Wookiee Monster

There’s less than a month to go until the Force will supposedly awaken. And here I am baking cookies.

Wookiee cookies to be exact. With oats, coconut, toffee bits and a hint of chocolate. The toffee bits will melt a bit in the oven and make these cookies a little…wait for it…chewy.

Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about beer this week. This whole Star Wars thing has occupied most of my attention. However, I did stumble upon this little gem last time I was at my favorite beer haunt.

wells-sticky-toffee-pudding-ale-63For this recipe I used Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale. This isn’t the first oddball beer flavor for the Charles Wells brewing family – this is the same brewery that put out the Banana Bread beer among others. This one comes very close to conjuring up an accurate likeness of the British dessert: rich caramel malt tones and a hint of molasses-like sweetness.

Can’t find the aforementioned ale? An English Brown Ale (e.g. Newcastle or Naramata Nut Brown) or a sweet oak-aged brew would do just fine.

Toffee Ale Wookiee Cookies

IMG_20151119_210928
The wild cookie, in its natural environment.

For the cookies:
3/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup brown ale

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 cup large flake rolled oats

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup toffee bits

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (325°F in a convection oven).
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla to butter mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Gradually stir in cocoa, oats and coconut to butter mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.
  6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually, stirring well.
  7. Add toffee bits to dough and fold to combine.
  8. Chill dough for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. The more time the dough has to rest, the more moisture the oats will absorb and the less it will spread out on the cookie sheet.
  9. Scoop dough with a teaspoon and form into balls, pressing down lightly onto nonstick or greased baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  11. Place on wire rack to cool.

IMG_20151119_200826

 

Wookiee Cookie Icing

Chocolate:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

3 tsp. milk

3 tbsp. corn syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Vanilla:

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 tsp. milk

2 tbsp. corn syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Stir confectioner’s sugar, cocoa and milk together.
  2. Add corn syrup and combine until smooth. If icing is too thick to put in an icing bag, add a bit more corn syrup.
  3. Pour icing into piping bag fitted with a small round tip.

To Decorate:

  1. With the chocolate icing, draw two lines across the cookie’s “chest” to make the outline of the ammo belt.
  2. Fill in this line with more of the chocolate icing and smooth over the top.
  3. Use the vanilla icing to make those cute little snaggle-teeth and eyes. Add a little bit of food coloring for the eyes if you don’t want your wookiees to look possessed.
  4. Draw lines or add silverettes to the ammo belt to make your wookiee look more vicious.
  5. If you’re seriously having trouble with this and need more detailed instructions, Ro from Nerdy Nummies has an excellent tutorial on her Youtube channel using melted chocolate.
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Beer Wars – The Schwarz Awakens

Christmas is coming early this year, for myself and millions of other Star Wars fans. With the advent of the Force Awakens on the horizon, it’s also time to re-watch all the movies.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably still watch the prequels, in spite of their shortcomings. But in order to survive such an ordeal, you’re going to need some beer. Use the following suggestions to guide your pairings. Personally I recommend watching the original trilogy first – these you do actually want to remember. The others…not so much.

Episode IV. A New Hope

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

I recommend watching this movie with an ice cold pilsner or a blonde lager. Or anything that resembles the first beer you ever drank.

If your prior drink of choice was the raspberry-flavored vodka you smuggled into the movie theatre in soda bottles, your first taste of beer was a significant milestone in terms of drinking habits. For me, this is that little green can with the bunnies on it. It tastes good in a reminiscent way. But now that you’re a big kid, you know that there’s a world of other possibilities.

Episode V. The Empire Strikes Back

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Darth Vader

Episode V with it’s adventure and unexpected plot twists is best paired with a sweet and sophisticated dubbel. Try one of the many from Belgium’s Trappist Breweries – sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Episode V is regarded by many as the best movie of the six. Likewise Westvleteren holds a similar position in the beer world, if you can get your hands on a bottle. Even your less beer-savvy friends will find something they like about it.


Episode VI. Return of the Jedi

Darth Sidious in his younger days? The resemblance is uncanny.

“Only at the end do you realize the power of the Dark Side.” – Emporer Palpatine

Find thee a British bitter ale, like Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery. Something with a rich malty sweetness that ties it all together and then leaves you with a bittersweet taste in your mouth.

Why? Because the original trilogy is now over, and you’re going to have to wait 16 years for another Star Wars movie.


