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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.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Finca El Retiro Malbec Rose´ 2006 (Argentina)

$$ - ($10.00 - $12.00 Specs)
Mendoza, Argentina [12.5%]
Will I buy this one again? You bet!

The color of a sunset where the orange and pink streaks meet in the sky--that is the color of this beautiful wine.

The bottle says hints of raspberries and strawberries. I got the strawberry part but also tasted tripical fruit like papaya. This is a very nice light wine good for just a glass to sip or to be paired with lighter food and appetizers. Very, very nice.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Friday Night Wine Oh's! *Italian*

video

Friday Night Wine Oh's! *Italian*

During our weekly trek to Specs this past Friday, Himself and I decided to start a new tradition—Friday Night Wine Oh's! (Yeah, right, like we really needed another excuse to buy more wine.)

Setting a specific criteria—a region, country, grape, etc.—we will focus on our criteria selection, in both food and wine choices, and report in our Friday Night Wine Oh's! blog. So while we were shopping, we decided on Italian night and then carried that forward to deem September Italian Month (starting now).

We chose 4 Italian wines. Three reds and one white. Two of the reds (2005's) and the white (2006) were blends (grape varieties not listed) from the region of Toscana. The other red was a Cabernet-Merlot-Sangiovese blend 2006 from Umbria. (Each wine will have it's own post for categorizing.)

The Food-

Because we were tasting Italian wines naturally I thought of Mario B. and pulled out my new cookbook, Mario Batali Italian Grill. Friday at the office had been tiresome (this is the word I'm choosing to replace what I'm really thinking about it) so I didn't want to fix anything elaborate. I just wanted to relax and unwind with some nice wine. I flipped through the appetizer section and decided on Grilled Vegetable Salad Capri Style. I had most everything except the eggplant and I'd picked up prosciutto, mortadella, a hunk of Ilvillaggio Italian Fontal (a semi-soft cheese with a yellow rind) while I was shopping for wine at Specs.

I threw together the vinaigrette/marinade, which consisted of red wine vinegar, garlic, dried oregano, cumin, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, some OJ and olive oil, salt and pepper. We brushed some of the marinade on the vegetables and got to the grilling. Himself got in on the action and let his inner-pyromaniac loose in the kitchen. By the way, the house is still standing!



We also put together another decadent, heart attack of an appetizer from his book Fresh Robiola Wrapped in Mortadella and grilled. Yes, that's right, cheese wrapped in lunch meat and basically fried. Hey, it was served with some salad greens ok. This is a real recipe folks.


The thing is I couldn't find Robiola cheese because I couldn't remember its name. I kept asking the Spec's guy for Albarino—which is a grape from Spain and makes fabulous white wine. No wonder he kept looking at my like he wanted to say "are you sure lady?" I did pick up a bottle of Albarino, but had to settle for the Ilvillaggio Italian Fontal that my youngest daughter said smelled like @$$. (I started to wonder how she knew, but she is 20 so I decided I didn't really want to know.) The cheese actually tasted pretty good.

Anyway, it was only 77 degrees outside instead of 100+ so we spent the evening on the patio—Himself, me and the 4 dogs. The sunset was beautiful and the wine was relaxing. Sometimes you just take what you can get and enjoy it.




The Wine-

First up was the white Villa Antinori Toscana 2006. Grape blend of 70% Trebbiano and Malvasia, 30% Chardonnay Toscano and Pinot Bianco. This wine was under $10 and was really fabulous. Crisp, floral with just enough acid to stand up to the vinaigrette on the grilled vegetables. We each had one glass and corked it to save for Saturday. The Antinori family history states that the family has been making wine for over 600 years.


Next was Aia Vecchia Lagone Toscana 2005. Grape blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. The most expensive wine of the night at $14.99, Lagone was good but not the best red of the evening. This medium-bodied red wine got better with some air time. It had nice fruit and smooth tannins.

Then we tried Corte alla Flora Giuggiolo Toscana Rosso 2005. Grape: Prugnolo Gentile 100%. Under $10.00. Intense ruby red, fruity, soft and velvety. This was a very fresh wine and the best red of the evening and it was perfect with the Italian meats, cheeses and grilled vegetables.


P.S. I'm having hell with the photo uploader at blogger. Hopefully, I'll be able to load more photos and the pyro video later so check back.

Inkberry Shiraz Cabernet 2006 (Australia)

$$ - ($12.00 HEB)
Central Ranges, Australia [13.5%]
Will I buy this again? You bet!

