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Beer in Every Bite

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A fun-filled, beer-battered education at Central Market.

Story By: Kate Y. Hector

Central Market hosts a class at its cooking school nearly every night of the week. As part of the annual beer festival, Expand Your Brewniverse, Central Market hosted a class called Beer in Every Bite. Central Market’s Paul Schunder and Cindy Haenel guided participants through the tasty Brewniverse, a beer-related five courses and lots of fun. Every recipe contained beer in the sauce or batter, and each dish was served with the beer it incorporated.

Haenel has been with Central Market for 16 years, teaching in the Cooking School for 11 years. Her favorite class to teach is All Bacon All the Time.

“I love bacon! I have a bacon air freshener in my car,” Haenel says. “It wasn’t really bacon but it smelled good for a few days. I’ve done six bacon classes so far, and doing another one in December.”

During the bacon class, attendees can expect bacon in every dish, even dessert. Fan favorites include bacon baklava and chocolate-dipped bacon.

Cooking School veteran Jim Jones has been to more than 20 classes since he started with a basics course.

“Well, I started off not knowing anything about the kitchen,” Jones says. “I could do just about anything outdoors but nothing in the kitchen. So, I started off with the six-week course called Absolute Beginners, and it is absolutely for beginners. I recommend it highly.”

Jones has also volunteered at a handful of Cooking School classes. Volunteering mostly consists of washing dishes, but Jones says you get to learn from the chefs as well.

The main focus of the Beer in Every Bite class was, appropriately, beer. Schunder, who works in Central Market’s beer-and-wine department, did each beer justice with his wealth of knowledge and passion for his trade. Schunder started brewing beer in high school with the guidance of a friend’s hobbyist father. From there, he traveled the world in college, always sampling and learning about local beers in each new place he visited. Schunder affectionately refers to the beer enthusiasts that frequent Central Market as “hop heads” or “beer geeks.”

“My favorite thing is the people when they come in looking for stuff,” Schunder says. “My late-night crowd, the hop heads, my beer geeks, they teach me. I will ask them questions, ‘Why do you like that?’ or ‘What is special about that?’ and they will inform me.”

Whether you are a hop head, a die-hard foodie or just out for a fun date night, Central Market’s Cooking School has something to offer.

“For us, the main thing is don’t be afraid to try new things,” Schunder says. “We get bogged down in our regular schedule, we forget to stretch and try new things. It is the same Tuesday tacos and Wednesday pizza. It is good to change it up and mix things around.”



Beer Battered Asparagus with Lemon Sauce*

Serves two


Lemon Sauce:

1/2 cup Dukes mayonnaise

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped

Pinch salt


Beer Battered Asparagus:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated

1 1/4 cup beer (pilsner)

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

Vegetable oil for frying



Lemon Sauce:

Stir together all ingredients and transfer to a small glass bowl. Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

Beer Battered Asparagus:

Heat oil in heavy saucepan until it reaches 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, salt, pepper, lemon and zest in a bowl until combined. Add beer and whisk ingredients until smooth. Dip asparagus in batter to coat. Remove excess batter before frying. Gently transfer battered asparagus to oil and fry until golden. Stir gently to prevent asparagus from sticking together.

Transfer to a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels and a wire rack. Keep warm in a preheated 200 degree oven until ready to serve.


Chef Cindy Haenel’s expert tip

“Sprinkle asparagus with salt as soon as they get out of the oil. Hold your hand high above the counter to spread salt evenly.”


Hop Head Paul Schunder Beer Fact

“We drank a Real Ale Company Pilsner. Its light, mild citrus flavor complemented the asparagus. Real Ale Company is in Blanco, TX, and uses hops from this area in their beers.”



Beer-Battered Onion Rings*

Serves four to six


4 cups canola oil or peanut oil

2 yellow onions, the sweeter the better, Vidalia or Texas sweets

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoon garlic, granulated (garlic power also works)

12 ounces beer, medium body



In a Dutch oven, heat oil to 350 degrees. Cut onions half an inch think, remove dark exterior of onions, separate into rings and soak in buttermilk for 1 hour. Combine one cup of flour, salt, pepper and garlic, and mix thoroughly. In a medium bowl, combine beer and one cup of flour then mix thoroughly. Remove onion rings from buttermilk, shake off excess, dredge in flour, shake off excess then dip in beer batter. Drop some onion rings in oil and continue process, making sure not to crowd rings, as they will stick together. When golden, remove and let drain on paper towels. Serve hot.


Chef Cindy Haenel’s expert tip

“You can heat these similarly to asparagus to keep hot if you are making several batches, but of course, they are best right out of the fryer.”


Hop Head Paul Schunder Beer Fact

“We drank an Alaskan White beer with these onion rings. Alaskan just recently started shipping to Texas, and their pure glacial water gives the Alaskan beers a crisp, clean taste.”


Rib-Eye with Beer Pan Sauce*

Serves two


2 boneless rib-eye steaks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium shallot, minced

1 cup lager or pilsner beer or chicken broth

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)



Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet over medium-heat until just smoking.

Add the steaks and brown well, undisturbed, about three to four minutes. Flip and repeat until browned, about three minutes more for medium-rare. Remove to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for five minutes. Meanwhile, return skillet to stove, add the shallots and cook until softened, about one minute. Stir in the beer and cook until reduced slightly, about one minute. Stir in any accumulated meat juices and mustard. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter in small chunks. Swirl the pan to melt the butter or use a whisk to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste and arrange the steaks on serving plates. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve immediately.


Chef Cindy Haenel’s expert tip

“I can’t stand when restaurants only season one side of the meat. You’ve got to eat both sides, so season both sides.”


Hop Head Paul Schunder Beer Fact

“Pairing wine can be complicated, but pairing beer is easy. The heavier the food, the darker the beer should be. We drank the Alaskan Amber with this juicy rib-eye. The Alaskan Amber is an alt-style beer, alt meaning ‘old’ in German. Alts ferment more slowly and at colder temperatures than other ales. This process helps bring out the flavors of the Alaskan Amber.”



Guinness Milkshake

Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri

Serves two


3 1/2 cups chocolate ice cream

1 14-ounce can stout beer (Guinness is recommended)

2 curls bittersweet chocolate for garnish

2 store-bought praline cookies for garnish



Scoop one scoop of chocolate ice cream into small dish, pour Guinness over. Garnish with chocolate curls and praline cookies.


Chef Cindy Haenel’s expert tip

“It is so simple and looks so fancy. We used a caramel salted cookie sold at Central Market that may be the best cookie ever made, but keep an eye out; these little delights were sold out before the class was over.”


Hop Head Paul Schunder Beer Fact

Schunder says there isn’t really another beer like Guinness, but even non-Guinness fans will like this smooth desert.



Chef Cindy-isms

Central Market Cooking School Chef Cindy Haenel is a character in a chef coat. Her fun teaching style and sage advice are priceless. Here are some of her tips for the road:

“Cooking should be fun! If it doesn’t work out, call for a pizza.”

“Recipes are just a guideline; don’t let them tie you down.”

“I only cook the way I like to eat. I’ve heard I am very picky for a chef.” (Hint: You won’t find rosemary in her food.)


* Recipes courtesy Cindy Haenel


Visit Cooking Schools of America for dates and information on all the cooking classes Central Market offers.




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