14 February 2018: Ina Garten’s Lemon Mousse

2018-Feb-15_fournightsaweek_mousse_1773Happy Valentine’s Day! With Valentine’s Day falling in the middle of the week this year, we decided to stay in, cook, and enjoy one of our favorite movies. Just because it was a quiet night, doesn’t mean the food didn’t need to be spectacular and this Lemon Mousse recipe from Ina Garten was a great finish to our meal.  The most difficult part of the process was stirring the egg yolk mixture for 8-10 minutes, but after that, it came together easily. 

See the original – and accompanying video here.

Ina Garten’s Lemon Mousse

Ingredients

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
  • Sliced lemon, for garnish (I used raspberries – equally good)

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I purchased perfectly acceptable whipped cream from Whole Foods – not the stuff in the aerosol can!)

Directions

  1. In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook (NOTE: Get that water simmering before you start timing), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.
  2. Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula.
  3. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
  4. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a deep bowl OR pipe smaller amounts into dishes.
  5. Top with whipped cream and lemon slices (or as I did, fresh raspberries)

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high-speed until the cream just forms still peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

 

 

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8 February 2018: Lemony Carrot & Cauliflower Soup Meets Wine Club Arneis

2018-Feb-08_fournightsaweek-carrotcauliflower_1756_edited-1When I make soup, it very often is a vegetable-based soup. Here’s a creamy – without the cream – soup that is a welcome variation on carrot-based soups. This one uses carrot, cauliflower, and light miso to blend together. It made a satisfying weeknight dinner soup.  Take Melissa Clark’s advice: don’t let the recipe hinder creativity: this is a basic roadmap for infinite variety.

Now what else to serve? Wine of course! I chose a Ceretto Arneis, a selection from our Wine Club (notes below the recipe) to pair with the soup.

Lemony Carrot and Cauliflower Soup (Link to original here)

Melissa Clark for NYTimes.

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP coriander seeds
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 medium carrots (1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups). (I used a variety of carrots, purple, yellow, white, orange)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 TBSP white miso (I used yellow miso because I had it – no harm, no foul)
  • 1 small (or half a large head) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice (I used more)
  • Smokey chile powder (for serving)
  • Coarse sea salt (for serving)
  • Cilantro leaves (for serving)

Method

  1. In large dry pot over medium heat, toast coriander seeds until fragrant and dark golden-brown, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar & pestle and coarsely crush (or use the back of a spoon on a chopping board – just crush them)
  2. Return the pot to medium heat. Add the oil and heat until warm. Stir in onion; cook stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly colored, 7-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add carrots, crushed coriander, salt and 6 cups water to the pot. Stir in the miso until it dissolves. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and cook, covered over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from heat. Use an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice just before serving. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with chile, sea salt and cilantro leaves.

Ceretto Langhe DOC Arneis, 2016

We joined Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese’s Wine Club last summer and honestly, we have 2018-Feb-08_fournightsaweek-carrotcauliflower_1742been delighted by some exceptional wines. I don’t think we’ve had one bottle in the last 6 months that we did not love.  

The Ceretto Arneis is one of those finds we never would have considered on our own. It has a minerally freshness with a slight sparkle that, now that I’ve discovered it, I know I’ll be returning to. The Arneis grape, grown in the Piedemonte region of Italy, were near extinction in the 1960s. Luckily they’ve been rescued! For tasting notes from the vintner and more about this wine, click here.

Looking to expand your exposure to some terrific wines? Check out Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese Wine Club here.

