During GBBF week, I arrived home to find a small parcel sent by the kind people at Marston's. It included a bottle of their latest beer, Wychwood Ginger Beard, a bar of chocolate and a pack of stilton with apricots, all boxed in a wicker basket. A nice gift and perfect choices to match with the beer.
Unfortunately, as soon as the pack was opened the chocolate was gone. I am a bit of a chocoholic and had enjoyed the 100g M&S Dark Peruvian Chocolate before I could even get the cap off the bottle of beer.
(Memo to PR teams, if you send me chocolate with beer, send extra chocolate).
Feeling a bit guilty about this, I thought I should try to do the cheese more justice. It was a shame that the cheese had been spoiled slightly by the warm weather (and the fact that I didn't open the pack until overnight after a long GBBF session) so I dug out Sue Nowak's Beer Cook Book to chase down a suitable recipe. Portered Stilton leapt from the index, a slant on Potted Stilton where leftover cheese is traditionally mixed with leftover port to spice up an apres-repas (is that a word ?)
Here's a precis of the recipe :
8oz mature blue stilton
1oz tiny chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly
1oz walnuts, chopped
2oz butter (unsalted)
2 tablespoons of porter
Roughly grate stilton into a bowl, add the walnuts. Saute the mushrooms with half the butter, add to the bowl. Slowly add the beer and stir until softened. Pack firmly in a heavy pot, seal with the remaining melted butter and refrigerate.
OK, so I used stilton with apricots instead of blue; chopped the cheese and used normal mushrooms; used pecans instead of walnuts, marg instead of butter and vitally Wychwood Ginger Beard instead of Porter - but it was still a culinary victory for someone like me who doesn't pick up a pan from one month to the next.
Having only used a little of the beer in the recipe, I was able to serve the rest of the bottle at the table in small glasses to accompany the cheese dish.
The beer, as you might guess, is infused with fiery root ginger which perfectly complimented the cheesy paste. The spicy finish livening up the creamy, fruity and earthy flavours of the apricot stilton and the mushroom. The theatre of presenting the beer to accompany the dish gave me much kudos among our guests.
The beer itself is a 4.2% amber coloured, ginger'd beer rather than an alcoholic soft drink. It is clean tasting, fresh and refreshing. It is packed with ginger taste. This is not a subtle beer; if you love ginger, you'll love it.
I can't say that this would ever be my favourite beer but it has brought me back to the kitchen and given me enthusiasm to do more cooking with beer, so that's no bad thing.
It has not given me any desire to grow a ginger beard !