Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Brew Day - Ye Old Confused Brown Ale

One of the more popular brews on Home Brew Talk Gluten Free Forum seems to be LCasanova’s American Brown Ale.  After searching all over Europe for Briess Sorghum Extract Syrup, I gave up on trying to replicate the exact brew since there wasn’t a source for Sorghum Extract in Europe and shipping it from the good old USA was going to cost at least $100USD.  Looking at what I had local, I came up with using Brown Rice Syrup.

Brown Rice Syrup is basically made by boiling brown rice or brown rice flour to get as much starch out as possible, then an enzyme is added to convert the starch to sugar and the whole thing is reduced to get it to the right consistency.  Commonly the enzyme comes from sprouted barley, which is a no-no for any GFer, but gluten free versions can be purchased that are made from a fungal enzyme. 

Brown rice syrup is on the left.
Using Beersmith, which is a brewing calculator, I substituted Brown Rice Syrup for Sorghum Syrup and charged ahead.  There are certain values that are tracked and talked about when it comes to brewing, and by trying to maintain these values; I was able to come up with a clone recipe.  The basic values are Original Gravity (OG), Final Gravity (FG) and International Bitterness Units (IBU).  OG and FG are measurements of the amount of sugar in a liquid at defined times in the brewing process.  OG is a measure of the sweetness of the wort (beer before it hits puberty and begins that special time of change that will turn it into an Adult BEvERage) before the yeast is added.  FG is the measurement of the sweetness after the yeast is all tuckered out and there isn’t anything left for them to eat.  By comparing the difference between OG and FG you can find the amount of alcohol in the beer.  IBU is a measure of how bitter the beer is.  For example Bud Light chimes in around 6.4IBUs.
From the boiling pot to carboy.
This worked out great I thought, until brew day and I realized that I carried the wrong 1 somewhere and my brew pot was way too small to boil the full 10L of beer I was planning.  No big deal, I just moved forward with my plan putting only about 6L in the pot.  Everything was running fine, I steeped the grains that I had roasted 2 weeks before, boiled the hops and syrups as I was supposed to and after 90 minutes, set it all to cool outside.  When the wort cooled and I topped it off to the right volume, took a gravity reading (how much sugar is in there).  The OG was almost 20 points higher than it was supposed to be. 
No surprise an Engineer's mind came up with this set up!

What was I to do, I could add more water and dilute the sugar, but that would also dilute the hops and it would wind up tasting like bland, thin tea.  After some thought I pitched the yeast as is, and by the next morning it was burbling away happily.  After going back into Beersmith and adjusting for my brew pot and the partial boil I realized that some of my assumptions of the syrups are off.  I adjusted the Maple Syrup and Molasses so that the estimated OG matched the reading with the hydrometer.  All that done I found that the bitterness might wind up a little low (with an IBU at about 13) and the beer may finish a little high on the alcohol (8.3% ABV).  Either way, I’m going to let this one ride, chalk it up to experience and I figure, it may need to age a while, but I’ll probably end up with something drinkable (eventually) and better than Redbridge.  Being the kind of person I am, I did a little research into Brown Ales.  In the 1700s Brown Ales were a lot stronger in alcohol than they are today with less of a hop bite.  So based on the history of brown ale and the fact that I used UK hops, this seems to fit right in with the English Brown Ales from the 18th century.  Therefore, let me please introduce you to:

Ye Old Confused Brown Ale

Here’s the final recipe, I’ll follow up with some tasting notes before the end of the year.
Grain Bill
0.45kg Roasted Buckwheat – Steeped for 30 minutes @ 70°C
0.45kg Roasted Flaked Millet – Steeped for 30 minutes @ 70°C
1.8kg Brown Rice Syrup – Added 60 min remaining in boil
0.25kg Black Strap Molasses – Added at 20 min remaining in boil
0.25kg Maple Syrup, Grade C – Added at 20 min remaining in boil

Hop Schedule
10g Fuggles (4,98% AA) – Added at 60 minutes remaining in boil
15g East Kent Goldings (6.00% AA) – Added at 15 minutes remaining in boil

Misc Ingredients
5g Irish Moss for clarifying – Added at 10 minutes remaining in boil
100g Malto-Dextrin for body – Added at 10 minutes remaining in boil

After roasting the grains.

