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Tag: wine

La Fête Du Rosé and Ginger & Cilantro Baked Salmon

Just go ahead and get the 3-pack. Trust me on this.

At some point in your life, you need to be able to put together a fairly healthy, flavorful meal.

This dish for me was one of the first really impressive dishes I learned to make. It’s a favorite of mine, though I hadn’t made it in a really long time. The other day, I began thinking about what would pair well with my new rosé. A lightbulb came on over my head and I pulled this old recipe from the hollows of my mind.

I should tell you that the recipe originally called for tilapia. I used salmon and pretty much always have. You can experiment with various types of fish if you’d like. I might even try this with chicken one day.

La Fête Du Rosé is an absolutely delicious French-style rosé, so it’s very dry. This wine has a deep pink color and I definitely thought I detected cherry on the nose. To be a rosé, this is a BIG wine. I mean, it really is very flavorful and hits your entire tongue with different flavors. I detected a bit of citrus.

The wine and fish paired very well. I can’t imagine a lighter rosé being able to stand up to big flavors of sesame oil and soy sauce and the like, so I definitely recommend this particular one.

Ginger & Cilantro Baked Salmon

Ingredients:
The ingredients, including a little jalapeno, hiding behind the cilantro.

1 pound of fish

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon)

1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped (optional)

1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Scallions, chopped for garnish

Extra cilantro, to garnish

Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 475°F. Pat the fish dry, season lightly with salt and pepper, and lay in a 9×9-inch or 8×8-inch ceramic or glass baking dish.
  2. Combine the garlic, grated ginger, chopped jalapeño, cilantro, white wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small food processor. Process until blended.
  3. Pour the sauce over the fish, rubbing it in a little. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through.
  4. Serve immediately over brown rice or orzo, garnished with the additional scallions and cilantro.
I opted to serve my fish over orzo finished with blood orange olive oil and steamed green beans.

Lemon Ricotta Cake and Moscato

Lodali Moscato d’Asti

Whenever someone mentions Moscato, I frown. I don’t even try to hide it anymore. Why? Because it’s been bastardized. What is actually a light, floral subtle wine has been served any and everywhere and with everything. Winemakers are adding tons of residual sugar, giving it a syrupy taste and really losing the beauty of the grape.

But, not all Moscato is bad. In fact, if you pick a good one and you pair it correctly, it can be a pleasant experience. It’s a dessert wine and works extremely well with summer desserts. Think berries and lemon. It doesn’t work with chocolate.

In my attempt to find a good Moscato, I came across Lodali’s 2019 Moscato d’Asti. I was specifically looking for something a little bubbly and this was it. Having never tried it before, I was just hoping for a good experience and that it would go well with the Lemon Ricotta Cake I was making.

It was PERFECT! This wine retails for less than $20 – somewhere in the range of $12-$16. It was effervescent without being too bubbly. Just enough to create some fizz in the glass. Lodali delivered on the florals typical of a Moscato, but also came with a slight citrus that cut through the sweetness. It played really well with the richness of the cake.

I almost never buy ricotta cheese, but I was making stuffed shells and had some cheese left. This recipe is so simple and doesn’t use a ton of special ingredients. It’s a great one to bring to any summer gathering.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

The ingredients, except for the topping

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

Topping

1 lb. fresh strawberries, diced or sliced

3 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided

1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together sugar, butter and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.
  4. Mix in eggs one at a time (mixture will appear lumpy), blend in vanilla.
  5. Add in half of the flour mixture and mix just until combined, add ricotta and mix just until combined. 
  6. Add in last half of the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Gently fold batter to ensure ingredients are evenly incorporated. 
  7. Pour batter into prepared springform pan and spread into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until cake is set (a toothpick can come out moist but no batter), about 45 – 50 minutes.
  8. Let cake cool 10 minutes then run a knife around edge to loosen any edges that may have stuck slightly, remove springform ring and continue to let cool.
  9. Once cool, slice and serve with macerated strawberries and whipped cream.

In Love With LVE

True love.

Every time you turn around, some celebrity is putting their name on a wine bottle. Everyone has a wine these days. So when I saw that John Legend had one too, I rolled my eyes, thinking he was just another one jumping aboard an obviously lucrative train.

It was at the aforementioned wine gathering that I was offered John Legend’s sparkling rose. I want to take a moment to tell you that I had full confidence in Legend and his rose. His wife, Chrissy, doesn’t seem the type to let him put out some shit. If it tasted bad, I imagine her telling him, “Babe, this tastes like backwash. Try again. This won’t do.” Behind every successful man is an amazing woman who calls him on his shit.

I have a thing for sparkling anything. Bubbles make me feel luxurious. This was no different. Right off the bat, I noticed that it wasn’t a light rose. It was a deeper peachy-pink compared to the other wines that were on the table. I took this as a good sign.

On the nose, it’s refreshing and sweet, maybe giving you notes of berries. You almost think the wine itself will be sweet. Thankfully, it’s not. It is bright, with a slight citrus note that makes this a winner for the summer heat. This sparkling rose is one that you can enjoy alone, but certainly has the heft to be paired with cheese and charcuterie.

I went back to the tasting table several times and I know I had to have finished at least half a bottle of this by myself. It’s that good! Even with all that I had, there was no headache. It was just a really smooth, delightful experience.

The best thing about this wine, besides the taste – it’s only $20. Affordable luxury. You have NO reason not to try it. The website doesn’t ship to every state, but check with your local Total Wine and see if they can get it for you.

The Wine That Gave Me the Blues

No, that’s not toilet water.

This past weekend, I went to a wine gathering of sorts. I won’t call it a festival, because it wasn’t that. That’s a story for cocktails when we can all get together again.

This shindig was supposed to highlight black-owned wines. I have personally been on a quest to try more, so I was genuinely excited for just about all of the wines.

One wine that stands out is a blue wine. Yes, you read that correctly, BLUE. Like smurfs. It was called Amour Geneve. I saw it and couldn’t imagine it tasting like anything other than a corner store quarter water. That . . . would have been an improvement on what it DID taste like.

It was supposed to taste like a white wine. You know – light, crisp, great on a hot day. Good with fish or chicken – all the things you come to expect of a white wine. So I took a sip. It was like a VERY bad white wine. At this point, I was convinced that my opinion was based on it looking like 2000 Flushes. I closed my eyes and tried again, this time imagining a wheat-colored wine. NOPE. Still bad. All bad. And now my tongue was a freaky shade of blue. A scarlet letter to let everyone know I had imbibed in the blue swill.

I know they say this blueness is naturally occurring, but it looked very unnatural. And the taste was overly bitter and had no complexity at all. I can’t think of anything I’d pair this with. Because typically if I don’t like a wine by itself, I think, “Well, if I pair it with . . . .” and then my mind starts conjuring recipes. There’s nothing that would save this wine. All in all, I’d say skip this one. If you just want something blue, get Boone’s Farm.

Wine Clubs: How to Pick One

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Most wineries are considered small businesses. Personally, I like supporting small businesses and I want the ones I love to do well.

When it comes to wineries, one of the best ways to do that is through their wine clubs. Just about every winery has some sort of wine club. Most often, you sign up and the winery picks a few wines for you every month or every quarter and you can go get them or they mail them to you.

No lie, it took me and my husband 9 years to figure out which winery we wanted to have a membership to. We went to a lot of GREAT wineries! A good problem to have, I think. Hopefully, it won’t take you as long. Here are a few tips to help you to evaluate various wine clubs.

  1. Make sure you like at least 90% of their wine. Your wine club picks will come from their tasting menu along with a few that aren’t available to the public. If you only like one or two of a list of say 8 wines, that’s not enough for you to get a membership. Some wineries let you pick whites, reds, sweets, or a mix. The particular winery club we joined does a fantastic job with reds, which accounts for most of their tasting. Their whites are hit or miss. So we picked the “Reds Only” option and have been quite pleased.
  2. Quantity. How much wine can you drink? How often do they ship? If you aren’t drinking that much wine, make sure you have a good place to store it properly. I typically have about 6 or 7 bottles of wine on hand. Various kinds. If I am getting 3 or 4 bottles a month, I need to make sure I’m enjoying at least a few bottles every month.
  3. Pricing. While this is not super expensive, it’s a line item in your budget. It can be right around $100 a month. Are you willing to spend that every month? You benefit the most with a long, sustained membership. Some wineries let you skip months or hold the wine for a specific amount of time. Be sure to ask about that.
  4. Other perks. Besides the wine shipment itself, you get to enjoy other perks. Free tastings, exclusive member events, discounts on food and public events. Wineries are really getting creative with wooing members. They know that you can always take your business elsewhere, so they try to make membership very attractive by rolling out the red carpet.
  5. Ambiance of the winery. Do you want to hang out there? One of your perks might be a members-only area or discounts on food. If you like hanging out there, this can be a great place to entertain friends and family.

I recommend not deciding on a membership until you’re all-the-way sober. I worked at a winery and I can’t tell you how many people I sold wine club memberships to that were a little tipsy right after a 10-wine tasting (with generous pours!). You’ll want to evaluate the winery after you’ve gone home and had some time to think and sober up.

I know people that are members of several wineries. This is my goal. Hell, it took me 9 years to decide on ONE winery, give me time to pick other ones.

Brownie Pudding

Those who know me know I’m not really a fan of chocolate. I know, I know. A woman who doesn’t love chocolate – an oddity. But this brownie pudding is delightful! It’s not an easily whipped up recipe, but what I can promise is that it’s worth all the work you’ll put into it. I’d definitely save this for something special.

You’ll need:

2 sticks of unsalted butter (plus extra for buttering your baking dish)

4 large eggs at room temperature

2 cups of sugar

3/4 cup of GOOD cocoa powder

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

1 tablespoon of your favorite liquor (optional)

Toasted nuts

What you’ll need to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart oval baking dish. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  2. In an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes. You want it to be very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
  3. When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, liquor, and cocoa powder/flour mixture. Mix only to combine – DO NOT OVERMIX! Pour in your cooled butter and continue to mix until everything is combined.
  4. Pour everything into the oval dish and place it in a larger ban-marie (tub of water that will come halfway up the side of your brownie dish. Look, I told you this wasn’t easy. But do this because it’s worth it.) Bake for 1 hour, taking care not to overbake. The center will look undone.
  5. Get fancy and sprinkle toasted nuts on the top. I’m a fan of pecans, but you can use almonds or walnuts.

Mind-blowing, huh? So of course we have to pair something with this. Because this dessert is so decadent and so delicious, I’d go all out with the wine. Something bubbly. You can go with Champagne, if you’d like. But I’m going out on a limb here. Hear me out: Almond Sparkling Wine. I get mine from Trader Joe’s for a mere $6 a bottle. It’s crisp and effervescent, which we expect of anything bubbly. But this is different. This has an extra layer of “oooh la la” by having an unmistakable amaretto taste. It’s subtle, but you won’t miss it. This is my pick for the brownie pudding because, together, it feels so damn decadent! Treat yo self.

Pairs Well With Life: Amicone

I was introduced to Amicone by a lady that worked in the wine section at my local Whole Foods. She loved her job and routinely tried the wines so she could tell her customers about them. She no longer works there and I miss her. This lady loved her job and it showed. She really put me on to some amazing wines.

One wine that was introduced to me was Amicone. It’s a smooth, every day red. You don’t have to pair it with anything. I know people think, “Red – steak,” and normally, they’d be right. But not this one. It’s too light for that. This is a “juicy” wine, bursting with notes of raspberries and cherries. That’s not to say this is sweet, because it isn’t.

This is a wine that can be enjoyed on its own. Pair it with life. But if you must pair it with food, keep it to things that have a smokey flavor, like grilled meat.

Amicone is a great wine to have on hand, should you have anyone stop by or you just want something smooth and red after a long day.

I think this wine is mostly found at Whole Foods. I have yet to see it anywhere else. Amicone is typically under $20, with it being $13-$17 most of the time.

So try it and let me know what you think!

Herby Roast Chicken

Nothin’ says “lovin'” like a well-prepared chicken. It’s one of the first things I learned to cook as an adult. Over time, my methods for making it have improved and I’ve fallen more in love with this comfort dish.

I have a tiny little garden right off my kitchen on my deck. I plant about 14 herbs and a few veggies every summer. At first, I thought this was just fun. But then, I found that it was a great way to save money on fresh herbs.

Typically, I like to brine my chicken. I just feel it gets rid of that “poultry” taste. I can’t describe it other than that, but I’m not a fan of that taste. So, with a nice brine, away it goes! You can do what you want.

Here, I’ll give you my basic method for roasting a chicken using fresh herbs. This recipe is great for company, in the winter with mashed potatoes, in the summer with a nice salad, as part of a meal prep because the leftovers are great. Basically, it can be a go-to.

What you’ll need:

A chicken, washed and with all the gunk pulled out

A bunch of rosemary

A bunch of thyme

A bunch of parsley

A bunch of sage

A yellow onion

A few cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper

How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place your bird in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Salt and pepper the inside of the bird.
  4. Cut the onion in half. One half, you’ll leave as it is. The other half, you’ll chop up to go around the bird.
  5. Rinse your herbs. Take half of them and bruise them with the back of your knife. Throw these inside of the bird with the onion.
  6. The other half of your herbs should be chopped up and sprinkled on and around your bird.
  7. Rough chop your garlic. Throw some in and around the chicken.
  8. Bake covered until chicken reaches 140 degrees.
  9. Uncover and let the skin get nice and brown. Make sure the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh.

*You don’t need to baste. Too much of a fuss.

*If you can make gravy, please do. The juices from this are well-seasoned and will make a delicious pan gravy to use on the chicken or rice or mashed potatoes.

Recommended wine: Butter Chardonnay. This Chardonnay lends itself well to pairing. The herbs in this chicken play extremely well with this wine. It’s creamy and bright. Butter can typically be found for less than $15 at any of the places you get wine.


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