Dessert Wine Pairings

dessertwines

It’s no secret that I love food and wine, but even I have to admit that sometimes the wine you drink with dinner may not be the same wine that you want to keep drinking when it comes time for dessert. #GirlsGoneWine

Generally, it’s not a bad idea to follow the rule: the darker the dessert the darker the wine.  If you don’t feel secure with a rule that is so non-specific, there are a few other taste guidelines according to the different dessert types:

  • Custard and Vanilla
  • Fruit and Spice
  • Caramels and Chocolate

Custard and Vanillacremebrulee

When your dessert is based around the light, mild, buttery flavors found in most custard based desserts you want your wines to have the same basic flavor profiles.  So, if you are serving a vanilla custard, pudding, flan, crème brûlée, tart or pie, you’ll want to serve a white wine like a late-harvest Riesling, or a sparkling wine like an Asti Spumanti or demi-sec Champagne.  This Vanilla Crème Brûlée from The New York Times is #FastAndEasy and needs only 5 ingredients!

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.

Most crème brûlée recipes need a torch, but this one is simpler & safer: it uses your oven’s broiler to get the crackly top.

**TIP: Make sure the custard sets for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top so you don’t end up with soupy custard.

vanillaspicedpoachedpearFruit and Spice

When your dessert is fruit based with a spicy profile, like those with apple, pear, pumpkin or cinnamon in them, you’ll want to lean toward white wines that have more character to them.   In this case you’ll want to consider Pink or Rosé Champagne, Sauternes, or late-harvest Gewirtztraminer.

Caramels and Chocolates

When your dessert is rich and full of any of the flavors across the chocolate spectrum turtlebrownies1(except white chocolate) or has the gooey richness of caramel’s toffee goodness, then the wines you’re looking for will be Red.  Late-harvest Pinot Noir, Banyuls, Grenache, Australian Shiraz, Port (the classic chocolate pairing), and Grappa all are excellent pairings for these rich dessert choices.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky SpinachI love a big, juicy cheeseburger but they can get boring after a while.  This recipe is one that will definitely take away the boredom and might even be one that I can whip out at a tailgate this football season to change it up a bit!

This can easily be #KetoFriendly by eliminating the ciabatta roll and eating with a knife & fork on top of the spinach.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat but this girl loves her skinny jeans too!

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages (or a combination of both), casings removed
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried-tomato pesto
  • 4 round ciabatta rolls, split and toasted  (If you’re Keto, skip the rolls)

In a large skillet, bring 1/4 inch of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 1 minute; drain and press out as much water as possible. Wipe out the skillet.

In the same skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the spinach, season with salt and stir just until coated, about 10 seconds.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Using slightly moistened hands, form the sausage meat into four 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over moderate heat until browned and crusty on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers. Top with the cheese and grill until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer. Spread the pesto on the rolls. Top with the burgers and spinach and serve.

These burgers would be great paired with a fruit forward zinfandel like a 2015 Sextant Zinfandel Holystone out of Paso Robles, CA or an Artezin 2016 Old Vine Family Farmed Sustainable Zinfandel out of Mendocino County, CA.   #GirlsGoneWine

Treat Week: Truffle Tuesday

redwinetruffles

Due to the death of a close friend, this week’s postings got delayed, so, as you can see, Truffle Tuesday turned into Truffle Sunday

Day 2 of #TreatWeek is one of my favorites: #TruffleTuesday.  Or, as my family (& hairdresser) calls it, the day I start making make #BoozeBalls!

The first, and quickest to prepare are my soft centered Red Wine Truffles.  These truffles are only as good as the wine you use to make them, so I always use the last glass of whatever great blend I have open.  This year that meant that the truffles were made with #2013MountVeederReserve.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  This blend worked beautifully with the dark chocolate and made for a decadent treat!  A few important words of advice about these truffles:

  • Make sure you chill your truffle filling for AT LEAST 3 hours so it’s easy to scoop.
  • Freeze your scooped portions for at least 30 minutes & try to make them as close to balls as possible.  These can’t really be rolled.  Mine never look #CandyShopPretty, but they taste good. 😉
  • If your truffle filling is not holding it’s shape; i.e. it’s too thin, don’t worry, HERE IS THE FIX: Return your truffle filling to your pan. Warm it over low heat so that it is easy to stir but not completely liquified. Turn off burner and stir in unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 TBLS at a time, until your filling reaches desired consistency.  You don’t want it too thick, remember it will thicken when it chills in the refrigerator.
  • Melt your coating chocolate while your scoops are in the freezer so your coating has time to cool a bit.
  • If you intend to use the candy melts to decorate the outer/hard layer get it prepared in advance.
  • If you are sprinkling any type of decoration that will stick to the outer coating do it as soon as you coat the individual truffle.  The coating hardens very quickly on the cold truffles.
  • Because of their soft centers, these truffles must be kept refrigerated for best presentation and taste.

Red Wine Truffles

  • 2 – 12 oz bag dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 5 TBLS Good Red Wine – Anything with Malbec, Cab Franc, or that’s BIG and BOLD
  • 2 tsp solid Crisco shortening

Heat heavy cream in a saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from stove and add 1 bag of the chocolate chips and red wine. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir until everything is fully incorporated and smooth. Remove to a smaller bowl, cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

Once the truffle filling has chilled, using a cookie scoop or small spoon, scoop out chocolate and form into truffle balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes

While truffles are in the freezer, in a medium saucepan, combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Take 6 truffles out of the freezer at a time and pinch them slightly to make sure they form a “truffle like dome” for the top side.  If, when you start working with the chilled truffles, they aren’t holding their shape, or seem to be getting runny really fast, STOP! and see the note in RED above.  If all is well, continue to the next step.

Working quickly, coat bottom of truffles first and place on a plate lined with waxed paper, then, using a spoon, coat the top of each truffle and decorate with red & gold sprinkles if desired.

They dry/harden on top quickly.  Move on to the next 6 and then move the plate to the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Zinful Cranberries

cb3

This is a recipe I shared yesterday to my wine lifestyle blog #GirlsGoneWine that I love pulling out for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s one that I have been making for a few years. It’s fast, easy, and tastes so good!  If you’re serving a #KetoCrowd, there’s an adaptation at the bottom of the recipe.

Growing up, my family never ate any cranberry sauce that was homemade.  In the preparations for cannedcranberriesThanksgiving, someone was always assigned the task of bringing two cans of jellied and one of whole berry cranberry sauce.  You couldn’t try and pull a fast one by buying store brand.  It had to be Ocean Spray on Grandma’s Thanksgiving table!

When I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family I automatically followed the same routine until I became obsessed with the Food Network a few years back and made my first foray into making cranberry sauce from scratch.

For the first few years, I stuck with the basic “back of the package” recipe:

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 – 12 oz bag of whole fresh cranberries

Boil sugar and water, add cranberries and cook 10 minutes over a slow boil until berries have popped, refrigerate until time to serve.  *If you wanted it jellied you strained out the berry solids and skins using a mesh strainer before refrigerating.  BORING!

This year I put some time and creativity into the preparation and came up with a winner:

Zinful Cran-Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 & 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Zinfandel Wine (Best Quality you can afford – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
  • 1 – 12 oz Package Ocean Spray Fresh Whole Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Whole Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • Orange or Tangerine Zest

Bring sugar, wine and cinnamon stick to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes.  You may want to use a splatter shield to avoid splashing when cranberries pop. Remove and discard cinnamon stick.  Cool slightly then move sauce to serving dish.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve cold.  Sauce will thicken up as it cools.  Garnish with a few cranberries, blueberries and curls of zest.

Keto Conversion:  Substitute 1/2 Cup+1 TBLS Granulated Swerve (Stevia) for the Sugar

Don’t worry, for the holdouts who just can’t stand not seeing the canned Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, I still have the obligatory dish with the slices in the shape of the can. 😉  #CAGirlsGoneWine

Goodnight Charlie’s Hot Chicken Tacos

Food & Wine June 2018 Travel: Honky Tonk/ David Keck Hot Chicken TacosOnce he achieved the wine world’s most coveted initials behind his name, M.S. (Master Sommelier), instead of heading off to some five-star fancy pants restaurant to show the upwardly mobile out to impress their friends, or those with more money than sense, his incredible wine knowledge, Jeff Keck opened up a HONKY TONK, yes, a Honky Tonk in Houston!  That doesn’t mean he’s stepped away from his love of wine, indeed, far from it.

While getting his other wine-themed businesses and restaurants off the ground nearby, Goodnight Charlie’s serves up gourmet Texas fare with lots of Bourbon, Beer, Vodka, and davidkeckfelipericcioyes, some wine too.  There’s even a #RhinestoneCowboySpecial – a bottle of tête de cuvée Champagne and 12 tacos, prepared by his business partner, and chef, Felipe Riccio.  As the recipe below shows, they’re far from your run-of-the-mill street tacos.  I love Nashville Hot Chicken, so these should be right up my alley! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Goodnight Charlie’s Hot Chicken Tacos

Chicken

  • 6 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 5 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/8 ounces)
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk

Stir together 6 cups warm water, sugar, and 1/2 cup salt in a large, lidded container until dissolved. Let cool. Place chicken in brine; cover and chill 8 hours.

Drain chicken, and discard brine. Whisk together cornstarch, flour, chili powder, cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder, and 4 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Place buttermilk in a separate bowl. Working in small batches, dredge chicken pieces in cornstarch mixture, dip in buttermilk, and dredge again in cornstarch mixture. Place coated chicken pieces in a fine wire-mesh strainer, and shake off excess flour mixture. Place chicken in a single layer on 2 wire racks on rimmed baking sheets, and let stand 15 minutes.

