Friday, July 20, 2018

Warm Weather Rosé + Cheese Pairings #Winophiles #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the July #Winophiles event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

Lauren of The Swirling Dervish is hosting the French Winophiles as we explore Rosés from Around France. You can read her invitation here. And many thanks to Michelle of Rockin Red Blog for arranging samples through Teuwen Communications for the party. Again. They are so generous. Santé!

What the Winophiles are Sharing

A Confession
I admit: I used to overlook Rosés.  They were pink and, I thought, just a diluted form of red wine; I don't remember if I actually thought that, but the only pink wines I'd tried were White Zinfandels and those were so cloyingly sweet. I didn't take them seriously. What a mistake on my part!

I am so happy to have explored true Rosés and expanded my view of these incredibly food-friendly wines.

How Is It Made?
In hue, Rosés sit in the middle of the white-red wine color spectrum. And, as I thought, maybe people think that Rosé is a blend of finished red and white wines.  It's not.  

Rosés are actually made by shortening the grape skin contact that's necessary for making red wine. stage. To make Rosé, red grapes are lightly crushed and left to macerate with their skins for a few days. When the winemaker is satisfied with the resulting color, the skin, pips, and stems are removed. Common grape varietals used for Rosés are Grenache, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Tempranillo.

So, I've discovered that Rosés have the body and sometimes structure of a red wine.  But they are usually served chilled and are refreshing like a white wine. It's actually the best of both worlds in my mind...and absolutely perfect for summertime suppers. 

Bone-Dry Rosés    
So, I already admitted that Rosés were not on my radar for a long time. If you are also in that camp, I concede that there are some truly atrocious Rosés out there. Way too sweet, but typically American-made. Sorry. It's just true. If you're game to pour, I suggest bone-dry Provençal Rosés!

For taking part in the July French Winophiles event, some of us received samples of Provençal Rosés.

Possible Matches
These wines are so versatile and food-friendly. For appetizers, I like serving them with something salty such as my Bagna Cauda-Bathed Egg Salad Toasts. For a salad course, again with the anchovies, I like a Boquerones Asparagus Salad, but Salade Niçoise is a great match, too.

If you are thinking of some ethnic cuisines to pair, Rosés are great with Mexican food, Thai food and Indian food! While I considered a Thai feast with Startled Pig (Moo Sadoong) and Grilled Shrimp Spring Rolls, I wanted to do something simple to showcase these wines.

Cheese Pairings
I know, I know, I'm often guilty of elaborate meals - even on weeknights - but a cheese board or cheese pairings are some of my favorite summer dinners! Here are some suggestions for you as you explore Rosés.

With a fruit-forward Rosé, I suggest an aged goat milk cheese. A citrus-y Rosé is a great match with a semi-firm sheep's milk cheese with or without a seasonal jam or quince paste. A gooey triple cream pairs brilliantly with a Sparkling Brut Rosé while an Off-Dry Rosé complements a bloomy rinded goat cheese. Here are three that I served for this event...

Château  de  Berne  Emotion 2017 + Pistachio-Laden Pecorino

Château de Berne Emotion 2017
Located  in  Lorgues, the Château de Berne estate dates back to the 1100s though the Romans had been tending vines at the site for much longer. Just 25 miles from the Mediterranean, the warm climate and altitudes render grapes that are concentrated, but with good acidity. A blend of 50% Grenache  Noir, 25% Cinsault, 25% Syrah, the grapes undergo a cold-soak maceration for a couple of hours to produce that beautiful pale pink color. It, then, ferments in stainless tanks for two to three weeks before bottling.

This  wine  is  the  quintessential pale pink with fragrance of wild strawberries and summer blossoms. with refreshing flavors of summer melons, I considered pairing it with a goat's milk cheese. But I came across an intriguing cheese: a young Pecorino made with Italian pistachios. Produced by the Fratelli Petrucci, those award-winning artisan cheesemakers who graze their sheep in the mountainous areas between Lazio and Umbria. The pistachios are added to the milk and the resulting pecorino is left to rest for a month until it acquires a semi-soft consistency. The mild yet vivid taste matches the tone of the wine.

Château  de  Berne  Inspiration 2017 + Burrata

Château de Berne Inspiration 2017
Made by the same estate as the Emotion, this Côtes de Provence blend is made from 70% Grenache  Noir, 20% Cinsault, 10%  Syrah. With a pink hue laced with golden highlights, this wine is stunning to the eye and the tongue. It's both delicate and fresh.

