If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that my past two posts included recipes for a no-bake lemon cheesecake and lemon ricotta cake. Last week between voluntary lockdown (I live in Florida, the COVID-19 epicenter,) the Hurricane Isaias threat and heat, I just didn’t feel like baking. So, today’s post is about an unexpected surprise and tasty Upside-Down Lemon Cheesecake made by Pots & Co. that has made its Southern U.S. debut.
In Pots We Bake
Pots & Co. bakes their delicious desserts in ceramic pots because it gives them depth and creaminess, plus doubles their fridge life. Once you’ve tasted one though, I doubt that they’ll be in your fridge for long! In addition, the pots are reusable and besides using them to bake something new, try something decorative. For example, check out this nice display of plants using Pots & Co. pots.
Dessert with Conscience
For anyone watching their weight, no dessert is guilt free. However, in times like we’re now living, I am the first person to advocate for indulging your sweet cravings! Rest assured, the portions are small enough to satisfy them without breaking the calorie-counting bank.
Most importantly, the pots and packaging are eco-friendly. Even if you don’t reuse the pots, they are recyclable. Moreover, if you add them to the regular trash by mistake, they are biodegradable and release only the Spanish clay in which they’re made of, back into the earth.
A Full Range of Yumminess
I received a box of four Upside-Down Lemon Cheesecakes, but as you know I love chocolate (check out next week’s blog for a new recipe.) I think I’ll next try either the Chocolate Fudge Lave Cake, Chocolate & Salted Caramel Lava Cake, or 70% Chocolate Ganache. You can find the complete range of flavors and heating instructions (if needed) here.
From London to Your Fridge
Good news! Since June 15th, Pots & Co. desserts can be found in the U.S. They’ll be sold at Costco in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Yes, Florida! 🙋🏻♀️
In Pots We Trust
In 2014, founder Julian Dyer had a dream with determination. Having grown tired of the restaurant world, he wanted to bring proper desserts to people at home. Julian explains, “I was standing in a lemon dessert factory and there wasn’t a fresh lemon in sight. I’m a chef – this didn’t make sense. So I started making potted desserts using top ingredients.”
There’s something very nice about guilt-free consumption. In Pots & Co., we trust that quality with conscience can be a regular, if not a daily addition to our table and home. I hope you can try them and if you do, let me know in a comment below!
All food bloggers including me, need to take a break from the kitchen for rest and inspiration. This week’s blog post explains the reason why I tried to make Focaccia and the history of Vitello Tonnato. There’s a perfect pairing and French Wine connection explained at the end too.
Riviera Focacceria Miami: A Focaccia Tradition Born in Liguria
Feeling a little “flight grounded,” I’ve been needing another escape. A lunch get-together in Miami gave me the energy boost that I needed to return to the writer’s keyboard! If traveling to South Florida, I highly recommend that you visit Riviera Focacceria. It’s located at the Shops of Midtown Miami.
Currently, you can’t sit inside because of Coronavirus restrictions. However there’s a shady patio with a succulent wall on one side and animated street view on the other. To simulate an ocean breeze, try a wine “infused with the sea” and enjoy one of their seafood dishes. Your imagination and taste buds will quickly transport you to Liguria on the Italian Riviera!
A Focaccia First
I first visited Riviera Focacceria in 2014, (shortly after it opened) to pick up lunch to take to a meeting. The smell of freshly baked focaccia lured me in and the variety of baked yumminess on display were fascinating. Little did I know, that Miami’s best Italian sandwich was in that takeout bag! Forget Panini made from Ciabatta bread. When eating a sandwich made with homemade Focaccia, your teeth first sink through a crispy exterior. Then, they’ll descend into buttery craters to reach their final destination: delicious fillings like cheese, Prosciutto, Speck or vegetables. It’s heavenly!
When the Calf Met the Tuna Fish: Vitello Tonnato
Vitello Tonnato means Veal in a Tuna Sauce. Although this partnership seems odd, think of it as the Piedmontese “Surf and Turf” — thin slices of aromatic veal served cold and topped with a creamy tuna, anchovy and capers mayonnaise. Trust me, it’s delicious and the history of Vitello Tonatto is quite fascinating.
DYK Piemonte (land of Barolo and Barbaresco) is only a one and half hour drive from coastal Liguria?
The concept of “fat” relating to meat and “lean” to seafood, as two separate nutritional entities dates back to the Middle Ages. At some point in Italian food history, a cook decided to challenge this idea and the first experiment, to no surprise, was adding anchovies to a sauce. Salt-preserved anchovies were used to boost the flavor of meat sauces and at this moment in history, an umami lover’s miracle was born!
Fast forward and some culinary experiments later, a medical researcher came up with three variations of Vitello Tonnato. Not only were they tasty, but he felt that each would benefit the digestive track.
