What Man is Made by Woman

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Oh what man is made by woman
A spirit made of flesh
A psyche breathed with life.
Oh what body is made by touch
Desire fired in a forge
Hardened pure upon a kiss.
Oh what heart is made by love
A metronome made to move
Sets life to swing with purpose.

© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Read more poetry here

In Your Love I Choose to Stay (Lyrics)

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A song without the music is, well, just the lyrics … but hence the rhyme in these words. So while I continue to strum my guitar and contemplate a rhythm and melody to go with these words, please hum along and provide your own beautiful lilt to fill them out wherever you ‘hear’ them.

~

In Your Love I Choose to Stay 

I awake with breath upon my ear
Eyes closed I know you’re near
Dreams don’t come when we’re awake
Morning stars fill the sky
I crack the dawn, you mend the day
Stitched together for loving sake.

With a look, you chase the night
You are the sun
You are my bright
The moon pulls us together tight
Fills our oceans, divides our tides,
Gives us strength, gives us light.

An eyelash flutters on my cheek
Pulling sand from corners bleak
Desire we meet
Hope we seek
Green are the eyes
With which my fears are beat.

My heart hears you, it beats in two
A smile on pillow meant for me
Petals rose blooms a lily
Glistening with morning dew
Kiss me once and kiss me two
Forever mapped on your lips true.

Curtains open, my dreams know day
No more running, no more
Searching chances for mistakes –
In your love, you show me the way
By your love I accept what may
In your love I choose to stay.

I awake with breath upon my ear
With a look, you chase the night
An eyelash flutters on my cheek
My heart hears you, it beats in two
Curtains open, my dreams know day
In your love I choose to stay.

Lyrics © Dale Schierbeck 2014

 

Gallery

Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

My contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers. © Dale Schierbeck 2014 © Dale Schierbeck 2014 © Dale Schierbeck 2014 © …

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Fettuccine Carbonara with Grilled Garlic Scape Pesto

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Scape Carbonara (plated)To reveal the second mystery from yesterday’s post is to reveal that what you saw were garlic “scapes” aka the ‘spring’ shoots of the garlic plant. Where garlic is commercially cultivated, these fine morsels are often just clipped and discarded and never see the market. The scape is the young stem and budding “flower” of the garlic and, in many home window boxes, gardeners often just let the garlic flower and naturally die back. For those with green thumbs in the crowd, you know that removing the “flower” of any plant forces the energy back into plant and the roots — and when it comes to garlic, by removing the “shoots,” you energize the production of bigger garlic. The “scapes,” once seen as a discardable byproduct are increasingly being seen as an ephemeral harvest in and of itself … and for good reason, CSA providers seem clearly committed to a whole-food-whole-food-use cultivation, so though scapes rare in your grocery store, they are common place in most CSA July shares.

A scan of My Recipe Page shows that I love pasta carbonara — both traditional carbonara and doing nontraditional things with it as well. From salmon carbonara to sweet-pea carbonara, I love, I adore, I worship this particular pasta dish. I love this dish because it has all the richness of a cream dish — without the cream — and it is fresh, light, and packed with flavour. It’s defined by a few consistent ingredients: bacon/pancetta, some garlic, parmigiano reggiano, a bit of oil, and the eggs that create the clingy/creamy consistency the just makes me weak in knees.

While making pesto with scapes is a pretty common way to use fresh scapes, I chose to then use this flavourful pesto in the carbonara itself … and, in so doing, essentially substitute the pesto for the common garlic necessary in the sauce. The result was, oh-la-la divine and if this dish had legs, I might even think of having an affair with it. It certainly has a sexiness to it and, steeped in the flavours of new garlic, this is a dish which will ensure vampires aren’t in your kitchen anytime soon.

CSA_Mystery_2_02Cooking Note: Now for an interesting twist on scape pesto … and a definite twist on your typical pesto. In contrast to a traditional pesto which has basil as the bulk and garlic as the accent, the scape pesto relies on the garlic shoot for both. So in a bid to add some flavour depth and to soften the bite of the garlic while preserving the flavour, I decided to grill/roast half the scapes as well. I had never done this before, but it seemed like a worthwhile experiment to see if roasting the scapes would have the same benefit achieved by roasting garlic. It was an experiment which worked. My only lesson is that I’d probably remove the flowery tops before grilling next time as these had a tendency to wander below the grates and burn and then be disposed of needlessly anyway. Also, choose the largest of the scapes, the thickest around, as these are the stronger and will also not burn as easily.

