Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - Domaine Des Braves 2013 Beaujolais + Flourless Chocolate Cake

This week is moving along.  I'm still dreaming about our perfect weekend out East.  I promised you the recipe to the flourless chocolate cake we whipped up on Saturday night.  Literally whipped up, 10 minutes flat, so easy, so tasty, sure to impress any dinner party guests!

But first, let's talk wine, it is Wine Wednesday afterall!  The sun was out this weekend but it was still a bit chilly.  We wanted a red wine but something light enough to pair with our flounder fillets for dinner.  The wine store recommended this 2013 Beaujolais from Domaine Des Braves.  Hailing from Régnié, one of the few Grand Cru villages in in the Beaujolais, the wine is 100% Gamay and aged in tanks as to preserve the natural aromatics.

  It was a beautiful bright red color, the nose was full of cranberry and tart cherry.  The mouth was bursting with juicy, ripe fruit, a touch of black pepper on the finish, it was light enough, easy to drink, and extremely food friendly.

We finished our meal with this wine and this flourless chocolate cake, topped with a quick layer of stewed raspberries.  The rich chocolate was well-balanced with the fruit on top and the fruit in the wine.  A bite of acidity really helped it stand up to the intense chocolate.  

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Stewed Raspberries
Recipe adapted from here  

4 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Raspberry Sauce:
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar

Vanilla ice cream for serving


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 8 inch round or springform pan with a circle of parchment paper.  Butter pan and parchment paper to coat.  

Chop chocolate into small pieces, place in metal bowl, add butter and melt over a double boiler.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk in sugar.  Add eggs, 1 at a time and whisk.  Sift 1/2 cup of cocoa powder into mixture and whisk until just combined, do not over mix.  Pour batter in to pan.  Option to stop at this step and then bake right before eating as we did.  Once ready to bake, pop in to center of over for 20-25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust.  Cool cake on a rack for 5 minutes and then invert on to a serving platter.  

While cake is cooling, place raspberries (or any berry) into a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon until berries start to break down.  Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar, I didn't exactly measure but it was about 1 teaspoon.  Continue to stir until berries become soft and jammy.  

Once cake is inverted on serving platter, pour warm berry mixture on top.  Slice and serve with your favorite vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!

Wine:  2013 Domaine Des Braves Régnié Beaujolais
Purchased:  Park Place Wines - East Hampton
Price:  $18.99
Would Buy Again:  Yes

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekend Things - Hamptons Girls Getaway

I spent the weekend enjoying the first taste of spring out in East Hampton with some amazing girlfriends.  So much to celebrate, from promotions, engagements, babies, exciting life-changes, it's amazing how time flies.  Feels like just yesterday that we were all embarking on our first summer share out there.  Now a little older, (and wiser), we may not have closed down Talkhouse, but we did enjoy some home-cooked meals, walks on the beach, so many laughs and a few too many glasses of wine, just like the old times but wiser for sure ;-)

Friday dinner at Fresno

First lobster roll of the season at Bostwick's!
A home-cooked meal in a proper kitchen - so grown up!
Amazing flourless chocolate cake - recipe coming soon!
"Soul Sunday" - Bruce Springsteen vs. Billy Joel Ride

Just one of the girls at brunch

Can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - La Pépie 2013 Rosé

It's almost here, I can feel it.  Spring, maybe?  Is that you?

I tasted my first glass of rosé of the season this past weekend.  Maybe a bit ambitious as today looks to be a high of 45 degrees.  

As for the wine, it was a bit heavy for my taste.  La Pépie, or the "funky chicken" 2013 rosé hails from the Loire Valley in France.  The wine is made by Marc Ollivier, one of the predominant Muscadet producers in the region, known for minimal winemaker intervention, natural fermentation and stainless steel aging.  The wine was medium bodied, predominantly Cabernet Franc, which was definitely apparent in the palette, with notes of earth and a hint of pepper.  It was still very much fruit forward tasting of bright, sour cherries and juicy strawberries.  While not my favorite rosé, it was a nod to the upcoming season!

