Seasonal Suds

October 22nd, 2012

We are so lucky in the Pacific Northwest to have so many craft breweries. I particularly love this time of the year because all the seasonal specialties come out. Rich, flavorful pumpkin ales and stouts full of spicy warmth – yum! But these brews aren’t just for drinking – they can liven up your dinner (or dessert!) plate with their unique crafted flavors.

Seattle institution Pike Brewing Company releases their seasonal Harlot’s Harvest Pike Pumpkin Ale in the fall.  They use real pumpkin puree, brown sugar and spices like allspice, nutmeg, ginger and clove. I’m telling you this is d’lish – I had it recently in a pumpkin ice cream – wow! How delicious would this ale be splashed into a pumpkin bisque, or baked into spiced cupcakes—or have you ever had caramel sauce made with ale?

Or how about their Auld Aquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale? Just the name puts me in a festive mood – with its delicious hints of orange peel, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg!  This makes me want to drink that with my holiday turkey this year!

Other notable seasonally-inspired sips around the city include Elysian Brewing Company’s Night Owl Pumpkin Beer, which is made with roasted pumpkin seeds. The Elliott BayBrewing Company’s Mashing Pumpkin is made of organic Oregon pumpkins and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Both of these are already making me feel warm and toasty inside!

I love making my Cheddar Ale Spread with robust Northwest ales. Perfect for a party or during game day, this along with my Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat Bread are some of my go-to’s for easy entertaining this time of year.

So hit the town and have yourself some pumpkin ale! -Kathy

Cheddar Ale

(Photo from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books)

Cheddar Ale Spread with Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat Bread
You can keep the spread, refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature about 1 hour before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

8 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, such as Tillamook
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flavorful Northwest beer
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned, and coarsely chopped (optional)
Overnight Semolina Flat Bread (recipe follows), crackers, or crostini
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnishing

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, Cheddar, half-and-half, Tabasco, and salt in a food processor. Process for about 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley and hazelnuts until just dispersed.

Serve in a nice-looking container with the flat bread attractively broken up around it. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat Bread
For even baking, rotate the pans in the oven and switch them from upper to lower racks midway through baking.

Makes 8 large pieces before being broken up

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110°F), plus more if needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup semolina
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for topping

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and 1 cup of water. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 1/2 cups of flour, the rosemary, semolina, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture, stirring with a large spoon to combine. Then, using clean hands and working in the bowl, mix until the dough comes together. If needed, add another 2 tablespoons warm water and continue mixing dough into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 4 to 5 minutes.

Drizzle the bowl with 1/2 teaspoon oil and return the dough ball to the bowl, turning the dough to coat well with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat an oven to 425°F. Meanwhile, cut the dough into 8 wedges, then cover with a damp towel and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each wedge into a 5-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush or drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Arrange on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and crispy but not overbrowned.

Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books

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