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Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

Last weekend, Marin Sun Farms was running a special at their stand at the Ferry Building farmers market – all cuts of meat were buy one, get one free.  If you have ever bought natural, grass fed, pastured, humane meat, you know this is a major deal.  I convinced my husband to get up early and head over.  At 8 am we were there, loading our bags up with meat.  I felt a little guilty walking out of there with what seemed like a half a cow, paying just $66 for it, but we belong to their CSA, and the fact they appreciate their customers enough to offer these great deals just cements my commitment to renew our membership next month.

 While there, we grabbed a bunch of dinner supplies.  My husband fixed up the dinner, so I’m just recording what he did.

With the exception of olive oil, salt and pepper, and an accidental splash of cognac, this was all bought at the Ferry Building last Saturday.  We picked up a couple flat iron steaks and a couple hangar steaks.  They cook the same way. For a steak that’s about 3/4 pound to a pound,  just heat a cast iron skillet until it’s hot, add a bit of olive oil, and cook the steak for 5 minutes on a side for medium rare.  Easy peasy.

To make the sauce, remove the steak from the pan, cover with foil, and let it rest.  Reduce heat to medium, and add a pat of butter and some minced shallot.  Saute for a few, then hit the pan off with something liquid.  My husband, forgetting this was our local meal, used cognac.  Wine or broth would be fine too.  Scrape up all the goodies on the bottom of the pan, then add mushrooms (we used chanterrelles).  Cook for another couple minutes, add a splash of cream, and voila, mushroom cream sauce.

The fingerling potatoes were extra large.  We cut them in half lengthwise, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, and stuck in the oven at 400 for a good 40 minutes or so.  They were amazing like this.

The romanesco was prepared in almost the same way.  Separate the florets, toss in olive oil and salt and pepper, and into the oven, right next to the potatoes for about 30 minutes.  I had never had romanesco, but it is so much better than broccoli or cauliflower, so I may be buying ot more often.

To drink, a syrah from Sonoma which we picked up on our trip there in November.  We got it at Amista, which is a lovely little winery, and I highly recommend it.

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It’s a cold and rainy weekend here, so I wanted to make something comforting and satisfying.  In preparing the sausuages, I loosely followed this recipe from Food & Wine.  For the mash, I was inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe for mashed parnsip and apple, and this Ina Garten recipe for pureed celery root and apple.  Since there seems to be a bunch of recipes floating around online for mashed parnsip and celery root as well, I saw no good reason not to just throw them all together.

This is a pretty forgiving, easy meal, so I’m not going to bother with precise measurements or instructions.  Just throw things into a pan, and you’ll probably be fine.

Braised Sausages and Grapes

Add a few Italian sausages to a skillet and add water.  Simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes, longer if they are really big, turning a few times.  Drain. 

 Turn the heat down to medium and put the sausages back in the pan.   Add a splash of olive oil and some minced shallot to the pan.  Saute for a few minutes, turning the sausages, and allowing the sausages to brown. 

Add about 1/4 cup of wine (I used red).  I’m sure vinegar or broth would be fine too.  Scrape up the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the grapes into the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Allow the dish to simmer for a couple minutes, adding another splash of wine to help it all come together.  Remove from heat and serve.

Apple-Root Vegetable Mash

Peel a large apple, a 1 pound celery root, and a couple parnsips.  Chop into 1-2 inch chunks.  Put into a pan with about a cup of water and a good pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let the vegetables cook for 20-30 minutes, until soft.  Drain and add everything back to the pan.  Add a splash of cream or milk and a good pat of butter.  Mash with a potato masher until it reaches desired texture.  Add extra butter or salt if needed.

I served everything with some braised broccoli rabe, which I made by sauteing it in some olive oil, a few cloved of minced garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 

To drink, some lovely Syrah from the fabulous Bonny Doon vineyards, a favorite of my husband’s.

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I had an insane week, running around to meetings all over the place.  When Friday came, I just wanted some good food and a giant glass of wine.  There wasn’t much in the house, but I had a head of escarole crammed in the back of the fridge that I had forgotten I bought last weekend at the farmers market.   Still good!  My lucky day.  With a bit of pancetta and a couple of leeks on hand, I figured I could toss a quick pasta dish together.

I really think you can’t go wrong by just tossing a bunch of spring produce into a pot, and this dish proved to be no exception.  Yum.  Best of all, I could prep and cook the vegetables in the same amount of time it took to boil the water and cook the pasta.  After just 20 minutes, I was eating my yummy spring dinner and drinking my wine.  The bonus was lots of leftovers for easy weekend lunches. 

Pasta with Pancetta, Escarole, and Leeks

Ingredients
1 pound pasta (I used linguine)
1-2 heads of escarole (1 was fine, but next time I’ll do two because I like lots of greens in my pasta)
4 ounces finely diced pancetta
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
olive oil
salt, pepper, and grated parmesan to serve

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, wash the escarole and chop into thin ribbons, and prepare the leeks and garlic.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and the pancetta.  Saute for a couple minutes and add the leeks, sauting for another 5 minutes or so until they start to get soft.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Around this point, the water should be boiling, so add your pasta.

Add the wine to the leeks, scraping up any brown bits from the pancetta from the bottom of the pan.  Add the escarole, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Stir every three or four minutes or so. 

Just before you drain the pasta, take the lid off, add a half cup or so of the pasta water to the escarole, and continue to simmer.  Drain the pasta and add it to the escarole mixture, mixing well.  Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve with grated parmesan.  A glass of wine too – I went for St. Supery’s sauvignon blanc, perfect with the dish.

 

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The weather is warm and gorgeous and the dark days are definitely over in this part of the country, though the challenge continues for a few more weeks.  In solidarity with my brethren in colder climates, I made a warm, hearty wintery dinner this week.   Our meat CSA, Marin Sun Farms, delivered to us this beautiful top sirloin roast, so I went for pure comfort food.   At the farmers market, I came across spring shallots.  I’m not entirely sure what they are, though I guess they are just what shallots look like when they are still young.  The flavor is a little grassier and more oniony than a regular shallot.  I bought a bunch, along with some creminis to make a sauce for the beef to serve along with some mashed potatoes.

The beef I used here was a 1 and 1/2 pound sirloin roast.  I rubbed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and a bit of rosemary.  Then, I roasted it at 425 for 10 minutes, then at 300 for another 40 minutes or so.  I found timing the cooking a little tricky and I think I need a good meat cookbook, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!

When the meat came out of the oven, I tented it under some foil.  I chopped up the shallots and reserved the juice.  To make the sauce, I heated a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil in a pan.  Added a couple cups of sliced mushrooms and sauted for a few minutes.  I then added the pan drippings and a half a cup of red wine, and the diced shallots.  I reduced it to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

For the potatoes, I used this recipe from epicurious, except I only had skim milk on hand.  Not a problem – the potatoes were still really rich, earthy, and delicious.  All and all, when paired with a glass of a Bordeaux blend from Sonoma – a delicious winter meal…at the beginning of spring.

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This week, I prepared another piece of meat from my meat CSA through Marin Sun Farms – a boneless leg of pork.  Not something I’ve ever eaten before, as apparently the vast majority of this cut goes to making hams.    There wasn’t even any useful instructions in the Joy of Cooking.  The series of tubes to the rescue! I discovered that it’s about 30 minutes at 350 for every pound, until it hits around 160.  Easy peasy.

