Thursday, January 31, 2019

Aquavit & Tonic for Winter #WarmUpDrinks


Happy New Year and welcome to the fifth installment of the Winter Warm-Up Drink Series hosted by Ellen of Family Around the Table! I missed last week due to a crazy schedule, but there's one more that I have planned. Can't wait to share. Cheers.

Sips to Warm You Up

About Aquavit

I am sharing an Aquavit & Tonic because, while I love a good Gin & Tonic, aquavit has become my new favorite spirit. And since I just posted a recipe for Gløgg (Danish Mulled Wine), pictured above, I knew I needed a new recipe to share.

But I wanted to start with a quick primer on aquavit. Despite how long Scandinavians have been making and drinking aquavit, it's largely unknown outside of those countries. It's such a shame because, as a spirit, it's completely beguiling.


The name 'aquavit' derives from two Latin words: aqua vitae and translates to "water of life." The French have a clear brandy eau de vie which means the same thing, but has a very different flavor. I've had more fruit based eau de vie while aquavit is decidedly more spicy. Aquavit has many different recipes and flavor profiles between brands, but the dominant flavor is caraway seeds. This one, from Krogstad, has a strong star anise flavor that I love! It is brilliantly clear with spicy notes and aromas that are smooth and seductive which makes it a fabulous match for bitter tonic.

Aquavit & Tonic makes one cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces aquavit
  • 4.5 ounces tonic (I used an elderflower tonic from Fever Tree)
  • ice

Place ice in a glass. Pour in tonic. Pour in aquavit. Swirl before sipping. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Recipe Testing: (Untraditional) Zasmażana Kapusta


Every now and then I come across a photo of a dish with - maybe - nothing other than the name or a few scribbled words. Oddly, I used to clip food photos out of magazine without the recipe. Why?!?! I have no idea. That was the case with this dish. I did, however, write down: "sausages, sauerkraut, apples, potatoes."

So, I set about trying to create Zasmażana Kapusta without the slightest idea of how it was made. Okay, I could probably have Google'd it and come up with some instructions. But, heck, the challenge is the adventure part, right?!

I will say that after I made it, I posted a photo and asked if I knew anyone who had actually had the dish. Turns out my version didn't use the correct sausages (I used uncured bratwurst), I should have sliced the sausages, and many people didn't agree with the potatoes on the top. So, I will be re-doing this recipe with some of those changes in mind. My family actually liked the potatoes on top, and the photo I had in my old recipe binder showed them on top just like this, so that will still happen. But we will making the potato layer thicker...like a Shepherd's pie. But, as this was still tasty, I'm sharing my first stab at Zasmażana Kapusta.

Ingredients serves 8

  • 8 sausages (I used bratwurst, I'm told it should have been kielbasa)
  • 1 organic apple, cored and diced
  • 1 organic onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 T butter
  • splash of olive oil +more for drizzling on the top later
  • 1 t caraway seeds (I used black caraway)
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • 4 C sauerkraut (I used a version from Trader Joe's, but I have made my own)
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 2 to 3 organic potatoes, depends on size, scrubbed, dried, and thinly sliced (I use a mandolin slicer)

Procedure

Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt butter in a splash of olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy lidded pan. Stir in the onions and cook for a few minutes. Add in the apples and stir to coat with the butter-oil mixture. Fold in the caraway and fennel seeds.


Spoon 2 C sauerkraut over the onions and apples. Nestle the sausage in the kraut and top with remaining sauerkraut. Pour in white wine. 


Arrange potato slices in a circular pattern over the top of the sauerkraut. Place pan, uncovered, in the oven. Bake the casserole until the potato edges start to get crispy, approximately 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Version two will include kielbasa sausages, sliced into thick coins, and a layer of mashed potatoes over the sauerkraut with the thin, crispy slices over the top of that. We'll see how that goes. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pebernødder #OurFamilyTable


Today we are sharing some recipes for Valentines' Day...which is quickly approaching. There weren't any real guidelines from our hostess Heather at Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks. Just 'Valentines'! Okay. Before I get to my recipe, check out the loved up line-up.