I considered pairing it with a Grilled Haloumi-Watermelon Salad, but opted for an easy plate of burrata with garden-fresh tomatoes (thanks to my Wombat's Garden of Edibles!) and sun-kissed peaches from the farmers' market. Burrata is a buttery-textured cheese made from fresh buffalo milk. The outer shell is a smooth mozzarella while the inside contains a more ragged stracciatella mixed with cream. This culinary treasure is credited to the Bianchini family in Andria, Puglia. A little bit of salt and piqant olive oil make this cheese dish and wine sing!

Urban Provence 2017 + Bûcheron 

Urban Provence 2017
Located near the village of La Garde-Freinet, less than an hour from Saint-Tropez, this 100-acre estate was recently renovated and includes a restaurant featuring Provençal dishes served family-style, an amphitheatre for concerts, and an artist-in-residence program. The wine-making side of the estate is more focused; they only produce a single product, Urban Provence.

Urban Provence is a Rosé that blends 45 % Grenache Noir, 35% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, and 5% Rolle grapes into a dry, beautifully balanced wine, boasting both fruit and spice. But it was the tinge of minerality that made me think of Bûcheron, a goat's milk cheese from the Loire Valley with a bloomy rind. When young, it is mild with a harder texture. As it ages, the texture softens and the taste grows more intense. Mine was towards the younger side.

Next Up: Grower Champagne
Next month - August 2018 - the group will be focusing on grower champagne with Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog leading the way. Stay tuned. I'm excited to learn more about these grower-made wines.

Find Emotion
on Facebook and on Instagram
suggested retail price $16.00  |  Imported  by  Provence  Rosé  Group

Find Inspiration
on Facebook and on Instagram
suggested retail price $19.99  |  Imported  by  Provence  Rosé  Group

Find UP
suggested retail price $22.99

*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Capers + Lime Calamari Salad #CrazyIngredientChallenge

I love the idea behind the Crazy Ingredient Challenge, but I'll be honest: I haven't been very good at participating. In the Crazy Ingredient Challenge, we are assigned two ingredients to cook and create.  Lori of Lori's Culinary Creations and Kelly of Passion Kneaded are our fearless leaders. And, unfortunately, due to lack of participation, they are calling it quits for now. Adieu, Crazy Ingredient Challenge. Sorry to see you go, but I completely understand. So, for this final month...

July's Crazy Ingredient Challenge = capers and lime

Capers are something I always have on hand. They add a nice pop of saltiness to salsas and salads. And I will never forget renting a house on the island of Ustica. When we left, after a week, Antonio, the owner, gave me a jar of home-cured capers to take with me. I may or may not have slapped a commercial label on them and brought them back to California with me. Maybe that happened...I'm not really saying.

Limes, on the other hand, I rarely buy because my parents have a Meyer lemon tree and I just use those for any citrus needs I have. I wanted to get some Makrut limes, but I couldn't find any at this time of year.

Though this recipes doesn't use them, I do have to wax nostalgic about these fruits. Have you ever used a Makrut lime? Here's a brief intro to the limes - when I used to call them 'Kaffir' limes until I discovered there is some controversy about the name 'kaffir'. Not being an Arabic speaker, I can only accept what I am reading. Apparently 'kaffir' means 'infidel' or 'non-believer'. And it's largely used as a slur.

Okay, enough said. A lime by any other names...well, they are still as aromatic, unique, and gorgeous as before. But I now call them by their religiously-neutral name!

In addition to the fruit looking like little green brains, the leaves are doubled. So unique. I wish I could have found them for this post. Oh, well...I used regular limes for this recipe. But before we get to that, here's what the other bloggers posted for our final month of the Crazy Ingredient Challenge.

Capers + Lime Calamari Salad

I decided to make a marinated calamari salad that used both capers and lime. You can check out my post HOW TO: Clean Squid, if you've never done it before.

  • 1 pound calamari, cleaned and tubes cut into 1" lengths
  • 6 to 8 fresh lemons, juiced (I used Meyer lemons from a tree in my parents' yard)
  • 1 fresh lime, juiced + 1 more sliced into wedges for serving
  • 2 T capers
  • 1/2 C diced yellow bell pepper (you can use any color, I just had yellow)
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 T olive oil
  • lettuce leaves for serving

Quickly blanch the calamari and, then, place them in a glass dish and cover them with the mixture of lemon and lime juice. The calamari should be completely covered by juice; if not, you'll just want to stir them every couple of hours.

