Archive for February, 2016

Made with LOVE

Posted in Dinners, Family, Food, Pairings, Recipes, Wine on February 15th, 2016 by nita – Be the first to comment

“Cooking is LOVE made visible…” – Anonymous

“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.” – Robert Mondavi

I grew up with the understanding that food tastes better when made with love. When I was sick in bed and my taste buds were shot, my mother’s homemade soup would always make me feel better. And it was always delicious. When my daughters cook my breakfast on Mother’s day, I find myself going for seconds… sometimes thirds. Again, delicious. And of course, when my husband offers to make dinner for me on those infrequent but extremely well thought out occasions, I find myself savoring every bite as though it would be my last.

Love is one of those invisible ingredients that is necessary to every dish you create. After all, a recipe on paper (or online!) has no SOUL… It is the cook’s responsibility to bring soul to the recipe!

Inspired by LOVE and all things red, pink, and festive, we created a memorable dinner menu paired with some fabulous wines this year for Valentine’s Day. Our dear friends joined us as we paraded through courses of decadence. Here’s what we noshed and sipped on!

Charlot Tanneux Champagne Brut Cuvee Micheline 2008 – Suggested by colleagues and clients alike, I decided to bring home a bottle of this beauty for our special evening. This is a super sultry bottle of bubbles. Kudos to winemaker Vincent Charlot who clearly knows that the foundation of a stunning champagne is first and foremost, is to be a stunning WINE. This bubbly is rich, with a confusing but delicious combination of crisp and cooked apples, white fruits, flowery aromatics, and a seductive sweetness that is perfectly balanced. The perfect start to the evening!

Beet Tartare with Chevre and Maple Chili Pecans paired with A. Mandria Patrimonio Rose 2014 – We topped a composed salad of arugula, beets dressed in balsamic, and chevre  with maple-chili glazed pecans. This dish begged for a rose to be paired with it, and I couldn’t imagine a better one than this Corsican gem. Rose petals, strawberries, and citrus on the nose… Melon and stone fruits on the palate. It was a perfect match! Click here for the Beet Tartare recipe…

Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage and Pancetta paired with Domaine Thibert Pouilly Vinzelles Les Longeayes 2012 and Domaine Bzikot Bourgogne Blanc 2013 – Velvet. That’s the word that came to mind when I tasted the perfectly runny yolk that oozed out of our ricotta and egg filled homemade raviolis into a sauce of butter, stock, sage, and pancetta. This called for a wine with some acid to pair with it. Some of my favorite producers of white Burgundy came to mind… I actually appreciated both wines with the ravioli. The Vinzelles was a better match on paper due to the richness of the wine and the buttery-”velvety” style of the sauce but the acidity of the Bzikot really cut through the decadence of the sauce and made for a perfect match. Thanks to our dinner companions for bringing the Bzikot wine – it was so nice to taste 2 very different style of white Burg with this dish! Click here for the Egg Yolk Ravioli recipe…

Braised Short Ribs with Swiss Chard and Potatoes paired with Chateau Rayas Ch du Fonsalette 2000 and Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso dei Pomi 2008 – OMG. Loved this short rib preparation. After it braised, it finished off in a 400 degree oven to almost “crisp up.” So the meat had a bite to it on the outside and was super tender once we cut into it. The velvety sauce along with the swiss chard were a great foundation for some complex and structured wines. We had two fabulous bottles. We decanted the Ghemme for almost 2 hours, and it evolved into a smooth and elegant pairing with luscious dark berry tones, aromatic violets, and structure that softened into great complexity. SO ethereal. Such a great pairing. However, I think I practically went into a trance when I took a sip of the Rayas. This 2000 vintage of juice from the Fonsalette property is labeled as Cotes du Rhone – but make no mistake… it IS a VERY serious wine! A lovely Rhone blend of red varietals, the wine is creamy and textured, game-y with lots of garrigue, some herbal tones and even a little bit of licorice. In my opinion, this wine was perfect with the short ribs and accompaniments. Click here for the short rib recipe!

Simply stated, the inspiration for the meal came form love, exuded love, and was served to those I love. Made with Love <3

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Swiss Chard and Mashed Potatoes

Posted in Dinners, Food, Recipes on February 15th, 2016 by nita – Be the first to comment

RECIPE: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen – Braised Beef Short Ribs with Swiss Chard and Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6 (I only served 4 but had enough leftovers for 2-3 more people)

6 large beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (if ribs are tinier, buy by weight, not number)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
4 whole sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups port
2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
6 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 medium onion – cut into a nickel sized “dice”
2 bunches Swiss chard, cleaned, center ribs removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the short ribs with the salt the cracked black pepper, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil, and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get lazy or rushed at this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. When the ribs are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate to rest.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lying flat, bones standing up, in one layer. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of the escaping steam, and piece a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. [If you would like to cook these a day ahead, this is where you can pause. The next day, you can remove the fat easily from the pot — it will have solidified at the top — bring these back to a simmer on the stove or in an oven, and continue.]

Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.

Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. Skim the fat from the sauce (if you made these the day before, you will have already skimmed them) and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Saute the dime sized onions in a saute pan with the 2T olive oil. Saute the onions until they are lightly browned. Tear the Swiss chard into large pieces. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, and stir in the cooked onions. Add half the Swiss chard, and cook a minute or two, stirring the greens in the oil to help them wilt. Add a splash of water and the second half of the greens. Season with a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the greens are tender.

