Perched

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And now for a very different submission on the subject of silhouettes … while neither man nor boy, neither father or son, there was something truly magical in this creature that captured my imagination for more than a moment.

Beetle Silhouette© Dale Schierbeck 2014

See more photography here ….

Playing in the Shadows

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A different submission than my “Bonded” contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette. Instead, we watch from a distance as some children play in the shadows of one of New Brunswick’s many covered bridges ….

 

 

Playing in the Shadows© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Bridge_Silhouette(c)

© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Bridge_Silhouette(b)© Dale Schierbeck 2014

See more photography here ….

Textures in Wood ~ Weekly Photo Challenge

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Trees — they give us life. They give our world texture.

Perhaps it is the fact I that grew up with trees all around me and spent so many days of my youth playing in them, on them, with them, but, whatever the reason, there is a beauty in them that I can’t get enough of … from their heads to their … to their skin. Burnt, sawed or eaten, they are a textured beauty. Thus this is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture.

Textured Wood 03© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Textured Wood 01© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Textured Wood 02© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Textured Wood 04© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Textured Wood 05© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Textured Wood 06© Dale Schierbeck 2014

 

See more photography here ….

Carrot and Apple Slaw with Chevril Vinaigrette

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Carrot and Apple Slaw with Chevril (plated)A simple side salad designed to pair with my recent Scallops with Sorrel Butter, this is so easy — and quite frankly healthy as well — that you may want to find other things to pair it. In fact, the recipe is so easy, it hardly even needs a recipe.

The inspiration came from the young carrots I received in my last CSA share and a desire to get apple on the plate in some way to work with the sorrel butter. I also had a beautiful bush of chervil growing in my garden and given the success of my recent raw fennel slaw, I was confident the flavours would work. The rest of the vinaigrette I wanted to keep simple, however; I didn’t want anything that was going to challenge those flavours or pull away from the scallops … and I wanted a crisp shock of colour on the plate. The result was half a squeezed lemon, a teaspoon of salt and a dollop of agave syrup for sweetness to pull it all together. Really, you hardly need more of a recipe than that, but I’ll still provide one.

You’ll note the long thin strips of apple and carrot in the pictures. This I did using a mandolin which is more for aesthetic effect than anything. A food processor or even a hand grater will work just as well, albeit with a different visual presentation. Let the whole thing sit in the fridge for a few hours and you have a beautifully marinated salad with no fat, lots of crispness, and natural sweetness that will surely have you eating more and more.

Prep time:   10-15 minutes
Servings:     6-8

Coleslaw

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 fresh “medium” new carrots, grated
  • 1 organic tart apple (e.g.Granny Smith), coarsely grated
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  •  heaping tablespoon lightly packed fresh chevril, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons agave syrup (to taste)
  • pinch salt (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash well the carrots and slice them with the grater or mandolin and add them to a large non-reactive bowl.
    Grate carrots for the slawRepeat with the apple and add to the carrot.
    Grate apple for the slaw Grate apple with mandolin for the slawMix well.
    Add carrot and apple
    Add the lemon and the chopped chevril.
    Add chevril to the slawMix again, add agave and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate fro a few hours until ready serve.
    Mix the Salad

Serves 6-8 as a side salad.

“Brockton IPA” (American IPA) Granville Island Brewing

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Granville Island Brewing Brockton IPA (label)Mmm, I remember when …

I remember when the Granville Island Brewing Co. began its production (1984) … or near to it as it was 1986 that I moved to Vancouver for a year . I remember when it was one of the first microbreweries in country that was still either “Do you drink Canadian or Labatts?” I remember that it emerged in an era which saw the rebirth of Granville Island from a run down post-industrial piece of property to one of the trendiest areas in Vancouver — a rebirth that was intrinsically linked to the growth of the brewery itself. I really remember when it was all just beginning, when you had to be on the Island to actually sip this beer and in the brewery from whence it came.

Today, Granville Island is more a tourist attraction than a thriving centre of renaissance. Vancouver has been born, it has matured, and it has taken its name to the international stage. Likewise, the Granville Island Brewery is no longer burgeoning and cutting edge, it is established … and it too has taken itself main stage. Indeed, it’s mass produced product is now readily available coast-to-coast — and most telling of all, it is available in Costco (where Costco sells beer).

