Friday, August 31, 2018

A Few of My Favorite Fall Things: Truffles, Cheese, & Barolo #ItalianFWT


Fall might just be my favorite season. Not that the seasons here on California's central coast are very pronounced. While I love the pop of Spring wildflowers and lazy days of lounging in a hammock during Summer vacation, this season brings out my hankering for two distinctly Fall things: truffles and Barolo.

And this month, Jill of L'Occasion is hosting the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers as we post about our Favorite Italian Wines for Fall. Read her invitation here. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join us for a Twitter chat on Saturday, September 1st at 8am (Pacific time). Or you can read the conversation at your leisure anytime by searching for #ItalianFWT.

The Line-Up


I Tartufi
To me, nothing says autumn in Italy more than truffles. Truffles. I tartufi. In gourmet circles around the world, they are a treasure and - both figuratively and literally - worth their weight in gold. But in many parts of Italy, come autumn, they are just an ingredient that has absolutely nothing to do with gourmet sophistication. Truffles are a seasonal food just like any other.

I am lucky enough to have friends who own Italian restaurants here in town. A couple of years ago, I headed to one of the restaurants, spent twenty minutes with Emanuele, and learned more about truffles than hours of research would have taught me.

In fact, hours of research would not have allowed me to smell the truffles for that distinctive earthy scent or squeeze them gently for that desirable sponginess, or listen to Emanuele explain how his friend harvests the truffles in Alba.


If you are unfamiliar, you might be wondering: What are truffles?

Truffles are a fungi and, so, related to mushrooms. But, unlike their mushroom cousins, truffles form beneath the surface of the soil and can only thrive in the conditions near stands of oaks, willows, and linden trees. All over northern and central Italy, fresh truffles are on tables in the Fall. And when they aren't in season, you can find them preserved in jars and cans.

There is a restaurant in Rome that made a unique gelato al tartufo. I was tempted to recreate that for this event, but the weather has turned cold and gelato was not high on my list of to-dos. And, this year, I didn't see that Emanuele had any truffles at his restaurant in time for this event, so I went with a truffle cheese. But first...


In My Glass
Barolo is a red wine produced in the Piedmont region of Italy made from the Nebbiolo grape. Nebbiolo is a small, thin-skinned grape varietal that's generally high in acid and tannins; the resulting wine is usually rich, full-bodied and carries that acidity and tannins with it.


I was able to get my hands on a Virna Barolo 2013. To the eye, it's a rich ruby shade. To the nose, the bouquet is subtle with hints of sweet cherries, spicy pepper, and even earthy truffles. It's dry and elegant with a long, flavorful finish.


On My Plate
Because of that earthy hint of truffles, I decided to make a fonduta with truffle cheese and truffle oil since I couldn't get my hands on any truffles ahead of this event. Fonduta is similar to fondue but includes egg yolks and milk to make it lusciously rich and creamy. 


Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound cheese (I used a mixture of cheeses plus some truffled gouda)
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks (reserve the whites for something else, such as meringues)
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 t truffle oil
  • bread for serving

Procedure 
In a shallow bowl, combine the cheese and milk, submerging the cheese fully in the milk. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Drain off 1/2 C of the milk and place it in a bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk until blended.

Put the cheese, the remaining milk and the butter in a heatproof bowl that will fit snugly in the rim of a saucepan, making a double-boiler. Pour about 2 inches of water into the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adjust the heat so the water simmers gently, and suspend the bowl with the cheese over the simmering water. Heat, stirring often, until the cheese is melted and smooth, approximately 3 minutes. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, approximately 5 minutes more.

Pour the fonduta over the hunks of bread. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Sotong Bakar (Grilled Squid) with Spicy Peanut Sauce #FoodieReads


I picked up a copy of Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan* after hearing the author interviewed on NPR about the movie adaptation. I figured: if I'm going to see the movie - because after hearing the interview, I definitely wanted to see it - I'd like to read the book first. 



Now that I've read it...eh...I'm not sure that I'll see the movie. And I am absolutely not going to read the remaining books in the trilogy. While I loved the way the book opened, it devolved into a sort of retro television soap opera featuring an all-Asian cast. Do you remember the show Dynasty?! Well, all that drama, except set in Singapore. But the ball gowns, the mansions, the mistresses, the jewelry, the drama, and the family feuds were all there. Additionally it's over 500 pages. Five. Hundred. Pages. I kept asking myself, "Is this necessary?" The writing grew repetitive and the story tedious.