The grains were roasted to a nice brown colour with a little water added to the pan.  This is probably what gave me the most trouble through this whole process.  I didn’t want to burn anything so I went really slowly, with low heat and it took almost 6 hours to reach a colour I deemed good enough, though it might have been because it was 1am and I had to go to work in the morning.  Next time, I’ll use a higher heat to get less time and no water in the flaked millet; it just becomes a sticky paste that is a pain to work with.

Before nearly bursting open.

Another fun little lesson I learned is that the roasted grains soak up water like a sponge.  I think it was mostly the flaked millet, but good Lord the muslin bag nearly popped and I lost almost 2.5L of water from the brew kettle. 

All in all this was a fun experience.  Nothing disastrous happened (yet) so I think I’ll keep the hobby going.  I think I’ll plan on a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout next, Mrs. Thirsty loves chocolate and that should make the house smell like chocolate for a day or three.


Photos courtesy of Mrs. Thirsty

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sausage Pfanne, yes that’s pan with a pfft!

So one of the first real German meals I had here in Fulda was this traditional mountain fried potato sausage wonderfulness back in February.  We arrived here in January and the funny thing about Fulda is there are more Italian restaurants that any other type combined.  So since we really couldn’t find good Italian when we were living in SoCal, we indulged.  When we finally got around to finding a few German restaurants I wanted to try some Hessen classics.  One that we found at the Hohmanns Brau Haus was the Rhöner Bauernpfanne.  The Rhön Mountains are a group of low mountains that run through central Germany.  They are an icon of the area that we live inand we have one about a kilometre behind our apartment and the tallest one, Wasserkuppen, is only about a 20 minute drive away.  Bauernpfanne roughly translates to farmer’s skillet and by how heavy and hearty it was you can see this easily being served by a German Oma in the deep winter to warm the body and soul.  What I remember about the HBH version was how heavy and rich it was.  I’d had it in February when we had a cold snap and the weather was regularly dropping to -15°C and after that meal, during the walk back to our hotel, where we were still living at that time, I was warm and toasty.  The only negative I could say about that original dish was that since it was mostly root vegetables and pork, by the end of the meal it had become a little one note. 
Even so, once we had finally moved into our apartment and all of our kitchen accessories arrived, I was still thinking about the dish and decided to try my hand at a Thirsty version.  So below is my variation on the dish, trying to make it a little lighter and at the same time a little healthier.

Such beautiful colours!

Thirsty’s Sausage Pfanne
First things first and vitally important you should pour yourself a glass of wine.  I usually take one sip and then forget about it until the pan is in the oven, but I like it to get my mind in the right place.  Food and drink are so intertwined in our palettes that it’s really hard for me to separate them and that little sip usually gets me to thinking about how the flavours will blend and what new thing I can throw in there to make a subtle change.

All ingredients waiting to be loaded into the pan.

So when I get into the kitchen, Mrs. Thirsty usually starts her internal war of conflicting emotions.  She loves it when I do the cooking but we have a rule in our house that when one person cooks, the other cleans the kitchen.  She thought this was great until she really witnessed the horror the kitchen was usually left in after my genius/insanity.  So she’s spent the last few years subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) training me to minimize the disaster.  With this in mind, when I prep for this meal I try to stick to one pan, one spoon, one cutting board, one knife and a few prep bowls.