We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table!  Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too!

Pebernødder
Danish Peppernuts

The reason I picked this cookie for Valentines' Day has to do with my typical wedding present for friends and family. Pebernødder is typically a Christmas tradition in Denmark. But, I have a good reason for sharing this for Valentines'.

Whenever friends and family have gotten married, there is usually a book or some receptacle for marriage advice. Whether the new couple actually needs advice - or heeds the advice - is up for debate. But I typically offer the same advice: Keep it spicy! And what usually accompanies that is a nice, wooden peppermill with lots of different kinds of peppercorns.

It goes back to something I heard Kevin Bacon say when I saw The Bacon Brothers in concert years ago. And, as marital advice goes, I think it's a solid strategy: "Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty."

So...about those spicy pepper cookies....

Ingredients makes about 11 to 12 dozen cookies

Oh, I know that molasses isn't a traditional ingredient in these, but I like the depth of flavor that it adds. Also, I use brown sugar instead of white sugar for even more flavor.
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 C lightly packed organic dark ground sugar
  • 1/8 C whipping cream
  • 1/8 C molasses
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t ground allspice
  • 1/4 t ground white pepper
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda

Procedure

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar together until lightened and fluffy. Pour in the cream and molasses and mix well.

Add the flour, spices, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix together until crumbly, then knead until it all comes together.

Divide the dough into smaller pieces. Roll them until they are about the thickness of your pinky finger. Slice dough into small coins, approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cm.

Place the cookies onto a parchment paper or silicone mat-lined baking tray. Bake them for 9 to 11 minutes until they are only slightly firm. Cool them completely before putting them in an airtight container.

Frisky Whiskey Chocolate Cake #NationalChocolateCakeDay

Today, National Chocolate Cake Day, is cause of celebration. So, I invited all of the Festive Foodies to create a recipe to tell chocolate cake how much we love it!


Dear Chocolate Cake,
You may come in a variety of forms: molten, fluffy, mousse-y, frosted…but we love you all the same. Thank you always for making our tastebuds groan in delight.
Sincerely,
All the Chocolate Cake Lovers of the World

The Chocolate Cake Display

Frisky Whiskey Chocolate Cake

Not being a country music connoisseur, I don't actually know the name of the song nor the artist. But I remember a friend singing some lyrics...something about whiskey making his baby frisky. Well, if you know what I'm talking about, you're ahead of me. The rhyme stuck with me and I decided to name this cake after a song I don't even know. Sorry!

Ingredients
Cake makes two 9" rounds
  • 3/4 C + 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1-1/2 C strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 C whiskey
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, cubed + more for greasing the pans
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C organic brown sugar
  • 1 C semisweet chocolate, chipped
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 t coffee extract

Ganache
  • 1 C semisweet chocolate, chipped
  • 1 T heavy cream
  • 1 T whiskey
  • 1 T butter

Procedure
Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter pans and set aside.

In a medium saucepan add 3/4 C cocoa powder, coffee, whiskey, and butter. Whisk the ingredients over low heat until the butter is melted and everything is well-combined. Add in the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Stirring until combined. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a small mixing bowl toss together the chocolate chips and 1 T cocoa powder. This helps the chips stay suspended in the batter and not sink to the bottom!

In another large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. Whisk the eggs into the cooled chocolate mixture and stir in the extracts. Fold the dark chocolate chips into the batter.


Divide the batter between the two pans and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour. The top should spring back when pressed gently. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool completely before covering it with the whiskey ganache.

Ganache
In a small saucepan add the chocolate chunks, cream, whiskey, and butter. Heat over low heat to melt the chocolate. Stir until well combined. Let cool until it is the consistency of peanut butter. The ganache should be thick enough to spread between your cakes and on top. Cover the sides, then refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the ganache set. Serve thin slices as this is very, very rich.

Rikke's Brunkager


I am still catching up on posting recipes from our trip to Denmark during the holidays. But, I'm not a whole month behind - yet! -, so I'm saying I'm still good. 


