Monday, August 24, 2009
How I Prepared:
Wash; Strip leaves away from stems and slice into strips; Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on a Medium high heat; When pan starts becoming hot, add about a teaspoon of garlic to the oil to infuse; add the Swiss Chard and Saute until wilted (about two minutes).
I used tongs to move the chard around the pan, and as the chard wilted, the garlic took on the bold purple color from the veins of the leaves. The contrast of the dark green with the purple was very eye pleasing. The taste of chard is slightly bitter and salty; a perfect canvas for garlic or crushed red pepper. Sauteing the chard gave it a subtle tenderness but it still maintained it's sturdy composition. It was a substantial side dish and a delight to eat. (I served it with fresh coho salmon, pan-seared and finished with a lemon dill butter and flavored basting oil...I know I felt like a chef when I plated it all...I should have taken a picture it looked very professional.)
Wine Pairing: Riesling. The the bitter/salt complex along with the spicy notes in garlic (or red pepper..whatever you choose to prepare it with) need something fruity and clean to refresh your palate.
Explore Your Produce,
My next venture: Swiss Chard.
Have fun with cooking!
Ah, blue cheese! Crumbled on a salad, shaved on a sandwich or just a good 'ol hunk by itself, there is nothing better than the succulent taste of blue cheese. To me, the best blue cheese has a strong flavor with a creamy finish that leaves you salivating for more. Because of the strong characteristics, blue cheese is often paired with fruit, sweet peppers and tomatoes and nuts. The sweetness of a Riesling really complements the piquant blue cheese.
This week, as I walked in to the bread department I was greeted by a big voice and...a hunk of blue cheese (YAY!). The cheese of choice: Amablu St. Pete's Select. It is
Get the Amablu(s),
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
My newest heart throb: Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007. This wine is the definition of elegance. Upon first glance, the deep ruby color borders a shade of black, and is absolutely stunning. It is a wine that looks like it is meant for royalty. The aroma is sweet, and has distinct plum and berry characteristics. You expect a berry flavoring to coat your mouth as you take in the first sip but your taste buds are in for a pleasant surprise. The initial impression is the sweet and slightly tart sensation that you anticipate from the berries but is quickly overpowered by a subtle smokey flavor. Just when you except a dry finish, the berry flavors reemerge, exciting and pleasing your taste buds. It is a well rounded, luxurious wine.
This wine would pair nicely with a rich chocolate dessert, but my dish of choice was dinner: Sliced Grilled Sirloin over (my version of** see below**) Greek Salad. To me, red wine and red meat are a match made in heaven, so a medium rare sirloin steak was my first choice for this meal. I thought the sweetness of the berry characteristic would play nicely with the saltiness of the feta cheese and olives and the acidity of the tomatoes and lemon in the vinaigrette would balance the smokey undertones. The wine complemented the meal (and vice versa) and I have fallen for another Finger Lakes red. Good thing there are health benefits to drinking red wine and having a Mediterranean diet.
Live Well and Enjoy,
**My version of Greek Salad: 2 cups mixed salad greens, sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Greek Feta (crumbled), 1/4 cup chick peas, 1 TBS roasted sunflower seeds, grilled and chopped red pepper, and 2 TBS store bought "Greek Feta Yogurt" dressing.
Friday, August 14, 2009
During the summer months, the produce at farmer's markets is unbelievable. I recently have been enjoying blueberries the size of my head (I'm not joking), beautiful and succulent heirloom tomatoes, fresh sweet corn and zucchini that are large enough to feed a small village. Not only are these products superior to those sold in grocery stores, but they are also wallet friendly. Do yourself and community a favor: buy local.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I have admitted that I am a food snob, clearly I have an affection for wine and today I have to confess, I am a bit pretentious about beer. Why would I drink a Bud Light with my meal when I could have a carefully crafted microbrewery beer? I want to enhance the foods that I am eating with my drink not ruin them. Using good ingredients in a meal makes it taste better, and drinking better wine and beer does the same. If you aren’t drinking the good stuff what is the point?