Episode I. The Phantom Menace

“It’s a trap!” – Admiral Ackbar

A character with minimal spoken lines and a double-sided lightsaber was the best part of this movie.

Episode I is like a cheap vacation in Mexico. You’re really REALLY excited for it. But as soon as you step off the plane, you realize it’s hurricane season. And you still have a three hour bus-ride to the resort.

To drown your disappointment, you buy a beer from the first beer-cart you see. Corona. Ick.

Sure, it looks appetizing enough until you realize it’s been left in a half-empty ice bucket for eight hours. Now it’s Luke-warm (see what I did there) and the clear bottle has let in enough light to make it kind of skunky-tasting. The good news? You can cover that taste up with some lime juice. And you can drink lots of it. The more you drink, the less noticeable is the taste of utter disappointment…and the less you’ll remember this miserable excuse for a movie.

Episode II. Attack of the Clones

“A jedi craves not these things.” – Yoda

“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” Is this supposed to be romantic?

If this movie were an alcoholic beverage, it would be a cooler. Or some saccharin over-sweetened fruity alco-pop garbage like Mango Mongozo.

Sure there’s some alcohol in there and a handful of relatively cool battle scenes. And maybe it was a classy lambic-style brew to begin with – they might have thrown in an interesting back-story. But it isn’t beer any longer. Now it’s an over-produced love story between Whine-ikin’s raging hormones and whatever teenager has the stomach to drink this swill.

And if you drink too much of it, the hangover will knock you into the next year.

What are we talking about anymore? Oh yeah. Star Wars.


Episode III. Revenge of the Sith

“You do have your moments. Not many, but you have them.” – Princess Leia

Finalize the final moments of this sad trilogy with a Double IPA, or better yet a triple. Personally, I think Stone something from Stone Brewing Company would suit the mood. Ruination IPA 2.0 or the RuinTen Triple IPA would do the trick – high aclohol and heavy hop flavour.


The sheer force of the hops in this beverage will torch your tastebuds and cleanse your palate of all the uncomfortable flavours of the past decade. And maybe offer some semblance of redemption for the last 4 ½+ hours you wasted watching Episodes I and II. You might also be saying “I’ll never drink that again.” But deep down, you know that’s a lie.

Now go watch the original trilogy another five times.

Episode VII.

“There is another…” –  Yoda

Words cannot adequately describe my excitement.

Some new-age craft beer with a new ingredient you’ve never tried before. Coffee. Chamomile. Pizza. Whatever. You’re a little excited, a little terrified. You don’t know what to expect. But, no matter how bad it is, it’s STILL going to be better than episodes I through III.

I was pleasantly surprised by this Stargazer Chamomile Wheat from Canuck Empire. Let’s hope, for the sake of the franchise, that the movie is equally as satisfying.

Got opinions? Agree/disagree with my beer-nalysis of Star Wars? Comment below, and tell me what you”ll be drinking for your marathon.

Ginger Beer

DSC08724I really like ginger. Like, a lot. I’ve added it to pretty much every meal I’ve cooked this week. Which you’d think would make me an afficionado of ginger beers – not without some exceptions. Today I’ll primarily discuss the alcoholic varieties, with a few exceptions.

I can handle the occasional Crabbie’s, but I usually tap out after half a glass – I just can’t handle the high sugar content. This is my usual complaint with ginger beers – either they are too sweet or the ginger flavour isn’t “kick-in-the-face” sharp enough. The contrast to this is Fallentimber’s Ginger Mead – it’s refreshing and surprisingly dry, considering the prominent honey flavor, though it is without the other spices that we associate with a “ginger beer”. Learn more about Fallentimber’s meads here.

RobinsonsOldTomGinger
http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk/

My current favorite though, is Old Tom. No, not your crazy neighbor that wears ten different hats at the same time. Nor the cat that wanders your neighborhood yowling for lady-cat affection. Originally labelled as Ginger Tom, Old Tom is a traditional ale mixed with a ginger beer – the best of both worlds. This way you get the flavors of a lemony, herbal ginger beer cut with a crisp traditional ale.

The Phillips brewing company also makes a legitimate beer with (that bears little to no resemblence to the aforementioned varieties). This one is a legitimate beer brewed with ginger. Much like the thinly sliced pink pickled ginger, this stuff is great with sushi. Not a fan of that pink stuff? This might not be the beer for you.
CNB-original-label

Are mixed drinks more your style? Traditionally served in a copper mug, a Moscow Mule is made with ginger beer, lime, and vodka. Headframe Spirits out of Butte serves up their own version, the Montucky Mule, with their signature Neversweat Bourbon and Cock and Bull Ginger Beer. Not in the area? Fentiman’s Ginger Beer makes an excellent mix for any of the above spirits.