By the 1950’s, Vitello Tonnato became the culinary sensation that we know today: thin slices of veal topped with a sauce enriched with a creamy mayonnaise.
A French Wine Connection: Domaine Ménard-Gaborit, 2012 Monnières-Saint-Fiacre 2012 (Muscadet Sèvre et Maine)
🍇: Melon de Bourgogne
Muscadet was on my wine newbie “to do” list. Melon de Bourgogne is the only grape used in Muscadet. The Pays Nantais region (where this wine dominates) is located in the western Loire Valley on the Loire River — the longest river in France. Additionally, it’s also 31 miles (50 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine is the most famous Muscadet appellation.
Funnily, luck was on my side that day. My favorite wine guru decided that the Domaine Ménard-Gaborit wine would go well with Vitello Tonnato. We also ate an octopus and artichoke appetizer and seafood pasta.
I greatly enjoyed the new release, Contre Courant (“against the current”.) With “notes of seabreeze,” it paired perfectly with lunch. Additionally, the one that I took home, the 2012 Monnières-Saint-Fiacre, had me thinking and salivating for days!
Note: This wine is not on Riviera Focacceria’s wine list. However, they have a wide selection of quality wines that complement the Ligurian-inspired menu.
Riviera Focacceria’s central location makes it a perfect spot for lunch or a relaxing evening with full course dinner. They also offer delivery services should you be staying home during COVID-19 and need a cooking break. Check out their food and wine menus here.
In short, here is why I tried to make Focaccia. I hope to one day get better at making this Ligurian specialty. Somethings like Focaccia though, may be best left to the experts.
At Riviera Focacceria, the spotlight is on Ligurian cuisine. Enjoy regional icons such as: Pansotti, Focaccia di Recco (filled with Stracchino cheese,) and Mandilli de Saea “silk handkerchiefs.”
Our plate and glass keep us connected with Italian history and culture. That connection makes us want to visit Italy over and over again. Or, some may even wish to live there one day.
Thanks to the people who keep these gastronomic traditions alive, we can find some new experiences close to home too.
It’s the not the destination, It’s the journey. ~ Ralph Emerson
Note: I thought long and hard about writing about a veal dish. If you’d like to know more about this subject I suggest you read this website. There is a movement for better practices in cultivating the meat and that can be read here.
1 cucchiaio di scorza di limone appena grattugiata (17.07 g)
Unisci le briciole e gli zuccheri del cracker Graham in una ciotola di medie dimensioni. Aggiungi il burro fuso e usa una forchetta per combinare bene gli ingredienti.
Versare il composto in una padella a forma di molla da 9 “o 10”. Usa il fondo (pulito!) Di un misurino per inserire saldamente le briciole sul fondo della padella e premere delicatamente i lati. Usa le dita per mettere le briciole saldamente nei lati della padella.
Mettere in frigorifero o in congelatore mentre si prepara il ripieno di cheesecake.
Versare la miscela di gelatina di gelatina di limone in 1 tazza di acqua molto calda e mescolare bene. Mettere da parte per raffreddare.
Nel frattempo, mescolare crema di formaggio e zucchero a velo insieme fino a che liscio e ben combinato.
Aggiungi la panna acida e mescola bene.
Mescolare in estratto di vaniglia.
Solo una volta che la miscela Jello non è più calda al tatto, versare gradualmente nella miscela di crema di formaggio. Mescolare lentamente all’inizio (per evitare schizzi) e quindi aumentare la velocità fino a quando la miscela è completamente combinata (mettere in pausa per raschiare periodicamente i lati della ciotola). Mescola molto bene.
In una ciotola separata, versa la tua crema pesante e usa un miscelatore elettrico con attacco a frusta per battere a picchi rigidi.
Piegare la panna montata in una miscela di cheesecake fino a quando non ben combinata.
Piegare nella scorza di limone, se si utilizza.
Versare sulla crosta del cracker Graham e trasferire in frigorifero per almeno 6 ore o durante la notte per raffreddare.
Se lo si desidera, coprire con panna montata prima di tagliare e servire.
Combine las migas de galletas Graham y los azúcares en un tazón mediano. Agregue mantequilla derretida y use un tenedor para combinar bien los ingredientes.
Vierta la mezcla en un molde de resorte de 9 “o 10”. Use el fondo (¡limpio!) De una taza de medir para empacar firmemente las migajas en el fondo de la sartén y presione suavemente hacia los lados. Usa tus dedos para empacar las migajas firmemente en los lados de la sartén.
Coloque en el refrigerador o congelador mientras prepara el relleno de tarta de queso.
Vierta la mezcla de gelatina de gelatina de limón en 1 taza de agua muy caliente y revuelva bien. Ponga a un lado para enfriar.
