The Beer Lover's Kitchen: Pumpkin Gnudi with Porcini Broth and 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze

Gnudi are a joy—especially these gnudi, which involve a few cheffy flourishes but remain straightforward to prepare.

If you’re not already acquainted, think of gnudi as standalone ravioli filling (their name—which means "nude"—is a hint that they don't come robed in sheets of pasta dough). You might also consider them cousins of gnocchi, only more pillowy and less troublesome to make. If you want to impress someone with homemade pasta—especially without a pasta roller or other fiddly tools—this is the way to do it.

Gnudi are classically made with ricotta, bound with eggs and flour, and boiled for a few minutes until they gently bob to the water’s surface. To make mine autumnal, I added pumpkin purée and nutmeg to the mix. After cooking in water, they’re toasted in a frying pan with butter and sage leaves. To finish, caramelised onions impart sweetness, porcini broth adds umami depth and Parmigiano Reggiano does both.

Beyond being one of my favourite beers for, well, almost all occasions, 3 Fonteinen's Oude Geuze is also an excellent pairing partner for this dish. Sure, you could well serve pumpkin gnudi alongside a deeper, darker beer—but this masterful geuze, with its baked apple-like sweetness, tart finish, and rustic yeast character, is a lovely fit. And with its fizz, it adds something of a celebratory air, too. All you need now? A crackling fireplace to go with.

Pumpkin Gnudi with Fried Sage, Caramelised Onions and Porcini Broth
Serves 4

For the gnudi:
1 cup (approx. 235g) canned pumpkin puree (I used Libby's)
1 cup (approx. 215g) ricotta
1 cup (approx. 150g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup (approx. 110g) flour (preferably 00-grade)
1/4 cup (approx. 40g) semolina

For the onions:
30g unsalted butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 medium onions

For the broth:
25g dried porcini mushrooms
450ml boiling water
Scant 1/2 tsp sea salt

To serve:
100g unsalted butter
20-30 sage leaves
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

First, make the gnudi. In a food processor, combine the first seven ingredients and blend on low speed until well incorporated. Scrape into a large bowl and add both the 00-grade flour and the semolina. Stir gently until just combined.

Prepare a baking tray: line with a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle over a generous amount of semolina (this will prevent the gnudi from sticking). Next, fill a small bowl with excess semolina (you'll be using this to coat your gnudi, which will also help them hold together).

Use a spoon to scoop out a small amount of dough; roll gently between your palms until it's about 1-inch wide, or the size of a large marble. Place gently in the bowl of semolina and sprinkle semolina over the top so it's full coated. Place on your prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough until all of your gnudi have been formed (pausing to wash and dry your hands from time to time if the dough begins to stick to your palms). Cover loosely with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, which will help the gnudi set.

Roughly half an hour before you're ready to cook your gnudi, slice the two onions finely. In a medium frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring semi-regularly, for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the onions are soft and deeply caramelised. Remove from the pan and set aside.

As your onions cook, prep your porcini broth. Add the dried porcini mushrooms to a medium bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir in the salt and set aside for 20-30 minutes. Strain out the mushrooms. You can add these to the final dish if you wish, though I prefer to save them for another occasion.

Remove your gnudi from the fridge. Bring a medium saucepan of well salted water to a boil. Turn down to medium-low heat (you want the water at a gentle simmer). With a slotted spoon, add approximately 12 gnudi, ensuring that the pan is not crowded. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the gnudi gently rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and cover to keep warm. Continue to cook the gnudi in batches.

To finish, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the boiled gnudi with a slotted spoon and the sage leaves (you may need to do this in two batches, dividing the butter and sage in two as well). Cook for approximately four minutes, turning the gnudi halfway through, or until they are lightly golden, the sage is fried and crispy, and the butter has browned. Remove from heat.

To serve, divide the gnudi between four plates, pouring over the browned butter and sage evenly. Scatter the caramelised onions across, and pour over the broth (enough for the gnudi to sit in, but not so much that they're floating). Top with a generous sprinkle of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and treat yourself to a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. You're worth it.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Jerk Pulled Jackfruit Buns and Northern Monk, Fieldwork & Lonely Planet Travel Notes IPA

Jackfruit is one of the food world’s cleverest sleights of hand. Raw, the fruit’s yellow lobes are hidden within a huge, spiky expanse; like a durian but larger and without the controversial pungency, jackfruit has a delicious, tropical sweetness.

But when it’s cooked down with onions, spices, and other savoury ingredients, jackfruit offers up an entirely different realm of culinary possibility. Famously, its cooked texture is so peculiarly reminiscent of pulled pork that it’s hard to believe you’re not eating meat, apart from a whisper of fruity sweetness. I especially like it with a Jamaican jerk-style preparation, here adapted from Bobby Flay. Hand to heart: even die-hard carnivores will likely find it irresistible.

It’s both the satisfying richness of this recipe, as well as that touch of tropicality, that helps it pair so well with the limited-edition Travel Notes IPA. Brewed as a collaboration between Leeds’s Northern Monk, Berkeley’s Fieldwork and Lonely Planet, this is an IPA with a globetrotting pedigree. Ingredients hail from five continents, from European-sourced malt to hops from North America and Oceania, from African mango to South American açai berries. The latter two additions lend the beer a subtle blush hue and a bit of sweetness; it’s fruit-forward and soft on the palate, but by no means shy and retiring.

To tie it all together, I topped the jerk-marinated jackfruit with a crisp and crunchy mango slaw that brings an extra dash of exotic fruit flavours, as well as some textural contrast. Vegan barbecue fare? This summer, you’ve got a reason to give it a go.

Jerk Pulled Jackfruit Buns with Mango Slaw
Serves 2

For the jerk pulled jackfruit:
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 small scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed and seeded
2 tbs olive oil 1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs tomato paste
200g fresh jackfruit, de-seeded
200ml vegetable stock

Blend the spring onions, garlic, ginger, thyme, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, spices, salt, pepper, lime juice and scotch bonnet in a food processor for 1-2 minutes, pausing to scrape down the bowl occasionally, until you have a rather thick and homogenous paste. Set aside.

To a large saucepan, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high until hot. Add the onion and stir frequently for 5-6 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute more. Add the reserved paste, your fresh jackfruit, and the vegetable stock, heating the mixture on high until it begins to boil. Turn down to medium-low heat and cover. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t sticking, or until the jackfruit has almost completely broken down into fibrous pieces (you can nudge any larger pieces apart with your spoon). The liquid should be thickened; cook for a few minutes longer with the lid removed if it is still quite watery in consistency. Season with extra sea salt to taste.

While the jackfruit cooks, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cover a large baking sheet with nonstick foil. Once your jackfruit has finished on the stove, spoon it onto the foil- covered baking sheet and spread out into a thin layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating and stirring halfway through, until the mixture has darkened and started to crisp at the edges. Texturally, it should have the same caramelised stickiness of pulled pork.

For the mango slaw:
Adapted from Feasting at Home

1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
100g mango, sliced into matchsticks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
20g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Zest and juice of one orange
1/2 tbs olive oil

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Allow flavours to mingle for 10-15 minutes before serving. Note that this recipe makes more than required for two servings; it also works well as a nicely crunchy side salad.

To serve:
2 large white baps
Extra handful fresh coriander

Spoon a heaping amount of the jackfruit onto each bap. Top with as much slaw as you can reasonably fit, as well as an extra handful of coriander for a bit of brightness.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up a a can of Travel Notes in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Thai Prawns and Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree

Pairing food with beer is one thing. But cooking with it is something else entirely.

At risk of sounding close-minded, I find that the addition of beer rarely elevates a dish. Apart from a few classics - your Belgian carbonnade, your beef and Guinness stew - beer can be a tough ingredient to wrangle. In most cases, if you want to avoid unpalatable bitterness or peculiar off-flavours, it’s safest to leave it in the glass.

But this Thai prawn dish is an exception - particularly when it’s made with Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree.

A hefeweisse made with foraged herbs, Wu Gang is a uniquely agreeable brew that Pressure Drop describes as "our most versatile food pairing beer." On the one hand, it’s effervescent, light of body, and low in bitterness, making it perfectly quenching. On the other, its heady aroma combines the banana and clove esters you’d expect from a German-style wheat beer with a compelling herbaceousness that’s all its own. It’s friendly, versatile, as adept at pairing with lamb chops and roast chicken as it is a piquant curry. Me, I especially like it in this Thai-inspired prawn dish.

Simple, refreshing and done in 20 minutes, this is the kind of food to serve in high summer. It nails that classic Thai combo of heat, sweetness, acidity, and salt; serve atop steamed rice to bulk it out, and throw a few slices of avocado on the side to add a bit of richness (this beer tempers fat beautifully). Whatever you do, be sure to keep a few extra bottles of Wu Gang to one side - at just 3.8% percent, it’s as sessionable as they come.