On the Page
Rachel and Nick are professors in New York who have been dating for over two years. He invites her to accompany him home - to Singapore - to attend a wedding. There she meets his crazy rich family...and she had no idea the wealth from which he came.  

"Everyone knew that DatoTai Toh Lui made his first fortune the dirty way by bringing down Loong Ha Bank in the early eighties, but in the two decades since, the efforts of his wife Datin Carol Tai, on behalf of the right charities had burnished the Tai name into one of respectablity. Every Thursday, for instance, the datin held a Bible study luncheon for her closest friends in her bedroom, and Eleanor Young was sure to attend. Carol's palatial bedroom was not actually in the sprawling glass-and-steel structure everyone living along Kheam Hock Road nicknamed the 'Star Trek House.' Instead, on the advice of her husband's security team, the bedroom was hidden away in the pool pavilion, a white travertine fortress..." (pg. 22).

That's the world Rachel unwittingly enters. And it's one in which she definitely doesn't fit comfortably.

One thing I will say that was enjoyable were the descriptions of the food. Food and feasting were a highlight for me. When Rachel first arrives in Singapore, the couple who are getting married pick them up at the airport and immediately take them to a hawker center. Each vendor specializes in a single dish and only makes that. Diners move from one stall to the next to pick create their meals. Colin offers to order whatever looks interesting to Rachel. 

"'Welcome to Singapore, Rachel - where arguing about food is the national pastime,' Araminta declared. 'This is probably the only country in the world where grown men can get into fistfights over which specific food stall in some godforsaken shopping center has the best rendition of some obscure fried noodle dish. It's like a pissing contest!'"(pg. 114).

Sotong Bakar (Grilled Squid)
This isn't one of the dishes mentioned in the book. There was a few that I am going to try to make soon. But I had some squid and found a Singaporean recipe for grilled squid. Of course this is my own version. So, don't think this is traditional; I'm sure Nick's family would be mortified. Haha. Sorry. But it's something I could envision one of the vendors making and selling in a hawker center.



Ingredients
Squid
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb fresh market squid, cleaned (I used only the tubes for this recipe)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Marinade
  • 1/2 C coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari
  • 3 T mirin
  • 2 T minced fresh ginger or ginger paste
Peanut Sauce
  • 1 1/2 C organic creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 C organic coconut milk
  • 3 T water
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 T coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T hot sauce  (feel free to add more if you prefer more heat)
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger or ginger paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
Procedure
Peanut Sauce
In a small mixing bowl, blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Adjust for heat, as needed. You may like yours more spicy.

Marinade
Mix together the coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari, ginger, and mirin in a large bowl to make the marinade. Set aside.

Squid
Place squid tubes in a large pot. Cover them with water. Make sure they are submerged by at least 1" of water. Bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain the squid.

Place the squid in the bowl with the marinade. Marinate the squid for, at least, 10 minutes at room temperature, turning once halfway through.

Preheat your grill or grill pan. Grill the squid for about 2 minutes on each side, weighing them down (I usually place a pot lid on top of them) to get the nice grill marks.

The squid will turn from translucent to opaque. Take care not to overcook as squid turns rubbery if grilled too long. Move the grilled squid to a serving plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with the peanut sauce.


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


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

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Curry Burgers with Blueberry Chutney and Coconut-Lime Slaw #GirlCarnivore #BurgeroftheMonth


Welcome to the August edition of the Burger of the Month event hosted by Kita of Girl Carnivore. Each month, she sends out a list of secret ingredients to inspire a new burger recipe. What delicious, carnivorous fun! This month the burger needed to include: blueberries, shallots, coconut, and cayenne.

It's fun to see what the other burger bloggers created. Wendy and Matt shared a black pepper and cayenne-seasoned venison patty, topped with blueberry-coconut milk goat cheese spread, bourbon-shallot bacon jam, spring mix on a brioche bun. Matt also had a balsamic mayo on the side that Wendy says was a fantastic addition! I can imagine!