 


02 February 2018: Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

2018-Feb-02_fournightsaweek_oatmeal_bars_1739Whenever I can use up the remaining bits of something I’ve only partially utilized during the week, it’s a win.  This week, I had most of a container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt leftover from a spicy bean dish, and rather than just eat it or (horrors!) wait until it was no longer edible, I went on a search for a way to incorporate Greek yogurt into another recipe. The fact that this recipe not only used up the yogurt but was a dessert AND used dark chocolate was something like winning a lottery.  Here is a recipe for Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars from A Mindful Mom’s blog. Be sure to check out blogger, Kristen for other great healthy choices.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups oats (I used old-fashioned, not quick)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
  3. Add oil, yogurt, egg, honey and vanilla. Mix until just combined.
  4. Stir in dark chocolate chips
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before eating (good luck with that).

29 January 2018: Red Bean Stew

2018-Jan-29_fournightsaweek_red_beans_1704When you go to your local wine purveyor to ask about a wine that will pair with Red Bean Stew, you really are setting up for a challenge.  And, luckily in my case, our local wine and cheese shop, Tutto Bene, has a very knowledgeable owner, Wendi Wilkins, who hit this recommendation out of the park. 

This wine, Seven Sinners (2015), is created from a 100% Syrah from Central Valley of California around Lodi. Deep red, and velvety in color, the wine is tastes big and jammy to me with some nice spiciness. My palate may still be under construction, but I know what I like, and I like this wine. A lot! And who knew? It was perfect with the Red Bean Stew I adapted from the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for Meatless Monday. Head over to Tutto Bene before Wendi runs out. Because, as Wendi tells it, you will be sad when you run out.

Red Bean Stew

Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times

We tend to eat mainly plant-based in our house and off and on I’ve eaten strictly vegetarian meals for much of the last 30 years. Mondays are generally Meatless Mondays around here, no matter what, so tonight I gave this hearty red bean stew a try.  Don’t let the preparation of the beans intimidate you. Once you’ve prepared dry beans from scratch, you’ll have a difficult time going back to canned beans with (as Sara Moulton would say), their lovely gelatinous material.  Just plan ahead and it will all be fine.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) red beans, washed, picked over & soaked for 6 hours or 2018-Jan-29_fournightsaweek_red_beans_1716overnight in 2 quarts of water
  • 2 TBPS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into small dice
  • 2 TBSP sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Pinch cayenne (I substituted 2 TBSP-you read that right-Sriracha Sauce)
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Freshly ground black papper
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup drained yogurt (I used Greek yougurt – 0% fat)

Method

  1. Drain the beans through a strainer set over a bowl, Place the beans in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Measure the soaking water in the bowl and add enough water to measure about 2 quarts (this is less than NYT recipe called for). Add to the pot with the beans, turn the heat to medium high and bring to a gentle boil. Skim off any foam and/or bean skins.
  2. [This is my adaptation]. Drain the cooked beans (I let them simmer for about 30 minutes), reserving the cooking liquid. Wipe out the pan or dutch oven and continue with step 3.
  3. Heat 1 TBSP of the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant (about 8-10 min). Add 2 of the garlic cloves and continue to cook for another minute or so. Season with salt, add another TBSP oil and add the paprika. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are well coated with paprika. Add a ladleful of the bean cooking water to deglaze the pan then stir in the beans and add the rest of the bean water (should be about 2 quarts of liquid). Add tomato paste and bay leaf, reduce heat and simmer for an hour with the cover on.
  4. Add oregano, remaining garlic, sriracha (or cayenne if you really don’t want this to be spicy), vinegar and sugar. Simmer for another hour. Beans should be thoroughly cooked at this point (i.e., not crunchy!). If you want the broth a bit thicker, take about a cup of the beans out of the pan and mash or blend them. Return this to the pan.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Serve with large dollop of the drained yogurt.

23 January 2018: Cocoa Brownies

2018-Jan-23_fournightsaweek_brownies_1694We recently purchased a condo unit in the building in which we have been renting. Our new neighbors gifted us with the wonderful bottle of wine which we have determined would go quite nicely with some chocolate. I mean, what doesn’t go with chocolate? I’m not sure I want to live in that world.

