Posts Tagged ‘Food Network’
If you’re a serious food and wine lover, then chances are you’re familiar with both the Food Network and Wente Vineyards.
Recently, the world’s premier food and lifestyle network teamed up with one of the most respected wineries in California’s Livermore Valley to create a collection of wines called Entwine. The central idea behind this interesting name is “the coming together of extraordinary things.”
Sadly, my very first taste of the 2009 Entwine Pinot Grigio (MSRP: $13 US) was a far cry from extraordinary. This white wine delivered a mouthful (as well as a nose full) of sawdust and super-tart Granny Smith apples. Fortunately, the finish was extra short.
1 Star out of 4 for the 2009 Entwine Pinot Grigio. I was left scratching my head wondering how this wine went so extraordinarily wrong.
*Note: I tried this wine over the course of three consecutive days with the same results.
I have no idea what to call the fall feast that went down at my good friend Bruce’s house. In a nutshell, it was a nosh-up of towering proportions that can only be summed up in one word – EPIC.
While the kids were running rampant, dancing and roasting marshmallows around the bonfire, and elbowing one another to get the most candy from the broken piñata, there were several adults having some fun of their own!
Supervised, of course!
Every kid for themselves!!
Earlier this year, I received several samples from brothers, James and Mark Blanchard of Blanchard Family Wines. Located in Healdsburg, California, Brothers Blanchard operate a small family winery that produces and sells hand-crafted, limited production wines – only 1500 cases to be exact. I took a real interest in their personal journey into the wine business, and thought it would be fun to share their wines with friends.
Our first selection on this beautiful, chilly fall evening was the 2009 Blanchard Family Sauvignon Blanc (Dry Creek Valley) (MSRP: $20 US).
Our group of tasters described it as being “citrusy, tart, possessing a grassy New Zealand-esque quality to it with very good acidity.” A few detected an “oniony” quality. However, the group was unanimous and rated the 2009 Blanchard Family Sauvignon Blanc (Dry Creek Valley) 3 Stars out 4.
Onto the delights that had us all practically licking our bowls and plates all night long!
I paired this simple, yet terrific salad with what turned out to be one of the favorite wines of the night – the 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris (Russian River Valley) (MSRP: $30.00).
2010 was the inaugural vintage of the Blanchard Family’s Russian River Valley Pinot Gris. Its special name “Peoria Pink” is inspired by the wine’s color, which is a light pink. Another thing worth mentioning is 20% of all sales from 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris go to breast cancer awareness. How great is that!?
Here’s what people were saying about the 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris (Russian River Valley): “Nice body, citrusy, sexy color! Great match with this salad! Medium acidity and good structure.” Tasters were split – some gave it 3 Stars, while others (including me) gave it 4 Stars out of 4! Overall, it was a crowd-pleaser.
After finishing the 2010 Blanchard Family “Peoria Pink” Pinot Gris, we headed into hedonistic ecstasy when bowls of homemade pumpkin soup made their way out to the dining room table.
This soup, I tell you, was absolutely INCREDIBLE!!
I asked my friend Bruce to share some of his insights, secrets and tips for making this bountiful bowl of orange goodness, and this is what he had to say:
“In preparing the pumpkin soup, I found out very quickly that pureeing pumpkin is not as easy as it sounds. Seems like it should be simple, right? Place pumpkin in the blender/food processor; turn it on and instant pumpkin puree –right? WRONG! As it turns out, pumpkin is too dense to puree on its own, at least in my blender. So my brilliant solution was to blend the pumpkin with chicken stock (the soup’s other base ingredient). The trick, as I learned after much trial and error…and cleaning up pumpkin splatter on the walls, cabinets and ceiling is to have the right pumpkin to chicken stock ratio. Oh yeah, two other notes: 1) Don’t lift the blender lid to peak in as pumpkin is being pureed unless you like wearing pumpkin and 2) Don’t wear a white shirt while trying to puree pumpkin.”
Thanks Bruce for sharing!
Now where were we? Oh yeah, here’s the killer recipe for that pumpkin soup:
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups cubed, peeled, chopped fresh pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley and fresh chives
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups milk or heavy cream
- Cut pumpkin into small pieces.
- Heat the chicken stock and the other ingredients *(minus the 2 cups of milk and/or cream) on the list in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
- Puree the fresh pumpkin in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender and stir in with the other ingredients in the large pot.
- Return to pan and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Finally, stir in milk/heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh chives and parsley.
I’d suggest pairing this soup with a Chardonnay; but if you’re an ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) person, give it a go with a Viognier or Dry Riesling.
Our next course was Alaskan Copper River Wild Salmon from 2 Sisters Alaska Seafood. Nothing like the real deal!
Check out the thickness of this salmon!
My pal Bruce used this recipe Salmon en Papillote from Julia & Jacques.
