Friday, October 19, 2018

Poulet au Citron et Lavande + La Lôyane 2016 #Winophiles #rhonevalleyvineyards #lirac #liracwines #Sponsored

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

This month the French Winophiles are exploring the wines of Lirac. And Rhône Valley Vineyards and Teuwen Communications graciously provided some of the bloggers with samples.* If you're reading this early enough, jump on Twitter and follow the hashtags #Winophiles, #rhonevalleyvineyards, #lirac, or #liracwines. We'll be live on Saturday, October 20th at 8am Pacific time. Or you can peruse the stream at your leisure anytime by searching for those tags.

Lirac
Lirac, named for the village, is a wine-growing Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) that sits in the low hills along the Rhône river in the southern Rhône region of France. Vineyards have been cultivated there since the Roman times almost two millennia ago and by the 1500s the wines were lauded by the French royal courts for their quality. This AOC is completely new to me, so I was grateful for the chance to explore it.

The Other Lirac Pairings

In My Glass

Though I received four different red wines from Lirac, I opted to share my pairing for the La  Lôyane 2016 - mainly because I liked the name! “La  Lôyane” is the historical name of the region where the domaine was built; in ancient times it meant a “territory occupied by wolves.”


Domaine La  Lôyane was established in 2001, but the estate has been growing grapes in Lirac for four generations. Today, the estate is managed by Romain Dubois and his wife Laure; they oversee 75 acres in Lirac and Tavel and farm them all organically.

This single vineyard release comes from an area called “Les Theys” which boasts the oldest Grenache vines in all of Lirac, hence the 'vielles vignes' on the label.

A blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, this wine has strong garrigue aromas which refers to the wild, aromatic low-growing vegetation on the limestone hills of the Mediterranean coast. Think juniper, thyme, rosemary and lavender; 'garrigue' refers to the lot of them. For this ruby-hued wine, I got mostly lavender and thyme on the nose. And the salinity on the tongue definitely made me think of the Mediterranean.

On  My Plate

I decided to mirror those garrigue notes by making a pan-crisped chicken dish rubbed with lavender, thyme, lemon zest, and sea salt.


Poulet au Citron et Lavande

Ingredients 
serves 4 to 6, depending on appetite
  • 6 to 8 organic bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • juice and zest from 1 organic lemon + lemon slices for serving
  • 1 T crushed lavender + more for serving, if desired
  • 1 T flake salt
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
Procedure

 In a large bowl, combine lavender, thyme, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well. Rub the mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a heavy skillet, melt 1 T butter in olive oil. Place the skin side of chicken down and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.


Turn the chicken over. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, as desired, and serve immediately.


 I served this with smashed red potatoes and a salad.

Find the Sponsor...
Rhône Valley Vineyards on the web, on Instagram, on Twitter
*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.

Soganli Tavuk Yahnisi (Turkish Chicken Stew) #SoupSwappers


Here we are at the October Soup Saturday Swappers event. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and each and every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile. I love all the fun themes this group picks to explore.

This month, Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice is hosting as we explore stews. It's definitely turning colder and darker. So, I'm grateful to have new recipes to try.

Colleen wrote: "Think true comfort food! What is the rich creamy stew which you turn to first when you are in need of a little pick me up?"





Soganli Tavuk Yahnisi
Turkish Chicken Stew

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 2 organic white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1½ C tomato sauce
  • 2 T flour
  • 1½ C chicken broth
  • ½ t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground cardamom
  • cooked rice for serving


Procedure
Melt butter in olive oil in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the onions and sauté until they start to turn translucent. Add in the chopped chicken and sauté until cooked through.

Stir in the flour, black pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and ground cardamom. Toss to coat all the chicken with the flour. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the sauce is thickened and reduced, approximately 20 minutes. Ladle stew hot over a bed of cooked rice. Serve immediately.

What's your favorite stew?