Thai Prawns with Coriander, Lime, and Beer
Serves 2

3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
1 tbs palm sugar
1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
Stems from a 30g bunch of coriander
Zest and juice of 2 limes
3/4 tsp flaky sea salt, like Maldon
2 tbs olive oil, divided
2 echalion shallots, thinly sliced
150ml Pressure Drop Wu Gang Chops the Tree
250g deveined, shell-on king prawns

To serve:
½ avocado, thinly sliced
Steamed white rice 1 lime, cut into wedges
Coriander leaves

In the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, chillies, palm sugar, fish sauce, the stems from your bunch of coriander, the zest and juice of 2 limes, and the sea salt. Blitz for roughly one minute, or until the paste is well combined (note: it will have a relatively thin consistency).

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Spoon shallots into a bowl and set aside.

Add 1 tbs of olive oil to the frying pan and heat on high heat. Add the prawns and sear on one side for 45 seconds before removing from the heat and adding to another waiting bowl. Prawns are very susceptible to overcooking, so don’t be tempted to cook longer or sear on both sides; instead, they will finish cooking at the very end.

Add your shallots back to the frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Pour in the Wu Gang. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until the beer has begun to reduce. Add the prepared paste into the beer and mix, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes, until additionally reduced.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and add the shrimp, tossing lightly until just cooked through. Season to taste with an extra sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve with steamed rice and a few slices of avocado. Slice the third lime into wedges and squeeze a bit more juice over each serving. Top with the coriander leaves.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up a bottle or three of Pressure Drop's Wu Gang Chops The Tree in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Whole Roasted Salmon and Elusive Brewing/Hop Burns & Black Bright Future Blood Orange Blossom Saison

It’s a tip I learned from a friend of mine a few years ago, and one I still prize: when having a large group over for dinner, roast salmon. The whole salmon.

More than a main course, whole roasted salmon is a centrepiece, gigantic and silvered. It’s also a participatory spectacle: people dig in, seek out belly fat or tender cheeks, flip the fish over in unison after one side has been picked clean. It’s a gleeful mess. There’s something primal and communal and bonding in the shared eating of such a fish.

Salmon can be seasoned in a million different ways, but because summer is approaching, Provençal flavours feel especially appropriate. In this preparation, the fish is roasted on a bed of fennel and onion that’s doused in glugs of vermouth. Tarragon perfumes it with its anise scent, and several additions of orange - zest, slices, even orange-infused olive oil - recall sunnier climes.

Speaking of orange: it’s also one of the reasons this salmon works so well with Bright Future, which Hop Burns & Black brewed in collaboration with Elusive Brewing. This blood orange blossom saison also makes use of orange juice and zest, as well as orange blossom honey. It’s yeasty, citrusy, and fantastically quenching.

It’s also ephemeral. Make the most of this limited-edition beauty then, and invite a big group over for dinner. Preferably friends who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange, Fennel, and Provençal Herbs
Serves 8-10

1 3-kilo salmon
3 fennel bulbs, sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 tbs Maldon sea salt, plus more to season
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
8 tbs olive oil, divided
4 tbs white vermouth (I used Cinzano Bianco)
25g flat-leaf parsley, divided
25g tarragon, divided
25g dill, divided
2 oranges
Orange-infused olive oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C. Line your largest roasting pan with heavy-duty foil. Add the sliced onion and fennel, and sprinkle over with the sea salt and black pepper. Pour over 4 tbs of the olive oil and the white vermouth.

Take half of your parsley, tarragon, and dill, and chop finely. Zest your oranges (preferably with a Microplane grater, so you don’t remove any of the bitter pith), and mix with the chopped herbs.

Meanwhile, prep your salmon. Pat the inside and outside dry with paper towel. Ensure it’s been fully scaled (if there are any remaining scales, scrape the back of your knife against the grain of the scales to remove). On an angle, make five long, 2cm-deep slits in the salmon’s side with a sharp knife. In each slit, add extra sea salt to season, as well as your chopped herb and orange zest mixture. Sprinkle sea salt across the salmon’s skin and flip, repeating the same steps on the other side of the salmon.

Season the salmon’s cavity generously with sea salt. Slice the two oranges that you zested and place the slices with the cavity, as well as the remaining herbs. Pour the remaining 4 tbs of olive oil over the salmon.

Add your salmon to your very hot oven and cook for 15 minutes - salmon is a fatty fish and will smoke, so make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. If your salmon drapes over the edges of your roasting pan and threatens to touch the edges of your oven, cover those exposed bits in foil to prevent scorching.

After 15 minutes have passed, lower the heat to 180 degrees C and cook the salmon for approximately 20 more minutes, covering loosely with foil if it begins to look too dark. After 20 minutes, remove the salmon carefully from the oven. Use Jamie Oliver’s method and check to see if it’s cooked through: stick a small knife in the thickest part of the salmon, behind its head. Leave for several seconds before removing the knife and feeling for heat; if it’s warm, the salmon is cooked. If not, return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

Once the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven and serve alongside the roasted fennel and onion; you can serve it with spinach and lentils on the side if you wish. Drizzle with orange-infused olive oil.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some of our succulent collab while stocks last in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Steak with Grapefruit Sauce and Beavertown’s Bloody Ell

There’s a lot of mythology around steak. Perhaps that’s why many home cooks leave it to the professionals, who tend to harp on about wood varieties and have very strict rules about the number of times steak should be flipped. Their fervour may be admirable, but I’m here to tell you: cooking a good, even great, steak at home is dead easy.

Well, mostly. It helps if you get your meat from a quality source - skip the grocery store and head to your local butcher for this one. If you can get a steak that’s dry-aged, which deepens its flavour and increases its tenderness, all the better. It also helps to know your preferred cut. Mine is ribeye, which is marbled with fat and, consequently, irresistible.

Once you’ve got all that sorted, you need only a few tools to reach perfection: generous amounts of sea salt and black pepper, a hot frying pan, tongs, and a kitchen timer. The latter is important; ribeye takes only a couple of minutes to cook per side, so it’s best not to let it linger.

As a lover of blood oranges and a regular IPA drinker, I always look forward to Beavertown’s springtime Bloody Ell release. But for pairing purposes, this beer offers a bit of a conundrum. While Bloody Ell is made in the midst of blood orange season, those ruby beauties have all but disappeared from shelves by the time it’s available.

Luckily, grapefruit makes a fair substitute. Here, the ribeye is accompanied by a sunset-hued sauce bright with grapefruit juice but balanced with savoury shallots. I call this dish not-quite salad because the steak is still the centrepiece, but springtime greenery in the form of sorrel is also a worthy addition. If you’ve never had it, sorrel is worth seeking out: when bitten, it bursts with lemony sharpness. Top it all off with toasted Marcona almonds and frizzled shallots that crackle between the teeth, and you’ve got a steak the pros would approve of.

Steak Not-Quite Salad with Sorrel, Grapefruit Sauce, and Frizzled Shallots
Serves 2

Frizzled shallots:
3 large echalion shallots
¼ tsp salt, plus additional for seasoning
1.5 tbs all-purpose flour
250ml vegetable oil

Peel and slice the shallots finely. Add to a bowl with the salt and flour and toss to coat. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when you throw in a single piece and it starts sizzling rapidly. Add in half the shallots and cook, stirring with a slotted spoon or pair of tongs until well browned and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil quickly and drain on a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkling over with a little more salt. Repeat with the second batch of shallots. Set aside.

Grapefruit sauce:
330ml ruby red grapefruit juice, divided
100g caster sugar
1 large echalion shallot, minced
2 tbs sherry vinegar (preferably Valdespino)
125g butter, cubed
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

In a small saucepan, add 230ml grapefruit juice and the sugar. Heat over high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has reduced to a thick syrup that coats the back of the spoon, approximately 10-15 minutes.

In a second small saucepan, add the minced shallot, vinegar, and the remaining 100ml of grapefruit juice. Heat over high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces to about 3 tbs worth, approximately 10 minutes.

When the grapefruit, shallot, and vinegar mixture has sufficiently reduced, begin to add the butter. Whisking constantly, add one cube at a time, allowing each to almost completely melt before adding the next. When all the butter has been added and the sauce appears thick and lighter in colour, drizzle in your grapefruit syrup slowly, whisking constantly. Once all the syrup has been added, continue to whisk and season with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt. Strain the sauce into a bowl through a sieve. Set aside.

Steak and to serve:
75g blanched Marcona almonds
2 ribeye steaks
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
25g butter
Large handful sorrel (if you can’t find sorrel, substitute rocket or watercress)

Allow the steak to come to room temperature. Season both sides generously with sea salt and black pepper. In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toast the Marcona almonds until they’re golden-brown, approximately 7-10 minutes. Set aside.

Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the butter and melt. Add the steaks. For medium rare (recommended), cook on the first side for 2 minutes and 30 seconds before flipping and cooking on the reverse for approximately 2 more minutes. Remove from the pan and allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To serve, put down a generous dollop of grapefruit sauce on each place (and do a swirl with the back of a spoon if you’re feeling fancy). Divide the steak and the sorrel leaves between both plates. Top both steaks with the frizzled shallots and toasted almonds. Go to town.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some Beavertown Bloody Ell while stocks last in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Spring Orecchiette and Cloudwater Bergamot Sour

I look forward to asparagus season like a fan whose favourite band is about to drop a long-awaited new album. I will travel across the city in search of a single bunch of wild garlic. And sweet peas, shorn straight from their pods? For me, that’s an aroma that perfectly telegraphs spring.

After months of darkness and stodge, bright, fresh flavours feel revelatory — and that applies to beer, too. I can’t think of one more appropriate for springtime sipping than Cloudwater’s limited edition Bergamot Sour, which is made following the annual winter harvest of bergamots in Marrakech. The brewery adds the zest and juice of the fruits following fermentation, which preserves their delicate flavour.

Never had bergamots before? You may be more familiar with these hybrid lemon- oranges than you’d think: they’re a key component in Earl Grey tea, for starters. As Cloudwater writes, ‘Bergamots have imparted their unique, fresh, fragrant, and floral flavours’ to this beer. Nose it, and you’ll detect something that’s reminiscent of lemon, but more: more complex, subtler and definitely reminiscent of blossoming things.

To accompany this beer and its refreshing zing, make this springtime pasta. Brilliant green asparagus, peas, and wild garlic are a verdant seasonal trifecta, while goat curd and lemon zest add richness and tang. But it’s the hazelnuts toasted in brown butter - and the smallest dash of lavender - that really make this pasta memorable. If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny balcony or back garden, this recipe is an ideal candidate for al fresco eating.

Spring Orecchiette with Asparagus, Peas, Goat Curd and Brown Butter
Serves 4-6

125g unsalted butter, divided
100g blanched hazelnuts
½ tsp dried lavender
250g asparagus, woody ends removed and sliced in 5cm pieces
200g peas (preferably fresh)
1 small bunch wild garlic
500g orecchiette
Sea salt
125g goat curd
Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest of one lemon

Add 100g of the butter to a small frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter has just melted, add in the hazelnuts. Cook for approximately three minutes, or until the hazelnuts are toasted; the butter will foam up as it begins to brown. Watch carefully, as it can go from browned to burned very quickly. When it has darkened and smells nutty and toasty, remove from the heat, pouring the mixture into a bowl to help it cool. Add the lavender and stir. Set bowl aside.

Prepare a large saucepan with gently boiling, well-salted water. Add the orecchiette and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until al dente.

As the pasta cooks, heat the remaining 25g butter over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add the asparagus and peas and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until bright green and just tender. Roughly tear the wild garlic leaves and add to the frying pan with the vegetables, stirring until they begin to wilt, approximately 30 seconds. Remove frying pan from the heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving approximately 100ml of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta back to the saucepan and tip in the asparagus, peas, and wild garlic mix, tossing to combine. Drain the lavender brown butter from the hazelnuts — keep those in the bowl, for the minute - and into the saucepan, and add 50ml of the pasta liquid and half of the goat curd. Stir until a light sauce forms, adding small amounts of additional cooking water if necessary to help the sauce bind.

Divide the pasta among the plates, topping with dollops of the remaining goat curd, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, freshly grated lemon zest, the toasted hazelnuts and a good sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some Cloudwater Bergamot Sour while stocks last in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Prawn and Mango Curry and Siren Hop Candy DIPA

Double IPAs may be one of my favourite styles (if you’re tuned into the zeitgeist, odds are they’re one of yours, too). But when a friend recently asked if I’d ever featured one in this column, the answer was no.

That’s not totally surprising. DIPAs are big, bold, and boozy, and they don’t always play well with others. Even richly flavoured dishes can taste wan and insipid in their wake.

But the question lingered in my mind, and grew into a challenge of sorts. What does pair naturally with a double IPA? People sometimes turn to barbecue or grilled meats, but I wanted something with sweetness and body, something that could mirror the pungency and tropicality of the hops. Something potent.

Then, I thought of this curry.

When I broke it down into its component parts, I realised this curry matched the classic DIPA profile blow-for- blow. It supplies richness and sweetness in the form of a coconut milk base. The tropical fruit aromas that characterise so many DIPAs? No surprise that they work well with actual tropical fruit — mango, in this case. And the full-on hop pungency is matched by what I think of as the curry’s pivotal ingredient: asafoetida.

Asafoetida is a spice with a serious aroma. Straight up, it’s pongy — even malodorous. But use a scant amount (I opted for 1/4 teaspoon, but you could use as little as 1/8), and you’ll find your curry transformed.

For the perfect pairing, you’ll need a DIPA that’s sweet and tropical, but with some bitterness and structure to it. That’s why I went with Siren’s Hop Candy, which is brewed with Simcoe hops — known for their earthy, even onion-y flavours — as well as spritzy lime zest. It’s funky, a touch hazy, fruit-forward, and even has a whiff of West Coast- style resinous stickiness.

In short, it’s a beautiful beer. And I’m happy to see it find a dinner partner at last.

South Indian-Inspired Prawn and Mango Curry
Serves 4

Curry paste:
5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bird's eye chillies, stemmed
1 large piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
Pinch sea salt
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh coriander

Curry:
2-3 tbs olive oil or ghee
1 onion, peeled and cut into slivers
20 curry leaves, divided
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2-3 tbs tomato puree
1 400ml can coconut milk
100ml water
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks, divided
16 king prawns

To serve:
Steamed basmati rice
Fresh coriander, roughly chopped

First, prepare the curry paste. Combine the garlic, chillies, ginger, salt, lime, and coriander in a food processer and blitz on high speed, pausing to wipe the bowl down, until the mixture has a paste-like consistency. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil or ghee until hot. Add the onion, and saute for 5-6 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the prepared paste and fry for 2- 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 10 curry leaves and fry for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, coriander, and asafoetida, and fry for 30 seconds before adding the tomato puree. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Next, add the coconut milk and water to the mixture and stir to combine. Add half of the mango slivers (these pieces will virtually dissolve in the curry, which adds a wonderful sweetness). Lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer and gradually reduce for 15-20 minutes.

Next, taste the curry and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The sauce should be thickened and slightly darkened in colour.

Shortly before you’re ready to serve, add the remaining curry leaves, mango pieces, and the prawns (depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook the prawns in two batches). Scoot the prawns into the simmering curry until they are covered by as much of the liquid as possible. Allow to cook for 1-1½ minutes until they have turned pink on one side; flip and allow to cook for 1-1½ minutes more.

(Side note: I prefer to use whole prawns, but you can also use the peeled and deveined variety. If you do opt for the latter, note that the cooking times will be ever quicker, so keep a close eye on them.)

As soon as the prawns are cooked through, remove the curry from the heat and serve immediately alongside steamed basmati rice. Garnish with the coriander.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And pick up some Siren Hop Candy DIPA while stocks last in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Cast Iron Skillet Pizza and Cloudwater IPL El Dorado Mosaic

February is a fitting time to celebrate one of history’s greatest love affairs.

Yes: I’m talking about pizza and beer. I hardly need to explain why the two go hand-in- hand, why there’s carbful chemistry between the cheesy and chewy and the bubbly and refreshing.

While it’s pretty much impossible to dismiss the match, there are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to the pairing specifics. Some argue for lager’s thirst-quenching fizz, while others bat for IPA as pizza’s natural partner. Me, I think Cloudwater’s newly canned IPL El Dorado Mosaic is the best of both worlds. As bold as it is boshable, it’s perfection with a slice of pie. There’s even a whiff of the floral on the nose, which means it plays beautifully with ingredients like fresh basil and delicate ricotta.

All that’s left to do, then, is to make yourself some pizza from scratch. If that sounds a little intimidating, you’re not alone; baking with yeast seems to be one of those culinary challenges that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned cooks. But trust me: you don’t have to be Bake Off-worthy to master this dough (it takes less than 10 minutes of active time to throw together).

Created first by Jim Lahey — the man who’s best known for his cult favourite no-knead bread — and tweaked by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, this dough recipe yields a pizza that, in a cast-iron skillet, takes on an appealing crunch but has a rustic, bready heartiness to it, too. Combined with a sauce made of whole, canned plum tomatoes, it’s as good as homemade pizza gets.

