Thursday, December 31, 2020

Capping off the Old Year with Cappelletti in Brodo + G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2016 #ItalianFWT

Welcome to the first of the Italian Food Wine Travel events of 2021. I can't tell you how happy I am to see 2020 in our rear view mirror. This month, the group's founder, Jen of Vino Travels, is hosting and she has us looking at Favorite Italian Reds to Start off 2021. You can read her invitation: here.

All of these posts will be live by Saturday, January 2nd when we gather for a live Twitter chat. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join the conversation. Follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it. In the meantime, here's the January 2021 line-up for the #ItalianFWT bloggers...


In the Glass

As for me, I knew that I wanted to feature a Barolo as it's one of my favorite Italian reds. But it is usually on the more pricey end of the spectrum, so I typically save it for special occasions. In this case, we poured this for one of our many end of 2020 celebratory dinners. 

On one of our afternoon hikes, my boys decided that we need to do all of the good luck new year's traditions and foods because...yeah...2020. There are many, many different traditions from all around the world but the reasoning behind their lucky foods are oddly similar. Here are some of the overlapping auspicious attributes: food that’s round (the shape of coins), food that's yellow or orange (the color of gold), food that's green (the color of spring leaves and paper money), fish (symbol of bounty), pork (prosperity and an animal that roots forward), legumes (coin-like seeds that expand like wealth) and cakes (sweetness is richness). But I'll get to the dish and the reason it's part of our fortuitous feasting series in a moment. First, the wine and the region...

I opened up a bottle of the G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2016. Since the late 19th century, the Vajra family has farmed Bricco delle Viole, the highest cru in Comune di Barolo. Aldo Vajra took over the estate in 1968, turning a new page such as acquiring the first organic certification in the region just three years later. He also pioneered the renaissance of Freisa, a long neglected grape.

Today, the Vajra family continues trail-blazing by focusing on the influence of soil and climate change. And they are leading the path in the rediscovery of Chiaretto di Nebbiolo and two limited-production wines: 'N.S. della Neve' is a champagne-method Rosé Nature) and 'Claré JC' is a partial whole-cluster fermentation of pure Nebbiolo. What innovative passion.  


The 2016 Albe has everything I love about Barolo: it's fragrant and succulent. Aromas of rose petals and cherry blossoms on the nose followed by herbaceous notes and hints of spice. On the palate the wine is bright and balanced with suppleness that makes this food friendly.

In the Bowl

In the Emilia-Romagna region, tortellini or cappelletti are often eaten on New Year's in a rich, meaty broth. One of the several Italian names for the new year, Capodanno, means the "head of the year." Cappelletti means "little hats," so perhaps that's why it's an appropriate dish to "cap off" the old year and begin the new one.


Thankfully, my helpful Kitchen Elves did all the hard work. Phew.

Ingredients 
makes approximately 3 dozen cappelletti

Dough
  • 200 grams semolina flour
  • 125 grams flour plus more for kneading
  • 4 eggs
Filling
  • 1/2 pound ground sausage (I used the Sicilian sausage from Pig Wizard)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella)
Serving
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • cheese for grating (I used ricotta salata)

Procedure

Place all of the dough ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together until the egg yolks are completely incorporated. Then turn the dough out on a clean, floured workspace.


Knead the dough until it is smooth an elastic. Add more flour as needed so that it doesn't stick to the countertop or your hands. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, press into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling.


Filling
Brown the sausage in a skillet until cooked through. Then add in the cheese and mix to combine. Set aside until ready to assemble.


Assembly
Roll the dough to a thinness of 5 of 6 on the pasta machine. 


Cut out circles and spray with lightly with water. 


Place a small portion - maybe 1 teaspoon if your circle is 3" in diameter - of the filling in the center of the circle. Bring the edges of the circle together to form a semi-circle.


Working around the edge, press out any extra air and create a seal around the filling. Bring the two pointed edges together, wrapping them around your finger. Press them firmly together. Gently shape the cappelletti  however you wish; I pull the rounded lip away from the center. 