These were some delicious cookies that Rikke baked while we settled in and played games in the evening. When I asked her for the recipe, this is what she sent me. Can't wait to try them. And I'm leaving it as written, in metric, and will convert when I post my version. I want to experiment with the dough and see if I can shape it different. I am pretty sure I can. We'll see. Soon. 


Ingredients
  • 250 g butter (salted)
  • 180 g sugar
  • 1 1/2 deciliter dark syrup (is this perhaps what you call molasses?)
  • 50 g peeled/chopped almonds
  • 50 g peeled pistacchios (unsalted)
  • 500 g flour (wheat)
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t ground cloves
  • 1 t ground cardamom
  • 1 t baking soda

Procedure
Melt the butter with the sugar and the syrup. Bring to boil while constantly stirring, take it off the heat and leave to cool.

Chop the almonds/pistachios.

Mix the chopped nuts with flower, spices and baking soda and mix everything with the lukewarm sugar/butter-mix.

Knead well.

Shape the dough in 2 pcs 5 cm width rolls. Make as round as possible. Refrigerate until the next day - for better flavor. The dough can also go in the freezer, wrapped well, for about 2-3 months.

Cut the rolls VERY thin with a sharp knife and bake at 170 degrees C for 4-5 minutes.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Rabbit Rillettes + Contratto Millesimato Extra Brut 2012


I love starting dinner with bubbles. Sparkling wine, that is. Besides, this was a celebration dinner for a friend's birthday. So bubbles were a must. I had decided to host a Game-y Night dinner. So we were set to play all kinds of games and eat game meats. Think rabbits, quail, pheasant, and wild boar. I ended up just doing rabbit and wild boar; I saved the quail and pheasant for other nights.


When I can get rabbit locally, I do. But, when I can't, I order it from D'artangnan. As part of our cheese platter course, I decided to make rabbit rillettes. Rillettes are savory meats or fish that have been braised or prepared as confit. The first time I made rillettes was with wild boar that my friend had killed. Then I've made them with lamb and with pork. Using rabbit was a first and, I think, my favorite! 

And a quick note about this salt. I noticed this canister in the store when I was shopping with my friend in Denmark. "Oh, that's a special salt from Læsø Island," she explained. That's all she needed to say. I popped it into the cart. I packed it in my carry-on luggage. And I answered for the "unidentifiable powder" to the customs inspector. Thankfully, they let me keep it. I only wish I had gotten more.

Turns out Læsø Salt is unfiltered handcrafted sea salt which has been used and produced since ancient times on Læsø Island, Denmark. Still using the processing techniques from the 11th century, they collect groundwater on the south side of the island. They boil it in a large kettle until it crystallizes, then they hang it to dry longer in a fired hut. On one hand, I love it and have been using it in everything. On the other hand, I feel as if I should save it for special occasions. I'm still debating.

Ingredients

Rilettes
  • 4 rabbit hind legs, bone-in
  • 2 chicken thighs, bone-in (if I had had 6 rabbit legs, I would have skipped the chicken altogether)
  • 1 T salt (I used Læsø salt, but Maldon sea salt flakes would work well) + more to taste
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 C lard (I used some Mangalitsa lard I had from our micro pig share last year)
  • 1/2 C stock (I used some Mangalitsa stock I had from our micro pig share last year)
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 1 t black peppercorns
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t thyme leaves
  • softened butter, as needed (I probably used 3 to 4 T)
  • Also needed 4" square of cheese cloth and cotton twine

For Serving
  • sliced baguette
  • cornichon
  • bubbles

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Tie the peppercorns and cloves into the cheesecloth and tie it with the twine. Set aside.


Place your meats in a single layer in a roasting pan. Heat the lard until it's liquid, then pour it over the meat. Pour in the stock and wine. Place onions on top of the meat and nestle in the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and spice sachet. Sprinkle with thyme and place the pan in the oven.