Makes 4 servings, 2 if Mrs. Thirsty and I are really hungry ;)

Prep Time 30min
Cook Time 60 minutes

4 Sausages, Fresh, uncased and chopped (German or Polish, I use pork but to up the healthy factor you could swap out a chicken or turkey sausage)
250g Bacon, uncooked, diced (More than anything here I'm trying to get the richness and saltyness of the bacon fat, a healthier option would be about 2 Tablspoons of coconut oil and a pinch of salt)
½ of a Purple Cabbage, Chopped
1 Red Sweet Pepper, seeded, and diced
250g Green Beans, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 large Carrot, peeled and sliced thin
4 medium yellow potatoes, diced with skin
1 large apple, cored and chopped with skin
1 large Shallot, fine diced (this can be swapped for about 1/8th a cup of onion)
3 cloves of Garlic, crushed and chopped
2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
½ TSP Cumin
1 TBS Herbs de Provence
2 TSP Sunflower Seed Oil (or any oil with a higher smoke point)
Couple shakes of Green Tabasco to taste


1)      I want to add some different flavours and textures to the dish to keep it from taking on a monotone taste.  So what I’m doing here is staging the ingredients to cook them all at different times to get some different textures in the dish
a.       Bowl 1 - Garlic and Shallots
b.      Bowl 2 - Potatoes, Carrots and Beans
c.       Bowl 3 – Pepper and Apple
d.      Bowl 4 – Cabbage
2)      Now, while the oil is heating up in an oven safe pan on medium high heat, I dice the bacon up and push it to the side of the cutting board.  Pre-heat oven to about 175°C (375°F for my American friends and family)
3)      Put the shallot and garlic (bowl 1) into the hot oil and then uncase the sausage.  The easiest way I find to do this is slit the sausage lengthwise on the inside of the curve.  Then holding the sausage in each push with your thumbs on the outside of the curve.  The slit should split and the sausage should come out easily in two pieces.  Once it’s all uncased, a rough chop with the knife to break it up into some nice sized chunks and the knife can go in the sink
4)      Once the onions are a soft and the garlic is starting to brown, add the bacon to the pan.  Give it a couple minutes to start rendering that fat off and add the sausage in.  As above for a healthier option here you could use a couple table spoons of coconut oil to imitate the richness of the bacon and a chicken sausage.
5)      Brown the sausage up.  You want it so that the pink is gone but you haven’t started getting that nice crispy crust from the Mailliard reactions yet (think the dark crispy outside of a roast in the oven).  Now add the contents of bowl 2 to the mix, periodically mixing everything up until you are just starting to see some colour on the potatoes.  After the first couple minutes  in the pan I usually add the Cumin, Herbs de Provence and Tabasco
6)      Once you are seeing the browning on the potatoes, add bowl 3 and bowl 4 on top of it without mixing anything and splash the cider vinegar on top.  Put the cover on the pan and place it in the oven.  At this point I set the timer for 20 minutes and put the cutting board and prep bowls in the dishwasher then grab my glass of wine and book and sit for a bit.
7)      After the timer goes off, open the oven, take the top off (watch out for the steam, nothing like having the oven fog your glasses then getting a face full of vinegar steam) and stir it all around a bit.  You should be getting some juice in the bottom of the pan from the water coming out of the veggies.  Close it back up and put the timer on for another 20 minutes.  I generally top off my wine and relax, dinner is almost ready.
8)      When the timer goes off pull it out of the oven and fluff it up a bit and serve.  

Photo taken after serving up two hearty bowls!
So the dish should end up filling with out being heavy and while the core flavours are the same, there should be little changes in each bite depending on if you get more cabbage or apple, etc.  The cabbage should be a little al dente with the potatoes and carrots soft, the sausage still juicy and the apple and peppers adding an occasional bit of sweetness to balance the bitterness from the cabbage, the salty from the bacon and just that hint of vinegar to keep it from becoming too rich.  There shouldn’t be too much of a sauce but if you want more you could plan to add a half cup of dry white wine to the pan before the second 20 minutes in the oven.  This should leave you with an Au Jus that will be tasty but you may want to give it an extra 10 minutes uncovered in the oven at the end to cook out that raw wine flavour and reduce.  We have this about once every other week or so in the winter because the root veggies are more common and it seems like cabbage is a staple around here in the winter.  It’s fairly quick if you prep the ingredients a head of time and relatively healthy plus the big bonus of being Gluten and Lactose free.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Homebrewing, My New Favourite Hobby