My favorite microbrewery is the Middle Ages Brewery in
Monday, August 10, 2009
Do we ever really grow up?
Wiemer is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, Finger Lakes winery. Their Rieslings are award winning legends and nothing short of perfection (I'm craving a nice chilled glass just writing about them!). I made an exception to my very strict "NO FINGER LAKES RED!!" rule, when the sommelier at Wiemer suggested the 2007 Merlot. He described it as, "The kind of wine you want to curl up and watch a movie with." It happened to be a rainy, cold day, so it was hard to deny a wine that carried such a sentiment. I carefully examined the color, drew in the aroma and was ready to taste. To my shock, my palate was delighted to be experiencing such a treat. It was comforting, smooth, and slightly smokey. I was so enamored with this wine that I completely forgot it was raining. The sommelier was right and I was sold. Before you head out to the liquor store I must be the barer of bad news: this wine is not sold in stores. It can be purchased at the winery or online. So next time you visit the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, be sure to stock up! I promise you won't be disappointed with this purchase.
GO RED! (...and green...save the earth...yadda-yadda)
Thursday, August 6, 2009
On Wednesday I was having one of those "hum-drum"days. You know, the kind where you look up at the clock and only 5 minutes have passed since the last time you checked. Upon arriving at work, A BIG voice greeted me telling me that I HAD to try her bread and cheese pairing. My mentor, the demo lady, was featuring our seven-grain sourdough with Le Pie d'Angloys (a French wash-rind cheese). She immediately handed me a warm piece of bread that was carefully cradling a generous amount of cheese. The bread has a wonderful hard exterior with nutty sunflower seeds and oats baked on top. The interior is incredibly soft with hints of grains inside the dough that give it a subtle crunch. The cheese is similar to a brie: soft, creamy and rich with a mild flavor. With one bite, my taste buds were singing, my heart was smiling and my soul was soothed. The texture of the silky cheese with the light tang and crunch of the bread was heavenly. I had to step away for a moment just so I could enjoy the experience. It was the type of feeling that you get when you come inside on a cold blustery day and curl up in a blanket with a rich hot chocolate. Your whole being just feels spoiled and magnificent. If I had a glass of good wine and sweatpants, my nirvana would have been complete. Unfortunately, I still had 8.5 hours of work so that dream was impossible, but at least now the slow moving clock didn't seem as bad.
My Favorite Creation: 2 slices pecan raisin sourdough bread, goat cheese, strawberry/apricot preserves (sliced strawberries also optional), fresh torn basil leaves, cucumber and smoked turkey breast. (I like to toast the bread and spread goat cheese on both slices of bread, top with preserves, basil, cucumber and then turkey breast)
Punch Lifeless Lunch Goodbye,
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
My Favorite Breakfast: 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (try low-fat over non-fat yogurts they are more satisfying and have a better texture), 1 large banana halved and sliced (sometimes use a big juicy peach instead!), 1 handful of blueberries, sprinkle of cinnamon and 1/3 cup crunchy nutty granola.
WAKE UP YOU SLEEPY HEADS!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Other Childhood Classics With A Twist Advice:
Mac and Cheese--Instead of using all Cheddar add different cheeses. Gruyere melts nicely and adds a nutty verging on sweet flavor to the dish. Herbs, veggies and meats can make this dish into an even more flavorful and hearty meal. Try adding things such as basil, parsley, cherry tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, pancetta or even lobster!
French Fries and Ketchup-- Try baked potato wedges or better yet, use sweet potatoes! You can pump up the flavor by adding different herbs and spices to the traditional salt and pepper mixture. Instead of ketchup create different flavored aiolis. If you are serving sweet potato wedges honey and maple syrup are also wonderful accompaniments.
Spaghetti and Meatballs--Swap ground beef for ground turkey. Try different pastas such as penne. Pump up the Sauce! Add extra veggies like mushrooms, spinach, even zucchini to pre-made sauce to make it more decedent and flavorful. Top the finished dish with herbs like parsley and basil to add a clean and fresh taste.
Stay Forever Young,