I have steered clear of Australian wines for quite a few years--very afraid of the oak factor--but I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of Australian wines that I was lucky enough to taste prior to purchase.

Inkberry 60% Shiraz/40% Cab was a dark purple-red wine. It was great right out of the bottle. Clean, not oaky, fruity. I'm even getting used to the screw tops and kind of like them now.

Villa Antinori Toscana 2006 (Italy)

$ - ($9.00 Spec's)
70% Trebbiano and Malvasia
30% Chardonnay Toscano and Pinot Bianco [12%]
Will I buy this again? You bet!

Villa Antinori Toscana 2006. This wine was under $10 and was really fabulous. Crisp, floral with just enough acid to stand up to the vinaigrette on the grilled vegetables. We each had one glass and corked it to save for Saturday. The Antinori family history states that the family has been making wine for over 600 years.

Aia Vecchia Lagone Toscana 2005 (Italy)


$$ - ($14.99 - Spec's)

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese [14%]

Will I buy this again? Probably not.


Lagone was good but not the best red of the evening. This medium-bodied red wine got better with some air time. It had nice fruit and smooth tannins.

Giuggiolo Toscana Rosso 2005 (Italy)

$ - ($9.00 Spec's)
Prugnolo Gentile 100% [13%]
Will I buy this again? You bet!

Corte alla Flora Giuggiolo Toscana Rosso 2005 has an intense ruby red color and it was fruity, soft and velvety. This was a very fresh wine and the best red of the evening and it was perfect with the Italian meats, cheeses and grilled vegetables.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Flour Tortilla Pizzas



We had lots of leftover tortillas from Saturday morning's breakfast, so we opted for gourmet mini pizzas.




Center: Grilled shrimp with oregano, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.
Goat cheese w/basil spread under yellow tomatoes, fresh garlic and fresh mozzarella.
Grilled scallions over goat cheese spread.
Roasted red peppers with grilled scallions and cheese.
Grilled eggplant with tahini, sesame seeds and grilled scallions.

Respectable Flour Tortillas (even for a Gringa!)


Black Bean Breakfast Tacos with Avocado Mash
(recipes below)
Flour Tortillas
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-8 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard
about 1 to 1 1/4 cups warm water

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.



2. Cut in vegetable shortening or lard (or a combination of half lard, half shortening) using a fork or a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening or just do it the old fashioned way and use your hands.

3. Add warm water a little at a time until your dough is soft and not sticky. You do not need very hot water.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for a few minutes.

5. Pull off pieces of dough to form about 12 small dough balls. Let them
rest for at least 10-30 minutes (the longer time seems to work better).



6. Heat up the comal while rolling dough balls. You will want to set it at medium to high heat. If it is too hot the tortillas will cook too fast.

7. Roll out the dough with your tortilla rolling pin. Dust each ball with a little flour just before you roll them out. Lay the rolling pin in the center of the dough ball and roll up, center and roll down. Lift the dough and turn it. Again, rolling pin in the center and roll. Roll them out fairly thin. Lay your tortilla on the hot comal. It takes just a few seconds to cook. Flip to the other side.

When they are done it should have lots of nice brown speckles. Place them in a towel. If you would like you can use a tortilla warmer to keep them warm longer. They are ready to be served!


For the refried black beans:

3 slices of bacon
1 can of black beans
garlic, to taste
cumin, to taste

1. Fry 3 pieces of bacon in a non-stick skillet until crisp, remove from pan and drain on kitchen paper.

2. Keep some of the bacon fat, saute garlic for a minute or so.

3. Drain beans of half of their liquid, pour beans in hot skillet and mash with a potato masher until you get desired refried bean consistency. Continue to cook beans until most of the extra liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

4. Spread beans onto tortilla, top with cheese of choice, pico de gallo, salsa or hot sauce and guacamole, avocado slices or mash.

Makes 2 servings.

Avocado Mash (not guacamole--I was in a hurry)

1 Hass avocado
1 small Mexican lime (size of a key lime)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Mash avocado with a fork, sprinkle with lime to keep avocado from turning brown, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

**The drink is just a 50:50 mix of OJ and cranberry juice with a splash of lime served over crushed ice in a martini glass.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Simply Grilled Salmon with Hawaiian Pink Salt and Herb Crust



My youngest daughter's newest trend is her claim to be a vegetarian. Actually, her practice is more semi-vegetarian. She does try to avoid all red meats (when she knows about it), but she still eats chicken and fish and other animal byproducts such as eggs and dairy. (I also think this trend was "boyfriend" induced—but he's out of the picture now--I think.) She was never really a picky eater before except for (like any kid) tomatoes, onions and mushroom, but now she loves them—even onions.