So getting into Home Brewing has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.  I tried to convince my parents to let me brew in the basement, mum didn't want to deal with the smell.  It was a goofy dream that we talked about in undergrad engineering.  We proposed that the faculty give us access to a lab so we could make beer for the various EngSoc (Engineering Society) parties.  After all we could probably make beer for less than what EngSoc paid.  Of course this was shot down and later when I had my own place I could have started brewing, but it was buy the equipment or pay the mortgage and I like sleeping indoors.  When we moved to California and sold the house I thought about it again but the apartment was pretty small and I think there was actually something in the lease against it.  So it’s been an unfulfilled dream, chasing me through most of my adult life.

The general lack of selection of beer that is gluten free here in Germany reawakened an interest and the culinary and scientific aspects of brewing appeals to both my creative and analytical sides.  The winding trail that brought me to this day was a relatively long one.  Starting a few months ago, bored, I starting looking up how to make my own apple wine.  This was after Mrs. Thirsty and met some friends in Frankfurt for a weekend and we spent Vatertag drinking and chanting with a bunch of Germans.  There isn’t really an official Father’s Day in Germany.  Every year Ascension Day (a Thursday 40 days after Easter) is the official federal holiday; unofficially it is Vatertag (Father’s Day), also called Männertag (Men’s Day) or Herrentag (Gentleman’s Day).  The basic tradition is a group of men get together, pulling little wagons filled with beer, wine and regional foods and they hang out at eachother’s houses, parks, bars, wherever and drink.  This being a Thursday, most take the Friday off and make a long weekend out of the adventure.  This past Vatertag I was drinking rails of Applewein and having a great time with our friends from Canada here on a visit. (As far as I can remember.)

Back to the beer; starting with the basic search online I came to the Wikipedia article about Apfelwein.  Now, enjoying this stuff here in Hessen, I read through the article and found that it was considered more of a cider then a wine.  I loved cider back in Canada and California, so this led me to researching Cider Making and after scouring the internet for something more than Wikipedia and random recipes involving “take the Mott’s concentrate and...” I finally stumbled upon The Wittenham Hill Cider Portal which is Andrew Lea’s website.  I read through his series of articles and eventually ordered his book.  At the same time I also ordered a book on wine making.  After reading through the articles on cider making I though “Cider, wine, beer, hell they’re all pretty similar.  Bet I could figure out how to do a decent GF beer if I figure out the process”.  So back to Google I went.

I had heard about The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian before but I was trying to avoid it.  I’m not really sure why, but I think I was looking for something that I could relate to and I wanted to read up online before buying a book on the subject.  That’s about when I stumbled upon How to Brew by John Palmer.  This was what I was looking for, which I knew as soon as I read the bit about John being an engineer.  So after reading through the online published version of John’s book I went looking for anything out there related to Gluten Free Brewing and fell head first into the wonderful world of Home Brew Talk

There are a lot of home brewing sites out there, including Canadian Home Brewers, Aussie Home Brewer and Home Brew Talk.  What really stands out about Home Brew Talk is that they have an entire sub-forum dedicated to Gluten Free Brewing.  Just reading a couple threads here and there these guys blew my mind.  The creativity and open minded thought regarding ingredients and processes really intrigued me, I mean really, would you have thought that Sweet Potatoes would have been good in a beer?  Or red beets?  Forbidden Rice, it’s forbidden for Pete’s Sake, why would you think of using it in a brew?  So I decided right then to start at the beginning and read every single thread to absorb as much as possible.  It was like taking a walk through history, the first thread starting in 2006 and moving up through today with many of the threads spanning days, weeks, months and even years while people chronicled their trials and tribulations in Gluten Free Brewing.  It took me a good month to read through all the threads, making notes and writing down recipes that sounded good. 

