Cooking with Booze

I was recently asked by someone, what can I do with all my
spare alcohol? I know this person must not read my recipes often, since alcohol
is a staple in much of my cooking. My advice to her was, either throw a big party
and make cocktails for everyone, or use my recipes to create amazingly
flavourful meals!

Wine is definitely the most commonly used ingredient in my
kitchen; it is a great base for soups and sauces, and is the best liquid to use
when poaching fish. Beer is another great ingredient- it can add a new flavour
element to soups and sauces, and can also be used when braising meats such as
beef. In fact, the carbonation in the beer creates a chemical reaction that
makes the beef soft, tender, and fall-off-the-bone good!

Liqueurs are a whole new story; each liqueur brings its own
unique flavour into any recipe. As with wine and beer, liqueurs can be used as
the base for a good sauce. Because of liqueurs’ bold and sweet flavours, they
work very well in desserts also.

Today I will show you how to use wine, beer, and liqueurs to
make both sweet and savoury dishes. My first recipe is poached pears, cooked in
a sweet Gewurtztraminer. These pears are delicious on their own, and are the
perfect partner for ice cream, tarts and cakes. For more ideas how to use these
pears, please refer to my article, Cooking With Tea.

I have included a second dessert recipe, Bananas Foster.
Bananas Foster is a classic dessert, and is a great vehicle for rum and
liqueur. Although the recipe may seem a bit intimidating to beginners, keep an
adventurous and open mind and it will work out.

The two savoury dishes I am providing today are beer and
cheddar soup, and wine-braised duck. The soup is a creamy, hearty classic and
is a fantastic comfort food. I have elected to use Guiness for this particular
recipe (the dark stouts work really well with a nice, sharp cheddar!), but feel
free to use whatever type of beer you prefer. Different beers produce different
flavours, whether they are stouts or lagers, so be experimental about the type
of beer you are using, and you will create a new soup every time!

The duck is soft and tender, as a result of being cooked in wine.
After the duck has been fully cooked, reduce the liquid further to create a
flavourful wine sauce to accompany the meal. This way, the wine will not be

I hope you enjoy my alcohol-based recipes. Keep an open mind
and experiment, to see what great flavours and creations you can make! Happy
cooking everybody!

Eat well, live well, be well!



Wine Poached Pears

You will need:

8 cups Gewurtzraminer, or another white wine

1 cup sugar

6 pears, peeled and cut into halves


  1. In a large sauce pan over medium high heat,
    bring the wine and sugar to almost a boil. Reduce heat immediately to medium
    low. Begin adding in the pear halves, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. You
    can always cook the pears in batches, if there is not enough room the first
  2. Allow pears to cook for about 15 minutes, until soft
    when poked with a fork. Remove pears from poaching liquid and place the next
    batch of pears into the poaching liquid. Continue the process until all the
    pears are done.


Beer and Cheddar Soup

You will need:

4 oz butter

½ onion, diced finely

1 clove garlic, minced

4 oz flour

1 L chicken stock, warmed

½ L 35% cream

¼ lb old cheddar cheese, grated

4 fl oz Guiness beer


  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium high
    heat. Add the garlic and onions, and sautee until they are translucent.
  2. Add the flour all at once, whisking constantly
    (this is called a roux). Allow to cook for about a minute.
  3. Add the Guiness, and continue to stir, making
    sure that everything is incorporated and there are no lumps. It takes only
    another minute or two for the alcohol to cook off.
  4. Add the chicken stock, and stir well. Bring to a
    boil, then reduce back to a simmer as soon as it has started boiling.
  5. If you wish, puree the soup in a food processor
    (you can skip this step if you like, but it ensures there are no big bits of
    onion- either way, the soup works out fine!)
  6. Add the cream and the cheese, and stir to
  7. Serve immediately.

Red wine braised duck

You will need:

4lb duck, quartered

2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp black pepper

4 bay leaves

6 sprigs fresh thyme

6 garlic cloves, crushed

4 cups good quality red wine

1 cup chicken stock


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Rub the duck with salt and pepper. Place skin
    side down into a large skillet, over high heat. Sear the duck for about 5
    minutes, and remove from heat.
  3. Place the seared duck into a roasting pan that
    is just big enough to hold the four duck pieces comfortably. Add the garlic,
    herbs, red wine and chicken stock. The duck should be completely covered by the
  4. Place the pan into the 325F oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Remove the duck from the liquid and allow it to
    rest. Strain the mixture into a large sauce pan over high heat, and allow to
    reduce by half while whisking continuously. Taste, and season with salt and
    pepper as needed.
  6. Place two pieces of duck on each plate, and
    drizzle with the reduced red wine sauce. Serve with your favourite vegetables
    and starches for an elegant dinner!

Bananas Foster

You will need:

2 oz unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

2 fl oz banana liqueur

4 bananas, cut into quarters

2 fl oz white rum

4 scoops vanilla ice cream


  1. Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a
    large, heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is
    completely dissolved into the melted butter.
  2. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the
    bananas in the pan. When the bananas soften and begin to brown, carefully add
    the rum.
  3. Continue cooking the bananas until the rum is
    hot, then ignite the rum with a propane torch. If you have a gas stove, you can
    also ignite the rum by carefully tipping the pan onto the flame (this is how
    the pros do it!).
  4. Allow the flames to subside. Lift the bananas
    out of the pan and place 4 pieces over each portion of ice cream. Spoon the
    warm sauce over the ice cream and serve immediately.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Rochelle Boivin on June 5, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    Hot chef on stiletto’s!!! Hellllll-oooo!!
    These recipes are magnifico and bonifide perfection!!
    Try them and make your dinner party a smash!!


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