Lush: A Season-by-Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce by Jacquelyn Dodd is now available at your local bookstore! Lush goes beyond simple beer pairings or basic cooking-with-beer recipes; in this cookbook, seasonal craft beer is treated as a complex ingredient that can be used to enhance familiar fruits and vegetables. This cookbook includes more than 80 recipes that highlight two seasonal and ever-evolving ingredients—fresh produce and craft beer. Buy the book here and read the Q & A below to learn more about the book’s author, who is also behind the award-winning website The Beeroness.
Q & A with Jacquelyn Dodd, Author of Lush: A Season-by-Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce
For many Americans, cooking with beer is limited to grilling bratwurst. What compelled you to make a produce-forward cooking-with-beer cookbook?
At the core of it, beer is made with plants. Beer is complex and beautiful, but at its core, it’s only made with the ingredients grown in the ground. I wanted the recipes to echo this. Beer is so seasonal, every few months we get a new set of gorgeous beers from our local taprooms, just as the farmers markets are also giving up a new haul of offerings.
How did you get involved with the food and beverage industry? Have you always had a passion for eating and drinking?
I’ve always loved cooking, but when I started to really dive in, I started to really care where my food came from—and what I was drinking went right along with that. I have always been a beer drinker, but the closer I got to the craft beer community, the more I was drawn in. But the beer, the people, what they were doing, it was all so captivating.
How do you come up with recipe ideas? Do you taste a beer and then see what dish would be complemented by the flavors, or vice versa?
Both. I find inspiration in so many places, but brand-new beers from local breweries are always near the top. Brewers are so creative and can do just about anything with so few ingredients. But there are plenty of times when it’s a dish or an ingredient I come across in the market that gets me really excited.
What is your favorite season to cook in? What season has the flavors you personally like best?
Fall is by far my favorite season for both beer and food. You still have a lot of the last gasps of summer produce, but you also have the autumn fruits and vegetables coming out. And the beer! Wet hop beer, the beer made with hops fresh off the bine, comes out only once a year, in the fall. It’s so exciting to find it on tap, and it’s gone so quickly.
What are some of the challenges you’ve come across when working with beer? Do you have any tips for home cooks who have never integrated beer into their cooking before?
Be very careful with hoppy beer! It can turn really bitter really quickly. So many times I’ve had people tell me they tried to make beer bread and it turned out horribly. I ask them if they used an IPA instead of a pale ale and they almost always say yes. Always use a less hoppy beer unless the recipe specifically calls for one.
Are there specific types of beers that you prefer to cook with?
Stouts are like the grandpas of beer—they’re big and gentle and often very forgiving. They’re the best beers to start cooking with. They have beautiful roasty flavors and often have very minimal, if any, hop flavors coming forward. If you’re just starting off, stick to stouts and porters for a while.
What is your favorite recipe in the book? One recipe that you always go back to?
Recipes aren’t like children—you’re totally allowed to have favorites! I loved the English Pea and Pilsner Crepes with Burrata and Tomatoes, Beer Polenta with Creamy Chard and Eggs, Brown Ale Baklava with Baked Brie and Figs, Grapefruit-Quad Pie with Beer Mascarpone . . . there are so many I love! I’m really proud of this book.
What’s next for you?
Maybe another book? I love the process of writing books. It’s a challenge and it’s all consuming. To love it, you really have to get obsessed with the subject—and I have no problem with that!