It’s the middle of Mardi Gras season and that means beer. Come to think of it, guess there are a few “beer” seasons. Got to count football and crawfish, too. I grew up in New Orleans and spent many Mardi Gras days in and around the Quarter. So many the “smells” of Mardi Gras permeate through my mind. Beer is at the top…we’ll stay at the top. I can’t begin to imagine how much spilled beer there is along the parade routes. I’m convinced parade revelers, like myself, try to show off our one hand catching skills during a parade. It’s like a child saying, “Watch this”.
It’s as if we see ourselves as skilled acrobats attempting to do the most technical act all while holding a beer…and not spilling a sip. Perhaps it is the beer that gives confidence in our acrobatic abilities. The worst spill for me was actually using one of those free hand drinking gadgets–the kind you wear around your neck to keep both hands free for catching the prized throws. Yes, don’t ask me why I thought a dangling cup of beer in a holder around my neck would not spill when I made a diving catch….at least they say beer is good for the hair!
Now, I’m not talking about using spilled beer, but I couldn’t think of leftover beer (let me explain in a second) without thinking of all the Mardi Gras beer casualties. Now I know most of you will say there is no such thing as leftover beer and I agree to the rarity of it, but think about the last sips of beer that wouldn’t fit in your cup as your friends are rushing you out the door to the parade. (No, chugging is not an option, got to pace on parade days.) So the can gets carelessly tossed in the fridge or left on the counter.
Let’s use that leftover beer to make a salad dressing. Let’s face it, after a day of hot dog and cotton candy eating, a salad equals out all the calories.* *Not scientifically proven, just my wishful assumption!! Since I consider this the “morning after partying” recipe, it is super simple with no chopping, dicing, or cleaning. Two steps: Add all ingredients to a jar and shake.
Put On Your TO COOK IS TO CREATE Thinking Cap: Think of all the different styles and flavors of beers and how many different dressings can be made. Change the seasonings to meet the beer style. For instance, think of the fruitfulness of ales and add shallots and honey. If I’m using a pilsner or a lager, I like to use apple cider vinegar and canola oil instead of red or white vinegar and olive oil. For stouts and porters, I really like the depth of balsamic vinegar and fresh garlic. Don’t forget about all the fresh or dried herbs that can be added. Like a creamier dressing? Add some spicy mustard or Dijon mustard. I love this dressing on a salad with apples and walnuts. This dressing is also a tasty dipping sauce for fish and fries, especially made with a malt beer. Think of your fish and chips with malt vinegar. Like to dip your pizza crusts? Give it a try. Still have some beer to use? Make an Old-Fashioned Beer Cheese Crock.
No leftover beer? How about leftover champagne? Make a champagne vinaigrette: Whisk together 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup champagne, 1 tsp chopped dill, tarragon, or thyme (or substitute 1/2 tsp dried), salt, and pepper. Only have a couple sips leftover? reduce recipe by half and you’ll still have plenty for two salads.
FOOD FUN: According to numerous sites, did you know that the oldest known written recipe is for beer and beer is the second most popular beverage in the world behind tea? Just a couple of trivia facts to discuss as you’re waiting for the parade. There is a joke that says, “spilling a beer is the adult equivalent to a child losing a balloon.’ Ha! So hold on tight, folks!