Mientras tanto, revuelva el queso crema y el azúcar en polvo hasta que quede suave y bien combinado.
Agregue la crema agria y revuelva bien.
Mezclar en extracto de vainilla.
Solo una vez que la mezcla de gelatina ya no esté caliente al tacto, vierta gradualmente en la mezcla de queso crema. Revuelva lentamente al principio (para evitar salpicaduras) y luego aumente la velocidad hasta que la mezcla esté completamente combinada (haga una pausa para raspar los lados del tazón periódicamente). Revuelva muy bien.
En un tazón separado, vierta su crema espesa y use una batidora eléctrica con un batidor para batir a picos rígidos.
Doble la crema batida en la mezcla de pastel de queso hasta que esté bien combinada.
Doblar en la ralladura de limón, si se usa.
Vierte sobre la corteza de galletas Graham y transfiérelas al refrigerador por al menos 6 horas o toda la noche para que se enfríen.
Si lo desea, cubra con crema batida antes de cortar y servir.
There’s nothing pleasant about living in South Florida these days. This year, the stifling heat and humidity are minor burdens compared to the reality of living in Florida, the COVID-19 epicenter. We’re just sitting and watching our impending, pandemic doom. Read it to believe it here. So, when life gives you lemons, make an easy no-bake lemon cheesecake.
Here’s the recipe below and some history about this famous saying at the end 👇🏼 – just keep scrolling if you’re not making this dessert. However, I suggest that you do because it’s a great finish to a BBQ dinner.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugars in a medium-sized bowl. Add melted butter and use a fork to combine ingredients well.
Pour mixture into a 9″ or 10″ springform pan. Use the (clean!) bottom of a measuring cup to firmly pack crumbs into the bottom of the pan and gently press up the sides. Use your fingers to pack crumbs tightly into the sides of the pan.
Place in refrigerator or freezer while you prepare cheesecake filling.
Pour Lemon Jello gelatin mix into 1 cup very hot water and stir well. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, stir cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth and well-combined.
Add sour cream and stir well.
Mix in vanilla extract.
Only once Jello mixture is no longer hot to the touch, gradually pour into cream cheese mixture. Stir slowly at first (to avoid splashing) and then increase speed until mixture is completely combined (pause to scrape down sides of the bowl periodically). Stir very well.
In a separate bowl, pour your heavy cream and use an electric mixer with whisk attachment to beat to stiff peaks.
Fold whipped cream into cheesecake mixture until well-combined.
Fold in lemon zest, if using.
Pour over graham cracker crust and transfer to refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight to chill.
If desired, top with whipped cream before cutting and serving.
I made two versions. For the second one, I used strawberry Jello because I needed a July 4th dessert. It came out pink, so I added a strawberry to the center and outlined the no-bake cheesecake with blueberries and whipped cream. Hooray for the red, but really pink, white and blue! 😊
The lemon version is a much tastier and more sophisticated dessert, because it doesn’t taste at all like Jello. Next year, I’ll just add some red food color to the original, no-bake lemon cheesecake recipe.
When Life Gives You Lemons
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is a memorable proverbial phrase that many of us like to pull out of our pocket and slap on like a Band-Aid, when something goes wrong. The phrase originates from a obituary titled, “The King of Jesters” penned by Elbert Hubbard who was inspired by the life of a disabled, but highly successful, dwarf actor.
In stressful times such as now, we turn to these words of wisdom and hopefully, find positive ways to escape. For me, it would be a visit to a museum, walk on the beach, or lunch with a friend. However, these simple solutions are now like unattainable luxuries as Floridians struggle to stay healthy and economically stable.
I’ll continue to temporarily forget by escaping to my kitchen and “make lemonade (or lemon cheesecake) from lemons.” However, it’s getting harder…
P.S. I am very thankful for all you who have shared this recipe. I was asked to post it in Spanish and Italian, so there are links at the top of the recipe. I am not fluent in Spanish or in Italian, so I used Google Translator. So, excuse any typos! 😊
Ricci Curbastro Guided Wine Tasting Seminar: History, Area, and Wines
If you haven’t had an opportunity to try Franciacorta, know that there are many reasons to do so. Once you’ve had just a few sips, I can almost guarantee that you’ll fall in love and possibly make this style of wine you’re preferred choice of bubbly. Today’s blog post is solely dedicated to the wine presented at the Ricci Curbastro guided wine tasting seminar.
Yes, I’ll mention the suggested pairings at the end and possibly in a future post. However, today I’ll recap the one hour, World Wine Web Masterclass seminar led by wine expert, Lyn Farmer and featuring Riccardo and Gualberto Ricci Curbastro of Ricci Curbastro Farm Estate Winery. A group of about twenty-five guests including lucky me, had a chance to learn about the history, vineyards and wines.
