Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chimichurri Steak Salad and a beautiful Italian summer red wine

Nick just arrived home from a whirlwind tour of northern Italy for 'work.'  Poor thing.  He was eager to open a bottle from a winery he spent some time with, Kellerie Bozen.  So we opened one up, looked at all the beautiful pictures from that day, and decided on steak.  The herbal freshness of chimichurri for an afternoon BBQ was perfect.  So perfect we sat for hours, and opened another bottle :)
Chimichurri is an Argentinian herb sauce, that is wonderfully flavourful and amazing with meat.  This Bon Appetit recipe thins the sauce out a bit to double up as a salad dressing.  

1 large bunch of italian parsley
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves (I actually sued basil because I didn't have oregano) 
3 peeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Flank Steak - enough for everyone that's coming for dinner
a bowl of baby greens
container of small mozzarella balls

put parsley (stems and all), oregano and garlic into a food processor or blender and blend for ten seconds.  Add the oil and vinegar and hot sauce and blend until almost smooth.  Salt and pepper to your liking.  

marinate steak with oil salt and pepper at room temperature for 45 minutes, and grill to you liking, five minutes a side for medium rare-ish.  Remove from the grill and let it rest off the grill for five minutes.  Slice across the grain.

Mix greens and mozzarella with dressing, as much as you like, but save some to drizzle on top of the steak.  Place steak on top and drizzle with more dressing.  

The Vino.
2010 Kellerie Bozen St. Magdalena Lagrein Perl, Sudtirol Alto-Adige $26.95 (Private Order, available by the case through Nicholas).  This wine is from Sudtirol, Alto-Adige in northern Italy. This is the same winery that produces the amazing Weissburgunder we paired a few weeks back.  I visited the region and winery last week for the first time and it truly is the coolest terroir for grape growing. At 800 metres above sea level, the rolling hills planted with vineyards is oh-so-picturesque. 
Unfortunately Ashley did not get to join me on the Italian tour… but we are planning another one for the near future. Here is a quick recap about the region. Sudtirol is noted for its distinct German and Austrian influences on the wine industry due to the region's long history under the rule of Austria-Hungary and Holy Roman Empires. Because of its unique history and location within the southern Alps and Dolomites, the Südtirol grows a wide range of grape varieties that are unusually not seen in other parts of Italy. These include Weissburgunder (Pinot Bianco), Müller-Thurgau, Schiava and my fav... Lagrein. It is one of the coolest "discovery" grape varieties that I have come across in ages. If you like cool climate Cabernet and Merlot, you gotta give it a try. This single vineyard Lagrein has been poured by the glass at Enoteca Sociale (Sister to the Pizzeria Libretto’s) since they opened. It is always noted for its distinct flavor profile, price/quality and versatility in food pairing. 
This particular one is certainly a reference point for great Lagrein at this price point. Aromas of dark red fruits and berries, liquorice, spices coupled with sweet herbs. It is mid-weight on the palate, not too full and remains really nice with a great freshness to it. It travels through many stages of complexity as it opens up in the glass, so don’t drink it back too quickly. Play with this one a bit. Both powerful and elegant, this silky wine is endowed with tons of personality and class. Each sip will have you coming back for more.
bon appetit.
dinner is served.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cherry Clafoutis, and Amaretto.

I'm not much of a baker.  I feel like it's a lot of working for something you can only eat so little of at a time.  A lot of effort for not a whole lot of reward.  (We also both prefer savoury to sweet).  That being said when I have the time and am in the mood, I love the amount of work and definitiveness it takes to bake.   I love the preciseness of ingredients, the attentiveness and care behind the recipe, and really in truth the outcome is always so very pretty and delicious.  Even for just a small piece.

Cherry Clafouti.  A la Beatrice Peltre, La Tartine Gourmand.

Unsalted butter, to grease the ramekins
1/2 cup of blond cane sugar, plus extra to coat the ramekins
3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of whole milk
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut milk (or heavy cream)
1 lime, only the finely grated zest of it
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
3 large eggs
1/3 cup of millet flour (tho I used rice flour because that's what I had)
1/4 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter
1 pound of fresh cherries, seeded (because it's easier to eat a big forkful that way)
confectioners sugar to dust.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 6 ramekins with butter (or one 12 inch dish), and sprinkle the surface and sides with sugar.  It'll stick to the butter, and tap the excess out.
Put the milk and coconut milk, vanilla bean and lime zest into a pot and heat on the stove.  When warm, turn off the element, put a lid on and let sit for 15 minutes.  Strain.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, millet flour, almond meal, and cornstarch.  Beat the eggs in one by one.  Add the infused milk and melted butter.  Arrange the cherries in the ramekins and pour the batter on top.
Place the ramekins in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (35-40 if you're using one pan), or until the flan is set and golden in colour.  Remove and let cool to room temperature.  Dust with confectioners icing sugar and serve.

It's heaven.  And so easy.  And looks so hard to make.

A little bowl of not so sweet, creamy, vanilla-y cherry goodness.  All to yourself!

Scoop a big heap of rich vanilla ice cream on top, and pour a small glass of amaretto on ice.  Because why not.  Amaretto is always nice after dinner, and it pairs so well with the not-so-sweet vanilla-y cherry treat.

bon appetit.
dessert is served.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Marinated Mozzarella and Cremant du Jura

Creamy, marinated, lemony, basily, fresh buffalo mozzarella dish to have out and around for guests to nibble as they arrive, sipping on a little Cremant (bubbly).  There's no better way to start and end a meal than with cheese.  

To make the marinade...
1 tsp of roasted and crushed fennel seeds
15 chopped basil leaves
4 table spoons of olive oil
1 clove of crushed garlic
grated rind of one lemon

Rip apart the Buffalo Mozzarella ball on a plate.  Scoop the marinade over top and let it sit at room temperature for thirty minutes before serving.

