Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wine Wednesday

A quick post from back home in the Valley.

All I can say is how nice it is to be able to find new and interesting wines in the GROCERY STORE!  New York needs to get on that - one stop shopping at its best.

I've already been to 3 stores for various Thanksgiving related items so I guess I haven't been the most efficient but I could spend hours browsing the shelves for fun wines to try.

Hope everyone has a fun and delicious Thanksgiving filled with family and friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Weekend Things

Despite working both days I managed to sneak in another pre-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving celebration.  My first Turduckenfest was a site to be seen!  One fully stuffed turducken, multiple boneless stuffed chickens, quails wrapped in bacon, and every classic side dish were lined up for the festivities.

Let's just say the trough of salad didn't go quite as fast as the indulgent sides!
 I contributed two dishes, recipes below if you need some last minute additions to your Thanksgiving menu, both were a huge hit!

Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage

4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

15 to 20 sage leaves

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/3 cup milk

4 tablespoons brown butter
2 tablespoons bourbon
(I subbed maple syrup)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Add the potato chunks to a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until they are fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the chopped bacon.
Remove the bacon and place it on a paper towel to drain. Remove about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet and set it aside in a bowl. To the same skillet, add the ½ tablespoon butter and heat it over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and cook until they are crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
Once potatoes are done drain and add back to pot.  Mash them with a fork or potato masher, then use a whisk or electric hand mixer to whip them. Once whipped, add in the reserved bacon fat, the milk, the bourbon (or maple syrup) and the brown butter. Whip the potatoes again until everything is combined. Taste the potatoes and add the salt and pepper, seasoning more or less if desired.
If serving the potatoes immediately, spread them in a dish and top them with the crispy bacon. Crumble the sage on top. If you're waiting a bit to serve them, heat the oven to 325 degrees F and top the potatoes with the bacon. Bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, then remove them from the oven and crumble the sage over top.

And for dessert……

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Brownies
*Recipe courtesy of The Chew

1 stick Unsalted Butter
1 3/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
4 Eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips
4 ounces Cream Cheese (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground Ginger

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9 x 9 inch baking dish.  Cut two pieces of parchment long enough to fit up the sides of the baking dish to use as handles to remove the brownies once cooled. Grease the parchment. 

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium glass bowl over a double boiler. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Gently fold in chocolate chips. In another bowl whip together the pumpkin, cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. 

Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish using a spatula to create an even layer. Dollop the pumpkin mixture in 4 to 6 places on the brownie. Using a butter knife, carefully swirl the pumpkin mixture throughout the chocolate brownie batter.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.  Mine took about 50 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes before removing from baking dish.  
*Next time I might recommend using a bigger dish, perhaps 13x9in to make them a little thinner, they were incredibly rich and thick in the middle, but the outer edges were more dry and cake like.  

Heading home on Tuesday - bring on the stretch pants!

Friday, November 21, 2014

3rd Annual Friendsgiving

Last weekend I hosted the 3rd annual Friendsgiving.  Everyone brought their A-game and we pulled together what we all exclaimed was our best meal yet!

Why does Thanksgiving only come once a year??  I'm seriously considering making this a bi-annual thing.  The only issue being that TJ's doesn't stock their pumpkin products all year long……

Our table-scape, with persimmons all the way from California!
What we drank - both complimented the meal perfectly.  The Sauvignon Blanc was surprisingly rich and creamy; the Côte du Rhône was luscious and ripe! 

I was in charge of the turkey and the stuffing.  The stuffing was so good I'm going to be making it again for the real deal next week (side note - I subbed sweet pork sausage for turkey sausage which I think gave it a bit more punch).  The turkey could not have been easier, it literally basted itself!  Sarah brought a delicious potato and parsnip mash, Karen made a lovely rendition of butternut squash gratin, and Augusta made her famous Brussels sprouts with pancetta, pecans and raisins.

For dessert I made this pumpkin mousse cake with a gingerbread crust - I must admit the flavor was good, but it was a big ol' mess to serve and didn't really hold together in cake form (best eaten straight from the pan with a fork while doing dishes at the end of the night).