What is Franciacorta?
Franciacorta is a small wine-producing area in Lombardy, Italy and is also a style of high-quality sparkling wine made using the Traditional Method or when speaking about Champagne, Méthode Champenoise. Now is not the time to compare ‘apples and oranges,’ because Franciacorta has its own unique identity, so let’s first dive into some history.
The cultivation of vines in Franciacorta goes back very far. Think about evidence of prehistoric grape seeds and mentions in the writings of Pliny the Elder. You can read more here.
The agricultural tradition of the Ricci Curbastro family dates back to the thirteenth century. Eighteen generations later, Riccardo leads the business alongside his eldest son Gualberto who bears his grandfather’s name.
Franciacorta received its DOCG status* in 1995 and was the first Italian sparkling wine to achieve this designation. The region consists of about 120 producers. Gualberto explained at that time, the term Traditional or Classical Method was no longer used and replaced with Franciacorta as the only word to describe the wine style.
*Read about Italian Wine Classifications here.
There’s Something About Soil
A few years ago when Riccardo was sorting through papers, he discovered a map that dated back to 1908. It documented the research that his grandfather and great grandfather made to decide what was the best combination in terms of grafting American roots and European varieties after the phylloxera epidemic.
“Franciacorta is the stratification of great patience and a lot of research in getting always better and better quality,” remarked Riccardo with a tone of admiration and appreciation for his forefathers. “And, we started a long time ago.”
He explains that Franciacorta has over sixty soil profiles. For this reason it is very important that Ricci Curbastro has vineyards in three different villages because of the variations in soil. Plus, the microclimates are different between the three. I suggest you watch the full video on the World Wine Web’s Masterclass Facebook page to understand more.
“There is something pretty unique in terms of characteristics: soil and climate,” says Riccardo when explaining the area, located at the foot of the Alps and north by the shores of Lake Iseo. The area has an unusual mix of climates, including Mediterranean.
One of the ingredients of our wine is time. ~ Riccardo Ricci Curbastro
We tasted three wines: Franciacorta Brut NV (60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir); Franciacorta Brut Satèn 2014 (100% Chardonnay); and Franciacorta Rosé Brut NV (80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay.) You can read the wine specs here.
What engages me the most about wine seminars is to hear from people who create the wines. The insights and anecdotes are a trajectory from what’s in my glass to the vineyard and history.
For example, I learned that the word Satèn (silk) is a name that is typically only from Franciacorta and infers Franciacorta’s past when they were producing a lot of silk, as well as wine. Silk is a perfect metaphor for Franciacorta Satèn: “When you touch a scarf you have the sensation of something that is smooth but, at the same time, it is a very strong cloth,” explains Riccardo noting that the first parachutes were made of silk. “The wine’s strength is like roundness and very good structure.”
Not Just for Toasting
Lyn, Riccardo and Gualberto emphasized that the Ricci Curbastro wines go well with food and are not just for toasting at special occasions. Gualberto who grew up with Franciacorta at the table said when speaking of the Rosé Brut: “We’ve tried the best and worst with Franciacorta, but barbeque is always a good combination.”
Riccardo refers to the Rosé Brut as a “light red” and explained that the dryness, acidity and elegance of the wine balances with the richness of grilled meat.
We were drooling, when Lyn presented his 11:00 am “perfect pairing” – Smoked Salmon and Bacon-Wrapped Scallops. Yum and I need to hurry back into the kitchen lab!
Falling In Love
While I won’t write about it today, I suggest you watch the video and learn more about the Sustainable Winery 3E logo that is on the back label of Ricci Curbastro wines. You can also read more here.
Lyn commented on one of my Instagram posts that “Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta is the ultimate postcard in a glass.” I couldn’t agree more!
Once you’ve watched the seminar, read the Ricci Curbastro website to learn more, and drink the wines, I suggest that you watch this film: “F is for Franciacorta.” If you’re anything like me, you too will be ‘falling in love’ with Franciacorta.
Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the common sense. ~ Helen Rowland
A Very Special Thanks for the Invitation to this Virtual Event💕
Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce Recipe Paired with 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett by Weingut Gunderloch
Today’s recipe and pairing wine is taking me out of my comfort zone. This Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce recipe nicely complements the 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett by Weingut Gunderloch and is a perfect Sunday meal that will give you more time to relax than spent in the kitchen.
How Do You Like Your Wine?
Typically, I like white wines that are bone dry and red wines with some ‘oomph.’ When it comes to food, I prefer dishes that are savory and avoid anything sweet that goes alongside them like turkey with cranberry sauce.