Cover the dish and place it in the refrigerator. Let the seafood marinate in the citrus juice for at least 4 hours. The calamari is already cooked from the blanching, but the marinating gives them a nice flavor.

After 4 hours, or longer, drain the juice, but reserve 2 T. Place the seafood into a large mixing bowl and add in the diced bell pepper and caper. Pour in olive oil and toss to coat. Stir in remaining citrus juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately on a bed or lettuce with lime wedges on the side or return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bison Dogs with Drunken Onions #HotDogDay

Christie from A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures is hosting the Festive Foodies for National Hot Dog Day. My favorite podcast is FoodStuff. And Anney and Lauren got frank about hot dogs; you can hear that here, but I'll give you a few snippets.

Let's start with a definition: "A hot dog is a tube of fine-ground meat, usually beef or beef and pork, seasoned with stuff like coriander, mustard seed, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, garlic, sugar, and salt. Usually cured. Sometimes smoked. ...Savory, salty,'s simply a type of pre-cooked sausage." Frankfurter or wiener or wienie are other names for them, too.

As far as the meat goes, all-beef, beef and pork, turkey, and caribou have all been turned into hot dogs. Anything goes.

The average American consumes 60 hot dogs. I find that stunning. I have maybe two a year.

Many Americans believe there is a "proper hot dog" and everyone else is wrong. "Ketchup is 'unacceptable'." According to Lauren, it's only a hot dog if it's on a toasted bun with brown mustard and sauerkraut. So, here's what the Festive Foodies served...

So, for my offering, I wanted to do something a little bit different and opted for bison dogs and no buns. I served these on a bed of caramelized onions with a splash of bourbon.

  • bison wieners (or whatever hot dog you prefer)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 organic white onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1-1/2 ounce bourbon or whiskey (you choose!)

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a flat bottom pan. Add the onions and stir to coat completely with oil. Spread the onions out over the bottom of the pan. Stirring occasionally, the onions will turn from white to clear, then golden and, finally, to a deep caramel brown. It might take 40 to 60 minutes.

Just when they've gotten to the point that they look ready, add in 1-1/2 ounces of bourbon and let it simmer until it's absorbed.

Cook the dogs however you wish. I grilled them quickly.

To serve, place a scoop of drunken onions on an individual serving plate. Top with grilled hot dogs and serve immediately.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Bagna Cauda-Bathed Egg Salad Toasts #KitchenMatrixCookingProject

Here we are at the third #KitchenMatrixCookingProject post for July. This month I picked the dishes with easy recipes to inspire some al fresco dinners. My family and I have been taking our meals outside often. On the weekends we have been eating every meal out there. And, during the week, dinners are served on the patio.

 We love the fresh air and warmer than usual evenings. 

It's a great way to spend a meal with those you love. 

Earlier we shared chicken wing recipes and gazpacho recipes; this week, I picked Hard Boiled Eggs + 12 Ways. You can read more about our project: here. We'd love to have you join us. 

The Other Eggy Offerings

Bagna Cauda-Bathed Egg Salad Toasts
Though I was intrigued by the pickled eggs (don't worry, I'll try those soon!) and we are fans of anything with curry, but I really wanted to share my favorite egg salad with bagna cauda-bathed toasts.

First: I think the best way to cook eggs is to boil them for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat completely and let the eggs cool in the cooking water.

What really makes this recipe outstanding is the bagna caudaBagna cauda, literally translated as "hot bath," this dipping sauce appears in many Italian homes as part of the Christmas feast. Traditionally it's served with cardoons (you can read a little bit about cardoons in this post), but any vegetables will do. Diners dip the cardoons into the sauce and eaten with a slice of bread held to catch the drippings. When the bread is soaked with sauce, they eat it, too. And you start all over again. It's delicious and wonderful. So, I love that this recipe gives the bread a healthy drizzle of bagna cauda.

Bagna Cauda
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 20 anchovy filets (I used a 2 oz can of oil-packed anchovies)
  • 10 to 12 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
Egg Salad
  • 12 large, hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/2 C garlic mayonnaise (recipe below)
  • freshly ground pepper for serving
  • 6 to 8 slices of bread
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
Garlic Mayonnaise
  • 2 t vinegar (I used a white wine vinegar)
  • 2 t freshly lemon juice
  • 3/4 C canola oil
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and pressed
  • 1 t salt

Bagna Cauda
Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic is soft and fragrant, approximtely 5 to 6 minutes. Keep stirring so the garlic Remove from the heat and let the bagna cauda rest in the pan. Before serving, stir to recombine the ingredients.

