Ever since culinary school, one of my dream jobs was to be the chef at a winery, the bigger the winery, the better. I’d live somewhere on the west coast, close proximity to my kitchen, away from cities and traffic. I’d work on my green thumb growing my own herbs and vegetables. I would develop a master’s palate, tasting wines, pairing foods, creating recipes, writing menus. I’d travel the country and teach about food and wine through dinners, classes, seminars and my TV show. I’d be a west coast Tony Bourdain; a little more handsome, a little less verbose, not quite as witty. I would hang out with John Ash, Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower and Paul Bertolli. It was going to be a life to envy…then I ran out of gas in Denver…
Things have a way of working out. I ended up falling in love with Denver, the mad amounts of sunshine, the dry air and mild winters; the mountains are too bad to look at either. I’ve replaced the wine for beer and find that more enjoyable. As I’ve been told, “Beer is the social man’s beverage.” It’s a very different mindset to wine, and to be honest, a much more challenging beverage to pair with food.
This year, as part of my job (wink, wink), I’m spending more time in the kitchen creating recipes paired with beer. It helps keep my palate sharp and my knives sharper. From time to time, I’ll post some of the more accessible recipes here with the beer it was made or paired with in the kitchen.
If you can’t find the specific beer I’ve used for the dish or recipe, hit me up and I’ll help you find something close.
The first project was to pair a few dishes with Breckenridge Brewery’s Ophelia. A hoppy wheat beer utilizing aromatic Mosaic hops. Lots of citrus and green apple, as it warms, tons of pineapple and tropical notes. It seems like an odd pairing at first but give it a try, you’ll definitely be surprised.
Apple Ricotta Pancakes w/ Orange-Ophelia Maple Syrup
Prepare the apples…
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 2 tbs sugar
1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
2. Add the apples and sugar.
3. Cook until lightly browned, stirring often.
4. Remove from heat and reserve for the pancake batter.
Then the pancake batter…
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 lemon, zested on a microplane
- 1 tbs tarragon, minced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup Ophelia
- 3 large eggs, separated
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese
- Butter, melted
1. In a mixing bowl combine the sugar, zest, tarragon, salt, flour and baking powder.
2. In a second mixing bowl, combine the milk, beer, egg yolks and ricotta cheese.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
4. Add the prepared apples into the batter.
5. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.
6. Fold the egg whites into the pancake batter.
7. Butter a hot griddle top (350°) or non-stick pan and pour 2 fl oz of batter onto surface.
8. When bubbles begin to form on top, turn pancake over and cook for 1 minute.
9. Remove from heat and serve.
Finally the syrup…
- 2 oranges, filleted and juiced
- 1 cup maple syrup
- ½ cup Ophelia
1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and serve.