Beer is made with four ingredients: water, grain, hops, and yeast. Despite this humble foundation, however, there’s a wide variety of color, flavor, and aroma to be found on the shelves.
At the most basic level, there are two types of beer: ales and lagers. Ales are typically a bit heartier, while lagers are usually lighter in both color and body and are crisper, cleaner beers. Most mass-produced beers that you see in stores and on TV are lagers (Pilsners, to be precise).
When pairing beers with food, try to choose a beer that either complements or offsets the food’s flavors. Serve small glasses of beer per plate to avoid overstuffing your diners.
If you’re cooking meat on a grill, a stout (a dark, slightly smoky ale) will bring out the charred flavor. If the meat is already pretty flavorful (or, say, coated in cheese), a crisp lager will provide a refreshing counterpoint. And if it’s a greasy burger you’re after, go for a wheat beer; it will also pair nicely with French fries.
When cooking with hot chili pepper or fiery curry, a German bock or dunkelweiss (dark wheat) will provide some slight bready sweetness to help soothe your burning palate. Likewise, a “hoppy” India Pale Ale (IPA) will impart the bitterness you need to slake your thirst and bring out your food’s flavor, not just its heat.
Veggie lovers should steer toward Pilsner, Kolsch, and Dortmunder styles, which are mostly crisp and clean with grassy or peppery hop flavors, complementing vegetarian dishes without washing out subtler flavors.
Above all, take these guidelines as suggestions. After all, there is no right or wrong way to pair beer with food. The next time you’re looking to serve beer with your meal, ask the food co-op staff about the local microbrewed beers they carry (if your food co-op carries alcohol), and sample a few to discover what you like most. Remember that food and beer are meant to be convivial and are best when shared with others—so have fun!
This blog was written by Charles Davidson, a contributor to NCG’s “Welcome to the Table”
It is important to note that all these recipes will work great with baked, grilled, panfried, or crumbled tofu. These recipes work great in rice bowls, with veggies like bok Chou, onions, snap peas, carrots, and broccoli, or in a creative taco! Let us know what you create by posting a picture and tagging @davisfoodcoop!
Sweet Garlic Baked Tofu
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons warmed honey
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons peanut or toasted sesame oil
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Place the grated garlic and ginger in a medium bowl. Add the honey, light soy sauce mirin, water, and oil. Whisk well to combine all ingredients
- Place tofu cubes in a single layer in an 8×8″ glass baking dish. Take care not to crowd the pieces of tofu. Pour the marinade over the tofu pieces, turning them to coat well on all sides.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Rotate pieces and bake for 15 more minutes, checking periodically that the liquid has not completely evaporated. Remove from oven and serve hot with dipping sauce or use in stir-fries.
Taco Tofu (Crumbed or small cubed)
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1 Tbsp Water
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- sprinkle of Cloves
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Block Extra-Firm Tofu
- Best with diced onions and mushrooms!
- Mix tomato paste, water, and spices in a bowl. Add cubed or crumbled tofu and evenly coat.
- Heat cast iron with a little oil.
- Saute diced onions and mushrooms.
- Add tofu and cook on medium heat until onions are slightly translucent.
Ginger Baked Tofu
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rectangles
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2-3 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced (2-inch piece)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup Mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Pat the tofu rectangles dry with a paper towel, and place on a sheet pan with a rim. Brush the tofu with the sesame oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping each piece over after 15 minutes. Carefully drain most of the oil from the sheet pan. Mix together the ginger, garlic, tamari, Mirin and maple syrup, and pour it over the tofu. Bake for another 15 minutes until the tofu is firm and the sauce has reduced. Remove from heat and serve, drizzled with the sauce from the baking pan and garnished with fresh minced ginger, sesame seeds and scallions.
Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu
- 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and dried
- 1/3 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 cup black or white sesame seeds
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Beginning at the short end, slice the block of tofu into 8 even rectangles. Lay the tofu on a baking sheet and sprinkle with tamari. Let sit, flipping once while preparing the pesto.
- Cut the stems off of the washed cilantro and puree the leaves in a blender or food processor with the fresh ginger, oils, sugar, salt, and lime juice. The resulting pesto should resemble a vibrant green smoothie.
