Category Archives: About Eating

Best Brands of Vegetarian Burgers available in the UK

When you’re a vegetarian in a meat eating world, you are surrounded by aromas at mealtimes, which make the soya based products prepared for vegetarian consumption a little dull. There’s no need to worry about that with manufacturers really trying hard to get your business. The UK market for vegetarian burgers has expanded over recent years to give vegetarians more choice, more sense of flavor and texture and good value for money. There are basically two types of burger available, one ready made and in the freezer section of supermarkets and one in powder format to be mixed into burgers. This guide goes through the pros and cons of each type to show you the best brands.

Holland and Barrett

These health food shops have been around for years, and sell powder style burger mixes. They are very easy to blend with egg whites (if you are not vegan) or to mix with spring onions and a little water to form the burger itself. Taste-wise they aren’t  bad, and certainly a good alternative for the vegetarian who is traveling or who has little space in the freezer. Preparation time is relatively short, and the taste is better than it used to be, with a hint of spices which can be added to, in order to suit your preference.

Linda McCartney burgers

These are getting more imaginative, although the taste factor is somewhat lacking. The burgers cook easily and come in packs which are frozen, but what’s missing from them really is authenticity. Although the range of burgers made by Linda McCartney has increased, they still don’t rate as the best of the bunch, which will be dealt with later in this guide. They are quick and easy to prepare and if you like a lot of dressings and added tastes, they do give you these options, though they don’t come near to the natural taste of other brands mentioned below. They are also pricey and one can only assume that the name demands a higher price tag.

Quorn

The Quorn brand is one that has gained a lot of popularity over the past couple of years and with good reason. The range of foods is extraordinary and the burgers really are tasty. The downside is that they come in two sizes and it’s the larger burgers which seem to have the edge on taste. If you need something added to that taste, then their steak range may be a better choice. For availability, Quorn is a popular make, available in all major chain stores such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s etc., and because of this availability is possibly the most popular option. If you want really tasty burgers, the smaller ones don’t give you quite enough of a portion while the larger burgers really do, and taste every bit as good as the meat equivalent. Serve with onions, cheese, etc., and enjoy the flavor without actually having to eat meat.

The Quorn range is made from a form of mushroom, and the texture of the meat is sufficient to give a substantial meal. Add a bap, a little HP sauce and you have an ideal snack. Add French fries and salad and you have a superb meal. These are one of the tastiest and better value for money burgers available for vegetarians.

Frys Vegetarian Burgers

These were pioneered by a family who wanted to eat vegetarian foods, and who now have a factory producing good quality burgers. These are top of the list simply on the taste factor, because their burgers cater for everyone. Normal burger flavor can be served in a bun with onions, cheese and pickles, but if you want a taste with more of a kick to it, they do a range called Spiced Burgers which have a taste one may associate with Indian cuisine. These tender burgers cook well and don’t retain as much fat as Quorn do when cooked. One of the problems with Quorn is that is absorbs fat while cooking and has to be drained before serving. These burgers are less absorbent and thus those who cook these in Olive oil will enjoy the burger taste without the added fat.

These are the top of the list of UK vegetarian burgers and buying any one of them will be an experience worthy of relishing, though the firm favorites are Frys and Quorn, with Burger Mix coming in next for ease of use and availability when there is no space left in the freezer. It’s handy that they have dry ingredients and can make a very spontaneous meal. The best bet is to shop around for the best prices and to look out for two for one deals which are often given in the larger supermarkets. Be careful of sell-by dates as the products do deteriorate if left until after the suggested dates of expiry, and do cook according to the instructions.

Meatless best Brands of Veggie Burgers

The world of veggie burgers is as diverse as the streets of New York City.  Each brand comes with its own “style” and flavor and like each neighborhood in New York (the Village, Chinatown, Soho etc…) the sum of its veggie burger parts can incite excitement or avoidance. But which brand offers the best in taste, texture, flavor and options?

Having been a fauxgitarian (someone who tries to eat only vegetarian, but has a love of meat) for many years, the veggie burger was a natural option as it allowed for that “meaty” taste, but still had the benefits of a vegetarian diet.  There are several brands including Boca, Morningstar Farms and Garden Burger and with two conclusions:  There are two types of veggie burger consumers. 

Consumer 1 is like an Upper West Side socialite who, after years of wearing real fur, is looking for a fake-fur option.  They are usually meat-eaters looking for a healthy alternative.  Many want the real burger experience and are looking for veggie options that mimic the meaty texture and taste of a real burger.

Consumer 2 is like a Williamsburg hipster whose well-honed fashion recipe is a mixture of trendy, vintage and high fashion.  They usually are looking for a veggie burger option that is nutritious, filled with natural ingredients and is a quick alternative to cooking.

For Consumer 1, Boca is probably the best option.  They have seven different varieties of veggie burger including two vegan options.  The closest in flavor to a real burger is the 10 oz All-American Flame Grilled.  It is very reminiscent of an actual burger and can be prepared in the skillet, in the oven or on the grill.  The main ingredient in all of their burgers is soy and they even offer a vegan option that is made with non-genetically engineered soybeans.  In addition, Boca offers several recipe options and cooking instructions on how the prepare their product

-Great taste

-Good source of protein

-Has a good “meat” flavor and texture

For Consumer 2, the Gardenburger brand is  the best option.  Epicurious.com named the Gardenburger Original Veggie Burger as its best tasting veggie burger.  Gardenburger’s base for all of its burgers is brown rice and they load up on the veggies, great for vegetarian-minded folks looking to get protein, nutrition, flavor and “style”.  Like those who find inspiration in a variety of places, Gardenburger’s five veggie burger options (two that are vegan) don’t try and mimic the flavor of a real burger, but to create a taste experience that is delicious, unique and good enough to be a healthier option to the real thing.

-Unique flavor

-Loaded with brown rice and veggies

-2 vegan options

Whether you are a person looking for a real meat-like veggie burger or a veggie burger that is tasty, filled with good items and good for you, the variety of veggie burgers on the market run the gamut.  With a defined taste palette, knowledge of ingredients and a little bit of adventure you can purchase a great veggie burger right in your local supermarket.

Sources:

www.epicurious.com

www.bocaburger.com

www.gardenburger.com

Cocktails Liquor

Unless you are a student, at a music festival or have been recently dumped, then there really is no excuse just to fling a spirit or two in a glass, add an optional mixer and call it a cocktail.  If you are passionate about gastronomy – really passionate – then the art of bartending should be akin to creating a wonderful plate of food, and you wouldn’t cut corners there, would you?

DO:

♣ Use the proper tools

To effectively make any kind of cocktail, an arsenal of bartending equipment is needed. Most of this is fairly cheap and readily available. A decent shaker is a must; a Boston-based shaker is more versatile than a 3-peice ‘capped’ shaker, but can be more challenging to use. If you opt for a Boston, go for half glass, half can.  Boston cans require strainers; hence a decent Hawthorn strainer is a must. A fine strainer (like a mini-sieve) is necessary for many drinks so the bartender can filter out fruit bits, flecks of ice and other debris that can otherwise spoil a perfectly crisp, clear cocktail.

Consider investing in a decent measure or jigger; one with straight sides ensures greater accuracy if you measure out quarter / half shots.  A bar spoon enables laying ingredients and makes stirring drinks a lot easier.  A muddler (like a pestle) enables the bartender to crush and bruise fruits and herbs in the shaker, and a paring knife and chopping board are essential. Consider buying a special glass cleaning cloth to keep glassware looking like new. All the above equipment can be bought for no more than £50 / $80 for the lot.

♣ Keep the fridge stocked up

Having a wide range of mixers to hand is just as important as a disparate selection of fantastic spirits and liquors. Most mixers can keep for a very long time, such as fresh fruit juices, honey, sodas / softs and sugar syrup.  Basic essentials include the ‘big’ juices such as lemon, lime, orange, apple, pineapple, pink grapefruit and cranberry. Ginger ale, cola, lemonade, tonic and soda water are also important.

♣ Use the right glasses

The glass makes the drink and never forget it!  Despite this, building (and maintaining) a classy glass selection can get expensive but the bare essentials should include short (‘old fashioned’), highballs, shot glasses, wine glasses and martini glasses. It is definitely also worth looking at slings, toddy glasses and hurricanes. Always look after your glassware; clean it separately from plates and other kitchen stuff, polish it and never stand them upside down as the lips will become damaged.

Only muddle fruits using your Boston glass as other glassware will not stand up to the pressure needed to pummel ingredients. Chilling glasses (see later on) is very important but be aware that rapidly increasing / decreasing the temperature of a glass may cause it to shatter, swiftly turning your cocktail party into a traumatic trip to A&E.

♣ Use shakers with caution

Boston Shakers give a better result but are more difficult to use; seal them with a thud of your wrist and release them with a tap to the side of the tin. Always keep them pointed away from guests when shaking, and keep the glass half pointing down just in case they shatter.  With any kind of shaker, keep two hands on it as these things can open by surprise.

Finally, don’t overfill a shaker as the drink will not mix properly and will likely leak everywhere. A standard 70cl Boston tin will hold about 8 measures of liquid; ice will take up the rest; anymore is too full.

DON’T:

♣ Skimp on quality

Quality spirits are so important as they tend to be smoother, much easier to mix and balance a drink, but also never underestimate the importance of good quality mixers. Freshly squeezed orange juice, pressed apple juice, fresh fruits and homemade sugar syrup are vital to making a great quality cocktail.  You will taste the difference!

♣ Underestimate the importance of ice.

Ice is as vital an ingredient as you are ever going to get in cocktails. Firstly, it is a great idea to pre-chill glasses in the freezer.

When serving a drink over ice, fill the whole glass with ice. When shaking or stirring a drink over ice, use a lot; usually, half a Boston can will do it. Good quality ice must be chunky and almost ‘sticky’ to touch. Never use the same ice twice, even if making the same drink twice in a row.

♣ Act like Tom Cruise (unless you can)

No-one likes a show off… and there really is no reason to throw bottles around or toss shakers in the air unless a) you are really good at it or b) you work at TGI Fridays. Messing around with bottles and glass is obviously not the safest thing to do in the world so use caution. On the same note, try not to mix drinks when you are drunk.  For obvious reasons.

♣ Free-pour

OK, so using measures is a bit of a hassle, but sticking to using them (rather than just guess-timating how much hooch goes in a drink) has two distinct advantages; firstly, the cocktails will be better-made and well-balanced.  Secondly, you won’t get all of your guests smashed after the first round, which is usually frowned upon in most social circles.

♣ Final Thoughts…

Commit to the cause!  If you are serious about creating your own bar; do it properly. On face value, doing everything as mentioned above is not cheap but consider building your bar bit by bit, a month at a time. By far and away the biggest expense will be ingredients and the most commonly used are the base spirits such as rum and vodka. Shop around for these as they can be found cheap in many stores. Keep these basics stocked up and treat yourself to lesser used ingredients every now and then and you will find that you will have respectable bar in no time!  Mixers and fruits are not too difficult to keep stoked up and treated well, glassware can last for years.

So have fun, drink well, play safe and enjoy!

Apple Cider Cocktail Recipes

No autumn celebration is complete without the sweet, rich scent of hot apple cider. More nutritious than hot chocolate, apple cider is the perfect complement to crisp fall weather, roaring bonfires and hayrides. It also comes in two versions: kid-friendly and adults-only. If you want to make sure not to mix these two up, you can always set up a small wet bar and let the grown-ups add their own flair. Setting out suggested recipes helps prevent faux pas and wasted cider.

Heating the Cider:

Unlike other traditional cocktails, cider cocktails are usually hot. Keep your cider at a steady temperature by pouring it into a crockpot. This way, you can enjoy your evening without worrying about the cider bubbling over, getting cold or boiling away.

Crockpot cider also allows for slow infusion of many kinds of flavors. Orange slices, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks are just a few of the flavors that go well with cider and several types of liquor.

Simple Cider and Whiskey:

Cider and whiskey is one of the easiest cider cocktails to put together. Smooth, good-quality whiskey tastes best because it doesn’t add any acidity or roughness to the flavor of the cider. Light-colored Irish whiskey is one of my personal favorites.

The process is simple. Just ladle some hot cider into a glass or ceramic mug and pour in about a shot of whiskey. If you’re really cold, you can add a second shot, but any more than that will overpower the flavor of the cider. If you want more whiskey than that, just drink it neat, sans cider.

Flavored Brandy:

Brandy comes in many fruit flavors, including apple and pear. Combining these two flavors with a little orange zest and some cloves makes for a bone-warming cocktail you won’t soon forget…or stop drinking. You may also just use either apple or pear brandy if you like simple flavors.

Stay away from summer-flavored brandies, like blackberry and cherry, for your apple cider. These brandies can be very sweet and can make for cloying cocktails.

Rum and Bourbon:

Dark rums and bourbons combine better with apple cider than do the lighter versions. The heavier, richer flavors of the dark liquors combine with the cider to create a taste that is unmistakably autumnal. Bourbon combines especially well with orange bitters, cloves and nutmeg.

You may add spices to a rum cocktail, as well, or simply use a spiced or flavored rum. Vanilla rum gives apple cider a special soft, sweet note that pleases the nose as well as the palate. If you must use light rum, try a smooth, unflavored variety that will combine with the cider without ruining the taste.

Cold Cocktails:

Even through the chill of autumn and winter, some still prefer their cocktails cold. You may use any of the above sections to create a cold cider cocktail or create something entirely new. An autumn mimosa could include cider in place of orange juice. Replacing half of the cranberry juice in a vodka cranberry with cider gives it a distinctly Thanksgiving flavor.

When experimenting with apple cider cocktails, it’s important to balance the sweetness of the cider against the burn and bitterness of your chosen alcohol. Start by adding the liquor to the cider, instead of the other way around, and you have a base for an endless variety of apple-flavored cocktails.

Wine Basics everyone should know

Basic wine facts everyone should know

Have you ever been in a situation involving wine like ordering from the wine menu in a restaurant, picked up a bottle of wine on your way to dinner at a friend’s house, or attended wine tasting and you didn’t know what to do? You need not feel intimidated. There are a few basics everyone should know and there are a lot of things going on to help you on the outside before you even taste the wine on the inside.

Your first clue is the shape of the bottle

For example, the straight high-shouldered wine bottle is indicative of the Bordeaux region of France. You can look on a map to see what encompasses the region. By French law, it indicates they are a blend of certain types of grapes that are grown there and that are used to make the wine under specific procedures. In the United States, you’ll recognize the types as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the same shape of bottle and other countries use specific bottles for a specific wine too. American wines are mostly blends, even when they are labeled with a specific kind of grape. A Merlot, for example, may be blended with other types of grapes, but the Merlot grape is the main one used. 

What is all that stuff on the wine label?

Did you ever notice the wine from France has all kinds of codes and markings all over it, while some countries, including the US, have labels that just look pretty cool? That goes back to the laws and whatnot again. There’s a lot to learn from the label of the French wine and if you want to really get into it, get to know what each one means. In the meantime, there are a few things you need to keep in mind about all wines. If you’ve ever had a great bottle of wine in a restaurant and went to buy it in the store, but took it home and were disappointed, it’s probably because you don’t have the same vintage (the year the wine was made). When you ask who made the wine find out the vintage too. There are a lot of factors that make one year better than the next, but it mainly has to do with weather and length of growing season. There is kind of an exception to that rule and that brings us to the next thing to know:

Champagne only comes from France

That’s right; everything else that claims to be is simply sparkling wine – not that there is anything wrong with that. To name just one combination of factors in the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine, it is the climate and the soil it is grown in or better stated, chalk; about 25 feet of it, in fact. There is no other place like it on earth. The roots are straining to find something good and will grow down 25 feet or so to get some nutrients and that makes it unique. Conversely, while the climate in Oregon, for example, might be just the same, but the soil is too good. That sounds crazy, but it has everything to do with the taste of the grapes; they need to work for it. 

So what is the exception about vintage?  

From year-to-year each Champagne House takes the juice from other years and mixes them to get as close as they can to the same taste as the year before. There is no vintage on the label for this reason. Hey, not so fast! Sometimes there is a year on the label. This is known as Vintage Champagne. What it basically means is that in one particular year, all of the stars have aligned correctly, the weather has been perfect, the growing season is exactly right, and the harvest has gone smoothly. They take the grapes from one particular year and blend them into one fantastic bottle of Champagne and the price reflects it too. This is because it only happens once in a blue moon (about four to ten years or so).

The best conditions for storing wine

Wine is typically stored between 53 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit in around 70 percent humidity and on its side to keep it happy. Why is this so? It keeps the cork wet, so that it doesn’t shrink and keeps the good stuff inside from going bad. If it gets too dry, the cork may shrink. If Goldilocks wouldn’t like it (too hot or too cold) the composition is going to change or lose its taste. It’s not until you decide on the bottle you want to serve that you stand it up straight.

Sediment in certain types red wine is a good thing because it has aged, but you don’t want to drink it. Stand it up for a day or so, to let the particles (tannins) sink to the bottom. When you pour it, make sure when you get near the end the dregs stay back in the bottle. Another way to prevent the sediment from slipping into your glass is to decant it. There are specific wine strainers that you can pour the wine through into a decorative bottle or carafe to serve it. If you’ve never done this before and you’re out at a nice restaurant and the wine expert guy (Sommelier) asks if you want it decanted, take him up on it. It is eye-catching and fun to watch.

What if you can’t drink the whole bottle?

There is a little gadget that is your friend. Meet the Vac-U-Vin. If you’ve ever heard that wine needs to breathe or that it needs to open up, this merely means that oxygen is getting acquainted with your wine and this is good, but not for too long. If you have any of those ornamental replacement corks, they make look pretty, but they aren’t going to do any favors to your wine. The Vac-U-Vin consists of a rubber cork with a self-closing slit in the top and a little plunger thing that fits over it to suck the oxygen out. The wine will stay pretty close to great for about two weeks, stored upright. For a wine served at room temperature, keep it that way; do not put it in the refrigerator. 

Does the right glass matter?

The short answer is yes, but some things are more important than others. If you’ve ever been in France and watched them drink red wine, you’ll notice the bottle is picked up and poured more often because the glass of wine at its maximum for reds is never more than a third full. Whites are about half and Champagne is about three-fourths full. Why is that? It goes back to the oxygen and what it does to the wine. If it is a full-bodied red, you want to swirl it around and give it a chance to get to know the oxygen, get engaged, elope, take a honeymoon in your nose, and live happily ever after in your mouth.  Since most white wines may be served right away, it isn’t as important. There isn’t any swirling going on at all with the Champagne, because it is doing the happy dance on its own when it is opened as the carbon dioxide starts its escape or effervesces. 

You don’t have to invest in costly glasses, but they should be made of just that: glass. Plastic, paper, Styrofoam, or anything other than glass is not acceptable and you won’t ever be taken seriously if you use them. Soap residue is a very bad thing, so washing the glass in really hot water should be sufficient for cleanliness.  What is the main thing people do wrong when it comes to wine? They hold the glass wrong. When you pick up your glass of wine to drink it, hold it by the stem. That’s why it is made that way as your hand emits a little heat. If you’re not used to holding the glass by the stem, it will seem really awkward at first and you’ll probably feel like the odd man out when everyone else is holding it by the bowl and putting fingerprints all over it. Rest assured, you are setting a good example by doing it right and you aren’t a wine snob either.

My wine is a liquid, how can it have legs?

Wine glasses are clear for a reason: to see the wine. It should be clear and not cloudy. There should not be anything floating around in it or sunk to the bottom of the glass. Swirl the contents and look at the side of the glass. Do you notice how the wine leaves rivulets or “legs” when it flows down the side? If the legs are longer does it make it better? Not necessarily so, although some people like to say it does.

Go to a good wine shop and make friends

Sure, some of the wines may be a little more expensive than going warehouse stores or huge beer and wine stores, but if a guy owns his own wine shop, he usually knows his stuff and you can learn a lot from him. Plus, there almost always is a bottle of wine open for tasting.

You don’t have to like everything

Go to a local vineyard for a wine tasting and you can easily differentiate the person who is there to merely get a free buzz. They usually like everything and are drinking it fast to get to the next pour. On the other hand, you may taste ten wines and only kind of like one. That’s just fine. If you really don’t like it, ask to have it poured out and if there are bland pieces of bread or crackers, take a nibble or too to clear your palate (refresh your mouth), so you can appreciate the next.  Swirl the wine and stick your nose a little into the glass and smell it. Do you like the smell? If not, your taste buds probably won’t like it either, but give it a real taste anyway and not some tiny sip.

How to go through the whole rigmarole in a restaurant

It is okay to ask for recommendations from the Sommelier. He will ask you several questions and help you in taste and price. The same bottle of wine in a restaurant is going to cost more than in the store. Remember that you’re in a restaurant and they usually are not non-profit organizations, so keep that in mind before you blow a gasket on the price.  When you are presented with the wine bottle, look at it and see same name and vintage you ordered. It almost always is, but check anyway. He will either hand you the cork or set it in front of you. Look at it and make sure it is not dried out and is intact. Give it a sniff. If it smells like wine and not something else, give him a nod. He’ll pour a bit of wine in your glass. Give it a look. If it is not clear or there are bits or cork floating in it or other things, don’t accept it. Ask for either another bottle or a different wine. Do the nose, and the swirl, and taste it. If it is not vinegar, give a nod or say that’s fine and he’ll finish pouring yours and then go around the table. Lastly, if you make a toast, always take a drink before setting the glass down. Some people really get offended if you don’t. Now enjoy your wine.

Pink Drinks to Serve in Martini Glass

Mixing drinks, when done right, can be an art form.  It’s more than just taking two or more ingredients and pouring them into a glass – it’s finding the right combination of alcohol and additives to create a drink that both tastes and looks appealing.

Below are some ideas for pink drinks that you can serve in martini glasses. Whether for ladies’ night specials or for a breast cancer awareness event, pink drinks will definitely catch the eye and attract customers (though you probably won’t catch a lot of male patrons drinking them).

• Pink almond

This recipe for a pink almond from DrinksMixer.com uses several different ingredients, including Scotch, cherry brandy, and Amaretto.  To make a lower-cost drink, you could substitute another almond liqueur for the Amaretto and use a less expensive cherry brandy than Kirschwasser, and the drink will still taste almost the same.

• Pink lady

AllRecipes.com has an intriguing recipe for a pink lady cocktail.  This drink may not be for everyone, as it calls for a raw egg white to be used.  The other ingredients include ice cream, gin, and grenadine, so some people will likely find it enjoyable.

• Pink martini

You can’t talk about pink drinks in martini glasses without mentioning a pink martini.  The pink martini recipe found on JohnnieMartini.com is a fairly simple one, calling for vodka (you can use a rail vodka instead of a premium one), triple sec, lime juice, and cranberry juice.  You could serve it with or without the lime.

• Pink martini #2

For a pink martini taken in a different direction, try this one from Drink-Recipes.org.uk.  It uses rum instead of vodka, and it creates more of a tropical flavor than the previous drink by including pineapple juice and raspberry liqueur.  This recipe will fill a four-ounce martini glass to the brim, so be careful when serving it.

• Pink pillow

StreetDirectory.com has a recipe for a pink pillow (scroll down the page to find it – the recipes are broken up by color) that could be interesting.  To serve the pink pillow in a martini glass, you’ll probably use about half an ounce each of sour mix and ginger ale.  You can drop the recipe down to two ounces of vodka instead of three if the drink tastes too strong.

 • Pink Cadillac

This recipe for a pink Cadillac from eHow.com makes two drinks, but for single servings you can use half the amount of each ingredient that is called for.  It uses vodka (whichever brand you prefer for taste), Galliano, sweet and sour mix, and Chambord, garnished with an orange slice.  You could substitute another raspberry liqueur for the Chambord to save some money, or if the drink is too potent, switch out the Chambord entirely for some cranberry juice or grenadine to still retain the coloring.  The cranberry juice or grenadine will alter the taste of the cocktail, but the added sweetness might make it taste better to some people.

How Scotch Whisky is Made

What is Scotch Whisky? Well just a moment. You must understand the process of making whisky before you can define Scotch Whisky. You need to know that whisky is the product of barley. Also, the main processes that are used to transform the barley into whisky are distilling, fermenting, and aging. Simple right? Let’s break it down into more manageable concepts.

Distilling is a process for separating mixtures via boiling. Each part of a mixture has its own boiling temperature. A mixture will separate when all the parts have reached their specific boiling temperatures. You will certainly use this process to make your alcohol. Next, what is the process of fermenting.

Fermenting is the simple process of converting carbs to alcohol by introducing various strains of bacteria. The bacteria generally “eats” the carbs and produces alcohol. You will use yeasts as your “carb eater” to make whisky. Don’t worry folks, you won’t be using a “carburetor”. Finally, you need to know the careful process of aging that separates whisky from other alcohols.

Aging is the process of taking the alcohol and aging it in a container. Shocking! However, you must know that whisky has requirements. Whisky, unlike other aged alcohols, must be aged for a MINIMUM of THREE YEARS, and it must be aged in a WOODEN CASK. Scotch Whisky, unlike  regular whiskey is made by completing these processes in SCOTLAND. You’re probably still wondering, “How is whisky made”? It can be broken down into more manageable steps (Keep in mind that it’s probably illegal to brew your own whisky). 

Step 1) Place barley seeds in water so they can germinate and malt. Stir the seeds occasionally for an even malt. 

Step 2) Dry and heat the malted barley to prepare for grinding.

Step 2) Create a grist: A grist is another word to describe milled grains. Grind the malted, germinated barley into a fine powder.  

Step 4) Introduce the yeast: Many brewers of alcohol use Brewer’s Yeast. Add the yeast and your malt into a still of boiling water. *Keep in mind that the size of your still will determine the amount of ingredients and water that are necessary.

Step 5) Allow the yeast to work and produce the alcohol mixture to separate: The alcohol you collect will be removed and placed into your wooden cask for aging. Usually the casks will be stored away from direct heat or sunlight.

Step 6) Age the alcohol: Age your alcohol for a minimum of three years and you’ve got some nice whisky.

Scotch Whisky comes in many varieties such as Single Malt, Blended Malt, Single Barrel, and Double Barrel. Overall, the taste of whisky varies by the malting process, adding other ingredients into your mixture, and aging at different lengths, temperatures, and types of wood. Now you know. 

Crepes Sweet and Savory

When many people think of French food, the first thing that comes to mind is the crepe. While these are not the only quintessentially French food, the simple crepe is so versatile that it demands a certain amount of attention. The origin of the crepe is most often thought to be from the French province of Brittany in the northwestern region of the country. It is not uncommon to find creperies where the servers are dressed in traditional Breton garb.

Basically there are two different types of crepes: sweet and savory. While the filling is important, it is the crepe itself that makes the difference between the two types.

The savory crepe is often referred to as a galette, created with buckwheat flour. In France it is referred to as ble noir or farine a sarrasin. It is believed that this buckwheat was brought back from the Middle East by the Crusaders, and it adapted well to the soil and weather conditions of Brittany. It makes a heartier crepe that is the perfect base for whatever you would like to fill it with. It also has a different texture, since there is no gluten in buckwheat flour. 

In Brittany the traditional filling is ham and eggs. According to legend, the crepe was the first fast food, and enterprenures as early as the 15th century would sell their savory cakes to the happy locals at markets.  The color of a buckwheat crepe is not as light as the sweet crepe; it is a nut-like color and has a somewhat nutty taste as well. It is not unusual for creperies to mix wheat flour in as well to get a lighter crepe.

It was the heartiness of the galette, which, according to the same stories, led to the development of the sweet crepe. After eating a hearty savory crepe, diners were looking for a little something to finish their meal, enter the dessert crepe. Sweet crepes are made with wheat flour and because of the gluten have a lighter texture that lends itself well to being a dessert.

A sweet crepe can be as simple as just a crepe and butter with a little sugar or maple syrup, or may include the addition of just about any fruit or liquor. Chocolate is not uncommon as a filling either. Crepes Suzette are what many people think of when they think of a dessert crepe but this is just one of many, many options.

Crepes are a perfect base for a great meal. Experiment, make them at home or find a favorite creperie. They can be simple, complex, extravagant or budget friendly;  it?s all a matter of what you choose for your filling.

A Step by Step Guide to the Preparation of Crepes

French style crepes are a type of very thin pancake. Crepes suzette is perhaps the most famous type of crepe and served with an orange flavored, alcohol based sauce. Crepes can however be served on their own, with cream and fresh fruit, with a drizzle of maple syrup, or simply lightly dusted with confectioners†sugar. The possibilities are virtually limitless and it can be a good idea to serve the plain crepes on a large platter with a choice of fillings or toppings.

Ingredient for 10 to 12 crepes

1 cup of all purpose flour
2 cups of milk
2 large eggs, beaten
½ stick of butter, melted
2 teaspoons of superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Grated rind of one lemon or small orange (optional)

Directions

Sift the flour, sugar and salt in to a large glass or stone bowl. Combine the eggs and milk in a jug and begin slowly pouring in to the flour mix, whisking steadily with a small hand whisk or fork. Pour the butter in and add the fruit rind if applicable. Keep whisking until a smooth and lump free batter has been formed. The batter at this stage may seem a lot thinner than the pancake batters you normally prepare but this is essential if the desired thinness of the crepes is to be achieved.

Spray a medium sized, non-stick frying pan with cooking spray or lightly wipe some cooking oil over the surface with a sheet of kitchen paper. Bring the pan up to a medium heat.

Two tablespoons of batter will be required for each crepe. It is a good idea to firstly spoon the batter each time in to a small ladle before adding it to the pan. This allows for more even distribution  of the mixture.

Hold the handle of the pan in your weaker hand and as you slowly but steadily pour the batter in to the center of the pan, tilt the pan as necessary to spread it evenly over the entire base. The crepe will cook very quickly, taking no more than a minute on the first side to cook and turn golden brown. Turn carefully with a large spatula and cook for thirty seconds or so just to color the second side.

To keep the crepes warm when they are taken from the pan, sit a large plate on top of a pot of gently simmering water and lay each crepe on it, separated by sheets of parchment paper.

Ovaltine Chocolate Light Malt Drink

Previously known as Ovaltine Light, Ovaltine Chocolate Light is an instant chocolate drink from the Ovaltine malt drinks range that contains at least 20% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of 11 vitamins and 3 minerals, as well as being a good source of calcium.

Ovaltine Chocolate Light is made with the wholesome goodness of barley, malt and cocoa.  Ovaltine’s unique recipe contains essential vitamins and minerals that provide a good source of nutrients to complement a healthy balanced diet.  For anyone out there who finds it difficult to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, this drink is great to ensure that you are getting all of you vitamins and minerals.

A 20g serving (4 teaspoons) made with 200ml of water contains 302 kj, 72 calories, 1.2g of fat and 11.3g of sugar.  Ovaltine Chocolate Light contains around 20% of your Recommended Daily Amount of the following Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin A, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, Pantothentic Acid, Vitamin (B6), Biotin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Calcium.   Each 300g jar contains enough for 15 servings and Ovaltine Chocolate Light is also available in a 20g sachet which is ideal to take to work as an alternative to tea or coffee.

To make the drink, put 4 teaspoons into a cup and simply add 200ml of hot (not boiling) water and stir.  I prefer to heap the teaspoons and if I am using a mug to only fill it half full of water.  This makes the Ovaltine chocolatier and richer.  It is quite sweet and even though I have two sugars in my tea, I don’t feel the need to add any sugar to this. 

Ovaltine Chocolate still retains that unmistakable barley and malt flavour that we all loved with Ovaltine original and has an added smooth chocolate taste.  As it is ‘Light’ and made with water you don’t get that full feeling after drinking it and it doesn’t make you feel sleepy and want to go to bed.

In my opinion, I now prefer Ovaltine Light to the original drink where you add milk, as I find the Original can be too heavy.  It makes a great change from tea or coffee and can be drunk at any time of the day.  It is packed full of vitamins and minerals which we all need and has a lovely smooth chocolate taste.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone as it makes an ideal drink for all the family.

Ovaltine is a great course of vitamins and minerals for those who are pregnant.  Did you know that compared to plain milk, Ovaltine contains nearly twice as much calcium, five times more folic acid and zinc and 25 times more Iron, based on a 25g serving of Ovaltine Original made with 200ml of semi-skimmed milk.