Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Easy as Pi

Green apple is a flavor you might taste in beer, but is not typically desirable.  The compound that causes green apple flavor in beer is acetaldehyde, a precursor to ethanol formed during fermentation.  This same chemical also gives yogurt that “tangy” taste, and is added to soft drinks and candies.  If you like the green Jolly Ranchers, you have acetaldehyde to thank for your candy’s flavor.

Almost all beers contain trace amounts of acetaldehyde, between 1 – 4 mg/L.  However, higher concentrations (5-15 mg/L) can be unpleasant.

High concentrations of acetaldehyde form in beer when the yeast aren’t given enough time to convert it into alcohol after fermentation.  This often happens when the beer is racked too early, and the beer is said to be too “green”.  Proper conditioning of the beer and a longer aging period gives the yeast time to metabolize the compound and convert it into ethanol or acetate.

Éphémère, verb: Existing only for a short time.
Appropriately named.

However, one brewery has used acetaldehyde to their advantage.  Unibroue from Quebec has devised a brew called Éphémère, a refreshing light-bodied wheat ale with notes of green apple.  It's not overly sweet for a fruit beer, and yet the tartness is not overpowering.

Last week I celebrated my favorite March holiday.  No, it wasn’t St. Patrick’s day.  Although I welcome any excuse to drink beer, my family is from the another British isle.  I’ll save my pint for Robbie Burns day, and celebrate my ¼ Scottish heritage instead.

I’m talking about pi day.  Without this noble number, it would be impossible to measure the circumference of a cask.  Or the area of a keg.  Or the volume of beer in a glass bottle.  Or the quantity of pie I have yet to eat.

I have included a recipe for a dessert pie I made a while ago as well.  Try to wrap your head around this: an apple pie INSIDE an apple.  Pie-ception.  Next time, I might poach them in Éphémère or a sweet and spicy ginger beer, for another layer of flavor.

Chicken, taters, gravy, bacon, and biscuits.
Comfort food doesn't get any comfier.

Chicken Pot Pie

with Bacon Cheddar Beer Biscuit Crust

2 cups chicken, chopped
1 tbsp canola or olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium sweet potato, roasted and diced
1/2 cup corn kernels, frozen or canned
½ red pepper, diced
2 tbsp butter
4 Tablespoons flour
1 ½ cup chicken stock
½ cup 2% milk
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
6 strips bacon, cooked crispy
½ cup beer
1 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

For Biscuits:
  1. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the ¼ cup butter in pieces.  Cut with a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add the cheese, bacon, beer, and milk, stirring until everything is moistened.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until a rough dough is formed.
  5. Roll out the dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or glass, cut out about 12 biscuits.

For Pot Pie:
  1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add the onions and garlic to pan with a pinch of salt, and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan.  Add flour and whisk to form a roux.
  3. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and milk to the roux. Bring to a boil.
  4. Once the stock is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Combine chicken, onion mixture, sweet potato, and corn in a large casserole.  Pour stock and milk gravy over all ingredients and toss to coat.
  6. Arrange the biscuits to cover the surface of the pot pie. If you have extra biscuits, they can be baked separately on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and chicken filling is bubbly.

Serves: 6-8

Hot from the oven and melting my honey heart.
And hopefully my honey's heart.

Apple Pie-ception

An apple pie...inside an apple. 

Mind blown.

5 granny smith apples
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c brown sugar
½ package refrigerated pie dough
OR Pilsbury Crescents
OR use ½ recipe of your own home-made pie dough

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut off the top of 4 apples off and dice edible portion of caps.  Also slice a small piece off the bottom so the apples will stand on their own.
  3. Remove the inside of each apple with a spoon or melon-baller very carefully, salvaging as much as you can for the filling.
  4. If you can’t save enough of the apple interior, peel and dice the fifth apple for the filling.
  5. Toss diced apples with sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  6. Gently fill the apples with the diced and spiced apple filling.
  7. Roll out pie crust and slice into ¼ inch strips. Cover the top of the apple in a lattice pattern with pie crust strips.
  8. Place apples in an 8×8 pan. Add just enough water to the cover the bottom of the pan.
  9. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Mash Sparge Boil.  Home Brew Off Flavors: Acetaldelhyde. July 6th, 2011.

The Brewing Technology Blog. An A – Z of beer flavour – Acetaldehyde. Sep 17th, 2010.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Sugar Bowl

Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Awesome.  Sugar Bowl’s slogan doesn't mince words.

Sugarbowl on Urbanspoon
Daily and weekly specials on the board.

Last week I was granted two great excuses to visit this place.  Once for a reunion with some friends I met while studying abroad, and later in the week for a friend’s birthday.  Though I live very close, my bank account (and no doubt my liver) are grateful for the infrequency of my visits.  Not only does Sugarbowl have what is perhaps the best beer list in town, but the food is equally reputable.  The menu is short, but rife with unique dishes you would never come across elsewhere.

The Sugar Bowl is always filled to the brim with an eclectic mix of students, professors, and other colourful Strathcona County folk.  Be warned – you will wait in line for a table.  No matter what time you visit.  I have usually been met with friendly service, though entrees take their time in arriving during a dinner rush.  One could argue it as an excuse to have another beer.

The perfect sweet and spicy shareable.

I used to be fond of the cheese plate as an appetizer.  Sometimes all I want with my beer is a cheese to pair it with.  However, I found during my recent visit that the variety of cheeses had decreased, as did the portion size.  The smoked cheddar I received the first time was sorely missed.

Cheese aside, the best beer snack that Sugarbowl offers is definitely the Smoked Paprika Popcorn.  Served with a wedge of lime, this shareable is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and spicy with that addictive crunch you crave.

Though I usually make an effort to try different things on the menu, I find myself coming back to two particular meals: 

Chicken and Waffles was the first item I ordered off the menu many years ago.  At one time, the fried chicken was served in little pieces, though it is now offered thinner and wider cutlets.  I prefer the newer serving style, as I can more easily distribute the chicken amongst the entirety of the waffle.  Though I have ordered this dish for both brunch and dinner, I tend to prefer it for the latter because of its sugary, buttery, richness.  I simply must save room in the morning for part of a cinnamon bun – they’re usually sold out by eleven.

So many little time!
My other favorite is the Lamb Burger, served on a Kaiser with a generous dollop of goat cheese.  One bite into the patty releases a , followed by a hit of acid from the pickle and the tangy goat cheese.  The Guinness mustard ties it all together.  It’s a satisfying treat, and was even voted one of the top 25 things to eat in Edmonton in 2011 for Avenue Magazine.  See below for the recipe revealed.

The wine is fine, and cocktails are classic, but beer is the thing to drink here.  There are X premium drafts and Y rotating taps, with an enticing discount during happy hour from 3-8pm.  Choose from more than 50 different pilsners, wheat beers, stouts, and ales. There’s even a “Hipster” section, where you can order yourself a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.  If that’s how you roll.

Sugar Bowl is also known to host many Cask Nights for Alley Kat.  An unfiltered beer is matured in the cask from which it is served, and often undergoes secondary fermentation with additional hops or flavor agents.  The result is a less carbonated, yet incredibly flavorful brew.

Change can be a good thing, in moderation.  Though the cheese plate could use more generous portions, most of the menu adjustments have the intention of improving the overall experience.  While the beer list remains, my allegiance to the Sugarbowl will persevere.

CBC Edmonton has somehow gotten a hold of the recipes for two of my favorite items on Sugarbowl’s menu.  Now you can make their lamb burger at home, as well as the best cinnamon buns in town.  I know I could never do them justice.

Sugar Bowl Cinnamon Buns

Get 'em before they're gone!

12 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp instant yeast
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
(more for inside buns)
3 eggs
4 cups tap water

Topping (optional):
Melted butter
Brown sugar and cinnamon to taste

  1. In a small bowl dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar with the yeast in a bit of water. Let it stand until bubbles, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl combine the yeast mixture with the eggs, flour, melted butter, water and salt. Mix well, using a mixer or spoon until dough forms.
  3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured, flat surface. Roll out into a rectangle. The size really depends on how large or small you want to make the buns.
  4. Brush the flattened dough with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Starting at the long side, tightly roll up the dough and brush with a bit of melted butter. You can sprinkle the buns with brown sugar if you like, or omit this if you want it less sweet. You can also sprinkle extra cinnamon on top if you want.
  6. With a serrated knife cut the dough into 12 pieces.Place the buns, cut side down, in greased rectangular baking pan.
  7. Cover and let rise for one hour or until it doubles in volume. Keep in a warm place (like above your stove) to help with rising.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 375F degrees and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Sugar Bowl Lamb Burger

1 kg     Ground lamb
2 tbsp   Rosemary, fresh, chopped finely
2 tbsp   Thyme, fresh, chopped finely
2 tbsp   Garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested
2 tbsp coriander (powder)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Pinch of salt and pepper
Brioche buns

Tomato slices
Pickles slices
Organic spring mix or lettuce
Garlic mayo
Guinness mustard (see below)
Goat's cheese
Caramelized onions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix until everything comes together.
  2. Form into thick patties/burgers. Heat your griddle pan or barbecue until it is hot and grill the burgers 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Just before removing from grill, top the burger with a slice of goat's cheese and carmelized onions.
  4. Spread one side of the brioche bun with mustard (at sugar bowl we use a homemade mustard made with Guinness beer), and spread the other side of the bun with garlic mayonnaise.
  5. Layer the burger on the bun with pickle slices, tomato slices and a few leaves of organic spring mix. Enjoy!!!

Guinness Mustard

1  12-oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout
1 1⁄2 cups brown mustard seeds (10 oz.)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1–2 days so that the mustard seeds soften and the flavors meld.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a jar and cover.
  4. Refrigerate overnight and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 months. (The flavor of the mustard will mellow as the condiment ages.)

 Makes 3 ½ cups

Sugar Bowl Edmonton