Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Braise Beef Short Ribs with Pumpkin Ale and Turn a Pumpkin into a Party Keg via Cleo Coyle

Pumpkin Ale. It sounds like a trendy invention, doesn't it? As if craft beer makers became jealous of all the attention paid to pumpkin spice lattes. But pumpkin ale has been a tradition in America since early colonial times. The reason?

Pumpkin Ale is older than the
United States. Colonial brewmasters
used pumpkin out of necessity. 
Pumpkins were native to the New World. Malt was not. Because malt was more difficult to obtain, early American brewmasters turned to pumpkin as the go-to sugar to ferment into beer, at least until the 1600s, when barley malt became more plentiful.

Our modern-day brewmasters have rediscovered this colonial concept and you can now find several nationally distributed pumpkin ales, as well as many fine local pumpkin brews. 

Ale vs. Beer

Ale is a little different than beer. It tends to have more complexity and depth of flavor and the alcohol content is usually higher. 

Good pumpkin ale uses roasted malts and real pumpkin meat (sometimes roasted) for a complex caramel flavor that is quite distinctive.

Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Shipyard Pumpkinhead are two examples of nationally-distributed brands that use pumpkin in their ale-making process. 

Pumpkinhead is on the lighter, crisper side. But Marc and I prefer the more amber, richer flavors in the Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin, and we also think it works best in the recipe we're sharing with you today. More on that below.

In the meantime, if you're game (and we don't blame you if you're not)! Here's an interesting way to serve pumpkin ale for a fall party. Click the arrow in the window below to see the how-to video. If you do not see a window, click here to view the video on YouTube...

How to turn a pumpkin 

into a party keg


To view on YouTube, click here.

A quick note on the question of temperature: 

While lagers are best served cold, ale is often enjoyed
at room temperature, which makes a pumpkin keg
a nice idea, adding extra fall flavor to your pour.

And now for today's recipe...


Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.

Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.
Cleo Coyle's
Beef Short Ribs
Braised with 

Pumpkin Ale

Braised beef is a fantastic fall dish. The long stretch in the oven dispels the autumn chill, and the results are rich, savory, and satisfying. 

While beef can be braised in water, stock, or wine, Marc and I decided to use pumpkin ale as our liquid base, adding spices that echo those used by the brewmaster (nutmeg, ginger, and allspice). 

The ale and spices beautifully complement the rich taste of the beef ribs. Red potatoes and baby carrots evoke the colors of autumn, and the onions and honey lend sweetness, which is needed to balance out the base notes in the ale.

Marc and I always say that if something is worth drinking, it’s worth cooking with too, so in the "spirits" of the fall season, we give you this recipetruly a dish of bliss. 

May you eat with autumnal joy! 

~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.
Click here for
the recipe PDF.

Makes about 6 Servings


3 to 3-1/2 pounds beef short ribs

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 and 1/2 bottles (12-ounce bottles) of pumpkin ale (see note below*)
4 Tablespoons honey

3 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or coarse sea salt)

1 pound baby carrots

1-1/2 pounds onions, peeled (we suggest small whole onions)

2-1/2 pounds potatoes (we suggest small red potatoes, keeping

         the skins on, which makes for nice color and presentation)

A bit of extra salt and ground pepper for Step 1

*Pumpkin ale note: Use 2 and 1/2 bottles for this recipe and, yes, we suggest you sip that extra half-bottle as you make it! As far as the type of pumpkin ale, look for an amber/brown ale with rich flavor notes. You'll also want an ale that includes real pumpkin in the brewing (and not just pumpkin flavor). For an east-to-find national brand that has both of these characteristics, try Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale, that's what we used in today's recipe.


Step 1 - Brown the meat: Preheat oven to 350° F. Salt and pepper the raw beef short ribs. 

Place a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat and warm the olive oil. When oil is very hot, add ribs fat side down. Be careful not to crowd the pan. If your skillet is not large enough, brown in batches. Make sure to sear every side of the rib; the more you brown now the more flavor you’ll have later.

When all the short ribs are browned, 
remove them from the pan and set them aside. 