Finally, as you’ll see, the recipe will produce plenty of pesto … which I like to call not a “problem” but a desired outcome. What you’ll end up with is 5 “parts” — you’ll use one in the recipe below. Freeze the other 4 parts individually for future recipes and uses. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have this as the summer and fall progress.

Prep time:    30 minutes
Cook time:   30 minutes
Total time:   60 minutes
Servings:     8

Fettuccine Carbonara with Grilled Garlic Scape Pesto

INGREDIENTS:

Grilled Garlic Scape Pesto

  • CSA_Mystery_2_02 (1)1 pound (450g) garlic scapes (16-18 scapes), washed and divided
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, removed from stems
  • 2/3 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (1 ounce) parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Carbonara

  • 3/4 pound (375 grams) high-quality fettuccine (I use dried)
  • 4 ounces (8 thick slices) double-smoked bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chilli paste (or a pinch of dried chillies)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup of pasta water
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (divided) Grilled Scape Pesto from above

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat barbecue grill to 350ºF (175ºC).
  2. Wash the scapes under cold water and separate the largest half of the scapes out separately. When grill is to temperature, oil the grates and carefully place the scapes on the grill — grilling for 5 minutes one side …
    Grill Garlic Scapes… then another 5 minutes the other side, careful they don’t burn.
    Continue to Grill Garlic Scapes Remove from grill when scapes are lightly charred and tender to the tooth.
    Grilled Garlic Scapes
  3. Add pine nuts to a medium frying pan and toast over medium heat — about 5 minutes — until lightly golden, stirring regularly to prevent burning.
    Toast Pinenuts Toasted Pine Nuts
  4. Meanwhile, chop the remaining scapes in 1/2-inch (1-cm) pieces and toss them in a food processor.
    Chop up the ScapesRemove the parsley leaves and add them as well.
    Parsley for Scape PestoChop the grilled scapes …
    Chop the Grilled Scapes… and add them along with salt and pepper to the food processor …
    Add Scape Pesto Ingredients to Food Processor… and process for about 60 seconds until a fine paste is created. Drizzle in the olive oil now …
    Add Oil to Scape Pesto … and continue to process until the natural speed of the blades pulls the pesto together. The goal is to use just enough oil to bring it together — so add a bit more if you want to avoid clumping of the ingredients.
    Scape Pesto ProcessedSqueeze in the lemon juice and pulse for 30 seconds more.Add the parmigiano now and pulse until lightly blended.
    Add Parm to Scape Pesto Taste for salt and pepper and when done. Measure out 1/2-cup of pesto and freeze remaining pesto in smaller freezer bags or containers. You should yield another 4 half-cup portions that you can freeze for another time.
    Portion and Freeze Extra Pesto
  5. Now, prepare the carbonara. Heat a large pasta pot of water and toss in a teaspoon of salt. The carbonara sauce will take only about 10 minutes to create, so time your pasta accordingly. You want the pasta to be done shortly after the sauce is ready below.
  6. Coarsely chop the double-smoked bacon and add it to a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    Chop and Fry Double-Smoked BaconFry until bacon over medium-high heat until it is cooked, but not ‘crisp,’ for roughly 5 minutes.
    Cooked Double-Smoked BaconWhen done, lower the heat and add the wine and quickly stir it around. Then add the cream and the chili paste.
    Add Wine Cream and Chili PasteSimmer for about 3-5 minutes then stir-in the reserved 1/2-cup of scape pesto.
    Add Scape Pesto to Carbonara Sauce Blend in Scape Pesto to Carbonara Sauce
  7. If you haven’t already put your pasta in the pot, add to the boiling water now, and follow cooking instructions until fettuccine is cooked al dente: approximately 5 minutes for fresh; longer for dried.
    Cook Fettucine
  8. Meanwhile, break the eggs into a large bowl (you’ll be adding the pasta and all ingredients to this eventually so make sure it is large enough) and lightly season with salt and pepper and beat with wire whisk until frothy. Set aside.
    Beat Eggs for the Carbonara
  9. Remove pasta from water and drain well and toss directly into the bowl with beaten eggs. Do Not Rinse and DO NOT throw away the water.
    Reserve a cup of pasta water.
    Add Fettucine to EggsImmediately toss the pasta and egg together and quickly stir in the bacon-cream-wine sauce. Don’t worry — the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. This is why the pasta needs to come directly from heat. Stir quickly to ensure the eggs don’t cook unevenly and turn into “scrambled eggs” and pasta.
    Add Scape Carbonara Saice to the PastaTaste for seasoning. If too dry, add a few tablespoons at a time of reserved pasta water until a light ‘creamy’ sauce clings to the fettuccine.
  10. Serve into pasta bowls and top with Parmesan and scape tops and, if you’d like, an extra teaspoon of scape pesto on top.Scape Carbonara (plated)2Wine Pairing: Serve with with an off-dry Riesling that has reasonable acidity.

