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Wine Oh!

BRENDA ADAMSON
AUSTIN, TX

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Hey, welcome to the food blog.

I hope you enjoy wine and food as much as I do and like to share recent discoveries and great bargain finds. I am not an expert by any means. I just know what I like and can usually afford, and occasionally splurge on.

The rest of the time is just work, travel, cookbooks, cooking, eating and life with wine. . . it's so much nicer.

Our ratings are based on how much we did or did not enjoy each wine. No professional advice here, just honest opinions. The same goes for the restaurant ratings.

We drink what we like with what we like to eat.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Texan in New York: Easy Alfredo

A Texan in New York: Easy Alfredo

Sure, a trip to Tuscany to cook with the Olive Garden chefs would be great fun, but who am I kidding? I’m not gonna win that prize—mainly because I don’t enter. So, lately the DVR has been set to record Lidia’s Italy in America on PBS and I faithfully watch every morning between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. before I head off down the Northway to go to work.

I love Italian food and pastas are, at least usually, inexpensive and quick to make for dinner. My last recording was Episode 11, From Coast to Coast: Three Favorite pastas in America, in which Lidia and her chef Billy Gallagher from Becco in New York City cook together. Chef Gallagher made Pasta alla Primavera, while Lidia made the Fettuccine Alfredo.

Man, have I ever been over-complicating Alfredo sauce!

Now you can get good Italian food in New York state—but it has been my experience so far that eating-out up here is expensive. Hell, everything is expensive. So after watching Lidia throw this sauce together in the time it takes to cook dry pasta, I gave it a try myself. The unofficial recipe is below. I’m sure you can get the real deal from her website http://www.lidiasitaly.com/. As Lidia says, I made it my own.


Lidia's Alfredo My Way

Pasta:

Water Salt
1 lb of dry Fettuccine

 Sauce:
1 stick of butter
1 pint of heavy cream
3 sprigs of fresh sage
2 cloves of garlic sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste
Pasta water as needed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat your pasta water to boiling, add some salt, and drop in 1 lb of fettuccine. Set your timer for about 8-9 minutes.

In a large sauté pan heated to medium to medium high, melt 1 stick of butter—not margarine. Add sliced garlic and sauté for a minute or so. Add 1 pint of heavy cream, the sage sprigs (whole) and a little bit of pasta water. Bring to a heavy simmer and let it reduce and thicken slightly.

When past is aldente, drain and add directly to the Alfredo sauce and continue to simmer for another minute or so. Shut off the heat, add cheese and toss. Add pasta water and additional cheese to regulate the consistency of the sauce.

We also added sautéed baby Bella mushrooms and some thawed frozen peas. All of this took about 20 minutes. I started the water while sautéing my peas and mushrooms. Once the vegetables were done (10 minutes) the water was boiling and I dropped the pasta and started the sauce (another 10 minutes).

It really was that fast and probably would have fed 4-5 folks. 


(Will hopefully get a better pic uploaded soon!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Texan in New York - Breakfast Biscuits Updated

A Texan in New York - Breakfast Biscuits Updated

It is 5:00 a.m. and the fire alarm is going off. 5:00 am, 45 degrees and raining! Really…really? Ok, throw on some clothes, grab the computers and my purse and head down stairs and out onto the street. We finally get the all clear at 6:00 am – no fire so that is a good thing. But now I am awake and can’t get back to sleep no matter how hard I try. I’m still getting used to city living.

I have been thinking about making these biscuits for a while now and since I am up…well you know.
No, this is not a new idea. As a matter of fact I saw this on DDD—a recipe from Blue Moon Café in Baltimore, MD. The first time I made this recipe I wasn’t sure if I did it right or if I really liked it although, I really liked the idea.

The recipe is basically the same but for a smaller quantity and I changed some of the filling and biscuit ingredients.

