Search this site:
Archive for the ‘wine’ Category
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
My husband was away for a week on business. This happens regularly, it’s not unusual. My son and I have crazy busy schedules…well, he does…and the week flies by. One thing that is really different though is I cook less for that week. We’ll go out or I’ll make some simple pasta. Nothing that I consider real cooking. By Thursday I was depressed. I didn’t want to do anything. I had lots of things I could do, but I sat online, glassy-eyed, as my twitter feed rolled by. I tried retail therapy: got a really cute skirt on eBay for $10. I went to the thrift store and bought a big bag of things to rip apart and make new, cuter things out of. But still, I was just blah.
Then I realized what I was missing. Cooking! It’s my happy place. It’s what I do well and it makes me feel good about myself–as well as eating well which helps physically. Saturday night my husband got home but my neighbor and I were out seeing Eric Ripert and Tony Bourdain. I was inspired.
I invited the neighbors over for a fancy dinner on Sunday. I pulled out Eric’s A Return to Cooking and started flipping through. His are the only recipes I follow at all. I love them. Of course I still modify and cut some corners ;-)
I picked out Crab Salad with Chilled Gazpacho Sauce, Grilled Rack of Lamb and Cucumber Salad, and Pan-Seared Skirt Steak with Herbed-Butter Frites and Bitter Greens. I hit the store to stock up for the meal and they had no crab. They have had crab every day that I’ve gone in there until Sunday. They even had it when I went in two days ago. I had to go off script and decided to make my Green Curry Ceviche. The fish I bought was weird…possibly with parasites. First time I’ve ever gotten bad fish at my market…they refunded my money, no questions asked. I took that as a sign that I was trying to cook too much food.
I concentrated on the other two dishes. My husband took on dessert: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee Liqueur. It was inspired by the coffee infusion that he made about three months ago. We hadn’t tried it yet. It was a pound of Panama Gesha in Hangar One vodka. It better be good (it is!).
I also wanted to play with my Porthole infuser so put some ginger, lime and cardamom pods in there with some Oxley gin and let it sit. The plan was to mix up little drinks to go with the first course. Hubby took over that project when I was up to my elbows in lamb.
I cut the racks of lamb into chops and covered them in herbs and olive oil and set them aside. I put the skirt steak in the soy-based marinade from Eric’s book and set those aside. I sliced the potatoes into thin fry-sizes and put those in cold water. I made salad dressing. I washed the greens…I used regular lettuce, not bitter greens. I had a ton in my fridge from my CSA. I thinly sliced cucumber.
I tapped hubby for the infuser drinks. He muddled some cucumber, added lime juice, simple syrup and the gin and it was really good! The infusion was pretty strong even though it only sat for a couple of hours. The design of the Porthole works really well.
Then I started searing the lamb. I had to do it in two batches, the pan was too small. But that gave the first batch time to rest while I seared the second and the second batch time to rest while I plated the first! I sliced the lamb off the bone, tossed it with the dressing and piled it atop a nice little circle of cucumbers.
I had already par-fried (is that a word?) the fries and set them aside. So I fired up the oil again to bring it to 450° to crisp them up. I seared the skirt steak and set it to rest before slicing. I then sliced up the steak, tossed the salad with dressing and plated them. This was the best skirt steak I’ve ever, ever had. Eric is THE MAN. Yes, I cooked the food but the marinade was not my recipe.
The fries were also amazing, tossed with herbed butter and crispy as can be. I didn’t get a picture of those. I was too busy getting them on the plate and eaten while still crispy to take a photo!
The cake also ended up being rich and so incredibly good. Who needs flour when you have butter and chocolate?!
Needless to say, I was in a much better mood after 5 hours of intense prepping and cooking. Not many people would say that but I’ve always been odd.
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
We had a bit of a hectic schedule. It was the first day back to school for my son after the winter break. I was back to work at his school as well after not working for 3 ½ months since my husband’s motorcycle accident and I stayed home as a 24-7 nurse. I raced home from the day at school, prepped the chicken, tossed it in the marinade then put it in the fridge so we could head out to my son’s drum lessons.