While he was on the fish station, I was in charge of cooking the side dish that he selected, which was a Herbed Quinoa Pilaf with Vegetables courtesy of Morethangourmet.com.
*Note: You may want to deviate a bit from the recipe and add more vegetable stock, butter and other interesting spices that you can find in your buddy’s spice rack to really make this recipe pop!! Just a suggestion.
We downed it all – “deadliest catch” and “ancient Peruvian grain” – with a couple of Oregon and French Pinot Noirs.
And were we done yet? Heck no! After going to Alaskan heaven and back, we had to have some beef, right? In the words of Sarah Palin, “You Betcha!”
So we did.
Yup, we were gluttons for punishment! This delicious Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Basil-Curry Mayonnaise is courtesy of Food Network’s resident hottie, Giada De Laurentiis.
We had such good fortune with the first two wines from Blanchard Family Wines that we decided we’d give it a go with both the 2008 Blanchard Family “Amber Monique” Syrah (Russian River Valley)(Sample, MSRP:$25) and 2009 Blanchard Family “Red Scarf Blend” (Sonoma County) (Sample, MSRP:$26.50).
The 2008 Blanchard Family “Amber Monique” Syrah (Named for Sylvia and James Blanchard’s daughter) packed a good punch of cherry-vanilla, black pepper, dark chocolate and light smokiness. The group was divided on the 2008 Blanchard Family “Amber Monique” Syrah; some awarded it 2 Stars, while others gave it 3 Stars out 4.
Our last wine of the night from the Blanchard brothers was the 2009 Blanchard Family “Red Scarf Blend” (Sonoma County). This wine was created to honor the men and women of the MH-53 Pavelow helicopter. 10% from all sales of this wine is donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, whose mission is to provide full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families.
The 2009 Blanchard Family “Red Scarf Blend” consisting of Cabernet, Syrah, Sangiovese and Zinfandel was a very successful mission with the entire group. We found lots of explosive black fruit and a long finish that complemented every last bite of Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Basil-Curry Mayonnaise. The group again was split, yet again; some awarded it 3 Stars, while others gave it 4 Stars out 4. Another great wine for a great cause. Note: This is a very limited wine – get it while you can.
And what would a dinner like this be without dessert? For those that could hang, it was lights-out with Fresh Figs with Mascarpone and Warm Spiced Honey.
The 2011 Philadelphia Food & Wine Festival at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia will be taking place on October 21-23. A highlight of the festival will be the Robert Mondavi Discover Wine Tour with special guest Ted Allen. To share their excitement about the tour, Robert Mondavi Winery is offering a prize pack giveaway for one lucky WineLife365 reader. The only thing you need to do to win the prize pack is make a guess on the total number of natural (i.e., cork) wine closures that I’ve got stashed in my WineLife365 “Estimation Station” (shown below) and like the Robert Mondavi Winery FaceBook Page. That’s it! The first person to guess the number of closures (without going over) wins the prize pack.
- The contest starts now and is open to anyone!
- Place your guess in the Comment area of this post or the WineLife365 Facebook Page. Please limit to 2 guesses.
- Like the Robert Mondavi Winery FaceBook Page.
- This contest will close at 12am ET on Saturday, October 22nd, 2012.
I will announce the correct number and the lucky winner shortly after the contest closes.
PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:
Pack includes a Robert Mondavi chef’s apron, Sigg Steel water bottle, keychain, and a copy of Ted Allen’s The Food You Want to Eat cookbook.
Now in its sixth year, the Robert Mondavi Discover Wine Tour is an interactive, educational, and fun event that brings the Napa Valley wine country experience to wine-lovers across the US at various food and wine festivals. The Philadelphia Food & Wine Festival will feature cooking demonstrations and tips by Food Network Chopped host Ted Allen, a Robert Mondovi Private Selection Food & Wine Ambassador, who continues to engage with consumers and solve – and simplify – the food and wine pairing mystery. Along with Ted at the Robert Mondavi Winery’s Napa-inspired tasting pavilion will be educational seminars and other interactive events all communicating Robert Mondavi’s message that wine is for everyone, not just connoisseurs and sommeliers.
Robert Mondavi Discover Wine Tour highlights include:
- Educational Seminar – a Wine 101 class to help learn the basics on what to look for (and taste) in every bottle
- Wine & Cooking Stage – get the taste buds going with demonstrations and tastings by local chefs and wine experts
- Essence Station – put your senses to the test and learn how to appreciate wines subtle aromas
- Interactive iPad – email recipes and wine pairings, see photos, sign up for Winery news, and view tasting notes all at the touch of a button
- Mondavi Theater – watch a short documentary film showcasing how Robert Mondavi revolutionized the American wine industry
One of the great things about wine and writing this blog is meeting other people with the same passion for wine that I have. I met “Scott from Arizona” (pictured below) through a mutual acquaintance – Mr. Bruce Patch aka “The Wine Guerilla”. Scott has shared with me several great wine reviews as well as some truly delicious looking recipes. I asked him if he would be interested in being a guest writer and sharing some of his wonderful food and wine experiences, and he generously accepted.
Take it away Scott…
I work out of a home office. On any given day, I make a handful of trips to the kitchen for a break and something to eat or drink. While there, I usually check to see what’s going on the Food Network. Recently I happened to catch Tyler Florence creating a main dish that looked elegant, yet simple and tasty, while destroying my childhood hatred of the dreaded ratatouille.
Ratatouille is a very traditional dish from Provence, with familiar variations from Croatia that add anchovies. It is basically a sauté of mixed vegetables, featuring eggplant, zucchini and tomato, finished in the oven. All my previous encounters have been presentations of soggy messes, with unpleasant use of overcooked eggplant dragging the whole experience down.
Tyler’s version aroused my interest, with some key modifications so that my teenage children might actually eat it.
I loved the idea that this could be a one dish meal, easy to prepare and finish, and not very expensive. Hot and hearty, yet not too heavy, it offers flexibility for a lot of interesting wine pairings. Suggestions would include Pinot Noir, lighter Burgundies, Cru Beaujolais, White Rhone styles, and, way out there, perhaps a rich Slovenian Sauvignon.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large zucchini, cut crosswise into thin (¼ inch or less) slices
1-3 anchovy fillets, to taste, smashed (this is optional, or use anchovy paste)
1 onion, sliced into elegant slivers from the top down; each piece a “new moon” curved sliver
2-3 garlic cloves, to taste, finely chopped
1-2 bulbs fennel, thinly sliced vertically, similar to the onions (remove tops and the hard center core first)
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchstick slices about 1 ½ long
A handful of cherry tomatoes, or one large, diced heirloom tomato
A Pinch red pepper flakes
Panko bread crumbs
1 side of salmon filet (a boned tail piece, skin on)
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1 stick unsalted butter, best if at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Begin by preparing the vegetable base for the fish. Heat 1/4 cup or less of olive oil in a large oven safe frying (or heavy rectangular roasting) pan over medium heat. I use cast iron, the bigger the better, as it needs to be wide enough to hold as much of the salmon in one piece as possible.
Add the aromatics (onions, fennel and garlic), season with salt and pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften. Add the zucchini and red peppers to the pan and cook in the same way until just tender. Add the anchovies, if using them. Then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and stir. You are ready to add the fish and go to the oven.
While the vegetables are being sautéed, prepare the fish.
The fish should come from the grocer cleaned and boned, and ready to go when you get home. Begin by vertically scoring the fish, skin side up so the cuts pierce the skin and reveal the flesh; each score should look like a fish gill. To make the scores, lay the filet skin side up on the counter. Pinch the side edges toward one another to bend the skin into a rolled appearance. Make a crosswise cut with the knife blade angled 45 degrees about 1 inch into the flesh, through the skin. Make these cuts at intervals of about 3 inches down the length of the filet.
Prepare the basil compound butter by tearing the stems from the bunch of basil in one bulk maneuver. Place the leaves and the stick of butter into a food processor and blend until you have a creamy textured green spread, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Using a spoon or small spatula, push a dollop of the basil butter into each of the score cuts on the fish. Then, using the remaining basil butter, spread a ¼ inch or less coating, like cake frosting, over the entire skin of the fish. Season with salt and pepper and then take the whole fish and transfer to the pan on top of the bed of vegetables. If the filet is too long for the length or width of the pan, cut it to fit and place the cut pieces to one side of the main filet in the pan.
Sprinkle the buttered fish with the bread crumb mixture.
Place in hot oven and roast for 15-20 minutes. Do not overcook, otherwise the fish will be dry.
To serve, portion the fish along the score marks, cutting down through the fish with a sturdy metal spatula, scooping the vegetables out with the piece of fish so that it can be laid on the plate with the fish on top of the vegetables.
Notes and Comments
Tyler’s presentation used the eggplant and some tomato paste, but I wanted to skip that. I was also careful not to overcook the vegetables before the oven time, as the oven itself would do much of the softening. Starting the vegetable sauté while preparing the fish kept the total preparation time short.
Cleanup is minimal, other than wiping the butcher block counter where the prep took place, and cleaning out the single roasting/frying pan, and the food processor. I only needed one knife.
My kids did not complain about the vegetables (I attribute that to the eggplant deletion), but two of them complained about eating skin-on salmon. That is a concession I will resist, as the visuals from the skin are terrific, and help make the dish appear much more traditional, even if there is no salmon in Provencal or Croatian waters.
Other herbs could be added to the mix, and variations on the vegetable content would be interesting to explore.