 

“Vicar’s Vice ~ olde ale” (Old Ale) Amsterdam Brewing Co. Limited

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Amsterdam Vicars Vice (front)If you read my Ale Series, you learned about “old ale” as a style in the context of Beau’s “Gilgamesh.” If you haven’t already, it is a unique style worth exploring. I was an instant fan of Amsterdam Brewing from the first taste of their “Boneshaker” IPA which has been a staple in my fridge ever since … so I’ve been looking forward to trying another of their creations – but also wondering if they could possibly live up to the success of that first product I tasted.

Vicar’s Vice is, on paper, nothing like the Boneshaker. Indeed the gorgeous old-style label looking like vellum tells you the brewery is going all-in on this beer. I mean, the label really is gorgeous and just as beautiful in the hand. As an aside, I can’t tell you how many beers have left poor first impressions before I even tasted them with their sloppily applied, dinged-up labels, on worn old bottles. I really appreciate a brewer’s attention to detail – which says to me that they don’t think this is “just” beer … it’s an experience.

And indeed, at 8.1%, I knew this beer was going to be an experience and when it poured a deep dark, chocolaty brown, I knew I had picked a great brew for this chilly, grey day. And once the almond bit of head faded from its surface, this beer revealed pretty much all its secrets in the nose: roasted malts which is as it should as an old ale.

Vicars Vice Olde Ale (side)The aroma was smokey caramel with some earthy sugars that pulled in the yeasts and some definite chocolate right out of the glass. The alcohol so common with big dark ales is there as well … but unlike many that reek of ethanol, this one smelled like it was in balance.

A first sip revealed much the same. Tight, not overly effervescent bubbles upfront — they created a nice mouthfeel from beginning to end. The malty chocolate is quite upfront along with dried fruit — much like the label describes — and which emerges well in the middle taste profile. I definitely buy into the sweet dried dates in the middle and, yes, something akin to apricots or even dried mango at the end. All this is to say, this is a malty ale, but the malts are anything but one-dimensional … and if you’re a person drawn to the bitter, hoppy ales of the day and not sure you like malts, this beer will turn your head and convince you otherwise. It tells you that malts in a big dark beer don’t have to be cloying and sweet. You don’t have to have something that tastes like hops in an alcoholic cough syrup. My other complaint with some big bad dark ales, like some porters, is that there can be at the end an over-pronounced earthiness mixed with the alcohol: something earthy, like the forest floor. While there is certainly a bit of earthiness with this as well – I suspect it is the result of deep dark malts — but in this case, instead of a rotting old log, I would liken this to roasted hazelnuts and dried prunes. This is why I think it pairs exceptionally well with a rich, meaty and slightly sweet food like poutine. And, indeed, with food, I think this beer is even better with an almost chocolate-covered-nut aftertaste. Pretty cool.

Vicars Vice Amsterdam Brewing (label)Still, I will say that the biggest and most delicious surprise of this beer are the 34 IBUs … which I’d say are twice that of many dark ales and moving it into “extra special bitter” territory. That is to say, this beer has a delightful ending, like hot and sour soup, like peanut butter and pretzels … it puts the yin in the yang.

