Vegan snack pairing

What beer to pair with your plant-based nibbles

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Staying in tonight? Make the most of it by turning your lockdown/quarantine/tier/restrictions into a home-based beer and food bonanza. The best part is — you can wear your comfies. The ones with the elasticated waist. Nobody can judge you over Zoom.

There are ways to make food and beer more exciting, even in your own home. Staying in doesn’t mean you need to rely on old faithful recipes. Branch out, spread your wings, grasp the handlebars of life and speed down the off-road track of adventure. Be brave. Try… vegan food.

Bridie Chadwick, aka. VeganMCR on Instagram (if that’s your thing), is a trained chef and vegan convert, beginning her plant-based safari two years ago. If you think vegan food isn’t for you, you haven’t eaten her food. When I first met Bridie she told me her favourite food was a doner kebab. Back then if you told me she’d be vegan within a year and a half, I’d have laughed you out of town. But here she is, creating delicious meat and dairy-free recipes that could make even the burliest pitmaster weep with envy.

“I thought about going vegan for a good year before I actually did it,” she says. “I had an on-off vegetarian diet and started to develop more of an interest in tackling climate issues and I’d become more aware of how my food actually reached my plate. I never thought I’d be able to go vegan, mainly because I loved eating meat, cheese and eggs so much, but honestly I’ve never been more chuffed with myself since making the plunge just over 18 months ago.”

“The main reason I enjoy this lifestyle so much is weirdly the reason why I was scared to turn vegan in the first place. I imagined having a restricted diet and being a nightmare to invite round for tea, but actually, it’s opened my eyes to a surplus of diverse foods and ingredients from restaurants and cuisines I never knew existed. Pretty much every restaurant you go to will be happy to cater to your needs these days and we’re seeing a huge rise in vegan options that aren’t just nut loaf and cheese pie (that’s vegan isn’t it?).”

“I love trying to incorporate exciting ingredients into the meals I cook and make vegan food interesting. People just can’t seem to shake the image of the old rubber-sole Quorn chicken fillets we had in the early 2000s out of their heads. Vegan and veggie alternatives just aren’t like that now, there are some incredible things out there that range in taste, texture and health benefits, good enough to fool any flesh eater. I take so much pride in the food I make and I love nothing more than sharing my recipes and tips with people (especially if they’re not vegan!)”

I feel like I should be honest. I’m not a vegan. I eat a lot of vegan food, but I’m not. I have my own reasons, some of them personal enough not to write here, but mostly it’s because I’m a lazy hypocrite. I like chicken. I like eggs. I don’t want to put the effort in to work around my occasional cravings for roast potatoes made with beef dripping. I also like supporting local farmers and producers directly. However, I do believe that veganism, or “occasional veganism” (which is what I could maybe call my own diet since “flexitarianism” makes it sound like I only eat bendy food, and what about crisps?) is beneficial to the environment, and helps reduce the vast amounts of food waste we create each year. It’s also connected to my desire to reduce the exploitation present in the products I take for granted every day.

But I’m not here to preach. I’m here to share Bridie’s delicious snack ideas, and pair them with some amazing beers. So let’s get cracking!


Lockdown Chilli

This chilli makes use of things you’ve got hanging around in your fridge and cupboards, turning old forgotten ingredients into a delicious meal — or a base for some of the snacks we’re about to show you. And you’ve got a little bit of a spice rack going, haven’t you?

Ingredients

Sub as you see fit, even if you’re left with what are essentially some spicy baked beans, you will have a great time.

• 2 tsp oil 

• 1/2 diced onion

• Clove of garlic

• Chilli powder/flakes

• 1 tsp smoked paprika

• Salt and black pepper

• 2 tsp cumin

• 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

• 1 tbsp tomato puree

• 2 large tomatoes

• 1/2 tin chickpeas

• 1 tin baked beans

Method

Chop the onion and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic, letting it sizzle for 2 minutes before adding your spices. 

Here you can chop up and add any veg you want to use up. Carrots work well. 

Stir this mixture around then chop up two large tomatoes roughly and add to the pan. You can use tinned tomatoes or passata but try to use good ones, not too watery.

Add in the tomato puree.

Add the tinned beans and chickpeas — use kidney beans if you’ve got them, but baked beans are totally fine.

Let it simmer for 20 mins.

To serve, I use spring onion, lime, BBQ sauce and mayo - don’t judge me, I won’t judge you. Use whatever condiments and bits you have lying around for this. I’d have loved to add some red onion, cheese and avocado, but hey- this is what I had and it was great!


Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

• 1 tbsp dairy free butter

• 1 tbsp flour

• 2 tsp mustard (English or American are best)

• 2 tsp tomato puree 

• 1 cup plant milk (almond/soya are best)

• Garlic granules 

• 250g macaroni (or any pasta, besides lasagne...)

• Your fave vegan cheese (this is optional, honestly!)

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stir until combined then slowly add your milk until you have a white sauce free of lumps. Keep stirring/whisking to avoid pesky lumps.

Add in tomato puree, mustard and garlic then season. I sometimes add paprika or chilli depending on how sad my day was. 

Simmer until you have a thick sauce, taste and season further if necessary, then stir in 250g of cooked (but firm) macaroni.

Optional: add a handful of grated cheese to the mix and/or to the top of your Mac’n’Cheese then grill for 5 mins until golden and yum.

Katie's suggested Pairing

With a gooey, soothing, creamy bowl of mac and cheese, you need something to cut through the stodge. Maybe a sour? Are you going to trust me on that? I think that Orbit’s Tzatziki Sour would be a mad but wonderful pairing with this, adding a bit of a pickly twang along with palate cleansing tartness. 

If sours really aren’t your bag (but honestly, give it a go!) I recommend a bright lager with a bit of something about it, a bit of oomph — something like Manchester Union Lager or Newbarns Brewery’s Oat Lager.

Or, okay, why not get smoky? It’ll set the cheesy pasta off beautifully. Obviously Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen is the daddy, but you should take a look at what Torrside Brewery offer in the smoky beer department because they do marvellous things with smoked malt.


Rice & Peas

Ingredients

• 1 can coconut milk 

• 1 tin gungo beans/kidney beans (including the water) 

•  3/4 cup of rice

Easier than you thought. Easier even than you thought it could be in your wildest dreams.

Method

Add it all to the pan with a pinch of salt on a medium heat, stirring and adding more water if necessary. You can add some thyme, allspice, scotch bonnet or jerk seasoning if you wish - but I prefer to keep it simple. 

Eat on its own or serve with spicy corn, steamed vegetables, plantain... 

Katie's suggested Pairing

With rice and peas, you can give me all the beer and all the money in the world, I’ll still grab a can of Red Stripe. However, since this is a beer publication, I’m going to try a bit harder.

De Molen Seek & Destroy is a chocolate, nutmeg and ginger imperial stout that’ll pair wonderfully because it’s got more than a passing resemblance to that wonderful elixir, Guinness Punch. For that reason, I’m going to put my neck on the line and say that any of those special impy bottles in the back of your cupboard that have passed through rum barrels, or mention cinnamon and spice on the label — they’re going to work to. So treat yourself. You deserve it.

Or, do it properly and get yourself some Guinness Extra Stout and condensed milk and make some Guinness Punch. You know you want to.


Nachos, Tacos or Burritos? Your Choice!

The base of this snack is the lockdown chilli which will use up anything and everything from your fridge and cupboards.

You then serve the chilli wrapped in a tortilla with delicious toppings (I’m gonna get to those) as a burrito, or as tacos by spooning your chilli onto soft, floury tortillas. Or, layer your chilli onto slightly salted tortilla chips with grated vegan cheese on top (I like Violife or Applewood).

Tortillas: Flour, salt and oil. A vessel for your chilli. Delicious!

Ingredients

•  125g plain white flour, plus extra for rolling

•  Pinch of salt

•  2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil — whatever you have in the cupboard.

Method

Chuck the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt. 

Make a well in the centre and add 5-6 tablespoons of lukewarm water.

Add the oil.

Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball. 

Tip it out onto a work surface — throw some flour on it first — and knead for 5–10 minutes, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into four portions and roll into small balls. 

Dust a work surface with a little flour. Roll out each ball until they’re the size you want them — large for burritos, smaller for tacos.

Dry-fry each tortilla over a medium heat for 20 seconds on each side.

Toppings

Top with diced tomato, sliced red or spring onions, sprinkle on some chilli flakes, blob on some vegan sour cream, guac or mayo. And you’re definitely gonna need some hot sauce.

Katie's suggested Pairing

With these chilli-based dishes, I actually like a big malty beer like a Brown Ale or a bottle of ESB. However, it’ll also go great with a Witbier, the lightness lifting the deep, smoky notes and the spritz of coriander adding zest. 

Of course, if you’re having tacos, my thoughts always move towards sunshine, holidays and bottles of beer-that-shall-not-be-named. To get that same sunny feeling but with a beer that actually tastes of something, try a Donzoko Northern Helles or Lost & Grounded’s All The Cool Cats. Or if you’ve got a few spare cans of cooking lager around, make a michelada.


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