The first batch of Fuldauer Burnt Honey Winter Apple Cyser is still working away.  I have the brew day post already up here.  I should be starting a bottling and tasting post sometime in the New Year.  As for beer, the Brew Day post for Ye Old Confused Brown Ale will be going up soon.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Flash Blog - Cream of Mushroom Soup

When I started thinking about this blog, the main idea was a place to track ideas and the trials and tribulations for posterity.  The weekly food posts have been repeatedly cooked and tried.  Mrs. Thirsty has given her input in all of them and we’ve tweaked them together to the point that I feel I can reveal them here without any fear.  This “Flash Blog” is another thing all together.  With these posts I am basically going to be recording the nights where I come home, open the fridge and cupboards and Mrs. Thirsty gets worried and shakes her head because she knows what the kitchen will look like when I’m done.  Basically I will be recording the ingredients, the how’s and why’s, and some ideas on how to improve what happened that should all lead to a detailed weekly post in the future.  This is a situation where I would love input from any readers on what I should try, how to improve or any radical thoughts you may have that I could incorporate.

Last night was one of these nights.  On my way home, Mrs. Thirsty asked me to pick up some simple white sandwich bread because she really just wanted a night of grilled cheese and Lipton® chicken noodle soup.  So I stopped at the store, knowing that I was on my own for supper, I spent a little time looking around.  After seeing some cream, brie and mushrooms, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at a cream of mushroom soup.  Since Mrs. Thirsty already had her meal planned and she is the lactose free one in our little pair of misfits, I thought a cream soup would be nice.  I don’t make cream soups all that often, because obviously I want my wife to enjoy a meal with me without the fear of the future pain shadowing the meal.  This was a good opportunity to try creating a basic recipe that I could later convert to lactose free.

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Brie

This is one of those memories from my childhood before gluten was a problem.  A warm bowl of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup® and a box of Triscuits® on a cool fall day is a heart warming memory for me.  In this case I’m changing things up a bit but we’ll see what happens.

So I wound up with about 4 bowls and it took about 40 minutes to prep and cook.  Like most soups, this could probably simmer for hours and taste even better for it but I wanted to eat before midnight.

Starting with about 15 brown mushrooms, I wiped the caps with a wet towel and took the stems off.  I threw the stems in a medium sauce pot with some veggie stock and about a litre of water, capped it and set it on the stove to simmer.

The mushrooms were sliced up and then I minced a shallot.  I also crushed 3 cloves of garlic and removed the husk.

I put the medium soup pot on medium-high heat and added about 50g of Yogurt Butter.  I really like the flavour of this butter, there is a rich and tanginess to it that is just great to cook with.  Once the butter had melted I added the mushrooms, shallots and garlic.

As the mushrooms released their water I threw in a few sprigs of thyme I had in the freezer, some fresh ground pepper, sea salt and about a half teaspoon of nutmeg.

The water was evaporated off and once the mushrooms were a nice brown and a few were just starting to show some fried texture I put about 100mL of red wine into the pot.  It boiled really quickly and I gave it about 20 seconds to boil/reduce/deglaze the pan and added the stock to the mushrooms, pouring through a strainer to remove the mushroom stems.  I turned the heat down to medium low, capped the pot and let it simmer while I worked on the cream.

Starting with a roux, I put about a table spoon of the Yogurt Butter into the pot that the stock was in, over a medium heat and added a tablespoon of chestnut flour.  I was thinking that the earthy, nuttiness of the chestnut flour would go well with the mushrooms.  Once the roux browned a little I added 600g of whole heavy cream, stirring constantly with a whisk.  I turned the cream down to low and went to cut the rind off the brie.  I used about half a wedge, not sure how much of the brie would come through.   Chopping the brie into large cubes I added them to the cream and went back to whisking.

Once all the brie was melted, I poured the cream into the simmering mushroom stock mixture, brought the whole thing to a simmer and left the top half off, letting it simmer like that for about 20 minutes.  The flavour of the soup was about what I wanted, but it was a little on the watery side so I added another 2 tablespoons of chestnut flour, let it simmer for 5 minutes and had a bowl.

