Beer + Christmas

Christmas is just a few days away so I thought I’d quickly share a few of the yummy beers over got lined up for the festive season (in between beach visits and lots and lots of food of course!).

Christmas is just a few days away so I thought I’d quickly share a few of the yummy beers over got lined up for the festive season (in between beach visits and lots and lots of food of course!).

I’d also like to take the chance to thank you for reading my beery ramblings. The girl +beer blog has been an exciting adventure for me and I’m very grateful to you all for taking the time to read. I’m also lucky to have been supported by my amazing boyfriend, Crafty Pint, Australian Brews News and plenty of beer loving folk.

Happy Beery Christmas everyone and I’ll catch you in the new year!

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Jamie Oliver + Porter

First post for 2013 – Happy New Year!

I have recently developed a food-crush on Jamie Oliver so expect to see a lot of his recipes in the coming months (depending on my own cooking success rate of course!). Here’s Tray Baked Chicken and Squashed Potatoes matched with Heretic’s Shallow Grave Porter.

The number of Jamie Oliver books I have has jumped from 1 to 4 in the last eight weeks!

I always knew who Jamie Oliver was of course, having seen a few of his shows over the years and liked what he did, but it wasn’t until recently when I saw a DVD of his 30 minute meals that I developed a big food-crush. I now have 3 different Jamie Oliver cook books (plus a little one that came with the newspaper!) so expect to see a few attempts at Jamie Oliver meals coming up for the next few months …

My first attempt at a Jamie Oliver meal came from his 30 minute meals – Tray Baked Chicken with Squashed Potatoes.

Jamie Oliver Chicken and Potatoes

Jamie Oliver Chicken (2)
In all my food and beer excitement I neglected to photograph the potatoes!
Super easy … Cut into halves and boil for 10-15 minutes (just cooked through), throw into hot frying pan (or BBQ) with olive oil, rosemary, bay leaves and whole garlic cloves and squash (recipe uses a pan lid). Do this a few times to each side until cooked through, golden and tasty!

The dish was, as promised, dead easy (except for the fact that I burnt the bacon that’s supposed to go on top of the chicken) and the Squashed Potatoes was even easier.

One of the best things about these dishes was being able to use fresh rosemary picked from the backyard. Oh and the unpeeled garlic cloves cooked in the pan … I’d forgotten how amazing a clove of garlic could be!

This was one of those food and beer matching moments where I didn’t plan at all – with only a handful of beers in the fridge to choose from I narrowed it down through my desire to open a BIG bottle of beer. It was then a choice between a Barley Wine, Christmas Ale and Porter. I figured the Porter would be the most likely to match with dinner but I wasn’t expecting fireworks.

The Heretic Shallow Grave Porter is a beautifully black beer with big yeasty aromas, fresh lemon, chocolate and maple syrup. The more it warmed up the more chocolate came through. The flavours are balanced between coffee, toast, caramel and a soft bitter finish. I love this beer and I really like the way they label their beers too, the little red eyes almost DARE you to try their beers (and hell yes I’m up for the challenge!)

So no, I didn’t expect the food and beer match to be a winner however I was pleasantly surprised (don’t you just love that!?) to find it was actually a pretty good partner. I think it was all the roasty crispy flavours from the red onions, garlic and chicken that made the match work. In particular the porter went really well with the potatoes, especially when squeezed all over with baked lemon, and the crispy edges of the squashed potatoes with the toasty richness of the beer … YUM!

Heretic Shallow Grave (1)

Gnocchi + IPA

Homemade Gnocchi with Chorizo and Mushrooms matched with Queensland’s Burleigh Brewing FIGJAM IPA

A few months ago my partner and I attended a Tasty of Tuscany cooking school at Wildwood Valley in Margaret River. It was a great way to spend a Saturday and with a variety of classes, accommodation and both full and half day options it really is a must-do. It’s also BYO so it’s great to a) take along some delicious beer and b) see the funny faces you get from everyone else who took along a bottle of wine.