Step 2 - Sauté the vegetables: Drain the fat from the pan, holding back a few tablespoons for flavor. Toss in the (peeled) garlic and onions, as well as the carrots and potatoes. Sauté the vegetables, stirring gently over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. You are not cooking them, you are simply getting some of that flavorful fat on the them and allowing the outsides to lightly brown. Remove the vegetables from the heat and set aside.

Step 3 - Make the pumpkin ale braising broth: Place a large (6 to 7 quart) Dutch oven pot over medium heat, combine the pumpkin ale, honey, peppercorns, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Step 4 – Begin the cooking: Add the browned short ribs to the simmering broth in the Dutch oven pot. Pour the veggies on top. 

Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place
in preheated 350° F. oven for 1 hour. 

Step 5 – Remove the cooked vegetables: After 1 hour, remove the pot from the oven and check the vegetables for doneness. If they are cooked through, remove them to prevent them from over-cooking and becoming mushy. If the vegetables are not yet cooked through (potatoes are still hard/appley in the center), continue cooking for another 15 minutes and check again. When the vegetables are done, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the Dutch oven pot and set them aside.

Step 6 – Finish the short ribs: Re-cover the pot and return it to the oven for another 1 to 1-1/2 hours. The ribs are done when the meat is buttery tender and practically falling off the bone. Just before the ribs are finished, place the vegetables back in the pot, cover with the lid, and re-warm them in the oven for 10 minutes or so.

Serve: We use the hot broth in the pot like a French au jus. To plate, place ribs in a shallow bowl with a serving of vegetables and spoon the flavorful broth over the ribs. 
Use crusty bread to sop up the juicy goodness.

Another plating idea: While Marc and I like a rustic presentation, a fine dining restaurant would more likely present these short ribs on a bed of something (say, mashed parsnips and root vegetables or couscous). We prefer something more comforting and colorful. Try mashing or puréeing a mess of sweet potatoes (you can even mix them with a little roasted pumpkin). Add cream, butter, and gently stir a small amount of the same spices you used in the braising recipes. Now that's eating with fall harvest joy!
To download this recipe
as a PDF document,

click here.


Pumpkin Season!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries
are a bestselling series of 
amateur sleuth
murder mysteries set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse,
and each of the 
14 titles includes
the added bonus of recipes. 

Get a Free Title Checklist
(with mini plot summaries)
clicking here.

Get more free recipes
by signing up for my free E-newsletter,
Simply write an e-mail that says
"Sign me up" and send it to this address...


This will also enter you in my weekly
Free Coffee Drawings. Every week, I give away
a package of premium coffee to a subscriber.

Good luck!


Haunted Bookshop

Learn more here.
Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Trip to Munich's Oktoberfest plus Beer-Braised Brats and Beer Onions from Cleo Coyle

As Joyce Tremel mentioned on Sunday, with her Soft Pretzel and Beer Cheese recipes, Munich's traditional 16-day Oktoberfest is well underway now and will continue until October 5th.

While I've been to Germany and thoroughly appreciate their mastery at making some of the best beers in the world, I've never made it to an Oktoberfest. Attending this world-famous festival is 
on my (beer) bucket list. Is it on yours, too? Or have you been to it? Let us know in the comments.

In the meantime, join me now for a little 
video visit to this year's Oktoberfest! 


To watch the tapping of the first keg,
click the arrow in the window below...

If you do not see the video above, click here.


To join me for an Oktoberfest 2014
band stand concert, click the arrow
in the window below...

If you do not see the video above, click here.


For more videos, directly from
this year's Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany,
click here and have fun!

And when you're ready for a food break, 
I've got an easy and delicious recipe for you...

But first...

A quick toast to my fellow 
crime-writing cooks...

Daryl Wood Gerber 


Sheila Connolly 

on their new releases today!
(Okay, Sheila's is officially next Tuesday, but
 I'm sure she won't mind an early shout-out.)

Happy Book Birthday to you both!

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

Beer-Braised Brats 


Caramelized Beer Onions

by Cleo Coyle

Cooking brats in beer is far from a new idea, but it is a great one, especially if you have a favorite brew! 