20100601_gochujung2
Image sourced from Serious Eats

Korean cuisine is rife with ginger and strong, spicy flavors. This recipe literally translates to “mixed rice and vegetables” – creative, I know. But incredibly tasty. Keep in mind this is a non-Korean girl’s boozy attempt at Korean food, and it should not be considered authentic in any way. FYI, Gochujang is a spicy fermented bean paste that is pretty indespensible in this recipe. It’s pretty easy to find at any Asian Grocery store if you know what the container looks like – they’ll probably have this kind there (see image left). If not, good luck reading Korean!

Bi Bim Bap with Ginger Beer Sauce

Marinated Beef

  • 1/2 cup ginger beer
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb steak, thinly sliced

Sesame Steamed Bok Choy

  • Bok Choy
  • 2 tsp sesame oilIMG_20150924_204238
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp mirin

Other Ingredients

  • Matchstick carrots
  • Pickled radish
  • 4 serving portions of steamed rice
  • 4 eggs

Ginger Beer-bim-bap sauce

  • 3 Tbsp gochujang
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup ginger beer
  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp vinegar – I used apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced ginger

Directions:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add steak; toss to coat. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  2. Combine sesame oil, soy sauce and mirin in a wok and heat over medium. Add bok choy and stir gently. Add 2 tbsp water (or ginger beer, if you have a bit extra). Cover and steam until dark green.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add one-quarter of beef and cook, turning once, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat in 3 batches with remaining oil and beef.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce.
  5. Divide rice among bowls. Assemble steamed bok choy and beef overtop of rice, along with additional vegetables.
  6. Right before serving, fry one egg (over-easy) for each portion. Top each bowl with a fried egg and serve with bi bim bap sauce.

Serves 4

References

Recipe adapted from: http://mykoreankitchen.com/2013/07/12/bibimbap-korean-mixed-rice-with-meat-and-assorted-vegetables/

http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/robinsons-old-tom-with-ginger–ginger-tom-bottle/91576/

The Best of the ‘Wurst

oktoberfest-info_logoI have recently been informed that some family members were planning to attend Oktoberfest in Munich. Without me! Naturally, I was a jealous mess for several weeks leading up to the event. However, I did manage to pursue a similar experience (or as close as I could get) without leaving the province.

Oktoberfest began as a celebration of the wedding between the Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The festivities were held on the fields in front of the city gates, while all of Munich’s citizens were invited to attend. The festival grounds which were thereafter known as the Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) or “weisn” to the locals. Somehow this morphed into an anniversary party, then a public festival and has since become a tradition to consume fermented grain.calgary-oktoberfest-new2015-v1

The website offers some helpful information on planning your visit, as well as some interesting facts and numbers about the event. This year 5.9 million guests attended this year, while the Lost and Found collected 600 passports, 580 wallets, 320 mobile phones, 220 bags and “rucksacks” (or backpacks, whatever you want to call them), 18 cameras, 230 glasses and 45 pieces of jewellery or watches, among other more unusual items.The Calgary Oktoberfest is more or less an extension of the Calgary International Beer Fest – numerous local breweries get together, brew some special casks and flaunt their delicious wares. There are however a few more costumed attendees. And live music.

IMG_20150927_140230

I was impressed by the food offered there. Last Best put on a delicious pot of Elk Meatballs with a double-smoked bacon tomato sauce (I might have gone back for seconds). However, I was disappointed with the lack of German food. Where were the bratwurst? The schnitzel? Naturally, the next day I concocted the German food I’d missed. Starting with the following soft pretzels.


