June 13, 2013 at 1:00 am

Cheers for Dad!

Celebrate Father's Day with beer-infused dishes to help him enjoy kicking back

Use Brooklyn Ale, Guinness Stout or your brew of choice in Rachael Ray's Beer Chili Sliders. (Gretchen McKay / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Sunday is the day we honor Dad. He read you bedtime stories, taught you how to ride your bike, took you fishing, coached your soccer games and paid for college. Now, it’s your turn to show him how much you appreciate him. But unlike most moms, who love the brunch and the pot of flowers, or the luxurious breakfast in bed, dads are low-maintenance. Just give them a reason not to do something, and that’s the best gift of all. Don’t you think he’d love a reason for avoiding yard work, cleaning the garage, washing the car or whatever else his least favorite chore may be?

This year, instead of the shirt, book or garden tool, why not give him something he could really use -- a day off. But don’t expect Dad to relax on an empty stomach; it takes some real effort to keep the hammock in just the right position. If your dad is like most guys, simple pleasures are the best. Give him a book and a beer and a quiet spot and he’ll be blissful all Father’s Day long.

And to make this Father’s Day just a little more special, consider putting that brew to good use: Instead of just pouring Dad a tall one, cook up something extra special for his dinner using beer in the recipe.

With all the craft-made beers on the market, you can stop by your local brewpub, microbrewery or beverage store and find the perfect brew for marinating meats, making barbecue sauces, stirring into a soup or using as a batter for seafood or veggies and even muffins and pancakes. For example, start the day off with some Mancakes made with Samuel Adams lager and crushed potato chips. Later whip up some cauliflower fritters with a cilantro ginger sauce and a few Brooklyn beer chili sliders served with some icy cold beer. Or how about some beer muffins to serve alongside a soup or chili? Most muffin batters, even savory ones, are moistened with milk or buttermilk but beer does the same job, only adding flavor and bubbly lift.

Using different beer, cheese, and herb combinations would give you an entirely different effect for each muffin recipe and with some imagination and what you have in the refrigerator, you could come up with a custom muffin made just for Dad.

Beer is also the star of some desserts. Beer and pretzel caramels satisfies the sweet tooth, and he will delight in some chocolate stout brownies served with a scoop of his favorite ice cream. (And if you really want to surprise your pop, make him a beer float using a chocolatey stout with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.)

And speaking of craft-made beers, there are more than 70 microbreweries and beer pubs in Michigan. Why not grab a couple of six packs of some locally made pilsner, stout, ale or lager and either pair them with your meal or just let Dad sample at his leisure. Either way, he’s sure to be pleased.

Beer and Pretzel Caramels

Recipe from Liddabit Sweets.

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus
1 teaspoon for greasing the baking sheet
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
3 cups granulated sugar
13 cup plus 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup (see Notes)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
About ¼ cup Beer Reduction (recipe follows)
2 ½ cups crushed and sifted crunchy pretzels (see Notes)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Grease the bottom and sides of the baking sheet with the 1 teaspoon butter, and set it aside on a heatproof surface.

Combine the cream, sugar, malt syrup, fine sea salt, and the 7 tablespoons butter in a large (6- to 8-quart) stockpot. Stir a couple of times with the heatproof spatula just to make sure there aren’t any big clumps of dry sugar, and then bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium and insert the candy thermometer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 252 degrees (hard ball stage), about 20 minutes. (Watch it closely: once it reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage), after about 15 minutes, you’ll want to stay nearby and stir it more frequently as it tends to scorch on the bottom of the pot.) Remove the pot from the heat.

Stir in the Beer Reduction, then the pretzels and coarse sea salt. Mix thoroughly, scraping the bottom of the pot several times to incorporate everything.

Put on your oven mitts and carefully (seriously — please be careful!) pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out with the spatula, distributing the pretzel pieces as evenly as possible. Allow it to cool until it’s firm to the touch, 1 to 2 hours.

Run the tip of a sharp chef’s knife around the edges of the baking sheet to loosen the caramel. Turn it out onto the lined cutting board, cut it into 1-by 1½-inch pieces, and wrap them in the wax twisting papers. Store the caramels in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks (let them come to room temperature before you eat them!).

Notes: Barley malt syrup, made from sprouted barley grains, is what bridges the gap in this recipe between the innocuous buttery flavor of the base caramel and the sharper zing of the reduced beer. It has a toasty, rich flavor that adds depth but isn’t too assertive on its own, perfectly bringing together all the other flavors. You can buy it at any natural foods market, such as Whole Foods.

Snyder’s of Hanover is a good, widely available choice for the pretzels; the crushed pieces should be about ½ inch. Sift them before they go into the caramel, otherwise you will end up with a lot of pretzel dust ruining the lovely texture of the candy. Serves 24.

Per serving : 197 calories; 7 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat; 32 percent calories from fat); 32 g carbohydrates; 23 mg cholesterol; 363 mg sodium; 1 g protein; 0.2 g fiber.

Cauliflower Fritters with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce

Technically, Cauliflower Fritters with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce is a side dish, but served with rice and salad, it would indeed make a terrific vegetarian entree. The recipe comes from Alex Guarnaschelli via Foodnetwork.com. Look for firm cauliflower with compact florets and crisp, fresh leaves with no signs of yellowing or wilting.

For sauce:
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, snipped
For fritters:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus 6 cups for frying (divided)
1 ½ bottles beer, at room temperature
1 large head cauliflower, stemmed, broken into bite-sized pieces, washed and thoroughly dried
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Water, for thinning

Prepare sauce: Put all ingredients in bowl and toss to combine.

Prepare fritters: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, turmeric and ground ginger. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil and whisk in the beer. Set aside in a warm place because, like a bread dough, it will puff up slightly.

Put cauliflower in a medium bowl and use a small strainer to sprinkle it with an even layer of paprika. Toss to coat.

In a large pot over medium heat, add remaining 6 cups of oil and heat to 350 degrees.

Stir batter slightly. Put a couple of pieces of cauliflower on a slotted spoon and submerge into batter. It should coat the pieces lightly. (If batter is too thick, add a little water; if it’s too thin, whisk in a bit more sifted flour.)

Cook 1 piece of cauliflower to check for seasoning. Drain excess batter and lower cauliflower bite into the oil. It should bubble slightly and cauliflower will gradually rise to the surface. Fry until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Season with salt.

Fry remaining cauliflower in small batches and drain on paper towels. Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Per serving: 350 calories; 19 g fat (2 g saturated fat; 49 percent calories from fat); 34 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 7 g protein; 6 g fiber.

Brooklyn Beer Chili Sliders

Recipe from “The Book of Burger” by Rachael Ray. Make the pickles and barbecue sauce ahead of time, and all you’ll have to do the day of the picnic is assemble these tasty burgers, which can be patted into regular-sized patties instead of sliders.

For pickles:
2 cups white balsamic or cider vinegar
13 cup water
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 large clove garlic, halved
2 bay leaves
1 small fresh red chile, such as Fresno, sliced
4 Kirby (seedless) cucumbers, sliced 18- to ¼-inch thick
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
A few sprigs fresh dill
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
For slaw:
½ pound shredded red cabbage
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Celery salt
Kosher salt and pepper
For barbecue sauce:
1 cup good-quality ketchup, such as Heinz Organic
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark amber maple syrup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-½ tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
Coarsely ground pepper
For sliders:
2 pounds ground beef chuck
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried marjoram or Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
½ cup Brooklyn Ale or other beer of choice (I used Guinness Stout)
Grill seasoning, such as McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning, or kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper
Vegetable or olive oil, for drizzling
12 slider rolls

Make the pickles: Bring vinegar, 13 cup water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.

Put chile, cucumbers, onion and dill in a small food-storage container and sprinkle in mustard and coriander seeds. Pour hot brine over pickles. Cool, cover and chill overnight, shaking every once in a while.