Purchased:  Backlabel Wines
Price:  $13
Would Buy Again:  No

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - Wine and Food at Semilla Brooklyn

I've been meaning to share the epic tasting menu dinner Mom and I enjoyed at Semilla during our Brooklyn staycation.  The restaurant is the brainchild of Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and began as a temporary pop-up before turning in to a full time restaurant.  They offer 2 seatings per night, limited to 18 guests seated around their U-shaped central bar.  It was so fun to simply show up and leave the work in their very capable hands, no menu to pour over, no decisions to be made.

Except for the wine, but turns out that decision was relatively easy.  The somm helped us choose a lovely Chardonnay from the Saint-Veran appellation in Burgundy.  Denis Jeandeau is the 5th generation winemaker in his family; cultivating the family estate with a passion for organic and biodynamic farming, hand harvesting, and natural fermentation.  Wines are aged in neutral oak, fully allowing the true expression of the terroir and grape shine through.    

The wine was right up our ally, and was a perfect pairing with each incredible dish.

Dinners at Semilla are vegetable focused, but you would hardly know it based on the intricate layers and thoughtfulness that go in to each dish, I didn't even miss the meat.  You'd think 10+ courses could be come a bit much, but each course was light enough and just the right bite to prevent getting overly stuffed.  What accounted for getting overly stuffed was the amazing bread that is served with the meal, hot out of the oven with a side of salted butter in a tiny pool of creamy, sour buttermilk.  It's just as good as every restaurant review calls it out to be!

Below is a plate by plate photo-documentation of our meal, excuse the poor lighting and iphone photos!

Lentil cracker with sunchoke, trout roe, and sorrel
Rutabaga Spring Roll with an Orange Reduction
Cabbage Sandwich, Buckwheat groats
Rutabaga and Cippolini Onion with Salt Cod and Lovage
Chef Jose!
Beets, Beef, and Bone Marrow
Cabbage. Beans, Pork Fat - quite possibly my favorite dish of the night, I mean powdered pork-fat??  
Plating in action
Roasted Butternut Squash, Serrano Cream, Chickpeas and Preserved Berries
Colza Oil ice cream, Meyer Lemon
Satsuma Granita with Poppyseed and Yogurt
Even if you have to use the bathroom during the meal, you won't miss a minute of the action in the kitchen thanks to a one-way mirrored window!

If you're looking for a fun and different dining experience and a prix-fixe menu that won't break the bank I'd highly recommend Semilla!  

Purchased:  Semilla Brooklyn
Price:  $17 retail
Would Buy Again:  Yes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 Stephane Aviron Morgon Cote du Py

I recently jumped on the NY-scene bandwagon and experienced The Polo Bar, Ralph Lauren's new supper-club located below the new flagship store on 5th Ave.  My friend Sarah managed to wrangle a reservation for 9:45pm on a particularly rainy Saturday night.  We headed uptown, excited to see what EVERYONE in town has been talking about.

I'm sad to say I was rather disappointed.  The food was fine, some of it really quite good, the atmosphere was good, the dining room is beautiful if not a little staged, but the service left something to be desired, and unfortunately overshadowed all other aspects of the meal.  This article pretty much sums our experience and is hysterically entertaining.  

Perhaps my favorite part of the whole experience was the bar on the first level.  The beautiful girl clothed in a signature tweed hacking jacket ushers you in to what feels like a semi-private club.  We were told our table wasn't quite ready so we made ourselves comfortable and ordered a round.  The Moscow mule came in a particularly shiny copper cup, matching back to the beautiful copper bar.  The best were the salty bar snacks they bring you in addition to your drinks:  mixed nuts, warmed and spiced with rosemary, potato chips and fried olives!

After a 45-minute wait, our table was finally ready.  We were ushered downstairs into the main dining room.  Quickly after sitting down they brought us these gems.  Popovers with Gruyere and caramelized onion, delish!

