Sunday, May 29, 2005

Wine, wine, wine

As Sarah mentioned we recently went on a tour of the Okanagan for a little wine tasting and purchasing. We stopped at the Calona Vineyards winery shop which also has the sister vineyard Sandhill. This is located in a dreary industrialish area of Kelowna, but if you are in the area it is worth a visit. I think the best cheap score of the trip was the Calona Artist Series Syrah. It is just under $14 and is very yummy for the price. Also, the Artist Series Sovereign Opal is worth buying because it is a fairly uncommon grape. It's a white muscat, a bit sweet but fun to try. The Sandhill line has many a swell offering. They are all in the $20-$30 range, but worth it. I can't remember all that we tried, but I can recommend the Syrah for sure as I came home with a couple of bottles of it, and Anna and I purchased their One, Two and Three blends. If I recall, One is a Bordeaux blend of Cab Sauv with a bit of Malbec and Petit Verdot, Two is a Cab Sauv, Merlot, and some German Red that I can't remember blend, and Three is something of an Italian and French mixture of reds (Barbera, Sangiovese and Cab Sauv I think). Anna opened the Two a week or so ago and gushed about it. I opened a varietal Malbec and found that it was nice, had a good initial taste and an amazing finish, but seemed to be lacking a middle. Enjoyable enough, but not a repeat buy. I also have varietal Barbera, Sangiovese and Viognier from Sandhill that I am excited to try. Unfortunately they were sold out of the Petit Verdot, which is what had attracted me there in the first place. Next year perhaps. So needless to say, I am interested and thusfar impressed by Sandhill.

Also on my list of yummy wines:

Hillside Mosaic - Sarah brought me bottle last year and I had to phone her five times to tell her how good it was. I believe the Hillside Pinot Blanc(Gris?) was also very nice.
Burrowing Owl Pinot...Blanc or Gris I can't remember which, but they only make one and it tasted distinctly of pears. All the Burrowing Owl stuff was pretty good.
Domaine de Chaberton Syrah(the winery is located in Langley, but I think most of the grapes are from the Okanagan)- I just shipped a half case of that up here and the shipping was super expensive, I will only spring for full cases in the future, but the wine is worth it.
Summerhill Platinum Collection Cabernet Franc - this is exactly what I look for in a red wine. It is really delicious even though I didn't enjoy our visit to their overly touristy winery.
Fairview Cellars - all his stuff seems to be good, the Cab Franc, Merlot/Cab, and Bear's Meritage are all very nice, but I think the Meritage needs to sit down for a year or two as it is a bit feisty.

All the above wines are in the $25-$30 range, and well worth it.

I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the fruit wines from Elephant Island. In particular the pear wine made a nice cocktail when mixed with sliced strawberries for Mother's Day brunch, and I think the Cassis dessert wine will be good on or in many things. It wasn't at all like those Okanagan fruit ciders that I downed as a teenager.

No more really jump to mind, although I'm sure I've left out many good ones. Anna was all about Gewurztraminer, and she found a few she liked a lot, I recall her being very impressed with a dry Gewurztraminer from Lang Vineyards.

So you lucky people with VQA shops in your neighbourhood, go forth, drink and be very merry, and I will sulk about the Whitehorse liquor store and snipe about the price of Long Flat Red.

Moose burgers with Gorgonzola

Since Sarah mentioned the moose burgers in her last post, I thought I should contribute the general idea behind them which I ripped off from that annoying barbequeing guy on Food Network who made it with lamb burgers and chevre. (In defense of the annoying guy show, most of the food he makes really does look quite yummy if you can get past his guy's guy behaviour, and Tim Allen-like grunting).

Make two thin patties of meat. Put pieces of gorgonzola or whatever cheese you want on top of one patty. Put the other patty on top and smoosh together to make one large patty with the cheese in the middle. Cook and eat with whatever burger fixings you like.

This has many possibilities for variation with differing meats and cheeses, and other additions for the filling (mushrooms? herbs?). Personally, I think the gorgonzola should have been blended with something a little zestier, perhaps parmesan to give it a bit more cheesy zing. I usually add parmesan to my blue cheese sauce for grilled steak (which is really good on potatoes done in a basket on the barbeque that go with the steak). I'll try that next time since it is definately a repeat recipe.