Matching Sierra Nevada Summerfest with Slow Cooked Mushrooms ... yup, we were the only ones with beer!
Matching Sierra Nevada Summerfest with Crostini with Funghi and Olio di Tartufo
And yes, we were the only ones with beer!
It was an awesome match of crisp beer happily cutting through the creamy, oily mushrooms

One of the dishes we made that day was Pan Fried Gnocchi with Roasted Pumpkin, Ricotta and Sage. The dish had turned out beautifully and we loved the light, pillowy gnocchi so decided it was about it we tried doing it at home.

Gnocchi
Making Gnocchi at Wildwood Valley Cooking School
Top Right – Gnocchi after it’s been in boiling water then blanched quickly in ice water
Bottom Right – Gnocchi in the pan over high heat

Sadly we were without some of the ingredients required so decided instead to do our gnocchi with slowly sauteed mushrooms with smoked paprika and diced chorizo and, of course, a generous knob of butter. The result was just as tasty and it means I will now be crossing off gnocchi from my list of things to order at restaurants since it’s fun and yum to make at home!

We matched this with a bottle of Burleigh Brewing FIGJAM IPA that we stumbled across randomly at a Dan Murphy’s in Perth. It’s another beautiful beer that’s really well balanced. I got a hit of marmalade, spices and tropical fruit on the nose and then its backed up with great hoppy bitterness but nothing too overpowering (so I was surprised to find it is 70 IBU, just goes to show how surprising beer can be!)

Left - Burleigh Brewing FIGJAM IPA<br />Right - Pan Fried Gnocchi

It was quiet a good match, the paprika in the mushrooms sealed the deal by adding a delicate spice that went really well with the beer and because the gnocchi itself was quite light it wasn’t fighting against the beer. Food and beer win!

Pan Fried Gnocchi

Royal Blue Potatoes

Plain Flour

Salt

Butter

Olive Oil

Chorizo (we used Coat of Arms Chorzio from the Margaret River Venison Farm cause it’s very full flavoured so you don’t need much)

Mushrooms

Paprika

Parmesan

Once you’ve made your gnocchi dough and you want to cut it up we found that the trusty paint scraper (that we use for our BBQ) works a treat.  Once cut you want to throw them into boiling water and when they float up to the top, fish them out and throw them into iced water. Allow to cool and then remove onto an oiled pan. Once you’ve done them all, pop into the fridge for a bit. The pan frying bit is easy – high heat and don’t burn them!

The mushrooms can be kicked off first, popped into a frying pan on low heat and allowed to simmer for ages. Just keep adding a splash of water for moisture, trust me, they’ll be tops! Add spices and keep simmering away before throwing in with the gnocchi at the last minute.

Beer + Mustard Bread

I recently stumbled across a fantastic recipe from Smitten Kitten that spoke to many of my food-loves … “Cheddar, Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread”. How could I possibly resist?

I recently stumbled across a fantastic recipe from Smitten Kitten that spoke to many of my food-loves … “Cheddar, Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread”. How could I possibly resist?

Since discovering this recipe only two weeks ago I have made it three times, each with a different and tasty result.

Attempt No. 1

The only downside was that I burnt its bottom and it overflowed a little, rising out of the baking tin like it was trying to escape. The loaf lasted all of about two days so I’d call that a success!

Preparing Bread
Making the Dough
Preparing the Yum
Spicy Cheese

Making Dough … Kneading Dough

Having made a few loafs of bread and pretzels I have come to the conclusion that a special dough hook attachment on a fancy machine is completely unnecessary. Plus you can’t have nearly as much fun putting flour hand prints in humourous places if you don’t get your hands dirty!

I used Coopers Sparkling in the dough purely because it is the current beer of choice in the fridge. It was either that or break open my Bootleg The Grandfather Barley Wine but that wasn’t going to happen! (Saving that for Christmas)

Preparing the Yum

I used the Kick Ass Hot Beer Mustard (made with Coopers), which has now become a staple item in our fridge, Worcestershire Sauce, Nandos Hot Sauce and melted butter.

Spicy Cheese

Using shredded local Capel Cheddar Cheese, I tossed through the mustard powder and smoked paprika according to the recipe and then blatantly put in more spices for no good reason other than just because.

