Showing posts with label fall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fall. 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). 
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake for a Sweet New Year!

Congrats to our final gift card winner! Molly Ebert of Indiana won our last $25 Williams-Sonoma gift card. Stay tuned for more of our contests coming up in the near future...


On the Gregorian calendar, the New Year will be celebrated on January 1. On the Chinese calendar, the date for turning over a new leaf will be February 14. And on the Jewish calendar, the New Year (5770) is ushered in this very evening!

Rosh Hashanah literally means “first of the year” in Hebrew and it commemorates the creation of man—within the larger Biblical story of the creation of the world. It also begins the High Holy Days, a ten day period that culminates in the somber observance of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement.

In synagogues across the world, the Jewish New Year is celebrated with many traditions, one of which is the blowing of the ram’s horn. The “shofar” is the name for this horn, and it’s blown like a trumpet to symbolically awaken the listeners from their slumbers and alert them to the coming judgment of God. In general, this is a time of year to reflect on the year you’ve had--especially mistakes and missteps—and contemplate how to do better in the year ahead.

Rosh Hashanah is a holiday rich in meaning and tradition. As with all holidays, food plays an important role. Apples are commonly eaten (dipped in honey – yum!) to symbolize a wish for a sweet year ahead. Honey cake is also a favorite.

Even though my Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake is not Kosher, I thought I’d share it with you today because of Rosh Hashanah’s apple tradition.

I love this cake because it’s easy to make and also very light, tender and buttery, with a delicate flavor of apple and the rich, bright note of buttermilk.

While it's a delish snack cake to eat any time year (and goes very well with a freshly brewed pot of joe), I think it’s especially comforting to slide into the oven on a fall afternoon when there’s that crisp chill in the air, the sun begins to set a little earlier than you're used to, and you’ve just come in from raking leaves, a long walk in the park, or picking those newly ripened apples...

To get my recipe for
Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake,

The recipe will appear in PDF format.
You can print it out or save it to your computer.

For more of my recipes or to find out more
about the books in my culinary mystery series,
click this link to my virtual home at

Finally, if you’d like a truly Kosher recipe for an apple cake, click here. The ladies who created this recipe know their stuff. They managed a catering company in Columbus, Ohio, for over twenty years.

In closing, a common greeting at this time is “Shana Tova” for a good year or “Shana Tova Umetukah” for a good and sweet new year. So...

Shana Tova Umetukah

~Cleo Coyle
author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries
"Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

We have a WINNER for this week’s Mystery Lovers Kitchen contest! And that winner’s name will be announced very soon!!

Happy Fall (sort of)

I’m very excited to be the first person to post in September. I know it isn’t technically Fall yet, but here in the Chicago area the temperatures have been ridiculously low, and with the kids back at school it’s feeling very Autumn-like to me. I’ve always loved this time of year.

I was one of those oddballs who was excited about each new school year. I couldn’t wait to browse through the textbooks (can you say “nerd”?) and wonder about what projects might be planned for that year. All through grammar, high school, and college I always, always enjoyed the beginning of school and was thrilled by the possibilities it held. To this day, a crisp fall day brings back all those feelings, that great sense of possibility. Good thing, because I'm about to embark on a new manuscript :-)

Okay, back to the recipe and today’s “food” posting…

Fall means soup to me. Yum. And, if you remember, I was hoping to recreate two appetizers from a wonderful downtown Chicago dinner. (Update – the mushroom appetizer recipe I posted a week ago, though unsuccessful atop croissants, was *exceptional* when used as a sauce over a beef roast at dinner the next evening. I will use this recipe over and over. It’s a keeper!) You may also recall that my oven died. It’s now fixed (hooray!), but I didn’t need it to create the tomato-gorgonzola soup recipe I’m about to share.

I have to admit, my tomato-gorgonzola is not nearly as good as the one at Marche restaurant. I’m going to have to tweak it, but for now, here are my two offerings:
Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

Option #1 – the more intricate version

3 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
9 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 c heavy cream
1/3 lb. gorgonzola cheese
2 T fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, fry onions in olive oil until soft, not brown. Add in tomatoes and basil and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the mixture is more soup than solid. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until all the chunks are gone. Return mixture to the pot, add cream, and turn heat to low.

Add cheese to the pot, a little at a time. Simmer the soup for about another 30 minutes until the cheese is fully blended into the mixture.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped chives.

Option #2 – the much, much easier version

1 can of Campbell’s Tomato Bisque (Hey, my fictional president’s name is Harrison Campbell, so I figured, What the heck! :::grin:::)
1 soup can full of heavy cream
2 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh chives, chopped
1/8 lb gorgonzola cheese

Heat soup according to package directions, using cream instead of water. Simmer, then add basil and gorgonzola. Heat through until gorgonzola is well blended. Serve, garnished with fresh chives.

You know that the White House Chef often arranges for taste-tests for the First Lady before official functions, right? Well, I decided to hold my own taste-test here at home with my two tomato soup versions. The lighter colored one is the version made with fresh tomatoes. The darker one is Campbell’s based.

We tried them side-by-side and no one in the family knew which was which except me.

The hands down winner?

The fresh-tomato version was tasty, but a little light on body. Too soupy and thin. I think I need to try this again (much later. We’re tomato-souped out right about now), using more tomatoes and allowing them to stew much longer.

The gorgonzola didn’t blend with either version as easily as I expected. Maybe Avery can suggest a better cheese to use that might deliver the flavor of gorgonzola, but melt at a lower temperature? In either case, this was a great experiment. We enjoyed both versions, and I’m happy about the attempt.

If you have any great soup recipes, please be sure to send them my way. You can always reach me via my website, or e-mail me at JulieHyzy (at) aol. (dot) com.

Hope you enjoy!

Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

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