Category : Cuisine and Food

Beer Reviews Golden Salamander

Earlier in the year we went to Burton in Trent Beer Festival; held in the beautiful vaulted Town Hall in Burton town centre. It was an excellent festival and gave us a chance to try some really good beers. I checked through the beer list in the festival programme I decided to start on a lighter coloured beer, before moving on to the darker ones. Firstly I tried Golden Pippin (I know the brewery and they are usually great) and then went for a new beer for me ~ Golden Salamander.

~~~THE BREWERY.

The Salamander Brewing Company is a relatively new business. It was founded in 2000 on the site of an old pie factory (Dehner’s Pies) in Dudley Hill, Bradford, West Yorkshire. The building dates back to the 1870’s and was a derelict building when they took it over ~ they have since transformed it into a thriving concern. The brewery produces 10 barrels and uses equipment from the old Lancashire Mitchells Brewery and from the Hogs Back Brewery in Suffolk. They produced their first beer, called Sleigher in the Christmas of 2000 and have continued to grow ever since.

They now supply beers to a number of pubs around the Bradford area and at free houses in the surrounding area, as well as at Beer Festivals nationwide. Many of their beers are named after varieties of Salamander and include Axolotl (a pale easy drinking beer at 3.8% ABV), Mudpuppy (an amber premium ale at 4.2% ABV) and Hellbender (a stronger light coloured beer at 4.8% ABV).

~~~THE BEER.

*A Bit of Background*

As with many Salamander Brewery beers this one also has a salamander connection. This one is also a legendary lizard! The legend of the Golden Salamander is celebrated with a festival, held each year in Central Slovakia (in the mining town of Banska Stiavnica to be precise). The story is linked with alchemy (the transmutation of base metal to gold), gold mining and mythology.

The Salamander is the hieroglyph for fire and is also the symbol for Sulphur and of the Secret Fire. There is a quotation that says “As the Salamander Lives in the Fire so does the stone”. Golden Salamander beer is the colour of gold and was brewed with the legend in mind!

*Vital Stats*

Golden Salamander weighs in at 4.5% ABV and is brewed using Styrian Goldings and Challenger hops. At this strength it is just in the bracket of a Premium Ale or strong bitter.

*Look, Aroma & Texture*

As the name suggests, Golden Salamander is a clear golden coloured beer. It has a small, off white head that doesn’t linger and just leaves a faint lacing on the glass. The predominant aroma is that of the hops, giving it a citrus (I would say mainly grapefruit and lemon) and peppery (lightly spicy) scent. I also found there was a slight aroma of toasty malt. Texture is crisp, light and fresh and light to medium bodied.

*Tange’s Taste Test*

The hoppiness that was present in the aroma carries through nicely into the taste. It comes through in a grapefruit and lemon zestiness, balanced out by a slight biscuity malt undertone that is present throughout. The beer starts off with a definite sweetness but gets increasingly bitter, leading to a finish that is very crisp and dry. What we end up with is an aftertaste that is also extremely bitter and lingering. It is a refreshing and certainly one for the hop fans!

~~~WHAT TANGE THINKS.

I think that Golden Salamander is an excellent example of a hoppy, light premium ale. It is certainly dry, bitter and thoroughly hoppy. I think that it would appeal to a wide range of drinkers and has enough flavour to appeal to those who normally go for a more robust darker beer. At 4.5% I would class it as just at the edge of the Session Beer bracket, but advise anyone drinking it to bear in mind that, even though it may look like a low gravity beer (like Deuchars IPA at 3.8%) it is stronger and should be treated as such. It was refreshing and I found the bitterness worked really well with the grapefruit and biscuit flavours. A good all round beer and especially suitable as a thirst quencher on a summer’s day.

As I said before, I had my Golden Salamander at Burton Beer Festival, where I paid 1.10 for a half pint measure. I have also had it as a guest beer in my local Wetherspoons where it was 1.59 a pint (their current Guest Ale price). I think that it is a good quality beer from a good quality brewery and is well worth looking out for. The colour is appealing (it might even tempt in the lager drinker) and it is a lovely beer that I have no hesitation in recommending to beer drinkers everywhere.

~~~BREWERY DETAILS.

Salamander Brewing Company,
22 Harry Street
Dudley Hill
Bradford
West Yorkshire
BD4 9PH

01274 652 323

http://www.salamanderbrewing.com/

Reference:
1. Salamander Golden Salamander – RateBeer
2. Salamander Brewing Company – England – Beers and Ratings …


Beer Reviews Grolsch Premium Lager

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, my love of imported and craft brewed beer makes me act like something of a beer dictator. A beer-tator if you will. As such, I often ride my brother when it comes to his taste for certain pale, European lagers. It occurred to me recently that I might be behaving unfairly towards the beers Gary enjoys. To that end I picked up a can of Grolsch this week and brought it home for a tasting.

Grolsch was founded in 1615 in the Dutch town of Groenlo by Willem Neerfeldt. Today, the company is located in the town of Enschede and has been part of the SABMiller group since 2008. Currently, Grolsch is the second largest brewer in Holland after Heineken and is the 21st largest provider of beer in the world. Available in 70 countries worldwide, Grolsch is best known for its lager, Grolsch Premium Pilsner.

Grolsch pours into the glass pale yellow, the color of straw. Light carbonation supports a fluffy, bone white head. Head shows decent signs of retention, actually lasting a couple minutes before receding. Aroma gives me malt in the front in the form of biscuits and grains. There is a pleasant hint of sweetness in the center. This is followed by a lack of hop aroma. There’s nothing in the aroma but grains and hints of sweetness. Unfortunately, the lack of hops in the nose leaves the aroma without a solid finish.

Taking a sip, Grolsch is a light bodied lager with enough mouthfeel to keep it from feeling watery. Flavor follows the nose very directly. At first blush it seems to be a short, straight line from graininess to dry finish with no stops in between. In the middle is a suggestion of corn sweetness. This moves straight into a long, lingering, dry finish. As with the nose, Grolsch’s flavor is a fairly linear progression from straightforward malt presence to the finish with no stops in between.

I feel as though the best I can say about Grolsch is that it’s drinkable. Unfortunately, I can’t say I find it very refreshing. With such a hugely dry finish and almost no pronounced sweetness in the center to provide balance, Grolsch does little but dry my palate with every sip. Overall, Grolsch rates a 6.3 out of 10. When all is said and done, Grolsch seems to be made for those who want to say they drink something better than mainstream American lagers without giving up the flavors of said lagers.

Reference:
1. Grolsch Brewery
2. Grolsch Premium Lager | Grolsch Bierbrouwerij N.V. | BeerAdvocate


How to Choose a Cucumber

Cucumbers come in more than fifty different varieties, from the long, thin English and Armenian cucumbers, to the tiny gherkins.  There is even one variety that looks like a lemon.  It is yellow, and rounded, just like a lemon!  Most folks are familiar only with what they find in the grocery store.  Usually people buy slicing cucumbers for salads and sandwiches, and to eat out of hand as a snack.  

There are several things to look for when buying cucumbers to insure freshness, and taste, regardless of the variety of cucumber chosen.  The first thing to look for is unblemished fruit that is a deep green, dull, uniform color. The cucumber should look fresh.  Some varieties have creamy white mottling, but avoid cucumbers that are starting to yellow.  Supermarket cucumbers are shiny because they are waxed.  This wax is to replace the fruit’s natural wax, which is removed in processing, and to prevent bruising during shipping. 

The wax can be removed, if desired, but it is FDA approved for human consumption.  To remove the wax, soak the cucumbers in a basin of very warm water.  This will soften the wax so it can be scrubbed off with a vegetable brush.  If the skin is thick, or bitter, one can peel the cucumber before eating.  English and Armenian cucumbers have thinner skins and fewer seeds, so peeling is usually not necessary.  Because the wax helps to retain moisture, it is best not to peel them, or remove the wax, until it is time to eat them.

Next, check for firmness.  A good cucumber is firm when pressed with the thumb, and should be firm all the way to the end.  Avoid cucumbers that yield to thumb pressure.  There should be no soft spots.

The final indicator of taste one should look for is size.  Avoid overly large cucumbers because the seeds are often hard and unpalatable, and sometimes the flesh is woody.  Smaller cucumbers tend to be sweeter and crisper.  The seeds of smaller cucumbers are finer, making them a better choice for salads and sandwiches and for eating out of hand.

Once the cucumbers are home, store them in the crisper of the refrigerator.  Cucumbers have a very high water content.  It is best not store them with fruit, as fruit will cause the cucumber to yellow and deteriorate quickly.  If not using the entire cucumber immediately, put some plastic wrap, or waxed paper secured with a rubber band, over the cut end.  Store it in the refrigerator.

If one follows these guidelines in choosing a cucumber, one will enjoy deliciousness from the garden when used in any salad, sandwich, sliced, or eaten out of hand.  The inside of a cucumber can be up to twenty degrees cooler than the air around it, making it truly a refreshing summer treat!


How to Clean Pesticides off Fruits and Vegetables

Many people these days are more aware of pesticides on most commercial fruits and vegetables. There are safe ways to remove pesticides, using  mild soaps, and or, a few simple household alternatives.  Also important is a  thorough rinsing.  Here are some safe and healthy ways to eliminate pesticides from your foods.

Organic and locally grown produce is best, but since it cannot always be avoided, non organically grown commercial, supermarket produce is the most common kind in most households.

Keeping healthy habits is more a concern behaviorally than any thing else. People are often lulled into a false sense of confidence.  They grab an apple, or plum, and maybe just give it a quick rub across a sleeve. Parents who teach children to always wash hands, and with soap and water,  make the best teachers by doing it first themselves.  Washing the food off becomes just an extension of this crucial step.

Besides the obvious advantage of not ingesting pesticides, which are poisons, after all,   careful cleaning of all your kitchen produce and surfaces will also remove many harmful bacteria, fungi, and even repel some virus.  It makes sense, and more appetizing meals, to remove a wide variety of pesticides, both herbicidal and insect toxins,  when preparing any food.

Researchers at Cornell University tested simple soaps and water cleansing.  It works well if done with a vigorous amount of friction.  A long handled scrub brush works well. Soaking those fruits and vegetables which are not harmed by pre-soaking is a good way to give them a reasonable bath in mildly soapy water. A warm soak of a minimum of four minutes is recommended. Hand soap and mild dish washing detergent are effective. If working with those foods which are best not to soak, such as tender berries, have a spray bottle handy with diluted, soapy water. Then rinse thoroughly.

Soap and water is not the only solution. White vinegar, lemon juice and even hydrogen peroxide greatly diluted will remove pesticides  without harming produce. Just one tablespoon per gallon makes a difference.

Keep vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in dark bottles with clear labels.  A sprayer will make them more convenient for everyday use.

Lemon juice has the added advantage of keeping some fruits from turning brown so quickly. It also cuts through grease, and makes hands and kitchen surfaces smell nice.

Keep a fresh lemon in the refrigerator at all times, and most important of all, take the extra time to scrub; first the hands, then all the most  wholesome food one can feel most proud to serve a healthy family.


Good to eat stinging nettles

Anyone who has brushed up against a stinging nettle plant will probably remember the burning experience. There is a reason for the protection, but many people don’t really think about it. The stinging is a protection mechanism against insects and animals because the plant is wonderfully healthy. It is a way for the plant to protect itself. The stinging, though, makes the plant one that is often overlooked and untapped, despite all the healthy benefits.

Health benefits

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) plants have many health benefits. Nettles contain a large amount of vitamins A, C, D, E and K. This plant is also high in magnesium, calcium, iron and silicon, as well as trace elements that are needed for health. Stinging nettles are also recognized as being a good source of antioxidants, so it is a plant that is good for preventing or combating cancer and numerous other illnesses.

Urtica dioica has been used, for a very long time, for its medicinal properties. The high iron content has made this plant useful for the treatment of anemia and bleeding problems. In fact, it has also been used to strengthen and help women during their monthly cycle, to counter blood loss. The plant shows a lot of promise in use for treatment of urinary and prostate complaints, with few of the side effects associated with commonly used man-made medications.

The plant has even been used to treat gout, PMS, asthma, scurvy, arthritis high blood pressure and rheumatism. 

Food benefits

Nettles are also great tasting when properly prepared. Foods made from these plants tend to be easy and fast to make. At the same time, this is a widely spread plant species. It is native to both Europe and North America, so there are seldom problems procuring it, especially along river and canal banks. There are few states or provinces where nettles can’t be found. Where they grow, they often do so in profusion, as well.

An example of a great tasting, simple, healthy and filling meal that can be made from this plant is cream of nettle soup. The young plants are collected, rinsed, chopped and made into soup, with milk or cream. Stinging nettles are suitable for home cooking or camp cooking, which increases the versatility, too. It has the added benefit of not being high in calories. 

Collection

People might think that the collection of these plants would be very difficult. This isn’t the case, however. Gloves should be worn, but a paper sack and a pair of scissors is about all that is needed besides the gloves. The one problem the plants do have, though, is that as they mature, they fix silicon in the stems and leaves. This takes the form of small nodules. When cooked at this stage, the food rather takes on the consistency of food with a handful of sand added. The flavor is still good, but not many people like the gritty texture.

Still, it should be noted that heating or drying removes the stinging poison and renders it harmless. The key is just to collect them early in their growth.

The late Euell Gibbons, an expert in collecting, preparing and eating wild plants, felt that stinging nettles were one of the most neglected food sources. He actively encouraged people to try them, rather than discarding the idea out of hand. There is little doubt that this is a plant species that is even more healthy than it is flavorful, even though it is quite tasty. 


How to Clean Fresh Bullfrogs for Eating

Properly cooked, bull frog meat is considered to be a delicacy in many places. There is good reason for this as this is a meat that is lean and flavorful. Bull frogs are also not tremendously hard to catch and they are wide spread in distribution, so they don’t have to be expensive to acquire. They can even be raised for food. A person who catches their own or who raises them to eat might wonder how to clean the fresh bull frogs, though. Thankfully, the cleaning is quite simple.

Initial cuts

The first step for cleaning of the frog is to remove the head. This is done by using a sharp knife to sever the head just in front of the front legs. Since a sharp knife tends to slide through easily, this is also a preferred way of killing the frog, because it is so quick and there is little potential suffering for the animal. Once the head has been removed, all four feet are removed at what corresponds to a wrist or ankle joint. 

Skinning

The next step is to remove the skin. This is incredibly simple, since the skin is normally loose. Insert a blade just under the skin on the underside of the frog, near the vent, and with the knife pointed upward and taking care not to cut into the body, slice through the skin from the vent to the neck, where the head has been removed. Follow this by making similar cuts on the inside of all four legs, from where the feet were removed to the central cut. Turn the carcass right side up. Holding on to the body with one hand and grasping the skin on the back with the other, it should be an easy matter to peel the skin off of the body.

Gutting

Using the same care as was used to cut through the skin, make an incision through the abdominal cavity just above the vent, making sure not to cut through or puncture the intestines. Again, the blade should face up and it should be drawn up to and through the rib cage. At this point, under running water, remove the contents of the rib cage and abdominal cavity by simply pulling them out. The running water should wash away any blood or other remnants. 

Additional steps

Once skinned and gutted, the bull frog carcass is ready for cooking or freezing for later cooking. Many people prefer to only eat the lower legs, which is understandable, considering the small amount of meat elsewhere on the body. For these individuals, the hind legs can be easily cut off the rest of the frogs body for food preparation. It should be noted that though there isn’t a great deal of meat on the rest of the frog, there is some, so cutting off the rear legs and discarding the rest can amount to a waste of meat. It should also be mentioned that many people who only eat the back legs sometimes cut these off early in the process and clean only these, throwing away the rest of the frog and available meat it contains.

Even taking great care not to cut in a way that they shouldn’t, a beginner can often clean a large bull frog in less than five minutes. This means that cooking often takes more time than cleaning the frog. Fresh bull frogs can be used in many meals and if a person catches the amphibians themselves, the cost is close to nothing. The resultant meals are often nothing less than fantastic, however. Cleaning bull frogs for eating is quite simple, too, so there is no reason budding cooks or gourmets should content themselves with spending sometimes great prices for this type of meat.


How to Choose a Sweet Mango

Mangoes can be processed into many interesting dishes; they are rich in vitamin A, C and D, and the principal fruit of the Latin American countries, Asia and India. If you love mango, but don’t know how to choose delicious and sweet mangoes, some following tips will be useful for you.

– You should choose the mango with beautiful skin, no lumpy and bruised. The color is not a deciding factor, so don’t pay attention too much on it, because the mango has some colors such as green, yellow or red. The color doesn’t indicate ripeness and quality of mango. The fragrant mango is ripe mango, but non-aromatic mango isn’t exactly green. If you want to leave the mangoes for few days, you should select little hard mangoes.

– The ripe mango should look fresh and no scratches. You can check it by scraping mango’s stem and smelling: if the stem scents with essential oil, it is fresh and no preservatives.
– The fruit should be ripe yellow and look heavy (when you hold it in hand). Don’t select the green mangoes or extort soft (because they are green young and collected too early). The firm, yellow and ripe mangoes which grow near the stump, they are very delicious and sweet..

