Toronto writer releases Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook
If you're like me, cooking with beer generally means cracking a tall boy while your hot dogs boil. Not so much for David Ort, the Toronto-based writer behind the blog Food With Legs who has taken a decidedly more in-depth take on beer and food with his newly released Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook.
As you might assume from the name, the book, out this month and published by Whitecap Books, takes a look at the relationship between food and beer - specifically some of the great offerings available from the country's burgeoning craft brewing industry.
Cooking with beer obviously isn't a new idea, and there are other cooking with beer cookbooks on the market, but not too many are as well done as this one and, if you're looking for a cookbook that brings some refinement to the idea of cooking with beer while at the same time bringing much-deserved focus to this country's great craft brewers, there are no substitutes.
The concise collection of 75 recipes includes food ideas broken down by categories, including snacks, salads and soups, seafood, meat and poultry, sweets and desserts, and even a section on pantry items like IPA mustard and hop mayonnaise that beer lovers could conceivably use to spice up every day cooking (like say, boiled hot dogs, for example!).
While the book is clearly accessible even to those who aren't total beer nerds, you might be one by the time you've finished reading it. Ort has included a brief but informative introduction that provides a rundown of beer styles and even a short explanation on the basic ingredients of beer; all of which adds to a greater understanding of the clearly well-researched beer and food pairing ideas that follow.
As for the recipes, they tend to run the gamut from pretty basic - an IPA guacamole, for example, that includes Hop Head from BC's Tree Brewing, a Sweet and Sour Beer Nuts recipe made with 20 mLs of Porthole Porter from Winnipeg's Half Pints Brewing - to the more refined, a beer fondue, for example, made with Barrel-aged Bière de Garde from Toronto's own Bellwoods Brewery, or even a risotto with red cabbage, bacon, and apples made with Derniere Volonte from Montreal's Dieu du Ciel! Ort, however, provides step-by-step instructions in a straight-forward manner that shouldn't prove too intimidating even for the most novice of chefs/beer drinkers.
For me, what sets this book apart from others like it is that Ort's enthusiasm for craft beer comes through loud and clear. His focus, obviously, is on Canadian beer, but he frequently provides international substitutes to make the book more universal and far from simply tacking beer onto a recipe in a gimmicky way, he takes some time to explore the relationship between food and beer, even opting to intersperse his recipes with relevant Canadian beer profiles of places like Spinnaker's Brewpub in British Columbia and people like Brad Clifford, champion homebrewer, brewmaster at Get Well's nano-brewery, and co-founder of the fledgling Ontario Beer Company.
From a beer-lover's perspective, the book's an admirable achievement toward raising awareness of Canadian beer as more than something to be chugged ice cold from a pitcher alongside wings, but even if you're not a craft beer evangelical, it's probably worth checking out in order to up your dinner game. Given that it's currently listed at under $20 on Amazon.ca, you'll even have some dough left over for beer to accompany your meal - or a couple bucks to pick up some No Name hotdogs when you inevitably overcook your first Belgian witbier poached salmon.
Photo c/o Kathy Coleman