Weekend Reading #2

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there is excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

For those who didn’t notice from my ridiculous rate of Instagram-ing, Twitter-ing and Facebook-ing I have recently returned from 9 days of Good Beer Week action so I might be a little light on for reading material for you but I was busy drinking beer! Whoops!

The Guardian | Cooking with Beer: Ale and Hearty Ideas

The Australian edition of The Guardian news website

A post by Perth based writer, Max Brearley in the ‘Australia Food Blog’ section featuring my good friend and great chef Mitch Mitchell aka Beersine. Mitch shares two of his favourite recipes accompanied by photography by another talented person I’m fortunate enough to call friend, Jessica Shaver.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography
Photography by Jessica Shaver

Craft Beer | Sustainable Uses of Spent Grain

American craft beer website

You can read about Game of Cones here if I can be so bold as to plug my own blog within my blog … which apparently I can

Inspired by Beersine’s spent grain pretzels at the Good Beer Week ‘Game of Cones’ event, I went looking for a few related articles on using spent grain. This was a really interesting read on what some American breweries are doing with their spent grains. It’s more than cattle feed!

Spent Grain on a Brew Day for Colonial Baltic Porter
Spent Grain at Colonial Brewing, Margaret River

Crafty Pint | Good Beer Week 2014 Review: De Vrolijke Boot

One of Australia’s very best craft beer news website

Naturally most of my beer reading has been orientated around Melbourne’s Good Beer Week and living vicariously through others by reading reviews of events I wasn’t able to attend. In my defence there were hundreds of events and the week only goes for nine days! This event was held at Merricote along with beers by Boatrocker Brewery and stretched across six courses. The cacao cigar paired with Ramjet, a whiskey barrel aged imperial stout, sounds like something I would really, really like!

Beer is Your Friend | Good Beer Week Recap

One of my favourite Australian beer blogs by Glen Humphries

Summing things up nicely, an art I am yet to master due to my tendency to simply spew words, Glen writes about discovering Feral Watermelon Warhead and Rodenbach, going to GABS and eating lots of cheesesteaks.

girl + chilli

Chilli con carne is more than just a tasty meal, it’s the total delight at having a kitchen bench full of spices and colour and the aroma filling the entire house. It’s about slouching on the couch afterwards in your favourite trackies and being full and happy. And yes, it’s totally made better with beer.

I love chilli con carne; it’s warming, inviting and bursting with flavour. It’s a dish that falls into my “home food” category, i.e. I’m very unlikely to order it at restaurant because my love for it is greater than just the dish itself; it’s about my total delight at having a kitchen bench full of spices and colour and the aroma filling the entire house so much so that our dog is practically drooling. It’s about slouching on the couch afterwards in your favourite trackies and being full and happy.

Granted I could say this about a lot of dishes if I really thought about it but it is particularly true with chilli con carne.

Last week I had a go at making Paul Mercurio’s version from his Cooking with Beer book. I’m surprised that I’ve owned this book for a year and only just tried this recipe. Shame on my beery heart.

Chilli con carne

Weizenbock – a strong wheat beer, ‘bock’ indicating strong and ‘weizen’ German for wheat.

The recipe calls for a 330ml bottle of Weizenbock and I immediately wished I hadn’t drunk my last bottle of Mountain Goat / Brooklyn Brewery collaboration beer, the Hopfweizenbock – a hopped up weizenbock. With such strong wheat beer characters like banana and spice, coupled with biscuit, stone fruit and a good punchy finish, well it would have been pretty damn good.

Nøgne Ø Tiger Tripel … a little barnyard, dried pineapple, stone fruit, spicy, crisp citrus and a little red fruit. Sensational!

However, having enjoyed all the Hopfweizenbock I had to find a suitable substitute in our fridge. I decided on Sierra Nevada Kellerweis and a splash of Nøgne Ø Tiger Tripel, hoping my beer mathematics would work – Kellerweis + Tiger Tripel = Weizenbock.

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Nogne O Tiger Tripel

The end result was an amazing chilli con carne, seriously one of the best I’ve made. I think this will be the chilli con carne recipe, the go-to recipe. My partner and I matched it with the Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, the wheat beer qualities like spice and coriander complemented the dish perfectly. The beers uber-refreshment also made for a fantastic palate cleanser for the heat in the dish.

Chilli con carne with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Click the image for the full recipe
Click the image for the full recipe

Garlic + Beer + Butter …

… these are a few of my favourite things.

Whilst garlic, beer and butter didn’t make Sound of Music’s Julie Andrew’s list of favourite things they certainly make mine!

… these are a few of my favourite things.

Whilst garlic, beer and butter didn’t make Sound of Music’s Julie Andrew’s list of favourite things they certainly make mine!

I recently posted about The Beeroness and her Stove Top Mac & Cheese, I made this at home and it was magical. It wasn’t long before I was back at her website looking for more great recipes to continue my cooking with beer education.

Stove Top Mac & Cheese

I came across the words “roasted garlic beer butter shrimp” and it just so happened I had some prawns just begging to be eaten.

The recipe is pretty straight forward. It just takes a roasted head of garlic, some butter, half a cup of beer, some olive oil and a good mixing. I used Little Creatures Pale Ale as I wanted a beer that was big on flavour but not offensively so.

The other great feature of this recipe is the beautiful wafting smell of roasted garlic all through the kitchen.

The Beeroness gives two options for cooking the prawns – stove top and grill. I decided on stove top as I didn’t want to mess around with putting prawns on skewers since it had taken me so long to behead and de-vein the buggars!

Roasted Garlic Beer Butter Prawns

I served the prawns on Supreme Soy Sauce Chow Mein which I took from another recent website discovery – Rasa Malaysia, excellent for a variety of Asian dishes. I altered the sauce a little from their recipe but again this one is nice and easy – basically throw your ingredients into the pan on high heat and keep it moving! Garnish with the white sesame seeds and spring onion.

Supreme Soy Sauce Chow Mein

To keep with the pale ale theme I served this with the Bear Republic XP Pale Ale, another fantastic beer from Bear Republic who are fast becoming one of my ‘go-to’ breweries because all their beers I have tried so far have been great.

It was ballsy but still very drinkable, you’d easily have a few pints of this and with dinner it matched nicely. The prawns carried a lot of garlic sweetness and something tangy which I’m guessing was from the beer; both these flavours went well against the fruitness and bitterness of the XP.

Til next time Beeroness … I’ll definitely be back for more beer cooking joy!

yummy dinner

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.

P1050452
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

Mustard + Coopers

It has been a number of weeks since I’ve been to Bunnings on a weekend to enjoy one (or even two) of their fantastic sausage sizzles. It must be universally accepted that you can’t have a proper hot dog without mustard and so, since I woke up with strong urge to cook, it seemed like a good time to try my hand at mustard. Paul Mercurio’s Cooking with Beer book came to the rescue with a recipe for “Kick-arse Hot Beer Mustard”.

Check out more photos here

This mustard is delightfully easy to whip together and makes you wonder whether you’ll bother to purchase mustard from the shops ever again. The use of the words “kick-arse” and “hot” are no exaggeration so if you are a fan of big flavours, heat and bag loads of spice then you’ll love this mustard too. With so much flavour going on here I’m not sure how much impact 1/3 of a cup of Coopers Sparkling has on the finished product. Since it’s so easy to make I think I’ll mess around with different beers and see what difference it makes.

Now that I had made mustard it was time for hot dogs … well, actually it turned out to be more of a sandwich since there was fresh turkish bread on hand. (I’m trying not to giggle as the words “sausage sandwich” come to mind). Anyway …

  • Mushroom & Onion Sausages from the local Capel Butcher
  • Shredded Capel Cheddar
  • Tomato Sauce and KICK ARSE HOT BEER MUSTARD!

It was seriously tasty and I’ll be putting beer mustard on every dish for the next week!

Sausages with Kick Arse Hot Beer Mustard in Turkish Bread
(try very hard not to label this photo as ‘Sausage Sandwich’)

Fish Curry + Chimay

More cooking from Paul Mercurio’s Cooking with Beer book – this time I tried my hand at the Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale using Chimay Triple

Cooking with Beer by Paul Mercurio
My new favourite cook book

More cooking from Paul Mecurio’s Cooking with Beer book but this time it wasn’t just for myself and my partner but also for his parents.

I decided to try the Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale. This was silly for a number of reasons –

  1. I’ve never tried cooking this dish before.
  2. The first and only time I tried cooking a fish curry was so long ago I can’t remember whether it was good or bad. I figure if I can’t remember, it couldn’t have been very good.
  3. The ingredients list was 23 items long.

I’ll cut the suspense and state right now that the dish turned out to be freakin’ amazing.

Indian-style Fish Curry with Belgian Ale
… be prepared with your best pestling skills

One of the ingredients in this dish is, clearly, beer – more specifically a Belgian-style high-alcohol ale. I went to Dan Murphy’s in search of something suitable and came home with Chimay Triple. 8% abv, rich sweetness, fruity and with a good bitter finish.

The Chimay beers remind me of The Belgian Beer Cafe Westende, one of my first jobs as a bartender and where I was first introduced to the big wide world of beer. If you check out the Chimay website you’ll see the words “Chimay, the Art of beer and cheese” … two of my favourite things!

Chimay is one of only 18 authentic Trappist monasteries in the world where the monks and nuns live by the motto “ora et labora (prayer and work) so basically when they’re not praying they are working hard to produce, amongst other things, amazing beer. For more information on Trappist beers, here is a great website.

The beer is rich and complicated with lots going on and with an ingredients list of over 20, the curry is much the same. It’s full of spices like cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric and also uses garlic, ginger, and coriander to ensure there is plenty of flavour. When you throw in a cup of Chimay Triple it’s hard to say whether you can taste the difference with SO much going on. I guess you’d have to make the dish twice – one with and one without the beer – but I have to be honest, that’s a lot of mortar and pestle work thats enough to make my hand cramp just thinking about it. I’m happy enough with the outcome that the recipe was fun to make (though it does need some time and love) and tasted great.

You’ll work up a sweat making this paste!
Fish Curry … Simmering away nicely

Pie + Beer

Pies and beers! Yes, I know, it’s not exactly a revolutionary concept but I’m not talking about questionable meat encased in stale pastry and wrapped in microwave safe plastic. Though this isn’t to say you won’t catch me occasionally devouring a servo pie on a road trip up to Perth. However, in this instance I’m talking about a twist on the old favourite.

Pies and beers! Yes, I know, it’s not exactly a revolutionary concept but I’m not talking about questionable meat encased in stale pastry and wrapped in microwave safe plastic. Though this isn’t to say you won’t catch me occasionally devouring a servo pie on a road trip up to Perth. However, in this instance I’m talking about a twist on the old favourite.

Continuing my current cook book love affair with ‘Cooking with Beer’ by Paul Mercurio, I decided to try my hand at the Chicken & Leek Pie. The recipe calls for a Saison however after an unsuccessful hunt around it would appear this particular beer style isn’t around these parts … not yet anyway as I hear the Eagle Bay Brewing have a Saison lined up for their next limited release. In a search that took me from bottle shop to bottle shop like a lost alcoholic, I stood in the Dan Murphy’s liquor store and wondered what would be the best replacement. I looked at Belgian ales and English ales and then realised there was something a little closer to home that would be ideal – Feral White.

Cooking with thirsty work!
Feral White and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale made excellent cooking companions

Feral White  (4.6% abv) is brewed true to the Belgian Witbier style with a 50/50 ratio of barley and wheat and also uses an imported Belgian yeast strain. Coriander and orange peel are added during the boil and it’s appearance is cloudy and unfiltered. I doubt there would be any beer lovers in WA who aren’t familiar with Feral Brewing and their first and most popular beer, White. It has delicate spices and sweetness and has a nice level of carbonation so you don’t end up feeling like you just swallowed a packet of inflated balloons. I have a special place in my heart for witbiers as they were the first beer style I fell in love with, discovering Hoegaarden when I was working at The Belgian Beer Cafe Westende. This is, however, the first time I’ve tried cooking with it. The fruity notes from the beer added a touch of sweetness that went nicely with the pie, I think that anything sweeter would have been overpowering for the chicken, butter and veggies. Feral Whites spices and subtle tartness are great with leek, almost making it bolder than what it would be on its own. Unlike when I made the Onion, Stout and Goat’s Cheese Tart, the impact of Feral White on the outcome was subtle to the point where I doubt I would have been able to pick it if I didn’t know it was in there. I’m going to take this as an indication of balance of flavours and ingredients though whether this is accurate or not, I am not entirely sure but, what the hell, it sounds good.

The end result was just lovely, a hearty dinner with a great balance of flavours. The bonus being a little creativity in the pastry, I don’t know why, but whenever I use pastry I always have to write something.

“Yum” + “Pie” … Chicken, Leek & Feral White Pies