So, when I find myself cooking for just her and me, it becomes sort of tricky to satisfy both of us without overstepping her definition of "vegetarian" or undercutting my sense of gratification for interesting and flavorful food that is not always a calorie conscious adaptation. (One of my favorite things is to try to re-create restaurant meals at home.)

Tuesday was our day to eat together—she would be at home for a change. Amanda is almost 20 and is rarely around even though the mass of stuff in her room and in my garage indicates that she lives with us. I knew that I wanted to re-create a dish that I saw on Big Daddy's House—the new FN star— the grilled asparagus, sun dried tomato and crispy shiitake mushroom salad, but the New York strip steaks just wouldn't do for her. So my local HEB had wild caught Alaskan Salmon and it looked wonderful. Asparagus and salmon—how could I go wrong? We paired with Irony Chardonnay, which was delicious and the slight oak played nicely off of the char grilled asparagus and salmon. I'm not a huge fan of Chardonnay—burnout from my early wine drinking days and those heavily oaked Australian wines.

Her only comment was "is any of this meal fattening?" Of course I said no, and that olive oil was good for you.


Simply Grilled Salmon with Hawaiian Pink Salt and Herb Crust
1 ½ lb salmon fillet, skin on
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
extra marinade from the asparagus dish (my adaptation follows)
Hawaiian pink salt or Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Crush Hawaiian pink salt into a finer consistency (if necessary – mine was course) and season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Coat salmon with left over marinade and rub the fillet with the chopped herbs. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Heat grill to high and place salmon flesh side down for 5-6 minutes depending on your grill and the thickness of the salmon. Turn fillet once and let the skin side crisp for another 1-2 minutes. You want to get a nice char and grill marks on the fillet, which will help crust the salt, pepper and herbs. Serve immediately.

Marinade (for Grilled Asparagus)**

1/3 c chopped garlic
1 T sun dried tomato oil (from jar)
¼ - 1/3 c olive oil
1 ½ T balsamic vinegar (my addition to the mix)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients.
**I opted to put the herbs on the salmon instead of in the marinade. The original recipe for grilled asparagus salad can be found on Foodnetwork.com, Big Daddy's House.

Sauceless Salmon & Asparagus Fettuccini




Leftovers of this meal became a whole new pasta dish. I broke the salmon into bite-sized chunks, added a few more grilled asparagus, sun dried tomatoes and some additional marinade ingredients to the mix and tossed it all with hot fettuccini, then garnished with chopped flat leaf parsley and basil. Presto--a whole new presentation and taste.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Hog Island Oyster Lover's Cookbook - Review

This is a great little book. About half of the book discusses the history of Hog Island Oyster Company and its founders, oyster species, varieties and taste profiles from every source imaginable. Contains 40 nice recipes (both hot and cold preparation) luscious sauces and great color photographs. I bought mine through The Good Cook book club.




THE HOG ISLAND OYSTER LOVER'S COOKBOOK
by Jairemarie Pomo Book
Book: Hardcover 176 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: May, 2007

Mario Batali Italian Grill - Coobook Review


What a nice treat for a Monday! The postman delivered 2 new cookbooks for my reading pleasure, of which one is Mario Batali Italian Grill--my first Batali cookbook. (The other cookbook is Mediterranean Fresh a compendium of salads and dressings). The book is full of beautiful, vibrant pictures--something that I love in a cookbook. There are nice sections explaining paring Italian wines with grilled foods, descriptions of ingredients, grill types and techniques.

The recipes aren't complicated--they are fairly straight forward grilled dishes made with simple ingredients. Batali presents the recipes in such a way that makes it seem easy to successfully recreate.

Book: Hardcover - 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Publication: Date: May, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Whew! It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.



Wow, I finally caught up with my wine tasting blogging today. (Say that three times fast.) The WWLP blog started out as a wine journal so that we could remember what we liked and what we didn't. There are a couple of wine reviews to add from last night's tasting, but those will have to wait.

Eleven new wines have been added to the inventory at Wine With Life Please. . . So take a look around and let me know if you have tried any of the wines we've reviewed and your thoughts. Also, please send me recommendations. We are always looking for something new.


