Friday, June 6, 2008

June 7: Cheddar-Beer Spread

I love Friday nights. I am a little more willing to put some time and effort into what I eat on Friday nights, since I don't have to get up in, like, four hours. That means a sort of "happy hour" around here, with some sort of adult beverage and a snackie of some kind.

This is it for tonight: Samuel Adams and cheddar-beer spread on bagel chips. You can buy all kinds of cheese spread in the grocery store, but you can also make your own, it's easy and it's delicious. Here's the thing: simmer the beer. It gets rid of the raw alcohol taste and mellows it, making it a really nice soft counterpoint to good sharp cheddar cheese. It's an extra step, but it's worth doing. All of these flavors come together and complement each other, making something so much bigger than the sum of its parts.

Spread it on crusty toasted bread, or crackers, or--oh, here's something: stuffed into celery. Nomnomnomnomnom.

Cheddar-Beer Spread

1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 shallots, very finely minced
1 cup domestic beer (a not-too-hoppy, light beer is good, like a pale ale)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the beer to a simmer until reduced to about 2/3 cup. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Combine cheeses, butter, garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth and homogenous, at least 1 minute. With the processor running, pour in the beer, and continue to process until the beer is completely incorporated.

Chill for at least an hour. Serve with toasts or crackers.

Ed.: Due to the monster storms that blew through the area on Wednesday, our internet service has been up and down. This should have gone up yesterday, but we were in an outage. Forgive me.

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