Place the finished cappelletti  on a floured parchment-lined cookie sheet until ready to cook.


To cook, pour your beef stock in a large pot and bring to a boil. Gently drop the cappelletti into the broth and cook until they float, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

Ladle three or four into a bowl and top with broth. Serve immediately. Let diners grate cheese over the top.

That's a wrap for the January 2021 #ItalianFWT group. I'll be hosting next month as we look at Italian wines to go with long braises or stews. Perfect for those chilly winter evening. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Dublin Coddle + P.S. I Love You #LitHappens #FoodieReads

 

Okay, I'm early with this post. Really early. But I am a serial planner, a quick reader, and had a copious amount of free time during this holiday week.

P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern* is going to be our book selection for our Lit Happens online book group in February 2021. Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures is hosting; she is also picking the movie, based on the book, for our Food'N'Flix group. So much fun! While Lit Happens isn't a cook from the book kinda group, I always do find inspiration in what I read and watch. 

On the Page

I have read this book before...years ago. And, at the time, I remember being wildly impressed that a young, single woman - it was her debut novel - could imbue her characters with such depth and understanding of not just married people but a recently widowed woman. The emotions seemed so vivid and genuine.

This time around, I was still captivated enough to read it in one evening. However, I did find Holly annoyingly self-centered. Here's the premise: a twenty-nine-year-old Irish woman loses her husband after his lengthy battle with brain cancer. 

At the beginning of the book, Gerry is already dead. And in the two months since his death, his wife Holly is so paralyzed by grief that she doesn't leave the house; she doesn't go to work; and all of her friends and family are worried sick. 

Then letters begin to arrive. Gerry has left a letter for Holly for each month left of the year. Every time, Holly opens a note, she is assigned a task. Some simple, some difficult but all are part of Gerry's plan to make Holly live again.

I enjoyed P. S. I Love You, the book, but I'm going to say something that I rarely say: I like the movie more. There are marked differences between the book and the movie that almost make it a completely different story! You'll hear more about that in February for our Food'N'Flix group.

On the Plate

There were plenty of foods mentioned in the book which made this a delicious read. I considered making my version of Jammie Dodgers. "There’s a few biscuits there to go with your tea. Jammy Dodgers, your favorite" (pg. 18).

I thought about asking Jake to pull out the grill for dinner one evening...men and their fires, right?! "Her dad got so excited when they had barbecues; he took the whole thing so seriously and stood by the barbecue constantly while watching over his wonderful creations. Gerry had been like that too. What was it with men and barbecues? Probably it was the only thing that the two of them could actually cook, either that or they were closet pyromaniacs" (pg. 209).

I even talked to the boys about "homemade" Chinese takeout. I know that's an oxymoron. "Eventually at nine o’clock that night Holly succumbed to her stomach’s screaming demands for food. As usual there was nothing in the fridge, so she decided to treat herself to a Chinese takeaway. She sat snuggled up on the couch in her pajamas watching the very best of Saturday night TV while stuffing her face. After the trauma of being without Gerry for her birthday the previous day, Holly was surprised to notice that she felt very content with herself. It was the first time since Gerry had died that she was at ease with her own company" (pg. 61).                

 

But, in the end, I was inspired by this package of Irish style Bangers I picked up at the market. I was just going to make bangers and mash or the Irish Breakfast that Holly eats at her neighborhood diner. Then I came across mention of a Dublin coddle - not in the book - and knew that my trio would love it. Who doesn't like potatoes, sausage, onions, and bacon!??

I thought about slathering the dish with gravy, like Holly's dad, but thought it would be too rich.

"'You want some vegetables with your gravy, Dad?' Declan asked, seriously offering him a bowl of broccoli. Everyone looked at Frank’s plate and laughed. Once again it was a sea of gravy. 'Ha-ha,' Frank said, taking the bowl from his son. 'Anyway we live too close to the sea to get any,' he added. 'To get what? Gravy?' Holly teased and they all laughed again" (pg. 452).

