Skip to content
December 9, 2011 / Hoptrollop

Winter Warmer Compote stuffed Baked Brie – Party Flavors 2

Baked Brie with Winter Warmer Compote

Pretty impressive huh? Betcha don’t believe that it’s not hard to do once you know a few tricks of the trade. Having been a chef and catering manager for 10 years I’ve made quite a few of these along the way. So follow along and you’ll be fine, I even took extra pictures to help.

As to the Beer a Winter Warmer may also be called Christmas Ale or Old Ale. It may have spices, it may not but it is typically a full bodied, malty brew with a little higher ABV then a Porter but not as strong as a Barleywine. I used Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. Some other suggestions are Harpoon’s Winter Warmer, Highland’s Cold Mountain and Bell’s Christmas Ale.

Winter Warmer Compote ingredients

Winter Warmer Compote

1/2 lb   Dried Fruit – a mix of apple, pear, apricot, raisins, plums, currants, cranberries etc

12 oz   Winter Warmer style beer – I used Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale

Additional spices if desired: Orange Zest, Bay Leaf, Nutmeg, Red Pepper Flakes, Black Pepper or Salt

Cooking Compote

Add the beer and the dried fruit into a 1 qt pan. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. Stirring occasionally allow to cook 15 to 20 minutes, less time if your dried fruit pieces are smaller. The dried fruit will soak up the liquid before beginning to break down itself. Don’t allow it to get completely dry in the pot, add more beer or even a little water to the pot.

This is the base compote, from here you can portion it out for different reasons and tastes. I roughly chopped 1/2 cup of the compote and added orange zest, nutmeg and a little red pepper flacks for what I put in my brie. What you don’t use right away allow to cool completely and refrigerate. This will easily last you through the holidays.

Compote for Brie

Stuffed Baked Brie

  • 1 ea     Brie – a full round and not a triangle is needed
  • 1 pkg    Puff Pastry –  found in the freezer department of the grocery store & defrosted in fridge over night
  • 1 ea   Egg – mixed with a little water
  • 1/2 cup   Filling of choice – compote, preserves, nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, etc

30 minutes before beginning place your brie in the freezer. This makes it easier to slice in half but keeping the cheese cold is one of the tricks to baking pretty brie.

Puff Pastry come frozen and usually folded in thirds. Be sure you have defrosted it slowly in the fridge and to keep it cold as much as possible. Gently roll it out making sure to seam the fold marks so there are not holes. You also want the dough 2/3 to 1/2 the thickness it was in the package. Prick the pastry with a fork all over what would be the inside of the pastry. This reduces how high the pastry will rise.

Puff Pastry


Get the brie, before it freezes rock solid, and slice through the middle horizontally. You’ve now got a top and a bottom. Another trick of the trade is to scoop out some of the middle of each section so that more filling will fit. It also makes a great snack for the chef.

Measuring to be Fancy

Compote as Filling

I wanted to be fancy so I took a couple extra, unnecessary steps. First I cut a round out of the pastry the size of a shaker pint glass which was 1″ diameter smaller then the brie. As you’ll see in a minute I also cut little Christmas shapes out of leftover dough to make it fancy. Neither of these added to the flavor so don’t feel obliged to do it. What is important is that you fold the dough around the stuffed brie and seal it with an egg wash. Turn the brie over and brush the whole thing with additional egg wash. If you want to put little cut out leaves, top it with sliced almonds or any other fancification this is when you’d do that. Anything will stick with the egg and if it’s more pastry, brush that with egg as well. I added holly leaves and Christmas trees.

Incasing the Brie in Pastry

Brrrr... Cold Brie

Yes, put it back in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes. This is a good time to heat your oven to 450°, yes 450°. What you’re trying to do is get the pastry puffed and golden without melting the brie inside. This keeps it from turning into a Frisbee, a yummy cheesy tasting Frisbee but…

Bake! only stay close by, you need to check it every 10 minutes because the puff pastry will burn suddenly. Rotate it front to back, at least once as it cooks. It will take a half hour + but the top will get golden before the sides. If this happens place a square of foil just on the top to reflect the heat.