Let me also put in a plug for the portabello mushroom burger at Swan's. I had it on my last visit to Victoria and was quite delighted. It did squoosh out of the bun even more than a regular burger, but it was very yummy. Have it with a glass of Swan's fabulous Black and Tan which I love, love, love! A trip to Victoria is not complete without a glass of the Black and Tan (and a trip to Saigon Night, now replaced by Saigon Night's sister's place for pork, pork and more pork).

Hungry! Oh, so hungry!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

all-purpose marinade/rub

Last night I made a deeelicious lamb roast with barley risotto and spinach. Damn spinach and its incredible shrinking, um, shrinkingness. It was good spinach though. I got it from my friend Morgan's brother Dave's farm on Blenkinsop. Madrona Farms - you should go.

Anyhow, despite my not cooking nearly enough spinach, it was a good meal. I rubbed the lamb with the following mixture:

2 sprigs rosemary, finely diced
similar amount thyme, finely diced
similar amount sage, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tbsp good dijon mustard (mine was grainy)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
pepper

This is so simple yet so good on lamb, chicken or pork. Probably wouldn't work so well on beef. And it smells fantastic while it's cooking. It is also shamelessly ripped off from Fatima, the head chef at Vinoteca, except she usually puts paprika in too. I couldn't be bothered to dig through my cupboard for my probably mostly dead paprika, so I left it out. Anyway, tasty tasty tasty.

And while it was cooking and smelling delicious, my mom called and ate mooseburgers with gorgonzola at me, which would have seriously pissed me off if I had been cooking, say, kraft dinner. But the lamb was almost as good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

generic casserole, plus news

This is more of a methodology than a recipe, but it produced darned tasty leftovers last night. All you need is leftover protein (chicken, beef, whatever), leftover veggies, some non-spaghetti-type pasta, butter, flour, milk, and cheese.

Cook the pasta to just under al dente, drain, and set aside.

Make a b├ęchamel sauce and then add a pile of grated cheese to it while still hot, stirring the cheese in until it melts. Stronger cheeses are better: sharp cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese etc. Taste for cheesiness and add more if necessary. Lots of fresh ground pepper works well too.

If your meat and veg aren't already in bite-size pieces, fix that.

Toss everything (meat, veg, pasta, cheese sauce) in a casserole dish and stir well. Top with more grated Parmesan. Pop in a 375F oven for 30-40 minutes. Yum!

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Now the news: if you're wondering why I haven't posted many recipes lately, it's because I haven't been spending a lot of time cooking. This is because I am pregnant. I haven't lost my desire to cook, I've just been trying to deal with fatigue and nausea, and cooking doesn't exactly help. It's all for a good cause though, and the yucky-sick-tired phase should be mostly over now, so look forward to more recipes in the months to come!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

white chocolate cranberry brownies

This is actually not my recipe, it's the afore-mentioned Anna Olsen's (Sugar, FoodTV). However, it is delightful, especially with wild Yukon cranberries, which are much zingier (and come in a conveniently smaller size) than those domestic things you get at the supermarket. If anyone is interested, for a substantial bribe I may be able to get you some of the good ones.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter
6 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (DO NOT LEAVE THIS OUT!!!)
1/2 cup cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F and butter and parchment-line a 9" square baking dish.

Melt butter halfway in a mixing bowl over simmering water, then add chocolate and melt both together. Stir to combine, remove from heat and allow to cool to the point you can stick your finger in it comfortably.

Using a whisk or a whisk attachment for your mixer, whip the eggs, vanilla and sugar together until thick and pale. Add chocolate mixture and mix a thoroughly. Sift together dry ingredients (not the cranberries) and combine with egg mixture by hand, thoroughly but gently - you don't want to get the flour all tough.

If your cranberries are fresh, you can add them at this point and then dump the mixture into the baking pan. However, I always use frozen cranberries, and if I stir them in now, I find that the batter gets way too stiff, and the cranberries bleed pink all over the place. So, I put the mixture in the pan, then sprinkle the cranberries over the top and push them in with a spatula. And sometimes my fingers.

Cook for about 45 minutes. Cool before cutting (in an ideal world... I haven't noticed anything really bad happens if you can't wait that long).