Bavarian Beer PretzelsIMG_20150927_135741

1 bottle (12 ounces) pilsner or Oktoberfest-style beer

1 package (1 tbsp.) active dry yeast

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

2 tablespoons sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

4 – 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup baking soda

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon water

Kosher Salt

  1. In a small saucepan, heat beer to 110°F. Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast overtop.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3 cups flour. Pour in yeast mixture and beat until smooth.
  3. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft, sticky dough.
  4. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 425°. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide and shape into ten balls.
  7. Roll each into a long rope, approximately 20-24″ long. Curve ends of each rope to form a circle; twist ends once and lay over opposite side of circle, pinching ends to seal into a pretzel shape.
  8. Fill a large pot with 10 cups water. Stir in baking soda and heat to a boil.
  9. Drop pretzels, one or two at a time, into boiling water. Cook 30 seconds.
  10. Remove each pretzel with a slotted spoon and drain well on towels, removing as much moisture as possible.
  11. Place at least two inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and water. Brush egg mixture over pretzels and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  13. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to a wire rack to cool.
  14. Freeze option: Freeze cooled pretzels in resealable plastic freezer bags. To use, thaw at room temperature or, if desired, microwave each pretzel on high 20-30 seconds or until heated through. Yield: 8 pretzels.
  15. Divide and shape dough into eight balls; roll each into a 14-in. rope. Starting at one end of each rope, loosely wrap dough around itself to form a coil. Boil, top and bake as directed. Yield: 8 pretzels. To Make Pretzel Bites: Divide and shape into eight balls; roll each into a 12-in. rope. Cut each rope into 1-in. pieces. Boil and top as directed;
  16. Bake at 400° for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 10 large pretzels. Serve with mustard for dipping.

References

http://www.oktoberfest.de/en/

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oktoberfest

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/soft-beer-pretzels

Honey for Nothin’

Brooks, AB is not the first place I’d think to spend a summer vacation. But every year in early August, the entire city (or at least the cool citizens) get dressed up and go to feast and joust at the Brooks Medieval Faire. Think of it as their version of the Calgary Stampede. Except set in the 1400s. But no jousting tournament is complete without a horn of mead. Enter the Fallentimber Meadery from Water Valley, AB.
DSC08700

fallentimber_logo_griffintop_blackI’d never been much of a mead drinker in the past. I had always expected something made of honey to be overly sweet and cloying. After meeting up with Nathan Ryan and Cole Boyd from the meadery, I now understand that there’s a mead for every taste.

“My Dad’s been a beekeeper for almost 40 years now,” said Nathan Ryan of the family-owned and operated business. “Growing up around that, we didn’t have a ton to do with it. I was allergic to bees, so there was no way I could be involved.” With a brewing background though, the Ryan family was bound to expand their scope. “Under the Cottage Winery license we were able to open the meadery, doing small-batch production.” The doors of Fallentimber Meadery opened in 2010. Current production is about 1800 litres at a time – not a terribly small production, but still a home-grown organization.

Mead selection
(Right to Left) Dry Mead, Saskatoon Mead, Traditional Mead, Spiced Mead and Sweet Mead.

I soon learned how versatile honey could be – not only can it be made into mead (which in ABV terms is more alike to a wine), or in the case of the hopped mead, more like a beer. “The Hopped Mead comes with a bit of a story, ” Nathan began. “We had been making our still mead for a while, but since we had a brewing background we decided to do a Braggot. This is a drink that’s about 50% malt and 50% honey, and kind of a grey area for legislation. When we started talking to AGLC in 2013, we had already bought a lot of brewing equipment. they were going through a review of legislation and ended up rejecting our application. This was the same review that got rid of the minimum requirements to breweries – while this was good for microbreweries, it made us the ‘exception to the rule.'”

Rather than wait and waste the equipment, Nathan and his brother decided to use the equipment and “act” as if DSC08727they were making a beer. Thus, the Hopped Mead was born. They’ve since seen the policy change to allow for the Braggot to be made, but the Hopped Mead has already become a signature product. The sweetness hits you right at the beginning, and quickly mellows into a rich, earthy hop flavour. It’s definitely worth a try for any hop-head.

Like the hopped mead, the Ginger Mead is also brewed with more of a beer-focus and a fraction of the sweetness of your “typical” ginger beer. “Drinking a pint of 14% mead is tricky in the afternoon. We wanted something you could have a pint of – the ginger mead is ultimately our ideal patio drink.” The honey flavour is subtle upon first sip, but the sharp ginger flavour is the star of the show.

DSC08732
Cole and Nathan of the Fallentimber Meadery
Centred upon a rustic quonset, the Falltentimber Meadery is becoming one of Alberta’s forefront destinations for beer and wine-lovers alike. Much like the wineries of Kelowna, the Fallentimber Meadery is a place to visit and enjoy the scenery with a beverage. “We would like more people to come visit the meadery. We’ve got the place on Google maps. I mean, we’re in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a nice middle of nowhere.”
The Fallentimber Meadery
The Fallentimber Meadery

Want to learn more about mead? Fallentimber Meadery will be at the Calgary Oktoberfest near the end of September. The following weekend, October 3rd, will be their 5th Anniversary party at the apiary complete with live music, dinner, dancing, an informative K-Country show, and vikings. Yes, vikings. Tickets are currently on sale at their website.