Biscuits

2 ½ c Flour
1 ½ tbs Baking Powder
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2/3 stick of cold butter – cubed
1 ¼ c buttermilk

Filling

1 lbs Breakfast Sausage, sautéed
1 lg Onion, sliced and caramelized
¼ to ½ c Pesto
½ stick softened butter
2 c Shredded Cheese - Mexican blend

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sautee the sausage and onions until browned and caramelized and set aside to cool. In a food, processor pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and butter until mixed thoroughly. Slowly add in the buttermilk until crumbly. Turn mixture out onto a floured surface and kneed about 10-15 times until dough comes together and has some body to it. Roll out the dough to about a ¼ inch thick and about 14” x 18”.

Spread softened butter over dough, then spread on the pesto, next the sausage and onion mixture (drained) and then add the cheese. Roll up jellyroll style and cut into 6 pieces after trimming off the ends. Place rolls on a non-stick baking sheet coated with cooking spray or covered with parchment paper with the filling side up. Press down slightly. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

The original recipe called for a topping of sautéed vegetables. I think these would be better served with cream gravy or apple butter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Texan in New York - Caponata and Troy Farmers' Market





Himself’s career change has been great; however, he works a lot. And me? Not so much anymore. As Himself proclaimed today after we left the pizza joint for lunch: “You are living the dream baby! Living the dream.” This was a comment on my plans for the remainder of my day—clean the apartment, take a nap, etc., etc.—my new routine. So, I am trying to find activities to keep me busy.

Every Saturday in the City of Troy venders set up for Troy Farmers’ Market. There is everything you can imagine from organic milk and cheese to bread bakers, fresh produce and herbs, a fish monger, organic beef, bison, lamb, flowers, local wineries, plants, soaps and candles. I can see all of this from my 3rd story apartment window that looks down on Monument Square. The market is year round and the summer market moves in to the atrium building for winter market starting in late October. Go to www.TroyMarket.org for more info and a list of vendors.

This past Saturday I picked up fresh eggplant, zucchini, shallots, kale, thyme, fresh vine ripe tomatoes and of course a bottle of Pinot Noir. I had zucchini bread in mind, but needed to do something with the eggplant and I had everything for Caponata except the raisins. After reading several recipes—all similar, but different—I decided anything goes for Caponata so here is my version made with what I had on hand. I substituted dried cranberries for raisins – sweet, tart, delicious!

Caponata

¼ to ½ c Olive Oil - more if needed
1 lg Eggplant – large diced - peal leaving stripes
1 lg Zucchini – large diced
2 m Onions – large diced
2 Stalks of Celery - chopped
3 Garlic Cloves – chopped
15 oz can of San Marzano whole tomatoes and juice
½ can Tomato Paste
½ jar of Capers - drained
¼ - ½ c Jalapeño Stuffed Green Olives - sliced
¼ - ½ c Red Wine Vinegar to taste
¼ c Sugar to taste
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
2/3 c Dried Cranberries
Lemon juice to taste
½ c Flat Leaf Parsley - chopped
Water if needed
Good fresh bread for serving

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and sauté eggplant, zucchini, onion, celery until vegetables start to soften and get some color. Add more oil if necessary. Add in garlic, tomato paste and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add in tomatoes with juice, breaking up the tomatoes, then stir in capers, olives, vinegar, cranberries, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and pepper. Add water if necessary and then cook down till liquid is reduced for about 30 minutes. Add in parsley and juice of 1 lemon. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve hot, room temp or cold. It is your choice. This recipe makes a huge batch. I did freeze about 2 pints so I’ll see how that turns out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Texan in New York - Lo Porto Ristorante Caffe

Himself and I have relocated from Austin, Texas to Upstate New York. “Why?” you ask. Himself has made a huge career change and it is that time in our lives to see some sights and have a little fun although it is working fun.

Last night we visited Lo Porto Ristorante Caffe located at 85 4th Street, Troy, NY. I have to admit we have driven by this location quite a few times and never knew it was there. It was on the suggestion of a co-worker whose Mother is Sicilian and will not eat out (Italian) other than Lo Porto. Sounded like a good recommendation to us!

