Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Zucchini Frittata #FoodieExtravaganza


Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month.

Posting day for #FoodieExtravaganza is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

This month, we're celebrating zucchini with Sue of Palatable Pastime leading the charge. She wrote: "National Zucchini Day - let's have some fun using this versatile vegetable in your favorite recipes. Note the actual holiday is on the 8th, the event is on the 1st."


The Others
Please visit the other Foodie Extravaganza posts...


Zucchini Master
He still talks about this zucchini. "Remember when I grew a zucchini that was almost as big as I was?" he asks enthusiastically. Yes! He did plant some Eight-Ball Zucchini this year, but they didn't do very well. So, I picked up some regular-sized squash at the farmers' market for this creation.



Zucchini Frittata
Frittata is something that we make all the time as a way to use up leftover veggies. But if you use one kind, in this case zucchini, and slice it really thin, it creates an elegant slice. This was one very large zucchini, six eggs, a pat of butter, herbs from the garden, and reallly good salt for a delicious summertime dinner!

Ingredients makes one 8" frittata

  • 3 to 4 zucchini, thinly sliced (I use my mandolin slicer set on the thinnest setting)
  • 1 T butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 C fresh herbs (I used oregano, thyme, and parsley)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • flake salt for serving


Procedure
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter your baking dish and layer in your zucchini. Beat the herbs and ground pepper into the eggs. And pour the eggs over the zucchini. Move the zucchini around to make sure that the egg mixture penetrates to the bottom of the pan.

Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Uncover and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Let cool slightly. Sprinkle with good quality flake salt and serve. This is just as good cold the next day.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Bottling Up the Season for Cocktails #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Here we are at the final #KitchenMatrixCookingProject post for July. This month I picked the dishes with easy recipes to inspire some al fresco dinners. This week, I decided to celebrate with cocktails. Twelve different cocktail that Bittman suggests, actually. But time got away from me before we left for our annual camping trip and I didn't have a chance to whip up any cocktails. Crazy, right?! So, I'm going to share something a little different this week. But please check out the other cocktails from the Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project gals. Cheers!


Every once in awhile you meet someone who is creativity incarnate. Almost twenty years ago, while I was in college, I met Jenn of Maker, Baker, Glitter Shaker. And a few years ago, I met Katie of Bar Cart Cocktail Co.


I am constantly in awe of those beautiful gals and realize that what impresses me every time I taste or sip something of theirs: their delightful, delectable details. I have to admit that while I am duly inspired after spending time with them; I also feel like a great big copycat when I recreate something they have done because, well, I certainly would never have thought to do something like it. Still, I am grateful to have them as muses. I mean, the girl knows who to set a table that's a feast for all senses.

A couple of years ago I attended Katie's Flowers + Gin event at Folktale Winery in Carmel Valley; she teamed up with Lolo of Burst + Bloom again for a fun girls' afternoon. I had gone to their inaugural event in earlier in the year when we bottled up some late Winter and early Spring flavors. This time, we worked with the flavors of Fall, including pine needles, sugar pine cones, madrone berries, and more.



Okay, time to share some of these delicious details. Have you ever considered encasing part of your garnish in ice? I hadn't. And I can't imagine why not. It's lovely. Katie froze pine needles for the second cocktail of the day...


 ...and the final sip included acorn ice cubes.


Another detail I plan to blatantly steal: the flower totem. We threaded blooms onto the slightly woody stem of a dried scabiosa flower. I used marigold, amaranth, and rose petals.


This is how the flower totem looks in a cocktail. Gorgeous, isn't it?!


I will share some recipes - my versions anyway - eventually. But, for this, I just wanted to admit my girlie crush and source of inspiration for homemade infusions and beautiful, unique garnishes. I love bottling the season for future cocktails.

Friday, July 27, 2018

HOW TO: Read a Champagne Label


As I begin to prepare for August's French Winophiles' event - hosted by Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog who has us focusing on Grower Champagne - I picked up a couple of bottles to test, taste, and pair. I know, I know: Life is rough for a food and wine blogger.


So, if you know only one thing about champagne, it's probably that it has to come from Champagne, the region in France. Anything else is sparkling wine. Don't get me wrong, there's lots and lots of good sparkling wine from Prosecco to Cremant and beyond. But this post is about reading a Champagne label and there's actually quite a bit of information to be gleaned from them.

Since I'm learning...I figured I'd share the knowledge with you. Here's how to read a Champagne label.... 


The appellation ‘Champagne’ must be clearly displayed. Yep.


...the brand of Champagne. This bottle was made by Louise Brison.


...the style of wine, as defined by level of sweetness or dosage, e.g., Brut, Demi-Sec, Sec, etc. This bottle was Brut.


...the bottle capacity - in L, cl, or mL. This bottle was 375 mL.


...the percentage of alcohol by volume. This bottle was 12.5% alcohol by volume.


...any allergen content such as sulphur dioxide, sulphites, etc. This bottle did contain sulfites.


...the warning about potential harm is required by certain countries including the US. The warning cautions against drinking while pregnant and drinking before driving.



...optional information that can be included at the producer’s discretion are the varietals used, date of disgorgement, and even suggested food-and-wine pairings. This bottle was made with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir grapes and disgorged on November 20, 2017.


So, here's the most interesting thing that I learned as I was trying to locate Grower Champagne. Martin and Jeff of FoodWineClick! reminded me to look for the 'RM'...and I could remember that if it had that, it was made by the grower as in 'faRMer.' That's a good way to remember.


