Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cauliflower: Boring?

Or worse, Cauliflower: Ugh!?!?!

Well, if you really hate the flavor of cauliflower, I probably can't help you, but if you're merely bored with steaming it . . . well, this recipe may be for you!

I love the Cauliflower with Melted Onions and Mustard Seeds from Food and Wine December, 2000. It's easy, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! You place the cauliflower florets into a roasting pan, stems up, with vegetable oil and some butter (I always use a bit less than is called for), season with salt and pepper, cover with foil, and roast at 450 for 30 minutes. Then you turn the heat up to 500 for 10 minutes. Then you remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes. This creates lovely little caramelized florets that melt in your mouth. But that's not all!

While that's going on, soften sliced onions in oil in a skillet over low heat, covered. Let them cook about 20 minutes until very tender. Stir in some curry powder and mustard seeds, and cook 5 more minutes. Then add some lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve in a bowl over the cauliflower.

I leave out the cilantro sprinkled on top that the recipe calls for, as I'm not fond of it, but all you cilantro lovers might like that even more.

I recently prepared this along with Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Food and Wine August, 2003), cooked in the oven with the cauliflower, and they were wonderful together!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekly Winery Adventure

This week I arrived at Valley of the Moon Winery about 10 minutes before their closing time, and they were gracious enough not to make me feel rushed. I selected the $5 Standard Tasting (still broke, dontcha know), and had pleasant chats with the various servers there. My favorite white was the 2008 Sonoma County Pinot Blanc. It had a lovely nose, and flavors of pineapple, apple, and a hint of kiwi.

It was very smooth and delicious. I thought of pairing it with a salad, or perhaps a grilled chicken salad.
My favorite red was the 2006 Sonoma County Sangiovese. It was a very pretty color, with lovely notes of chocolate and a dried cherry finish. I thought it would pair wonderfully with a Bolognese sauce or a chicken cacciatore.
I also tasted the 2008 Unoaked Russian River Chardonnay (tangerine!), the 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir (red cherry, smokey finish – I would pair with blue cheese or perhaps salmon), and the 2006 Sonoma County Syrah (chocolate covered blueberries – yum!).
Of course, I rounded out the evening with happy hour at what is becoming my favorite local hangout, the Meritâge Martini Oyster Bar & Grill, where I had a lovely caramelized onion (etc.) pizza, which paired well with the Inama Carmenere from Verona, Italy. And I met new friends, as I always do at Meritâge.
All in all, a happy weekly winery day!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Soup Is Good Food!

Today I made a vegetable barley soup – yum! I sautéed an onion, some carrots, some celery, and a sweet potato. I added a mix of vegetable and chicken broths (I like Wolfgang Puck’s all natural broths – what’s your favorite?) and a little water, and about ¾ cup barley. I seasoned with white pepper, marjoram, and my favorite Herbes de Provence made by Victoria Gourmet, Inc. which I bought at – of all places – Marshalls (go figure!). Fifteen minutes before I called it done, I added some spinach too wilted for a salad (but who cares in a soup!) and some chard.

I am quite happy with the result! There is a sweetness to the broth – from the marjoram perhaps?? I’m very curious to see if it improves tomorrow after the flavors have time to marry.

I served my soup with my favorite corn bread recipe, which comes from Huntley Dent’s The Feast of Santa Fe. I love this corn bread – even though I modify it a bit (yellow instead of blue corn meal, oil instead of butter, milk instead of buttermilk, which I rarely have on hand), primarily because it contains no sugar! I prefer my cornbread savory rather than sweet.

All in all, a happy meal. Oh . . I drank an inexpensive little Sauvignon Blanc with my meal – a perfectly pleasant pairing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Weekly Winery Adventure

This week, I visited Robledo Family Winery. This winery had been recommended to me by the bartender at The Plaza Bistro, where I had a lovely glass of Rose last Friday evening. Robledo has a beautiful tasting room with tables for visitors to sit, each decked with fresh roses. The server and the other tasting room guests were all a lot of fun.
Due to my budget, I tried the Estate Tasting for five bucks, and tasted three whites, three reds, and two dessert wines. The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc has won awards, and it’s true – it was particularly nice! I tasted grapefruit, with a hint of stone fruit (apricot maybe) in the finish. I also enjoyed the 2006 Pinot Blanc, which had a nutty, toasty flavor with hints of honey and tangerine. Of the reds, although it was the Cab and the Los Braceros blend that won the awards, my personal favorite was the 2007 Petite Sirah, with notes of pie cherries and a soft vanilla finish. I note that for the winery’s upcoming (Sept. 12) Mexican Independence Day Celebration event, they plan to pair it with Shredded Beef Sopes! Sounds like a wonderful pairing to me!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pork and Pinot

Well friends, in a previous post I said I would test the 2007 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir against a really nice pork dish, and here is the report. For this pairing I brought out the big gun: my favorite Crispy Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder (Food and Wine Dec. 2003). I love this dish. I first made it for Christmas dinner in 2006. Since that time, my dear friend GourmetGal ( has stolen it from me after I served it at a dinner party – she makes it much more often than I do – but nonetheless, I still count it one of my favorites. The garlic and ginger caramelize after the long roasting, yet the meat stays really moist. Yummy!
So I prepared this dish with some rosemary roasted potatoes and a lovely spinach salad. I have to say that I did enjoy the wine with this dish. It showed notes of dried cherries, which rounded to more of a black cherry over the course of the evening. It’s really a delicious Pinot.
And it was a really fabulous meal! I wouldn’t say it was the perfect wine-food pairing however. The spices in the meat produced just a hint of harshness in the wine. There are many other wines I’d like to try with this dish. Possibly a Zin. Or even a substantial Gewurztraminer!
And of course, now I'll have to buy another bottle of the Pinot in order to continue my search for its perfect pairing! I'll keep you posted!