Sunday, 29 June 2014

Cooking with beer - Ola Dubh sabayon

Whilst the idea of cooking with beer is an attractive one, quite often the results can be disappointing. Rather than trapping perfectly pitched hops and malts it's very easy lose the hop's fresh flavours, intensify their bitterness to the point of unpleasantness and cook the malty character to a stewed sweetened soup. But get it right and you can balance out those flavours and create something which really harnesses the joy of the original beer.

This sabayon is a recipe which really catches the essence of the beer flavours boldly. Take care in choosing the beer because there is no hiding here. I chose the 30th Anniversary Ola Dubh to go with some grilled papaya (I probably should have gone with grilled pineapple instead, the papaya lacked real flavour). Ola Dubh is a cask strength Ola Dubh which has been aged in Highland Park 30 year old whisky barrels.

Now I know what some of you are thinking - that to use a special beer like this to cook with is a bit sacrilegious but rest assured there is only a tiny amount of the beer required for this recipe. This light custardy type dish is cooked in the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Because the heat to create the sabayon is so low, the inherent flavours of the beer are retained.

Delicious Ola Dubh.
Made with the Ola Dubh, the sabayon is a rich, creamy, sweet and boozey coating for your fruit. Its slightly smokey with just a hint of marmite (in a good way). The robust flavours really need something sweet and acidic to balance. I can imagine this recipe working with most other styles of beer, just be sure to think about which fruit will to go with it.
Caramelise the fruit by grilling or dry frying it to enhance those smokey flavours.

Enough for 2

2 Egg yolks
15 g caster sugar
30mL Ola Dubh

Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water making sure not to let the bowl touch the water. whisk constantly until it turns into a light frothy custard between which will take about 5-10 mins.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Beer of the Week - Lush Cynthia Stout Shampoo

I'm sat here typing this with beautifully clean hair and it's all thanks to my beer of the week, Cynthia Stout Shampoo by Lush. Lush are known more for their pungently scented and ethically sound toiletries than for beer so what's going on here?

Please excuse my currently under-decorated bathroom

Well, beer has been used as a hair product for decades. Tradition has it that beer give extra body to the hair. I've not managed to find much scientific evidence to back up the claim that beer does anything to strengthen hair but it's a bit of fun isn't it? So let's carry on and see what this stuff from Lush does to my flowing locks.

It pours from the bottle in a syrupy, rich, dark, puddle in the palm of my hand. On the nose it's very much like a highly aromatic shandy with bergamot and well, beer. It's made with stout, lemon juice, lemongrass oil, cognac oil, and balsamic vinegar (note to self: good ingredients for a beer cocktail I reckon).

This shampoo delivers a big foamy head (of hair) and fills the bathroom with the same malty and citrus smell of shandy. The taste? well it tastes of shampoo, so probably best avoided. But it leaves you with a squeaky clean mop and that shandy smell remains with you all day, in a good way.

So I couldn't look at those ingredients without experimenting with a beer cocktail.

Here's the recipe

Cynthia's Stout Cocktail
1 shot of cognac
Squeeze of lemon juice
Topped up with Guinness (or other stout)
Stirred with a stick of lemongrass that's been smashed with the flat of a big knife. 

And guess what? It's bloody lovely.
I left out the balsamic because I thought it a step too far down the savoury route. 

You can get this lovely shampoo from all Lush stores and it seems to be a very big seller for them. There are other beer shampoos on the market, notably this one from Superdrug, however I haven't tried this one, yet.