If you ask me, any pizza worth its salt needs at least three kinds of cheese, and this one also obliges. I’ve topped mine with mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and ricotta. Add a finishing flourish of chilli-infused honey and fresh basil to make a showstopper.

(The only downside? The dough recipe may be ludicrously simple, but it needs roughly 24 hours to rise. Best get cooking.)

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
Yields 2 25-30cm pizzas

For the dough:
375g (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp fast-action dry yeast
1 ½ tsp sea salt 300ml water

For the sauce:
2 400g tins whole, peeled plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ tsp sea salt
¾ tsp caster sugar
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the pizza:
Cornmeal
200g mozzarella (preferably not packed in water)
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
Extra virgin olive oil
Ricotta Fresh basil
Chilli-infused honey*

First, make your pizza dough. Roughly 24 hours before you plan to eat your pizza, add the flour, yeast, sea salt, and water to a large bowl, stirring until fully combined. Cover with clingfilm and let sit in a non-draughty part of your house for one day.

The next day, preheat your oven to as hot as it will go (mine went to 300 degrees C). Before you get back to your waiting dough, prep your sauce. Drain the tins of tomatoes, emptying contents into a sieve set over a large bowl. Allow the excess liquid to drain off for 20-30 minutes, stirring and pressing on the tomatoes to make sure as much is removed as possible. (As Deb Perelman points out, this reserved tomato juice is ideal for Bloody Marys - don’t throw it out!)

Once the tomatoes are drained, add them to a food processor with the garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Next, prepare your cast iron skillet (note: if you don’t have one, you can also make one large pizza on a full-sized baking sheet). Pour a bit of olive oil onto a paper towel and wipe a thin layer onto the skillet. Take a small handful of cornmeal and sprinkle over, knocking away any excess into the sink.

Onto your dough: when you remove the clingfilm, you should find it looking bubbly and smelling wonderfully yeasty. Ensure your countertop is covered with lots of flour before dumping out the dough. This dough is almost alarmingly liquid and sticky, and will nearly puddle onto the counter. Don’t worry: this is how it’s supposed to be. Cover the dough’s surface with a sprinkling of flour, and, with a pastry cutter or sharp knife, divide into two equal portions. With floured hands, scoop one of the portions into a rough ball-shape, allowing it to stretch and fall onto the counter from your hands several times. Then, pick it up and place it into the centre of your prepared skillet. This dough is too soft to roll out; instead, use your fingertips to press it delicately towards the edges of the pan.

Once the dough is ready, top with half of the prepared sauce, leaving a small margin at the edges. Slice half of your mozzarella into thin pieces and arrange on top of the pizza. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmigiano before placing in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes before rotating slightly to prevent burning. Bake for another 3-5 minutes until it emerges risen, leopard-spotted and audibly sizzling.

Remove from the oven and allow the pizza to rest for 1-2 minutes. Before serving, finish it off by topping with another handful of Parmigiano, scoops of milky ricotta, fresh basil leaves and a generous crosshatch of chilli-infused honey. (Once it’s been devoured, don’t forget about the other half of the dough — make a second pizza, which should keep well for a day or two. Breakfast, anyone?)

*I used Mike’s Hot Honey, but it’s very simple to make your own chilli-infused honey.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And pick up some Cloudwater IPL El Dorado Mosaic while stocks last in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Salmon Poke and Hitachino Nest White Ale

What is it about January and uncooked fish? This time last year, I was making ceviche. And today, I’d like to introduce you to poke.

Poke (say “po-kay,” not “poke”) is of Hawaiian origin, traditionally a dish of marinated Ahi tuna, sweet onions and seaweed, sometimes served over rice. In recent years, it’s spread from Hawaii to California, from California to New York, and now overseas, its recipe evolving to include different varieties of fish, grains and vegetables along the way.

If ceviche delicately zings with citrus, then poke is brawnier, intense with umami, dripping in soy sauce and sesame oil. This version is a riff on the traditional, with additions like edamame (which adds textural variety and pretty pops of green), avocado (which contributes creaminess), and Sriracha mayo (which makes pretty much everything it touches more awesome). I opted for salmon in place of tuna, and I served my poke heaped on seasoned sushi rice. NB: If you’re the kind of sushi obsessive who balks at preparing it yourself, then simple-to- make poke is for you.

I don’t think there’s a better beer in the world to go with this poke than the fantastic, perennially underrated Hitachino Nest White Ale. Beautifully clean and delicate, floral on the nose, and flickering with orange and spice, this Japanese take on witbier is perfectly executed. Its subtlety, its mouthfeel — which is somehow both fizzing with carbonation and lightly creamy — and its brightness were made for the dinner table. Take that, Dryanuary.

Salmon Poke
Serves 2-3 as main courses or 4-5 as appetisers

For the rice:
250g sushi rice
3 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt

For the poke:
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp sesame seeds
300g sushi-grade, skinless salmon (approximately two fillets)
1/2 sweet white onion, diced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
250g shelled, cooked edamame (defrosted if frozen)
1/4 cucumber, very finely sliced
2 scallions (green parts only), finely sliced
1 avocado, cubed
Sriracha mayonnaise, to taste*

First, prepare the sushi rice: rinse the rice under running water for approximately one minute, or until the water runs clear. Add the rinsed rice to a lidded saucepan with 330ml water and bring to a boil. As soon as the rice has begun to boil, put the lid on and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat - keep the lid on - and let sit for 30 minutes.

While the rice is resting, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice and sesame seeds in a medium-sized bowl.

Prep your salmon fillets by cutting them into large, approximately 4cm cubes. Add to the bowl containing the soy sauce mixture along with the white onion and chilli. Stir, until the salmon pieces are well coated in the mixture, and leave for 5-10 minutes.

Once the rice has rested for 30 minutes, remove the lid and season with the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, mixing gently. Portion the rice out on the plates and divide the marinated salmon mix between them. Divide edamame, cucumber, scallions and avocado between each plate, arranging haphazardly. Finally, top with a few dollops of Sriracha mayonnaise. Serve immediately.

*Bottled Sriracha mayonnaise is sold at many Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, though, it’s easy enough to make your own mixture if you have some Sriracha sauce to hand.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And swing over to the shop or the online store for Hitachino Nest White Ale - and pick up some Huy Fong Sriracha Sauce while you're at it..

The Beer Lover’s Table: Bulgogi and Brew by Numbers Saison Citra

There’s a lot to be said for eschewing ‘festive’ traditions that bring no real joy — and if there’s a joyless food, it’s turkey. Miserly with its fat, yet excessive in bulk: why do we eat this thing, again? It’s the reason duck has been a staple at my past few Thanksgivings, and why I think bulgogi may be the perfect Christmas dinner.

Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef, for the uninitiated) might go better with kimchi than with cranberry sauce, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t holiday-appropriate. Its heady mix of garlic, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and chilli excels in the fragrant-kitchen department, for starters. It marinates for hours, but cooks quickly. And — an important consideration, when you’re sharing food with those you love — it’s best served family-style, with plenty of accompaniments on the side. Fried eggs, spring onions, the aforementioned kimchi, and a fiery red sauce made with gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste): mix them all in and enjoy a Christmas dinner with actual kick.

These bulgogi bowls have sweetness, purring heat, acidic tang and fermented funk, all of which suggest that they might be difficult to pair with beer. But Brew by Numbers’ Saison Citra was an ideal fit. 01|01 is beautifully golden, boasts a juicy-fruit demeanor, and has a whiff of real pungency about it, courtesy of the Citra. Its own multi- dimensionality means it works with sweetness and with funk, while its sheer gulpability bats away heat. It’s a damn good beer for an extra special dinner.

Bulgogi Bowls
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 4-5

For the bulgogi:
½ pear (Asian pear, preferably), peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbs ginger, grated
1 tbs demerera sugar
1 tbs toasted sesame oil
500g steak (you could use skirt, topside, or another cut that takes well to marinating and searing)

Add the pear, garlic, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger, sugar, and sesame oil to a ziploc freezer bag. Meanwhile, slice the beef into very thin slices — about as thin as you can get — and add to the bag. Seal the bag and ensure the marinade and beef are well mixed. Place in the fridge and allow the meat to marinate for 6-8 hours.

For the sauce:
4 tbs gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs demerera sugar
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
3 tbs water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well blended.

For the rice:
500g sushi rice
660ml water

Rinse your rice in a sieve under cold water for several minutes, stirring gently with your fingers as you do, or until the water runs just about clear. Add the drained rice and the water to a saucepan and heat on high until the mix has come to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the rice to stand, with the lid on, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice.