2014 Long Meadow Ranch Merlot #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Long Meadow Ranch, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

So, here's a funny story. When I received ten bottles of Merlot from different #MerlotMe sponsors, I put a few in my easy-to-grab wine rack, a few in the wine racks down the side of my bookshelf, and a few I hadn't unpacked from their shipping boxes yet. Yikes.

When I saw a post from another #WinePW blogger that featured this wine, I commented that I needed to track down a bottle for myself. Then I was moving wine around this week and found this bottle. Oh, my goodness! Well, I didn't have to work too hard to track down a bottle, I suppose; there was one in my living room.

The Ranch
Long Meadow Ranch, in Napa Valley, is owned by the Halls - Ted, Laddie, and Christopher. And they have integrated each element to work in a complementary fashion. So the vineyards, wine-making, olive orchards, olive oil-mkaing, cattle, horses, egg-laying flock, and organic vegetable gardens overlap using simple, sustainable methods. And all their crops are certified organic. Love it!

The Wine
This Merlot is a blend of 75% Merlot, 24% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 0.5% Sangiovese. Interesting combination!

Winemaker Ashley Heisey has both domestic and international wine-making experience and she focuses on crafting wine that is a genuine reflection of their terroir. About this wine, she notes, "Plum, black cherry and intense, but positively rich, fruit cake aromas on the nose. Graphite, cedar and tobacco flavors integrate with the balanced tannins and expand on the palate with mouth filling intensity."


The Pairing
Though she suggests pairing this Merlot with grass-fed beef, ribs, or pulled pork sandwiches, I decided to go with a Middle Eastern-inspired poultry dish. I made a Pomegranate Chicken Tagine to go with the 2014 Long Meadow Ranch Merlot.

Find Long Meadow Ranch
on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Whole Vermilion Snapper with Fennel and Blood Oranges #FreakyFruitsFriday #MelissasProduce #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Melissa's Produce.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

You can read more about this #FreakyFruitsFriday challenge in my Spicy Prawn and Freaky Fruits Noodle Salad recipe post from last Friday. But the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf could not be swayed from his idea of roasting a whole fish with the blood oranges. Okay, fine. Before I get to our recipe, though, please see the list of the other creations today...


Today's Freaky Fruit: Blood Oranges

In my mind, there's nothing really freaky about the blood orange, besides the name. These are usually slightly smaller than the average orange with skin that might have darker red blotches. The pulp can be deep pink to crimson, but it can also just have streaks of color interspersed with a typical orange flesh. They are also, at least in my experience, sweeter than regular oranges.


Whole Vermilion Snapper 
with Fennel and Blood Oranges

Ingredients serves 3 to 4
  • 2 whole vermillion snapper, approximately 1-1/2 pounds each, scaled and gutted
  • 4 blood oranges, 2 thinly sliced + 2 supremed
  • juice from 1 blood orange
  • 1 fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced  (approximately 1-1/2 C, divided)
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
  • 4 T olive oil + more for salad
  • 1 t fennel pollen, divided
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
In a mixing bowl, toss together onions and 1 C sliced fennel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay out the whole fish on silicone mat or parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt, pepper, and 1/2 t fennel pollen. Stuff the cavity with the onion-fennel mixture and blood orange slices.

Lay more of the fennel-onion on top and cover with a slice or two of blood orange. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. The fish is done with the flesh in the thickest part has turned opaque. While the fish cooks, mix remaining 1/2 C sliced fennel with blood orange juice and a splash of olive oil. Toss to coat and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.


To serve, move whole fish to a platter. Add fennel salad to the sides and top with supremed blood orange segments. Serve immediately.

You may find Melissa's...
on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Leftover Chinese Food, a Hotel Room, and a Plastic Cup of Peju #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Peju Winery, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

As a food blogger, a huge number of our meals are photo ready and paired with wine. But not always. Sometimes, I'm sitting in a hotel, eating cold leftover Chinese food from lunch, and drinking wine from a plastic cup. At least it was good wine!