Overall it turned out well.  The flavours were really nice, the thyme a little more subtle than I wanted and it needed a little more pepper, but I was very satisfied.

Next time I try this I’d make the following changes/additions:
-          Fry some fine diced, smoked bacon in the Yogurt butter before adding the mushrooms
-          Add more thyme, the fresh-frozen sprigs aren’t as powerful as the dried herb
-          Add the nutmeg to the cream instead of the mushrooms
-          Use coarse cracked black pepper in the mushrooms and a little bit of white pepper in the cream
-          More Brie in the cream, the whole wedge
-          More wine in the mushrooms, closer to 250mL
-          Double the roux in the cream for a thinker texture
-          Let the whole thing simmer together a little longer covered so that the flavours can meld

This is definitely not lactose free, but it is gluten free.  I’ll play with a lactose free version next.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pork Rouladen with Sautéed Red Cabbage

So one of the things that I’ve found about this lovely little country we’re living in is that they love their pork.  Pork schnitzel, pork cutlets, pork steak, ground pork, pork sausage, pork, pork, pork.  Now I love pork as much as the next guy but sometimes it gets a little one note and overwhelming and you just want something a little different.  At the store we would grab these little Minute Steaks as they call them which are basically slices of pork loin cut about 1 cm think so they cook quickly.  So one day I grabbed some of these with the plan of beating them into submission and making some schnitzel.  Mrs. Thirsty was really bored and tired of schnitzel by this time and wanted something else.  She reminded me of this little bit of insanity I created way back when we were living in Windsor.  We were in the store and I had found this cut of flank steak for cheap.  I bought it and decided to play a bit.  I beat it with a meat mallet until it was thin, layered on bacon, slices of onion, garlic, peppers and spices and then rolled it up and threw it in the oven and cooked it like a roast.  So back to the pork, when I brought this home she challenged me to make something like the flank roast. She helped by suggesting different fillings and after three or four iterations we finally came up with the Pork Roulade here.  This is another recipe that we came up with in the winter time so filling reflects this, though you could probably change things up in the summer. 

Pork Rouladen with Sautéed Red Cabbage
Red cabbage has this wonderful property of turning everything purple, the cutting board, whatever you cook with it, your hands, the walls, your clothes.  I seem to remember using it in high school science class when we were talking about the properties of dyes and such.  It’s a really nice shade of purple, but be warned, you will look something like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory if you aren’t careful.
Makes 2 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

4 pork minutes steaks (1cm – 1.5cm thick cuts of pork sirloin)
12-16 slices of thin cut bacon
½ small head of red cabbage
½ large Granny Smith apple (Empire or any tart apple will work well)
4 1cmx1cmx5cm sticks of lactose free feta cheese
½ Teaspoon of Black pepper
¼ Teaspoon Seasoned Salt
¼ Teaspoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon Mustard (preferably sharp or brown mustard)
2 Tablespoons Raspberry Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil

1)      Start by chopping up the Cabbage.  Anything else you use the board for before you rinse it will change colour but that’s not a big deal here.  Put the cabbage in a prep bowl.
2)      Next is the apple, this we want closer to a dice.  You can put this into the same prep bowl as the cabbage.
3)      Put an oven safe pan on medium-high heat and add the oil.  Pre-heat the over to about 180° (350°F).  Once the oil is hot, add the apple and cabbage.  Put in half the Black Pepper and the Seasoned Salt and toss everything well.  This should cook for about 15 minutes, with regular tossing to keep anything from burning.  The goal here is to get the cabbage soft.  You can wait until this is complete before moving onto the Mallet but if you’ve your own Mrs. Thirsty (or a reasonable facsimile), she can take over while you wield the mallet.  This makes for quicker prep and a bonding moment.

