Monday, 20 May 2013
Over the last few weeks, Gerry's Kitchen has been sampling different craft beers from across this fine land. Williams Bros Brewing Co are widely regarded as one of Scotland's largest independent brewers of craft beers and are perhaps best known for the ancient and legendary Scottish Heather Ale back on the shelves. In addition to this flagline beer, the guys at Williams have a fine stable of supposing beers that I have been working my way through.
This week I picked up a bottle of Caesar Augustus, my attention gained by the 'Lager/IPA Hybrid' tagline that was emblazoned across the label. Over the last few months I have enjoyed a number of quality India Pale Ales so I was keen to see how this hybrid worked out.
Williams Bros. initially use a cold fermentation process using classic lager yeast and malt which is then stored for four weeks before adding the hops creating the hybrid.
The beer is very pale in colour, straw gold is probably the best description and pours with a light creamy head which disappears quickly. The glass has plenty of floral notes on the nose but but a slight honey aroma pushing though, resulting in an eagerness to put the glass to my lips.
The Caesar Augustus is very refreshing, like a lager should be. Sharp, crisp, and zesty flavours are recognised straight away but soon subside to be replaced by a nice bitterness from the hops, leaving the mouth with a dry finish.
The guys at Williams Bros Brewing Co claim that this lager/IPA hybrid is a revolution in refreshment and flavour, promoting the crisp notes of the finest lager with the discrete bitter finish of a well balanced IPA.
I think they might be right! I enjoyed this beer immensely, in fact I'm becoming a big fan of the blonde beers from Williams Bros Brewing company having tried Harvest Sun, Scottish Joker IPA, Birds & Bees, Scottish Session, and the wonderfully named 7 Giraffes.
The roman emperor Augustus served a four decade long age of peace and prosperity, I'm wondering if the Caesar was serving up this eponymously named beer on tap as a means to keeping the natives far from restless?
Keep up to date with Williams Bros Brewing Co on Facebook & Twitter.
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1" piece of ginger, grated
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 375ml chicken stock
- 400g tin butter beans
- Heat a little olive oil then cook the onion, garlic and ginger for a few minutes until softened. Add the carrot and spices for a further two minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes. At this point, add the butter beens and cook for 10 more minutes. Ladle half of the soup into a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth before pouring back into the pan and gently reheat before serving.
To serve, split between two bowls and swirl a little soured cream over the top before scattering with some fresh chopped coriander. Delicious!
Soup making isn't something that i'm usually that good at so I am please to say that this was a tasty, quick and easy recipe that i was able to prepare using ingredients that are always in the fridge and cupboard that I will definitely be making again, regardless of the weather. Next time I might leave the soup chunky, or maybe try using cannellini or berlotti beans instead of the butter beans.
This recipe has become my current favourite soup recipe but I would be interested in hearing what soup recipes get your taste buds buzzing?
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
- 2 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 6 rashers streaky bacon
- 4 chicken breast, cut into large pieces
- 150ml chicken stock
- 100g crème fraîche
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 pack croissant dough, I used Jus Rol
- Heat a little olive oil in an ovenproof dish before adding bacon, shallots and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the shallots are softened and the bacon starts to crisp up a bit.
- Add the chicken and cook for a few minutes until the chicken is browned on all sides.
- Add the chicken stock and simmer for 2 minutes before removing from the heat and stirring in the crème fraîche and parsley.
- Check the sauce for seasoning then set aside to cool. Unroll the croissant dough and cut into strips. Cover the surface of the pie with the strips then place into a preheated oven, 180C and bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.
Sunday, 5 May 2013
After a visit to my local farmers market at Clarkston and a chat with Stuart of online beer merchant AleselA, I was armed with the first beers that would be up for review. Stuart knows that my own preference is for fresh, zesty Blonde beers so recommended LightNESS from Loch Ness Brewery, Crail Special from St.Andrews Brewing Co, and Pale 90/- from Luckie Ales.
The first beer to make its way into Gerry's Kitchen is Crail Special from St. Andrews Brewing Co. The original Crail Ale was first brewed to celebrate the Crail Food Festival 2012, which is a bright golden ale with long lasting citrus and floral flavours. In less than a year over 5000 bottles have been sold and this ale had gone on to be crowned Champion Beers of Fife at the Kingdom of Fife Real Ale, Cider & Perry Festival last week.
The Crail Special is a double hopped version of the popular Crail Ale. The bottle conditioned beer pours cloudy, (almost like a wheat beer) with a thin soapy head that dissipates quickly leaving a thin wispy foam. Strong grapefruit and bready yeast aromas fill your nose and the grapefruit flavours come through in the tasting balanced with a slight sweetness. The Crail Special is very crisp although not as zesty as I like, but does have a strong bitter finish, which comes from the use of the American Columbus hop. I apologise for the slight blurring of the above photo, but that may be down to the hefty 7% abv punch that comes with the Crail Special. In all seriousness though, it's smooth enough that you would never know that this special run beer is a higher strength offering.
This was the first beer from St. Andrews Brewing Co. that I have tasted and although I enjoyed the flavours, it's not one that I would rush back to buy again. That said, I am interested in tasting the original Crail Ale to see what all the fuss is about, as well as a few of the other brews from the East Coast Brewery.
