All posts by Anne Pickett

Food & Wine: National Chili Day!

Anne's ChiliIt’s National Chili Day! There are as many recipes for chili as there are people in Texas. Chili is a great dish for these wintery days. Here is my oddball recipe for chili. It is not super hot, so it is wine friendly with some Zinfandel or Rhone. My favorite is topping a baked potato with the chili and the fixings and a big glass of wine!

Recommendation ideas:

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ANNE’S CHILI RECIPE

*click image to download PDF recipe cards

 

 

 

 

 

Food & Wine Fridays: Mardi Gras Menu

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is a celebration and a release of all excesses before the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is more than just one day, it is a whole season with a series of parades from different krewes, or groups, winding through the city.  Beads and other throws are thrown from the floats. You can catch beads, blinkies, toys, and even shoes.  The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold.  Purple Represents Justice. Green Represents Faith.  Gold Represents Power.

For those of us who cannot make to the Crescent City, here is a classic Mardi Gras menu with some wine suggestions for your party. Don’t forget to binge watch some Treme, have “Trombone Shorty” playing on the stereo, and have a white handkerchief or umbrella ready if you are going to second line. If you cannot find a local bakery that makes a king cake (a few New Orleans bakeries do ship) or you can always bake one…Don’t forget the baby!

MENU

Deviled Eggs

Red beans and rice

Fried pork chops

Jambalaya

Braised greens

Hot French bread with butter

And for dessert… a king cake.

Because this is a celebration, you will need plenty of bubbly! Gwendolyn recommends the Roederer Estate as a paring for the deviled eggs as well as a great wine for sipping.

Red Beans

For the red beans, Gwendolyn recommends a chenin blanc to match with the spiciness. The Pine Ridge 2013 would be tasty.  My recommendation is to go with a red Maison Nicolas Perrin Syrah 2012, which I think would be great to use as a general wine for the whole meal.

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Some fun Pinot Noirs which would be great with the pork chops or jambalaya include WillaKenzie Estate Gisele Pinot Noir 2012 or Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2012.

To go with the King Cake, of course, you will need plenty of café au lait, but some Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Sublime Demi-Sec would be lovely or maybe Eroica Gold Riesling 2012.

Mardi Gras 4

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MARDI GRAS RECIPES:

*click images to download PDF recipe cards

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Food & Wine Fridays: Anne’s Braised Beef Short Ribs

Anne's Beef Braised Ribs - 1

I love braised beef short ribs with big red wine. There is nothing better. Here is my way of doing it. I usually make way too much sauce so I have extra for a pasta dinner on another night. I usually allocate 1 meaty rib per person, but I make a lot extra just in case someone wants seconds.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 really meaty beef short ribsAnne's Beef Braised Ribs - 12
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-6 ounces finely diced pancetta (Italian bacon)
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 3 ribs celery finely diced
  • 3 carrots finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2.5 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup canned plum tomatoes finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large cast iron dutch oven and add the vegetable oil.
  2. Season the ribs well with salt and pepper.
  3. Brown the ribs on all sides.  Remove from the pot and set aside the browned ribs.
  4. In the hot pot, sautee the pancetta.
  5. Add the onion to the pot and sweat until translucent. Add the celery and the carrots cooking until tender. Toss in the garlic and sautee for a minute.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the wine and scrape down the bottom of the pan to get all of the tasty brown bits.
  7. Reduce the wine by half and then add the stock.
  8. Reduce the cooking liquid some more and then add the tomatoes. Ribs - 3
  9. Return the ribs to the pot and add the herbs. You can finish braising the ribs on the stove top for 3 hours on a low simmer or you can put the whole pot into a heated 350 degree oven and cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is super tender.
  10. After the meat is cooked, remove the ribs and keep warm. Skim any excess fat or foam off the surface of the cooking liquid.
  11. Reduce the cooking liquid to the desired thickness. I like to leave the sauce chunky, but you can always blend some of it to make is smoother.
  12. Season to taste. Ribs 4

There are a few ways to serve the ribs and the sauce. You could make soft polenta and serve a rib on the polenta with a ladle of sauce. You could be very traditional and serve the sauce on pasta as a first course followed by the ribs with roasted potatoes and braised greens as the second course. I prefer to go “Fred Flintstone” style and serve the rib, bone and all, but you can always remove the meat from the rib and serve in pretty slices. Enjoy with a hearty Cabernet like the Silver Oak!

Happy Homemade Soup Day!!!

Soup is one of the most satisfying and simple meals. Easy to make, it’s possible to have fresh homemade soup anytime, even on a weeknight. Here are a few recipes with some easy short cuts. Add some warm French bread, a big salad, and a lovely glass of wine, and you have a feast for a king.

 

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle SoupThis is a staple in my house. I always have individual portions in the freezer for a quick lunch or dinner. A few pro tips…. When you roast chicken for dinner, always make 2. Cooked chicken is always great to have on hand for soup. It’s great to make a big pot of chicken stock once a month. You can keep it in the freezer for a quick soup anytime. I always have frozen peas on hand for soups or rice pilaf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts homemade stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 2 cups dried noodles or pasta… my favorite is ditalini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Sweat the onion in butter until translucent. A pinch of salt will help with that.
  3. Add the carrot and celery and cook until tender.
  4. Add the stock, dried herbs, and chicken and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the noodles or pasta and cook until al dente.
  6. Finish with the peas and cook until they are heated through.