Putting Bread Together
1. Rolling the dough into a rectangle without a rolling pin
2. Painting on the yum
3. Arranging

Rolling the Dough

Since we don’t have a rolling pin (at least not anywhere in the kitchen, it’s entirely possible that there is a rolling pin and two muddlers packed away in boxes in the shed) I used a large jar to try and make my flat rectangle.

Painting the Yum

There was something child-like fun about painting the yummy mustard/butter/hot sauce mixture onto the dough.

Arranging

This was a little fiddly. Using a pizza cutter I cut the dough into strips before layering it into a stack of dough, cheese, dough, cheese. Picking up ruler length strips of dough is fairly tricky! Next it was time to cut it up into sections to fit the cake tin, the recipe suggests a good knife but I used a paint scraper (we always have one in the kitchen for BBQ) and it worked a treat!

(By the way, the recipe has a really good photo of this whole process which will make a lot more sense than my ramblings here)

Finished Bread

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Attempt No. 2

We were heading to Perth and I had wanted to make the bread for a baby shower we were going to. Not wanting to make a mess in our friend’s kitchen I decided to prepare the bread, wrap it up, take it to Perth and then throw it into the oven on arrival.

After the drive up and running a few errands more than 3 hours passed in which the yeast had continued to grow, almost completely breaking free of it’s cake tin/cling wrap prison.

Deciding there wasn’t much I could do, and not sure if it was going to be okay, I lopped off the parts that were over the edges of the tin and reformed them into fat little sausage shapes on top as, for lack of a better word, “decoration”. It went into the oven and I crossed my fingers.

The result was a loaf of bread rather than a pull-apart but the taste was still amazing, more subtle than the first but light and fluffy with a good crusty outside.

We ate this with butter and some Pale Ale Cheese by Chef DeBeersine – beautiful!

Bread

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Attempt No. 3

Since Attempt No. 2 was for the baby shower but we got all excited and ate half of the loaf fresh from the oven, I had to make another the next morning. This time it was much closer to the actual recipe which is always nice and I didn’t get any photos since it came out of the oven and straight to the baby shower and disappeared rapidly once it hit the table. Yup, I’ll be making this bread a whole lot more!

Sour + Chocolate

Drinking lambics remind me of eating warhead lollies as a kid, there’s something about the sourness that makes me want to go back for more and more …

Tuesday Night Sours
Tuesday Night Sours

Ah lambics … drinking lambics remind me of being a kid and eating one too many warhead lollies. There is something about the sourness that makes me want to go back for more and more …

First up I had the Haandbryggeriet Sweet and Sour. It’s a wild ale from a Norwegian brewery which, according to the website, is run purely on a volunteer basis.

Haandbryggeriet Sweet and Sour

The beer pours a striking cloudy orange colour – it’s beautiful! There are soft aromas of under ripe cherries and watermelon. Taste wise it is softer than I had anticipated which is perhaps just because it’s been a while since I’ve had any sour beers (shame on me!). As I sipped on it I got sea salt, under ripe plums, a decent bit of tartness and cherries.

I tried matching this with dinner, spur of the moment, by making sticky soy and honey chicken. As a match it was a little off the mark with too much sweetness dominating the pairing. Still, the Sweet and Sour made a really nice beer to sip on over dinner. The contents of the beer seemed to disappear quite rapidly!

Sweet and Sour Beer with Chicken

For the next beer I moved a little closer to home, choosing the Melbourne brewed Moondog Perverse Sexual Amalgam, a black wild ale with cherry plums. Despite the word “black” printed right there on the label I was still surprised at the jet black colour.  The aroma was a strange mixture of cherries and mushrooms; flavours were a mash up of bitter black cherry, green apple and hints of rich dark chocolate. The finish was tart and leaves you with a slightly confused look on your face as you try to work out what just happened to your palate. It’s not a traditional lambic or sour beer and I don’t believe it was ever intended to be.

Moondog Black Wild Ale

I decided to try and match it with chocolate from one of my local chocolatiers Bahen & Co (who you may know from their collaboration brew with Eagle Bay Brewing to create a Cacao Stout). As the beer washed over the chocolate it raised those subtle chocolate notes to the front. It was a challenging pairing because in some aspects it really worked, bringing out dark chocolate notes that seemed to fit well with a bitter finish, but in other ways it was very much at odds with elements like funky mushroom aromas and fresh green apples.