Baked Brie out of the Oven

I removed the rind in the middle and topped it with additional compote and toasted almond slices once plattered.

Everyone at the party will say that they are not worthy of your masterpiece – trust me.

The compote itself is great just over cream cheese, with roasted meats, on sandwiches (fancy PB&J anyone?) or even replacing a traditional jam in a cookie recipe such as Thumbprints/Bird’s Nests.

Baked Brie with Winter Warmer Compote

December 6, 2011 / Hoptrollop

Lagunitas Sucks Pineapple topped Camembert – Party Flavors #1

"Lagunitas Sucks" Pineapple with Coconut and Camembert

We had our big holiday party this last Friday and as usual it was very beercentric. With the homebrew club, some GALS (my women’s beer group) and brewery friends I had a great audience to try out some new party foods. In the end I made three. This one, Lagunitas Sucks Pineapple topped Camembert, Winter Warmer Compote stuffed Baked Brie and Tripple Shrimp Dip.

Lagunitas may claim they suck for not being able to make their holiday standard Brown Shugga, it is a shame, but as a hophead I’m in love with this replacement. The hearty hop profile is tropical in flavor and pineapple popped in my head as soon as the beer hit my tongue.

Here is the standard “cooking with hops” disclaimer. Don’t do it, despite what my blog may be called. When you heat up a hoppy beer the flavor concentrates leaving an unpleasant bitter flavor. That’s not to say you can’t make some amazing dishes with hoppy beers. I in fact, strive to come up with ways to use it whenever I can. This appetizer is a perfect example, NO COOKING REQUIRED, though toasting the coconut is suggested.

Pineapple dried and tipsy plus coconut

“LAGUNITAS SUCKS” Pineapple topped Camembert with Coconut

  • 1/4 lb   Dried Pineapple, chunks or rings cut up into pieces
  • 12 oz    Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale
  • 1 round   Camembert
  • 1/2 cup  Coconut flakes, toasted

In a 2 cup container with a lid add the pineapple and 1 12 oz bottle of the beer. Allow to sit 2 to 3 hours. When ready to serve place the round of Camembert on a pretty plate, top with the tipsy pineapple and sprinkle with coconut. Serve with crackers, bread or tart apple slices.

For another of my no cook hoppy recipe check out Hop Bomb Hummus

Party Flavors 1 & 2

Next up – Party Flavors #2  Winter Warmer Compote and a Baked Brie Stuffed with it.

November 22, 2011 / Hoptrollop

Sides To Be Thankful For -2

Sausage Brown Ale Gravy & Southern Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

Sure turkey is great and all, it’s certainly a show stopper when brought to the table, but consider what percentage of your Thanksgiving plate is turkey and what is sides. To help I made a dandy pie chart of the average plate at my family’s Thanksgiving. (mmm, pie)

A Typical Thanksgiving Dinner Plate

Shame on me, I forgot the gravy. So you’ll have to use your imagination that at least 4 of those would have gravy enhancing their flavor. And don’t forget that there is equal parts gravy to the turkey. (For a turkey recipe that doesn’t need gravy check out the Homebrew Chef link at the bottom)

In line with my very scientific pie chart I’m sharing two more side dish recipes – Sausage and Bell’s Best Brown Ale Gravy and Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole. Unlike most of my recipes I’ve used specific beers this time, you can substitute but these two were perfect.

What happened to my gravy boat since last Thanksgiving?

