Thursday, November 29, 2007

#79: Marques de Riscal Rioja

I've had this wine as least twice now. The first time I brought it to Tango Sur, Argentinian steakhouse which is a BYOB restaurant. There were four of us at dinner, three of which did not really like red wine. But we had two converters because two of the gals really liked it - as did I.

Marques de Riscal Rioja is listed as #79 on Food & Wine's 100 Tastes to Try in 2007. Actually, the wine itself is not listed, going to their new hotel and spa is. But you only notice that if you read the fine print so I'm going to count it just the same.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

#99: Le Demon Vert

I specifically purchased The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by Classics just because Le Demon Vert was listed as #99 on Food & Wine's 100 Tastes to Try. I also don't have a cocktail recipe book and I thought this would be a fun on to add to my collections. I'm not sure if all cocktail books are like this or not, but this particular book has a lot of random ingredients in the drinks. It can get really expensive to buy all these different types of liquor. I spent about $50 on the fixin's to be able to make Le Demon Vert. I decided to make it at Thanksgiving so other's would be around. The problem was nobody liked black licorice! And this drink tastes like black licorice with burning aftertaste (like the sensation you get after drinking straight vodka). We made one and passed it around - everyone took a sip. Unfortunately it didn't go over well as we all decided to keep drinking beer or wine.

Even though this drink was a dud, I'm glad I got the book. There are lots of other interesting recipes in there which I look forward to trying out next time I want to play mixologist.

Le Demon Vert

1 1/2 ounces Broker’s gin
1/2 ounce Absente
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 black licorice stick

Combine 1 1/2 ounces of Broker's gin, 1/2 ounce of Absente, 1/2 ounce of Velvet Falernum and 1/2 ounce of fresh lime juice in an ice-filled shaker and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a black licorice stick.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

#100: Bruleed Key Lime Tarts

My mom LOVES key lime pie. So she was nervously excited that I was going to make this recipe for Bruleed Key Lime Tarts which is listed as #100 on Food & Wine's 100 Tastes to Try in 2007. Nervous because it was not a traditional key lime pie and she like it. Excited because I was going to use the new tart pans and blow torch I just bought from Sur La Table. The recipe claims to take 3.5 hours to complete, even though only 25 minutes of that is working time. But it still takes half a day before you can eat it!

I thought that key limes and kaffir lime leaves would be hard to find, but luckily my local whole foods carries them both! I could take a bath in the kaffir lime leaves - they smell so good. Almost like citronella - VERY clean smelling.

I had never "bruleed" anything before so it wasn't until about the 3rd one that I figured out how to melt the sugar with the blowtorch. But the flavors of the oreo crust, rich key lime and crispy sugar were amazing! And the whole thing was fun to make. They are very impressive and would be great for company. These are big and rich so actually two people can share one.

Food & Wine claims that this is a cocktail friendly dessert and that one should pair this with an Elderflower Martini. Do you know what that is because I don't!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Harissa-Roasted Turkey Breast and Stuffing

I know it is the week before Thanksgiving, but I decided to make turkey anyways. However this recipe for Harissa-Roasted Turkey Breast and Stuffing from The Soul of a New Cuisine, from Marcus Samuelsson is nothing like the traditional turkey we will have for Thanksgiving. An entire African dinner is something we have never had before.

This dinner presented a few challenges. I had to make the harissa from scratch . . . I couldn't find quinces at the store so I substituted apples in the stuffing. I also made the suggested Beet-Ginger Chutney as an accompaniment which is suggested by Marcus Samuelsson. Yes, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, but the end results were very tasty and nothing like any of us had ever had before. AND there are bunches leftover!
Harissa-Roasted Turkey Breast
(6 to 8 servings)

One 6-pound bone-in turkey breast (skin on)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup Harissa

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle on all sides with salt and pepper. Stuff the garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, and onion into the neck cavity, and seal it closed with a wooden skewer or toothpick. Generously rub the harissa over and under the skin.

Place the turkey breast skin side up on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast, basting occasionally with the juices that accumulate in the bottom of the pan, until and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast reads 160 degrees and the juices run clear, about 1 1/2 hours. during the last 20 minutes of cooking remove the foil to brown the skin. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Serve with stuffing and Beet-Ginger Chutney.