Just like last week, I still have my nose in a glass and in a pile of books. If you’re not making these recipes, scroll down for some Weingut Gunderloch history and some introductory German wine vocabulary too. 👇🏼
10 to 12 ounces apricot preserves (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chicken broth (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
In a large food storage bag or glass bowl, combine 1/2 cup chicken broth, the soy sauce, minced garlic, dry mustard, thyme, and ginger.
Add pork roast, turning to coat well.
Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally.
Remove pork roast and discard the marinade.
Heat the oven to 325 F.
Place pork roast, fat side up, on a rack in a foil-lined roasting pan.
Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer or instant-read food thermometer registers at least 145 F when inserted into the center of the roast.
Remove the roast from the oven, tent loosely with a sheet of foil, and let it stand for 15 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the preserves, 2 tablespoons of chicken broth or sherry, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
Bring the sauce to a boil and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 1 minute.
Slice the pork loin thinly and serve it with the apricot sauce.
The Wine: 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett by Weingut Gunderloch
The Weingut Gunderloch vineyards are in an area called Roter Hang which means ‘red slope’ and located in Germany’s Rheinhessen, Germany’s largest wine region. This area had been known for producing average wines, but this reputation is being redefined by wineries such as Weingut Gunderloch. You can find out more about this area here, but to put it into a better perspective, I suggest that you watch this video.
I found this wine at Wine by the Bay in Miami and a great write-up with descriptor here. I’ll dive briefly into Riesling and sweetness below, but here are Tim Lemke’s notes:
“The nose is powerfully floral and lemony. It smells absolutely wonderful. The palate offers crisp lemon, apple and peach flavors with good balance, perfect acidity and a pleasant mouthfeel. It has plenty of fruit, and is more tart than sweet. The finish is plenty long, and features lingering peach flavors. This is a pretty tasty Riesling.”
Just How Sweet is Sweet?
As Tim Lemke describes, the 2015 Jean- Baptiste Riesling Kabinett is somewhere between dry and sweet. That hint of sweetness means that it pairs very well with the Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Sauce. Although designated as “Kabinett,” I feel that this wine is much more complex than the definition of Kabinett implies. Possibly, the aging in this case made the difference and Wine Newbie me feels like it drinks more like a Spätlese. If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment at the end. 👇🏼
Speaking of sweet, if you’re practicing for the WSET 2 exam and struggling with the Riesling classifications, here is a short breakdown of some of the things we must know: “Sprechen Sie Deutch?”
Landwein: Table wine and generally low quality. Like the category, “Protected Geographical Indication” it means that there are regulations in place.
Qualitätswein: Like the category, “Protected Designation of Origin.” Read more here.
Prädikatswein: Same as, “Protected Designation of Origin, but” this category is divided into subdivisions by levels of ripeness (sweetness.) I found it hard to memorize at first, but generally with repeated practice, it began to register:
Kabinett: Usually light wines made of fully ripe grapes.
Spätlese: Literally means “late harvest” and are more intense in flavor and concentration than the latter categories.
Auslese: Select picking of very ripe bunches.
Eiswein: Ice Wine – Wines of at least BA intensity are harvested while frozen
Neither the wine or this recipe would have been at the top of my “kitchen lab” list, but I needed to try Riesling as part of my wine education journey. I enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone. And, once again the wine inspired the dish. There are many “Reasons for Riesling” and future wine pairings too!
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch
I’m so antsy, aren’t you? South Florida summers aren’t pleasant, so since I won’t be hopping on a plane any time soon, I need to find ways to bring travel to the table.
Two Spanish Tapas Recipes and Rioja Wine
Take me back to Spain! It’s time relive vacation memories by making two classic Spanish recipes: Huevos Rotas (Potatoes with Broken Eggs,) Espinacas con Garbanzos (Chickpeas with Spinach,) and drink a Rioja Gran Reserva (Tempranillo.)
I’ll get to the WSET 2 studying part near the bottom of this blog 👇🏼. It’s important too, so keep reading…
Traditionally, this is a Tapas dish and not a side or breakfast!
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes or 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pounds new potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces if necessary
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Lemon wedges, for serving
Flaky sea salt, for serving
In a measuring cup, combine the olive oil, paprika, red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, a generous grind of pepper and 1 cup water. Put the potatoes in a large skillet and pour the olive oil mixture over them. Then, bring the potatoes to a boil, then cover and cook on high until the potatoes are fork-tender, 6 to 9 minutes.
Uncover and turn the heat to low. If the potatoes are sticking or dry, add more olive oil. Next, arrange the potatoes in an even layer, cut side down if halved, then add the onion and garlic surrounding the potatoes. Finally, cover and cook until the potatoes are golden-brown and the onions are softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
Stir the potatoes (if they’re sticking, add more oil). Make 4 nests in the potatoes and crack an egg into each. Season with salt and pepper and then, cover and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, 4 to 6 minutes.
To serve, break the yolks gently with a serving spoon, then scoop some potatoes and an egg onto plates or into shallow bowls. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and flaky salt.
1/2 cup prosciutto cut into strips (optional) – I skipped this part and substituted baby spinach
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, simmer the onions and garlic in olive oil until they are soft but not browned. Add the chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, parsley, oregano, cumin and prosciutto, if using, and simmer for 30 minutes more.
Taste the mixture and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. If it does not seem moist enough, add a little of the reserved chickpea liquid or some olive oil, or both. Serve lukewarm with a green salad and good bread and butter or garlic oil.
Note: Since I was serving Serrano ham and Manchego cheese on the side, I skipped that part and substituted baby spinach instead. Simply stir in about 2-3 cups into the chickpea mix until the spinach wilts, but still keeps a bright green color.
The Pairing Wine: 2004 Viña Olabarri Gran Reserva
80% Tempranillo, 12% Graciano, 8% Mazuelo
I love Spanish wines, but the majority that I’ve tried are quite powerful. They work well with Spanish and Latin food that’s not spicy, but seldom would I think to drink one without food. However, the 2004 Viña Olabarri Gran Reserva is definitely a Rioja wine that I’d sip while reading a good book. I’ve never had a Gran Reserva wine before, so it was a treat to experience a wine that had been aged for 36 months in French and American oak barrels, plus cellar aged for another 36 months!
Here are the tasting notes provided by Viña Olabarri:
Color: Deep ruby red color with subtle brick red hues on the rim from the ageing process.
Bouquet: Intense aromas of black fruit and spices, with a mineral hint.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, integrating beautifully the rich ripe fruit with the sweet spices provided by the oak.
A pleasant, clean aftertaste of remarkable harmony.
A Little History
Viña Olabarri was founded by Pablo Olabarri Bikandi, who since 1958 spent long periods of time in Haro; due to his love of Rioja wines, in 1985 he decided to buy an old 19th century winery in Calle las Bodegas, in Anguciana.
As a result, the need for bigger, more modern facilities to make the wines took him to build a new winery in the outskirts of Haro in 1989, with capacity to hold 4,000 barrels and up to 800,000 bottles.
His son, Luis Olabarri is currently in charge of the winery.
It’s Test Time!
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’ve had my nose in a glass and a pile of wine books for some time. I started the Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) course, but was finding it difficult. Although I can master self-study, I really needed to begin my wine journey with some guidance.
One good thing that’s come from the COVID-19 pandemic, is that there has been a plethora of new opportunities to learn online. I’ve wanted to take a Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) course for some time, but found it difficult to find the time. Also, since Florida Wine Academy is located in Downtown Miami, getting there once I finished my workday would have been a challenge. Shortly after participating in a couple Florida Wine Academy’s free Zoom webinars, they announced that the WSET 2 would be offered online. I immediately registered!
Registrants have the option to purchase the wine packs through them, but I found the required wines either near my home or at Wine by the Bay in Miami.
The course is six weeks and I’ve completed that part and now am studying for the exam. It’s been an exciting journey so far and the most important thing I’ve discovered, is that I’m still a Wine Newbie and loving it. This trip will take a lifetime and just when I’ve mastered one part, I realized that there’s so much more to discover.
This education is brain stimulation and tasty and I look forward to many more food and wine pairing weekends!
Wine Newbie Resources
Here are some additional resources that I found useful to enhance the WSET text and workbooks:
“The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars.”
― Benjamin Franklin
If you have a useful wine education resource to share, feel free to post it in a comment below. Plus, if you have your own Spanish tapas recipes or a Rioja wine to share, tag me in your photos on Instagram! Or, let me know how you bring travel to your table.
Today, I’m going to talk about how a delicious French Pinot Noir inspired me to make Broiled Salmon with Beurre Blanc. Be forewarned that if you’re counting calories, this classic French dish is rich in butter and cream and will take a bit of time to prepare. Overall, it’s an easy weekend meal that’s sure to please.
I’ve reversed the order of my previous posts leaving my personal reflection about this past week out of quarantine, until last. I think it’s important, so I hope you make it there. 👇🏼
Most of the time when I prepare a meal, I turn to Google or my favorite Wine Guru for advice to find the perfect pairing. Now that I have a little bit more knowledge about wine than I did six weeks ago (I’ll get to that next week), I’m doing the opposite. Needing to practice the WSET Systematic Approaching to Tasting (SAT) each weekend, I find a quiet moment to sit and analyze the wine: it’s color, aroma, taste, and do a bit of background research on the winemaker’s website or read some reviewer’s tasting notes. Then, I figure out what dish will work.