The question is whether it could defy the stereotypical fall that besets most pioneering (beer) producers that start out as edgy and innovative and then get stuck in a rut of irrelevance as their competitors, nutured by the once proud ideas of the old, blow past them.

If I could utter my judgment with a single word, it would be “watery” which would be synonymous with “oh-hum” … or to simply answer the question, “No.”

Despite some lovely west-coast hop aromas that escaped when the cap was set free, I knew there was going to be a problem when I couldn’t get the beer to pour with any appreciable head … a head that disappeared without really any trace of lacing. The light apricot brown colour was nice but I dare say it looked a bit contrived as well, perfectly clear, but lacking anything that really grabbed the attention. And that first taste? Trouble personified ….

Granville Island Brewing Brockton IPA (back)Don’t get me wrong, this is far from a horrible beer – but it’s far from a wow’zer of a beer too. Perhaps the word might not be so much “watery” (which it is) as it is “ordinary.” The first taste is less about the hops as it is about the “robust malt,” German if I were to guess. There is a slightly sour taste, not unappealing but not what you’d expect in a true west-coast IPA. That first taste is apricot, a bit of jammy sweetness to follow, and then that slightly sour, slightly bitter, and very watery ending.

It really is the mouthfeel of this beer that kills it for me – watery, yes, silky smooth, yes, but nothing else. There is no character on the tongue and the whole beer tastes rather mono-syllabic.

I wouldn’t say no to bottle if it were handed to me but would I go out and buy it again? No … and nor should you unless you’re doing historical research on a bygone era.

Stats:  American IPA. 6% ABV. Vancouver, BC.
Colour: light amber; golden orange.
Mouth Feel: Low carbonation, creamy, but very thin.
Purchased:  As part of mix pack .
Pairing Notes:  n/a

71 points

Scallops with Sorrel-Butter with Sweet Pea and Pancetta Dust

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Scallops with Sorrel Butter  (plated)Life is filled not only with sweetness, but the tartness of it can also surprise … and reward.

The Back Story:

I know my most recent CSA Mystery was a tough one and even you had a chance to see the plant growing, I’m sure it didn’t make it any easier to identify. If you thought it looked like spinach or some other leafy lettuce, you’d be forgiven because the resemblance is certainly there. However, it was not spinach … and to taste a leaf would make that clear in an instant is that it isn’t lettuce. The answer is sorrel ….

CSA_Mystery_no3_3If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard of this ingredient before … but you may not have had much contact with it, let alone used it. I suspect in a culture filled with sugar and all things carbs, we have lost touch with some of our roots, some of those more subtle ingredients that filled out traditional French and even English cookbooks.

CSA_Mystery_no3_2I picked up this sorrel plant at the end of May on whim never having eaten it or tasted it or seen it or grown it before … but I knew of it. It’s a plant that grows like lettuce and grows without much care or attention. Indeed, it’s planted between two tomato plants, under the eaves, between lawn and house. I give it no water and yet here you can see what it has grown to in two months. It is a beautiful verdant green which even most of the insects don’t seem to bother (much).

When I first tasted a leaf in the Byward Market, the taste was immediate and tell-tale: green, Granny Smith apples. Undoubtedly ‘sour’ to the palette, yes, but without the accompanying ‘acid’ you would expect from an apple or say a lemon. It is a different ‘sour’ and very palatable. The question was, what was I going to do with it when it grew up.

I thought of spreading through a tart salad and contemplated a soup which is what most comes to mind when I think of sorrel. While I will come back to the soup soon, I was in the mood for neither. I had just watched a movie titled The Trip with Steve Coogan and in one scene I watched Coogan and his chum Rob Brydon dine on scallops. And so in an instant, my craving was created and the mission became clear: I would create a sorrel sauce for some buttery scallops.