Sausage and Bell’s Best Brown Gravy

  • 1 lb   Sage Sausage
  • 1 ea   Onion – chopped small
  • TT   Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tsp   Poultry Seasoning
  • 4 Tbl   Butter
  • 4 Tbl   All Purpose Flour
  • 12 oz   Bell’s Best Brown Ale
  • 2 1/2 cups   Chicken Stock

Sausage and Onions

Brown the sausage into crumbles in a large skillet. When the sausage is almost cooked through add the onions and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning. Cook until onions are transparent and remove from the pan.  Melt butter over medium heat then add the flour, whisking continuously. Allow the roux (paste) to come to a rolling bubble, still whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Combine the Bell’s Best Brown Ale and the chicken stock and turn the heat down to low. Pour a couple of Tbls of the beer/stock at a time into the hot roux, whisking until it’s incorporated before adding a little bit more liquid. (This is the time I tell everyone not to worry, it looks like the roux is seizing and clumping, it’s supposed to. I promise it will smooth out) Continue to add the liquid until it is all gone. Turn the heat back up to medium, stirring occasionally, bring the gravy up to a rolling boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute, the magic time it takes the gluten in the flour to thicken a sauce as much as it’s able. Add the rest of the poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, if the gravy is to thin allow to continue to cook and reduce. If it’s thicker then you’d like stir in more chicken stock, over low heat.

This gravy would be great the next day over a turkey hash or to be southern, over biscuits with pieces of turkey thrown in at the end.


Sweet Potato Casserole- Pre-baking

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 2 ea   Sweet Potatoes – large
  • 12 oz   Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale
  • 1 stick   Butter -unsalted
  • 1/2 cup   Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp   Cinnamon – ground
  • Dash   Nutmeg – ground
  • TT   Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup   Pecans – roasted
  • 2 ea   Eggs

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a medium sized pot. Add the beer, it’s best if it’s room temperature, cover and bring to a boil.

There's enough beer in the pot - Promise!

Cook until fork tender

See it worked

Add butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt & pepper directly to the pan. I snuck in a dash of cayenne pepper at this point too.

Why make more dishes?

Mash it all together. For a smoother consistency use an immersion blender like I did or food processor if you don’t have one. But you should they’re really useful and make a great present for the up coming holidays (hint hint…oh wait I have one)

Smoother Sweet Potatoes

Whisk 2 eggs in a bowl and… here comes the culinary lesson of the day “Temper” them. To temper (in this case) means to bring eggs up to a warmer temperature, very gently, by incorporating small amountsof a hot sauce into them. This technique prevents the eggs from scrambling.

Tempering Eggs

Chop 1/2 cup of roasted pecans into small pieces and stir them into the sweet potatoes. Scoop the whole thing into a 2 qt casserole dish smoothing out the top. Take the remaining pecans, either whole or chopped into large pieces and sprinkle on the top of the casserole. Bake at 350° until the middle reaches a temperature of 165° in order to cook the eggs completely. Time will vary based on depth of dish used. Start checking the temp at the 30 minute mark and then every 10 minutes after.

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole


If you’d like my Mac & Cheese recipe using beer check it out at the Ladies Of Craft Beer website

If you’re interested in a turkey recipe, that you don’t need to slather with gravy, check out @Homebrewchef’s Beer Brined Turkey Recipe

November 14, 2011 / Hoptrollop

Sides To Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving Day Practice

Fruitful side dishes to be thankful for may be a better title for this post. Or perhaps Cheerful/Beerful Sides for the Holidays. Regardless these are delicious and even family and friends not into beer will agree.

Cerise Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12oz bottle   Founders Brewing’s Cerise Cherry Fermented Ale (or other Cherry or Kriek beer of your choice)
  • 2 pieces   Candied Ginger
  • 1/2 cup   Sugar (more or less may be used based on how sweet your beer is and your sweet tooth)
  • 3 cups    Fresh Whole Cranberries
  • pinch   Salt

Fresh Cranberries & Cerise - Before

Cranberry & Cerise - After

In a Med pot add 8oz of beer, ginger, sugar and 2 cups of cranberries. Bring to a simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Stir often and listen for the cranberries beginning to pop. Once they are all popped cook for an additional 3-5 minutes to reduce some of the liquid allowing the whole thing to meld together.