- Lightly oil the grill. Using a metal spatula, place the tofu on the grill and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and grill for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate and let cool, then toss with the cilantro pesto and garnish with ½ cup sesame seeds, black or white. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.
- 12 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- Slice the tofu crosswise into 8 squares. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Add the tofu and sear until golden brown on each side. Reduce to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of tamari, cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip the tofu and continue cooking until all the tamari is absorbed. Remove and reserve the tofu.
- In a medium sauté pan, combine 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, seasoned rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, 1 tablespoon tamari and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking to blend in the sugar. Turn off the heat and whisk in the miso paste until smooth. Gently add the tofu to the sauce, flipping once to coat. Let sit.
Wash fruits and sort for damaged fruit before freezing. Some fruits do best with a sugar or sugar-syrup preparation. Blueberries, currants, and cranberries do fine without sugar.
Here’s a trick for freezing delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries: Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container. You can also prepare delicate berries with sugar or sugar syrup.
For fruits that tend to brown, like apples, peaches, nectarines, and apricots, treat with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).
To make an ascorbic acid wash: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder (or finely crushed vitamin C tablets) in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit.
An acceptable substitute: Slice the fruit and dip the slices in an acidulated water bath — about one-quart water plus a tablespoon of lemon juice — before drying and freezing.
If you are freezing fruits for smoothies, there is no need to make an ascorbic acid wash.
Strawberry Rhubarb Sage Empanadas (Rhubard freezes super well! Cut into the size you want in your future pies before freezing!)
The best vegetables for freezing are low-acid veggies. When freezing vegetables, first blanch them briefly in boiling water. Then quickly submerge the veggies in ice water to prevent them from cooking. Dry thoroughly on paper towel-lined sheet pans.
Why blanch? Blanching prevents enzymes from damaging color, flavor, and nutrients. Blanching also destroys unkind microorganisms that might be lingering on the surface of vegetables. Pack vegetables snuggly to avoid air contact.
If you are freezing vegetables for stock, there is no need to blanch.
Garren Vegetable Bake (Zucchini and Pea save very well in the freezer!)
What exactly is a grain?
What’s the difference between wholegrain and multigrain?
Which is better, dried or canned beans?
Read along to find out the answers to these questions but recipes, cooking tips, and more!
Both beans and grains are food staples around the world and can be found in every single cuisine! Recently beans and grains have been gaining popularity due to the affordability, versatility and nutrition that they offer. From the familiar corn cob and pinto bean to the avant garde anasazi and quinoa, there is a grain and bean out there for everyone. That being said there’s often confusion about which bean and grain options are the best.
Beans add diverse flavors and textures to your cooking while also boosting the nutrition by providing a good balance of fiber, protein and minerals like calcium and iron. Beans are a great kitchen addition that make for a dynamic meal with very little cost. Plus if stored properly dried beans can last for up to 2-3 years without losing significant nutrient value and taste!
Dried beans are one of the most affordable ingredients with many types to choose from.
You can easily buy them in bulk which allows you to get exactly the amount you need without excess packaging!
Most dried beans, excluding lentils, split peas, and adzuki, will require soaking overnight (or at least 8 hours) before cooking in order to properly rehydrate them. After they’ve soaked make sure to drain the soaking water and add fresh water to your cooking pot. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional details on bean varieties, storage tips, and cooking times.
Canned beans are super convenient and great to have on hand for quick meal additions. While there tends to not be as much variety in canned beans as dried, there are still lots of bean types to choose from.
It can be especially handy to have canned garbanzo and soy beans, as these take the longest to prepare from dried.
A nutrition note on canned beans is that many have additional ingredients added such as sugar, salt, and fat and you should always check the ingredient label first before purchasing.
When it comes to fresh beans there are fresh shelling beans, like fava and cranberry beans which require shelling because the pod is inedible, and fresh whole beans, like romano and green beans which can be eaten whole. Fresh shelling beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found dried, while fresh whole beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found canned.
A benefit of fresh beans over dried and canned is that many varieties, like romano beans, can be eaten raw and do not require any cooking preparation. You can find these fresh beans when in season here at the Davis Food Co-op or your local farmers market!