It was great to experience two beers loosely from the same style completely different from one another and sours appear to be making a little noise lately. If you’re keen there are a few great reads to see what’s happening …

Tarting up Australia – Australian Brews News

Temple Brewing Scarlet Sour – Australian Brews News

The Power of Sour – Australian Brews News

The Sour Italian – Tipples Blog

Clancy’s + WA Beer Week

Whoops! Another post that managed to slip through the cracks! Anyway, let’s pretend it’s still WA Beer Week (yippee!) and here’s a little post on the Beer Fact Hunt held at Clancy’s Fish Pub in Dunsborough …

I’ve been working at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough for the past couple of months and, like many great beer venues across the state, they celebrated WA Beer Week with a beery event – The  Beer Fact Hunt.

Yes, it’s a somewhat tricky title to negotiate without saying something rather offensive and yes, it’s deliberate.

The Beer Fact Hunt, hosted by the very funny DJ Chet Leonard, may not have drawn record numbers into the venue but I can guarantee those who were there will tell you that it was a lot of laughs with a lot of prizes.

Dave and Rhys from Little Creatures kicked off the evening by handing out free beer – that’s always a good start! They hoisted a firkin of Little Creatures Pale Ale onto a tall table, dry hopped with New Zealand Rakau hops, and started pouring. In the interests of beer education we (being Clancy’s staff) did a side-by-side tasting of normal Little Creatures Pale Ale and the dry hopped version. The dry hopping basically acted as a mega-boost of fruity fresh hop aromas – something I am always up for.

It was great to see other South West brewery folk at Clancy’s to support the event, such as Jeremy Good from Cowaramup Brewing and Nick and the crew from Eagle Bay Brewing.

One of the highlights of the night would have to have been when DJ Chet Leonard asked the crowd if anyone had any decent party tricks … the result was an amazing showing of the worm – always a party hit and certainly raised a lot of applause and cheers.

The quiz ended with lots of prizes, beers and happy smiling people – very much in the spirit of WA Beer Week.

Pretzels + Beer

The biggest mistake I made with the pretzels was only making five …

Making Pretzels

Pretzels Recipe

The biggest mistake I made with the pretzels was only making five.

Another great recipe taken from Paul Mercurio’s Cooking with Beer cookbook, although this doesn’t have any beer as an ingredient it’s certainly a beer worthy food.

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Kneading the dough … and not needing a fancy dough hook attachment
Don’t you just love getting your hands dirty?!

I’ve been making a few bread related foods lately and the recipes always assume you have a fancy machine and a “dough attachment”. We don’t have a fancy machine, mostly because we’ve never needed one (dough pun!), but as I was kneading out the dough by hand I thought to myself that this was WAY more fun than watching a machine.

Once kneaded the dough has to rest and grow.  The hot tip in the book is to spray a little oil into the bowl before you put the dough in to rest making it much easier to get out of the bowl later – just don’t forget to spray the whole bowl as the dough grows to about double it’s starting size.

I loved the massive citrus aromas that came off this dough once it had a couple of hours to grow
I loved the massive citrus aromas that came off this dough once it had a couple of hours to grow
With the dough needing a couple of hours to rest and grow, it's a good excuse to sit down with a beer!
With the dough needing a couple of hours to rest and grow, it’s a good excuse to sit down with a beer!
Shaping the dough turned out to be the hardest part! Apparently it's all down to practice so I guess I'll have to make a lot more!
Shaping the dough turned out to be the hardest part! Apparently it’s all down to practice so I guess I’ll have to make a lot more!
Sea Salt Pretzels
I got a little carried away with the salt

I didn’t put too much thought into the beer matching side of things here, we had a case of Coopers Pale Ale so we had one (or two) of them. Having said that, it was a pretty good pairing of floral pale ale with sweet breadiness. They also went really well when dabbed with a little Kick Ass Hot Beer Mustard! Now that I (kinda) know what I’m doing I think there’s a lot of fun that can be had with making different pretzels and beer matching …

Tasty, easy pretzels with good ol' Coopers Green
Tasty, easy pretzels with good ol’ Coopers Green