06 March 2009

Cooking with Beer

Last night in preparation for Shabbat I starting cooking heavily. The featured ingredient in this month's Vegetarian Times magazine was beer, so I tried two different beer recipes. Beer is one of those ingredients that people frequently have hanging around, especially the cheap kind that someone brought over for a party and no one wants to drink later. We still had beer left over from SuperBowl Sunday, cheap Michelob Lite beer. One of the recipes called for dark ale, however, so George went to the discount store and bought a pack of four bottles of fancy stuff so that people would feel like drinking the leftovers.

The thing about beer is that it's bitter, especially the dark kind. My first recipe, Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale, was a disaster (in that I liked it but 3 other people found it horrible). It combined the bitterness of 2 bottles of dark ale with the extreme spiciness of 2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (which took 3 people at Stop & Shop to find). Too harsh for most American palates.

The second recipe, Tempeh with Mushroom-Lager Sauce, is much gentler. I used a cheap lite beer and subsituted 1 Cup of water plus 1 Tbsp. honey (they called for agave nectar but only hippies use that! Sorry, Berkeley, CA) for 1 Cup of beer. This had a much better balance of flavors and the 2 T. of Dijon mustard were tangy instead of overwhelming and harsh. I think it's a keeper. If you wait a few months you can get these recipes online at VT's website.

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