To assemble:
2 tbs vegetable oil
Sea salt
Toasted sesame seeds
Spring onions
Kimchi
Fried eggs

Once the rice has been cooked and the sauce prepared, get ready to fry your beef. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat on high until very hot. Add the beef to the pan in a single layer (you will likely have to cook in several batches) and season lightly with sea salt. Cook for a minute or so until lightly browned. Flip, and toss the meat, continuing to cook over high heat, for 2-3 minutes more, or until nicely browned.

To assemble, divide the rice between the bowls. Top each with a generous helping of the bulgogi. To each bowl, you can add a healthy dollop of kimchi and top with a fried egg. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and spring onions. Drizzle over with sauce — the more, the spicier.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And swing over to the shop or the online store to pick up Brew By Numbers Saison Citra while stocks last.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Macaroni & Cheese and Five Points Old Greg’s Barley Wine

To begin candidly: I haven’t been thinking about food and beer much lately.

We’re living in dark times. Geopolitical darkness, compounded by the literal darkness of November, makes for enveloping gloom. And in the face of relentlessly dark news, daily pleasures can start to feel like frivolous distraction.

But when I began thinking about this month’s column, I realised: if this is a time of darkness, it’s also a time for comfort. It’s a time for carving out spaces of warmth. It’s a time for reminding ourselves of the goodness, the profound goodness, that comes from sharing our lives, our dark evenings, our food, and our beer, with the people we love most in the world. This isn’t the time to give all that up – not even close.

Macaroni & cheese has always been my go-to when comfort is needed. I love the fancy stuff, and I’m not shy about my affection for Kraft’s hyper-processed version either (chalk it up to childhood nostalgia). Mac & cheese really is that most democratic of comfort foods: simple to make, accessible, inexpensive, and nourishing for the spirit, if not quite the body.

This version was made with maximum comfort in mind. As in: three different kinds of cheese, a cheese- and butter-suffused breadcrumb topping, and penne pasta, selected because, as it cooks, it draws the sauce into its very core. It’s baked for almost half an hour, only to emerge from the oven in a state of volcanic bubble. Best of all, this recipe yields an amount that’s just shy of gargantuan. You’re gonna want to share.

The common advice for pairing macaroni & cheese with beer is to reach for an IPA –something with the hops to cut through all that richness, we’re told. But macaroni & cheese of this fortitude deserves a beer with a similar constitution. I didn’t want to temper it, I wanted to pile richness on richness, comfort on comfort.

Old Greg’s Barley Wine, made by The Five Points, was the one for the job. Released just once per year – and 12 months in the making – it’s got all the sweetness, and the deep, plummy flavours, you’d want from the style. And the booze: at 9.5%, it’s capable of drowning at least several sorrows. Its residual bitterness, courtesy of three English hop varieties, also makes it a fair foil for the macaroni & cheese. If there were ever a time to enjoy the two together, it’s now.

Three-Cheese Oven-Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Adapted from Gourmet
Serves 6

For the breadcrumb topping:
30g unsalted butter
90g panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
100g sharp cheddar, grated

For the macaroni & cheese:
50g unsalted butter
30g all-purpose flour
700ml whole milk
200ml double cream
150g sharp cheddar, grated
200g cave-aged gruyere, grated
100g taleggio, sliced and rind removed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp grated nutmeg
1½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
500g penne

First, make the breadcrumb topping: melt the unsalted butter in a bowl, and add the panko and grated cheese. Stir until the melted butter is well integrated in the mixture. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Meanwhile, make your cheese sauce: over medium- high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter. When the butter has just melted, add in the flour – this is your roux sauce base. Stir constantly for three minutes, or until the roux is slightly golden in colour. In a slow and steady stream, add your milk to the roux, whisking constantly so the mixture doesn’t seize up.

Whisking very frequently, cook until the mixture has come to a boil and thickened considerably. Once it has boiled, turn the heat down to a low simmer. Allow it to simmer for a few more minutes, still whisking frequently. Next, add in your double cream, three cheeses, mustard, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Whisk until the mixture is thick and totally smooth, tasting for seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside; press parchment paper directly onto the surface of the sauce while you wait, so it does not form a skin.

Next, bring a large pot of water to the boil, and salt generously. Add your penne. Cook until al dente (you’ll want to undercook it by a minute or two, as it will continue to cook in the cheese sauce in the oven). Drain and set aside.

Butter a large, deep baking dish. Pour in your cooked penne and then the cheese sauce, mixing carefully until the mixture is combined (it should look extremely saucy – almost soupy – at this point). Top evenly with your panko mixture (depending on how thick you like your breadcrumb topping, you may not use all of it).

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the panko topping has taken on a burnished, bronze hue, and the cheesy pasta mixture beneath is vigorously bubbling. Dish up as soon as possible, trying not to scald yourself on molten cheese ooze. Share with loved ones. Drink beer. Feel at least a bit better.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And swing over to the shop or the online store to pick up the sensational Five Points Old Greg's Barlery Wine while stocks last.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Harissa Roast Chicken and Partizan Lemon & Thyme Saison

Everyone needs to have a good roast chicken recipe in their back pocket. It’s one of the single most soulful, satisfying things you can make; it’s quick enough not to be a faff, but worthy of special occasions. Its aroma is the distilled essence of hospitality. You’re safe, and the world is a good place, when there’s a chicken in the oven.

Though simple is often best when it comes to roast chicken, I also like mine with a bit of spice. Like harissa, a chilli paste by way of North Africa. Made with roasted chillies, spices, and – in this case – rose petals, it’s a little bit smoky, quite hot, and deliciously complex. Harissa is the star of this marinade, alongside zingy lemon, garlic, and honey.

There are certain beers that go well with food, and then there are those that taste even better with dinner on the side. For me, Partizan’s Lemon & Thyme Saison falls squarely into the latter category. On its own, this sessionable 3.8 percenter is light of body and easy-drinking, and has a good deal of lemony sharpness; its flavour profile already suggests culinary potential. But in the company of this chicken, its sharpness is traded in for balance and roundness, its light body made a refreshing counterpart, its lemon flavour perfectly matched.

As soon as it gets cool enough to turn your oven on, then, make this your plan for dinner – it’s a perfect, seasonal bridge of a recipe.

Harissa Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (around 1.7 kilos)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1.5 lemons
1.5 tsp sea salt
3 tsp honey
1 tsp ground coriander
3.5 tbs rose harissa paste
2 tbs olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

First, spatchcock or butterfly your chicken. If you haven’t used this method before, it takes only a couple of minutes to prep, and it leads to a much better bird: by pressing the chicken flat, it cooks more evenly – no more over-cooked breasts and underdone thighs here – and much more quickly (a dinner party advantage).

To spatchcock your bird, take a very sharp knife or a pair of sturdy kitchen shears. Remove the backbone by snipping or slicing along both ends of the spine (save this bit and make a very delicious homemade stock). Once the spine has been removed, place the bird, breast-side up, in front of you, and press on its breastbone with your hands. You should hear a small snap, and the chicken should flatten. Here’s an instructional video, should you want a visual guide.

Place the bird on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined tray. To make your harissa marinade, whisk together all ingredients in a bowl. Use two-thirds of this marinade to coat both sides of your bird, working some underneath the skin, and reserve the last third to use as a serving sauce. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least three to four hours, or up to a day.

When your chicken is ready to go, heat your oven to 200 degrees C. Cook the bird for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through so it cooks evenly (you may want to check for browning at around 25 minutes – if it’s looking dark, you can tent loosely with foil while waiting for it to finish cooking). After it’s out of the oven, stick a knife into the thickest part of the thigh and, if the juices run clear, you’re golden.

When the chicken is ready, quarter it and drizzle over the remaining harissa sauce. I also served mine with a bowl of Israeli couscous salad on the side.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And pick up some delicious Partizan Lemon & Thyme Saison via our online shop...

The Beer Lover’s Table: Caprese Salad and Lindemans Mikkeller Spontanbasil

Winter is coming. It’s hard to believe it when it’s August, when the temperatures are in the 30s and the sun doesn’t set until 8:30 pm. But next month, autumn will arrive. And it won’t be long after that when the darkness and the cold return.

I’m not saying any of this to bum you out. I am saying it to alert you to the absolute urgency of consuming peak summer tomatoes right fucking now.

Tomatoes may be available in Sainsbury’s all year long, but those gassed, mealy, watery, flavorless specimens aren’t really tomatoes. You’ll only find real tomatoes in August and September. You’ll know them because they’ll be heavy with juice. They’ll smell, when you press your nose to them, of sun and gardens. And they’ll taste like the hottest day of the year, like picnics in high summer, like getting pissed in the sun and like everything that is good in the world.