All in all, this is a well balanced beer, with decent complexity; layers that will surely please from beginning to end. Another very solid product from Amsterdam Brewery. Definitely worth a few looks.

Stats:  Old Ale. 8.1% ABV. Toronto, Ontario
Size:
Colour: Dark chocolate brown
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation.
Purchased: LCBO
Price: $8.95
Pairing Notes:  Poutine

88 points

Read more Beer Reviews here ….

CSA Adventures … Mystery #2

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CSA_Mystery_2_01Not every adventure needs to lead down a new path.

In the inaugural mystery, “we” got to play with Hakurei turnips. That was a yummy adventure indeed. Next up is something that may not be as much of a mystery to many of you, but it will surely be new to many more. While it is not uncommon — and it is becoming more common as people discover it’s powerful flavours — it is far from being ubiquitous… yet.

Regardless of whether you guess or know this ingredient already, please do stop by again tomorrow when I will reveal the recipe what I did with this delicious rite of summer.

Ps. Yes, I think I should make this twisted piece of vegetable art my new signature….

CSA_Mystery_2_04

CSA_Mystery_2_02 CSA_Mystery_2_01 (1) CSA_Mystery_2_02 (1)

 

Salsa Verde

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Salsa Verde on TacoAh, the tomatillo– no, that’s an armadillo crossed with a tomato. And, no, it’s not synonymous “green tomato.” The tomatillo is unique little creature I discovered and was able to purvey without much difficulty when I lived in Calgary … which isn’t a surprise on account of the city’s fondness for Tex-Mex cuisine. However, it is an ingredient that I’ve found notoriously difficult to come by here in Ottawa. So when I do spy it, I buy it … and it usually ushers in a batch of salsa verde which translates as “green salsa.” (Go figure.)

Tomatillo Still LifeThe tomatillo is a crazy little tomato that always reminds me of a tomato wrapped in a Chinese lantern. Like the Chinese gooseberry, it is a tart fruit that comes sheathed in this papery package that perplexes the average person who doesn’t know what it is. And if they weren’t perplexed at this dry leaf-like exoskeleton, then one touch usually sends it back whence it came: the vibrant green skin is covered in a sticky kind of wax.

So what’s the attraction, you ask? The tomatillo has wonderful sweet and sour quality to it — and when cooked, the heat brings out the natural sugars. The result is a refreshing and very distinct saucing fruit.

Tomatillo Still Life 2Cut into it, and you’d be forgiven if you said it reminded you of an eggplant, persimmon, or even a seedy Granny Smith apple. There is none of the juiciness you associate with a tomato. This is a huge advantage when it comes to using tomatillos to produce sauces and salsas. You can see by the top picture how thick this salsa is — and there is no thickening agent or huge cooking down process to achieve this — in fact you have to add liquid to thin it. I suspect there might be a decent amount of pectin in this fruit as well.

While this is an incredibly simple dish which is a staple throughout Mexico, it varies as much as the family spaghetti recipe. However, most contain the same 3-5 ingredients in some quantity or another. Some have garlic — some don’t; some use cilantro — others do not; and some use stock instead of water (which defeats the vegetarianism if you’re going for that). And, still others don’t cook the final product again — and there are some versions that are totally ‘raw’ which is salsa cruda. Play around with the ingredients and make it fit your own taste.

If you’re looking for a authentic and distinctively Mexican sauce to play on whatever dish you’re making, this will quickly elevate your creation from ordinary to kickass. And no, a salsa verde doesn’t inherently have to be spicy. That’s totally up to you. I keep mine on the mild side so that it has lots of cross appeal — but double the serrano peppers in the dish and/or leave in some of the seeds, and you’ll definitely put some heat into this salsa as well.

Tomatillo Still Life 3Serve with recipe for Grilled Flank Steak Tacos.

