Aphrodisiac Feast à la Bière Cuisine

Cooking with Beer by | Feb 2013 | Issue #73

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

While the FDA will not endorse claims that foods contain aphrodisiac properties, a breakdown of the nutrients in many of the ingredients listed in this article produce improved blood flow and are full of energy-producing vitamins and arousing aromas that can reduce stress, and improve stamina and endurance. These dishes also have sensual mouthfeels and erotic shapes to them, which adds to their epicurean appeal. These “inter” courses are designed to work together as acts in a play, each having its own character, dialogue and purpose for the evening.

Fresh Oysters with Iced Stout Mignonette Sauce
The myth of the oyster as an aphrodisiac has a lot of merit. This sensuous bivalve is full of zinc, and zinc helps controls progesterone levels, which translates to an increased libido. Those who believe in this traditional lover’s appetizer will enjoy the preparation described below.

Serves: 8

Iced Stout Mignonette Sauce Ingredients:
24 oz Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, chilled
1 tsp white peppercorns, cracked fresh
1/3 cup malt vinegar
2 each shallots, peeled and grated on a microplane

Iced Stout Mignonette Sauce Directions:
Carefully pour the Stout-style beer down the side of a tilted quart-size plastic container, minimizing the head formation, and place covered into the freezer. After about 30 minutes to an hour, check the beer. When the beer begins to freeze, but is more of a slushy consistency, strain through a fine sieve into another plastic container and place the container back into the freezer. Discard the ice, as it is mostly water. Check the beer in another 20–30 minutes and repeat this process until the beer measures 1 cup. Alternatively, one can use a cup of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout instead of an iced version.

While the beer is ice distilling, add the freshly cracked white peppercorns, malt vinegar and the grated shallots to a small glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. When the beer has been reduced, add it to the pepper/malt vinegar/shallot mixture and stir to combine. Keep this chilled until ready to serve.

This mignonette sauce can also be used as a vinaigrette, perfect over peppery arugula mixed with basil leaves, topped with avocado, toasted nuts (almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts) and sun-dried tomatoes. It makes about 1 1/2 cups.

To Serve Ingredients:
2–3 per person fresh oysters, in shell, such as Kumamoto, Fanny Bay or other local variety
1 tbsp Iced Stout Mignonette Sauce
shaved ice

To Serve:
Place some shaved ice into a large serving platter with high-rimmed sides, covering the bottom of the dish with an even layer. Shuck the oysters and place onto the ice, pressing down on the edges of the oyster shell to set the oyster in the ice, keeping it level. Spoon enough of the Iced Stout Mignonette sauce to fill each half shell, about a teaspoon. Pour some of the sauce into a small serving dish along with a small spoon for guests to add more sauce if desired.

Alternatively, oyster shooters can be made by placing the freshly shucked oyster into a shot glass, and filling each with a tablespoon of the Iced Stout Mignonette sauce.

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Avocado Honey Basil Ale Pesto

Tossed with pasta, toasted pine nuts and hemp seeds, this dish is full of aphrodisiac-rich ingredients. Avocados are packed with essential nutrients for sexual health, including magnesium, beta carotene, vitamin E and more potassium than a banana. Basil leaves are a great source of vitamin A, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C; all said to stimulate the sex drive and boost fertility. The Native Americans used zinc-rich pine nuts as the Viagra of the day. Honey was used in early England as a medicine to cure impotency (it’s a great source of vitamin B, which increases testosterone production), and the fermented honey mead was a traditional tonic for a wedding. Mixed together, these ingredients create layers of flavor that dance off the palate, seducing the diners into oral bliss.

Serves: 2

Avocado Honey Basil Pesto Ingredients:
2 each avocado, medium, ripe
1 cup basil, leaves only, stem removed
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted, plus a few extra for garnish
2–3 each garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated, extra for garnish
2 tsp kosher salt
6 oz Bison Brewing Co. Honey Basil Ale
12 oz fresh pasta, such as tagliatelle, spaghetti or fettuccini
2 tbsp hemp seeds

Avocado Honey Basil Pesto Directions:
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add the flesh of both avocados (cutting in half, carefully removing the pit and scooping out the green meat with a spoon). Add in the picked basil leaves, the cooled toasted pine nuts, garlic cloves, parmesan cheese and salt. Pulse several times to chop up the ingredients. Then, slowly pour in the Honey Basil Ale, puréeing the mixture to a pesto-like consistency, about 30–45 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, making sure all the ingredients are incorporated together. Taste the pesto and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Variation: This pesto can also be used as a salad dressing. Add another 2 ounces of beer along with the juice of 1 lemon, and purée. Try mixing this with arugula, marinated artichoke hearts, more toasted pine nuts, tarragon leaves, hemp seeds and thinly shaved fennel bulb to create a delicious main course salad. This pesto also makes a great sauce: Try it as a dip for a crudités (served in a hollowed-out red bell pepper), with chips (fried flour or corn tortillas), or mix in some canned tuna to make a killer sandwich.

Makes: 2 cups

To finish the dish:
Fill a large pot with salted water and place over high heat, bringing to a rolling boil. Drop the fresh pasta into the boiling water and follow the cooking directions listed for your pasta (dried pasta can also be used in this dish). When the pasta is al dente, remove from the water and place into a medium-size bowl. Add about 1/3–1/2 cup of the Avocado Honey Basil Pesto to the hot pasta and toss with tongs to coat. Divide the pasta between two plates and garnish with some toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan cheese, and some fresh basil leaves, finishing with a crack of black peppercorns. Add a few drops of the pesto around the plate and serve immediately. Pair this dish with a glass of the Honey Basil Ale to compliment the pairing.

Chocolate and Stout Pairing
To finish off this meal, select several different chocolates, some plain, some with toasted nuts, others higher in cocoa percentages, some milk chocolate or even chocolate truffles, and arrange onto a platter. Split a few different Stouts into goblets, such as a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Bison Brewing Chocolate Stout, Rogue Chocolate Stout or Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout, and share with your partner.