Tag Archives: red wine

Onion Jam

15 Jul

Love onions? Not sure what to do with sun-dried tomatoes? Crazy about dried fruit? Then this appetizer will be on your must try list. If you have a little time to fuss over making this jam, it is worth it. Don’t be shy-have a glass of your favorite Cab to go along side this dish and really make the flavors pop!

Grab a heavy saucepan, toss in 2 tablespoons of high quality butter, put the heat on low, and lets get started.


First grab one or two Vidalia sweet onions and thinly slice. I like a mandolin to do this job. It is quick, easy, and you’ll get through cutting the onions without shedding a single tear.


Now toss the onions into the sizzling butter. Add a bit of sugar, salt, red pepper and black pepper.


Give that fragrant deliciousness a good stir. Now this is when a little patience comes in handy. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let those onions get golden.


While that is cooking away, its time to get ready for the next step. We will be adding dried fruit, sun dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup of white wine and some rich balsamic vinegar to the onion mixture.


I used figs this time because I had them on hand, but I have also used dried cherries (my favorite!) and dried cranberries. Chop the dried fruit and tomatoes. I used about 5-6 of each.


After about a half hour its time to take the lid off the sauce pan and let the wonderful sweet fragrance of the onions pleasure your senses. Mmmmmm. After you take that deep breath in, add the tomatoes, fruit, balsamic vinegar and wine. Stir that all together.


Leave the lid off and let that simmer down. All of the wine will cook off and the onion jam will thicken. When that happens, remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit. Get some crackers and some lovely bread ready to nosh. There is one last ingredient to add-bleu cheese. Pour some wine, grab your honey, turn some great jazz on, and enjoy!







Grill Thrill

5 Aug

For years I have said to my dining partners “If you want lamb, make reservations.”  I am not a huge lamb fan.  I usually had it at wine dinners, restaurants, and even in Scotland. But it was not something that I ever cooked or prepared. Having lamb paired with the appropriate wine is, like most food, amazing. Other than that, it’s just not on my radar.

Then one afternoon  I was out wine shopping.  I just happened to get an outstanding bottle of wine at a bargain price.  Red wine.  And it was begging to be paired with lamb.  So the adventure began.

Never having cooked lamb before, I had some homework to do. Finding a good butcher for top of the line lamb chops was a must. I found a local mediterranean market, and lucky me…they had a butcher. Not only did they have fresh lamb, they cut the chops to order. Score!

I decided to cook the chops outside on the grill. Like steak, I learned that lamb is delicious grilled.I also discovered that rosemary was perfect to flavor the chops.  I have a friend that grows rosemary in her yard in abundance, so I zipped over there and nabbed a handful!  I wanted to keep it simple.  Rosemary, salt, pepper, and some flavorful high quality olive oil is what I used to prepare the chops.

I started by letting the chops sit for a couple of minutes to come to room temperature, then I rubbed them with olive oil and sprinkled on the rosemary. Salt and pepper too. I placed the chops on a hot grill at about 400 degrees.  A quick flip after 4 minutes, and in another 4 minutes they were done.

I pulled them off the grill, put a pat of butter on each chop, and tented them with tin foil. Meat is at its best after resting for a few minutes. After letting the wine breath a bit, it was poured and the lamb plated. Roasted asparagus accompanied the chops, as did wild rice.  The bold full bodied wine paired with the meal was a show stopper.  Yum!

The outcome was incredible!  The chops were savory, the wine delish! It was a meal to enjoy at a leisurely pace to fully enjoy the food, wine, and dinner companions. The outcome of my adventure into cooking lamb was a success.  The discovery of a new mediterranean market which I will now frequent was an added bonus.  And exploring the savory taste sensation of well paired food and wine is always a win in my book!


Cannelini and Greens

31 Aug

I am a self proclaimed foodie.   I think about food a lot.  I think about how to grow it, how to prepare it, and try to conjure up interesting twists of flavor with what I have on hand.  Although I love the European method of shopping daily to prepare the freshest food, I am not a person that likes to hop in the car and zip out to the store for a missing ingredient when I cook.  Nope…I like to put music on, surround myself with my the folks I love, and get in the kitchen and cook.

That is exactly what I was doing when I created my cannellini dish lately.  I looked at ingredients that I had on hand, craved something different, poured Denis and I a glass of red wine and got to work.  This is what I came up with, and I must say, it was brilliant.  Here is my recipe.

Amy’s Cannellini and Greens

  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 cans cannellini beans-rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups of fresh arugula and spinach
  • 4 slices of prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parmesan cheese

Heat a large pan on medium, and put olive oil in pan.  When hot, add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, and stir.   Let cook for 1 minute.   Add canned tomatoes with juice, thyme, parsley, and sage.  Stir to mix.  Shake in salt and pepper to taste.  Heat until hot and bubbling, about 4-5 minutes.  Add cannellini beans and give the mix a good but gentle stir.  During the last few minutes of cooking, add the prosciutto.  While that is heating through, take a large shallow bowl and line it with the fresh arugula spinach mixture.  Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over it.  Just a sprinkle will do.