This was the New York Italian experience that I was waiting for. Garlic. Garlic. I still smell like garlic. We sat in the bar area of the restaurant. At first the bar was quite empty, but as the night went on the bar filled up with folks with funny accents and they all obviously knew each other. These New Yorkers talked about houses in Florida and family. Lo Porto’s award winning chef even came out to pat backs and shake hands. We were thoroughly entertained.

The food was awesome, huge portions and cooked to order so it was a relaxing experience—no rushing you out to free up the table—we did not call ahead. The service was very good. We shared a clams casino appetizer and were sorry that we had eaten all of the bread and had nothing to sop with. Next we had a dinner salad with house Italian and again we were searching for the bread to sop up the dressing. I thought at one point Himself was going to lick his plate.

I had Shrimp Michael over linguini. Shrimp, mushrooms, garlic, scallions and diced tomato in a light cream sauce. There was no way I could eat even a quarter of the portion served. Himself had Veal Milanese, which was a breaded cutlet in a sauce of capers, roasted peppers, olives, olive oil,
garlic and lemon. The veal still had crunch to it and it was served with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans, yellow and zucchini squash also sauced with olive oil and garlic.

We had a baby Amarone which was dark, rich and luscious with just a little bite at the end and it did not mellow out. It was a perfect pairing for our entrées. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the wine label or write down the name, but it was Bin 51 on the wine list.

Lo Porto should definitely be on your “to do” list. Check them out at www.loporto.com. $$+ depending on your wine/drink order.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Building an Outdoor Kitchen






I think I'm back. It has been more than a year since I blogged and a lot has happened some good and some not so good. The good--I am now a Grammy of two beautiful Grandsons. The not so good--I'll leave that to be buried under the rubble of our patio and outdoor kitchen project...

Himself (my husband) and I have always loved being outside in our backyard and cooking/eating/relaxing outdoors. We are eventually going to be able to do it in style!

The patio project is just that--an ongoing project. We still have things to add like built-in outdoor kitchen counters, a sink and a side burner and rock the BBQ, but I have no doubt we will get finished--one day.













I look forward to blogging about our outdoor eats and of course the wine.



Until the next post, cheers!

Brenda










Sunday, January 11, 2009

Low Cost Delicious - Pappradelle and Pork Ragu




It doesn't get much cheaper than four country style "pork ribs", a can of tomatoes, a carrot, an onion, a celery stalk, a cup of red wine, flour, eggs, olive oil, water and salt.



I know I have mentioned before that I am a cookbook freak. I love all of the beautiful pictures and I really do thumb through each and every page for inspiration even though I rarely use the recipes--exactly.


There is a wonderful Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook that I have had for a while now and one recipe just stuck in my head. It was Papparadelle with Pork Ragu. The photo in the cookbook looks succulent for lack of a better description--it just makes your mouth water. Williams-Sonoma's website does have a pappardelle with beef ragu recipe but not the pork.


Saturday was our trip to Fiesta to see what was on special. Country style pork ribs were on sale for $.99 per pound. Now you can't beat that price no matter what you plan to do with the pork.


It is a fairly standard recipe. After browning the "pork ribs" in a Dutch oven, you braise them with a mix of sauteed chopped onion, carrot, celery, some red wine (Spanish Tempranillo) and tomatoes, cooking everything for about 2 hours until the meat falls off of the bone and then shred the pork back into the sauce.




I also made a batch of fresh egg pasta dough from the W-S cookbook--2 1/2 cups of flour, 4 eggs, 2 tbs of olive oil and I added a couple of grinds of salt. This was a great dough recipe. The key to the papparadelle was letting the pasta dry for about 30 minutes before dropping it in a pot of boiling water.


We topped the platter with tons of fresh grated Parmesan and there was enough to feed 6-8 adults. My photos don't really do it justice and I was just too hungry to stage a plate, but I can tell you we all agreed that it was succulent.


Nothing but good days,


B

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Crown Pork Roast for the New Year

From Food & Wine Oh!


