Stale beer adds oomph to stocks and cakes, while any lingering bubbles help make a beautiful batter

If I have a beer in hand, pouring some into my food is a habitual process. Similarly, a touch of old or stale beer will transform a slow-braised dish, stew or hotpot, adding notes of bitter caramel, yeastiness and a distinguished, hoppy flavour.

Store any beer leftovers in the fridge and add them to your food at the same time as any other liquids – just a glug will do for most things – lessening the need to use a stock. Or make beer bread by simply using it instead of water, or bake it into a moist and devilishly dark beer cake: Nigella Lawson’s chocolate Guinness cake is unbelievably delicious.

Beer batter, meanwhile, is a timeless recipe, and a simple way to up the ante from the usual battered fish and chips. The bubbles in the beer help the batter puff up when fried, making it light and flavourful.

Beer batter

Beer batter is quick to make and satisfying, textural and crunchy to eat. Fry tofu just like fish: it’s delicious with a squeeze of lemon or drizzle of soy sauce; seasonal vegetables cut into thin strips or rings also work well, and the result is a bit like tempura. Serves two.

100g wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch each of salt and pepper
130ml beer 
(and/or water)
Oil, for frying
An ingredient to batter – tofu, vegetables, fish, etc

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and beer, and beat out any lumps. Add a little more beer (or water) or flour, as necessary, to create a thick, double cream-like consistency.

Fill a saucepan less than a third full with frying oil, and place on a medium heat. When hot (test by dropping in a drip of batter: if it bubbles and rises to the surface almost immediately, the oil is ready), dip your tofu, vegetables or fish in a little flour, shake it off, then dip into the batter and shake off any excess. Carefully lower into the hot oil, fry for five minutes, or until golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel to drain. Serve hot with your favourite condiment.