Eat, drink and be merry

When I started this series of columns last year, I set myself some personal rules of writing and compiled a list of horrible atrocities to avoid. One of these rules is that I don't want to write holiday-specific recipes.

But naturally, for every proper rule there has to be an exception, so here it is: St Patrick's Day. Not only do I like the Irish and their beverages, but St Patrick's Day is also a brilliant excuse to experiment in the kitchen. One way to celebrate the day would be to 'wear green' - that is, to dye everything green, even if convention would usually call for different colours for your bread, cake or rice. This effect can often be achieved by mixing in mashed green ingredients whose own individual flavours are not too strong, for example mild green pepper, herbs or avocado. This might please the eye, but though presentation is important, I usually aim for taste rather than looks. After all, it's dark in the stomach anyway. So, how to celebrate the Irish taste? By cooking with Guinness, of course!

For example, host a St Patrick's Day party and offer your friends toasted bread with a beer-and-cheese spread. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small pan, mix in two tablespoons of flour, and roast for a minute or two. Add 240g of aged farmhouse cheddar (or another strong cheese), a bit of mustard, some dried paprika and about 200ml of Guinness. Stir constantly for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and you have a smooth sauce. Spread the sauce on slices of toasted bread or baguette and place them under the grill in the lower part of the oven until the sauce darkens and bubbles - maybe a minute or two. Any leftover beer you might have goes really well with such breads. In fact, it might be wise to get more Guinness for your party than just what you need to prepare the food. If you prefer sweet food, you could also try to bake a beer cake by replacing some of the fluids from a normal recipe with beer (hint: Guinness goes really well with chocolate).

I know that by the time you read this 17 March will have already passed, but in fact, cooking with beer tastes good any other day of the year as well.


Tim Aretz

Tim Aretz is a UCM alumnus and currently studying in Leuven. Were he not a student, he would open a vegetarian slow food restaurant. Every week he writes about cooking, recipes, and his passion for good food. For enquiries of any kind, email [email protected]

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