The Wine: Arnaud Baillot – Bourgogne “Haut Tartre” 2018
100% Pinot Noir
It’s extremely difficult to find information about Domaine Arnaud Baillot. They don’t have a website, but you can follow them on Instagram. You also won’t find reviews, but that could easily impede your visceral reaction. Despite how much you may know about wine, a simple like or don’t like is a great start. Then, you can research this area of Bourgogne (Burgundy) to further understand how expressions of Pinot Noir from here differ from other areas of the world.
I found this wine to be rich, yet refreshing. It brought back childhood memories of eating juicy summer cherries after a morning of picking at Niagara-on-the-Lake – lip smacking delicious! There were hints of strawberry, cherry candies, and dark chocolate. The wine had a lovely finish. I’d happily drink it on its own, simply paired with the summer sunset!
If you’re an expert reading my wine newbie descriptor, feel free to write a more in-depth review in the comment box below. Remember, that I’m just practicing. 😊
Domaine Arnaud Baillot is located in Beaune, the heart of the Côte d’Or. Owner and winemaker, Arnaud is passionate about the diversity of wines the Burgundy region has to offer. He and his wife Laure (grandaughter of Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat in Chambolle-Musigny) produce a spectacular range of villages and crus Burgundy wines.
You can find some of Arnaud Baillot’s wines at Wine by the Bay in Miami. (The owner, Stefano BTW is the above-mentioned “Wine Guru” and my wine mentor.)
Salmon with Beurre Blanc (inspired by the Morton’s Steakhouse recipe posted on Delish.)
1 teaspoon clarified butter or olive oil
¾ heavy cream
1 large shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground white pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat the clarified butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it softens without coloring.
Add the wine, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the wine reduces and the liquid coats the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and simmer, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until reduced by half.
Reduce the heat to low and begin adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Do not allow the cream to boil once the butter is added.
For the salmon, I brushed each side with olive oil, sprinkled the salmon with salt and pepper and broiled each side for about 7 minutes.
Place the Beurre Blanc sauce on the dish, top with the salmon and garnish with lemon slices.
Thinking in Reverse
Today, I’m thinking about “thinking in reverse.” My pairing menu was planned and the blog written in reverse order. Thinking in reverse may initially feel like walking backwards: it makes us uncomfortable. However, it leads to greater creativity and maybe better and long-lasting solutions. Read more here.
It’s now Week 2 of the return to the “new norm.”
It’s also now just past one week of international protests, which is a term that I would rather say than “civil unrest.” Writing about food and wine seemed trivial last week – kind of self-indulgent, so I paused and spent the week listening and thinking.
COVID-19 reminds us that there are forces beyond our control and millions of people worldwide stopped daily life to protect each other from accelerating the pandemic’s impact. With respect to the protests, it’s time to pause and listen. We can’t reverse history, but it’s time to think in reverse.
Let’s determine what we value most and re-examine our values.
“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.”
Homemade Hamburger Buns and Bernaise Sauce Recipes
Two Favorite Beef Dish Recipes, Syrah Wine Pairing and a Rant About Choices
It’s now Week 1 of the, “we don’t have to stay-at-home anymore” order and my Week 11 at home. If it wasn’t for continuous rainy days, I think there’d be a lot more people outside enjoying all that South Florida has to offer. Before I get to the homemade hamburger buns and Béarnaise Sauce recipes, plus the Northern Rhône Syrah wine pairing, I thought I’d talk about making choices that we can or will make during the COVID_19 pandemic.
Where’s the Beef?
DYK the history of this slogan? It was part of a 1984 advertising campaign for Wendy’s. Ironically, this fast food chain recently announced that it was short of or had run out of beef at some of its restaurants. If you’re a marketing geek like me, you’ll find this story interesting and see how this catchy campaign set Wendy’s apart from its competitors.
Seems like everyone has something to say lately and our voices are amplified through social media because the reality is, no one can really hear you through a mask and we can’t get together like we used to. People reluctant to head to the beach or restaurants are called cowards (or much worse) by some, and the ones out frolicking around like immortals are named pillars of mass death by others. Yes, that is the extreme POV, but I’m not making it up – just check out the conversations on Facebook.
True to my Canadian nature, I’m more on the reserved side: quietly working and entertaining myself at home thinking that my stay-at-home actions are for the greater good. My biggest indulgences these days are a good meal and bottle of wine.
I love filet mignon, but at $13-$20 per pound, it’s a splurge meal. Rather than thinking that the cost of eating a prime cut is at least double the expense of at least one family meal, I put that rationale aside. I’m lucky to have this liberty, but If you prefer to stick to ‘Feeding Five Under 25 $,’ choose recipe one because there’s nothing better than a juicy hamburger to satisfy our craving for beef.
