I thought that maybe March would hold butterflies, daffodils, and luscious fields of green grass. I suppose my dreams weren’t very realistic. Monday arrived with a school delay and another six inches of snow. But, wait, it’s not over! New England meteorologists are predicting another messy storm starting tonight and ending Thursday. All my dreams are shattered! I’m going to go stuff my face with beer bread now…well, after I ice my thumb, which I burned on the roasted garlic oil. Always wear oven mitts, folks! Pot holders just don’t do the job.
Comfort foods are wholly embraced in my household. My mom makes some delicious chilis, soups, and casseroles. I’m convinced that soup and bread has propelled me through the winter woes. Speaking of comfort food…
Let’s talk about beer bread. It’s dense, flavorful, and filling. We made two loaves for Thanksgiving last year to go along with my homemade cranberry sauce and they were a huge success. Heavenly comfort food to share with the family–even kiddos–because the trace amounts of alcohol left after baking are not harmful. If you want to cook this bread with soda or a non-alcoholic beer, try it and let me know the results!
As some of you know, I went to Portland, Maine this weekend and toured four breweries. I’m a lightweight as far as alcohol is concerned, so by brewery number three I was trying to pace myself as well as socialize with the other Brew Bus adventurers. Our third stop was Sebago Brew Pub, where we also had lunch; I received my falafel sandwich and thought to myself, “Greek flavors pair very well with beer”. So, the wheels were turning and I knew what my next recipe was going to be on the blog!
What’s better than a garlic beer bread? Dressing this comfort food up with some creamy and slightly spicy spread. It’s called Crazy Feta and it’s seriously good. Because I don’t want to spend $10 on an 8 ounce container of it at the grocery store, I think I’ll hone my creativity and whip up my own.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin well with non-stick spray. Set aside.
On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, place all garlic cloves (for both bread and dip) in oven and drizzle with olive oil. Brown the garlic in the oven until it is soft; this will take approximately 8-10 minutes. Check oven frequently to ensure garlic does not burn. Remove garlic from oven and let cool.
In a medium-size bowl, sift whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Add herbs and baking soda to the flour mixture.
Slowly add beer to flour mixture and use hand-mixer to combine to make dough. Add honey and garlic. Mix until dough has formed a ball and is sticky to touch. Spoon dough into muffin tin filling about half way up as dough will rise. Brush tops of muffins with melted butter. Cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown. If you're not sure whether the muffins are done, stick a toothpick in the center of a muffin and if it comes out clean the muffins are done.
While muffins cool, make crazy feta spread. In a small bowl, mix cream cheese until light and smooth. Crumble feta and mix for a few minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, olive oil, lemon, and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Spread on beer bread, crackers, or toast. Enjoy!
Muffins are best two to three days after baking, but can be stored in air tight container for up to a week.
Dip can be enjoyed up to a week after preparation.