If you asked your craft beer-loving friends what’s the best beer to pair with pizza, burgers or ribs, you’ll probably get dozens of recommendations. But, what if you asked them which beer to pair with fresh beet gnocchi or millet flatbread with Manchego and rosemary? You’ll probably get a lot of blank stares.

Lucy Saunders is looking to fill that pairing knowledge gap for craft beer lovers who also love cooking with fresh, seasonal produce and sharing meals with friends and family. Her new cookbook “Dinner in the Beer Garden” is just about finished. The recipes are written and carefully tested with their beer pairings. The beautiful photography is finished, and the book design is underway.

Lucy is now looking to the crowd for the additional funding she needs to finish the design and print the paperback cookbook. Her Kickstarter campaign ends on October 3. She’s hoping to raise $5,000 to complete the project, and if she raises more, all the better. The additional money will be used to offer cooking demonstrations and classes.

I asked Lucy why she’s the right person to create this cookbook. Here’s what she told me.

I've been writing about beer and food for more than 20 years, and teach seminars at the Siebel Institute of Chicago. I apprenticed with chefs in London and Brussels to learn about food and beer traditions, and think that America's craft brewing renaissance is inspiring an entire generation of young chefs with great passion for modern beer cuisine. Many people think of basic burgers and brats with beer - there's so much more to choose from among fresh fruits and vegetables.
Lucy gave me permission to share this Chile-infused Beet Sliders with Avocado Dressing recipe from “Dinner in the Beer Garden.”

Ingredients

  • 4-6 large beets, scrubbed clean and tops removed
  • 1 tablepoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 large arbol chiles
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 large bay leaves 
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • Avocado Spread (recipe below)
  • Sweet onion, sliced very thin
  • Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray
  • Slider buns (12-16)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Avocado dressing
  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated fine
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a stock pot combine 8 cups water and the seasonings together. Bring to a boil and add the cleaned, whole beets. The water should cover the beets, so add a bit more as the beets cook. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for about an hour, until beets are tender.
  2. Remove the beets from the stock and let cool slightly. The skins should peel off easily with a vegetable peeler. Slice the beets 1/2″ thick (yields 12-16 slices).
  3. Make the avocado dressing by combing all ingredients together in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade; puree on HIGH until smooth.
  4. When ready to assemble: heat a skillet to medium-high heat and add vegetable oil, about 1 teaspoon or use cooking spray to lightly coat the pan. Add the beet slices and sear on both sides until hot and browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Stack 1 slice beet on 1 toasted slider bun. Top with thin-shaved sweet onion rings and avocado spread.
  5. Pair with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The hops will heighten the moderate heat in the chiles.
Makes 12-16 sliders

“Dinner in the Beer Garden” features this recipe and more than 100 others for people who love carrots and kale - and also fish, butter, cheese and chocolate. Craft beer pairings are suggested for each recipe in the book, and there are also some cider and cocktail suggestions.

If you want to make sure to get a copy of this cookbook as soon as it’s published, a pledge to Lucy’s Kickstarter campaign will ensure you will. For a contribution of $15, you’ll be able to download a digitial copy to your tablet or laptop, and $25 will snag you a signed copy. Of course, as with most Kickstarter campaigns there are additional perks if you contribute more.

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