Prep time:    10 minutes
Cook time:   20
Total time:   30 minutes
Servings:     8

Salsa Verde

INGREDIENTS:

  • Salsa Verde Ingredients1½ lbs (700g) tomatillos, washed, cored, and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2-4 serrano chilies, seeds remove and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water, reserved from the cooking of tomatillos
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Remove the papery skin from the tomatillos and immerse them in water and, using your hands, rub away the sticky, waxy coating. Cut them in half, remove the top cores, and coarsely chop them into 1-inch pieces and place them in a medium saucepan.
    Chop the Tomatillos
  2. Chop the onion and crush the garlic and add them to the tomatillos. Slice the chilies in half and remove the inner pith and seeds (source of their heat). Dice them and add to the saucepan as well.
    Prepare Serrano Peppers Salsa Verde Preparation
  3. Add water to the saucepan until just the top level of the tomatillos and bring to boil over med-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a vigorous simmer for 8-10 minutes until tomatillos have cooked soft.
    Boil TomatillosStrain them through a fine-mesh sieve, making sure to capture and reserve 1/2 cup of the tomatillo ‘water.’
    Strain the Tomatillos Reserve some Tomatillo WaterLet cool a few minutes and then add tomatillo mash to a food processor or blender and be careful not splash yourself, blend for 30-60 seconds until smooth and all the seeds have ‘disappeared.’
    Blend  the Tomatillos Blend  the Tomatillos Till Smooth
  4. In a sauté pan or using the same saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-heat. Add the salsa verde to the pan…
    Salsa Verde 10… and season with salt and pepper …Salsa Verde 12… and fry for another 8 minutes, gradually adding some of the reserved tomatillo stock as necessary to prevent sauce from burning or getting too thick.
    Add stock to salsa verdeOnce salsa has cooked down a bit and is the desired thickness, remove from heat.
    Salsa Verde Done
  5. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve … but, note, the salsa is better served ‘warm’ vs. ‘chilled.’
    Salsa Verde 15
  6. Spoon over your favourite tacos, burritos, Mexican rice, eggs … whatever you want. Enjoy.

Salsa Verde 16Serves 8.

 

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relics

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My contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Relics.

Byzantine Fresco in Lissos, Crete

Byzantine Fresco in Panagia Church ~ Lissos, Crete – History Survives … Despite Attempts to Erase

Kennedy's Inaugural Speech

Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech — Etched in hall of Kennedy Library, Boston

Damn on Rideau Canal in Merrickville

Damn on UNESCO World Heritage Site: Rideau Canal
(Picture Taken in Merrickville, Ontario)

Halifax Old Burying Ground

Halifax Old Burying Ground
1749-1844

Canada's Peace Tower

Canada’s “Peace Tower”
Parliament, Ottawa

 

© Dale Schierbeck 2014

See more photography here ….

“Legendary Oddity” (Spiced Beer), Muskoka Brewery

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Legendary Oddity (front)Finally … a beer from the Muskoka Brewery worth writing about.

Having previously reviewed their ubiquitous Mad Tom and Twice as Mad offerings which left me unimpressed, I was hesitant about sticking another toe in their fermented waters. Twice bitten — definitely third time shy. So why did I take the bait? The packaging grabbed my attention … and as a “limited run series,” it is proof if you needed any that controlling the supply impacts demand.

Legendary Oddity (box)If you wanted to judge a beer by the box, well, this is going to wow you. This is a 750mL bottle, beautifully labelled, ‘capped’ with a cork and ‘cage’ and then placed in well constructed box artfully blazoned with with the “oddity.” Not really sure what it is but it is a cool looking bird with a rack of herbaceous antlers — and with a piercing eye, this raptor-phoenix looking creature arrests your gaze and hooks you to drink.

Each year Muskoka gives rise to new and strange creations. Legends date back to the 1800′s when lumberjacks and fur traders took to the woods and encountered the mysterious culture and wildlife in Northern Ontario. Today, we echo our ancestors’ quest for discovery and have unearthed a unique and adventurous offering. Brewed with a Belgian style in mind, this culmination of unique ingredients rests in the bottle of our Legendary Oddity brew. RELEASE THE LEGEND.

This is an interesting beer, to be sure. Firstly, it doesn’t necessarily follow any particular style. Moreover, it is described as a “vintage” which in this case means that this beer was brewed in 2013 and cellared for a year before being bottled and sold in 2014. Having said that, it also only sold March 10 to June 30th — to which, I offer my humble apologies. I meant to review this a month ago thinking it was on release till the end of July. It is also worth noting that even though this is a cellared vintage beer, it also comes with stamp on the bottle that says “Enjoy by September 24, 2014.”