We ran back into the house at 5:30 and I got started. I was planning on barbecuing but it was cold out and I didn’t want to spend time outside! So I grabbed my cast iron skillet and turned on the oven.
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
2 cups white wine
1 red onion, sliced
1 T whole grain mustard
1 lemon, sliced
2 cups israeli couscous
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup pine nuts
Put all the ingredients into a ziploc and marinate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400?.
Remove from marinade (reserve it for later in the recipe), salt, and sear skin side down in a hot (preferably cast iron) pan until skin is brown and crispy. Turn the chicken over. Top with the red onions from the marinade. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Meanwhile, put 2 cups of israeli couscous in a pot with 2 cups chicken stock and ½ a cup of the marinade liquid. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until tender. Stir in toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.
The timing should work out perfectly if you let your chicken rest for about 5 minutes. Serve the chicken atop the couscous and enjoy!!
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
I was given the opportunity to go to a Pebble Beach Food and Wine event last weekend and while there popped in on the Ridge guys. We chat on twitter sometimes but had never formally met. I met the man behind the tweets, Christopher Watkins, and he invited me to the event he was hosting to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the Ridge Vineyards blog that he writes. I really don’t get invited to stuff very often, I just go to things like a regular Joe and pay then write about it anyway. I don’t turn down free stuff. The tasting was on the day I was picking my husband up from his trip to Sydney. He would be getting off a 13 hour flight and I was dragging him straight up the crazy twisty Montebello Road to taste wine, jet-lagged and exhausted. Sounds like a great plan!
We arrived a bit early but I love just sitting and staring out over the Ridge Vineyards view. Silicon Valley actually looks pretty from that vantage point. Before long the tasting was set up and people were arriving so we migrated to the wonderfully air conditioned room where Christopher had a projector set up scrolling through quotes from Paul Draper (the Ridge winemaker) as well as quotes from Jazz musicians. There was also a jazz tune playing. I didn’t think much of it, Christopher seems like a Jazzy kind of guy. This becomes relevant later.
Once everyone arrives and is seated, we all introduce ourselves, plug our blogs and our twitter handles. Everyone is comfortable and chatty and we’re having a grand time. Christopher then explains what sounds like a complete crack-pot idea. He has four wines, hidden in brown paper bags–reminiscent of Thunderbird, but we know they’re all fabulous Ridge wines, the distinctive silver foil is just showing at the top. He has four jazz tunes cued up. We will be listening, drinking and pairing the wines with the tunes. But that’s not all, oh no, that’s not all. We will then be put in front of a camera to explain our choices! I am becoming less fond of Christopher all of a sudden.
Christopher’s background is in jazz and creative writing. He toured Europe playing jazz but came back and got a creative writing degree where his thesis was on jazz, abstract expressionism and haiku. Not too long after, wine joined those three to form a conceptual quartet. The whole idea behind the joining is that in order to create mojo-juju-funk sounds and make it seem completely effortless, you need structure, craft and discipline. The same goes with wine. Ridge doesn’t make blending decisions in the lab reading Brix levels, it’s by flavor and instinct but behind all that is years of discipline and study. You need experience as well as spontaneity.
Wine makes you chill out, be mellow and chatty. You crave quality. You don’t get drunk on wine and start a fight. It’s cerebral but funky and a little dirty. It’s the drink for the times you’re with people whose opinions you respect and want to talk to but also can relax with. These are all ideas from Christopher and they all make sense to me.
As all this discussion is happening, we’re sipping our blind tasting and listening to the jazz. This started getting fun. Quotes like, “There’s no way this wine goes with this bass line.” start popping up. And “There’s only one wine absurd enough to pair with Theolonius Monk.”
Oh, I haven’t told you the songs:
- So What by Miles Davis
- Bemsha Swing by Theolonius Monk
- Paul’s Pal by Sonny Rollins
- Mister P.C. by John Coltrane
Once we started explaining the choices, people were coming up with things like:
Let me be alone with my wine and Miles Davis in the background.
