Friday Night Beer Tasting Menu

The Dude decided on an impromptu beer tasting last night with a couple of our friends. Lucky me, I’m off on Fridays during the summer so I had time to run to the market for everything I needed to whip up a quick, tasty dinner.

I made grilled hamburgers with a surprise inside – tapenade! I love the saltiness of an olive tapenade and I think it really stands up to the ground chuck. It is also yummy with a slice of provolone cheese melted on top. To keep going with that Italian flavor I also made an orzo pasta salad that is so easy to make – and darned delicious too! Just go to the produce section, pick out your favorite summer vegetables (mine included fresh grape tomatoes, zucchini, red pepper, asparagus, red onion), add some fresh mozzarella and basil, and finish off with a lemon vinaigrette. Super easy!

You all know by now that I can’t pass up dessert. My favorite summertime dessert flavors are lemon and blueberry. So, I decided on a lemon sheet cake topped with fresh blueberries.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry! Let’s start with the cake and work backwards from there.

Lemon Sheet Cake with Blueberries

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. butter
  • 2 c.+ 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 c. + 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest


  •  1/2 c. butter
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 5 c. powdered sugar (or a little more)
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, washed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring water for cake and butter to a boil in a medium-sized pan. Remove from heat and add while hot the flour, sugar and salt mixture. Beat in eggs, sour cream and baking soda. Add lemon zest and extract. Pour into a jelly roll pan or sheet cake pan and bake. BE SURE TO MIX THIS CAKE BY HAND, DO NOT USE ELECTRIC MIXER. Bake cake in 11″x14″ pan at 375 degrees for 22 minutes.

To make the frosting, boil butter and milk. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar. Add lemon zest and extract. Frost cake while warm. Sprinkle iced cake with fresh blueberries. Seriously, this is so easy to make.

Lemons and blueberries. How can you go wrong?

Next we’re going to do the orzo pasta salad. Nothing is more improvisational than this. So, let your imagination and taste preferences guide you. Here’s what I made Friday night.

Orzo Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound asparagus, cut in bite sized pieces, blanched and chilled
  • 8 oz grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered, sliced thin
  • 1/2 of a red pepper, diced small
  • 1/4 of a red onion, minced
  • 8 oz of fresh mozzarella, cut in small bites
  • fresh basil, cut in thin strips
  • 1 pound orzo pasta

In a large salad bowl, toss all of your vegetables. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Rinse cooked pasta in ice cold water and drain well. Add to vegetables and toss gently. Add mozzarella, basil and vinaigrette and toss again. You won’t need all the vinaigrette so save the leftovers in the refrigerator for a salad later in the week.

Lemon vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Buona, buona! Summer pasta salad!

The last dish is our burgers. Fire up that grill and gather round the picnic table!

Tapanade Burgers

  • 2 pounds ground chuck (80/20 ratio)
  • Olive tapanade
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Season your ground chuck in a bowl and divide into five portions. Divide each of those five portions in half and flatten out into patties. You don’t want them too thick. In the center of five of the patties place about a tablespoon of tapanade. Place another patty on top and pinch closed around the edges. Grill to preferred doneness. Be sure to let the cooked burgers rest, covered, for about 5 minutes before serving. I love these with a slice of provolone cheese on a ciabatta roll or kaiser bun. Yum!

Of course, there was beer supplied by The Dude. Here are a couple.

Now that’s a glass of beer!

Here is the Russian Imperial Stout. Served in a brandy snifter. This is more of an after dinner beverage. Dark, rich and smooth. Oooh boy!


About Eileen Dominick Long

Diva, dog lover, and main squeeze to the Dude.
This entry was posted in Desserts and Sweets, Main Dishes, Party Time, Side Dishes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Friday Night Beer Tasting Menu

  1. Anna Keizer says:

    YUM! I am totally trying out that lemon sheet cake! The perfect summertime dessert indeed. 🙂

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