After buying mangoes from the market, you may not eat them immediately or all of them in one time; there are several ways to preserve and keep mangoes in fresh longer.
– After careful selection, mangoes should be washed under running water. The best way of washing is to use powerful and small jet hose and let water spray directly into the fruits, result that the dirt and bacteria on mangoes’ skin fall out off.
– Soak the fruit in salt water for about 5 minutes (Don’t soak for longer time because it cause changing the quality of the fruit).
– Take a soft cloth to clean the mango’s knob, because this is the place of bacteria and mold which can enter into the fruit and cause damage and rot soon.
– Then use the fan to dry the fruit fast within few minutes.
– Finally, package the fruit in plastic bag and keep in the 15 degree Celsius cooling compartment of refrigerator. Don’t keep the fruit in the freezer compartment or too cold temperature, because the fruit will ripen fast and be damaged easily when you bring out room temperature.

Do you know how to eat a mango?

For peeling the mango, especially ripe mango, you should strip in Y-shape gently and slowly to avoid the inner part battered. The mango can be cut into long pieces or circle shape to keep its stiffness and taste. With mango, you can eat instantly or process as fruit juices, green mango salad or mixing with other fruits.


Hottest Chili Peppers in the World

Chili peppers are a type of fruit that are found all over the world. Most are known to be incredibly spicy and are used in a variety of dishes or eaten by themselves. The spicy heat of the peppers are measured using the Scoville scale and peppers each have a typical range that they fall in on the scale, depending on the conditions where they grow. People have even bred chili peppers and created hybrids to specifically increase the amount of spicy heat and take the top spot as the hottest pepper in the world. However, many normally grown peppers are still quite hot and are found all around the world.

Scoville scale

The Scoville heat scale is the method for measuring piquancy, or the spicy heat of chili peppers. The scale has the units of Scoville heat units (SHU) and is based on the measure of capsaicin which is a chemical compound present in chilies which is the spice that stimulates nerve endings in the skin and mucous membranes. The creator of this scale was Wilbur Scoville and he devised it in 1912. Examples of measurements on the scale include the bell pepper which has no capsaicin and registers as a 0 SHU on the scale and the jalapeno pepper which registers at around 2,500-5,000 SHU. This number means that the capsaicin in the jalapeno pepper would have to be diluted 2,500-5,000 times before the capsaicin is no longer detectable.

Specially bred chili peppers

In the past few years, there have been several chilies which were specially bred to try and get the top spot as the world’s hottest chili. One of these still holds the Guinness Book of World Records spot while the other two held it at earlier times.

Butch T Trinidad scorpion chili pepper

As of June 4, 2011 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized this pepper as the hottest in the world. This pepper was measured at 1,463,700 SHU on the Scoville scale. The pepper is a particular type of Trinidad Scorpion pepper and was named after an owner of a hot sauce company, Butch Taylor. The pepper has its name due to the protrusion at the bottom of the pepper that is said to resemble the stinger of a scorpion.

Naga Viper chili pepper

Made the world’s hottest pepper by Guinness on December 3, 2010, the Naga viper is now the second hottest with a rating of 1,359,000 SHU. This pepper was developed by The Chili Pepper Company. It is a hybrid of three other peppers and was developed in Britain.

Infinity chili

Also developed in Britain, the Infinity chili is the third highest in the world with a rating of 1,067,286 SHU. The chili is so named because of how long the heat lasts and the fact that it is incredibly difficult to get rid of it through normal means, milk or ice cream.

Normally grown chili peppers

Naja Jolokia

The most potent pepper on the planet used to be the Naja Jolokia. This pepper is rated between 800,000 and 1,000,000 SHU. The pepper is typically found in India but is also present in several areas of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is present in many curries of that area and Indian restaurants in the US and Canada are known to serve curries containing this pepper.

Red Savina Habanero

Considered second next to the Naja Jolokia, the Red Savina comes in at 580,000 SHU. This pepper is grown in California and is found in some restaurants, bars, sports bars, and hot sauces across the nation.

Red Scotch Bonnet

This pepper is found in the Caribbean on the islands of Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, and a few others. The rating for this pepper is between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU. It is commonly used in Caribbean Jerk dishes and is available at the local markets.

Piri-Piri

The Piri-Piri is native to Africa and also known as the African devil, Peri-Peri pepper, and the Peli-Peli. The rating for it is 175,000 SHU. It is an ingredient in the dishes of many Portuguese-speaking countries.

Bird’s Eye chili pepper

This pepper is found in the cuisine and is native to areas of Southeast Asia. Places from Indonesia to Bangkok all use and have this pepper. The rating is between 50,000 and 100,000 SHU.

Aji pepper

Found in Peru, the Aji pepper is the hottest in this region. Its rating is between 30,000 and 50,000 SHU. The pepper comes in many different colors and is used in many local dishes.