Monday, August 24, 2009


So... as I'm sure you are aware, I'm a big geek. Obviously I'm a colossal beer geek, but I'm also a devoted food geek as well. And like any girlie geeky foodie devotee, I flocked to Julie & Julia a couple of weeks ago when it first came out. I left the movie inspired. I felt a kinship with Julie Powell, as she did with Julia Child. Here was a girl who worked at a crap job, and decided to start a blog documenting something she loved so that her life would have some meaning and some fun! As a result she got a book deal and an amazing writing career.

As you may or may not know, I've been temporarily ensconced at my parents tragically-craft-beer-free house recovering from rupturing my Achilles Tendon. Luckily this means that I have full access to my mother's completely unmolested (read unused) 1975 copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I started reading it with the idea to make the famously classic Boeuf Bourguignon that was featured in the book and the movie, but then I flipped the next page (p. 317 in my edition) and to my delight saw a recipe for Carbonnades a la Flamande or Beef and Onions Braised in Beer.

Julie Powell made this recipe on New Years Day 2003, giving a nod to beer's significance in cooking - however, she didn't happen to mention the most important thing! The style and type of beer that she used. Julia Child calls for "2 to 3 cups light beer, Pilsner type" but also later tells you to add 2Tb light brown sugar to "mask the beer's slightly bitter quality." I'm thinking...why not just add a beer with a sweeter, maltier quality and forgo adding the sugar? I know I'm messing with Julia right now, but I might as well add my beer knowledge to the mix and see what happens, right?

So, I took a deep breath and tried my hand at the fabulous Carbonnades a la Flamande. My dad had top round in the house, so I used that. I sliced the beef, dried it and browned it in bacon fat (mmm bacon fat) a little at a time like Julie and Julia say to do. I set the beef aside and browned the onions in the same pot that I browned the meat in. I did everything Julia said, just like Julie did, I added crushed garlic to the onions (off the heat of course) and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Then I layered a casserole dish with beef/onions/beef/onions. I added a bouquet garni of parsley, bay leaf and thyme. I added 1 cup of organic beef stock. And here's where I deviated: Instead of adding a light lager and sugar, I added a bottle (12 oz) and a half of Unibroue Maudite, a delicious, malty and spicy Belgian-style Dubbel (the only ingredient I had to go out and buy at the Baron's in Temecula). After bringing the casserole to a simmer on the stove top, the whole thing went into a 325 oven until the beer was "fork-tender" - 2 and a half hours.

Then I drained the sauce from the casserole into a sauce pan. I added a starch/wine vinegar mixture and simmered it for a couple of minutes and then I poured the sauce back onto the beef and onions. Then, voila, it was done. I served it to my very appreciative parents over buttered noodles.

This dish was delicious and relatively easy compared to Boeuf Bourguignon and the other fricasee dishes in the book. The maltier beer seemed to work. I tasted none of the bitterness that Julie and Julia talked about, just delicious melt in your mouth perfectly seasoned beef and onions. We drank the remaining 4 Maudite with the dish as an amazingly perfect no-duh pairing.

So now, I'm just like Julie & Julia. Do you think anyone will make a movie called "The Naked Pint"? God, I hope so! Dare to dream.... dare to dream!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I'm no doctor. I think we all know this. As a matter of fact, I frequently use a line I borrowed from Paula Deen. "I'm not your doctor honey, I'm your cook beer sommelier!" But I've written before about how beer had ingredients that could be good for your health. I've prayed and hoped and dreamed that research would prove that beer is good for us so I can tell my mom to zip it! Now, maybe its finally here.

Check out this article by Miller-McCune. In it they say that "habitual beer drinkers had higher bone density than habitual wine drinkers or teetotalers..." Hmmm.....exciting!

Want more? Check out the article Hey, Ladies ... It's Not Beer, It's Medicine by Tom Jacobs at Miller-McCune.