MATT'S BEER WE GO! KRONENBOURG 1664 BEER

Ah France...land of cheese, croissant, the Eiffel Tower...and to paraphrase an infamous Family Feud contestant from the Dawson era...French people...and of course, wine!  But beer?

Do French people drink beer?

Apparently the answer is, "Oui!", as I picked up a can of this French beer from my friendly neighbourhood Lickbo.

Now, one would imagine that being called what it is, with the year "1664" prominently plastered across the front as well, that this beer has been made for over three centuries, since Louis XIV sat his royal rump upon the throne of France. 

And you'd be...wrong. 

Apparently it's been around since 1952.  Well then!  So where and how the hell does this year enter into things?  My extensive *cough* research indicates that the founding brewery (Brasseries Kronenbourg) dates from this year, although said brewery was swallowed up alive by bigger and bigger companies, and now lays tenderly in the arms of that small company named Carlsberg.  It is, however, the leading beer in France, so what I tasted, millions of other French have too, and seem to enjoy it!

But will I enjoy it?  And will you enjoy it??

I dunno what you think - thankfully! - but for me, Beer We Go!

Upon opening and pouring - that's an important step - it pours a very effervescent drink, with a rich, medium gold tone colour.

It provides a fresh beery scent, which is grainy and barleyesque (?), light to medium in potency, and is smooth.  So far, so good!

The test lays in the taste of course, and 1664 has a hoppy, dry body, medium depth of taste, and is definitely not sweet.  It's still fairly easy to drink as well, at a full 5% alcohol content.

"Le taste d'after" (that's not real French folks, don't Google it) is still pretty dry, and fairly hoppy as well; bitterness towards the end is apparent, not unlike Conrad Black at a sentencing hearing. Zing!

So!  Does this beer take the crown with me?  Not exactly.  Should it be sent to "Mademoiselle la Guillotine" for execution by Robespierre?  Naw.  It's a fine, okay, decent beer in my books, not a weaky, wimpy beer by any means, with pretty full flavour and robust boozy content.

One thing I'm sure we can all agree on is this: Vive la biere!  Vive la biere libre!

**3/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$2.50 (US$2.60).

From LCBO.com:

KRONENBOURG 1664, 500 mL can
  • LCBO #506741
  • Beer, Lager, Lager/Pilsner
  • 5.0% Alchol/Vol.
  • Sugar content: 3
  • Made in: Alsace, France
  • By:  Brasseries Kronenbourg



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CHIPOTLE LIME MEXICAN TURKEY MEATLOAF

Here is a recipe that I am quite proud to post. Now I know that many of you probably have meatloaf a few times a month, and in all truth, it's probably becoming a bit (for lack of a better word) boring! Here I have created a new meatloaf recipe that is sure to surprise many of you. I have made a meatloaf that has a few of my favourite Mexican flavours. I definitely gave myself a pat on the back for this one. Although this picture makes the meatloaf look like the same old, the flavours of spicy chipotle, and lime zest will jump out at you as you take the first bite. This recipe is most definitely going to be in my dinner repetoire in the future. To all of you fellow meatloaf eaters out there, I say give this a try today!

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Baking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning blend
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper (use sparingly)
  • 2 tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped 
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • handful of fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of one lime
  • ketchup (to drizzle on top of the meatloaf)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with foil. In a large mixing bowl, add in the ground turkey, Montreal seasoning, salt, pepper, sundried tomatoes, garlic, onion, cilantro, egg, chipotle, and mushrooms.

2. Take 2 slices of bread, and soak it in 1/4 cup of milk. Using your clean hands, break the bread into little pieces. Add it into the meatloaf mixture. Add the zest of 2 limes, and the lime juice. With your hands, mix the meatloaf ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix, the meatloaf will become tough.

3. Pour the meatloaf mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and shape it into a large oval shape. Drizzle ketchup generously over the top of the meatloaf, and place the meatloaf into the oven to bake at 400 F for about 30 minutes or until cooked through. Serve warm along side a baked sweet potato, and a side salad.

Cook's Tip: Can substitute turkey for ground chicken, pork or even beef.




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CURRY-LIME CHICKEN & BROCCOLI PASTA

Curry is one of those dishes that I have always been fond of. It really doesn't matter what kind of curry it is, I just love the spiciness and depth in the sauce. Now, I know that usually curry is served with rice but I thought this particular night I would make it with pasta. Hey I always try to think out of the box... I made this sauce relatively figure friendly by using yogurt instead of cream, and I added quite a bit of lime juice to freshen the flavours of the sauce. We all have pasta night, at least once a week, so why not give tomato sauce a rest and give curry a try instead.

Serves 2 generously

Ingredients:
  • Half a package (454g box) of rigatoni pasta
  • 2 medium chicken breasts, cubed
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of 2-3% plain yogurt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp each: dried oregano, chili flakes, paprika, ground sage, onion powder, ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp each: turmeric, ground cumin
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 tbsps tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 head broccoli, florets only

1. Take a large shallow pot, put in the cubed chicken breasts, and season with salt and pepper. Add in the plain yogurt, grated garlic, lime juice, oil, all of the spices, sugar, sliced onion, and the tomato paste. Using a wooden spoon, give all of the ingredients a good stir to combine. Let the chicken marinade for a few minutes.

2. Turn the heat on to medium high,  add in the 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the chicken-curry mixture, give it a good stir, and let the pot bubble for a couple minutes; making sure to stir occasionally to prevent burning. Then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, cover, but allow some steam to vent out of the side. Simmer for a good 25-30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened nicely and the chicken is super tender. Stir occasionally.

3. Put on a pot of water to boil, salt the water, and cook the pasta to al dente. Follow the package directions.

4. With the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add in the broccoli florets, then cover to finish cooking. The curry sauce is done when the broccoli is tender-crisp. Quickly, add in the cooked pasta, toss to coat with the sauce, and serve immediately. Best served right away.

Cook's Tip: If the sauce has thickened too much, add in about 1/4 cup of milk, light cream, or even stock to loosen the sauce.




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WHITE BEAN CHIPOTLE DIP

Once every few weeks, my husband and I like to enjoy a casual , no cutlery kind of dinner. Usually, that entails some sort of dip and veggie combo. Since I always have my pantry stocked with canned beans I use really any type of bean to make a delicious dip. For this particular night I had my sights set on making a spicy style dip. Chipotle was my choice of spice, but knowing how spicy those little peppers are I used only one. (Note: although my background is Korean and I love spicy food, those peppers are no joke!) Drizzle the dip with good olive oil and sprinkle a bit of paprika and you've got a dip worth serving to guests. My picture here only suggests dippable goodies, but feel free to use whatever dippable you want. Enjoy!

Yields about 2 cups

Ingredients:
  • 1 (19 oz) can of white beans, drained and rinsed (use your favourite)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or 2-3% yogurt
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce + 1 tsp of adobo sauce (add more if you dare)
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a sprinkle of paprika (sweet or spicy)

Dippable suggestions: carrots, celery, baby potatoes, apple slices, red bell peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, naan or pita bread, kielbasa sausage

In a food processor, add in the rinsed beans, sour cream, pinch of salt, pepper, chipotle pepper, and 1 tsp of adobo sauce. Pulse until smooth. If needed, add 1-2 tbsp of water to help thin it out. Spoon the dip into a serving bowl and drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle a bit of paprika for spice and colour. Serve along side veggie sticks and other dippables.

Cook's Tip: If planning to serve this later on, place the dip into a bowl, cover, and put into the fridge until ready to serve. Then drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the paprika later.



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There is one fish in the sea that I feel trumps all the rest... it's salmon. This fish not only is a beautiful orange colour, but it's a fish that has high nutritional content; with it's high protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and high vitamin D (Thanks Wikipedia!). What's even better? Salmon is definitely not a bland tasting fish, like the other plain white varieties. Salmon has a depth of flavour that most fish can't match (in my opinion). I try to incorporate salmon every week. So I don't get bored of eating it, I try to think of different ways to cook the fish. Soy sauce, mustard and maple syrup are a match made in heaven. It goes perfectly with this fish and with the roasted veggies. It's a good hearty meal, that will leave your belly full and keep your body thanking you for all the fuel you've given it.

Serves 2

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Baking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 large salmon fillet (large enough for 2 medium portions)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon (use the other half if there isn't enough juice)

Roasted Veggie Ingredients:
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 1 small red onion, cut into large pieces
  • 1 head of broccoli, florets
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp veggie seasoning blend
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock
  • 1-2 tbsps of reserved soy-maple marinade (above)d

1. Take a large freezer bag and place the large salmon fillet into the bag. Add into the freezer bag the following: the soy sauce, salt, pepper, yellow mustard, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar and lemon juice. Close the freezer bag, letting the air out, and start to gently rub the marinade all over the fish. Marinade the fish for about 20 minutes in the fridge.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a medium sized baking sheet with foil. Take the marinaded salmon fillet and place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Place it into the oven.

3.  Line another medium sized baking sheet with foil. Then take the red bell pepper, red onion, broccoli florets, and the zucchini pieces and place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the oil, and season with salt, pepper, veggie seasoning, 2 tbsp of chicken stock and the reserved marinade from the salmon. Then place it into the oven with the salmon.

4. Bake both the salmon and the veggies on 400 F and let it cook for 10-12 minutes; then lower the temperature to 375 degrees F. Then cook at that temperature for another 10-15 minutes or until the salmon has cooked through. Make sure you do not overcook the fish. It should be still juicy on the inside. Serve warm along side cooked rice.




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    GREEN EGGS AND HAM SALAD SANDWICH

    We've all heard of the Dr. Seuss childrens story called Green Eggs and Ham. Recently, I decided to make my go-to egg salad sandwich recipe for lunch for the hubby and I, but then I started to recite some of the famous words from the childrens book while I was boiling the eggs (ok cheese I know!). Then it came to me... why don't I make green eggs and ham salad sandwiches! I'm sure someone out there has already done that, but at the time I thought it was BRILLIANT! The sammies turned out great and definitely I can say the ham really adds a nice smokey depth to the usual egg salad flavour. This is a sandwich that I will be making again for sure. Serve it along side a nice dill pickle and a few cherry tomatoes.

    Yields about 1-1/2 cups to 1-3/4 cups

    Ingredients:
    • 5 eggs, fully boiled and the egg shells peeled off (for a lighter take, toss 2 yolks out)
    • 1 small ripe avocado, mashed (use half if your avocado is large)
    • 3-4 ham slices, diced
    • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 2 green onions, chopped
    • 1/3 cup light mayo
    • 6 slices of bread (to make 3 sandwiches)
    • lettuce leaves, washed
    In a mixing bowl, add in the eggs, then take either a fork or a pastry cutter and crush the eggs continuously; until you get a crumb-like texture. Then add in the ripe avocado and smash it with the fork until smooth. Add in the diced ham, salt, pepper, garlic powder, green onions, and light mayo. Using a spoon, gently combine until just moistened. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it into the fridge until the egg salad is cold.

    To serve, either toast the bread or leave it plain, and spread the egg salad and top it with a crisp lettuce leaf, then go ahead and top it with the final slice of bread. Serve along side a dill pickle and cherry tomatoes for a complete lunch.



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    CREAMY TOMATO, MANGO AND OLIVE SALAD

    What do I love about summer? Well for one, I love all of the fresh local ingredients you could get at your local grocery store. There is such a variety in the summer, and knowing that I always plan my meals accordingly. I just love making nice simple salads all throughout the summer. The combination of the sweet mangos, tart tomatoes, and the briny olives make for an interesting flavourful twist on your usual salad. No salad greens needed here. The light creaminess help tone down the tartness of the tomatoes. This is a good one to try folks!