Garlic Mayonnaise
Whisk the canola and olive oils together. Whisk together the vinegar and lemon juice. Place egg yolk in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the garlic and salt and blend until the yolk is pale yellow, approximately 30 seconds. Add a few drops of the oil and pulse to incorporate the oil into the egg mixture. With the machine running, drizzle in the 1/4 C oil slowly until the egg and oil are emulsified. Turn off the food processor, remove the lid, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and pour in one-third of the vinegar-lemon juice mixture. Return the lid and pulse to combine. Repeat, adding 1/4 C oil at a time and 1/3 of the acid until you have used them all. You will end up with a thickened garlic mayonnaise.

Brush the side of the bread with olive oil and place on a griddle or grill pan until the bread is golden brown and crispy. Remove the toast from the pan and rub the oiled side of each toast with the garlic clove

Egg Salad
Tear the eggs in half to separate the whites from the yolks. Break the yolks in thirds and the whites into sixths. Place all of the pieces into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the eggs with salt. Add the garlic mayonnaise and stir aggressively with a rubber spatula until combined. 

To Serve
Give the bagna cauda a stir and spoon 1 T on each piece of toast. Spoon egg salad onto the toasts and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve with more bagna cauda for diners to drizzle on as needed.

Food, Foodie Gossip, and a Generous Helping of Snark #FoodieReads

After having just re-read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain*, I decided to read one of his books that I hadn't read before - Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain*. I've had it on my shelf for years, but never picked it up till now.

And I'll preface this post with a comment: this book did not inspire me into the kitchen. So, I won't be sharing a recipe here. He did, however, serve up a generous helping of snark. 

I found this book much angrier and filled with contempt. In fact, he has a chapter entitled "Heroes and Villains"...and one called "Alan Richman is a Douchebag." I found some of it interesting, but it doesn't follow a storyline at all. It's just a series of musings on food, foodie gossip, and what he loves and hates in the food industry. Honestly, it felt like disjointed rants that he just wanted to get out of his brain and on to paper. And it's rife with name-dropping punctuated with mud-slinging. So...

Heroes: "Fergus Henderson is a hero. In the best heroic tradition, he'd be mortified to hear this. He's English, for one - and painfully modest about all the adulation. ...I've shamelessly baked in his reflected glory at every opportunity. I am a supporter, an acolyte, a devotee, an advocate for all things Henderson. I am a True Believer" (pp. 143-44). Wylie Dufresne and Grant Achatz rate as heroes in his book, too.

Villains: "Brooke Johnson, the head honcho at Food Network, is a villain. That's an easy one. But she's a villain for being right - not for the cynical, fake-ass, soul-destroying, lowest-common-denominator shit-shows she's nurtured and supported since taking the helm. ...On her watch, the network's audience has exploded. ...And for that, and the fact that she couldn't and probably shouldn't give a shit whether she's a villain or not - she's a villain" (pp. 150-51). Alain Ducasse and the James Beard House rank as villains.

He details what he labels as Alice Waters' hypocrisy and he says, "What  makes Alice Waters such a compelling character is her infectious enthusiasm for pleasure. She's made lust, greed, hunger, self-gratification, and fetishism look good. When Alice shows you a bunch of radishes, you fucking want them. Where have those radishes been all my life? I need them!" (pg. 140).

Despite what I would consider excessive and unnecessary profanity in this Bourdain book, he certainly has a way with words. So, I'll keep reading his books...and regretting that the man who wrote the words is no more because I have a sense he had more to say.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in July 2018: here.

Coffee-Infused Wine? One Sip Melted My Skepticism

Last week a friend posted a photo of this bottle of wine. She didn't actually tag me - she tagged someone else - but I was intrigued. So I located a bottle at my local BevMo and commented that she should come over for dinner to try it. Done.

I'll be honest: I was dubious. I like wine, but I like good wine and this seemed a little too gimmicky to me. Why would I need to drink wine infused with cold brew coffee?!? 

Denise joked, "Do we drink it in the morning? Or at night?" We went for late afternoon.

Okay, so you know I love wine. And you probably know I adore coffee. But I had some reservations about mixing the two together. My skepticism, however, was completely washed away the moment I took the first sip.

The aroma from the glass is strongly of coffee, but not a bitter coffee; think of your favorite fruity coffee bean! On the tongue, it's a subdued red wine that verges on sweet, but not Port or dessert wine sweet. Just less tannic than other reds. In any case, my fears of two rights (red wine and cold brew coffee) making a wrong (coffee-infused wine) were completely unwarranted. I think we all enjoyed this.

I served smashed potatoes with bleu cheese, grilled wild board sausage with mustard, and a fusion entree of  harissa-spiced kofta on top of mini pita with chimichurri on top. Yeah, yeah...that all sounds weird, right? But so does coffee-infused wine! And it all worked.

I will be posting recipes for these dishes soon. Stay tuned!

Salmon Burgers with Roasted Tomatillo Cream and Fresh Corn Salad #GirlCarnivore #BurgeroftheMonth

Welcome to the second Burger of the Month event hosted by Kita of Girl Carnivore. Each month, she will be sending out a list of secret ingredients to inspire a new burger recipe. What delicious, carnivorous fun!

This month's line-up needed to include: corn, tomatillos, salmon, and Old Bay Seasoning.

Just a reminder...last month, someone asked, "Do we need to incorporate all the ingredients? Or do you need to include just one of the ingredients?" The answer - yes, the challenge is to use all of them in your recipe, but they can be toppings, or accoutrements to the burger, so you can get all the components in a single bite.

I was immediately thinking of some burger form of a low country seafood boil, but couldn't really
figure that one out. Kelly of Wildflour's Kitchen Cottage fried the tomatillos and placed the salmon patty on a Southwestern-style cornbread muffin. Genius! Sean who is lucky enough to barbeque for a living in Pennsylvania made homemade Salmon spread for the "cheese" on the bottom, seasoned his burger seasoned with an Old Bay dry rub and topped it all with a smoked tomatillo and grilled corn salsa. Deanna from Seduction in the Kitchen posted a Mexican Salmon Burger that was topped with a delicious looking slaw. Yum.

Salmon Burgers with Roasted Tomatillo Cream 
and Fresh Corn Salad

I decided to skip the bun - at least for me and Jake - hand chop some fresh-from-the-bay salmon, and fold roasted tomatillos into an unsweetened whipped cream as a topping. As for the corn element, raw kernels tossed with an easy herb dressing created my base. Yum. I also mixed in local sea bass as I had some from our CSF (community-supported fishery) Real Good Fish and needed to cook it, too.


Salmon Burgers
  • 1 pound salmon fillet
  • 1 pound sea bass (or use 2 pounds salmon if you wish)
  • 1/4 C diced organic red bell pepper
  • 1 t Old Bay seasoning + more for sprinkling
  • butter for cooking

Corn Salad
  • 2 to 3 ears fresh corn
  • 1/4 C diced organic red bell pepper

Herb Vinaigrette (makes extra!)
  • 1 t minced fresh garlic
  • 2 t minced fresh shallot
  • 2 T chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of cilantro, thyme, and parsley)
  • freshly ground smoked sea salt and flower pepper
  • 1/4 C unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C olive oil

Roasted Tomatillo Cream
  • 1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 2 to 3 T Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe below)

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (makes extra!)
  • 10 tomatillos 
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 whole onion, peeled and quartered
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, if needed


Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lay the tomatillos, jalapeno, and onion on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet.

Roast until the tomatillos are soft, the onions beginning to caramelize, and the pepper is wilted, approximately 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Place all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor.

Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt. If your salsa needs some tang, squeeze in the lemon juice.

Salmon Burgers
Remove the skin of the salmon and any bones and chop into 1/4" chunks. Do the same with the sea bass. Combine ingredients in medium bowl, mixing well. Once everything is combined nicely, form into six 1" thick patties. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon patties. Sprinkle a bit more Old Bay onto each side of the burger as you cook them. Cook until just firm to touch and brown and crusty, approximately 3 minutes on each side.

Herb Vinaigrette
Place all ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar. Shake till emulsified. Dress the salad right before serving.

Roasted Tomatillo Cream
Whip cream into medium peaks. Fold in roasted tomatillo salsa to taste; I used about 2 T for ours.

To Assemble
Toss the herb vinaigrette into the corn and red bell peppers. I only used about 1/3 of the dressing. Keep the rest for another salad!

Place the cooked patty on top of the corn salad. Add a dollop of tomatillo cream on top of the burger.

Enjoy!! And stay tuned for our August burger challenge soon.

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