Thursday, October 18, 2018

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.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lemon Meringue Tart


Last week I received a message from a friend who asked if I would be willing to bake a lemon meringue pie for her dad's birthday. She and I went to high school together and her parents are still local; she and her family were coming in just for the day and didn't want to run around town looking for a pie. No problem! I'm always happy to make food for friends!


Since my parents are out of town, I took the boys over there and we raided the Meyer lemon tree. Nothing like those fragrant citrus to make a tasty tart.


Ingredients makes two 9" tarts

Crust
  • 2-1/2 C flour
  • 1 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C butter (2 sticks), cubed
  • 1 t pure lemon extract
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/4 C gin or vodka (or you can use all water if you prefer not to use gin or vodka)
Filling
  • 8 eggs, separated (reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
  • 10 T flour
  • 2 C water
  • 2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (this was approximately 8 Meyer lemons)
  • zest from 4 organic Meyer lemons
  • 6 T butter
Meringue
  • 8 egg whites
  • 4 T organic powdered sugar
  • 2 t cream of tartar

Procedure

Crust
In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse until chunks the size of small peas form. Pour in lemon extract, vanilla extract, water, and gin. Pulse, again, till the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and knead 2 to 3 times. 

Divide in half and press dough into tart pans. Chill in the freezer while you preheat the oven. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pre-bake the pie crust for 17 to 20 minutes. The crust should be firm and slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven, set aside, and let cool.

Filling
Whisk egg yolks in medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together water and sugar. Turn heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for one minute. Add 1 ladle-full of the syrup to the egg yolks to temper them, then pour the remaining eggs into the syrup. Cook for another minute.

Remove from heat and gently stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter until well combined. Whisk in the flour so there are no clumps, then return to the stove, over low heat, and cook until the mixture thickens to a curd consistency.

Pour the filling into the baked pie shell and set aside. Work quickly to make the meringue.


Meringue
Place egg whites in a clean medium mixing bowl. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add powdered sugar and cream of tartar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the meringue over the filling, making sure that the meringue reaches all the way to the edge of the crust. Use a spoon to make some peaks in the meringue as the tops will brown nicely while the low spots will stay white.


Place the pie back in the oven. Bake until meringue is golden, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is completely cool before slicing.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Yemarina Yewotet Dabo (Ethiopian Honey Bread) #WorldBreadDay


Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories invited the Festive Foodies to join her for #WorldBreadDay. She wrote: "Preheat your oven. October 16 is World Bread Day. In honor of the day, please bake any bread of your choice using yeast or sourdough. New posts only. Here's more info about the day. https://anydayguide.com/calendar/3377."

Honestly, that woman is bread-making genius. So, I wasn't sure I wanted to join in; her beautiful breads are seriously intimidating. But, then I realized, my bread baking is never going to improve if I don't bake bread. Makes sense, right? So I put on my thinking cap and let the boys do some reseaching, too, since they were on Fall Break. Before I get to my pick, here's our global bread basket...

Yemarina Yewotet Dabo 
(Ethiopian Honey Bread)

We were inspired by this recipe. It's a simple, delicious bread and I love that Ethiopia is the leading African country in the production of beeswax - and in the top 10 worldwide. This is a recipe a somewhat uncommon bread called Yemarina Yewotet Dabo. The three words mean: Yemar, honey; yewotet, milk; and dabo, bread in Amharic, one of the main languages of Ethiopia. As far as my honeys went, I used a local-to-me honey from Carmel and, for serving, some honey that a friend gave me from her travels in Spain.

This is slightly adapted from the original recipes I found. I added more spices and reduced the butter. Also, just to clarify, the first rise was in a stainless bowl; the second rise - and the baking - was done in a stoneware bowl.

Ingredients
  • 1 T active, dry yeast
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 2 T honey + 1/2 C (I used a local honey)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C milk, warmed
  • 6 T butter, softened
  • 5-1/2 C flour + more for kneading
  • oil (I used canola oil)
  • butter and honey for serving (I used a honey from Spain)

Procedure
Place warm water and 2 T honey in a mixing bowl. Whisk to dissolve honey, then add the yeast and let bloom for 10 minutes. The mixture should be foamy.

Whisk the egg, 1/2 C honey, spices, and salt together in a small bowl. Gently stir in the yeast mixture and then add the warm milk and butter.

Stir 2 C flour into the mixture. Add flour 1/2 C at a time while mixing with a wooden spoon. Adjust the flour: if you feel that the dough is wet and sticky, continue adding 1/2 C flour until the dough is smooth. The dough will be scraggy.

\
Lightly flour the counter or work space and knead the dough until it is it is smooth and elastic, approximately 10 to15 minutes.


Place in a lightly oiled stainless bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let it rise until doubled in size, approximately 60 to 90 minutes


Punch the dough down. Form the dough into a loaf or whatever shape you like. I simply place it in a stoneware baking bowl and covered it with a towel for a second rise, approximately 45 minutes



During the last 30 minutes of the rise, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake at 325 for an hour until the bread is firm and nicely browned on the top.


Invert the bread onto wire rack or cutting board. Eat by itself or - as we chose to eat it - with butter and more honey.

Grilled Eggplant Napoléons #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Several years ago, I hosted an eggplant dinner for two friends' birthday celebration; I called it 'Ode to an Aubergine.'