This bottle is! RM-26720-01. That's the registration and code number issued by the Comité Champagne, preceded by two initials that indicate the category of producer.

  • NM for Négociant-Manipulant (entity or person that buys grapes, must, or wine to make Champagne on their own estate and sell it under their own imprint)
  • RM for Récoltant Manipulant (growers who make and sell Champagne under their own label, from grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards and processed on their own estate)
  • CM for Coopérative de Manipulation (wine co-op that sells Champagne made from members’ grapes)
  • RC for Récoltant-Coopérateur (cooperative growers who sell co-op produced Champagne under their own label)
  • SR for Société de Récoltants (family of growers that make and sell Champagne under its own imprint, using grapes sourced from family vineyards)
  • ND for Négociant Distributeur (distributor who sells finished bottles made by someone else with his own label)
  • MA for Marque d’Acheteur (‘own brand’ label is produced exclusively for one client such as a single store or a celebrity or something like that)

That's it. I'm sure there's more to know. But, if you remember these things, you'll be able to purchase a bottle of Champagne with a little bit more knowledge than if you didn't. I know I feel more informed! Looking forward to continued Champagne testing and tasting for the #Winophiles event next month.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Sand Dabs en Papillote


CSF pick-up day, from Real Good Fish, might just be my favorite food day of the week! This week we received pan-ready sand dabs - 'pan-ready' meaning that they had been headed and gutted for me. All I needed to do was figure out how we wanted to eat them.

I love reading the weekly newsletter for information on which fisherman and which boat caught the seafood. In this case it was Geoff Bettencourt on the Miss Moriah in Half Moon Bay. It also said, "For maximum freshness, eat or freeze by: 7/26." Easy!

Sand Dabs (Citharichthys sordidus) are a flatfish like the sole, halibut, and flounder. Not too fishy and quick to cook.


En papillote is a method of cooking that involves making an envelope out of parchment paper and roasting the fish in the package. I love it! The steam produced in the packet keeps the fish moist, and it's a fun presentation to open the fish packet at the table.

Ingredients serves 4
  • 4 to 8 sand dab fillets, cleaned (you can put 2 sand dabs into each packet, if you have enough fish)
  • 1 C thinly sliced roasted bell peppers (HOW TO: Roast Peppers), divided
  • 1/2 C kalamata olive, pitted and halved, divided
  • 8 sprigs organic cilantro
  • 4 t chopped organic mint leaves, divided
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • also needed: parchment paper



Procedure
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Place 1/4 C roasted peppers on the center of a piece of parchment paper that’s long enough that you can completely envelop your ingredients and create a packet. Place a fillet on top of the peppers and top the fish with 1/8 C olives.

Lay the herbs - 2 sprigs cilantro and 1 t chopped mint - on top of that. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. 

Bring the sides of the parchment up around the fillet and fold the edges together, rolling it down to the fish. Crimp the ends together, folding them in till fish is completely enclosed. Place the packet on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roast for 25 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and let steam for another five minutes. Serve as is, letting diners open their packets at the table.


You will be seeing this dish paired with a Malvasia Bianco for an upcoming #ItalianFWT. Stay tuned. Cin cin.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

HOMEmade Pork Sausage with Chef Brad Briske


When I first saw the email from HOME about their 2-hour Pork & Pint Party, I scooped up two tickets immediately, thinking that it would be a great date afternoon for me and Jake. But as the event inched closer, a project deadline was looming for Jake and R, so I ended up taking my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf with me instead.


I think it worked out for the best anyway. Some kids have a favorite band or favorite musician. My kid has a favorite chef and it's Chef Brad!

As we were driving up to Soquel, D wondered if the pig was going to be intact, meaning with a head and entrails in place. He said that he needed to mentally prepare for that, but I'll write more about that when I showcase Rancho Llano Seco, the ranch that provided the heritage pig for the class.


D visibly relaxed when he saw that the pig did not have a head and entrails. He watched, entranced, as Chef Brad butchered the pig.


We learned about the leaf lard...


 and the coppa.


And when Chef Brad was done, D jumped into the hands-on part of the class: making HOMEmade pork sausage. This isn't a recipe, per se, but I'll share the process we learned. 

They ground the meat - not with the hand grinder, but he did show them that one; they used the Hobart and it was much, much faster.


They seasoned the meat with brown sugar, Maldon flake salt, fennel seeds, paprika, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.


They added in minced garlic, fresh oregano, and fresh parsley.


Then they donned gloves and mixed that all in by hand. Thank goodness the teenagers were game; all the adults were busily sipping beer as the 'pint' part of the Pork & Pint party.


Chef Brad brought out the sausage stuffer, demonstrating how to load the casings on to the tube. Then they stuffed the sausages.


They made links by pressing into the casing at 6" intervals and spinning the sausage for three rotations, alternating directions. Brad made it seem easy. D said it wasn't easy.


And we ended up with some beautiful pork sausages.



Everyone wrapped some and took sausages home.


Chef Brad did roast some of the sausages in the wood-burning pizza oven for us to enjoy right then and there.


I cooked ours a couple of nights later - oven-roasted in cast iron - and the little critic said Chef Brad's was better. No doubt.


It's always a treat to connect with food purveyors and local chefs! I'm grateful for these opportunities to underscore that the meat we eat was once an animal and how simple, fresh ingredients make amazingly tasty meals.


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