Beer and Cheese Bisque – Cooking with Beer

When you work for a brewery ( a big shout out to everyone at the Liberation Brewery, Jersey ) you had better not be afraid to try cooking with beer. In Belgium, cooking with beer is as common as the French cook with wine. I think almost all of the pubs I have cooked in included deep-fried cod or haddock in a beer batter or a steak and ale pie on their menus. Although to this date only one used custard powder in the batter recipe but that as they say is another story. More recently gastropubs and bistros have started cooking with beer and include dishes such as diverse as beer bread, beer ice cream and beer can chicken. For virtually any recipe that calls for a liquid of any sort, you can substitute beer.

As a marinade for meat or poultry, beer penetrates, flavours and tenderizes. Good beer is less acidic than wine so your food can be left in your marinade longer increasing the flavour. When you are roasting or braising and beer is used to baste the food or in the basting sauce, it imparts a rich, dark colour as the sugars caramelise. So, cooking with beer is great for adding flavour to BBQ’s and slow cooked casseroles and stews.

What can I cook with Beer?

In batter, a live ( not pasteurised ) beer can be substituted for yeast and water. The result is a crisp flavoursome coating for deep-fried fish such as cod, haddock, salmon, and squid. Beer is also delicious with shellfish like Mussels, cooking with it, instead of wine. I even developed a recipe in my day job to use with Oysters. Finally, beer and cheese are perfect companions. The famous Welsh Rarebit is the classic dish of cheese, beer and Worcestershire sauce combined together on toast. Today’s recipe is another great beer and cheese combination if a little unexpected. Beer and Cheese Bisque and it is really rather delicious.

How do I use Beer?

As with wine when you boil and reduce beer you will increase some of the flavours and lose others. You will also evaporate off all of the alcohol. If you are using beer as a substitute for stock remember reducing a strong, intensely hoppy beer will leave a bitter residue. A sweetish mild or stout with little hopping will produce a fine gravy in a pie or stew. A top tip when you are cooking is to reserve a little beer and add it when the cooking is finished. This will lift and enhance the beer flavours of your dish. A final note like wine never cook with a beer you would not drink.

Some Recipe and Beer Pairings

 

Light Larger style Beers are ideal for batters as the carbonation produces a light, airy result and the sugars caramelise to a deep golden colour.

IPA Indian Pale Ales the extra hopping makes for an ideal medium for cooking mussels and seafood.

Traditional Ales – use in bread, pies, and stews, the Belgium classic Carbonnade  Flamande is very similar to a Beef Bourguignon with beer substituted for wine.

Stouts and Porters – are used in rich flavoured mustards and steamed steak and oyster pudding with Guinness.

Wheat Beer traditionally used in Waterzooi, a fish stew from the Flanders region of Belgium thickened with egg yolks and cream and the favourite of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, born in Ghent. Wheat Beer is also ideal for batter mixes.

Speciality Beers – fruity lambic beers in chocolate cakes and puddings and raspberry or sour cherry Kriek beers with roast duck and fowl.

Liberation beers are wildly available as are many other great beers like Fullers, Adnams and some wonderful microbrewery ales. I’m not even getting any freebies from anyone.  Next time I see the boys from the brewery I might try for a pint.

 

Beer and Cheese Bisque

Bisque is a term usually applied to creamy shellfish or roasted vegetable soups, where the main ingredients are first roasted and coloured then simmered to form a stock – the soup is therefore twice cooked or ‘ bis cuites ’. This soup is a little bit of a cheat as its ingredients are only cooked once but it sounds too nice a name to seriously quibble. You can substitute a well rounded not too dark beer for the Liberation Ale.

Six Sensational Seasonal Soup Recipes


Autumn has arrived here in Jersey and we have had some wonderful crisp, bright sunny days and cooler evenings. These are perfect for walking along the coastal paths and beautiful country lanes and building up an appetite. I love Autumn because there are some wonderful fruit and vegetables in season such as cooking apples for crumbles and pies. Savoy cabbages, the first Brussel sprouts and the first proper parsnips, which always seem sweeter after the first proper frost can be readily found in your green grocers. But the start of Autumn really heralds the arrival of pumpkins and squashes ready for Halloween. They are fantastic roasted with spices, pureed with lots of butter and make amazing soup one of my favourite Autumn dishes.

I love soups they are so varied, and such a tasty option and most recipes are quick and simple to make. If you are able to omit lots of cream and butter ( in my case that’s rather difficult ) soup can be extremely healthy. You can try substituting low fat crème fraiche for cream and olive oil for butter. I often find the best soups are made with what is easily available, a handful of vegetables, a tin of beans or some dried pulses and plenty of herbs. I always have celery, carrots and onions in the bottom of my fridge, a mix called mirepoix, which goes back to my earliest training. Mirepoix is a classic base for soups, stocks and sauces adding a depth of flavour.

Why not try some of these?

