Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Orange Zest at the ready

After doing a bit of research on the interwebs, I found the general consensus to save orange zest.
Once you devour your juicy orange, save the skin.

With a knife, carefully get all the pulp off the skin, as much as you can anyways. Let sit.

The skins will dry after a couple days. Using a food processor, chop/grate the skins and store in a sealed container. Now you have orange zest whenever you need it!

Two of my favorite orange zest recipes:
Pine nut orange cookies
Orange and pecan cookies

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wine of the Week - Bella Cavalli 2009 Chardonnay


I know it seems redundant to point out the white grape flavors on a white wine, but it's worth noting here.  Most California whites have citrus and pomaceous flavors.  Here's a white wine that actually tastes like the white grapes it was produced from.

On the nose are notes of apple and pear, but mostly those white grapes.  The white grape carries over to the tongue, with a nice balance of tart and acid.  Finishes with a bit of maple syrup.

This is a light, tasty, standout wine from Bella Cavalli Farms.  Highly recommended!

14.3% alcohol

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sweet Potato Risotto

My very first risotto! I’ve wanted to make one forever, but always put it off. Apparently the way to get me to make anything these days is to give me a recipe and tell me your kid loves it. That’s what happened here.

Sweet Potato Risotto
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    kosher salt and black pepper
    2 small sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/4-inch pieces (or one small sweet potato and one carrot)
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 cup Arborio rice
    1 cup vegetable broth (sub: dry white wine, chicken broth, water OR 1 cup fruit juice mixed with 2 teaspoons vinegar)
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces) (I skipped this, so let’s call it optional)
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the sweet potatoes and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

3. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until absorbed.

4. Measure 3½ cups of water. Add ¾ cup at a time and cook, stirring occasionally and waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding the next. It should take 25 to 30 minutes for all the water to be absorbed.

5. Stir in the Parmesan and oregano.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner? And to make it more dinner-ish, I threw together a breakfast and tossed it all into a sandwich!

Scrambled eggs (egg whites for me), chopped bell peppers, cheddar cheese, bacon, on asiago bread.

If I had potatoes, those probably would've gone in there too. No limits!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wine of the Week - Alvear 1927 Pedro Ximenez


Before you get too excited, let me just say no, I did not drink a vintage 1927 wine.  This dessert wine, made from Spanish Pedro Ximenez grapes, is produced using the "Solera System" style that was established in 1927.  There is no actual vintage year for this wine, as the "Solera System" blends multiple years into one bottle.  But it's safe to assume that the liquid I drank is much more recent than 1927.

This wine has a dark amber color, and a thick, rich, syrupy texture to match.  It tastes of prunes, figs and raisins.  Very sugary without being grainy.

Extremely sweet, this wine works best as a stand-alone drink, especially as an after-dinner treat.  Drink slow and savor.

16% alcohol

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Strawberry cut out cookies

Happy Valentine's Day!

This year, I took a typical sugar cookie recipe, but I cut the sugar serving in half, and instead of adding milk, , I used about 1/2 fresh pureed strawberries.

I topped off the cooking with this fantastic icing from AllRecipes.com. Here's some words of wisdom though - serve immediately, or refrigerate, because if left in a car or hotel room too long, the icing melts!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wine of the Week - Carivintas 2006 Barbera


Barbera wines used to be considered an everyday, ordinary drink.  More recently, greater care has been taken in producing wines from this grape variety, and it's become a drink for a more distinctive occasion.  That's how I'd describe this bottle: distinct, and not for everyday use.

Very flowery on the nose, with some strawberry scents and a little hint of rich soil coming through.

It tastes hot and bitey up front, then gives way to a variety of berry flavors -- raspberry, blueberry, blackberry -- before leaving you with a delicious tart aftertaste.

15.2% alcohol

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winter Grilled Cheese

I experimented once again with my favorite type of sandwich. This time I used to wintery vegetables - thin slices of butternut squash, sliced leeks, carrot shavings, and slices of asiago cheese.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wine of the Week - Bella Cavalli 2009 Pinot Noir


(The grapes in this bottle come from Santa Barbara County, as distinct from the Santa Maria Valley grapes from last month.)

This wine has a watery mouthfeel, and mostly acidic and tannic tastes with maybe a bit of leather.  I might have drank it a little young; the acid will probably mellow and the flavors of strawberry and caramel come through stronger with time.  Not great, but I liked it.

14.4% alcohol