Our hostess, Kita of Girl Carnivore, whipped up Smoked Blueberry Raclette Burgers. While Sean served up a ribeye burger with a homemade blackened seasoning cooked in a smoked shallot butter with a blueberry mayo, blue cheese and topped it all with coconut chips. He also toasted the bun in smoked coconut oil. So much creativity with these ingredients.


With that flavor profile, I immediately thought of curry with a blueberry chutney. And because Jake and I are eating less bread, I placed our burgers on a pile of coconut milk-cayenne slaw. Yum!

Ingredients

Burger
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (prefer grass-fed, organic)
  • 1 shallot, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T curry paste (I used a Thai red curry)
  • 2 t soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • oil for the grill or grill-pan
Chutney
  • 2 to 3 organic shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 pint organic blueberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 t fresh lemongrass, minced
  • 1/4 C organic dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 T vinegar (I used an aged balsamic)
  • 1 t fresh herbs (I used a mixture of mint and thyme)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • juice from 1 organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Slaw

  • 4 C thinly julienned vegetables (I used cabbage, carrots, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli stems)
  • 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 2 T chopped organic basil + more for garnish
  • 3/4 C coconut milk
  • 1/4 C rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 t fish sauce
  • pinch of cayenne
Procedure

Chutney
In a small skillet, sauté shallots in a splash of olive oil till it starts to soften, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add the blueberries, cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, dark brown sugar, vinegar, herbs, and salt.

Reduce the heat and let simmer for until it starts to thicken, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour in the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let chutney cool then refrigerate until ready to use.


Slaw
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together coconut milk, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, lemon juice, fish sauce, and cayenne. Stir in the veggies and herbs until well-coated. Let stand for at least 15 minutes for the dressing to soften the slaw.

Burger
In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together all of the ingredients until well-combined. Form four patties and grill or cook on the stove to your preferred doneness.


To serve, place slaw on the serving plate. Top with your patty and add blueberry chutney over the burger. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy. I can't wait to see what September's challenge brings.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Chicken Pizzetta Paillards #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Here we are at the fourth, and final, August post for our year-long #KitchenMatrixCookingProject; you can read more about that project here. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm selected our recipes this month and she is wrapping up the month with proteins - fish and chicken.

This week, we're focusing on paillards. Paillards are boneless cuts of meat that are pounded flat. I had to look that one up when Wendy picked this. I had never even heard that term before this challenge

Here's what everyone else made...



Chicken Pizzetta Paillards

So, this isn't one of Bittman's recipes, but his Chicken Parmigiana Paillards got me thinking: what about using pounded chicken as a base for a mini pizza? And, so, my Chicken Pizzetta Paillards were born. So easy. So tasty. I did go a little far off the reservation this week, but I'll definitely be back to try more of his recipes. The Beef Paillards with Capers and Watercress sound amazing as do the Lamb Paillards with Olives, Yogurt, and Mint. Stay tuned!

Ingredients

  • about 1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, pounded
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • oil
  • pizza sauce, approximately 1 C divided into 4 portions
  • shredded cheese, approximately 1 C divided into 4 portions
  • pepperoni
  • Also needed cast iron skillet


Procedure
Heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high, and preheat the broiler.

Working with 1 thigh at a time, pound between sheets of plastic to about 1/2" thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil to the cast-iron skillet. Cook the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Once you're on the second side, top the chicken with the pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Broil until bubbly and brown, about 3 minutes.


I served this with a sour gooseberry beer.

Sourdough Avocado Toast #CooktheBooks #FoodieReads


Debra from Eliot's Eats is our Cook the Books hostess for this round (August-September 2018); she chose Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan.* If you want to join us, posts aren't due till the end of September. You have plenty of time...read Debra's invitation here.

So, let me start with this: I read this book twice. It's a quirky, breezy read and both times I raced through it in just a couple of hours. But I didn't really care for it either time. More on that in a bit.

I first read it back in February when I didn't love it, but thought that I would be inspired to finally tackle making my own sourdough bread. I had over six months after all.

Then, I read it again on our annual family camping trip in July to refresh myself on the story and mentally prepare for attempting to make my own sourdough when we returned from the wilderness. Flash forward another month and I have still not tried to make a sourdough starter much less a loaf. But let's get back to the book...


On the Page
Lois, a newly hired software programmer at a robotics firm in San Francisco, is so consumed by her job that she subsists on nutritive gel and soup and bread - Double Spicy - that she orders from a delivery service. When the company goes out of business due to immigration issues, the two brothers leave Lois their sourdough starter and a brief introduction on how to make the sourdough bread. Lois progresses from baking novice to landing a spot at a local underground farmers' market, the fictional, fantastical Marrow Fair.

The most intriguing parts to me involved Lois learning how to bake.

"Forty minutes, four songs, and three beers later, the timer beeped. I opened the oven door and pulled out the rack to assess the damage. Against all odds, the malevolent loaf emerged from the oven round and buoyant, its crust split by deep fissures. It was perhaps not as perfect photogenic as the one of the cover of the bread book, but it was...not too bad" (pp 40-41).

"Baking [compared to programming], by contrast was solving the same problem over and over again, because every time, the solution was consumed. I mean, really: chewed and digested. Thus the problem was ongoing. Thus, the problem was the point. On Tuesday morning, I baked eight more loaves" (pg. 69).

So, it is worth reading? I would say that it started off as an adventure that ended up feeling flat and unsatisfying in the end. It was a cute premise that just didn't work for me. But I have read some nice reviews of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel, Sloan's first book. So, I might pick that one up eventually.


On the Plate
Needless to say: I still have not attempted to make a sourdough loaf. Maybe one of these days. But this is not that day. I'll keep you posted on any baking adventures in the future. For now, I used a pre-made sourdough and used it as the base of one of my favorite breakfasts - avocado toast!

Sourdough Avocado Toast

Ingredients serves 4
  • 4 slices sourdough (I used a local micro-bakery bread)
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • flake salt
  • dried chile flakes
  • organic lemon wedges for serving
  • olive oil for serving

Procedure
Toast bread and place on individual serving plates. Cover bread with avocado slices (half an avocado per toast). Sprinkle with flake salt and dried chile flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and let diners squeeze lemon over the top to their tastes. Serve immediately.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

I am also linking this up to Foodie Reads.
Here's what everyone else read in August 2018: here.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Tantanmen Ramen: Long-Simmered Broth, Local Pork, and Soy-Pickled Eggs #FoodieReads


When I was looking for a ramen cookbook, I flipped through several of them before purchasing this one - Ramen: Japanese Noodles and Small Dishes by Tove Nilsson.* I will say that cookbook appeal is very personal. Some readers might prefer beautiful photos where others desire a well-told story. I tend to like a mix of those. But what drew me to this book is that everything needed for a bowl of homemade ramen was included - from the broth to the toppings and even the noodles.


Okay, so I didn't end up making my own ramen noodles. However, trust me, I have that on my to-do list now! But, with Nilsson's book as inspiration, I made a Homemade Ramen Broth with pig trotters and chicken paws; I pickled eggs in soy sauce; and I ended up with a delicious version of Nilsson's Tantanmen Ramen. 

For this culinary creation I needed pig trotters, pork bones, and ground pork. Thankfully, I know a pig farmer; he and his Bacon Bus come to town once a month. You can read about Jack Kimmich and his California Kurobuta in my post: California Kurobuta Burgers.

Before I get to my recipe, I wanted to say a few things about this book. I said it inspired me into the kitchen. That's already a winner in my mind! 

She offers a variety of broths from pork and chicken broth to mushroom broth. I mentioned the noodle recipes. Then she details a dizzying number of ramen variations from Shoyu Ramen to Chicken Katsu Ramen and Lemon Clam Ramen. All of them had me wanting to stick some chopsticks into the book! Though we have made meals out of ramen, it's her chapter on small plates that will have me coming back to this book. I love the tasty sidedishes she offers: sweetcorn with ponzu, sesame-fried spinach, crispy prawn daikon, and pumpkn cooked in dashi. Yes, please!! I will try them all.


I had a tough time deciding on which ramen to make. I knew I wanted to make a new-to-us ramen and I wanted to use some of the fresh veggies I had on-hand; and I had some bok choy that needed to be used. So the Tantanmen Ramen called my name.

Ingredients serves 4 
slightly adapted from Nilsson
Soup Base


Pork

  • 2 T oil
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 T green onions, finely sliced
  • 1" ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T fermented black beans
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 2 t hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • 2 T soy sauce

To Serve

  • 4 portions of noodles (I used millet & brown rice ramen noodles)
  • 2 small bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • 4 to 6 T shredded cabbage
  • 4 soy sauce pickled eggs (recipe to come), halved
  • sesame seeds for garnish (I used black sesame seeds)

Procedure
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot, then reduce to a simmer and keep warm.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, preferably one with a strainer basket so cook the bok choy and noodles in the same water without having to re-boil. Blanch the bok choy. Remove it from the pan and rinse it with cold water. Keep the water at a simmer for the noodles.

Pork
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add in the ground pork, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the pork is mostly browned. Stir in the beans, sesame oil, hot sauce, and soy sauce. Continue cooking until  the meat is a dark brown and some bits crispy.

To Serve
Place 2 T tahini, 1/2 T sesame oil, and 1/2 t hot sauce in the bottom of each serving bowl. 

Cook your noodles according to package directions, if you're using packaged ones! While your noodles cook, gently ladle 1-1/2 C broth into each bowl and whisk to incorporate the tahini, oil, and sauce into the broth.

Divide the noodles into the serving bowls and ladle in another 1/2 C on top of the noodles. Top with the ground pork, soy sauce pickled eggs, boy choy, and shredded cabbage. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve hot.


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


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

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Nocino di Nonni (Green Walnut Liqueur)

I make this every year, but this year I decided to give it a new post and a new name because my parents (Nonna and Nonno, or collectively the Nonni, to the boys) were essential in getting me the walnuts for this year's concoction.


Last year my mom had asked me about the Nocino I served at Thanksgiving. It's made with green walnuts, I explained. And she responded that she had a friend with a walnut tree...and he told her that she should come pick as much as she wanted. Well, that sure beat me trespassing (I don't!) or buying them online (I do!). 

So, before school started earlier this month, Nonna, Nonno, and my boys headed over to their friend's house and pick a ton of green walnuts.


And I mean a ton. Not two thousand pounds, obviously. But do you see D's basket? At least three of those! A ton.


Now I have eight gallon-sized jars being made into nocino in time for Christmas and one gallon-sized jar of pickled green walnuts which will be a first for us. I have no idea what my mom and dad did their haul, but I will certainly give them a few bottles of liqueur for taking the boys to get the walnuts.


The staining is just now beginning to fade from my fingers. "Witchy hands," the boys called them. Yeah, whatever. My friends like my witchy brews! But if you're concerned about the staining, wear gloves! This is a three-part process. Be patient...it's worth every week of waiting. I promise.

Ingredients makes approximately 3 liters

  • 3 pounds green walnuts (they are in season, in California anyway, from June to August, usually)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • peels from 2 organic lemons (I used Meyer lemon because my parents have a tree in their yard)
  • 6 cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1.75 L vodka
  • 5 C organic granulated sugar
  • 5 C water

Procedure

Part I
Quarter the green walnuts lengthwise. Add the cut walnuts, cinnamon sticks, lemon peels, cardamom, and vanilla bean to the lidded glass container.


Pour the vodka over the top of the ingredients. Cover and give the container a good shake and let it sit for 6 to 8 weeks.


Part II
Strain the liquid from the solids using a cheesecloth lined strainer. You can strain it again if you like. Pour the strained liquid back into the container.


Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan and cook until all of the sugar has dissolved. Let simple syrup mixture cool to room temperature. Add the cooled simple syrup to the liquid already in the container. Cover and give the mixture a good shake. Let sit for another 6 to 8 weeks.

Part III
After this second aging you can bottle and drink your nocino. The longer you let the bottled nocino set, the more smooth it will taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature. I'll be bottling these for teacher Christmas gifts. Cin cin.

Kobza Mourtaou Rosé: Notes and Pairings #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kobza Wines.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

I spoke to Ryan Kobza several years ago. Back then, he wasn't making his own wines. So, I was thrilled to have stumbled across a few bottles at Whole Foods last summer. And, then, this summer, he emailed me and asked if I might be willing to taste and pair his current releases: his Rosé, Riesling, and Red Field Blend. Absolutely!