So to get your creative juices flowing here are some links to some of my favourite soups I have posted on the blog. There is my first ever recipe and still a firm favourite in lots of restaurants a rich, creamy seafood chowder with lots of Jersey mussels and smoked haddock for extra flavour. Another firm favourite with the customers in one of our busiest pubs is my take on classic French onion topped with delicious melted cheese, after all Jersey is only a few miles from the French coast. My version of possibly everyone’s favourite soup, roasted red pepper and tomato, is perfect for sipping out of a mug on a chilly Bonfire’s night. The great thing about soup is really doesn’t have to complicated just a few ingredients from your cupboard and your fridge like a tasty carrot and coriander.

A little History of Soup

Soup is not just great for lunch or supper it can be served as a starter for an elegant dinner party and I have the perfect recipe a cauliflower veloute, and you can find out all about how chef’s make and use veloutes in traditional kitchens. Finally if you like your soup with a bit more kick how about a Spanish recipe full of Chorizo sausage or the spicy Seafood Tom Yam. Whatever you like I hope you will find some inspiration and get cooking. Enjoy.

Here are some links to some of my delicious Soup Recipes.

Patatas Riojanas – Spanish Chorizo and Potato Soup

“Patatas Riojanas, is a very simple rustic soup or stew from La Rioja. La Rioja is a small region in the north of Spain, most famous for its high-quality wines, and it has some lovely indigenous dishes. No one is sure about the origins of Patatas Riojanas, but it would not have existed until at least the 19th century and the introduction of potatoes into Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.”

French Onion Soup

Classic French Onion Soup

My Classic French Onion Soup

“French Onion Soup probably had its origins in Roman cooking but became prominent amongst eighteenth-century French peasants, for which onions were one of the staple dietary components. The addition or use of stock to French Onion Soup came later, as did the cheese croute ( a kind of crispy cheese on toast ).”

 

Cauliflower Veloute

Creamy Cauliflower Veloute

Cauliflower Veloute with Cauliflower Pakora and Curry Oil

“If you want something a little more elegant this recipe is a sophisticated soup ideal for a dinner party and perhaps as the starter for your Christmas Dinner. This rich, silky smooth cauliflower soup is an ideal partner to the spicy flavours of the pakora’s and curry oil. A veloute is a traditional soup made with a stock thickened with a roux, this recipe also contains potato for extra body.”

 

 

Tom yum Soup

Spicy Seafood Tom yam Soup

Spicy Seafood Tam yam Soup

“I like spicy food, not hair-raising hot curries and the like, but I enjoy a nice kick and I love the layers of different flavours you can build. One of my favourite chilli-based dishes is Tom yam, a hot and sour Thai soup flavoured with fragrant spices and aromatics; a good chicken stock flavoured with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, which is now popular around the world.”

 

Classic Seafood Chowder

Classic Seafood Chowder with Smoked Haddock and Jersey Mussels

“As there is no single definitive recipe my chowder recipe is a purely personal and uses some of my favourite and best produce available to anyone cooking in Jersey alongside a couple of unorthodox ingredients. If you are not so fortunate as myself living with wonderful seafood almost washing up on my doorstep, quality natural smoked haddock, freshly cooked prawns and some plump tasty mussels from a reputable fishmonger will make an excellent chowder.”

Tasty Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

“This is a really easy, comforting recipe that freezes exceeding well so could be made in advance, it is a fantastic thick, full of sweet, smoky flavours and great served in a mug as you stand to watch the fireworks. Passed through a sieve it can be dressed up as a lovely lunchtime treat or simple supper dish. So, for the perfect fifth of November feast make sure you have some crisp-skinned jacket potatoes freshly baked in the oven, a plate full of toffee apples for the children and a big, big pan of this delicious soup.”


Smoked Haddock, Prawn and Herb Fishcakes

How to make Great Fishcakes

Fishcakes are incredibly versatile, they can be a great starter like the Thai style crab cake, flavoured with lemongrass and chilli with a sweet and sour dipping sauce or a crisp golden-fried fishcake as a main course, a staple of many pub and restaurant menus. Fishcakes are really simple to make, and you can use potato to bulk up what can be expensive fish and seafood. You can choose from any number of combinations; a simple white fish such as cod, haddock or coley with a piquant brown caper and parsley butter for added zing, smoked salmon and dill ( ask your fishmonger if he sells smoked salmon trimmings ), extravagant salmon and lobster topped with sour cream and caviar or today’s recipe that punches plenty of flavour, smoked haddock, prawn and herb.

Smoked Haddock, Prawn and Herb Fishcakes

Smoked Haddock, Prawn and Herb Fishcakes

This is a very tasty fishcake for a light lunch, al fresco dining on a hot summer’s day with a crisp salad and some Tartar sauce or as simple supper served on a bed of creamed leeks or Ratatouille. The smoked haddock gives a lovely rich smoky flavour perfectly complimented by the herbs and light fluffy potato. Panné is the technique for breadcrumbing any food from fish to the classic Chicken Kiev to make this recipe you can use stale bread processed into breadcrumbs, Panko or as I have polenta or coursed cornmeal. Dip the fishcake in seasoned flour, then egg and milk mix then in the coating. Further dip in the egg mix and coating a second time for a crispier finish.