Place the swiss chard on a large warm platter, and arrange the short ribs on top. Spoon lots of braising juices over the ribs. Serve the potato puree (see recipe below) on the side.

Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed (I used Yukon Golds)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick, 4 ounces), melted
1 1/2 cups half-and-half , warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
Ground black pepper
Chives for garnish (optional)

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1 inch water. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of center of potatoes with very little resistance), 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.
2. Set food mill or ricer over now empty but still warm saucepan. Spear potato with dinner fork, then peel back skin with paring knife. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Working in batches, cut peeled potatoes into rough chunks and drop into hopper of food mill or ricer. Process or rice potatoes into saucepan.
3. Stir in butter with wooden spoon until incorporated; gently whisk in half-and-half, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage and Pancetta

Posted in Dinners, Food, Recipes on February 15th, 2016 by nita – Be the first to comment

RECIPE for Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage and Pancetta

INGREDIENTS

Garnish for Sauce:
1/4 lb diced pancetta
1 tablespoon olive oil
8-10 sage leaves
Filling:
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon (generous) ground black pepper
Pasta:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons (or more) water
5 teaspoons olive oil
9 large eggs
Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons finely grated pamesan cheese

For garnish for sauce:
To a saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and pancetta and render until crispy. Remove from the heat and place onto a paper-towel-lined plate. To the fat in the pan, add the sage leaves and fry until crispy, about 30 seconds. Season the sage leaves with salt. Finely crumble the pancetta, crumble the sage and set aside. Reserve for garnish.

For filling:
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Refrigerate while making pasta.

For pasta:
-Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl; make shallow well in center. Add egg yolks, 6 tablespoons water, and oil to well. Using fork, whisk water, egg yolks, and oil. Gradually work in flour from around egg mixture to form crumbly mixture. Knead in bowl until dough comes together, adding more water by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if dry. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Divide into 4 equal portions. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest on work surface 30 minutes.
-Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Turn pasta machine to widest setting. Flatten 1 dough piece to rectangle (cover remaining pieces with plastic wrap). Run dough through machine 2 times. Fold uneven ends over to make straight edge. Adjust machine to next narrower setting. Run dough through machine 2 times, dusting lightly with flour if sticky. Cut dough strip in half crosswise for easier handling. Repeat running dough through machine 2 more times on each narrower setting until pasta is generous 1/16 inch thick (setting #2), dusting lightly with flour if sticky.
-Whisk 1 egg in small bowl for egg wash. Place dough strips on work surface. Cut each strip into three 4-inch squares, trimming as needed. Place 3 pasta squares on 1 prepared baking sheet. Place 1 rounded tablespoon ricotta filling in center of each of 3 squares, spreading filling to 2 1/2-inch circle. Make well in center of filling large enough to hold 1 egg yolk. Carefully break 1 egg open and separate yolk from white (reserve egg white for another use). Gently place egg yolk in well of filling. Brush edges of pasta dough with egg wash. Carefully place 1 pasta square atop egg yolk, pressing edges of pasta squares together to seal tightly, enclosing yolk and filling completely. Dust ravioli lightly with flour. Repeat procedure with remaining pasta, ricotta filling, yolks, and egg wash for a total of 8 ravioli. DO AHEAD:Ravioli can be made 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate uncovered.

For sauce:
Melt butter in a shallow pan and add stock. Bring to a very light simmer, and then add the grated parmesan cheese. Add the garnish for the sauce (pancetta and sage.) Keep at a low simmer.

Finishing the dish:
Add enough water to large skillet to measure 1 1/2inches; sprinkle with salt. Bring water to boil. Working in 2 batches, gently slide ravioli into skillet, egg yolk side up; adjust heat to keep water below rolling boil and cook just until pasta is tender, being careful not to overcook egg yolks, about 3 minutes (do not turn ravioli over). Transfer the ravioli quickly to the shallow pan with the butter sauce. With slotted spoon, transfer 2 ravioli to each of 4 plates. Spoon sauce over.

Serves 4

Beet Tartare with Chevre and Maple Chili Pecans

Posted in Dinners, Food, Recipes on February 15th, 2016 by nita – Be the first to comment

RECIPE for Beet Tartare with Chevre and Maple Chili glazed Pecans

Ingredients
3 large red beets (2 lbs. total)
drizzle of olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup maple syrup
Small dash of cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups arugula
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper
3 oz goat or feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)

Roast Beets – Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub beets (remove the greens from beets) and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle beets with a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until beets are tender. Let cool. Peel beets when cool enough, and then dice into a small dice and place in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar and 2T olive oil. Season with a little more salt and pepper.

Make glazed Pecans: Toast the pecans in a dry pan over medium heat on the stove for 4-5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Add Maple syrup and dash of cayenne and raise the heat and bring to a boil. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour nut mixture onto a parchment lined plate. Let cool and then break apart just before serving.

Serve: Drizzle olive oil and a sprinkling of S&P over arugula in a medium bowl. Divide arugula into mounds on each of 4 salad plates. Place a ring mold on top of arugula. Divide beets dressed with balsamic into the ring molds, then top with chevre, dividing equally, and then top with nuts, dividing equally. Press down with a dry spoon but don’t compact the mixture. Lift ring mold, and Voila!

Serves 4