Sole with Leeks and Tomatoes

Take a look at some leeks.

Take a look at some leeks.

Mike Harper

Sole with Leeks and Tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts)
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
8 oz. vegetable broth
½ cup dry white wine
2 medium, ripe tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 6-ounce sole fillets
All purpose flour

½ cup scallion (green tops only, cut lengthwise into a fine shreds)

Serves two

Blanche tomatoes for 30 seconds in boiling water. Remove and shock the tomatoes in an ice bath. Peel skin from tomatoes and chop together in a bowl, preserving juice.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Sauté until leeks are tender, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and wine. Increase heat to bring liquid to a low boil and let bubble about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 10-15 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. This is sufficient sauce for 5-6 servings.

Salt and pepper enough flour to dredge your fillets and then dredge them in the seasoned flour until they’re fully coated. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a (separate) large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fillets and sauté until golden and just opaque in center, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Plate the fillets and then spoon sauce over fish. Top the fish with the shredded scallions, piled high.

Roland Tissier Sancerre

Wine Recommendation:
This dish would sing with a French sauvignon blanc. French versions (versus, say, New Zealand) tend to be grassy with notes of fig, citrus and mineral-ly qualities.  In addition, it has a medium weight that will not overpower the fish. Sauvignon Blanc works well with dishes of mild acidity and the tomatoes in this dish help qualify it.
We have a delicious French sauvignon blanc for as little as $10.99 (Les Jamelles) but, for a sublime experience, try the Roland Tissier Sancerre (see above) from the Loire Valley.

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Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Goat Cheese Salad

Warm Goat Cheese Salad <em>or</em> Chevre Me Timbers!

Warm Goat Cheese Salad or Chevre Me Timbers!

Mike Harper

Warm Goat Cheese Salad
with Grilled Olive Bread

Vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic, peeled, halved
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs chopped fresh basil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs Dijon mustard

Salad
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 tbs n chopped fresh basil
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt
3 4oz. logs soft, fresh goat cheese, each halved crosswise, halves pressed to ½-inch thickness
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten until foamy
1 tbs olive oil
10 oz. mesculin salad mix (or any assortment of mixed greens); washed and dried.

6 ¾ inch-thick slices olive bread
Additional olive oil

For Vinaigrette:
Place garlic and oil in a small pan and warm garlic on low for 7-8 minutes. You’re after an infusion, you don’t want to cook the garlic. After oil is warmed and infused, transfer garlic to small bowl and reserve oil. Using fork, coarsely mash garlic. Add basil, vinegar, and mustard to mashed garlic. Whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in reserved garlic oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (This can be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature and re-whisk before using.)

For Salad:
Mix first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Dip each cheese round into egg whites, turning to coat. Coat each with breadcrumb mixture. Transfer coated cheese rounds to plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
Heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cheese rounds and cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a heated plate w/ a paper towel to drain.

Brush bread slices on both sides with olive oil. Grill until beginning to toast, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.

Place greens in large bowl and toss with all but 2 tablespoons vinaigrette; season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide salad among 6 plates. Top each with 1 cheese round and 1 slice grilled bread. Drizzle cheese rounds with remaining 2 tbs. vinaigrette and serve.

* Available at Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets.

Nautilus

Wine Recommendation:
You’d want a wine that had a similar character rather than one that acts as a counterpoint. While vinaigrettes are notoriously difficult to match with wine, for this dish, a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, like the Nautilus pictured above, would work well. It has zesty flavors of grapefruit and lime along with a rich minerality.  The crisp acidity of the wine would be reflected by the vinaigrette and the similar acidity of the goat cheese.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin - Rustic cooking at its best.

Coq au Vin - Rustic cooking at its best.

Mike Harper

Coq au Vin (pronounced: coke – oh – van) is classic French cooking but simply means, chicken with wine. Though it has peasant roots, the final dish develops into something that will have you eating as well as any rich man. Coq au Vin is about taking simple, basic ingredients and combining them in a way that builds flavor. Because of that, there are many separate steps – but they all lead to an incredibly rich sauce that is the central aspect of the dish.

Coq au Vin

Serves 4

4 Large Chicken leg/thigh pieces
1 large yellow onion, cut into medium dice
1 large carrot, cut into medium dice
2 celery stalks, cut into medium dice
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1 bottle red wine (A Red Burgundy or Pinot Noir)
1 bouquet garni*
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups veal stock**
1 pint pearl onions, peeled
½ pound smoked slab bacon, diced***
1 pound small white mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

The day before:
In a large bowl, combine the legs, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, wine, and bouquet garni.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.