There is no better way to honour perfect summer tomatoes than in a caprese salad (after all, the best thing to do with a perfect tomato is very little). The genius of caprese salad is its simplicity, and its ephemerality. It is a holy trinity, a union of tomatoes, cheese, and basil. It’s impossible to make a good caprese salad out of second-rate ingredients, which is why it is absolutely imperative you make it now. Right now. Why are you still reading this?

Actually, don’t go quite yet: I’m convinced that there is no better beer on earth to pair with a caprese salad than Spontanbasil, the basil-infused gueuze made by Lindemans and Mikkeller. If the taste of perfectly ripe tomatoes teleports you to days outdoors in high summer, this beer does the very same. It’s fresh, effervescent, and lightly, puckeringly tart. And its flavour, my god – it tastes like a handful of basil ripped straight from the earth, those big, fleshy leaves soaked with sunshine, still wafting their aroma, their tingle of anise. This beer is practically boozy basil juice, and I mean that as the highest possible compliment. It is caprese salad’s soulmate, this beer. I’d advise you to get one bottle to go with the salad, and then another for dessert (strawberry sorbet beer float, anyone?). There’s no better way to celebrate summer – while you still have the chance.

Caprese Salad
Serves 2

3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
250g cherry tomatoes (preferably heirloom)
1 very fresh lobe of burrata (you could use mozzarella di bufala – but why would you do that when you can use burrata?)
1 bunch fresh basil
High-quality olive oil (preferably basil-infused)
Flaked sea salt
Black pepper

First, slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Put these in a bowl and season with sea salt. Glug over a good amount of your basil-infused olive oil (you can use regular extra virgin, of course, but for the true basil fiend, there is no comparison). Allow your cherry toms to hang out in their olive oil paddling pool for 5-10 minutes.

Slice the large heirloom tomatoes thinly and arrange the slices prettily on two plates. Season well with sea salt and black pepper, and pour over a generous amount of olive oil. Top the tomato slices with half of the cherry tomatoes.

Now, turn your hands to that excellently gloopy burrata. Like a burrata monster, rip your lobe into oozy morsels, and arrange these over the salad. Top with the rest of the cherry tomatoes and season with a bit more sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and another good drizzle of olive oil.

Allow this vibrant mix to sit for half an hour at room temperature, so all that cheesy gloop, olive oil and tomato juices can mingle together. Top with basil leaves, admire your handiwork, and then enjoy. Pro-tip: make sure you have a hearty, crusty hunk of bread nearby which you can use to sop up said juices at the end.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And why not get your hands on a bottle of Lindemans Mikkeller Spontanbasil via our online shop?

The Beer Lover’s Table: Spicy Cheeseburgers and Wild Beer Co Epic Saison

It’s barbecue season, baby – and if you know what’s what, you’ll be making burgers faster than you can slam them into your face. It’s what summer’s all about.

A well-executed burger needs to achieve a few things. It needs juiciness, with a tender, pink middle. It needs a bun that doesn’t disintegrate in the wake of that juiciness. It needs ooze – cheese and, in this case, caramelised onions. It needs a bit of greenery and freshness.

But most importantly, it needs balance: of salt, of umami, of sweetness, of acid. Cheese addresses the first concern, beef the second; caramelised onions are beautifully sweet, and as for the acid? Skip the pickles and reach for the hot sauce.

In this case, I’ve opted for not one, but two different forms of chilli (this is a Hop Burns and Black column, after all). The first is sambal oelek: a chunky, Southeast Asian-hailing garlic and chilli sauce. It’s complex, tangy, and has a whiff of the fermented about it, thanks to the prawn paste that usually features. The second chilli sauce is trusty old Sriracha, which hasn’t let me down yet. Together, they add vinegar and heat, acid and funk – and play a big role in making this burger utterly moreish.

Many people would instinctively reach towards a pale ale or IPA when serving cheeseburgers, and they’re not wrong: hops are as effective at cutting through fat as pickles and onions are. But in this case, we’re making spicy burgers – and unless you’re one of those die-hard chilli heads who wants to up the ante, stay away from hops, which tend to emphasise heat.

Instead, reach for the saison – Wild Beer Co’s Epic Saison, to be specific. This is one of the most food-friendly beers I’ve yet encountered: dry, effervescent, with the tiniest hint of tang, it’s a golden-hued, refreshing, yeasty wonder. Sorachi Ace hops are distinct – and do their work to temper greasy food – without hijacking the thing. And at 5%, it can stand up to a burger but is still rather sessionable; an important consideration in high barbecue season. Now: don’t you have some burgers to go make?

Spicy Cheeseburgers
Serves 4

For the beer-braised onions:
2 red onions, finely sliced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
Sea salt
½ tsp sugar
Wild Beer Co. Epic Saison

For the burgers:
500g 15% beef mince
1 ½ tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
4 thick slices taleggio, rind removed
Rocket
4 sesame-seed brioche buns
Sambal oelek, to taste
Sriracha, to taste

First, crack on with the beer-braised onions: these need about half an hour to caramelise, so you’ll want to get that out of the way first. In a small skillet, melt the butter along with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle over the sea salt, which will help them caramelise faster.

The trick to making caramelised onions – aside from patience – is to cook them over low heat, stirring frequently. You don’t want the onions to brown quickly from the hot pan; rather, you want the browning to come from the very slow caramelisation of natural sugars within the onions. Cook for close to half an hour, or until the onions have changed colour and have a sticky, jam-like consistency. Then, pour over a splash of beer – enough to moisten the onions and have them floating in a bit of liquid – and cook, stirring frequently, over high heat until the liquid has been mostly evaporated. The onions should look almost stewed. Add sugar to balance out any residual bitterness, remove from the heat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the beef, mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. With your hands, mix until all ingredients are well incorporated (the mixture should be fragrant with Dijon). Separate and gently flatten into four patties. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat until hot and add the patties. For medium-rare, cook for two to two-and- a-half minutes per side; after the first side has cooked and you’ve flipped the burgers, top with taleggio while in the skillet so the cheese gets good and melty.

While the burgers are cooking, slice and toast your brioche buns, cut sides down, in a dry skillet until lightly browned.

To assemble, add a good layer of rocket to the bottom half of your bun. Top with the cheese-covered burger patty. On top of the cheese, add a generous layer of the caramelised onions before finishing off with both chilli sauces, until it’s spiced to your preference. Demolish.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And why not grab Wild Beer Co Epic Saison at our online shop?

The Beer Lover’s Table: Three Beer Floats

It’s almost July, but you haven’t seen the sun for three weeks. The next bank holiday isn’t for two more months. And “apocalyptic” might be a generous way of describing our current political situation. But… have you considered putting ice cream in beer?

Sure, beer floats aren’t going to heal everything that ails you. But the simple magic of adding a cold scoop of ice cream to a frosty beer is one very reliable, gently decadent way of making your day a little brighter (and, if you can manage to find a window of sunshine and a patch of grass, all the better).

As an American, adding ice cream to something fizzy was never a weird thing for me. Root beer floats, baby! In my early twenties, I graduated towards frosty pint glasses of Southern Tier’s super-sweet Crème Brûlée Stout, which was almost a dessert in itself, and therefore even better when served a la mode. And while the classic sweet stout and vanilla ice cream pairing is always reliable – here, I’ve opted to use Wild Beer Co’s Millionaire, which is made with lactose, cacao nibs and caramel – there are more ways to play with the beer float format.

Try sours, for starters. For my other two floats, I’ve gone for Moa Cherry Sour, straight from New Zealand, and Mikkeller’s jolly can of Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Peach. These two work really well, as both are softly sour, and full of lots of bright fruit flavours. The Moa Cherry Sour is excellent when topped with chocolate ice cream (think German black forest cake), and for the Berliner Weisse, you can go full retro peach melba with the addition of raspberry sorbet. The former is decadent and desserty, while the latter is a sweet, refreshing fruit-bomb that would be perfect for a picnic.

A bit of further guidance if you’re looking to invent a beer float of your own: any beer that skews too hop-forward and bitter will likely clash with all of that sweet dairy, so approach with caution (although a super juicy pale ale just might work). Witbiers and hefeweizens also offer some pairing possibilities; if I were you, I’d look to the sorbet section. Beyond sorbets, if you’re dairy-free, coconut ice cream would be a dream with richer stouts or fruitier brews. I’d also avoid any sour beers that are on the funky, brett-y end of the spectrum.

And finally, if you’re a purist who thinks adding ice cream to beer is sacrilege: please withhold judgment until you try. If liquid, boozy ice cream doesn’t make you happy – or help you temporarily forget that Boris Johnson exists – then nothing will.

Three Beer Floats

Float 1
Wild Beer Co Millionaire
Vanilla ice cream

Float 2
Moa Cherry Sour
Chocolate ice cream

Float 3
Mikkeller Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Peach
Raspberry sorbet

For your respective float, first find a sizeable glass that can comfortably hold a good few scoops of ice cream or sorbet (you don’t want to be skimping, here). Add 2-3 scoops to the empty glass and top up with your beer – the mix should foam up quite aggressively. Let rest for a few minutes before topping up with more beer and crowning with an additional scoop or two. Grab a spoon and a straw and go to town.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And why not grab all those glorious beers at our online shop?

The Beer Lover’s Table: Chicken Tinga Tacos and Five Points London Smoke

A well-made taco has it all: spice, citrus, salt, sloppiness. Like all the best summertime foods – ice cream cones, burgers – tacos, when enjoyed correctly, dribble their juices all the way down your forearms. They’re best eaten in copious quantities, in the sunshine, and with several beers on the side.

But pay attention to the beer you’ve chosen to go with. I’ve read guides that recommend pairings for “tacos” as a general category, but that makes about as much sense as looking for a beer to go with “pasta". Fried fish tacos are going to require a different beer than porky cochinita pibil or unctuous beef barbacoa.

Tempting as it is to turn The Beer Lover’s Table solely into a taco-pairing column, if I’m picking favourites, my champion taco is chicken tinga. The chicken is slow-cooked until shredded, and served in a fiery, smoky chipotle sauce. Then it’s loaded up with about a gazillion toppings – fresh cheese, coriander, lime, salsa verde, pickled onion – until the tortilla strains to contain it all.

Given that chicken tinga is a flavour bomb of a taco, it needs a beer that can match (and temper) some of its spicy intensity. You’ll want to avoid anything too hoppy or effervescent, as those will sharpen the chilli heat; likewise, anything too demure will be overwhelmed by the taco TKO.

In the end, I went for a bottle of Five Points London Smoke. Though, at 7.8%, it’s quite boozy for a spicy food pairing, it’s all about the mouthfeel with this one – velvety and tongue-coating, this full-bodied beer sweeps away any lingering chilli. And its light smokiness plays wonderfully off the chipotle, which has a kindled flavour of its own. It may not be Mexican lager, but hey – who ever said you couldn’t drink imperial porter in the sunshine?

Chicken Tinga Tacos
Adapted from Serious Eats
Makes 13 tacos (if you’re lucky)

For the filling:
2-3 tbs olive oil
1kg skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 390g carton chopped tomatoes in juice
100g chopped chipotle peppers in adobo
20ml chicken broth
2 bay leaves
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To serve:
1 13-pack 15-cm soft corn tortillas
2 avocados, sliced (optional)
Feta, crumbled
Quick pickled red onion (see note)
Coriander, roughly chopped
Limes
Salsa verde

(Note: to quick-pickle your onion, place half a very thinly sliced red onion in a small bowl and cover with 2-3 tbs red wine vinegar. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before draining off the vinegar.)

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil over high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. In two batches, add the thighs, skin-down, and cook for six minutes, or until well-browned. Flip and cook for three minutes more until browned; remove from pot and set aside.

Next, add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, approximately five minutes. Add oregano and cumin and cook for a minute until fragrant; add the chopped tomatoes and chipotles in adobo and stir until combined. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool briefly; transfer to a blender and blend until the sauce is smooth and light orange in colour.

Return the blended sauce to the pan and add bay leaves and chicken broth, stirring to combine. Place all the chicken thighs into the pan and squidge them down until they’re as fully immersed as possible in the sauce. Heat on high until the mixture begins to bubble before lowering to a simmer and covering the pot. Cook, for approximately 45 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender and on the verge of shredding, removing the lid and stirring occasionally as you go.

Take the pot off the heat and transfer the chicken thighs to a cutting board, leaving to cool for 10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the chicken with your hands. Return the shredded chicken to the sauce and stir, cooking over low heat for another 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture has really come together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, first place your tortillas in a dry frying pan over high heat, and cook for approximately one minute per side. Place a generous dollop of chicken in the middle of each tortilla.

Top with a spoonful of salsa verde, coriander, avocado (if using), crumbled feta, and a good squeeze of lime juice. Proceed to attack.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And why not grab the Five Points beer and the chipotle peppers at our online shop?

The Beer Lover's Table: Orbit Nico Köln-Style Lager and Spiced Chinese Dumplings

Chinese dumplings and lager: they go together like milk and cookies. Preferably a lager that’s effervescent, not too boozy, with a finishing bite of bitterness: just the thing to cut through the dumplings’ oiliness, and to counterbalance all that salt. And while your local Chinese restaurant’s go-to might be Tsingtao, you can do one better with something carefully crafted and made a little closer to home. Orbit Nico, for instance, which washes down these dumplings like a dream.

Technically, this beer might not be the best illustration of lager’s Chinese food affinity. Described by the brewery as a “Köln-style lager” – it can’t call itself a Kölsch, thanks to the style’s geographical indication – this funny hybrid of a brew straddles the lager-ale divide. While it undergoes a period of cold storage that typifies lager production, it’s made with top-fermenting ale yeast.

Stylistic quibbles aside: what you need to know is that lager-like Orbit Nico is mighty drinkable, with a nice twang of lemon, a touch of grassiness, and a pleasingly dry finish. Time to get cooking.

I know what you’re thinking: homemade dumplings? Nah, that’s what takeaway’s for. But bear with me here: making these is no more complicated than turning out a batch of said cookies. The filling, a fragrant mixture of lamb, pork, soy sauce, ginger, and a generous amount of spices, takes only minutes to prep. And thanks to the totally legit option of pre-made dumpling skins – you might also find these sold at Asian grocery stores as “wonton wrappers” or “gyoza wrappers” – a few quick folds and you’ve got the perfect little meat parcel ready to go.

Pro-tip: you’ve made a whole batch, chuck ’em in the freezer and have dumplings and lager whenever you want them – no delivery fee required.

Spiced Chinese Dumplings
Yields 56 dumplings

250g minced lamb
250g minced pork
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 bunches garlic chives or spring onions, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 tsp soy sauce
5 tsp sesame oil
1 56-piece packet dumpling wrappers
To serve: additional soy sauce, Chinkiang black vinegar, Sriracha

To a large bowl, add the lamb and pork followed by the ginger, garlic chives, eggs, salt, sugar, rice wine, spices, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture is uniform. It should be fragrant and quite wet.

Before you fold your dumplings, prepare a small bowl of water and a clean cutting board or other work surface (and don’t forget to keep a good amount of kitchen roll nearby). Lay your first dumpling skin flat on the work surface and fill with roughly 1 ½–2 teaspoons of filling. It’s better to err on the side of less filling, as over-filling your dumplings may cause them to leak when cooking.

Wet your finger in the bowl of water and run around the circumference of the dumpling wrapper to moisten. Fold your dumpling in half so it’s a half-moon shape and lightly seal the seam. Now, beginning from one end, pinch and fold over so you make a small pleat. Continue until the entire edge of the dumpling is pleated, which ensures that it is well sealed (and looks pretty, besides). Continue until all your dumplings have been made.

While you could boil or steam your dumplings, my favourite cooking method is a combination of pan frying and steaming, which makes for juicy insides and a nicely crisp, browned bottom. In a small, non-stick frying pan (the non-stick part is important here!) add approximately 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and a wee splash of vegetable oil. Heat until oil mixture is hot. Add dumplings (8 is a good number for one portion) and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until bottoms have browned.

Now, pour in just enough water to come roughly halfway up the sides of the dumplings. Cover and cook for approximately five minutes, until dumplings have swelled and are tender. Remove the lid and, if water remains, swirl the pan gently until it evaporates. I like to leave the dumplings in the pan with the residual oil for an extra minute or two here, so their bottoms get crisped up again.

To serve, prepare a small dish of one part soy sauce to one part Chinkiang black vinegar for dumpling dunking. And don’t forget the Sriracha!

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Cloudwater IPA Citra and Lamb Chops with Wild Garlic

For anyone who follows the British craft beer scene, Cloudwater needs no introduction. The Manchester-based brewery’s releases are as coveted as H&M’s designer capsule collections, and snapped up almost as quickly. Cloudwater even markets their beers like fashion, with the arty, one-off labels to match.

Hence their new ‘Spring/Summer’ release: the practically perfect IPA Citra, which pours the colour of a ripe peach. Juicy, resinous, brightly sweet but girded with bitterness, it’s a beautiful expression of all that this most tropical of hops can do.

If you’re drinking a fresh, zingy beer like this one, you'd better be serving it with some seasonal grub, too. Happy spring: it’s time to put lamb back on the menu. Even better, we’re now in that several-week window each year when wild garlic is in season, and trust me, this is one harvest you do not want to sleep on. Like an extra-piquant version of spring onions, wild garlic – aka ramps – adds an alliumy oomph to this chimichurri.