There are plenty of brownie recipes made with cocoa in place of bar chocolate, but oftentimes I’ve found them to be pretty dry. This recipe comes from Bon Appetit and is hands down one of the most chocolate-y of cocoa brownie recipes I’ve ever tasted.  And, it is quite tasty with our bottle of Ipsus 2008 Passito de Pantelleria.

Cocoa Brownies

Bon Appetit, December 2012.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick oil spray
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into approximately 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used King Arthur’s Triple Chocolate)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line and 8-inch square pan (glass) with foil, pressing firmly into pan and leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Melt butter (I microwaved, BA suggests doing this in saucepan). Let cool slightly.
  3. Whisk sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl. Pour butter in a steady stream into dry ingredients, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in vanilla.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beat vigorously to blend after each addition (make sure the butter has cooled a bit or you’ll end up with bits of scrambled eggs – yuck).
  5. Add flour and stir until just combined – do not overmix. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. (I added some chopped up dark chocolate dove bar here just for fun).
  6. Bake until top begins to crack and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. 25-30 minutes.
  7. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool completely in pan. Use foil overhang and lift 2018-Jan-23_fournightsaweek_brownies_1692brownies out of pan. Cut into 16 squares.

Ipsus 2008 Passito di Pantelleria
I love, love, love that this moscato dessert wine comes from Sicily. Smooth and a golden color your can practically taste the sunshine!  The wine is produced in a southernmost island near Tunisia; somewhat sweet (but not overly so) there are notes of apricots and raisins. Definitely great sipping wine to go with dessert. To find out more about these wines, link to the Wine-searcher site here.

 

 


16 January 2018: Lemon and Garlic Chicken With Mushrooms

2018-Jan-16_FourNightsAWeek-Chicken_1652

Santos Winery 2016 Santorini Assyrtiko


A side benefit to a subscription to the New York Times – not that I need one – are the wonderful food columns. This recipe from Martha Rose Shulman is a great weeknight meal because it 
comes together quickly.  Tonight, the dish was paired with a delightful and slightly mineral-ly Assyrtiko from Santorini which I picked up on recommendation from Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese Shop. Both of us were more than a little unfamiliar with the wines of Greece (click the link above for NYTimes Wine School article about Santorini wines), but this one was definitely a home run ~ Thanks Wendi!  Tasting notes follow the recipe.

 

 

Lemon and Garlic Chicken With Mushrooms

Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice (use the fresh stuff for best flavor)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or pureed
  • 1 tsp chopped FRESH rosemary
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP grapeseed, sunflower or canola oil (I substituted Olive Oil)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 TBSP chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Assyrtiko – cook with what you drink as Julia Child would say)

Preparation  2018-Jan-16_FourNightsAWeek-Chicken_1654

  1. Stir together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Here’s where I deviated from the original recipe: I pounded the chicken breasts BEFORE adding to the marinade, so if you want to try that as well, go to Step 2 now). Add the chicken to the marinade (I always marinate raw fish or poultry in a zip bag for food safety). Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes (or, if you do this prep earlier in the day, the extra time in the marinade doesn’t seem to hurt anything).
  2. Place 2 sheets of plastic wrap on your work surface, overlapping slightly, to make 1 wide sheet and brush lightly with oil. Cover the chicken with another wide layer of plastic wrap. Working from the center to the outside, pound chicken breast with the flat side of a meat tenderizer (or if you don’t have one, I found a heavy rolling pin works fairly well) until the chicken is about 1/4 inch thick. [If you are doing this step prior to adding the poultry to the marinade, go back and finish up step 1, and if not…. be sure to pat the chicken breasts dry BEFORE pounding] At this point I cut the chicken breasts in half so that there were 4 pieces altogether.
  3. Season the pounded chicken breasts with salt and pepper on one side only. Dredge lightly in the flour and tap to remove excess.
  4. Turn oven on low (this is for holding the chicken after cooking). Heat a wide heavy skillet over high heat and add oil. When oil is hot, place one or two pieces of chicken in the pan – do not over-crowd. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes, until bottom is browned in spots; turn over and brown the other side (about 1 1/2 minutes) [I ALWAYS check the internal meat temperatures to that I know things are cooked through and safe (165 degrees) – that would be my advice here as well. Go by internal temperature, not time.] Transfer to a platter or sheet pan and keep warm in the oven. If there is more than a tablespoon of fat in the pan, pour of some (not all).
  5. Turn the burner down to medium-high. Add mushrooms to the pan. Let them sear for about 30 seconds to a minute without moving them, then stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. When mushrooms have softened slightly and begun to sweat, add wine, thyme or parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until wine has evaporated (this took under a minute for me). Spoon over the chicken and serve.