Poach the meat for 3 hours. The meat should be falling off the bone and tender. Return it to the oven, checking every 30 minutes or so. Once it's done, remove the pan from the oven and let it cook for at least 1 hour until it's cool enough to handle.

Once you can handle everything, place the meat (not the bones) and the softened onions (not the crisped ones) in the bowl of a food processor. Discard the bay leaves, spice sachet, and cinnamon sticks. Strain the cooking liquid and set aside.

Pulse the meat and onions, adding in 2 T cooking liquid to 1 T softened butter, until you get the texture you want. Season to taste with more salt, if needed.


If you're serving immediately, place in a serving jar and serve with baguette slices and cornichon. If you're serving later, pack the rillettes into small jars. O, for even longer storage, melt some butter and pour a 1/4" layer over the top of the rillettes. Once the butter hardens, it will protect the rillette in the fridge for several weeks or you can freeze it for months.

The Bubbles

The sparkling wine I poured with the rillettes was the 2012 Contratto Millesimato Extra Brut. I had first read about Contratto from my blogging friend Nicole at Somm's Table. You can read her article here. I was so excited to learn about a sparkling Italian wine that wasn't prosecco or moscato.

With a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, this  2012 Metodo Classico Millesimato Pas Dosé ages on the lees for at least five years and results in a creamy, almost full-bodied sparkler. It's deliciously frothy with vibrant tones of green apples and marzipan. It was a perfect pairing with the creamy rillettes.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Chocolate as Currency #LitHappens #FoodieReads


This is Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm's pick for our Lit Happens Book Club. I wasn't sure what to expect from The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris*, but Wendy and I have been blogging friends for years. And lucky enough to have met in real life as well! I knew that our reading preferences often collide, so, I was excited to dig in.

Let's just say that I was more than captivated. I didn't get out of my pajamas for an entire day, ignored my family - except to cook and eat - and read it all in one day. Then I headed into the kitchen to make a recipe. But I'll get to that shortly.

On the Page

As a reader, I was immediately drawn into the story and the character of Lale. He is a young Jew from Slovakia who finds himself employed at the Auschwitz concentration camp as the tattooist. He is the man responsible for marking the prisoners' arms with their numbers.

Brief side story: when Jake and I were planning our wedding, we were in the basement of our local department store, scanning household items into a gift registry. We had already been living together for over a year, so we didn't really need anything, but our families wanted some guidance on things we wanted to create our new married life.

I was looking at blenders when an older woman approached me. "Excuse me. Please don't support that company," she said, gesturing at one blender. "Buy an Oster instead." She proceeded to pull up the sleeve of her jacket and showed me a tattoo of spidery numbers. "I was in Auschwitz. And Oster had a plan to overthrow Hitler. Thank you!" She, then, squeezed my arm and walked away. I still don't know if the Oster to which she referred actually had anything to do with the kitchen brand - or if it is just a common surname - but I did put the Oster blender on my registry and have been a loyal user since.

Okay, back to the book. Morris' book is an unsettling but gripping novel. As the tattooist, Lale enjoys more freedom than the other prisoners. And he uses that privilege to help others, trading jewels for extra food and distributing it among others. He is protective and subversive in subtle ways. While at the camp, he falls in love with Gita, another prisoner who is also Slovakian.

There are some horrifying, graphic scenes in the book. It's emotional and haunting. But it's also a tale of hope, courage, and love. While I did see that tagline - based on a true story - on the cover, it didn't sink in until I read the afterword by Gary Sokolov, Lale and Gita's son. He questioned, "Do I talk about food, which was a primary focus for both my parents but especially my mother, who took pride in a fridge filled with chicken schnitzels, cold cuts, and myriad cakes and fruit?" (pg.255). And it finally sunk in: oh, my goodness, this story happened to real people. As I said - haunting. I will read it again, but I passed it along to one of my best friends so she could read it to discuss with our online Lit Happens group.

Now on to what I was inspired to make...

On the Plate

As Lale trades food for favors and access, two items come up consistently: sausages and chocolate.