Add the remaining cranberries, beer and a pinch of salt. Stir continuously. Once this batch begins to pop remove from heat. This will give you a chunky sauce with both whole piece of cranberry throughout. If you don’t want the whole cranberries put everything together at the beginning. This can be made a couple days ahead and served chilled or served warm right off the stove.

Cider Wild Rice Dressing

  • 19-22 oz   Hard Cider
  • 4.5 oz package   Long Grain and Wild Rice
  • 1 stick   Butter (I prefer unsalted)
  • 3 stalks   Celery, diced small (about a 1/4 inch)
  • 1 Med   Onion, diced small (about a 1/4 inch)
  • 4 cups   Diced and dried Whole Wheat Bread (about 1/2 inch cubes)
  • TT   Salt and Pepper

Wild Rice Dressing ingredients

Cook the wild rice per the package instructions replacing the water with the same amount of cider and reducing the time by 5 minutes.

Melt the butter into a saute pan and add the celery, onions and a pinch of salt&pepper. Cook on low-med heat until the onions have lost their opaqueness. Take off the heat. When it is done add the cooked wild rice, tossing to get it coated in the butter. Do the same with your bread cubes. Salt and Pepper as desired

Put everything into a baking dish and sprinkle in some/all of the remaining cider so that all the bread cubes are moist and tender. Cover with foil and bake at 350 deg for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10- 20 minutes until warm in the center and bread cubes begin to get golden on their edges.

side note: I garnished my dressing with slices of Granny Smith Apples that I buttered and sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar on. I placed the slices on top of the unbaked dressing before covering with foil.

Cider Wild Rice Dressing - Before Baking

Cider Wild Rice Dressing & Cerise Cranberry Sauce

November 7, 2011 / Hoptrollop

Chimichurri Pork Stew

Chimichurri Pork Stew

Chimichurri is a green, herbed based sauce that is used to marinate meats. It originated in Argentina but is used in other South American cuisines as well. The traditional cooking method for these marinated meats is grilling. I didn’t do that, I decided I wanted a pork into a stew which I made in my slow cooker.

If you’d like to make your own chimichurri there are lots of recipes online, here’s one from Food and Wine Magazine’s Michelle Bernstein

If not, do what I did and cheat by buying it. There’s no need for judging me, I know it’s easy enough to make on my own I just didn’t this time. I used this…—–>

Which is why I chose braising the pork over grilling. You already don’t get the fresh herb and garlic flavor in the jar so you’re not loosing anything when cooking low and slow.  The sauce still gave a lot of flavor to the pork and was nice drizzled over the top of the finished stew as well.

Chimichurri Pork Stew

  • 2 lbs   Pork Stew Meat
  • 1/4 cup   Chimichurri sauce
  • 1 large   Onion
  • 2 stalks   Celery
  • 2 Med   Carrots (or 1/2 cup baby carrots)
  • 4 Tbl   olive oil
  • 1 cup   Flour
  • TT   Salt & Pepper
  • 12 oz/1 bottle   Black Lager/Schwartz Beer

Rub the pork pieces all over with the chimichurri sauce and leave refrigerated for 6-12-24 hours, really just until you get around to cooking it.

Grated Onion, Celery and Carrots

Prepare the vegetables. I grated mine in the food processor because I wanted them to melt into the sauce and add body. Add them to the slow cooker.

Scoop the flour onto a plate and season with salt and pepper To Taste (TT).

Add 2 Tbl olive oil into a large frying pan and warm on med-high heat.

Dredge (Culinary Term of the Day! To dredge means to coat something lightly, usually using flour, cornmeal or breadcrumbs. This technique is used to create a browned surface on foods that will be sautéed, braised or fried.) one at a time, the pieces of pork in the seasoned flour and place in the hot pan.

Pretty Golden Brown Pork

Plan on leaving around a 1/2 inch of space between each piece and doing multiple batches. When one side is good and brown flip them.

Adding black lager to deglaze the pan

When all the pork is brown add it to the slow cooker. With the pan still on low heat slowly add the beer. Gently scrap at the bottom of the pan to get up all the remaining flour and fat. Reduce the beer by 1/3.

