MATT'S WINE NOT! MENAGE A TROIS 2009 CALIFORNIA ROSE WINE

So dear reader, in continuing with the Summer-esque theme of boozeriffic goodness, I present to you yet another rose wine (pronounced "rose-a," with the "a" sounding like "able," as in, "I am able to drink much of this wine").

I wasn't a big fan of the very idea of rose wines back in the day (whatever "back in the day" means)...they just seemed...too pink?

But tickle me that very colour, many of these wines have proven to be quite enjoyable, packing the freshness of whites with the depth of reds. Or something along those wines. Erm lines.

Wine time you say? I say, "Oh heck yes!"

First however, for your benefit and mine, you should know that my good friend, the back of the bottle, has informed me that this is - like the previous red I reviewed from Menage - is a tri-blend of varietals: Merlot, Syrah, and Gewurztraminer (which I'm pretty sure is German...just guessing, ya know. Oh and it's the white wine grape which mixes with the others).

Naturally corked, this rose - like 99.999% of its brethren - has a light red/rose pink colour, and upon slooshing around the glass, leaves a light coating that slowly drizzles downwards not unlike annoying rain that occurs only on weekends.

The nose features a nice medium punch, which is a little crisp, with definite freshness and body. Citrus notes were observed (although our friends at lcbo.com have a plethora of different nose/tasting notes which are likely more correct than my simple unscientific observational powers).

The taste was noticeably sweet, and fresh, and fairly light. There was a little bite to this wine, and even some tartness. It featured fruity tastes, with some berry, and once more, citrus. The aftertaste continued these pleasing flavours even more so.

The fine folks at Folie a Deux continue their equally fine work with this rose: sweetness which compensates for any tartness this wine has, with a crisp, full flavour that won't leave you wanting for more.

***1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$17.95 (US$17.34).

From LCBO.com:

FOLIE A DEUX MENAGE A TROIS ROSE 2009, 750 mL bottle
LCBO/Vintages #120220
Wine, Rose Wine
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: MD
Made in: California, United States
By: Sutter Home Winery
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MATT'S BEER WE GO! REKORDERLIG WILD BERRIES CIDER

Looks like I'm about to review some kind of soda pop or kid's drink, judging by the pic, doesn't it dear reader?

Well, unlike those folks recently in the news who let their little child smoke packs of ciggies, don't be giving Junior this one cause it packs a mighty wallop at 7% alcohol!

This is the first in a series of more Summery type libations to celebrate the turn of warmer season (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere; if this is the case, then...oops?) here on Matt's Beer We Go!, and this berrylicious cider is perfect for bbq's, patio parties, or whatever the hell you're looking to do whilst swatting flies the size of small birds or sizzling under deadly UV rays.*

*DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend tanning of any kind nor do I want you to be bitten by bugs the size of small birds.

To the cider!

Made from some delightful combination of apple and pear wines (*snicker* there appears to be no berries whatsoever in this, despite the rasp, blue, and straw varieties on the front of the can! CAVEAT EMPTOR!), this cider pours a very light and "AHH" pink hue (at least it looks like a berry colour).

Nice and carbonated as well (i.e. fresh and fizzy), it has a sweet nose of berries, bordering on berry candies or even cream soda.

In the glorious realm of taste, this one is a little tart (not unlike a Tiger Wood's mistress), dryish, and once more, keeping with the berry theme, does indeed resemble a taste in this regard. The aftertaste does trend on the sweet side.

Despite no berry it seems having come within a hundred miles of this Swedish delight, it is indeed, a delight! Easy to drink, fresh and tasty, it is indeed perfect for the warmer climes - whatever hemisphere you reside in!

*** out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$2.80 (US$2.71).

From LCBO.com:

REKORDERLIG WILD BERRY, 500 mL can
LCBO #91850
Wine, Cider
7% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 11
Made in: Sweden
By: Ab Abro Bryggeri
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FLOURLESS PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

This is by far the easiest peanut butter cookie recipe that I have ever tried. I was recently watching an old episode of the Everyday Food cooking show and saw one of the ladies there making this recipe. Needless to say without the addition of flour, butter or oil I was quite skeptical at first but then I decided I couldn't just dismiss this recipe without giving it a try. After I baked the cookies I took the first bite and never looked back. They were so good! The next day I brought them to work and I had them tested out on my co-workers. It turned out to be a huge hit! This is definitely a cookie recipe that will stay in my baking repetoire, for those days when I just feel like having a homemade cookie fast.

Adapted from Everyday Food, March 2005

Makes 24 cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Baking time: 12-14 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts or chopped cashews

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine together the peanut butter, sugar, beaten egg, baking soda and salt. Then gently fold in the chocolate chips and the roasted peanuts. Make sure not to over mix the cookie dough.

Shape the cookie dough into heaping 1 tablespoon balls using lightly moistened hands. Get a small bowl of water to help moisten your hands while you're forming the cookie balls. Then place the shaped cookie balls onto the baking sheet, making sure that they're a couple inches apart. This will ensure even baking. Place it into the oven to bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies look like they are cracked on top. Cool the cookies completely and enjoy.

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BEEF POT PIE WITH A BISCUIT CRUST

Now I know it's not the winter months but for me pot pie doesn't have a season; I love it all times of the year. I have a recipe for chicken pot pie that I do with a biscuit crust so this particular night I decided to try the same using my beef pot pie recipe. I should mention here that this is not your traditional beef pot pie recipe. I actually consider this to be more of a stew-like recipe but it all works the same for me. The warm biscuit crust really gives the feeling of home cooking.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb stewed beef chunks, cubed into smaller pieces
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • coarse salt and black ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 small pkg of mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 450 ml low sodium beef stock
  • 14 0z. canned of diced tomatoes
  • 2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp flour + 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp barbeque sauce
  • Quick biscuit mix (follow package instructions)
1. In a medium sized bowl, place in the cubed beef, flour, salt, pepper, chili powder, and dried thyme. Lightly coat the beef with the flour and seasoning. In a dutch oven or a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat, then sear the seasoned meat on both sides. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Take out the browned meat and place it in a bowl .

2. Add in the chopped onion and garlic, saute for 2 minutes. Then add in the celery, carrots, mushrooms and cubed potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies start to look like they're breaking down. Throw in the bay leafs, then deglaze the pot with the beef stock scrapping up all of the browned meat bits from the bottom of the pot. Pour in the canned diced tomatoes, and add in the tomato paste as well; stir to combine. Add the browned meat back into the pot along with the juices.

3. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and let it cook for a good 45-50 minutes with the lid on. Make sure to check the pot every 15 minutes to give it a stir. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, get a small bowl and stir in the flour and the water together to create a bit of a flour slurry. Once the beef has cooked until tender pour in the slurry, and add in the 2 tbsp of barbeque sauce. Let the stew come up to a bubble and start to thicken. Note: if you find it too thick add a bit more stock. Once the beef stew is the right consistency turn the heat off, take the bay leaves out,then set the pot aside.

4. In a large bowl, place in the box of quick biscuit mix and follow the package instructions. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Ladle the beef stew into 4 oven proof bowls, then gently dollop the biscuit mixture on top. Brush the tops of the biscuit mixture with an egg wash to help create a shiny crust. Put the beef pot pies onto a foil lined baking sheet and place it in the oven to bake for a good 20-25 minutes or until the biscuit crust has baked through. Serve immediately.

Cook's note: Make sure not to dollop too much biscuit mixture on top before baking. It will sink to the bottom of the bowl and never fully bake if you do.

Also, if you like add 1 tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary or thyme into the biscuit mix before placing it on top of each pot pie.
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ORZO FRESH SUMMER SIDE SALAD

With the summer months upon us I really wanted to post a simple side salad recipe so all of you backyard barbeque people out there can make. This salad has simple flavours that go really well together. The tangy flavour of the red wine vinegar dressing and the feta cheese go perfectly with the sweet little cherry tomatoes. What I really love about using orzo pasta is that it's fast cooking and who can complain about that. Grill a steak or chicken breast and serve this salad along side and you'll have everyone asking for the recipe. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 2 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small baby cucumber, diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp red wine vinegar (use according to your taste)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

1. Put on a medium sized pot of boiling water and cook the orzo pasta until al dente. Follow the package instructions. Drain the pasta once cooked and rinse it until the pasta is cold.

2. In a large salad bowl, place in the chopped iceberg lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and the green onion. Add in the cold cooked orzo pasta, the chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup of feta cheese crumbles, pinch of salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Toss the ingredients gently.

3. Drizzle over the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Make sure to taste for seasoning and add more of the vinegar or oil if you like. Sprinkle 1 tsp of dried oregano and give the salad another light toss to combine. Place the salad in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes then serve along side your favourite grilled meat.

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PAN SEARED TILAPIA WITH A WARM TOMATO SAUCE AND ROASTED VEGGIES

This is a fish that I have readily available in my freezer most weeks. I really love using tilapia because of how cook friendly it is. If you're a novice cook that has always "shy-ed" away from cooking fish, tilapia is a good one to start out with. Let's just say it is a very forgiving fish that will for the most part stay together, even when you flip it several times. This particular night I wanted to make a warm tomato sauce to go with the pan fried fish. This slightly tangy and chunky tomato sauce is quick to make and really delicious to eat. It also looks great on the plate which is always a plus in my books.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 ripe medium tomato, diced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup stock or white wine

Roasted Veggies

  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. To roast the veggies: Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment papper. Place all of the veggies onto the prepared baking sheet, drizzle the olive oil, season with salt and pepper generously, and pour 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Using your clean hands, toss the veggies with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Place it in the oven and roast for a good 20-25 minutes. Make sure to toss the veggies half way through cooking using your tongs.

2. While the veggies roast you can start to prep and cook the fish. Take the tilapia fillets and season with salt, pepper and dried thyme on both sides. Heat oil and melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Once it comes up to temp, sear the seasoned tilapia on both sides. This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.

3. Add in the diced tomatoes along with their juices and let the heat of the pan break down the tomatoes. Squeeze the juice of one lemon, then pour in 1/4 cup of white wine or stock. Let the sauce reduce for a good 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat. Serve immediately along side the roasted veggies. I also love serving this with oven fries as well.

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CREAM OF ASPARAGUS & MUSHROOM TORTELLINI SOUP

Asparagus and mushrooms... I bet all of you have never heard of this combination before in a creamed soup recipe? I certainly haven't and trust me I am a huge soup fan. I actually had an excess of asparagus in the fridge and wanted to make a simple soup out of it the next night but I didn't want to resort to the same old soup recipe. I then flipped through the pages of Jean Pare's cookbook Company's Coming: Soups & Sandwiches which had been buried on my bookshelf for so long. I came across a recipe for cream of asparagus soup and knew that I could put a Food Tastes Yummy's twist on it. I added some mushrooms and cooked tortellini to make this a more substantial meal. Sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top and there I had a restaurant quality soup that was simple and easy to make. I will definitely make this one again.

Adapted and modified from Company's Coming: Soups & Sandwiches Cookbook. Written by: Jean Pare (17th printing October, 1997).

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken stock (add more if needed)
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 1 small pkg of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small pkg of tortellini (use your favourite)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (for garnish)

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot, on medium high heat, add in the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for a minute to let the flour cook; then pour in the milk and stir until all the lumps from the flour disappear. Pour in the chicken stock and keep stirring until the soup starts to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium.

2. Add in the cut asparagus and the sliced mushrooms and let it cook thoroughly. This should take 5-7 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Ladle the soup into a blender and puree until smooth, then pour it back into the pot and add a little more chicken stock if you like to thin it out.

3. Place the pot back on the heat, once it comes up to a gentle bubble add in the tortellini and let it cook until al dente. Once the tortellini has cooked through, turn the heat off and serve the soup immediately. Sprinkle a bit of grated Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper and eat.

Cook's Tip: I don't recommend freezing this soup because of the amount of milk that is in the soup. Best eaten within a couple days. To re-heat the soup add 1/4 cup or so of water, stir and let the soup come up to a slow bubble.

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MATT'S WINE NOT! PELEE ISLAND 2008 MERLOT ONTARIO, CANADA RED WINE

Thankfully dear reader, at least in my neck of the woods, the warm weather has returned with a tender embrace, which we all know won't last, as Old Man Winter will come crawling back to punch Young Man Summer in the face to take back his weather crown.

Where am I going with this? I'm not even sure, but what I can always talk about is a good wine, and this one certainly fits the bill. (Had the lovely bird on the front of the wine been a duck, "fits the bill" would have been a brilliant joke.) However, it's not a duck, it's a *reads back of bottle* Red-Headed Woodpecker...but of course! And, I can tie all this nonsense together because ti's the season for bird watching, and this delightful Merlot is a fruit-filled delicious treat sure to satisfy your Springy/Summer needs.

This Merlot is also incredibly price friendly, and is a blend of 70% imported and 30% domestic wines, which, whatever they are, blend together to produce a very drinkable, smooth wine.

Naturally corked, it is a crimson cherry in colour, and has a nose of cherry, and perhaps even raspberry. It is definitely fruit-forward, medium in strength, and fresh, and inviting, not unlike a Tiger Woods mistress.

The taste gives one a swing of zing, and is medium bodied. It is dry, but the berryish flavour compensates wonderfully to take away the dryness; the added absence (+ -?) of tannins makes this, as previously noted, a very easy to drink vino. The aftertastes continues to suggest fruit, and does give a little of that grapey-seediness in the end, which is fine.

This is another wine that proves cost be damned, you don't have to spend a lot to get a very enjoyable wine (unless you're some wine snob, and if you are, why are you reading this?!). It is fruit-filled, smooth, easy, and delicious, and at under C$10 per shot, a sure fire winner.

This Merlot has even become my weekly go-to wine, so that I can sit back after a day of work, and unwind and enjoy with a glass (or four...just kidding, don't drink that much!).

To close, let's just say this: you'd be a bird brain to pass up a chance to buy it!

***1/2 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$9.95 (US$9.46).

From LCBO.com:

PELEE ISLAND MERLOT, 750 mL bottle
LCBO #470823
Wine, Red Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar content: 1
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Pelee Island Vineyard Inc.
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