Ingredients serves 4
  • 2 pounds potatoes (I used large Yukon gold)
  • water
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 pound Irish sausage
  • 1/4 pound ground bacon or bacon roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 cup beef stock plus more if needed
  • 1/4 pound bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
Procedure
Simmer the sausages in water until cooked then cook them in oil just enough to give them color. Set aside.

Place the potatoes in a large pot, covered with water. Bring to a boil and cook until you can pierce them with a fork. They don't need to be cooked completely because they will be braised later. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice into thick coins.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large heavy pot with a tight lid - I used my Le Creuset braiser - cook the ground or chopped bacon until the fat is rendered and the meat cooked through. Layer the potato coins around the pan on top of the bacon.

Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Place the onions on top of the potatoes, followed by the grilled sausages.

Pour the stock mixture over the top. On the stove, bring the liquid to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down and cover the pot. 

Put the covered pot in the oven and let everything braise for at 90 minutes. After an hour, check the pot to make sure that it hasn't dried out. Add more stock, if needed. Put it back in the oven until the potatoes are creamy and the onions are soft.

To serve, crumble the cooked bacon over the top and serve immediately. Traditionally you would serve this with a Guinness for supper. I was serving this as a hearty Irish breakfast, so I added poached eggs and some strong coffee.


*I am part of the affiliate program on Bookshop.org, which gives me a small percentage of the sale if you buy a book through my link or my shop.  It doesn't cost you anything more, but I do appreciate the support. Here's this book: P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern! If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Bookshop.org and search for the item of your choice.
 
Click to see what everyone else in Foodie Reads read in December 2020: here.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Savory Goat Cheese Truffles + L'Ecole's 2019 Sémillon #Sponsored #CulinaryCam

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of L'Ecole.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own. 


Earlier in December I took part in a virtual tasting with L'Ecole Winery* that was hosted by the marketing manager, the winemaker, and the general manager. And I am excited to be starting a series of wine pairings on my Culinary Cam YouTube channel. The video for this recipe is here and there will be more coming in 2021.

In My Glass

Made with grapes from the Stillwater Creek, Klipsun, Lodmell, Rosebud, and Estate Seven Hills vineyards in the Columbia Valley, this Semillon is comprised of 88% Sémillon and 12% Sauvignon Blanc.


Sémillon wine is a white wine for red wine lovers, I think. It has a more full body, like a Chardonnay, but its flavors lean more bright and vibrant like a Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. And at a suggested retail price of just $15, you can't beat the value.

In the glass, the wine pours a clear straw color. On the nose, there are vibrant notes of citrus mixed with the heady floral of honeysuckle. However, on the palate, the wine is more voluptuous with layers of summer melons and figs and a hint of toasted nuts. This was a beautiful wine that was as fresh as it was complex.

On My Plate

Years ago a fellow blogger introduced me to savory cheese truffles and I have been making them ever since! During the virtual party, I asked Marcus what he would pair with the wine and, without hesitation, he offered: goat cheese. Along with Constance pointing out the citrus flavors, I knew I wanted to pair the Sémillon with some savory, hand-rolled goat cheese truffles. Done. 

Since we are still in the holiday season, I wanted to roll this version in red and green. But feel free to use whatever dried fruit, nuts, and herbs you have on-hand. I have also dyed the cheese with a few drop of beet juice to make them pink for Valetine's Day. Be creative.

Ingredients makes approximately 12
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces goat cheese (I used garlic-herb for this version or you can add in whatever herbs and aromatics you like)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh herbs, washed and dried

Procedure

Place cream cheese and goat cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Add in lemon zest. Then use a hand blender to combine the cheeses. If the cheese is too soft, you can refrigerate it until it reaches the consistency you prefer.


In a small mixing bowl, stir together the pecans, cranberries, and herbs. Use a scoop or a spoon to portion out the cheese.


Roll the cheese in the topping and set on a serving platter.


Enjoy!


Find L'Ecole No.41 on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter
*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 sponsor.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Eggnog Muffin Tops #MuffinMonday


Earlier in the year I saw a post from one of my favorite bloggers - Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm - and I realized that they've been having a muffin party for years without me. LOL. I emailed the host, Stacy of Food Lust People Love and got the scoop: "...last Monday of the month and no themes. We've been baking together since August 2015! Only one rule, you must use the muffin method (folding wet ingredients with dry - no creaming butter and sugar, etc.) to bake muffins."