We had spent nearly twelve hours at a robotics competition. The robot was broken. 


The boys were working on the code for the following day. I just wanted to take a shower and read a book.


But I was grateful for the bottle of Merlot that Peju Winery had sent me for #MerlotMe. Though this is a California winery, it was completely new to me. And I was happy to make its acquaintance.

Peju was started by Tony and Herta Peju in the early 80s with a laser focus on being sustainable and environmentally conscious across all five of their estates. Over three decades later, that meticulous care is still in force. In fact, the Peju daughters, Lisa and Ariana, are poised to take the reins in the near future.

Peju's Rutherford Estate, in Napa Valley, is a certified organic vineyard and produces primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The Persephone Ranch, the Pope Valley, is sustainably farmed and grows Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. This 2014 Merlot is comprised of a 97% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc from both of those vineyards.

This is an elegant wine. And, despite my horrible drinking vessel, the wine felt deliciously decadent and complex. With bright aromas of red fruits, its taste leaned more towards a chocolate mousse with a silky mouthfeel and hints of spice. Delicious! And at a suggested retail price of $42, it falls somewhere between an everyday bottle and a fancy dinner bottle.

I'll be honest: it wasn't bad with the fish and black bean sauce and veggie chow mein I was eating while sitting cross-legged on the bed. I'll definitely be tracking down another bottle soon and pairing it with a home-cooked meal. I'm picturing a rib-eye and mushroom risotto or something with a similar flavor profile. Stay tuned.

Find Peju Winery
on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Tahini-Poached Black Cod Over Squid Ink Pasta #SeafoodMonthChallenge


A friend sent me a link to this Seafood Month Challenge levied by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Read about the challenge here. I'm always up for a cooking challenge!


What luck that my CSF (community-supported fishery) Real Good Fish share this week was freshly caught black cod also called sablefish. This black cod was caught by fisherman Daniel Deyerle on the FV Sea Harvest II with a Bottom Set Long Line off of Moss Landing. Black cod caught this way is a 'best choice' according to Seafood Watch.


I decided to poach the black cod in a lemon-tahini sauce and serve it atop squid ink pasta. The peanut gallery wanted cheese, cheese, and more cheese on top. So I pulled out a wedge of Grana Padano and they went to town.


Luckily I had a glut of lemons that the boys had just picked from my parents' tree for a Lemon Meringue Tart I made for a friend's dad last weekend. I served this slightly tart pasta with grilled zucchini and poured a Greco di Tufo to pair. Che squisito!

Ingredients serves 4

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds black cod fillets
  • 3/4 C tahini
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (this was approximately 6 Meyer lemons)
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 1 t butter
  • 4 C baby kale leaves
  • squid ink pasta
  • Grana Padano cheese, for serving
  • black sesame seeds for serving

Procedure

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, and warm water until well-combined. Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter in 1 T sesame oil. Place the cod fillets, skin-side down, in the pan and sear for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. 

In the same pan, stir in the pressed garlic and cook for just a minute until it is aromatic but hasn't yet started to brown. Add in the baby kale and cook until it just starts to wilt. Pour in the tahini and bring to a simmer. Gently lower the fillets into the tahini sauce, this time skin-side up, and cover to poach. You just want the fish opaque, ours took just about 4 minutes; it'll depend on the thickness of your pieces. Once the fish is cooked, remove it from the sauce.

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and fold it into the tahini sauce. Drizzle with remaining sesame oil and toss to coat completely.


To serve, place a portion of pasta on individual serving plates. Top with the cooked black cod and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.


Let diners grate as much cheese over the top as they wish. My crew wanted lots of cheese.


That's my offering for the third week of the #SeafoodMonthChallenge. We'll be back next week with our take on finfish. Okay, I'll have to put on my thinking cap for that one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Red Wine-Braised Beef Ragu Over Pasta + a Pasta-Clad Performance Artist in Rome #FantasticalFoodFight


I love the Fantastical Food Fight coordinated by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. For more information about the event, click here.



I almost didn't participate this month because Jake and I have been reducing our carb intake and pasta is one of those that was easy to cut out. But, seriously, how could I resist?!?! So, I threw some beef in the Dutch oven and went to work. This was a fantastic lunch break today. I love the flexibility of this preparation. Today I used red wine because, well, because we're in the middle of #MerlotMe month and I have a lot of partially consumed bottles of wine. But you can use more broth, white wine, and even cranberry juice if you wish.

And, I know, this isn't really about the pasta...it's about the sauce. Oh, well. No one eats pasta plain, do they?!


The Pasta Food Fight


Ragu vs. Sugo...and a Performance Artist in Rome Covered in Pasta
I've heard these terms used interchangeably, but the way I've always used them is different. 'Sugo' refers to a sauce that's tomato-based while 'ragu' is also tomato-based, but requires meat. So, I'm calling this a ragu...and going to share a funny 'sugo' story. I don't know why this popped into my head; I haven't thought about this night in decades. But I shared the story with my boys and they laughed and laughed.

So, you may know that I lived in Rome for 13 months after I graduated from college. I was working as an au pair and all of my friends were also au pairs, but my best friend was an au pair from Denmark: Rikke. She and I were both taking care of school-aged kids, so after we dropped off our charges at school, we met up to see something beautiful everyday. Maybe it was a new-to-us church or a museum. But, we wanted to take full advantage of our home city for the year and learn something new everyday.

One day, when Rikke was on the bus to come meet me, she met a guy. I think they were reading the same book or he commented on the book she was reading. Those details are fuzzy. In any case, the bus ride ended with her being invited to a party that night. Because she didn't know him and because she didn't want to go by herself, she talked me into going with her. Though going to a party late at night wasn't exactly what I wanted to do, I definitely didn't want her going alone, so I agreed.

We arrived at the address and the building was pitch black. But we noticed there was a glow from some narrow windows at the street level. Great, I thought, this is a creepy, subterranean party. Someone emerged from a staircase we hadn't noticed before and we said that Elio had invited us. They motioned for us to come in.

We wound our way down the staircase, squeezing between people until we emerged in a cavernous basement. Bottles of wine were lined up on a table and a cacaphony of chatter and laughter invaded our ears. I remember leaning over to Rikke and asking, "Do you see him?" No, she whispered back. We moved further and further into the party and I kept asking her if she could see Elio. No, not yet! We continued searching for this mysterious guy who had invited her to this party.

I vaguely remember different art pieces on the walls, but I could be wrong. It's been over two decades since that night. But what happened next was seared into my brain forever. Someone dressed all in black clapped their hands and all eyes turned to him. We were told to follow him. 

We entered through a doorway draped with ribbons or crepe paper. The room was tiny and dimly lit. We walked single file around a table. On the table was a man. A naked man. Well, naked with pasta and sauce covering his private areas. As we got closer to the table, Rikke gripped my arm and squeezed hard. "I found Elio." O dio!

We waited until he emerged, clad in a robe this time. And, as soon as we congratulated him on his performance art, we high-tailed it out of there.


Ingredients 
  • 1 T  olive oil
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds beef, cubed (I used chuck...you can use really any cut of meat because it braises so long that it will be tender)
  • 1 C onion, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 C diced carrots
  • 1 C diced celery
  • 1 C broth (I used beef broth)
  • 2 C diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 C red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 C thinly sliced basil
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • pasta for serving (I used spaghetti)
  • parmesan for serving, optional


Procedure 
Heat the oil in a large, dutch oven. Add the beef into the pot. Sear on each side for  3 to 5 minutes - until a nice brown begins to appear. Add the onions and garlic to the pot. Let them cook until the onion is translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add in the carrots and celery. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour in the broth and red wine. Add in the tomatoes and stir in the bay leaves, thyme, basil, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the meat braise for 3 to 4 hours - longer is fine, if you need to. You can leave the beef in cubes or shred the meat a little bit.