After multiple glasses of wine and multiple plates of food, we all wrote down what we were thankful for.  One of my favorite mementos of the night!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - What to Drink for Thanksgiving

Last weekend I attended the annual Thanksgiving workshop at Bottlerocket Wines in Chelsea.  It was a really fun event, and with a ticket price of only $20, well worth it!  Plus a portion of proceeds go to City Harvest and you get a $5 credit towards any in-store purchase, it's win-win!

The event is set up as a walk-around with various food and wine stations.  The concept is to break down the traditional Thanksgiving meal (main event, sides, and dessert) and offer easy wine-pairing suggestions.  Known as one of the most difficult meals to appropriately pair wine with (there's sweet, savory, salty, rich flavors all going on at the same time); this event was a great way to break it all down and see what you like/don't like, and get a delicious preview of the best meal of the year (well at least that's my opinion).  Food was catered by Spoon and everything was delicious-they offer Thanksgiving catering as well for anyone looking to supplement their holiday meal!

First up, turkey+stuffing paired with 4 wines: 

1.  Carl Ehrhard Riesling 2013 - Bursting with notes of melon and pear, with a round mouthfeel and slight hint of sweetness on the tongue.  That sweetness however was cut with a bite of turkey, making for a nice pairing.  

2.  Weszeli Grünwe Veltliner Steinhaus 2013 - The nose was overpoweringly green apple.  The wine fell a bit flat on the palette, but would serve as an easy-to-drink wine and palette cleanser between courses.

3.  Mas Foraster Trepat 2012 - An interesting varietal I had never heard of, hailing from the Catalonia region of Spain.  The nose was full of bright red fruit, strawberry, and pomegranate.  However the wine was a bit too light for me, one of those "fairy" wines that just floats away with no lingering flavor.  

4.  Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir Carneros 2012 - My favorite from this group, I'm loving Pinots more and more!  This was a bolder Pinot, with a nose of red fruit, anise, and fresh jam.  The taste was smooth and not overly acidic and had a lasting finish.  

Next up, the sides!  Sometimes the best part of the meal, let's be honest.  I filled my plate with roasted Brussels sprouts and maple sweet potatoes and got to tasting.

5.  Broglia Gavi di Gavi 2012 - Nice and light but with a fuller finish.

6.  Alban Vineyards Viognier 2012 - One of my favorites of the night, white peach and pear on the nose, balanced acidity, smooth creamy mouthfeel, and a lingering finish, everything I love in a wine and super yummy with the sweet potatoes that were spiced with cumin and cut through the wine a bit.

7.  Cantine Calpane Barbera del Monferrato Rosso Pietro 2012 - This wine was the runaway hit of the night, with everyone coming back for seconds!  And a bargain at $16!  The nose was overpoweringly yeasty for me, like a whiff of sourdough, the taste was light, easy to drink, with a slightly peppery finish.

8.  Bodegas Moemia Malbec A Lisa 2013 - This wine was too acidic for my liking, overpowered the wine and the food.

All wines are available through the Bottlerocket website or in their NYC/Connecticut stores.  I would highly recommend marking your calendar to get to this event next year, it was a great way to kick off the holiday season!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend Things

It was another fun weekend that went too fast.  Highlights included best friend from high school visiting, amazing meals, Thanksgiving wine tasting/pairing event at Bottlerocket, and capped it off with the 3rd annual Friendsgiving.  Countdown is on to the real thing!

Friends for 14 years!  How is that possible?!  Come visit more often!!!
Fun event on what to pair with your Thanksgiving meal - details to come in Wine Wednesday!
Delicious dinner at Bar Bolonat - minus a point for mediocre service but company made up for it :-)

I think this pretty much sums up #allthethings - epic brunch at Tartine
Full friendsgiving recap to come - but let's just say I think we peaked on this one, #bestyet
Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - 2010 Guado al Tasso

A weekend out in the country calls for perfectly smoked twin chickens and a wine to match.  My dear family friends spoil me with Sunday suppers when I come to visit and this was no exception.  Any excuse to use that Big Green Egg!

To pair with dinner we pulled out a bottle of 2010 Guado al Tasso by Antinori.  My friends had tasted this wine on their recent trip to Florence and loved it, I felt the same!

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  Bright, juicy, with a hit of acidity but a smooth finish, it was a perfect pairing with the cumin-spiced chicken.   

Wine:  2010 Guado al Tasso
Purchased:  Enjoyed with friends
Price: $89.00-$100 online
Would buy again: Yes!

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