Nothing about this beer would intuitively suggest this is a great summer time beer — but you’d be wrong. It know I was. This is a beer that defies convention and amazes.

Legendary Oddity (back with cage)My only beefs with the beer are subtle but the details drive me nuts: why on earth did Muskoka use such a small cork that is almost impossible for you to pull out with even adult hands? You practically need a cork screw to pull this out. And why stamp a “95 Rating” from RateBeer.com? Sorry, but that just seems obsequious and contrived like those crappy products that carry that stamp: “As Seen on TV.” I don’t have a problem with Muskoka referencing reviews as part of its own media campaign — but seriously, to incorporate it into your packaging? That feels horribly contrived for a “limited release” beer? It begs the question: how/why did RateBeer.com get an advanced tasting?

Legendary Oddity (sediment)So to the tasting: once you twist, pull, and coax the cork out of this bottle, you’re in for a treat. Pour the beer into a glass and pour hard and you’ll get a wisp of head that fades quickly to a tenacious bit of lacing that doesn’t give up. Off the nose it is sugar and yeast … and spice … and all things nice. Caramel and orange peel dominate off the top, but the balance is refined and just leaves you going: “Mmm, interesting; nice.” Pour it hard or pour a second glass and you’ll understand that phrase quoted above: “unique ingredients rest in the bottle.” That’s not just a metaphor — it’s a vague way of saying this beer is on the lees and unless you really want all this turbidity in your glass, pour the last dregs carefully — or don’t, and watch what happens (click on photo to the right → to enlarge and see for yourself).

A first taste is satin caramel on the tongue. I’m serious, if you were making real homemade caramels, this is the softness you’d be striving for. The diacetyls are huge, right off the top and right through the end. These are key, in my opinion, to balancing out the 8% ABV to the point you don’t even know you’re drinking a high-test beer. The mouthfeel is truly remarkable.

If anything, the beer is so much in balance that nothing happens in the middle. That’s not to say the beer is watery, but there isn’t really fireworks in the middle either. It’s sort of like petting a Wheaton Terrier or a Bernese Mountain Dog – soft, beautiful, and something you want to wrap your arms around. It’s the end where the real personality of the beer emerges with among the most complex endings I’ve encountered: clove, cardamom, orange peel, juniper, and sugar all wrap up this oddity into something you want to cuddle and hold and give to your friends.

This is a refreshing beer. The Belgian and Trappist styles leave it spiced and very flavourful, but despite the sugars, their is a slightly sour, almost wheat-ale-like finish to this beer which also, despite the spices, makes this an excellent summertime and apres-golf beverage.

If you can’t find it this year, keep an eye out for next year. It’s just odd enough to be brilliant.

Stats:  Spiced Beer. 8.0% ABV, Bracebridge, Ontario.
Size:  750mL
Colour: Unfiltered golden.
Mouth Feel: Low-medium carbonation; excellent diacetyls to finish.
Purchased:  LCBO
Cost: $11.95
Pairing Notes: Burgers

87.5 points

Read more Beer Reviews here ….

Poached Hakurei Turnips with Pear and Radish

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Poached Hakurei Turnips with Pear and Radish (plated)Ah, yes, the big reveal: those were hakurei turnips in my previous post the launched my 2014 CSA Adventures. On to the recipe now ….

So when I’m left with a new and intriguing ingredient, I don’t want to hide it in something. Yes, that might be more artful like the Belgian truffle I had today that had saffron at its heart. But no, I wanted to taste the naked mystery of these heirloom little turnips that I at first thought were white radishes when I brought them home.

And that makes for an interesting segue: did you know that radishes and turnips are from the same family? Yes, they are both brassica like the cabbage and and brussel sprout … a family that even includes broccoli, rapini, and mustard. Who knew? I certainly didn’t know the turnip was part of this family, but to stare just at the leaves of the hakurei next to the bunch of fresh radishes I also received, well, you couldn’t have told them apart. It’s worth noting that almost all of the foods in this brassica family are eaten for their leaves and what is above the ground. It gets you thinking, doesn’t it, about the turnip radish….