Pour the beer into the slow cooker over the pork and veggies, set on low.

Chimichurri Pork in slow cooker

6 hours later you have very tender pork with great flavor.

Red Spinach

I served it with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes,


sautéed Red Spinach, Papaya

and Flour Tortilla Triangle Crisps.

Two Days Later = Leftovers! A Burrito with the Pork, Black Beans, Cilantro Rice, Cheese and a little Tomato

Chimichurri Pork Burrito

September 18, 2011 / Hoptrollop

Sweet and Spicy Turkey

Sweet and Spicy Turkey

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Platter

Jars and jars and jars and more jars of condiments, sauces and pastes, my fridge is full of them. Many of the jars are Asian in origin and since I’m not a traditional Asian cook I blend them as I like, only feeling a tad guilty. One combo worked so well it was worthy of a blog post. I mixed Hoisin, which is a sweet sauce that is used for dipping and in Chinese BBQ Pork; and Black Bean Sauce or Paste, which is fermented soy beans mixed with garlic and chiles making it a salty, spicy condiment with a nice tang to it.

I think this will work equally well with the turkey tenderloins I used or pork.  Since most Asian beers are lagers that’s what I decided to use to “brine” the meat. The beer brine really did add moistness to the turkey that must be cooked to 165° or well done. The turkey was grilled and served with a Tangy Mango Sauce, Almond Long Grain and Wild Rice and a salad of Mandarin Oranges, Pineapple and Cilantro that was spiced with a little Jalapeno.

Sweet and Spicy Turkey

  • 2 ea   Turkey tenderloins
  • 12 oz   Lager of choice
  • 2 Tbl   Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tbl   Black Bean Sauce
  • 2 Tbl +   Grill Seasoning, course ground
  • 200 ml   Mango Juice
  • 1/2 cup   Lager
  • 1/4 cup   Black Bean Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp   Ginger, fresh and grated
  • 1/2 tsp   Soy Sauce (optional)

4 or more hours before cooking place the turkey tenderloins and the lager into a gallon zip seal bag. Close trying to remove as much air as you can. Refrigerate.

1/2  hour prior to cooking blend the Hoison and Black Bean Sauce. Remove the turkey from the lager, pat dry and dump the beer brine. Rub the tenderloins all over with the blended sauces and allow to come to room temperature.You can do the rub more than a half an hour before just put the turkey back in the refrigerator until shortly before cooking. Allowing the meat to warm slightly all the way through creates a more even cooked product. The outside doesn’t burn before the inside gets to the proper 165°

For the sauce, simmer the mango juice and beer until it reduces by about 1/2. I find a small straight sided pot the best way to do this. Once it’s reduced stir in the black bean sauce, add the ginger and soy sauce then cook for another 5 minutes.

I hope you’ve gotten your grill pre-heated to a med-high temp, say around 375°. Before putting them on sprinkle with the grill seasoning, this is one of my trick to enhance the grilled flavor of whatever I’m cooking.  Cook the tenderloins, turning a quarter way around for a total of 20 minutes.  Check the temperature with a meat thermometer. You want it to read between 160° and 165°. If it’s not there yet move it off of direct heat and check and turn every 5 minutes until you are there. Cover lightly with foil and allow to rest at least 10 min before slicing.

John eating sweet & spicey turkey

John, the photographer and crash-test dummy, happily eats the photographee

Sweet and Spicy Turkey Platter 2

Turkey Dinner for 4

August 22, 2011 / Hoptrollop

Potted Roast Beast – Sunday Supper*

Mustard Pot Roast with Cheddar Mash Potatoes and Minted Peas

Potted Roast with Cheddar Mash Potatoes and Minted Peas

Sunday supper time is traditionally a time for family and friends to sit down at the table together and enjoy a big meal that one or two people lovingly slaved over all day long.  If you’re one of those loving individuals, spending the day cooking can be the best part of your week (don’t tell anyone this of course). A pot roast is simple to put together but takes time to cook. Time that can be filled with one, two or even three craft beers, an afternoon movie on cable or the game if you’re a sport fan. Me? I spend it on Twitter or writing blog posts like this one.

