and butter in a hot pot: melt the butter in hot pan on a stove and add flour, mix shortly, then pour in the beer. Season with salt, pepper and a handful of sugar. Boil and whisk for few minutes, add 2 or 3 dl of cream. You can whip the egg yolks and add into boiling soup as well. Serve with slices of toasted bread. Pinch of cinnamon can be added into this soup at the end. 

Beet crumble 

4 medium beetroot
100 g smoked bacon
2 onions
1 cup beer
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp juniper berries
1 bay leaf

for dough:
75 g flour
75 g butter
75 g ground almonds

Preheat oven to (220 c °). Peel and slice the onions and beets. Butter a large baking pan with high edges.
Put some bacon, beets and onions, add butter, bay leaf and juniper berries crushed.
Season with salt and pepper, pour over the beer should just to cover the vegetables. Bake for about 1 hour, until there is no more liquid and the beets are pickled. Spread them in individual buttered ramekins. Prepare the crumble topping: mix the ground almonds and flour in a bowl, add the butter and create crumbly mixture.With your hands crumble almond topping on dishes and bake on (180 C°) for 15 minutes. . Serve warm taken out or leave inside pots.

Scones with beer and cheese

for 12 large scones:

480 g/1 lb unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
90 g/5 tbsp of cold butter
150 g/ 1/2 cup grated cheddar, plus more to scatter
15 g/2 tbsp baking powder
300 ml/1 cup buttermilk or milk soured with juice from half a lemon
100 ml/1/2 cup ale or beer

Preheat the oven to 430 F/220 C/.

Put the flour in a bowl with the salt. Use your hands to rub the butter into it until it has a crumb appearance.
Add the cheese and baking powder and mix lightly but well with your hands. Add the buttermilk with the ale, mix with a spoon until it just about holds together and tip out onto a floured work surface. The dough will be wet and sticky.
Use floured hands or a dough scraper to lightly turn and knead the dough until you have a smooth ball. If it is sticky – keep the worktop floured. Press the dough out with floured hands, or lightly roll to a thickness of 3 cm.

Dip the cutter or knife in flour and then cut out the scones into 12 squares.
Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. £ Sprinkle over a little more grated cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until pale gold and puffed to nearly double the size. Eat warm from the oven, or reheat gently if you make them in advance of serving.

Beer waffles

1 lb flour (mix whole wheat and unbleached)
1/2 cup beer
1 tbsp baking powder
2 eggs whipped
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds

Mix all ingredients together and bake in waffle maker. The mix should be more firm than regular waffles mix. 

Spicy eggplant fritters with beer

2 eggplants
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

100 g flour
100 g cornflour
1/2 cup beer
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg yolk
Oil for frying
Coarse salt

In a bowl, whisk the flour and corn flour with baking powder, beer, egg yolk, 10 ml water and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Rinse the eggplant, remove the ends and cut them into slices 3 mm thick. Sprinkle with coarse salt and let disgorge 15 min. Wash and dry them. Sprinkle with spices each slice from both sides.
Heat the oil. Place eggplant slices into the batter, then dip them in the frying 1 min on each side. Drain on absorbent paper and salt. Do this in batches.

Beer bread

2 lb of mixed flour (wholewheat and unbleached)
5 tbsp oatmeal
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 l milk
1 - 11/2 cups beer

Mix all ingredients together and add liquids at the end. If dough is to hard, add more milk or beer.
Bake at 225 C for about 30 min/45 min. Take out and cool. Enjoy with some good cheese!

Coq au beer, bacon and mushrooms

1 large chicken
125 g smoked bacon

6 onion
250 g mushrooms (wild or regular)
3 tbsp lard/oil
1 cup water spirits
1 bouquet garni (dry herb mix - thyme,rosemary,basil/oregano,bay)1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1 l of beer
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
2 cups of chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Cut chicken into medium sized pieces, season them.
Cut the bacon into small cubes; peel and slice the onions.
In a pot, melt the lard/oil, add the bacon, let them brown well, then remove on plate. At the same lard, brown the chicken pieces and onions, add the bouquet garni, let them brown on all sides, add in beer and broth, add the brown sugar dissolved in vinegar, cover, cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes at low heat.
Clean the mushrooms, cut the sandy part of the foot, wash them without soaking them, cut them in half or quarters depending on size but if they are small, leave them whole, saute in a tbsp of butter.
After 1 hour 30 minutes cooking, add the bacon to the sauce and mushrooms, continue cooking for 1 hour.
Work the last spoonful of butter with the 1 tbsp flour to make a roux (thickening) in small separate pot. Meantime remove the bouquet garni and the chicken pieces from the big pot aside. You need a little more than half -liter sauce,to thicken with the prepared roux. Add roux in hot sauce and whisk until thickens. Adjust seasoning and pour over the meat. Serve hot with steamed potatoes.

Beef and Guinness stew

1 cup Guinness or other dark beer
1 lb beef for stew
1 onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 celery diced
1 parsnip diced
1 l beef stock
springs of thyme and rosemary

Stir fry onions and cubed beef, add vegetables and  cook until tender. Add Guinness and cook more until reduced by half. Add beef stock and herbs and simmer slow for about one hour.
Serve with mashed potato.
As they say from Guinness, it tastes better day after when all the flavors consolidate.

Mussels in beer cream sauce

2 lb/1 kg fresh mussels
1 cup cream
1 cup fish stock
1 cup beef
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh dill chopped
1 small onion diced
carrot/celery diced
juice of half lemon
olive oil

In a sauce pan, cook shortly onion, celery and carrot. Add beer, fish stock, bay-leaf and cook until reduced by half. Add cream and reduce by half again. Trow in mussels and cook shortly again until mussels open. Add dill and lemon and serve.
Meantime bake slices of Italian style bread with olive oil and garlic and serve with mussels.

Guinness cake

For the cake

2        50 ml Guinness
250 grams unsalted butter
75 grams cocoa powder
400 grams caster sugar
142 ml sour cream

2       2  large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275 grams plain flour
 2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

for the topping:

300 grams cream cheese
150 grams icing sugar
125 ml double cream (or whipping cream)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350º F, and butter and line a 23 cm / 9 inch round pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter' melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb

Flemish Tart

1 roll of pastry for pie
1 cup amber beer
125 g brown sugar
2 eggs + 3 yolks
125 g sugar
40 g butter

Preheat the oven to (180 °). Roll dough into circle larger than your round pie pan and then transfer it to a pie pan.
Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the beer into a saucepan, bring to boil and turn off the first starting to boil. In a bowl, put 3 egg yolks and sugar, beat with an electric mixer (or whisk) until the mixture whitens. Pour slowly warm beer, while still beating together. Return the pan to low heat, whisking constantly. Remove from heat as soon as the cream thickens. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl, add a pinch of cinnamon and mix with cream. Pour onto the pre-baked pie shell. Sprinkle with brown sugar and butter. Bake for 20 min. Serve the pie warm or cold, possibly with vanilla ice cream.

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