Sorrel,Mint, ChervilI also had in my mind that I wanted to use the plentiful array of herbs that were screaming eat me in my garden, so my aim was to use three herbs to round out the plate: sorrel, mint, and chervil. The creation didn’t end there, however. Whilst at the North Gower farmers market, I looked for ingredients to further pair with the scallops. When I found some heirloom fresh peas –purple, yellow, and green — I knew I would create a sweet pea purée. While the real intention was colour I also hoped it would add some sweetness to balance the sorrel. The challenge was that there was only one bag of peas left and in the bag there wasn’t enough purple peas (the prize that caught my eye) to create the effect I wanted … so I add the yellow thinking the worst it would create would be a muted green/purple – but the volume still lacked, so I threw in the green peas too. This is also where the mint was used. The point of this is that you have to be adaptive in the kitchen and while I didn’t get the colour I hoped for on my plate, we have to use the ingredients we have to the best effect we can … so use whatever peas you can find to do the same.

Sorrel Scallops (plated)3Next up was a bit of an experiment. I mean, who doesn’t love bacon-wrapped scallops? My goal was more subtle, though, because I wanted the sorrel to steal the show … but I still wanted the smokiness and saltiness of the bacon. My solution: pan fry some pancetta to perfect crispness (not burnt) and then pulverize it with a mini food processor into what I am calling “pancetta dust” and which I used as an accent on the plate. I also used the same pan, with pancetta drippings, to fry the scallops. Delicious and it worked perfectly to infuse a bit more flavor into the scallops.

The final creation was a carrot and apple slaw with fresh chervil (recipe here). The intention here was threefold but ultimately to create a unifying dish to bridge all the flavours: a swath of colour in the middle of the plate, some apple to pull out the Granny Smith flavours in the sorrel, and a vinaigrette of lemon and agave to unite the sweetness of the scallops with the tartness of the sorrel.

Cooking Notes: This is an easy peasy dish (yes, I see the pun) but easy enough to screw up. People so commonly order scallops off a menu and they are a crowd-pleaser, but fewer have the courage to make them at home. There is no real craft to it – the only thing you need to remember is HOT and FAST. Make sure your pan is heated well (almost smoking); add your scallops in batches, two at a time; don’t crowd the pan (do batches if you must); and DON’T OVERCOOK: 3 minutes per side is all it takes to create a tasty caramelized crispness on the outside and a sweet, buttery, tender and still juicy interior. In other words, a perfectly cooked scallop. You’re not going to find many other proteins you can cook to perfection in 6 minutes, that’s for sure. So don’t feel overwhelmed: go out and find some fresh (ideally ‘wild’) sea scallops and try this at home and enjoy an amazing taste of summer.

Prep time:   5-7 minutes
Cook time:  10-12 minutes
Total time:  20 minutes
Servings:    4-8 … or as many scallops as you buy

 

Scallops with Sorrel-Butter with Sweet Pea and Pancetta Dust

INGREDIENTS:

Scallops and Pancetta Dust:

  • Sorrel Scallops111 lb (450g) large sea scallops (8-12)
  • 3 slices of thick pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Note: Sea scallops while still much bigger than “bay scallops,” they can still vary a lot in size, so aim for scallops the same size as each other for consistent cooking and plan on 2-3 per person — again, depending on size.

Sweet Pea Purée

  • 2 cups of fresh sweet (spring) peas, snapped and strings removed
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ~ 1 curl of lemon zest, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) extra-virgin olive oilff
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream or melted butter
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (to taste)

Sorrel Butter

  • 1/3 (80mL) cup butter
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 garlic scape, diced
    → Substitute: use 1 tablespoon minced shallot instead
  • 8 large sorrel leaves, chifffonade (approximately 1 cup of leaves)

DIRECTIONS:

 