Honey is a common ingredient in many sauces for meat. Mead is therefore the only logical next level ingredient.

Chicken Thighs with Ginger Garlic Mead SauceIMG_20150912_193554

12 chicken thighs or wings

3/4 cup ginger mead (or ginger beer)
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger (one 2″ cube)
4 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until cooked through, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. Combine the ginger mead, brown sugar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and Worcestershire in a saucepan. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water. Pour into saucepan and whisk rapidly until combined. Cook over medium heat until liquid begins to thicken.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish once cooked through. Pour sauce over the chicken to coat.
  6. Return chicken to oven and bake until the sauce is bubbling and sticky, about 15 to 20 minutes.Serves 4 hungry knights or vikings.

It’s a Trappist!

its-a-trappistBelgium is high on my places to visit. Why? Perhaps because it is home to three of my favorite things: chocolate, waffles, and Trappist beers.

Abbey and Trappist ales may appear similar in a liquor store. While there are no rigid brewing styles they must conform to, they tend to be dark, rich, and strong with notes of fruit and spice. There are some defining differences as well – all Trappist ales are abbeys, but not all abbey beers are Trappists.

st-bernardus-abt-12
Not a Trappist. But still good.

The term “abbey beer” refers to a beer brewed in the style of Trappist monks, but could easily be brewed by a monks, a secular brewery or some guy in his basement. An actual “Trappist” beer must be recognized by the International Trappist Association to be considered as such.

At the moment there are only 10 of the trappist monasteries that produce beer, six of which are located in Belgium. It is unlikely there will ever be more, due to the strict criteria a Trappist brewery must comply with.

  1. ivt_logo 800The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
  2. The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life.
  3. The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture.  The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.  Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.
the10trappistsbanner
Trappist ales. Image sourced from Belgian Beer Journal.

I say unlikely, but not impossible. After all, Spencer Trappist Ale has already defied the odds by producing the first and only certified Trappist ale in the United States.

A list of the Trappist monasteries that currently brew is as follows:

  1. The Trappist beer and the Trappist cheeses of Orval Abbey (Belgium)
  2. The Trappist beers of Achel Abbey (Belgium)
  3. The Trappist beers and Trappist cheeses of Westmalle Abbey (Belgium)
  4. The Trappist beers and Trappist cheeses of Scourmont-Lez-Chimay Abbey (Belgium)
  5. The Trappist beers of Rochefort Abbey (Belgium)
  6. The Trappist beers of Westvleteren Abbey (Belgium)
  7. The Trappist beers, Trappist cheeses, breads, cookies, chocolate, jams, and honey of Koningshoeven Abbey in Tilburg (The Netherlands)
  8. The Trappist beers and liqueurs of Stift Engelszell Abbey (Austria)
  9. The Trappist beer of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer (USA)
  10. The Trappist beer of Maria Toevlucht Abbey in Zundert (The Netherlands)
  11. The Trappist beer of Tre Fontane Abbey in Rome (Italy)
Orval Abbey http://www.orval.be/
Orval Abbey http://www.orval.be/

If you noticed the Orval, Westmalle, Scourmont-Lez-Chimay, and Koninghoeven Abbeys also produce cheese. Other Trappist monasteries exist, but may choose not to brew at all. For example, Mont des Cats in France does not produce beer, instead focusing their efforts on cheese. Likewise, Echt-Tegelen in the Netherlands produces an interesting selection of liqueurs.

The following recipe makes 4-5 crispy, fluffy Belgian waffles with a rich Belgian ale syrup. If you don’t have an abbey or a Trappist on hand, any beer will do.

IMG_0327

Bacon Belgian Beer Waffles

4 eggs, separatedIMG_20150908_125029

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup dark Trappist ale or stout

1/4 cup milk

5 tbsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 strips maple bacon, cooked crispy and chopped

Maple Caramel Ale Syrup to serve (see below)

  1. Pre-heat waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.
  2. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one medium bowl and the yolks in another. Do not get any yolk in the whites, or all is lost.
  3. Add the sugar, beer, milk, melted butter and vanilla to the yolks. Whisk gently until combined.
  4. Add the salt to the whites and whip vigorously with a hand-mixer or stand-mixer until stiff peaks form. Or do it by hand, if your biceps are up to it. This should take about 4 minutes.
  5. In the large bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Add chopped bacon to the bowl and stir to combine.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Slowly add the yolk mixture and stir until just combined.
  7. Gently fold the whites into the batter, making sure not to crush .
  8. Pre-heat a waffle maker, cook waffles according to manufactures specifications.
  9. Serve with Guinness Caramel Syrup.

