In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When life gives you lemons (or frozen beer)...

Over the holidays we put some beer on the porch to cool down before a party -- and promptly forgot about it completely. Result: 3 beer bottles frozen solid!
When life gives you lemons (or frozen beer, in this case), find some recipes that use beer, and cook with it.
First, I made a really good batch of beer bread. I like making bread -- the whole process of kneading the dough, letting it rise, punching it down, etc. To me it's a real treat when I have the kind of relaxed day at home that lets me bake a batch of homemade bread.

Not having a recipe exactly, I just make up my own:
Borealkitchen's Beer Bread
1 bottle of beer (I used an IPA)
2-3 t dry yeast
tiny bit of sugar (just a dash)
unbleached white flour
rye flour
whole wheat
optional: 1 t caraway seed, crushed

Heat beer (approx 1.5-2 cups) in the microwave- warm but not hot to the touch. Doesn't matter if it's previously frozen or gone flat because you forgot all about a beer you poured yourself the night before. If I didn't have enough beer, I would just add water.
Stir yeast and sugar into warm beer, let sit briefly. Pour 1 c white flour into mixing bowl and add the beer-yeast mixture. Let this form a "sponge" (this really is the correct term!). This may take 10-15 minutes, during which time I putter around the kitchen, unload the dishrack, etc.
When the sponge is ready, add the rest of the ingredients (I know I don't list quantities-- I go for a ratio of about 1/2 white to dark, with rye constituting maybe a 1/4 to 1/3), mixing with big spoon or dough blade of food processor until dough starts holding together. Take out of the bowl and knead by hand with extra flour on the counter top.
Then I oil my big ceramic bowl and put the dough in, cover w/ clean dishtowel, and set it on or near the woodstove (make sure it's not too hot!). I pull out a good book, or check my email, or bake a batch of cookies, or start making a batch of soup, or just putter around for an hour or 2, checking occasionally on the dough, waiting for it to double in size.
Then I punch the dough down and knead it again, put it in a lightly greased loaf pan, and let it rise again -- this second rising seems to go a little faster. Bake in preheated oven for approx 30 minutes. I test it by taking it out and tapping the bottom -if it sounds right, it's ready to come out and cool on the rack. And if you have a pot or soup or stew going, you're all set for a dinner tonight!

Beef with Stout

This recipe is a modification of recipe by Irish food writer Darina Allen. See her website with weekly Irish recipes at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Instead of baking it in the oven, this recipe could probably also be made in a crockpot.

2 lbs (900g) lean stewing beef, eg. Chuck
seasoned flour
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 thinly sliced onions
1-2 c celery, carrots, and/or turnips, chopped -my addition, I like to add loads of veggies!
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry English Mustard
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
1 strip of dried orange peel
a bouquet garni made up of 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 4 parsley stalks.
1/2 bottle of beer: Beamish, Murphy or Guinness
approx 2 c beef stock
optional: mushrooms, sauteed in butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh parsley

Cut the meat into 1½ inch (4cm) cubes and toss in seasoned flour. Heat some oil in a hot pan and fry the meat in batches until it is brown on all sides. Transfer the meat into a casserole and add a little more oil to the pan. Fry the thinly-sliced onions until nicely browned; deglaze with the stout. Transfer to the casserole, add the stock, sugar, mustard, tomato puree, orange rind and bouquet garni. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer in a very low heat, 150C/300f/ regulo 2, for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile wash and slice the mushrooms. Saute in a very little melted butter in a hot pan. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside. When the stew is cooked, add the mushrooms and simmer for 2-3 minutes, taste and correct the seasoning. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley. Note: This stew reheats well. You may need to add more sugar to the recipe if you find it a little bitter.

Lastly, there is the vegetarian German Beer Soup, perfect for a beer gone flat:
Hot German Beer Soup
1 quart beer (light is milder, use dark for a richer flavor)
1 T butter
2 T flour
1 T sugar
lemon: peel and chop the rind, juice 1/2 of lemon
1 stick cinnamon
6 whole cloves
2 egg yolks

optional "Snowballs" (eggwhite dumplings)
2 egg whites
2 T sugar
dash of cinnamon

Pour beer and let stand for several hours until it's gone flat. Heat in saucepan.
Meanwhile melt butter and stir in the flour and sugar, whisking and cooking until it has a rich caramel color. Add this by the spoonful to the hot beer, along with lemon and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for approx 15 minutes. Remove from stove and add beaten eggyolk and snowballs, if desired. Serve in mugs when your loved one come in from the cold after skiing or sledding (BTW, alcohol contents is very low!)

Beat eggwhites into still peaks, gradually adding sugar. Drop by spoonfuls onto the hot soup which has been removed from heat, and cover with lid. Let it sit for 5-10 min, letting snowballs swell an cook. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

There are also some recipes that call for cream/sour cream in the soup, and serve it over bread and Swiss cheese, such as this one here, found on Several readers comment on how bland this recipe was, and that it tasted too much like beer! Beer soup is definitely not for everyone, especially the sweet version w/ cinnamon... Note: I've seen recipes that call for hot pepper sauce & garlic too -- so there's the potential for making it spicy!

And now a German recipe that calls for cabbage and beer, from
Cooking with Beer Taste-Tempting Recipes and Creative Ideas for Matching Beer & Food
by Lucy Saunders

Kriek Cabbage

1/3 cup dried sweetened cherries
1 cup cherry ale or kriek (a Belgian cherry lambic)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced orange zest
1 tablespoon minced shallots or mild sweet onion
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
10-12 oz. red cabbage, tough outer leaves
removed and cored, quartered, and sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the cherries in an oven-proof dish and cover with the cherry-flavored beer. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for 1 minute on high power; remove wrap and let cool.

2. Stir together the olive oil, orange zest, shallots or sweet onion in a 10-inch heavy sauté pan placed over low heat. sauté gently until the shallots are translucent and tender, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the cabbage, red wine vinegar, cherries and beer, stirring often, and cook for 15 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Borealkitchen's Note: I don't happen to have Kriek or red cabbage lying around. But I do have another bottle of previously frozen IPA and a head a white cabbage, so I'm planning to give this recipe a try with the following variations
skip the cherries -- maybe try an Alaskan version with dried cranberries?
Heat oil and saute onions, add cabbage, grated orange zest, beer-infused cranberries, salt and pepper (skipping the vinegar too).
I'll let you know how it turns out, and what the fam thinks -- cabbage is not exactly their favorite...

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