Little back story: one of our friends claimed to not like eggplant. I took the challenge to come up with an entire dinner menu made with eggplant...from Eggplant Boats to Creamy Eggplant Soup and Braised Lamb Over Eggplant Puree to dessert. Yes! Even dessert. I made an Italian dessert - Melanzane al Cioccolato - with eggplant and chocolate. And, of course, I ordered eggplant hats for everyone.

Bear in mind that I was just getting started in blogging, so my write-ups were atrocious. Mental note to go back and redo those posts! But, in any case, the dinner was a wild success and the eggplant-averse friend declared, to my delight, Okay, I like eggplant now!

So, I was excited to pick Grilled Eggplant + 12 Ways for this week's #KitchenMatrixCookingProject. I love cooking and serving eggplant, but I realize that I don't grill it often. I usually roast it. Before I get to my offering this week, here the rest of the crew's take on grilled eggplant.




Bittman offers 12 different suggestions for using grilled eggplant and all of them look delicious! I can't wait to try the North African style with honey and ground meat or the Chinese style with hoisin sauce and fresh ginger.  But for today's post, I decided to create a riff on Bittman's Italian style grilled eggplant. This was a hit and will certainly be on our table again soon...after the other eggplant dishes, that is.

 Ingredients
  • 1 large organic eggplant, washed, dried, and sliced into 1/2" steaks
  • salt
  • water
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive for greasing the grill pan
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 organic tomatoes, cubed - approximately 3/4 C
  • 1 round of fresh mozzarella, cubed - approximately 3/4 C
  • 2 T fresh basil leaves, chopped + more for garnish
  • olive oil
Procedure

Generously salt the eggplant on both side, laying them on a wire rack over a baking sheet to drain for at least 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes, rinse all of the salt off and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and let marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. During the last 10 minutes of marinating, heat a grill pan on the stove - or use a real grill. Oil the pan when hot and place the eggplant steaks on the grill pan. Cook till the eggplant is softened and with distinctive marks, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

Place grilled eggplant on a baking sheet and in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Toss the tomatoes and mozzarella together in a bowl for a quick caprese salad. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.


To serve, lay one grilled eggplant round on your serving plate. Top with caprese and another eggplant round. Finish with another scoop of caprese and garnish with some fresh basil.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Tagine with Seven Hills Merlot #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Seven Hills 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 I started researching for this post, I realized that this is the first non-California Merlot that I am sharing for this year's #MerlotMe. You can see several of my other pairings rounded-up in my post: So Many Merlots, So Many Pairings. When the wines starting rolling in from the event sponsors*, I posted the photo below and a friend, who was familiar with the winery, immediately chimed in with a flavor profile that had my mouth watering: lamb, coffee, and vanilla. That was it. No link to a recipe. Nothing. Just the suggestion. I ran with it!

Seven Hills Merlot

Seven Hills Winery was a new one to me. So, I did some reading. Located in the heart of Walla Walla, Washington, it's one of the area’s oldest wineries. And, as a fourth-generation farmer who worked alongside his father to plant the founding estate blocks, founder and winemaker Casey McClellan has played an important role in the viticultural history of the Walla Walla Valley appellation (AVA). 


From McClellan: "This wine is drawn from the original Merlot blocks at Seven Hills Vineyard that I planted with my father in the summer of 1982. 2015 marks the 28th vintage I have made Merlot from these same vines. This vintage exhibits a beautiful, dark ruby color and enticing aromas of red cherry, raspberry, mocha, and rose petals. The palate is supple and generous with loads of red fruits accentuated with vanilla and spice and finishing with both supple fruit and firm, spicy tannins. While drinking well at release, it will improve considerably with a few years of bottle age and should cellar well for up to ten years from vintage."

I could definitely see the pairing of the lamb, coffee, and vanilla being spot-on. I considered roasting a coffee-rubbed leg of lamb, but I still had some boneless roasts in my freezer from the micro-share of lamb we bought. So, I opted to rub the lamb and cook it in my tagine.

Tagine

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.

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.

It's a pretty amazing pot. I love that I put the lamb in the tagine, ran back to work for the afternoon, did a ton of errands with my older son, and when we came home, the lamb was so tender I could cut it with a spoon.

Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Tagine

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless lamb (I had two roasts, butterflied)
  • 4 to 5 T finely ground coffee (I used a decaf, light roast bean)
  • 1 T sumac
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T ground turmeric
  • 1 t + 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 t + 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 t ground vanilla bean powder
  • 1 t crushed Aleppo pepper
  • olive oil as needed
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1-1/2 C beef stock
  • 1-1/2 C red wine
  • 1 C brewed coffee (I used decaf)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • mashed potatoes for serving


 Procedure
Sprinkle lamb with 1 t ground cinnamon and 1 t ground coriander and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. In a small mixing bowl blend all of your spices - ground coffee, sumac, smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, vanilla bean powder, and crushed Aleppo pepper. Add in enough olive oil to create a thick paste. Massage the paste over the entire surface of the lamb, reserving 1 T of the paste.

Add a splash of olive oil to the bottom of the tagine. Brown the lamb on all sides over medium-high heat. Stir in the remaining spice paste and pour in the stock, wine, and coffee. Nestle the quartered onions, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean around the meat.

Bring to a boil, place the cover on the tagine, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 6 hours. The meat should be tender and cooked through. Every hour or so, you might want to ensure there is still enough liquid in the pan. If needed, add more stock or wine. Check occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. Stir, as needed. 


Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon mashed potatoes on to individual serving plates. Top with lamb and the onions. serve immediately.

Find Seven Hills 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.

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