Get into a groove and disappear with it
As much as we all moaned and groaned about the concept, we totally got into it. And none of us paired the wines with the same songs. We all had our reasons. Mine were purely instinctual and hard to pinpoint. I just felt like I wanted to drink certain wines with certain songs.
Here are what my pairings turned out to be:
- So What: 1997 Geyserville
- Bemsha Swing: 1999 Lytton Springs
- Paul’s Pal: 2000 Montebello
- Mister P.C.: 2001 Montebello
Everyone else was all over the map and swore by their choices and reasoning, it was beautiful. I’d say you should try this at home and you should! But good luck finding those exact wines to do this with. Instead, pick your favorite genre, some interesting grape juice and some open minded friends and see what happens! If you do this, post the results here in the comments!
Saturday, March 10th, 2012
My CSA farm this year is Fogline Farm. We went there last year for an Outstanding in the Field dinner, had the honor of sitting with the farmers at dinner and decided we’d join their CSA next. I’ve been hopping from farm to farm each year, trying out all the variety in our county. One of the beautiful things about Fogline is they also raise Berkshire pigs. The CSA hasn’t started up yet but they are at the farmers’ market with beautiful cuts of pork. This week I picked up a nice 2lb-ish pork shoulder and tried cooking that for the first time. Man, did it work out. It was so amazingly good….and easy.
The only thing you need is time. This cooked for about 3 1/2 hours.
First, generously salt and brown the pork, on both sides over high heat, in a heavy bottomed pan that has a cover and can go in the oven.
Remove the pork and add a sliced onion, a good amount of herbs…I, of course, used marjoram and thyme…6 roughly chopped cloves of garlic. Stir that around a bit but it doesn’t need to soften or anything.
Put the pork back in atop the onion mixture.
Add 2 cups red wine (something good enough to drink, this will be your sauce too) and 2 cups chicken stock.
Cover and put in a 350° oven for 3 hours or more. I checked the meat at 2 1/2 hours, added a touch more wine and stock and turned the meat over. Then let it roast another hour.
After the pork is to a fall-apart tender stage, take it out of the pan and cover it with foil.
Carefully strain the liquid out of the pan into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce it to almost half. Stir in fresh parsley.
I put this over israeli couscous…I wanted orzo but didn’t have any…and I do think it’s disturbing to serve pork over israeli couscous–so sorry. It’s what I had!
Anyway, choose your grain or starch you prefer. Spoon some of the wine reduction over it. Shred the pork and put that on top.
Serve with either the wine you braised the pork in or another good, hearty, rustic wine.
- 2 – 2 1/2 lb pork shoulder
- 1 onion, sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- handful of herbs
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 3 hour(s) 30 minute(s)
Friday, January 6th, 2012
This dish was so easy and so rich and warming. I do think I was photo’d out from Christmas though because I didn’t take a single picture of this meal.
1/2 lb italian sausage
1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups white wine
8 oz orzo
I used my oval dutch oven for this…you need something big enough to nestle the chicken down in in one layer and it’s all done on the stovetop.
First, brown your sausage. Let it leave the fatty, cruchy bits in the pan. Remove the sausage w/ a slotted spoon. Then brown your chicken in the sausage fat. See, it’s good already! Once the chicken is browned, remove that too.
Add your onions, celery and fennel and leave it the heck alone for as long as you can stand it on medium heat. Don’t let them burn, per se, but get all that flavor toasting in the pan. Once the bottom of the pan is so browned you can’t stand it, add just enough wine to deglaze (abot 1/2 a cup). Let that simmer just a few minutes.
Nestle your chicken pieces down into the fennel-onion-celery goodness, add your sausage back in, add your garlic then pour the rest of the white wine into the pan. Depending on the size of the chicken and the pot, you may need more than 2 cups. You want it to come about 1/2 way up the chicken pieces. Cover and let it simmer on low or medium-low for about 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve over orzo tossed with some butter and olive oil.
It’s warming, filling, delicious and perfect for a cold night.