Puttin' on The Mitts: Blending in beverages
Root beer. It's not just to drink anymore. How about root beer in the form of pie? Sounds interesting, doesn't it? I thought so, too. So, when Chelsey and I discussed this week's column and decided on cooking with beverages, I turned to Pinterest...
Root beer. It's not just to drink anymore.
How about root beer in the form of pie? Sounds interesting, doesn't it? I thought so, too. So, when Chelsey and I discussed this week's column and decided on cooking with beverages, I turned to Pinterest, one of my favorite social media sites.
Since I'm trying to eat healthier, I knew I wanted to try and find something low-calorie and low-fat. I stumbled upon bacon beer cheddar dip or beer butter mushrooms. Sounds tasty but not the way to go this time around. Too much fat.
I don't make a lot of desserts so I switched gears in my search and came across this gem of a pie. Root beer float pie is light, creamy and airy, a delicious treat perfect for a spring or summer day. And at just under 200 calories per serving, it's something you don't have to feel guilty about eating. That's my kind of dessert!
ROOT BEER FLOAT PIE
From "A Taste of Alaska" blog
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 cup diet root beer
1 package sugar-free vanilla instant pudding
1 container fat-free whipped topping
8 maraschino cherries, optional
Make graham cracker pie crust and cool completely, or use a store-bought one (which is what I did). Mix 1 cup diet root beer with instant pudding. Mix well for 2 minutes, then let it sit for 5 minutes until slightly set. Take 1/2 cup whipped topping from the container and set aside for the topping. Take half of the whipped topping left in the container and fold it into the pudding and root beer mixture. Pour into the crust, smoothing the top. Top with remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Use the saved 1/2 cup of whipped topping to decorate the top of the pie if you're so inclined. Otherwises, just smooth it over as a "frosting." Top with maraschino cherries if desired. Makes 8 servings.
I'd be lying if I didn't admit my spectacular failure at the recipe I initially planned to share with you this week.
Intent on also making a dessert, I embarked on an attempt to develop my own cookie recipe, topped with icing made with tea. Although I feel mostly comfortable experimenting when cooking, when it comes to baking, my skill set is a bit more limited. I turned to a blog post from "Baker Bettie," a blogger who took the time to explain how to develop one's own cookie recipe.
And so I set out to create one myself, using a flavor profile I thought would accent the green tea icing I wanted to make. Ginger-lemon cookies sounded like a natural partner. I don't know where I went wrong, but let's just say that even on one of my silicone baking sheets-which are practically impossible to get things stuck to-these cookies were seemingly bound at the molecular level.
They still looked pretty, but I couldn't very well share a recipe with you that doesn't work. I'll have to try again another day.
Enter one of my standbys-chili. Chili might not come to mind for a warm weather meal, but make it in a slow cooker, and you have a stove-free dinner when the mercury is rising. Using beer to deglaze the pot serves a couple purposes-first, to release the flavors in the browned bits accumulated through sauteing, and second, to add a flavor complexity that water or stock just will not provide.
I never follow a recipe for chili and it's different every time I make it. You could easily add ground meat to this if you choose. Brown the meat in the same pot first and remove it. Instead of using olive oil, use the fat from the meat to saute the onions and peppers. Add the meat back to the pot when adding the tomatoes and beans. Also substitute any beer you prefer. The stronger the flavor of beer, the more it will come through in the final product. Be careful with bitter beers to ensure they do not overwhelm the rest of the flavors.
WINTER ALE FOUR-BEAN CHILI
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 12-ounce winter ale
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can black beans
1 14.5-ounce can red kidney beans
1 14.5-ounce can cannellini beans
1 14.5-ounce can pinto beans
Salt to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
Add onion, bell pepper and jalapeno, stirring occasionally, and allow to cook for 6-8 minutes until onion is translucent and slightly browned on edges.
Add chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and oregano, along with salt to taste, stirring for about 30 seconds to coat onion-pepper mixture.
Add the ale and brown sugar, scraping the bottom of the pot to release the browned bits.
Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and beans.
Bring the chili to a boil and reduce heat to low, simmering partially covered for an hour or more. Taste for salt and season as desired.
To serve, top with chopped scallions, sour cream and shredded cheese or other toppings of choice.