    Serves 2 generously

    Ingredients:
    • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into wedges
    • half pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
    • 5-6 olives, sliced thin (use your favourite)
    • 1/4 cup sweet onion, sliced thin
    • 1 small ripe mango, sliced
    • 1 tbsp fresh basil, sliced thin
    • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    • juice of half a lemon (use more if not juicy enough)
    • 2 large tbsps of sour cream (use half fat, but not fat free)
    • 1 tsp liquid honey
    • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
    In a large salad bowl, add in the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, olives, sweet onion, mango, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Then squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the salad, and add in the sour cream, honey and olive oil. Using two spoons, toss gently to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it into the fridge for a good 20-30 minutes, then serve.

    Cook's Tip: I don't recommend keeping this in the fridge for more than a day. The juice from the tomatoes don't seem to mix well with the sour cream. It's best eaten the day of.




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    MATT'S WINE NOT! BERINGER SYRAH 2009 CALIFORNIAN RED WINE

    "I shall return..." - Gen. Douglas MacArthur

    ...well, to be honest, I never really went away, I just got really, really lazy.  Yup, that is my excuse, and I am sticking with it!  It's not much of an excuse, and frankly I believe I promised to "return" in my last posting, and well, here we are several weeks later and nothing, nada, bupkus, squat!

    Until tonight!  And, I do dare say, I shall try (yet again) to be more regular (not Metamucil regular) in my posting...I really do enjoy it, I just gotta get the olde gluteus maximus in gear!

    So enough of my BS excuses, let's get to the Californian gem which is as thrilling as discovering that the former governor is your father!

    First, kudos to my big boss for recommending this wine, he in his highly advanced age *cough* knows his wine and has had his share of bottles, and he was right on the money with this one.

    First first, a little back story...(being a quote unquote historian by school training, indulge me, and the back of the bottle that tells me everything).  This winery dates back to the glory days of 1876 and the founder, Jacob Beringer, in Napa, California.  Why were these days particularly glorious?  Beats me.  K, that's all I got!  (Lucky you!)

    Now!  I chilled this baby for 15 mins., rightfully or not (I think it's OK to do - I got no wine fridge!), and upon removing its natural cork, it pours a fairly medium to deep red colour, whose generous alcohol level (nearly 14%) leaves my cheapy glass nicely coated.

    Sniffing time, one can pick up with one's schnoz a lovely deep red cherry nose, which is flavourful, and also has hints of darkishhhhness and wildness...nice depth, and medium strength.  Got it?  Good.

    The main event (but of course I mean taste!), this wine is dry, with really good flavours, and is drinkably smooth despite the booze factor.  Its body is lightish ranging to medium, and is not too heavy, and features more cherry, and berry, perhaps of the rasp variety.  There's not a whole lot of acidity, and no real bite, contributing to its "ease of drinkingness" (maybe I should copyright that).

    The bottle of course, has more advanced tasting notes, more so than this amateur can offer: "...jammy berry flavors with hints of toasted oak and black spice."  LCBO.com chimes in with: "...blackcurrant, ripe plum, cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla tones shining through on the nose and palate."

    See...goes to show what I know!

    The wine's aftertaste is dry, with lighter cherry fading to the end of your sipping experience.

    So!  A delight!  Lovely!  Yum!  Tasty!  Drinkable!  Fruity!  Ease of drinkingness!  Buy it!

    ***1/2 out of 4

    Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$19.95 (US$20.37) (I think, it was a while ago!)

    From LCBO.com:

    BERINGER FOUNDERS' ESTATE SYRAH 2009, 750mL bottle
    • LCBO/Vintages #919654
    • Wine, Red Wine
    • 13.9% Alc./Vol.
    • Sugar Content: XD
    • Made in: California, USA
    • By: Treasury Wine Estates



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    HOMEMADE COLONIAL "NO YEAST" BROWN BREAD


    Recently, one of my twitter friends happened to tweet this delicious colonial bread recipe from allrecipes.com. I saw raving reviews for it, so I checked out the list of ingredients and noticed that it had no yeast in the recipe. No yeast you say? Well although I am a passionate cook, I have to say that I do not love the idea of waiting endlessly for my food to rise. Bread making is serious business, and I give credit to all those that do it often, but I don't have the patience or time to make bread with yeast. To make the long story short, I was intrigued so I tried it... The hubby and I both loved it! The best part about this bread, it had no eggs, no oil, and no butter! It is a clear winner in my books. Make this delicious and healthy homemade bread for your family today!

    Adapted from the "Colonial Brown Bread Recipe" from allrecipes.com

    Makes two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans

    Preheat the oven to  350 degrees F.

    Baking time: 1 hour

    Ingredients:
    • 4 cups buttermilk
    • 4 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1-1/3 all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 4 tsps baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

    Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease or line two loaf pans and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add in all of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Then slowly pour in the 4 cups of buttermilk, gently stirring until just moistened, and you don't see any more dry flour.

    Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans. Place them into the oven and bake for one hour until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Once baked, let the bread sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately or reheat later.

    Cook's Tip: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, use wholemilk or even 2% and add in a good squeeze of lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for a bit before using, so the milk can thicken slightly.




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    SALMON, BEANS, AND VEGETABLE MEDLEY SUMMER SALAD


    I've seen quite a few recipes for salads with beans in it, and to be honest most of them sounded quite boring (sorry to say!). Beans are so nutritious and I love creating recipes using them, so I decided to try my hand at making a boring bean salad more exciting and flavourful. There is the addition of tons of veggies like asparagus, and of course the addition of salmon. You can make this salad with either freshly poached salmon, leftover salmon, or even canned salmon like I did here. Try this salad for your next lunch today!

    Makes 4 servings

    Ingredients:
    • 1 can (19oz) of mixed beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1-1/2 cup salmon, cut into chunks or flaked (use fresh or canned)
    • half a cucumber, diced
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
    • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
    • half a bundle of asparagus, cut into quarters (steamed until tender-crisp)
    • 2 shallots, chopped
    • half a head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
    • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
    • juice of half a lemon
    • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    Dressing Ingredients:
    • 1-1/2 tsp dijon mustard
    • 1 tbsp honey (use more if you like)
    • juice of 2 limes or 1 large lemon
    • 1/2 tsp vegetable blend seasoning
    • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    Take a large mixing bowl, add in all of the salad ingredients (except the lemon juice). Gently toss the ingredients together to combine. Then take a small mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour as much dressing as you like over the salad, and gently toss again to combine. Squeeze half a lemon over the salad before serving for freshness. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or place it into the fridge to serve cold.

    Cook's Tip: If you plan on making this a day ahead, I suggest not adding in the iceberg lettuce until you're ready to serve since it tends to not stay crisp. If you like, you can assemble and pour the dressing over when you're ready to serve.




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    Asparagus happens to be one of my favourite vegetables. I just love the look and texture of asparagus and of course I really love the earthy flavour as well. Since it is readily available at the local grocery store and it happens to be on sale quite a bit this season; I took advantage and made this fantastic warm asparagus summer salad. Serve this as a side to any grilled meat.

    Serves 4 as a side dish

    Ingredients:
    • 1 large bundle of asparagus, washed and trimmed
    • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, washed and chopped
    • 1 small red onion, sliced thin (Tip: can wash them in cold water to take some of the spiciness)
    • juice of 2 limes
    • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp vegetable seasoning blend
    • 1 tsp sweet and smokey mustard (specialty item, but can use any mustard you like)
    • 1 tbsp liquid honey
    • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    1. Put on a pot of boiling water, salt the water, and put in the trimmed asparagus. Cook the asparagus for no more than 3-4 minutes or until tender-crisp. This will of course depend on the thickness of the asparagus you have.

    2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, salt, pepper, vegetable seasoning, sweet and smokey mustard, honey and the olive oil; until the vinaigrette comes together.

    3. On a large serving plate, place the chopped iceberg lettuce first, then the sliced red onion, and then the cooked warm asparagus on top. Pour as much dressing as you like on top and serve immediately.




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