Pot Roast is a hunk of beef, usually chuck, top/bottom round or rump cut that is lower in cost but full of flavor, it just takes a while to become tender from cooking. The best way of cooking them is by braising, which is a two-part method. First the meat is seared using some form of fat and then cooked in liquid at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. Beer is a great choice when braising. You can use as much beer as you like with out over powering the flavor of the meat like wine would.  In the end you’ll have tender juicy meat and a rich gravy. Leftovers are even better so always cook more than you and your guests need. If you plan properly you can have 1 to 2 more meals for the week.

Potted Roast Beast – serves 4

  • 2 – 3 lbs   Beef Roast
  • 1 Tbl   Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp   Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp   Dry Ground Mustard
  • 2 Tbl   Oil
  • 22 oz   English Strong Ale – this was 1 1pt. .9 fl oz bottle of Fuller’s 1845 which was perfect for the dish
  • 2 cups   Beef Stock
  • 2 large   Onions – #1 quartered, #2 sliced
  • 3 stalks   Celery
  • 1 ea   Carrot, diced or 6-8 baby carrots
  • 2 cloves   Garlic
  • 8 springs   Thyme or 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • 2 ea   Bay leaves
  • 6 oz   Whole Grain Mustard
  • TT   Salt & Pepper

Two to four hours before cooking rub the roast with the salt, pepper and dry mustard. It’s really ok if you only have a 1/2 hour but I really like the seasonings to flavor the meat.

Pre-heat the oven to 300˚ Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons of oil, add the meat and sear on all sides. If you can choose a pan that works both stove top and in the oven if not do this in the largest saute pan you have so you can add the stock to “deglaze” or get up all the yummy bits the meat leaves on the pan then transfer all into an over safe dish with a cover.

Seared pot roast, veggies and herbs

Add the beer and stock to the pan and bring to a bubble.  Add the quartered onion, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and 4 oz of mustard. Check to see where your liquid ends on your roast. You always want the liquid to reach at least half way up and this will depend on your pan so feel free to add more stock or even water to get it to the level you need.

Bring the heat up to a slow bubbling boil, cover and place in the oven. Total cooking time will be 3 1/2 – 4 hours depending on the thickness of the roast. You’ll want to turn the meat over about every 30 minutes or so and…

Mustarded roast

30 minutes before removing from the oven take out the cooked vegetables and herbs than add the sliced onion and 2 oz more of mustard. (oops, in the picture I obviously did that in the wrong order) I spread the top of my roast with the mustard but since I turned it one more time I don’t think it was necessary.

The cooking time can be kept track of but it’s more of an approximation. The length really various based on he type and thickness of the roast you use. What you really want to check is how easily the meat pulls apart with a fork. That is a personal preference but I wanted to still be able to cut my roast for service but didn’t want the guests to have to use a knife when eating.

Chunks of Potted Roast Beef

When the meat is as “fork-tender” as you’d like remove the roast and set to the side. Put the pan back on the stove top and reduce the liquid by 1/4 – 1/2 it’s volume. This is good gravy my friends!

The last tip I have is to watch how you’re slicing the roast. Check it for which direction the “strings” or “grain” runs, you want to cut against it. This will effect the chewiness of the meat. Cutting against the grain makes the strings smaller  and therefore the whole bite more tender.  I decided to to cut mine in two inch cubes and gently tossed it in the gravy before plating with the Cheddar Mash Potatoes, Minted Peas, Pumpernickel Bread and a pint of Fuller’s Yorkshire Stingo completed the English pub dinner I was going for.

Mustard Pot Roast with Cheddar Mash Potatoes and Minted Peas

Potted Roast with Cheddar Mash Potatoes and Minted Peas

*Sunday Supper will be a continuing recipe collection.