If you’re not interested in the recipes, be sure to scroll down and read about the ‘Que Syrah Syrah’ wine pairing and my conclusion about making choices.
The recipe as stated worked best for sliders. If you want full size hamburger buns, double up the ingredients. Either make your own hamburger patties or buy prepared ones. I served the hamburgers with homemade guacamole and potato chips that I sliced whole potatoes with a mandolin.
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Preheat oven to 425°.
Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 8-12 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
Notes: While hamburgers don’t take long, both the Smash Potatoes and Béarnaise Sauce take quite a bit of time, so make this on a day with lots of free time. It’s a great opportunity to listen to a podcast since you shouldn’t take your eyes off of the Bernaise Sauce!
1/4 cup chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon drained capers
1 tablespoon cold butter
Use a mortar and pestle to combine the ingredients. Wrap the compound butter in plastic wrap and refrigeration while you make the Tarragon Reduction.
1 cup fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 rounded teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup water
Simmer the tarragon leaves and peppercorns (or ground pepper) in the liquids until you have about 3 tablespoons of reserved liquid. Gently squeeze all of the liquid through a strainer so you have a clear broth.
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar reduction
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon caper tarragon compound butter
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper, optional
Add 2 egg yolks and tarragon reduction to a stainless steel bowl or pot and whisk until combined. Add all of the cold butter cubes and whisk together on medium heat. Keep whisking until the color lightens and it thickens. Add the compound butter cut into cubes and keep whisking until combined. Remove from heat and add salt if desired.
Note: I seared the filet mignon (coated lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper) with a tbsp of butter and one of olive oil and then finished the meat in the oven set to 425 ° until medium. You can grill them too.
You can watch Chef John’s video for help. I made the Compound Butter before the Tarragon Reduction. I suggest using room temperature eggs.
Place potatoes into a 5-quart stockpot and cover with 3 quarts of cold water. Add kosher salt and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well. Let potatoes cool just until they’re safe to handle.
Transfer potatoes onto a sheet pan and continue cooling to room temperature. Make 4 or 5 shallow cuts down the sides of each potato, about every inch or so, to ensure the skin splits evenly when smashed. Refrigerate until completely chilled and ready to smash; 8 hours to overnight is best.
Combine butter, sliced garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and begins to bubble, and garlic softens and starts to turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C). Line 2 metal baking sheets with silicone baking mats (such as Silpat®) and generously brush on some of the infused melted butter.
Remove potatoes from the fridge and gently smash each between two pieces of plastic using a flat, heavy object until 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides, being careful not to break potatoes up into small pieces. Transfer onto a sheet pan, being careful not to overlap potatoes. Very generously drizzle and brush most of the melted butter on top.
Bake potatoes in the preheated oven until well browned and crunchy around the edges, 35 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the pan with the remaining garlic and herb butter back over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until garlic starts to turn a very light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
Carefully transfer potatoes onto a serving platter and scatter over the golden brown slices of garlic. Crumble the toasted herbs on top if desired. Serve immediately.
Every day I learn something new about wine. However, each day I also realize that I still know very little. If you’re a wine newbie like me, I think that one of the first things you question is the high cost of certain wines and how to justify the expense. It’s a safe assumption that if you have an opportunity to pay more for a wine made by a top producer, you should. However, if you can’t, I am learning (thanks to Wine by the Bay) that some winemakers offer affordable choices that allow you to experience for example, a winemaker’s expression of a vineyard or grape variety; or a winemaking style. These offerings also don’t compromise quality for the sake of affordability.
You could say that today’s wine is like the hamburger substitute for filet mignon – multiplied exponentially! Domaine Jean-Louis Chave wines fetch anywhere from $20.00 to more than $8,000.00 per bottle! Needing to taste a Crozes-Hermitage for the WSET 2 class, I luckily found myself at the lower end of the price spectrum. However, this wine is fantastic and since I’m nowhere near being one who can judge, I suggest you rely on these recommendations by two reputable wine critics: Erik Asimov and Josh Raynolds.
Bright violet. Mineral-accented cherry, boysenberry and smoky bacon aromas are complicated by suggestions of olive and candied flowers. Energetic and focused for the vintage, offering concentrated bitter cherry, cassis and violet pastille flavors braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Closes sappy, smooth and quite long, with sneaky tannins and a lingering suggestion of juicy black and blue fruits. Drink date: 2022-2030. Score – 92. ~ Josh Raynolds
The Whatever Will Be, Will Be Philosophy Isn’t That Comforting
Freedom of choice, too many choices, making choices, and no choice. It’s just too easy and I think irresponsible to say, “Que Sera, Sera?” Whatever choice you make today may greatly affect what happens tomorrow.
Freedom of choice is also freedom to decide when you do not want to choose. ~ Simona Botti.