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Cooking with Beer

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by Paul Mercurio

If there’s liquid in a recipe, it might as well be beer – that’s the philosophy driving this attractive cookery book from Australian TV star Paul Mercurio.

Cooking with BeerPaul’s a big name Down Under. Anyone who has seen the film Strictly Ballroom will instantly recognize him as the leading man, playing rebellious hoofer Scott Hastings.

On the back of that success, Paul became a judge on Dancing with the Stars in Australia and New Zealand – that’s their version of Strictly Come Dancing.

Now he’s finding new fans as a TV chef, abandoning sequins in favour of an apron.

As for most Australians, beer lies close to his heart and he has combined this passion with culinary skills to put together one of the most attractive books on beer cookery yet produced.

Here’s where I hold up my hand and confess that I’ve not put Paul’s book to the test yet.

I can’t tell you how well the recipes work in practice but I doubt if my own interpretation of his text would yield much of value, considering I have all the kitchen nous of a 1960s school dinner lady (well, the one that worked in my primary school, anyway).

What I can say is that the book is temptation personified. Full colour throughout, it is joyfully illustrated with examples of lovingly-presented finished products and Paul’s jargon-free straightforward instructions make everything look cool and easy.

Does the sound of dark ale lamb tagine, Indian-style fish curry with Belgian ale or pilsner paella with quail, chorizo and seafood make you hungry? How about French onion and porter soup, beer braised beef osso bucco or framboise poached pears with sabayon?

The recipes – 87 in all – are divided into chapters labelled Beer Bites, On the Stove, In the Oven, From the Grill, Beer for Dessert and more, and are all fully indexed for easy reference. Beer Notes are provided for each recipe to point you in the right direction for an accompanying slurp.

It seems that no beer cookbook is complete without that perennial favourite, beer can chicken, and Paul doesn’t disappoint. In fact, in presenting this recipe, he offers one of the best uses I have yet discovered for a can of Boddingtons. See the picture and you’ll know what I mean.

It’s just one useful service Paul provides with this inspirational book.

First edition (2011)

224-page paperback (Murdoch Books)

£14.99

Order now at a discount from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com

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