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp. lightly crushed almonds
1/2 loaf white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cup into 1-inch cubes
2 cinnamon sticks
3 garlic cloves, cut in half
3 shallots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 quinces, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp. Harissa
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. chopped thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and bread crumbs and saute for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Add the parsnips and cinnamon sticks and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots, quinces, and harissa and saute until the garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, orange juice, and honey, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the thyme, salt raisins, and almonds and bread cubes and stir until well combined. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Stir in the chopped parsley.

# 53: African Spice - Harissa

Food and Wine's 100 Tastes to Try in 2007 lists African spices and tea as #53:

What happens when intellectuals get together to save native plants, develop local business and help impoverished communities in Africa? They launch a line of spices and herbal teas called Mpuntu. The vanilla-scented mondia whitei spice is exotic; the lemongrass tea from Zambia is soothingly familiar (

I could not figure out how to order anything from the listed website but I was lucky to find several African spice mixes in The Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson. I made a batch of Harissa which Marcus describes as "a fiery red paste that can be found in virtually every Tunisian kitchen. It's the hottest spice mix in the region." And spicy it is! I used it for his Harissa Roasted Turkey and Stuffing recipe. I'm not sure what else I would use it for - the cookbook suggests an accompaniment to couscous or as a flavoring for spice and stews.
(makes 1 1/4 cups)

3/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground caraway
1 cup mild chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. chopped mint

Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and saute until golden, about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the caraway, chili powder, coriander, salt and mint and stir to combine. Let cool.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

#48: Syrah from South Africa

Since we were eating a dinner filled with recipes from my favorite African cookbook, The Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson, I figured it would be a good time to try #48 on Food and Wine's 100 Tastes to try for 2007: Syrah from South Africa.

I could not find one of the five suggested wines, but I was able to find 2005 Porcupine Ridge Syrah from Cape of Good Hope South Africa.

We all really enjoyed this wine. It was nice and light, but it did leave a little bit of a deep taste lingering. lists the winemaker notes for 2005 Porcupine Ridge Syrah as:

A rich warm ruby colour with generous viscosity combines with our typical spicy, aromatic profile. This wine is dominated by spicey tones yet supported by dark fruit flavours. The palate is generous and extends to a lengthy finish with the focus being on fruit profile as opposed to oaking detail. Drink now or enjoy over next 3 – 5 years.

I did enjoy it and I wish I ordered a few more bottles!

Beet-Ginger Chutney

I have just discovered the wonder of chutneys! I have never made a chutney before and have never really even ordered some in a restaurant. I am big on salsa though and am a big fan of the veggie/saucy flavor enhancer it can be. So when Marcus Samuelsson suggested serving this Beet-Ginger Chutney as a side to his Hariassa-Roasted Turkey, I decided to take his advice.

This would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving table instead of cranberries. I personally really enjoy beets and rarely cook anything with them so I was excited to work with this vegetable. The end result sweet due to the honey and sugar, but the beets are still solid and have a natural taste.
Beet-Ginger Chutney
(makes 2 cups)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Two 3-inch pieces ginger, peeled and sliced
4 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp. honey
4 cardamom pods
2 thyme sprigs
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat the oil in a large deep saute pan over high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and beets, reduce the heat to low, and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the honey, cardamom, thyme, sugar and butter and stir over low heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer until beets are tender, 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove the cardamom, thyme, and ginger from the chutney and stir in the salt. Let cool.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

#40: Southern Italian Wine - Taurasi

I have never heard or Taurasi before. But a new (to me) kind of wine, I'm all game. Food & Wine's 100 Tastes to Try lists Southern Italian Wine as #40 on it's list so I had to hunt it down.

No single wine may better symbolize the renaissance of southern Italian wine than Taurasi, the noble red of Campania. Made from the Aglianico grape, it’s a conundrum—rustic yet refined, long-lived yet often accessible in its youth. Seek out the 2001 Villa Raiano and the voluptuous 2002 Feudi di San Gregorio.

I sought out the Feudi di San Gregorio. I could have sworn I ordered the 2002 online, but they delivered the 1998 to me. It still cost $40! So my mother and I dove in and attempted to "taste" and describe - we had know idea what we were talking about. We decided that it is smooth and does not have an aftertaste which nice in a red wine. But it has some very strong taste - of what we are not sure. We like it though and drank it with some broiled lamb chops and buttered peas. It was nice on a fall night because of the warmth you get while drinking it.