ALEXANDRIA, VA – Do you need some inspiration in the kitchen on cold, grey days? Here’s a surprise ingredient that can add a little sparkle to wintertime dishes: beer. That favorite style of beer that you drink and serve as a beverage can also perk up your cooking, as there is a beer that will add depth to just about every recipe and enhance the flavor of any food.
From the National Beer Wholesalers Association in Alexandria, Virginia, here are two new recipes that feature the flavor of a particular beer. Both are perfect for the holiday season, or at any time during the cold winter months.
For a quick and pretty dessert, try Cranberry Ale-Pear Upside Down Cake. Cranberry Ale is a tangy, fruity winter seasonal beer that complements many dishes that are traditionally served at this time of year. Start by making the topping for the cake by placing pear slices and sweetened fresh cranberries around the bottom of a baking pan. Make a caramel coating by boiling together water and sugar, and pouring over the top. The cake has a simple batter, flavored with ground ginger and cinnamon to further enhance the tart of the cranberries, the pears and the Cranberry Ale Beer. Pour the finished batter into the pan and bake. After cooling, turn the cake out of the pan and upside down so that the cranberries and pear are on the top. Serve slices of the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a fruit-flavored dessert beer, like a Lambic.
Versatile Golden Beet and Golden Ale Couscous can be served in so many ways. It’s the perfect side dish for a favorite chicken, turkey or pork recipe, or it can be served on greens as a salad. Just peel and chop golden beets to one-half inch size pieces, and then sauté on top of the stove with onions, pieces of chopped Yukon gold potatoes and garlic. Cook until the beet and potato pieces are tender. Stir in a box of couscous and then add Golden Ale Beer, orange juice and a bit of orange zest for additional flavoring. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork, and serve. Golden Ale Beer or any Pilsner is a delicious accompaniment.
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Cranberry Ale-Pear Upside Down Cake
Makes 8 servings
2 firm, ripe Bartlett pears, medium-sized
1 cup fresh cranberries
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 TBLS butter, softened
¼ cup Cranberry Ale Beer (or Blueberry Ale)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsps baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup Cranberry Ale Beer (or Blueberry Ale)
Grease a 9 x 2 inch round cake pan with butter or cooking spray; line bottom of pan with a parchment or waxed paper round. Butter paper.
To make topping, halve, peel and core the pears and cut them into ¼ inch thick slices (lengthwise). Arrange slices on the bottom of the prepared pan, slices overhanging slightly, with pointed ends towards center of the pan. Fill in the center of pan with cranberries; scatter remaining cranberries along outside edge of pan.
In heavy saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar starts to turn a medium amber color, about 4 – 5 minutes. Swirl pan gently to even out color. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and Cranberry Ale Beer until blended. Pour caramel over the fruit in the prepared pan.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In large bowl with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla, until blended. With mixer on low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and Cranberry Ale Beer until batter is smooth. Spoon batter over fruit in pan and spread with spatula to cover evenly. Place in hot oven and bake 42 – 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake, and invert cake onto platter. Remove parchment. Cool to room temperature or serve warm.
Nutritional Information, Per Serving:
400 calories; 16 g fat; 10 g saturated fat; 59 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 37 g sugars; 4 g protein
Golden Beet and Golden Ale Couscous
Makes 6 cups (6 side-dish servings)
2 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
3 golden beets, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice (about 2 cups)
1 onion, cut into ½ inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 (6 oz) Yukon Gold potato, cut into ½ inch dice (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 box couscous
1 bottle (12 oz) Golden Ale Beer
1 TBLS grated orange zest
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup chopped parsley
In large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add beets and sauté until edges start to lightly brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in onion, potato, garlic, salt and pepper; cover skillet, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook 12 minutes, or until beets and potato are just tender.
Uncover, stir in couscous until incorporated. Add Golden Ale Beer, orange zest, orange juice and parsley. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring once or twice. Cover the skillet and remove from heat. Let couscous stand 5 – 7 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed. Uncover and fluff couscous with a fork.
Nutritional Information, Per Serving:
400 calories; 5 g fat; .5 g saturated fat; 73 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugars; 11 g protein