Spiced Oil

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup grape seed oil, plus more for frying

Stir together cayenne, brown sugar, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Heat 1 cup grapeseed oil in a medium skillet over medium-high until hot, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add spice mixture to oil, stirring to combine. Let cool 10 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat 1 inch of grape seed oil in a large, heavy, high-sided skillet over medium-high to 360°F. Working in 3 batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until crispy and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to bowl with spiced oil; toss to coat. Lift chicken from bowl; place on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer baking sheet to preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat procedure 2 times with remaining chicken and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Braised Greens

  • 4 ounces fresh Mexican Chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño
  • 1 (12-ounce) bunch collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place Chorizo, onion, and jalapeño in a large skillet over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until Chorizo is crumbled and browned and onions are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add greens and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Stir in vinegar. Remove from heat.

Additional Ingredients

  • 24 (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped bread-and-butter pickle chips

Divide braised greens and fried chicken among warm tortillas. Top with pickles.

Serve alongside a couple of ice cold beers, or, if you’re feeling fancy, do it #GoodnightCharliesStyle and pop open a bottle of Champagne. #GirlsGoneWine

Baltimore Style Crab Cakes

When I am in the mood for crab but don’t want the mess & hassle of cracking shells and digging the meat out, nothing fits the bill like a crab cake.  I’m not talking about a crab cake that’s mostly crappy breadcrumbs and other cheap fillers, I’m talking a cake filled with lush, sweet crab meat and little more.

FandW092018The September 2018 Food & Wine Magazine features their 40 “Best Ever Recipes,” which lured me in with a luscious chocolate cake on the cover, but they hooked me with this recipe for crab cakes, nine pages from the back of the magazine on page 95!

Andrew Zimmern’s Baltimore Style Crab Cakes

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (See note below)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
  • 20 saltine crackers, finely crushed (See note below)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (See note below)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce until smooth.

In a medium bowl, lightly toss the crab meat with the cracker crumbs. Gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture.   In Andrew Zimmern’s words, if you don’t over mix, and don’t pack your mounds too tightly, you will experience “pure, unadulterated crab cake heaven.”  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Scoop the crab mixture into eight 1/3-cup mounds; lightly pack into 8 patties, about 1+1/2 inches thick. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderately high heat until deeply golden and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the crab cakes to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

  • Tip 1:  If you prefer, you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp yellow or spicy mustard and omit the Dijon mustard and hot sauce
  • Tip 2:  You can substitute 1/2 cup Panko crumbs for the saltine crackers
  • Tip 3:  You can substitute any lightweight oil for the canola oil.  I prefer olive oil.
  • Tip 4:   If you plan to serve these as appetizers you can scoop them with a small cookie scoop, a soup spoon or melon baller – depending on whether you want them to be a 1 or 2 bite app.
  • MAKE AHEAD Crab cakes can be prepared thru Step 2 & refrigerated overnight

The recipe as written serves 4 people 2 patties each alongside a peppery arugula salad topped with diced mango, pineapple & cucumbers with a squeeze of lemon juice & a tablespoon of vinaigrette dressing.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

This recipe was originally published in 2012, and also appears on Andrew Zimmern’s website.  Food & Wine Magazine recommends pairing these crab cakes with a Muscadet#GirlsGoneWine  I’m not familiar with Muscadet, so I looked to my go to wine reference site, Wine Enthusiast, for an education on this brisk, lemony wine from the Loire Valley region of France.  Wine enthusiast says the flavor profile of Muscadet wine can vary from very neutral to tangy and saline.  Basic Muscadet wine is light in body and light in flavor, and may have a little spritz. Higher quality examples lean more towards a tangy saltiness and notes of flinty minerality, with a smooth texture and friendly, approachable nature.   As for specific recommendation, here’s a very affordable option:BougrierLesMartinieres

  • Bougrier Les Martinieres – This crisp, fruity white is an enjoyable accompaniment to shellfish and light appetizers. Its light sweetness adds richness to the light lemon, mineral and peach notes.  Total Wine $10.99

Lemon Pepper Shrimp

shrimplemonpepperlinguine

Once school starts, week night sit down dinners together for most families become a memory.  This recipe requires few ingredients, can be made in under 30 minutes (while Mama is sipping her glass of wine), can be made ahead and reheated, and makes week night dinners together something that doesn’t have to stop as soon as summer is over!  This serves 4 but can easily be doubled to serve a larger family or guarantee leftovers. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lemon Pepper Shrimp with Linguine

  • 1 – 8 ounce package linguine pasta
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic minced (I use the pre-chopped jars which would equal 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 TBLS chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 TBLS chopped fresh basil
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Whole basil leaves for garnish

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil
  2. Add linguine and return to a boil
  3. Cook according to package directions for al dente pasta (usually 11 to 13 minutes)
  4. Drain the pasta and put into a large bowl
  5. Toss with 1 to 2 TBLS olive oil and set aside
  6. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and saute garlic about 1 minute
  7. Mix in chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, & pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is reduced by about 1/2
  8. Mix shrimp, butter, parsley, and basil into the saucepan
  9. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp is opaque
  10. Stir in the cooked linguine, and continue cooking 2 minutes, until well coatedWesterlySauvBlanc14

To serve, place a mound of pasta in the center of dish and divide the shrimp and sauce evenly between the plates. If desired sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese atop and garnish with leaves of basil.  This dish pairs nicely with chilled Sauvignon Blanc. #GirlsGoneWine