Sangria. You’re welcome.

Sangria Tasting at Wine Gourmet, Thursday, Sept 10, 5-8 pm

Sangria is the perfect summer sipper.

Sangria is a host’s best friend.  Made properly, Sangria is tasty, food-friendly and a perfect quaffer for guests “not into wine.”

Sangria originated in Spain. The word Sangria comes from the Spanish word, sangre meaning blood. The drink gets its name from the red color of the wine used in a traditional sangria recipe. The drink is also made with white wine which is called sangria blanco.

Sangria is basically a mix of wine, juices, soda water and fruit. Any young red wine can be used in a traditional recipe.

Tried and True Tips for Making the Best Sangria:

1.         Good, quality ingredients are important in this drink. Wine is the dominant ingredient, so take care to use a good wine.

2.         It’s important to allow time for the wine to blend with the fruit.  A few hours or even overnight in the refrigerator will enhance the flavor.

3.         Add soda and ice just before serving.

4.         Use a Spanish Rioja to get the authentic flavor of red Sangria.  We have a few wines that are perfect- Protocolo Tinto $8.99 and Montebueno Rioja $9.99

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Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Back from Bermuda!- Wines and Good Times

We have returned. 

All hail Wine on the Rail!

Wine Gourmet’s inaugural wine excursion carried us from Roanoke to New York to Bermuda and back.  I, Beth (the best-girlfriend ever, BGFE), our esteemed Melinda and her husband Allen escorted 17 Wine Gourmet customers on a tropical (or semi-tropical at least) get-a-away. We hauled along with us just over a hundred bottles of wine and the ship also provided a bottle for each cruiser. By the numbers it was 21 cruisers, six and a half days and 126 bottles to consume.  We faced our consumption responsibility undaunted and drank with conviction but, in the end, gave away our last six or eight bottles as we had to face the fact that we had more wine than we could finish in our remaining time without their being medical issues.
C’est la vie vin.
We began our odyssey with a morning in New York City.  Sunday dawned unseasonably chilly and BGFE, who’d neglected to pack a jacket or sweater requested a stop to shop.  Navigating the NYC streets turned into a challenge as Oprah was in town (having just finished a week at Radio City Music Hall) and was clogging the streets with folks running to cure something or other.  Loads of participants in matching t-shirts streamed past police barricades on their way to a finish in Times Square. Numerous times we would approach a barrier only to be waved away and directed ever further from our intended destination.  As we were ahead of our schedule, we were not terribly concerned and felt we could wait out the commotion arranged by her nibs.
But back to the jacket quest.  We saw a likely shop with a small space in front and I executed a feat of parallel parking that left my fellow passengers slack-jawed with amazement.  Trailing clouds of glory, my fellow passengers and I entered the store.  Beth grabbed a “New York” sweatshirt and a jaunty hat of orange plaid.  Beth paid her tab and dressed immediately.
Feeling a bit peckish, we sought a suggestion for breakfast from the shop clerk and he pointed to the Carnegie Deli across the street.  Somehow, in the dazzle of my parking, we’d failed to notice a New York landmark within yards of the car. We hauled over, heaved in and had a breakfast that couldn’t be beat.  BGFE was especially charmed to find herself dining across from a signed photo of Andy Garcia. This is a person whom I pray she’ll never meet. ‘Cause, if she did, it’d surely be a case of “See you later suckers!” and Beth would be off, leaving me only a final view of the soles of her feet as she tears off down the sidewalk toward her one true love.
Exit BGFE, Enter WGFE,   . . . alright maybe 2nd or 3rd WGFE – even with that exit, she would have some serious competition.

Pastrami and Eggs - The Breakfast of Champions

 

Anyway, now sated and the streets relatively clear, we headed off toward the ship. From the car I phoned the person whom I’d been instructed to contact in order to arrange the off-loading of the wine.  The contact told me that he didn’t know who I was or what I was talking about.
So I explained.
He then re-explained that he didn’t know who I was or what I was talking about.  – With this a hot, panicky bile began to rise in my throat.
Fortunately, before I choked, we arrived at our passenger drop-off point and the passenger drop-off attendants took the nine cases of wine in stride and ushered us to a spot where we received direct attention from the folks of Holland America. We got on – and so did the wine. 

Once aboard, Beth and I abandoned our wine related duties and set out to explore the ship.  We kept stumbling across fellow Roanokers along for the wine trip and were relieved to note that their faces showed more pleasure than disappointment.
Still moored to the pier, we began to feel uneasy as several hours passed with no luggage or wine appearing in our stateroom.  Finally, the luggage showed up but without the wine. I phoned my second contact, the ship’s Beverage Manager – a man with the unlikely moniker of Simon Jam.
Simon had a voice that was thick and slow and precise, like a butler who barely tolerates the antics of his employer. Simon oozed that he had my wine in his office and asked if I could come up to meet him there.  I felt a bit like it was the Principal requesting my presence and I began to examine my conscience for things I might have done, however inadvertent, that might have caused offense.
“Sure.” I said. “I can come right now.”
There was a sigh on the other end of the line.
“Why don’t you wait until 4 o’clock?” he responded distractedly.  He was obviously a man who didn’t care to suffer trifles.  “I have some questions to ask you.”
I half expected him to caution me to not leave town.

I collected my wine co-guide Melinda and we showed up at Simon’s office promptly at four. We were waved in as he looked up from behind his desk.  He was slight, tightly groomed and thin lipped.  He wore an officer’s uniform and, as I approached, he smiled weakly and offered his hand. I could tell that neither gesture came naturally to him. “Mr. Jam?” I said, trying to show him respect and pronouncing the name as my English interpretation would indicate.
“It’s ‘YAH-MM.’ he said, correcting my pronunciation with obvious pain. “I’m Dutch. Please call me Simon.”
This was not starting well. I introduced Melinda.
“I believe that this is yours.” said Simon, gesturing vaguely at the cases of our wine that were stacked in his office.
“Yes, they are.” I said.
“You are having a luncheon tomorrow? Yes?”
“Yes, we are.” I answered.
“Do you have a menu?” Simon asked. “Neither the chef nor I have seen a menu.”
“Yes, we do.” I told him, more than a little disconcerted as the menu had been e-mailed to me from Holland America via the travel agent.
“I have a copy in my stateroom.” Melinda offered.  “I can go down and get it.”
“Perhaps you’d better.” said Simon, humorlessly.
Melinda disappeared in search of the menu.
I waited quietly while Simon returned his attention to the pressing matters of his position.  The phone on his desk rang and Simon snapped up the receiver. He unenthusiastically thanked the party for returning his call and then began to berate them for not mentioning a wine tasting function (unrelated to ours) in the intercom announcements that had run a few moments before. He was incredulous that his wine tasting, which was among the most important events aboard, had completely missed mention. The call was brief and terse.  When he hung the phone up, he looked at me.
“That was the ship’s Program Director,” he said chafing at the stunning incompetence of it all, “and because she doesn’t mention the wine tasting only 70 of the 120 people who signed up will actually show up.”
“Oh.” I said thoughtfully, studying the tops of my shoes.
Suddenly and without warning, his face unclouded and he teetered on congenial.
“Maybe she’ll make another announcement.” he said without conviction. “Anyway.  You can leave your wine here and get it whenever it’s necessary.  The door is always unlocked.”
Melinda returned and handed him a copy of the menu we’d been e-mailed. He scanned it and shrugged. “OK” he said. “Are you happy with the scheduled time of your events?”
“Well,” I answered, “we had to cancel one event because the time was bad.  Can we reschedule that?
“Of course.” he said. “When would be convenient?”
– and so it went. I don’t know why Simon was, at first, so cool and taciturn but, in the end, he was gracious and helpful and we had our wine cared for and our event re-scheduled.

A good time being had by all.

Our events went swimmingly, if you’ll excuse a semi-nautical term.  We poured twelve different wines, most provided by one of our benefactors, Roanoke Valley Wine Company and the rest provided by Wine Gourmet.  The biggest hits? I think, by people’s reactions, the rich and powerful St. Innocent Momtazi Pinot Noir and the graceful and peppery Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner.
We made our way to paradise, swam in impossibly clear water and chased tropical fish. We ate wonderfully and the consensus seemed to be that the Bermuda Fish Chowder alone was worth the trip. (I found a recipe which seems to accurately represent the dish we had.  It follows below.) Personally I suffered a hangover, sun-burned feet (one tasting was conducted with me in bare feet) and the loss, to the wind, of my favorite ball cap.  Like Luca Brazzi, my hat sleeps with the fishes.
I can safely say that, for many of us, the return home was a matter of reluctance.
Stay tuned for an announcement of Wine Gourmet’s next foray.
You’re all invited.   Honest.

Bermuda Fish Chowder

Be sure to serve this chowder with bread, otherwise your guests will be licking their bowls. Unseemly that.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
5 cups water
2 1/4 lb mixed white fish fillets such as cod, grouper, tilefish, and snapper, skin and bones removed
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole allspice, tied in a cheesecloth bag
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch stirred together with 3 tablespoons water
12 small hard-shell clams such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup (or to taste) dark rum, such as Bermuda’s own Gosling’s Black Seal
2 tablespoons Sherry pepper sauce (This may be hard to find as it is a Bermudian condiment.)
Cook onion, bell pepper, leek, carrots, celery, chopped tomato, and garlic in butter in a 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer briskly, uncovered, 20 minutes.
Stir in fish, tomato paste, bay leaf, cheesecloth bag of allspice, thyme, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 20 minutes (fish will break up), then re-stir the cornstarch mixture and stir into chowder. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Stir in clams, shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, and rum and gently simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let chowder stand, covered, 1 hour.
Gently return to a simmer and stir in Sherry pepper sauce.

The Ultimate Paella!

Adam Z. Markham

In preparation for an upcoming trip to Spain my wife and I had two friends to dinner… Barb and Dave have traveled Spain extensively and we wanted to pick their brains. Deciding to cook paella, I proceeded to look in my cookbook collection for the best version I could find… evidently things were not going to be that simple. I found great and dramatic variation between the recipes.

I then checked out the web. Big mistake. The recipes I found there were even more disparate in opinion! Some folks were purists, insisting on the inclusion of rabbit and the exclusion of seafood. Some cooked on the stove top while others espoused an oven-based method. Some added saffron while others insisted its inclusion was akin to culinary heresy.

What started out as a simple search for a decent recipe ended up (much to the chagrin of my adorable wife) turning into a day-long quest for the perfect paella recipe.

Researching the history of the dish, I discovered it was originally cooked over an open flame often made from grapevines. Grapevines being hard to come by in the wilds of Bedford County, I decided to utilize my trusty Weber gas grill, “Old Smokey”!  Being an enormous fan of all things porcine I decided that the addition of chorizo was not even up for debate… pig simply makes life a better place. Seafood seemed an obvious choice, as did chicken, so I settled on mussels, shrimp and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The most traditional rice for paella seemed to be Bomba, but due to difficulty in sourcing it (as well as a bout of periodically-occurring procrastination) I decided to use Arborio instead.

The end result was shockingly tasty and was proclaimed by our guests to be the “Ultimate Paella” (insert mental image of host grinning like an idiot)!

I strongly recommend sourcing and buying a paellera (the traditional cooking vessel). They are usually sold based on the number of servings they will produce. This recipe was developed using a 6 serving paellera approximately 16″ in diameter that I purchased from Provisions Gourmet in Roanoke. If you don’t happen to have a paellera – and are determined not to own one – you could substitute an oven-safe skillet of similar diameter although I don’t recommend it (hey, I said it was the ultimate paella, I never said anything about easy or quick).

Suggested Wine Pairings: If you are in the mood for white, a nice Albarino such as Salvenal Cosecha 2008 (only $14.99 at Wine Gourmet) would work nicely. For a red wine, try a Spanish Garnacha such as Atteca Old Vines 2008 (an absolute bargain at $17.99!).

Mmmmm..... paella!

Grilled Mixed Paella
Serves 6  VERY hungry people

½ cup good dry white wine – preferably Spanish
1 tsp. saffron threads, crushed
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut into 1 in. dice – skin reserved
5 large cloves garlic, peeled, minced – skin reserved
½ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, lightly chopped – stems reserved and chopped
1 ½ lb. shrimp – peeled and deveined, lightly sprinkled with sea salt – shells reserved
7 cups good quality low-sodium chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 tbsp. olive oil (preferably Spanish)
8 oz. Spanish chorizo cut into ½ in. chunks
6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1 red bell pepper cut into 1 in. dice
1 green bell pepper cut into 1 in. dice
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried sage
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. sweet paprika
2 ¼ cups unwashed Arborio rice
2 to 3 tbsp. demi-glace, depending on strength
10 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
¾ cup fresh peas (frozen is acceptable)
½ cup pitted olives [preferably Spanish (such as Manzanilla) stuffed with anchovies – trust me!]
1 large fresh rosemary sprig
½ lb. mussels – cleaned and debearded
3 large lemons

Preheat grill over medium high heat and cover. Ideally the grill should hover around 350˚.

Prepare all ingredients (mise-en-place) beforehand. Put thyme, sage, and both the sweet and the smoked paprikas into a mortar and pestle and grind until well combined.

Put saffron into white wine to soak.

In a medium saucepan add reserved shrimp shells, onion and garlic skins and parsley stems to chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. Strain. Keep broth hot but not boiling.

On grill, add olive oil to a paellera (paella pan) for six and heat until shimmering. Add chorizo (do not be tempted to use Mexican chorizo because it is too greasy) and brown all over. Remove. Salt chicken, add to pan and sauté until nicely-browned. Remove. Add onion, peppers and fennel. Lightly salt and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the herb/paprika mixture to the pan, along with garlic, and continue to stir for another minute.

Add rice to pan and stir until grains are evenly coated with oil and beginning to become translucent. Add the demi-glace, half of the parsley, tomatoes, peas and olives. Stir until demi-glace has melted. Return the chorizo and chicken to the pan.

Stir in the wine/saffron mixture and 4-4 ½ cups of the stock (there should be enough to cover the rice by ½ inch or so). Cook with grill lid open, occasionally stirring gently, until dish is no longer soupy but still contains plenty of liquid, 5-10 minutes. Level out the top of the paella, place rosemary sprig on top and close grill lid. Cook without stirring for 10 minutes at 350˚, checking occasionally to ensure the rice is not burning. More stock may be added as necessary (see note below).

Open grill lid and nestle shrimp into the paella. Insert mussels hinge-side down and close grill lid. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until the mussels have opened. Discard any unopened mussels.

Remove from heat. Scatter remaining parsley and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and cover with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve in the paellera at the table with additional cut lemon wedges as garnish.

PLEASE NOTE: Paella is ALL about the rice. The additional ingredients are subject to change and should be considered secondary to the perfect rice. When properly executed, the rice texture should be somewhere between the fluffiness of a pilaf and the creaminess of a risotto, with nice little “crunchy bits” around the bottom and sides of the pan. Remember: the rice will continue to cook as it rests, so to compensate, it should actually be a bit TOO al-dente at the end of cooking phase. If the rice appears to be absorbing all the stock but is not yet sufficiently cooked add a bit more stock. If it appears to be getting done but the rice is still a bit too soupy, open the lid to the grill and turn it up (being careful not to let the paella burn on the bottom).

…Adam

Hi Mom!!

Confessions of a chop-a-holic

Local weatherman and weekend co-anchor for WDBJ7, Jay Webb contacted me recently to ask if I’d be interested in fixing something (foodwise) on the “Weekend Diner” segment for the News 7 Sunday Morning show.  Jay found me through a friend who had done the show once before but was only lukewarm for repeating his performance. The friend recommended me and Jay went with it.
Anyway, I pondered the offer for a fraction of a second and agreed.  It was, after all, television.  This would be not only an opportunity to promote Wine Gourmet but also to get my made-for-radio face beaming into living rooms all over the valley.  At 8am on a Sunday morning I might be playing only to cereal-munching children, sleepy-eyed adults and bored household pets but, at least, it would be a step closer to show biz.   (Show biz!)
I pored through my cookbooks and recipe files until I happened on something that I thought would work within the necessary restrictions of time and culinary infrastructure.  Jay told me that I’d have only three-four minutes for the segment and so I knew that, whatever dish I chose, it would have to be something quite simple.
I selected an Italian dish that I’d made once before, Braciole al Gorgonzola – or simply, Pork chops in Gorgonzola sauce.  I practiced making the dish twice in the week leading up to the show to ensure that I could pull it off within the constraints – and I was confident.
I arrived at the studio trailing gas burners, pans, knives, utensils, cutting board, and food.  A crew member directed me to an area of the studio set-up as a faux kitchen.  It featured some baker’s racks along a wall that were festooned with vaguely kitchen-y knick-knacks that appeared to be culled from yard sales and second-hand stores.  This would serve as a backdrop.  In front of the racks were two steel tables pushed together to form an “L” and this would be the stage for the dish to be created.  I’ve visited TV sets before and I’m always amazed at how normal and natural things can look on the screen versus the reality of the set.  That is, on TV, everything looks solid and substantial.  Get behind the scene however and you see that these are cheap sets finished only to the extent that the camera can see them.  Out of camera view, TV sets are a patchwork of exposed plywood, duct tape, signal cables, and tissue boxes – just like sets in a theater production.  There’s little point in pouring money into things that can’t be seen.
I sorted my things out from the boxes I’d hauled them in and prepared to get all Emeril on them.  As I set up, I was coached about how the segment would go, fitted with a microphone, given the hand signals used to indicate remaining time in the segment, and begged not to produce smoke (apparently the fire alarm had been set-off at some time in the past and the Fire Department took a dim view of having to respond).
As I had to have some chops already cooked by the time Weekend Diner would begin, I started applying heat to meat and kept an eye out for smoke.  Jay and crew could not have been nicer or more accommodating and, as the aroma of pan-fried pork began to fill the studio, I got a lot of happy nods from them.
Here’s a link to a video of the segment and the recipe.
 

http://www.wdbj7.com

 

Braciole al Gorgonzola  (Pork Chops in Gorgonzola Sauce)

Ingredients:

This recipe is for two pork chops. You can simply scale it up for however many chops you’d like to do.

2 lg. Pork chops
1 Tbl. Butter
1/4 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc are both ideal)
2 oz. Crumbled mild gorgonzola cheese
1 Tbl. Finely minced red bell pepper
2 Tbl. Finely chopped Italian parsley
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Using a thick-bottomed pan, bring the pan up to heat under a med./med.-high setting.

Salt and pepper the pork chops

Once the pan is hot, add a dollop of olive oil and the butter. As soon as the butter has melted, while it’s still sizzling, add the chops to the pan. Cook the chops 5-6 minutes, per side, for medium thickness or 8-10 minutes for 1″ + thickness.

After the chops are cooked, reduce the pan heat to low and move the chops to a warmed plate. (Either tent the chops with foil to keep warm or place in a warm oven.) Pour in the wine and stir to release the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. The wine will steam and reduce. When it has reduced by half its volume, add the gorgonzola, pepper, and parsley. (You could also save some of the pepper and parsley to decorate the chops.) Stir and the ingredients will incorporate into a sauce. Once fully formed, spoon the sauce over the chops and serve immediately.

Decorate the top of the chops with a sprinkle of parsley and bell pepper.

Try this with a side of pan-fried asparagus with Parmesan and some oven-roasted potatoes.

As for wine, this dish will go very well, the best really, with the wine that you used to make the sauce.

(Try Elena Walch Pinot Grigio or Chartron La Fleur white Bordeaux [Sauvignon Blanc])

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Partaking of the Pecan Pie

God Bless Kentucky

Recently, here at the ol’ Wine Gourmet we held a seminar on Food & Wine Pairing.  While there were a number of dishes served and paired, I got several requests for a recipe for the dessert I made that we matched with a tawny port.  In a way, it was a triple whammy, alcoholically speaking.  I made a Bourbon-Chocolate Pecan Pie and topped it with Orange-Cointreau Whipped Cream and then served it with a Warres Otima Ten-Year Old Tawny Port.  It’s not much trouble to make this and it’s usually a big hit. The addition of the orange whipped cream is what takes it to a special level.

Anyway, here ’tis!

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie


Pie Pastry:

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup finely ground pecans
1 tbs. sugar
Pinch salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
2 tbs. ice water, plus more if needed

Filling:

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup dark corn syrup or sugar cane syrup
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 tbs. bourbon (Kentucky bourbon is a must.  I like Evan Williams – but Maker’s Mark, or Jim Beam, or Wild Turkey, etc. are all fine choices as well.)
¼ tsp. salt
cups pecan halves

Whipped Cream

8 oz. Heavy Cream
¼ Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Medium Orange
1 Tbs. Cointreau


To make the pastry:
combine the flour, ground pecans, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the ice water and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin (this may take a little practice) and lay it inside a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough into the pan so it fits tightly and trim the excess around the rim. Place the pie pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easy to move in and out of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place pie crust into oven to crisp it up.  Remove at the first hint of browning.

To make the filling: melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler* over medium-low heat, remove from heat and let cool.  Separate whites from yolks and save two whites. Whip the two egg whites to soft peaks and set aside.  Beat the yolks in a large mixing bowl until very smooth and then blend in the sugar. Stir in the syrup, vanilla, bourbon, salt, and the melted chocolate mixture until well blended then fold the whipped egg whites into the mixture.

Arrange the pecans on the bottom of the pie crust and carefully pour the filling mixture over them. Bake until the filling is set and slightly puffed, about 45 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a thin knife in the center of the pie, if it comes out pretty clean, you’re good to go. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely before cutting.

To make the Whipped Cream: Take a zester and scrape the skin from the orange.  Chop the orange zest until it is very fine.  This should render anywhere from a teaspoon to tablespoon of zest, depending on the size of the orange and the efficiency of your zesting. No need to worry though as even just  a teaspoon will be plenty.
Slice the orange and juice it straining out any seeds or significant pulp.  Heat a small sauce pan to medium-high and add the orange juice.  bring the Juice to a boil and reduce, stirring regularly, until the juice is reduced to about a Tablespoon.  It should be the consistency of a thin syrup.
Refrigerate a clean, metal bowl.  (It’s important to use chilled metal to get the best results from whipping the cream.)  Remove the chilled bowl from the refrigerator and add the cream.  With a hand whisk or an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment), beat the cream until it begins to thicken.  Add the rest of the ingredients (a tsp. of zest, reduced juice, Cointreau and most of the sugar) and continue to beat the mixture. After the ingredients are thoroughly combined  but before the mixture has gotten to the proper consistency, taste the whipped cream for sweetness and adjust with more sugar to your liking.  (I prefer it only just a little sweet.)
The whipped cream should set-up in relatively short order.  You want to stop when it holds its peaks. – Be careful not to over-beat or you’ll end up with butter, albeit yummy orange-butter that’ll be great on a breakfast roll, but butter none-the-less.

Sailors rejoice! - Here be a fine port.

* A double boiler is easily improvised with a saucepan and bowl.  Put water in the saucepan to a depth below the lowest point the bowl will reach.  You don’t want the water touching the bowl.  Heat the water at medium low to create a light  steam and melt the chocolate/butter combination in the bottom of the bowl.

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 4:59 pm  Comments (1)  

Mike’s Pretty Good Meatloaf

A selection from the classic comfort foods section:
meatloaf

Meatloaf is a neat-loaf, treat-loaf, can't be beat-loaf.

I grew up being served meatloaf once a month or so.  While mom was a cook of modest abilities, she had a few signature dishes  for which my siblings and I swooned a bit.  Meatloaf was one.  Mom’s meatloaf was typical of the times (the sixties and seventies).  It was a rather bland affair the recipe for which she’d clipped from the Ladies Home Journal or some other glossy, June Cleaver-y periodical. It involved only hamburger meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, worcestershire and ketchup with a dry onion soup mix.  Still, we clamored for it and the hand of the sibling that might attempt to filch a little extra from his brother or sister’s plate would likely be drawn back empty and sporting a new mark on the back whose pattern would closely match the tines of the fork from the nearly-offended party.  Though mom always made two full meatloafs, only one would be served to our family of eight at dinner and the other would be held to slice up for meatloaf sandwiches for the next day’s school or work lunch.  That still works well.
– Leftover meatloaf makes great sandwiches.

The recipe below is one that I’ve developed after a little trial and error in getting the right combination and proportion of ingredients.  That being said, a meatloaf is a very flexible and versatile dish and feel free to add and omit ingredients as you see fit.

Mike’s Pretty Good Meatloaf
1.5 lbs.  Lean ground beef (ground chuck or sirloin works best)
2/3 lb. Ground pork
2/3 lb. Ground veal or lamb
1 Cup Onion, finely diced
1/2 Cup Carrot, finely diced
1/2 Cup Celery, finely diced
5 medium Cremini mushrooms, (3) whole & (2) medium chopped
(These are sometimes called baby portabella. White button mushrooms will also do fine.)
3 large Cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 Cup Seasoned bread crumbs (I prefer Italian seasoning)
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped Fresh parsley
1 Tsp. Dry oregano or 1 Tbs. fresh
1 Tsp. Dry marjoram or 1 Tbs. fresh
1 Tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tsp. Freshly-ground black pepper
Seasoning mix
(This is not a necessary ingredient.  I happen to be fond of a seasoning mix called “Slap Ya Mama” and like it in the meatloaf but, if it’s omitted, the loaf will not suffer significantly.  If you have a favorite of your own, that will work in here just as well, I’m sure.)
Pre-heat oven to 375 deg.

One of the secrets of a good meatloaf is to not work the mixture very hard.
In each step you want to work it to the minimum degree possible, just enough to accomplish the task at hand.

If you have a seasoning mixture to use, put onions, carrots and celery into a bowl and use the seasoning mixture on them. If not, no biggee, just skip this step.

In a large mixing bowl, tear off pieces of the ground meats in small chunks and add them to the bowl, rotating between meats as you go. Once the meats are together in a chunk-y mass, add the onion, carrot, celery, the two medium chopped mushrooms, and the garlic. Mix the mass, integrating the vegetables into the meat.

Now add the egg, ketchup, dijon, and worcestershire, along with the parsley, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper. Work this gently into the meat mixture until you have a meaty, vegetable-studded mass in the bowl. Add half the breadcrumbs, working it in gently.  You’re after a semi-dry, moldable mass here.  If the mixture continues to be “wet”, add bread crumbs until you achieve your goal.

You can mold the meatloaf by hand but I prefer the brick-like regularity that I get by using a loaf pan (a 10-inch loaf pan works fine).  Assuming a loaf pan, put about 1/3 the mixture into the pan and gently press it into the corners, making a layer of even depth.  Take the remaining three mushrooms and put them, cap-side down and lined up like soldiers, into the middle of the pan.  Gently fill-in around the mushrooms, eventually burying them and and cover with the remaining meat mixture.  When you slice the meatloaf for serving, the inverted whole mushrooms make a very attractive shape in the middle of the slices.

I like to cook the meatloaf over a drip-pan to catch the fat, if that arrangement doesn’t suit you, or you’d prefer it a bit juicier, you can cook it on a piece of parchment paper placed in a sheet pan. (A “cookie” sheet won’t do very well here as the fat drippings are likely to run off the edge of the sheet.  You need a pan with a lip all the way around to contain the drippings.)

Run a knife or thin plastic spatula around the sides of the pan while the mixture is in it, separating the mixture from the walls. The mixture will have enough “cling” that it won’t fall out as you invert it on to your cooking surface, whether it’s a screen over a drip pan or parchment in a sheet pan, but you will still want to act decisively.  Quickly invert the loaf pan onto the chosen surface and then gently lift at the corners until you feel the loaf pull free from the bottom and settle onto the cooking surface.

Cook for about an hour and twenty minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 deg.

Glaze (if preferred): I’m on-again, off-again on how I feel about an “icing” on my meat-cake.  If you like it, here’s a formula –

1/3 Cup Ketchup
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tsp. Worcestershire
1 Tsp. Ground cumin

Whisk these ingredients in a bowl, blending thoroughly. Remove your meatloaf about fifteen minutes early (or at about 140 deg., if you’re using a thermometer) and switch the oven to “broil”.  Quickly spread the topping blend over the top of your meatloaf, as if you’re icing a cake. Once topped, put the loaf back in the oven and cook for fifteen more minutes.

Because we’re talkin’ comfort food here, serve this with potatoes, or rice or macaroni & cheese.  For a green, I love green beans, though broccoli or asparagus would also do well here.  Mom often served her meatloaf with lima beans, which I could not abide and often skipped dessert rather than put the foul things in my mouth.  I’m older now and recognize that they probably have their place but still,    . . . I’d rather listen to someone take banjo lessons than actually eat lima’s.

As for wine, any decent red could work well with this: cab, merlot, shiraz, tempranillo, dolcetto – all good choices – but I prefer a nice chianti.  An oaky chardonnay is also an excellent choice.  I had this with a Stuhlmuller chard from Alexander Valley and it was a terrific match-up.

Allow the warmth of the wine to fill you while you daydream of tomorrow’s sandwiches.
Published in: on December 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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CHILI POLO BLANC du WINE GOURMET (OK, OK – it’s just Wine Gourmet’s White Chicken Chili)

This is food with the comfort quotient of a pillow-top mattress and 800 thread-count sheets.

This is food with the comfort quotient of a pillow-top mattress and 800 thread-count sheets.

Making a dish like this isn’t difficult but doing it takes a bit of a zen-like patience.  Because many of the components are cooked separately and then joined, at the right time and in the right condition,  – it’s really a two-day affair.
I’ve broken the steps into day one and day two.

The first day, you need to do five things:
1.) Cook the chicken and remove the meat
2.) Make chicken stock
3.) Make a roux
5.) Roast your garlic
4.) Soak your beans

DAY 1

Ingredients:
A chicken, 4-5lbs will do
1 Medium-large onion
1 Medium-large carrot
1 Stalk of celery
1 Medium-large head of garlic
1 lb. of Dry white beans
1 tsp. Whole black peppercorn
4 oz. Unsalted butter
4 oz. All-pupose flour
~4 Tbs. Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly-ground black pepper

Cook Your Chicken
Pre-heat the oven to 375 deg.
Thoroughly rinse the chicken, inside and out, and pat dry with a paper towel (or two).
Place the chicken, breast up on a wire rack with a drip pan underneath and truss it up with some string to keep the wings and legs in tight with the body.  It will cook more evenly this way.  Drizzle the top of the chicken with olive oil and then generously salt and pepper both inside the cavity and the outside.  Roast for about 90 minutes or until the juices run clear when the skin is pierced by a knife tip. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

After the chicken has cooled enough to not burn you as you’re handling it, remove the meat by hand. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until needed the next day.  Take the skin and fatty pieces and chop them up for the dogs.
The picked carcass will be needed to make stock.

Make the Chicken Stock
(There are many variations but the stock I describe will work very well for this dish and many others.)
Rough chop the onions, celery, and carrot.  This should produce about 2 Cups of onion along with 1 Cup each celery and carrot.
(The ratio of 2:1:1 makes this what the French call, mirepoix.  Mirepoix is important for building layers of flavor.  You will, in fact, create and use a mirepoix twice in this recipe.)
Chop the chicken carcass up into four or five pieces.
Get a large stock pot (8 qt. or larger) very hot, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and wait for the oil to “shimmer”.  Add the chicken pieces to the hot oil and saute them until browned. Remove the large pieces and set them aside for a few minutes.  Add the onions, celery and carrots to the pot and saute them for a few minutes, allowing them to pick up some color. Put the browned carcass pieces back in the pot along with about a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns.  Add about a gallon of water.
You should hear a richly satisfying hiss and bubble as the liquid hits the bottom of the pot.  Scrape the bottom  of the pot to free up all the tasty bits that have stuck to the bottom.
Now bring the stock to a boil and, as soon as it gets there, turn the heat way down so that the pot settles into a gentle simmer.  Gentle is the key here.  Stuff should bubble lazily to the surface and then listlessly drift back down.  Simmering it hard will make the resulting stock cloudy and slightly bitter.
Simmer the pot for 2-3 hours, remove from heat and allow to cool. Separate the chunky bits from the liquid.  You’ve now made your stock.  Chuck the chunky and save the liquid in the ‘fridge.

Roast the garlic.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 deg.
Cut-off the tip top of the garlic bulb exposing the tops of some of the cloves.  Sit the garlic top-up in any oven-proof container.  (I use a small glass bowl, but you could use a metal measuring cup or something similar.  It just needs to hold the garlic upright.)  Drizzle the exposed garlic top generously with olive oil and pop it in the oven for about an hour.
Remove the garlic and let it cool.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze the head from the bottom and the soft, (now) sweet cloves will push out like toothpaste from the tube.
Take some of the chicken stock liquid you prepared, about a 1/4 cup will be fine, and put it, along with the roasted garlic, into a blender.
As Devo would have you do,  – whip it good.  (Actually, a few quick pulses will work just fine.)  Take the resulting liquid (a kind of garlic sauce) and save it in the ‘fridge til tomorrow.

Make the Roux
Roux (pronounced like Kanga’s kid) is a blend of cooked fat and flour that’s used as a thickening agent.  Though any fat would actually work, the fat most commonly used is butter and that’s what we’ll employ here.
Melt a stick (4 oz.) of unsalted butter in a small pan until bubbling.  Add 4 oz. of all-purpose flour and blend together with a whisk or spatula.  Once the flour and butter have combined into a cohesive mixture, cook for 2-3 more minutes to get rid of any raw flour taste.

Soak your Beans
Put the dry beans in a large bowl, cover them with water to about an inch deep. Let them sit for a few minutes stirring them occasionally, then dump the water.  Do this several times and then, after submerging them under an inch of water again, let them soak overnight.

DAY 2
Ingredients:
1 Medium-large onion, diced
1 Medium-large carrot, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Stalk of celery, again, bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb. Andouille Sausage, sliced into coins
Chicken meat (from yesterday’s prep), bite-sized pieces
Chicken stock
1 Cup Dry white wine
Roux
1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste

Get your stock pot on the burner and fire it up.  Let it heat for a couple of minutes and then add the olive oil and wait for the shimmer.  Add the sausage and push it around, getting it brown all over.

Adding the stock to a 5 gal. batch

Adding the stock to a 5 gal. batch

Remove the sausage pieces and set them aside.  You’ll re-add them later.
Add the mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots) and rosemary to the pot and saute for 5-6 minutes, moving it around and picking up some color.  Salt and pepper the mirepoix.  Add the soaked beans, the wine and the chicken stock.  Bring the liquid, beans, and mirepoix to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer.
Now, go put in a DVD.  The chili needs about two hours of simmer to get the beans tender.  (You will need to return to your pot several times to skim the foam that forms on top.  I use a simple strainer that I drag through the foam. If you scoop up some of the beans/mirepoix with the foam, just rinse those pieces off under the tap and return them to the pot.)

When the end credits are rolling, return to the kitchen.
Fish a bean out of the pot with a spoon and taste it to check tenderness.  If it’s still a bit stiff, continue simmering.  But, if you find it to be acceptably soft, it’s now time to add your roux.  The roux, after a night in the fridge, will be about the consistency of play-doh.  With a knife, slice off about 1/4 and cut that into smaller pieces.  Add them to the still simmering liquid.  Stir the pot to melt and incorporate the roux.  The liquid will slowly thicken as a result.  If the chili  doesn’t get to the right consistency in 2-3 minutes, add some more until you get there.  Save whatever you don’t use to thicken other stuff.  The roux will keep up to several months in the ‘fridge as long as it’s wrapped.

You’re galloping toward the finish line at this point.
Add the roasted garlic sauce, chopped chicken meat, the sausage, and the parsley and stir it up (little darling).
Finally, adjust the flavor to your liking with salt and hot sauce.

This is a very flexible dish and will tolerate a lot of adjustment.  If you want to add freshly chopped peppers, or lemon zest/juice, or omit rosemary, or substitute pork – go ahead.

Now for wine.

As for a wine, light to medium-bodied red with some zing is just what’s called for.  I would strongly recommend a Grenache (Garnacha, if it’s from Spain) such as our Las Rocas Vinas Viejas (Old Vine), @ $18.99/btl. .  It has flavors of black raspberry, black cherry, and black pepper (a bunch of black things) along with enough body to stand-up to the chili but not so much body it overwhelms it.

Like Billy D. Williams, it's dark and smooth.

Like Billy D. Williams, it's dark and smooth.

and again.

Another solid recommendation would be a  Cotes du Rhone, such as the Domaine Grand Veneur 2007 @ $12.99/btl.  It’s a dark ruby with flavors of  mushroom, dry leaf, sour cherry, licorice and pepper.  It’s amazingly complex for a wine of its price and is an earthy match for the chili.

This thing's more complex than a Dan Brown novel.

This thing's more complex than a Dan Brown novel.

Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 11:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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Puriri-ent Interest

The spectacular and sublime Puriri Hills 2005 Reserve

The spectacular and sublime Puriri Hills 2005 Reserve

Mike Harper

Last night (Sunday 7/19), the Best GirlFriend Ever (BGFE) and I, had some friends over for dinner.  I made steak au poivre, a peppercorn encrusted steak with a rich cream sauce and paired it with one of my favorite wines, the Puriri Hills ’05 Reserve.
It was a spectacular match.
Though the Puriri Hills ’05 Reserve comes from New Zealand, it is a Bordeaux-style blend that features  merlot, carmenere, cab franc, malbec, and cab sav.  Its spare, lovely label belies the  lush, opulant wine in the bottle.  This is wine with a rock-solid balance, big, bold ripe fruit, mellow tannins and a persistent finish that lingers like Mona Lisa’s smile.

Judy getting in a bit of bung pounding.

Judy getting in a bit of bung pounding.

The winemaker is former Lynchburg native Judy Mosby Fowler.  Judy ended up in New Zealand through marriage to another American who was transferred there for his job.  Judy and husband subsequently divorced but she found New Zealand sufficiently charming to take root there.  Judy had a parcel of land and a recommendation that its soil and climate might make for high quality wine grapes.  She had long admired the merlot-heavy wines of Pomerol and St. Emilion and decided to take a stab at producing similar bottlings. – well,  BINGO!  She’s done a spectacular job.  Check out Judy’s web site (http://www.puririhills.co.nz/) and, if you’re going to be in New Zealand, maybe plan to stay there.  The vineyard offers guest accommodations.
At $54.99 a bottle, the ’05 Reserve is not an every-day kind of wine (unless you’re significantly more well-heeled than I) but this one’s certainly worth a splurge.  If you get a bottle, I’ll recommend decanting it as the wine has some sediment.

__________________________

Bistro cooking at its best.

Steak au poivre - the bistro's best

Steak au poivre
(4) 8-10 oz. beef loin fillets  (a small NY strip would do as well)
1/4 cup of whole peppercorns*  green, white and/or black
3 Tbs clarified butter**
1 medium shallot, sliced
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cognac or brandy
1 Tbs unsalted butter
salt

Crush the peppercorns in a towel with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan.  You don’t want to pulverize them but only crack them and break them into jagged bits.
Press the cracked peppercorns into the steak on both sides and then generously salt the meat.  In a large, searing hot pan, add the clarified butter and melt.  At the first hint of smoke, place the steaks into the pan and then cook at about 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Remove the steaks to a warm plate and tent with foil while you attend to the sauce.

Add the tablespoon of butter to the pan and then the shallot.  Cook for about a minute and then add the cognac to the pan for deglazing. [Caution:  Cognac is highly flammable and you should add it carefully, away from the flame if you are cooking on a gas stove.]  As the cognac bubbles furiously***, scrape up all the cooked bits sticking to the bottom of the pan.  These bits are rich with flavor and are an important aspect of the sauce.  As the cognac reduces to just a few tablespoons, add the beef stock and continue to reduce.  When the liquid has reduced by half, add the cream and a dash of  salt and continue to cook down until the sauce is thick and will coat the back of a spoon.

Strain the sauce through a wire mesh strainer and reserve.
Plate the steaks, spoon the sauce over them and hustle ’em over to your waiting guests.
Wait patiently for praise.  It’s coming.

___________________________

* Green peppercorns alone are the classic version of this dish but mixing peppercorns – green, white and black – works just fine.

** Clarified butter is simply butter with the milk-solids removed and it’s what works best for this dish but, if you don’t want to go through the clarifying process, you could use 2 tbs of canola oil and 1 tbs of standard unsalted butter.

*** If you like some show in your cooking, you can ignite the cognac (again,  . . . carefully) as it will flame spectacularly.  It doesn’t “burn off” the alcohol as the alcohol is already being released from the cognac (or brandy).  It just lights the fumes which would otherwise dissipate.

Published in: on July 20, 2009 at 11:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Fettucine with Peas, Morels and Country Ham

Simple and stupefyingly delicous.

Simple and stupefyingly delicous.

Mike Harper

There is nothing quite like Country Ham.  It’s sometimes called Salty Ham because of its salt cure and strongly salty flavor.  A good one will hold its own against other world-class hams such as Prosciutto (from Italy) and Serrano (from Spain).  The town of Smithfield, south of Richmond, was an early center of ham production and it was heralded for the quality of the ham produced there.  Of all the country hams, those labeled as “Smithfield” are broadly considered the finest. In 1926 the Virginia General Assembly passed a law that said only peanut-fed hogs, cured and processed in the town of Smithfield, could be called Smithfield hams. (It had been the local practice to allow the pigs to roam the peanut fields, foraging for peanuts missed during harvesting.) Later the peanut-fed stipulation was dropped and the hogs are now fed a variety of grains.  Today, there are only four companies that can legally sell their products as Smithfield hams. All other similarly-styled hams are called “country” hams.  Therefore, like “Champagne”, Smithfield is a legally-protected place-name and it means something very specific to the consumer.
The basic method for making a country ham is to generously rub the hind leg of the pig with salt in order to cure the meat. Some country ham producers also use sugar, which will both tenderize and sweeten the meat, and some also smoke the meat. Many producers also use saltpeter (potassium nitrate) in order to aid in the preservation and to give the ham a rich, pink color.
Once the ham is cured, it is then aged for a minimum of 25 days and may be as long as several years depending on the desired style and the leg’s fat content .

Fettucine
with
PeasMorels and Country Ham

Serves 4 to 6

1 lb. fettucine pasta – dried pasta works very well but, if fresh is available, adjust your cooking time.
1 tbs. canola oil
1 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
8 oz. fresh morel mushrooms  or 6 oz. dried and reconstituted
1 pt heavy cream
2 ½ cups freshly shelled English peas (pre-cooked frozen peas can be substituted)
4-5 oz country ham, cut into very thin strips, ~2in. long
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
Freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
Coarse salt (for pasta water) and freshly-ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente, (usually 7 to 10 minutes but check the package instructions).

Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the ham and onion and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.  Add the cream.
Simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced,  – about 5 minutes. Just before the pasta finishes cooking, add the peas to the cream sauce to warm through.

Drain the pasta well and add to the sauce. Toss to coat and combine.  Season to taste with pepper.  (The sauce will not need salt as the ham is already quite salty.) Transfer to a warm platter and sprinkle with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve immediately.

Fosco Diano d'Alba


Wine Recommendation:

I like a dolcetto with this.  Dolcetto is an Italian grape that produces soft, round and fruity wines with aromas and flavors that include licorice and almonds.  It pairs particularly well with the morels found in this dish.
We have a Diano d’Alba wine in the store that is 100% dolcetto (see  above).  It sells for $19.99/btl and is absolutely delicious.

Published in: on June 7, 2009 at 7:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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.

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