"Back in his room, Lale opens the packages. Sausage and chocolate. He holds the chocolate to  his nose and inhales. Once again, he breaks the food into small pieces to make it easy for the girls to hide and pass around. Oh, how he hopes they will be discreet" (pg.75).

And also..."After one last kiss, Lale scrambles around for his clothes. Dressed, he gives her another quick kiss before leaving. Outside the block, the kapo is back in her position against the wall.

'Feeling bettter, Tätowierer?'
'Yes, thanks.'
'The chocolate is lovely. I like sausage, too.'
'I'll see what I can do.'
'You do that, Tätowierer. See you' (pg.147).

So, chocolate as currency stuck in my mind. I headed into the kitchen to make a rich, fudgy brownie for a decadent, delicious dessert. This is almost fudge-like and some people might think it's not cooked all the way through. Cook it longer, if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 1 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1-1/2 C semisweet chips or chunks

 Procedure

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10" x 10" baking dish and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until lightened and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour in the vanilla.

Stir in flour, cocoa powder, and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and flatten the top as much as possible. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Closer to 30 minutes will render the brownies gooey and moist. Closer to 35 minutes will make the brownies more cake-like. You decide. It's delicious either way.

*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 January 2019: here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Lettuce Wrapped Sweet and Sour Pork with Spicy Peanut Sauce #NationalPeanutButterDay


Today - National Peanut Butter Day! - Jolene of Jolene's Recipe Journal has gathered the Festive Foodies to celebrate. Here's the line-up...

Lettuce Wrapped Sweet and Sour Pork 
with Spicy Peanut Sauce

"Sweet or savory, let's celebrate all things peanut butter!" Jolene suggested. Given the option, I always try to go with a savory. I decided to braise some meat and top it with a spicy peanut sauce. The lime juice and honey add a nice sweet and sour element to the meat. We loved it. Enjoy.

Ingredients

Braised Pork
  • 2 to 3 lb. skinless, boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 T oil
  • 2 C liquid (I used vegetable stock)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t ground cumin

Peanut sauce
  • 1-1/2 C organic creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 C organic coconut milk
  • 3 T water
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 T hot sauce 
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger root
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro

For Serving
  • organic butter lettuce leaves, separated, washed, and dried
  • lime wedges, optional
  • thinly sliced green onions, optional

Procedure

Braised Pork
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil. Sear the pork shoulder on all sides until nicely browned, approximately 1 minute per side.


Pour in the liquid (vegetable stock in this case); stir in the honey, fish sauce, lime juice, and sesame oil. Add salt, pepper, and ground cumin. Bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat. Braise pork for 3 to 4 hours. While the meat cooks, make the sauce. If using immediately, shred meat with a fork, incorporating the braising liquid into the meat. Otherwise, let cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

Peanut sauce
In a small mixing bowl, blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Stir in the cilantro just before serving. Set aside.


For Serving
Warm the shredded pork, if it has been cooked ahead of time, then serve it with lettuce leaves and peanut sauce. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Tangled Up Linguine Alle Vongole + White Wine #FoodNFlix


Here we are at the kick-off for 2019's Food'N'Flix. And this month, my friend Evelyne of CulturEatz is hosting. You can read her invitation here, but she's invited us to watch Book Club.* 

I had heard of the movie and even had the chance to watch it on a trans-Atlantic flight from London to California earlier this month. In fact, I think I clicked on it, read the description that the book club reads Fifty Shades of Grey, and clicked right off onto another movie. I might be alone in this, but I do not get the appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey. It certainly didn't appeal to me as a love story much less a love story worthy of three books and three movies. Ugh.

But, had I known that Book Club was our January movie pick, I would have watched it on that plane ride. But, alas!, I didn't see the invitation until I had returned home.

Then add jetlag, the launch of the new robotics season, and a general blur of post-holiday days, and I completely blitzed on watching it. But Evelyne sent a gentle nudge and I immediately reserved a copy at RedBox and picked it up on my way home from work. I'm so glad I did.