4)      For the last 5 minutes of cooking the apples/cabbage you want to toss in the Raspberry Vinegar.  With all the pork here, it has potential to be a really rich dish.  The vinegar will cut the richness by adding a bit of acid/sour taste that will really lighten things up.
5)      Onto the pork.  This is really a great dish when you’ve had one of those days.  You know the ones, where you want to come home and yell at the cat for being too passive.  Kind of like the Chain of Screaming.  Well, when the cat just won’t give you the satisfaction of reacting to your outburst, grab the mallet and the pork and get some of the tension out.  Lay out the pork on your rinsed cutting board and unless you want pork on wall, ceiling, your clothes, the cat (stupid cat), I usually put a piece of plastic wrap on top.  The same piece can be reused for all four pieces.  Flatten the pork out to be about 3mm, alternating between the flat side of the mallet and the spiked side to control how the meat spreads.

Right how we purchase the meat and left is after letting the tension out.

Letting the tension out...

6)      On the flattened pieces of pork, dole out the mustard, paprika and black pepper and massage it in well with your fingers.  You can leave this for a minute or two while you make sure the cabbage/apple is done.
7)      In the centre of the pork lay the feta and then add a table spoon or two of the apple/cabbage mixture.  Roll pork up and set it to the side.  Once all the pork has been rolled, put the remaining apple/cabbage mixture into an oven safe dish and set it aside.  This will go in the oven in the last 5 minutes to warm it back to serving temperature.

8)      Lay out 3-4 strips for bacon, slightly overlapping lengthwise.  Place a pork roll at the top of the bacon such that it would unroll away from you.  We’re going to roll the bacon around the pork roll in the opposite direction.  Wrap the bacon around the pork roll and its ready go in the pan.

9)       Remember that empty apple/cabbage pan?  Put that back on the stove on the medium-high heat.  Once hot place all four Rouladen into the pan so that the bacon seam is down.  Sear each side of the Rouladen to a nice golden brown and put the whole pan into the oven for 10 minutes.  If there is any left over cabbage apple mix, it is great on it's own for a side with dinner.

10)   After 10 minutes, spin each of the Rouladen so that the side that was just cooking is facing up and put the pan back in for another 5 minutes.  At the same time put the oven safe dish of apple/cabbage into the oven.
11)   5 minutes later you’ll have beautifully brown pork roulade with the cheese just a little bit soft.  You can give them a couple minutes to rest, on a board or on the plate, to reabsorb some of the juices and its ready to eat.

So there it is, some nice little pork rolls that are just different enough that you don’t mind eating pork. . . . again!  Oh and after dinner and clean up, you should probably apologize to the cat.  They are usually pretty understanding but just because they didn't react, it doesn't mean you won’t find a present in your shoe in the morning.
Photos Courtesy of Mrs. Thirsty

Monday, November 5, 2012

Brew Day - Fuldauer Burnt Honey Winter Apple Cyser

Back when I first was diagnosed with DH I was kind of at a loss as what to drink when I was hanging out with friends on a patio in the summer.  We used to hang out at the local bar on the patio, have a couple rounds of Alexander Keith’s IPA or a Guinness and just enjoy the sun and some good conversation. After being diagnosed, it was hard to find that same balance you find in a beer where you can enjoy a pint over a period of time without going overboard.  With a well drink I found they were gone to quickly, the tropical cocktails and coolers were too sweet and for me a glass of wine is more for an evening affair.  The answer I found was Cider, specifically Strongbow.  This was a revelation to me, I could sit and have a pint with my friends, drinking at the same pace as everyone else and enjoy the summer. 
A year later when my wife and I moved to California, I found a larger selection of ciders (Magners, Woodchuck, Hornsby, etc) and really came to enjoy them but since moving to Germany in January, there has been a lack of cider in my life.  They have here in Hessen (the province where Frankfurt is located) what they call Apfelwein or Apple Wine.  This is somewhat similar to cider, but is fermented more like white wine.  As I understand it, apple wine is usually fermented to about 12% alcohol but is often cut to be between 4-8%.  I find that this removes the depth and character that you find in a good cider.