The next day:
Strain the marinade liquid from the legs and vegetables and reserve. Remove and discard the garlic halves and bouquet garni. Separate the legs from the vegetables.
Season the marinated legs with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Just when the oil begins to smoke, add the legs. (Do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan. If the legs are too crowded, the steam they will emit will not rise away from the meat and the chicken will not brown properly.)
Brown evenly and deeply on all sides, about 7-8 minutes per side. Set finished legs to the side and discard the oil; replenishing the oil between batches. When completely finished browning the legs, reduce heat to medium and add the reserved vegetables to the pot. Cook until they soften and begin the brown, about 5-8 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, and then add the flour, stirring again for about 2 minutes. Add the reserved marinade liquid and, as it bubbles up, use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot, incorporating them into the broth. (These browned bits are rich with flavor.) Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, reducing the liquid by half .  After reducing, add the chicken and then the stock. Turn the heat back up to high in order to bring the liquid to a boil. As it reaches a boil, reduce the flame to low and maintain a slow and gentle simmer for 1 hour.  –  By this time, the meat will be very tender.

In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients:
Blanche the pearl onions in boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Strain and set aside. Cook the bacon in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until brown, about 10 minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon. Add the mushrooms to the sauté pan and the (now very hot) rendered bacon fat. Cook the mushrooms until brown, about five minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon. Add the blanched pearl onions to the pan, sautéing until they too are brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove the legs from the braising liquid and strain the contents of the pot, reserving the liquid and discarding the vegetables. Return the liquid to the stove and bring it to a strong simmer. Skim the surface of the sauce as it bubbles, removing any visible fat. When the sauce has reduced by half, return the legs to the pot along with the bacon, onions and mushrooms and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Using a warmed serving dish, plate the leg/thigh with onions and mushrooms and spoon sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.

This would go well with brown rice or oven-roasted potatoes, sautéed string beans and, of course, a pinot noir.

* Bouquet Garni: 3 stalks parsley, 1 sprig thyme and 1 bay leaf – lay the herbs on top of one another and tie them together into a little bundle with a piece of string. This is but one make-up for a Bouquet Garni and there are many. The idea is to infuse your dish with the flavors and aromas of these herbs and then make their removal very easy (just fish out the bundle at the end).

** If making Veal stock isn’t practical, you can substitute canned beef broth [I happen to like Swanson]. The Coq au Vin will not be as rich as if you had used veal stock but will still be very good.

*** If you can’t find slab (unsliced) bacon, then opt for thick-cut sliced bacon.
domaine tortochot

Wine Recommendation:
Well, there’s really only one way to go.  You need pinot noir, the same type of wine in which you marinated the chicken – though it’s no crime to upgrade for the dining room from what you used in the kitchen.  Red Burgundy is pinot noir and we have some beautiful ones, Chambertins from Burgundy’s Cote d’Or that are uniformly, rich, well-balanced and silky in texture.  Their only drawback is that they’re a tad on the expensive side,  ranging from $60. – $100./btl.
If that’s a bit dear, going for a Willamette Valley pinot noir (from Oregon) is an excellent fall-back.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Quality is Blog 1

Here's to you! -  (You're what we get out of bed for.)

Here's to you! - (You're what we get out of bed for.)

Mike Harper

Welcome to Wine Gourmet.
Wine Gourmet is a retail wine and beer shop in the Roanoke Valley. We pride ourselves on being a quality shop. That is, we pride ourselves on having a broad selection of quality wines, the quality of the staff’s knowledge, and on the quality of the service we can provide you. The chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know us and, hopefully, feel the same.
If not, you may want to take a moment and follow the above link to our website.

We want to make wine shopping and buying as un-mysterious, as pleasant and rewarding as ordering a meal at a favorite restaurant. We’d like fine wines and beers to be an old sweater in your world, something reliable and comfortable and something about which, it isn’t necessary to devote a lot of thought.

So, how do we get you there? How do you become as comfortable and confident as we are in your beverage choices? It’s a bit of a head scratcher. But, it’s occurred to us that an important step is chatting about it, getting (we hope) a dialog going. For those of you who’ve ventured into the store, the dialog is easy – you ask a question (or we do), and we’re off exchanging information and ideas and soon you have the info you need to make a purchasing decision – e.g., “hmmm . . this has the flavors I’m looking for and the price is right . . ” or “I never thought of matching pinot to salmon, but now that I think of it . . ” – you get the idea. Here on the web, however, the interaction is not as direct and specific. But, by gum, we’re consumers too and we know that, when we‘re faced with questions about a product with which we’re not as familiar as we’d like to be, – we research it on the web. It’s a great place to start.
– so start there we will.

We hope you enjoy reading some of the things we have to say and we encourage you to post back comments or e-mail us (or phone us or stop by the store . . ). We really want to know whether or not we’re doing something here or if we’re just a wind-up toy that’s whirring away in a corner, going nowhere.

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment