Monday, April 30
Today chenin blanc is grown in many New World wine regions and used most often as a blending grape. Today it is quickly becoming popular as a food friendly white wine.
In Stellenbosch, South Africa the chenin blanc grape is widely grown and it is called Steen. It is used to make a variety of wines from sparkling wine to dessert wine.
The highly acidic grape can be made in a wide variety of styles from very dry; off-dry which is slightly sweet; or very sweet dessert wine.
Chenin Blanc is a fruity wine with aromas of citrus fruits, floral, and a hint of earthiness. The citrus and apple skin flavors cut through the hint of sweetness for a delicious and rich but well balanced wine.
For food pairings this wine can be served with creamy pasta and chicken dishes. The citrus flavors make this wine a good pairing with spring and summer salads with vinaigrette or citrus dressings.
You can serve an off-dry Chenin Blanc as an aperitif while sitting on the porch or patio on a warm afternoon while waiting for the grill to heat up.
Ask your local wine shop to recommend a Chenin Blanc that will be perfect for your personal tastes.
Monday, April 23
In honor of Earth Day here is a little information about wines made from grapes that have been grown using practices that preserve, protect and enhance the environment.
There is a difference between organic grapes and organic wines. Simply, organic grapes are grown without the use of artificial chemicals.
Organic wines are produced without the use of artificial chemicals both in the growing of the grapes and in the production process. The winery must maintain these practices in the vineyard and the winery and follow strict guidelines and time requirements (it takes years for the vines and production facility to be chemical free) in order for the winery to earn the privilege to label its wine as organic.
In order for a vineyard to be certified organic as noted above there must be no artificial chemicals used and there should be no use of fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. The winery must maintain a specific distance from conventional farms nearby and the facility's ingredient storage, among other areas of the winery, are inspected by the responsible agencies (of which there are quite a few).
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and several other agencies, are responsible for insuring the organic growers are complying with the requirements in order to receive organic certification.
Celebrate April in honor of Earth Day by doing something to protect the environment. Recycle, reuse and repurpose something to keep if from the landfill.
Thursday, April 19
What is Saltimbocca and why haven't I ever made it? I just thought it was complicated so I never looked into it - until now.
A classic Italian recipe made with veal, the word Saltimbocca means "jump in the mouth". There is usually prosciutto used in the dish which gives it the jump in the mouth flavor. I don't eat veal, but I found lots of recipes using chicken and pork with the word saltimbocca in the recipe title.
I saw a recipe from bon appetit that looked really easy and had only 3 ingredients. Couldn't get easier than that. I had all the ingredients so I didn't have to make supermarket run.
I did have prosciutto in the fridge which was a leftover from Friday's pizza topping, but I didn't have sage so I used fresh parsley. The parsley is definitely a far cry from sage but we are getting our 'jump in the mouth' flavor from the prosciutto.
Pork "Saltimbocca" with Roasted Onions and Potatoes
(Recipe adapted from bon appetit magazine).
- 4 pork loin chops
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 2 onions, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
- 2 TBLS. olive oil
- 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes sliced in rounds (or use whatever potatoes you have)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage (optional parsley, rosemary or thyme)
- 8 slices prosciutto
- Pierce the pork with a tip of a pairing knife. Place single layer in large dish and pour the wine over the top and set aside to marinate at room temperature while preparing the other ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice the onions and lay them out in a large pan and coat with the olive oil. Slice the potatoes and toss in a bowl with olive oil and sage or whatever herbs you choose and place in the pan tucking them in with the onions. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Place the onion and potato mixture in the oven and roast until the potatoes start to brown around the edges. Depending on the thickness, it can take 15-20 minutes.
- Remove pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper and place 2 slices prosciutto folded to fit on top of each piece of pork.
- Now place the meat on top of the roasted onions and potatoes and roast about 10 minutes or until the meat registers 135-140 on meat thermometer.
- Let meat rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- I sliced the onions just a little more than 1/4 inch thick and the potatoes just under that since the onions tend to melt if too thin and the potatoes will take too long if they are too thick.
- Flexible recipes are important to us busy moms/caretakers/CFO's/,etc. and I'm certainly not trying to impress the 'gourmand', so it's o.k. to substitute.
- You can eliminate the wine. It's used as a tenderizer and it adds a level of flavor, but you can substitute the juice from one orange for the same results.
