Getting Crafty with Beer

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Adding beer to your recipes can add some terrific flavor.  But how do you select which beer goes with which dish?   Here’s a handy cooking-with-beer guide along with some of my favorite beer-infused recipes.

For a more pronounced flavor of hops, put an extra splash of beer in at the end of cooking. Giving the dish a final brief simmer rather than a boil will retain the essence of the hops.


This culinary beer guide suggested by “The Craft Beer Cookbook” author Jacquelyn Dodd will help kick-start your craft beer cooking.

Stout and porter: Stouts tend to use roasted barley. Porters do not. Porters also tend to have a hoppier taste. Many stouts and porters have chocolate and coffee undertones. Use these beers in recipes that feature chocolate and red meat.

Pale ales: Pale ales get their name from the pale malt used to brew them. With a more even ration of malt to hop, the flavor is better balanced than some stronger brews. Pale ales are a good choice for fruit, poultry and seafood recipes.

Brown ales: Brown ales have a rich, malty flavor. Look for the nationality associated with this beer. American brown ales tend to have more hops. English brown ales tend to be sweeter with a maltier flavor. Try brown ales in recipes that have roasted root vegetables and red meat as ingredients.

Wheat ales: Wheat beers are brewed with wheat and tend to have a yeast-forward taste with a lower hop undertone. Flavors of citrus, cloves and coriander are often present in wheat ales. One of the most popular wheat ales is Blue Moon, a Belgian-style white wheat ale.

Wheat ales work well in recipe with apples, pears and citrus as well as with seafood and white meats like chicken and pork.

Lagers:Lagers are known for their clean, crisp taste and longer fermentations, making the yeast settle to the bottom. Lagers and pilsners are another good choice for shellfish, fish, white meats and citrus-based recipes.


Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Brown Ale Vinaigrette


Keibasa and Mussels Steamed in Lager


Beer Marinated Steak with Herb Sauce

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Chocolate Stout Cake


Beer-Infused Beef Stew with Puff Pastry Topping


Warm Brie with Beer-Braised Dried Fruit


Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in Desserts, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, Recipes, Soups & Salads, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , ,

Celebration Spring Supper

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Spring has finally sprung!   Time to get all of your family and friends out of hibernation and into the dining room to enjoy a special Spring celebration dinner.   This delicious menu also is terrific as an Easter buffet.  (Find my story with additional recipes in the front page of the April 9, 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel food section)

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Spring Pea and Preserved Lemon Mash Crostini

For starters, wow your guests with a bright green crostini made with smashed spring peas and preserved lemons.   Although preserved lemons are easy to make, they do take about 6 weeks in the frig before they are ready.  Luckily many specialty food stores carry this delicious tart Moroccan culinary treats.

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Roast Salmon with Herbes de Provence Bread Crumb Coating

For a change of pace from the traditional lamb or ham spring dinner, try your hand at preparing a delicious roast salmon.    Roasting the fish makes it easy to prepare for a large group.   The addition of herbes de Provence (a French blend of savory, thyme, rosemary, basil and lavender) adds a nice crunch to the dish.


Spring Easter Egg Nest Cake

Finish off the meal with a stunning dessert – a spring Easter egg nest cake.    A simple white cake with white buttercream is transformed into a spring showpiece complete with an edible nest made with green candy straw and filled with speckled malted milk ball eggs.   Who knew that edible Easter grass existed?   I found mine in the Easter candy section of my local Walmart.   It even came with cut-out edible bunnies.

Wishing you and your family all the best for a delicious spring supper.   Bon Appetite!

Posted in Appetizers, Desserts, Entrees, Favorite Things, Holiday & Entertaining, Recipes, sides | Tagged

The Bundt Pan Revisited

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It’s round with a fluted top and a hole in the middle. It can transform a first-time baker’s cake into a masterpiece.    It even got a shout out in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Andrea Martin’s character Aunt Voula placed a potted plant in its middle.

 I’m talking about the bundt (or Bundt) pan, that decorative take on the tube pan that can turn the most basic cake into a work of edible art.
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Humble beginnings

The Nordic Ware Co. brought the bundt pan in to the American kitchen. The 71-year-old Minneapolis-based company was founded by husband-and-wife team David and Dotty Dalquist. The couple’s basement served as Nordic Ware’s first headquarters.

The first products produced were specialty Scandinavian cookware items like the rosette and krumkake irons. But it was the introduction of the bundt pan in the early 1950s that transformed the company.

Two local women approached the company seeking a lightweight alternative to the heavy cast-iron bundkuchen pan. In response, the company created the bundt pan. They also trademarked the name. Just as slow cookers are often referred to as the trademarked name Crockpot Crock-Pot, fluted tube cake pans are almost always referred to as bundt pans.

The beauty of the Bundt pan is in the design. The hole in the middle actually makes the cake bake more evenly than it does in a traditional cake pan. You won’t find any undercooked areas in the middle of a bundt cake.

Sweet, Savory and “Something for the Birds!”

Don’t limit your Bundt caking to just the sweet side.   Though a Bundt cake makes a terrific crowd-pleasing ending to any meal, this versatile pan can be used to create savory offerings as well.   You can even make something to make your feathered friends happy by forming birdseed into a decorative wreath, ready to hang in your yard.

Here are some recipes, from sweet to savory, the get you started on your Bundt cake experience!

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Cornmeal and Olive Oil Cake


Close up whiskey cake

Bourbon Bittersweet Chocolate Bundt Cake

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Bundt Pan Spagetti Pie




Bird Seed Bundt Wreath

Posted in Desserts, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, Recipes, Uncategorized