I marinated it in this marinade from the December 2008 Food and Wine, using local citrus, rosemary, and bay, and not local fennel seeds and juniper berries.  I’ve made this marinade it a few times for pork roasts and rarely have every single ingredient and it doesn’t really matter.   Zest a couple oranges and a couple lemons, juice them and whisk in some olive oil.  For herbs, crush some fennel seed and juniper berries in a mortar and pestle, add in a few springs of rosemary and some bay leaves, and you are good to go.  If you don’t have a few of these things – no worries.  It’s still going to be amazing.  Let it marinate overnight, flip it over a couple times, and wipe the meat dry just before cooking.  

The leg needed to be covered for the first half hour or so, so it didn’t dry out.  All and all, the 2.5 pound roast took about an hour and 10 minutes to hit 155, then I let it rest under some tin foil for about 5-10 minutes, which got it just perfect.
 

I picked up some cute little potatoes at the farmers market, so I tossed them in some olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and put them in the pan with the pork to roast.  I made a quick pan sauce with the drippings, a pat of butter, and a bit of white wine.  And along side of it, a salad of radicchio, walnuts, and blood orange infused olive oil from Stonehouse here in Berkeley.  My walnuts were not local , or maybe they were, as the bag from Trader Joe’s says “California Walnuts” on it.  Not bad.

While prepping everything, it was all starting to look pretty delicious and seemed like a good time to open up something good.  My “Hello Vino” app for my iPhone suggested viognier, gerwurztraminer, or zinfandel to go with fruity pork dishes.  No viognier or gerwurtz were on hand, but this is Northern California, so zins are plentiful chez arugulove.  Hello Vino even suggested a zin from Mazzocco, a lovely little vineyard in Healdsburg which we visited in November with friends.  So, we happened to have a bottle of their zin on hand, making the choice very easy.  What luck!

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So, I think we are all in agreement that pasta is delicious and wine is delicious.   Well, imagine having them together.  Not just a glass with your pasta, but all in one, delicious, winey-carby bite?  Yes, such a dream is possible with this Michael Chiarello recipe.

I don’t really have much else to say about it, except that this is delicious.  The bitterness of the broccoli rabe goes so perfectly with the spicy zinfandel and red pepper flakes, and there’s garlic. 

 

Red Wine Pasta with Broccoli Rabe
Recipe by Michael Chiarello

Ingredients
1 3/4 pounds broccoli rabe, thick stems discarded – I used two big bunches from the farmers’ market, which seemed to be just the right amount.
1 pound spaghetti – I used linguini.  Use a reasonably good brand here like Barilla or De Cecco.  I think some of the cheaper brands wouldn’t hold up as well during the cooking process.
1 bottle red wine (750 ml – preferably Zinfandel) – I used a $4 bottle of “Old Moon” Zinfandel from Trader Joe’s, which worked just fine.  A better quality wine would probably give it a richer flavor, but I liked how this one worked.
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes – I used this much, but next time I’ll halve it.  It was just a bit too spicy.
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions
Chop the broccoli rabe into 1 inch, bite size pieces.  If your broccoli rabe has a lot of florets and is fairly thick and sturdy, you’ll want to blanch it in boiling water for a minute or two, then transfer to a colander to drain, reserving the liquid.  Mine was leafy and a little more delicate, so I skipped the blanching phase. 

Bring water to a boil (or bring the broccoli rabe water back up to a boil and cook the pasta for about 5 minutes.  The pasta won’t be cooked at this point.  Reserve one cup of the pasta water and drain in a colander.  

In that same pot, add the wine and sugar and bring to a boil.  Boil over high heat for about 2-3 minutes, until it starts to reduce.  Add the pasta to the wine and continue to boil.  Stir gently with tongs to ensure it doesn’t stick, and cook for about 6 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente.

Meanwhile, warm a deep skillet or saute pan over low heat.  Add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes,  stirring to ensure they don’t burn, and cook until garlic is pale golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the broccoli rabe, salt, and pepper and stir together while keeping the skillet on low, about 1-2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and simmer for another minute or so.

Pour the broccoli rabe mixture into the pot of pasta and wine, and toss together with thongs.   Cook while stirring, about 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has boiled off.   Remove from heat, season with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, if you like.  Add the grated cheese and serve immediately.