Lamb is one of those foods that works well with a number of different beer styles: stouts and porters if you want to bring out its roastiness, Belgian dubbels to highlight its sweetness, easy-drinking ambers as all-rounders. But an IPA like Cloudwater’s really shines here. Its hoppiness helps cut through the fatty richness of the chops, and its sweetness and full body can really stand up to the meat’s depth of flavour (not to mention the intense pungency of that wild garlic).

A quick note: lamb loin chops aren’t the same as the tomahawk-shaped rib chops that so many of us are familiar with, but they’re just as tender – and more generously proportioned, besides. This quick-cooking cut is circumferenced by a beautiful band of fat (which you’d be misguided to remove) and bisected by a little T-bone. In fact, think of these chops as the lamb equivalent of a T-bone steak, except, well, miniature. If you’re eating these as a main with a few sides, allow at least two per person; if you’re greedy like me, go for three.

Lamb Loin Chops with Wild Garlic Chimichurri
Serves 2-ish

For the wild garlic chimichurri:
1 bunch (approx. 50g) wild garlic leaves
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon Juice of ½ lemon
Approx. 1 tsp flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp caster sugar

For the lamb:
4 lamb loin chops
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

First, make the chimichurri: add all ingredients to a food processor and whizz up until the mixture is well blended and looks pesto-esque (you may need to wipe down the sides and give it a few goes to get all the leafy bits incorporated). Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside.

About an hour before you want to cook your lamb, remove your chops from the fridge. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides, and allow to come to room temperature.

Add 1-2 tbs olive oil to a cast-iron (or other heavy-bottomed) frying pan, and heat until very hot. Add the four loins and allow to cook for four minutes without moving or flipping, or until the lamb has developed a nice brown crust. Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more, depending on how well done you like your lamb. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

When serving, top your lamb with generous glops of the chimichurri (you will likely have some left over). Garnish with a wild garlic leaf or two. Finally, make sure that everyone else in the vicinity has also eaten the dish; your garlic breath will be bordering on the flammable afterwards.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Rose Panna Cotta and Boon Framboise

When it comes to beer pairings, desserts don’t always get a whole lot of love (apart from a token nod to chocolate stout paired with, you guessed it, anything chocolate).

Instead, we gravitate towards beer’s savoury pairing potential, from burgers and pies to cheese and roast meats. That’s not wrong, of course, but think of it this way: swapping out your Moscato allows you yet another opportunity to enjoy beer at the dinner table.

I’ve always found rose to be a captivating flavour, and, clichés acknowledged, it seems a particularly appropriate choice for February. So, I turned to this panna cotta recipe. (“Panna cotta” is Italian for “cooked cream” – if you haven’t tried it before, think of crème brûlée, minus the brûlée). The rose here, balanced by vanilla and cream, is delicate, not at all soapy. And cardamom adds an additional dimension, evoking Middle Eastern desserts.

Creamy and delicately flavoured puddings can be tricky to pair with beer; avoiding anything overly bitter or sour here is key. In this case, Boon Framboise was just the thing. Frank Boon was one of the first to revive raspberry lambics back in the 1970s, and I’m glad he did. This beer is so redolent of freshly picked berries that sniffing it is like stumbling into a bramble patch (the label promises more than 300 grams of berries per litre). It’s just tart enough to cut through the creaminess of the dessert without unbalancing it – and raspberry and rose are a dream together.

Panna cotta sounds fancy, and therefore difficult to make. Luckily, it really isn’t. The active prep time for this dessert is about 15 minutes; the hardest part might be waiting the five-odd hours for it to chill and set. In other words, this should be your new dinner party or special occasion go-to.

[Just don’t knock over an entire bottle of red food colouring in your white kitchen while you’re making your panna cotta. The dye will splatter all over your appliances and floor and will somehow get inside of your washing machine (?!) and your flatmates will think you’ve committed a murder. The recipe is much harder if you do that.]

 

Rose Water Panna Cotta
Adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater

600ml double cream
100ml whole milk
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
3 sheets gelatin 10 tbs icing sugar
3-4 drops red food colouring (optional)
4 tsp rose water (more to taste)
300ml Greek yoghurt
Dried rose petals and nibbed pistachios for garnish (optional)

Simmer the first four ingredients in a small saucepan for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture begins to steam and get pleasingly frothy around the edges. In the meantime, soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add in the sugar, stirring until fully incorporated. Add the food colouring, if you want your panna cotta to look as rosy as it tastes. Next, add the rose water and gelatin leaves (they should be slippery and soft at this point) and stir to dissolve. Lastly, gently stir in the Greek yoghurt until the mixture is uniform. Taste at this point to see if the rose water is strong enough for your liking; add a few drops more if you want yours especially floral.

Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a jug. From the jug, pour into six prepared dessert cups or glasses. Cover each tightly with cling film and chill for at least five hours prior to serving. Garnish with the dried rose petals and pistachios for a bit of extra colour.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Citrusy Sea Bass Ceviche and London Beer Lab Wheat Beer

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to the New Year. One argues that January is the perfect time to flex your willpower (and, you know, your muscles. At the gym. Every day. For a month.). The other shivers under its heavy quilt and casts a glance at the brooding sky and thinks, “Give up all booze and fun stuff now? Yeah, nope.” (You don’t have to ask which side us beer folk fall on).

For those temporarily ascetic dieter types, there’s some good news: even in January, a bowl of ceviche is, well, pretty guiltless. How can you go wrong with what amounts to fresh fish, fruit and vegetables?

But for everyone else, ceviche is so much more than just diet-friendly fare. Best when crafted as a fine balance of chili, salt, and citrus, this Peruvian dish shimmers with brightness and heat. It’s beautifully vibrant – a tropical postcard from sunnier times. In this particular recipe, lime juice is used to “cook” flaky seabass in less than ten minutes, while the merest dash of orange blossom water – an addition I’m still patting myself on the back for – lends a just-perceptible floral note.

Ceviche needs a sparring partner that can roll with its citric spike while calling up summery vibes of its own, and London Beer Lab’s Wheat Beer is just the companion required. Balanced and blossoming with bright esters, it’s a South London-made brew with a continental turn of phrase; it plays nicely with the bird’s eye chili and melds seamlessly with the fruit. If you’re seeking an extra punch of sour, I reckon a fruit gose – Omnipollo Bianca comes to mind – or a nice, lactic Berliner weisse could also sort you out very nicely. Disciplined January types: you weren’t going to serve your ceviche without beer, were you?

Citrusy Sea Bass Ceviche
Loosely inspired by a recipe by Martin Morales; serves two as a light meal or appetiser

1 small sweet potato
1 avocado
½ red onion
1 ruby grapefruit
Juice of two limes
½ tsp orange blossom water
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 bird’s eye chili, very finely minced
2 fillets sea bass
Sea salt
Fresh coriander

Begin the prep work with your sweet potato. Peel and finely dice the sweet potato into even, small cubes. Add to a small pot of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes – you want the sweet potatoes to be fork-tender but you don’t want them to break down into mush. Drain and set aside, allowing the sweet potatoes to cool to room temperature.

On to the red onion. Peel and halve the onion and set aside one half. Slice the other half into very fine half-moons. Add to a bowl filled with ice water and allow to sit for 10 minutes (this will remove some of the onion’s intensity). Drain and dry the onion pieces on kitchen roll, and chill until the ceviche is ready to assemble.

Next, with your very sharpest knife, supreme your red grapefruit (if you haven’t supremed citrus before, here is a very good step-by-step guide). Set aside. Halve your avocado and remove the pit; crosshatch with your knife so the avocado is cut into small cubes. Scoop these out and set aside.

Now, make the marinade for your fish. In a small bowl, combine the finely minced garlic, bird’s eye chili (keep the seeds in, unless you’re really afraid of spice), lime juice, and orange blossom water, with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to taste (roughly ½ tsp). Set aside for at least 10 minutes, allowing the flavours to happily intermingle.

Prep your fish. Run your hands over both fillets, checking for any lingering bones. Slice the fish into thin slices – roughly ½ cm – leaving behind the skin. Add the fish to a bowl and top with ½ tsp salt, stirring gently to mix. Let sit for two minutes before pouring over your lime juice mix. This is the key moment: it is the lime that “cooks” your raw fish, and the balance of salt, chili, and citrus that makes it a ceviche. Stir gently to combine and allow to sit for 10 minutes. You should notice that, by the end, your fish is turning white and opaque.

To assemble: remove your fish from the marinade and arrange between two plates, before adding the avocado, grapefruit, sweet potato, and onion (arranging prettily, if you’re looking to impress). Spoon over the lime juice mixture. Garnish with some torn fresh coriander, and one final wee sprinkle of sea salt.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.