I will continue to post up small review pieces on the bottles or draught craft beers that I will be drinking over the coming months. Of course, if anyone has any beers that they think I should be trying next, feel free to get in touch.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
|Baked Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake|
A couple of months ago I attended a cookery class at The Cook School Scotland in Kilmarnock. Whilst there I purchased one of their calendars from the gift shop, to hang in my kitchen. Each month the calender presents a recipe feature in season produce, as well as various offers and discounts to use at The Cook School.
This week, my gorgeous wife was getting something from the fridge when she had been distracted by a picture of a delicious looking cheesecake recipe from this months calendar page. Nicola is a huge cheesecake fan so asked if I would make an attempt at replicating the picture, and with rhubarb in season just now, I set about making my very first ever baked cheesecake.
- 75g butter, melted - plus extra for greasing
- 175g gingernut biscuits
- 175g poached rhubarb - plus extra for decorating
- 450g cream cheese
- 150g caster sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 180c, and butter the sides and base of a 24cm cake tin.
- Place the biscuits into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Alternatively, place them into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and press down into the base of the cake tin.
- Spread the poached rhubarb over the base before chilling in the fridge until needed.
- Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and the eggs together in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Pour over the top of the rhubarb before placing in the preheated oven.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until pale golden in colour and only wobbles slightly when you shake the tin.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it, and carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin. Transfer to a serving plate then dust with icing sugar.
|Poached Rhubarb Baked Cheesecake|
The cheesecake weighed more than 1.5kg so I was surprised that the cheesecake tasted lighter than I had expected. With a rich creamy, almost custard flavoured topping contrasting with the slightly sharp rhubarb layered gingernut base, each forkful was packed with classic flavour combinations. Think rhubarb and custard, or rhubarb and ginger, either way - truly delicious.
Although this cheesecake takes a little longer to prepare than my usual cheesecake offerings, I will definitely be preparing baked cheesecakes in the coming weeks and months, now I just need to think about what flavour to bring to the table when the rhubarb season is over.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
We always struggle to choose starters and tonight was no different. In the end we chose two dishes that we could share between us, Chicken Sate Ayam and Coconut & Szechwan Pepper Crusted Prawns Skewers. Both dishes were well presented, served on a banana leaf with an Indonesian cucumber salad. The Javan spiced chicken skewers were nicely blackened from the grill and smothered in a wonderful spicy satay sauce. Nicola used the words 'Oh My God' to describe the flavours, and was also disappointed that she had to share the rest with me.
The Coconut & Szechwan Pepper Prawn skewer contained four large tiger prawns encrusted in a spicy, crispy coating served with a garlic & chili aioli. Athough the prawns were very nice, there was definitely room for another skewer on the plate.
With two delicious starters demolished we were looking forward to our mains. Nicola had order Singapore Noodles whilst I was interested in trying one of the vegetarian dishes from the menu. The dish that caught my eye was Malaysian Potato, Paneer & Aubergine Masala Curry in a rich cinnamon & last tomato gravy. This sounded delicious so I was gutted to be told that this wasn't available and had been replaced with a Red Thai Vegetable Curry. With vegetables on my mind, the red Thai curry sounded good to me.
Nicola's Singapore Noodles was a huge bowl filled with sticky pork, chicken and cured beef with spicy curried noodles, black bean and shredded vegetables. The combination of flavours worked well and the addition of black bean gave the dish an earthiness that Nicola really enjoyed.
As Nicola struggled with her chopsticks, I dived into my red Thai vegetable curry. The sauce was full of flavours that I love, with lemongrass & kaffir lime leaves helping balance the thick coconut milk sauce. I'm not sure what combination of vegetables I was expecting to be bobbing around in my sauce, however I was dismayed to find nothing more than two thin slices of mushroom, a few small chunks of aubergine, a solitary cherry tomato, and lots of potato. As I looked jealously across at Nicola, who had ditched the chopsticks by this point, I regretted not rethinking my main course strategy. Don't get me wrong, my dish tasted great but had I known that it was 90% potato then I would not have ordered it.
After two courses I was stuffed but Nicola seemed to have hollow legs tonight and decided that she was having a dessert to finish off her meal. After much deliberation, she decided to order the Banoffee Cheesecake yet I was actually so full that I declined the waitresses offer of '2 spoons'.
When the cheesecake arrived, I was allowed to sample it and immediately regretted not ordering my own! My sister-in-law makes a brilliant Banoffee Cheesecake but Bar Soba's offering definitely runs a close second. Buttery ginger biscuit base topped with a light cream cheese filling, layered with slices of fresh banana before being smothered in sweet sticky toffee sauce. Simple yet delicious!
By the time we finished our meal, the restaurant was filling up nicely and the 'Hens' were beginning to come out of their shells, so instead of making a start on the extensive cocktail list we settled the bill an made our way home.
Overall, we had a great meal. The highlight was, without doubt, the Chicken Sate Ayam starter - one of the best combinations of flavour that we've had in a long time. My only disappointment was missing out on the Malaysian Potato, Paneer & Aubergine Masala Curry, but that just means that we need to get back in the near future.
Bar Soba had always been a place that Nicola and myself have enjoyed visiting and based on our experience from Saturday night, Bar Soba still sits nicely in our favourites list.
Keep up to date with Bar Soba on FaceBook & Twitter.