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I really like gnocchi.  I usually cheat when I eat it, and use a package from Trader Joe’s.  I made ricotta gnocchi once, and while it was good, it was too rich for me to want to eat regularly.

This gnocchi recipe, however, is awesome.  I want to make it all the time.    It’s labor intensive, but totally worth it because it is truly delicious.   I’ll try to go through it step by step.   

There’s a lot of different sweet potato gnocchi recipes out there.  I chose the one on Martha Stewart’s site because it makes a ton and just looked right to me.   I loosely adapted a sauce from Food and Wine using some good apple cider from the farmers’ market.

I bought my sweet potatoes at the farmers market and they weren’t orange, so my finished product wasn’t a pretty orange shade, but still very yummy.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi
From marthastewart.com and “Pasta Sfoglia,” by Colleen and Ron Suhanosk

Ingredients
Makes 2 1/2 pounds

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional – I skipped it because I was making such a sweet sauce.  I reduced the flour by a 1/4 cup or so just to make sure they wouldn’t be too dry)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Extra flour for dusting (The recipe calls for rice flour.  I used all purpose without a problem.)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   The recipe says to wrap the sweet potatoes in parchment paper-lined aluminum foil.   I skipped the parchment paper because I didn’t see the point, and I didn’t have a problem.  Bake until easily pierced in the center with a fork, about 1 hour.  Let cool.

Place russet potatoes in a large pot; add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until easily pierced in the center with a fork.  Drain and cool.

Peel all of the potatoes.   Pass potatoes through a ricer or food mill fitted with a medium-hole dish.

Spread all-purpose flour on a clean, dry work surface.  Place potatoes on top of flour.   Add egg, maple syrup if you are using, and salt. 

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Using your hands, mix together ingredients on work surface until well combined to form a dough.  Gently knead dough into a 10-by-8-inch rectangle.  Let rest for 2 minutes.

Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour.  Cut the rectangle into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 1-inch-thick rope.  Cut each rope into 1/2 inch gnocchi.  If you are super ambitous, lightly press a fork into each one to create ridges.  The ridges will help the sauce stick  a little better, but they definitely are not necessary.

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Store gnocchi on a rice flour-covered baking sheet until ready to use and dust with more flour. 

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To cook the gnocci, gently place into a boiling pot of salted water.  When they float to the top, cook for approximately one more minute, then drain.  Some will float to the top much faster than others, so I usually start my minute countdown when it looks like more than half of them are floating.

Gnocchi can also be frozen up to 2 weeks. To freeze, place them, dusted with rice flour, in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, place them one on top of the other in an airtight container. To thaw for cooking, place gnocchi in a single layer on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for not more than 1 hour before cooking.

Apple Cider Sauce
Loosely adapted from Food and Wine

The original recipe can be found here.  I liked the idea, but I thought it looked too sweet, so I doctored it up a little.  While really good, I do think it was still a bit sweet, so next time I’ll reduce the cider by a 1/2 cup and replace with chicken or vegetable stock instead.

2 cups apple cider (or a mix of cider and broth)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped sage leaves
Salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to taste

In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring the cider (and broth) to a boil.  Reduce it to about a 1/2 cup of liquid, approximately 20 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter.  Add the shallots and saute until slightly golden, approximately 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sage and saute for another minute or two. 

Add about a pound of gnocchi, or one half of the recipe printed above.  Add the reduced cider and stir to coat.  Serve with parmesan cheese.

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I served the gnocchi with a side of broccoli rabe that I tossed in garlic, olive oil, and red pepper.  And because I had labored all day over this dish, I decided that it deserved to be served with something good.  I opted for a bottle of pinot from one of my favorite Sonoma wineries, Stephen & Walker.  Their Sonoma Coast pinot noir is much fruiter than your typical pinot and went perfectly with this meal.

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