When you are ready to make the sliders, make slaw: In a bowl, combine cabbage, onion, vinegar and oil. Season with celery salt and salt and pepper. Toss until cabbage is coated.

Make the barbecue sauce: In a small saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients and cook over medium-low heat to thicken and combine flavors, 15 to 20 minutes.

Make sliders: Heat a large cast-iron pan, griddle or grill pan over medium-high-to-high heat. In a large bowl, combine beef, Worcestershire sauce, marjoram, thyme, chile powder and beer; season with grill seasoning or with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Divide into 4 equal portions, then form each portion into 3 equal patties thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking and to ensure a flat surface (burgers plump as they cook). Drizzle the patties with oil. Cook sliders a few minutes on each side, or until done to your taste. Baste liberally with barbecue sauce during the last minute of cooking.

Place sliders on roll bottoms and top with a little slaw and slices of pickle. Set roll tops in place. Pass the rest of the pickles and sauce at the table.

Makes 12 sliders.

Per serving: 338 calories; 15 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 40 percent calories from fat); 33 g carbohydrates; 40 mg cholesterol; 705 mg sodium; 19 g protein; 3 g fiber.

Chocolate Stout Brownies

Chocolate Stout Brownies

Recipe from Bon Appetit

A rich dose of stout adds big flavor to these fudgy, chocolate-glazed brownies.

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
16 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 ¼1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ½cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9x2” metal baking pan with foil, leaving a 2” overhang. Bring stout to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 12 minutes. Let cool. Reserve ¼cup stout.

Stir 12 ounces chocolate and 1 cup butter in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture, then ¼ cup stout from pan. Fold in flour and 1 ¼ teaspoons salt. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake brownies until surface begins to crack and a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35–40 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Stir remaining 4 ounces chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Add reserved ¼cup reduced stout, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and ¼ teaspoon salt; whisk until well blended.

Pour warm glaze over brownies. Let stand at room temperature until glaze is set, about 40 minutes. (Can be made 8 hours ahead.) Cover and let stand at room temperature.

Using foil overhang, lift brownie from pan; cut into squares. Makes 16.

Per serving: 368 calories; 23 g fat (14 g saturated fat; 56 percent calories from fat); 41 g carbohydrates; 77 mg cholesterol; 198 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber.

David Burke’s Samuel Adams “Mancakes”

David Burke's Samuel Adams "Mancakes"

Recipe by Samuel Adams Chef Partner David Burke

4 ounces crushed BBQ potato chips
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup of Boston Lager
2 eggs

Mix flour, baking soda, Boston Lager and eggs in a large mixing bowl

Heat a skillet on medium and pour “Mancake” batter into large circles — let bubble

Sprinkle potato chips on top of “Mancake” and flip

Cook until lightly browned

Serve with bacon and maple syrup

Makes about 12 cakes depending on size. Serves 6.

Per serving: 290 calories; 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat; 25 percent calories from fat); 44 g carbohydrates; 71 mg cholesterol; 796 mg sodium; 8 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Beer Muffins with Cheddar Cheese and Dill

Beer Muffins with Cheddar Cheese and Dill

Recipe from Newsday.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup lager-style beer
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 ½? tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the beer and 4 tablespoons of melted butter until a rough dough forms. Stir in ¾ cup cheese and the dill. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over muffins. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup cheese on top.

Bake until the muffins are golden and toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out dry, about 18 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert onto a wire rack, reinvert, let cool another 5 minutes and serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

Per serving: 191 calories; 9 g fat (6 g saturated fat; 42 percent calories from fat); 20 g carbohydrates; 26 mg cholesterol; 273 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 1 g fiber.


Potatoe chips help stuff David Burke's Mancakes. (Samuel Adams)
Cauliflower Fritters with Sauce can be a side dish or a vegetarian entree. (Gretchen McKay /Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Barley malt syrup melds the flavors in beer pretzel caramels. (Rachel Been)