We like to butterfly our brats to allow more surface area to absorb the beer flavor, which is why you should use your absolute favorite suds for the recipe. No matter how special or expensive your beer, you don't have to worry, this method will not waste a single drop. It will all go into the infusion process. You'll see what I mean as we braise the brats in one pan, caramelize the onions in another, and use the delicious beer-brat braising liquid to infuse the golden brown onions with even more flavor. 

Then spread your favorite roll (pretzel, potato, or seeded Kaiser) with whole grained mustard, pour an ice cold glass of amber nectar, and you'll be in beer heaven. Follow this recipe, and we'll meet you there!

~ Cleo
To download this free
recipe PDF,
click here.
To download this recipe in a free PDF document you can print, save, or share, click here.

Serves 4

4 bratwursts (pre-cooked or uncooked)

3 medium or 4 large onions, chopped

12 ounces of your favorite beer

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons butter

For serving: 

Fresh rolls (pretzel, potato, or Kaiser)

Whole grained mustard

Optional additions: Sauerkraut, creamy horseradish, pickles, your favorite pepper (banana, jalapeno, etc...)


Step 1 - Cut each bratwurst down the middle but not all the way through. (In our photos, you see pre-cooked brats, but you can also use uncooked.) 

Spread the halves enough to flatten them but not enough to separate the halves. Note that brats curve slightly, like bananas. Be sure to cut along the inside curve before butterflying. Set brats aside and start cooking the onions.

Step 2 - In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the chopped onions and sauté over medium heat, stirring often.

Step 3 - While the onions are cooking, take out a second skillet. Add a bit of butter or oil. When the pan is hot, add the butterflied brats, warming/browning for about 5 minutes. Once brats are warmed/browned on both sides, add about 8 ounces of beer to the pan. 

You are not entirely covering the brats, just creating a shallow bath as shown in the photo below. 

Simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes, flipping at least once during the process. This is the cooking time for pre-cooked. If you are using raw brats, you will need to cook the brats longer. Raw meat should no longer be pink inside, and the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.  

When the brats are done cooking, turn off the heat under the pan and allow them to sit while you turn your attention to the onions...

Step 4 - Finish the onions: Continuing cooking the onions. After about 15 to 18 minutes of sautéing, the onions will have absorbed all of the fat in the pan. They will begin to caramelize, turning golden brown. If you need to add a bit more butter or oil to prevent them from burning before turning golden brown, do so. Do not move to the next step until the onions brown as shown or you will boil the onions instead of properly caramelizing them.

Step 5 - Once the onions have turned golden brown, add all of the liquid from the brats pan in Step 3. (We remove the brats from the pan first, putting them in a covered dish to keep them warm.) 

If for some reason you don’t have much liquid left in your brats pan, add a generous splash of fresh beer to the onions. Cook the mixture until the liquid is absorbed by the onions, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

Step 6 - Serve the brats and beer onions on pretzel rolls or potato rolls or Kaisers. 

We like to spread whole-grained mustard onto our rolls (as you see in the picture below). A bit of creamy horseradish is also delicious. Other possible additions include sauerkraut, pickles, and/or hot peppers. 

Click here for the free PDF, and
however you top your own beer-braised
brats and beer onion sandwich,
Marc and sincerely
 hope you will...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here.


Download a Free Title Checklist for
all 13 Coffeehouse Mysteries
(with mini plot summaries)
clicking here.

Visit us our
online coffeehouse here.

Haunted Bookshop

Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries,

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Oktoberfest Soft Pretzels, Beer Cheese, and a fun Giveaway from Author Joyce Tremel!

Please join me in welcoming author Joyce Tremel. Joyce hails from "Someplace Special," as we say back in Pittsburgh, PA. Today she's sharing two wonderful Oktoberfest recipes along with news of her brand new cozy mystery series. She also has a fun comment-to-win giveaway. More on that below. For now...

Take it away, Joyce!

~ Cleo Coyle

* * * * * * 

Author Joyce Tremel
Follow her on Twitter here.
Visit her on Facebook here.
I am so thrilled to be here! Thanks so much to Cleo for inviting me and giving me the first opportunity to let yinz guys (as we also say in Pittsburgh) read a little about my upcoming series.