  1. Begin by making the sweet pea purée. To do this, “snap” the tops and tails from the pea shoots and pull the ‘strings’ (front and back) as you do so. Wash the peas and place in a microwave container and ‘steam’ for 2 minutes (or, steam over a pot of water if you prefer).
    Sweet PeasImmediate fill with cold water to stop the cooking. Add to the water a half-dozen ice cubes. Set aside.
    Sweet Peas in IcePrepare the lemon zest by slicing 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) slice of lemon. Then, using a very sharp paring knife, remove the lemon fruit … and then remove the white pith from the zest.
    Remove Lemon ZestFinely mince the lemon and the mint and drain the sweet peas of water and ice.
    Mince Lemon Zest and MintPlace peas, mint, lemon zest and the rest of the sweet pea purée ingredients in a small food processor or blender and blend until you have a smooth purée. Put in the fridge to keep chilled.
    Sorrel Scallops7 Sorrel Scallops8 Sorrel Scallops9
  2. Next, make the pancetta dust. In a large non-stick frying pan, place the 3 slices of pancetta in the pan and fry over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side, being careful not to burn.
    Add Pancetta to PanLower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the pancetta is completely crisp and all the fat in it has been rendered and cooked off.
    → Note: Do not throw away the fat in the pan. You’ll use this pan and the fat later to fry the scallops.
    Fry Pancetta Until CrispPlace pancetta between two sheets off paper towel and soak off the fat. Place the plate in the freezer for about 10 minutes until pancetta is crisp and hard. Once thoroughly crisp, place pancetta in a small food processor and pulverize as fine as you can but before it turns into a paste. Return dust to the fridge for later.
    Make Pancetta Dust
  3. Now prepare the sorrel butter. This is simple and easy. Begin by washing the sorrel leaves and drying them. Cut out the stems and the centre vein, and discard these.
    Remove Sorrel Leaves from StemsRoll the leaves tightly together and with a sharp knife, finely chop them “chiffonade.” Set aside.
    Roll Sorrel Leaves Chiffonade SorrelNext, melt the butter in a medium-sauce pan.
    Melt ButterWhen melted, add the diced scapes or shallots and fry for about 2 minutes until cooked/browned. If using the scapes, the butter will take on a beautiful green colour.
    Add Scapes to Butter Simmer Scapes in ButterAdd the wine now and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minute or two.
    Sorrel Scallops20Add the sorrel chiffonade and stir in. It will almost ‘melt’ in as it hits the butter and wilts. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook while you prepare the scallops. This will allow the sorrel to almost completely ‘dissolve’ into the butter and wine. Season with salt as necessary.
    Add Sorrel to ButterSorrel Butter Completed
  4. Finally, you’re ready to start the scallops. Thoroughly wash the scallops under running cold water, gently opening their folds to wash away any residual sand. Completely pat dry between paper towels and set aside.
    Prepare ScallopsIn the same pan you used to cook the pancetta, add enough olive oil to the pan and bacon fat to ensure you have 2-tablespoons. Heat the pan to high. Sprinkle the tops of the scallops with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, add 2-3 large scallops, seasoned-side down. Wait 30 seconds, then add 2-3 more. Don’t crowd the pan, but if there is room, continue to add in batches … or use a second pan at the same time to spread the scallops out. Sprinkle the opposite side of the scallops now with salt and pepper as well.
    Add Scallops to PanFry the scallops for 3 minutes each, so remember the order you place them in the pan to make sure they’re all cooking the same amount of time before you turn them.
    Turn ScallopsWhile the scallops are cooking, prepare your plates. I used a squeeze bottle for the pea purée to create an artistic effect; you may choose to do a smear instead. Either way, the intention is to place a small amount of purée under or near each scallop. Similarly, the pancetta dust can be scatter decoratively as well.
    Sorrel Scallops26
    Once the scallops are ready, serve 2-3 per plate and place a spoonful of sorrel butter over each. Garnish and serve immediately.

Sorrel Scallops28Sorrel Scallops (plated)9Wine Pairing:  A Chardonnay is a classic pairing with the butteriness of the scallops. In this case, I served an delicious Chardonnay from Flat Rock Cellars.

“Oranje Weisse” (White Ale) Amsterdam Brewing Co. Limited

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Amsterdam Brewing - Orange Weisse (front label)Amsterdam is a brewery that is quickly going to the top of my mental list of brewers who consistently produce stellar beers. They gained my instant respect with their Boneshaker IPA and cemented it with the vastly different but equally impressive Vicars Vice old ale. And while they stay in their own ale series, I can’t imagine a beer more different from the big dark old ale than a weisse aka weizenbier, aka wheat aka white ale.  “White” beers are often referred to as “wheat” ales because of the fact that, in many recipes, half or more of the barley (malts) are replaced with wheat instead. This extra serving of wheat tends to produce a more “sour” tasting beer which like the bitterness of the hop can be an acquired taste – but once acquired, the wheat ale will quickly become a favourite on a hot summer day for its ability to quench the thirst. And yes, if you were wondering if there is an etymological connection between the similarly looking/sounding words white and wheat, the answer is an emphatic and very Anglo-Saxon “Yes” as the words themselves the complete circle in these ales.