Then on to the wine, and the focus of this Wine Wednesday (you knew I'd get there eventually).  I went with a 2011 Stephane Aviron Morgon Cote du Py, 100% Gamay from the Beaujolais region in France.  However, the waiter brought out the 2012, which I called him out on, and was met with a snarky remark about how the restaurant had been going through "cases" of the stuff and the wine list just hadn't been updated.  Just checked online, wine list still isn't updated......fine.  First strike in pleasant service, strike two was a command that we had promptly 10 minutes to order until the kitchen closed (it wasn't our fault that you sat us 45 minutes after our reservation time when there appeared to be several open tables once we did finally enter the dining room).  

Anyways, back to the wine.  Once we got our order settled, and got over the different year debacle, the wine was tasty!  Full of ripe, juicy red fruit, good acidity, touch of earthy/mineral notes.  It was pleasing as pie with our corned-beef sandwich (a Mr. Lauren favorite).  

All in all we had a fun Saturday night uptown, and ended up closing down the restaurant.  While I wouldn't rush back for dinner any time soon, the bar would make for a nice after-work drink (if only I still worked uptown).  I'll certainly be looking out for this wine in my local wine shop downtown.

Purchased:  The Polo Bar
Price:  $18.95 retail
Would Buy Again:  Yes

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cookie Butter Cookies aka Crack Cookies

I apologize, I've been sitting on this recipe for a while now!  I made these for Thanksgiving dessert and they were a huge hit, "like crack" I'm pretty sure my aunt proclaimed.  Let's be real, anything with cookie butter is bound to be a winner.  Has anyone tried the cookie butter cheesecake bites at TJ's??  I've noticed them in the freezer section, but I've restrained myself….for now.

These are chewy, gooey, chocolaty with a hint of spice from the speculoos.  It's supposed to snow today in the Northeast.  Let's stay home, and eat alllllll the cookies!  

Cookie Butter Crack Cookies
Recipe adapted from here

1 3/4 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar, 1/4 brown sugar)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 egg yoke
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used semisweet, I think dark would be yummy)
1 1/2 cups cookie butter
flaked sea salt such as Maldon for sprinkling


Preheat over to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a bowl.  Set aside.

Brown 10 tbsp of butter in a small pot over medium heat.  Whisk until color is medium brown and you get a nutty aroma.  Be sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour butter into bowl of electric mixer.  Mix in remaining 4 tbsp of butter until dissolved.  Add in both sugars, salt and vanilla.  Mix to combine.  Let sit 3 minutes, then mix again for 30 seconds.  Do this 2 more times.

Mix in flour mixture until completely combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.  Make an indent in the cookie and stuff with a teaspoon of cookie butter.  Fold the dough around the cookie butter and roll into a smooth ball.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cookies will look slightly underdone but will firm up when cooling.

Remove from over and place on wire rack to cool.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 Acustic Cellars Acustic Blanc

This week, I have a little something Spanish for your Wine Wednesday.  

As I waited for my red-eye flight in Vegas, I treated myself to dinner at Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan.  

The wine (and the food) were yummy!  I asked the bartender for his recommendation, after describing my affinity for crisp, clean chardonnays, he recommended a glass of the 2012 Acustic Blanc from the Montsant region in Spain, part of Catalonia, neighboring Priorat and influenced by a predominately Mediterranean climate.  The winery's name, Acustic Cellar is a direct reference to acoustic music, and their general philosophy of letting the wine be a pure expression of the grape itself.  

The wine is a blend of Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Garnacha Gris, and Pansal, not something I drink everyday for sure.  Aged in small oak barrels for 3 months provided structure and a slightly heavier weight, but not overpowering in any way.  The fruit truly was the star!

It paired nicely with perhaps the best cauliflower dish I've ever had, sauteed with dates and olives, yum!

The giant pans of paella roasting away in the center of the restaurant were quite the spectacle, but weren't exactly conducive to solo-dining.  Next time!

This wine made me excited for my upcoming trip to Barcelona!  Ole!

Wine:  2012 Acustic Cellars Acustic Blanc
Purchased:  Jaleo Restaurant
Price:  $14/glass, $18 retail bottle
Would Buy Again:  Yes

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