Well, this also got me thinking … and when I think, strange things happen, I admit. If you haven’t seen the new Jon Favreau film Chef, well, it’s well worth the ticket … especially if you love food. I mention this because there is a scene early in the film where he goes to the market and is leafing through the ingredients and buys radishes … and says that he wants some with good quality leaves because he is going to use them too. With that little segue, you probably understand the leading photo for this recipe.

Let me say that, hitherto, I was not a fan of the lowly turnip — until I ate these. Yes, I had some wonderful success with my roasted rutabaga recipe last fall, but it didn’t bring me to fall in love with this family of vegetable. But one taste of these hakurei and I was heard to exclaim: “Where have you been all my life?”

I kept this recipe very simple so that the flavour wasn’t going to be masked. But I also knew that I wanted to use those tops that I was inspired to taste from the movie. Still, I had one more challenge in front of me: I only had one bunch of turnips so I thought, what the hell … and out came the radishes as well. My only concern with using the radishes was whether they would adulterate the turnips with either their colour or their flavour. You can see from the picture, the turnips survived beautifully whole and white.

Onto the recipe: remember, simple was the goal. However, I also threw in half a pear for some light flavour and a few pieces of lemon rind … just something to tie it all together. Not overpowering, not enough to really make you go “Hmm,” but enough to bring it all in.

And the turnip tops? Brilliant. While the stems were a bit more chewy than, say, spinach, there was a nice refreshing flavour to them and their vibrant green colour really sparked the dish. I will definitely use them again.

A final note on the radishes: I really liked them in the dish and have to say this has been my favourite taste of radish, by far. Anne was less impressed with them, but she’s not much of a fan of radishes. The cooking method definitely left for a milder tasting radish with a hint of their eminent earthiness … but with none of their heat. What I loved most about this was shock of pink they gave the dish. However, if you really don’t like radishes, just omit them and double the turnips instead.

Trust me, if you haven’t had these before, go and get some … get some now … and be prepared to be wowed.

Prep time:   5 minutes
Cook time:
  30 minute
Total time:  35-40 minutes
Servings:    4-8

Poached Hakurei Turnips with Pear and Radish

INGREDIENTS:

  • Hakurei Turnipsdozen Hakurei turnips, tops reserved
  • dozen small radishes
    → optionally omit and double the turnips
  • 2 teaspoons (10mL) butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Rocha pear
  • 2 strips of lemon peel
  • 1 cup water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pare the radishes (top and tails), leaving the top of the green stems to prevent ‘bleeding’ during the cooking. While I didn’t use the tops in this case because I just wanted the hakurei tops to discern their flavour, there is nothing to stop you from using both. Remove the tops from the hakurei and place them in a salad spinner and wash thoroughly to remove residual sand and then spin dry.
    Hakurei Turnip Tops
  2. Thoroughly wash both radishes and turnips, giving them a gentle scrub as you do so. Set aside.
    Top and Tail Hakurei Turnips and Radishes
  3. In a medium saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the radishes and turnips and the lemon peel.Add butter to Hakurei Turnips and RadishesRoll the veggies in the butter and pan fry for about 5 minutes.
    Saute Hakurei Turnips and RadishesSprinkle them with the sugar … and add the water (which should come about half-way up the vegetables).
    Add water to Hakurei Turnips and Radishes… and cover with a lid and let simmer and poach for 15 minutes, swirling around every 5 minutes or so to prevent browning on bottom.
    Cover Hakurei Turnips and Radishes
  4. After 15 minutes, carefully add in the pear slices and cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.
    Add pears to Hakurei Turnips and RadishesUsing a slotted spoon, carefully remove turnips, radish, and pears to a serving bowl.
    Remove Hakurei Turnips and Radishes
  5. Return pan to high heat and boil for about 5 minutes letting the water reduce a bit … and thicken. Add the turnip tops and cook for 3-5 minutes until wilted and stems are tooth ‘tender.’
    Hakurei Turnip Tops Saute Hakurei Turnip Tops
  6. Artfully arrange greens around the turnips and radish and pour stock over top to ‘reheat’ the veg. Serve immediately.
    Hakurei Turnip 13 Hakurei Turnip (b)5
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