¡Salud!


Quote of the day (we had a few today):
Question: So you want to know where all of the money goes?
Answer: "It goes to a good cause."
Himself
(my husband, on carting the bottles to the recycle)


Vina Borgia Grenache 2007 (Spain)

$ - (< $6.00 Specs sale)
DO Campo De Borja [14%]
Will I buy this again? Probably.

This is a nice red wine. Needs to breathe to smooth out a little and has a bright flavor. That's about the best I can do at describing this wine. We'll have to try another bottle and see if we can expound a little.

Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red (Spain)

$ - ($4.99 World Market sale)
DO Catalunya
Tempranillo and Merlot Blend [13%]
Will I guys this again? Probably not.

I really enjoyed the Rene Barbier Mediterranean White, but this one was not my favorite. It was ok and definitely needed to breathe. I think it would be ok to cook with and the right price for that.

Andeluna Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Argentina)

$$ - ($10.47 Specs)
Tupungato
Mendoza, Argentina [14.2%]
Will I buy this again? Over and over and over again!!!

That should say everything. This cabernet sauvignon has lots of flavor. Peppery aroma and spicy, plum and blackberry flavors. You really should look for this wine. Ask your wine guy about it--it is definitely worth the hunt.

Periquita Red Wine 2004 (Portugal)

$ - (< $8.00 Fiesta)
Vinho Regional Tierras Do Sado
Portugal [13%]
Will I buy this again? Probably.
This Portugese red wine was a different style wine from what we have been drinking. It had a lot of dried fruit flavors and finished with an aftertaste of ruby port. I will buy it again if I happen to see it and it is on sale. I won't go in search of Periquita.

Foodies Merlot

$ - ($8.00 World Market)
California
Will I buy this again? Probably not.

This was a nice but unremarkable Merlot. There is nothing wrong with it, but I like a little more bite to my wines. If you like more mellow, smooth reds, then this one is for you.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (Spain)

$ - ($8.99 Specs)
Will I buy this again? You bet.

This sparkling, pale colored wine is crisp and a little tart. Great finish. It made a perfect match for our fresh peach bellinis.

Casa Solar Tempranillo 2005 (Spain)

$ - (< $6.00 Specs)
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla [13%]
Will I buy this again? Probably.

The is a dark, cherry red wine with lots of dried fruit aroma and flavors with a little smack of tartness on the finish. It definitely needs to breathe for about an hour. It was a little harsh at first.

Aye Carumba! Lost in Translation. . .



Know when to say no.

You know how some days you're on your game and some days you're not? Well today I'm not on my game. Some things I cook well, some things I cook very well and then there are other food items that I should just stick to purchasing at the store or eating out.

Sunday morning started out great--coffee on the patio with a nice, soft breeze. Our big plan for breakfast was fresh peach bellini's made with Spanish Cava, breakfast tacos with fresh Mexican chorizo, creamy scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, refried beans and . . .homemade corn tortillas.

Now, I have the right expectation and knowledge of the finished product since I live in Tex-Mex Heaven. I have the right ingredients, the right tools (my reading glasses included) and I followed the recipe for once. It looked like I was doing it right and it felt like I was doing it right, but as you can see, I wasn't doing it right!!!

So now my cry for help and my admission that is is not my first attempt at homemade corn tortillas. These tortillas cracked and they were sort of hard and tough. They were not very pliable. What am I doing wrong? I welcome your comments and possible solutions to my corn tortilla debacle. (I know it's an ugly corn tortilla, so please be kind I really need help here.)

I started with a "complete" masa harina mix and added water. There was no problem forming the dough balls without them crumbling, so I know I had enough water. I used plastic to line my press, so there was not a problem transferring them to the cast iron griddles (except I kept losing one edge of the tortilla round--maybe I should pull from the other direction?).

I am more than willing to give this another shot, but I NEED help desperately.

Oh, the meaning of aye carumba! was not lost in translation--it was the perfect corn tortilla.
Bellini recipe follows.
Fresh Peach Bellinis with Cava
2 fresh peaches with skin, sliced
1 T caster sugar, (super fine sugar that dissolves quickly--make it as sweet as you want)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 bottle Cava
1. Puree in food processor, peaches, sugar and lemon juice. Pass through a fine mesh strainer to remove skins and other solids.
2. Pour two tablespoons of the fresh peach puree into a champagne glass and top with Cava. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 Servings (but it is only enough for 2 if your lucky)
Quote of the Day:
"It looks like a lava lamp."**
Himself
(my husband, after admiring the peach bellinis)

**Yes, he drank his half of the bottle of Cava and fresh peach puree, so he liked the lava lamps.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sonalto Vinho Verde Branco

$ - (< $6.00 Specs)
Portugal [9%]
Will I buy this again? You bet!