This entire recipe takes about 40-45 minutes from prep to done! and hardly any mess to clean up.
I've shared this with:
Monday, April 16
I remember when I first started drinking wine I always wanted ice cubes added to the glass. At home that was never a problem, but when in a restaurant I would ask for ice in my glass of wine and I would get strange looks and sometimes I was asked "are you sure?".
I really didn't like the taste of the wine unless it was ice cold. Back in the '80's I usually ordered a Chablis which I really didn't like much so it had to be ice cold for me to be able to drink it.
Looking back now, I'm glad I was not drinking red wine. As a general rule white wine is served chilled a bit more than red wine.
This post is not to judge anyone who enjoys ice in their wine, it's really o.k. especially if you enjoy it. I'm only here to share a little Wine 101 about chilling wine and the serving temperature for red and white wines.
There is a reason why the temperature of the wine makes a difference on how the wine tastes. Experts recommend that wines be served at specific temperatures in order to enhance the wine's flavors and it's complexity.
If a wine is too cold it looses the fruity flavors of the wine and if served too warm the tannins and alcohol become too strong and pronounced and the fruit flavors just get lost.
White wine should be served chilled at a temperature between 45 to 55 degrees. How do you know when that is the right temperature?
If the bottle of wine has been in the refrigerator for an hour or more it might be too cold. If you know you will be opening the white wine at a specific time, take the bottle of wine out of the refrigerator at least 30-40 minutes before serving.
Red wine should be served at what is recommended as 'room temperature' or 55-68 degrees. The higher temperature is for rich Cabernets and other complex red wines.
It can be a little challenging to figure out the room temperature since everyone's room temperature is different. When the rules for chilling wine were published long ago "room temperature" referred to the cellar temperature of wine aficionados, and it was also long before we had central heat and air conditioning.
In order to chill your red wine to a temperature that will enhance the flavor of the wine you should put the bottle of red wine in the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving. That is if you keep the bottle in a wine rack and not in a wine cooler.
Some experts suggest the red wine be put in the fridge 30 minutes before serving, however that may not be long enough to chill the wine. When the red wine sits in the glass it warms up quickly from the warmth of your hand when holding the glass.
I hope this information is helpful and give you the incentive to try drinking your favorite wine at the 'recommended' temperature to see if you can taste the fruit flavors and smell the aromas of the wine as the winemaker intended.
Remember, drink what you like and enjoy, "it's really just a matter of taste".
Sunday, April 15
If this is your first visit "Welcome". Thanks for stopping by from the Ultimate Blog Party 2012.
Like most bloggers, I'm a busy wife, mom, and grammy and don't have a lot of extra time to spend in the kitchen. Though I love to cook and bake, I don't like hearing "is it ready yet?" from the peanut gallery so my recipes are flexible, easy to prepare and ready in a 'New York Minute', well almost.
My philosophy is to spend as much time having fun with my family yet still serve meals that are well balanced and healthy.
Thank you so much for visiting and I hope you enjoy your stay. I love to travel and make new friends so please leave me a comment so I can visit you as well.
Anyone can join this virtual Ultimate Blog Party 2012. Network, make new friends and enjoy the party!
Saturday, April 7
Blueberries are starting to line the shelves in the produce markets making for a really yummy muffin and just in time for this blueberry muffin challenge.
I found my inspiration Blueberry Muffin recipe at Bizzy Bakes. Bizzy's muffin recipe is delicious but the family had issues with the nuts so as long as I had to make another batch of muffins I made a few other changes and added a streusel topping.
For one thing, my blueberries all fell to the bottom of the muffins. This can happen when the berries are larger and heavy, gravity happens. So I made a compote with the blueberries and then I added a few additional whole berries when I was filling the muffin batter. The compote also gave the muffins more blueberry flavor.
Next I decided to make the muffins dairy free so I used coconut milk and Smart Balance butter alternative. Of course if you really love a rich and delicious muffin you must make Bizzy's delicious recipe -- I won't feel bad. I'm just offering a dietary alternative for those who might need it.
I know, there are 3 different components to this recipe, but I promise this is really very easy and it only takes less than 15 minutes to do the compote and streusel prep. The muffin batter is a breeze coming in at less than 10 minutes.
These muffins are the perfect addition to brunch for Easter and Mother's Day.