Amsterdam Brewing - Orange Weisse (ingredients)The two main families of “white” beer come from the Belgian and the German, where the German favours higher quantities of malted wheat and the Belgians opts for the flavour that comes from unmalted wheat. In addition, the Belgian tradition also favours the use of “spices” in the brewing process. You’ll see by the label on Amsterdam’s beer that they clearly fall into the Belgian tradition, from which is derived the Dutch tradition, especially in their use of coriander, orange peel, and anise.

Perform the instructions printed on the back label and commit the “The Weisse Roll” and you’ll see one of the other features in the pour … an unfiltered “whiteness” will cloud the glass, a very familiar vision as seen in the standard among Belgian wheat ales: Hoegaarden.

Amsterdam Brewing - Orange Weisse (Roll)So how does Amsterdam measure against this long European line of brewing standards? Exceptionally well … I mean, truly exceptionally. And I say this as a person who actually doesn’t much care for wheat ales (as a rule). I’ve had some very good ones, I’ll admit, but as a rule, I avoid them – so don’t ask why I picked this one up. I think it was probably the beautiful all-orange painted label which clearly invokes both the orange peel in the beer, but also the classic orange of the Netherlands …. What better homage, then, to Amsterdam’s namesake?

This golden, straw-coloured beer has been carefully carbonated. The balance means that you’ll have to pour hard to produce a head … but while it fades, it does leave a beautiful wreath of lacing on the glass which portends a balance of bitterness you’ll taste at the end. Off the nose there is some spice but more than that, I’d say you’ll smell yeast, a fairly common nose for a wheat ale.

One of the things I generally don’t like about wheat beers is the low specific-gravity that leaves them watery. This beer off the top of the tongue, however, feels full – not crazily viscous, but certainly not watery. This is supported by the tight carbonation that follows and introduces the sourness near the top. From here, the beer quickly moves onto the middle of the tongue where the spices emerge: some orange (subtle), definitely the coriander and while the anise is there, what I taste is more clove and cardamom than anything.

Amsterdam Brewing - Orange Weisse (back label)The ending is only part of the beer where I have issue. The flavours carry through and the sours and bitters leave a deliciously balanced ending on the tongue which totally refreshes. However, there is an acidic and acerbic close that reminds me of chewing white paper to hide high school notes (or so I’ve been told).

Still, this is a very quaffable beer – a beer to be gulped when you’re hot and thirsty. It is a very solid and more than respectable Canadian entry into a European dominated style. This may not be Amsterdam’s best product, largely owing to the ending and aftertaste, but if you like wheat beers, it’s well worth a visit … and if you just want something different for the summer, I’d highly recommend this, especially for a deck party or bbq with friends.

 

Stats: White Ale. 5% ABV. Toronto, Ontario.
Size: 500mL
Colour: Muted, unfiltered straw
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation.
Purchased: LCBO
Price:
 $4.25
Pairing Notes:  Excellent on it’s own, but would be an excellent pairing with any grilled white meat, from chicken to pork.

83 points

Read more Beer Reviews here ….

CSA Adventures … Mystery #3

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CSA_Mystery_no3_1So the next lesson in mysteries is that sometimes you have to look outside your borders to find adventure ….

CSA_Mystery_no3_4My challenge in maintaining this even into the third installment of the series is that I didn’t find much a mystery in my CSA share this past go-round. Most of the usual suspects emerged in my ‘basket’ — and looking at them, I didn’t think I could fairly be true to the intent of this series by focusing on chard this week … though I know for many it may well be a mystery what to do with chard that makes it taste ‘good.’ The truth is, I love the taste of chard and so will be eating it tonight as I re-experience one of my successes of last year: Farfalloni with Grilled Chicken and Swiss Chard. Check it out if you’re looking for ideas.

Instead, this week, I looked for a mystery closer to hand: a plant growing in my own garden. After all, it’s pretty close to be community supported agriculture as the stuff I buy and it doesn’t get more local or organic that my yard. And, yes, I do know what I planted there, so it isn’t a mystery to me: the question is, do you what this plant is? I’ve given you a few angles to make it more fair …. Don’t get distracted by the tomato plants in the background or the thyme in the foreground.

See you back here in a few days for the big reveal (here).

CSA_Mystery_no3_3CSA_Mystery_no3_2

 

 

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