Once the beef is tender. Remove the cover and turn up the heat to reduce the sauce to your desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To serve, mix some of the ragu in with your pasta. Portion out your pasta into individual servings. Spoon more sauce over the top. Serve immediately. You can grate parmesan over the top, if you like; I didn't have any this afternoon, so I skipped it.

Pomegranate Chicken Tagine #RecipeTesting #FreakyFruitsFriday #MelissasProduce #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Melissa's Produce.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

You can read in my recipe post - Passionfruit-Vanilla Panna Cotta - how Melissa's Produce ended up sending a selection of their 'Freaky Fruits' to me and some of my Festive Foodies pals. And, because there was just too much goodness to fit into a two-day event, I am sharing some bonus recipes as I recipe test for October's #FreakyFruitsFriday.

Pomegranates

One of the freaky fruits they sent was a pomegranate. It's not too freaky, but can leave bloody pools all over your workspace. I have a trick to getting out all of the arils with minimal carnage. I'll share in a second. But, first a bit about the fruit.

Originally from Persia, pomegranates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits. Ancient Romans used the skins in the process of tanning leather. Perhaps due to the fruit's princely blossom crown, it has gained distinction as a royal fruit. Chaucer, Shakespeare and Homer have all extolled the virtues of the pomegranate in literature. The Moors brought the seedy fruit to Spain where Granada was named for it. The first pomegranate was planted in Britain by King Henry VIII. It reached our shores by way of the Spanish conquistadors.

This is my tried and true method for getting out every single aril without making my counter look like I massacred something...

Roll the fruit around on the counter gently - not so much that you crush the arils, but enough to loosen the fruit from the skin. Slice the fruit in half. Submerge the two halves in a bowl of cool water and gently the edges to open the fruit. Turn the half upside down in the water and hit it with the back of a wooden spoon. The arils will fall into the water with the seeds sinking to the bottom and any pieces of pith floating to the top. Remove any stragglers with your fingers. Scoop out any pith and drain. Voilà!

Tagine

Because of the pomegranate's Persian roots, I decided to make this dish in my tagine, but you can easy use a Dutch oven or an pot in which you braise. A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. So, it refers to both the cooking vessel and the resulting food; it is also called a maraq/marqa in North Africa and the Middle East. It's a pretty amazing pot.

Mentions of the tagine date back to Harun al-Rashid who was a ruler of the Early Muslim conquests and it appears in the 9th century collection of stories One Thousand and One Nights. At the same time, it was noted during the Islamic reign of the Abbasid Empire that stretched from the Middle East/Asia to North Africa and Andalusia. 

The dish was used by nomadic Bedouin people of the Arabian Peninsula, who added dried fruits such as dates, apricots and plums to it. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal with the shape of the lid acting as a self-basting tool. The circular base is flat with low sides and the cover is a large cone-shape that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to collect all condensation and re-direct to back to the bottom.

Pomegranate Chicken Tagine

Ingredients serves 8
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • ¼ t saffron threads, pulverized
  • ½  t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • ½ t ground cardamom
  • 8 chicken thighs  or a whole chicken, cut in 8 to 10 pieces
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 2 T pomegranate molasses
  • 1 pomegranate, deseeded (as described above) for serving
  • cooked rice for serving


Procedure
Blend garlic, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom together. Rub chicken with mixture, cover, refrigerate and marinate 3 to 4 hours. 

Heat half of the oil in heavy skillet, or base of the tagine. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Heat the remaining oil in the tagine. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned.

Tuck the cinnamon sticks into the onions and place the browned chicken on top of that.

Pour stock over chicken and drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.


To serve, place a scoop of cooked rice on an individual serving plate. Top with braised chicken and cooked onions. Sprinkle with pomegranate arils and serve immediately. I served this with a lightly dressed wild arugula salad.

You may find Melissa's...
on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.


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