Kobza says that what he's trying to do is make approachable food-friendly wines. "To that end, our wines tend to carry more acid, less alcohol and are not intended to overwhelm at the table," he shared. "Rather, they are a compliment to daily life."

I have to admit that I love his approach to wine - as both compliment and complement to daily life. For us wine isn't necessarily a celebration drink. Certainly we celebrate with wine. But I enjoy wines that add layers of flavor to our everyday meals.

I poured the Kobza Mourtaou Rosé with some friends for the first course of a simple dinner party. I served the wine with warm marinated olives, a cheese board, and a peach-tomato salsa. Read about the dinner - and the get salsa recipe - here: A Pretty Simple Approach, 10 Lesson, Summer Salsa & More.


Kobza is one of just a few winemakers who work with the Mourtaou grape, an obscure varietal, which hails from the Gironde and is also called Cabernet Pfeffer here in California. The average age of Kobza's Rosé of Mourtauo is approximately a century. One hundred years old! So, ancient and obscure. That's my kinda wine.


To the eye, this wine has a pink hue with an orange tint; it's a lovely salmon color. To the nose, I get layers of citrus and underlying notes of spice. But, what we found so enjoyable were the layers of flavors that revealed themselves as we made our way through the course. The bright acidity of the marinated olives and salsa and creamy mouthfeel of the cheeses were matched with an impressive earthiness of the wine.

Additionally the notes of tart citrus and ripe summer stone fruits shockingly do not compete; instead they meld seamlessly for a complex flavor profile that pleases from beginning to the end. The Kobza Mourtaou Rosé is voluptuous yet airy. And it is one of my favorite summer sips. Now I just need to figure out where to get a few more bottles!

Find Kobza Wines on the web, on Facebook, on Instagram
*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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Homemade Ramen Broth: Trotters and Paws


I have read a lot about ramen because we adore it. Not the instant ramen that comes in styrofoam cups (actually, do they even still sell those?!?) or the ones that have a powdered mix to make the broth by just adding boiling water. I'm talking about actual ramen. Real ramen.

 

We love going to ramen noodle houses where the broth has been simmering for days and most of the patrons do not speak English. One of our favorite ramen spots is in Palo Alto. The Bay Area is not too far, but it's not close enough to run up for a quick lunch. So, I was determined to learn to make my own. And what makes amazing ramen, in my book, is delicious broth.

I am not a stranger to making homemade broths and stocks, especially during the Fall and Winter. But I haven't ever made an authentic broth for homemade ramen. I read about Tonkotsu broth, made with just pork and water. But the version that intrigued me the most was one that included pig trotters, chicken paws (why do they call them that, aren't they claws'?!?), and pork bones. Thankfully, I know a pig farmer; he and his Bacon Bus come to town once a month. You can read about Jack Kimmich and his California Kurobuta in my post: California Kurobuta Burgers.


I didn't really follow a single recipe. I cobbled together parts of different recipes that interested me. And, just over twelve hours in, my house is smelling so delicious. I can't wait to use this homemade ramen broth for dinner tonight. By the time dinner rolls around, this will be a 20-hour broth. One thing I read - in Ramen: Japanese Noodles and Small Dishes by Tove Nilsson* - that stuck with me: "The secret behind a delicious broth is a long cooking time and quality ingredients."

 Ingredients 
makes 2 large pots full of broth

  • 2 pounds pig trotters
  • 4 pounds pork bones
  • 1 pound chicken paws
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 ounces brown mushrooms, quartered
  • 2" knob fresh ginger, halved
  • 6 to 8 green onions, cut to 4" lengths
  • water

Procedure
 

Place trotters and bones in a large pot or divide them into two pots, depending on what sizes you have. Cover them to water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain the liquid out and rinse out your pot.

Place the boiled trotters and bones back into the pot with the chicken paws and other ingredients. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms after it has started to boil. The broth should boil steadily to release all of the collagen and fat. If the liquid is evaporating too much, add more water in, as needed.

Boil for, at least, 18 hours. Strain and save the broth. Season with salt before using.

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