On the Screen

Four older women pick up Fifty Shades of Grey in their book group. Carol (played by Mary Steenburgen) is a married chef whose husband (played by Craig T. Nelson) seems to have lost interest in sex. In contrast, Vivian (played by the ageless Jane Fonda) is a successful luxury hotel owner who has sex frequently but always without strings and commitments. Sharon (played by Candice Bergen) is a judge who hasn't had an interest in sex since her divorce nearly two decades ago. And Diane (played by Diane Keaton) is a recent widow and mother of two adult daughters. You can imagine how this goes, right?

And, though I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I had a hard time seeing them as their characters; I just saw an entire cast of talented movie veterans. So, you'll see my notes included 'Mary' not 'Carol - actresses versus their characters.

I will add that this movie is, shockingly, less about sex and more about the tangled web of relationships and friendships. I think that's actually what I loved about it. Oh, and the wine. There's a lot of wine involved. And you all know how I feel about wine.

Okay, I am not advocating that you play a drinking game while watching the movie. I didn't play a drinking game while I watched as I was watching by myself since no one in my house was interested. Besides, I am far too old to play drinking games. LOL.

But as I watched, I couldn't help but chuckle that there wasn't a scene that didn't have white wine - or some other alcohol - in it. So, it would make for consuming a lot of alcohol if you matched the characters goblet for goblet.

Here are just some of my notes...
  • Main characters at their book club meeting, debating Fifty Shades of Grey / white wine = 4
  • Emergency book club meeting / white wine = 3, rosé = 2
  • Diane reading in the garden / red wine = 1
  • Diane and Andy at the restaurant / white wine = 2
  • Candice creating an online dating profile / white wine = 1
  • Candice on a date with Richard / white wine = 2
  • Candice toasting her son at his engagement party / white wine = 2
  • Mary still trying to seduce her husband / rosé = 1, Viagra-laced beer = 1
  • Another book club meeting / white wine = 5
  • Talent show / white wine = 2

Linguine Alle Vongole

Inspired by that tangled mess of relationships, I decide to make a bowl of tangled pasta. And I had clams, so linguine alle vongole was it.

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds clams, soaked, scrubbed, and dried
  • 1 stick of butter, divided in half
  • splash of olive oil
  • 3 to 4 whole juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (approximately 1 C)
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced (approximately 1 C)
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 C water
  • 1/8 C Sambuca or other licorice-flavored alcohol
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C fresh chopped herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, tarragon, and thyme)

Procedure
Place 1/2 stick of butter and crushed juniper berries in a large, flat-bottom pan with a lid. Add a splash of olive oil to keep the butter from burning. Heat until the butter is completely melted and foamy.
Add in the fennel, leek, and onion. Cook until the fennel is softened and the onion beginning to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with water. Once the water begins to simmer, pour in the lemon juice and Sambuca and place the clams in a single layer in the pan and add the remaining butter. Cook for one to two minutes, then pour in the cream. Stir to combine, then cover and steam until the clams open. Check them after five minutes. They are cooked and ready when the shells are completely open. 


Remove the clams and fold the herbs into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, I cooked linguine and placed pasta in individual serving bowls. I divided the clams evenly into the bowls and spooned the sauce over the top.

White Wine

And, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to uncork a white wine. I mean, you saw how many glasses I white wine I documented, right? Ahead of the Wine Pairing Weekend's focus on wines from Uruguay in February, I received four bottles of wine from Elixir Wine Group out of Bend, Oregon. I received two bottles of Albariño and two bottles of Tannat. I opened up one of the Albariños for this dinner and it was divine.

In the glass it was a pale straw color with golden highlights.  On the nose, I got some summer stone fruit with a tinge of white flowers. Maybe jasmine. On the palate, sweet transitioned to acidic with a deliciously long finish.

I hope you enjoyed my foray into January's Food'N'Flix pick. Next month, we are watching Crazy Rich Asians hosted over at Eliot's Eats. That was one that I did watch on the airplane. Twice. Once on the way to Denmark and once on the way back. Looking forward to rewatching it for February's event.

*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.


Share Buttons