Cooking With A Cup O' Kindness (Beer, Cider Or Booze)

Dec 31, 2013
Originally published on January 1, 2014 4:32 am

In case you want to add a pinch of celebratory beverage to your first meal of the year, we invite you to look through the Kitchen Window. A spirited New Year's can come from the kitchen as well as the bar.

We've featured a number of stories using alcohol as an ingredient in cooking as well as in bartending — if it tastes good in a glass, it tastes good on a plate. It's also a great way to use up any leftover libations from your holiday celebrations.

A good place to start is with Rina Rapuano's rapturous endorsement of trifle. "It's at once so simple and so luxurious, so humble and so hoity-toity, innocent yet sexy," she writes. Trifle is a traditional English dessert involving booze-soaked cake layered with custard, jam and often fresh fruit — and topped with whipped cream. If you're looking for a decadent dessert to brighten up the new year, this could be it.

From the "hoity-toity" to the more populist, take a look at Peter Ogburn's story on cooking with beer. Beer, according to the piece, may be an even better cooking ingredient than wine. "It has more ingredients," says Steve Brockwell, a brewer for Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Md. "It makes it more multifaceted. Especially if you have the ability to manipulate these ingredients in a certain way to coax out specific flavors."

Ben Clark, Flying Dog's head brewer, adds, "You've got barley, water, hops and yeast. You're getting aromatics out of malt, hops, yeast, and even your water quality can make a difference in the way a beer tastes." With new craft beers appearing regularly — and brewers incorporating seeds, roots, fruits and more — there are plenty of tastes from which to choose.

Peter offers recipes for corn and crabmeat chowder, Welsh rarebit, beef carbonnade and chocolate stout cake.

You could also welcome the new year with a nod to America's past — specifically, the colonists' love of hard cider.

"Hard cider has its roots in our earliest national history," Sheri Castle writes in her story on cooking with cider. "Shortly after explorers planted their stake in the ground, colonists planted apple trees. Their goal wasn't just fresh fruit to eat. Colonists had far more critical needs: vinegar to preserve food and something to drink that was safer than water."

Hard cider has been making a comeback for the past few years, as our friends at The Salt also reported. It shouldn't be difficult, therefore, to find a good one to cook with.

Castle offers recipes for chicken with cider pan sauce, seasonal salad with apple cider vinaigrette, cider-braised red cabbage, winter squash and sweet potato soup, hard cider quick bread and apple cider pound cake with cider caramel sauce.

Finally, a toast to Kitchen Window readers for a happy New Year — whatever you cook.

Kitchen Window editor and Weekend Edition food commentator Bonny Wolf is the managing editor of American Food Roots.

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