Tag Archives: 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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

Insatiable “moanable” moment

1 Apr

Yes, that’s right. I said it. I love my “moanable moments”. Okay, those of you that went there…get your mind out of the gutter! I am talking about an aromatic moment. One that inevitably leads to a fantastic flavor moment. The culinary anticipation created by that first aromatic shot makes the head go back, the eyes flutter closed, ending in a throaty moan.   And a great aroma can cause an involuntary moan to slip out no matter where you are. We have all had them. Come on! Admit it!

I grew up in the Chicago area. Our local bakery had hardwood floors that were scuffed up and squeaky. The little blue haired ladies running the bakery had to have been 100 years old at least! Well… that is the way it seemed to me in my youth.  Shiny sparkling clean glass was the only thing separating the freshly baked sweets from anxiously waiting customers. Walking into that bakery always, 100 percent of the time, produced a “moanable moment” the instant you walked in there.  It was that good.

Entering that bakery as a child and walking in as an adult still produces that very same moment…a moanable moment. One in which your head involuntarily tips back a bit, eyes slowly droop closed, and you take a deep breath in. The exhale is in the form of a moan. The scents wafting through the air are just too good. Words cannot describe the sweet aromas, the anticipation of a freshly baked cookie or cupcake, the absolute denial of all calories about to be consumed, free of all guilt.

Few things evoke this moment, but it is a thing of beauty. A treat for the nostrils. A thrill for the palate. As a lover of food and wine, a passionate cook, an undeniable foodie, and busy mom, these prized moments are treasured. A freshly grilled piece of lemon mustard chicken. Decadent homemade pizza in the oven, bubbling away. The fragrant bouquet after uncorking of a fabulous bottle of wine.  Stepping into the bakery of my childhood on a visit home. “Moanable moments” come in all shapes and sizes. But each moment is terrific. What is your moanable moment? You know what it is!

Oops!

5 Feb

You are never too old to make a mistake.  Even on Manners Monday.  Well, it was actually on Saturday, but since we discuss and try to improve our manners on Manners Monday in my home, I brought up my recent faux pas.  Or at least I think it was a faux pas.

Here is the situation:  We have dinner reservations on Saturday for 3 diners.  We are running a bit early for our reservations, so we stop by a new wine bar to check it out and have a small glass of wine before dinner.  The wine bar, by the way, also serves tapas, or appetizers.   When we are seated at a table, there are small plates on the table, along with silverware rolled in a cloth napkin.

Out of habit, when seated, we all take our silverware out and place it appropriately on the table.  The 3 of us also placed the cloth napkin on our laps.  We had no intention of ordering food.  We just popped in for a quick glass of wine.  We were all engaged in pleasant conversation and simply performed our little napkin/silverware ritual without much thought.  Until the waiter corrected us.

The waiter took our drink order and brought it to the table.  Then:

Waiter:  Here is your appetizer menu.  Are you ready to order?

Us:  We just stopped by for a glass of wine.  We aren’t ordering appetizers.

Waiter:  Oh.  When you unwrapped your silverware and placed your napkin on your lap I assumed you were eating.

Us:  Oops, sorry.  (Blank awkward stare at one another).

He was very kind and gentle in his demeanor, but we couldn’t help but realize that perhaps we had made a mistake.  So I did what any self respecting person feeling guilty would do.  I tipped big.  Then I hit the internet to dig into etiquette and manners.  I wanted to know the correct table manners for simply stopping by a wine bar that only served appetizers, or “bites”.  But I couldn’t find a thing about that situation and appropriate manners.

So here is what I think.  Waiters spend a lot of time getting their stations set up and kept up.  I should know…I waitressed in college and completely understand the challenges of waiting tables.  In retrospect, it was not appropriate for us to unroll silverware and use a napkin. We added to the work load of our waiter.  Now he had to wash and reroll silverware that we had no intention of using.  We should have asked him to remove the plates and rolled silver from the table so he could use it at a later time.  I so rarely am in a situation of just having a drink and being at a table for less than an hour, so I just didn’t think.  But I sure feel like we treated the waiter unfairly, albeit unintentionally.

Here is my own rule of thumb.  Whatever situation presents itself, if I am at a table and not dining, I will use as few utensils as possible.  I appreciate the professional way our waiter handled this situation, and will certainly be more considerate moving forward.  I could not find any table manners covering this situation so I will simply put my own rules in place.  You are never too old to learn a new lesson, and I appreciate the opportunity this kind waiter presented for me to gain a new understanding.