Taste bean mixture.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  Pour hot beans over greens.  The greens will wilt a bit, and the scent coming off this dish is amazing!  Serve.

This dish is quick to put together and a great way to use some leftover greens when you are tired of regular cold salads.  It is a pretty dish, and packed with nutrition.  Cannellini beans are rich in antioxidants, loaded with beneficial fiber, and have plenty of heart healthy b9.   It is a beautiful dish to have on your dinner table, with the added benefit of being very nutritious!  Bon Appetite!

Oh yum!

Oh yum!

Burger Bonanza!

24 Mar

Variety is the spice of life.  And all things in moderation.  These are 2 rules I use when including red meat in my diet.  Red meat has health benefits, but I also understand and respect folks that abstain from it.  I have worked in clinical nutrition for well over a decade, and have loads of both cooking classes food science classes under my belt.  I respect all forms of healthful eating, morals of food choices, and religious dietary laws.  But I am of christian faith and do not have religious dietary restrictions on a day to day basis that restrict my dietary choices.  I eat, and in fact crave, a red meat every now and again.  Last night was one of those occasions.  I really wanted a burger, and luckily, so did Denis!

We decided that a good fresh burger on the grill was in order for dinner.  Being a foodie, grabbing preformed generic burgers at the grocer is just not acceptable.  Denis and I were making the burgers, and began discussing not only the burger, but the all important toppings.  Now I have picked many people’s brain about burgers and toppings.  A wide variety of folks, including food writers such as William Rice, local restauranteurs in the South, and even a highly esteemed chef from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Let me tell you, this is a hot topic!  But I digress.

Denis is a foodie just as passionate (read nutty, as most foodies attest to!) about food as I am.  You know that you are a foodie when you talk about a future meal while eating a current (and outstanding!) one.  So we were having this fantastic post workout protein fest in the morning, but needed more.  We had an intense workout and were craving a big burger.  A big naughty one!  A real flavor buster!  We decided to go to the butcher for some good fresh ground meat, and season the high quality meat with none other than garlic.  We wanted a real flavor pop.  We then started considering the critical tipping point of a great burger…the toppings.

Once again throwing caution to the wind in regards to our breath (after all, we were loading up our precooked burgers with garlic!), we decided that we would caramelize some onions and mushrooms to top our burger.  Yum!   But those can be a bit sloppy to pile onto a burger.  Solution?  A brilliant one!  It was one that we would have to experiment with, but if a foodie isn’t pushing the envelope a bit, then you just aren’t a true foodie!  (We are a snobby bunch in that regard!)  Denis pushed a little indentation in the middle of the burger leaving a little room to pile on the onions and mushrooms.

Here is the home made burger prior to cooking with a little indentation for the toppings.

Here is the home made burger prior to cooking with a little indentation for the toppings.

As Denis worked on the burgers, I set out carmelizing the onions.  I took sliced onions and put them into a piping hot cast iron skillet that had a little butter and olive oil bubbling away.  As the onions sautéed, I deglazed the pan with a few tablespoons of red wine.  That added a nice undertone of flavor to the onions.  When those were soft and translucent, I tossed in 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms.  I usually use an assortment of mushrooms, as now the grocery store carries them already conveniently sliced up and recipe ready.  The wonderful aromas filling the kitchen were amazing.

Delicious onions and mushrooms cooking for our burger topping!

Delicious onions and mushrooms cooking for our burger topping!

Burgers are not complete, in my book, without lettuce or some good greens piled on regardless of the other toppings.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again…I love a salad on my sandwich!  Anywhoooo…we went on to build our burgers.  And they were spectacular.  I eat red meat sparingly, so I like it to really count.  And count it did with these loaded burgers!  We had a fresh crisp romaine salad and oven baked potato wedges to round out our meal.  And our breath wasn’t bad at all!  Well, we didn’t think so.  The others around us might have had a different opinion!  But the “death breath” was sure worth it!  Garlic and onions have loads of health benefits, but thats a tale for another day!

Denis has named his new burger concoction the “Make Room For All The Good Stuff In Life” burger.  Love it!  What are you going to fit on your burger?

See?  The top of the bun fit on the burger just fine!  This burger was piled high with onions, mushrooms, and lettuce.

See? The top of the bun fit on the burger just fine! This burger was piled high with onions, mushrooms, and lettuce.

P.S.  We weren’t sure if the burger would cook evenly with the indent in it.  No worries.  It grilled up evenly and beautifully!  And also a word about cooking wine.  I use drinking wine when I cook.  Recipes usually call for very little wine, so use good wine.  Please…never buy  “cooking wine” in the grocery store.  Yes, it is labeled as such.  Use something that you would drink.  If I have some wine left in a bottle, I have frozen it in an ice cube tray to use at a later time.  It is the perfect amount to use in a sauce for deglazing a pan.