The perfect Pair for a mozzarella appetizer,

Domaine Baud “Brut Sauvage” Cremant de Jura (Private Order Import / $24.95 X 12 available through Nicholas’ wine agency 416-918-6425).
This week we’ve selected a rarely found wine from a “discovery” region in France. “The wines of  the Jura are produced in the Jura département. Located between Burgundy and Switzerland, this cool climate wine region produces wines with some similarity to Burgundy and Swiss wine. Jura wines are distinctive and unusual wines, the most famous being vin jaune, which is made by a similar process to Sherry, developing under a flor-like strain of yeast.” However, the wine we are drinking today in our pairing is a Cremant de Jura. A bubbly French wine, not made in the champagne region. BUT, It is made like Champagne, with the same grapes as Champagne (Chardonnay 70%, Pinot Noir 30%), and grown in a similar terrain and climate as Champagne. The results are fantastic at half the price. This “Brut Sauvage” has a beautiful pale straw color with fine and persistent bubbles. Bursting with aromas of toasted brioche with green apple, citrus fruits and freshly cut flowers. All those aromas come through as flavors on the palate with an elegant mousse and generous acidity. A perfect wine to pair as a versatile aperative.

bon appetit.
dinner is served.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quinoa Salad and Mas Carlot Tradition Blanc

 Olive and Tomato Quinoa salad.  Doesn't sound terribly exciting, but it's amazing and fresh, and so simple to make.  It's the perfect salad to serve as a side, bring to a pot luck, and to have left overs all week in the fridge.

one cup of mixed pitted olives (more or less depending on how you feel about olives)
one pint of roasted mini tomatoes
three quarters of a red onion, caramelized
half cup of feta cheese (or more, depending on how you feel about cheese!)
quarter cup of chopped parsley
grated rind of one lemon
two cups of cooled, cooked quinoa (cooked according to directions on the bag)
half cup of olive oil
the juice from one lemon
little less than quarter cup of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

cook quinoa and then place in the fridge until cool.  chop and prepare all ingredients.  mix and serve!

the vino.

The wine pairing for our super salad today is a beautiful value white from the South of France.  Hailing from Costiere de Nimes, a sub region that lies in between the Rhone and Languedoc, just a few kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea.
The 2011 Mas Carlot, Costiere de Nimes Tradition Blanc is made from Marsanne and Roussanne grapes.  The wine is aged on its lies in tank after fermentation; which adds to its complexity, body and weight.  It reveals abundant aromas of apricots, peach, minerals, orange blossom, pineapple and citrus fruits in a medium-bodied, fresh, lively style. It is dry and refreshing and will work well with many dishes at your table.  A very versatile food wine.
Mas Carlot is such a great little producer with a great story.  In the old Provençal dialect, “Mas” means farm.  The farm was constructed around the seventeenth century, located in the heart of the appellation’s cailloux (stone)-based soils.  Nathalie Blanc-Marès is the second-generation owner and is managing this 75 hectares farm with the aid of her husband Cyril Marès, owner of the neighboring property Mas des Bressades (yes, she married the boy-next-door) and, yes… we featured his rose a few weeks ago.  They are a great Provençal family - young and energetic with great vision and talent. Another perfect pair.
The amazing 2011 Mas Carlot Tradition Blanc AOC Costiere de Nimes ($15.95) is available for purchase on Private order in cases of 12 btls, delivered to your home for $15.95 +HST through Nicholas (416) 918-6425. Grab a case and share it with your friends.

dinner is served.
bon appetit.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

rapini and valpolicella

We LOVE rapini, and in turn think this dish is amazing.  It's a go to.  This dish takes less than fifteen minutes.  Honestly.  From start to finish.  If you have a dishwasher, even less time.  AND, it costs under ten dollars to make dinner for four.  I found this recipe on smitten kitchen, a blog we love.

one bunch of rapini (some refer to this as broccoli rabe)
one box of pasta - I use spelt noodles
four-five-six cloves of garlic depending on your taste
half cup of olive oil
red chili flakes
salt and pepper
five to six basil leaves
parmesan cheese
(the chive flowers we threw on there for good measure, they're yummy and pretty.)

Cook the pasta according to directions on the box.  Wash rapini and cut the entire bunch, leaves and stalks, into two inch pieces.  Put the rapini in the boiling pasta water two minutes before the pasta is done to blanch it.  Drain the pasta and rapini together, and put back into the pot.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic to cook for two minutes.  Add the chili flakes.  Pour the oil and garlic over the pasta and rapini.  Stir.  Top with grated parmesan (amount to your liking), stir in some basil leaves, salt and pepper, and serve!  Easy.

Valopicella.  A delicious go-to bottle of ours.  You have to buy this one private order by the case, which is amazing because then you have twelve bottles kicking around.

2011 Ca’ Del Monte Valpolicella Classico, Italy $16.95 (Sold in cases of 12 to Restaurants and Private clients… that’s you) 
CA DEL MONTE is the name of a location that hooks over the village of Negrar, North of Verona, in the heart of the Valpolicella region. This is a small family owned property were two brothers follow personally all steps of production with a great respect for traditional farming and winemaking. The vineyards are planted with the red grape varieties of the region, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara; which is the typical blend that you will find in Valpolicella wines (also in Amarone and Ripasso).
This wine is a super light and fresh red. On the nose, it screams freshly picked red berries and cherries, violets and flowers, herbs and spices. Fruity and floral on the palate with nice acidity and tasty tannins.  You can drop this style of Valpolicella a little bit cooler than most reds. So try putting it in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving.

bon appetit.
dinner is served.