The beautiful, effervescent wine has a pale champagne color. It is crisp and a little more tart than the other vinho verdes we have had--not as sweet--has a longer finish.
All of the Vinho Verdes that we have tried are nice, friendly wines. They won't knock you on your behind with alcohol content and are very refreshing.
We have been very pleased with Portugal and Spain this summer. Quote of the day:
"It does my heart good to be drinking wine."
Himself
(my husband)
Texas Democrat,
IBEW Union Member and Wine Drinker

Chicken Paillard with Oyster Mushrooms & Cream over Homemade Fettuccini


Jamie Oliver made me a believer when it comes to making fresh pasta. I have perused and compared pasta recipes from a multitude of cookbooks and never dared to try even though I have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and three Pasta Maker attachments. But when I saw him do this on his show I knew I could do it too. It is a relatively quick and uncomplicated method and it took the fear out of homemade pasta for me. I finally used my fettuccini cutter attachment which worked out great.





Chicken Paillard with Oyster Mushrooms and Cream over Homemade Fettuccini


Olive oil
3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 cup seasoned flour for dredging
3-4 c oyster mushroom clusters, medium chopped
5 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ c white wine
¾ c chicken stock
¼ - ½ c heavy cream, or as much as you like
3 T butter
Homemade Fettuccini or Tagliatelle (recipe follows)
Parsley, chopped for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

* Make the homemade pasta.
* Put on a large pot of salted water to boil.
* Preheat oven to 200º to keep chicken warm while waiting on assembly.

1. Choices: (a) pound out the chicken breasts between plastic wrap to a 1/4 inch thickness, or (b) Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally like you would a loaf of French bread for pizza. Season with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Shake off excess coating and set aside on rack.

2. Heat olive oil in non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Fry chicken, browning on both sides for a total of about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove and place on rack in oven to hold temperature.

3. Add small amount of oil to pan and increase heat to medium-high. Sauté mushrooms until nicely browned and any liquid that may be in the pan has evaporated. Cook the mushrooms in batches to avoid steaming. When all mushrooms are cooked, add onion and garlic and sweat until translucent.

4. Deglaze pan with white wine and reduce by half. Add in chicken broth and reduce again by half, then lower the heat and add in cream stirring gently to mix. Simmer on low for about 5 minutes.

5. Do this step right before serving: Add pasta to boiling salted water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain pasta and combine with sauce. Add in a little pasta water if you need to make more sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in butter. Season to taste. Turn pasta out onto large platter and top with chicken paillard. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately family style.

Makes 4-6 Servings





The Easiest Homemade Pasta
This recipe makes the tenderest fresh pasta you have every put in your mouth.

2 c all purpose flour
3 large eggs

1. Combine flour and eggs in a food processor. Process the mixture until crumbly. Turn crumbs out onto a lightly floured cutting board and kneed slightly until dough comes together in a ball.

2. Cut dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time (cover remaining dough with a bowl), flatten slightly and begin running the pasta dough through your pasta machine on is widest setting, folding dough back on itself about 3 times. Continue running pasta through machine slowly reducing the thickness setting until you get the thickness you desire (do not fold dough at this point).

3. Stack pasta sheets on top of each other flouring lightly between the sheets. Fold or loosely roll the sheets and cut pasta strips in desired width. Shake pasta strips out onto flour board and set aside.

4. Do this step right before serving: Add pasta to boiling salted water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain pasta and combine with choice of sauce. Serve immediately.


Makes 4-6 Servings

Fresh Homemade Pasta - Made Easy



The Easiest Homemade Pasta
This recipe makes the tenderest fresh pasta you have every put in your mouth.
2 c all purpose flour
3 large eggs

1. Combine flour and eggs in a food processor. Process the mixture until crumbly. Turn crumbs out onto a lightly floured cutting board and kneed slightly until dough comes together in a ball.

2. Cut dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time (cover remaining dough with a bowl), flatten slightly and begin running the pasta dough through your pasta machine on is widest setting, folding dough back on itself about 3 times. Continue running pasta through machine slowly reducing the thickness setting until you get the thickness you desire (do not fold dough at this point).