My cozy series is called Brewing Trouble, and the first book, To Brew Or Not To Brew will be released from Berkley sometime in the fall of 2015. My main character, Maxine “Max” O’Hara is a brewmaster and in the process of opening a brew pub called the Allegheny Brew House in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. When she finds her assistant and chef dead in one of the beer tanks, Max is determined to find out who killed him. There are some quirky characters, like the woman who owns the bakery who’s a rabid Steelers fan, and a World War II vet who usually has something cranky to say (he’s my favorite). And of course, there’s Max’s love interest, a hunky ex-hockey player who becomes her new chef.

That’s enough about that. You’re here for the food, not my ramblings! Since Max learned how to brew beer in Germany, and it is Oktoberfest right now, I thought some homemade soft pretzels and beer cheese sounded good. I hope you agree!

The pretzels aren’t hard to make, but they do take some time. And they sure beat the ones in the freezer case at the grocery store!

* * * * * * * * * * *

SOFT PRETZELS by Joyce Tremel


1 ½ cups warm water

1 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1 pkg. or 2 ¼ tsp. yeast

4 ½ cups flour

¼ cup canola oil or melted butter

Directions: Combine water, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. 

When it starts to foam, add the oil and flour. Mix well. If you have a mixer with a dough hook you can use that, or just do it the old fashioned way, like I did. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic—about 5 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl. 

Cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in size. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 450F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly oil the parchment paper.

Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water, add 2/3 cup baking soda, and bring to a boil. (Note: be sure to use a large enough pot. The bubbles from the baking soda water kind of make a mess. Fortunately it cleans up easily!) While waiting for the water to boil, divide the dough into eight pieces (this makes big pretzels, if you want smaller ones, feel free to break into more pieces). 

With your hands, roll each piece into a rope about 2 feet long. Hold the ends and make a U, then cross the ends over each other and twist to make the pretzel shape. 

When all your pretzels are formed, put each pretzel one by one into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon or spatula and place on prepared baking sheet. 

Brush with a beaten egg, then sprinkle with pretzel salt (if desired). I left mine unsalted. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until they’re a nice, dark golden brown. 

by Joyce Tremel


12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar

1 ½ tbsp. cornstarch

1 bottle of beer (12 oz.)—I suggest using a dark lager or a brown ale.

5 oz evaporated milk

1 tbsp Dijon or brown mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot-hot sauce (Really. Is there any other kind?)

Salt to taste.

Directions: Toss the shredded cheddar with the corn starch and set aside. Whisk together beer, half & half, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan. Heat until steaming, whisking frequently so it doesn’t scorch. Add cheese, stir until melted and bubbly. Add hot sauce and season with salt. Serve warm.

(Note: When I make the beer cheese again, I’m going to reduce the amount of mustard. It kind of overwhelmed the flavor of the cheese. I also think I may use two cheeses—cheddar and swiss—the next time just to see how it tastes.)

Since Oktoberfest 2014 runs from September 20th to October 5th, I suggest serving the pretzels and beer cheese with your favorite Oktoberfest beer. 


Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. She lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband and a spoiled cat. Her debut mystery, To Brew Or Not To Brew will be released by Berkley Prime Crime in Fall 2015.

Visit Joyce on Facebook here.

Follow her on Twitter here.

Coming Fall 2015

To Brew Or Not To Brew

Someone doesn’t want the Allegheny Brew House to open, and Maxine “Max” O’Hara is determined to find out why.

With her brand-new brewmaster certification in hand, Max has been working twelve hour days getting the abandoned Steel City Brewery up to code, perfecting beer recipes, and learning the business. A lot of work, but she’s sure she made the right decision—until things start to go wrong. She’s not too worried until the minor annoyances get progressively worse. And when she finds the body of her assistant brewmaster and chef in one of the beer tanks, she knows that batch wasn’t brewed according to Reinheitsgebot.

Oktoberfest Giveaway!

Comment-to-Win These Fun Coasters

I don’t have books to give away yet, but I wanted to do something to thank everyone for stopping by today. So one lucky commenter will get this cute set of coasters from Crate and Barrel. 

Leave a comment on this blog 

by 12 Midnight Monday Night 12/29.

Winner will be announced here.
Good luck!