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tsp. sugar (or substitute 1 1/2 TBLS. organic agave)
- 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 TBLS. brandy (definitely optional)
Streusel Topping (optional)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 TBLS. cold butter (Smart Balance)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place liners in a muffin pan.
- 3/4 cup milk (alternative - coconut or almond milk)
- 2 TBLS. vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen)
- Using a large bowl, beat the milk, oil, and egg until well blended. Add in the 2 cups of flour, baking powder and sugar all at once and stir just until all the ingredients are well moistened. Batter will be lumpy -- that's ok -- don't overmix or the muffins will be tough.
- If you have a large cookie scoop, use it to add the batter to the muffin liners. Fill the muffin liners just a little over half way (about 2/3 full).
- With the cool compote, add in the 1/4 cup blueberries and stir well. Add a teaspoon full of the compote to each muffin. With a skewer or knife swirl in the compote and berries.
- Add about 1 tablespoon of the streusel topping to each muffin top.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins bounce back. Remove from oven then remove the muffins from the pan onto a cooling rack.
Wednesday, April 4
Honestly, I don't mean to overdose everyone on chocolate, but I had to add this recipe for those who might have over-flowing chocolate in their microwave. I've been obsessing about this so I wanted to offer an alternative recipe.
This recipe is very similar to the microwave chocolate pudding recipe I posted earlier this month. However, I made a few measurement adjustments and cooked it on the stove instead of the microwave.
While I was working with this recipe and taking pictures I dropped my camera into the pot while the pudding was cooking. It's a good thing 'grampy' wasn't home. He's really not thrilled about my picture-taking obsession, and if he happened to see me drop the camera he would have snapped to say the least. Oh, thank goodness, I was able to clean it up and it's still working.
Back to the pudding . . . You can make this version dairy free and everyone will enjoy it. This takes about 15-20 minutes total prep/cook time and 2-3 hours chill time. Make it in the morning after the kids go off to school and you will have a very special after dinner dessert.
This is also a great dessert for the upcoming holiday this weekend.
- 1 graham cracker pie crust (choose your favorite flavor)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 TBLS. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 cups milk (you can use almond milk, coconut milk, or whatever non-dairy milk you prefer)
- 3 TBLS. organic agave
- 1/2 cup 60% cacao chocolate chips
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- In a 2 1/2 quart saucepan sift in the cornstarch and cocoa powder and stir to blend. Turn on the burner to medium and stir in the milk. Stir constantly to blend the ingredients and to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
- Continue stirring for about 5 minutes you will notice the mixture start to thicken and it will look smooth and shiny. Now add in the 3 TBLS. agave and the vanilla extract if using. Taste for sweetness. It will not be sugary sweet, so if you like it sweeter you can add another tsp. or TBLS. of agave as desired.
- When the mixture starts to bubble once or twice, remove from heat and add in the chocolate chips and stir until blended.
- Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill at least 2 hours or more. This can be made in advance and will stay for 2-3 days.
I shared this on the following hops/carnivals:
Feed Your Soul
Full Plate Thursday
Monday, April 2
Though we had a very mild winter here, it's always nice to look forward to bright sunny days, the fragrant spring flowers, and taking time to enjoy the beauty that nature provides.
Many will be celebrating the holiday with meals that blend sweet and savory flavors of spring ham and vegetables. There is never a perfect wine for all the foods we are serving but there is always a sparkling wine to enjoy.
Sparkling wines are often thought of as a wine just for celebrations. That is true especially when you consider every meal with family and friends should be a celebration. It doesn't have to be for a special occasion.
A very food-friendly wine that has crisp acidity you can serve sparkling wine with a variety of dishes. The acidity is a perfect match for hot/spicy dishes; fried foods; cold salads with citrus or vinaigrette dressing; and it tames the sweetness in the glazes on the ham.
There are many affordable sparkling wines to choose for the holiday. There are pink varieties of sparkling wine; there's Spanish Cava, Crémant, or Prosecco. These are widely available in most major markets.
If you prefer just a crisp white wine choose a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer. These whites are known for their crisp acidity and are also very food friendly.
For the red wine lover a fruit forward Zinfandel can be a good match for the sweet glazed ham.
Don't hesitate to ask the salesperson in your local wine store for assistance. They are very knowledgeable and will be happy to help you select a wine you prefer.
Don't stress over choosing the perfect wine. The best pairing is food and family which makes the wine just perfect. Remember "it's a matter of taste!"