Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Beer... it's not just for drinkin'

I'll be the first to admit that we rarely drink, so I usually pass up recipes that call for beer or some such since we wouldn't really drink anything that was leftover. However, I have been putting some recipes aside that sound like they would be something we would like and found three that used full bottles at a time. I made two of them tonight, and the next will be made later in the week.

We used amber ale in these recipes, with the first being Onion and Fontina Beer Batter Bread. This is basically a savory quick bread that gets a fair amount of moisture from sauteed onions and lift from the beer. Instead of using shredded fontina as the recipe calls for, I cubed the cheese so we would end up with gooey pockets strewn throughout the golden loaf. The bread rose more than I thought it would, so it was not as dense as I thought it could have been. Besides helping to keep the bread moist, the tender onions added a sweet bite to the nutty cheese. I thought it was interesting that the butter was added in two different steps - once you scoop the batter into the dough, a couple tablespoons of melted butter is just drizzled on top. Halfway through, the loaf gets a brushing of another couple tablespoons. I think you could get away with using one tablespoon in each step if you were looking to lighten it, but we both thought it added enough flavor, without it being greasy, to leave it alone when we make it again.

Since we have been wanting to have more soups as the weather starts to get chilly, the next recipe the ale went into was the main portion of tonight's dinner - Cheddar-Ale Soup. This dish was not very labor intensive for the amount of flavor and came together fairly fast. For the potatoes in this recipe, you could use diced and pre-cooked that you buy as the original recipe calls for, but I just boiled some diced Yukon golds until they were tender. After softening a bit of onions, the beer is added into the pot and left to boil to concentrate the flavor. Vegetable broth, water and the soft potatoes are added to cook for a few minutes and warm back up. The potatoes are then mashed into small chunky bits with a potato masher, but if you wanted a silky smooth soup, you could use an immersion blender. To add some body and richness, plain soy milk with a few tablespoons of flour are added and the soup is brought back to a simmer to thicken. The soup is tightened up with handfuls of sharp white cheddar and finished off with thin strips of roasted red bell peppers for a pop of color. Hearty, creamy and cheesy - I can't wait to warm up with this soup in front of the fireplace as the snow begins to fall this winter.


  1. Both of those recipes look great, Joe....I would love a piece of that bread NOW LOL! It looks very light and moist!


  2. Hic - yum! ;)

    I have not baked bread in ages. This sounds like a great bread to get me back into it. But first, I must tackle making rolls for Thanksgiving.........

    Great idea to use chunks - were you happy with how it turned out? Seems like shreds might get kind of lost.....

  3. they both look like great recipes...and i know the leftover beer wouldn't go to waste in this household!

  4. Joe, that looks excellent!
    I invited you to dinner

  5. Val - The bread makes great toast too!

    Alysha - I thought the cheese would just disappear into the bread so that's why we went with the chunks. We both liked it that way!

    Kickpleat - Thanks!

    Linda - Ooh! Thanks, I'll be sure to check it out!

  6. Joe - I'm not a big beer drinker, but your recipe for the cheddar ale soup sounds intriguing. I might try it with the one beer that I actually like to's a Belgian lambic beer made with apples. I think that would provide a nice sweetness to go with the cheddar. I'll let you know how it turns out when I make it.

  7. Ed - I'll be anxious to hear what you think, Jeff and I both liked it quite a bit! Do share the name of the beer too!