Husband and wife team Brooke and Luther Fedora show how beer adds complexity to a dish and why selecting the right brew can elevate any meal in their debut cookbook, The Foodie’s Beer Book.

The culinary couple have been creating beer-inspired dinners for four years at their popular gastropub, the Horse & Hound in Charlottesville, North Carolina, which they opened in 2007.

They feature versions of roasted chicken, smoked and roasted ribs and bacon-wrapped dates at the restaurant, where customers can choose 30 types of craft beers in a bottle.

Brooke, 34, who was born in Spooner, Wisconsin, and Luther, 37, who hails from Birmingham, Alabama, spoke to Reuters about creating their beer-inspired dishes and offered tips to make desserts with the beverage.

How do you create your food-beer pairings?

Luther: You could go seasonally with the beer and you look at the flavour profiles of the beers and you look at what’s available fresh seasonally produce-wise. Then you put it all together.

Brooke: Beer is more complex now, especially with the craft brews that people are making. Sometimes we might pick a beer and make a dish around it based on the flavours of the beer.

Do you tend to create a dish around a beer or do you look to complement a dish with a beer?

Brooke: It depends on the dish or on the beer. A lot of desserts in the book are created by picking a beer first. I look at the profile of the beer. I look at what kind of dessert I could make out of it. A good example in the book is the Baked Alaska. It started with the beer and ended up being one of my favourite desserts.

What is your advice for cooking with beer?

Luther: With all our dishes, we go for balance. You don’t want to taste too much alcohol or beer.

Brooke: Sometimes, you don’t want to use too much, especially with desserts because if you add too much, you are adding too much li-quid. In most pastries, it’s almost like adding a vanilla extract. The general rule is if you have a heavier dish, you want a heavier beer and a lighter dish, a lighter beer. In desserts, it gets tricky. You would consider ice cream and custards heavier and stouts work really well. For ices and sorbets, you use a lighter style.

Blueberry beer cake

(Serves 10)

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1½ tsps baking powder
1 large egg
1½ tsp vanilla
1 quart fresh blueberries
3 cups whole sour cream
3 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsps blueberry beer

Preheat oven to 177˚C and grease a nine-inch spring form pan.

Combine the first six ingredients in a mixer and mix until it forms a ball. Spread this mix evenly on the bottom of the springform pan and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, egg yolks, sugar and beer.

Evenly distribute the blueberries on top of the dough in the springform pan and pour the sour cream mix over the blueberries.

Bake for about an hour or until the edges are lightly browned and the middle is lightly jiggly.

Refrigerate for at least three hours. This cake must be completely cool before removing it from the pan to prevent it from falling apart.

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