For more information on how to Panné visit A Cook’s Compendium


Crispy Smoked Haddock and Prawn Fishcakes

1kg Fluffy Potatoes, washed and peeled

750ml Milk

250g Smoked Haddock, skin removed and de-boned

250g Mixed Fish ( Cod, Whiting, Salmon ), skin removed and de-boned*

250g Prawns, roughly chopped

50g Shallots or Spring Onions, peeled and very very very finely chopped 

50g Jersey Butter

1 small Onion, peeled

25ml Jersey Double Cream

20g finely chopped Chives

20g finely chopped Parsley

10g finely chopped Chervil

2 Cloves

1 Bay leaf

Sea Salt and freshly ground White Pepper to taste

Seasoned Flour, Egg and Milk, Course Cornmeal

*Your fishmonger may sell this using his offcuts

Stud the bay leaf to onion using the cloves, this is called a cloute. Pour the milk into a medium sized heavy-bottomed pan and add the cloute and the fish. Place on a low heat and bring to a simmer, and gently poach the fish for five minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and cool, the milk can be used to flavour  a chowder or a velouté sauce. When cool break the fish into large chunks. At the same time as you are poaching the fish boil the potatoes in another pan for mashing. When soft steam dry to remove excess moisture then gently mash with the cream, butter, salt and pepper. Combine the mashed potatoes, fish, prawns, onions and herbs together trying to keep the fish in large flakes throughout the mix. Correct seasoning.

Allow the mix to cool sufficiently so that you can safely handle it and then shape the mix into balls then squash slightly into fishcakes. Place the fishcakes on to a lightly floured baking tray and chill thoroughly, this will make the next stage much easier. Panné the fishcakes in the seasoned flour, egg mix and breadcrumbs, passing twice through the breadcrumbs. To cook gently shallow fry in a little oil for around five minutes on each side then finish in a preheated oven at 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4 for around twenty minutes until golden brown and hot throughout.

Wine

 

What to Drink? Why not try your fishcakes with a crisp dry white wine like a chilled Soave or New Zealand Semillon.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour  Raw Fish Milk  Crab

Please see the Allergens Page


Daddy’s Not-so-Secret Crispy Chicken Recipe

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Wings

Crispy baked Chicken Wings

I posted an Instagram picture recently of a weekend tea-time meal I made with the help of my eldest daughter, she really is a far better baker than me, you should try her cookies but that’s another post. We had dough balls ( they are both big fans of Pizza Express – good job I used to be a Pizza trainer and learnt how to make them properly ), a big salad for Mummy, and Daddy’s Not-so-Secret Crispy Chicken Wings*. If you want a recipe for a chicken wing with a little more bite try my recipe for the Best Oven Baked Buffalo Wings Ever.

Now if I have a weakness for ‘junk food’ it is Southern Fried Chicken, I don’t have a pressure fryer like a certain well know high street chain, which is one of the secrets to producing a piece of crisp coated moist chicken but after a fair few attempts I do have an excellent recipe for well-seasoned coating and tender chicken. While Daddy’s Not-so-Secret Crispy Chicken Wings recipe doesn’t have anywhere near the 10 -12 herbs and spices in the famous secret Kentucky recipe** it has gone down great guns in lots of pubs, bars, and restaurants. I’m not worried you can share the recipe to and try your own variations.

*You can substitute thighs, drumsticks and chicken breasts.

**There is a copy of the recipe right here in Jersey.

Daddy’s Not-so-Secret Crispy Chicken Recipe

Proper Southern Fried Chicken calls for Buttermilk but it is still quite difficult to get hold off and relatively expensive. The slight acidity that helps to tenderise the chicken is easily replaced with a few tablespoons of natural yogurt.

For the Marinade

1 small Chicken cut into pieces 18 Chicken Wings, tips removed

or 8 medium Chicken Thighs

1 small pot of Natural Yoghurt

1 teaspoon fine Sea Salt

Juice of 1 freshly squeezed Lemon

2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

For the Coating

200 gr fine Polenta

100 gr Self Raising Flour

3 teaspoons Smoked Paprika

1 level teaspoon fine Sea Salt

1 teaspoon dried Thyme

½ teaspoon dried Oregano

½ Celery Salt

½ teaspoon Black Pepper

½ teaspoon dried Coriander

Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5. Prepare a large non-stick baking tray by wiping with a little vegetable oil. In a large non-reactive glass or plastic bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic salt and Cayenne pepper together. Add the chicken and stir to coat completely, cover with cling film and leave in a refrigerator for at least two hours. Thoroughly mix the coating ingredients and when the chicken is ready, cover each chicken piece liberally in the spiced polenta.

Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking tray and drizzle with more vegetable oil. Bake on the lowest shelf in your oven for thirty minutes until the chicken is golden brown. Using tongs, carefully turn each piece of chicken and bake for five minutes longer for wings ( ten to fifteen minutes for drumsticks, large breast pieces, and chicken thighs ), or until the undersides are golden. Place the chicken pieces on kitchen paper to drain off excess fat then transfer to plates and serve.

The chicken can be baked ahead, chilled and served cold for picnics and buffets.

Wine

What to Drink? These Chicken wings are best paired German-style Riesling wines or hoppy Continental-style Pilsner lagers and IPA beers.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour

Milk