Serves four somewhat-hungry humans.

Maple Caramel Ale SyrupIMG_0324

3/4 cup Guinness

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup maple syrup

  1. Combine all three ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir over high heat for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Once mixture begins to foam, reduce to medium-low heat.
  4. Simmer until syrup is 50% of its original volume. Keep a watchful eye on the pot while this occurs – the syrup (if overcooked) will harden upon cooling.
  5. Serve over waffles or pancakes.

Makes 1 cup of syrup

Note: If you do overcook the syrup (and it hardens when cooled), it’s not the end of the world. Re-heat the caramel prior to pouring over pancakes. Let the syrup-coated pancakes cool a minute or two before eating.

References

  1. http://www.trappist.be/en/pages/trappist-beers
  2. Recipe adapted from The Beeroness. http://thebeeroness.com/2015/03/04/maple-bacon-beer-waffles/
  3. Image sourced from http://bensbeerblog.com/2012/12/12/beer-and-star-wars-a-pairing-guide/its-a-trappist/

Taco the Town

For the last week or two I’ve working on a compendium of Alberta’s craft breweries. Unfortunately though, breweries in Alberta are like weeds – as soon as you think you’ve got them all, another one bursts through the cracks of the sidewalk.

I figured I’d start in the fawild-craft-logor South. Partially because I live there, but also because I’m too lazy to start on researching the Calgary ones. There isn’t too much to talk about here in Lethbridge. Yet.

Wild Craft Brewery was set to open in Lethbridge in Spring 2015. For a while I could find the Wild Hops IPA and Pilsner varieties in most liquor stores, though they were brewed in BC. But days and months went by with no opening date set.

Then they were gone. Nothing to be found bearing the brand but a lone six pack at the bottom of the shelf.

Turns out this brewery is currently undergoing a name change to Coulee Brew Co. Named after the  carved by glaciers that line the Oldman River, Coulee Craft will be the first brewery in Lethbridge in 25 years since the Molson-owned House of Lethbridge Brewery closed its doors. However, the countdown on Coulee Craft’s website still reads 102 days left to go – I’ve circled December 6th on my calendar.

I’m disappointed I have to wait a while longer for a brew-pub in my town of residence. I’ll have to explore the myriad of available brews from Calgary in the meantime. But you can’t always get what you want. Fortunately, you can always get tacos.

IMG_20150807_162602

Marinated Steak Tacos with Tequila Guacamole

2lb (600g) lean top sirloin steak

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprikaIMG_20150804_194208

1/2 cup beer

2-3 tbsp hot sauce (I use Valentina*)

2-3 ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup shredded white cheddar

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

10 small corn tortillas

Tequila Guacamole

3 ripe avocados

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp tequila (1 oz. shot)

½ cup diced fresh tomato

½ tsp salt

  1. Pre-heat your BBQ to medium-high for cooking over direct heat.
  2. Prepare the top sirloin for marinating using a meat tenderizer or by stabbing it repeaatedly with a fork. The latter is far more satisfying. Transfer to a bowl or zipper-seal bag.
  3. Combine hot sauce, beer and spices in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and pour over meat.
  4. Marinate for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day, turning occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the tequila guac. Scoop the avocado pulp into a large bowl and toss with lime juice, tequila and salt. Mash avocado pulp with a fork or potato-masher. Fold in diced tomato. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade) and grill, turning halfway through cooking, for a total of about 10 minutes or until medium-rare.
  7. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Toss the tortillas over the grill for a few seconds to warm them. Serve with tequila guac, sliced steak, lettuce, cheese, diced tomato and fresh cilantro.Valentina

Serves 4

*P.S. If you’ve never tried Valentina, you’re missing out. Smoky, spicy and slightly vinegar-y. You won’t regret it. Plus it’s $2 a bottle at Wal-Mart. I go through about 4 in a month.

References

Global News http://globalnews.ca/news/1520718/southern-albertas-first-craft-brewery-opening-this-spring/