3. Stack pasta sheets on top of each other flouring lightly between the sheets. Fold or loosely roll the sheets and cut pasta strips in desired width. Shake pasta strips out onto flour board and set aside.

4. Do this step right before serving: Add pasta to boiling salted water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain pasta and combine with choice of sauce. Serve immediately.



Makes 4-6 Servings



Paella Valenciana & Friday Night Wine Tasting Event


About a month ago my Dad expressed an interest in cooking Paella. Even though I had never made Paella or eaten it, my Spain and the World Table cookbook had just recently arrived and so I was game for a Paella cook-off. We finally got around to our Paella dinner this past Saturday, but not before starting the weekend off with a round of wine tasting. (I have a lot wine blogging to do to catch up with the "tasting" part.)

My oldest daughter and her husband were in town—pre-Bahamas trip—so we started off the weekend on the back patio with lots of wine and a couple of appetizers before fixing pseudo chicken katsu over whole wheat linguine with sesame/peanut sauce.

Now, I did say a few bottles of wine (La Capitana Carmenere, Gazela Vinho Verde, La Famega Vinho Branco, Trivento Torrontes-new, Andeluna Cabernet-new, and a Malbec-new) and now you know why there is no photo of the pseudo
chicken katsu and noodles and why I refer to it as "pseudo"!
Earlier in the day I had surfed across a new food blog (to me anyway) called The Bitten Word. There was an awesome picture and recipe of a prosciutto wrapped peach appetizer from Food & Wine July 2008 (recipe links on The Bitten Word), so that definitely made it onto Friday's wine tasting menu. After a quick stop at Specs for wine, prosciutto and Point Reyes blue cheese, we added a blue cheese, walnut and honey bruschetta to the tasting menu and we were on our way home to pop a few corks, visit with the kids and cook. Watch Friday Night Wine Tasting to see pics of the appetizers and willing participants.


video


Saturday arrived and we were all set to fix Paella. We had re-stocked the wine for round 2 and shopped for fresh seafood, Spanish dried chorizo and Spanish saffron. I pulled out my Spain and the World Table cookbook and also my CIA Professional Chef (monster) cookbook to compare recipes. I was really looking for something traditional using mussels, clams, shrimp, Spanish chorizo and chicken and the Spain book only contained variations—wonderful recipes but variations. I found exactly what I was looking for in the CIA monster book—a good, solid restaurant standard version of Paella Valenciana that served 10 (and I stuck to the recipe, but Dad did not so our version is set out down below).

I managed to get by without a Paella pan—splitting the recipe into two pans—one 12" cast iron and one 12" non-stick. The Paella turned out fabulously and the cast iron pan gave me a crust while the non-stick did not (for once—that stinking ns-pan always sticks!).

Paella Valenciana
Adapted from Original Recipe--CIA Professional Chef

olive oil as needed
20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve the peels for stock)
2 t of Spanish saffron
8-9 c chicken broth or stock
10 chicken legs
1 large onion, medium dice
3 large red bell peppers, medium diced (I didn't use a green bell)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 7-8 oz link of dried Spanish Chorizo, cut in 1/8 inch slices
2 large tomatoes, medium diced
1 lbs Spanish rice (short grain rice)
20 small-medium sized clams, scrubbed clean
20 muscles, cleaned and debearded
10 oz frozen English peas

green onions, sliced thinly for garnish

4 piquillo chiles, julienned (I didn't use this ingredient)

1. Peal and devein shrimp, reserving the shells. Saute' the shells in olive oil until they turn pink. Add the saffron and chicken stock and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain the stock and reserve hot.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add more oil to the pan and heat to smoke point. Add chicken and brown on all sides, then remove from the pan and reserve.

3. Add additional oil to the pan with the onions and peppers. Saute' for 3 minutes, add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute more. Add the chorizo and rice, stirring to coat the rice with the oil.

4. Add the tomatoes, stock, chicken and clams to the pan. Cover and reduce the heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until the clams have opened. Do not stir during the cooking process.

5. Add the mussels and shrimp to the pan and cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes. During the last minute or so add the peas. (Add more stock if necessary, so that the rice does not dry out.) But you do want to try to get a crust.

6. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.

Wines we paired: pre-dinner (while prepping & cooking) Gazela Vinho Verde, La Famega Vinho Blanco; for those who insisted on red we had Andeluna Cabernet and Crios Syrah/Bonarda Blend.