Tasting Notes for Santos 2016 Santorini Assyrtiko (from the Winemaker)

A pure expression of the indigenous Assyrtiko grapes grown in the unique basket-shaped vines aka kouloures at the volcanic terroir of Santorini. This wine is a classic benchmark of the variety and its homeland. A vibrant aromatic cocktail of sea-breeze freshness and citrus fruits with honeyed undertones. Bone-dry, brightly acidic with a textural minteral smokiness and food-begging finish.

Alcoholic content: 13.5%


11 January 2018: Myers + Chang and Pinot Noir

2018-Jan-11_FourNightsAWeek_2018_1638_edited-1I’ve been doing a lot of cooking from Myers+Chang At Home lately and enjoying their Asian inspired cooking quite a bit.  This is the latest attempt from this book: Pan-Roasted Soy-Glazed Salmon with Cool Cucumber Salad.  (see page 130 of the Myers+Chang At Home cookbook for recipe details).

While I didn’t go for the Crispy Shallot garnish (too much frying for me), I did follow the rest of the recipe’s instructions. Worth the time and prep, which was not too intense for home cooks.  Cooking salmon is something we do about once a week here. I’ve found a decent frozen product through Whole Foods Market which we keep on hand as a quick protein addition to dinner salads.

As far as this recipe goes, definitely do not skimp on the Sriracha sauce and think ahead as to the type of pan you choose – it should be safe for both stovetop and oven.

Our friend Wendi Wilkins, owner of Tutto Bene Wine and Cheese Shop, made an

excellent pairing suggestion of a Northwest Oregon Pinot Noir from Brandborg. As the notes say, the wine is beautifully transparent ruby red and paired really well with the salmon. This wine is in stock at Tutto Bene and definitely enhanced the dish.

Brandborg 2014 Bench Lands Pinot Noir

[From the Winemakers]: The 2014 vintage was characterized by a warm and dry spring, that did not really let up throughout the whole season.  The seasonal temperatures ended up being slightly higher than average, with an early bud break, few heat spikes and a long dry fall, giving us a very long frost free period, perfect for late ripening fruit.  Our Bench Lands is a composition incorporating many sites.  Within these vineyards we have selected blocks and clonal types that work well together in this harmonious blend.  The soils are very diverse mixes of alluviums deposited along the Umpqua, originating in the three mountain ranges that encircle this river valley, the Klamath -Siskiyous, the Cascades and the Coast Range.  These well drained soils create a wine with structure and balanced tannins.

The wine is a lovely transparent ruby color.  The aromas are dominated by ripe red cherries, blueberries, hints of cranberry with overtones of wild mountain meadow herbs and wild flowers.  The flavors add raspberries to the cherries, with some orange pith, coffee and mocha.  The wine’s mouthfeel is filling and supple.  The acidity gives it a nice zing, to compliment a moderately long finish and make this very food friendly.

This supple pinot would pair well with fatty fish like salmon or tuna, and has enough acid to go with curries, roasted and herbed mushrooms or even grilled meats, especially pork, with barbeque sauce.

Production:3914 cases

Alcohol:13.6%ABV

Total Acidity:5.8g/L

 


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