When it comes to beans, dried are the most affordable option with the best variety to choose from. However, dried beans require proper storage and more preparation time for soaking and cooking. Canned beans offer the most convenience and are also an affordable option, but they limit the control of nutrients like salt and fat because many canned options have additional ingredients added. And lastly, fresh beans are a great seasonal option that can occasionally even be eaten raw offering unique flavors and textures.
Guide to Grains:
Grains, sometimes referred to as cereals, are small, hard seeds that come from different grass and grass-like plants. Today the most commonly produced grains around the world are rice, corn, and wheat, but there are many different kinds of grains! Whole grains are great sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins plus they are very satisfying and filling meal additions. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional information on types of grains, storage tips, and cooking times!
So what’s the difference between whole grain, multigrain, and fortified grains?
Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel, the bran, endosperm, and germ, are used. This is obvious when cooking rice or quinoa because the grain kernel is still intact, but can become more confusing when buying grain products like bread, pasta, and crackers.
Whole grains are the healthiest option because they offer the full nutrient and fiber content of the grain.
Back in 2005 the Whole Grains Council created a whole grain stamp that makes it easy to identify products made with whole grains! Many but not all products use the whole grain stamp so other good identifiers of whole grains are words like ‘stone ground’ and ‘whole wheat’.
Fun fact, popcorn is a whole grain!
Multigrain means that multiple different grains were used but none of them necessarily in their whole form. Due to this, the term multigrain can be deceiving because it is just referring to the number of grains and not the quality of the grains.
Multigrain products such as rice blends can be great options to diversify your cooking but it’s important to check the label because multigrain breads and cereals can sometimes be tricky!
Other names to look out for are numbers placed in front of grain such as ‘seven-grain’ or twelve-grain’. These are still multigrain products and may or may not contain actual whole grains.
Fortification is a process used to restore the nutrient content of grains that have been stripped of their natural nutrients during refining. During refining grain kernels are separated and the bran and germ are removed leaving just the starchy endosperm behind.
This is generally done because the bran and germ impart more earthy flavors that are not also desirable but in doing so the majority of fiber and nutrients are also removed from the grain.
This is why most refined grains are then fortified with essential nutrients such as B vitamins and iron. While fortification has made refined grains much healthier, they still do not compare to their whole grain counterparts and will be lacking in nutrients unique to that grain.
When it comes to grains and grain products whole grain is the best option because the grain kernels are still intact leaving all of the nutrients intact as well. Multigrain products can be good options to get a variety of grains into your diet but tend to be misleading as to the processing and quality of the grain so you should always double-check the nutrition label. And lastly, fortified grains are highly processed, do not contain the same nutrients found in whole grains and therefore should be the last option when buying grain products.
Bean and Grain Recipes
Looking for a way to switch up your Taco Tuesday? We have a recipe that is plant-based, protein-packed, and perfect for a laid-back weeknight meal. Watch the video below for an explanation of what ingredients we chose and a walkthrough of the steps. The ingredients and instructions are listed below.
1 to 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Apple cider vinegar
10-12 corn tortillas (use GF if desired)
Tofu “cheese” crumbles (1 C crumbled extra firm tofu, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast)
Garnishes: 1/2 cup salsa, avocado, fresh cilantro, lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Coat the sweet potatoes in about 2 tbsp of oil, salt, chili powder, and cumin. Then put on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes. Stir and flip, then roast another 15 minutes.
- While this is roasting, saute the onions in about a tbsp of oil. Just before they are soft, add the garlic and jalapeño, saute for another minute. Then add the drained and rinsed black beans and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Cook until hot.
- Crumble extra firm tofu into a bowl, add salt and nutritional yeast. Mix well. This is your cheese!
- Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet or in the microwave.
- Let everyone fill their tacos with sweet potatoes, beans, avocado, salsa, cilantro, and cheese! Yum!
This recipe was developed by our Education and Outreach Specialist, Madison Suoja, and the demonstration was done by our staff member Rheanna Smith. Rheanna has a background in nutrition and food science, and along with working in many departments here at the Davis Food Co-op, she actively runs a food blog containing healthy recipes and nutrition tips. Keep an eye on our Co-op blog to see some of her recipes and give her Instagram account a follow for additional health tips and ideas, @rheannnabanana.