So recently when a neighbour gave me a bucket full of winter apples I decided to try my hand at a simple cider and since I struggle with simple, it has be come what is actually called a cyser.  A Cyser is a fermented blend of Apples and Honey, sounds yummy to me. J  Now I’m sure Andrew Lea would be appalled at what I’m doing here but I’m hoping he would understand that this is the first thing I’ve really brewed anything discounting that wine we made in high school biology class, that I really don’t remember.  Following  is the recipe and a recap of the brew day.  Racking, bottling and finally tasting will follow in later posts.
Fuldauer Burnt Honey Winter Apple Cyser
What I’m going for with this cider is a nice sparkling dry cider with a hint of the caramelized honey and some deep apple flavour.  I’m not sure if the honey is going to leave any non-fermentable sugar behind but if it does, a touch of sweetness will be welcome.
3L Fresh Apple Juice
450g Caramelized Wild Flower Honey (How To Below)
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
1g Yeast Nutrient
SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04)

OG:        1.063
Est FG:   1.004

1)      Juice the apples!  I’m not sure how many apples I actually had, I just juiced them all and wound up with about 3L of juice.  I probably could have had more but I couldn’t think of a good way to squeeze the pulp and this was a first attempt anyway.  And props to Mrs. Thirsty for all the help with the juicing, though I’m much of it stemmed from her fear of me breaking her juicer
2)      I put the nutmeg and cinnamon in the juice and put it on medium heat, holding it between 60 and 70°C for 30 minutes to pasteurize the juice since I didn’t have any campden tablets.  I love both nutmeg and cinnamon and at this point I really have to stop myself from putting it in everything (subtle flavours in barbeque rub anyone?) but for once I think this is a good place for them to be added

3)      After adding the honey and yeast nutrient and stirring well I put the whole pot in the sink with some cold water to cool it.  Once cooled to about 22°C, withdrew a sample to get the Original Gravity (OG).  I added the yeast nutrient with the sole purpose of avoiding any sulphur stink (aka Rhino Farts) which comes when your yeast is stressed.  As I understand it both apples and honey are a deficient in Free Amino Nitrogen that the yeast need to stay healthy, and unstressed, so a little nutrient to hopefully avoid the stink is well worth the effort.  I don’t want Mrs. Thirsty to be unhappy and since the lease was in German, I really don’t know if I’m allowed to brew in my apartment.  I want to have something to appease him with before my landlord finds out.
4)      Finding the OG a little high I added a litre of boiled water to the mix, totalling out to 4 litres of must that I transferred to the glass carboy I prepped.  I’m not making an Apple Wine or mead, so I’m trying to keep the alcohol around 6%.

5)      After mixing the yeast with the hydrometer sample and a little hot water I pitched the yeast, capped it, cleaned up and went to bed.   And yes, dreams of apple cider danced in my head.  Personally, not a fan of sugared plums.

6)      When I woke up in the morning, it was burbling in the fermenter happily and the ambient of the room was about 24°C.  The current plan is to let it go for about a month as is.  I’ll probably move it to the basement, which is a little cooler and will only get cooler as the winter wears on, so fermentation will probably be slow.  I may add another gram of nutrient in about 2 days and check the gravity about every day to keep track.  Otherwise I’ll plan on bottling before I go on winter break.

I made the Caramelized Honey with 500g of Wildflower honey, 2 tablespoons of water and ½ teaspoon of lemon juice.  Mix everything together and place over medium low heat stirring constantly until honey starts to simmer/foam.  Once foam starts, stop stirring and reduce heat, managing foam by switching heat on and off until the desired caramelization is reached.  In this case, foam was held for 20 minutes, then honey was moved to separate container.  Next time I’m bored I may do up a batch and just let it go and see how dark I can get it before it becomes bitter.

I’m really looking forward to this and it’s going to be hard to wait out the fermenting process properly so I’ll have to keep myself busy till then.  Hmm, maybe a beer next?