I've been happily joining in for months now. This month is the last Muffin Monday of 2020! Here's the muffin line-up...

Ingredients

After we did an eggnog taste test, back in 2017, we have our favorites. The winner was Humboldt! And we always have a carton of eggnog in the fridge throughout the holidays.


  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup eggnog (use your favorite!)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum or other liqueur (eggnog typically requires rum, I had a coffee liqueur on the counter!)

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your  muffin hollows or use paper liners. I only have 4 of the muffin top molds, so I used 6 ramekins as well.

In a medium large mixing bowl, stir together all of the ingredients until just moistened. The batter will be thick. Spoon batter into your molds until they are approximately three-quarters of the way full; they will rise!

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes - until golden brown and nicely risen. A wooden toothpick inserted in centers should come out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

And just in case you want to order your own adorable muffin molds, I'm including an affiliate link below. We love them!


*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, but if you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Candied Citrus Peel


I am not big on plain ol' oranges. Blood oranges, clementines, pumelo, any other citrus and I am excited. Every holiday season we candy citrus peels for our panettone. This year, I used what I had in the fruit bowl which ended up being pink grapefruit, navel oranges, and satsuma mandarins.


And a quick note: use organic. You're spending time and money to eat the peels; you don't want to be consuming chemicals and pesticides!

Ingredients makes approximately 6 cups

  • a variety of organic citrus fruits
  • water 
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups organic granulated sugar plus more for rolling
  • Also needed: heavy bottom skillet, colander, baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Procedure
 

Peel the citrus and slice into strips.

 

Place all of the citrus in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add cold water until they are floating. Bring the pan to a boil. Drain. Add cold water until they are floating and bring to a boil again. Drain. Repeat a third time.

Then create a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a simmer and cooking till the syrup thickens. Place the citrus and simple syrup in the flat-bottom pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the citrus is translucent and the syrup is thickened and sticking to the fruit. Ours took about 90 minutes.

 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the citrus to a bowl full of granulated sugar. Roll the citrus in the sugar. Lay out on a parchment-lined cutting board and leave to dry.

You'll be seeing these in our panettone. Stay tuned...I actually tried a new recipe and that will be our standard moving forward. It was so tasty!

Marbled Smoked Salmon-Topped Deviled Eggs


Holiday meal planning was definitely scaled back with the current shelter-in-place orders. But that didn't mean that I wasn't going to try to make some pretty and tasty bites for our meal. It was just the four of us around our dining room table, but we did deliver Christmas dinner to my parents as well. 

To make our deviled eggs a little bit more fancy, I decided to marble them with a red dye. Then we topped them with smoked salmon and a few capers. They weren't completely red and green, but they were festive enough.

Ingredients serves 6

Marbled Eggs
  • 6 eggs
  • water
  • food dye (I used a red though it ended up more of a pink)

Filling
  • 2 Tablespoons organic mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk yogurt (you can use 4 Tablespoons total mayonnaise if you wish)
  • 1 teaspoons mustard
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Finishing
  • smoked salmon, sliced
  • capers, drained
  • freshly ground pepper for sprinkling

Procedure

Place the eggs in a pot with the water, making sure that there is at least an inch of water over the eggs. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 - 20 minutes. Run the under cold water to cool.  

Tap the boiled eggs to make a series of cracks all over the eggshells. Try to keep the shells intact. But if some pieces happen to flake off, don't worry.

Place the cracked eggs back in the pot and cover them with water again. Add in enough food dye to get the color that you want.

Bring back to a boil. Then remove the pot from heat and let the eggs stand until cool.

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. 

Filling
Remove yolks as carefully as you can and mash in a bowl with a fork. Add mayonnaise, yogurt, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the egg yolk mixture back into the egg whites. You can also pipe the mixture back in if you wish.


Finishing
Garnish the top with sliced salmon and a few capers. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.