December was really busy for my family. I started a new assignment at the law firm that I have worked for for 22+ years--I'm now in the IT department call center instead of working as a legal secretary. This has been a great change for me.

I also found out that Himself and I are going to be grandparents! My grandchild is due July 15, 2009. Lots of changes at my house for the new year.

Finally, I have a moment to sit and blog about food. My Dad is very traditional (as far as what we have for dinner) during the holidays. We ALWAYS have turkey at Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas--no deviations. I really wanted to try Tyler Florence's crown pork roast recipe at Christmas, but I was unsuccessful so we gathered on New Year's day at my Mom and Dad's and tried out a new recipe.

We cooked a 17 bone crown pork roast and Mom and I followed the recipe for the roast exactly, including the Calvados in the gravy. We rubbed the roast with a past of fresh herbs--sage, thyme, and rosemary and salt, pepper and good olive oil. Mom didn't think the gravy would be good because she didn't like the taste of the Calvados, but the gravy was a huge hit. Our only deviation to the recipe was to the gravy--I used the roasted vegetables in the bottom of the roaster instead of cutting new ones and sauteing them. Everything turned out great.

From Food & Wine Oh!

The only thing I would change is to either toast my bread for the stuffing or bake it outside of the roast for 1.5 hours and then stuff the pork. The dressing was just a little moist for me. You can get the recipe off of Food Network.

I wish all of you out there a happy and prosperous new year.

From Food & Wine Oh!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Risotto "all’onda" with Sautéed Mushrooms, Spinach and Garlic Shrimp


One of Himself's favorite dinners is risotto. It doesn't really matter what we are having along with the risotto, he just wants risotto. So the rules to the risotto game are "you keep my wine glass full while I stand here and stir, and I'll make your risotto." Works for me anyway!

So, Sunday night was risotto night. Part of the afternoon was spent making homemade chicken broth which made the house smell delicious and the other part was trying to figure out what to make to go with the risotto. I finally decided that the "go with" would be sautéed mushrooms and fresh spinach and garlic sautéed shrimp.


Now, I don't really go by a recipe. I just make sure that there is enough chicken broth on hand (sually 5+ cups) and enough wine (1 white and 2 reds) to make the risotto with and to drink while I'm stirring. I finely chop 1-2 stalks of celery, about 4 large cloves of garlic and about a ½ to 1 cup of red onion. It depends on if I'm making a 1 cup or 2 cup batch of risotto.

I sauté the veg in olive oil until tender and then add in the risotto and stir to coat with oil. After cooking the risotto for a couple of minutes, I add in at least a cup of dry white wine, reducing for a few minutes before I start the long 20-25 minute process of ladling in the chicken broth.

Now, we like our risotto with a little texture and it has to be "all’onda" or wet-style. I don't want it to hold its shape when I put in on my plate—it should cover the plate. To achieve this, I usually add in a little extra broth or wine or both at the end, at least an entire stick of butter and about 2 cups of parmesan cheese grated on the micro plane. I cover it and let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.


In the meantime, I sautéed the mushrooms until caramelized, flamed them with a little Jameson Irish Whiskey for good measure and the fun of setting something on fire, added in fresh baby spinach and sautéed until tender. I had previously marinated the shrimp in olive oil, lots of chopped fresh garlic and parsley, salt and pepper. The shrimp was sautéed separately in olive oil with a touch of white wine at the end.



We served the risotto in bowls and topped with our condiments. It was really, really good if I do say so myself—and I do.

Risotto is not hard to make, long process sort of, but once you have made it and you have the formula you will never need a recipe again.
Non Food Related Post Script: It actually snowed last night. Yes, here in Central Texas before February! Our high temp on Tuesday was a record setting 81 degrees and before I could get home by 7:00 p.m. it was 33 with a wind chill in the 20's and a killer north wind of at times 30-40 mph. Anyway, like every little kid in town, I ran to the door in my pj's and yelled "It's snowing" and quickly grabbed the camera to document it. It's not a lot of snow--I know, but it was something. Enjoy.

video