Wine Pairings:

 

 

Turkey Orzo Soup

Turkey OrzoI don’t wait for Thanksgiving. I roast turkey all year long. It’s great for soups, sandwiches, and casseroles. I love this soup with its touch of lemon to brighten the flavors. If you don’t have turkey, it’s great with turkey, too. Pro tip: if you are making homemade stock, use turkey necks for flavor and extra richness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts homemade stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or lemon thyme if available…1-2 sprgs of fresh is perfect
  • 2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 1 and a half cups orzo
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Zest of 1 lemon and lemon wedges for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Sweat the onion in butter until translucent.
  3. A pinch of salt will help with that.
  4. Add the carrot and celery and cook until tender.
  5. Add the stock, dried herbs, and turkey and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the orzo and cook until al dente.
  7. Finish with the peas and lemon zest, and cook until they are heated through.
  8. Serve with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairings:

 

 

Mushroom and Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley SoupThis is a very versatile soup which can be totally vegan for your meatless Monday or rich and beefy. Making vegetable stock is a great way to use those vegetables in the fridge, which may no longer be party fresh of for the meat eaters, left over roast beef makes a great addition to the soup.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 quarts homemade beef or vegetable stock or low sodium broth
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic mashed and chopped finely
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms (classic button or mixed)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup cubed cooked roast beef (optional)
  • 1 cup barley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped green onion and sour cream for garnish (optional)

 Directions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Sweat the onion in butter until translucent. A pinch of salt will help with that.
  3. Add the carrot and celery and cook until tender.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook until dry.
  5. Add the stock, dried herbs, and roast beef (optional) and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the barley and cook until tender.
  7. Salt and lots of black pepper to taste.
  8. Finish bowls with chopped green onion and a dollop of sour cream.

Wine Pairings:

Celebrate International Italian Cuisine Day With Wine and Risotto!

Saturday, January 17th is International Italian Cuisine day. I thought we should blog about great food from the “old country”.  While there are tons of great Italian dishes out there, I have been craving that specialty of northern Italy, risotto.  Traditionally served as a first course, this creamy and delicious rice dish can work as a satisfying entrée.

Risotto can range in variety from the exotic Risotto Milanese, which is enriched with saffron, to light and delicate seafood riosotto, to the dark and dusky risotto al Barolo.  Regardless of the condiment or flavoring, great risotto begins with great rice. You need a short grain rice which is high in starch content.  Arborio or carnaroli varieties are readily available in most grocery stores.  It is well worth the effort to search for a specialty store that carries the vialone nano variety.

The next important trick to great risotto is mastering the method.  Instead of steaming, risotto is made by the timely addition of broth or water.  There are 2 tricks to this… First, make sure that the liquid and the cooking rice are at the same simmering temperature. Secondly, gently stir the liquid into the rice, and only stir as much as you need to. If the grains break, your risotto will become gummy and pasty.

Here is a base recipe and some ways to change it up:

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups homemade broth   OR   1 cup canned broth diluted with 4Ingredients cups water.  (I actually heat extra because it would be a disaster to be caught without enough cooking liquid.)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion or shallot chopped very fine
  • 2 cups Arborio OR other imported Italian risotto rice
  • 1/2 heaping cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • Salt, to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a sauce pan, bring the broth to a simmer. Make sure that it is close to the pan where you are making the risotto.
  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan that has high sides (2” or so) and add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onion and cook gently until the onion is translucent.Making Risotto
  3. Add the rice to the sauté pan and stir gently so that all the grains are coated with the butter and oil.
  4. Now you will begin adding the broth from the sauce pan to the sauté pan one ladle at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. When the rice absorbs one ladle of broth, add another ladle of broth.  Repeat this process until the rice is tender but al dente. It should take about 20-25 minutes and the rice will look moist and creamy, not runny.
  6. When there is about a minute or 2 to go, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
  7. Remove the pan from heat and add all of the cheese, folding gently in order to even distribute.
  8. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with additional shavings of parmigiano. Serves 6

Risotto Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Variations:

White Truffle Risotto: Shave a half ounce of white truffle all over the top of the risotto right before serving. For those of us like me who are on a budget, you can always drizzle a bit of white truffle oil over the top.

Mushroom Risotto: In a separate pan, sauté about a pound of your favorite mushrooms in some butter and olive oil. I add a clove or 2 of garlic and some salt and pepper to taste. I deglaze the pan with a bit of wine and continue to cook until the mixture is dry. Before I add the butter and cheese to the risotto, I stir in about half of the mushroom mixture. I pour the finished risotto into a platter, top with the remaining mushrooms and chopped chives.

Butternut Squash Risotto: Cook and finely dice some butternut squash, about 2-3 cups. Instead of adding that last ladle of broth, add a ladle of heated heavy cream and fold in half of the squash. Finish the risotto with the butter and cheese. Top the finished risotto with the rest of the squash and some fried sage leaves.

 

Some WINES to try with these Risottos: