Category: "Food & Drink: General"

Your Beer Primer

September 28th, 2005

Just like picking the right bottle of wine to serve with dinner, there is a science to your beer selection as well. If you have ever wondered what type of beer to have with what types of food this should help. Borrowed from Cooking Light Magazine.

Beer is made with malted grain (usually barley), water, yeast, and a flavoring. That flavoring is usually hops (the dried cone-shaped flowers of a vining plant), whose bitterness counters the sweetness of the malt. Different flavors and beer styles are achieved by using malts that have been roasted to various degrees, by choosing different types of yeasts and hops, and by controlling when the hops are added. The taste of beer also can be changed by using other grains, such as wheat, in addition to barley. Many American beers include corn and/or rice to lighten the taste and lower the price.

Beer is divided into two basic types: lagers and ales. Lagers are made with special strains of yeast that sink to the bottom of the brewing tank. Lagers are fermented and stored at cold temperatures. They tend to be light in color, with a subtle crisp, clean taste.

Ales often are fermented with yeasts that sit atop the tank and prefer warmer temperatures. These yeasts ferment more quickly and produce beer with fruitier flavors and more yeasty and malty aromas. Ales are made with more hops and have an earthier, stronger, more complex taste than lagers. There are many styles of both lagers and ales.

Lager Styles

Bock: These German-style dark beers are often high in alcohol. Full-bodied with low-to-medium hoppiness and good malty taste, they're usually made in the spring to be served in the fall. Serve bock with smoked meat, sausages, and sauerkraut. Try Aass Beer or Shiner Bavarian Bock.

Doppelbock: Stronger and even more intense than regular bock, doppelbocks are high in alcohol (7.4 percent). They taste great with strong cheese, pickled herring, and raw onions. Celebrator Doppelbock is a good choice.

Lambic: Brewed only in Belgium, lambics are made with wild, rather than brewer's, yeast. These beers are less hoppy and can be sour, sweet, or fruity. Often they are infused with cherry or raspberry extract. Fruited lambics are ideal with fruity desserts like pies, compotes, and fresh berries. Traditional lambics also go well with dark chocolate.

Marzenbier/Oktoberfest: Originating in Germany, these lagers were historically brewed in March to last until the next brewing season. They have an amber color, full malt flavor, and medium hoppiness. Oktoberfest beer is an example of a Marzenbier; it goes well with smoked meats and vinegary potato salad. Try Samuel Adams Oktoberfest and Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen Amber.

Pilsner: Originally brewed in Plzen, Czech Republic, pilsners have a golden color with a flowery aroma, lots of malt flavor, and a dry finish with a bitter taste. American pilsners, such as Budweiser, are light in color and have less hoppiness and malt flavor than European pilsners, like Pilsner Urquell. Pair these with pork or seafood.

Ale Styles

American Ale: Pale to amber in color, American ales have medium body, medium to high hops, and are not high in alcohol. Nuts and slightly sweet foods such as coleslaw, roast lamb, and beef are good with American ales. Try Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Bitter: These English ales have lots of malt and hops, low carbonation, and good body. Extra special bitter (esb) has a higher alcohol and more body than other bitters. Try with roast duck, roast beef, and well-aged cheddar and Stilton cheeses. Try Boddington's Pub Ale, Fuller's ESB, and Redhook ESB.

India Pale Ale (IPA): Because this ale was originally made in England for shipping to India, it needed high alcohol content and lots of hoppiness to survive the long trip. It has a pleasing malty flavor with a full-bodied taste. The high bitterness balances slightly sweet foods. Try it with barbecued ribs, glazed ham, or Hoisin-Marinated Chicken (page 232). Hop Devil IPA and Harpoon ipa are good choices.

Pale Ale: Ales made with lighter roasted malt have a pale to amber color, medium hops, and maltiness with a drier taste. Try them with steak, salmon, or other fatty fish. Bass makes a good English-style pale ale.

Porter: Dark brown and full-bodied with high alcohol and chocolate tastes, porters are moderate-to-high hoppiness beers that can be enjoyed with bittersweet chocolate desserts. Try Samuel Smith, the Famous Taddy Porter.

Stout: Very dark and made with toasted malt, stouts are full-bodied and hoppy. Ireland's Guinness is the most famous stout. Bitter coffee and chocolate flavors make stout great with oysters, rich meats, such as braised short ribs, and game, such as grouse.

Wheat Beers (Hefeweizen, Weissbier, Weizen, Weizenbock): Beers containing wheat are often cloudy and slightly tart with high carbonation. They're also very refreshing and are ideal with spicy foods like curry. The tartness and wheaty flavors go well with fried food, such as fish and chips. Try Sierra Nevada Wheat Beer and Pyramid Hefeweizen.

Quest: The Best Homemade Mac & Cheese

August 29th, 2005

In my effort to increase my utility to the rest of human nature, I have decided to go in search of the recipe for the best homemade macaroni and cheese. I am enlisting the help of anyone and everyone to submit their variations on this crowd pleasing comfort food. I will post each recipe that is e-mailed to me in the forum and encourage you to post yours either as a comment to this post, in an e-mail to me, or in the forum.

If I come to find that one recipe I stumble upon is a bit off from perfect, though I am able to add the missing piece, credit will still be given. Sure, it will become Peterified Mac 'n Chee, but thanks will be given to any and all recipes used in creating the masterpiece, whether in parenthetical citations or footnotes. If no modifications are made, I will present to the world your recipe, your name emblazoned across the top. I always remember the little people!

This is not a quest that will start today and end tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Please be patient. It is not that I do not have the time, but I can only eat so much macaroni and cheese.

I hope to return to you with THE best homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. I thank you for your submissions and your patience.

Forum Link

Outraged.

July 26th, 2005

You may or may not be able to relate to the idea of having a "go to" lunch spot for a particular day of the week. I do not have one for each day of the week, well lately I do not have one at all. For a long time, every Thursday I would go to Cosi for their Chicken Corn Chowder.

An admitted soup lover since confronted by a close friend a few years back, few things in life matched up with Cosi's Chicken Corn Chowder. With their special bread, break off pieces and dip it in the soup...so good. The switch was made that Thursday was no longer the day. Monday was now the day. As Cosi does a "soup of the day", you had to be sure to be there on the right day to get the Chicken Corn Chowder. This was a minor inconvenience at most.

Then a few months ago I became inundated with work and school and luncheons and the like. Every Monday I seemed to have something else going on. My trips to Cosi became nonexistent. How I longed for those days, sitting at my table; book in one hand, soup spoon in the other.

It was time to take charge, which I did yesterday. Yesterday was my triumphant return to Cosi to claim the Chicken Corn Chowder that was rightfully mine. I know what you are expecting and no, they did not change back to Thursdays. They changed the soup! The absolute worst thing that Cosi could have done. They have a new and different Chicken Corn Chowder. This new version of the old favorite is unremarkable. There is nothing that sets this soup apart from other soups. Just when Cosi could count on regaining my business, this happens. I take it personally. This is a slap in the face.

I am outraged.

Chicken Bacon Cheddar Ranch

April 21st, 2005
Why?  Because Hootie said so.
(Thank you to Population Statistic for the image of Hootie.)

The Chicken Bacon Cheddar Ranch from Burger King is far and away the most exciting new arrival to the Burker King menu in a very long time. Typically I will not deviate from the double cheeseburger when I hit up the home of the whopper, but I could not pass on this. Two toppings that belong on each and every food item, bacon and ranch appear together on this one sandwich. You can't go wrong.

I had to try this for the second time tonight. The first time my order was messed up. I asked for no tomato and no onion, I got my sandwich also with no bacon or chedddar. Defeats the purpose, no?

Tonight they righted their wrong and I'm glad they did. Good sandwich, one worth even sitting through those awful commercials.

Peanuts

March 30th, 2005

Just an FYI.

There is a "best before" date on containers of peanuts.

(I wish I had known that prior to 3/2/05. Maybe that explains how I've been feeling over the past few days.)

Journey: Desert Sage

February 27th, 2005

A diverse collection of root bark tea and root brew recipes is the source of Journey's Historic Brews. Native Americans shared intense aromatic root tea with conquistadores in the 1500's. Since then, the Anglos, Germans, Scandinavians and Americans have blended and brewed an estimated 60 root beer types over the last five centuries.

Desert Sage honors the Native American tradition of including sage in their sassafras herbal root beer. Enjoy the surprise of delicious herbs and savory root beer.

A surprise it was, and delicious it was not. This does not even taste like anything I would call a root beer. It tastes and smells like Christmas decoration. I do not like this one.

Virgil's

February 20th, 2005

Link: http://www.virgils.com/index.html

Using Natural Ingredients, We Brew A Root Beer So Pure, So Rich And Creamy, You'll Swear It's Made In Heaven.

Brewed using ingredients from all over the world, Virgil's has a distinct flavor. Unfortunately, for my taste, the licorice is too overpowering. It even tastes more like a Birch beer to me, than a Root beer. Good, but not the best.

Wendy's Wild Mountain Chicken Sandwich

December 7th, 2004

Link: http://www.wendys.com

Following up on a recommendation, I pulled into the Drive-Thru at Wendy's today for lunch. A little birdie (Doug) told me to check out the Wild Mountain Chicken Sandwich. I figured I would try it. What did I have to lose? (Don't answer that.)

Take Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich and top it with Colby Cheese, Bacon and the Wild Mountain Sauce. I opted against the Lettuce, Tomato and Onion; I am what some refer to as a "picky eater". Regardless of my idiosyncrasies, this sandwich was fantastic.

Wendy's also offers a Wild Mountain Bacon Cheeseburger, though I have not tried it. To be honest, if I went back to Wendy's with the Cheeseburger in mind, I would just end up with another Chicken Sandwich.

Yes, it was that good. Thanks Doug.

The Silpat

November 28th, 2004

Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00008T960/petespage01

SilpatSilpat nonstick baking sheets are made of woven glass coated with food-standard silicone. Used daily by professionals, the sheets offer multipurpose uses for preparing, cooking, and heating up food. They're also easy to clean--simply wipe them off using hot water and dish soap. Store them by either rolling them up or keeping them flat. Do not cut Silpat baking sheets with metal, but with DeMarle's Exoglass cutters or knives. Silpat baking sheets replace parchment paper, and are heat-resistant up to 480 degrees F. The Silpat makes any baking sheet nonstick--no greasing necessary.

For those of you who ever do any baking, allow me to direct your attention to the Silpat. Silpats are great for baking cookies, though I have seen them used for making candy and peanut brittle as well.

I am no authority on baking, far from it, but these things really make things easy.

Silpat $14.85

Question for the carb-conscious.

November 16th, 2004

Why?

I went out to lunch today and at the restaurant we were told the daily specials. One was a chicken wrap. Chicken with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ranch dressing in a low-carb something-r-other flat bread type thing. Then the server adds, "That is served with a side of fries."

FRIES?!?!?!?!?

Here is your low-carb meal with a side of carbs.

Does this make sense to everyone but me? Why pitch the sandwich as low-carb if you are going to only go halfway? Consider that I am biased against the carb-cutting world to begin with so maybe that is why I can't fathom this menu item. Sure someone near and dear to me has cut his carbs and is doing very well with it, though if I never see a carb-conscious menu change commercial again I'll die a happy man.

Is this just an attempt to allow people to feel better about themselves to say that they ordered something low-carb yet retain their dignity in the face of their friends? "But honey, I had the low-carb chicken thingy for lunch."

Explanations welcome/encouraged?

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